Just some addition notes first. I have designated "roles/jobs" for those in my fairy world. In case you're curious about them, here is a list and brief description of what I have so far.
-Nature Nurturer – a fairy who helps plants grow
-Animal Keeper – a fairy who cares for animals with special needs—orphans, injuries, etc.
-Mystic Guardian - No Descripton Yet
-Magic Minder – Someone who makes sure fairy magic isn’t being abused, and who watches carefully for any magic that is not part of the fairy world.
-Dream Catcher – a fairy who can interpret dreams, or help create dreams. They also guide dreams to the places and people they are meant to go to.
-Water Watcher – a fairy who cares for and develops all types of water
-Earth Reader – works directly with earth/soil to keep it healthy
-Species Ambassador – a fairy representative of the animals
-Night Ranger/Day Ranger – fairy security
-Bond Guard - kind of a fairy matchmaker (but not really). A Bond Guard knows or reads the signs of the fairies who will be a best fit for one another.-Cultivator – Similar to a Nature Naturer, but this fairy cultivates relationships of all types—between fairies, between fairies and plants, between fairies and animals, etc.
“Fin Earthenly, get in here! Those raindrops are bigger than you, little mole-boy!”
Fin’s boyish laughter was endearing as he hurried into Lady Lorelei’s home. “I’m wearing a duck-feather cloak and hat, Lorelei. The water rolls right off me.”
The older fairy looked to her ceiling with a sigh. “The water wouldn’t touch you if you’d stayed at home, boy.”
“It’s my day to come over. A little rain wasn’t going to stop me,” Fin contended. In the six months since the day he’d cleaned and organized her water cellar, Fin had fallen into the habit of visiting the aging fairy every seven days. Sometimes he did chores for her, and sometimes they just sat and chatted. Both fairies were surprised and pleased with the friendship that had developed between them.
“I do believe a monsoon wouldn’t stop you once you have an idea in your head,” Lorelei stated. “Leave your cloak and hat on the hook there. I don’t want drips on my floor. I may be a Water Watcher, but that doesn’t mean I want to be cleaning it up all the time. Want some blackberry tea?”
“Yes, please!” Fin answered emphatically as he hung up his outer wear, chuckling to himself over Lorelei’s mixture of complaints and generosity. She was a good soul. Plus, he never refused a homemade drink from her. She only served the best!
She returned seemingly moments later with the hot beverage, which Fin blew on before enjoying a flavorful mouthful.
“Anything you need done today?” he asked as Lorelei waved at him to sit on the couch.
“Not in this weather,” Lorelei answered. “Although I dare say there will be some good mud for you to work with when these rains end.”
“And some nice, flowing rivers for you,” Fin replied. “I’m going rainbow hunting the second the rains stop though!”
Lorelei chuckled. “Good luck with that.”
“When did you see your first rainbow, Lorry?”
The elder fairy rolled her eyes at the nickname Fin had started calling her, although she secretly enjoyed it. Fin was a young, life-filled fairy with a good heart, but a tendency for mild foolishness. He brought warmth to those around him.
“I saw my first rainbow at just two-years-old,” she told him. “It touched the very puddle I was playing in and my wings reflected its colors for hours after the rainbow faded. It’s how we all knew I’d be a Water Watcher.” Her aged face lost some of its years as a smile touched her lips. Fin thought she was beautiful when she smiled. “The calling for our fairy roles comes to us at a young age,” she reminded him. “Some are even born with their role embedded into them. Nature knows what we are meant to do.”
“Like the Bond Guard knows about our mates?” Fin questioned.
Lorelei gave the young fairy a knowing look. “Yes, it’s similar, and it’s also not the first time you’ve brought up the Bond Guard recently. Are you anxious to know that aspect of your future, Fin?”
The boy blushed, the red in his face clashing cutely with his purple tresses. “Kinda. I know we have to have eighteen life seasons to our names before we can go to the Bond Guard, but I wish I could know now. It’s hard to wait.”
“Do you have a fairy in mind to whom you’d like to be bonded?” Lorelei asked.
Fin adamantly shook his head. “No! I just…I’m afraid I won’t like what the Bond Guard will say. What if I don’t even have a mate?”
“You have got yourself twisted up like a snake, haven’t you?” Lorelei clucked. “You need to remember, Fin, that it is not a bad thing to be an unmated fairy.”
Fin blushed brighter as he remembered that Lorelei herself had never had a mate. “I’m sorry, Lorry. I didn’t mean to speak against you.”
“You didn’t speak against me, lad. You stated an honest fear, but that fear comes from not realizing that being unmated is a gift just as having a companion is one. The Bond Guard knew I would be happier without a life-bond to someone, just as she knows that other fairies are meant to be together. Neither situation is good or bad in itself; it is simply what is best for each creature.”
“But what about the mated fairies who don’t get along?” Fin asked.
“Well, there are two reasons for that,” Lorelei said knowingly. “Some fairies fight the Bond Guard’s guidance. They think they know their match better than her, so they don’t accept their mate and seek out a different one; or, they take the mate the Bond Guard says is theirs, but they don’t accept in their hearts that it is right, so they always fight against the natural bond that is there.”
Lorelei sat more deeply into her bunny-fur couch. “The Bond Guard knows matches, but mated relationships still take work between the companions, and even the best of matches can be miserable if the fairies refuse to accept one another.”
“I didn’t know we could refuse our mate,” Fin confessed.
“Well, sometimes we are not the wisest of creatures.” Lorelei’s tone was mildly acerbic. “The mate the Bond Guard directs you toward is as natural as the calling of your fairy role, whether you are an Earth Reader, Water Watcher, or something else. But just because it’s natural doesn’t mean we will always accept it. Acceptance is a choice. An Earth Reader may find temporary enjoyment in a Water Watcher’s role, but it won’t last. He will never experience the fulfilment his natural role would give him if he refuses to do it. It’s the same way with your life-companion. You may enjoy your time with someone else, but there will also be a lack if you refuse to bond to your true mate.”
“I don’t know why anyone would refuse to bond with their mate,” Fin declared.
Lorelei chuckled. “Well, suppose I was the mate the Bond Guard said was for you? Would you believe her and accept me?”
Fin was taken off-guard, and his words were stuttered as he tried to answer respectfully. “I don’t…I mean…you’re a different generation, Lorry. We couldn’t be mates.”
“Since when does age play into it?” the elder fairy questioned. “We fairies have very long life spans. I’ve known mates who were several years apart.” Lorelei softened her tone as Fin floundered to answer without causing offense. “I’m not truly asking for you to answer me, Fin. What I want you to understand is that even you may be surprised and even reluctant to accept your companion if the Bond Guard says you have one.”
Fin considered her words, now nervous that maybe he wouldn’t like the Bond Guard’s choice for him. He was pulled from his thoughts though as he glanced out the window and saw the rain had lessened to just a drizzle.
“Oh! The downpour is over!” He set his teacup down and bounced to his feet. “I’m going to go search out a rainbow! I still owe you a bottle of water,” he reminded.
“Out you go then,” Lorelei agreed, gracefully letting the conversation end. “But watch out for toads. Don’t let them mistake you for something to eat!”
“I won’t!” Fin assured, already partly out the door. He tossed her a smile before taking off on his search.
The young fairy darted on young, speedy wings away from Lorelei’s home. His eyes searched for the colors of a rainbow, but his mind thought on Lorelei’s words. Was it true that he might not like the mate the Bond Guard would say was his? How was it possible to run away from your destiny?
Fin was distracted enough by his thoughts that at first he didn’t hear the call for help, but he couldn’t miss the disaster he almost flew into as he neared one of the waterfalls that graced the fairy woods.
The heavy rains had greatly increased the flow of water over the small cliff face that created the falls. The roar of the water was loud, overtaking the sound of everything else in the area.
Fin was startled at the sight, and then highly alarmed as he saw two things at once. One was that the rocks and dirt bordering one side of the falls was slowly starting to drop, the strength of the water pounding it apparently creating too much pressure for it to remain firm, and threatening now to crumble and bury the everything below it, including the homes of many animal friends. Not only that, but if the earth fell away then the water pouring over it would be completely released, and the fairy wood would be in threat of flooding.
The second thing he saw was one tiny fairy, desperately using every ounce of strength and magic in him to hold the mass of earth upright. He recognized the young boy. It was Vaxon, another Earth Reader like himself, but at only twelve years old, Vaxon didn’t have the ability yet to keep the terrain from falling and burying himself along with everything else.
“Help!” the boy cried out as he saw Fin, and Fin flew as fast as he could to the child, immediately adding his own abilities to keep the earth from crumbling. With the magic churning inside him, he created a wall, invisible to the naked eye, but solid against the cliff face. He held it as steady as possible to prevent the cliff from collapsing.
It wouldn’t be enough though. More magic than the two of them had was necessary to prevent the disaster.
“Vaxon! You have to go get help!” Fin ordered.
“You can’t hold it on your own!” Vaxon argued, his young voice desperate and afraid.
“We can’t hold it together either! We need help. I can hold it until you bring help back,” he insisted, although he feared that might end up being a lie. “Go and sound an alert. Get as many fairies to help as you can as quickly as you can. Go!”
With a trembling lip and a fearful look, Vaxon obeyed, his young wings buzzing with the speed with which he flapped them as he darted away for help.
As soon as he and his magic was gone, Fin felt the increased weight of holding the cliff together on his own. He pressed his wall harder and spoke to the earth, encouraging it to stay strong.
“Stand firm,” he pleaded. “I know the water is powerful, but it’s not trying to hurt you. Don’t give in under its weight. I’ll help you, and others will help. I promise. Stay as you are until they come. It will be ok.”
As the minutes passed, his arms began to tremble and the wall he’d erected began to wobble, showing that his magic was growing weak and needed to rest, but he couldn’t let go. Lives and homes would be destroyed if he did.
“Fin! We’re coming!”
Hurry! he thought. He could barely flap his wings, he was getting so weak. But then he was being surrounded by his fairy comrades. Fellow Earth Readers enveloped him and lent their magic and their voices to strengthen the wall he’d erected and encourage the dirt and rocks to stay strong.
Nature Nurturer fairies brought seeds of vine flowers and began planting them in the earth, and then using their magic to encouraged supernatural growth that would create additional support to the struggling cliff.
Animal Keepers herded the vulnerable animals away from danger while working with the resident beavers, birds, and otters to gather sticks and stones to make dams and slow the water’s force.
Fin continued to work with his Earth Reader fairies to hold the wall in place, but his strength was seeping out of him at an alarming rate. His wings managed a few final flaps before they could move no more, and he started to fall away.
Someone yelled his name, and almost immediately his body landed limply onto the soft, feathered back of a friendly bird. He wanted to say thank you and he wanted to keep helping, but instead he unknowingly faded into ‘fairy sleep’, that deep, dreamless, but dangerous period of restoration that was unavoidable when a fairy’s magic needed time to recuperate.
Fin knew he was waking up, but it was a strange kind of wakening, because it didn’t feel like he’d actually been in a normal sleep. There were no dreams, no sense of anything around him, and his whole body felt heavy and immoveable, instead of doing its typical tossing and turning that preceded waking in the morning.
The knowledge that he was waking was due more to the way his magic felt. He’d been in a place of darkness that left him feeling hollow and alone, like the magic that was such a part of him and filled him with color and purpose and energy, had gotten frightened and run away. Now, thankfully, it seemed to be coming out of hiding. There was a sensation of warmth filling him, like a sunbeam touching his toes and slowly moving up his body. It was pleasant and relaxing, and helped keep the sense of fear that he couldn’t move his arms or legs at bay.
After a long while the warmth reached his face, and after several tries he was able to blink his eyes open. His vision was blurry and he couldn’t make out the images around him. They could have been trees or people or animals; nothing was clear. But then he heard voices. The sound of them was like being underwater, and it was impossible to tell what they were saying, but something tender touched his cheek, caressing it and he had just enough energy to turn his face into the soothing touch.
After that a much more natural sleep overtook him, this one filled with pleasant dreams and happy visions.
The second time around, Fin’s waking was much more natural. He flipped from side to side a couple times, and then with a sigh opened his eyes. He immediately recognized that he was in his own bedroom. His clothes hanging on hooks on the wall cast familiar shadows in the early morning light, and the clean smell of his potted moss that kept the air in his space moisture-rich and cool tickled his nose.
He was able to move his arms and legs again too, and he stretched luxuriously, letting out a satisfied groan that was loud enough to bring his mother to the door.
“Oh, my boy! You’re finally awake! That’s such a relief. Emre! Come quick!” she called out to Fin’s father. “Fin is awake!.”
He gave her a confused look. “What’s going on?”
Before his mother could answer, his father appeared in the doorway, a look of concern morphing into a smile of relief matching Fin’s mother’s. “Oh Fin, you had us so concerned!”
Fin looked back and forth between his parents. “I don’t understand what you’re talking about. What are you so relieved over?”
His parents came fully into his room and sat on the edge of his bed, his mother mechanically smoothing out the down blanket covering his legs. “You’ve been insentient for over eighteen hours, Finny. You dropped into fairy sleep.”
Fin’s eyes blinked in surprise. “Fairy sleep? How? Why?”
“The rains threatened the cliff falls. Don’t you remember?” his father asked.
Fin had to think for a minute, but soon the image of the powerfully rushing water and crumbling cliff entered his mind. His arms and wings tingled with the memory of the effort he’d put in to hold the cliff upright and the subtle sensation of his magic still weak, but slowly returning to full strength.
He nodded after a moment. “Yeah, I remember now.” His eyes widened and met his mother’s in an anxious moment. “The cliff! Did it crumble? Is everyone alright?!”
His mother patted his hand. “All is well. You’re a hero, Finny. You and Vaxon both. You kept a tragedy from happening and got help just in time, although you about gave your father and I a fainting spell when the fairy sleep descended on you and your wings stopped moving. You dropped as fast as the water over the falls. Thank goodness Jac and the owl, Daichi, were close enough to catch you. You would have fallen to the water and gotten stuck under the falls if they hadn’t.”
Fin’s eyes got even bigger. “Jac was here?! When did he get back? I thought he was gone for good!”
“He’s still working with a Nature Nurturer a distance away, but he was visiting his family when Vaxon’s call for help sounded,” Fin’s father explained. He gave Fin a confused look. “Jac even stayed here with us until it was clear your fairy sleep had become a natural rest, but you seem upset that he was back.”
Fin shrugged. “He made a promise to me before he left a few months ago, and he never fulfilled it. I think it’s pretty crummy that he’s been back in the area, but he hasn’t come to see me and fulfill that promise.”
“Well,” his mother soothed, “He did save your life when you fell. You wouldn’t even be here with your father and me if he and Daichi hadn’t caught you when you dropped. Perhaps it’s time to forgive him for the broken promise and be thankful for his rescue instead.”
Fin knew his mother was right, but there was still a seed of resentment in him, mostly because his curiosity on what the Bond Guard had told Fin demanded to be satisfied. Still, he nodded at his mother’s words.
“I know. You’re right.”
She leaned in and kissed his brow. “Those are words every parent likes to hear. Now, how is your energy feeling? Think you’re ready for some food?”
Fin nodded. “You bet. Can we have blackberry cakes for breakfast?”
His mother chuckled. “I suppose so. I’m guessing you’re going to want some tree sugar sauce with them?”
Fin nodded emphatically. That made his mother laugh harder.
“All right then, Finny. Do you have the strength to go to the sugar tree and get some. I’ll get started on them right away if you can.”
Fin assured her he was okay, and then dressed quickly after his parents left the room. He grabbed a walnut shell bucket on his way out the door, but paused as he stepped outside and his feet touched the terrain. His magic tingled as grass and soil rubbed against his soles, and he knew the earth was talking to him. Closing his eyes, he concentrated on what the earth was saying. After several moments, a beautiful smile lifted the corners of his mouth. His heart warmed as the land thanked him for his help the previous day.
“You’re welcome,” he replied softly. Grass blades wrapped around his toes, almost petting his feet in silent gratefulness. Fin bent down and gently petted the grass in return, and then moved toward the sugar tree that grew tall and strong behind his home.
He’d just attached his bucket to the tiny tap in the tree when a voice startled him.
“You’re looking well, runt. You had a lot of us worried when the fairy sleep made you fall.”
Looking up in surprise, Fin saw Jacoby standing on a low branch. The older boy’s mouth was turned up in a familiar smile, but his eyes looked concerned. He jumped from the branch and spread his wings out to float to the ground.
“Everyone’s really proud of you, including me, but I was worried about you too,” he offered sincerely.
Fin quickly got over his surprise at seeing the other boy and crossed his arms. “Mother says I should be grateful to you—and I am—but I’m mad at you too,” he stated candidly.
Jac’s smile faltered. “Mad at me? Why? What did I do?”
“You disappeared without saying good-bye, and you broke a promise,” Fin reminded.
Jac sighed. “The Bond Guard meeting, right?”
Fin nodded, his mouth set in a pout he didn’t even realize had appeared.
“Listen, runt,” Jac responded, his own arms crossing to match Fin’s pose, although the look was a little more intimidating on the older boy. “I didn’t break my promise to you. I just haven’t fulfilled it…yet. I also had—and still have—a very good reason for needing to be away right now.”
Fin huffed. “To be with your life mate, right? That’s what most of the fairies think. That Nature Nurturer you went to help is the one the Bond Guard told you about,” he asserted.
“That’s what you think?” Jac questioned, his brows lifting in surprise and a hint of exasperation. “Fin, you and your friends need to focus on what’s real instead of what your imaginations dream up.”
“Well, that is what’s real, isn’t it?”
“As a matter of fact, it is not,” Jac answered. “Crill is not my mate. He is a friend who needed my help, a friend who has helped me in the last few months, and a friend who is happily bonded to a lovely fairy named Sera.”
“I…oh,” Fin replied.
Jac rolled his eyes and dropped his arms from across his chest. Some of the heat left his voice and he chucked Fin under the chin. “Crill is also waiting for me to return because we have some important work to do. He’s teaching me a lot. I was waiting to leave though until I could make sure you really were ok. I’m saying good-bye this time, ok?”
“Yeah, ok, but you still haven’t kept your promise,” Fin reminded.
“I will,” Jac declared. “But I can’t yet. I have some preparation to do before I can share what the Bond Guard told me.”
“Why is it such a secret?” Fin asked.
Jac hesitated, but then answered honestly, although rather vaguely. “It was a secret at first because I wasn’t thrilled about what the Bond Guard told me, and I didn’t want to share it with anyone. Now I’m seeing things a little clearer, but the time isn’t right yet.”
When Fin didn’t look wholly convinced, Jac tried to offer a little more. “I haven’t even told my parents what the Bond Guard said, Fin. It’s not their information to know yet either.”
That surprised the younger fairy. “You haven’t? Does anyone else know?”
After a brief hesitation, Jac nodded. “Crill does, and he’s been helping me with it, but he’s the only one.”
Fin felt mildly put out that this Crill person knew the secret, but better about things to learn that Jac’s parents hadn’t even been let in on it.
“You will tell me one day though, right?” he pushed.
Jac nodded. “Yes, Fin. One day I will. I promise.”
With a resigned sigh, Fin accepted that. “Ok.”
“I should go,” Jac stated, “and your bucket is almost full.”
Fin glanced at his walnut shell and quickly moved to release the tap and prevent it from filling any more. He then turned back to Jac.
“Thanks for sticking around to say good-bye this time, and thanks for catching me when I dropped.”
“You’re welcome, runt,” Jac replied, a smile returning to his features. “Try to stay out of trouble, ok?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Fin replied without promising anything.Moments later Jac was gone and Fin returned to the house, feeling less upset with the older fairy than he had been, but still frustrated that his curiosity had yet to be appeased.