As she sat in the gardens of Glenayre alone, the Knight reflected upon the events of the past few days. She had known what was going to happen, and had done what was required of her. That didn't ease the pain, though. She shivered as a cool breeze hit her, carrying the scent of night flowers. The scent stirred memories from half a lifetime ago; memories Kathryn would just as soon leave undisturbed in her mind this night. To her dismay and sorrow, those memories were persistent, and forced their way into her thoughts. He was there. His perfect features...his gentle touch...and always, the smell of flowers...
She was a girl on the brink of becoming a woman. Just 13 years old, young Kathryn had all of the hopes and dreams of a young girl entering the world. Kathryn was pretty, with auburn hair, blue eyes and an easy smile. Her thoughts that day were of romance. She knew that her parents would arrange a marriage for her someday. She hoped he would be kind and loving and handsome, like the man she dreamed of when she looked in the pond at her parent's manor. He was tall, and lithe, with long blonde hair and grayish blue eyes, and a timeless look to him. She often imagined she saw him as she walked in the woods or through the meadows where the sheep grazed lazily. He was her prince, and she his princess.
In her imagination, they danced under the stars and rode on horseback over green fields. He would sing songs and recite poetry about her beauty and his love for her. He would chase her playfully; sometimes she would let him get just close enough to touch her before she ran faster to get away, but always he would catch her in the end, and they would tumble over the grass until they came to a stop. There they would lie laughing in breathless delight, tangled in each other's arms, gazing lovingly into each other's eyes.
She walked around the pond, smelling a flower that she had picked just moments ago from her mother's garden. The sky reflected clearly in the still waters; Kathryn could see the clouds in the sky and the birds flying overhead. Then she smelled the scent of flowers. Not the flower she was holding, but other flowers. She couldn't name which flowers they were; the scent was too perfect, too flowery for any flowers she knew of, yet they were definitely flowers. Kathryn thought of her grandmother, who used to smell flowers at odd times. She would say something about them smelling glamorous, but Kathryn didn't understand the comment.
Without knowing why, Kathryn looked into the pond, and was startled to see her prince staring back at her from a forest. Enthralled and a little too curious, she stepped forward to look closer. She definitely saw a forest, but it was no forest she had ever seen before. The colors were more vivid, and the whole forest seemed somehow more alive. Her prince was there, looking at her through the pond. He suddenly seemed to notice she was looking directly at him, and, with a look of astonishment on his face, he turned as if to leave. "No, don't go!" Kathryn cried as she reached forward to keep her prince from leaving. The man in the pond hesitated, as if he heard her, and then hurried even more. The forest started to fade. Kathryn couldn't let it fade like this. She had to be with her prince. She reached forward a little more, hoping to be able to touch him. Overbalanced, Kathryn fell into the pond.
She knew that she should be wet. She knew that the pond wasn't deep. She knew that she would be safe if she just stood up. The problem was, she wasn't wet at all, and she fell far farther than she should have. She wasn't in water, this much she knew. There was a dim light around her, but she couldn't see anything. Something was pressing in on her, as if she was being buried alive. Kathryn felt as if she was suffocating and couldn't move her arms or legs. She wanted to scream, but couldn't get any air in her lungs. She started to see spots in her vision from a lack of air, and her attempts to fight it were becoming weaker and weaker. The dim light grew dimmer and dimmer, fading to black with each passing moment.
Two hands grabbed Kathryn's hands and pulled. The blackness turned to a smoky gray, then a pale gray, then the light blue of the sky, with the dappled greens of a forest adding accent. The closeness she had felt opened up and she gulped in the fresh, crisp air, and she felt the soft, tickling sensation of grass under her feet. Kathryn looked at her savior's hands and followed them up to his face. Her heart skipped a beat - it was him! She had been rescued by her prince! With a slight smile, he helped her stand up.
"You should be more careful, Kathryn. I might not always be able to help you out." He knew her name! Surely this was a sign that they were meant to be together. Kathryn blushed, unable to speak to this handsome stranger.
"Are you alright? Were you hurt?"
"Yes - no..." Kathryn blurted. "Rather, yes, I'm fine, and no, I'm not hurt."
"That's good to know. You should be more careful around portals. You were lucky I had turned around one more time to look through it before it closed. I saw you fall into it."
"Portals? Where am I?"
"You're in Bryn Bressail , my home."
Kathryn's eyes grew wide. She had heard the stories of the Sidhe , both good and bad. They took people away to Bryn Bressail who returned centuries later, or, worse, were never seen again. The Sidhe had helped people in times of need. Their queen was a fierce and terrible queen who hated mortals. Their queen was beautiful beyond description. The Sidhe were locked in an eternal struggle with evil forces. The Sidhe were evil forces. Now Kathryn was talking to one of them. He didn't seem so terrible. He was actually rather nice. He had even saved her. There were also stories about Sidhe who loved mortals, and the grand romances they had. Perhaps he could be her prince, after all.
"I've been rude. I already know your name, but you couldn't know mine. You may call me Caradoc ."
"I'm pleased to meet you, Caradoc ," Kathryn said with her best curtsy.
"Are you hungry? Thirsty? I assure you I will not harm you. I've been watching you for some time. Humans fascinate me. I knew your Grandmother, and watched your mother grow from a child, then watched you as well."
He knew Grandmother? How old was he? Kathryn knew that the Sidhe didn't age as humans did, but she had never really given it much thought.
"I'm a little thirsty, but I really should be going home. Mother will be worried. I could come back later, though."
Caradoc laughed gently. "You would leave so soon? We've only just met. Surely you can stay a little longer and talk. I promise I will get you back to your family."
"Well, if you promise, I guess I can stay for a little while longer."
"I'm glad. Did you know you have the ability to use Glamour?"
"No, I didn't. Are you sure about that? Wouldn't I know if I could...I mean...shouldn't I feel something in me...something...well...different?"
Caradoc laughed. "No, you wouldn't feel anything different. You were born with the ability; it's a part of you. You just need to be taught how to use it. I can teach you."
"You can? Really?"
"Of course. Glamour is a part of who and what we are. We can do things with Glamour that you mortals cannot." Caradoc picked up a rock. "I will teach you how to do this..." With a flourish, the rock turned into a red rose. "All I need is some of your time, and your willingness to learn."
Kathryn hesitated. She really should return home and let her parents know she was alright, but the temptation of spending time with Caradoc pulled very strongly. She looked at the rose, then at Caradoc . Kathryn decided that her parents wouldn't miss her for a few hours more...