The Red Stone
The fire roared as its shadows danced along the walls. They were taunting her, cheering for her. Laughing at her. The woman crawled on the ground feeling her way along the wall. The smoke was getting thicker by the minute, it stung her eyes and even with the wet cloth she kept against the lower part of her face she couldn't stop coughing. Her bruised and battered body was exhausted from the long fight, but she had to find him. She pulled the cloth away from her face and began to call out his name. Her voice scratchy from the smoke and her tears. As she rounded a corner and entered a room she caught the bulky shape of something on the floor.
"John! John...Can you hear me?"
She tried to stand and let out a gasp of pain, she clutched her ribs and limped to him. She fell to the floor next to him and looked him over. His black hair was matted down with blood. There wasn't an inch of skin that wasn't covered in blood, or cuts, or bruises. She sobbed as she tried to shake him awake.
"John, it's me… it's me Charlotte…can you hear me? John!" She placed her hands on top of his head and closed her eyes. Instead of feeling the warm spark of magic, she felt nothing.
"Please..please…don't die. Please." She sobbed over him, pushing magic to her hands.
Damn it, they had been warned about this. Wintergreen was not only a powerful Witch; she was a smart one. She knew that even as powerful as she was, there will always be someone stronger. With spell upon spell on her house and every defensive stone known, and some unknown, placed around the property; outside magic was completely blocked. White magic, Black magic, Were-Magic, even Fairy Magic. Anyone who dared to enter the compound was completely stripped.
Charlotte wrapped her arms around John and hugged him close. This couldn't be the end. Sobs shook her body as she tried to figure out a way out of this. Guilt clawed through her head as she acknowledged that this was her fault.
I've killed us both.
"HELP! SOMEONE HELP US! PLEASE!" she screamed, over and over until the sound became barely a whisper. She looked around; the flames were making its way into the small room and climbing up the walls.
She placed her hands on either side of John's face and leaned forward until their noses were practically touching, her red hair falling down forming a curtain around them as she whispered "John, can you hear me? I-I d-don't think we're going to m-make it."
She pressed her forehead against his as the tears fell from her eyes onto his.
"I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry."
Her eyes drooped as the smoke grew thicker. Just as she was sure she was going to pass out, everything around her froze. The air suddenly clear, Charlotte sucked in a deep breath as she sat back and looked around the room confused. The flames looked like bright glass frozen against the walls. What the hell was going on?
"You seem to be in quite the predicament, Darling."
Charlotte jumped up and pulled the Glock from her waist. A woman came into the room, her long dark dress flowing along the floor. She stopped until she was a few feet from Charlotte and John. Charlotte stepped in front of John and aimed the gun at her. The woman narrowed her eyes at Charlotte before throwing her head back and laughing. Her hair, a mass of inky black curls, brushed over her shoulders as she looked back at Charlotte and giggled.
"Oh, sweetie. You can't hurt me, you know that!" The woman raised her arms and the fires came back alive for a minute before going out completely. Charlotte's eyes widened and she looked around the room.
"Who are you? How are you able to use magic?!" Charlotte's arms shook as she tried to hold them steady. The woman looked at Charlotte and sympathy filled her face. She reached out one hand,
"You know who I am and you know I can help you."
Charlotte nearly dropped her gun as she realized what was going on. She was an idiot, who else could it be? No one could use magic in Wintergreen's compound. Except for Wintergreen herself.
"Your 'help' is making a deal with the devil!" Charlotte spat at her.
I will not be fooled," She let her arms fall and held the gun at her side looking at John, "whatever you plan on offering, I won't take it anyway...he's dying. I don't need to live if he isn't."
Wintergreen looked down at John, her red lips forming a pout, "Poor little hero. Such a strong were-warrior. He just wants to make his father proud. He was doing a hell of a job too; he killed hundreds of my men. On his way to victory…" Wintergreen whispered "...until you came in and ruined the party."
Charlotte's eyes snapped back to Wintergreen'ss face as hers reddened with shame. Wintergreen began to slowly circle around Charlotte, the bottoms of her long dress gliding along the floor again.
"Little girl, did you really think you were strong enough to come here? Hmmm? He told you to stay home. He said you weren't ready, didn't he Charlotte?"
Wintergreen paused and stepped close to Charlotte placing a hand on her shoulder. Charlotte shivered as she felt the cold seep through her shirt.
Wintergreen whispered in a tune against her ear, "But you didn't listen!"
Once again she stepped in front of Charlotte, Her long fingers gripped her chin and lifted her face. Tears were flowing free and heavy from Charlotte's eyes and she stared at Wintergreen.
"I was just trying to help," She tried to say it with strength and conviction, but her lips trembled and it came out broken and weak.
"But you didn't help him. Because of your selfishness, he's lying on the floor about die. Because you weren't strong enough for him, he loses everything. I mean, you're 16! Did you really think you deserved a man like John? With all the women available, It's positively delusional!" Wintergreen laughed loudly, " but I can help you. I can help him."
Charlotte's head hung down, but the last part of what Wintergreen said caused her to glance up and look at her.
"What can you do for him?"
Wintergreen gave Charlotte a slow smile. "The deal I am offering is quite simple actually. I'm practically helping you for nothing. I will save his life, in exchange for 50 years of yours. That's all."
Charlotte narrowed her eyes at Wintergreen, "How do I know you aren't lying?"
Wintergreen moved to sit in a chair at the table and magicked a scroll of paper and pen. Without looking up she replied, "You know the stories sweetheart. Have I ever turned back on a deal? I do what I say I'll do. I don't need to lie to get what I want." Wintergreen waved a hand over the scroll as words began to appear one by one,
"Very simple for you to read, I will heal him to save his life and you will give me 50 years of yours. All you need to do is sign at the dotted line."
Charlotte fell to her knees next to John and hugged him close. She began to shake her head, when Wintergreen crooned to her,
"Let me help you, Charlotte. Life has been so cruel to you. Poor sweet girl. No mom and dad of your own, no family members who care."
Charlotte began to sob harder as the words pierced her heart.
"You've made a mistake, I know you didn't mean to. The others won't understand, everyone will blame you. I can be on your side. I can be your family. Let me help you.
Charlotte slowly quieted and as she lay John back down, she stroked his forehead and cheek with her hand. He was beautiful, even bruised and battered like he was now, absolutely beautiful. He was unlike anyone she had ever met. So strong and loving towards her and this is how she repaid him. Wintergreen was right, she was a stupid and selfish child. John deserved so much more than what she had to give. She had to make this right.
She leaned forward and kissed him gently on the lips, frantically searching his face to make sure she would remember everything about him.
"I love you, John. A new start to live the life you deserve. The life you were leading before I ruined it."
She held him for a moment trying not to, once again, give in to tears that came from her shattered heart. Slowly, she raised to her feet and walked to Wintergreen.
"I will take your deal on one condition."
Wintergreen leaned back in the chair and crossed her arms. She arched a brow and looked at Charlotte expectedly,
Charlotte looked back at John while she spoke,
"Save his life and take his memories. I don't want him to remember me and feel guilty about what I had to do or be angry at what I've done."
Wintergreen stood up and enveloped Charlotte in her arms. Charlotte tried to pull away, but ended up leaning into her as realization and exhaustion of everything went through her. She knew she was doing the right thing, she had been so caught up in the fairy tales she had created in her head that she actually believed that she and John had a chance.
Charlotte pulled back and walked over to the table and to pick up the pen. With Wintergreen's eyes following her every movement, she leaned forward and signed the scroll. Wind began to fill the room and grew faster and louder as each second passed by. She ran back to John and threw herself onto him. Grabbing his face with her hands she whispered,
"I love you John. I am so sorry for everything that I did to you. I love you, wherever this leads us. I will never forget you, I will love you for always. Always."
Charlotte leaned forward and pressed her lips against Johns one last time. As she pulled back to look at him, she saw his eyes flutter slightly before opening slowly. His eyebrows creased as he frowned up at her,
His already deep voice sounded even rougher. Charlotte smiled at him gently,
"It's alright John, I'm sorry. I've fixed everything."
His eyes widened with confusion as he tried to look around them. Papers and pieces of furniture flew around them, it looked like a mini tornado was in the room with them.
Then he heard her laughing. He looked back at Charlotte, Panic filling his chest and closing his throat.
"No, no. Tell you didn't, Charls."
She nodded her head, "It's okay. I know what I'm doing, now you can have everything you deserve. I love you."
"I love you, Charlotte. Always. What ever the hell is about to happen, I will find my way back to you. I'll never give up."
Confusion flashed in Charlotte's eyes, "What?"
Before she could continue a bright light flashed, and then again 3 seconds later, brighter than the first. Flashes of light began to fill the room and as Charlotte looked up to Wintergreen, she saw her smile.
With one last flash of bright white light, Charlotte felt herself fall away from John. The last thing she heard was Wintergreen's voice before everything fell to darkness.
"It is done!"
sort of revised*