"Don't leave. Please."
You take a step towards the other girl, voice cracking as you feel your throat beginning to burn. She stops, and you can see the rise and fall of sloping shoulders under her blue pea coat as she sighs. This can't be the end. You won't let this end here. Squeezing your eyes shut, you desperately try to think of something to say to her, but all you can see behind your eyelids is her, her smile, her fingers intertwined with yours, her eyes that seem to hold more life than the stars, than anything you've ever seen. The day, no, the very moment that you first met is crystal clear in your mind, perhaps even more so than this twisted present...
Furtively ducking underneath overhanging branches, you glanced behind you, ensuring that no one had followed you; trouble would have been imminent if you were caught venturing this close to the edge. You didn't go to the clearing very often, only when you needed to be alone, to feel nothing, to get away from home. Stepping to the top of the small mound, you glanced up - and instantly froze. A girl sat with her knees brought up to her chest in the middle of the clearing. She was gazing up, towards the sky, or perhaps the trees. Either way, her amber eyes were filled with wonder, and you felt the corners of your mouth twitch upwards, captivated by the flames dancing in her eyes. She brought a quiet, slender hand up to tuck a sliver of coal hair behind her ear, and you swallowed, struck by her beauty. You felt your own hand rise up, almost of its own volition, to push your own silver hair behind your ear, and, drawn to the movement, her eyes flitted to yours suddenly. You felt your heart stop. You are sure you looked every bit the deer caught in the headlights, hand dangling pathetically halfway to your ear, eyes wide and mouth open with failed speech, but the tentative smile she then gave you filled you with fluid fire, and suddenly you didn't care. The girl stood, limbs untangling and her dress like water rippling down by her side. She looked cold.
"Beautiful, aren't they?"
You took a moment to register that she had spoken, and another to wrench your eyes away from her lips (they were soft and pink and-) and notice the fireflies that had begun to light up around you. The two of you stood in silence, watching the art being created before your very eyes, taking in the sight and the smell of darkness as dusk began to settle.
"I want to see more beautiful sights. There has to be more than this... I want to leave." She closed her eyes, and brought her hand up, tugging so you could see the bright white loop shining at her wrist; you glanced down, and sure enough, your own binds were glowing faintly. They were only visible this close to the border, shining brighter the closer you got until they stopped short, jerking at your wrists and preventing anyone from crossing the border.
"I want to come with you." You heard yourself say, voice trembling but sure. You'd always dreamt of leaving. After all, isn't that why you had gone there? Your eyes met again, and she laughed, and it wasn't soft or sweet but unapologetically rough and you could feel your whole world brightening like fireflies...
"Please. You can't go, not without me."
You can see her fingers tremble slightly as she hesitates.
"Would you rather I remained trapped here with you?"
"You're the only bright thing in my life. If you leave I'll be alone, and so will you. You'll have no one."
It's manipulative and terrible and you hate yourself for it but right now you don't care. You'll be as selfish as it takes to get her to stay with you. And it seems to work, as she sighs once more and turns to face you...
She turned, face splitting into a grin as she caught sight of you. The sun fell golden across her face, dappled shadows cast by leaves. These days you came to the clearing all the time when you couldn't be alone, to feel love, to be at home.You sprawled out beside her, sinking down into the soft clover patch, closing your eyes and basking in the warmth of the second season and the lazy hum of the bees as they went about their business, filling their home with honey fragrant with thyme. A bird perched in a nearby tree, its indigo feathers iridescent with streaks of green and blue and colours yet more beautiful but invisible to humans, singing a sweet lullaby until a second bird flew to join it, and they sat exalting the joys of the world with their heads bowed together. A gentle breeze picked up, coaxing blossom from the canopy of branches so that it rained down like confetti. She laughed, tossing her head to shake the petals from her hair, then shivered as the breeze grew stronger, reminding you of what you brought with you.
"Here, I bought this for you," you said, carefully pulling out the blue pea coat and handing it to her, "you need a coat for when the third season comes. You'll be cold in just that flimsy dress."
She took it, eyes glittering. Running a careful finger over the gold buttons, she glanced up at you cheekily, ribbing: "Hey, you were wearing a sundress when we first met!"
"You know I can't get cold," you reminded her, tugging at your hair, "whereas you can. Just look at your eyes."
She laughed softly and shifted closer so her hand was resting on yours. Bringing your foreheads together, she closed her eyes.
"Thank you... I love you."
You felt your face soften and your eyes slipped shut too.
"Don't ever leave me."
She whispered back: "I would never try."
Dead. Her eyes, the flame is out and they're dead; for the first time, you feel a shiver run through you and something of a chill begins to spread. She looks in your direction wearily (picture perfect apathy) and your mind is static and you can't think. You don't understand what is happening. The universe is crumbling around you. She's standing right in front of you but she's gone, she's gone and suddenly you can't breathe, you're suffocating and choking and the air is so cold and it burns in your throat and you blink hard but everything is blurry and you can't see her anymore. She looks in your direction.
"This was the price for my freedom. I feel nothing towards you now but I know I wouldn't have wanted this for you," she says, "so you understand why you can't come."
"I don't care," you plead, voice hoarse, "I love you and I always will. Stay with me, please, I beg you, or let me come with you. I'll do what it takes, I can't live without you-"
You notice grey at the tips of her hair.
"This begging, it's..."
She looks at you and you feel your soul shatter.
"Well frankly, it's just pathetic."
The snow crunches with the pressure of footfall, a pleasant sound, growing increasingly distant - and then there is the feeling of melting snow dissolving through the fabric at your knees. The sun surrenders to darkness, but little sparks begin to appear in the air - fireflies lighting up around you.