|A Wild Heart
Author: Unforgettable Green Eyes PM
She led a quiet, ordinary life and wanted for nothing more. Until the day she happened upon a wounded stranger in the forest... An original fairy tale. AU. CloudXAeris.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Aerith G. & Cloud S. - Chapters: 16 - Words: 40,861 - Reviews: 21 - Favs: 13 - Follows: 19 - Updated: 05-19-13 - Published: 04-03-12 - id: 7984377
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
~A Wild Heart~
"Did you think I wouldn't be?" The fairy she'd been meeting in secret ducked out from under the overhanging tree branches and came forward on silent feet. "You got the flower."
"I guess… a part of me is always worried you won't be here the next time I come," Aeris admitted. "But there's also another part of me that feels like this was meant to be and you wouldn't not be here. Sometimes, it feels like I've been waiting my whole life for this—like my entire life has been leading up to this moment."
The blue eyes looked almost surprised. "I've always known this would happen someday." His eyes held hers for a brief moment before he moved his head down toward hers and spoke again, his voice low. "Meeting you."
Her heart stopped, then began beating again, picking up speed faster and faster. "You have? How?"
"I just didn't know when it would happen. Or who it would be. But the day you found me I knew you were the one the stars had foretold of long ago."
"What do you mean?"
"You wouldn't understand," he said, leaning back again. "And you're not ready yet."
"Ready for what?"
"I'll tell you someday." He had his hand out for hers, Aeris realized. "But not today. There's something I want to show you, Aeris."
It was strange how just hearing him say her name could affect her. She forgot what they'd been discussing as she placed her hand in his waiting one and they slipped away into the forest.
"When the world was young and new," Tifa began in a voice loud enough to be heard over the sound of Zack working on his tools at the bench in the corner, "and always the fairy queen was jovial and filled with mirth, she often attended human gatherings with her court. And lo, what a marvelous sight it was to see the bright folk mingling and making merry with the nobles and peasants alike! And when the drums and flutes were at their peak, the queen would take from her hair the flower pure and white as the driven snow and whisper unto it, and petals would rain down upon the revelers until it looked like they were in the midst of a snowstorm in winter. Then everyone, men and women and children, would join in the fairies' dance, and wade through the soft, cold petals as laughter rang out across the land and joy was brought to all…"
Seated by the hearth across from Tifa, Aeris' brow puckered and she glanced up from the workman's boot in her lap that she was mending. Since the story Tifa had picked was a favorite among girls of all ages, it was certainly a tale she'd heard before…
"It happened that at one of these gatherings, a fair in a small town that was famed for their cloth spun from fine goat hair, there lived a girl, who was the daughter of the blacksmith's widow. She had proven herself to be the best weaver in town but having no man in the house to speak for her, was paid the lowest wages. Now the girl was in love with the mayor's son, a handsome lad whom all the young girls were smitten with, but the boy's mother and father felt that the daughter of a widow was a poor match for their son and so made it plain that only a girl they deemed worthy of their son would marry him. That year the mayor had decided it had come time to choose a wife for the boy, and the choice would be made at the annual festival for it was a grand affair that saw wealthy merchants and their families from all over come to trade and barter for the cloth that the townspeople had produced over the previous seasons. He turned one of the games at the fair into a contest, setting a challenge that the girl who—"
"Wait a minute," Aeris blurted out, interrupting Tifa mid-sentence. "The fairy queen wears a golden flower in her hair, not a white one." She recited from memory a passage from one of the stories she loved best, "'And when the sun was high in the sky, she caught a ray of golden light and cupped it gently in her hands. And a bright, golden flower came into being in the palm of her hand and ever after, she wore it in her hair.' That's from "The Five Sisters of Mist Valley", but there are other stories that say that she wears the golden flower."
Tifa looked back over the page. "No, it says it right here." She pointed a finger to the sentence and read again, "The flower pure and white as the driven snow."
"Is the story a retelling of another one?" Aeris asked, perplexed.
"I don't think so," Tifa replied. "It's from the book I picked up a few weeks ago. The title's "Tales from the Campfire: A Collection of the Earliest Known Stories of the Fey."
"Earliest?" she repeated. "That can't be right."
"Some stories say white, some say gold." Zack, hunched over an axe he was grinding with a sharpening stone, shrugged his shoulders as if to say, 'Females'. "What does it matter? It's just a flower. And these are just stories about fairies. Hardly something anyone should be overly concerned about if the color of a flower isn't always the same."
"It's confusing," Aeris persisted. "Whoever writes these stories down should do their research and stick to the telling that was told first. It makes things more consistent…and believable."
"Well, the stories are likely taken from different parts of the world." Zack set the stone down on the bench and inspected the edge of the axe's blade closely. "I doubt we all tell the exact same stories. I mean, where is Mist Valley? Not around here."
"Perhaps," she conceded just a little. "But remember—Mist Valley was no longer hidden from the sun after the fairy queen's visit. And that doesn't change the fact that many of the same fairies appear in a lot of the stories. The older ones mostly. Which means that those stories, at least, probably do share a common history, a location or ancestry; and if they're not from the same areas, why, that only gives us all the more reason to pass them down in their original form if different people from different places had seen them and reported the same things. They're evidence, if you will, that there is some truth to the old stories which makes changing things just because we want to…wrong."
"That's just how it is, though," Zack countered. "If someone sees a chance to make some gil from rewriting a story, they'll do it. There is no rule that says they can't. Happens all the time. Heck of a lot easier than making up a whole new story, isn't it? Hell, maybe I should give it a try myself. I could pick a story and just mix things up a bit." He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "I'd put aside some key characters and plots, and bring in some old ones that didn't get enough attention the first time around and expand their roles, make the story be about them, and see if I can't make some gil off of it. Maybe I can create some new characters and problems too while I'm at it."
Aeris frowned at him. "Such a viewpoint is vexing in the extreme."
"But we wouldn't have problems like wondering where we'll be able to dig our next well hanging over our heads if I was successful," he pointed out pragmatically. "We'd be able to buy the fancy equipment that the big cities have and no farm out here would ever have to worry about water again."
"You do realize that if that were to happen as often as you say it does, most of the stories we know now probably wouldn't exist because they would have changed with each telling. We would be hard put to find just one story that all three of us learned as children and have in common now."
"Can't see how that would be much of a loss."
"It would be to me," Aeris said softly.
"But he's right." Tifa was unable to hide her amusement at seeing her housemates who were normally thick as thieves arguing over stories. "And most stories don't really stay the same anyway. Besides, we wouldn't have new stories to read if all we had are the old stories."
Aeris couldn't dispute what her friend had said. Still, there was a great difference between telling a new story and retelling an old one and carelessly passing if off as the story that came first, which was both dishonest and completely unnecessary. "Tifa, not you too. Do you always have to take his side in everything?"
"Not always," the other girl muttered.
Zack laughed. "That's because I am always right. As with everything else, change is needed to keep up with the times. In stories, it makes things more interesting and more relevant for each generation that comes after. How boring and unimaginative would it be if the stories being told now haven't changed at all from when they were told to our great-great-great-grandparents. We wouldn't be able to relate to any of them."
"I like to think that language may change and evolve over time and therefore the stories do as well, but at their core they haven't changed very much," Aeris said. "Essentially they've remained the same; in spirit, in the lessons they teach, in the morals and values of the people of their day and as intended by those who first told them—they're still present and are still being conveyed today. Change can be good. But there are some things that shouldn't be muddled with." She cast her eyes downward to the floor and concluded quietly, "Not everything needs change. Sometimes we love things the way they are and making them even a little different can take away from them. It can only hurt them in our eyes."
"Not mine. I'd still read them." Tifa waved her hand dismissively. "The more changes, the better. Can I get back to the story now? You know it's my favorite and I haven't read it in a long time—that's why I snapped up the book when I saw it. I love it when all the other spears begin breaking and falling apart as each girl gets ready to take her turn or the wind would suddenly turn the spears back onto the crowds and cause all kinds of mayhem at the fair. I think the fairy queen was ever so much more helpful and kind in this story than she was in some of the others." She giggled. "I want to get to the part where the blacksmith's daughter throws the spear so far, no one sees where it lands and the townspeople have to spend the rest of the day looking for it."
"I think I've heard this one before," Zack said. "Doesn't the fairy queen fix it so that they later find the spear in a gold mine?"
Tifa nodded. "They find it embedded in what looks like a great big stone in a cave, but the mayor recognizes what it really is. Which, much to his dismay, meant that the widow's daughter would soon be swimming in gold and so he declares that she alone is worthy of his son." She smiled with excitement. "I've been looking forward to reading it again."
But that was exactly her point, Aeris thought sadly. Would her friend still love the old tale as much if someone had come along and retold it in such a fashion that the blacksmith's daughter had spotted the young prince riding into town on his white horse just as she was being handed a spear, and deliberately threw it into the ground at her feet? For upon seeing the prince, she'd had a change of heart and decided she didn't want to marry the mayor's son whom she'd thought she'd loved, but instead wanted to marry the new young man because he was handsome and charming and a prince. Despite what Tifa believed, Aeris had a feeling she wouldn't be nearly as immune as she thought she'd be if such drastic changes were made to her favorite story.