Every year, on the same day, she received flowers. First it was from him, the first man in her life with the soulful dark eyes and sweet smile. He would come to her in the morning, his steps quick and sure, with a fist full of red roses and his love for her in his eyes. His hands would have tiny cuts from the thorns, but he swore that he never felt the pain because he was only thinking of her and of making her happy. She would take him in her arms and show him how much she loved him.
And then, years later, his successor, with eyes just as dark and a smile that she'd seen in the mirror more times than she could count, would bring her the roses, except they were yellow--he little one's favorite color. She would hear his running steps coming down the corridor towards her chambers and then he would come into the room and jump on the bed with the spirit that only a child could have. Even before he could walk by himself, when the first bearer would come in with the little child in his arms, he would carry the roses in his little hands and give them to her. Then, he would throw his small, chubby arms around her neck and kiss her face with sticky lips. She would laugh and thank him for his gift, love in her words.
As the years passed, her second flower bearer grew older and the running turned into slow footsteps and the jumps on the bed turned into a simple seat on the edge. The high voice that had greeted her turned into a low one. Still, she got her flowers, if not from him, then the other when he left. The little girl was younger and would throw herself bodily onto the bed and into her arms. The blue-eyed, dark-haired sprite would come in tracking grass and mud all over the chambers, but she was always welcomed with a warm smile and a gentle kiss. She had her mother's sunny disposition, unlike the elder flower bearer who was as serious as his father. The sprite was her father's child in looks, but her blue eyes glowed with the spirit of her mother. The peach roses she gave were always received with all the love she could give.
Soon, before she even knew it, both her young flower bearers had grown, despite her most ardent wishes, and left. But the first stayed. He would forever stay with her, if not in body, but in memory, and he began his old practice, but this time with pink roses. He no longer came with the long, fast strides that he had taken as a young man, but the slower gait of one who had lived a full life, and no longer had to rush to get to where he was going. Though his jet-black hair was now mostly gray, his smile had not dimmed throughout the years and it still made her heart quicken. She would take him into her arms and whisper of all the love that she had inside. He would rest his head against her breast and close his eyes, breathing in the scent of the woman he had loved for all his life. His arms would wrap themselves around her and they would lie like that, simply thinking about the past they had lived through and the future they had built. The memories of the years kept them warm and safe, and the presence of each other calmed their souls. It was perfection as far as both of them were concerned. There was nothing more to want because they already had everything they needed.
If only it could have lasted forever, but as with the best things in life, it could not. The time came when, though her room was filled with roses in all colors that could be found, she heard no footsteps outside her chambers alerting her of someone nearing. No longer would there be smiling dark eyes greeting her as she awoke and no arms to hold her. Her sprite and her second flower bearer would always send her flowers no matter where they were, but their kind actions could never replace her one true love, the bringer of the red and pink roses which were the symbols of what they once were.
For even though the younger ones had replaced him for a while in their childhood, he was always there with her. Always there to share her joy and pride, always taking the flower bearer or the sprite in his strong arms to be cuddled and thanked for taking his job for a little while. He would share a smile with her over the child's head, a smile that thanked her for the years of happiness that they had and will enjoy. She laid back on her pillows and closed her eyes, a tear slipping down her cheek, a red rose in her hands. She thought of her love, of how he was at long last at rest and for once he would never come back to her. She wanted nothing more than to be with him again because she didn't want anything else without him.
She never opened her eyes again.
Allura found herself in a place filled with light. Every where she looked, there was a glowing brightness that did not hurt her eyes. She smiled a soft, serene smile. She knew that she would be happy here at last. She walked in her long white gown, her blonde hair flowing down her back. She was young again, not the small gray haired woman she had left behind. She stretched her slender white arms to the sky and laughed. She felt free.
"Allura," someone called.
Her heart stilled as she heard the voice. The voice that she wished that she could hear again since it had disappeared from her life a year ago. She turned slowly, her blue eyes wide. The face of her love, as it was in his youth, smiled at her and he held out his arms. She ran to him.
"Keith," she sighed as he enveloped her in his embrace. "I found you at last."
"I never left you," he whispered, his lips brushing the perfect curve of her ear.
It was then did she notice he held something in his hands. She pulled back from him and looked. A single white rose was what he held. He touched it to her face and she felt its silkiness against her skin. He smiled, his dark eyes shining suspiciously. She felt a tear slip down her cheek, still unbelieving that they were together again.
"I never forgot," he said. "This is forever."
"That's all I ever wanted."
Their lips met and the rose fell unheeded onto the ground.
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