James sat at his desk and began working on the plans for next Halloween. As he started to write down some ideas, there came a familiar tapping noise at his window: it was the messenger raven; it stoped by to deliver a letter from Rose. James smiled as he held the small parchment in his hands; it had been several weeks since he first met Rose and every day since that encounter they have been writing letters to eachother and sending them off with the raven. He opened the scroll and began to read it:
December 20, 1889
Dear Mr. Skellington,
I wish to extend my thanks for the recent letter you sent me. Your kind words always bring a smile to my face, even during the most depressing of days; such as yesterday afternoon: Henry stopped by for a visit and had a talk with my Father. I do not know what the topic of their conversation was, but I have this feeling that it was about his progress at becomming a proper gentleman and earning my Fathers trust. I try not to think about what might happen if Henry meets my Fathers expectations; however, it's gotten to the point where I am losing sleep over it. The only thing that seems to ease my mind are your letters; I read them every night and I always look forward to receiving another one. You have left quite an impression on me James; I am forever thankful to you.
James sat upright in his chair and smiled as he began writing a reply to Rose. He then gave the letter to the raven and watched as it took off on its mission. He then turned his attention back to the work in front of him; there were blueprints to sketch and notes to examine. James spent all morning working on the plans for next Halloween, yet he could not get Rose off his mind: her face was on every picture and her voice echoed in the words he read. He got up from his desk and walked around the room: "Well, this is something new; I'm starting to imagine things. I've never had this happen before; but then again, I never met anyone like Rose before. She has this effect on me that I cannot seem to grasp; it's as if an emptiness has been filled within my very bones. I want to tell her how I feel, but I don't know what to do", James sat down and pondered over his thoughts for several minutes until he came up with a solution: he would travel to Dashwood Village and surprise Rose with a visit. Feeling confident of his plan, James got up from his chair and headed downstairs towards the front door; however, when he reached out to open it a thought crossed his mind: "I can't enter Dashwood Village looking like this *he stared down at his long, bony hands* it's no longer Halloween! If people were to see me now, there would be widespread panic and fear; I don't want to unintentionally scare someone. I need some kind of disguise; my clothing won't be enough to cover up all of my skeletal features. I need something that will allow me to blend in with the villagers", he stood in the doorway for a few minutes until a smile lit up his face, "Eureka, I've got it"! James then headed out the door and ran over towards the Witches Shope. He then entered the building and was greeted by a cheerful old hag named Tabatha: "Oh, good day to you Mr. Skellington. What brings you here"?
*He smiled at her* "And good day to you Madam Tabatha. I was wondering if you could help me with something"?
"Oh of course, what is it that you need"?
"Well I've been pondering over the idea of traveling back to the human realm and I was wondering if you had any spells that would allow me to disguise my appearance"?
She gave him a surprised look: "James are you serious? It's not even Halloween"!
"I know it's not Halloween, but I am serious about venturing out into the human realm".
"I can't tell you at the moment but I have my reasons".
"Oh, say no more James...I understand; what you do on your spare time is your business. I won't question you".
"Thank you, Tabatha".
"You're welcome...now I believe there is a spell that you wanted me to conjure up"?
"Yes, do you have one in mind"?
"Of course I do...right this way", she headed towards the back room with James following behind her. She then took a handful of ingredients and tossed them into a large, bubbling cauldron. After a few minutes she grabbed a pair of tongs and dipped them into the boiling mixture: "Well now, let's see what we have here", she pulled out a small, well-crafted piece of metal and placed it on the table.
James looked at the curious object: "It's a ring"!
"Well of course it's a ring; what did you expect it to be"?
"Oh, well I assumed it would be a potion".
"Yes, now that would be the case in another situation; but you see the thing with potions is that they are temporary and often have to be made in a large supply in order to sustain the effects".
"I see, so the spell on this ring is permanent and if I were to wear it, my appearance would change completely until I decided to take it off"?
"That's the idea".
"Hmm...interesting", he held the ring in his hand: it was silver, shaped like a skull and adorned with two tiny emeralds for eyes. "Now the question is, how much do I owe you"?
"Oh that's not necessairy James; consider it a gift for all the things you've done for Halloween Town".
"Well, thank you Tabatha".
"You're welcome; come back if you have any questions".
"I will; thanks again", James then walked out of the shope and headed off on his quest. He went to the cemetery and entered the underground passageway to the human realm: there was a labyrinth of tunnels to choose from, but only one led to Rose.
About an hour after he set off from Halloween Town, James finally arrived at the Dashwood cemetery. He smiled as he stepped out of the mausoleum and looked over at the large oak tree where he first met Rose on that Halloween night. He then took out the enchanted ring and placed it on his right index finger: as his bones turned to flesh, something soft tickled the back of his neck...it was hair. James smiled as he looked at his hands, "The ring actually works; I look just like a human! Oh Rose will be so surprised, I can't wait to see the look on her face"! He then started to head out of the cemetery when he noticed a figure walking towards the cemetery...it was Rose. James hid in the shadows and watched as she stood next to the large oak tree and began talking to herself: "Oh Rose why do I come here every week? Is it because I want to be alone with my thoughts? Do I want to escape the drama that awaits me back home? Or maybe I just want to remember that night when an unusual stranger walked into my life and brought a touch of joy to my existence", she paused for a moment and ran her fingers along the bark of the tree: "I wish I could see him again".
After hearing what Rose had said, James took off the ring and stepped out of the shadows: "I didn't know you missed me so much".
Rose quickly turned around: her face lit up, her eyes sparkled and her heart skipped a beat. She walked over towards the mausoleum and greeted him with a smile: "Is it really you James"?
*He gave a slight chuckle* "Of course it's me, how many other skeletons do you know"?
*She let out a shy laugh* "None that I can think of; I just want to be sure that it's you and not my mind playing tricks on me".
"Oh trust me, I am not an illusion; but, just in case you have any doubts...I'll prove it to you": He gently took her hand and softly kissed it, "I hope that was convincing enough"?
Rose blushed as she smiled at him: "It was; I know now that you are not a figment of my imagination".
"I'm glad to hear that. Now if you're wondering why I am visiting, it's because I couldn't bring myself to wait until next Halloween to see you again; I missed you".
"I missed you too...but how can you be here and not expect someone to notice you? Did you bring some sort of disguise to wear"?
"As a matter of fact, I did", he pulled the ring out of his pocket and showed it to her.
She gave him a confused look, "It's a ring".
"Ai, that may be so, but it's not your typical ring...it's an enchanted ring. It allows my to take the appearance of a human, thus enabling me to walk amongst the living without unintentionally scaring them".
"Hmm...very clever indeed, but I would have to see it for myself in order to be convinced".
"Well then, prepare to be amazed"! James then placed the ring upon his finger, to which his skeletal appearance took the form of a human being.
Rose stood in awe at the sight before her. She reached up and softly brushed his face: his skin was fair and warm to the touch. His face looked as though it was carved by angels. His body (while still thin and clothed) was well toned. His thick black hair was very lush and well groomed. She then gazed into his hazel colored eyes: "James, you have the most gentle looking eyes I've ever seen".
He smiled and looked deep into her beautiful green eyes: "And you have the most dazzling eyes I've ever has the pleasure of seeing. They outshine even the brightest stars in the midnight sky".
Rose blushed at his comment, "Thank you, no one has ever said anything like that to me before".
"Well, I mean ever word of what I said".
"I know you do; as do I...James..."?
"What's the real reason why you came to see me? I know you said that you "missed" me but I sense there's something else you wanted to tell me".
"Ai, there is", he took off the enchanted ring so that he could look at her in his true form, "Rose, I must confess this to you: Every time I think of you I am overcome with happiness; it's almost as if I were alive. Whenever I read your letters I feel and emptiness disappear from within my bones. I've wanted to say this to you before, but I felt that it should be said in person rather than written down in a letter", he took a hold of her hands, "Rose...I love you"!
She smiled and felt her heart skip a beat: "I love you too James"!
They then wrapped their arms around one another and shared a long, romantic, first kiss. At that moment, James and Rose knew they were simply meant to be.