Darling So it Goes by Tiffany Rose
From atop the hill, the lights of the small town gave the fog a glow. The air was crisp as a fey walked around with bare feet. Teagan didn’t spend much time in the human world, but there was something pleasant about the forest in fall. The people in this area were kind, and they’d leave milk and baked goods outside to win the favor of sidhe in the area. The thought alone worked to gain the protection of at least one member of the court.
Many years ago, at least to humans, those gifts paid off. A redcap had been stalking around a home, sneering wickedly at a child inside. This Unseelie didn’t understand how wicked of a prank stealing the babe from its bed would be. Everything, even cruel things, were funny to them.
When the redcap snuck inside the home, Teagan used a glamour to hid the child. With a shimmer the prank was ruined. Not because she was above such pranks, merely she had been taught that all beautiful things should be protected. The unseelie left empty handed, and Teagan returned to court.
It was days for the Seelie, years for the humans, before Teagan learned the name of the human she protected from repainting someone’s hat. The girl’s mother had been the one to first say it; Eryn. The girl seemed to grow in the same manner that the trees changed color. Not at all when watching, but if you held your eyes closed long enough you could witness the wondrous change.
After Eryn was old enough to help her family she picked up a habit of walking through the woods on her way home. The two didn’t cross paths even though Teagan was aware of her presence. That is, until she stopped at the rocky outcrop that the humans called “kissing rock”. Truly a lovely spot overlooking a path the deer often trailed themselves.
Knowing this, Teagan was confused as to why she didn’t have any company. This was the first time she saw anyone without a partner visiting the spot. Fey festivals were always filled with other people finding love and mirth in whatever they found beautiful. But, Eryn just took a breath before she continued home. Teagan decided to follow.
Eryn crossed water with the help of a log, one step carefully after the other. Distracted by her own daydreams she soon became lost. Tales of a haunted woods were ignored until the moment the way is gone. The first wrong move could send your heart fluttering with worry.
The feeling was pushed down, replaced with something else when she reached a fairy ring. The sight didn’t ease any fear, but spiked curiosity along with it. White mushrooms dotted the grass forming a perfect circle. Eryn lifted a foot, but Teagan’s rustling stopped her from going further.
“You seem lost,” Teagan said. She ducked down under a tree as she neared so the small antlers on her head piece wouldn’t snag on branches.
Eyrn spun around, feet edging against the barrier of mushrooms. “You’re…” she uttered, mouth still open despite the lack of further words.
The girl’s eyes stared at Teagan as if she hadn’t heard her speak. She raised a brow, studying the berries and twigs that crowned her red hair, to the ivy that embossed her corset, to the rich fabric of her skirt; the orange color of a mid-turned leaf.
“Beautiful,” Eyrn finished.
The court was known for their beautiful, prided themselves on it even, but hearing it still made Teagan smile all the same. “Are you lost?” she asked this time.
“Actually.” Eryn ran her hand through a strand of her hair. “I think I am.”
“I could show you the way.”
Eryn lit up before pausing. “What do you want in exchange?”
“I’ll lead you out of the forest if you dance with me.” Teagan nodded to the fairy ring. “That is what you believe those are for, yes?”
Eryn glanced down at the innocent looking ring, slowly lifting her head with a nod. “No funny business?” she asked, pursing her lips.
Teagan tilted her head slightly, the horns making her look like a curious animal who didn’t quite understand words despite the intelligence present in their eyes. “I’m not sure what is funny about dancing.”
The girl laughed. A light, soft thing like the babbling of the nearby river. “I will dance with you if you promise to get me home today.”
“Deal,” Teagan said, and held her hand out. Not to shake on it, but so they could dance around the ring together. It was slow going at first, but soon they danced freely as Teagan helped spin Eryn around.
Dizzily, she spun away from the circle. She was giggling again, making it hard to catch her breath. Once it was found, she stopped cold. It was darker now, and she hadn’t noticed the sun had dipped below the tree line. “You said you’d bring me home today,” she accused without truly doing so.
Teagan’s eyes never left her, even though they watched with a new curiosity over what the problem was. “And I will,” she answered with indifference.
Eryn nervously followed Teagan through the forest. Her arms tightly pulled against her chest. She hadn’t been in this part of the forest, and swore she was going to be brought further away from her home. “Do you know where I live?” she ventured.
A doubt formed between the two, bringing a chill that only one of them felt. It lasted until Eryn stepped out of the woods. It was clearly evening, but the light that lingered suggested that hours had been given back. “How did you–” She spun around to the fey who was now leaning against a tree. “You did this?”
“Back home, same day,” Teagan repeated as if reading back the terms. “Your parents might even be surprised how fast you made the walk.” This time her amused smile was mirrored on Eryn’s face.
“Thank you.” From here she could see her house. The fire of the stove gave the place a warm glow, when she turned again Teagan wasn’t standing there.
When Winter came, Teagan returned to court and wasn’t seen for a few seasons. When the leaves changed, she ventured through the forest once again. Her bare feet carefully moved cross the log in the manner she’d seen Eryn do.
She hopped off with a little jump, the wind blew by and carried her name. There were so few humans that ventured into these parts, and most creatures stuck to playing tricks on humans rather than each other. She froze at the wind calling again, before picking up the pace to find the source. At the kissing rock, she stopped to look around.
“There you are!” someone called from below. Teagan blinked, and looked down to find Eryn standing along the trail. She looked older, but not by much. “Stay right there,” she added and sprinted up the trail.
Teagan blinked. She didn’t have to stand there, no deal had been made before Eryn bolted, but she stayed put as the girl ran around to greet her again.
“Wow,” Eryn breathed as she walked closer to Teagan on the outcrop. “You look… exactly the same.”
“Should I look different?”
“No.” She laughed. “Still beautiful. I’m afraid I’ve aged a bit.”
Teagan smiled and offered her hand. Eryn took it, and was spun around like she had in the past. “Still beautiful.”
“You were looking for me,” Teagan said, even though the question there was obvious.
“Do you know what we call this place?”
The blush on Eryn’s face deepened, but she didn’t look away from Teagan’s orange eyes that held the sun in them. She didn’t waste any more time, maybe she thought too much had already passed, and seized a kiss. Teagan froze, eyes fluttering as lips touched her own before she blissfully closed them.
Eryn leaned back, no longer needing her tip-toes to reach, but her hands remained on Teagan’s near shimmering cheeks. “I’m sorry. I should have asked, but I’ve been learning more, and I didn’t want to exchange favors.” Slowly her hands pulled back, and she nervously started to chew on her lip. “I wanted to kiss you without a deal. If I fell out of your favor by being presumptuous–”
“I doubt you’ll ever fall out of my favor.” She kissed her again. It was as soft and sweet as the morning dew that she got to see if she woke early, or stayed out far too late.
“Will you stay for a while? I don’t want to lose you again.” Eryn held one of Teagan’s hands to keep her from disappearing if she glanced away.
“I can,” Teagan smiled. Eryn waited to see if there would be a deal offered, but there wasn’t. They ventured around the forest together talking until the sun went down.
The hours Teagan visited the Seelie court started to feel longer than the times spent with Eryn. She timed things carefully so she could visit daily. Now that Eryn was old enough some nights were spent in the forest. They watched for shooting stars, and trading only what was already freely given. Teagan took an extra pleasure of wording any deals made in Eryn’s favor simply to see the wondrous expression on her face when she realized it. Despite being just the two of them the time together had enough cheer to match whole festivals.
Eryn fidgeted as she was trying to look up at the headpiece they made together. An impossible task without a mirror. “Hold still,” Teagan demanded. They had gathered trimmed antlers that a deer had shed to even out their heights, and collected flowers that bloomed before the cold. If Eryn would just hold still they could finish it. “There,” Teagan announced. She held out her hand and brought Eryn over to the water so she could see her reflection.
She admired the crown, shifting her weight to get a glimpse from all sides. “I look like you,” she said with such fondness that warmth spread in Teagan’s chest. Eryn twirled around wondering about something new now. “Could a human join the Seelie court?” She had heard stories of people being kept down there, willing, or otherwise, and that wasn’t what she quite meant. “As one of you, that is.”
Teagan took a few steps, like distance would wash the question away. “It hasn’t ever been done.”
“But could it?”
She sighed. “I wouldn’t ask.”
Eryn followed in silence for a bit. A short time later, she ventured to lace her hand with Teagan’s. When it grew later, she rested her head on Eryn’s shoulder. “Maybe I could show you the court.
“When?” Eryn asked trying not to sound too eager.
“In a few years, maybe.”
Eryn wanted to ask if that in her years, or the fey’s but didn’t push.
As time passed, the two grew to love each other more, and more. It showed in small ways like the lingering of hands, hushed laughs and whispers as they pulled pranks on the hunters that dared to enter the forest. The tricks weren’t cruel, and their admiration for each other started rumors that the woods were enchanted, protected, loved. And, together they felt the same.
It wasn’t until summer that Eryn ran into the forest stumbling over her own two feet. Teagan had been getting used to the sights the warmest season brought, but Eryn nearly tumbling into the clearing was one that wouldn’t be forgotten. She rushed over to help right Eryn on her feet, needed her support to even stand.
Teagan brushed her hand over Eryn’s face pushing sweat dripped hair back. “What is it?” Teagan asked, and looked for signs of injury.
“I need–” She coughed, the fit dividing her words. “Take me to the others of your kind. Please.”
“We talked about this. It’s not a place for humans.” Teagan’s frown deepened. Her hand rested on Eryn’s forehead as confusion set in her expression. “Why are you so warm? The sun isn’t even at its highest point.”
“Just listen,” Eryn said. She pulled Teagan’s hand back. “I’m sick.”
“I don’t…” she started, but the words ran out of force. The concept itself unimaginable. “I can heal you.” she blurted out suddenly with a new wind. “Then you’ll be fine.”
“Teagan.” Her voice cracked as if it was too much to explain this. “I don’t know how much time I have. Nor, if there is truly a magical fix for this. But, if you take me with you whatever time I have left can be spent with you. Time is different where you are.” Eryn looked down before she found the courage to continue. “It might be enough.”
The fey pursed her lips together, failing to form words. Teagan scooped Eryn’s hands up, and brought them to her mouth where she kissed the knuckles of each hand. “It’s a deal. I’ll take you with me.”
Getting to the court would be a bit of a hike so Teagan did what she could to make it easier on her, whether that meant magic, or pulling Eryn’s arm over her shoulder for support. “Do you remember the rules I told you before?” she asked along the way.
Eryn nodded. The fever had broken thanks to Teagan’s efforts, but didn’t expect the feeling the last if she stayed in a world without magic of its own. But for now, it gave her room to think. “Iron is perceived as a threat. Don’t eat or drink anything and… since the fey aren’t capable of lies remember that the truth can be a lot more dangerous.”
“Very good,” Teagan said, but seemed focused on a fairy ring in front of them. She brought Eryn in, guiding her with deliberate placement as if everything had to be exact. She glanced at the moon which hung overhead in the daytime sky. “Do you remember the first night we danced?”
“Close your eyes, and remember it.”
Instead of following the instructions right away, she drew strength from Teagan. Her expression was always full of wisdom and confidence. It showed in the way she blinked, the way she could smile like she knew more than you without it ever seeming rude. Eryn closed her eyes, and tried not to fear a thing. Teagan leaned in and kissed Eryn as bold as she had first been. The wind picked up, and swirled around them with such force that instinct told her to pull away. But she didn’t, not ever did she want to pull away from Teagan.
Eryn felt like the ground had fallen out from under her, and Teagan pulled her close.
“You can open your eyes,” Teagan whispered. She didn’t know what Eryn expected, but it wasn’t this. If that horned crown was still on Eryn’s head she would look like a surprised deer. Through her eyes, she saw everything again for the first time: The tree roots that formed delicate patterns below ground making archways and paths, and how where there should be darkness fireflies glowed like white suns. Even the polished stone floor took on a new life.
The next room had light filtered through draped tulle. Other fey that were new to one of them danced around with an unending cheer. Their voices harmonized into an enchanting song. The notes souring when Eryn spotted a human. His body seemed eager to dance around, but his face was tight and tired against the bones that showed through. Eryn twitched, grabbing Teagan’s hand for comfort. Waiting to come here now seemed wise.
Despite the danger, the sidhe were a charming race. Everything they did, even the cruel things were laced with beauty that you wanted to be a part of. There had been tales of the fey tricking people to eating and drinking food here. But, these fey made note to pass drinks clearly around the new human guest, even keeping trays of finger food just out of reach.
Teagan exchanged icy glances to the others of the court. The spell on Eryn that kept the fever away, also fought back hunger. Yet, the game wasn’t to protect. It was a petty way to show she wasn’t welcome. It broke her heart to think how Eryn would feel when she figured it out.
But, when you live nearly forever it doesn’t matter what others wanted. They didn’t need others to love, or be merry. Teagan hadn’t fully believed it at first, but time not only slowed down in the seconds it took to brush hair back, but sped up at a stolen touch. Time became nothing more than a concept that no longer applied to them.
“I figure after fishing we could walk through the gardens,” Teagan said, and placed her glass down on a wooden chest.
“It still amazes me that you can fish underground.”
“Defies logic really,” Teagan joked. She moved over to gather the poles that were tucked against the wall. Upon turning back all the color gained out of her face. “What did you do, my love?”
Eryn lowered the glass from her lips, licking the sweet liquid off her lips. “I made my choice,” she said. “Long ago.”
“You’ll be a prisoner here.”
“I’ll be yours.” Eryn corrected, and grinned boldly. “For however long is enough.”
That is the thing about love, however long is never enough. One soaks up as much as they can, bending towards it like a flower. It changes paths and shapes what may come, and in that way, is always enough. That’s the one deal of true love.
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