You thought it was a dream at first.
A man was sitting on your chair in the morning, drinking a cup of tea from your expensive china, staring off into space. However, he did look over at you when you stepped towards the drawer that held the knives, his green eyes stopping you suddenly. He stood, his messy blond hair sticking on the ends and slightly bobbing as he moved, and his pale, pink lips turned into a hopeful…smile (or something like that). He took a step towards you, but you were frozen in place, your heart beating wildly inside your chest.
“I’ve finally found you,” he blurted, and your eyebrows furrowed at his English accent. Well, it sounded English. You didn’t know from where in England—or if it wasn’t New Zealand or something—but the point was that you seldom heard that accent in your suburban neighborhood. And you had never met this man anyway. Why was he looking for you, and why was he in your house? “My name is Arthur Kirkland, and I need your help.”
“Why are you in my house?”
“I need your help,” he reiterated, and his tone pissed you off. Did he have to sound condescending?
“But how did you get in? Who are you? What do you want? Why are you in my house?” You reached for the drawer, opening it and grabbing the knife. Mr. Kirkland’s eyebrows rose up dramatically, and his eyes widened as he took a step back. “What do you want from me?”
“I am not going to hurt you. Your roommate let me in, and he gave me this tea, and everything. That reminds me, why do you have a roommate? It’s a man, love. Are you guys…together?” He shook his head, his cheeks turning a little pink, and he continued by saying, “Sorry, that’s irrelevant. Your roommate is a student in a class I am a teacher assistant in. English for freshmen? With Mr. Dolsen? Alfred tells me that you’re extremely talented in being able to find things that have become lost.”
You put the knife down, though you were still weary of this stranger. Well, he did look young and trustworthy, though you knew that wasn’t enough for you to put your guard down. However, Alfred was the only one who knew about your special ability of locating things that were lost, so perhaps this guy wasn’t lying at all. However, you’d think you’d know that there was a hot, British guy on campus at your small, private college. Guys with accents were the equivalent of sex gods in your school. Besides, Alfred had never told anyone about your magical powers. Perhaps this guy was really desperate, and Al just took pity on him or something. Right?
“What do you need me to find?”
“It’s a book.” He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a paper, producing an image of the said book. It was one of those old-timey books, with no real title but an impressive design and leather-bound and everything. It probably cost a fortune because it appeared to be such a well-preserved antique. “It’s worth a lot to me, and it’s been missing for a few years. I, uh…I would be eternally grateful if you could find it for me.”
“Why should I help you?” you asked as you cautiously took the paper. Something lit up inside your mind. This book appeared familiar. “I don’t even know you.”
And then, just like that, you knew its exact location. It was nearby. Actually, it was pretty damn close.
Freaky. You shuddered at the realization of where it was.
“Ah, you know where it is, don’t you? Very well, then let’s get to know each other. Would you like to go out with me today, Miss (name) (last name)?” He held out his hand politely, a small smile on his face. However, you couldn’t deny that there was a strange sadness behind his eyes though. Perhaps this book was worth a lot more to him than you could imagine. “Well?”
“I don’t even know you. How can I trust that going anywhere with you is a good idea?”
“Well, you don’t know if it’s a good idea or a bad idea if you reject me, love. Isn’t it worth at least the knowledge?” What a compelling argument. Actually, truth be told, there was something about his velvety voice that almost compelled you to listen. “Love, I know where the best place in town is. I can tell you love to read, and from your taste in china and tea, you’re clearly into the best. There is this little bookshop with a small coffee shop within that has the most delicious tea I’ve ever tasted within the States, so even if you don’t care much for me, surely you can’t turn down that office.”
You had six bookshelves, taller than you, filled with books of all kinds. Shakespeare, Hemmingway, John Green, Elizabeth Scott, even Stephenie Meyer. Every book you ever bought, almost every book you ever read, whether you hated it or you loved it—all 1898 books had been stuffed into these bookshelves, and you had a new one on its way that you were eager to fill. Your cupboards were filled with all kind of tea, and you had about six different tea kettles and five adorable tea strainers, and three sets of china. He had a really compelling argument.
Besides, there was something behind his green eyes that made you want to trust him, and you quickly glanced over at the front door before a decision finally entered you. “Clean the dishes you just dirtied. I’ll go change, and then we can go.”
You received a brilliant smile of his in return, and it left you a little stunned, to be honest, but you quickly shook it off and ran into your room. You’d have to have a stern talk with Alfred later about letting random people into your apartment without your approval, but right now, you didn’t mind. You switched out of your T-shirt and shorts into something at least semi-presentable—an oversized sweater in a dark blue, comfortable and flowery tights, and a pair of comfortable boots. You brushed through your hair, staring at your reflection before pinching your cheeks to add a dash of color to your face before you walked out, clutching a bag in hand.
“Ready,” you managed.
“Great,” Mr. Kirkland—or should you say Arthur?—murmured before he led you out to his old car, on your way to your non-romantic and purely business date.
It turned out he was right. You had no idea such a perfect, little place existed in your town, but it was the most beautiful place you had ever seen. Little lights lit up the entire place, Christmas lights in January. Books filled every nook and cranny—old books, new books, books on sale, and expensive books. Everything was beautiful and lovely and just plain wonderful.
Honestly, it was a dream.
You guys started out in the coffee shop that served the best tea in the States, according to him. You went for some peach green tea while he went for some black tea, and you sat down at a small table, your feet touching. Only a small vase of dainty, red roses separated your teacups, and ultimately, your hands.
The tea was heavenly. You meant to say, your grandmother made the best tea in the world, but this came to a really close second. A smile sprouted on your face at the taste, and Arthur raised his eyebrows at your expression, smiling once more. There was something marvelous about his smile, and it made your heart kind of flutter, but that was crazy. You had just met this guy—and he had just randomly appeared inside your house, so that wasn’t good.
Also, you reminded yourself, he was only here with you because he wanted that book.
“So, I take it you agree with me, correct? This place is wonderful?” He sounded a bit cocky, but you could honestly forgive him for it. He had warned you about this place.
“Yes,” you answered as you peered down into your cup. “Okay, so, if we’re getting to know each other and everything, let’s start from the beginning. I am (name) (last name). I will turn nineteen this year, I love tea and books—obviously—my favorite color is (color), and my favorite weather is rain. Your turn.”
“Oh? All right.” He leaned towards you a bit, taking a sip of his tea. “Arthur Kirkland. I am twenty-three. I love tea and books as well. My favorite color is green, and my favorite weather is when it’s sunny, though I don’t mind the rain, I’ll admit.”
“Okay. I was born here, and my best friend is Alfred F. Jones. I am planning to major in anthropology. My family lives close by.”
He didn’t appear quite at exuberant as he had when we first arrived now, but he did continue to conversation. “I was born in England.” England, knew it. You had called it perfectly. “I don’t really think there is anyone I can consider a best friend, though I used to have one. She left me though.” Oh. That was a little depressing. “I am majoring in English. I want to teach high school English. And my family doesn’t live nearby. Obviously.”
“Why did she leave?”
Arthur looked up at me, his large, green eyes meeting yours, and he answered, “Her family hated me. I supposed that can’t be helped though.”
“Why did they hate you?”
“Because I was different.”
You knew he didn’t really want to continue this conversation anymore, so you decided to drop it. It was time to change to conversation, you supposed. “Well, my favorite book is Jane Eyre. I know it’s a common book, and everyone who has taken British Lit has most likely read it—or at least Spark Noted it—but what’s yours?”
“Jane Eyre,” he whispered to himself, and you furrowed your eyebrows. Was he saying that was his favorite book too? “It does fit you, it seems. Mine is To the Lighthouse. Virginia Woolf.”
“I’ve heard of that novel. I think Alfred might have read. Well, he used Cliff Notes, but he told me the gist of it.” You smiled at him, remembering Alfred’s complaints that lasted for an entire week. You could almost hear his voice talking about how boring it was. Though, of course, Alfred couldn’t enjoy anything that didn’t have tons of guns and fighting and action in it. “I might read it one of these days. Actually, if I can manage to find in this store—Ah!” It was in this store, and you knew exactly where. Second floor, classics section, third row, near the window with the huge poster of some popular novel. “I guess I am buying it today.”
You smiled at that. “Thanks. It is helpful. I never lose things because of it. Which is good because I am actually quite forgetful.”
Arthur leaned forward on his elbow, smiling at you. He appeared quite flawless doing that, and you did notice the girls whispering about this awkwardly attractive dude with the sexy accent and sexy physical attributes talking to you. “Are you know? That’s unfortunate. I am a bit forgetful myself, especially when it comes to cooking. You’ve no idea how many things I have burned the food I was making because I simply forgot it was in there.”
“I am actually great at cooking. Oh! You should try my scones. Everyone says they’re to die for. You like scones, right?”
“I am British.”
You laughed at his comment. “Of course. Well, if you visit again, I’ll make sure to set aside time and make some for you.”
When Arthur said that he would get to know you first, he really meant it. Since that random Saturday morning when he had met you inside your house, he had made sure that you actually got to know him. He showed up every day, ready to take you to places. And he always picked the places perfectly—there had never been a place that you had hated visiting.
In two weeks, you had determined that you were insanely attracted to this guy. Maybe you were even falling for him. Alfred was your best friend, but you had never found someone who you could talk about books with all day, or compare recipes with for the perfect cup of tea. You had never met someone who took you to art museums without your asking, or invited you to star watch in the middle of the night, making sure to bring a blanket so you wouldn’t get cold, even if it rarely dropped under thirty at night where you lived.
Arthur was perfect.
He probably had an ability too, something magical about him that just somehow let him know exactly how to please people. He quarreled with Alfred often, but he had hit all the marks with me, and since he needed something from me, he needed me to be happy and comfortable around him.
He wanted something from you.
He didn’t ask again, probably expecting you to finally bring it to him, but you weren’t sure you wanted to give it to him anymore. He would leave you once you got that book for him, wouldn’t he?
And that would suck. You were really into him too.
You waited outside the English building holding an iced coffee and a sweet tea, waiting for Al’s class to let out. Maybe then you could also spend a little extra time with Arthur as well? You knew it was kind of awful of you to only come here under the pretense of hanging out with Alfred when what you really wanted was to be with Arthur, but he was so freakin’ polite to you that it was driving you crazy to see the close relationship he shared with Alfred. The two bickered all the time, rude to each other, but it was kind of like…they were clearly good friends who just didn’t want to admit it to each other.
The two came out of the English building together, whispering to each other with these harsh expressions on each of their faces, but Arthur was the first one to stop when he looked up and caught sight of you. He gave you half a smile before he returned his attention to Alfred, hissing something at him, before he walked up to you, politely greeting you.
Alfred was the opposite of him. He threw his arm around you very nonchalantly, taking the iced coffee from your hands and beginning to drink it. “Thanks, babe,” he declared before he let you go. “How did you know? I was just in the mood for iced coffee.”
“Magic,” you answered before you turned to Arthur. “I’m so sorry you have to deal with him for three hours a day.”
“At least I don’t live with that git,” Arthur muttered, shaking his head, but then he realized the foul language he had used talking to you. “Ah, sorry. Besides, he’s your best friend. I didn’t mean to insult him, at least not to you.”
You laughed at his words. “He’s my best friend, but I can admit that he is incredibly annoying.”
“Hey!” Alfred protested. “You’re supposed to defend me, (name). So, defend me against this pompous, British jerk who can’t even cook!”
The two immediately got into yelling at each other, and you sighed a bit, turning around as you drank your iced tea. You had to tell him. You had to just give him the book, didn’t you? You really didn’t want to, but you knew it was only right. Wasn’t it better to be fair than selfish? Wouldn’t he like you more if you just gave him the book? Perhaps he would completely ditch you, but at least he wouldn’t hate you.
“Arthur,” you finally blurted, and two stopped, mid-sentence. You turned around, your cheeks flushed, and then you said, “I made some scones. Are you interested in coming over to have some, or are you busy?”
“Don’t you have like two hundred papers to help gra—”
“I’m free,” Arthur answered, and then he blushed. “Well, I mean, I am always free for scones.”
Or was he always free to find a situation to help him get closer to his book? You knew it was awful of you to assume that he only cared about the book, but so many people that you had met were like that. They only wanted your friendship so you could locate precious items for them. As soon as you did, the friendship was over, and it was as if you had never existed before.
How could this one end differently?
“Great. Now, or later?”
“Now is fine.”
“Arthur, don’t be an idiot. I’ll gladly eat (name)’s scones and save some of them for you tomorrow. That’s fine, isn’t it, (name)?”
Pretend that you’re not in love with him, idiot… You blushed, and shrugged. “It doesn’t matter when. I promised you I’d let you try my scones one day, and since I recently made some, it doesn’t matter whether you eat them today or tomorrow.”
“Today is fine, love.” Ah, why did he have to say that? You knew it was just a British thing, but it gave you all these false hopes that made your stomach flutter. “Are you okay, (name)?”
“Yes. We can go now. How was English, by the way?”
“Artie was being a prick again,” Alfred complained as he gave you a puppy-eyed look, pouting dramatically and having to bend down to rub his head against your shoulder. “He called me out for my bad spelling. It’s not my fault! It was a really hard word!”
“Which word was it?”
“He misspelled novel,” Arthur pointed out to you, and you had to force yourself to not laugh. “It’s not my fault your friend is such a twit. Everyone in college should know that novel does not have two v’s and that academics doesn’t have two e’s rather than two a’s. It’s his fault.”
“(name), tell him he’s wrong! I’m not stupid! I’m really good at math!”
“He’s right,” you added, not really wanting to take sides. “He’s good at math and science and anything technology related. But give him English words, and he’ll forget everything he’s ever learned.”
“(name)! You’re supposed to defend me, not make fun of me!”
That was the trip home. Just lots of laughter and joke exchanges, and you throwing short glances in the direction of Arthur when he and Alfred would bicker because then you knew he wouldn’t notice you staring.
Once arriving, you quickly went to the kitchen to heat up the scones that had lost their heat just so that they’d be toasty when the guys went in and ate them. Alfred popped into the kitchen and took a handful up to his room, saying he had a date with his Xbox, and he threw you a wink as he left you to be alone with Arthur.
You went into the living room and placed the platter on the table next to Arthur. He looked up from the essay he was grading, smiling wide, and he thanked you politely. You sucked in a lot of air before you quickly left his side, leaving him with his eyebrows furrowed in confusion, and you ran up the stairs to your room.
It was time.
You located the book on your shelf, having gotten it two weeks ago. You had had this entire time, but you had just decided not to say anything because you really liked him. However, you knew it was best to just give it up and stop pretending like he would actually like you back. It was better to just cut your losses now and hand him the stupid book so he could be happy.
Besides, it was a weird book. It was all in like some dead language—it looked like Latin, but you honestly could be wrong, so it didn’t matter to you.
You headed downstairs, and Arthur was waiting for you by his chair, standing and appearing quite anxious. His eyes lit up when he saw you, but they quickly lost their spark when he noticed the book you held in your hands. You held it out for him, and Arthur took it quite hesitantly, opening it as if it were a delicate, precious thing, and he flipped through it until he landed on a single page with the word “Memento” at the top.
“Thanks for getting to know me. I thought it was time I finally gave it to you since it is why you came here, to my house, anyway. It’s in perfect condition, as far as I can tell.” You paused for a second as a new thought entered my mind. “Actually, I do wonder something. Why do you need it so badly?”
“Do you know how you can find things?” You nodded. “It’s like that. Magic. This is a book of spells.” Your eyes widened at that, and you were proud of yourself for not reading anything out loud from it when you reviewed the book when you first got it. You didn’t know what the hell you could have conjured. “It was going to help me find someone I had lost.”
“Someone you lost? Couldn’t you have just asked me? I’m good with people too.” It was odd that what he really wanted was a person, not the book, but you still felt a twang in your heart. You already knew who it was. That girl who had been his best friend when he was younger, right? “Who were you trying to find?”
“The girl I am in love with,” Arthur whispered as his fingers brushed the spell written on the old page. “With this, she and I can finally be together, right? We’ll finally be happy.”
And then he began to say the spell out loud.
Memento mei oblita
Iam non obliviscar
Jam non dole
Et scietis nos
Me et scietis
A soft, warm breeze entered the house, unusual for this time of the month, but nothing else happened besides that. Arthur looked up at you, expectant of something, but you shrugged. Honestly, it sounded a little ridiculous that a short, Latin poem was supposed to bring his ex-girlfriend back to him, but then again, you could locate things just by thinking about the object. Just like that, you knew exactly where it was, so you knew better than to discount this book of spells thing. It kind of made sense, though, that Arthur would be into that sort of thing.
“Was something supposed to happen?”
“It’ll happen,” he whispered, and then he turned towards the door. “I should go.”
“Yeah. It’s been nice getting to know you. I’ll see you around.”
“See you around?”
“You don’t really have a reason to come back, after all.”
Arthur blinked at you, surprised at your words, but he didn’t say anything else. His face simply went blank, and he quickly packed up his stuff, muttering, “If that’s what you want, then so be it.”
If that was what you wanted? But wasn’t that what he wanted?
You were about to voice your concern when he suddenly walked out of your apartment, leaving you completely by yourself. Well, Alfred was still upstairs, but you didn’t really feel like being reprimanded by Alfred for letting Arthur walk out of your life.
Actually, you felt like a nap.
That would do nicely.
You opened your eyes to the darkness of your room, your heart pounding inside your head, and you groaned at the pain. Why did your forehead hurt so much?
Remember how we used to be.
Who the hell kept saying that? Honestly, it was making everything worse.
Don’t forget me, (name).
You got out of bed, looking down at the vague vision of jeans on your legs. You had fallen asleep fully clothed. Great. A hot shower was what you really needed. Maybe the warm water would wash away the pain.
I love you, (name).
A suddenly, memories began to flood you, memories you had never been able to remember before, but now they were all inside your head, as clear as if burned into your brain.
A gasp bubbled up from inside you, getting caught within your throat. You knew that voice. You knew that voice so well, and you knew exactly why he kept asking you to remember him.
Now you knew.
It was Arthur Kirkland. Oh, my God…it was Arthur.
Now it all made sense… That was why the book was at your parents’ house, that was why Arthur had appeared so stunned when you had asked him to leave. That was why the book had felt so familiar!
You were born here, but when you were eleven, you had moved to England temporarily because of your father’s job. There, you had met Arthur Kirkland who lived just down the street from you. He was five years older, but from the very beginning, you found him intoxicating. Even his awful mood was attractive, and the more you got to know him, the sweeter he became, until you finally confessed on the eve of your sixteenth birthday. He had surprised you by letting you know that he loved you back as well, and he had tried to suppress it because you were five years younger than him, and that was when you first shared your first kiss, when you got your first boyfriend.
Arthur knew that you had magic within you, that you could locate what had been lost. And you knew that he had magic within him too, that he could read old, Latin books and turn them into spells just with his voice. However, your parents hadn’t approved of it. In fact, they had downright hated it, and your mother, also being made of magic, had stolen Arthur’s book and forced a spell on you that made you forget Arthur even existed, that made you forget your life in England. Instead, false memories had replaced those sweet ones, and you moved back to the States, away from Arthur, away from the truth.
He had come here looking for you.
That was why he had read the spell in your presence, that was why you had felt that hot breeze on your face. That was why he had made such an effort to get to know you…again. That was why he had asked if Alfred was your boyfriend. That was why he knew exactly how to make you happy! That was why you had fallen for him so quickly. You had already loved him once. You would love him again.
After all, you were soul mates, right? You had to be after all of this.
Instead of heading into the shower, you headed for your phone, and you ran downstairs. Alfred was still up, playing his games and scarfing down on all the chips in the house. You headed for the front door as you dialed Arthur’s cellphone number. You knew it was late, but you had to try. You had to!
He had to pick up.
False. He didn’t.
You didn’t know where he lived, but you knew he had lots of papers to grade, so wouldn’t it make sense that he had gone back to his office in the English building? You began to run as you dialed again, thankful that you had picked a place so close to your college. He would be easy to find, if he really was in his office.
The second and third time failed too, and you had just entered the English building when you tried the fourth time.
“What?” an annoyed Brit asked. “Who keeps calling me at this time?”
“Arthur, is that you?” you managed out, and you stopped running to catch your breath, leaning against the wall. “It’s (name). It’s me.”
“(name)?” You heard the sound of his chair as it scrapped against the wooden floor. “Are you okay?”
“Where are you? I need to talk to you. I need to see you. Right now!”
“I-I’m in my office. What’s wrong? D-did…did the spell work?”
“Of course it did!” you blurted as you headed up the stairs towards the third floor. Chasing after your true love was exhausting. “I love you, you British idiot! I loved you even before you said the spell! I just thought that…that you only were hanging out with me because you wanted me to find the book. I thought you’d leave as soon as I gave it to you, and I was actually so upset and…and…”
You could see his office ahead, the one he shared with the professor. The lights were on, and you saw the door open as Arthur stepped outside.
“I love you, (name). I can’t believe you finally remember. I can’t believe it’s finally happened.” He turned around to look at you, his blond hair sticking up on odd ends, his dark green eyes meeting yours. And then he smiled. “I knew it would work. I knew I’d find a way to get you back to me.”
And then you enveloped him in your arms.
Your parents definitely did not approve, but it didn’t matter to you anymore. They had never approved of anything you had ever done, and you would have rather have them angry at you than to be miserable trying to please them your entire time. You couldn’t be their perfect daughter.
And besides, how could you turn Arthur Kirkland down? He was the love of your life.
You peered down at the ring Arthur had just presented you with. It had been one year and two months, and the two of you were already engaged. You were only twenty, and people would tell you that you were taking things too fast.
Well, they didn’t know how it felt to find something you had once lost—well, better yet, find someone.
Someone like Kirkland set your heart ablaze. How could you say no?