"Where are we going?" she asked him.
"You'll see when we get there," he said, laughing. "But keep your eyes closed."
She moved her hands a little, just to get a glimpse of her surroundings, but he noticed and put them again before her eyes.
"I said, no peeking."
She giggled. "I'm sorry. This is so exciting."
They walked in silence for a while, he ahead and she behind, until he stood still.
"Are we there yet?" she asked curiously. Instead of answering, he slowly removed her hands from her face. She blinked to get used to the bright sunlight. Then, everything got clear.
They were on an open location, surrounded by trees. The grass was long and between it, there were flowers in all different colours. It was like a painting. It was beautiful.
But despite of the amazing view, the atmosphere was grim. That was because of the enormous tree in the middle of the field. She didn't know why. It was an oak. Since it was spring, it was in full bloom. It even smelled like spring.
He smiled brightly to her and walked towards the tree. She stayed where she stood, hesitating. But her curiosity, which was always present, took the upper hand and she followed him, running. She turned 16 last week, but she still feeled like she wasn't too old for running. Under the tree, he stopped and he turned around towards her.
"Isn't it amazing here?"
She nodded and laughed because of his smile. "If you don't stop smiling, it will tear up your face," she said, which made his smile even bigger.
"How did you find this place?" she asked him.
"One day, I had to gather some wood for the master and I came up here," he said. He was an orphan and he lived in the master's orphanage, in the south of the district. "I absolutely wanted you to see it."
He stepped forwards and captured her face with his hands. He gently pressed his lips on hers and gave her a kiss, slowly. Butterflies started flying in her stomach. She had never been kissed before. And she had been in love with him for a long time, but she didn't know he loved her too. She lauhged and pulled back. He looked at her, confused.
"Do you want another one?" she said. "Come and get it."
She ran around the tree, laughing. But what she saw there, scared her. Now she knew why the tree was so grim.
"I got you!" he said, but then he saw the look on her face. "What's wrong?"
She pointed at something above them. A noose. The rope was frayed, which meant it had to be very old.
"Oh, that," he said. "Scary, isn't it? This tree was used to hang up criminals. But that hasn't happened for years. The last time was before we were born."
"What are we doing here?" was all she could say. "We shouldn't be here."
"Why not? No one comes here anyways. No man in the whole district dares to do anything, because they are scared they will be hung up.," he said, like it was nothing.
"This is creepy. I want to go home."
"You're such a coward, Hellon. Just relax, I'm with you." He caressed her cheeks, which comforted her. Then he put his arms around her and gave her little kisses in her neck. And she relaxed.
"Okay, fine," she sighed. "It still stays beautiful here. It's been a while, maybe even a century since they last did this things. You're right, Milo."
"Of course I'm right. I'm always right, darling," Milo said confidently. "What do you think of us making love under the Hanging Tree?"
She punched him in his stomach. But she laughed, though. No one ever asked her something like that, although it wasn't very polite.
"You don't ask a girl things like that, not in that way. You still have a long way to go before you will be a real man, Milo MacGraffle."
"I am a real man, Hellon Marple. I'm 19 years old, that's 3 years older then you are, am I correct?"
She stuck out her tongue and ran around the tree again.
They stayed there for the rest of the day, the miner's boy and the mayor's daughter. Hellon even forgot what kind of tree it was. Somewhere in her mind floated the words 'hanging tree', but the young man next to her demanded her full attention.
"And when I'm 21, Hellon, I'll ask you to marry me. We will get married and have a lot of children and we will live happily ever after," he told her.
She laughed. "You should tell my father."
"I will convince your father. I will do anything to do that."
"Then you will have to do your very best," she said. "He will never allow his only daughter to marry a miner. He's probably already searching someone, like the baker's or the shoemaker's son."
"What makes them better then I am?" Milo said irritated.
"They are from the middle class, they could offer more then you can." She said it like it made perfectly sense. But then she saw the look in his eyes, like he was hurt.
"I'm so sorry. I didn't mean it like that," she said and she softly touched his face. "Don't pretend like you don't say this to every girl in the district."
Milo MacGraffle was known as the boy that made every girl's heart beat faster.
"My dear, dear girl," he said, still pain in his eyes. "My heart only belongs to you."
She remained silent for a while. She didn't know what to say. A man never wanted her, and she never wanted a man that way. But Milo made her feel special, attractive, beautiful.
She pushed him down, so he was lying between the high grass. She kissed him, brief and playful. "And mine belongs to you."