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~Suzette ✧ Chapter VI~

༻Morning's Embrace༺


     Up above, the full Moon shines upon us brightly as we stroll alongside large fields of grain on the very edges of civilization. It appears that, with each passing day, our schedule becomes a little more nocturnal; yet oddly enough, I find I do not mind at all. The night is quiet and peaceful; there is a strange sort of comfort about being cloaked within darkness, especially with the moonlight softening it so one may still see. I wonder if this is why he seems to enjoy the night so much, even aside from his fondness for the Moon…

     After a while, I notice the great black mass of a forest in the distance. As we come near to it, a simple fence surrounding the perimeter comes into view. It is quite like any fence a farmer may have, although it is larger. Periodically adorning the fence are signs which even from this distance seem far too ornate to be hunter’s warnings for infringing on their territory.

     “Is that Florêt Folwêkhdin?”

     “Yes,” he replies curtly.

     We continue onwards in dead silence, and a new sense of unease is birthed…

     “I’m going to warn you now,” he begins, “It’s…much more overgrown than anywhere we have been so far.”

     “Any other information I may need to know?”

     “Well…when they begin singing, don’t try to resist it.”

     Now I look upon him in confusion.


     “Well, I said the fae there lull you to sleep—that’s how they do it.”

     “If you say so,” I reply, finding that a tad ridiculous, even among all else that has happened. Yet, even so, even I must admit an odd aura appears to radiate from that place.

     Soon we find ourselves in front of the fence and survey our surroundings to make sure none see us. Thankfully, despite its size, it is not exactly fortified—it is more of a symbol than a structure legitimately meant to keep one out. Once on the other side, Hikaru shuffles through his satchel, and brings out a lantern, alighting it in the same odd way he had the twig in the forest.

     “How many things do you carry with you?”

     “Too much,” he replies with a laugh. But, upon turning to the forest again, he sighs. “…Let’s go, Suzette.”

     Slowly, we enter the woods, carefully navigating the heavy brush. The eerie aura increases to the extent that, even despite myself, my body tenses up immensely. While outside the forest the Moon’s light shone brightly, within it is nowhere to be seen, and even his lantern does little to penetrate the darkness. Both of us remain mute, even if conversation may put us at ease—it feels as though needless speech would somehow desecrate the forest. At least, until I trip.

     “Are you all right?!” Hikaru immediately turns around in a panic.

     “Y-Yes, please forgive me for being a tad—”

     “You’re fine,” he says as he reaches his hand to assist me.

     Though I attempt to pay no mind to it, in truth I am much more unnerved than, reasonably, I know I should be. Even disregarding any faeries, it is dark enough here that who knows what sort of predators could be lying just mere feet out of sight…

     Once Hikaru lifts me up, he does not let go. His grip only grows tighter, nearly to the point of paining me.

     “Hikaru, are you well?”

     “Yes, just…” he pauses, “Yes, I’m fine. We’re fine.”

     He smiles, but my increasingly numb hand tells a different tale. He lets go, and we continue ever deeper into the woods.

     A few more hours pass, and nothing happens. Eventually I come to ease once it appears clear those tales were merely that and nothing more. Indeed, it feels no different from any other forest we have traversed through, aside from being even more overgrown and dark.

     That is, until faintly, a sound appears in the distance. A voice…a single, divine voice chanting in an incomprehensible tongue.

     No, I surely must be imagining it—it cannot be—

     Soon, a chorus swells around us, each voice more beautiful than the last. It is magnificent, heavenly…yet, my limbs freeze in utter horror.

     “Hikaru?!” I nearly shriek, giving away my fear much more than I had intended.

     He merely stares off into the forest, and grins meekly.

     “We’ll both be fine, Suzette. I promise.” He does not even sound convinced; yet, I appreciate the effort…

     He blows out the lantern and gently seats himself upon the ground, gathering underbrush and setting down his hat and bag to create a sort of pillow.

     “You truly are not going to resist?”

     “There’s no use,” he says while yawning; and unfortunately, I feel drowsiness quickly overcome me as well. “You can try to resist it if you want, but I’m staying here. I recommend you do the same, but…”

     “I shall not abandon you; that would be foolish for both of us, would it not?” I yawn, and lay down very near to him, perhaps a bit closer than I intended. However, my body has now become like a stone, entirely overtaken by tiredness.

     Now laying upon my back, I notice a sliver of moonlight filtering through the canopy above, bathing my face in its soothing glow. In my sleepiness, ill thoughts fade from my consciousness, and I merely focus upon the beauty of the moonlight and the choir around us, despite what it may bring. In only a few minutes, I am overcome with slumber.


     {After some time, I awake once more. Yet no longer am I in the forest, but rather a warm, soft bed. Sunlight filters through a translucent curtain, dyeing the room a gentle purplish hue. The room itself, however, is in complete disarray…canvases scattered everywhere, some half-finished and others empty, with a few finished works adorning the walls. By the white windowsill stands an easel and a table covered with pots of paint, amongst other tools.

     Suddenly, through no will of my own, I gaze towards my hands, sitting still upon the blanket; immediately, I notice something very, very wrong.

     These…are not my hands.

     They are rather pale and bony, and far too large and hairy to belong to myself. It appears they belong to a man; a rather old one I would suspect, if it were not for the fact the hair is a deep black color, just as my own. The realization finally arrives.

     Ah, this is merely a dream! I remember everything now!

     I grow overjoyed at the realization. Once long ago, I believe my brother told me how one can control their dreams if they merely learn they are dreaming within it. Though I had tried, I was never able to achieve this—until now! Those “faeries” shall not harm me!

     Soon, however, an issue arises. I cannot control anything. I attempt to move, and yet I remain trapped. To shift into my true self, and yet I remain as this man. Rather than being gifted freedom, instead I am granted a horrible, pervasive throbbing; all at once my body is thrown into a torment that does not cease.

     Inwardly, I scream.

     Let this nightmare end!

     But it remains, as do I. I am imprisoned here, and fully cognizant of it. But, from deep within my mind, I hear a sound. A weak, muffled voice.

     “I hope he’ll return soon…”

     A young man. If I were in control of this body, I surely would have jumped from sheer surprise; however, it appears to be the voice—or thought, rather—of the one whose body I find myself trapped within.

     What a poor creature…he is clearly not a child, yet he still sounds far too young for this misery. To be in such pain, all alone…quickly I become overwhelmed with pity for him.

     It does not last long, as soon my thoughts grow less cohesive…

     My memories…sense of self…and consciousness, drifting…until I am—




     “I can’t handle this any longer…” I whisper to myself, in a vain attempt to find comfort in hearing someone’s voice. Even if it is not very positive, even if it’s only my voice…it’s all I have. But it sounds so craggy and ancient, I can barely recognize it as my own. Once more I turn towards the window, but the sudden influx of air in my direction stirs me into a coughing fit.

     I had so much life left to live, right? That’s what most in my situation would be expected to say. They’re too young to die. However, I find myself oddly at peace with this notion. Of course, I don’t want to die, and yet…I’ve achieved my greatest dreams—it’s not like I’ve wasted the time I’ve been given. Even with the hardships I’ve had, I’ve been showered with luck: “the man who paints dreams,” some say…what a fanciful title! But yet…well, at this point my life does feel like a dream. Other than this…it’s been so perfect. So lucky. Yes…so lucky.

     From that perspective, I suppose it only makes sense it would run out eventually. However, it’s comforting to be at peace with the inevitable. To have no regrets.

     Well, all right, aside from one…

     Suddenly, I hear knocking on the door, followed by a soft, deep voice speaking to me from the other side.

     “Alex…are you awake?”

     “Of course,” I reply as loudly as I can muster, while turning towards the door as swiftly as I can without dizzying myself. Steadily the door creaks open, and he comes inside.

     “I’m so happy you’re still here…” he smiles meekly, although his face betrays all. His complexion is dyed red, tear trails stain his pale face.

     Now, I must truly try and stay composed…this pain is wretched enough, but his on top of it is almost too much to bear. All I wanted was to give us a wonderful life, filled with joy…but now all that remains is sorrow.

     “Of course I’m still here,” I reply, “The pain is not too awful,” I chuckle to try to make the situation seem milder than it is. Both of us know the truth.

     Steadily he makes his way across the room, and gently seats himself on the bed beside me.

     “How are you feeling today, Alex?”

     He smiles that same way he always does when he’s trying to mask sadness. I don’t know if I love it or hate it.

     “Better than yesterday,” I croak. It’s perhaps the most pathetic lie I have ever told.

     Meanwhile, he grabs my hand and squeezes it tight.

     “I’m glad to hear that,” he answers hoarsely.

     No, I can’t hold this anguish in any longer, I can’t, I can’t—

     “Hikaru, there’s something I need to tell you,” I whisper.

     “What is it?”

     “Sâ pšyku vrémond—I’m sorry, I’m so very sorry…” I apologize over and over and over again, burying my head into his shoulder. In spite of my attempts to hold them back, I feel tears burning down my face.

     “W-What are you talking about?”

     His voice begins shaking terribly, his body slightly does as well…

     Ah…if anyone saw us, we would surely look like a pathetic duo—but luckily, we are locked away from all the world, free to be alone together, maybe for the last time…

     “I just wanted us to have a joyful, peaceful life,” I whisper, “And yet, it seems I couldn’t even give you that much…”

     “You say ‘give you that much’ as though you have not already given me everything,” he answers. “Are you really apologizing to me because…because you’re…” he chuckles. As I pull away from him, I notice the tears cover his face once more…

     For a moment we sit there in silence, and he sighs. At last, he looks to me his rosy red eye meeting with mine.

     “Alex, will you promise me something?” he asks solemnly. “Truly, truly promise me?”


     My voice is scarcely audible, and yet he hears it.

     “Will you promise me that we’ll meet again? When you’re reborn, will you try to find me?”

     “Oh, well,” I fumble, unsure of how to answer his question, “The world is a rather big place, and…”

             I know he believes in such things, but I can’t really say I do. I don’t want to make him a promise I don’t believe I can fulfill…

     “Please promise you’ll at least try…” he mumbles, clearly a bit hurt.

     “…I will, Hikaru. I promise…I’ll at least try.”

     “When we meet again,” he says, “We can have a joyful, peaceful life then, okay?”

     I smile as widely as I have in what seems like eternity. Even in this horrid situation, he still finds some optimism…

     “Yes…of course.”

     “Mâzjêr né…” he says softly leaning into me, with such genuine gratitude it nearly melts my soul.

     “Hey,” I whisper.

     “Is there something you—”

     “Lêm sâ tsiâ né…I love you, Hikaru.”

     He stares at me bewilderedly, as though he hasn’t heard these words a thousand times by now. Then he pulls me within his embrace, and I soon melt within the warmth.

     “…Lêm mo sâ tsiâ né, Alex,” he softly whispers in my ear, before we lean into one final, last kiss.

     The final spark of life flickers through me.

     And then, I feel it…

     My heart thumping; one thump, another harder than the last…

     Finally, the world becomes engulfed in darkness—my Star flickers and vanishes, the warm light enveloping me is extinguished.

     It’s over.}


     Burning sunlight fills my eyes as they dart open, and rapidly I shoot upwards, startled awake by the nightmare. I gaze about me, but everything is blurred by the flurry of tears within my eyes. I simply close them yet again and sit still, stunned, paralyzed. My heart beats so fast, it seems as though it may stop as well…

     What…was that?

     What was that?

     For what feels like an eternity, I sit with no thoughts, as though the blizzard of feelings within shall not let anything be seen nor heard. Eventually I wipe away the stinging tears, and notice he is lying right by my side. It seems we had drifted closer within the night, and I would be overcome with embarrassment if I had not noticed something: he is still asleep, yet he is not sleeping soundly at all. His face is flushed red, and covered in tears as well…

     It is an absurd thought, and yet…did we somehow have the same dream? Is he still within it?

     Though I wish to move, I cannot help but stay by his side and study his face. Although he has aged quite gracefully, now I am stricken by how much older he truly appears compared to the Hikaru I have just witnessed. Many more lines are carved upon the face that was once a smooth canvas; it is clear much has happened since that time. And his hair, now so long…it is odd to imagine it was once rather short, relatively speaking, a fairly average length—and yet indeed, that is precisely what I saw. Yet even then, it covered half his face, just as now; I suppose his face was scarred even then…

     At last, I gradually lift myself and somberly gaze within the forest, hopelessly lost in my own thoughts attempting to parse this perplexing puzzle. The more awake I become, the more pieces are put into place…

     Hikaru and that painter whose paintings he has stashed away…were they truly…lovers? Him and him, both men—is that not unnatural? Never to be married, never to have children…I would say it is a perversion, for adults to have such a closeness—however, what I witnessed did not feel disgusting in the slightest. It felt bright and loving, like a light I have not before witnessed…yet how could it be that way…?

     More pressingly, for myself…why am I having this dream? This is not my life, my business. Occasionally I can become too curious and intrusive, yet this is altogether something else—!

     But suddenly I remember what he had told me, about the faeries…

     Sometimes they give one blessed dreams or horrific nightmares. Other times they give one the ability to see them, or visions of a previous life—

     I paid little mind to this, considering the concept of reincarnation has always seemed a tad silly to me. Already am I so preoccupied with getting this life in order, why would I pay any mind to the next?

     Yet, if that man truly was “me,” that would mean…Hikaru and I…oh—oh

     S-Surely this is just a coincidence, yes?

     The thought of he and I, together…no, I do not need any more thoughts of this! In all regards, we are entirely a mismatch…!

     Although, two men is a mismatch too, and yet—no, I do not wish to think of this any longer—!

     From behind I begin hearing rustling, and soon I look up to see Hikaru standing by my side. His face is clearly dredged in despair; and yet, upon seeing me, he smiles so sweetly.

     “I see you made it through the night all right.”

     “I did.”

     Against my own wishes, I feel myself begin crying once more.

     “Are you sure? You’re—”

     “Oh, yes, I just…had a rough dream.”

     He chuckles.

     “You too, huh?” he pauses. “For now, let’s forget our past. The day is still young; we should get going,” he says with a slight yawn.

     “I agree,” I mumble.

     I know he merely means the dreams themselves, yet…I am certain neither of us will be forgetting our past any time soon.


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Lovingly created by [James Margaret Rose].