The garden was beautiful in the early afternoon light, as dappled sunlight danced through the skeletal branches of trees and reflected off the frozen glass surface of the pond. Sparkles played off the freshly fallen field of snow and frosted plants, blinding Elizabeth as though looking over a sea of shimmering gems. Leon stood amid the cold, wearing nothing more than jeans and a tank top. Elizabeth, in contrast, was heavily bundled up in fur coat, woolen gloves and fuzzy ear warmers. She was surprised to see him so casually clothed on such a cold, winter’s day and her expression clearly betrayed itself as he saw her and chuckled.
“The cold doesn’t bother me,” he explained.
“How is that even possible? You can’t be human,” Elizabeth joked, but Leon’s smile turned into a serious scowl and his eyes darkened.
“I’m not,” he replied, deadpan. Elizabeth wasn’t certain whether she should laugh or be concerned that the cold had frosted over his brain.
“Very funny,” she chuckled and rolled her eyes. Leon sighed heavily.
“You dreamed of me last night, after we met during the night.” It wasn’t a question.
“So?” Elizabeth confirmed nonchalantly.
“You don’t find that odd at all? Dreaming of someone you’ve just met, and them feeling as vivid as this moment now?” He crossed the distance between them and Elizabeth felt her breath hitch in her throat, remembering the feeling of him pressed close to her the night before, and remembering the taste of his kiss.
“No. I’ve had those dreams my entire life,” she trailed off, realizing what she had just said but too late to stop the words. Leon smirked, as though he had just won a competition between them.
“Is that so?” He didn’t seem at all surprised. “You dreamed of me before even meeting me?” Elizabeth sighed, and surrendered, nodding slowly. “I imagine you have been told your entire life that the dreams were silly notions, yes?” he asked rhetorically, and continued before she had a chance to confirm or deny his theory, “yet you feel they are real. This is because you are reliving old memories, not dreaming up something in your head,” he explained.
“I heard you this morning, but that doesn’t make any sense,” Elizabeth countered, “there’s no such thing as past things and reincarnation, those are silly old celtic notions.” Leon considered her resistance for a long moment, and Elizabeth could feel the heat both in his gaze and radiating from his body next to her. She realized in that moment that he was impossibly warm and without thinking she pulled off a glove and reached her hand out to touch his chest. She felt instant warmth spread through her fingertips and into her palms, warming her better than a fire or radiator could have. Leon chuckle and Elizabeth realized what she had done. As she tried to withdraw her hand, Leon grasped it in his own before she could react.
“Why do you draw away? What frightens you?” he asked with curiosity and amusement dancing in his eyes.
“It’s… inappropriate,” she explained dully, but didn’t try to pull away this time.
“Why? Because you were told so? Or because you remember so much more?” he challenged her and Elizabeth felt herself flush from more than just the cold. She still didn’t draw away, though, allowing him to examine her hand in his. “Your hands are as I remember them,” he stated in a low tone after a long minute of feeling her soft skin in his rough grasp.
“What do you mean?” Elizabeth asked, curious. Leon looked back up to meet her gaze, and she saw something in it she hadn’t noticed before. A odd shimmer that reflected both attraction and pain in the same instant, but a moment later it was gone and Elizabeth wasn’t certain if she had merely imagined it.
“You are the one dreaming of your memories,” Leon replied, “you tell me; what were we before?” Elizabeth swallowed hard and blushed as she remembered some of her dreams of him — not the ones where they had traveled The Other Realm and survived encounters with great, magical beasts, but the one she had the day they met, where they had been closer than this, tangled up in passion together. She frowned and tried to shake the image out of her head, but found herself clinging to the memory as a life raft.
“Thats…” Elizabeth trailed off, having no real counter to his words.
“I propose you suspend your disbelief for one day, and follow my heed,” Leon said suddenly. Elizabeth looked back up at him, curious again.
“Why?” she asked.
“If you do as I say for this day alone, I will prove to you that The Other Realm exists,” he explained, using the name of the world — Elizabeth didn’t reply for a moment, surprised; she had never told him what she called the fantasy world from her dreams.
“And if you can’t convince me?” she asked.
“Then, dear lady, I will forever leave you alone and never speak of this again,” he bowed in mock respect and kissed the back of her hand before finally relinquishing it. Elizabeth narrowed her eyes, considering his proposal. Leon was still as much a mystery to her today as when they first met; what she had thought to know about him turned out to be different than what she had seen in the past day. Sure, he was polite and charismatic, suave and attractive — but there was also something aggressive and dangerous about him, something that challenged and pushed her buttons.
“Deal,” she agreed finally. Leon smirked again, all affection gone from his eyes. He leaned close enough to whisper in her ear.
“Careful, dear lady: if you play with fire, you might get burned,” he whispered in her ear, and she shivered feeling his breath on her skin.
“Careful,” she challenged him confidently, “if you play with ice, you might extinguish yourself.”493Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡwvp8KItVcw