Dimitri paced the perfectly manicured grass, fretting his heart out. Where was she? There were only so many places to hide within his home and grounds, and he had searched every inch, but still no sight of Lana. Dmitri stood and pressed his fingers to his temple. Closing his eyes, he tried to imagine where he’d be if he were Lana. But that could be anywhere. She was such a free spirit, like wind that couldn’t be tamed.
“Lana,” he growled, as he looked towards the wooded area that surrounded his grounds. What if she had gone in there? He would never find her.
“Dimitri!” The sound was faint, but he heard it nonetheless. It was the voice that soothed him in his darkest moments.
There she was, his beautiful Lana. Her feet were bare, her body covered by a thin dress which flowed around her body like silk. Lana’s hair was windswept and her cheeks flushed; it was evident she had been running and more than just the length of his gardens.
“Dimitri,” she said, struggling to get the words out for loss of breath. “My love, I have been looking all over for you. Where have you been?” Even though her whole body showed signs of excursion, her face still beamed up at him, so pure and innocent. Dimitri pulled her into his arms with a sigh of relief. He buried his face in her hair, and spoke.
“Lana, where have I been? You were the one who wasn’t anywhere to be found, you had me so worried.” He held her close.
Lana struggled against his hold, trying to free her arms which were pinned to her side. He reluctantly loosened his grip, but kept her in the circle of his arms. Lana reached up and laid a hand on his cheek. “Dimitri, I’ve found a way for us to be together...forever.”
Whilst in his momentary state of shock, she ducked out under his arms and danced back. She giggled as she twirled around. “I found a woman who said she’d help me. I told her I wanted to live forever, never aging. Like you, Dimitri. Beautiful and youthful for eternity. We can be together now. No more will you have to worry about my fragile existence.”
Dimitri smiled. Excitement coursed through his veins. He could have her forever, she would be his beautiful Lana forever.
Lana beamed in reflection to Dimitri’s joy. He kneeled in front of her and took her hands in his. He placed a kiss on each palm and looked back at her face. “I love you, Lana.”
The wind took a sharp turn. Dimitri knew that feeling; he turned his head in the direction the wind was swimming and saw a dark figure standing in the tree line. With fear clenching at his heart, he looked back at Lana, whose features were creased with worry.
“Dimitri? Are you okay?”
“Lana, this is important. Who did you ask to do this for you? What exactly did they say?”
Before the words left her lips, Dimitri felt the skin on her hands harden and grow cold. He looked down at them where he held them in his own hands. When his gaze returned to her face, her skin was grey and hard. She was frozen. Beautiful and youthful. A single tear ran down Dimitri’s face as his eyes skittered around in a panicked frenzy. He looked back to where the dark figure had stood only to find nowhere.
“Lana?” He touched every inch of her. But her flesh was hard, her joints rigid and the expression on her face was great sadness. “Please move,” he whispered, “Please?”
“Good evening, Lana. Sorry I’m late. I had to have words with the new grounds keeper. I wouldn’t want him to make a mistake, especially concerning you.” Dimitri spoke to the statue of his beloved. He brushed a few leaves off her shoulder, and picked up the rake he brought in the wheelbarrow. The small patch of grass Dimitri had sectioned off from the rest of the grounds only contained a few fallen leaves, but he didn’t want to have them here cluttering around his Lana. He piled them up in the wheelbarrow and pulled out the secateurs to trim the seven foot hedges he used as a barrier to protect Lana. Once the area was perfectly preened, he pushed the barrow outside the tall gate. Dimitri knelt at Lana’s feet, like he had done all those years ago, and held her hands in his. He pressed a kiss on each of them, and looked up at her face. “I love you, Lana.” Dimitri let his sadness overwhelm him for only a moment before he looked back up to Lana with a slightly forced smile. “We have another visitor, my love. He’s going to try and reverse this. There will be someone out there who can fix you, I promise. I’ll be back soon, darling.” Dimitri kissed the top of her head and left.
The gate closed behind him with a squeak, and he mentally noted a reminder to oil the hinges. He took the barrow towards the house for the gardener to sort out. Dark clouds began forming over head. I’ll need to find something to cover Lana again. For the first few years, when the rain came, Dimitri had made futile attempts to shield Lana. He’d covered her shoulders with his jackets, but the wind had blown off. When the hedges he’s panted around her began growing, Dimitri had considered building a roof like structure over her, but he didn’t want to deprive her from the sun. She’d always loved the warmth of the rays. But he couldn’t let her get cold and wet. In the end, he’s called in a carpenter to build a roof anyway, one the he could easily pull back. As times and technology changed, the roof had turned into a retractable glass covering, so Lana could enjoy the sun, even on the rainiest of days. This autumn had proved dry, so Dimitri delighted in leaving her glass shield open. The leaves that fell just gave him an excuse to come in and see her...not that he needed much of an excuse. He still loved Lana. He’s heard the housekeeper mentioning his ‘obsession with that statue’ a few years ago, but he knew the truth. His love was for Lana, and her statue was merely an idol for him to remember her by whilst she was...unavailable.
Dimitri left the barrow at the top of the garden and made his way towards the back door of his home. He strode through the lavishly decorated rooms without a care for the boots he wore. He grabbed a coat for himself in case the rain did come and for Lana...in case this worked.
Dimitri headed towards the main door and swung it open, revealing a short, portly man with his hand raised as if ready to knock. He looked horrified.
“Are you the sorcerer from France?” Dimitri demanded.
“Oui,” the man squeaked. Dimitri merely glared. He knew he was intimidating this man, his tall frame an obvious contrast to this man’s small stature.
He cleared his throat. His accent was thick, but his English satisfactory. “Yes, my Lord. My name is Frederick. You scared me, monsieur. You’re timing is impeccable.”
Dimitri ignored the comment he had heard a thousand times. “This way, Frederick. Before you ask, I haven’t forgotten my promise of payment. You will try to reverse this, if you fail, I’ll pay you fairly for the effort. If you succeed, I’ll double that payment. This is very important to me, so I don’t skimp on payment. I’ve tried many a magic-workers in this small island, but none have succeeded. I heard from my last practitioner that you were the best in the nearest area, so I called on you. Did you understand the situation as I explained it?”
“Yes, my Lord.”
“Good, then follow me.”