This was my entry for the Slash Writers Workshop Christmas In My Hometown Competition.
I am very shocked my entry came second in the competition and won most original. Thanks to my pre reader Arc Morpheus and my beta on this, sue273.
Big thanks to the judges of the competition Delphius Fanfic, Nat Wood, Nancy HarryTwifan, and Malice Lash, and JA Mash who made the brilliant banner.
Disclaimer: I own nothing, only the plot.
"Can I please come this time, Felix?" Alice calls, trying to catch up with me as I speed ahead through the falling snow, dodging as many falling flakes as I can in an effort to escape the park and reach my destination.
I dart under a nearby tree so we can be shielded from the snowflakes, allowing me to be able to stop to talk to my friend, and tell her how she has to go back home, back to the community. "Sorry Alice, but you know I can't allow you to come with me. You know how I do..."
"This every year, and it is your only moment to yourself," she interrupts, finishing my sentence while kicking the small branch we stand on. "But please let me come. I won't let him see me! Please, please, please!"
I turn to my small friend as she removes the hat I once made for her out of sheep's wool, revealing her short, spiky, mud-coloured hair. She smiles at me, that smile which works on the Elders of the community, but not me. I have learned not to fall for her charms. Knowing how this never works on me, she begins to flutter her sparkling wings and pouts.
She actually thinks this will work on me.
I fold my arms and frown at my friend. Why does she try to do this to me every year? Why does she always beg to be a part of the one thing I claim as my own?
"Sorry Alice, but you know the rules!" I say sternly. "Not until you are older, and besides, I have earned the right to have Winter Solstice off. I only leave the community once a year on non-fairy matters. This is my treat. Would you deny me this?" I offer her the same pout she gave me, mocking her slightly.
Even though I can see a red tinge appearing in her wings from anger, I can tell by her face how she is trying to regain control, to allow me my night off and be the friend I know she is.
It's true though, I have earned this right. Ever since I was found as a young one in the newly growing lily, I have done what the community has asked. I have protected the village and the other fairies from predators, helped in the gathering of herbs from the gardens around the city, and aided with the change of each season.
More importantly, I once saved them all!
So my reward has always been this one day a year to myself. Every Winter Solstice I get to have the day away from my duties to celebrate the magic of Yule in my own way. I choose to see him, see the once small boy who doesn't realise my kind exist! As long as I never interact, it is okay, the Elders allow it.
I live with my community under a large oak tree in the middle of a park, surrounded by enough foliage that we go unseen by the human folk that have built their world around ours. We let them believe that this city is theirs and that only humans live in the town called Morley, not far from Leeds. Their naivety is what keeps us thriving, keeps our numbers in the hundreds. Our community is just one of many that live in cities, hiding away from the wandering eyes of humans as we do what we were born to do – to keep things growing and make sure nature thrives.
There are those times though, when man steps over the warnings of our mushroom circles, and enters into our world... as he so innocently once did.
I remember that day so well; the day he came crawling under the bush that surrounded our home, the terror he inflicted upon the other fairies who were shocked by this small giant who had unknowingly invaded us, his giggling being misunderstood as a battle cry. The Elders wanted his crime to be punished the way all trespassers should be punished - by turning him into a toad. But when I looked into those deep, dark, innocent eyes, something snapped within me.
Back then, I was still young. In fact, too young to have a say after only seventy years in this world, but something inside told me I had to save him and to get him back to his own kind. I convinced the Elders that he would never remember, as he was still an infant. I promised to get him back home and away from our small community.
And I did just that!
I managed to get the small boy's attention by flying around his head, dodging his excited hands as he reached out for me in play. I had his undivided attention enough so that I could lead him from the village and back into the park. Back to his frantic parents, people who couldn't see someone like me for looking. That was evidence to me that humans don't see my kind anymore. At least, not when they grow out of their innocence and allow the world of technology to devour them completely. As soon as they are out of what they call 'teens', they see nothing of our small world.
When his mother pulled him into her arms, cradling her almost lost child, I made my departure to the chorus of his screams for me, his arms reaching out in my direction. I knew then that I didn't want to leave him and I made a small vow to check on him whenever I could, and thankfully, the Elders were agreeable. I do wonder if that would ever have stopped me, if I had gone to him anyway. I guess I will never know.
For my community and me, it is both a blessing and a curse that people cannot see us. This small favour is what keeps them from hunting us down, believing that we are just what they call a fairytale. Unlike their tales of us, we do not die if they no longer believe, but it hurts that the work we do in their gardens goes so unnoticed! How they steal all the glory for how beautiful their lawns and flowers look from our efforts.
Are their huge heads full of nothing but rat droppings?
Do they really think their plants grow as strong as they do because of that stupid plant food they insist on pouring on them?
My people and I are the ones who make sure the bees spread their pollen and that the colour remains in all the leaves which we effortlessly paint. It's we who rise with the dawn while they sleep, making sure the birds sing their songs and eat the right amount of bugs so that their gardens are not over run. We do so much for them, yet they see nothing and believe us to be a myth, just a story to tell children.
We don't really mind though. We do what we do for the love of nature's blessing, so that what is left of the green they don't build upon, it thrives through the big city life.
I used to dream of becoming a country fairy. I longed to spend all my Solstice celebrations flying through meadows, dancing on streams as I drank in fresh country air. But that was before I saved him. Before I spent all my Yule celebrations watching him grow from a small child into the man he is now becoming.
"What are you going to do when he can't see you anymore?" Alice interrupts my thoughts. "Isn't he turning twenty soon? He won't be what they call a 'teenager' for long, and then his eyes will be blind to you."
I glare at my fairy friend, watching as her lip trembles before me. "That... that is why you can't come! This will be my year to say... goodbye." The notion terrifies me. It fills my fairy heart with a pain I knew to expect but never wanted to feel. "Please Alice, let me say goodbye... alone. Go dance and rejoice with the others... for me!"
She walks towards me, pulling her lamb's wool dress around her body for warmth, before offering me her sweet smile. I know she is trying to hide her sadness for me. I know how she doesn't want my light to go out, for me to become nothing more than dust.
"Just... be careful, Felix. He is older now. If he sees you, well, I don't know what will happen but the Elders say..." I silence her with a hug, tightening her in my embrace.
We each wrap our wings around our embrace - a fairy tradition for a fond farewell. This is an embrace always given to a fairy leaving the community never to return because they move on to another group of fairies when they are needed elsewhere. Yet it is an embrace she always blesses me with regardless knowing the danger I will face in the human house and all the possible ways that could mean my demise.
"Don't I always come back?" I say, leaning my face into her neck. "Don't I always promise not to leave you?"
Without pulling from the small cocoon that is our hug, she whispers into my ear, "I just know that one day you will leave me for good with the Elders. They never let me have fun... not like when I am with you."
I squeeze her tightly, knowing how alone she has felt since a frog ate her sister, Isabella. Each of them was a rare double creation found in a single rose - what the humans call a twin. Sadly, her sister and her clumsiness led to her end. It is always a sad day when one of us perishes, but as expected, Alice took the loss the hardest. She felt what happened to her sister as Isabella fell down that frog's throat and finally became nothing.
"I will come back, Alice. You know I would never leave you," I say, kissing her cheek before we each release our wings.
My heart aches as the silver tears fall from her eyes and over her pink skin. Even with the smile on her cherry red lips, I still feel even sadder for her. I follow the motion of her now fluttering wings as we each prepare to take our flight in separate directions. "I will see you in the morrow, Alice. Tonight is just the night before. The real celebration is when I will return and I promise to bring you a great Solstice gift."
She smiles at me - a real smile this time. "Some spider silk?"
I grin, winking at her once before we each put our first two fingers to our lips as we give our salute and take flight back into the falling flakes.
Keeping my eyes alert for any pending dangers, I place my hand to the belt that holds my knife, before flying higher into the darkening sky, going no higher than the passing roof tops. Without the summer birds who are predators to me, I dart towards my destination - the large house in the middle of many. The home he has grown up in for so long.
I muse at all the sparkling lights on the outer and inner of the houses. All decorated for a celebration different to the one my kind enjoys. One of exchanging wrapped parcels, gorging on food and drink and never really knowing why they do it all. Yes, their ways are very different to the old ways my kind follow - the ones of celebrating the gift of nature and the changing of a season. I always wonder if they receive the same joy we fairies get from Solstice time.
As expected, the streets are empty of humans, all hidden in the warmth of their homes as the falling snow blankets the city. I dodge the large flakes, making sure not too many fall on me and dampen my ice blue wings, knowing how much it will slow me down if they become heavy with damp snow. I grin at the small heaps of snow some human children have turned into men, and make a mental note to do this with Alice tomorrow.
Within no time at all, I reach my destination. The small attic window that, since the day of my first visit, has never seemed to close properly so leaving just enough room for me to push my way through into the slightly warm attic.
His room has always been just below the attic - the small room at the back of the house, looking out into the well-tended garden. A garden I have worked in many times myself, trying to fight back the urge to fly over and see him.
I don't really know why he invades my every thought so much, but the Elders say that it's because I saved him, that this act alone is why I feel such a strong connection for the human. I am the first of my kind to get so close to a human, let alone save a human's life, and that is why they say I feel I should return to him on Solstice Eve, regardless of the fact that I never reveal myself to him. I never break the rules by saying even a hello.
When he was a toddler, I did push the limits of the restriction though, flying before his eyes again and again to make the small boy giggle as his parents looked in wonder at their child who apparently laughed at nothing. Yet I never said a hello, I never spoke to him and so broke no rules. Even if I did, whom would he have told? Being only able to say little more than mummy and daddy, I always knew I was safe, but still I uttered nothing more than a giggle.
I brought my own traditions to the small child. Ones I still carry on to this day as I fumble with the small bundle at my side. As a Solstice gift, I would always leave him a true gift. One plucked from nature herself after I thanked her for her blessing, leaving him small treats such as daisies and berries, sometimes even a nut. Each time, I just stood in his room and watched him play with his new toys as a child, evolving into what I learned were called computer games, before he opted for books so he could lose himself in pages of written words. All the time, I sat silently smiling at the young boy who was nearing the age of a man, with my own precious gifts going unnoticed.
This is the last time I can come here. This will be the last year of his innocence. Soon his eyes will be closed to anything more than what man can create. Magic and fairies will just be that of children's stories to him. My kind will become the small women in long gowns carrying wands and granting wishes - the total opposite of what we really are.
The need to show myself to him festers within me, but even if I wanted to reveal myself to him now, I have no idea if he will even see me. He is almost of adult age after all. Somehow, I know I could stab him with my blade, and although he would feel the shoot of pain, he would probably see nothing, as nothing as I am to the small boy I saved from the fate of becoming a toad.
Slipping through the small crack near the light fixture in his room into the semi-it space, I fly to the nearby shelf and hide behind a book as I step over a thick layer of dust. Creeping through the weird collection of items on his shelf, I make my way to the end and peer into his room, my eyes falling upon the boy they call James.
Each Winter Solstice I have sat here, watching the boy grow in size, still with the odd decorations around his room. Ones I see so often in the other homes around this time. Whereas my kind decorate our homes with nuts, leaves and berries, his room is filled with manmade decorations from materials I do not know the name of, but feel so hard to the touch, so unnatural. Human celebrations are so different now from what they were - the way the Elders tell us how humans and fairies used to follow the same path with the same traditions.
Things change I guess. I guess they see more beauty in what they create than what we help Mother Nature give to them.
As I listen to his soft snores, I flutter down to the table beside his bed careful not to make a sound, and hide behind the small nightlight he has had since he was a small child. Even today, he still uses it when he sleeps. Why are humans so afraid of the dark? Their homes never become as dark as sleeping under a tree in the middle of a park, surrounded by the music of the nocturnal; their walls are not so easily penetrated.
Knowing that he is in a deep sleep, I make my way over to him, smiling at the small strands of his light brown hair that have fallen onto his face. I spread my wings as I prepare to fly over the small gap between his bed and table.
Careful Felix! The last thing you want to do is be seen by a human, even if he does have your rat skin pants tightening. My thoughts chatter in my head, letting me know the risks I am taking for a man I could be no more than a child's bedtime story to. You know what might happen if he sees you!
A dark aspect of our folklore comes to mind. One that is told to young fairies to scare them from humans - that if their adult eyes fall upon us we will shatter into a million pieces and become no more than dust. It is just a story, I know it is, yet somehow my flight is the slowest I have ever taken.
I land on the small pillow he rests his head upon, and I take my wool jacket from my body so that I stand with only my pants covering my ice blue skin, my wings falling in place down my back. I tentatively make my way over to his slumber, crouching down before his pink lips to let his cool breath wash over my whole body.
My body delights in the touch of his breath as it dances over my skin. It brings a warm smile to my face as I inhale his sweet essence.
Just looking at his huge lips is enough to have me pulling my wing around and nibbling at it with desire for him. I don't even need to look at his naked chest, which is covered in a film of his perspiration, and with just a thin sheet covering his lower body. My whole body is reacting positively to the changes his body has gone through recently, the sculpted chest that not many of his kind have.
Do all humans up close look this... delicious?
A small whimper from his lips has me taking flight to the ceiling to hide in the light shade, with my knife already in my hand as my defence mode takes over.
"Calm down, Felix, he is just dreaming," I sigh, fluttering back down to where he rests. Taking small steps towards him, I take a deep breath. "I... came to say goodbye, James," I whisper to his subconscious. "Be happy."
I remove his gift from my side; a collection of berries and seeds wrapped in a single rose petal, the flower of love. I place them near the pillow and offer my own fairy blessing to the small bundle.
"My gift from nature is a gift of joy. Let him love all that loves him. Blessed be," I say softly before looking at the small smile now on his face.
Sadly, I turn to leave, collecting my jacket as I walk over to prepare to fly to his table and happily watch him sleep for the final time. My last Winter Solstice with the only human I have ever gotten this close to.
"You are real!"
I freeze at the sound of his voice, hearing the years in him, no longer the softly spoken youth he once was.
The shift in the bed lets me know that his body has moved, warning me that he is awake, but somehow I don't move, don't fly away as I should. More importantly, I am only just realising, I am still whole and my body is not the dust I have been warned about.
He isn't a full adult yet! Be careful, Felix! My mind warns me. He could still snap you in two!
He wouldn't... I know he wouldn't.
"I always knew I didn't dream you!" he says to me again, and instantly I feel my wings extending, almost as if my mind's want of survival is taking control. "No! Please don't leave!"
I may be suicidal, but I remain motionless, my wings still expanded.
"You... remember me?" my voice asks, unsure.
How can he remember me? I only revealed myself to him as a child and I have been so careful not to show myself to him since.
"Not how you look, not really. I just remember your gifts and I somehow knew they came from the small flying boy I played with as a child."
He remembers that much.
Maybe the humans aren't as small-minded as we fairies believe.
"You knew the Solstice gifts were from... me?" I ask, lowering my wings finally, still keeping my body faced away from him.
He is silent for a moment before he speaks again, "Solstice? Is that like Christmas?"
Christ... mas? Is that what the humans call this time of year? The time when they kill and then decorate the trees that we have nurtured from a small sprout, sometimes even sitting an odd representation of what I assume is a fairy on top, and worship that fat, hairy man in the red outfit? Their ways are so different from the ones we fairies follow - all very intriguing, but different all the same. What we use as a time to rejoice in the changing of a season, a time for our community to relax and have fun and thank nature herself, they use to... well... drink that water that makes them behave all funny and fall over.
Humans are... odd!
"What's your name?" he asks, disturbing my thoughts. He asks more questions without waiting for an answer to the last.
I swallow, taking a moment before answering. "Felix," I reply.
His weight shifts in the bed again, but I don't move, don't prepare to fly. "I had a cat named Felix, when I was a small boy... he died." I can hear the pain in his voice.
I knew, of course. I remember how his mother bought him the cat for Solstice... wait... no... Christmas, when he was five human years, only for it to be killed the following summer by a passing car. I broke some rules then, gave up on my summer duties as I watched the small James's heart break after the death of his cat. That was when I took a name for myself, finally deciding, like all fairies before me, what others should call me. It was my small way of taking the pain from him, taking a name he loved so much and making it my own.
I don't tell him this. I simply keep my back turned to him as I look out across the room.
I always knew he would never love me and that he never even knew I existed.
"My name is James, but I think you know that. Turn around so I can see you... please."
I know I shouldn't, but somehow I find myself moving around, my eyes settling on his much larger, dark eyes. "I remembered you were blue, that blue boy that played with me. I guess that may be why I love the colour so much."
As I feel my skin warming, I somehow sense his heart skipping a beat as he looks upon me. He has grown more beautiful than the summer roses dancing in the gentle breeze.
"You're... kinda beautiful!" His words shock me, making a tingle happen in my pants, one that has happened for no other in all my fairy years.
He thinks me beautiful?
Me, Felix, a simple gatherer, beautiful? Even the notion of him finding me in any way attractive has me wanting to pull my wings off, give up on my blessed life and become nothing more than simply... human.
"I... have to go!" I say, trying to will my body to turn from him. Yet somehow, I remain transfixed upon his smiling face, which has filled suddenly with worry.
"No, please stay!" he begs, reaching out his hand that I now find myself stepping onto despite my better fairy judgement.
My feet move over his soft palm as he pulls himself to a seated position, revealing the rest of his naked self with only a little fabric still covering the space between his legs. My body yearns to rip my wings from me so I can grow to his size and feel his naked body against mine.
Stop it, Felix!
I know my feelings are peculiar, but not because he is a man. We fairies don't see the label of what humans call sexuality. It is because of how easily I want to become human for him. I want to give up on the hundreds of years I could live and to settle for just a second of life that is the human way.
His giggles have my eyes pulling away from his naked flesh to look to his smiling face. "Don't tell me fairies are actually gay, too!" he grins, and my body almost gives in and has me collapsing in his hand.
I pull myself together as best I can, trying to keep my eyes from falling to his naked chest. "We... we just fall in love, regardless of the sex. My people mate for life," I tell him, my right heel leaving his palm as I balance on my toes while I watch his tongue break through his lips and leave a film of his saliva over them, making my own tongue follow suit.
Is this wrong? These thoughts a fairy has going through his head over something as simple as a human.
He frowns slightly at my words. "I bet you have a mate, don't you?" he asks sadly.
I blush slightly and shake my head, knowing how not a single fairy, male or female, has me wanting more than friendship from them.
The smile is back and blessing his face as a haze, almost as if he is daydreaming, enters his eyes. "Well, it's a shame you're not a few feet taller." His laugh that follows is forced, and for the next few minutes, we stand in silence just gazing into each other's eyes.
Pulling myself together, I flutter my wings and rise slightly from his palm. "I really should go," I say, trying to sound brave, but somehow not knowing how I will live with my loss of him, whereas on his next birthday he will remember me no more.
How simple the human folk are. It's a shame we fairies will never be blessed with the art of forgetting.
"Wait... will I see you again?" he asks, his naked body rising to standing as he moves from the bed and follows me as I fly slowly towards his window, forcing my eyes from falling to places they shouldn't.
"I... hope so," I say, praying that he won't forget me, the fairy who saved his life and would so easily stay with him if I really could. "I left you a Solstice gift... on your bed."
"I don't want the gift. I want..." his voice trails off but my head fills in the gap.
What he wants, however much my small body wants it also, is impossible. How would I ever live as a human? What can I ever really do in the human world without my wings, without the people I have in my life? Will I, too, forget them if I became human? Would I so easily forget Alice and the close bond we share?
"Are you okay, Felix?" I realise that I have stopped moving and am just hovering in mid air between the window and the human, the one they all call James.
I swallow my want for him, my need to be of his size so that I can hold him. "Goodbye, James," I finally let the words escape me as my throat becomes painfully dry from swallowing my sobs.
"Wait, before you go, can I... have a kiss?"
I turn towards him, looking again at the lips he is licking once more and I can feel my pants wanting to burst from me.
He wants to kiss me.
"Call it... an early Solstice gift." He grins and almost as if I am a moth and his lips are a bright light, I am pulled towards them, my own small lips meeting with his large lower one.
The difference in size is uncomfortably perfect as I taste his skin, my hands resting on his lip as I dance mine over it, wanting to entice my body with more of his taste. I pull away and look into his eyes, smiling as he smiles at me, but somehow knowing both our hearts are breaking with the want of more.
"Take me with you... please!" If only this was that easy. If only a human really could become one of us.
A fairy can clip their own wings but there is no way he can come with me. There's no way would my people would accept him, even if it were possible to turn him.
"Humans can't become fairies..." I say, hanging my head in sadness.
"They can't?" he sounds sad for a moment, before a flash of light passes through his eyes. "Wait, does that mean fairies can become humans?"
I nod just once, regretting it instantly as he begins to beg me to do it, to give up on all that I am.
"I will protect you, we can be happy... together." He smiles, and I know I want to do it, but can I really become one of them? Can I live a life of blessed ignorance to the happenings of the workers in the garden, the efforts of my community who ask for nothing?
"If... if I did then... then I would be killing myself! Humans don't live as long as my people do."
He pauses for a moment, thinking over what I have told him before his lips start to create his words. "Living a life alone, however long, is no real life!" he says, moving closer towards me. "Even in the short time we will have, I promise to make you the happiest fairy, erm... human ever. We can celebrate every Christmas, no, Winter Solstice... together."
This can't happen; it is stupid for me to even think it is possible. No fairy has ever turned human to my knowledge. I would be killing myself in an act of love, if that is really what is pulsing through my body.
I turn away and flutter over to the window sadly, but as I see him reflected in the window, tears falling from his eyes, my wings begin to fail me. Landing on the windowsill, I find myself reaching for my wings as I keep my eyes on his reflection, and I take a single wing in my hand. Silently praying that my intent will create what my heart wants, I pull tightly and wince at the pain as I start to break flesh. This small break starts the change as the pain rips through me and I feel what little magic we fairies actually have begin to escape from me. I pause for a moment and take a deep inhale of breath, looking at his reflection again, seeing confusion in his eyes as I go to pull away my first wing.
Then I see the sad smile of Alice's face, the look of horror she bestows upon me as I pull against my wing.
Hearing nothing from her moving lips behind the glass, my mind speaks her heart wrenching words.
"No! Felix! Don't do it... please don't leave me."