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A huge thank you to both Crystal and Pamela from PTB for working so hard with me on this story! You're both awesome :D

 “Do you trust me?” he asked, looking at me over his shoulder. I nodded. “Okay. Don’t let go of me.”




I tightened my arms and legs around him and buried my face in his back, not daring to watch as he jumped. After only a few moments, I felt the wind blow past us as he jumped off the cliff and we plunged toward the water.




“I love you,” I squeaked out, fearing it would be the last time I’d ever tell him that.




“I love you, too,” he answered.




Then we hit the water and everything went black.




------One month earlier------




Cursed. It always sounded like such a negative word, which, of course, it was. Bound. Restricted. Held captive. That was how I felt. How I’d felt my entire life.




Ask anyone his main reason for living, and he will tell you it is love. People spend all their lives waiting for their soulmate. But what if their chances of finding that person were less than zero? If they had been cursed to never be loved? People never know how to answer that question. Neither do I. I wish I did. It would make my life so much easier.




The day I was born, I’d been cursed to never be loved. Most people are cursed as a form of punishment for somehow breaking the rules set by the Elderly, but I hadn’t. Instead, I was being punished for things my parents and grandparents had done. Mine was one of the few families that went against the Elderly’s rules. Not all the rules -- only the ones my forebears thought were unjust, which meant quite a lot of them.




This was why the Elderly had punished my family by taking the best thing in life away. Why they had chosen me to be the recipent of the curse, I didn’t know. Maybe it was because they figured my parents would suffer more if they weren’t punished, but their daughter was. It didn’t matter much why I was chosen, though. The result remained the same.




I thought about that as I ate my lunch in the school cafeteria. I knew others in my class were cursed. Though, in my opinion, their curses didn’t compare to mine. They were only cursed to serve a purpose in the city later on so the Elderly would never be without apprentices and there would always be people to rule our world.




“I was thinking we could do our history project on the influence of the ancient Greeks on our society,” said Emma, my best friend. I nodded absently, not in the mood to talk about school assignments. I was miserable today. Thinking of my curse always made me miserable. Today was even worse though, because until today I’d never felt so desperate to break free from the spell. I glanced at Nate, the reason for my desperation, who was sitting outside with his friends, enjoying the sun.




“Are you okay, Mel? You seem a bit out of it today.” I looked at my friend and smiled.




“I’m fine. Just a bit tired.” She didn’t look entirely convinced but let it drop. Only Emma and Nate knew about my spell. I didn’t want people to pity me, but I could trust them.




“How’d you come up with the topic?” I asked, trying to maintain the conversation.




Emma smiled. She knew I wasn’t entirely interested right now but appreciated my effort. “Well, I read about ancient Greek views on love a few days ago. They distinguished four kinds of love: Storge, which is familial love; Philia, which is friendship love; Agape, selfless love,” she explained. I smiled bitterly. Of course I knew about these categories of love. My parents explained them when they told me about my curse. “And then there’s Eros,” Emma continued, “which is romantic or sexual love. The Greeks thought being pierced by the god Eros’s arrows caused this most highly regarded type of love.” My curse didn’t affect Storge, Philia or Agape.




“Yeah, I’ve heard about that. Greek mythology is very interesting.” I smiled. “I think it’s a great topic for our project.”




“Great. That’s settled. I’m going to start some research in the library now. I’ll see you next period, okay?” Emma said, happy with my agreement. I nodded at her and she left.




After I finished my lunch, I decided to go outside until my next class started. I tried convincing myself it wasn’t because Nate was there, but of course I didn’t succeed. Why I tortured myself by being near him, I would probably never know.




“Hey, Melanie!” Nate called to me just as I stepped outside. I smiled. We had been friends for ages before I’d developed my crush on him. I’d never told him, knowing the feelings wouldn’t – couldn’t – be returned. Knowing that didn’t change my feelings for him, though. Nothing could ever change those feelings. I walked over to the tree he was sitting under with his friends.




“Hi,” I greeted them. Nate patted the grass beside him, gesturing for me to sit down. Oh, how bittersweet my happiness was.




“Guys, could you leave us alone for a sec? I need to talk to Mel,” Nate told his friends. I couldn’t contain my grin. Only Nate could pull that off. When we were alone, he shifted so he was sitting right in front of me. It would have been so natural to bend ever so slightly forward and brush my lips softly across his. He had one leg bent and the other stretched out to his side. Only me climbing into his lap could bring us any closer. Physically, at least. Emotionally, we didn’t have a chance. When that thought hit me, I pulled back slightly, hoping Nate wouldn’t notice.




“So, what do you want to talk about?” I encouraged him.




He looked around as if he was afraid someone would overhear us. “Well, you know about my past…you know, with girls,” he said, almost hesitant. I nodded, trying to hide my amusement. Nate was quite the player, but the girls he’d gone out with were happy with just the smallest amount of attention from him. “Well… You always told me how it would one day come back to bite me, right?”




This time, I couldn’t hide my smile. “Yeah, I do. So, did it?” I teased.




“It did.”




I laughed. “What happened? You fell in love?”




His face grew serious and I stopped laughing. “You fell in love?” I asked again in horror.




Nate sighed and shook his head. I couldn’t help the relief flooding through me. Though I knew I didn’t have a chance, I didn’t think I’d react well to Nate having a serious relationship with anyone. It wasn’t fair of me, but it was the truth.




“No, I didn’t fall in love. I’ve been… God, this is so stupid. I’ve been cursed.”




I stared at him, not knowing what to say to that. He looked the other way, waiting for me to comment. “Wow,” I finally got out. “That’s pretty big. What happened?”




He laughed, but the sound was bitter. “They cursed me to never love. I can’t fall in love. Unless…” he broke off, running a hand through his hair.




“Unless what?” I asked with a lump in my throat. I knew what it was like to be cut off from love – either giving it or receiving it. And even though I could never have Nate, I loved him enough to want him to experience the pure joy that caring that intensely for another person could bring.




He shook his head. “I just can’t. The Elderly didn’t like how I treated girls, apparently.”




“So now what?” I asked. “Are you going to keep behaving like you did? I mean, with girls and stuff?”




“No,” he answered. “Before it was different, like maybe I could fall in love with them if I hung out with them enough. But now it feels like I’d be lying to them,” he said, standing up and walking away. Every cell in my body ached to follow him, to stay near him, but I decided he needed time to himself to think. He’d come back when he was ready to talk. 




He returned after a few minutes and sat next to me. “Sorry to walk away.”




I patted his shoulder. “It’s okay. I understand.”




He looked at me and laughed. “Of course you do. I guess we make a pretty pair, don’t we? The guy who can’t love and the girl who can’t be loved.” I smiled wryly. If only he knew.




------Two weeks later------




“Mel! Can I talk to you for a minute?”




I looked up to find the pair of brown eyes that I cherished staring at me, and I couldn’t help but smile. “Sure.” Nate grinned and sat down beside me. He was close enough that the back of his hand almost touched mine, and I had to restrain myself from taking his hand in mine. We were sitting under the same tree where he’d told me about his curse.




“What’s up?” I asked, trying to force my eyes to stay away from his so I could keep my thoughts coherent.




“I wanted to talk to you about something.”




“Go ahead.”




“Have you ever heard about curses that fail?”




He’d piqued my interest now, and I looked at him, curious. “What do you mean? Like, a curse with a loophole?”




He nodded. “I’ve been doing some research on curses lately, because I have a feeling mine doesn’t work the way it should.”




My eyes widened and my mind was running a mile per minute. Had he fallen in love anyway? Was there a possibility curses could be broken? How?




“How?” I asked my last mental question out loud. I couldn’t help but feel hopeful at his words.




“Well, I don’t know, but…” He glanced at me. “Never mind. Forget I mentioned anything, okay? I’m sorry,” he said as he stood up and walked away.




My mind needed a few seconds to process all this, then suddenly I was running after him. “Nate!” I yelled, not caring if the whole school heard me. “Nate, wait!”




He didn’t stop walking, but I didn’t care. I needed to know what he meant.




“Nate,” I said, grabbing his arm. “Nate, tell me. Please. You have to tell me.” Desperation threatened to take me over and he must’ve seen that in my eyes, because he sighed and stopped walking.




“Fine,” he sighed, after a few moments of silence. “I’ll tell you. But not here. Let’s go somewhere we can be alone.”




I glanced at my watch. “Next period starts in five minutes, though,” I hesitated. Not that I would mind missing history class to be with Nate.




“Screw next period,” Nate said, cursing. I frowned.  He only cursed when he was extremely frustrated.




“Okay,” I agreed. “Let’s go.”




Taking my hand, Nate led me to the side of the school where no one ever came, where no teachers would see us skipping class. I didn’t know how to feel. I couldn’t help being excited at the possibility of breaking my curse, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up in case it all blew up.




The hand Nate was holding tingled pleasantly, and I tried to ignore the familiar feeling. Nate’s touch always had the same effect on me. It was one of the things that had drawn me to him in the first place, along with his eyes, which always made me lose my train of thought when I looked into them. Besides that, I’d thought of Nate as a cocky, annoying guy. It wasn’t till I got to know him better that I saw through his façade and came to like him. Love him, even.




“I don’t really know where to start,” Nate said, pulling me out of my memories.




“Just start somewhere,” I told him. I didn’t care where he started.




“Okay. But you have to promise you’ll hear me out. You can’t interrupt, okay? This is hard enough already and you probably won’t believe me anyway, so at least listen to all I have to say. Promise?” He stared intently at me, as if he was trying to tell me something without words. I nodded, sensing how serious he was.




“Of course. I promise.”




He took a deep breath. “Okay. I guess it kind of started a few years ago. We’d been friends for about two years, I think. I…I had a crush on you.”




I gasped softly but kept my promise and didn’t say anything. It’s not possible, it can’t be true, I chanted in my head, trying to keep myself sane.




“I’ve never gotten over that crush. When I started dating all those girls, it was out of denial. I knew about your curse, and I knew I couldn’t feel this way about you. When I was cursed two weeks ago, I was sure those feelings would stop. But they didn’t. At first I thought maybe it wasn’t love that I felt for you,” he said. I felt my heart skip a beat when he mentioned the word love but kept silent.




“But I know it was love. That it is love. In fact, it’s been love since the day you told me I was a stupid idiot in kindergarten. You were the only kid back then that dared to talk to me like that. You were different, and that drew me to you and made me see you as you really are.




“So I started doing some research and I found something about spell-breakers. Apparently, some centuries ago, the Elderly didn’t only have people who cast spells; they also had spell-breakers. They used the spell-breakers when they accidentally cast a spell over the wrong person or when they thought the cursed person deserved to be free.




“After a while, the Master of the Elderly died, and he was replaced. His replacement thought spells shouldn’t be second-guessed, as he put it, and he decided the Elderly should get rid of the spell-breakers. But every few decades, someone with the power to break spells would be born, and the Elderly would make sure the person…didn’t live very long.




“Anyway,” he continued, “sometimes they aren’t aware a new spell-breaker is born.”




We were both silent for a few seconds.




“So,” I said, hesitating, “you’re a spell-breaker?”




“I think so,” he whispered, the fear evident in his eyes. Suddenly, I could feel the fear creeping up on me as well. What if they found him? For almost my whole life, I hadn’t gone a week without seeing Nate. I wouldn’t survive if he died. They couldn’t… No, I had to stop thinking like that; it would only drive me mad.




Stepping forward, I hugged Nate with all my might, burying my face in his chest. I felt his arms snake around me, pulling me close. We stood like that for what seemed like forever, just finding comfort in each other’s embrace.




“What I was trying to say,” he began, still not letting go of me, “is that I love you.”




I stiffened, and of course he noticed. He pulled away, looking deep into my eyes as if he could  see right through them into my soul.




“You don’t believe me,” he stated.




“I don’t know,” I answered honestly. “It’s so confusing. I’ve spent years knowing you’d never return my feelings, and then you were cursed as well and I was even more certain that you never could… And now suddenly there’s this explanation for everything, and I really want to believe it, but it just feels so unreal,” I rushed to explain.




“I know,” he laughed, resting his forehead against mine. I closed my eyes, just enjoying the moment for as long as it would last.




“So how about you?” Nate asked, whispering. “Do you feel the same for me as I do for you?”




I nodded, then bit my lip. Even after his declaration I still felt a bit insecure letting him know how I felt, but all those insecurities washed away when Nate smiled at me, obviously elated at my reaction. His happiness was contagious and I found myself smiling too. This felt too good to be true.“It feels like I’m dreaming,” I whispered. “And I’m scared.”




“I know,” he whispered back. “I’m scared too.”




I smiled a little and opened my eyes again. “What are we going to do now?”




“That depends,” he answered. “Do you think you can believe me?”




I laughed softly. “I can try.”




I’d closed my eyes again, and I didn’t see him move his head closer to mine. I felt his breath on my face as he came closer to me, but I didn’t have time to react or to even open my eyes to confirm what was happening before he gently pressed his warm, soft lips against mine. And when he did, I immediately lost all will to do anything to stop him. I couldn’t remember why I needed him to keep his distance. I could only concentrate on the way his mouth moved against mine, how our mouths moulded together so perfectly, and I wrapped my arms around his neck, surrendering to the moment. If this was as close as I would ever get to feeling loved, I wanted to hold on to this sensation forever. Until right now, I’d had no idea what I’d been missing. This was so much better than I ever could’ve imagined. I would’ve traded my life for this moment.




He lightly ran his tongue across my bottom lip and I willingly granted him access, determined to make this moment last for as long as possible. I pulled him even closer to me, and in return he increased the pressure on my back, pulling me tight against his chest. Rationally speaking, I knew he couldn’t love me, but since I was having a few problems with rationality at the moment, it truly felt like he did. He loved me. Nate loved me. And I loved him.




He pulled away, slightly out of breath. The pressure on my back decreased some, but he was still holding me close. I found myself wishing I could stay here forever, with him.




“Can you believe me?” he asked. I nodded, not having found my voice just yet. I breathed in deeply, clearing my thoughts, and when I had, I shook my head. He laughed softly at my apparent change of mind. “Can you?” he urged.




“No, I mean, yes, but you...” I fought with my words, trying to get them out in the right order. How was I supposed to tell him? “I wish you could feel how confused I am right now,” I finally said, laying my forehead on his shoulder.




He was quiet for a while, probably trying to think of another way to convince me of his feelings. “Mel,” he said after a while, asking my attention.








He sighed. “I don’t think I have a way to convince you...except for giving it time. Why don’t you just believe me, or try to at least, and see what happens? That is, if you feel the same way for me, of course,” he half-teased, but I could hear the slight edge of real uncertainty behind his words. I pulled away from his shoulder to look at his face and smiled.




“Of course I do. You know I do.”




“Then give us a chance. What do you have to lose?” he asked. I knew I didn’t stand a chance trying to convince him this was a bad idea, but I had to try anyway.




“You,” I told him. “When this goes wrong and you wake up tomorrow, or the day after that, realizing this is a mistake and the spells are still as binding as ever, not only have I lost my chance at love, but I’ll also have lost my best friend. And nothing is worth losing my best friend.”




He grinned almost devilishly, but before I could wonder what he was thinking, he pressed his lips to mine for the second time and I knew. This kiss didn’t last as long, but had the same effect: I was willing to accept anything he’d tell me right now.




“Nothing...” he mused. “Not even this?”




“I...” He cut me off, kissing me again. I mentally slapped myself for being putty in his hands. I pulled away, reluctantly, to finish my sentence. “Nate,” I said and gave him a stern look, warning him not to cut me off again, no matter how much I enjoyed the interruption. “It would be worth it if I knew it would last. But when this ends, I’ll have nothing.”




If this ends,” he corrected, “which it won’t. And even if it would, I’d still be your best friend. I’ll always be.”




I sighed, knowing I was never going to win this argument – especially when I didn’t want to. If I were honest, I’d have to admit that I already believed him.




“Okay,” I said, surrendering. “I believe you.”




His smile was so wide I was almost afraid his face would break in half. Before I could worry too much about that, though, he was kissing me again, and all my thoughts left me.




“I love you,” he said against my lips.




“I love you, too,” I said, smiling.




------Two weeks later------




It was a sunny Saturday, and Nate and I intended to enjoy it outside as much as we could. He had picked me up at 8 a.m., telling me we were spending the day in the park. The park was strangely deserted for a Saturday. We didn’t think too much of that, though, as our thoughts were solely directed at one another.




The past two weeks had been the best of my life. Nate and I spent every second we could together, in school and after. We’d gone on a few dates, but most of the time we just spent the day at either his house or mine, doing nothing in particular. Being with Nate was easy like that; we didn’t need anything, just each other, to be happy. We deserved that, though, after all the time it took us to finally find each other.




The sun was now beginning to set, and Nate and I were lying on our picnic blanket.




An eerie feeling suddenly came over me and I sat up quickly, noticing Nate had done the same.




“What was that?” I asked him, though I was sure his guess was as good as mine.




“I don’t know,” he answered, looking around. His eyes focused on something – or rather, someone – standing beneath a large tree across the park. I couldn’t make out what the person looked like. It was too dark. All I could see was that it appeared to be a man.




“Let’s go,” I whispered, starting to feel a little scared.




Nate nodded and started packing our things. After a few seconds he was done and he grasped my hand, leading me away from the man in the shadows.




“Don’t look back,” he whispered. I nodded. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know if the man was following.




We’d almost reached the park exit where Nate’s car was parked when he suddenly picked up the pace. “What’s going on?” I asked him, my voice low.




“He’s following us,” he said grimly. I shivered.




“What does he want?”




“I recognize him. In one of my research books were photographs of the current Elderly, and this man is their seeker. He finds the spell-breakers that have survived. Somehow the Elderly have found out about my ability, and now he’s here to do something about me.”




I gasped, remembering the story he’d told me two weeks ago. “He wants to kill you?” I squeaked, my voice way too loud and high. I slapped my hand over my mouth.




Nate pulled me closer to him in an effort to calm me down. “I won’t let him,” he nearly growled. “I won’t let him get me now that I finally have you. I won’t. I promise.”




We’d finally reached his car, and we got in. I pushed back the panic that was threatening to consume me and focused on Nate instead. “What are we going to do now?” I asked him, my voice trembling.




“I’m going to take you home, then deal with this,” he answered calmly, his hands gripping the steering wheel tightly.




“What? No! You’re not taking me home!”




“I am. I’m not putting you in danger.”




I tried to calm myself, but it was useless. “I’m not going home,” I said, stubbornly. “I love you. I’m staying with you.”




He shook his head, keeping his eyes on the road, avoiding me.




“Please,” I whispered. “Don’t take me home. I can’t sit at home, waiting, knowing you’re in danger. Please don’t take me home. Please. I love you.”




Nate closed his eyes, groaning in frustration. “Mel, don’t do this to me.”




“Please,” I repeated.




He groaned again, then sped up. “Okay. I’m not taking you home. But I know I’m going to regret this.”




“I don’t care,” I said, “as long we’re together.”




He didn’t answer.




“Is he following us?” I asked after a few minutes of silence.








“Where are we going?”




“Anywhere. Away from here.”




“What if we run out of gas?”




“Mel, please.”




“I’m sorry. I’m just scared.” I looked out of my window, willing the tears not to spill over. I felt his hand rest on my shoulder.




“No, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I put you in danger. I’m sorry for making you cry,” he said softly.




“I’m not crying.” As soon as I said the words I felt a tear trickle down my cheek. I angrily brushed it away.




Nate sighed. “I’m going to pull over.”




My head snapped up. “What? Are you serious? You can’t pull over!”




He looked at me, his eyes full of fear and desperation. “I have to. We can’t outrun them. I’m going to have to try to talk to him.”




My breath hitched. “What if he won’t listen?”




He didn’t answer. I gripped his hand tightly in mine. “I love you,” I reminded him. “Forever.”




“I know, Mel. And I love you. And I’m going to make sure we get out of this alive. I promise.”




I nodded. The car slowed and came to a stop. I glanced out of the window, trying to orient myself. We were at the eastern cliffs in a parking lot.




“Stay in the car, okay?” Nate asked me.




I shook my head. “You honestly can’t believe I would stay in the car while you’re out there possibly facing your death. I’m coming with you.”




Nate sighed and looked out the window and I bit my lip, hoping I hadn’t made him mad. Though, even if I had, I wouldn’t give in.




“I’m not staying in the car,” I repeated. “You can’t make me stay here.”




“I could lock the door,” he answered, only half joking.




“A door wouldn’t stop me today.”




He turned to look at me again and I saw defeat in his eyes. “Fine,” he said. “Come on.”




I was a bit surprised that I’d won so quickly but didn’t waste any time getting out of the car. The seeker was already out of his car and walking toward us. I gripped Nate’s hand, clinging to him, trying to stay calm.




The man was now only five feet away from us and he smiled. “Good evening. My name is Michael. I’m sure you both know why I’m here.”




We nodded.




“Good,” Michael continued. “That will speed things up. Are you going to put up a fight?”




I was shocked. Was he actually asking Nate if he would fight his death? I looked at Nate, silently trying to tell him to run. He just smiled at me then turned his attention back to Michael.




“I was hoping you would listen to me first,” Nate said. Michael raised one eyebrow.




“Fine. I guess I could spare a few minutes,” he answered politely.




Nate took a deep breath, obviously as relieved as I was. If we could just convince this Michael to leave us now…




“Okay,” Nate began. Michael stepped a bit closer, and I gripped Nate’s hand even tighter.




Everything went very fast then. The second Michael stepped closer to us, Nate whispered for me to run. Too scared to think on my own, I did as he said, running as fast as I could toward the end of the parking lot. I don’t know how, but only seconds later Nate was there, running beside me.




“Where are we going?” I asked, panting.




“To the water,” was his answer. I didn’t question why, deciding to trust Nate.




After what seemed like hours but was probably just two minutes, we reached the edge of the cliffs. “Now what?” I asked, putting my hands on my knees and gasping to catch my breath.




“Climb on my back,” Nate said and I complied. “Do you trust me?” he asked, looking at me over his shoulder. I nodded. “Okay. Don’t let go of me.”




I tightened my arms and legs around him and buried my face in his back, not daring to watch as he jumped. After only a few moments, I felt the wind blow past us as he jumped off the cliff and we plunged toward the water.




“I love you,” I squeaked out, fearing it would be the last time I’d ever tell him that.




“I love you, too,” he answered.




Then we hit the water and everything went black.




That night, we escaped from the Elderly, and we escaped from our curses. That night, we finally broke free. For some people, death is not the end of life but the beginning.




We are two of those people.



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