Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, a happy band of flashers who, each week, spin you tales of love, life, loss, and lust in handy bite-sized pieces of no more than 1000 words.
I've been out of the loop for a while because of reason, but here is the next installment of the Faery of Beacon Lake, which is my own personal take on the old Welsh legend, The Physicians of Myddfai
Owen resisted the temptation to look out of the window. He knew Aggie had gone out because the front door had slammed as he was climbing the stairs, not stomping up the stairs like a child throwing a tantrum over some unwanted command. Instead, he’d thrown himself onto his bed and simmered.
The simmering had cooled down some time ago, and Owen was now straining his ears for movement outside the cottage. He heard nothing until the front door banged as it closed. He had neither heard them approach nor open the door. Instantly alert and nervous he stood up and began to pace. No sound came from below. Had Aggie found Bran? Had she brought him back? If they were talking, it was too soft to hear.
Owen crept out of his room, avoiding the creaking floorboard just outside his door, and hunkered down at the top of the stairs. Aggie was moving around. At least she wasn’t banging and slamming things, which suggested she wasn’t angry anymore. She didn’t seem to be talking to anyone either.
Owen’s heart gave a little flip at the thought that Bran might not have come back with her. If not, where was he now? Back with his parents, or still wandering, cold and alone on the mountain. Wait, hadn’t he told Owen he was no longer able to go back until Owen broke the contract. He hadn’t laid a finger on Bran, which meant the contract was still in force and Bran was trapped on land. Oh shit.
What had he done? Without bidding an image of Bran’s pale face, his vivid eyes and his shocked expression popped into his head. He thrust it aside impatiently. He’d been perfectly reasonable in reacting the way he had. Bran’s family were killers, and while he might not have had a direct hand in any deaths he at least was willing and able to justify them.
“He’s fae, you foolish boy. They have a different set of rules. I warned you not to get mixed up with them, and it’s too late now to start thinking about what that difference means.” Owen almost jumped, as if Aggie were actually there, instead of lending her voice to his conscience. This time, he didn’t need to tell him how stupid he’d been.
“I know you’re up there, boy. Best you come down. I don’t like lurking.”
Owen descended the stairs with a heavy heart and dragged his feet to the kitchen. He was shocked to find Bran, wrapped in a blanket, hunched over the table with a mug of something hot between his hands. Aggie was busy at the oven, as she often was. The smell of something sweet and spicy had already begun to fill the room.
Owen took another step and Bran’s head jerked up, turning to face him. Owen almost physically recoiled from the expression of fierce hope and fear. Oh God, what had he done. He noticed Bran’s hands were shaking, whether from cold or fear. Neither could be good. A wave of…something, washed over him. He had no name for it but whatever it was it told him in no uncertain terms what a damn fool he was. Bran seemed smaller, less magical, less beautiful. No, not less beautiful. Less gilded, more natural. Ah hell, he was lovely and the raw vulnerability that filled his eyes made him even more so.
Shit. This was his husband.
“I’m sorry,” Bran whispered, his voice cracking. “I-I can’t change that. I can’t change them, but I can change me, and I will, I promise.”
“What did I tell you?”
“No, that’s not what I want.”
Aggie and Owen spoke at the same time, and Bran shrank from the vehemence in both voices. Where was the arrogant prince now?
“I don’t want you to change,” Owen said softly, moving closer. “I want you to be yourself. We come from different worlds, but we can fix things. We can learn about each other. I’m going to make mistakes. I know I’m. I’m a fool, but if you’ll stick with me I know we can make it work somehow.”
“Do you love me?” Bran whispered.
Owen opened his mouth to say no, to explain that love is something that has to grow over time. Then he caught Aggie’s eye over Bran’s shoulder and bit back the words.
“Yes,” he said, putting as much sincerity as he could muster into his voice. “I love you. You’re my husband and I love you and I’ll take care of you.”
The strangest thing was that, when Bran threw himself into Owen’s arms, dropping the blanket, Owen suddenly found all the sincerity he could possibly want as he whispered into Bran’s hair, “I love you.”
The other who are flashing this weeks can be found here