Changeling

Adapted from image on Pixabay

Flash fiction tale of fairies and changelings.

When he began his new life at the King’s court, Puck gave him a necklace strung with a single frozen fairy tear.

“Wear it always,” he said. “It will preserve your youth forever.”

His lord was mercurial — swinging from wrath to passion in a heartbeat. He guarded the boy jealously, though he was gentle with him. The boy’s days were spent training in the blade and in fairy poisons, as his lord hardened him for service. His nights were soft and comfortable. He lay among silken cushions and was fed ambrosia by the lesser fairies of Oberon’s court. He watched the dramas of the mortals unfold before him, their loves and losses, the fairies’ meddling. Always on the outside, his lord’s mark a warning to all others to stay away.

He grew bored. He grew lonely.

He’d sit and wonder what love felt like. It seemed a kind of madness, but mortals and fairies alike would go to any lengths for it. Oberon’s love was made of possession and dominance, of seeing his own will done, but the boy knew there were other kinds of love. He took to sneaking off through the forest near Athens and hiding away to see how the citizens lived their lives. So many stories and each more rich and varied than his own.

Did he have a story, or was he merely an object in the stories of others? He couldn’t even remember the name his mother had given him. The fairies called him ‘knife’ in their tongue, but that was still part of Oberon’s story.

One day, he watched two young warriors wrestle, watched their sport slip into passion. He slipped the tear on his necklace into his mouth and sucked on it absentmindedly, feeling the warmth of their kiss somewhere deep inside him.

That night, back at court, he lay beside the large pool where the fairies played, the tear resting on his tongue. He ran his hand through the scented water as his mind drifted lazily. The tear lent his body remembered warmth, the passion of the young lovers preserved in its frozen form.

Puck returned from hunting and threw his bow and quiver in one corner. What maddening potion of desire tipped those arrows tonight? The boy tried to conjure up the flavour. It would be rich and spiced and a little bitter. It would be irresistible and full of danger. He ran his tongue across the smooth surface of the tear and imagined it was a droplet of desire.

The trickster stripped off his tunic and dived into the pool, resurfacing to splash water over the side, soaking the boy. Drips glistened across the fairy’s slim frame. Above the water, a hundred enchanted fae lights bobbed. The golden glow caught in his moss green eyes.

The tear melted on the boy’s tongue.