Someone squeezed my hand.
My eyes fluttered open. Someone was squeezing my hand, hard. I looked up to see who, but all I could make out was the figure of dark curly hair.
“Amber,” whispered the voice. It was familiar.
The room was fuzzy. My eyes focused on the figure on the bed next to me, holding my hand.
“Daniel,” I whispered. I could feel myself smile weakly.
Daniel blinked, and a watery tear escaped from under his eyelashes and rolled down his cheek. “You’re awake,” he said.
“What…what happened?” I whispered hoarsely.
“A spell cast on you to make you fall asleep for one hundred years,” Daniel said. “They moved you in here, in Briar’s room. I thought—” his voice cracked, and he closed his eyes. “I thought you weren’t going to make it.” Another tear rolled down.
“Where is everybody?” I said weakly. “Isn’t everyone supposed to fall asleep?”
“The spell didn’t work the same since it wasn’t cast on Briar,” Daniel said. “Everyone is still awake. You’ve been asleep for hours.”
“Was—was I dead?” I asked.
Daniel’s eyes widened. “What?”
“I know I was asleep,” I said slowly, “but I could feel my soul leave my body. There was a moment…there were voices…”
Daniel looked confused. “You’re not making sense, Amber,” he said.
“...they said you would forget me, that I was gone…forgotten…replaced…”
“Amber, what are you talking about?”
I took a shaky breath. “Please listen, Daniel,” I said, slowly sitting up. Daniel shook his head and gently laid me back down. Looking up at him, I began to explain. “The last thing I remember is the music box, and then I was gone,” I started. “I was in some kind of…I don’t know, space between life and death. There was a voice, too. They…it told me…”
“It could have been a fever dream,” said Daniel, raising an eyebrow.
“It was real,” I said firmly. “They told me that you would forget about me forever.” My voice wavered.
Daniel’s eyes widened. “Me?”
“Yes,” I said, trying to not start crying. “I don’t want it to be true.”
“I would never forget about you,” said Daniel, looking at me. We stayed there for a second, me looking up at him, completely still. My breath caught.
Then the door crashed open, breaking the pleasant silence. “AMBER!” someone shrieked. Fauna rushed to the bed, her face stained with tears. “YOU’RE AWAKE!”
I sat up, surprised by her energy. “What happened?” I said.
“Once you fell, the entire castle knew it,” said Daniel. “No one else fell asleep, but when that music box shattered there was a bit of a change in the atmosphere. I was so scared that I just froze right where you landed.”
Fauna patted his hand. “You were in quite the shock, young man.”
“Briar’s parents rushed you off to her bedroom,” Daniel continued. “Then Philip came in and they tried to see if he could wake you up.”
“They tried to what, exactly?”
“They thought his presence would wake you,” Fauna said. “But it didn’t. But then I said that we shouldn’t go further.”
“Thank goodness,” I said to myself.
“Then we tried to get Daniel to come in,” she said. “One of the stableboys pointed out that he was your brother, but I said that all you need is love. Platonic, romantic, whatever, just love.”
Daniel caught my eye and smiled sheepishly. “Sorry, Avonmora.”
“So did Derwent—er, did Daniel do the trick?” I said, smiling back at him.
“All I could do was just stand there,” Daniel said, growing serious. “I was so scared to see my best friend lying, motionless.” A look of fear crossed his eyes. “I didn’t know what to do.”
“Poor guy broke down in tears, right in front of everyone,” Fauna said. “Just started bawling.”
I pictured Daniel, frozen in shock and fear, breaking down in this room. I grabbed his hand. I never, ever wanted to imagine Daniel crying.
“Everyone left to give me privacy,” Daniel said. “I didn’t even know what to do. So I just started crying over you, and one by one the tears started falling on you.”
I gasped. “Magic tears?”
“I’m not sure,” he said. “But each time a tear fell on your face, you seemed to look more alive. I don’t even know how that works.”
“Maybe you have magic tears and you never knew it,” said Fauna.
Daniel looked at me. “Eventually, you looked so alive that I was sure you were breathing. Then I squeezed your hand, and your eyes opened.”
We locked eyes. I’d never seen that look before. What was it?
From downstairs, I heard a glass bowl shatter. “AVONMORA IS AWAKE!” someone shrieked.
Daniel smiled at me. “Looks like the news is spreading.”
I smiled back. “More like Derwent is famous now.”
He giggled, then I joined in, and soon we were all laughing hysterically. Then I heard pounding footsteps approaching the bedroom door, and in burst about the entire town, who all gave me hugs as if I had just risen from the dead or something. Philip was there with a girl who had really blonde hair and warm brown eyes.
“You must be Briar,” I said.
She nodded sheepishly. “Hey, Amber. Sorry about the whole falling asleep thing. It should have been me.”
“Briar!” Fauna said happily, jumping up. Her wings fluttered and she jumped about six feet.
“Wait, I can fly!” she said, clamping her hand over her mouth.
“Well, seeing as you’re a fairy…?” Daniel said.
“I haven’t been able to fly for three years,” she said, slowly coming down. “Being in prison was emotionally draining.”
“Auntie Fuana!” shrieked Briar, throwing her hands around Fauna. “I haven’t seen you in forever!”
Fauna looked overjoyed. Her eyes shone and her face was pink. “We have so much to catch up on, Briar,” she said. “You’re so much taller than I remember!”
Then everyone started chattering and laughing and talking rapidly, moving out of the bedroom. Soon enough, it was just me and Daniel.
“We should probably go home,” I said.
“You’re right,” Daniel said, frowning. “I don’t even know what time it will be back at school.”
“Maybe still lunch time,” I said, shrugging.
“All we have to do is imagine,” he said, a smile creeping on his mouth.
Exactly two hours later, we had explained to Philip that we were going back home.
“It’s been a pleasure knowing you for two whole days,” Philip responded, giving Daniel a clap on the back.
I pulled Philip aside before Daniel and I left. “So, still feels weird with you and Briar?”
Philip turned a little red. “Why do you ask?”
“I feel like sometimes it may feel like you can never love your best friend like that,” I said, “but sometimes, crazy things happen.”
Philip glanced at Briar, then back at me. “I’ve been thinking the same thing.” He smiled. “Well, have a safe trip with your brother, Amber.”
I laughed. “Thanks, Phil.”
Once Daniel and I were back in our normal clothes and in the forest, he grabbed my hand.
“This is it, Amber, we’re going back,” he said.
“When do we want it to be?” I said, cocking my head. “Lunch? After school?”
“A hundred years later?”
“That’s a stretch. Let’s make it ten.”
He laughed. “Alright, close your eyes,” he said.
I imagined going back to school, laughing with Daniel in the parking lot, skipping Biology. I imagined being surrounded by my family that night, with Daniel’s family, too, all seated around our dinner table. I imagined my mom humming in our pink kitchen with Daniel’s mom and our dads discussing the recent soccer game, sitting on the blue armchairs in the family room. I imagined Daniel’s little sisters giving me a hug, just like they always did when they saw me. I imagined going to the roof to watch the sunset with Daniel. I imagined falling asleep, looking at the bright moon and stars, with Daniel by my side.
Author Notes: Sorry that one was such a long one...I’m not good with endings...
Thank you so much to everyone who kept up with this story, I really appreciate it.