The dirt crumbled beneath her hand spade. It was such a little thing in her grasp, but it tossed the dirt from the hole well enough. She had chosen a spot well away from the house and around the back so that she did not have to look at the damn bush every time she came home with Anricwulf. In truth, she did not know why she accepted it again. She certainly did not have a green thumb, especially when she compared her little garden to what she saw in the Shire, but something in her drove her to plant.
The vegetables grew out of Anric’s practicality. If they were to grow a garden, they should be able to benefit from it by consuming the berries and beans and leaves of the plants. Never mind that he seemed to have wagon-loads of money from the jewels and precious metals he found so easily.
She agreed, of course. And there was a pleasant satisfaction from harvesting the evening meal herself. And the blossoms were pleasant enough to look at before they transformed into their foodstuff. Yet, the peas and strawberries and raspberries were not what she craved to see. They grew only as a substitute to what she really wanted.
The metal of the spade clanged sharply as it struck something in the dirt. Leaning over, Anya dug her fingers into the hole and pulled away the earth until the tip of a rock appeared. Frowning, she pulled it out with a grunt and flung it into the lake.
“Not in my hole, stupid rock,” she muttered as she set back to work widening the hole enough for the root ball of the bush lying next to her foot. The burgundy blooms were already beginning to wilt and though Morty reassured her roses were hardy plants and sent instructions, she still feared it might never bloom again.
A few minutes more of digging and the hole was satisfactory. She took a handful of soil to make a little hill at the bottom so the roots would have something to spread around. Cradling the rose bush carefully, she turned it about to examine which side to plant toward the front yard. Two blossoms remained on one side and she lowered the plant into the ground so that they faced the yard and the sun. Gently, she pushed the earth back into the hole and pressed it back into place around the roots of the Dalish Charm. She had a bucket of water prepared and she poured it around the rose bush carefully. Not too fast, not too slow.
“Well, little Charm,” she said as she watched the water sink into the ground, “here is your new home. I promise that this time, you will not have to move again.” From a basket usually used for picnics, she withdrew a handful of wood chips she got from the Combe lumber camp. A blanket of the chips to protect the bare soil and she was done.
As she stood up rubbing the dirt from her fingernails, she thought of the necklaces and jewels lying wrapped in paper in the bottom drawer of her armoire. Anya was happy. She really was. Beneath the jewels was a box of letters she kept because she could not bear to throw away someone’s thoughts so easily. Letters from Eruviel and Cwen and Esthyr. And Morty. And one from a man she only met once: Dorsett Lacewood. His letter was brief and intimate and touched on the truth of what had been causing her to pull away from all those around her in the recent days.
I do not know how you feel about Anric, Miss Anya, but you should not ever have to try. Not like that. Not if, ultimately, you will never be unhappy, but never be truly happy, either.
Dorsett’s words often rumbled around in her head. She was happy. Anric loved her and she loved him. They took care of one another. She was happier with him than if she were with someone who always stepped out on her. Right? Because that would make her incredibly unhappy. To be home alone while he-
She shook her head and looked out over the lake. A breeze rushed through the yard and whipped Anya’s hair around her face. She closed her eyes and raised her face to the sun as if she were a rose seeking the light of growth. At her feet, the leaves of the Dalish Charm rustled in the wind.
She could plant her roots here, with Anric, if she tried. She could grow to be content and life would find its meaning. Her family could find peace and start its process of regrowth.
If she tried.