He is a man, and she is a woman, and they lay together, cuddled, in the moments after they've made love, before they make love again, as they do in these long afternoons before he has to leave for work. In this moment, everything seems as normal and regular as Allyn expected life to be. Perhaps more so, as she had never truly expected her own life would take such a standard path. And it hadn't, of course, life took her here, to Egewater, where no one is completely human, where all the tales she once thought of as folklore made their home.
"Tell me again," she sighs, tucking her head beneath his chin. The stories Meri tells her never made it into the books she read, were part of no mortal fairy canon, just as the stories she grew up with have no place here.
"Which one?" he asks.
"Aymeri and Ico," she answers, wrapping her arm round his waist, listening to his heart beat while he tells her again the story of his great-grandparents, a dragon and a water sprite who fell in love, were parted by tragedy and came together again. When he gets to the part of their reunion in the caves around Ico's sacred spring, Allyn lifts her head. "Stop," she says, "Let's leave them there, happy."
"All right," Meri agrees, "But I don't think they are unhappy now. They are just tired of living like this, attached to bodies."
It's hard to imagine immortality as a burden, but in the stories, those who pursue it are often punished, and those who have it are never as happy about it as one would think, and are even jealous of the quick life of mortals, full of passion and drama.
"I spoke with Nyx yesterday," Allyn says quietly. The conversation has been in her thoughts since, intruding on her peace.
"You're on a first name basis with her now?" Meri asks, his voice bitter.
"Don't worry, I know her type," Allyn says, soothing him with a caress, "She wants to befriend me to drive a wedge between us. But that doesn't mean there isn't some truth to what she says."
"And what did she say that's got you so worried?"
"She said I put you in danger by being with you. That it's in the nature of a fox spirit to drain her lovers until they are dead. Like some kind of psychic energy vampire. Everything I've read about them confirms what she says." Allyn's interest in folklore had not extended so far as Asia, but as soon as she learned of her own heritage as a descendant of a fox spirit, she plunge into this new field of study to learn about herself.
"How many lovers have you killed?" Meri asks.
"Well, none, but..." But she was just a teenager, and she'd never stuck around long enough, "From what I've read, the fox spirit would form a relationship with her...prey...and feed from his energy over time, until he had none left. And now that I know what it is, I recognize it, I do get a kind of...charge...from sex." Allyn blushes as she says this; though she's not usually shy about talking about sexual matters, this is both creepy and embarrassing.
Meri rolls on top of her, "You are more than just a fox sprit, love," he says, "And I'm not some defenseless mortal." His eyes, always bright, almost unnaturally blue, take on a glow, and Allyn feels power surging through his skin, into hers, "You aren't the most dangerous creature in this bed," he says, "I am made of the energy you feed on. Take as much as you like, I will always have more."
Meri has tried a few times to talk to his sister on Erys' behalf. Or at least to find out from her why she won't accept his calls, but Melusine had been hiding away from everyone. When she finally called, it was tell her brother he was now an uncle.
Erys is still in shock, learning of child only on the day she was born. As much Melusine wants to avoid him, she can't keep her daughter from her father.
Meri brings Allyn to visit, and meet his new niece, Casey. Allyn watches him with the infant, and a new longing stirs within her.
The new father takes Meri aside as soon as he gets a chance. "She says she doesn't want an immortal husband," Erys tells him, glancing over to where Melusine and Allyn are getting acquainted, "She doesn't want her mortal children to have an immortal father. But I don't see how shutting me out now can help that."
"Give her some time," Meri suggests.
"Time," Erys sighs, "I have all of it, but she has so little. And now my daughter...she'll grow up, grow old and die, and leave me with grandchildren that will do the same. Maybe Melusine is right, and I should let her go. But how? When I love her so much, and I know she loves me. How will spending the time we have apart be any better than spending it together?"
Meris doesn't have answer for him. Such thoughts crossed his mind when he'd been dating Nyx, but he'd never had any solution to them, nor did Nyx seem overly worried about their future. Her interest in him was about his status as a Dayspring, descendant of Ico and Aymeri, her own parents' friends and the co-founders of Edgewater. To Nyx, they were royal families who should naturally form alliances of marriage. What would it matter to her if he died, so long as he left her with a child to carry on his lineage? "Tell her that,"Meri suggests, "Keep telling her."
While her brother talks with Erys, Melusine questions her brother's new lover, a fox spirit of all things.
"Meri's a kind, sweet man," she says, "You'd better not break his heart, fox."
Allyn smiles, tucking her head in to hide her laughter. Meri is kind and sweet, too, at the right moments. But his sister doesn't know him as well as Allyn has come to know him. "Meri is a lot more than that," she says, "And I'm not a fox, I'm a woman. I'm not out to break his heart, I can promise you that."
"Oh, blessed stars, it's been broken for years!" Tansy Summerdream exclaims when Allyn repairs her old stereo for her, "No magic could cure it. But you did it. Thank you! I'll be forever in your debt!"
"It wasn't that big of a deal," Allyn insists, but to Tansy the quick repair job was some kind of miracle.
The evening grows late, Allyn puts her book down to look out the window, knowing he'll be home any minute now.
It gives her a weird thrill to see him pull in and walk to their door every night.
"I got a promotion," he tells her, embracing her as soon as he's in the door.
"And I've got something for you," he says, dropping onto his knee and bringing out a ring. "Will you marry me?"
Allyn accepts without hesitation.
The couple celebrates their engagement.
Meri brings the good news to his parents. Little Casey has grown into a toddler.
Allyn tells Tansy about her engagement when she runs into her at the consignment shop.
Tansy grabs her into an affectionate hug. "I'm so happy for you two," she gushes, "Meri really deserved something like this. I'm so glad he brought you here. Even if it was tweaking the rules."
Allyn returns the hug, happy to not have her motives questioned. "I hope you'll come to the wedding," she extends an invitation, hoping that's not against any unwritten fairy etiquette.
"Of course I'll come!" Tansy exclaims, "I'm your friend. I'd be very put out if you didn't invite me."
Allyn thinks of a few stories that told of dire consequences when people forgot to invite fairies to important occasions, and she's glad she spoke up. "Thank you, Tansy," she says, "I've never really had a friend before."
"Well, that's typical for foxes," Tansy says, "Many lovers, few friends."
Allyn wants to protest, she's not a fox, but Tansy's description certainly fits her well enough. Until now, anyway. "I'm still learning what a fox spirit even is," Allyn says, "I'm more than that, though."
"We tend to do that here, label everyone into neat categories based on the dominant traits in their ancestry. But of course, you aren't really a fox spirit. I can't imagine a true fox staying here, without any real prey. They never spent much time in the fae realm, either, when there was one, preferring to live amongst the mortals," Tansy says, surprising Allyn with her seriousness. Then she smiles, becoming the more familiar version of herself, "I'm glad we can be friends, though! Nyx scares everyone who try to get close to us away. But she doesn't scare you, I can tell."
Because my starting population is so small, I guess, SP has decided to knock everyone up. Pregnancy for everyone! There have been a few marriages, but Melusine and Erys remain partners but unmarried. We'll see how that goes. *trying not to interfere*
I keep forgetting to post traits.
Meri is: Hopeless Romantic, Natural Cook, Loves the Outdoors, Green Thumb, Perfectionist
Allyn is: Neat, Handy, Loves the Outdoors, Good Sense of Humor, Born Salesman