The months passed by so slowly, the weeks never seeming to come to an end, the days dragging on into what felt like forever. Every day felt like a year, every minute an hour. I missed Nathan so much, every time I saw a photograph of him or heard something about him in various different articles, it was like dagger piercing through my heart. We sent email to each other of course and kept in touch, but it still pained me every day to know that I couldn't talk to him face to face, or hug him and feel his strong, yet gentle embrace mixed with his sweet warm breath down my neck.
Time dragged by so slowly, until soon it was November. God, he's been gone for months now. At least I have Smudge to keep me company, I've managed to teach him a few basic tricks now during Nathan's absence. Even though Nath's been away, it's not as if I haven't been busy. I've had so much work to do for the magazine, we're getting a lot more publicity now which is really great. I've mainly been flying from interview to interview, with a bit of editing here and there.
It's now November the 5th, fireworks night, and In haven't heard anything from Nathan for the past few days. Oh god I think he's forgotten about me. Horrible thoughts came flooding in to my mind just then, he probably met someone over in America and realised how worthless I was. I became aware of the salty tears streaming down my face in waterfalls, and could do nothing to stop them. I quickly wiped them away with my hand but more kept coming. I watched through blurry eyes as Smudge walked in to my room and jumped up on to my bed. He's gotten so big now, and sleeping on my bed with me has become a regualr night time occurence. I felt soft paws padding along the sheets towards me and I felt his velvety muzzle nudge my face affectionately. I looked across at him and smiled a sad smile, gently reaching out a hand to pat his soft head. I looked into his chocolate brown eyes and saw my own emotions reflected back at me. He gazed at me with a pitiful glance, he knew what had happened, I could just tell. I whipped my head around as the sound of a light gust of wind threw itself at my window. It was a lovely late autumn day, just a slight breeze with the sun still shining amongst the dim clouds. A thin layer of frost still covering the ground and leaves of all different colours, red, orange, yellow, gold, bronze and brown lay in heaps across the ground, occasionally a lively burst of wind setting them scattering off in all directions.
"Come on then Smudge," I said, with forced enthusiasm and effort, "shall we go for a nice long walk?" In reply, Smudge jumped down from my bed and wagged his tail in response. "Come on then you," I say smiling slightly, gathering up my scarf and gloves and putting on my jacket. I headed out into the fresh air. The wind was stronger than I imagined, but oh well, it's just a bit of wind, I thought to myself. Because I live in such a remote part of the countryside, I didn't need to worry about cars or other vehicles, only the occasional cyclist pedalling past on his bike. I started up the road and along until I reached the small forest at the top of the hill. I watched with a small smile as Smudge weaved in and out of the trees, looking bare and naked without their leaves, picking up different scents. I watched as the midday sunlight filtered through the trees casting shadows and slits of golden light across the frosty grass. Once I'd ran around a bit with Smudge and throwed a few sticks more than once, I decided it was time to head back. I'd been out for quite a while, the sun was beginning to sink out of sight, and the sky turned grey and dismal. "Come on then boy," I called to Smudge and whistled to him. The weather really had turned itself around, the wind was much stronger now than it had been before. Dark storm clouds gathered above my head, swirling angrily in the skies. Starting to get agitated now, I muttered,
"Damned weather! Come on now Smudge, hurry up!"
Smudge bounded over to my side, and I could sense that he knew something wasn't quite right. I set off at a brisk walk, Smudge loyally walking and keeping pace beside me. Just then a huge roll of thunder bellowed out across the darkened sky. Smudge let out a small whimper,
"It's ok, it's alright baby, it's ok." I said to him in a calming, reassuring voice, "everything's going to be ok, come on now, let's hurry home,"
As soon as the words had escaped my mouth, a terrific flash of lightning lit up the whole sky with a mighty crack. I saw the terror flash in Smudge's eyes before he bolted off in the direction of my house, running at full speed.
"Wait! Smudge! Come back!" I shouted through the whirlwind of leaves and debris flying through the air around me in the wind. "Smudge!" I called again, pleading. I set off, sprinting down the hill as suddenly the heavens opened and torrents of rain tumbled down around me, cold, hard drops slashing at my face like knives, making visibility practically impossible. I ran down the hill at top speed, my heart pounding in my chest, breathing heavily, my wet hair lashing across my face. I looked up and found that my house was only a couple of yards away. I sped up as I saw a small dark shape bolting for the open gate to my garden. And then I saw it, or rather, him. A tall, dark, silhouette looming out of the near darkness. I stopped, panicked, terror tearing at my heart. The figure began to make his way towards me, I couldn't see his face yet, I had no idea who they were. Without thinking, I turned on my heel and began to run in the opposite direction. Then, suddenly, slipping on a patch of wet ice on the path below me, I tumbled to the ground. I felt my head jerk backwards with the force and hit it off the icy ground. I felt a sharp, searing pain race up my left arm. I let out a small cry, my tears mixing with the rain, and then...nothing.
"Hannah?" I heard a voice, filled with worry, say my name, "Hannah? Can you hear me?" It called again, "Hannah! Wake up! Please?" I could hear sobbing now. Hang on, wait a minute, I knew that voice. I cautiously opened my green-blue eyes, to find none other than Nathan staring down at me in the rain, with anxiety, fear and worry etched on his face. Oh god, I'd missed him more than I even thought I'd had. He looked so perfect there, like an angel, kneeling down amongst the rain beside me, one hand cupped gently around my head, the other supporting my back strongly. Rain falling down and soaking his hair, plastering it in a dark brown mass to his forehead, droplets of rainwater catching on his eyelashes and tears leaking from his eyes and streaming down his face, with more threatening to overspill.
"Nathan?" I whispered, just to make sure I wasn't hallucinating,
"Oh Hannah," he sighed, pulling me up into tight hug, and despite my efforts to keep it in, I let out a sharp, quick gasp of pain.
"What is it? What's wrong? Oh I'm so sorry," Nathan said, drawing back,
"N-nothing, I'm fine," I replied with a shaky smile, starting to get up off the wet ground, the rain had loosend off now, it was just a slight drizzle. Nathan helped me up and held me close as we started off towards my house, I could see Smudge sitting and waiting loyally on my doorstep.
"Smudge has grown a lot," Nathan said, trying to force conversation,
"Yeah," I replied, subdued and in shock, "Well it's been quite a while since he saw you,"
"Oh Hannah I-" Nathan said, stopping to look at me properly, but I interrupted him before he could apologise for something that wasn't his fault,
"I just missed you, and- and when you stopped emailing me I, I thought that you'd.. I don't know, fallen in love with someone else and I just, well, I'm just so glad you're here now," I finally managed to get out.
"I'm so sorry," Nathan started, "the only reason why I didn't email was because I knew we were coming back today and I wanted to surprise you, but I guess I surprised in a different way to what I planned." Nathan paused for a little as we reached my doorstep, then carried on, "You thought I was that girl, didn't you? Nicole."
I didn't need to answer, he already knew. "Hannah, don't worry. I promise that I will take care of you and protect you all my life. Because I love you, I love you so much you have no idea,"
I gazed up at him, as we stood underneath the arch of my doorway, rain droplets running down his face and dripping from his hair. I reached up and placed my arms around his neck and he put his around my waist, leaning against the doorframe, we kissed. Electricty flashing through my body like the lightning, my pulse racing and heart beating fast. Nathan's lips were soft and gentle at first, as if he were treating me like a delicate flower. It felt as if the world had stopped spinning, I wished I could bottle this moment and savour it forever. Eventually, due to Smudge nudging my leg, we broke away, our foreheads still resting against each other,
"You have no idea how much I've missed that," Nathan whispered, huskily.
We went inside and I went and got changed out of my wet clothes into dry ones. Then I walked down the stairs to find Nathan sitting at the kitchen table, drinking some tea. He smiled and and got up as I entered.
"This is the best surprise ever," I say as I walk in, sitting down opposite him,
"Well if you think this is a good surprise, I don't know what you'll think of what's coming next then,"
"What do you mean?" I ask, puzzled,
"Aha, you'll have to wait and see won't you?" Nathan replies with a wink, "It won't be a proper surprise if I tell you,"
"Fine then." I say, going in to a pretend sulk,
"Come on then, we've got to get going!" Nathan says, eagerly, taking my hand in his, and pulling me out the door.
We drive in his car to god knows where. It was completely dark now and the sky was clear now, with stars twinkling above our heads.
"Where are we?" I ask, as Nathan comes up behind me, unprepared, I let out a small scream as he places a soft, silky black material over my eyes, blocking my view of everything,
"Hey!" I shout, playfully.
"I told you it was a surprise," I hear Nathan say from behind me, with a smile in voice. I can feel his strong fingers gently tying a loose knot in the blindfold behind my head,
"Now no peeking! Just follow me," Nathan says mysteriously, placing his hand in mine, entwining our fingers together.
"Nearly there," Nathan says to me a couple of minutes later, I can hear vague sounds of music being blasted out into the air and I'm almost positive I can smell something like candyfloss.
"We're here," Nathan says, and I peel the blindfold off, "Ta da!!!!" Nathan says, a smile beaming from ear to ear on his face. I look around me in amazement. We're at a funfair, there are stalls everywhere bursting with bright colours and rides all around, left, right and centre, lit up with lights and flashing signs.
"Oh my god wow!" I exclaim, and I laugh with happiness. We run off together and go on lots of rides, screaming sometimes in terror or sheer delight and excitement, possibly both. After we've finished our circuit of the fairground, Nathan pulls me towards a big ferris wheel, stretching up into the sky.
"Come on, we're going to have the best seats in the house," Nathan says, as we climb into our little bubble.
"Best seats for what?" I ask,
"The fireworks of course! It is bonfire night after all!"
"Oh wow!" I say, for what seems like the hundredth time. The ferris wheel begins to ascend up into the night sky, as we get higher, it gets colder and I shiver. Nathan notices and puts and arm around my shoulders, holding me tightly, his warm breath tickling my ears. We reach the very top and watch in awe as the firework display is set off. Pretty much every single colour you could imagine explodes above our heads in tiny litte stars. After they've all been set off the only stars we're left with are the real ones, in the sky.
"They're so beautiful, it's almost as if we could reach out and touch them," I whisper. I'm aware of Nathan moving slightly behind me, and as I turn towards him to see what he's doing, I see, held out in the palm of his hand, a ring. It's simple yet the most beautiful item of jewellery I've ever seen. A small, sapphire stone set in around silver band. I stare at it in bewilderment, and then up to Nathan, as he says,
"This is a promise ring. And Hannah Ferrier, I promise that I will protect and keep you safe for as long as I live. I love you so much and even though it's not even been a year yet, I hope, and I promise that one day I will replace this ring with a more important one, one that will make you my wife," Nathan stares at me with his green eyes, full of love and hope. Tears of joy come streaming down my face and I hold out my shaking hand with excitement of what the future may hold. Nathan slips the ring on to my finger and then we kiss, more passionately than ever before, and it feels as if I'm watching the firework display all over again.