A/N: This year's creative writing essay; I hope you enjoy. The names are Gaelic, so they're not said the way they're spelt. I've put guides before and after the story. Enjoy, and review, if you please! Also, I've put a link to the poem on my profile, if anyone is interested.

Pronunciation Guide:

Naoise – NEE-sha (the 'a' is like the 'u' in 'up')
Sinead – SHI-nayd
Fiachra – FEE-akh-ra (the 'ch' is like the 'ch' in 'loch')

Stolen Child

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island…

A silvery-white moon glossed the moors silver on a dark blue, midsummer's night. The villagers kept to the little circles of warm orange firelight when they ventured out, keeping their young children close: this was a night for the Fair Folk to be about, to cause their mischief and leave changelings in the place of mortal children. Naoise had his nose pressed against the window in the hopes he would glimpse just one faerie. "Naoise! Come here!" his mother hissed a little fearfully. She gathered her son to her, bundling him on her lap, rocking gently as she started humming a lullaby. It hadn't taken her long to fall asleep, and Naoise wriggled free – a faerie was at the window!

She had pale blue skin, with white hair and deep blue eyes in a heart-shaped face, smiling brightly as she placed a palm on the window. It froze over almost immediately. Naoise touched the glass gingerly, his little mouth agape. Suddenly a second face appeared: a masculine, sharply angular face framed in black hair with black eyes peering in. Naoise stumbled backwards, falling flat. The male face cackled, disappearing into the night. The ice-fae looked back sadly, then smiled again. She beckoned to Naoise to come outside, getting more urgent with each motion. Naoise glanced at his mother. He'd be gone for just a moment… he opened the door, standing just inside as the ice-fae knelt. "Come with me, Naoise," she whispered, holding out a hand. Naoise took it, and solemnly walked by her side as she led him away. "What's your name?" he asked.
The ice-fae's laughter sounded like ice clinking together. "I am Sinead."

Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand…

Naoise left with Sinead for Avalon, and he grew up amongst the many fae of the four different Courts – Winter, Summer, Dark and High – but found himself most comfortable in the Winter Court with Sinead, becoming more and more like the winter fae. Time had no place in Avalon, with seconds spanning millennia and days disappeared in a heartbeat. Each moment showed simultaneously the grace and the cruelty faeries were capable of. By the time the Fair Folk were preparing to leave for the mortal world again, Naoise was a young man with the same cold bearing as his Court, with no memory of being a mortal, either. Sinead had begged him to stay in Avalon, but Naoise had refused: she wasn't explaining why he should stay, and it was his right to accompany the Courts as a winter faerie. Sinead had eventually relented, but still Naoise couldn't understand her sudden and deep sorrow.

They arrived at night in a town that was vaguely familiar to Naoise, with Sinead by his side as they frolicked through the streets. Fiachra, the raven faerie Naoise had seen with Sinead the first time, was wreaking havoc among a group of mortal girls who had strayed from their homes, chasing them as they ran. Naoise suddenly found himself standing at a little cottage door, a place he felt he had known very well. Sinead stood to one side, her fingers woven together by her mouth as a frozen tear slid down her cheek. Naoise opened the door, remembering a woman he once knew, a promise to return. He frowned deeply when a young girl came to the door. "Fare well, Naoise," Sinead whispered, turning to face another faerie from the Summer Court who led a small child away from her home as the Courts returned to Avalon, leaving Naoise the mortal behind.

Away with us he's going,
The solemn-eyed:
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob…

Pronunciation Guide:

Naoise – NEE-sha (the 'a' is like the 'u' in 'up')
Sinead – SHI-nayd
Fiachra – FEE-akh-ra (the 'ch' is like the 'ch' in 'loch')

Words in italics are lines from the poem The Stolen Child by WB Yeats, performed as a song by Loreena McKennit