She found the boy in a snowstorm. He was shaking with cold but seemed to her bright electric blue, the hottest part of a flame.
"Come with me," she said. She wiped snow off his cheeks and kissed his bruised eyelids. "Come with me. There is someplace warm."
She took him to her house in the woods and fed him hot fresh homemade bread with lavender jelly and honey. He sat in front of the fire with a blanket draped over his shoulders, watching her. She was beautiful. The snow melted and dripped down his face like tears.
"Stay," she said.
Yes. Oh, yes.
They lived in her tiny house in the woods. She made food for them, flower petal salads and wild rice and fruit he had never tasted before. He was content to watch, and when all the white left the ground he went out to fish and hunt. He made sure to only kill what they could eat because he wanted to please her. She was a goddess. She was love, gold-skinned and wide-eyed with straight hair that waterfalled over her shoulders. He adored her.
She adored him, too, him with his eyes like wet earth, eyes like raven wings, him with his hair that was forest floor and vines and brambles. She smiled at him and laughed like falling snow, rubbed on powder that made the dark circles under her eyes disappear and wore long, flowing sleeves that covered her wrists. More than anything else, she wanted to protect him.
One night, the boy woke up because he heard a strange noise.
He pushed open the heavy wooden door that led to her bedroom and stepped over the rose petals littering the floor. It smelled like a garden. The noise was coming from the bed, soft and broken. Visions of raindrops and fallen baby birds appeared in his mind.
She was curled under the thick rose-patterned covers with her knees pulled to her chest, shaking. The boy called her name, but she didn't look at him.
"Are you alright?" he asked, touching the gauzy sleeve of her dress. This time she looked up, eyes swimming with tears.
"Vines," she said.
"Yes. Don't you see them?" She held up her arms as though her wrists were cuffed together. "There! And on my legs, my chest...climbing...choking..."
"There aren't any vines," the boy said. He was scared. She looked and sounded so far away.
"Yes, yes, there are vines. They're killing me." She gripped his shoulders. "Run," she said, "before they get you, too."
"I'm not leaving."
"Please!" She gasped. "Please..." Her eyes looked almost normal for a moment, but they were moon-glazed, desperate. "Please. I'm with you. A part of you. It will be alright."
The boy nodded slowly. "If that's what you want," he said. He kissed her cheek and left the room.
The next morning, she was gone.
He searched for her everywhere he thought she might be. Faerie festivals, gardens, by a lake with huge trees dripping emeralds. It was one of the countless smoky clubs he stumbled into after searching all day where he thought he'd found her. The girl was standing in a corner and he could almost see the vines winding their way up her legs. He wanted to save her. Instead, he offered to buy her a drink.
"No thanks." When she tilted her head to the side the metal rose petals on her earrings clinked together. "I'm dizzy enough as it is."
"Let's go somewhere, then," he said, "no strings attached." His hand easily encircled her wrist; he could feel her pulse beneath his fingertips. "Please?"
They went to a tiny Asian restaurant with tassled cushions for seats. She introduced herself as Jade over a plate of pink ginger rice.
"I'm Donovan," he told her, watching as she reached for her fortune cookie. There was a silvery scar over her wrist in the shape of a heart. She'd lost someone, too.
"Hey, what a rip-off!" She held up the tiny slip of paper, blank. "There's no fortune!"
"Maybe that means something."
"That we should ask for new cookies?" She crinkled her nose when she was annoyed.
He grinned at her. "No. Maybe it means we make our own fortunes. Shape our own destiny, you know?"
"I like that. Wait a second," she said, reaching into her kimono silk purse. She held up an eyeliner pencil, scrawled something on the slip of paper, and pushed it across the table.
You will find what you are looking for, it read. He stared at her.
"I think I already have."
They met again after that and he lead her to the places where he'd been searching. She hid like a nymph behind the emerald trees and told him about the places she'd been searching, the smoky club where they'd met, the loud bars, the pock-marked dealer that she'd visited for a while.
"Don't go there anymore," he told her, touching the skin at the crook of her arm.
"No," she said. "Not since you. I don't need to."
That night she let him into her apartment for the first time. They watched a sweet romantic comedy and afterwards she crumpled like origami into his arms, crying.
"I miss her so much," she whimpered. He rubbed small circles against her back.
"Who?" he asked. She looked up at him, seaglass eyes like oceans.
"We were supposed to have our ceremony," she said. "Two months ago. She was everything to me. I loved her before I even knew I liked girls."
"I don't know. Tris had problems..." She rubbed her arms, shivered. "I was helping her. She just disappeared one day, and I...I heard she OD'd. But I didn't want to believe. We were so happy. I mean, I thought so."
"I'm sure you made her happy, baby," he whispered, trailing his fingers through her hair. "The world is hard. It wasn't your fault."
"Maybe." Her fingers dropped her to the scar on her wrist, tracing the heart. "I loved her so much."
She spent the night in his arms and when she woke up he kissed her forehead, swept strands of hair from her face.
"Do you think you could ever love me?" he asked.
"I don't know." She reached for him slowly, kissed his jawbone. "I'll try. I want to try."
The first night they spent together, when it finally came, was as wonderful as either could have expected. He was so careful that she pulled him down to her until their foreheads touched, her lips curved like a cresent moon.
"It's okay," she whispered. "I want this. Trust me."
So he did.
They had their wedding by the pond under the emerald trees. Her hair was full of flowers. Their kiss felt like a promise.
"Are you sure about this?" she asked him later. They were dancing together and her head was against his chest. "What if she comes back? I know Tris won't, but maybe..."
"No," he said, pressing his lips to her hair, breathing flowers. "They'd want this for us. They'd want us to be happy."
She smiled and closed her eyes, gripping his hand a little tighter.
You will find what you are looking for.