Here's yet another product of a challenge set forth by my old writing club. I haven't even looked at it in a long time, but I thought you might enjoy it.

~:o:~

The warm leather was comforting beneath her fingertips, memories of days whiled away drawing and writing within the journal's pages fresh in her mind. She smiled; it was a small smile, the kind that only the maker of said smile knows the cause behind the upward tilt of the lips.

She sighed and lay back on the grassy hill. Her legs stretched before her, crossed at the ankles with one shoe coming dreadfully untied. But she paid no mind. Her clear green-gray eyes were fixed completely and totally on the cerulean sky above her. It reminded her—with a small jump of her heart—of the dream that had been haunting her as of late.

Oh, how that dream stirred her! How it brightened the darkness of her nights! How it—Could never come true… Her despondent thought erased the gleeful feeling from her soul and the smile from her face. She turned over on her side on the grass, propping herself up on her elbow and holding her face in her palm.

A more nagging feeling of dread overcame her. Week-long vacations were fun, she decided, especially with her grandmother in her country home deep in the hills away from civilization, where the nearest store or town was a forty-five minute drive away; however, there was a time for going back to school. She groaned faintly, falling back upon the hillock. If there was one thing she didn't want to do, it was go back to school.

There were too many people in that building that she didn't want to see. Far too many painful memories that she knew would never be erased. Even worse was the fact that she often felt alone, betrayed, hated; though she was surrounded by friends every second of the day. Too many failed relationships and failure in general will do that to you, I guess…

She heard her name being distantly called, carried by the wind. "Eirian, Eirian…" She chuckled at her growling stomach and gathered her journal, her sweatshirt, and started toward the house where her grandmother would most likely have a warm dinner waiting.

~:o:~

Dinner, I think, is the most important meal of the day. Say what you want about breakfast, but dinner is more filling and lets you sleep better after you eat it.

Eirian frowned slightly at her messy, scrawled handwriting, but was happy with the last bit of her newest entry nonetheless. She flipped the pages back to a picture of the main character of her dreams: a knight. A knight by the name of Sir Cian.

She wasn't an artist by any means, but was not mediocre either; her picture of him was yet a crude drawing, but she felt that she had captured enough of him for now. Her finger traced his face, his strong, kind face, and her eyes softened. She wanted so badly to meet him in reality. Unfortunately, their time together never exceeded her dreams.

Glancing over at the clock, she saw that it was only half past seven. Her grandmother would want to her to come down soon and play cards, just like they usually did after dinner. Sighing longingly, Eirian stood up from the desk she had been seated at and began to head downstairs.

Minutes later, Grandmother Nelson was dealing out playing cards for a game of Kings in the Corner. She smiled at her granddaughter from across the table. "I can remember when you used to change the rules to five cards in a hand instead of seven just so you could hold them all in your small little hands."

Eirian smiled sheepishly. "Yeah… Hey, can I ask you something?"

"Of course, dear." The older woman neatly placed the rest of the cards in the centre of the table and flipped four of them outward for stacks to begin. "Just play as you do so."

After drawing a card, she said, "Have you ever had the same dream, over and over again?"

"Of course! Everyone has those types of dreams once in a while. Why? Have you got one?"

"Yeah."

Her grandmother's eyes blazed with interest. "Do tell!" She leaned forward for better hearing.

Eirian leaned backward so that essentially they were still the same length apart. "Um… Well, there's this guy. A knight, actually. We just sorta hang out for a while in my dream. That's it."

"That's it?"

"That's it."

Grandmother Nelson sat back in her chair. "Oh. I thought it would have a deeper meaning to it. Ah well." She laid down a card, the last in her hand. "Oh! It appears that I won!" She smiled and gathered up the cards to make the deck whole again. "That happened uncommonly fast. Once more, Eirian?"

"Sure, why not." Eirian sighed as she watched her grandmother shuffle the deck again. She couldn't wait to get to sleep that night.

~:o:~

Once she arrived in the town, she was disappointed to see that Sir Cian was not waiting for her by the fountain, as he had promised. She sat herself on the ledge of the stone work and gazed into the water. Her long brown hair was swept back into a simple ponytail at the base of her neck as was usual. She tucked a stray wisp behind her ear.

She sat like that for quite a few minutes, occasionally looking around at the townspeople, but mostly Eirian looked at herself. She didn't appear any different than she usually would, but she still enjoyed medieval attire and the way that she just seemed fit in with the other people.

A face appeared above her in the water. "You look fine, Eirian; no need to use the fountain as a mirror."

She turned and flung herself into the knight's arms. "Cian! I knew you wouldn't just leave me!"

He chuckled deeply, the force of it setting his breastplate vibrating against her. "Of course not. Not even the dragon I just finished slaying could keep us apart."

"You slain a dragon?" She looked up into his sooty and scratched face with a gasp.

"It was only a small dragon, about the size of yourself with soft scales and the fire of a blacksmith's forge. Not a very dangerous lizard at all." He smiled at her and gently poked her nose. "Now, now, wipe that worry look from your face. I'm alive and well, and you're here. What more do we need?"

"Very true." Eirian took his gauntleted hand in hers and began to lead him away.

"Where are you taking me?" He laughed as they hurried through the streets and back alleys. "Eirian!" He planted his feet in the ground, forcing her to stop, and pulled her against him. "Where are we going, I ask again?"

"I have to tell you something." She gazed up at him innocently.

"What then?"

"I don't know when I'll see you again. My… My environment, shall we say, is changing. I don't know if I'll ever see you again." Oddly enough, a tear or two trickled down her face. She didn't think it was possible for one to cry in their dreams.

Cian gently swiped it away with his thumb. "We will, Eirian, we will. I hope to see you—"

His voice was drowned out by an obnoxious beeping. She shook her head and her eyebrows slanted downward in confusion. "What?"

"I said, I hope to see you—"

The beeping sounded again, only louder than before. This time, Cian disappeared completely, and Eirian awoke to see her bedroom's ceiling above her. Time for school… Give me strength to not die in that hell…

~:o:~

Her day had gone decently well. Her friends asked the usual questions about her weekend, and she answered them shortly and with a distracted manner. Eirian told no one about Sir Cian, or the dreams, or anything else pertaining to them. She didn't want a soul to know her secret.

During a free period in her day she went to the school's library. She loved the smell of books, for it was calming to her, and the silence of the room was comforting. As she passed by the librarian's desk she read the word of the day. Valor… That means to have bravery in the face of danger… Well, Cian certainly had a lot of that, that's for sure.

She went directly to the fantasy section and began to look over the books about knights and wizards and whatnot that interested her. Anything so that at least part of Cian's spirit remained with her. She reached for a blue-bound book when her hand brushed another.

Eirian gasped softly and flinched. She looked at the person whom she had made contact with. "Oh Lord…" She breathed.

The young man smiled nervously. "Sorry. You, uh, wanted that book?"

"Well, I… I'm not sure… Do you?"

"Not if you wanted it."

She was becoming frightened of this boy. She knew who he was, and that is what frightened her. He was Jason. Jason what, exactly, she had no idea, but the fact that he WAS Jason was very discomforting. He was the type of person that was too good for her, a fact that she was well and uncomfortably aware of.

He kept the awkward, lopsided grin on his face. It was then that she realized that Jason and Cian could very much be one in the same person. They both looked the same, very nearly acted the same… Yes, indeed, they were the same.

But why was I dreaming of Jason…?

He pulled the book from the shelf and handed it to her. "Here. You take it. I'll find another copy."

Eirian looked at the tome and to his face, rapidly back and forth. "Ermm… Thank you?"

"No problem. Eirian, right?"

"Yeah…" She offered him a small smile as her face threatened to heat up like a forge.

Jason nodded and began to walk off to another section of the library. She gazed after him for a time before her feet ran after him. Her heart was beating wildly. "Jason! Jason, wait."

He stopped and turned to her, waiting patiently as she jogged to his side. "Yeah?"

"I was wondering, if… Um…" As she looked up into his face she became lost in the fact that he looked so much like Cian and how wrong it was for her to be talking to him. Fear and excitement pounded through her veins.

"Here, I'll check that out for you." He grabbed the book from her hand and went up to the librarian's desk.

She followed him numbly. After the book was checked, he began talking to her casually. Within a few minutes she relaxed into a conversation with him involving the knights of old and other topics of history.

Eirian thought over the word of the day again. Valor means bravery. Perhaps not just in danger, but bravery for coming to school…and for talking to people like Jason.

~:o:~

We had been working on one-word prompts at the time and mine was valor.

Reviews are appreciated!

-A.K.