Daffodil’s eyes fluttered open and for a moment she was so warm and comfortable that nothing of her surroundings registered. She felt weightless and free and yet completely secure, a thoughtless bubble hanging in some viscous liquid. Then suddenly her dream about the sun and the moon flashed before her mind’s eye and she sat up in an involuntary jerk.
Aster’s voice floated out from somewhere to her right. “Bad dream?”
She did not have to look for him because he removed himself from the ridiculously overstuffed armchair in which he had been sitting and came quickly to her, kneeling beside her lavish basket. His dark hair framed his pale face and she could now see how wonderfully his mouth fit his voice, the voice that had sheltered her from prying eyes and promised her access to whatever mysteries this new place had to offer. His lips were thin, but shapely, and a healthy pink. One side of his mouth crimped regularly in the barest of smiles and whichever eye was on that side twinkled as if on cue. She would be hypnotized by that twinkle if she wasn’t careful. When he grinned, as he was doing now, amused perhaps by her scrutiny, his mouth underscored the wideness, the openness of his face.
Very slowly, as if afraid he might startle her, Aster took both her hands in his. For a moment, she looked down at them and became fascinated by the array of sparkling things on his fingers. Aster’s rings were legendary among the denizens of The Wild Rose. Then she looked up again and into his deep sea eyes and all thoughts were subsumed in a wave of amity. She really liked Aster very much already.
And Aster, though he had made it his life’s work to like as many people as possible, liked Daffodil with an intensity that surprised him. Maybe it was because her face was in many ways as open as his own. Her eyes were gentle, brown flecked with gold like autumn, and this gentleness, Aster felt, was not simply a product of her relative innocence. It was a part of her nature and the world would be hard pressed to dislodge it. He suppressed a brief surge of melancholy at the thought of how the world might succeed given time and horror enough. Now was not the time to dwell on what might never happen. Not while she was sitting right in front of him, her small, dark hands curled like sleeping mice in his own. He cast about for his usual welcoming eloquence and found that for the first time he could remember, he was speechless.
Daffodil didn’t mind. She was as speechless as he.