“So, I found this waterfall…” Lena gently kicked her legs through the water, studiously looking down at her knees. “And the river leads back out to here even, and you could…come on up it and we could…I dunno. Have like a picnic or something if…if you’re into it.”
There was a moment of silence before cold, purple hands reached up to still her anxious limbs, Amélie raising herself from the water to settle her upper body against Lena’s lap soon after. The sea witch gently tilted her head, golden eyes gleaming.
“Like a date?”, Amélie asked.
“S-sort of,” Lena stammered back.
“It is hidden, yes? Your waterfall. Your river.” She gnawed at an indigo colored lip. “I cannot allow myself to be seen.”
Lena’s stomach did a full on flip over the rest of her guts, knocked her hammering heart into her throat. She leaned forward on the rock she was perched upon, already grinning. “Oh, yeah, super hidden! It’s all too small and overgrown for tourists to really bother with it, I found it on a run by complete accident!”
“Then yes. Tomorrow. We…,” Amélie returned her smile shyly, “we shall have lunch there. Help me find the mouth of the river?”
“Absolutely! Lemme just get up and–” Lena was not quick enough to stop Amélie from grabbing onto her and pulling her into the sea, though when the woman brought her up for air Lena was laughing. “–Or we’ll do it your way! Fine!”
The next morning found Lena almost sprinting from the condo, the backpack bouncing against her spine. It was a heavy thing, loaded with lunch and snacks. She’d only just managed to avoid a lecture from Angela by the skin of her teeth, and wasn’t looking forward to the talking to she’d get by the time she got home.
Her friends were getting a little fed up, and Lena felt guilty about it. But none of them believed her about Amélie! She’d told them about how she’d been rescued from drowning, how Amélie had given her the little round stone that rested, warm, against her own heart.
Lena shrugged off her thoughts as she slowed her sprint to a comfortable hike. It was still quite a walk out to the waterfall, and she didn’t want to wear herself out too much before she got there.
She thought about Amélie as she walked. About how to break the curse, how Sombra had so meaningfully whispered for her to give her heart…
It brought a flush to her face. Not at the prospect of falling in love with a woman who had eight legs and purple skin–Lena didn’t care about the aesthetics, not in any way that mattered as a deterrent–but at the ease of it. She’d only known Amélie for a few weeks and yet when she went to bed all Lena could think about was seeing her again, seeing her sooner, just…seeing her.
That’s real gay of you, Lena thought to herself with a laugh.
It was fourty five more minutes until she got to the waterfall, and she’d still made it before Amélie. It gave her time to set up–she’d skipped the basket and spread out a big towel, setting out plastic containers of food. Tuna, chicken, potato salad, a practically endless array of sandwiches, little cookies and treats for dessert. Three large thermoses of tea, already sweetened, and warm.
Five minutes later, Lena heard a heavy splash. She looked up, and through the clear water she saw Amélie swimming over to the rock Lena had chosen; one half submerged in the water, so she didn’t have to completely beach herself. She helped Amélie out of the water, and the sea witch thanked her quietly.
“Did you have any trouble, love?”
“No,” Amélie murmured, drinking in the sight of the small waterfall tumbling into a crystal clear pool, surrounded on all sides by lush vegetation. “It was a little too shallow in some parts, but it was manageable.”
“Good,” Lena breathed, then handed her a chicken sandwich. “Hungry?”
They ate, making small talk in between bites and sips of tea; Amélie’s arms splashed water over her on occasion, taking care to keep the flared gills across her ribs shining wet. After letting lunch sit, Lena packed all the food away and stripped off her hiking outfit, revealing her swim suit beneath.
“It’s too gorgeous a place not to go for a swim,” Lena said, and with a whoop she jumped, curled up in a ball, and landed in the water. Amélie had followed her when she came up for air, her usually stoic face split by a charming grin.
It was dusk by the time Lena grew tired enough to simply float on her back, listening to the waterfall and the soft sounds of encroaching night. The sky was rich, blue velvet speckled with starlight. Amélie’s hands found her shoulders and she was coaxed into treading water–only to feel slick, cold arms wrapping around her waist and legs, holding her up as Amélie‘s hands framed her face.
“I–” Lena stammered, “I had a lot of fun today, Amélie…”
“Stay,” was the soft whisper that came in answer. “Stay with me, Lena. Just…just a little longer.”
And as Amélie pulled her closer, kissed her with the same kind of lonely desperation that had driven Lena to the island in the first place, all Lena could think was, Always.