Title: Chasing Butterflies
Genre: Friendship/Romance and Fantasy
Pairing: Slight Helena/Demetrius
Disclaimer: I do not own 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' or any of the characters involved in this fic.
Note: This is set pre-play (child Helena and Demetrius) and is a sort of AU for reasons that may be expanded on if I write any following stories.
"Clumsy, isn't she?" Puck observed from the shadows of the tree, as the small girl did another tumble.
"This be true, but she shows resilience by always getting up each time." Oberon commented, scrutinizing the awkward child, watching as she picked herself up from the ground and once again climbed back onto her feet.
Puck grinned and waved his hand. The beautiful butterfly which the girl had been chasing flittered back into her reach.
Seeing the fluttering figure once more the girl's eyes brightened and she giggled gleefully, stumbling over the grassy mounds to catch it. With a snicker Puck made another gesture with his hand and the butterfly sped away, the girl giving chase.
Puck found it amusing, watching the stubborn girl scamper so ungracefully after the colourful bug, her podgy fingers stretching for it. Every now and then he would dangle the butterfly tantalisingly close to her grasp before quickly snatching it away just as she lunged for it. It was almost as if the butterfly was his puppet, hung on an invisible stretch of string.
The girl wobbled, briefly losing her balance but just managed to remain straight up, much to Puck's disappointment. Only for a weed to then capture her ankle, causing her to perform a nosedive straight into the grass; the impact strewing a few puffs of dandelion fluff into the air.
Puck burst into loud cackled laughter, clutching his stomach and rocking upon the branch he was seated on.
The girl raised her head from the ground, looking around, doe-eyes wide and startled.
"Who's there?" She demanded, eyes narrowing from alarmed to confident.
"She can hear you!" Oberon hissed with rebuked astonishment.
Puck gaped, dumbfounded. Oberon wasn't sure what was more bewildering, the girl being able to hear them or Puck rendered speechless.
The girl frowned – displeased by the lack of response – and stood up; hands on her hips, eyebrows furrowed and face frowning. It was the kind of pose that might have appeared intimidating (assuming small, clumsy girls could be intimidating) if she hadn't had bits of twigs and leaves stuck in her hair so that she resembled something of a talking bird's nest.
"It's rude to laugh at others' misfortunes!" She scolded, shooting glares around the glade where the hidden offender was presumed to be hiding.
Puck and Oberon remained quiet, the latter peering at her in deep thought.
Receiving no response the girl relaxed her stance, believing she'd misheard or simply imagined it (wouldn't be the first time), and glanced around in hopes of spotting her former prey. When she could see no signs of the colourful creature she sighed and sat down, arms crossed and lips pouting.
She reclined back into the green natural rug and allowed her eyelids to close; the exhaustion from the pursuit finally taking over as she shifted into a tranquil state of dreams.
From the sky the butterfly drifted, hovering over the sleeping girl before fluttering down to land upon the point of her freckled nose; the girl oblivious to the fact that the object of her hunt was now resting within her reach.
Puck and Oberon watched with curiosity as she slept; springs of gold framing her form, shimmering with the touch of the sun.
The serene scene was shattered by the sound of a male's shout.
The girl stirred and the butterfly flew off, disturbed from its peace.
A broad shouldered boy, a few years older than the girl in appearance, with handsome ebony hair dashed onto the scene. The beauty of his face was slightly spoilt by the irritation marred across it.
His frown deepened when he saw the girl sprawled out upon the grass.
"Helena!" He snapped.
The girl shifted but didn't wake.
The boy scowled further in frustration, then walked over to where she lay and knelt down.
"Helena, wake up!" He ordered, voice vented with annoyance.
The girl murmured groggily, displeased at being awoken, and opened her eyes.
Dreamy russet met with hard glaring brown.
"Deemetrius?" Helena mumbled, the haze of sleep slowly seeping from her sight. As her mind registered the familiar face her eyes immediately brightened and she shot up from where she lay. "Demetrius!"
Demetrius tried to keep the frown on his face, but it was difficult to do so when she was staring at him with such joy and delight. Still, if Helena could be as warm and cheerful as the shining summer sun then Demetrius could be as cold and dark as a moonless winter night.
"What are you doing here?" He demanded, allowing his anger to deflate the happiness in her expression. "You know you are not allowed to wonder off alone, especially not into the woods. Do you want to be eaten by wild animals?"
He knew saying such a thing would most likely give her nightmares, but it was necessary to scare her so she would stop putting herself at risk.
"But I haven't been eaten by wild animals and I didn't wonder that far into the woods, I can still see the exit." Helena objected, crossing-her arms stubbornly.
"Just because nothing did happen doesn't mean it couldn't have!" Demetrius retorted crossly.
"I only wanted to catch the pwetty butterfly." Helena told him, not seeing the problem.
Her statement only ignited his fury.
"A butterfly? You idiot! You could have been hurt or worse!" It was harsh but he was getting really tired of her constantly disappearing and him having to find her. "Do you want that?"
Helena shook her head.
"Imagine how your parents would feel if you went missing!"
Her bottom lip was now quivering, tears forming in her eyes; but he didn't stop.
"What if I didn't find you! What if someone else had found you when you were asleep? Do you have any idea what could have happened to you!"
He knew he was scaring her; he was even starting to scare himself. He wouldn't admit it but every time Helena went missing a part of him (a very deeply hidden part of him) always feared that this time he wouldn't be able to find her, this time he might lose her for good; because despite how often he told her he wanted her gone, he knew he would miss her if she weren't around to annoy the hell out of him anymore…if only a little bit.
However, he was too riled up to think about that. Like always, his anger was getting the better of him, boiling under his skin. He had to let it out. Needed to.
"Why do you always have to be so STUPID Helena? You're a constant pain! Every time you wonder off I'm the one who has to find you! I'D BE BETTER OFF WITHOUT YOU!"
…not that he meant it…not really.
Once he finished his rage he took in a deep breath, and allowed himself to calm down, slowly managing to get his temper back under control.
A sniff from Helena caught his attention. He looked to her and instantly felt guilty as he took in the sight of her fallen face and trembling form; sparkling eyes now glittered with tears. She looked like a kicked puppy, and he was the one who'd done the kicking.
"I'm sowrry, Demetrius." She sniffled. "I don't mean to be stupid. I'm sorry I'm such a pain."
…and now he felt even worse. Fantastic.
He groaned and ran a hand through his hair awkwardly. He hated asking for forgiveness…it made him feel weak and feeble; he hated feeling weak and feeble…it was embarrassing.
"Look…Helena…" He began, trying to form the words to apologise and failing epically.
Now she was staring expectantly, but still he had no idea what to say; 'sorry' wasn't really in his vocabulary.
Sighing, he stood up, voice emotionally exhausted. "Let's just…get back before we really are eaten by wild animals."
Helena nodded and got to her feet; former sadness forgotten and as cheery as ever. "Okay."
She took hold of his hand and he stiffened, then decided to let it pass. If it kept her happy then he guessed this could be his way of apologising for being mean. She seemed to understand; she always did.
Helena began to skip back towards the city, excitedly tugging a reluctant Demetrius behind her.
She beamed a smile to the stroppy boy. "Come on Demi!"
"Don't call me Demi!" Demetrius protested crossly, as he ran to stop himself from being dragged. Helena just giggled in response. "And stop giggling! It's really annoying!"
Helena paid his words no heed and the pair continued on their way.
Oberon and Puck watched with interest as the couple wondered from the forest. Neither of the children noticing the trail of flowers blooming from the path Helena trod; nor a fluttering rainbow of colour following after them, as the butterfly gave chase.
'Happiness is like a Butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you. But if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder'