She was barefoot in the garden as the moonlight caught the hem of her dress. Her hair, almost silver, was pulled up into a knot high on her head leaving a neck as graceful as a swan's vulnerable to the night air and the west wind. She was barefoot, but wore a gown that shimmered as silver-white as her hair. He approached her from the west with the wind and his scent was carried with the autumn leaves. He moved soundlessly except for the faint jingle of silver-white necklaces, tokens from old lovers. She did not acknowledge his approach with anything other than a sigh. Her back was turned to him and the west wind.

His cloak was yellow and tattered and patched many times over. His hands were brown and smooth and his teeth were very white. He smiled widely in the moonlight and black tendrils of his hair blew out towards her, as if in greeting. Had her back not been turned to him, she would have gazed upon his smile and once more been dazzled and heart-broken. She was prepared and did not turn to look, she only said, "you are leaving," it was not an accusation.

His smile faltered, but only for a moment. They always knew the Traveler left them alone; but there always had been much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Never before had there been one who did not beg, who did not ask in vain for him to stay. Smiling wider, he stared down at his brown, smooth hands and said, "I am leaving."

At this, she nodded, and silver-white hair and silver-white gown shimmered faintly in the moonlight. She closed her eyes and bowed her head, as if in benediction. There was silence except for the faint jingle of necklaces and the sound of the west wind entangling black hair with silver-white.

At last the Traveler broke the silence, awkwardly, as if he were unaccustomed to speaking, "Since you have not begged me to stay or wept, I shall grant you a boon". He was surprised at how tender his voice became. Then, quickly, "but do not ask me to stay. I may return some day, but I will not stay."

She smiled a strange, secretive smile but did not turn to look at him. Her voice sounded as if it came from very far and she spoke slowly, "I ask that you never again return this place, never again seek me out."

His smile fell, and he wrinkled his smooth, brown brow. He stared for a moment at the implacable back of the one who would not beg and felt a sudden loss. He turned on his heel and walked away, thinking of moonlight and her stories, knowing that he would be, at last, forgotten.

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