This story is one of the August Writing Challenge entries chosen to be a featured story.
The woods began thickening around her as she ran. The branches all bundled in together, creating a fortress to surround her, but none dare snag at her green dress.
I spotted her using the eyes of the trees and held my breath. The rumors said of a young maiden visiting the prince. I hadn’t paid them any mind until now. She was a beautiful thing, graceful as the leaves, bending with the trees around her. I may have been just a silly little fairy, but I knew that look in her eyes. I knew that urgency of her walk, graceful as it was.
She hurried along a path that didn’t exist, though her feet knew the way as her eyes darted elsewhere. Fairies weren’t supposed to fraternize with humans. Humans were dangerous, blood thirsty even. Yet still, watching her among the oak and fern, I couldn’t help but see the beauty of their kind. If she was the prince’s secret maiden, their love was forbidden, but that wasn’t for me to judge. I stared as long as I dared, followed as long as the branches would allow. I watched her form come to a stop, barely a glimmer of white and green between the leaves.
I never saw the prince, not directly, but I felt him. There’s something about fairy royalty, the way all creatures bend to their will. I’ve seen it all my life, short as it has been. The way even the trees, the strongest things in our wood, move around them, clear the paths of forest floors at their presence. The creatures, the animals, they all follow without question. It is our way, and they have never given us reason to question.
She doesn’t do this. She holds herself as an equal, yet he seems to treat her like more. I never did understand love, the way it bends the minds of those under its influence. I didn’t know it was possible for a love to be created between our kind and theirs. Seeing it in action, part of me still couldn’t. When the branches started to sway around me, I broke away. Whether it was a warning or not, it wasn’t in my business to watch. Before taking off, I take one last glance back. She is twirling now. Her laughter rings in my ears, a gentle bell like noise.
I’m tempted to go back and watch, but I know better. The willow sprites will make better company than the trees anyway. Her laughter fades behind me. I never understood love, but I know it when I see it.