(Catch up on the story here.)
"Have we need of introductions?" the Princess said.
Remembering is tricky, especially after not one, but two lifetimes. "I think . . ."
“You’re remembering now, aren’t you?”
I remembered all right—an early mist morning, and a giddy flight to the campsite of a lone human. Princess Orlagh led the way. We ladies in waiting followed nervous, but one does not argue with the next queen of the fae. Besides, I was curious about the humans I had glimpsed over the years, the large ones who lumbered across the sacred mounds. This one had pitched a tent and cooked his meals over a large fire, far from the nearest village.
I sat on the bed, careful not to tumble the princess off her feet. “We got too close, we did. The net was covered in butterfly scales that tangled our wings. 'Twas terrible.” Our eyes met. “The jar, its terrifying smoothness, unlike anything we’d ever encountered. How could I forget such a thing?”
The lumbering mortal was Don, out collecting butterfly specimens among the heather.
Princess Orlagh stepped forward. “Maeve, you’ve lived your destiny.”
Falling in love with Don had changed everything. It had certainly changed me. I learned his language and lived in his nectar-rich garden with Princess Orlagh and Peta. The princess eventually grew restless and left to find her way home. Peta and I stayed. We spent our evenings sharing stories of the fae with Don—the successions of queens, battles against our enemies, and, of course, love stories.
First, we lost our wings. It was no longer safe for us to live outside. Don brought us into the house, where Peta and I lived in an unnatural world and invented new lives for ourselves. And then we grew. Our dresses pinched and laces popped. Don provided dolls’ clothes, which only fit for a day or two before we needed something larger.
It was his kindness that grew my love, and, probably, my body. I learned later that Peta’s growth mirrored mine for the very same reason. But Don chose me.
“What now?” I asked.
“I need to go back. That’s why I’ve come. I can’t make it on my own. I’ve tried. The winds of the large ocean are too powerful, and I’ve failed at finding a portal in this land. And now, with a wounded wing…” She spoke in the ancient tongue.
“Back to Donegal?” I answered in the same language, surprising myself.
“The throne sings to me, Maeve.”
My whole family sat outside my bedroom window, probably thinking I needed testing for Alzheimer’s and knowing absolutely nothing of my fae past. “My family, what will I tell them?”
“I suppose you’ll tell them to get out of the house, that you’re taking a holiday.” She was impatient with my mortals, and thought of me only as what I had once been. To her, my family was the fae.
She made it sound so easy, so royal. “What about Peta? She knows you’re here.”
“Peta has broken the sacred code. She no longer belongs to us. She will try to follow, but the survival of the fae depends on keeping her in the land of the mortals.”
Princess Orlagh could have commanded me to take her back to Donegal, but she’d never been that kind of princess. And she knew nothing of the TSA and arthritic feet. “I will get you back to Donegal.”
Patti is the author of six published novels, all of which have a touch of whimsy--Like a Watered Garden, Always Green, In Every Flower, The Queen of Sleepy Eye, Seeing Things, and Goodness and Mercy. She is one of the six original founders of Novel Matters. After writing stories, she loves to teach. And eat Mexican food.
Many thanks to my editor, Bonnie!
Many thanks to my editor, Bonnie!