In a matter of three or four weeks I have used almost 200 plastic pockets, each with a profile of a family member, compiles endless lists and drawn up dozens of family trees, colour coded and indexed of course. Sigh. Writing is taking a back seat for the moment. I'm hoping I'll run out of steam - or ancestors - soon. In the meantime, at least I have my little fey
The moon, just past full, was still a bright disc, brushing the top of the mountains, before dipping down to hold court at the end of a silver-blue carpet, richer than any red carpet ever was. A light wind brushed the surface of the lake, raising ripples like goosebumps on the water and on Owen’s arms. He shivered and gazed out over the choppy water and signed, turning the loaf of half-baked bread in his hand. He hadn’t bothered to put it in a box this time. To be honest, he felt like throwing it into the water, or right at the face of the arrogant faery.
Yesterday’s experience had been even worse than the day before. The faery had thrown the over-baked bread away, scorning Owen’s choked words – Over baked bread to represent the hard wall of our differences, that stand between us. The silvery peals of his laughter endured to follow Owen home. For a second time he’d ranted at Aggie and had endured another lecture about foolishness.
This was his last chance, and despite Aggie’s reluctant assurances, he wasn’t hopeful. He went over the words in his head and sighed. They meant no more to him that the previous days had.
The bread was still slightly warm and Owen hugged it to his chest. The weather was turning and there was a definite chill to the air. The summer was almost over, as was his pursuit of the elusive fey. He’d promised himself, and Aggie. that tonight would be the last attempt, and it was a promise he meant to keep no matter how much it cost him. He’d go home and forget he’d ever met the arrogant little shit. He snorted aloud. Right. And who was he kidding? He sighed again, eager to get it over with and back to his warm bed.
The glow from the lake’s heart caught him by surprise, but not so much as the speed with which the fey rose and sped toward him, stopping little more than arm’s reach away. As before, he was naked, his long, slender body on full display. Owen’s eyes roved downward and he licked his lips. Magic reached for him and his mind began to sink into it.
Then, the fey held out his hand and demanded imperiously. “My gift, human. I hope you’ve made more of an effort this time.”
Anger snatched Owen’s consciousness out from under the blanket that sought to smother it.
“Who the hell do you think you are?” he yelled.
The shocked fey blinked, seeming for a moment to be both much younger and immeasurably older than he had before.
For a breath’s space, Owen was unsure if he wanted to go ahead. Perhaps Aggie was right and the fey presented more trouble than he was worth. However, the flash of vulnerability he’d caught in the fey’s glance tugged at him. The spell was gone, the glamour fallen away and somehow the fey was more real, more approachable, and lovelier than ever.
He thrust the loaf at the faery. “Half-baked. Like you, really. I don’t see where you get off with your bullshit. You’re no better than me; just different. At least I’m not bloody rude and so damn up my own arse I could clean my teeth with my toes from the inside. Here, have your bread. It symbolizes a moment in time. Before everything changes. Half way.” He thought hard, pondering again that Aggie was belabouring the point but faithfully repeating as he’d been taught. “The in between. The fey point, filled with promise and possibility.”
Owen faltered because, as his words fell, one by one, they seemed to float in the air between them and the fey’s expression changed from scorn, to shock, to wonder.
“Who?” he whispered at last, and it broke the spell.
Owen shook his head. “Doesn’t matter. It was a stupid idea anyway.” He turned, fully intending to walk away.
“Stop,” the fey commanded.
Owen took a few more steps.
Owen continued walking.
That got him. He froze. The arrogance had suddenly dropped away and the last word had been filled with – what? Longing? Uncertainty? Hope?
Owen turned slowly. The fey had floated closer still and his feet touched the pebbly shore, even though they were still lapped by water that was even more agitated than before.
“Please,” the fey repeated. He seemed confused now.
“What?” Owen snapped, reluctant to return. Something had changed, and as amorphous as it was, he recognized the potential. Somehow, the words had become real, changed reality to make themselves true. Owen recognized that they were actually in that moment; the fey point; the in between. The world was slipping away and magic crackled and popped around them.
“I…don’t know what to do,” the fey boy said, a frown creasing his smooth forehead, drawing together perfectly arched brows.
“Not used to anyone getting this far, eh?” Owen said, his voice dripping with scorn.
The boy winced. “Not used to humans.”
Shit. The fey seemed to be getting more solid, less magical. He sounded almost…. Without thinking about it, Owen took a step closer. Then another. He stopped when he was so close he could see the tiny drops of water that sparkled in the fey’s hair, like crystals.
For a long, stretched moment the two gazed at each other. Owen noted that the fey’s eyes weren’t silver after all, but pale blue with a ring of turquoise around the pupil. Would that intensify in daylight when the pupils were contracted?
“What’s your name?”
The fey boy winced, his eyes narrowing in an expression of suspicion and wariness. As well he might: names have power, even more so in the faery world.
“Mine’s Owen. Owen Prentis.”
After what seemed like a long time, the boy’s narrowed eyes relaxed and he nodded sharply. “Bran,” he said.
“Bran?” Owen repeated in surprise.
Bran pursed his lips, and Owen swiftly realized what he’d done. All words had power, but names… to mock a name was a terrible insult to the fey. Aggie had drummed that into his head from day one. “Every plant, every animal, every living creature on this good earth has a true name. Learn them and you will always have power at your fingertips. But use them wisely, because power can turn, boy.”
“No. I didn’t mean…. It’s a lovely name. It’s just… It means crow…or raven and you’re not….” He waved his hand at Bran, whose pale skin shivered and shone like moonlight. “…black.”
Now go check out the other briefers for some truly fantastic stories.