Slowly, shakily, Elena leaned for a kiss, which Lysander gladly returned. Their eyes closed, drinking each other deeper, for hours, it seemed. Then, Elena found the bravery to reach at his shirt, gently scooting the fabric down off his neck and shoulders that separated her from that sweet bared skin of his chest. Just as she expected, he was smooth and hairless, with a perfect physique you would only seen carved out of marble statues. She let her fingers feel the softness of his pale skin, and grinned to herself in giddy excitement.
Perfect. He was so perfect, like a dream.
As the moon rose higher into the sky, Elena felt her head whirl in a tornado of joy, knowing only of the latest unveilings of skin, marking new destinations for his lips to kiss, new candy for his eyes to feast on. He was slow, patient, and as appreciative of every inch of her as she was of him. She hadn't realized until she was fully naked before him that she had lost many pounds since she had first come to live here (thanks to the Elven vegetarian diet) and felt grateful for her new skinny figure that she could present before his god-like body with at least a little dignity. His hands explored her shape with fascination, slowly sliding his palms along her hips, and upwards to her ribs and shoulders. She was panting heavily in nerves, her goosebumps the size of mountains and sweat pouring from her brow in buckets, he remained calm, composed, and seemingly already satisfied enough just to have come this far.
But farther still, they did roam, as Lysander rolled on top of her, preparing to unite them as one, making breath become as sacred a thing to catch as a slow heart and a quiet mind. He paused to take one last look at her virginal self, giving that girl a goodbye kiss, before…
Suddenly, a large boom raged through the night sky, in a jolting interruption. The roaring sound shook the earth below them, and another soon followed, like the steps of a giant. Lysander was immediately on alert, like a deer in the middle of a meadow, his ears honed in to only external sounds. Elena watched him in complete quiet, waiting for the events to unfold. After another boom split the silence and Lysander was on his feet. Elena quickly gathered her dress to cover herself.
As she rose to stand beside him, she saw his face fall sad, as if in pain.
"What is it?" she whispered. "What do you hear?"
Lysander's eyes fell, and water began to fill them.
"At first, I heard my family's screams," he replied gravely. "Now, I hear nothing."
He turned to her and spoke very slowly and seriously.
"I must go to them," he stated. "But I can't leave thee alone to fend for thyself, so thou must follow me."
"Of course," Elena agreed quickly, perhaps too quickly.
Lysander grabbed her by the hand.
"Thou must stay to my side, for the dangers are great."
Elena felt her cowardly heart beat a bit faster, but knew she be safest close to Lysander. He led, she followed. Back through the dark trees they walked back to the Elf Glen, slowly but surely. Elena could swear she saw shadows about them, bustling the bushes on all sides.
When they reached the clearing, they quickly realized that they were being surrounded. It was an ambush led by none other than the goblin Sebastian himself. He stepped forward as his group of dark, gray-skinned minions herded closer towards them. He flicked his tail and licked his fanged teeth as he marched over to Lysander, a sort of scepter-like weapon held in his right hand.
"Lysander!" Sebastian greeted fondly. "I came here looking for thee, but they said thou hast cast off to mate with your lady… I hope I didn't interrupt anything good!"
"Why can't you guys use another word…?" Elena groaned under her breath in embarrassment.
"Stay back, Elena," Lysander hissed at her, and she could only hide behind him.
"I knew the helpless screams of thy beloved kin would draw thee to return," Sebastian went on theatrically. "I've come to collect the girl… I am owed one."
Lysander clenched his eyes shut in pain. Through tight lips, he spoke slow:
"Thou hath already taken Ophelia from this world. When will thy thirst for vengeance be satisfied?"
Sebastian's smile vanished, hearing something that had been foreign to his ears for centuries.
"He dares… mention her name…?" he growled. "Thou had thieved what was rightfully mine so I settled the score. My desire for vengeance will be waned only when thou feels the cold, empty, heart-wrenching agony that I feel in the depths of my soul every day since we were parted."
"Thou forgets that it was HE who took her life!" Lysander yelled.
"BECAUSE THOU TOOK HER FROM ME!" Sebastian was crying now. "Now hand over that bitch!"
Lysander glanced downward at the short Elena, quivering behind him in fear.
"He's going to kill me, isn't he?" Elena hissed, grasping at his robes like a frightened child. Her knees shook with terror, her head swirling with reality. What was she even doing here? Was this all just a bad dream?
"Please!" Sebastian called out, his eyes on Elena now. He sniffed back his tears and straightened up as if they had never been present. "Come with me, darling. Make it easier on everyone."
Elena gulped, and stepped out from behind Lysander. The blond Elf took a firm grasp of her hand unless she was tempted to step further beyond his invisible wall of protection. She looked at Lysander's firm hand over hers, clenching tightly to her. She suddenly felt trapped by him, in a scene that should never have played out in the first place. She had a very real sense of displacement, especially when her eyes fell on his very pointed ears.
This all still wasn't real enough to her. And even if it was, surely this wasn't where she belonged. It was her presence that insulted Sebastian so, it was her being here that made these Elves war with each other. Her star-crossed love was costing lives, maybe eventually, even his.
She caught one more glimpse of Lysander's emerald eyes, and as was now instinct, her heart lifted to her throat in happiness, butterflies danced in her torso at the mere sight of those eyes. Even with their fear, their sadness, she could still plainly see the love. The kind of love that could only happen in a place like this. A fairy tale, in a dream world. Sooner or later, she thought, we all must wake up.
She knew immediately what had to be done. She just dreaded it with her entire being.
Slowly, she wriggled her hand out of Lysander's grasp, and faced Sebastian, who was now smirking as if he already knew what was coming next. She walked up closer to him, aware of Lysander's growing anxieties with her every step.
"This isn't my fight," Elena let her fearful tears flow openly. "I don't deserve to be involved in this. I don't even belong here, not this forest, this town, this country! If you just let me leave, right now, Sebastian, sir, I promise I will never come back."
She could see it in everyone's faces of what they were thinking of her right now. That she was a coward. One who would leave her lover behind to die to save her own skin. She couldn't bear to see Lysander's face. Sebastian couldn't ask for better revenge than this deep betrayal she had conjured.
She saw Sebastian go giddy with pleasure, letting out a chuckle.
"My dear, is thou aware that when Elves consummate a relationship, it means they are giving themselves to their mates forever? That the separation of such a bond is quite impossible, even to the point of their own insanity?"
It can't be all that bad, Elena reassured herself. At least he'll be alive.
"Elena," Lysander breathed. "Do not do this. We can still fight them off."
"Just promise me," Elena let her voice drop low, hoping only Sebastian would hear. "Promise if I leave and never step foot on this continent again, their lives will be spared."
Sebastian replied in a volume to match hers.
"There will be no goodbyes to him, just abandonment. And if I ever catch wind of thee seeing him again… War will be upon them."
As hoped, Sebastian smirked again, and took a step aside, waving Elena past him theatrically.
"Thou art free to leave, my lady," he said.
A bitter taste crept up in Elena's mouth as she sulked off, focusing only on not looking back, not giving Lysander hope that would give him any clue that she still cared. She hid her face, as the hot streams poured from her eyes.
Everyone was safe. All she had to do was keep walking, and not make parting worse by looking at him. Even though every part of her body ached to see those beautiful eyes one more time. As a selfish parting gift, she allowed herself to slowly, slyly peer over her left shoulder, trying to sneak that final glance.
She didn't expect him to have fallen to his knees in shock and sorrow, gazing at her and the two guards escorting her away with such torment in those eyes.
Why, oh why did she look back? Now all she could think about was screaming she loved him and that this was all a desperate act of grace.
As she was finally heading beyond sight, she could only hope that her efforts had been enough, that he wouldn't have any hope that she loved him back. Hopefully, it would be enough to make him want to forget they had ever met.
She went straight home, showered, and packed her things and was in a taxi heading to the airport in mere hours. It really did feel like waking up from a very life-like dream, one you can't quite talk yourself out of. As she made her way through airport security, she spotted the sun finally beginning to creep up in light of a new morning, and she couldn't believe that it was only hours ago when she had been lying in the grass with Lysander naked beside her. That less than a day ago she had been at an Elven feast, drinking wine among them, listening to them sing and watching them dance. Now it seemed that this reality was the dream, as she walked onward to find her terminal. These oblivious, ignorant people around her seemed fake and useless, and she felt too strange to walk among them. None of them had ever witnessed the beauty Elena's eyes had been blessed with.
As she waited on the loading doors to open to the plane, she took a seat next to a fake potted tree. She glared at the imposter plastic plant with great disdain, feeling a disgust toward it in the pit of her stomach. Suddenly, she hated human life, and being a human herself. All she could think about was being back at the Elven haven, and not ever having to face the outside world again.
She spotted a small strip of green fabric sticking out of her purse. It was the banquet dress the Elven girls had dressed her in. She had stuffed it into her purse as she had rushed to leave that morning, instead of packing it inside her suitcase. She couldn't help but want it to be close to her, as the only tangible reminder that they had really existed.
As they called her gate to board the plane, she took a deep sigh and put the dress away. It really was best to forget about all she had seen, and convince her brain it was a dream before she drove herself crazy.
Sadness overwhelmed her at this thought. She already missed Lysander with her whole heart. Why did it always seem like what was considered the right thing to do was what made her the most miserable? Now, all that she had left to do was finally face the life she had run away from.
It was time to go home, and handle this reality. The time for dreams had ended.