an: Hi guys! So this is just a little chappie that I came up with on the spot! Enjoy!
It is after dinner that I make my escape.
It isn't the most genius of plans, I admit, but I needed to get out of this place as soon as I possibly could. It was after dinner was served, some cooked animal that I didn't have the heart to consume, that I set the plan into motion. Asking to be excused to the bathroom was probably the most cliche of escape excuses, but Cassius consented easily enough. After listing off a set of quick directions, I stood from my place at the table and left the room with Daphne glaring at me the entire time.
Once in the hallway, I quickened my pace. I hated the dress that Alice had forced me into, a short pink frock that had me tugging at the hem every few seconds, but she told me it made me look charming an innocent. My hair was pinned and braided messily on top of my head, giving me the illusion that bugs were crawling through my hair. I shake my head to clear my thoughts and search for the nearest exit.
I finally figure that I should break through a window when I hear footsteps at the other end of the hall. I run into what seems like a small pantry full of canned and bagged goods and head to the small window in the room. I manage to wedge the window mostly open with my foot, but it is an old window and I have to squeeze myself through the rest of the way.
I drop gracelessly to the ground and quickly stand. I look around to see if anyone noticed that far-from-sneaky attempt at escape, but see no one, hear no one. I am in the clear.
I run across the ground toward the line of trees. It seems that this entire place is surrounded by forest. The only clearing I had come across was this house, the rest was simply endless tree lines. I try to retrace my steps to where I was first dropped. Maybe the Lost Boys are still there. Maybe there is a way back home from there. I pray that I can get out of this place before nightfall. Already the sky is turning a darker shade of grey and I see hints of pink and yellow giving me some hope that maybe there is a sun in this world. I don't pause to search for one though, I simply keep running.
Once in the trees, any evidence of sun immediately disappears and I am almost completely immersed in darkness. I try running in a straight line, but I realize relatively soon that I am not going in the same direction I was to begin with. When I see a clearing, I run straight for it, not stopping.
Once I break through the line of trees, I stumble and stop at the place I had ended up. I am on the face of a cliff, and there is a large gazebo made of stone standing in the light of the setting sun. Cautiously I walk toward it, my hand outstretched as if to tell it I mean no harm.
Once I reach the magnificent sculpture, I realize that there are engraved carvings running along the stone edge of it. A boy and a girl. I slowly walk around the stone, tracing my fingers along the pictures, letting them tell me their story. There is a boy and a girl. As far as I could tell, they ran away together. I pass a picture of them fighting people in large hats with plumed feathers and old fashioned swords. I almost laugh when I see the two dancing around a fire with people with feathers in their hair and drums in their hands. How long ago was all of this carved?
I finally come full circle around the gazebo-
and stop short with a small scream.
"You know the penalty for running away is death, right?" Cassius asks casually.
I say nothing, continue to stare at him like an idiot.
"Just thought I'd let you know, so you can beg for your life when you are caught and convicted."
"How did you find me?" I blurt out.
He smiles that gentle smile again and gestures for me to sit on the stone bench of the gazebo with him. I only do so to make him more willing to cut my death penalty as a sentence. I leave some room between us, not wanting to get too close, but I realize that without the sun over here, the stone is cold, the air is cold, the earth is cold.
And Cassius is warm.
We sit in silence for a few moments, him staring out at the forest beyond the edge of the cliff below us, me staring at him. I don't want to die. I want to go home. The setting sun makes his eyes glow with a light that made him seem almost ethereal. I want to scoot closer to him, but I refrain, too afraid to move.
"I know the way out of here," he says, finally.
I jump at the sound of the voice, but then furrow my brow. "What do you mean?" I ask. I hope he knows the way back to his house.
"The way to the world you came from," he says lightly. "I know how to get there."
My heart picks up a beat. "Why are you telling me?" I ask, trying to hide the hope in my voice.
He looks at me and smiles. "Let's face it, Blondie," he says, "you and I aren't really made for each other, cant you tell?"
I furrow my brow, but nod anyway. How could he tell so soon?
"I know how bad you want to go home," he says, almost distantly. "Don't run away again," he finishes.
"But how can I-"
He silences me with a look. "You wont win this contest, Blondie. Your heart simply isn't in it. When you fail one of the tests we put you through, you'll be cast out to become one of the lost boys for eternity. I'll tell you the way to get you back home once you're cast out."
It seems like a good deal to me, but it was such a selfless gesture on his part that I have a hard time believing that. "You would do that?" I ask.
He simply nods, staring ahead of him with an almost pained expression. "Not all of us here are bad, Blondie."
"My name is Sophia."
That gets his attention back to me. He smiles, a genuine smile that causes the corners of his eyes to crinkle. I like this smile. I imagine that he doesn't use it very often. I want to see it more often. "Well, I'm Cassius."
"I think we've already established that," I say quietly. "Thanks for the reintroduction, though."
His smile fades, only barely. "Believe it or not, Sophia," he says, "I think you'll end up liking it here."
"Not as much as I love my family," I instantly reply. Those words hurt coming out of my mouth, but I had to say them to someone. I hug my sides to hold me together and stare ahead of me. Here I am, spilling my guts to some stranger, while my family is at home crying over my empty bed. "And if you know the way out, I don't see why you aren't getting the hell out of here as well."
We lapse back into silence as I try to calm myself down.
Once I am sure my heart beat has slowed and my eyes were dry, I turned and looked at Cassius. He is already looking at me, studying me in a way that makes me want to crawl out of my skin and blow away with the next gust of wind, but I am more than confident when I open my mouth and speak. "I know this is your home, Cassius, but it isn't mine."
He nods after a pause, accepting it. "Very well. Let me show you the way back to the house."
Over the next few days I find myself at the gazebo every night. Nothing new has happened at the House, and I crave the outside, what little sun is provided, like I crave air or sleep.
The third day of my captivity, I am sitting at the gazebo with my chin resting on my knees. I am in a pair of jeans and a sweater that feels like a soft blanket.
When I hear the sound of approach, I snap to attention, but realize that it is just Cassius. He had not talked to me since the first night here, since I told him that I would never make this my home. I am mildly surprised to see him here, but hide it as he sits down on the bench next to me. I huff out a breath and try to calm down my racing heart as I peek sideways at him.
He sits casually next to me, his forearms resting on his knees, hands clasped loosely together. With the setting sun, he looks almost like a silhouette. I am almost too busy noticing how the orange sky turns his eyes to fire to realize he is speaking.
"...he told me to never leave," he concludes. I stare at him a moment, piecing together what he had just said.
"So you aren't going to leave here?" I ask, reading into the conclusion of his story. "Ever?"
He shakes his head. It is a sad gesture, accompanied by a sad smile. "Where would I go?" he asks. Before I can reply, he cuts me off. "You speak of a family," he says, staring at me intently with blazing eyes. "A family in a different realm, far from here. I don't have that, Sophia. My family is, and always will be, here." His voice sounds confident, but there is an undercurrent to it that I just barely pick up. He knows that there is no escape from here.
"I guess I just don't understand why someone would willingly choose this," I say with a small shrug. I suddenly can't meet his eyes. I miss my family so much it hurts. I can feel his stare, but I don't turn until he makes to get up.
He holds his hand out to me and in a last ditch effort I take it.
He leads me over to the edge of the cliff we sit on. "Humor me a moment," he says, his smile casual, but his eyes fiercely determined to prove his point.
I nod and look out over where we stand. From this vantage point, I can see the forest below us. The sinking sun lights the trees from behind, shadowing some, setting others ablaze with orange and yellow light. I can see the beauty of this place, suddenly, bathed in a light I thought would have never existed in a land like this.
"It's beautiful," I say in an expelled breath.
Cassius waits for more, but I don't give it. I am staring at the tree line, wondering which part of the forest I was dumped in to begin with. Cassius seems to realize that there was an undercurrent to my last words. "But?" he pries.
"But sad," I say after a moment of thought.
"Sad?" he asks, looking at me now. I can feel his eyes searching me, trying to figure me out.
I try to form words that would make sense. "A snake, to some, is beautiful," I start.
"Until it kills you," Cassius finishes for me, catching on.
I nod, simply. "No matter how beautiful, would you really pay the price of eternal war and discord for it?"
Cassius is clearly exasperated. "You aren't seeing it right," he says. He wraps an arm around my shoulder and turns me to see everything he is. "Picture this place without the war," he says quietly. "Picture this place as it once was: a place where you ran away to, not from. Picture the real Neverland."
And for a moment, I did. I saw the beauty and splendor. I saw what children in the past dreamed about when they had no place to call their home.
I turned to face him, my heart jumping when I realized I was now in the circle of his arm, an embrace that was a bit more intimate than I was ready for. "Cassius," I say quietly, calmly, as if talking to a child. "It isn't like that. Not anymore."
He expels a breath, stirring the hair around my face and warming my cheeks. "I know," he says. "But ever since I was little- ever since I found this place- I've been dreaming of what it used to be. I always thought that when I was to become the next Peter, if I picked the perfect Bride..." he trails off, suddenly can't look at me anymore.
I want to tell him that other Peters before him might have thought the same thing. But I know Cassius well enough to realize that he is a determined boy. When he has an idea in his head, there is no telling him otherwise. I know he won't be swayed.
But he sighs, giving up for the moment. "I'm only telling you this because I know you won't be around much longer. You won't have to worry about this at all in the future." He smiles a small smile.
I don't know why, but my heart stops painfully in my chest when I hear those words. I stare at him for a long moment, at a loss for words.
He reaches up and brushes his thumb across my cheekbone, kick-starting my heart back into overtime. "I should probably head back," he says. "Daphne has a fit every hour I'm not with her."
"Yes, poor Daphne," I say, though my heart really isn't into the sarcasm. He pulls away and heads toward the tree line. I don't follow. Instead, I turn and look out over the forest of Neverland once more. The sun has almost completely gone down, shading the sky in hues of blue, purples, and reds. I sigh, wanting so badly two completely separate lives, but I know it's impossible.
an: pleaaaaaaaaaasssssseeeeee review my lovelies! Thanks for reading! Till next time!C: