Chapter Twelve

It had been quite a while since Leah encountered a slumber so deep, no dream could spurn from her imaginative mind. Darkness of color—one that many see when they rest—danced in her vision. That, and the warmth that shed upon her body, was the only thing she could feel. It was the certain warmth that made no one want to awaken; it was similar to Death's cloak when it decided to take you onto another journey. There were no memories in Leah's mind—the only thing she thought of was how comfortable she was and how her body seemed to float on blankets of clouds.

But Leah would be made to leave the sky far too soon. Feeling came to her body, and she became quite aware that something had been watching her—wherever she was to begin with. The deafness from the world of darkness could only cease now, and she could feel her own blood rushing to the lobes of her ears. The faint chimes of bells came first—not quite; they were the hymns and greetings of the birds. Leah's own breath sounded now, rather heavily, and she realized that her mouth was quite open, gaping for the air that had been so alike to the mixing of pure snowflakes and the air of Eden. The air slipped into her lungs, which she could feel so meticulously; but even if she wanted to jump from the peculiar sensation, her body would not let her.

The sound of swishing came now. Rather quaint and patience, as if the waters were allowing leaves and fishes to get ahead of them. There was no wind; only the steady warmth brushed against her skin with a comfort that reminded her of her mother. Leah's heart quickened to the though; was it heaven she was in? Ah, and so the stream of thoughts began slipping back into her mind. If she were in heaven, what then became of her grandfather? And the Benitans? What of the frozen prince? Though heaven felt wonderfully sublime, a twinge of doubt snuggled close to her heart.

Leah twitched her fingers, and then her lips. Her nostrils flared at the scent of mints, cinnamons—a fragrance of flowers and seeds of nature flourished the sky, yet not so heavily to disdain the air of the mountains. The sounds of the waters were beginning to bug her; the corner of her lips grimaced. It danced gently, and quite familiarly. With a groan and a squeezing of her eyes, Leah's shoulders quivered, and wobbled. She was beginning to hate being so incapable of controlling her limbs.

She could feel her own eyelashes struggling against one another, and several times she had attempted to break away from the darkness. Someone had certainly let honey dry over her eyes, she thought. Gasping for a great breath, her lungs gushed with air, and she gnashed her teeth together and gave one final attempt. At last, vision came to her.

Giant tiles of mosaic, she thought. But it had indeed been her vision. At first, only blots of color seemed to splatter what she looked upon. Leah's body had gone rigid again, quite too lifeless for the bright girl. She sighed breathlessly, and waited a short while to gain the strength to blink. Never in her life had she felt like so—not even when the flu had struck her on the coldest days of the country. Maybe, she thought, she really had crossed paths with death.

Leah batted her eyelids several times at last. And truly, at last she had gained her vision. If she had the energy to gasp again, she would have—but her body lay limp against the blades of grass she had felt beneath her fingertips. A blue sky hung far overhead, the quaintest and lightest she had ever seen upon the canvas of the world; a sun, too, sat just besides the scatter puffs of clouds. Sunlight spilt across her eyes, and had warmed her body while she had been slumbered away. It was rather gentle for a sun; it seemed like a glowing white light more than a blaring ray. It was also rather remarkable—perhaps the most remarkable thing, had it not been for the person who was peering down at her.

A man, with glistening hair white as the purest snow and skin paler than hers—yet far more beauteous than her own—gazed upon her. Even the shadows upon his sun-cowering face could not fade the strange light that came from him. And his eyes—Leah's breath fled her—was far more splendid than the sky; it had been as if the brightest crystals danced within them.

But Leah knew straight away. The man's defined face, the glower that came from him—he was certainly the one from her dream, and perhaps the one who had led her to the frozen prince.

She attempted to lift her body up from the bed of grass. Straight away, and quite involuntarily, a wearisome moan left her lips.

"Stop that." the man snapped. Reaching over, his silver sleeves brushed against the side of her ear as he adjusted her shoulders back from where they rose. A strange, cold chill warmed her body from his touch, and he grimaced at her. "You're not going to get better like that, you know?"

Leah crinkled a laugh. His voice was alike to the lake that had been swishing around nearby somewhere. Her eyes blinked at him. She was growing rather irritated now; raising right arm, she wobbled her hand and let it drop onto his silver robe. Perhaps his lap, she thought, but whatever would have gained his attention. Her fingers strained slightly—unraveled like rocks—and tugged.

A few attempts at whisper of syllables came from her. At last, she feebly sounded, "…pl…ease…"

The silk strands from the man's hair seemed to rustle unsteadily, though there was not even the faintest of breezes. The corner of his lips twitched further down, and his white eyebrows furrowed slightly, prepared to scold. Instead, a breath flared out of his nose. "Fine."

The man towered over her when he stood. His hidden hands beneath the silver sleeves dusted at the strands of grass. The threading upon the robe itself was dainty and astonishing; silver threads and crystals marked strange symbols upon the hems, and sapphire threads danced along the neckline and everywhere else deemed fit to. It was no wonder why he wanted to keep it clean—though, Leah wanted to snicker when she caught sight of leaves and grass tousled over the silver hood resting behind his back.

Leah could only imagine what he was doing—which she couldn't stand. There is much truth in what her grandfather said of her; she was the reason why curiosity killed the cat. She clenched her teeth in hopes to mute herself, and slowly she crooned her neck enough to see straight ahead of her.

There, she found the source of the sounds of water. A crystal lake, iridescent and flaunting with glitters, was only a few feet beyond her. It was also where the man was headed. Surprisingly, he had stepped into the water, uncaring for the robe becoming damp as the fishes. Leah watched the frame of his back bend over to retrieve something; he hesitated often, tracing the glides of the gentle stream with his hidden hands. It had been as if she were watching the movements of the water nymphs—but that would be silly, because he was a man and water nymphs did not appear in dreams no matter how much they willed to.

Leah let her head plod back onto the ground when she thought he had begun to turn. Her breath quickened, in wonder and in fear that she might be scolded. But the footsteps came silently, and she abruptly realized that the man had taken his spot near her again, except behind her at this time.

Not a word left him, and he seemed to not care for a permission of any sort; his hands clasped around her shoulders, lifted them and tugged her close enough so that her body was crookedly leaning against his knee. A hand came to view—the silver sleeves seemed scrunched back to his elbow—and in his palm was a rather large yellow shell.

"This is to drink," he said nonchalantly. A large thud sounded to Leah's right. Twitching her head quite painfully, she found a silver bin. She looked back up at the man and raised her eyebrow in question. "And this," he continued. "is for your vomit."

Not too appealing, she thought. The man wounded his left arm across her body for support, and he brought the shell to her lips. In it was an iridescent liquid—perhaps from the lake. Leah was of course a young adventurer who believed nothing could truly harm her; willingly, she parted her lips to let the liquid slink across her tongue and through her throat. An enticing sweetness tingled her tastes, and she gulped the rest eagerly. The man's lips seemed tick into a witty grin, and he placed the shell onto the floor and helped Leah sit up.

Whatever pain had resided with her during her slumber was no more; her body burst with youth once again, and her bones no longer felt tattered; she could grin, frown—something she became grateful for—and she could wind and unwind her fingers much more easily. Though, she was still leaning against the man's arm. Turning around, Leah beamed at him with the brightest smile she could provide. She was glad to feel the orange strands that caressed her neck.

And a smile was returned. Though, it seemed more of a smirk, and Leah's eyes followed to where his finger pointed. It was the silver bin.

Leah shook her head. "But I feel so much better," she said quite proudly.

The man stood up from where he had sat. "Is that so? Well, come then."

Never once had the sly grin left his lips, and there was reason for this. As soon as Leah had attempted to stand up, the energy that had resided in her youth began to churn towards her stomach. Feeling rather foolish of herself, she refused to accept it; her legs stumbled to a stand. Her stomach moaned, and her throat throbbed. There was no struggle in the end; Leah fell back onto her knees and grasped for the bin. The man could only chortle as she hurled her illness into it.