To put it plainly, Cornelia was having an awful day.
She had flunked a test (which her parents were going to be oh so pleased about) and was currently trudging back to her home in secrecy, having just arrived back from Meridian following a particularly nasty fight; with some of it’s less savoury citizens.
As if to make matters worse it was also winter. Cold, lifeless, those poor trees they look so cold – winter. It wasn’t her favourite season let’s just say that.
Speaking of trees and seasons, her eye was caught by a florist shop. That was, amazingly, open at such a late hour. Pausing midstep on the pavement her mind ticked through the pros and cons of going to take a look. Figuring that she was already late enough that five more minutes couldn’t do much harm, her hand tucked a sliver of blonde behind her ear and she headed towards the quaint building.
You would think that having spent the past evening utilising plant life as weapons, that she would like to stay as far away from greenery during her day-to-day life as possible. This was not the case – not today at any rate. Looking about the shelves at the pots and flowers she allowed a sense of calm to flood through her. It was nice to see that some life still existed, amongst the barren white expanse that Heatherfield became this time each year.
Perhaps it was this moment of good cheer that prompted her to pick up one of the flower catalogues, never mind that she could create any flower she wished at any given moment and that her usual browsing involved fashion rather than gardening. In any case, a brief glance at her watch signalled she really should be sneaking back to her room right about now if she didn’t want to snore in class the next day.
Thankfully, the following day was a much better one. Resolving to get as much relax time as possible her trips to the boutiques made her forget all about the little catalogue from the previous night, that was currently tucked away in her third bedside draw.
A few weeks went by and its existence had no effect on her life.
But then it became time for her monthly room cleanup. Cornelia happened to pride herself on having a pristine room, pillows perfectly fluffed and shoes colour co-ordinated. It was during this period that she stumbled upon the little slip of paper once more. Her hand wavered towards the trash as she took notice of a subheading neatly printed upon it.
‘Flowers and their meanings’
The text continued to describe what it promised, with a variety of flowers pictured with their traditional meanings alongside them. For instance,
Arrangement: 12, long stemmed in a bouquet.
Meaning: Romantic/Passionate love, a call to stay with a lover forever in an enduring relationship. Often used at weddings or on Valentine’s Day.’
(The romantic in her swooned a little)
Without noticing it minutes passed by as Cornelia curled up on her sofa, blue eyes flickering across the page in concentration.
It was almost funny; she was supposed to be the resident Earth Guardian yet she apparently didn’t know all that much about what she was able to create. She had always known that different flowers were used for different occasions but the idea that flowers could be used to express something specific, as if they had their own language, fascinated her.
Over the next few days, she found herself reading through books on flowers and plants from her school library and while a bookworm she was not, she could appreciate why Taranee liked reading so much.
Although she made certain to hide what she was doing from the girls because while she wasn’t embarrassed of her new hobby per say, it was just that, she was the one who always rejected the idea of suddenly having magical powers in the past. She didn’t want them to think her hypocritical, for having an interest in something she had made such a fuss over before. It was different for her now, of course, she knew she couldn’t just let innocents suffer but no point in bringing up old wounds, right?
After apparently having devoured all information available to her about Earth’s flowers she found herself strangely disappointed. Her little adventure had apparently come to a close.
That is, until yet another trip to Meridian.
Arms stretched out behind her, Cornelia was pleased that for once W.I.T.C.H was simply crossing dimensions for a social visit arranged by Elyon, rather than the universe calling to say ‘hey, bad stuff’s going down and never mind your school or social life, fix it a.s.a.p.’.
As far as social visits went this was one of the standouts. Just some good old-fashioned time with her best friend, much like it had been before the whole tearing of the veil fiasco and a little R&R. Not to mention being able to see her boyfriend without the need for ‘fighting the forces of evil’ getting in way, was a definite plus.
She could feel a smile tugging at her lips as she watched Caleb try and fail, at winning one of the games set up during one Meridians' fairs. Feeling both amused and sympathetic she casually used her abilities to guide the wooden ring over one of the prize hoops. The resulting whoop of success and the cute grin on the former rebel leader’s face was worth the effort.
It was then that the games merchant gave Caleb a choice of prize and to her pleasant surprise he chose a flower. A flower for her. This time her smile was a full one.
It was truly beautiful with the otherworldly strangeness of it adding to its allure. It consisted of a black stem, with curling silver leaves and it’s five pointed petals glowed different colours depending on the light. The small pulse of life that resided within it made her fingertips buzz with satisfying warmth.
In return she gave Caleb a kiss on the cheek before asking him what the flower meant. The look of confusion on his face and well-practiced shrug of the shoulders as if to say ‘this must be one of those weird Earth things that I don’t get’ told her all she needed to know. Despite feeling elated just moments before the idea that the people of Meridian didn’t prescribe meaning to their flowers made her heart clench a little.
Perhaps it was an overreaction but it was something that rested in the back of her mind as time continued to flow by.
Winter had finally turned into spring but Cornelia Hale wasn’t feeling anywhere near as glad as she thought she would be. This was primarily due to the fact that she and Caleb had yet another fight about where the other lived and the lack of time they were able to spend together; amongst other things.
Huffing out a puff of air, her pencil twirled uselessly in her hand, she so did not feel like taking notes in History right now and it was her favourite subject! Being both a teenager and protector of two separate realms definitely made for some unhappy times in a girl’s life. In fact, right now it made her feel cold inside despite the early spring sunshine. Sketching idly, her hand traced out the pattern of a Hydrangea ‘Meaning: coldness’. She had found that by drawing flowers to express her mood was a good stress reliever. Plus it meant her nosy little sister couldn’t decipher her diary anymore.
Checking out her watch she let out another sigh. History wasn’t even half way done yet and the day just seemed to want to drag on and on. Maybe seeing her friends at lunch would lift her mood. She hoped it would.
Yet more time passed and she and Caleb had yet to make up. She wasn’t even angry anymore, just uncertain about their relationship. Somehow that was worse. She found that doodles of lavender ‘meaning: Diffidence a.k.a insecurity’ were becoming more common. At least it was a better alternative to biting her nails.
Wiping sweat from her brow she rose into the air to survey the damage done, ignoring pain from wounds on her left thigh and shoulder. Grimly, she understood that another tough battle was over but not without casualties.
Apparently, a band of Phobos’ previous followers had been biding their time and hungry for power had stormed the capital intent on taking Elyon’s throne. They hadn't cared who they had to go through in their attempt to get it, showing no mercy, evening killing villagers who weren’t even armed. Out of the corner of her eye she could she that Caleb’s expression mirrored her own grim feeling and then she spotted the slain comrade he was kneeling beside.
Even amidst their fighting, Cornelia recognised that no one deserved to lose people they cared about and although Caleb had been a warrior for far longer than her, she knew that he keenly felt each death of the men under his leadership. She made her way over to him and held his hand, not in the romantic sense (even though she longed to) but in a gesture of comfort. He made no outward reaction but she felt the trembling of his slightly calloused skin.
Afterwards, before slipping through the portal Will had made for their exit, she used her magic to create a perfectly formed Chrysanthemum ‘meaning: sympathy’ and slipped it into her estranged boyfriend’s pocket (he had taken it off at some point during the fight and had yet to retrieve it).
He might not understand the symbolism but she hoped that he’d understand the gesture.
That battle was one of the harshest they had dealt with in a long time. Perhaps the relative peace had made them too complacent. At night she lay awake thinking about the men and women who had lost their lives, about the children who were now without parents…about how Caleb was faring. Her heart ached for and missed him. Now more than ever but how was she meant to approach him?
She dreamt of standing in a field of blue roses ‘meaning: mystery’.
After scribbling assorted flowers all over a sketch book, Hay Lin had given her for her previous birthday, in order to organise her thoughts she made up her mind. She was going to take a trip to Meridian. Will didn’t question her when she requested a working portal, another reason for her to be glad she met the new girl (which felt like forever ago) even after all they had been through.
It wasn’t difficult locating where the former rebels, now Royal army and guards were located and even less difficult to find Caleb (she had to give Blunk credit he was helpful now and then, a friend even). She didn’t go up to him however, suddenly feeling unusually cautious. She didn’t want him to feel like she had caught him off guard. So, she focused on creating a delicate Peonia ‘meaning: discretion/love’ and a carefully worded letter, to leave outside his quarters.
She had asked him to meet her, near what she supposed was an approximation of a Birch tree ‘meaning: new beginnings’, from Earth. It was a private spot but you could still hear the faint noises of the townspeople off in the distance. She sat and prepared herself to wait and tried to remain calm and collected. Her fingers twitched and she almost expected to feel a smooth graphite pencil but there was nothing for her to scribble on. So she leant back again the grain of tree-trunk and drew strength from its' silent presence.
As the sun began to dip down towards the ground the sound of familiar footsteps made their way to her ears. She stood up quickly but with the grace she was known for. She had prepared what she was going to say but when turning around to look into the warmth of his eyes she found herself unable to speak.
It turns out she didn’t have too.
Because placed clumsily yet meaningfully into her hands were 12 long stemmed red roses as well as another flower, that resembled the one Caleb had won for her at the fair. She felt a blush coat her cheeks, as she understood the implications of what she had been offered and wondered where he had learned the language of flowers.
As she leant towards him, the flowers held close to her chest, she remembered how unquestioningly Will had created a portal, the worried looks her friends had given over the lunchroom table and Elyon’s frequent messages (her friends were just too good to her). Momentarily she felt annoyed at their subtle intervention but quickly felt warmth spread throughout her body as the chill within her finally dissipated.
Her lips met Caleb’s for the first time in what felt like eternity.
She’d missed the feel of him, the way he held her, his strong heartbeat beneath her palm and under Meridian’s version of a birch tree she didn’t need words to hear the unspoken message ‘stay with me’ or to be able to reply ‘I will as long you’ll have me’.
Maybe flowers had the right idea all along; after all between the two of them, actions had always spoken louder than words.