Faerie Grad

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Faerie Grad (910 Words)

Amy had never been so pinched and pampered her whole life. The fairies washed her hair and scrubbed her face till her cheeks were sore and smarting. They dried her till she thought she might peel. And then they dressed her in gauzy fine things and tied lovely-smelling flowers in her braid, and turned her around so they could see her from every odd angle, and adjust her sash here, her bracelet there. Perhaps they meant to please, but it all made Amy rather hot and unhappy. She didn’t want to be rude, but she was tired of being treated like a doll, and missed the weight of her sword at her side.

“Where is my sword?” she asked. “I’m not going without Bear-Biter.”

“No, it’s the wrong color.”

“—the wrong length.”

“—the wrong width.”

“Wrong for what?” said Amy.

“It won’t go with your dress.”

“—your shoe.”

“—your flowers.”

“It’s not supposed to,” said Amy, with remarkable patience. “I’m not moving a step without my sword. You can tell that to Orthrallir, if you want. And don’t even think of using magic to get me anywhere, or I’ll tell him myself.”

They brought Bear-Biter then. Much as they were amused and even pleased by it, the fairies had caught the strange respect in their King’s eye for this mortal girl, and didn’t fancy complaining to him about her. Orthrallir lacked Humor, whatever else he had, and they knew better than to test him.

Amy herself wasn’t worried for looking unfashionable. But as they went on, down richly decorated ways into the Great Hall, she began to feel somewhat unsettled. It occurred to her that the Fairy King would probably be dressed like his courtiers, in some flowing, soft robe, and that she would remind him with her rough appearance of a time of war and strife. He might even think (since he hadn’t Humor) that she was mocking him.

Amy was so worried that she did not notice when they left the Hall for a place of outdoor freshness. The sun was just rising, and there was a wonderful crispness to the air. Despite the beauty of the scene, Amy saw nothing, wondering how she had managed to be just as out-of-place, just as slow, as she had ever been in University.

But before she could feel a hundred percent sorry for herself, she began to realize that a great hush had fallen. She looked up at once and saw Orthrallir standing not two paces from her. His right hand was extended as if he had meant to lift her chin with it.

When she met his eyes he froze.

Amy tucked her hair behind her ear.

“Hello,” she said. “Am I late?”

It was a joke. At least, Amy had meant it to be one. But—

“Late?” said the fairy. His brow creased. “Yes. I have waited for over an hour, by this time-teller, for you. Amy, you are very late.”

You see he has no Humor after all.

Amy wished she hadn’t tucked her hair back. She wished she had a beard and sunglasses, and a cap.

Orthrallir lowered his hand. He stood back from her, his head aloft, looking somewhere over her shoulder. Amy was so embarrassed that she forgot to notice that she was right and wrong at the same time, and that while he was dressed in fine cloth he wasn’t wearing a robe but something simpler, and that he has on the boots she bought him still, scuffed and wrinkled.

“Amy of Washington,” Orthrallir said, “you have done great service. You have saved my people when I, their king, could not. For that, we do you honor and homage—and for your bravery, I offer you a home here, in this realm, as an Advisor—as a Knight.”

Amy was astonished. She opened her mouth and couldn’t speak.

Orthrallir’s glance flickered. For the first time, Amy realized he was as nervous as she.

“It is no gift I give,” he said. “’Tis your just reward, your right, to accept or refuse. I have no doubt you are able to overcome what faces you in your land, this harrowing thing called—is it—Graduation? Amy, I am a king in title alone. I owe you my crown. If it is true, that a Diploma is a glorious thing of ultimate power, I do not know what I can propose that will entice you to stay. I know nothing of latitudes and longitudes, nothing of topo-graph-icks. I know only that you are a warrior and a faithful friend. I know that I shall miss you. You owe me none of your skill, your courage, which you have freely given. It is I who owe you everything. Accept my sword and my service; let me make recompense to you with my life.”

If his speech was stiff and formal, it was also sincere. What the Fairy King lacked in content he redeemed by delivery. In his eyes was an earnest fire that made true every decorated expression.

***

Written in response to the Daily Post’s Daily Prompt, “Wrinkled.” Check it out!

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