The twelfth bells tolls.
Agreed. I’ll erase them all.
I feel a pulsing energy swell from within, exploding out from me as I snap my eyes open. The blade is falling. Andrei’s eyes stare wide at me, the fear on his face plain as day – if it was day; The world seems dark to me. So black, so cold. So… alone. Perhaps I’ve made a mistake, but for him…
A black wave of energy sweeps across the square, devouring the guards and the platform, and the guillotine with it, just as the edge of the blade grazes Andrei’s pristine neck. Before it can do any more damage, the entire platform, blade and all vanish from existence. Gone.
I catch my breath as Andrei falls to the ground, his head hitting the cobblestones with a crack that shakes my resolve as he tumbles from the height of the absent platform, hands still shackled behind him.
Screams erupt through the square. “There’s another one! A witch! We’re going to die!”
Why are they scared?! They should be happy I saved an innocent!
They know nothing. They can’t understand how it is. They are… weak. Erase them, or they will come for you, and him.
I silence them with a wave of my hand, feeling the power swell within me again. I’ve never felt like this before. I usually felt sick after using it, but this time, it’s like a pool of energy I can draw on making everything keeping Andrei and I apart disappear forever. The edges of my vision grow a little more dim.
People dash to and fro, looking for an escape, anywhere away from the ‘witches’. I turn back to Andrei’s limp form, releasing the power and stumbling to his side. I shake him by the shoulders with my gloved hands, panicked.
“Andrei! Andrei!” I call, desperately yearning for him to stir. I heave his bleeding head onto my lap, brushing his hair from his face. I see a trail of blood seeping from the gash on his temple from where his head struck the stones.
That’s when I also notice the red line on the side of his neck. I suck in my breath, bringing my shaking fingers to the razor-thin line. His blood soaks the silky white fabric instantly, painting them red. A tear drops from my cheek, landing in his hair as I lean over him.
Was I too late?
No. On the contrary, you were just in time. The voice chuckles.
I hear the clatter of feet on the stone just as Andrei starts to stir. I can’t take my eyes off him. I support his head with my left hand, holding it so he can see me as his beautiful eyes flutter open in a daze. I lean over, eager to see him wake.
His brow furrows and he blinks from the blinding sun I forgot was at its zenith.
“Rose?” he coughs, cringing as he speaks.
“Shhh, It’s me. You’re ok. I made them go away!” I can hardly believe I managed to save him. “I’m so happy you’re ok, Andrei,” the tears spill out, cascading down my burning cheeks and onto his face.
“How?” he croaks. “What happened?” He trembles in my lap, frail and frightened. The past month has taken its toll on his once healthy body.
I shake, scared to tell him, but overcome with a strange feeling of elation. “I erased them. I don’t know how, but the voice, it told me what to do and I did it. I stopped the guillotine.” I don’t recognize my voice anymore. It’s strange and shaky. I don’t mention the deal. He doesn’t need to know that now.
Andrei shifts on my lap, trying to sit up, but he can’t, not shackled as he is. I see the wood scraping at the skin around his wrists and I use my free hand, grabbing the glove in the fingers of my hand under his head and pulling my hand free. I take the lock between my hands, making it vanish. The shackles fall away, blood stains the holes where his wrists have been rubbed raw.
I’m worried about his head wound but I have nothing to cover it. He looks weak and dizzy as he tries to sit up so I reach out for him to hold him steady. Touching him brings me some comfort in the darkness that still plagues my vision.
The steps get closer and I finally turn my head to see three musketeers approaching, swords in hand. I recognize the crest on their breast immediately. They are father’s musketeers.
“Lady Rose, step away from the boy and come with us,” the one in the middle calls, gesturing with his hand for me to come.
“No, stay back!” I shout, glaring hard at them.
“Lady Rose, you can’t deny the accusations against you or the boy. We found your parents. We know you killed them. We have a witness,” he says calmly.
“No! I…” That can’t be! I made sure! I wiped all their memories, just in case! “You’re lying!” I shout, gripping Andrei tightly and pulling him back in my arms. He groans as I have momentarily forgotten how injured he is in my urgency.
“Please, don’t make me use my blade, Lady. If you come cooperatively, perhaps we can work something out,” he tries to convince me. I know he’s lying.
No! Not again. I squeeze Andrei, making him grunt.
“Rose,” he wheezes. “Rose, what do they mean?”
“I don’t know, they’re trying to trick us. Please! Stay away!” I shout again, turning to look at them.
“Rose, did you really k-”
“Quiet!” I cut him off before I hear the words. “I had to! It was the only way! They wouldn’t… It said… I couldn’t!” Words fail me and I suddenly break into sobs. I can’t contain these emotions anymore. So much… too much has happened. Why did it have to be like this? Why do they hate me?! Magic isn’t something to be despised! How can you despise something so perfect as Andrei just because he has magic?! I was only trying to protect him!
The Musketeers inch closer.
Andrei tenses in my embrace and I feel a strange prickle tickle on my arms. I wipe my eyes with my arm, trying to see. Andrei has a pained look on his face as a strange light jumps up his arms. He is turned towards the musketeers, gripping my hand around his shoulder tightly.
“Rose, I can’t leave you. I don’t know if I can make it, but, if you can, hold on. Please stay with me,” Andrei’s rough voice drifts toward my ears as I hold him tightly staring hard at the guards.
I gasp, confused. “Andrei! Is this-” I start, eyes drop to my arms and I see a light jumping over us.
He lets out a painful groan as the light increases. The Musketeers’ look appalled and take a step back, eyes wide and fearful, unsure of what they’re seeing.
I don’t even know what it is, but I hold Andrei tightly with both hands as the tears continue to leak from my eyes. The ground lurches beneath me and I feel like I’m falling, so I hold tighter. Andrei grinds his teeth as we float in the inky blackness. I hold onto him, looking around.
Coloured ribbons flutter down from the sky above, dangling around us. I watch him as he reaches for a ribbon, weakly, grabbing it just barely in his fingers. The ground lurches again and I shut my eyes against the nauseous feeling in my stomach.
“Rose…” he whispers as he passes out. I maintain my hold a few moments longer before I’ve quelled the upset in my stomach.
I open my eyes, first gazing down at Andrei’s limp form in my lap, then around us as a dark room appears, lit only by the unshrouded window, morning sun pouring through the strange paned glass. The space is small and cramped. Beneath me is something soft, like a rug. Tall, wooden shelves line the walls filled with books and an assortment of other indescribable objects, and a small bed sits against the wall in front of me covered in a navy blue sheet and a few rectangular pillows. I look around, breathing unsteadily.
Is this Andrei’s house? Where are we? When are we? The furniture, it’s strange and simple, but similar, in a way. Coloured paper hangs on the walls, life-like images of people with strange instruments and colourful clothing, holding balls and sticks on them. The books on the shelves have tons of books in a language I can’t read.
I stare at the titles curiously as their letters seem to shift before my eyes and as I blink, I can suddenly read them, perfectly. Strange, is this… a part of his magic?
I turn my attention back to him, limp in my arms. I need to find help! He needs a doctor! Do they have doctors here? Will we have to call one in? Will it take long? DO they know we have magic?!
I spin toward the door as it swings open, flooding the room in light. I blink against the brightness, tensing as I expect a musketeer to jump in and arrest us. I hug him closer as my eyes adjust on a tall woman with short brown hair and strange manly clothing steps in.
“Andrei? Is that you? Oh… Who are… Andrei!” the woman shouts. She runs in, falling to her knees beside me and grabbing Andrei by the hands.
Her hands shake as she holds his, looking him over. This must be his mother, I watch her face, listening, unsure of what to do. They have the same eyes, I notice.
“Andrei, baby! Please, wake up! What happened? How did you get here? Please, tell me everything,” she says, eyes flicking to me.
I freeze under her piercing gaze, my jaw working but nothing comes out. At least I can understand her, but… I don’t know where to begin. I try to sort out the events in my head, shivering as I recall them.
“Please. He’s hit his head. They tried to behead him. He needs a doctor!” I say in a shaky voice. I feel as if I’m on the verge of tears again and I can’t stop from shaking.
She reaches behind her pulling out a strange shiny case, or so I think. She touches it and a light comes on. Her fingers tap the surface of the shiny case and when she’s done the light goes off.
“Come with me. We’ll take him to the hospital. You can tell me everything on the way,” she says. She reaches for him, lifting him into her arms. I stand on shaky legs, following her out through the room and into a hall with a railing and many more doors and a set of stairs. I do not want to take my eyes off of him, not that we’re finally together again.
“Where are you taking him? Why not call the doctor?” I ask. I don’t understand.
She doesn’t answer as she turns to descend the set of stairs. I follow, my stained and tattered dress trailing on the floor behind me.
“Petre! Andrei’s back. Watch the girls. I’m taking him to the hospital,” she says, turning to look through a doorway. I glance into it as I follow her, seeing a man at a table, holding a cup in his hands. He looks surprised to see me, but I only glance a moment before I turn, following Andrei.
The woman leaves the house, going outside and approaching a strange shiny carriage with no horses. It’s black and flat and I’ve never seen anything like it before. She opens a door on the side, laying Andrei inside along the cushions and then opens another side and climbs in. She looks at me when I don’t move.
“Oh, right,” she leans across the space and pushes the side open. I step back and she beckons me in. “Sit down. Put this here.” She points to a strap as she points to a thing on the chair beside me. The thing begins to rumble and move. I gasp as we roll away from the house, the landscape outside slides past us as we roll along the dark grey path painted with white and yellow lines.
As we move, she starts to ask me questions, questions I find hard to answer in my shock. I try my best to be polite and to remember everything she asks me too. I tell her almost everything, everything except for the part about having to erase the people and my parents. I’m scared to reveal that. I don’t know what she’ll do if she knew.
Only Andrei needs to know that. I’m never going back. I never want to. I want to stay here, with him! Maybe I can start anew. Maybe we can be happy together here. I hope he’s ok. Please be ok. Oh, Andrei! Please be ok!
“You’re well dressed for a young lady such as yourself. When are you from?” the woman asks.
I jump at her question, surprised that she knows I’m not from this time. I suppose, being his mother, she must know. It only makes sense… but then. How come she isn’t… disowning him? Why couldn’t my parents have understood, like her? I push the bubble of fear and betrayal down, as I formulate an answer.
“My year is 1745. What is… this year?” I ask. I wonder if she is speaking French or if I am just somehow able to understand English. Andrei had told me about how he was able to understand the language without studying it. That’s why his scores had been so low on the tests mother had given him.
“17- ! she cuts off, shaking her head. “Wow. That’s pretty historical. Has he been there the entire time?” she asks.
I’m a little confused by her question at first, but then I realise, Andrei had said this was the longest time he’d been in the past. I know how to answer. “Yes, he’s been with my family and I since May,” I reply kindly.
“He’s never brought someone back with him before. Why did you come?” she asks, glancing my way. The strange carriage slows to a stop as a hanging ball turns colours from yellow to green. I stare out the window perplexed.
“I…” I stop, realising I don’t have an answer. He’s never brought anyone back before, I knew this, but… he must have decided to bring me, as I had hoped he would. Is that why he can’t wake up? Did I do this to him? Or is it just the head wound?
“I was in trouble. We were about to be killed, so he saved me,” I tell her. I need to be careful, don’t I? Andrei always said he had to be careful when talking to others about his time jumps.
“Right. And what happened to him? The doctors are going to ask why he has the injuries he has. I need to know what to tell them. Can you tell me that?” she says, her voice turning stern. For a mother, I feel her composure is much more informal than my own mother’s was.
I nod, thinking carefully of what to tell her and what not to say.
“I understand things in the past are different from now. I expect that to be so. I just need to know. I need to know what happened to my son,” she turns, looking at me with eyes full of worry for Andrei. I can understand. Only I know what happened. So I tell her what I can. I tell her everything.
Before I had left my manor house to visit Andrei, I had retrieved a few items. I had no intention of returning to the manor after what I had done. I knew the authorities would be after me, whether Andrei survived or not, to take me away. So I had grabbed what I thought the most important.
Surrounded in the veil of darkness, I hid from the screaming in my head at what I had done to them and gathered these things.
I stole into my apartments to retrieve my diary for it had all my thoughts and notes on my magic and I did not want anyone finding that. My parents had already shown me their true colours when they had found out.
I then made my way to Andrei’s room for I knew he kept a log of his time here as well. What I did not expect to find was every letter I have ever sent him, along with a pressed rose from the garden. After gathering these things I’d left the manor forever.
Now, in the future, I have to continuously remind myself that it is now the present. Erin Hanganu, Andrei’s mother, has taken me in as my family had done to Andrei. I am given a room and clothing. I am taught about the customs of the modern world, and yet, despite being given everything I need to survive, something still feels missing. Something feels wrong, sort of out of place.
I continue to court Andrei, in a way, but things are different here. People no longer court. They date and that could be loosely used to describe casually seeing each other. Just because you date, doesn’t mean you are bound to get married. I find the entire thing strange and obscure, but this isn’t what bothers me, no. It is the strange kindness they all show me. They give me things, teach me, all as we had done for Andrei, despite knowing I have magic. This family lives with magic as if it were regular and it’s unsettling.
Despite this, I feel a sense of dread that as soon as they might find out about my magic, they will throw me out.
I feel my magic is something to be feared. It hurt people. It took away things. It makes things vanish, including emotions. Adjusting to the present time I find myself continuously seeking the dark veil to hide from my emotions. It’s helped me to think straight. It’s given me comfort. It takes away my worry and my grief.
It’s begun to take my very soul, just as it said it would.
I’m no longer the person I once was. The world no longer holds the colour and life I once thought it to have. It is a place to survive in. Eat or be eaten. If you don’t have what you need you take it. I feel no connection to the people around me, not even Andrei’s family. The only one I feel close to is him.
A month after we arrive in the present, he is released from the hospital, though he still recovers from the pneumonia he caught while in the French prison and the mental trauma of the guillotine. We spend much time together. He promises he won’t leave me and he constantly thanks me for saving him. He seeks my company constantly. He confides in me about his magic, and now that he knows I too have magic, I feel I can confide in him, except… for the darkness.
As time wears on and I become more and more uneasy with myself. I feel restrained at having confided in him so much. He is still young, and I am already in my eighteenth year. There is so much I don’t yet know about this time. The magic is changing me, as much as the change in time has.
I fear hurting him, but I feel the urge to discover some things on my own. So, I have sought the advice of the darkness that follows me around. I struggle with the choices it presents to me, but eventually, I give in to its reason.
On this night, a year after returning with him from my time, while Andrei sleeps, I sneak into his room. The door clicks behind me as I approach the bed. He lays on his side, chest bare, laced with scars. In the dim light of the moon that pours in through his window, I see the faint red line of the guillotine’s blade on his neck.
I stand beside the bed, watching him for a long while before steeling myself for what I’m about to do. I place my painted fingers tenderly on his brow, and he stirs slightly at the touch. I inhale deeply and erase his memories of Rose. I do not want to take everything of France away, not everything was bad, only those that pertain to me and the last month. I understand this to be more than enough. He remains asleep as I take them from him; the voice in my head cries out desperately as It often does under the influence of the veil. I’m not sure which voice is the real me anymore. I choose the calmer of the two.
When I’m finished, I turn to the desk and seek the journal I returned to him, the one he wrote his entries in about France. I flip through the journal, carefully slicing with magic, each page with such references that also relate to me. Unfortunately, that includes the entire end of the logged entries, but it will have to suffice. I take the letters, the cutout pages, and the dried rose too. I’ll keep them with my own diary for safe keeping. I feel the need to hold onto them, to maybe help me in the… future, when I’m alone.
I pull out the note I’ve prepared, explaining that I have returned to France suddenly because my exchange is over. I place it on the desk, signed with a fake name. If I didn’t do such a good job of the memory wipe, perhaps the name will latch onto any stray memories that have been left behind. I did leave behind the ones recently made in this time, but I removed my name from his mind, so he will need a name to make sense of them, I suppose. At least, that’s what the voice is whispering to me.
My eyes linger on the scrawling handwriting that spell out the name he will remember me by. Rose is gone, I can’t be her anymore, not for him.
I leave the room, eyes lingering on his sleeping form before I shut the door. On my way out, I am spotted by Erin. I freeze as she gives me a hard, blank look, but her eyes, they seem to smolder with a knowing that hovers on the edge of understanding and disappointment. I never thought to erase her memory, but I have a feeling, after all the time I took getting to know her, that she won’t tell him. She won’t say a thing about tonight or before.
To this day, I wonder why she never stopped me or asked why I was leaving. I sometimes ponder what might have been if she had. Perhaps she would have convinced me to stay, or perhaps the voice would have made me do unspeakable things to her. I’ll never know. I’ve let the darkness take me. I walk in the shadows, always hiding from what I once used to be as it cries constantly in some small corner of my mind, constantly calling out to him to save me. I pointedly ignore it.
I wonder, is there anyone out there who could understand how I feel?
By Kayla West