And here it is. The end of the story. Last week Arabella found Rowan turned into a rose. Today, she confronts the sorcerer.
“Why?” she demanded storming into the cabin. “Why would you trick me like that? You twisted my request! You must take it back. Reverse the spell!”
The sorcerer looked up. “You’ve returned.”
“Of course I returned. You didn’t grant my wish! I owe you nothing!”
“I asked you if you were certain of your wish, and you agreed,” he reminded her. He had not yet moved from where she had left him sitting at the table an hour earlier.
Arabella slammed her hand holding the rose down onto the table in front of him and glared down at him through icy blue eyes. “You could have told me what you were planning to do!” she yelled angrily.
The sorcerer gazed up at her with the truest form of pity she had ever before received. “I gave you what you asked for.”
“No, you tricked me. Take it back,” she ordered against clenched teeth.
“I am truly sorry, but I cannot undo this. You should be happy, though. You can have him to yourself now. Forever. And I did warn you magic never works quite how we might hope it to…”
“Fine. I’ve learned my lesson! Magic can’t be trusted. Now undo what you’ve done!”
The sorcerer stared at her with disbelief. “You want me to use magic to undo magic that you already regret asking for? It sounds like you haven’t learned your lesson at all!”
“Please. Just do this last bit of magic, and I will leave you in peace,” she pleaded.
“Absolutely not,” he told her firmly shaking his head. “Because I have learned. I knew I should never have agreed to your request, but I knew you would never stop asking. I gave you what you wanted. I should have refused last time, but I didn’t. Now this time, I will refuse.”
“But please, I am rich. I could give you anything! Everything you could ever desire! I could even speak to the king and convince him to bring you out of exile. He and my father were good friends. He will listen to me.”
“No. The king will never pardon me for what I have done. Nor should he.” The sorcerer ran his hands over his face before resting them in his lap. “I wanted something of his, and I took it. Using magic.” He took a deep breath. His eyes flickered to the wall.
She waited eagerly for him to continue. “Did you get it?” she asked.
“Oh, yes. I still have it. Just not quite how I had imagined I should keep it.” His voice drifted off slowly as if it had never been in the first place. His hand closed over the petal in his hand.
She was hesitant to break the silence, but she had to fight for a solution. “Alright. So I can’t return you to the kingdom. But I could give you money. You could have everything the king has.”
“I could. But you see, the king and I have both lost something more precious than could ever be replaced. A treasure not bought with money.”
Arabella frowned. “Are you just trying to make excuses to not help me?”
He shrugged. “Think what you want. I need no excuse. I simply refuse to perform any more magic for you.”
“But surely you are able to use magic to bring good?” she asked hopefully. “Wait!” she cried brightening with an idea. “True love’s kiss! It can break any curse!”
The sorcerer rolled his eyes. “Fairytales. Only a fool would even think of trying it.”
“Then I am a fool.”
“Yes, you are,” he retorted.
She scowled at him but shrugged away his comment. A kiss was worth trying. It was her only hope of saving Rowan. No doubt he would be upset with her for what she had mistakenly done to him. But she didn’t care. She loved him. And she was even willing to let him marry Anna, if it meant saving his life. Arabella lifted the rose to her lips. She paused only a moment to breathe in the sweet scent before pressing her lips against the cool, crimson petal. Then she waited. Her hopeful smile began to fade.
“No,” she groaned shaking her head. “This has to work!” She kissed it again. And again. Then one more time. Just one last kiss! Then— nothing. Perhaps she had to kiss every petal, every inch, for the curse to be lifted? Her persistence began to tear the petals from the stem. The thorns poked through and scraped her bleeding lips, and yet she was unwilling to stop. She couldn’t accept that he was gone. A moment later, two strong hands clasped hers. Her breath caught in her chest.
Arabella looked up and through her blurred sight saw the sorcerer standing over her. It may have been the light from a candle, but she thought she saw the gleam of a tear in his eye.
“Stop,” he repeated. “It won’t do any good. I was a fool as well. I tried it, but nothing happens. I understand your pain, but there’s nothing that can help.”
She looked at him questioningly then followed his gaze to the floor. To the scattered petals at her feet.
“The petals are endless,” he told her. “They never run out. I’ve learned to accept that tiny bit of a blessing. Blessings are harder to find for some more than others; though, I’ve come to realize it is not the blessings that are rare but the number of those willing to see them.”
Arabella looked from the shredded rose in her hands to the wise man’s eyes. She desperately wanted to see the good. But where was it? The sorcerer was now looking down at her hands and smiling. New petals were emerging from the thorny stem with renewed life. She couldn’t help but not frown at the sight. Maybe even smile. She sighed and clutched the rose again to her breast.
“But Rowan is still gone. This isn’t the happy ending I was hoping for,” she said.
“Well, of course it isn’t,” he replied. “This isn’t your ending. You still have a life to live. Make it a happy ending. Only you, not magic, can give you that.”
This time she did smile. “You know, you’re really not as terrible as all the stories say you are,” she commented.
He smiled faintly. “That’s because I was the one who spread them. I can’t chance having everyone coming up here ruining their lives.”
“I wouldn’t dream of ever telling anyone the truth about you. But why did you do it? Why give me what I asked for instead of telling me your story? I would have left you alone.”
“I can recognize the truly desperate. You’d never have listened to reason.” With a flick of his wrist, he opened the door for her to leave.
Seeing no sense in arguing further, she walked outside into the chill of the air but no longer felt bothered by the biting wind.
Clutching the rose, Arabella returned to the village to face the mess she had caused. She would like to have said she never saw the sorcerer again after that day. But the truth is she did return (that is another story for another time). There were times her thoughts drifted up to the sorcerer, and she would visit that tiny clearing in the woods. For a time, he simply vanished. All that remained was a mountain of piled wood and overgrown rose bushes. Or maybe that was just how he wanted her to see it. Until her desperation would later draw him back.
But that was how he wanted everyone to see his lonely little cabin—as a pile of harmless wood and flowers. Because no one would ever be satisfied with receiving exactly what they wished. He wanted people to realize there is no shortcut to a happily ever after. The only thing standing between a person and their happy ending is themselves. It’s up to everyone to decide their own fate.
I hope you liked my story! Let me know your thoughts below. I’d love to hear any compliments or constructive criticism. If you enjoyed the story of Arabella, connect with me on Facebook to stay updated on my book’s status. Monster takes place after this story and is interwoven with backstory of Arabella’s transition from a broken-hearted woman to a witch with a mission for revenge.