Miracles and Magic
Christmas eve, eleven years later


Lonely, but not alone, the young man wandered the Winter fairground. Golden lights glimmered in the grand town-tree, as music danced through the icy air upon the ringing of laughter and the voices of shopkeepers, praising hot drinks and trinkets.

It all seemed merry, alive and warm, yet somehow he often felt ill at ease at days like these. He could not explain it, but it ever seemed like he was searching for something important he had once lost; a feeling that intensified whenever December grew near.

And at eighteen, it was no different.

He had not intended to come, aiming to escape his strange emotions this year round — but an unforeseen urge had compelled him to venture out despite it all, and partake in his hometown tradition.

Hands in his pockets, collar set up high, the young man followed as many began to make their wake to the forest-embraced lake; most holding small paper boats in their hands that carried notes for the Celestial Maiden — always, a prayer for love and hope.

Standing back a little ways, he exchanged a greeting here and there, watching the first candle-lit boats sail away into the night — when he suddenly heard it; the sing-song voices from a faraway dream…

His head snapped up, his breath hitched, while above him the velvet skies turned luminous with bright, falling stars; descending as far as the horizon reached.

Childhood memories replaying in real-time, the largest star he had ever seen broke free from the many, and swept elegantly down to meet the earth. All around him young and old reacted as one, as the heavenly light crashed in a wondrous explosion of colour — and a single person was extraordinarily left standing in its wake…

A woman; the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.

Involuntarily, he took a step. And another. Everything and everyone around him falling away, while he drank in her skin that seemed to glow from within, and the long, black hair that cascaded down her slim back.

She smiled, reaching out a hand — and with every new, tentative step he took, remembrance washed over him. Recollections of his bewitched seven-year-old self at the water’s edge became laced with flashbacks of a life impossibly long ago; of caressing her face, kissing those lips…

From the shadows of time, he felt himself — his true, ever searching self — emerge back into the light, and all answers filled his mind that he had so desperately tried to find.

A hush wrapped them together when he finally, finally touched his fingertips to hers, and pulled her against his chest; heartbeat to heartbeat, soul to soul.

For a moment, wordless they stood, the farmer boy and the maiden fair, until he softly said the same words he had said once before, “Will you run away with me?”

And every hour, day and year they had gone without one another blew away like dust on the wind, when she instantly replied, “Anywhere, and everywhere. As long as I’m with you.”

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