Monday, March 9, 2015

Picnic Lunch...

"You really are beautiful."

She smiled at him, "You sound surprised?"

"No, no...I mean, I knew you would be beautiful. They told me to expect you to be beautiful but..."

Her laughter cut him off. Laughter that was so rich he felt as though he could touch it. Bathe in it like a waterfall. "Oh, they told you? I am always so glad when they get involved. They are always full of such good advice. What else did they tell you?"

He blushed, "They told me you would tease me."

"I am beautiful and I like to tease. They are full of wisdom, aren't they? Could you not have discovered these things on your own?"

He perked up, he did know things that should impress her, "They also told me what your favorite foods were. I packed them for you. See?"

He opened his basket and brought out a pot of honey and fruit he picked that morning at sunrise which everyone knows is when fruit is at its sweetest. He also had cookies from Lady Gene's maid, delicate pastries dusted with powdered sugar.

She reached out and took the jar of honey holding it up to the light, "Pink and golden hued honey."

"I bought it from the travelling show caravan. They told me you prefer honey from the highland clover fields."

"They are right. And aren't you clever to figure out how to get me highland honey without the long journey."

He thought maybe he had made a misstep here. Should he have only brought the honey if he had gone to collect it himself? "I would have traveled for it if the caravan hadn't had any to sell. Your favor is worth any distance."

She gave him a small smile, "Ah but you didn't have to, so we will never know. Pretty words are easy to say." She broke the wax seal on the jar of honey and dipped her finger tip in to the sweet nectar. Flicking her tongue out quickly like a hummingbird she took the drop of honey in to her mouth. Closing her eyes and sighing to herself as the sweetness spread across her tongue. She licked her lips and opened her eyes to find him staring at her. Mesmerized by her mouth. She arched one eyebrow and purred at him, "Perfection. Would you like some?" She held the jar out to him.

"Hmmmm? Yes. Please..." he reached for the honey and then stopped remembering himself. Shaking his head as if to clear the cobwebs he ducked in a quick bow, "Forgive me. I forgot my manners. No, thank you, that is all for you and you alone. I would not deprive you of a single drop."

She laughed again causing him to shiver, "I see they told you not to eat any food offered to you? Even if it was the food you yourself brought?"

He was embarrassed at being caught in an almost lie, "Yes, they did."

"I'm not fae. Only the fae can entrap you with food and drink."

"They said you would say that. And that I should not believe you."

"Did you know that the fae cannot lie? It is not in them. If a creature tells you that they are not fae you know it is the truth."

"They said that you would tell me that as well."

"Oh they are very wise. Do you always trust them so?"

"Yes. I do."

"It is good to have such close friends. Now, why are you here? You do not wish to share my picnic. What do you wish?"

"True love."

She leaned back against a rock and closed her eyes turning her face toward the warm sun. Taking a deep breath she relaxed fully. He watched her closely. Her skin seemed to reflect back the sunbeams. Making her glow with hidden light. She was like a fallen star. He leaned forward. His beauty. His light. She opened her eyes slowly and looked at him completely. Her eyes were blue like a summer sky. He felt as though she could see his very soul. The very essence of the man that he was. She flicked her tongue out again quickly licking the corner of her mouth. She blinked slowly and stretched, "True love? You offer me true love?"

His breath caught in his throat, "Yes, I...I I wish for your favor for you to tell me if my love, my love at home, is my true love. I wish for you to make it so."

"You don't bring me true love but wish for me to give you true love? And they told you I would do this?"

"They told me you could do this. That if you felt I was worthy of your gifts you would bestow them."

She took one of the delicate cookies and let it dissolve in her mouth. Sweetness. Rapture. " you know how blessed you are to have these treats all of the time? No one can bake like this except Lady Gene's maid. She is magical."

He waited patiently. He knew this was a test. He did not have access to them at any time. It had taken weeks to find Lady Gene and to then convince her maid that his request was worthy. But he held his tongue. Any rudeness from him and she would deny him her favor.

"Tell me about your love."

He smiled, "She is the most beautiful girl in our entire village. The most wonderful. And she loves me."

"If she loves you and you love her, why are you here? Is that not enough?"

"I don't want to lose her. I know if you grant me true love she will never leave."

"And they told you I could do this. They told you to seek honey from the highlands to bring me. To find the Lady Gene and convince her maid to bake cookies for your travels. To pick fruit from the orchards at sunrise? And to come to find me here?"


"And you trusted them?"

He sensed a trap but was not sure how to avoid it, "Yes."

"And how long have you been gone?"

"Four weeks."

"And if the caravan had not had the honey? How much longer would that have been?"

"At least 3 more weeks."

"They told you to leave your love and travel for weeks upon weeks to see me? While they stayed at home?"

"They told me how to..."

"I am always amazed at their wisdom. They know so much and yet I never see them. I only see those that they send. Those that want an unbreakable spell to guard their gold. A true love potion to ensure that the lady fair stays true. A magic seed to grow crops on the best land. They always manage to stay behind while you and the others travel to see me. Do you believe that your lady will stay true while you are gone?"

"Yes. She loves me. I know that she will."

The small wry smile was back, "And you trust them to leave her alone?"

"Yes. I...I took precautions."

The smile became larger. "I see. You trust them, and you trust her, but maybe not completely."

"I just thought..."

"Better safe than sorry? I assume you have the key with you?"

He ducked his head sheepishly. "Yes, I wear it around my neck."

"Should you have asked me for an unpickable lock?" She laughed her deep rich laugh. This time it did not feel rich and luxurious but cold and icy.

"No, I know she will not allow..."

She held up her hand, "And are you so certain that you have the only key? Most locks come with more than one."

"I know..."

"You know...You know that you trusted them to give you advice. You know that you love her and she loves you. You know that they are your friends and she is your love. And yet, and yet, you put a belt on her and locked her up like a possession. How is this love? How is this worthy of my favor?"

He looked at her, how had he thought her eyes blue like a summer sky? They were dark like midnight, like a well. Black deep pools with no bottom. "I love her. I did not want to lose her."

"You do not know what love is. Go home. Release her from her bondage, if she is still locked tight by the time you return, that is. Let her be with one of them. One that was smart enough to send you away so he could pick the lock in leisure."

Now he was angry. "I brought you gifts. You are supposed to help me."

"I am helping you. Learn your lesson. Do not leave that which you treasure most. When you have what you truly desire in your hand do not seek more. You are young. You will have another chance. I am giving you my favor. Leave with your life. Free your young maiden to find another who will trust her with no lock. And when they whisper in your ear remember, they are not fae and they will lie to you."

He looked at her again how had he ever thought she was beautiful. Her dark eyes flashed as she spoke. Her lips pulled back from teeth that looked sharp enough to bite through him. Her skin was pale enough to see the veins pulsing underneath. Greenish blue lines covering her body. Her fingernails were like claws. She was terrifying.

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. When he opened them again she was gone. Only the basket remained. Empty. She had taken his gifts but not given him the favor he had desired. He began the long journey back to his village. They key weighing heavy around his neck as he realized they had played him for a fool.

They always do.

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