Griff was my best friend and only cousin. I was always happy when he came to visit.
“I won’t be here for long this time,” he said. “You’ll see, I guess.”
“Then let’s have fun while we can,” I said cheerfully.
Griff hated going to sleep at night, even though Clem’s bed was even softer than mine. He’d make up things to do to avoid it, like looking up at the sky and counting stars.
“How come you hate sleeping?” I asked. “I can keep a secret. I won’t even tell Clem.”
He didn’t say anything at first. Griff was always pretty quiet when he visited, like he was thinking about too many things at once. “Because,” he said, “I can see the future. It’s even stronger in my dreams and I hate it.”
Dad said that fae loved to lie, but Griff was my cousin before a fae, and I didn’t think he’d lie to me.
He pointed up at the sky. “If you don’t believe me,” he said, “just look. There’s gonna be a shooting star in like three seconds.”
I looked and counted to three in my head.
“Whoa,” I said. “How’d you know?”
“I told you,” he said. “I can see the future. Duh.”
I asked him to explain more when we were finally getting ready for bed.
“It usually happens when I close my eyes,” Griff said. “Blinking counts too. Sometimes it’s just a few minutes into the future, and sometimes it’s years. My dreams feel so real, and it’s like I’ll never wake up, I guess. And then when I do, it’s hard to remember what’s happened and what hasn’t yet.” He looked pretty sad.
I decided to try making him laugh. “So you could raise your hand in class and know the right answer every time?” I said. “Or know all the answers on a test without studying? And know if a girl you like likes you back without even asking?”
“Girls are gross,” he said, smiling. “And fae don’t have normal school. Mom and Dad try to teach me stuff when they’re not busy fighting.”
“I wish I had a power like that,” I said.
He smiled to himself. “I guess it can be cool sometimes. I tell Mom and Dad whenever the next attack is going to come, so they’re always safe.”
“Do you think I could see the future if I tried?” I asked.
“I dunno. Maybe. Dad says I’m really powerful though. The powerful-est.”
“Maybe in my sleep…if I see you in the future, I’ll hold your hand, okay? So you don’t have to be scared.”
Sometimes I had to remind myself that Griff wasn’t like Clem. He was lonely in a way that my twin wasn’t–I didn’t think he had any friends in the fae realm, but Clem had lots here. She didn’t need me like he did. His visits weren’t long, so hopefully she didn’t mind if I paid attention to him for a little while instead.
That night, I dreamed of the prettiest girl I’d ever seen, surrounded by flowers… It wasn’t like a real dream, though–more like a still image. Not a painting, but one of the old faded photographs of flowers that Mom liked to buy in antique shops and use in her art sometimes.
But when I woke up, I couldn’t remember her face.
I knew I had to see her again.
Griff said my dream was stupid, and that it probably wasn’t a real future-seeing dream at all, but I had this feeling.
And he still came with me when I said I was going to go look for her…
I didn’t really think we’d find her. I’d just picked a direction at random, and risked using a spell to transport us far away. Dad hadn’t taught me that one perfectly, but I was sure about the invisibility glamour.
But…we did find her.
I was sad when she disappeared, but…I’d never forget her face again.
No matter how many years passed until I saw her again…
I wasn’t surprised when we moved to the fae realm, and I was happy, because it meant Griff wouldn’t be alone ever again. He had me now.
I knew Clem was having a harder time adjusting, but she was Clem. She could handle anything–she put mean girls in their place all the time at school. It was part of why she was so popular.
And I knew Griff would suffer for defending her, as unpopular as the son of a fae king and vampire queen already was…
So I tried to keep him busy. Clem would understand: we were lucky enough to have a twin, but Griff was all alone in a world that didn’t want him.
…Maybe I should’ve paid more attention to Clem, though. Would that have stopped her from leaving? I thought she’d get used to the change. I thought she’d like the fae realm as much as I did.
But then it really was just me and Griff.
Time softened the fae against their new king and queen. The prince, once mocked for not being a prince at all, instead became someone whose favor was in high demand. But Griff was uneasy around other fae, preferring my company instead.
“The world is your pomegranate, Griff,” I said. “I think I see a pretty girl staring down at you from that balcony. Why don’t you smile at her?”
“Girls are gross,” he said, like he always did. “You can have her, I guess.”
Fae girls, I’d learned, weren’t so different from human ones, once you got past the fluttering wings and bright colors. They responded even better to flattery, immediately accepting compliments instead of feigning modesty.
They were also a lot more forward than the average human girl…
…Something Griff didn’t seem to approve of, even if he’d spent even more time among the fae than I had.
Hey, I’d told him to make his move.
“…Do you feel a chill in the air?” I asked.
“Not yet,” she said. (I was pretty sure she had some kind of flower-inspired name.)
“What if I wanted that one?” Griffin demanded later. (Much later.)
“Anything for you, my prince,” I said grandly. “I’ll put in a good word for you next time.”
“…But I don’t know how to do any of that stuff.”
I lifted his chin. “With a face as handsome as yours? You’ll do fine. They like their lovers pretty.”
“Don’t say lovers. It’s gross.”
“It’s fun. I can teach you, my prince.”
“…I’ve never even kissed anybody before. They’ll laugh at me.”
A smile spread across my face–hopefully one he’d take as encouraging instead of mocking. With fae, it was almost always the latter. “Want to practice on me?”
“That’s the GROSSEST.”
“Fine,” I said with a laugh, “you can feel me up instead.”
His face reddened.
I slung my arms around his neck, carefully avoiding his wings. Then again, a lot of fae girls liked to have their wings stroked… “Practice gazing longingly into my eyes?”
“…You’re my cousin,” he mumbled, avoiding my eyes. “Not that fae even have cousins. But if they did, you would be…”
“Could be worse,” I said. “My mom told me Grandpa used to make out with a giant stuffed bat before he met Grandma. He probably had no idea what to do with his tongue.”
“Ugh. Don’t laugh.” And then he kissed me. If I didn’t have wings–and he wasn’t holding me–I might’ve fallen flat on my backside.
Griff was doing…something with his tongue, all right.
“How was it?” he asked, trying to act gruff but coming across more shy instead.
“You’ll get the hang of it in no time.”
With my help, he’d get all the practice he needed. I considered myself the knight to his prince, even if he swore fae didn’t have knights. They didn’t have princes either, but that seemed to be the one thing he needed to hang on to.
There were so many beautiful fae girls…
Griff just needed a little push.
…And maybe some moral support.
…And a helping hand to guide him to his destination.
“…It feels gross inside.”
“You’ll get used to it, my prince.”
And he did.
He got to put other things into practice too…including kissing. His first partner seemed happy to oblige a fae prince–it’d be something to boast about later.
…And I enjoyed the lessons too.
I didn’t mind sharing. Fae girls always lost interest eventually–the two of us together might keep it for a little longer, but not by much.
“I did good, didn’t I?” Griff asked afterward. “Her gross noises sounded happy, I guess.”
“You did, my prince.”
I’d give him everything he wanted–with one exception.
She must’ve grown up to be beautiful, all these years later. Did I dream of her, or only imagine what she might be like now…?
I’d meet her again someday; that much, I knew.