The dreams of Darius were troublesome enough, but the faded memories were worse.
“…Guide her to me…”
Long ago, my friend told me of his plans to become king and rule with a queen by his side–a queen who wasn’t fae–and asked for my assistance. I’d called him a fool, among other things.
He never should’ve placed his trust in me; I was fae, and fae were inherently selfish, deceitful creatures. Every generous deed had a hidden price attached.
And I knew very well the price I longed to name: the inexplicably clumsy weasel.
She belonged in my arms–anywhere else held untold peril.
Again and again, I told myself I only wanted her because she was beautiful–for a human–and I was fae.
But her own pain was difficult for me to bear, in a way I’d never experienced with any other creature.
I was glad to offer her comfort, perhaps only because after so many years rescuing from her from tumbles and tending to scrapes, it had become second nature–if such were possible for a fae.
Though feeling her body against mine was a reward of its own, and I was greedy…
I was greedy for her time and company as well…
…And even came to tolerate her hairy mongrel, who guarded her when I could not.
I used any excuse to be close to her, to feel her skin against mine.
How fortunate I was that her clumsiness seemed to intensify since her larval stage.
And as I was very familiar with her endless tears, I was certain to press my lips to her skin to offer comfort after a tumble in the sand–merely to stave off further caterwauling.
I’d observed her sire and dam doing similar things when she was a larva, so I was only engaging in appropriate human behavior…and the tears never came, so clearly I’d done precisely as I should.
And the job I’d taken as a “background actor” certainly had its benefits, despite the indignity.
At least the work wasn’t particularly taxing.
And…when it seemed as though the work would continue, I was grateful, as it meant I’d have reason to continue to see her, day after day.
I would even tolerate these ridiculous ears…
A faint familiar magic fluttered into the room; disdainful eyes met mine in the mirror.
Could it be…?
“The fuck are you looking at?” The contempt in her voice, the eyes that could cut me down in an instant…I recognized them, different as they were.
The resulting fear was familiar too.
“…Yeah, I’m just going to keep walking. Maybe I’ll run into a damn makeup artist eventually.” No, not Isla, but…even without wings, her movements reminded me of hers.
I shook my head to banish old memories and slipped into the makeup chair to wait for the weasel.
Lyanna. She wanted me to call her Lyanna.
Lyanna’s soft voice interrupted my thoughts a short while later.
“Good morning, Mr. Duke. Are you ready for your makeup?”
Why was I making a request? It was her job, was it not?
Her brush tickled my cheek as she began to work.
She leaned so close that I could feel the intensity of her gaze as she concentrated on me.
Perhaps it was best that I didn’t meet her eyes and distract her.
But there was very little work to be done on my face, so she soon drifted lower…
And I will admit to a treacherous line of thinking.
She was human, and a human’s life is insignificant beside a fae’s, long-lived as we are…but I wouldn’t be the first fae to spirit a human away to our realm, where time flows differently.
“Come with me,” I might say, “and remain young and lovely forever.”
“Oh, Orlando,” she’d breathe, “I’d follow you anywhere.” As she always had.
And together we would live in some ramshackle dwelling far from the other fae, surrounded by flowers. And she would prepare all manner of vegetarian cuisine for us to eat together…
I would smile at her…
And she would smile back…
And if she laid eggs before I could convince her to come with me to the realm of the fae, I would be the one at her side, not Darius, because they were mine.
As she was…
But every human the fae spirited away had something in common: eventually they remembered the world of humans and the loved ones they left behind. And so they decided to return, just one last time, and found their loved ones long-dead–and their path to our realm closed.
She might have loved me, but her heart would never belong to me alone. Unlike the fae, humans had families, and hers was a sprawling one.
“…Mr. Landon? Duke.”
My fingertips brushed her cheek, my thumb pressing against her lips.
She could only gaze down at me with those large, trusting eyes…
I didn’t deserve her trust–nor anyone else’s.
“That’s enough,” I said gruffly. “My spots are…adequate.”
What reason could she possibly have for that girlish giggle–
“…Please don’t be embarrassed, Mr. Duke…”
I coughed. “…I should make my way to the set. I have many long hours of standing around with my shirt off.”
“Of course, Mr. Duke.”
That ridiculous creature, forever a thorn in my side…
My sleep would’ve been restless that night even without a visit from the wolf pup.
She usually never spoke to me other than to utter threats, and it had been some time since she’d visited me.
Still, I was irritated. “What?”
“…You’re fae, right?”
“I am. How is that relevant?”
“Weird question, but…were you ever friends with a creepy blue guy with wings who liked to smile and stare at little kids in their dreams?”
How many reminders of my betrayal did I need in a single day…?
“…If I once had any friends, I don’t any longer. Fae and loyalty never mix.”
…Was the wolf pup crying? I didn’t know she was capable of such a thing. Perhaps I instead thought her littermate had hoarded all the tears for herself…
“Leave me be,” I said. “Whatever you want, I can’t help you.”
“But he needs our help, and I think he’s fae, and you’re the only fae I know other than my boss and you’re a lot smarter than him even if you’re creepier…”
What in summer’s name was she going on about?
“Go pester someone else instead. I’ve renounced the ways of the fae.”
And my friend…? If I betrayed him, I hadn’t renounced their ways at all.
I never thought a vampire’s obvious discomfort would ever trouble me, but the way she sobbed on her way out the door…
I felt a pang of…something indescribable.
She couldn’t be speaking of Darius. But she’d dreamed of him as well, some years ago.
Could it be…?
Guide her to me…
And lose her for good?