Quinn rested a forearm above Merry’s head against the stall wall, and leaned to him. “Ye listen to ye Quinn, now, Meriadoc McDaniel. ’Tis forbidden.”
Merry swallowed hard, and blinked once, twice, still dazed from his first kiss ever. “What d-do you mean?”
“Be forbidden for one of Fairy to care for a human.”
Quinn’s eyes seemed to plead him. “So, you c-can’t like me?”
Quinn’s words crushed Merry anew, and he fought not to burst into tears again. “N-never?”
Quinn was grave as he shook his head slowly.
“I-it’s a fairy rule?”
Quinn nodded. “But it does no' mean I cannot be ye friend.”
Merry’s heart ripped in two and unbidden tears welled again.
“Come on, little fella.”
Quinn took him into his arms and held him against the muscled expanse of his chest. Merry melted into the warmth and comfort and fought to rein in his tears.
“Don’t jump to conclusions. A fairy’s friendship be as deep as he love.”
“I don’t want just your friendship,” Merry mumbled into Quinn’s chest.
“I know, but ‘tis the way it must be.”
“You can’t break it?” Jeez, could he sound any more pathetic?
“Put me in dire peril, if I do, Merry. Does no' mean I cannot be with ye.”
Merry leaned back and looked up at him, and wanted nothing more than to kiss him again. “With me how?”
“I be ye friend.”
Merry buried his face against Quinn’s chest again. Merry didn’t want peril to happen to Quinn, especially the dire kind, and he couldn’t lose Quinn’s friendship. He couldn’t stand it if he were all alone again. He felt so safe in Quinn’s arms, his strong, rhythmic heartbeat going a long way to assuage his broken heart. He took a deep, shuddering breath and withdrew from Quinn’s arms. “Okay.” His lower lip quivered on the single word, and he hated himself for it. It was pitiful. He was pitiful.
He turned and tried the door of the stall again. It still wouldn’t budge. “I-I gotta get something to eat and lunch is almost over.”
Quinn turned Merry to him, hugged him tight, and kissed the top of his head. “Nay, me Merry, I stopped time for ye.”
“You can stop time?”
“With good reason.” The door opened on its own.
Merry kept glancing at Quinn as they walked to the cafeteria. The kiss had left him dazed, breathless, and all tingly inside. Then Quinn’s words had devastated him, leaving him feeling hollow and weak again.
They went through the line and, when Merry put a bag of chips on his tray, Quinn looked down at him. “Ye need to eat more than that.”
Merry had lost his appetite, but he reached for a banana and a salad to make Quinn happy, and added them to the tray.
They headed to an empty table, and Rick ran by and knocked Merry’s tray from his hands. The tray crashed to the floor, and his food fell with a splat.
Fury ignited in Quinn’s eyes, and Rick was suddenly airborne, seemingly having tripped over an invisible step. He face-planted onto a table with a yelp, and food went flying.
Merry stared in shock as Quinn picked Rick up, straightened him out, and brushed food off the front of his shirt. “Now, ye listen and listen well, Rick Adams. Ye come near Merry again, and ye pay the piper, ye will. Ye take me meanin’?”
Quinn’s voice was low and full of menace. Merry had never seen Quinn lose his temper before, and it scared him a little. He bent to pick up his tray and food, and glanced at them, fearful a full-fledged fight would break out.
Rick’s face went red as a beet as he smacked Quinn’s hands away and issued an earsplitting yell. “Get your fucking hands off me!” He shoved Quinn in the chest. Quinn didn’t as much as wobble. In a moment of unmitigated cruelty and gall, Rick moved around Quinn and kicked Merry in the side.
Merry hadn’t seen it coming. Air shot from his lungs as pain bounced off the walls of his mind. His tray went sliding across the floor, stars danced in his vision, and he fell onto his side with a stifled cry. From his pain-filled low place on the floor, he watched as Quinn magically transformed into a raging beast. A clawed hand wrapped around Rick’s neck and lifted him into the air. With a guttural growl, Quinn cursed him. A donkey tail and ears sprouted on Rick right before he was airborne again. He crashed through the cafeteria doors, and landed with a sickening thud in the hallway.
Quinn transformed again, returning to his natural form, and went to Merry on the floor. “Merry, little fella, ye be hurtin' bad?” Quinn’s brogue had thickened commensurate with his concern.
With Quinn’s help, he sat up. “Uh-uh. Just knocked the breath out of me,” he coughed.
“Ye be certain?”
“I’ve had worse.” He tried to get to his feet and slumped to the floor again.
“Here, now.” Quinn lifted Merry from the floor as if he weighed nothing, carried him to an empty table, and carefully set him in a chair. He pulled a chair around from the other side of the table and sat next to Merry. “Ye be all right?”
Merry nodded as he looked around the cafeteria. It was if no one had seen a thing.
“Take a drink of ye juice.”
Merry turned back to find their two trays of food on the table. He looked at Quinn, who offered him an open bottle of cranberry juice. He accepted it and took a swig, then wiped his mouth with the back of a hand. “So, um, so, d-does that h-happen often?”
“The, ah, the, ah, well, you k-kind of changed there for a minute.”
“Aye, be me ugly side. It come out when I lose me temper.”
That’s understandable. NOT. “Yeah, okay, no problem. I hope I never piss you off.”
Quinn leaned and placed a soft kiss on Merry’s cheek and it tingled some more. “Ye could never be the cause of me ire, Meriadoc. Sorry ye had to see it.”
“Um, yeah, okay. Are we, like, invisible or something? Because no one’s looking at us.”
Quinn shrugged. “Humans see what they wish to. Not be difficult to tease they minds.”
Merry scratched his head. He was almost afraid to ask. "If you c-can't be my b-boyfriend, h-how come you can kiss me, my cheek, I mean?"
Quinn gave him a long, considering look. "I should not, but cannot help me self."
Merry wasn't surprised. HE. WAS. THUNDERSTRUCK! Quinn couldn't hold himself back? From kissing him? A giggle bubbled up from somewhere deep inside Merry. Man, when was the last time he giggled? 3rd grade?
"Ye needn't be surprised. I be very fond of ye."
Very. OMG. It was that kind of fond. Not just the regular, everyday type of fond. Not just any kind of fond, but the very kind! V-E-R-Y! THAT kind! Quinn was very fond of him! Merry had never been very anything to very anybody and it very thrilled him. Very instantly became his new favorite word. He fought to collect his now very jumbled thoughts. “Ah-huh, okay, um, thanks. I'm very fond of you, too."
"Aye, ye be." Quinn was matter of fact.
"Ah, okay, so Rick has a tail and floppy ears.” Even he was disbelieving of his own words.
“So long as he behave like an arse, he wear ‘em.”
“Aaaaand no one’s going to notice?”
Quinn shook his head as he began to eat salad. “Won’t see ‘em, but can feel ‘em. Teach Rick to stay away from others after a bit.”
“Right.” He watched Quinn for a few moments as he ate.
Quinn finally looked up from his food with a wink, all evidence of anger gone. “Ye need to eat.” He peeled a banana and handed it to Merry.
Merry took a bite and looked around. It was as if absolutely nothing had happened. “How do you do that?”
“What ye mean to ask?”
“You can disappear, walk through doors, stop time, push someone without touching them, make a person grow a tail and ears, and put our food back together. And turn into a-a...” Monster seemed a little harsh considering Quinn had just saved his ass again. “A, ah, well, into another being. How do you do that?”
“Be Fairy magick.”
“Magick. Okay." He was still kinda stuck on the monster thing. "Can you do anything you want to?”
Quinn shook his head. “Nay. They be limits. Eat ye salad.”
Merry opened the bag of chips and ate a few. “What kind of limits?”
“I cannot rid the realm of the perils of Fairy.”
“Aye. Be things to make we fade.”
“Lose material form.”
“You just said you can lose material form. That sounds like dead to me.”
“Nay, we essence continue to exist in the dark realm. Be like a free-fall in blackness to ye humans.”
That didn’t sound good. “What are the perils?”
“I cannot tell ye. Be forbidden.”
“Humans can use ‘em again’ us.”
“You have a lot of rules.”
Quinn sighed. “Aye, we do.”
Merry ate a few more chips. “Where do you live?”
“Not what are you, where do you live?”
“Fairy,” Quinn repeated.
“Fairy is a place?”
“Aye. Ye humans have a likin' for the labels, don’t ye know? They be many an ilk of we fae, but ye humans put us in one kettle and call us by we home.”
Merry knew all too well how people liked their labels. “What ilk are you?”
“What’s a lah-nan she-uh?”
“We be of the High Court of Fairy.”
That explained it all. Not. “Where is Fairy?”
“Be the Sith.”
“Where’s the mound?”
Merry rolled his eyes. Here we go again. “How do you get to it?”
“What ye mean to ask?”
“How do you get there? You know, the directions. Like, I don’t know, take the 405 south, then the 10 west until you hit PCH, then north to the California incline, then what?”
“Just like that?”
“Aye. Why ye ask?”
“Can I visit you?”
Quinn’s face darkened. “Nay. Be perilous for ye. Once a human set foot in the Land o’Fairy, he cannot set foot on human lands again. Ye be forever lost to we fae.”
Merry’s heart sank. “So, I can’t ever come over to your house?”
Quinn shook his head.
“Can I have your number?”
“Me number of what?”
“Your cellular phone number. You have a cell, right?”
Quinn laughed. It was a full-bellied laugh and, in spite of Merry’s embarrassment, it was warm and round on his senses. “What’s so funny?”
“Ye simply wish for me and I be here, Merry. Be that simple.”
“I don’t have to call or text you?”
Quinn chuckled again. “Nay.”
That was kinda cool. “So, um, what do you guys do for fun?”
“Feast on humans.”
Merry blanched and Quinn burst into laughter again.
“Ha, ha. Very funny.”
Merry’s eyes became saucers. “Ogres are real?”
“Be certain of it. They eat ye alive then use ye leg bones as they toothpicks.”
Merry felt ill. “What do you guys really do for fun?”
“Feasts, parades, balls, rings, duels, spells, curses, hand-fasts, and the like.”
“Ye call it marriage.”
“Can you marry whoever you want?”
“Must stay within we Court and caste.”
“Ye wouldn’t want to see me hand-fasted to a troll, now, would ye?”
Merry almost choked on a chip. He didn’t want to see Quinn married at all, let alone to a troll. “Ah, yeah, no, that wouldn’t be cool.”
“Aye, they breath smell of rotten blood.” Quinn shivered.
Eeeeeeewwwwww. “Is it okay to, um, to, um.... Can you be gay?”
Quinn finished the last of his food and sat back in his chair. “Gender not be a class. Ye can love who ye wish if they be within ye Court and caste.”
“Aye, but we have a rule. Ye must have ye one bantling.”
Now, Merry did choke on his food. He coughed, cleared his throat, and took a sip of juice. “So, wait. You can marry another guy but you still have to...to do the wild monkey dance with a girl?”
Quinn frowned. “The what?”
“You know,” he leaned in and whispered, “sex.”
Quinn chuckled and nodded. “Aye.”
Merry winced, unsure which was worse, his jealousy or his revulsion at the thought of having sex with a girl. He’d had sex ed and he understood the mechanics, he just soooooo didn’t like where they told him his dick was supposed to go. Hella-gross!
Quinn laughed softly. “Ye be a jealous one, ye be.”
Merry’s cheeks flushed pink, and he turned away.
Quinn turned his face back with gentle fingertips. “Don’t be takin’ a reddener.”
Quinn would know he was lying if he said he wasn’t jealous. They’d already covered that ground. “It’s not only that. It’s just...the whole idea.... It’s just gross.”
“Ye not worry of it. Be a century or more before it be required of me.”
Merry gaped. “How old are you?”
“Draw nigh seventeen. Same as ye.”
“Ye would say draw near.”
“Yeah, right. Almost seventeen what?”
Quinn’s emerald eyes twinkled with ancient knowledge as the bell rang overhead signaling that lunch had ended. “Time we go.”
“Wait. Is there, um, is there a way for a human to become a fairy?” When Merry saw the look of shock on Quinn’s face, he wanted to crawl into a hole.
“Why would ye want to be fae?”
“S-s-so we could, I mean, y-y-you could like me.”
A sad smile replaced the surprise on Quinn’s face. “I tell ye I be fond of ye, Merry. I speak true.”
“No, I mean so you could be m-my boyfriend?”
Sadness flickered in Quinn’s eyes and was gone before it came to fruition. “Be that important to ye?”
Merry looked away again. “Yeah.”
A long moment passed before Quinn spoke. “Ye needn’t be fae to be mo chuisle mo chroí.”
Merry turned back to him. “Muh kush-leh muh-cree?”
“The pulse of me heart. Ye be the pulse of me heart, Merry.”
Without warning, Quinn’s adoration imbued every fiber of Merry’s being, a tidal wave of affection against a careworn shore. Merry had never been in love before, but somehow he knew that’s what it was.
I wrote the first draft of this story on a flight returning to the United States from the United Kingdom. I fell asleep on the plane, had a nightmare, and woke with a start. I felt small after a particularly hostile business meeting in London, the hostility no fault of mine or my client. The meeting dredged up ancient feelings of loneliness, low self-esteem, and memories of my brutal days in school during my youth. I often wished I had superpowers, or magick, anything to protect me. And someone who cared for me.
As fate would have it, someone did care for me in the end, and we remain good friends to this day. I also know now that I am not defined by what heartless others have done to me.
This story originally ended here, but has grown since. I must break from Quinn and Merry due to my writing and editing schedule, but rest assured, they will return.
Thank you for reading this story.
The first chapter of Fairy was originally published in
Harmony Ink’s May 2013 newsletter.
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