“You have no proof that he ever existed. It was just a dream, Phillipa.”
But Phillipa had known it to be true, known him to be real. She didn’t need to offer anybody proof. She didn’t even need it to reassure herself; her memories were enough. She trusted herself enough.
And at long last--at long last—she’d found her proof, even if it had taken her a hundred and twelve years, terrible magic, and the sacrifice of her mortality to get it.
She cut down the last layer of enchanted, thorned ivy with her charmed sword to reveal the door on the other side. A word of command had it swinging open, and then she was through to the castle. And inside, they all slept. Servants and dogs and lords and ladies, in the courtyard and in the halls and along the staircases, untouched by time, preserved as they had been in the moment when the spindle had done its evil work.
Phillipa passed them all. She knew where to go. Knew where she'd find him. All she had to to was climb the stairs of the tallest tower and step through the open doorway.
And there he lay upon the bed, as beautiful as she remembered him. His hair golden as the sun at dawn. His cheeks flushed as twin roses. And that mouth—sweet and familiar and lax in his sleep.
Breathless, exultant, she crossed over to him, sank down upon the bed to hold his limp, warm hand in her own.
“Briar,” she whispered though he couldn’t hear her except, perhaps, in his dreams. “I’ve found you. I’ve come back to you.” Leaning forward, she swept a stray curl from his brow, smiled tremulously, though she'd almost forgotten how to after so, so long. “You’ll be free now,” she promised him. “You’ll be mine.”
And so saying, she bent forward, pressed her lips to his--
And fell asleep with a gentle sigh, curled against her beloved.
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