A conversation with my sisters the other day reminded me of a Jilliel (Jill/Adriel) short story I wrote nearly three years ago (is it crazy that Jan. 2016 is nearly three years ago or what?) that gives them something of a happy ending. I hadn't thought about this short story in quite awhile, but I quite enjoyed it when I dug it back up and read it to my sisters. It's not 100% canon because I don't really want Jill to never see her family again and I haven't figured out how that all works, but it's pretty canon. A canon ship anyway. ;) Enjoy!
Mild spoilers for The Crossways and Crannig Castle
Adriel straightened up from hoeing the garden. He had to admit a sense of pride in this little plot of land that was his own. He felt a joy at seeing the little sprouts of green poking up through the mounds of dirt. In all his years of growing up, he never would have dreamed that he would one day enjoy the work that was the rue of his years. What a change ten years of freedom had wrought in him.
“Adriel, would you like some water?” Rae came across the grassy field between the cottage and the house, an earthen pitcher in her hands. She barely contained the usual spring in her step in an effort to deliver the pitcher unspilt. “It’s fresh from the well.”
“Certainly. Thank you, Rae.” He took the filled dipper she held out to him and drank deeply. He cast a glance back at his youngest sister. She rocked back and forth excitedly on her feet. “What is it?”
She shrugged, though her eyes sparkled. “Ariella and Connor are coming to dinner, and so are Jaysen and Julee.”
He cocked an eyebrow at her. “What about Jacob?”
A blush suffused her cheeks. “He is.”
Jacob was an apprentice glassmaker who had come to Crannig Castle for his apprenticeship nearly a year ago. He and Rae had taken to each other quite soon after their meeting. It was strange to think of his baby sister being at an age where she was eligible for suitors, but after all, she was sixteen.
Adriel wiped the last drops of water from his face and handed the dipper back to Rae. “You know I approve.”
She smiled shyly. “I know. But I’m still young yet. You’re practically an old bachelor. When are you going to be married? I need some more nieces and nephews.”
He looked away into the distance, studying the rolling hills as he decided how to answer. “One of these days. It has to be the exact right girl. I don’t think I’ve seen her around here yet.” He turned back to his sister, who now wore a pensive expression.
“I suppose you’re right. Don’t take too much more time out here. Mom will want you cleaned up before the others arrive.”
Adriel smiled as he watched Rae return to the house. Those long months of separation when he could do nothing to protect her still haunted him, as did the circumstances surrounding her rescue, but she seemed no worse for it. She was still the sweet, innocent spirit she had been in those days, now matured into a young woman. He was not sure how much he could say for himself on that score. He had matured much since the days of the Time Captives, put much guilt behind him, but he never seemed to be able to move past all that had happened. The events of those days still clung to him as if they were yesterday, more so as time went on rather than less.
He mopped his sweaty brow and returned to hoeing the weeds.
“Cake!” Jaysen’s eldest, a lad of six, clapped gleefully as Adriel’s mother produced a large chocolate cake from the cupboard.
“Only a small piece, William,” Jaysen warned.
“But we’re at Grandma’s house.” The little boy turned puppy dog eyes to his grandmother.
“No, William,” Alaina, Ariella’s seven year old eldest reproved her young cousin. “Your daddy said a small one.”
Adriel smiled at the children’s exchange, but his gaze wandered out the window of the snug little cottage. The sun was just beginning to sink behind the trees, sending streaks of orange and pink across the sky. Rae had taught him to see the beauty in Creation, his faith had allowed him to embrace and enjoy it. Yet something always seemed missing, as if someone ought to be there to enjoy it with him, someone who could not be there.
He hardly noticed when Nola set a slice of cake down in front of him. A figure had appeared just on this side of the trees, and he felt strangely drawn to it. “Excuse me.” He pushed back his chair and exited the cottage, nearly entirely oblivious to the astonished glances his family sent his way.
The figure was a slender, girlish figure, traversing the distance between her and the cottage. Adriel hastened towards her. Strange though it was, he had never dreamed of ever being so anxious to meet an unidentified young woman, he could not prevent himself from closing the distance between them as quickly as he could.
When her features became clear, his heart leaped in his chest. She was older, but still unmistakable. “Jill!”
“Adriel? They said your cottage was north of the castle…” But she got no further for they had at last closed the gap between them and he had enveloped her in his arms.
This was what had always been missing. This was why he could so rarely get the Time Captives out of his mind. This was why no other girl had ever caught his fancy. This girl in his arms, this was right. This was how it was supposed to be. This was where she belonged.
He looked down into the smiling, upturned face that had imprinted itself so irrevocably on his memory so many years ago. “However are you here? You really are here, aren’t you?”
“I am. It was the strangest thing. I was bringing a box of Joey’s old things up to the attic, he still won’t keep his things tidy, and some writing appeared in the old place on the wall where it had ten years ago. It said:
“‘You left your heart in Calhortz and now you must return,
If you forever stay here, you will forever yearn.
The chance you have been given, to make your dreams come true,
Now return to Calhortz, to the one who waits for you.’
“I wrote a note to my family telling them what had happened and where I had gone. I don’t know if I’ll ever see them again, but I knew I had to go through the portal when it opened. What it said was true: I did leave my heart here…and I left it with you.”
Tears glistened in Jill’s eyes. Adriel couldn’t tell if they were happy or sad, he suspected a bit of both.
He cleared his throat, but his voice still came out husky when he spoke. “I couldn’t say it when I was fourteen, but I have to say it now. I love you, Jill. I think I’ve loved you ever since that first trip on the Andaron. And I’ve missed you so much these last ten years. I hate that you left your family behind, but I’m more than grateful that God provided a way for you to return. You’re my first friend, and still my best friend. And…it may be too soon to ask it, but…Jill, will you marry me?”
Her smile grew even bigger at his words. “Yes, Adriel. Of course I will.”
His mother had insisted they wait a few months, get reacquainted with one another, give Adriel time to establish his own farm, but finally the day was here. The day upon which they would become man and wife.
In the absence of any members of Jill’s family, King Joseph himself had agreed to do the honors of giving her away. It was not every common farmer who had the royal family at his small outdoor country wedding, but it did not seem a bit unusual to Adriel, nor did it matter to him. The only thing on his mind today was Jill.
He scarcely breathed as she came to meet him on Joseph’s arm. She was just so beautiful. She was, to him, perfection. This first friend of his, the one who as a young girl had led him to Christ, the one who had been so kind to him at his worst…in moments, she would be his wife.
They spoke their wedding vows deep from the heart. Always would he protect and cherish her. He had more of a duty to her than he ever had towards Rae, and he would never fail as long as there was life left in his body.
Finally, the minister spoke the words he had been longing to hear since Jill’s return: “You may now kiss the bride.”
Adriel gathered his new wife into his arms and kissed her. When he pulled away, he could see that she was smiling.
They danced together under the cloudless blue sky, creating new memories that outshone the wonderful dances at the Christmas victory celebration at the close of the war, though cherished the memory of those dances had been. Those had been tainted with the foreboding of departure, these were anointed with the knowledge that never again would they have to be apart.
Finally, the reception drew to a close. Adriel took her hand and led her around his mother’s cottage.
“I have a surprise for you.”
“What sort of surprise?”
“You’ll see in a minute.” He took great delight in echoing the words she had used in preparing him to reunite with his family.
But now they were in sight of Twyla, the dragon that had saved his skin so many times, the faithful dragon that would now bear them away to their own home. “I haven’t taken you up yet,” Adriel said. “I wanted this to be your first time.”
“Thank you, Adriel. I can’t wait.”
He lifted her up onto Twyla’s back, then climbed up behind her. He kissed her again before directing Twyla to begin her flight.
They rose up above the cottage, into the sight of their friends and family. Loud cheers hailed them. Jill and Adriel waved to their guests, just before Twyla swooped away to carry them to their new home.