An Eyes Like Stars Fanfiction
"I'm bored," announced Bertie. Her fists beat insistently against the floor, and her large eyes shifted restlessly from side to side. "Let's play something else, Ariel."
"You don't want to play on the catwalks anymore?" inquired the taller figure standing beside her.
Emerging from the shadows by the lighting instruments with no more sound than a breath of air, her companion drifted across the catwalks to stand beside her. He bent down to the child, his voice softly amused. "Didn't you like the colorful lighting?"
The child, Bertie, nodded, her eyes distracted by the movement of the vibrantly colored red-gold butterflies drifting on the air currents around his head.
"But I want to play something else now," she said stubbornly.
She turned and skipped down the catwalks, looking over the side; the proscenium arch ran parallel to where they stood.
The air elemental followed her. "And what would you like to play, Beatrice?" he inquired, his voice still amused.
Bertie scowled, then turned to face him. "Let's be pirates," the girl suggested. "Let's do a scene change and bring up the ocean set from The Little Mermaid."
Ariel's mouth twitched.
"Haven't you remembered the last time the Stage Manager reacted to your changing the scenes without permission?"
Bertie ran her hand along the top of a microphone stand. "Okay, then. How about we play hide-and-seek here in the catwalks?"
Ariel flashed a brief smile, like the gust of a sudden breeze. "Bertie, remember, we're not supposed to be up here. We must be careful. The Theater Manager was much angered the last time he discovered I allowed you to play up here."
Bertie let out a disdainful sniff and let go of the microphone, her eyes following the movement of his butterfly familiars once more.
"Everything the Theater Manager says is boring," she complained. "He never lets me go anywhere fun."
And it was true. If not for Ariel, who had shown Bertie the hidden nooks and crannies of the Theatre, who was her sole companion, the leader of their games, she would have been forced to obey the tedious verdicts of Management. However, Ariel snuck her past trapdoors and beneath the watchful eye of the Manager, and they were fortunate to have made it up to the catwalks at all.
Bertie groaned with boredom once more, and looked over the side to where the stage lay out, in all its impressive vastness, beneath the proscenium arch and the catwalks.
"Let's at least play something before Mrs. Edith finds us," she begged Ariel, tugging at his sleeve.
Ariel crouched down beside her and looked down at the gleaming wooden platform, a soft breeze caressing their hair. "Have you any ideas, little one?" he inquired.
Bertie looked up into his face, her eyes straying to the red-gold butterflies still hovering around his head, caught up in their wind dance. Her lips widened into a smile.
"Can we let my fairies ride your butterflies?" she asked Ariel innocently.
The only indication Ariel gave that he objected was no more than a slight twitch in the corner of his mouth.
"If you wish, Bertie."
"Whee!" screamed Moth, zipping around on his new colorfully-winged mount. "Let's go! Let's go!"
Mustardseed braked in midair, making a loud screeching sound for effect and almost crashing into Moth. "Traffic jam!"
Cobweb joined in the fun, steering his butterfly right toward them and tangling himself in the lot.
Peaseblossom shook her head at the boys in disapproval and continued riding her butterfly in smooth circles around the stage, preferring to stay out of their traffic jam.
Bertie and Ariel sat side by side on the edge of the stage, the bright stage lights washing over them, watching as the four fairies rode Ariel's butterflies through the air. The glowing radiance of the fairies melded with the glittering red-gold of the butterflies' wings as the creatures whirled high above the stage.
Bertie sat cross-legged on the stage, her head tilted up, her eyes wide with delight as her fairy companions zipped through the air.
"Hey! Let's have a race!" yelled Mustardseed, pulling up his butterfly sharply beside the others. "Whoever can make three rounds around the stage the fastest wins! Ready, set, go!"
Bertie laughed out loud and clapped, egging them on. "Go! Go!" she urged.
"And Moth's in the lead," intoned Cobweb, whizzing after the contestants on his butterfly. "Mustardseed is close behind, but he's not fast enough! Will he lose to Moth?"
"Not if I can help it!" yelled Mustardseed, bouncing up and down on his butterfly. "Go faster, you stupid insect!"
Moth looked over his shoulder and put his thumb to his nose. "Ha-ha!" he jeered.
Furious, Mustardseed raced after him, his butterfly's wings fluttering frenziedly, intent on beating Moth.
But as they made their last circling around the stage, his butterfly suddenly gave out. With a frantic flapping of delicate iridescent wings and several alarmed shouts from Mustardseed, butterfly and rider careened awkwardly through the air before crashing into the half-drawn curtains and entangling themselves in the velvet, thrashing wildly to get free.
Both Bertie and Ariel leaped to their feet.
Ariel was swifter, however, and in a couple of strides he crossed to the curtains and pried apart the wriggling lump of velvet. Mustardseed soared out, his hair disheveled, and landed on Bertie's shoulder.
"That butterfly was faulty!" he complained.
Bertie, however, was more concerned with the fate of the butterfly than Mustardseed's grievances. She stood on tiptoe, trying to peer over Ariel's shoulder. "Is it going to be okay?" she whispered.
Ariel turned to face her, his head bent over his long fingers, curving to form a cup in which the butterfly rested. He lowered his hands to her eye level, and she stared at the familiar, wide-eyed. The butterfly lay still in Ariel's hands, fluttering the edges of its slightly battered wings and twitching its antennae once in a while.
"I would advise you to remind your companions not to exhaust my familiars in future, Bertie," Ariel said, stroking the edge of the butterfly's shimmering wing with one finger. "They are meant to be free, not to be roughhoused as if they were horses."
Bertie looked slightly downcast. "Does that mean we can't play with them anymore?" she asked.
"If you are careful, little one."
The butterfly in his hands had gained enough strength to lift one wing. Bertie watched it flutter frantically and turn over, the light above them illuminating its shades of scarlet and gold.
"It's alive!" she breathed.
"Yes, it is." Gently, Ariel set the butterfly in Bertie's hair, where it nestled among the tangled strands before settling. " Look after it, and take care that none of your companions handle it too roughly."
"Okay," Bertie whispered, giggling as she felt the butterfly twitching against her head. She held her breath, not wanting to disturb the fragile and delicate creature.
"Hey! Hey! I won the race! I won the race!" Moth yelled, zipping over triumphantly. He nodded at Mustardseed, who was looking rather despondent. "What happened to you?"
"None of your business," Mustardseed said sulkily.
"He couldn't brake fast enough and he crashed into the curtain," Cobweb tattled, joining the lot.
"I said it was none of your business!" Mustardseed scowled.
"Oh, please," Peaseblossom said, floating over on her butterfly. "You can't ever play together without causing some sort of mayhem, can you?"
"Mayhem!" the boys echoed in chorus, sounding utterly delighted.
"That's what we're for!" Mustardseed grinned and stuck out his tongue, his defeat forgotten for the moment.
"C'mon, Pease, don't be such a goody-goody. You love mayhem too!" Cobweb protested.
Peaseblossom folded her arms and huffed. "Well, there has to be someone to keep you boys in order! Although, yes, I do like mayhem," she added as an afterthought.
"I make the best mayhem!" Cobweb bragged. "Remember what I did with the raspberry jam last time in the Green Room?"
"You mean that time?" asked Moth. "With the snack cakes and the doughnuts?"
"That was awesome!" Mustardseed chimed in.
"Now I'm hungry!" Moth complained. "I need my daily intake of frosting!"
"I need it more!" chimed in Cobweb.
"C'mon, then!" Moth shouted. "Last one to the Green Room is a rotten egg!"
The three boys whizzed off, laughing and pushing each other around, exiting stage right and leaving a trail of fairy glitter in their wake.
"I've got to go, Bertie!" Peaseblossom called as she followed the boys into the wings. "I'll make sure they don't get up to too much trouble!"
A silence settled in the air after Peaseblossom had gone. With the fairies absent, it was very, very quiet.
Bertie's eyes lingered on the languid movements of the butterflies, still drifting in the air where the fairies had left them like particles of golden dust. There was something quietly awed in her gaze, and after a moment the child turned to face Ariel.
"I want to fly."
Ariel turned his head to glance down at her, amused. "You wish to fly?" he repeated carefully.
"Yes!" The fancy had gotten hold of Bertie entirely now; she held on to Ariel's sleeve and looked up at him pleadingly. He was not one to refuse her whenever some insane new idea had her in its grip. "I want to fly! Like you!"
Ariel crouched down, his silvery hair brushing her cheek.
"But you're a little girl, Bertie," he whispered. "Butterflies fly, and air spirits fly. But little girls don't fly."
Bertie tilted her head, and her reply was strangely enigmatic.
"Maybe I'm not a little girl," she said. "Maybe I'm a butterfly."
Ariel uttered a quiet laugh, and smoothed down her wildly sticking-up hair. "Shouldn't you be consulting Peter Pan and Tinkerbell about this?" he inquired. "They say fairy dust can make even humans fly."
Bertie scowled and crossly kicked her foot against the floor. "I already did. I tried. But every time I got near Peter Pan to ask him how to fly, Tinkerbell would get really annoying, and she wouldn't even let me talk to him. She hates me. She wouldn't give me any of her fairy dust, and besides, my fairies don't like her."
"It probably wouldn't work anyways," Ariel said. "Shall I carry you through the air on my back?"
Bertie shook her head vigorously. "No. I want to fly by myself. The way you do."
She lifted her arms, as if they were wings. "Come on," she pleaded, bouncing up and down. "Teach me how to fly."
"It's not as simple as that," Ariel told her wryly. "You need to be born with the ability to fly. You can't learn it if you don't have it in you." He tapped the side of her head gently.
Bertie, not one to give up on her imaginations, folded her arms. "Then what do I do?" she demanded.
Ariel straightened and looked past her, up at the ceiling behind the arch, where he knew a few of the trapdoors lay.
And the harnesses.
"Come with me," he said, and took Bertie's hand.
Above the stage and the trapdoors, Ariel carefully fitted the harness around Bertie, buckling her in securely and adjusting the straps.
Bertie stood there nervously, plucking at the straps with agitated fingers. "Ariel, what's this going to do?" she asked.
The air elemental smiled briefly at her as he secured the harness behind her back.
"This, Bertie, is the flying harness used in the Theatre," Ariel explained. "With this, you'll be able to fly, all by yourself. Just jump into the stage from the trapdoors; I'll do the rest."
Bertie felt her little heart hammering. When she'd said she wanted to fly, she hadn't imagined having to do something so risk-taking. The stage was a long way from the trapdoors above.
Ariel's lips brushed her ear. "Are you afraid, Bertie?"
"No!" Bertie said defiantly, but her voice trembled slightly.
She heard his quiet chuckle in the dark. "You have reason to be afraid. The harnesses are little used these days."
"What if I fall?" Bertie whispered.
"You won't." Ariel's fingers straightened the harness. "There's a system of ropes and pulleys that control the movement of the harness and the wires attached to it. I'll be the one rigging the ropes, and the harness is secure enough to keep you from falling."
Bertie pulled at the harness; it didn't seem strong enough to sustain her weight. Anxiously, she peered at the stage below her once more.
"Ariel, will you be careful?"
"Of course. I promise. Would I ever let you fall, little one?"
Ariel was her best friend, Bertie thought. So many times, she'd depended on him to keep her out of Management's watchful radar, and to hide her from the Stage Manager. So many times, it was all due to him that she was able to get away with so much at all.
She had to trust him.
"If you're afraid, Bertie, you don't have to."
No, Bertie thought. I want to fly.
Still, though, she repeated softly, "Ariel, will you be careful?"
She felt the breath of his winds stirring her hair, an unspoken promise. "Bertie, if you fall, I'll jump down there and catch you before you even hit the stage. Don't fear. Flying feels wonderful, and I'll make sure you're safe."
Bertie nodded and lifted her chin, though she knew she was trembling all over with apprehension.
Then she felt a soft breeze wrap around her wrists, winds encircling her waist, gusts of air lifting her feet slightly off the floor. It was Ariel's winds, supporting her, holding her protected and aloft.
Wreathed in the nest of drafts and draughts, Bertie felt lighter, yet more confident--as if she could actually fly.
"Are you ready, Bertie?"
Bertie nodded, once. "Yes."
Slowly, Ariel began to lower her onto the stage.
Bertie's heart quickened until it felt as if it were actually going to leap out of her chest. The harness bit into her sides, and she was hoisted above the stage, suspended there, dangling like a star.
The stage lights felt very bright on her skin.
Everything seemed to melt and dissolve away, the lights and the stage wavering and rippling into an insignificant blur, until the only thing she was conscious of was the sound of her frantically beating heart, and the empty air beneath her dangling feet.
Ariel's winds held her safe in their wreath, whispering in her ears: Do not fear. We are holding you.
Bertie heard the creak of ropes, the turning of wheels.
And suddenly, the pulley began to drag her to one side of the stage.
Bertie let out an involuntary cry of surprise as she felt herself being whisked through the air in the harness, high above the stage.
Above the sound of her own exhilarated pulse in her ears, she heard Ariel's laughter.
"Spread your arms, Bertie! Fly!"
And she flew.
As the pulleys swung her from one side of the stage to the other, she spread her arms, horizontal to the stage far below her. She soared smoothly over the stage, gliding through the air like a bird, air whipping at her face. The wires held her small body suspended as she sailed high.
Bertie laughed, caught up in the thrill of flying.
It was exhilarating. She was flying, soaring through the air, wind blowing her hair back, unsupported by the ground. She felt like a bird, a creature of flight. Nothing bound her to the stage floor, nothing restricted her from reaching the heights of the heavens. It seemed as if she could whirl right up to the stars, and nothing could hold her back.
She circled the stage, once, twice, and she flapped her arms like a bird.
"You're flying, Bertie! You're flying!" she heard Ariel say.
She giggled in reply, too overjoyed to speak, too caught up in the sweet sensation of flight.
Ariel's winds chased after her, helping her to fly even higher, sending her hair tumbling over her eyes. When Ariel exhaled, a swarm of flame-colored butterflies rose from within his shirt collar and surrounded Bertie in a cloud of fluttering wings, tickling her cheeks. They flocked after her, settling on her outstretched arms and her shoulders to ride the winds with her.
All she could feel was the dizzying swoop and rush of air as she flew.
"Do you want to come down?" Ariel called to her, a hint of teasing in his voice.
"No!" laughed Bertie as she circled the stage once more.
I never want to come down...never want to stop flying....
But suddenly, the Stage Manager barreled onstage, red-faced and shouting, in an explosion of globs of frosting and sprinkles, hounding four certain giggling fairies before him.
"Miscreants! Hooligans! You're never allowed in the Green Room ever again after this! You bunch of little--"
But before the Stage Manager could complete the derogatory term, he caught sight of Bertie, swooping across the stage in her harness like a carefree bird.
"What in God's name is going on here?!"
A/N: Yay! The very first "Eyes Like Stars" fanfiction is complete! Thanks for reading!
Now go on down and hit that review button. Yes, the one with the green letters. Make me happy and submit a review, okay? :D
Oh yeah, and perhaps you can write some "Eyes Like Stars" fanfiction of your own, as well. :)