The Rose

            A single red rose, dying of thirst.

            That was the only thing left of the one she loved.

            She didn’t know so many things.  Didn’t know why, didn’t know how, didn’t know when.  His promise came to mind, when he’d sworn never to leave her.  And he’d kept his word.  Every morning, she woke up in his arms to find him looking lovingly at her.  Every night, she fell asleep in his warm embrace, comfortable and safe.  Tristan never needed to sleep, so he just watched her and thought.  He said it made him feel at peace with his violent past, like protecting her life made up for the ones he’d destroyed.

            Ari stumbled out of bed, fingering the petals of the dying rose.  Wherever her fingers touched, the petals turned a beautiful shade of purple, her favorite color.  She smiled sadly at her love’s unnecessary magic.  Just being with him enchanted her enough.  He must have delayed being captured by whoever had come here to take him long enough to leave her this.

            A gift.

            A memory.

            A promise.

            A final ‘I love you’.

            She knew that if the people who’d taken him were the ones who’d been invading her dreams, they’d be ruthless.  Whipping him, beating him, torturing him until he gave them what they wanted.  The thought nearly broke her heart into a thousand pieces.  Ari wanted to save him, but what could she do?  Giving herself up to them would save his life, but it would shatter him and she couldn’t bear the thought of hurting him that way. 

            He may as well have been lost to her already.  She slumped against the wall, holding Tristan’s rose securely but carefully so it wouldn’t be hurt.  A lone tear slipped down her face and landed on the flower.  Where the tear was absorbed, the petal turned deep blue, matching his eyes perfectly.  The reminder of him left a deep, aching pain in her chest.  If only she could have him for one more day, one more dance, one more kiss.  Tears flowed as she sobbed brokenly.

            Ari, my love…

            Her head snapped up at the sound of his voice.  Her amber eyes darted around the room, probing the corners for the source of his words.  The words slipped around her and drifted off through an open window.  His voice whispered her name again, scaring her with how mournful it was.  She saw him, shirtless, bloody, mahogany hair dirty, eyes deprived of their sparkle, chains on him, being held against his will and desperately trying to contact her.  The one who wanted her dead kicked Tristan, who cried out in pain. 

            Where is she?” he bellowed furiously.

            Tristan glared up at him, broken defiance in his eyes.  His warden snarled savagely and signaled to someone Ari couldn’t see.  A spiked whip came down on Tristan’s bare back and he screamed in pain.

            “Tristan!” Ari screamed desperately.  Devastated, she burst into tears.

            And then, she knew where he was.

The End

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