Courtship

Over the next five months, Vanessa and Henry met no less than ten times. On the tenth occasion, they shared a moment that would change their lives forever.

They were standing on the balcony of the room of a hotel in Majesteria. From this height, they were watching the sun as it set on the area of Thrift below them.

"What a beautiful sight," Henry murmured.

"Truly breathtaking," Vanessa replied. Tears stung at her eyes. I can hardly believe this is real."

Over the five months, Vanessa had been experiencing great changes in her life, mainly relating to her character. She had become less stubborn, less proud and ...shy. She had developed an ability to see beauty in small things and begun to believe in magic. Not the magic of herbs and stones, nor even the magic she herself possessed to be able to manipulate fire. She believed in the magic of... well, how does one describe it? Serenity. Beauty. The magic of the deep and meaningful: the profound. She would not have admitted it before this day (more because of her failure to recognise it than her denial of it) but she believed in the magic of love.

And as Henry glanced down at Vanessa, admiring her beauty in the deepening sunlight, he was filled with sudden adoration of her personality. Unbeknownst to him, and even to Vanessa herself, he was the one to have caused these changes in her. As he gazed down at the woman he now believed to have a golden soul, he was overwhelmed by sudden longing and felt a sharp pain in his heart. Without quite realising he was doing so, he slowly turned Vanessa towards him and kissed her. She, of course, kissed back.

The locations of their meetings over the rest of that year were romantic ones.

Vanessa loved Henry: how could she not? He had shown her that the world was a beautiful place and, in changing her heart, had caused her to desire to live only for him.

They kissed at twilight, they kissed at midnight; they kissed at sunrise when the world was silent and theirs to possess.

They were each so joyful at the prospect of the next reunion filled their thoughts. They were charming and generous in every single act, though they knew that these actions were secretly to confirm and display their love for one another.

On the second day of December that year, at the tavern where their meetings had first commenced, Henry went down on one knee and asked for Vanessa's hand.

My eyes were brimming with tears as I closed the book. Charity looked alarmed.

"Selena, you'll ruin your image!"

She grabbed balls of cotton wool and carefully dabbed at my eyes.

A catastrophe was avoided and it only took five minutes for Charity to reapply the powders that had been washed away.

"Now make sure that doesn't happen tonight," she said sternly, causing us both to laugh.

Picking up for me the invite and the boxes in which lay the presents for Adam's parents, Charity squeezed my hand and led me down to dinner.

The End

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