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The Ninth-Year Valentine

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Polly’s smile remained bright and cheerful until her mother and the maid left her alone in the drawing room. Once the doors shut, her face fell, and she sighed heavily. Clasping her hands together, she walked to the window and gazed out onto the street.

The mail had just come – with nothing for her. Again. It was three days after Valentine’s Day, and nothing had come for her – a certain thing she had been expecting. Polly blinked her eyes rapidly.

Ever since she was ten, Digory had always sent her a valentine on Valentine’s Day. It had all started when he had found her during one of his visits (his family had settled in the country again) in her backyard crying about how she had never gotten a valentine on Valentine’s Day and it being very unfair. She had been slightly embarrassed after she made her confession, wondering if he might tease her for “being such a girl” and all worried. Instead, he had offered her his handkerchief and said he would send her a valentine for Valentine’s Day. And he had.

Recalling the day she had received it, Polly was filled with the warmth and pleasure she’d felt so long ago. And he had sent her one each year thereafter.

But this year there was no valentine.

Polly’s head drooped, and she sat herself on the nearby couch. Even after eight years of faithfully receiving a valentine, and now at the age of eighteen, she still looked forward to receiving Digory’s gift. Perhaps he had sent it but it had gotten lost somehow. Maybe he had forgotten. Perchance he might think they both were too old now for such things. Or there may…

She shook her head forcibly; she would not think such things. A moment later, she looked up as the door opened.

“Mr. Kirke,” the maid said with a curtsy. Digory entered, and the maid shut the door.

“Digory!” Polly rose, surprised yet happy. “I am delighted to see you.”

“Polly,” he greeted her with a handsome bow when he reached her. “I hope you are well.”

“Yes, thank you.”

The young man frowned slightly, noting the shadows that had not yet completely vanished from her eyes. “Truly?” he questioned.

Blushing, she dropped her gaze to the floor and nodded. Sensing his frown darkening, she admitted hesitantly, “It is after Valentine’s Day.”

“Aye. I-I am sorry, Polly.” Digory’s voice was pained.

She gave him a forgiving smile, and they sat down on the couch. “I did not know if you had… I assumed you had pressing matters to take care of.”

“There was some business that took up much of my and father’s attention the last couple days. But,” Digory went on with a firmer tone, “I did not forget about Valentine’s Day. I knew I would be coming to London to see Uncle Andrew and Aunt Letty and, I thought I would…”

Polly’s eyes softened as she saw his face turn pink. Mumbling words she could not catch, he produced from one of his jacket pockets a pink piece of paper shaped like a heart and handed to her carefully, unable to meet her eye.

Silently she took it and looked at it for a long moment. At the bottom of the valentine was a little cupid with his bow and arrow at the ready. At the top were two rings interwoven. The message on it was simple: TOGETHER FOREVER. Her smile was like a sunbeam.

“This is beautiful, Digory. Thank you!”

She turned to him to discover a strange, possibly displeased, expression on his face, his eyes downcast. Polly’s happiness slowly evaporated, replaced with puzzlement and concern as she studied him, wondering what she had said wrong. Following his gaze, she glanced down at his hands. The single diamond flashed in the sunlight, throwing dashes of rainbows about the room.

Polly drew in a sharp breath and gaped at the ring, her heart pounding wildly in her chest. Slowly she looked at Digory.

His face was awash was nervousness, and he swallowed thickly, his hands trembling ever so slightly. Then a new light entered his face, akin to when at The Place he stood up against Jadis, and his jaw tightened with determination. Digory looked her in the eye. “Polly.”

Her cheeks flooded with color and a quiet sigh escaped her when she heard him speak her name in such a wondrously tender, soft tone. She soundlessly formed the word “Yes?”

The boy took her left hand in his. “Polly Plumber, I have loved you for a very long time, perhaps ever since that first summer with the rings and Narnia. Will you marry me?”

“Oh, yes, Digory!” she whispered lovingly, tears gathering in her eyes.

She watched him solemnly slide the ring over her finger, their hands lacing together. Digory’s eyes sparkled as he smiled on his Polly and touched her cheek. Then he kissed her so sweetly and gently.