AN: My first "Stardust" fanfic! One-shot. 'nough said, I guess.
In all his eight years of life, Tristran Thorn thought he'd never seen anything so spectacularly beautiful.
The feeling it stirred up in him from the tips of his toes all the way to his ears (which prickled with a strange hotness, especially the right one-the 'deformed' one) to his hair follicles, was-by most standards-unreal, or other worldly. To him, in his heart and gut and innermost kidneys, it felt like a relief; as if he were longing for something that was, although only for a few moments at a time, finally satisfied.
His over-all pleasure, perhaps, is best explained when compared to how most boys of his age would feel if they were far, far away from home, and happened, by pure accident, to look at a painting of their family's old farmhouse, or else to behold some trinket that had belonged to their mother or grandmother.
Tristran didn't know it, he was too young to understand, but part of him was always homesick-not for the village of Wall, where he and his parents and sister had lived all their lives, nor for the place where the relatives he'd recently visited (whom he barely knew, even after spending time with them) lived; rather, he longed for a place he didn't remember and so did not think he'd ever known.
What it was that was touching him so deeply, as if lightning bolts from the sky above were striking randomly at his soul, was a glass globe.
This glass globe was no ordinary 'pretty thing' bought from a local store or traveling merchant, nor even was it something sought after and gotten from as far away as Ipswich. Actually, it came from closer-by. But, at the same time, it was rarer and far more valuable than it would have been had it come from anywhere else. It could have been imported from London, or Paris France, and it wouldn't have been nearly as special. As it was, for what it was, the glass globe was utterly priceless.
Behind the old stone wall for which their village was named, Tristran had always known-because his father and mother told him (though he noticed his mother didn't like to talk about it, saying things like, "Dunstan, that's enough now, I'm sure Tristran doesn't want to hear any more about it," which of course meant that she herself didn't want to hear about it in front of Tristran for some unexplained reason but would be caught telling his sister about it later)-was Faerie itself.
And once, every nine years, on May Day, there was a fair that took place just on the fringes of the other side: the meadow you came to immediately after crossing through the single gap in the wall.
Because he hadn't even been alive nine years, Tristran had never seen a Faerie fair and was naturally curious. Even though his sister Louisa had been excited, too, her eagerness paled in comparison to his. He pestered his father with question after question about what it was like, after Dunstan had made the unfortunate mistake of mentioning that he himself had gone to the fair on the other side of the wall nine years ago. His mother, Daisy, had been there as well, it turned out, but she didn't seem to have as many memories of it as his father did. And Tristran was almost a little afraid to ask her, not liking that weird look that crossed her face tiresomely every time he brought up what lay on the other side of the wall.
His mother got wind of all this and there was a lot of anxious-at times, even angry-whispering between Daisy and Dunstan that Tristran and Louisa had not understood and so had not concerned themselves with, only to find out that the result of it was that Tristran was to visit some distant relatives of theirs for bit, like a vacation.
Oh, and, 'purely coincidently', the time of his suddenly very urgent visit that could not possibly be postponed over-lapped onto the day of the fair in Faerie; so Tristran could not attend.
While Tristran had a day-long ride that made his bottom hurt followed by hollowly coughed greetings from the relatives, some of which had taken ill and forgotten to send word to Daisy asking her not to send Dunstan's boy to them after all, Louisa was off, gay as an elf, her cheeks flushed with the thrill of rare adventure, trotting along-side her mother as they crossed the wall into Faerie.
Tristran's cheeks flushed, too, but not from joy or excitement; he was angry for one, and he caught the measles for another.
What Tristran didn't know, and wouldn't have cared about in his sullen, momentarily self-centered childish mind even if he did, yet would have found, perhaps, a little interesting as an older lad, was that his father didn't go that year, either.
Dunstan had kissed his wife and daughter goodbye, then he had sat alone on his front porch. An hour later, a very petite cat crossed his path and the man found himself gazing fixatedly at the creature's ears, remembering something-someone. He wouldn't tell Daisy, of course. He never had, though she must have suspected…because of Tristran…but Dustan was a quiet man, and he didn't volunteer what plagued his mind and heart freely; he never had and probably never would.
Getting back to Louisa, which is what mattered, she was allowed to pick out one thing for her mother to buy as a treat for her. The rule was only that it must not be outlandish, so costly that they couldn't afford it even just this once, and it couldn't be faerie food or drink-which was too risky.
She was only a manner of months younger than her brother, but she usually acted older-superior, even. This time, though, she acted like an ordinary seven-going-on-eight year old girl would, and picked the brightest pretty thing she could find that didn't go against her mother's rules.
That thing was the glass globe.
And what a remarkable thing it was! It had a base of dark gold in-laid with tiny crystal beads. In twilight, it had specks of light that glittered and flashed; and at night, it glowed yellow and blue, almost like starlight, and brightly lit up the room she and Tristran shared.
"It's so beautiful," Tristran said aloud, reaching out to touch the glass gingerly with his pinky finger.
Louisa, who had been sitting on her own bed, reading some verse they were supposed to learn for school (it was light prose, not poems, that night), whipped her head round and glared at him.
He ignored her and his finger continued the journey to the globe.
She let out a shriek, hopped off her bed, flinging the book she was studying aside, and snatched the globe away, holding it out of his reach. "Don't touch it!"
"I'm not going to hurt it," said Tristran. "I'd've never try to break it or nothing; I only wanted to…" His voice trailed off. He didn't know what he had wanted. Only that he loved the thing-admired it-and had wondered what it would feel like under the very tip of his small finger.
"I don't care what you wanted!" Louisa huffed, still clutching the globe to herself. "It isn't yours. It's mine, and it's the nicest thing I own."
"I wouldn't hurt it," he repeated, quite pathetically, his face white with shock and from only recently getting over being flushed from the measles, his expression dejected.
"I don't like the way you look at it, neither," she told him, tossing back her bright hair. "Like you're a wolf and it's a wounded lamb or somthing."
Had he been looking at it like that? He hadn't realized. Only, the feeling he felt when he stared at that glass globe was similar to being hungry, he supposed, sort of.
"I didn't get to go to the fair," he reminded her. "And I've been so sick."
She looked a little kinder. "I know you've been ill, and I did say I was sorry about that. Loaned you my favourite blanket and everything, didn't I? When you were cold, I did. You can't say I didn't. But this is not your globe, and I'll never give it to you."
"I wasn't going to take it," her brother insisted, his brow furrowing. "You know that."
"I know," she said. "I just…I'm sorry…some things just aren't yours, Tristran. Maybe you'll get to go to the next one. If you do, I'll ask Mum especially for you to get a globe of your own, I promise. How's that, then?"
Tristran bit his lip and tried not to cry. Louisa wasn't a bad sister, she could be a little selfish at times, and she loved to tease him more than she should have, which could hurt, but for the most part she was-deep down-good. The problem was that she had cut him deep, this time, without fully knowing it; because to a boy who wants his heart's desire and is not old enough to seek it in a lady, having to pin his dreams on a place he's never been, being told you can go somewhere you almost went but didn't, but that you have to wait nine years is devastating.
Nine years…Louisa might just as well have said he had to wait a hundred years to have a globe of his own, a globe he was allowed to touch. To an eight year old, nine years and nine thousand years might as well be the same.
Besides, it wasn't the globe in itself that he wanted, he just didn't know that at the time. It was something that lay beyond the wall; like the globe, maybe a little bit, but bigger.
Louisa went to bed contented, though she kept the glass globe on her side of the room and always seemed to know when Tristran crept over there, peeking an eye open at him and hissing, "No," so that he couldn't touch it on the sly.
There was a stub of a formally-tall tallow candle left in their open bedroom window. Getting up to close the window so that he didn't catch a chill and get sick all over again, or worse, Louisa catch something and Mother be angry and blame him for being careless as an elder brother, Tristran focused his tear-blurred eyes on the little yellow flame.
It winked out as he reached it, leaving a faint curl of smoke in the air.
He looked up, out the window, as he reached for the latch, and caught sight of the stars.
He didn't know they watched earth; and he didn't know that the one star he thought, for a passing moment, was shinning a little brighter than the others, casting a bluish-white glow down on the stone wall, which Tristran could just see if he craned his neck a little, would come back into his life several years later when he finally would get his chance to cross from Wall into Faerie.
AN: Please review and tell me what you thought!