Katerina remembered the day he left.
The past five years had been an eternity. She had spent that eternity nursing her aching heart, forgetting the one she truly loved, pushing him so far back into her mind, it was as though he had never been.
The morning had been sunny, the sky cloudless. She was seventeen and he was twenty-two. He was visiting his family for a year, on leave. He was a captain in the Royal Navy, having been stationed in Spain for two years.
He looked so handsome in his uniform, she remembered. He was smiling through his tears, which made his emerald eyes sparkle more than usual. He bit his lip slightly, trying to smile, and she brushed off any speck of dust on his uniform, trying to keep him there with her just a little longer.
She knew he had to leave soon, but she wanted him there. It was the common fear of losing him that kept her from letting go of him, that made her continue 'cleaning' his uniform. She felt a tear run down her cheek and sniffled. He cupped her chin gently and then caressed her cheek, wiping the tear that cascaded downwards. She held his hand to her cheek, closing her eyes, feeling the warmth and slight roughness of it.
Suddenly, she surged forward and wrapped her arms around his neck, pressing her head against his chest. He held her close, nuzzling the top of her hair and trying to keep the scent of her with him for as long as he could.
“Why?” She asked her voice thick with sadness, a lump in her throat. He sighed. “It’s my responsibility. I was stationed here for a couple years, and now, I’m to move back to London. But don’t worry. I’ll be back in a year. It’s just to visit my family. I promise, I’ll be back. And then we can get married.”
She sniffled and smiled, lifting her head up to look at him. “Promise?” She asked. He nodded, doing his best to smile. “I promise.” He made an ‘x’ over his heart. “Cross my heart and hope to die.” She smiled and hugged him again.
He heaved the sack of his belongings onto his back and sighed, turning to go. She caught his arm, however and pulled him back to her. “You forgot one thing.” He raised an eyebrow, about to ask what it was that he forgot when she pulled him close and her lips met his.
He kissed back automatically, melting into her. It was over too soon for Katerina’s taste and he walked to the boarding plank and up to the deck. He gave a small wave as he disappeared from sight. Katerina waited until the boat had left, until his figure had disappeared over the horizon, to fall down to her knees and cry out of pure terror and worry.
The questions bombarded her. What if a storm hit the ship? What if a giant wave happened to catch the them off guard and the ship capsized?
What if pirates attacked?
She went home and waited expectantly, traveling to the docks everyday and watching the ships come and go, as if he might just be on one of them. This routine went on for six months, until Katerina heard the news, whispered by her mother and father through the house, whispered by her neighbors and the town itself.
“Captain Arthur Kirkland is dead. Pirates killed him. Such a shame. He was such a nice man.”
That was the day Katerina stopped living, the day she was never truly happy again. In time, she moved to London after her parents decided there were more opportunities there and she changed her name to Lily, never to think about Arthur again. She was even engaged to a man of high class, Ludwig Beilshmidt, an aristocrat from Germany.
And then, the night before her wedding, her supposedly dead lover kidnapped her.