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The mist parted slowly, drifting away as Jessalyn flew. She didn’t know where she was flying to, only that she must fly. Her wings grew tired, but still she flew on. Finally, enough of the mist had drifted away she could make out shapes. Spiraling mountains of green. A river shimmering with all the colors of the rainbow. A boat that looked like a dragon.

-A firebird landed forever ago, and set to readying for a journey-

Her wings trembled as she landed, her claws skidding into pebbled ground just as varied in hue as the water before it.

“It’s about time.” A human looking figure wrapped in a cloak of fire pulled at ropes attached to a strange boat. No, not ropes. Tendons. The boat had wings in place of sails and a thin, hollow body riding low to the waves. The head of the ship blinked at her with iridescent eyes.

-he had waited for a lifetime and for a moment and for eternity for her-

Jessalyn felt her body shift, her bones crack and feathers burn away until all that was left was skin and a landbound human. She put a wing-no, now it’s a hand- to her face, then shook her head. “Oh,” she whispered, memories flooding back. The girls. The birds. The knife.

She looked up at the cloaked figure, and knew in a moment who he was, though he hadn’t been this age when she’d seen him last. “Alex?” She doubted herself for a moment, certain it must be someone else preparing the strange dragon boat.

-he smiled at the sound, her voice soaking into him like water in the desert-

“Who else?” He turned to look at her, and his eyes removed any doubt she might have had. She’d know those eyes anywhere. His lips too.

“How… “ she hesitated, uncertain how to ask what she burned to know, unsure if she wanted to know. “Where are we?” she asked instead.

“Let’s find out, shall we?”

-he missed that smile, so unsure and yet unafraid-
They stepped into the dragon boat. It didn’t give beneath them, but drew back the tendons holding it to the land and gently flapped the wings overhead. A soft breeze washed over them and the boat began to follow the rainbow river.

-to take her hand but no, not yet-

The river twisted and turned and rose and fell, and the dragon flew through the water without a drop flying up. Jessalyn stared in silence at the mercurial river, at the fog swept buildings lurking in the distance, anywhere but at the man dressed in flames.

– he was afraid to touch her for fear she’d shatter-

Finally, the silence between them felt thicker than the strange water beneath them, thicker than the fog she’d flown through, thicker than her thoughts. “Where does it go?”

-it wasn’t the question he expected her to ask-

He shrugged. “I’ve never done this before. I just knew when I reached the beach what I needed to do. I knew how to call this ship and what to do to tame it. And I knew to wait for you.”

“Why me?”

-might as well ask why the sky is grey or the river is molten rainbows or why he breathes-

She waited for his answer, but the ship bumped to a stop at the foot of a long series of stairs leading up into the mists before it came. She wavered as she looked at the daunting climb, wishing she knew how to call back her bird’s wings.

-she used to be so much braver-

He held his hand out to her, already standing on the first step. Their eyes met and she could see fire swirling through blue eyes, eyes she could almost lose herself in. Eyes that saw through to her soul.

-He stared into her eyes, eyes full of ice and doubt and memories and fear-

She took his hand and they began to climb, smiles on their faces. The mists thickened around them, the raven girl and the phoenix boy, hand in hand at last.

-he would climb with her forever, just to hold her hand-

Administrative note: Stories moved to Friday from now on, for the aliteration of Free Fiction Fridays!

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