Chapter Twenty

Merry nearly swallowed his tongue as he swallowed back another scream and yelled at the horse. “Whoa! Whoa!”

He pulled on the horse’s mane, but it ignored him and soared higher, and straight into a fluffy cloud. Merry was instantly shrouded in mist and it was eerie and scary, and he was frightened half out of his wits. What if the horse kept going and never came back? 

Oh, no way! He was not going to be kidnapped by a flying horse! “Quinn! Quinn! Help! The horse won’t sto—!”

“There ye be,” Quinn greeted as Merry’s horse cleared the cloud and slowed to fall into flight with Quinn’s horse.

“H-holy c-c-crap!” Merry looked back at the cloud, then at Quinn. “Why didn’t you make it stop?”


“What if it kept going? Just took off with me and never came back?”

Quinn chuckled. “A creature o’ fae canno’ go beyond we horizon. Must needs be near we magicks o’ Fairy to survive.”

“Like I’m going to know that!” Merry dared to look down and his world began to spin. They were miles above the earth. “I-I don’t think I want to fly anymore,” he said feebly.

Quinn laughed again and right before he hooked his feet over the horse’s rump and deftly popped to his feet. Merry was speechless. Quinn was... standing... on the... back of a horse... while it flew... in the sky...a million miles above the earth.

Quinn leaped and landed deftly behind Merry and slid down to sit behind him.

Merry looked over his shoulder at him. “Holy cow!”

Quinn’s voice was soft in his ear as he encircled Merry’s waist with his arms. “Be no bovine beast. Be ye Quinn.”

“Weren’t you afraid you were gonna fall?”

Now Quinn burst into laughter. “Merry,” he chided softly as he hooked a thumb over his shoulder.

Oh, yeah. Quinn had wings. Merry’s cheeks went up in flames and he abruptly turned to face forward. I am so freakin’ stupid sometimes.

“Enough, me Merry. Ye not be cruel to yeself.” 

Quinn’s chest was warm against Merry’s back and he suddenly felt good, and right, and safe again. Then he became aware of just how thin Quinn’s stupid little leaf shorts were. And even more aware of just how thin his stupid little bluebell shorts were. Oh, no. Please, not now, he silently prayed. This cannot be happening. It woul just be plain rude. He was certain this didn’t happen to normal people. Well, okay, normal people didn’t ride flying horses, but he was certain if they did, they would, well, not have this problem in the sky. He cursed himself and willed his unruly body to obey. The effort was futile. His body had a mind of its own and he was sure it delighted in embarrassing him. He inched forward on the horse. 

Quinn’s soft laughter filled his ear, and quickly built into a full-bellied laugh.

“W-what’s so f-funny?” Merry glanced over his shoulder to find tears of laughter in Quinn’s eyes. “W-what?”

“Goddess and Consort help ye, Merry. It be a natural thing,” he said through his laughter.

Merry’s cheeks went up in flames for the second time in a matter of moments and he turned forward again. He didn’t think he’d ever felt more humiliated. “C-can I go down now?”

Quinn burst into laughter again and Merry looked over his shoulder at him. “What’s so funny?”

Quinn’s laughter radiated through Merrys back and he couldn’t help it. He began to laugh along with him. Before long, they were both laughing hysterically.

“Okay! All right!” Merry eked out through his laughter.

Quinn’s laughter died away. “Ye bring ye Quinn true joy, mo chroĆ­.”

Merry could only grin and shake his head. Choosing his words carefully, he asked, “Will you please make the horse fly back to the ground?”

At Quinn’s silent command, the rade arced the sky and glided earthward in a slow turning spiral. To Merry, they felt weightless as they rode the thermals, nothing more than a leaf on a breeze. He looked down in time to see nothing but a forest beneath them and nowhere to land. A scream built in his throat as the horse flew into the trees and expertly navigated the narrow passageways between trunks and branches, its hooves quiet tamps on the earth as it landed in the middle of a clearing.

“Holy cow!” Merry shouted again.

Quinn dismounted in one fluid motion bringing Merry with him. “Why ye say so?”

“I thought we were going to crash!”

Quinn smiled and shook his head every so slightly at Merry’s dramatic exclamation.

With Merry’s softly shod feet on the ground, he was surprised at how odd it felt to support his own weight again.

“Ye need trust in we magicks, Merry. Come. Be time we feast.” Quinn held a hand out to him.

The word feast brought to mind ogres using Merry’s leg bones as toothpicks and he was immediately nervous.

“Be no ogre, Merry,” Quinn scoffed as they followed the rade through the trees. They rounded a small copse and Merry found himself standing on the shore of a vast lake. Except, well, the lake was... pink!

Merry raised a hand and made a small pointing gesture. “Let me guess. Fairy magick?”

Quinn laughed. “Nay. Be the color of we waters in these lands.”

“Ah-huh,” Merry said lamely as he stared across the expanse of pink. The setting sun’s rays danced on the water and resembled the glint he’d seen earlier on his skin. Small waves lapped the shore leaving trails of glittered foam as they ebbed away.

They walked along the shore together following the musical rade and Merry felt strangely at peace in spite of the total weirdness of the past twenty-four hours. He wasn’t sure what was scariest: learning he was half fae or Quinn nearly eating him. Well, actually, it was no contest. The idea of Quinn eating him alive was definitely a ten on his scary weirdness Richter scale. “Hey, Quinn?”

“Aye, wee dote.”

“Can I, ah, ask you about, um, last night? About the, ah, curse?”

They stopped walking and Quinn sighed as he looked out at the lake. Profound sadness had filled his eyes and he looked lost, forlorn, and broken.

His gloom bled into Merry’s veins, a vicious melancholy on his senses determined to destroy his will to live. The feelings that came roaring back to him were all too familiar and he felt horrid for having brought such misery to bear on Quinn. He moved in front of Quinn, wrapped his arms around him, and hugged him tightly. “Sorry,” he whispered. “Forget I asked.”

Quinn wrapped his arms around Merry and rested his cheek against his hair. “Ye know I care for ye true, mo chroĆ­?


“Ye must give me ye word on a matter.”

“What matter?”

“Ye must give me ye word ye leave me when ye stop believin’ in me.”

Merry drew back and looked up at Quinn. “I’ll always believe in you.”

Quinn put a finger to Merry’s lips. “Whist, Merry. Ye not say such a thing.”

Merry slowly pulled Quinn’s fingers away from his lips. “I’ll always believe in you, Quinn. No matter what.”

Quinn rested his forehead against Merry’s and closed his eyes. “Ye not say such a thing,” he repeated, his voice a mere whisper on the air.

“I will always—”

Quinn’s fingers covered Merry’s lips cutting off his words. “Whist. Not be thrice said.”

Merry gently pulled his fingers away and hugged him tightly again. “I will always believe in you, Quinn. Forever.”

With a nearly inaudible sob, Quinn relaxed in Merry’s arms and the melancholy died away leaving Merry feeling small and scared. It took a moment before he realized they weren’t his feelings at all, but Quinn’s. “I’m here, Quinn. I’m your wee dote, remember? Talk to me.”

With a deep, pain-filled sigh, he began, “Once upon a time....”

Chapter Nineteen                                       Table of Contents                     Chapter Twenty-One

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