A/N: Inspired by two arts by Meriko-chan over at dA. The first one, titled "Fairy Tale" depicts a tragic scene, and that is explained further in this fic as well as in her descriptions. The second one, "Waiting" was originally unrelated to "Fairy Tale", but because of a comment, the images and stories were linked. I knew then I had to write it out so that the true ending for this fantasy AU Fai and Kurogane would end happily. So in a nutshell, the backstory is completely Meriko-chan's idea and what goes on after are things I fleshed out. This is a one-shot and I do not intend to flesh out more on this.
To see her art:
"Fairy Tale": meriko-chan (dot) deviantart (dot) com (slash) gallery (slash) ?q=fairy+tale# (slash) d3blxxt
"Waiting": meriko-chan (dot) deviantart (dot) com (slash) gallery (slash) ?q=fairy+tale# (slash) d47ife7
He was gone.
His whole body trembled as he held the still dragon in his arms, the noble and compassionate creature that sacrificed his life to save him.
His only friend was gone.
"I'm so sorry," the young wizard spoke in his mind so he and the departed creature were the only ones who could hear him.
"If only you could have lived longer," he wept out loud as several teardrops landed on the dragon's head.
When I was born they said that as soon as I opened my eyes the midwife and everyone else surrounding the bed were left speechless.
You see, my eyes were a brilliant shade of red - crimson to be precise - and they were unusual. Nobody in the existence of the kingdom had ever had eyes as red as mine and so it could only mean two or three things. The color of my eyes was a sign of the demon or it meant that I possessed unusual talent. If it was the mark of the Devil, they feared that I would have to be killed so as to not spread misfortune in the kingdom. But if I passed the test that I wasn't born with a curse, then it would prove I had something of worthy value and I would be taken to the king to be offered a valuable service. But either way, whatever fate had in store for me would be terrible news for my parents. No matter how it worked out, they would lose me, their first child.
I was only an infant when the council had the nerve to test me to see what I really was to be born into this world with wicked eyes, so I do not remember what the test was like or how brutal it was. However, since I was still alive to this day it meant I was not a child of the Devil and therefore it could only mean I was blessed with great powers, most likely sorcery. And yet the greatest of the king's magicians carefully assessed my supposedly untapped skills and deducted that what I possessed was not simple magic, but it was something more cunning and powerful.
Afraid of what I possessed may prove to be too strong for even the king's disposal, the council explicitly told my parents to keep me locked at home at all times. I would be forbid to ever leave the confines of the cottage for fear that if anyone found me – the boy with red eyes – I would be taken away and used for malpractice. My parents had no choice but to oblige to the council's decision. And so I was constantly kept in the cottage with any provisions my parents left me so I could pass time on my own. At first I was used to it over the years as it meant I didn't have to attend the local school so I was able to read on any subject I wanted to. I could play in the back garden so long as I was discreet and didn't bring unwanted attention. But I had my curfews and could only stay outside for specific times.
But most of all, I realized I was lonely.
I couldn't have friends. The only people I knew were my parents, and, bless their souls; they did the best they could to keep me company to make up for everything I would never have. They would always reassure me that it was better this way – that it was better than being taken away to the castle and never see them again or even worse, dead, because of my unusual eye color. If I could never have friends then at least I have my parents' unconditional love. It was the least I could be awfully grateful for. And I lived my life that way until I was nearing fourteen, the age that boys were considered men. It was a huge moment, a milestone if you will. Normally all boys who are nearing the coming of age were invited to participate in a communal ceremony to announce to the gods that these boys have fortunately made it to become great men. But of course I was not allowed to be a part of it. But even so, my parents insisted on celebrating in some way, so we decided to do it our own way.
I made a simple wish – to go outside. For the first time in my life, I was able to step outside of the cottage past my curfew, and into the faded evening.
It was the last time I would ever be in the confines of the cottage…
Because that same evening, we were invaded.
And they murdered my mother and father right in front of my eyes.
Murdered the only people who would ever be the ones that were allowed to love me for who I was and not for what powers were hidden in me.
My captors informed me I could only take one possession. My family used to serve in the castle as knights, but those days have long passed – and so I chose my family sword. Its hilt was immaculately carved in the shape of dragon with its wings spread to serve as the grip. The dragon was created with silver steel, polished caringly with care and devotion by my father after he sparingly used it. But when I picked it up, I lost it. It was my fault that my parents died because I wanted to step outside for selfish reasons and so at that moment everything went blurry…
I didn't remember clearly what happened, but all I knew was that when I gained consciousness again I was out somewhere in the woods, panting heavily in the early morning. My family sword was in my hands and it was purely bloodstained. There was blood on my hands.
Everything came back to me. An evening that was supposed to be happy, so joyous was marred by invaders who were coming after me, and it was because of me my parents died. I always wished to find a way to leave the cottage so that I could be like any other boy. But now after everything that had happened, I lost the people who could protect me from danger. I was furious at the gods, furious that I was born with the accursed red eyes. I stormed around the area, wanting to hit something so badly. If my existence was meant to bring harm to the people I loved, then there was no point in ever hoping that someone else would accept me for who I was and not for what my red eyes inferred.
It was then that I tripped over something and it brought me back to reality once again. Scrambling to get up, I saw that it was a knapsack with the emblem of my family. I must have had taken it along with the sword from home. I bit my tongue at the thought of home. If I had ran away, it meant I could never return. Besides, there was nobody back there to greet me, I thought icily. Brushing those painful things aside, I took a look inside. It only had one content in it, which was a book filled with the kingdom's history and legends. My mother would always tell me stories from it at bedtime when I was younger because it was the best way for me to experience the outside world I assumed I would never have the opportunity to see and breathe. She was dead now, and so was my father. I clutched her book and his sword close to me, wondering why on earth those tears could not come out of me when everything still hurt.
The morning breeze picked up and the book fluttered open. I tried to press it shut but the wind unrelentingly continued. When at last it died down, I stared at the passage that was lying open, waiting to be read. Squinting to make out the lines, it stated that it was a story about a boy and a dragon. Intrigued and oddly comforted by it, I began reading it.
There was a legend of a boy born with brilliantly blue eyes that foretold great magical powers. So great that he was abducted from his home one evening and was taken away to a castle ruled by a tyrannical lord. The boy was not merely cruelly abused for he was provided a modest room and excellent food. However, the lord had wished to use the boy and his magic powers for his own purposes and so he explicitly forbid the boy to speak for that was the way strong magic users like him were able to cast their spell. With no choice after being beaten occasionally the young wizard complied with the lord's order and would only speak when commanded.
At the time there were few dragons remaining. But they were a proud and noble race and were imbued with wisdom and the capacity for magic. There was a young dragon of the Red Clan who was much-as-so wise and cunning. He had always been fascinated by the humans and so he would occasionally go people-watching. Because he had innate magical abilities, he was able to detect human magic users. The red dragon latched onto the tower of the tyrannical lord's castle and startled the boy. But because of his ability the dragon was able to reassure the boy he meant no harm using picture and images to silently communicate with him. Trusting the dragon, the boy let him be taken out and flown around the countryside.
The boy and the dragon instantly became friends for each had always wanted companions. The boy would speak about the horrors and cruelty he was subjected to and the dragon listened to him patiently. The dragon would then tell about humanity and all its beauty and ugliness. He would then tell the boy that he should be free to express any feelings he had, be it joy or sorrow or anger or courage. The boy was overwhelmed at the dragon's kindness and words of wisdom and so he was happy to be taken away from the tower forever.
But alas, their friendship and the boy's freedom were severed all too soon.
One night when they were sleeping in a cave, beasts were unleashed upon them from the same lord that had ransomed the young wizard. Unguarded, the boy was threatened to be taken back as a sword was held to his throat. But in order to leave him unharmed, the dragon willingly let him be bind and brutally injured. Screaming in anguish and horror and anger for his friend's sufferings, the boy unleashed waves of magic that swirled around the room, immediately killing all of the beasts and men except for him. Released from his hold, the boy scrambled to the dragon.
But it was too late.
The dragon was dying and the boy crept and cradled his head in his arms, weeping and mourning for his only friend. The red dragon managed to whisper his goodbyes before he and the surrounding blood turned to stone gray, leaving the boy alone.
Just then, other knights ran into the cavern after hearing the commotion. Eyeing the hide and blood that may prove valuable, the knights withdrew their swords and hungrily went for the great prize. However, the boy, seething with anger and pain, finally opened his mouth and spoke for the first time on his own will. He sent a spell at the knights, instantly wiping them out. He tore them apart as much as they tore his heart apart.
And so the young wizard had found his voice…
It was a miracle that I was able to fight back tears while reading this. In the end, I let them fall and rounds of them splashed onto the crusted folds of the pages. Unable to hold it in any longer, I hurled the book aside and lay in the grass, gasping for breath and being bewildered by my strong emotions.
It was because I could relate to that boy – that young wizard. Like me he was prized as a weapon and not a human. Like me he had no company saved for his dragon companion. Like me, his only source of company and the one that accepted him for who he was and not for his powers were killed.
Why were the gods willing to let the hunger for power overcome the love for a human? Why were they willing to wrestle with humanity? Even though dragons were gone from this world, their wisdom was still needed. I didn't know who I was mad at anymore. It was more that I was angry at so many people. I was angry at the council for punishing me. I was angry at the bastards who murdered my family. I was angry at that lord who took that boy away. I was angry that they killed the dragon who loved the boy as much as he loved it back.
We were denied the right to be free because of our powers. We were denied the freedom to be happy and to love. All of a sudden, I wished I could meet that boy, even though the events described had to have happened at least a century ago. If I ever got the chance to meet him, I would let him know the same the dragon had told him. I would tell him I went through the same experience – although now my only option was to keep running and hiding so I wouldn't be used for evil intents.
Maybe, I thought as my body urged for sleep, maybe if I could find a way.
I was somewhere in the field, but it was not the same as the one I just found myself in. All of a sudden, my range of vision had been enhanced for I was taller than what I ordinarily was. I keep hearing a voice – and it sounded so pained, but alive at the same time.
I looked around trying to find that voice until I spotted someone else sitting in front of me. It was a boy about my age. His complexion was pale and wispy golden hair framed around his face. But his eyes – they were stunningly blue. The voice came back again and I realized it was this mysterious boy speaking, but without having to open his mouth.
"I really don't know what my name is."
Before I knew it, I spoke without opening my mouth as well.
"How about we come up with one?"
The boy looked at me curiously. "I don't know any," he said with uncertainty.
"Ever heard of fairies?" I spoke again.
For a moment, he looked surprised that I changed the subject. "Yes. They're often hidden. I've never seen one before."
Suddenly, there was a floating ball of light surrounding nearby.
"Well, take a look."
He then looked over where the light was and gasped in delight. "No…a fairy, but how?"
"Because you are simply innocent and pure," I explained. "Despite the horrors you've been through, you still have a good heart, Fai."
"Fai…are you talking about me?" the boy asked, pointing at himself.
"Yes, Fai for fairy. The name fits you well."
"Because," I snorted, "fairies are known to possess magic, silly Fai. And they can fly too. So that hopefully someday, when you are free, Fai, you can fly away."
The blue eyed boy looked at me in awe and suddenly tears were pooling around his eyes. "I love that name. I'll be Fai then."
He started to cry and came closer to me. To my surprise, when I went to wrap an arm around him, I realized it wasn't an arm at all.
It was a red wing with talons gently grasping the boy who was sobbing. But he was happy.
I woke up, expecting to see the boy. But he was nowhere to be seen. Nor was I a dragon anymore from my dreams. But in that dream I wasn't just a dragon and he wasn't just a boy. I was a red dragon and the boy had blue eyes. Did I just dream that I was the red dragon from that historical story and that boy Fai was that wizard? Dreams were dreams, but…why did it felt really familiar being the dragon he called Red? It all seemed really vivid, because none of those details were mentioned in the story at all – nor was the fabled boy's name. And besides, I was a human after all and not a dragon.
Rubbing my eyes, I trudged over to where the book was left sprawling after I tossed it in anger earlier. After picking it up I thumbed through the pages to find that story again. I whizzed through it so fast that I barely saw the words and had to stop myself. But then I saw that the accompanying page filled with illustrations for the story was carefully folded at the corner. So I decided to take a peek at it. Sure enough there was an illustration of the majestic, red dragon that was supposed to be the one that died to save the boy. But what caught my eye were the notes inscribed next to it. Squinting further, I recognized the tiny, neat handwriting of my mother. My throat tightened at the mere thought of Mother. I wanted to shut the book, but I knew well that Mother never wrote in books unless it was necessary. Maybe she wanted it to be read. Yes…so for her sake, I looked at the illustration again.
She circled the hide of the dragon and traced it to a line.
"Hide and eyes are same…must never learn…" was all she wrote.
The words didn't seem to make sense, and it was so brief. I kept rereading it over and over again, trying to find any clues. "Hide and eyes are same…must never learn; hide and eyes are same…must never learn…"
And then it hit me. My eyes were red for a reason. But there was no way, no way things like that would happen, not what my mother suspected.
She suspected I was the reincarnation – the human reincarnation of that fabled red dragon.
Was that why my parents told me the strongest magician in the king's council informed them all that I had more hidden powers than just magic? That perhaps I housed some remnants of dragon's powers and if properly unlocked could be used for good or bad?
If so, whether or not I carried some dragon powers in me, I stood up with a renewed vow. I would never let anybody use me for whatever intentions. I would choose what I want to do. And there were several of them.
For one, I needed to keep traveling. I could never stay at a place far longer than needed otherwise I would risk myself getting captured as the prized "the boy with red eyes". And I would go wherever I knew I could protect others like me and Fai from falling into similar circumstances. It was the only thing left for me to do. The last one was something I had no idea if I would ever reach.
I wanted to see Fai again.
If he was a powerful wizard as the tale boasted and what my dream suggested, he should be able to live a really long lifespan. But even so, I wanted to see Fai, as the reincarnation of this Red or not. If anything, I wondered if he was able to be free, like his namesake.
No matter what happened, no matter where I took myself rather than what others dictated; I wanted to see Fai again.
And so, feeling unusually renewed after losing my parents and running off after killing the invaders, I picked up the book and sword and walked off to wherever the road will take me.
I will wait.
"Ginryuu, it seems that we need you to man the castle once again."
I eyed the serene princess standing up from her throne. "Yes, Your Highness."
She smiled. "Very well then, off you go. Beware of strangers," she cautioned with her clairvoyant tone.
I bowed once again and headed out of the throne room with Ginryuu by my side. Yes, I had been going by the name of my father's sword, the sword with the dragon hilt. It was ironic how dragons were present in my blood, in my father's sword and in my alias. After I made that vow many, many years ago, I decided to hide my true name that my parents gave me in order to hide. It was very hard at first to be sly. I could not hide my eyes to conceal my identity because then I would not be able to see. But somehow I did it for over the last century.
Because you see, I had been masquerading as a twenty-one year old experienced warrior for that long. When I reached that certain age, I never continued aging. A part of me suspected it was the magic of the dragon stored in my blood. But another part of me suspected it was because of that boy. I kept having more dreams of my past life as the dragon Red. They became even more vivid, and eventually I kept revisiting the horror of dying in his arms. It was always painful to watch Fai suffer and weep over my past self's fading life. Every time I woke up, my face was full of sweats and tears running down past my chin. I would always silently mouth out my past self's final words of farewell to Fai.
"If only you could be free at last, my fairy."
I had been waiting all these one hundred years, waiting to see if I would ever run into Fai again. He was bound to outlive many others as much as I did. I had no idea where he was or what he was up to. But just like my former self, I hoped he was freed and doing well. If he was alive, it would mean it'd been two hundred years he had been left to fend himself after my former self died.
And still, I waited.
I stood there watching the sun setting beyond the horizon. Soon it became dark and the stars came out. The night sky was peaceful as I simply stood on the turrets overlooking the castle. This was the Kingdom of Shirasagi and I had recently convinced the reigning queen that I was fit to serve here. The queen's youngest sister was gifted with the power of clairvoyance and she had seen my arrival in her dreams, thus I was allowed to stay here. Now that a century had past I no longer had to worry about people recognizing me as the boy with the red eyes and as someone who could be mistreated carelessly. Still, I had let the princess known that if I do not find that someone I've been waiting for I will have to retire from my post. She simply understood and I was blessed to be acquainted with a wise and graceful royal figure.
The moon was full tonight, I realized. Just like how the past haunted me in my dreams, I blurred my past with the present. Apparently when my former self took Fai away from the tower they had flown to the top of a hill and observed the rising full moon in all of its majesty. And now here I was, watching the same moon in all of its glory
Just then, I detected a looming figure. Grabbing my hand over the hilt of Ginryuu, I turned around to find a person enshrouded in a cloak with a hood over the head. There was something odd about this person. If this person was able to make it all the way to this turret, that meant he got through the other knights. And yet, there were no alarms of an intruder, or any signs or smell of blood from this hooded figure. But still, I had to keep my guard.
"You have just met the strongest knight of Shirasagi Castle," I warned the intruder, withdrawing my sword. "You must face the consequences."
"You're also not only good with the sword. You have hidden powers as well."
This man…he had just spoken to me telepathically. I grabbed onto Ginryuu even harder. "I have no idea what you are talking about," I responded with my voice.
Because he must be have been after me. And I was ready to defend my life, my free will once again.
"You lie. I know you're afraid. I have been waiting… and at last found someone who's like me. But don't worry, Sir…for we are alike."
Before I knew it, gloved hands went up and removed the hood off and for a moment I saw a flicker of light hair, hair as light as the sun. His eyes were still closed.
Could it be?
"Open your eyes," I commanded, still having my sword out at the ready in case.
"Very well then." Just as I said, he calmly opened his eyes.
For the first time, I now understood why the midwife and those other people were speechless when I first opened my eyes. But his eyes were not actually red like mine.
They were blue. Brilliantly blue.
Over the years I had travelled I had never encountered eyes as blue as his. They were the same blue that had haunted my dreams for the last century, for as long as I could remember. It was him. It had to be him.
"What?" He raised his eyebrows alarmingly, startled by my rather off-beat reaction.
I began to sheathe the sword and smiled.
"I have been waiting for you…Fai."
Fai opened his mouth in shock, struggling to speak out loud. Everything in him wanted to ask me how I knew him – how I even knew his name. Even he couldn't speak telepathically out of sheer surprise.
"I see," I continued, "that the name still fits you very well.
"How…how do you know that?" he asked silently, keeping his guard up.
I snorted. "Fairies are known to possess magic, like you do. And they can fly too. Now I know that you were able to fly too, Fai."
I stepped closer to him, in hopes that he would recognize me. It was hard, I supposed, to see a dragon in a human like I was.
"It was what one you knew very well had always wished. You had been freed, I see."
I saw him looking at my eyes now, lips trembling at everything I was saying to him.
"Fai…it's me." My heart was pounding so fast. "Please speak to me."
Fai stood there, staring at my red eyes and most likely connecting the words I had said to the words of his old and beloved friend. His blue eyes enlarged at the sudden connection forming in his head.
I nodded. I gently held his hands and put it on my face so he could inspect my red eyes. He knew what I wanted him to do and so he looked into them as if he was reading a familiar map that was leading him to his final destination.
"I…im…impossible," he stuttered, shaking his head. "Yo…your…kind c-can't be re-reborn."
He suddenly let out go of my face and placed his hands over his face, running over it with his mouth still wide open. "It…it can't be…"
"Can't be what?" I asked him, willing to wait to hear him explain.
"I…my…wish…" he ruminated. "Red…I…when you died…"
He gulped, took a breath, and continued. "If only you could have lived longer," he whispered boldly. "Without knowing it…I had wished…for you to …"
Wait, what did he say?
But instead of weeping in joy as I hoped he would, he started shaking his head. "No…it can't be…nothing ever happened because of what I wanted," he spluttered.
"How do I know you're really Red?" he implored. "For two hundred years I have dream about him, so how do I know you're really Red?"
"Say that wish again," I prodded him, grabbing his shoulders.
"I…I wished for Red to have lived longer," he answered. I let those words sink into my head, and suddenly, now I knew why everything happened the way it was.
"No wonder…" I trailed off. "No wonder I was reborn and lived so long."
"What are you talking about?" Fai asked.
"I have no magic after all, Fai," I explained, trembling as well. "I could never practice magic that was inside of me. All that time, your magic lived in me so I could be reborn and live long enough for us to reunite."
"I'm sorry…if you wanted to have died…" Fai was crying. "I u-understand if you wanted to have died like other dragons."
"No! Look, I…" I took a deep breath. "Don't you see? I have been waiting. Waiting to find out if you were free as I had wished on my past life's dying words."
"Wh-what do you mean?" Fai choked on a loud sob.
At last, the words I kept dreaming about tumbled out of my mouth as I pressed our foreheads together. "'If only you could be free at last', Fai, was what I said. But now I know."
I started crying as well before I knew it, and our wet eyes met each other.
"All those times you have been freed. And I couldn't have wanted more than that for you, my fairy."
"My fairy," were the affectionate words for Fai, and were the very last words I had said in my former life. I knew the way Fai struggled to speak that I had convinced him at last that I was the same Red as the dragon who loved him for who he was and not for his powers.
"Red!" he threw his arms around me, crying even louder, "it's really you then." I choked back tears as well.
"Yes," I assured him, patting his back, "although in this self, I'm Kurogane."
Kurogane was my true name my parents gave me a very long time ago. And the last time I ever said my true name out loud was far before that tragic night.
"Ku-kuro-gane," Fai stuttered. He finally smiled and it warmed my heart. "Can I keep calling you Red?"
A huge part of me had wanted that badly as well, but still… "Oh fine!" I scoffed.
Fai laughed. For the first time he was laughing and it was wonderful to hear. "Oh Red, you're really still gruff sometimes as I remembered."
"Tch, silly Fai," I retorted as I wrapped my arms around his waist. "I have a request though."
He looked up at me happily. "Yes, Red?"
"Would you…" All of a sudden, my words were cut off from me.
"Your tongue's tied?" he teased.
"Just shut up," I shot back, flushing madly. I coughed to resume. "Would you stay with me?"
"Here?" he asked with his mouth gaping open, waving an arm around the castle.
"Yes…and no." His eyebrows rose at my ambiguity. "If, for ever any reason I have to leave Shirasagi, promise me you'll come with me."
I really did mean it. And when he looked at me again absorbing the request I had just made, I knew he knew.
"Of course," Fai breathed into my chest, sobbing again. "For my Red, I will. I will never dream of leaving you."
At last, after waiting for a century, I have found him. Perhaps it was the dragon spirit running in me, but ever since I could remember I had always wanted to protect someone or something. And so I have finally found the person I wanted to protect forever.
"Me neither, my fairy," I whispered, leaning down to press our lips together.
Two hundred years ago my former self and Fai had sat atop a hill after I had relentlessly freed him from his imprisonment. We had admired the full moon as friends. Tonight we met again under the same full moon as bounded soulmates.