(Several Years later)

Jay:

Jay was walking with his mother to the Oracle's room. He hadn't seen Rella all day, which didn't worry him. She spent most of her time helping around the castle and visiting with the Oracle. He didn't understand their relationship, something about her mysterious ways appealed to Rella. He shook his head and smiled at the thought.

"Mother, what is this meeting for?" He asked hoping for some enlightenment.

"I do not know son," She said honestly.

They walked in silence down the dark corridor, and entered into the quarters of the Oracle. The sight almost took Jay's breath away. Rella was kneeling next to the sofa, whispering to the Oracle who looked tired and old. She looked to Jay, and he saw tears in her eyes.

"Come, sit there with the others." The Oracle whispered in a hoarse voice.

Rella:

The council had arrived and they were seated in various chairs around the room. All looked very concerned; even Jay's mother looked worried. I had been under the impression that she hid her emotions completely, this slight imperfection in her wall of defense made me admire her more. I helped the woman sit up on the dark sofa.

"My life's purpose has come to an end." The Oracle began; I tuned out and bowed my head crying silent tears.

Then something occurred to me that I hadn't thought about when I first heard of the Oracle's death. It seemed like only yesterday that I was sitting in her room listening to this. It was hard to imagine that six years had passed, and I was now twenty-three. Looking back on all that had happened in those weeks; I realized what a strong child I was.

"Ma'am," I interrupted and was given a look by all the council members, even Jay. I smiled meekly.

"Yes my dear," she responded ignoring the council all together.

"If fairies are immortal, why is it that you are dying?" I heard some gasps around the room. Were the council members really that thick, or was I being too blunt?

"My darling, don't you know?" She stroked my cheek. As soon as the words were out of the woman's mouth, I was thrown into a vision.

This was unlike the others I had encountered. I found myself watching a scene from long ago. The Oracle was a young fairy, and extraordinarily lovely. She stood outside the Realm waiting; she smiled off in the distance when she saw something from the other end of the thicket. I looked over to see what she had spotted, it was a man. She ran to him and he snapped his fingers. Before she knew it, she was thrown on the ground and pinned by some sort of beast. I recognized it immediately.

"He bit you too," my voice was barely above a whisper.

"Yes," She said.

"But you didn't die," I said softly. I realized slowly why that was. "Because you are Fae,"

The woman nodded. I looked at her with new eyes, she was a fighter. I took her hand slowly and was silent through the rest of the meeting. At the end, everyone's eyes were on mine.

"Rella darling," The Queen said. "Do you accept this offer?" I shook myself from my thoughts.

"Yes, I do." I smiled sadly and stood and left. The rest of the meeting was strictly council.

Jay found me standing just outside the Willow. I was looking at the thicket and waiting for the terrible beast to come outside and attack.

"Why didn't you tell me?" He asked suddenly. I turned to him and looked at my feet ashamed; I saw this coming… literally.

"It wasn't the right time, besides it was not meant to be that way." I said. He gave me a look of annoyance. I took his hand, and he stroked mine as a sign of forgiveness.

"You sound like her you know?"

"Do I?" I asked. "And I suppose I am just as creepy as she?" Jay laughed and shook his head. He stepped forward and looked at the wilderness around us.

"It is very beautiful outside." I said softly. Jay turned, and his eyes lit up.

"It is indeed." He said, taking my hand. "You look gorgeous today." I blushed, remembering how the day would end.

"Let's go," I whispered. "I've foreseen this conversation, and our whole day is planned."

He laughed lightly and I felt my heart flutter. He took my hand and pulled me to him. Leaning down, he kissed me lightly; I felt my as light as a feather when he held me close.

"Now, what is it we do next?" He asked expectantly. I winked at him and stepped farther into the Willow.

"That I do not know. I only know how it ends." He waited for her to continue. "We spend the day together and then have dinner with my parents."

Jay gave me a flashing smile, and I about melted inside. Despite seeing him every day, his beauty blew my breath away. The sparkle in his eyes was so warm and inviting that I couldn't look away.

"I am glad I can still surprise you," He said taking my hand in both of his and kissing it softly."

"What do you mean?" I said curious. Lifting off his feet his hovered above me and pulled me with him. I felt my wings flutter instinctively, and I followed him as he pulled me higher and higher. He stopped only when we were at the top of the willow.

"Look around," he said softly into my ear. I did as he said, and it was astonishing. I was truly at a loss for words.

"Isn't it beautiful?" He asked, pulling me to him.

Beautiful was almost an understatement. I looked around and down below us. The Willow that was home to the realm was truly enchanted. It stood far above all the other trees in the forest. At the north, the tree faced a lovely lake that looked out onto the mountains in the distance. And to the east the wolves den was in clear view. I felt a soft pang in my heart when I looked at the den. As I watched I saw new cubs playing in the fields, with their mothers' watchful eyes always alert. This made me smile; life occurring around even after death. To the west the mountain range was in full view, even a small river flowed between the pass.

I looked around; there was life everywhere. Butterflies flew below frolicking amongst themselves happily. Birds chirped as they danced in the sunlit sky. I spun around once more and tried to capture the vast beauty and save it for my dreams. Finally I looked to the south; in the distance you could see the city. I was filled with a somber joy; I truly wasn't that far from either of my homes. Alas, I turned back to Jay. He was kneeling on the in midair smiling. I perched myself lightly on a branch to keep from falling to the ground.

"Rella," he began, smiling widely. I looked into his eyes, and felt completely lost in them.

"Yes," I managed after a moment. He took my hand and placed it against his cheek. His face was moist with tears.

"Marry me," He said, I could feel his compulsion at work. I frowned, but I knew he was only teasing. He smiled even wider and waited patiently.

"And if I say no?" I said looking away.

"I will ask again tomorrow," He said. I could tell he was smiling though. Involuntary my wings fluttered with joy; and that gave me away. Turning to him, I smiled brilliantly and took his face in my hand.

"Yes." Before the words were out of my mouth I heard a holler from below us. Jay had swooped up and taken me in his arms flying higher and higher. Then he kissed me, the way he had done so many times before; so soft and passionate.

"I've never felt this much over kissing," I laughed at the memory. He laughed too, throwing his head back. Then his lips met mine and we floated slowly to the ground.

When we finally touched the ground again Kale and Jeremy were waiting anxiously. Jeremy moved to Jay and shook his hand, then hugged him tightly. Kale engulfed me in a huge hug and whispered,

"Finally," he laughed. I looked at Jay, who was beaming. He never looked happier.

"So Rella," Jay said. "I think we have some great news to tell you parents when we go over for dinner."

I threw my head back and laughed. He had everything planned I realized; and from there everything else fell into place.