Being Grey: Part Two
Also by psychopsam
This couldn’t be real.
“I—I—I—you, you’re a—why—” Laeren stuttered. She wondered what was happening to her. Why was her vision suddenly tinged red? Why did the room sway so much? And there was that urge – an urge that was strange and angry and violent and somehow perfectly understandable – to leap up at the still smiling faerie. Her tongue was all tied up in knots, her fists even paler than they’d been before as she clenched and unclenched them, trying to release and withhold herself at the same time. Do something, the back of her mine hissed. She’s one of them. You know what they’re like. Never mind this isn’t the one; they’re all the same. You’ve got to do something.
But Laeren couldn’t do something. She couldn’t do anything. She was weak, injured. She had nothing. And there was a tiny part in the back of her mind that flickered with warmth. Recognition.
She figured she was certifiably insane.
“You all right?” the water faerie asked, cocking her head in confusion. Her voice rang out sweet and kind, and her eyes didn’t hold the typical predatory gleam that shone in the eyes of most faeries – especially, that faerie.
“Idiot,” Laeren whispered under her breath as the faerie stepped closer. This had all been a trap. The end. Well, at least this time there was no other choice but to face it. It would be a relief, she supposed.
“I’m sorry,” the water faerie said softly, stepping back. Laeren blinked. She’d been speaking her thoughts out loud.
“I didn’t realize you were in that much pain,” the faerie continued. “Um, I’ll just leave now, I suppose. I guess.” She backed out of the doorway, pulling the door along with her. The knob twisted once as the mechanism inside swung back in place. But there was no click of a lock.
“You aren’t going to lock me in?” Laeren asked to the closed door. She was slow. Cautious. Wary. “You’re going to let me stay free?” She had always assumed, really, that should she ever find herself anywhere but the dirty streets that were her home, she would be locked in a cage. Or in some sort of glass casing, in which everyone could gawp at Faerieland’s number one enemy, a grey faerie. But the door had been left unlocked, which could only mean...
Laeren swung herself out of the covers, tentatively making her way to the door. The water faerie probably didn’t know what she was, somehow, or else she’d probably be in a museum by now. Better keep it that way, too.
The door swung open noiselessly. Laeren almost felt as if she were intruding. It wasn’t her home, after all. It was far too luxurious. The filtered sunlight coming in from various wide windows danced along the hall. Glittering artifacts adorned small tables and hung on the walls. Too much beauty for an outcast, a reject, a mutant like her. She screwed up her eyes in pain against it and bumped into a table. Something rocked in place and rolled off into her hands.
It was a simple little thing, crude compared to the delicate wonders elsewhere. The item itself was not of interest – just a simple snow globe, with little flakes of white drifting down. But the tiny figurine inside... that caught her interest.
It’s just like me, Laeren thought as she stared at the little grey faerie inside. Lost all her powers, teased. We would probably be best friends.
And, there was one more thing, a fragile, hopeful bubble of thought trailing behind all the others.
There are others like me. I am not alone.
There was the sound of a tail being dragged along a carpet. The water faerie was coming back. Laeren flung her hands up into the air in an act of surrender, dropping the snow globe. It shattered into a million sparkling, wet pieces.
“I’m sorry!” Laeren wailed as the water faerie drew nearer, now throwing her arms up in front of her in a defensive pose. “I didn’t mean to break it!”
The water faerie picked up the pieces and discarded them. “I’ve been waiting for someone to break that thing,” she said with a laugh. “My aunt Mierelle seems to think that old snowglobes and names are two things that ought to be passed down through generations. Can’t do much about the name, but I’ve been dying to get rid of the snowglobe.”
Laeren tugged on her wing nervously, wondering if the faerie was talking to someone else. She couldn’t have been talking to her, the grey faerie. No one did, at least not in that kind tone. The motion caught the water faerie’s attention.
“Does the wing itch?” she asked. “I had to apply some cream to it because of your burns. I don’t really trust cream – not since that piece in the Neopian Times about allergic reactions – so...”
It took some untangling, but Laeren finally managed to straighten her tongue enough to get some words out. “Oh, uh, I suppose you were the one who healed my wing?” she said. It came out sounding ruder than she had expected. Sulky, almost. “Uh, thanks for doing that. It, well, it really hurt before.” Her eyes were still on the water faerie, expecting something to happen.
The water faerie – Mierelle – nodded and shrugged. “It was nothing, but... I hope I’m not prying or anything, but I couldn’t help but wonder what type of faerie you were when I was bringing you in last night. You don’t really seem to fit the bill anywhere.”
Laeren felt her stomach plummet down to her toes. You knew this had to happen though, she told herself sternly, though weakly. Just get it out, and get over with it. “I’m a grey faerie,” she mumbled to the carpet. She looked up, expecting to see the water faerie look angry, or disgusted, or something along those lines. But, no, there was only a mixture of surprise and confusion and – hope? – on the faerie’s face.
“So is that why you were attacked?” the water faerie asked quietly. Her voice suddenly sounded serious and heavy, a huge contrast to the light, practically singsong tone she’d used before.
“Yeah,” Laeren replied cautiously. “Everyone wants to get rid of me because of it. I know I’m supposed to be super evil, because I’m like this, but I’m not. I know I’m not... or, at least, I hope.”
Mierelle shrugged a little, still looking a mildly confused. “Okay.”
Laeren frowned. That was it? She looked up, searching the faerie’s face for some hint of hostility. There was nothing but open warmth and kindness, and a look that honestly said, ‘I’m not going to hurt you.’
Perhaps... perhaps she could trust someone. Just this once. The weird flicker of warmth she’d felt earlier seemed to grow.
“You can trust me, you know,” Mierelle said softly, voicing Laeren’s thoughts.
“I... I know. I guess. I’m Laeren.” And then -- “Hey!” she accused as the water faerie smiled and sent a small gush of water towards her. It was small, harmless, and the happy little spot in the back of her mind tingled. This felt right. She felt the corners of her mouth tug up, to her utter bewilderment, not knowing she was smiling a small, rare smile. And though Laeren knew nothing would happen, she raised an arm as if she would send a jet of something back.
For a moment, the world seemed to seize up, the clocks of time stopping dead, like they hadn’t gotten their morning wind-up. The breeze froze, and curtains suspended halfway there and halfway here. Passing birds stopped mid-chirp, the sweet notes of their songs holding for an abnormally long time. The face of Mierelle was caught laughing, smiling. All the while, Laeren’s arm arced slowly through the air. Her mind seemed to freeze, unable to conjure up anything but the feel of cold water blasting her face, the magic and laughter of the moment before, the last traces of her fear of the water faerie, that was woven into it. It tingled, maybe from cold or from the magic force behind it, or from the strange new emotions that seemed to buzz and crackle inside her.
Laeren’s arm kept going, slowly inching downwards. The curtains twitched forward a fraction of an inch, and the pealing notes changed ever so slightly in pitch. In her mind, Laeren still felt the wetness, the magic and joy and fear in it, but she could feel the tingles seeping into her now. They sank in through every pore, into her blood, her veins, bright sparkling bits of energy. She could feel them being carried, upward, upward, towards her arm, which now tingled furiously from the might of a million tiny sparkles rushing through it. They were being channeled, somehow, to that spot.
The sparkles kept coming, faster and faster, more and more, building up. She couldn’t hold them inside for much longer. They pushed, pushed hard against her fingertips. They were going to burst out soon, with unknown consequences, and she was helpless to stop them. The separate bits were being compacted now; she was unable to tell one from the other. A flowing trickle of silver soon grew into a river, a lake, an ocean.
And then it burst out.
Time was still holding its breath as the silver could no longer be contained by mere physical material. With one last and final push, a gap was opened enough for a few small droplets to squeeze their way out. The clock still ticked at large intervals as a few lone drops of silver changed into clear shimmering spheres of water and flew into the air.
And then the moment was over. Everything was moving as it should, and the tingling silver sparkles retreated back to an unknown place. A strange ringing filled Laeren’s ears, happy chimes that carried a tinge of self satisfaction with them. Of rightness. The lush carpeting was dark in three small spots, where the water had fallen.
Mierelle stared, a strange, unidentifiable look in her eyes. “You clearly underestimate yourself,” she began slowly. “You have powers.”
To be continued...