Majestic flower! How purely beautiful
Thou art, as rising from thy bower of green,
Those dark and glossy leaves so thick and full,
Thou standest like a high-born forest queen
Among thy maidens clustering round so fair,--
I love to watch thy sculptured form unfolding,
And look into thy depths, to image there
A fairy cavern, and while thus beholding,
And while thy breeze floats o'er thee, matchless flower,
I breathe the perfume, delicate and strong,
That comes like incense from thy petal-bower;
My fancy roams those southern woods along,
Beneath that glorious tree, where deep among
The unsunned leaves thy large while flowercups hung!
- Christopher Pearce Cranch,
Poem to the Magnolia Grandiflora

Chapter 6: Of Love And Friendship

"Yes who is it that smells always of the ocean and wildflowers?" Elizabeth heard a familiar voice by her side.

"I have no idea. It's just the ramblings of delusional person." Elizabeth looked into the sky. Elizabeth closed her eyes and stretched as she did so. She could hear the itch of kohl traveling across parchment.

"What are you doing?" Elizabeth asked not opening her eyes.

"Nothing really." The young man answered.

"Are you lying to me?" she laughed a little before opening her eyes to look at him. His blonde hair shone in the sun which shone directly behind him.

"Never." He smiled.

"Let me see what you've done, Jonathan." She sat up. Jonathan leaned over and pressed her shoulders gently until she was on her back again with her hands on either side of her head.

"What are you doing?" she smiled.

"I'm trying to draw a sleeping beauty, but she seems to have woken up early." Jonathan said in a low voice.

"Well I can't fall asleep when I've just woken up." She protested.

"I've already finished your sleeping face. I just need to finish the rest." Jonathan answered.

"How awkward." She complained watching as he sat up and started to draw her again.

"Why do you say that?" he asked her with an amused tone.

"Well I have to lay here for a drawing I didn't even commission." Elizabeth looked at Jonathan, his eyes were so concentrated.

"You have a talent for art and science." Elizabeth mentioned.

"My father wouldn't approve. He calls it the inspiration of the devil and witchcraft." Jonathan said hopelessly.

"You do know that it isn't either one." Elizabeth mumbled.

"I know, but he would say you have bewitched me. I have no doubt that he would send you to be burned himself." Elizabeth listened to him.

"You wouldn't let that happen to me though." Elizabeth laughed and raised her hand to play with her hair.

"Magnolia, you better put that hand right where it was." He ordered.

"Fine." She stuck her tongue out at him.

"You really just can't stay still can you?" Jonathan laughed annoyed with her frequent movements.

"I wonder what will happen when I die." Elizabeth said suddenly.

"It would be a sad day, if I were not able to see or hear from you ever again." Jonathan said.

"Say my name." she asked him.

"I will only ever call you Magnolia." Jonathan smiled.

"Why?" she asked.

"You are beautiful like a magnolia and I often find you alone." He answered.

"Are you almost done?" she asked him softly.

"I will never be done if you keep moving." He said.

"Ah, what is it like in town?" Elizabeth asked.

"It's much nicer out here." He answered.

"That wasn't my question…" she whispered disappointed with his answer.

"I suppose its pace is much faster than here. There are brothels, bars, the market, dress shops, bakeries, and the church. There are a lot of pretty girls." He said with the last bit only mentioned to bother her.

"Really, why don't you draw them then?" she bit.

"I was only joking." He laughed.

"Have you finished yet?" she asked.

"Might I tell you what a terrible model you are?" he joked.

"I'm not used to staying still." Elizabeth looked at his hazel eyes.

"You know I could just kiss you and make you still that way." Jonathan said half serious.

"You wouldn't dare, besides it wouldn't be your kiss but your breath that makes me still." Elizabeth stood and began running towards the meadow. Jonathan was a head and a half taller than her and so he could catch her easily. His long legs chased after her. Once the distance was right he caught her waist with his arms. She leaned into him resting her head against him. He took in her scent which he noticed was of the ocean and wildflowers.

"Who told you that you smelled of the ocean and wildflowers?" he asked her seriously.

"Well I don't think you would believe me." Elizabeth said.

"Just tell me please." Jonathan said.

"Tristan Blackwell, I believe." Elizabeth answered. She was well aware that Jonathan did not particularly like Tristan but she did not feel the need to lie to him.

"How long was he here?" Jonathan asked her.

"The night…" she began.

"What!" he yelled.

"It's not what you think." Elizabeth said.

"I warned you about him, he is nothing but a rake, a pervert, a seducer of pretty girls. Yet you allowed him to your cottage for a night." Jonathan was furious; he could feel his blood pulsing through his veins like a raging river.

"He was drowning last night in the ocean. I was on my nightly ride when I saw him splashing about. I could not just let him die. I brought him to the cottage to help him. I didn't even undress him or nurse him. Agnes did all of that." Elizabeth explained swiftly.

"I am sorry that I misunderstood." He hadn't even noticed Elizabeth unravel herself from his arms.

"He would have died if I didn't bring him back to the cottage. He was barely alive when I got him on shore." Elizabeth said.

"Did he thank you properly?" Jonathan asked.

"He doesn't even know that I exist. He was in and out of consciousness when I got the water out of him. This morning he was delusional." Elizabeth said.

"I see, it is probably better that way. I'm sorry truly I am Magnolia." He apologized for the second time.

"All is forgiven. I would hate to disappoint you." Elizabeth said. Jonathan placed both hands on her small shoulders and cupped her face. His fingers grazed her soft skin and traveled to release her hair from the braid it had been in. She looked into his eyes and smiled. He looked so focused and she knew he was focusing only on her. It was as if she were the only person in the world right now.

"Would it be acceptable if I kissed you?" he asked her.

"Not by your father's standards." She whispered.

"My father would adore you." He told her.

"I care only what you think." She said.

"Come to the masquerade with me?" he smiled.

"I…I'd have nothing to wear." She said feeling his hand run through her silken auburn locks.

"You would still outshine everyone in anything you wore." Jonathan inched closer to her lips.

"I'm sorry, I don't think I can. What will people think of me?" Elizabeth answered.

"I will have a dress sent for you." Jonathan promised.

"They will cast me away. I do after all dance with the devil." She ended with sarcasm.

"No one will know it is you that is the beauty of a masquerade." Jonathan smiled at her.

"Are you sure that it will be safe?" Elizabeth asked.

"The masquerade will be fine." He assured her.

"If it is so then I will let you kiss me at its end." She said nervously, her first kiss was well anticipated. He slowly moved closer.

"Thank you, Elizabeth…" he said her name for the first time her eyes opened in shock as his arms wrapped around her. His embrace was soft and warm. Smooth tingles worked over her; she could feel a type of calmness cover her being as she stepped closer to him wrapping her arms around his neck. He pulled away and buried his face in her hair while hugging her tightly. It was an innocent hold for an innocent pair.

"You said my name." Elizabeth smiled at him.

"I don't know what you're talking about." He smiled at her. He wasn't planning on saying her name for a long time.

"What was it like?" she asked with her gaze downcast and a blush covering her cheeks.

"Like my lips touched the petals of a rose when saying your name." He smiled at her only causing her blush to deepen by three shades.

"You are too poetic." She smiled at the ground. Jonathan walked by her side slowly almost shyly taking her hand in his. She found that deep mischievous eyes filled her thoughts for a moment and then she looked back to Jonathan. 'Why are you so…gentle?' she thought looked at Jonathan who led the way to his favorite spot. It was a cliff that over looked the ocean where at sunset the sun set the ocean on fire.

"I come here to think sometimes. I meditate a lot. In fact that is what my parent's think I do every time I come out here. Although I do admit most of it spent here, the rest of the time is with you and Agnes." Jonathan said looking into the distance.

"I was afraid you would reject me completely and I sat here for days thinking about whether or not I should confront my feelings for you." Jonathan told her.

"I'm glad that your decision was so well thought over." Elizabeth said.

"Why is that?" he asked.

"I'm not really sure why." She laughed a little.

"Well I am too, and for the same reason." Jonathan breathed out.

"I looked into Tristan's eyes and I couldn't help but run away." Elizabeth said.

"Why?" Jonathan asked.

"I saw misery that seemed to drag on, but at the same time I saw vibrancy and life, such life in him. It was terrifying." Elizabeth said she felt physically upset just thinking about it.

"I just don't understand how both could live in one person at the same time." Elizabeth said she seemed to be unwilling to drop the subject.

"It is because of his sins, one side of his aches for God while the other seems vibrant because of his addictions. In truth he hates himself and needs to feel others love him so he can let go of his hate." Jonathan said.

"I don't think that is the only theory." Elizabeth said.

"I know because you are truly innocent and that is one of the main things I love about you." Jonathan said.

"Can I see the picture you drew?" Elizabeth asked.

"Why?" he laughed.

"Well because it is of me." She said trying to reach into his coat pocket.

"Let's go to Agnes now. I'm sure she's worried sick over you." Jonathan suggested. Elizabeth grabbed his hand and led the way even though he knew well enough where she was from. Agnes sat outside feeding Leyloo an apple from her hand with a book in the other.

"What is this?" Elizabeth giggled from behind the tree.

"I believe Agnes is having a moment with Leyloo." Jonathan said.

"That old woman always complains about him eating her vegetables, yet she is feeding him an apple." Elizabeth said.

"She's finally lost her mind." Elizabeth said.

"What are you two snickering about back there?" the raspy voice belonging to Agnes sounded through.

"Nothing at all, Mother." Elizabeth stepped out from behind the tree releasing Jonathan's hand as she did. Jonathan missed the warmth, but knew Agnes would be upset if she knew about their budding relationship.

"That Blackwell Judge was here this morning…How I hate the sight of him…he is such a callous old fool." Agnes rambled.

"He only came to fetch his son." Elizabeth tried to calm her.

"Oh, he'll be sending his little servants to spy and do their dirty work here." Agnes coughed.

"Mother, please. He has not any interest in us." Elizabeth assured.

"You should have let that poor wretch drown. It was his fate to drown and you have disrupted the balance." Agnes said.

"Mother! Enough I believe fate is what we make it. Do you not think it was fate that I find and save him from death? Is it hard to believe it was my fate to save him?" Elizabeth snapped.

"You are just a girl, who believes in justice and that alone. You know nothing about the laws of nature. You know nothing of the craft." Agnes ranted.

"I do not want anything to do with the craft." Elizabeth said storming out.

"You know that she gets like this sometimes. You must remember she is a woman of the old ways." Jonathan said.

"How understanding you are." Elizabeth whispered.

"It is in my nature." Jonathan smiled.

"Then understand Tristan." Elizabeth challenged.

"He has everything a son could ask for a father who adores him, good looks, money, status, popularity, and intelligence." Jonathan started,

"He has everything…he is very sharp and so charismatic and yet he advertises himself as a meal at an inn which any passerby may have." Jonathan said.

"Does he have a mother who loves him as dearly as your own does you?" Elizabeth asked.

"I have never paid much interest to Tristan Blackwell. I heard only that his mother died of sickness." Jonathan said with a dark emotion spiraling through his eyes. Elizabeth looked at Jonathan's brown eyes and then hugged him.

"Could it be that he is hurting as well?" she asked him.

"It is not my care." Jonathan wanted to be done with this conversation of Tristan.

"I know that you dislike him as a subject and a person, but I was only curious to know his reasons for being a rake." Elizabeth said.

"Are we done speaking of him?" Elizabeth nodded with a smile.

"I wish I could remember…" Elizabeth whispered to the wind.

"Remember this day tonight before you lay down to sleep." Jonathan said. He grabbed her hands and kissed the small knuckles.

"I am no good for you." Elizabeth said.

"You are the best that could be for me." Jonathan looked into her sea green eyes.

"Such sweet words, how long have you rehearsed?" she jested.

"You are inspiration for instantaneous poetry." He smiled.

"You are trying to make me blush with this flattery." Elizabeth smiled.

"I like to tell you what is in my heart at the moment it enters." Jonathan said. Elizabeth looked at the sky with a small smile. The wind blew across them carrying the scent of spring. A scent that was always enjoyable. Elizabeth breathed it in deeply savoring it. Jonathan watched her eyes close as a smile grew on her lips. 'Exquisite.' She thought to herself. She felt a hand cover hers twining fingers. 'What do I feel when it comes to you Jonathan?' she asked herself with a sigh.

"I love it out here." He told her.

"I know you do." Elizabeth opened her eyes and looked at his profile.

"What do you think about me?" he asked her his hand tightening around hers.

"Well, I think that you are smart and kind." Elizabeth smiled.

"I think the same of you." Jonathan said. 'And more than you care to notice.' He thought with a slightly disappointed look.

"I suppose you are right about Agnes. I should be more understanding of her disposition." Elizabeth said with a sigh standing.

"What color will you be wearing to the masquerade?" Jonathan wondered aloud.

"Well, I'd like to dress in autumn colors but I suppose that's not appropriate." Elizabeth yawned.

"I would like to match, so whatever your decision you will not be alone." Jonathan told her.

"Well if I will not be alone in this. I will be wearing autumn." Elizabeth grinned.

"So then, I shall have a suit tailored to that stimulus." Jonathan said.

"I want you to know that I would wear a color that you wanted." Elizabeth said.

"I want whatever makes you happy." Jonathan said. Elizabeth looked at him with an expectant eye.

"I'm saying you can pick the color of my gown." Elizabeth said.

"I realized, but I would like for you to choose."

Jonathan said.

"You are too obliging towards me." Elizabeth whispered.

"I see, well I shall try to be more of a troublesome person around you." Jonathan joked.

"Impossible, even then you would accommodate me." Elizabeth said. 'Will I disappoint you?' Elizabeth wondered. What if she could not return his feelings? What if she broke his heart? What would she do then if he grew to despise her?

"Why do you have that concentrated look on your face?" Jonathan asked.

"I was only thinking." Elizabeth said.

"It's getting late. Shall I walk you back?" Jonathan asked watching the sun lower.

"I do know my way home you know." She answered.

"It is dangerous." He looked around as the forest darkened.

"I can manage." Elizabeth smiled.

"_" Jonathan opened his mouth to speak but found that Elizabeth covered his lips with her hand.

"Besides, Agnes will think there is something going on between us and that isn't what we want now is it?" Elizabeth released her hand from him.

"Agnes is a logical woman, she knows how you feel." Jonathan said.

"Jon, a decent girl doesn't return home late at night with a boy whom isn't her brother." Elizabeth yawned.

"A decent girl doesn't return home after dark." Jonathan looked at her.

"I never said that I was that girl." Elizabeth laughed. Jonathan stood giving his hand for her to take. She took it with a smile. He walked her home where Agnes eyed him suspiciously. 'I wish there were something for you to be suspicious about.' Jonathan thought.

"I'll be heading back to town now." Jonathan gave a small bow and turned to walk home. Elizabeth walked in the house and ran to grab a candle and lamp for him. It was an old one that Agnes had been meaning to replace but it would have to do.

"Jonathan!" Elizabeth called. He turned around and looked at her.

"You can't go off in the dark. Take this." Elizabeth pushed the lamp towards him.

"Thank you." Jonathan took it.

"Be careful, the bears wake up in a few days and we always hear the earlrned to walk home. Elizabeth walked in the house and ran to grab a candle and lamp for him. It was an old one that Agnes had been meaning to replace but it would have to do.

"Jonathan!" Elizabeth called. He turned around and looked at her.

"You can't go off in the dark. Take this." Elizabeth pushed the lamp towards him.

"Thank you." Jonathan took it.

"Be careful, the bears wake up in a few days and we always hear the early risers around this time." Elizabeth told him.

"I'll be fine." Jonathan smirked.

"What is with that expression?" Elizabeth asked placing a hand on her hip.

"Nothing." He laughed.

"I'm going back then." Elizabeth said giving him a quick peck on the cheek and running towards the cottage without a second glance back. Jonathan smiled and began his walk home.