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My Heart Remembers--Esme’s Piano #2
By Blaise Ramsay
“The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don't finally meet somewhere. They're in each other all along.”
I am unsure as to how much time has passed. It is not the same for us as it is for the world of the mortals. To us, time is eternal. A living creature existing in the rivers of life that flow through the veins of our mother.
For centuries, I viewed time in this way. Something never to pay much attention to save for a quick glance beyond the veil separating our world from man. My kind were children of nature. Caretakers to the very planet poisoned by man’s greed. His endless lust for power became so great, we erected a barrier. Our world would be forever alienated from mankind.
At least, this was the norm until a few of us became restless. The Dark Fae decided they would use their wiles to not only seduce the mortals but to play tricks on them. Many of them fatal.
Oberon, the king of the Fae Court sent out Sentries to bring these usurpers back to be judged in accordance with their crimes. I was one such Sentry.
With dark Fae magic at its strongest when the moon shows her face, the concept of time no longer remained ambiguous. We became aware of her existence and hunted when daylight’s gold turned to gray.
I was okay with this lot in life. How could I not be? It was all I knew.
Millenia went by and most of my time was spent bringing the Dark Fae under control or the balance of magic would forever shift into chaos.
Through time, the situation only worsened. The chaos the Dark Fae caused pushed man to the brink of destroying himself. Superstition transformed into science. Weapons evolved from spears and swords to guns and machines of war.
Man’s destruction made many angry. They began forsaking the light Magic for the dark. The balance began to shift and there were not enough of us to maintain order.
Even my own sister, Marceline had elected to abandon her light magic to become a Dark Fae. She disappeared into times’ river and for so long I was unable to find her. Then I was given information by a Wysp giving me a clue as to where Marceline might have gone.
It took me to the small town of Darrington, Washington. I hid under the identity of Marney Blackthorn, a lonely woman who worked as a human. I watched for signs of my sister’s mischief. A chance I could get a hold of her and take her back to answer for her crimes.
She managed to elude me; using the darkness to shroud her weakened form.
No one ever really paid attention to me and for a while I was content on being alone. Then, they began circulating rumors. Rumors that I was a witch bent on causing them trouble.
I began to feel emotions once foreign to me - pain and loneliness. Still, I tried to stay focused on why I was there in the first place.
Little did I know, my life was about to change. It all started when he walked into the bar. One fateful meeting of our eyes and I felt my heart beat behind my chest in a way I had never known.
My breath stalled. It felt as though fate had woven her threads around our hearts—binding us together. I knew I had to get out of there swiftly or I would risk falling prey to a very human desire.
Try as I might I could not avoid him. Our interactions kept occurring over and over again. Destiny worked her humor against me further when he heard the playing of my piano.
I wanted to run. To keep him from seeing what I truly looked like but my heart led me to expose myself to him. It mattered not to me. I was already so taken with this man; this mortal.
So swept away by his love for others. His kindness and acceptance of me even when everyone else saw me as a creature of darkness when I could not have been further from the contrary.
One night, I gave my body to him. All manner of judgement was pulled away when our lips met. His warmth and gentleness took away my loneliness. Not even the beauty of the world of the Fae equaled the euphoria I was swept into as he took me.
In that moment, I wanted to give him everything. My life, my love, my time even when I knew what the cost would be.
Marceline hunted him and bound him in a dark spell. She was intent on taking him for herself just to spite me. In the end we fought and I was able to banish her into the dark void of the Veil. It was not without a heavy price.
There was only one way I could save him from being hunted again. I would have to give up my claim on his heart. Every memory of me and the world of magic would need to be removed.
The pain was so great I thought I was going to die though I knew it wasn’t possible.
I saw him once more but did not allow him to see me.
Years passed and I thought I could live without him. However, in my heart and soul, I knew. I knew it wasn’t possible.
Forty Years Later
“Miss, is there something I can do for you?”
I looked up to see a young man staring down from under his umbrella. Two days had gone by since I had gotten a tip from a Pixie telling me Dakota had moved back to his hometown in Virginia.
I decided to try to pursue him once again. To tell him I was foolish and see if he would be willing to reignite our love. “Yes. Do you know the name Faraday?”
The young man looked surprised at my question. “Faraday is my last name. If you don’t mind me asking, how do you know us?”
My heart fluttered in my chest. If this young man was a member of his family, surely he knew where I could find him. “I am an old friend of Dakota Faraday. Do you know him? Can you tell me where I can find him?”
Sadness fell across the man’s face. “Yes. I know him or rather I knew him.”
I gasped at the way he addressed my lover in past tense.
“I’m sorry, miss. Dakota Faraday was my grandfather. He passed away a few years ago. I’m William Faraday. Is there something I can do for you? I know this has to be a shock.”
In my many years of life, I had never felt such pain. No. No it cannot be. You cannot be gone. “Can you tell me where he is buried?”
“I’ll do one better. I’ll take you there. May I ask your name?”
“Marney. Marney Blackthorn.”
When we arrived, the winter could not have been colder. Memories of his warmth, the gentleness of his eyes, the soft caress of his body all lay buried beneath a cold stone.
“I’m sorry, Marney. I hope you can move on. Time is a fickle mistress.”
I bid William thank you and requested time alone with the man who ripped away my reserve in a single night.
Falling to my knees in the cold, wet rain, I ran my hand over the stone. I am sorry, beloved. I was such a fool to throw away what we had. I hope you can forgive me for what I have done and that your soul is at peace.
Using the influence my magic had over the Earth, I brought forth a flower that would never wither and placed it on the stone. I rose from that cold place and made my way back into the small town.
Days would go by and the bitter loneliness and guilt only got worse. Not even spending time in the presence of other immortals helped to ebb the torrents of pain plaguing my heart.
It was in a bar that I heard of the strange goings on in the town. I did not wish to hear anything supernatural. Not in the world of man.
“Hey, Marney.” William sat in front of me. Opening his coat he pulled out a worn journal. “I’m actually glad I ran into you. I knew your name sounded familiar and then it occurred to me that my grandfather had this.” He handed it to me.
The brown cover was crafted from worn leather. I could feel Dakota’s soul with each gentle run of my fingers over it.
“It was his. Somehow I think he might have wanted you to have it.”
I did not respond as I flipped page after page. The beat of his heart could be heard with each word I read. Tears began to fall when my eyes fell on a single title. Esme’s Piano.
I shot up from the table without a word and ran as fast as I could back to the gravestone. Leaping into the veil I shed my human form and sat down next to it. “You remembered. You remembered everything. My darling, how you must have suffered. Forgive me. Please I beg of you to forgive me.”
It was then I made a decision. I could not be without him. I needed him.
The snow was whispering its silent objections as I prepared my magic for what I was about to ask of it. Something so forbidden, none of my kind attempted it since the great Soul Dancers of old.
My darling, I do not ask of you to forgive me for what I am about to do. I only ask that you know why I am doing it. My hand touched the cold Earth melting the snow to reveal plush, green grass.
Soft utterances of an incantation in my native tongue would separate the ground and raise the bones of the most precious thing I had ever known. Guilt upon inkling of guilt rattled inside of my mind. Would he accept what I had done? Would his mind be able to handle the weight of it?
I had to push such thoughts away or they would overwhelm me. No. I need you. My heart yearns for you.
Falling to my knees, I picked up the fragile things and took them with me to a scared tree which lay deep in the Fae Realm. Below the tree lay a pool lit by moonlight.
The magic I would call upon was not dark yet it was not light. It was a steady balance if done wrong could spell disaster.
The bones were placed within a sigil I drew upon the grass. Fairies and Wysps joined me. Each one whispering their questions of curiosity.
“Yes little ones. You may observe. What I am about to do is weave something so special, you may not understand it.” I held out my hand.
From the fingertips fragile threads fell. Each silver strand increased in number as I started the most precious project I had undertaken.
Every fiber. The threads wove around each bone. Every muscle. Every tendon. I worked deep into the night to carefully remember every detail of his gorgeous form. Every rise and fall of your skin beneath my hands. The firmness of your body.
A smile formed across my lips as I watched him take shape. I closed my eyes to remember his smile. The richness of his kiss. “I remember it all. Your innocence is written on my heart, my love. I will make this perfect.”
As the night waned, I began to tire. I cannot work weary. I must rest. Something so precious must be made without imperfection. I curled up in the branches of the tree after carefully wrapping his new body in the soft branches of the willow. I couldn’t help but smile. He was just as I was remembering him. I will make you perfect. Sleep well.
Days would pass in endless hours of weaving of threads into the remnants of my lover’s renewed body. When I decided he was complete, upon his shoulder-blade I placed the crest of my people. The signature of an artist to her work.
He was just as I remembered him. Every dip and ascension of his muscles, the tan of his skin, the definition of his stomach. It was all perfect.
“There is but one thing to do. I must free your spirit from the river of life. Then, my darling, my Dakota; you will live again.” Once again I wrapped his body and left to get his pure spirit.
The river of life was before me. Each departed spirit a gentle glimmer upon its surface. I spoke to the Guardian in our native tongue, requesting he release Dakota’s soul to me.
“I understand. I will take great care of him. All memory of death will be removed. You have my word.” The Guardian reached out his staff and dipped it into the River.
When he removed it, a single droplet held to the battered and aged wood. I held out my hands to receive it. Into my hands fell the spirit of the man I loved. His warmth radiated from the small, glowing flame.
Thanking the Guardian, I left with Dakota’s spirit to the tree where his body waited.
I unwrapped it and held his spirit in the palms of my hands. Please. Please don’t be angry, beloved. I prayed, pressing the small flame into his stomach. His lungs drew in a deep breath of air.
The beautiful eyes I once stared into opened and looked into my own. Tears broke free from my silver eyes when he reached out his hand to touch my face.
“Yes. Yes, my love.” I reached up to touch his hand, holding it against my cheek.
“Why?” He raised up to sit. “Why did you leave?”
I threw my arms around his neck. “It was foolish. I should never have left. I thought I was protecting you but not a day went by that I did not fight going back.”
Our lips met in the sweet embrace I had missed for four decades. The taste of his lips flowed back into my mouth. My heart swelled with joy when he took me in his arms.
A longing, lingering desire burned inside of my body with each caress of his hands as they ventured down my slender form. I sat on my knees in his lap. In this moment, there were no boundaries between the two of us. He was once again mine and I was his.
His lips found the base of my neck. His hand guided the small shirt I was wearing over my breasts over my head, careful not to rip the fabric on the ridges of my horns. Once my breasts were bare, he gave them careful attention.
“I looked for you. I searched for so long. It felt so empty without you. I thought I was going to lose my mind.” Dakota’s voice was laced with so much pain, I wondered if my heart could take it.
“I did not know,” My nails traced down his shoulders to his back. I could feel each movement as his arms pleasured my body. “I did not know you remembered it all. If I had, I would have not left you to suffer alone.”
“Esme, I can’t remember. It feels like I’m missing some time. I remember writing the memoir but,” He looked at his hands. “Wait. How?”
“Cody. Do not stress your mind. Does it matter how? You are with me again, my love. Let us be together.” For the moment, it seemed to placate him. However, I knew, in time, I would have to give him an explanation.
Days would turn into weeks as Dakota and I moved into a small home of our own I created complete with sigils to guard us against the Dark Fae. At times, he would bring up the question he asked on the night of his resurrection but I was able to divert his attention by making love with him.
I was content in our life until one day, Dakota came home looking rather distressed. “My love, your heart is pounding. Are you alright?”
“When were you going to tell me?”
Worry, another foreign emotion to my kind, made its way into me. “What do you mean?”
He turned on me. His eyes furious. “When were you going to tell me I was dead?”
Oh no. I thought as I searched desperately for an answer.
“I met someone in town today. When I introduced myself, he thought I was insane. He said ‘Dakota Faraday died forty years ago’. When were you going to tell me? How am I alive?”
I lowered my head. It was bound to come out eventually. “I was waiting for the right moment. It is not a burden a mind can handle so close to being brought back.”
“Brought back? From where?”
“The river of life. You were asleep, Dakota.” I dared not to try and get close to him. His body was tense. I could hear his heart beating against his ribs.
“Asleep? By that you mean dead?”
I could tell he suddenly felt light-headed. He stumbled back, using the counter to hold up his weight. Eventually he sank to the floor, unable to stand anymore.
Cautious, I knelt before him. “Cody,”
“Don’t. Just don’t,” He held his hand out in front of him to stop me from getting closer. “This isn’t right. I shouldn’t be here,” Once again, he looked at his hand. “How? If it really was forty years, my body would be nothing but,”
“Bones. I know.”
A sigh left me as I tried to find the courage and a way to tell him. “It is hard to explain but I will try. Dakota. I wove you a new body with magic. It is not something my kind usually does but I longed for you.”
All color left his face. He looked like he could pass out from disbelief. “This. This isn’t mine. No! This isn’t right!”
I led his hands down from his head, petting his face to calm him. “It is. It is your flesh and bone. Your blood and breath. I just repaired them. Cody, what happened to you was something I never should have allowed. Even if your older body still existed, it would be poisoned by Dark Fae magic. This is you. If it were not, your soul would have rejected it. Relax your mind or it could fracture under stress. I can take the memory away if you wish.”
“No. I just. I need some time. I can’t stay here,” Dakota stood up from the floor and left the room. “I can’t be here. I can’t be near you right now. I’m sorry.”
My heart broke into pieces. My greatest fear was made real when I watched him walk away. My very reason for doing what I had done was thrown away in one instant when human fear took control.
I was not angry at him. He was mortal. To his world, death was final. They had their time on the Earth and then vanished like a flame in a strong breeze.
The front door slamming closed was the final blow it took to shatter an already splintering heart. It was the second time I would spend the night crying alone.
I did not see Dakota after our fight. I kept the house in case he wanted to return but it did not feel the same. Even with the company of some of the fairies and gnomes I made friends with, the hurt would not go away.
Only a shadow falling across the moon drew my eyes to the window. I recognized the darkness immediately. Dark Fae.
They had returned despite Marceline’s banishment to the Void of the Veil the night she poisoned Dakota. I ran out of the house and through the woods. The trees were already displaying signs of Dark Fae magic.
Black thorns and vines gripped their stumps and roots causing them to cry out in agony. The power radiating from these twisted forms were much stronger.
“Oh great Ones, a drow.”
Drow. Dark Fae so strong they had risen to a class of their own. This one was beyond anything I encountered in many millennia.
My eyes widened in terror when I thought about Dakota. There would be only one way a drow would be interested in an area. They would feel the magical clash between a Sentry and a Dark Fae. The chaos would attract them like blood would a shark.
I…I have to find him. I have to get to Cody first.
I leapt through the Veil and sprinted into the winds. Dakota would not have left his hometown. He would find a place to calm down and come to grips with what was going on.
A sharp pain through my head made me trip over a risen root. I could see through Dakota’s eyes for only a brief moment. The face standing over him was one I was all too familiar with. No! Not him! Anyone but him!
The situation grew more dire with each passing moment. If he already has him, time is short. Dakota, I am coming. Please, beloved. Open your eyes. Let me see where you are.
I flew through the Veil towards the dark presence. When I arrived the town was dark save for street lamps lighting the gloom. The same dark vines snaked up the buildings, writhing and choking them as they climbed.
“So you came?” A thick accent echoed in the darkness. A voice I was too familiar with. “I was hoping I would not have to devour him so quickly.”
“Malachi, give me back Dakota, now!”
Malachi’s wicked laugh moved through the void. “Did you think the crime you have committed would have gone unnoticed? Especially by one such as I? I must admit, this is a masterpiece. In all the centuries, I have yet to see it so perfectly done.”
“I committed no crime. Do not harm him or you will suffer dire consequences!” I tried to focus on the location of his voice but the dark magic blocked my ability to track.
“I have no plans to harm him. The craftsmanship is too perfect. It would seem a waste to destroy such a work of art. No doubt you wish to find me. Well, I have no intention of hiding. Follow the lights and you will find me. I look forward to meeting you face to face once more.”
Entities, though they resembled lights, lined up to lead me behind the Veil into a place putrid with death from war. To my kind, this place was known only as the Mourning since everything here seemed to do nothing but howl with grief.
He sat in a throne crafted from the rotted thorns. His raven hair, beautiful as it was, held a deadly end to anyone who dared stare too long. His skin was a deep purple; his eyes green beneath his darkness.
I approached his throne, unafraid despite his power. “Malachi, give me Dakota, now.” My voice was emotionless. Demanding.
Malachi moved his hand and the thorns opened revealing Dakota gasping for air. “My, my. Your love for this fragile creature is nothing short of disappointing. So much magic went into building him and yet he has forsaken you.”
I felt my body tense when Malachi reached towards Dakota and touched him only to pull his fingers back holding one of the threads. The cry of pain coming from Dakota felt like my heart had been kicked.
“Malachi, stop! You do not know what you are doing! He is a living being! That is not how that magic works!” I had to fight back tears as I watched as the drow pulled the thread.
“Oh, I understand this magic well. For example, I know every tug is agonizingly painful. Come with me, Esme. If you are powerful enough to weave something like this then imagine what you can do if you used Dark Fae magic. Not even your sister would be able to stand against you.”
“The only thing I am going to be doing is tearing you apart, Malachi.” My magic filled my hands. My eyes glowed a radiant white with rage at the pain I could feel from Dakota.
Malachi snickered. “Are you kidding? You really wish to battle? What chance do you think you stand against me?”
Malachi gasped. His eyes wide.
“You do not understand the magic I used because it does not exist in our world.” I thought back to the feelings I had when I weaved Dakota’s body back together. All of the pain combined with overwhelming love to bring him back to me. “It was my love that brought Dakota back. Everything I felt. Everything I remembered. It is a new kind of magic no Fae could understand because not one of them knows how to love!”
The power inside of me increased to a light so intense the vines burned away screaming high pitched shrieks. Malachi tried to cover his eyes only to be grabbed by my hand on his face.
“You believed yourself more powerful than you were, drow. You hurt the man I love more than my own life. Because of this, I will strip you of your own threads.” The sounds of his screams as I worked the opposite magic on him could be heard throughout the veil. It was something I was never able to do until Dakota was threatened and inside, it was something I hoped I never had to do again.
With Malachi reduced to nothing, I made my way over to Dakota. He lay on the ground in pain. I knelt next to him. For a second, he seemed afraid.
“No. No, my love, I will not hurt you,” I reached out to touch his chest to repair what Malachi began destroying. “There. The pain should be gone soon.”
Dakota looked up at me; his eyes laced with fear. “What are you?”
I had to avoid flinching in pain when he jumped at my touch on his face. “I am your Esme. I have always been your Esme. As for what that magic was, I do not understand it myself. To be open with you, it terrified me as well.”
A gentle smile fell across his face. His lips met mine for a brief kiss. “My Esme. I heard every word you said and I’m sorry.”
“For what?” My heart skipped a beat for fear he may leave again.
“For leaving. Turns out I can’t be away from you either. My body ached for you. How did you know he had me?”
“I could see through your eyes. If only a brief second. Forgive me. I was not around to protect you, once again.”
Dakota took my hips in his hands and led me into him. “There’s nothing to forgive. Esme, will you marry me?”
The concept of marriage was strange to me but I understood what it meant enough to feel the heat of blush across my cheeks. The idea of binding myself forever to the man who owned my heart, body and soul elated me. The only problem was, I was still immortal and he was not.
Then there was the ability to give him children. I was incapable of conceiving. Our kind were born of magic and of the Earth.
“Dakota, nothing would make me happier but,” I looked away from him. “I cannot give you children. Even with my resurrecting you, you are still mortal. Death would still part us in time. Unless,”
I rose from him and walked over to the nearest tree. On its bark, I drew a different sigil. One capable of calling Oberon, the first of the Fae.
After uttering a small spell, the wood opened to let the most powerful of my kind through. I dropped to my knee. “My King and Commander. Most noble of Fae.”
“Ah, Esmerea. I was wondering when you would call your father again. Word has reached my ears of the most interesting of news,” I looked up to see him looking at Dakota. “So it is true. I can see your magic in this man. You know what you have done is forbidden magic, do you not?”
“It is not forbidden. It is not the same. There is no dark magic, my King. Only mine. If you must pass judgement, please allow me to sentence myself.”
Oberon nodded. “Your magic or not, I cannot allow it to go unnoticed. Still, you are a loyal Sentry and a dearest daughter. What is it you would ask?”
I walked up to him and whispered my desires in his ear. Desires to live a normal life with Dakota as his. To have my body fertile to give him children. In return I would never step across the Veil again.
“Hmm. Are you sure you would not prefer banishment instead? You would keep your magic and access to the Veil, only not to my Court.”
“Yes, my King. No punishment you could give me could be worse than being separated from the man I love.”
Oberon hesitated. The concept of time still a concept he did not grasp. “So be it. Henceforth, with a heavy heart, I strip you of your immortality. You will be bound to this mortal and your body shall bare him offspring. Go with my blessing, my daughter.”
Happiness drove me to hug him. “Thank you, father.”
The gesture shocked him since my kind did not usually hug but still he returned it and left.
I made my way back to Dakota. My Fae form falling from me to leave me human but still more beautiful than any mortal woman. He took me in his arms and spun me around, laughing the gorgeous laugh I loved. At last, I was bound to him forever. No matter how little time we had…