Its been something of a strange week, between one thing and another. I've been busy and it's been a challenge to fit everything in. fortunately, one thing I managed to fit in was my flash and here it is. Bran, as usual, totally encompases the meaning of the word.
Owen drew himself up as tall as he could. The shadow of his grandmother stood at his shoulder telling him what a fool he was, but he ignored her because she was just a shadow and Bran was a blinding light.
“What do I have to do?”
The queen regarded him intently and he was surprised to find there seemed to be a great deal of sadness in her expression.
“I believe you will do your best by our son,” she said, with the clear implication that his best could never be good enough. “Are you sure?” She turned to Bran, who nodded.
“You know it can be no other way,” he whispered, and Owen was shocked to realize that Bran was as nervous and out of his depth as he was. “I fought it as long as I could. I waited, as you asked. Don’t make me wait any longer.”
The queen nodded once, then turned her attention back to Owen. “Then I ask again, do you promise to care for our son, Bran, Prince of the Mountain Lakes and Guardian of the Gateway? Do you promise to honour him and never to raise a hand against him in violence?”
Owen glanced at Bran, then out at the lake. Something about the stillness of the water and moonlit path across its surface calmed and soothed him. He nodded. “Yes. I promise.”
“As for the bargain, Prince Bran will bring with him as dowry—” she reeled of a list of things Owen barely listened to because he’d caught and been captured by Bran’s eyes which glowed so brightly they diminished the light of the moon.
The queen sighed and stamped her foot. “Do agree the dowry?”
“Er…yeah. I don’t need a dowry.”
The queen’s lips pursed. She was clearly frustrated, and afraid she might think he wasn’t taking things seriously, Owen squared his shoulders and met her gaze directly. “Yes, I agree. I’m fine with it.”
“Very well. For your part of the bargain you will promise to care for Bran, to provide him with food, clothing and shelter, to lead him through the pathways of your world and never to be far from his side. You will promise to treat him with kindness and to never raise your hand against him in anger. Should you do so three times, the bargain will be broken, and Bran will return to the lake, taking whatever might remain from the dowry with him. Is this clearly understood?”
“Yes, I understand, and I promise. I’ll take care of him, give him everything he needs, and I will never, ever raise a hand in anger. Why would I? I’m not that kind of person.”
The queen waved a dismissive hand. She drew Bran forward and took his hand. Raising it, she held it out toward Owen. For a moment, he was confused, then he took a few quick step forwards and placed his hand over hers. As he gazed into Bran’s dazzling smile, the queen slipped away, and when he next looked up they were alone on the banks of the lake.
“Where did they go?”
Owen glanced back at Bran to find a naked boy whose only glow came from the moonlight striking
off a single silver earring in the shape of a seashell. Owen decided he liked him better this way.
“So…we’re married now?”
“That is the closest human equivalent, I believe.”
“So…what do we do?”
“Whatever you wish, but I would like for it to be somewhere warm. I have never been cold before, and I don’t like it.”
“You’ve never been cold? But you live— You’ve always been naked.”
Bran ducked his head. “I felt no chill within the spell and as for my nakedness, well….” He glanced up again and smiled. “That was for you.”
Shock hit Owen like a bucket of icy water. “You what?”
“Do you really think you could catch a fey if they do not wish to be caught? Do you think you could see one if they do not want to be seen?”
“It was a trick? You lured me in.”
“No trick, human boy. A lure? Perhaps. I have been watching you.”
“Watching me? For how long?” Owen began to feel uncomfortable. Bran’s glance seemed more sly than coy now.
“Since you were a child, sitting on the bank, just over there, making stones jump over the water. I saw your first kiss and watched your heart broke when you were going away.”
Owen gasped. Anger, hurt and confusion punched into him like a fist in his chest. “You spied on me.”
“I watched you. I wanted you. I did nothing to force you. I….” Bran bit his lip and dropped his eyes
again. “I felt for you.”
“Felt for me? Felt what?”
Bran shrugged. “Perhaps I am in love with you?”
“You don’t know?”
“I don’t know what love is.” He raised his eyes again, more curious than anything else now. “Do you?”
“I…. Sure, I know.”
“Tell me.” Bran stepped into his space, his eyes burning, eager. Owen took a step back. Bran froze.
“Do you not love me? Do you not wish to hold me? To kiss me? You did before.”
“Look, this is all moving way too fast. I’m married to someone I hardly know, someone who’s admitted to spying on me for years and luring me into this… situation. At the moment I have no idea what to think. If I’m being completely honest, I feel… trapped.”
Bran winced but nodded. “Then take me home. You can think while we walk.”
“Please, Owen. I am very cold.”
Owen blinked and for the first time realized that the blue tinge to Bran’s skin no longer came from the faery light, but from sheer cold.
And the other flashers this week are