A/N: Been a while since I've written; don't think I've abandoned my other stories. All my drafts just trigger the need to upchuck. This one doesn't. It'll be updated every two weeks at most and you can look forward to it being my first serious work on here. It's definitely got some slash in it, just to warn you, but I'm not sure what else. This chapter's totally PG. Not a cuss in sight.
Please help me improve it with a review. Not funny enough? Too short? Too generic? Is it playing stereotypes? Do you want me to continue it for ever and ever? Let me know, please.
A Child's Sight and a Faerie's Kiss
Chapter One: My Faerie Godmother
A hand caressed over my face gently, fingers far too soft for an adult and too thin for a child. Silken, like a drizzle of water or honey that left no trace of its path but the gentle electricity that sprang up over my skin. Soft, soft, and soft again. They found the contours of my skin carefully, the span of my jaw, the valley of my eye, the prominence of my nose, the tears in my lips. That dry, greasy feeling that came from morning and winter chapping was brushed away. They erased the very thought of discomfort, relaxing everything they touched and turned all to silk. It was a little bit magic, more than a little bit soothing; made me want to stay frozen between sleep and awake forever, just to feel those cool hands flowing over my skin.
But only my face. Always, only my face.
I wake up blessedly slowly; these touches continue for some time until I am even aware of them, and for a while after before I can move or speak. It doesn't scare me, to be touched so gently when I can't move. I'm used to it, and even if I wasn't, you can feel things on another person's skin, especially when they touch you like this. Just like you can see it in their eyes or hear it in their voice, I could read the intentions of this touch. There was no harm meant by it.
I was in my own head again now, but slowly, still floating. I could move, but not yet speak. I was so still you'd never know it; I kept my whole body relaxed, but somehow he knew. He always does, no matter what I do, and I felt those silken hands settle on the sides of my face, fingers splayed out, pad of the thumb sinking lightly into my eyelashes, palms against my cheeks, electricity buzzing everywhere. A cloud of something sweet blew over my face, too insubstantial to ever be perfume. Two full, smooth lips sent a larger thrill of electricity through me as they marked my forehead with a silvery kiss so soft it almost hurt to try to feel it. And then it all slipped away, the vanishing kiss and the healing hands, though the sweet, heady smell around me remained to be breathed in a moment longer.
I was so close to being awake.
Good morning, Fenn.
The voice was softer even than the kiss, only half real, whispered against my ear in another cloud of sweetness. It was something all out of a dream. Clear, smooth, and low, like an undertone to the sound of a bell, filling up my ears with the sound of magic, or maybe a prayer.
My eyes finally opened, and it was to empty air. There was no one there to speak, to touch, to leave blissful light under my skin and a kiss on my forehead. I was alone, in bed, with early morning sunlight streaming over me from the open window.
A sweet smell lingered.
"Morning, Wreath," I sighed, closing my eyes to the fact that no one was going to answer.
I trotted downstairs to the sound of something anonymous boiling in the cauldron my mother was stirring, the sight of something that made my stomach briefly riot on the chopping block, and my little sister Thyme sitting at the table, staring at me with wise, wide eyes and nursing a bowl of granola, yogurt, and fruit beside another one that was probably meant to be mine. Thyme claims she'll never get married, have a family, or like any boys besides me, but she insists on doing most of the cleaning up and cooking. And I'm thankful. I love Mom very much but her cooking leaves much to be desired.
"Fennel!" My mother greeted without looking at me. She likes to pretend this is because she can sense where we are at all times. I know perfectly well this is a lie because I've snuck out of the house and gone to a party twice and she never noticed a thing. She heard me walk down the stairs. "Did you sleep well?" She asked, finally giving me a glance from whatever substance was hissing at her wooden spoon like a snake. She frowned as she did. "Oh—Fennel, you should pull your bangs down. It's particularly visible today."
Which explained Thyme's staring. I muttered unhappily to myself and went to the nearest mirror—hanging on one of the carved posts that supported the upstairs—to find that yes, the kiss was emblazoned proudly on my forehead, much more so than usual. It's not as though it was in black ink or anything—I had to turn my head and look out of the corner of my eye to get a glimpse of it, and someone without the Sight wouldn't see anything at all—but my town tends to attract people with the Gift more than most. My mother, for instance. She's something of a witch. There were a few people with the Gift in my classes and they would be able to make out the kiss mark just like me, as though some girl with bizarre silver lip gloss had thought it would be funny to rub the stuff all over me.
I tugged futilely on my bangs—cowlick today, how lovely—and groaned.
Mom predictably made things worse by cheerfully adding, "You wouldn't like any of your friends to think you were doing something indecent out of class!"
My mother, you see, is still ruled by the delusion that I make friends with other people like me, people who have the Gift. Which I don't. I actually avoid them like the plague. And don't feed me all of that denial crap, because I know I'm never going to be normal. I just would rather be more normal and not have to deal with gangly pale kids discussing the properties of liverwort and feverfew like it makes them cool. I would much rather talk about the TV I never get to watch because there isn't a TV in our house. Because it actually is cool.
Thyme shot me an understanding look and patted my hand as I sat down. I seized a spoon and shoveled some breakfast into my mouth, flashing a thumbs up at her for the taste. There's not a single processed food item in the house, I don't think. Thyme's bowls of yogurt were made of that organic plain stuff, sour berries, plain granola, and liberal doses of honey. And it's awesome, so don't knock it until you've tried it. It was also a good distraction from my mother implying that I did indecent things with Wreath.
"I am not having an affair, Mom," I thought it prudent to tell her, perhaps for the millionth time. Mom nodded solemnly and tried, as far as I could tell, to look supportive. I tried to flatten my hair again, and groaned. I shot Thyme a look. "Are there any around me now?"
Silently, she looked around me, her huge green eyes tracing over the floor, the chair, the table, and even, disturbingly enough, my lap. At least, that was what I saw her looking at. In truth I know she was seeing something quite different. That is the difference between the Sight and a child's Sight. When I was little, I saw them too. Now I can only see the bare minimum. When you're not a kid, you stop being a part of it, even if they decide to sit on your lap and indirectly creep you out via your little sister. I wish my mom and—and my life would figure that out and let me get on with things.
Thyme chose not to answer definitively. "He's not," she said at last, meaning Wreath. She wrinkled her nose. Wreath and Thyme don't get along terribly well. I didn't exactly know why. Thyme claimed that Wreath hurt her eyes when I asked and promptly clammed up. I didn't push the subject then and I didn't now. Anyway, Wreath never sticks around for very long. It's kind of his thing.
Whatever Mom was cooking started to explode a little at that point, sending big, livid bubbles oozing over the edges of her pot along with a smell best left without description. Thyme and I abandoned the remains of breakfast and fled to the sound of her exclamations of 'wonderful! Just wonderful!'
I failed to see how.
Getting ready for school took longer than usual because I had to douse my hair in the bathroom sink to get rid of the cowlick and attempt to smooth my curly-wet hair over my forehead. There was no point in trying to rub off the kiss mark. I knew from experience that it would stay all day, fading slowly, but always just a little visible. Unless you could keep them from kissing you, you were pretty much stuck with it.
At least Wreath didn't kiss me on the lips. I'd spend all day walking around looking like I had makeup on. It's already bad enough that I'm as—no other word for it—pretty as I am. Mom and Thyme aren't exactly homely and what I've seen of Dad proves that my genetic pool tends towards the attractive. But I take it a little further than that, unfortunately; I make people's heads turn, their mouths drop open, and on more unforgettably awful days, make my teachers forget what they were saying in the middle of a lecture. Mom said it was probably a symptom of getting petted by a faerie every morning. My response was to ask if it was reversible.
It's not a good thing to look like I do and I never asked to have it done. Most of the time, I get it; good looks are enough to get you anywhere you want to, if you use them with some cunning. But when every girl I seriously like either dumps me because she feels inadequate, or thinks I'm making fun of her, or refuses me point blank, it gets seriously old. It also gets old having people come onto you when you don't want them to, getting stared at all the time, and then for reasons I have yet to fully comprehend, shunned. I don't know if it's a jealousy thing, or that they think the reason I haven't had a date since I was twelve is because my standards are too high or what. Because they're really not. I'm just magically attracted to girls who think I'm not serious about them or something.
The only two people who I've never caught staring at me like I'm a piece of meat at some point in my life are my Mom and Thyme, I swear. I'm not being vain or dramatic or, heaven help me, ungrateful, or anything like that. I am simply tired of spending my life being sexually harassed by people's eyes.
So, according to my mom, if I ever get to talk to Wreath before he goes running off to wherever he is when he's not making my life harder, I am going to tell him to cut it out, and hope that I become incredibly ugly. Just for a change.
I successfully crushed my wet hair down until it dripped onto my nose and glanced into the mirror. I should have looked ridiculous. I thought I looked ridiculous. But I'm used to my face. It's not like I can tell.
But at least it didn't look like I'd been kissed. Because believe it or not, that only makes things worse. Mom kissed me once on the cheek wearing some kind of lipstick—Mom—and I didn't notice until I went to the bathroom. Apparently that was the reason why the entire student body and staff had spent the day glaring at me like I was the scum of the earth. Apparently I'd been cheating on them. Because apparently the school has some sort of strange harem claim on me that I violated. And I really don't want to think about that. Ever. Again.
So, a word to the wise. I don't know if faerie godmothers exist or not, because most of the fey I know are nothing like a pudgy grandmother in a cape and they're also nowhere near as cooperative as they are in Cinderella. But I think I might be cursed so maybe somewhere a wonderful human being exists with the Sight, the Gift, and a legion of the fey at your beck and call. If that's the case and you have wishes, I'm telling you now, don't wish to be pretty. It is the dumbest wish you could possibly make.