“I was afraid of being rejected, yes. I was also afraid of being accepted for the wrong reasons.”
― Erich Segal
"What do you mean 'don't take her to the hospital'? She threw up blood Niall!"
Maura's voice was what brought me out of my oblivion. She needed to settle her voice because he'll hear her if she doesn't. He'll come."
There you are, Arethusa
I started to breath heavily as my eyes sprang open, "No, no, no," I chanted, absorbing every breath of air I could take.
"See, she's fine." I heard Niall's voice and it brought a sense of warmth through me. They will protect me. I know they will. "Are you okay?"
Either all mortals were this obtuse or Niall didn't know how to connect the dots. "I-I'm weak. They're dead. They are all dead." I couldn't calm myself and it was evident by my rapidly beating heart.
"Who's dead, hon?"
I shook my head and shrugged away Niall's touch, making him lay me back down. "No one. They are no one."
Maura looked worried but I found that it was useless, unnecessary to feel that way for me. There is no possible way to change the inevitable but I could try and prolong is as long as I can.
Such a sweet, innocent, girl
I let a sob escape me. "I would like to be alone."
"Oh alright, I'll make you a snack and you'll have it in a bit, okay?"
I slightly nodded and snuggled further into the blanket. The room was quiet but I still felt eyes on me. Niall's eyes. It told me he was judging me. He had to be.
"If you're wondering why I'm still here. Well, this is my room and this is my bed."
"Sorry," I croaked, trembling to sit up. "I will move."
"No, no, I was kidding." He motioned for me to lay back down and I gladly obliged.
I let out a shaky breath, waiting for more of Niall's harsh words. When none came I cleared my throat and decided to say something instead. "I did not mean to frighten you earlier, this is just what I am. I was born this way and have lived this way for centuries. There is no other way for me."
"So you've been sick like this for all these," he awkwardly coughed, "centuries."
"No," I slightly smiled, "I was at peace for many years. Me and my sisters would roam free and enjoy our roles as part of nature but..."
"Nothing that good could last forever. A force...something so evil took all of them away from me," I cried, letting the tears rush down the side of my face. "I was alone and afraid. I made it though, for a few years I made it. Then I met Alpheus...and he was dark. A dark god that wanted nothing more but my virtue, for power. I had to run so I did."
"W-where did you run to?"
"All types of places as long as it was blooming season."
He lightly laughed,"You've come to the wrong place."
I felt my expression dim. "I know. He was so close to me once that I scurried the wrong direction. Aphrodite had gotten me that far and the minute she stops helping I run in the wrong direction." I was so ashamed of myself.
"Wait, Aphrodite, the Aphrodite?"
"You've heard of her," I smiled.
"Of course, it's...it's..."
"Greek mythology. It's what I am, Niall."
"I...I did some research. You're a nymph? A tree nymph?"
My smile widened, "Yes."
"You, uh, err, l-like a fairy?"
I nodded, "Exactly but I don't have a wand or wings or anything" I lightly chuckled.
"I guessed that," he smiled and it brightened my whole mood. Although weak and still a bit scared, Niall ha soothed me with just his smile.
My smile faltered a bit when I thought of what I'd say next. "You are not afraid, are you? I am harmless."
"No," he shook his head, "and I'm sorry about that. I was just sort of..."
"For lack of a better word, yes."
"Oh, Niall, if I wasn't so sore I'd hug you. Where I'm from we are very affectionate."
I saw a red tint run up his face, "I bet."
I bit at my lip and looked around before smiling back at him. "If I asked anything right now, would you do it?"
"Matters on what it is."
"Well you've done it for me before," I teased.
He groaned and rolled his eyes, "I'll go get my guitar."
"Oh thank you, thank you, thank you. I would love to hear you sing."
That night I was feeling better but I won't be all the way there until the next month when blooming season starts. I was still laid in Niall's bed and it made me feel guilty when he offered to sleep on the couch.
"Such nonsense, I will sleep on the couch. This is your bed after all."
"No, no, you're hurt right now and I don't want you to move too much."
"It's fine. All those glasses of water really helped. I feel a bit better, I swear. Plus Maura tells me you have those education classes tomorrow and you need your sleep."
He laughed, he had a very distinctive laugh. "School. Yes, I have school tomorrow."
"You know, Maura says I can go to school with you soon. She told me if I really wanted to, she'd enroll me."
His face was marred with confusion, "And how do you feel about that?"
"Well...I've never been to school. I've never learned anything but to take care of the trees and domestic things. I don't know how to read...o-or write."
His eyes widened, "What? H-how old are you again?"
"Never mind. Let's say you're seventeen. You look about that age."
"All these years and you've never learned to read or write?"
"In my culture we didn't have to and now that I'm alone and running I've never found the time."
"Oh, Arethusa," he sighed. "Tomorrow, tomorrow when I come home we'll start. You'll be reading and writing in no time."
I smiled widely, "I would want nothing more than to learn with you."
He reciprocated my expression, "I would want nothing more than to teach you."
"Promise. You have to promise."
"I promise, Arethusa, that you will know how to read and write by the time you leave."
I nodded and turned onto my side. With that promise I didn't know if I wanted to leave. "Please stay. I will make room for you on the bed and I am a great snuggle buddy, my sisters once told me so."
"Okay," he grinned, "I'll stay."
He turned off the light and got under the covers with me. I threw my arm around him and laid my head on his shoulder. He seemed a bit choked up but soon relaxed. This brought back peaceful memories of the times I'd spend with my sisters.
"Oh, Niall, I can't wait to learn to read words and write them too."
The next morning when I was groggy and felt Niall get out of bed, I whimpered. I felt Alpheus was near but he was lost and couldn't find me. I inwardly sighed in hope that he never would.
Many minutes later Niall was ready in nice clothes and a refreshed look. "A left you a picture book on the kitchen table," he whispered, kneeling down next to the bed where I lay.
I sleepily nodded.
"Don't stay in bed all day okay? Look through it, maybe watch some telly. You might enjoy it."
"Don't be gone long," I mumbled, missing him already.
He lightly chuckled, "I'll try. Bye."
"Bye, Niall. I feel the knowledge already."
I saw that he opened his mouth to say something else but shook his head instead and stood up. He grabbed his bag and headed out the door. A strange mortal that boy was.
A/N: I got a comment to update so I did! It's just that simple you guys! I know there aren't many readers right not but I still appreciate every one of you for taking the time to read this. Thanks!