For a while after it was all over, Rose struggled to cope with her new life. Everything she ever thought she knew about her family, her life, and herself was shaken up and tossed around. It took almost a year for the nightmares to stop. She would scream in her sleep until I woke her. Then she would cry until the morning light streaked through the embroidered curtains and burned away the image of those haunting green eyes.
I tried to be there for her as best I could. I didn’t sleep well either, so it was easy for me to stay up in one of the large red chairs next to her bed, and rub her back while she slept. I was plagued with nightmares too, but they weren’t of malicious green eyes and never waking up. They were of losing her. I stayed awake and rubbed her back while she slept because I needed to know she was still breathing and that she would wake up again. It was my fault she had these nightmares. I was the one who dragged her out of ignorant bliss in Domfront because I was stupid and in love, so selfishly in love.
Her great aunts kept trying to convince me that it wasn’t my fault. Because the curse linked us together, I was destined to find her and it would have happened one way or another. It was all because of that stupid curse.
Long before Rose or I were ever born, our families engaged in a bitter conflict over the wine market based in Normandie. No one knows how long our two companies fought; all we knew was that the conflict was getting out of control and both were losing investors. People went to jail and some even died because things got too heated. Afraid for our futures and whatever remained of those two failing companies, our parents arranged a truce shortly after Rose was born. Stéfan De La Fontaine and my father, Hubert Chevalier, met together multiple times to argue out the details, and eventually they came to an agreement. When Rose turned 21, we would each inherit our family’s winery, and would marry to join the businesses together. It definitely seemed weird to set up an arranged marriage in the 21st Century, but there were no other agreeable options. The businesses needed to be saved, but first the contention needed to ease enough so the businesses could last until then.
At Rose’s first birthday party, we made the announcement. Because I was only three years old at the time, I don’t remember much. My mother, Audrée, had given me a simple gold ring, a family heirloom she said was as old as the winery itself. Just after the party started, I approached Rose, so tiny in her chair at the front of the room, and handed her the gold ring as a symbol of our impending marriage. Obviously, it didn’t fit onto her finger, so she did what any one year old would do—she wrapped one finger through it and popped part of it into her mouth to chew on. Her mother, Leah, laughed gently as she took the ring away and placed it on a gold chain for her to wear as a necklace until it fit on her finger.
I don’t remember everyone that was there, just Leah’s three aunts, Fleur, Faline, and Mystie, who lived with them, and the green-eyed woman who stayed in the corner until after the wine had been passed around more than enough times. All the company, except the green-eyed woman, left the party as Stéfan and Hubert grew red-faced and rowdy from the wine. As their boisterous laughter echoed off the walls, the woman clenched her fists as a shriek escaped her bright red lips.
Her low voice crept around the room, giving me chills. “For years I have thrived off your petty feud and it has given me great strength. I fed my power off the negative energy that you have been radiating for years. I have felt so young again because of your anger, and now you think you can take it away from me? I still have power, and now you have forced me to use it.” She advanced toward Rose, strapped into her place of honor at the front of the room, and whipped out a silvery wand from her dark clothing. The wand dripped green sparks that matched the anger in her eyes.
I was standing closest to Rose, but as the woman came closer, Faline prodded me aside and I ran to my mother. Hubert, Audrée, and Stéfan all stood off to the side with mouths agape. Only Leah with her clenched fists seemed to follow what was happening.
“Mallorie, arrête!” Faline shouted. “You don't have to do this. You can still come back home with us!”
“Do not tell me how to handle my affairs!”
Rose sat there, entranced by the shiny wand inches from her nose. She grabbed at it, then changed her mind and blew a raspberry toward Mallorie.
“Child, I give you a blessing to celebrate your betrothal. You will grow up intelligent and kind, just as your parents wish. You will indeed prepare yourself to marry this boy, but when you reach the age for marriage you will find yourself at the mercy of the spindle of a car. I promise you child, when you are in that car the spindle will break and you will find your end in a horrific crash.”
“Mallorie, you will leave at once!” Fleur stepped in front of Rose with her own wand drawn, red sparks flying.
Faline and Mystie joined her, their wands also at the ready, sparking yellow and blue respectively.
Mallorie turned away. “My work here is already done.” Then with a wave of her hand she vanished with a puff of green smoke.
Leah ran to her child, cradling the infant protectively in her arms, while the other adults remained stationary with their mouths agape. “S'il vous plaît, Fleur, Faline, et Mystie, do something!”
“We will try, chère.” Faline placed a hand on her niece’s shoulder but kept her eyes firmly set on the baby. “Mystie, you take the lead.”
The three fairies joined their wands end to end to form a triangle over Rose's head. Mystie whispered words frantically under her breath, then calmly raised her voice so that it echoed off the silence. “Young child, we bless you and protect you from that horrific end. When the spindle breaks, you shall find yourself asleep until Mallorie greets fatality. Then shall her curse afflict you no more.”
“You can't get rid of it?” Tears started down Leah’s cheeks.
“Non, chère. Once a spell is cast it can only be altered in certain forms. However, when the fairy who cast the spell dies, their magic is dead too and their words are lifted,” Fleur replied.
Stammering in drunken disbelief, Stéfan stumbled over to his wife. “You...you knew about magic? It's real?”
Leah placed her head on Stéfan’s shoulder, hiding her tears. “Oui, and very dangerous. We have to protect our baby.”
“Leah, there is nothing more you can do for now. Take care with Rose. In the coming days we will discuss this more and come up with answers.” Fleur turned to my family and placed a gentle hand on my shoulder. “Phillippe, you are very brave. You will certainly grow to be a strong man one day.”
Mystie came over as well. “The knowledge of the existence of magic is a very secretive and dangerous thing. You cannot share the events of today with anyone.”
At first my parents were too stunned to respond, but after a few confusing minutes, a heated drunken exchange between Stéfan and Hubert broke out and my mother decided it was time we left. Faline told my parents to return the following day to discuss possible plans. The only problem was that it took much longer than a day to figure out a solution.
I remember the day, almost a year later, that my parents told me that Rose was dead. I wasn’t saddened by the news because I was barely old enough to know what death was. When we attended Rose’s funeral, I only paid attention to Leah’s announcement that she was pregnant with another daughter who would follow in Rose’s footsteps by inheriting the company at age 21 and marrying me shortly after.
Looking back, I wonder how things would have been different if they hadn’t secretly sent Rose away to live with Fleur, Faline, and Mystie in a tiny little town called Domfront, where she was lied to her entire life about her family’s wealth so she would stay and work in the shop to support them. If Rose had stayed at the winery, would she have ended up with Violette’s same attitude about the arranged marriage—anger and resentment towards me for ruining her life and limiting her choices? But as Rose’s aunts keep reminding me, Mallorie curse did more than she intended it to. She promised that Rose and I would fall in love and just as we couldn’t avoid the spindle breaking, we couldn’t avoid each other.
It was all due to that gold ring she now wore on her ring finger. If I hadn’t given it to her, Mallorie never would’ve cursed her. And if she hadn’t carried the ring around her neck for nineteen years, I never would’ve recognized her when the curse brought us together.