The Bramblewood was beautiful in spring but the forest always seemed more alive when she was with Scanlan. Animals didn’t seem as scared. Deer ran by and birds happily chirped as they passed. Sometimes Pike could swear she’d seen dryads glancing at them through trees or pixies hiding behind leaves. Scanlan pretended not to like the animals that passed them but Pike had seen him pet the rabbits he’d asked directions from more than once also the birds and most of the animals she’d seen him talk to actually. The only animals Scanlan didn’t seem to get along with were bears. He claimed there’s a bear mafia. Pike didn’t know if he was kidding about that.
They held hands as they walked. Flowers bloomed at their feet violets, asters, daisies, and so many others Pike couldn’t hope to name. They were all purples and yellows and blues and white. Butterflies fluttered past. Bird songs played around them in a natural melody. She glanced at Scanlan who was pretending he wasn’t willing the flowers to grow.
He gave her a mock-innocent smile, “Nature is beautiful.”
She rolled her eyes affectionately, squeezed his hand, and wondered if one day, when he made this walk alone, he’d still create flowers as he walked or hum a sweet summer tune. If the forest would still feel as vibrant after she was gone and he was alone.
She decided not to dwell on it for now and instead hoped she was doing a decent enough job hiding her nerves well enough that he couldn’t see them. Scanlan wasn’t very perceptive. She wanted to surprise him, wanted tonight to be memorable. She’d spent weeks planning it. If she ruined it now by being obvious she didn’t know what she’d do.
The slowly forming path they continued to walk it eventually opened to a clearing, their spot, a pond that Pike wasn’t entirely certain was wholly on the material plane, though she couldn’t explain how. At the center was an island with the largest tree she’d ever seen in the middle, it’s branches stretched across the entire length of the clearing, towering above the rest of the forest yet untouched until they’d come upon it a few years ago. They’d found it on their first walk in the Bramblewood and Pike had since built docks and a boat to reach the island.
When they finally reached the clearing it was almost sunset. Pike quickly went to the boat, she’d carved it and named it the S.S Trickfoot. Scanlan followed, the flowers ending at the water’s edge. He smiled at the lavender tied to the Bow with white ribbon. Before he could do it himself she cast control water and slowly propelled the boat forward. Making slow lazy circles around the pond before stopping at the island’s dock.
She smiled when she saw that the flower petals hadn’t blown away since that morning. Pastel silks draped in the tree branches and currently unlit lanterns lined the path, Vex and Gilmore don’t mess around when asked for help like this. Small multicolored lights danced in the air. The sky was clear of any clouds as it slowly turned from orange and pink to purple. The path led up the impossibly tall tree to a table and chairs, branches stretched out in all directions around them.
He pulled her chair out of her. She smiled and sat down, “Thank you.”
“Of course Pikey.” He said as he took his own seat.
The tree seemed to tower over the forest like a castle. You could see all the way to the mountains from the top. Grey peaks stretched out to the west already cast in darkness. She wanted to watch the sunrise from those mountains one day Scanlan at her side.
“Do you like it?” Pike asked, slightly nervous though everything seemed to be going off without a hitch.
“It’s beautiful.” Scanlan’s voice had a soft bit of awe that she savored.
“Well I wanted everything to be perfect.” She admitted.
Scanlan squeezed her hand from across the table, “As long as it’s with you it will be.”
As the sun started to dip farther below the horizon and the moons began to rise the lanterns lit up illuminating them and doing away with any bugs. They both ignored the soft rustling that Scanlan probably thought was the breeze but Pike wondered if it was one of their friends hiding on a branch. As Grog appeared in the vest and hat he’d only worn once before holding a tray.
“Dinner is served.” He said very formally, like he’d practiced it, as he set two plates down.
“Thank you.” Pike said as he backed away.
Scanlan glanced around admiringly, “I feel a bit underdressed.”
“I think you look great.” She replied.
“You look radiant.” He returned, “Like the sun-”
“I’m spoiling you tonight.” Pike reminded him gently as she cut him off.
Scanlan gave her a mock pout, “Fine.”
She gave him an exasperated but loving laugh, “I love you.”
“I love you too.” The smile he gave then was tender and honest. She was almost overcome with emotion as he returned it. No matter how many times he said it, her heart soared. She almost spoiled the end of the night right then and there.
They ate in relative silence. Stars glittered in the sky. The moon reflected on the pond. It was warm but not uncomfortably so. The slightest breeze blowing through the tree. The soft playing of enchanted violins came down from higher in the treetop. The dreamy glow from the lanterns illuminated the area around them bouncing off the spirals of silk that hung like streamers and across smooth almost polished looking wood. She had an idea.
When they’d finished she took Scanlan’s hand, “May I have this dance?”
“Of course.” He replied with a wink.
She did her best to remember the steps as they danced. She’d never been very good at this. She almost stepped on Scanlan’s feet a few times. Nerves were getting to her. She was internally keeping track of where they were. Maybe this had been a bad idea. Until she stopped them near where the moon was rising. He gave her a confused look. A hand slipped her the flower, brighter than the Ozmit, blue as the sky. She held it out to him.
“Is that…” his voice trailed off.
“Forget-Me-Nots.” She confirmed as his hands cupped her’s.
“Pike…” For once in his life it seemed he couldn’t find the words.
“I know I’m only going to be a few short verses in your song, a chapter or two in your book of life if I’m lucky, but I’ll do my best to make those the best verses and the most eloquent chapters,” tears welled up in her eyes but her voice didn’t waver as she got down on one knee, “so Scanlan Shorthalt will you marry me?”
Scanlan looked at her with love and sadness and everything in between before he pulled her into a kiss. Pike let her tears fall. The violins changed to a no less beautiful but more somber piece. After they pulled apart he wiped her tears away. She tucked the flower into his hair and pressed a kiss to his forehead.
“Of course,” Scanlan managed, “Of course Pikey.”
They stood there together watching the moons continuing to rise higher and higher into the sky, holding each other. Eventually they made their way back down the base of the tree. Scanlan put his hand against the trunk and opened a swirling pale purple doorway that they hurried through. They emerged in the center of Westruun from a rather large oak. Not many people were out given the time. They made their way through the city, wildflowers grew in the sidewalk cracks. She doesn’t comment on it this time.
When they finally make it back to the reassuring brick of their home Scanlan b-lines for the kitchen and grabs a vase filled with water before placing the Forget-Me-Nots inside and putting it within a ray of moonlight giving them a ghostly aura, it’s oddly fitting. She brushes his bangs out of his eyes. He squeezes her hand.
“You're going to be the only chapter that matters, the only verse of any worth.” Scanlan admits softly as he lays his head on her shoulder, “I’ve got you now and this is going to be the time of my life worth telling.”