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To Fall for the Fae

Chapter Text

The death had not been simple. It had not been easy. It had not been painless.

He spent his last days wrapped in sweat soaked clothes. Flushed with a fever slowly ravishing his tall lithe body like a tree dying from rot. They could do nothing more than wait for the merciful inevitable end.

It was not a quiet death. He ranted, he raved, he howled like a feral wounded beast. Then there were times when he sang. He sang the sad sweet music he used to before the draw of sin consumed him. Back when his nimble fingers would pick out slow sensual chords that matched his words that could be harsh one moment then kind the next. He would spend his days serenading the empty air. The trees his only audience, his only love.

He cried out a name, begging for her. A woman. They had never heard him speak this name before. It left them no idea where to begin to search for her. Still in his delirium he begged for her. Offering his soul for the very chance to feel her cool hand brushing his wet hair limp with sweat from his brow.

His death had not been simple. His funeral had.

A pine box. A trip deep into the bog. The wet mud sucking at their shoes. Trying desperately to drag them down along with him. It was Andrew alone destined to become one with the place he had loved most. He was the only one that wet ground would accept. It longed for him.

They laid him down softly in the cold dark earth as the bog took no time to swallow him whole.

They were still left with the ringing of that name in their ears as they trudged away from his final resting place. Perhaps now in death his soul would find a way to crawl back to her.

They could hear her name even now. It ate away at their souls. The plants whispered his forgotten love’s name.

He died alone but not lonely.

Such is the fate of the fae.

Yet as they headed back home to the warmth of their houses they could her his lyrical voice calling one last time.

One word only.

That damnable name.

He whispered it.

“Madison”

OoOo

He rolled off her neither tired nor satisfied. She moaned. Her eyes still rolling into the back of her head as the le petit mort consumed her.

She had taken him to church of that there was no doubt. Still with the sedating buzz of the deathless death he felt hollow inside.

Dissatisfied.

She was a lovely girl. A classic beauty like a heroine from an old black and white flick.

She was everything a man could love.

However, he liked them wild. Untamed, With a soul like a bird that could never be caged.

He could see her then in his mind. Eyes like emerald pools. Reminding him of the rolling hills of Ireland. Of a life clinging to his mind even though he had been far from it for too long.

Her hair was long. Falling to below her waist in dark locks. The strands would be baby fine so he could run his fingers through them for days.

Her nails...her nails he could almost feel grazing his scalp as she’d try fruitlessly to finger comb the tangles from his hair.

Dark brown most times his hair with a trick of the light would turn to a shade like copper fire in the sun.

He could never see her full on. Just a profile. Her individual features. Then she would turn from him and walk out of his mind.

Her name would be on his lips. Whispered under his breath like a prayer to a deity that he didn’t believe in.

“Madison”

He saw her like this only after that sweet release. Perhaps that was why he tried desperately to find her in the women he bedded. He did it rarely. Never cheap. Never fake. For those moments he loved them. The weight of them in the arms he never used to hold her.

He was not loose nor did he consider these women to be either. There was romance always. Seduction. A fondness that could be mistaken for love. Instead he always felt restless. They weren’t her. They never were.

“Is everything alright?” She asks. He looked at her then through the flame of his lighter as the tip of his cigarette began to glow red.

For a moment this beautiful lass, her eyes dancing in the flames, could be her. Just for a moment.

Madisonhis subconscious mind whispered.
I wouldn’t know where to start. his conscious mind thought.

“Yes baby, of course.” He leaned over then and kissed her on the light flesh of her shoulder that peeked out from beneath the crisp white hotel sheets.

He pushed her from his mind and that was that.

OoOo

His fingers picked out the notes bit by bit.

It was 5 am and the city below him glowed on like a town on fire. Everyone was asleep but still those lights burned out the very glow of the stars above. Artificial blocked out the natural beauty. That’s the way of humans though wasn’t it?

The way of love too. You could fuck and mask it as making love all you wanted. Still she had groaned out “Baby...baby...baby” the whole time. As if she couldn’t even remember his name. It would have only been worse if she’d screamed “Hozier!” at that final peak of orgasm.

He’d convinced himself it was real, yet here he was bitter and unhappy on the roof of the hotel, guitar in hand, trying to get two women out of his mind. One a fantasy that would haunt him until the grave. The other asleep in his temporary bed, in this temporary home, in a city that would one day be swallowed back up by the earth. Then only then would nature have won over the fake. Perhaps if he was swallowed by the earth once again he would be free too. Free of her.

He always felt this way after. Always. It felt so good. That romance that seduction beforehand. Hands grazing each other across the table. Crooked smiles exchanged. Words, oh how the words wooed him.

Then the way they would kiss the skin that groaned from him. Play his body as expertly as he played the guitar. It felt good. It felt real.

After though he was bitter. Restless, dissatisfied, angry with himself.

Another girl. Another broken heart. Another attempt to get her out of his head. He could hardly stand it some times.

He allowed for just a moment his mind to drift to her and the words came easy. They always flowed from him like a language of babble spoken in tongues when he thought of her.

His fingers moved over the strings and he parted his lips letting the words slip from his mouth softly.

“Wasteland Baby...I’m in love...I’m in love with you...”

OoOo

“Love with every stranger, the stranger the better eh?” One of the roadies joked as Andrew descended the front steps of the hotel alone. Oh to be alone with you his thinking mind thought as his subconscious mind called her name.

Always, always searching for her. Never satisfied by the absence of her. It called out to her as if it could simply call her to him. It had been calling to her for 29 years and had yet to deliver.

He tried to not think about her by choice. Still the part of his subconscious that he had utterly no control of constantly called to her. Nonstop. Every moment. Every day.

Until he felt like his sanity was leaving him. The only time he felt sane was when he wrote his music. It was actually her music.

She was the muse that sent him the words. No true artist can create without a little tragedy. A little torture. A lot of torment.

“I know her middle name. Mother’s maiden name. Every school she went to plus the list of every pet she’s had over her lifetime. She was hardly a stranger.” Though now she feels like one he thought of their parting.

The throwing of things. The shattered lamp he’d have to pay for. He didn’t care about the cost. He simply felt if a lamp was going to be broken in one of his hotel rooms he'd rather it be in the middle of passion.

Slamming her back against the wall until the plaster cracked and rained down on them. Her foot as he slid inside twisting out in a spasm of pleasure knocking the cheap light fixture to the ground where it would shatter. A wave of moans creating a symphony soundtrack to the ripples of pure ecstasy flowing through them.

If he was with her that’s what it would be like.

“Sorry I didn’t mean to imply...” Andrew clasped the roadie on the back and offered him a wane smile.

“Don’t worry about it.” He was trying to prove more to himself than anyone else that it hadn’t been a meaningless pursuit to clear his head once again.

He ran a hand down his face and sighed.

“I think I could use a strong drink.” Andrew smiled at the thought of the cool liquid burning a hot path down his throat. He ran a finger through his tangled hair and looked quizzically at the guy.

“I know a bar a few blocks away. I don’t think anyone would recognize you there. Decent whiskey.” The guy shrugged apologetically at the last part.

“Tonight I’ll take decent over nothing.” They exchanged a knowing smile that imparted that silent unintelligible “guy” language that women would forever cease to understand.

He shrugged himself deeper into his denim jacket as they left the scene of that hotel with the room forever damned by the smell of sex with another woman that he was never meant to be with.

OoOo

A man like a tall tree stalked a path down the cool night streets of a city he only vaguely knew. His feet dragged. He was dead tired not from sleeplessness. No he dreamed of her every night. That alone lulled him happily to sleep. Instead it was the weariness of the day. The pain of facing the world alone in sea of adoring faces.

To be alone was the fate of the Fae. That is...until their path crosses with another of the winglessly winged figures...

OoOo

Chapter Text

The bog was cold, dark, freezing, but oh so sweet. So beautiful to be in that delicious darkness after the red hot burning of the fever.

It had swallowed him whole. Body, heart, and soul. It owned him now. Completed him. His long limbs suspended in the soft sweet feel of mud and peat.

They laid him down into the earth that had greedily accepted him, little did they know that he had not been fully dead. His heart stuck in atrophy, paused for a moment. A breath between beats. Still they had packed him into that stiff box cut from the very trees he had loved.

They’d buried him alive.

They had not cared for him to continue living in the sinful life of drink. It had been a month he’d disappeared. A month they had waited for the father of the forest to return. To quell the wildness of the forest that ever threatened to consume them.

They had been wrathful when he’d appeared half dead, wild, scared and collapsed on the steps of the porch of his cabin. He mumbled something over and over again. Unable to calm him they’d placed him in bed. Watched him suffer. Then gave him as a ritual sacrifice to the very epicenter of the wilderness to keep it calm. To keep it quiet.

No longer did they need to fear what lay in there. The beasts that the forest father had seen, had killed, had lulled with his music. They had fed him to them. It was done.

It smelled of that sharp coolness of wet earth. It could not be explained, could not be described, it simply was.

His heart began to beat slowly, reluctantly. It hurt to feel the slow drumbeat in his chest. It ached, it yearned, it wanted her.

He’d rather it’d stayed paused.

The weight of the mud pushed on the lid of his simple coffin. It threatened to submerge him. Fill his nose and lungs with it. Line his teeth and lungs with it.

It wanted to consume him.

She wanted to save him.

Yet, still he waited alone.

A fleeting thought one of the few to cross his mind in this makeshift grave.

Oh to be alone with you.

Such was the fate of the fae.

OoOo

He’d never felt too good in crowds. They made him feel claustrophobic. Bodies pushing against him, sucking the sweet cool air from his lungs. It felt like the crowd was trying to overtake him. Consume him. There was a fleeting thought in his mind when they pressed against him. A thought like cool darkness overtaking his senses. It felt like his heart stopped as they tried to swallow him whole. It felt familiar though from when and where he didn’t know.

They played their music loud. They bayed like creatures along to it. Screaming out lyrics of hate and violence. It beat against his eardrums until he wanted to cover his ears to block out the sound.

He resisted the urge and pushed past another bar. Nameless, faceless he let his long legs lead him along the street as the man who identified himself as Larry led him to the bar.

Andrew almost turned back. Something in his conscious, his intuition told him that tonight something big would happen. He was too tired for big. Too sick of this world for his entire existence to rocked from it’s foundation.

The night crackled with electricity. It was ready. It was waiting. It wanted him.

Larry led him towards something monumental and more than once he stumbled as his feet wanted to turn and run.

Many a heart he had broken, never with clear intent to, but broken they had been none the less.

Yet, his heart remained pure. Hardened and turned black with the bitterness that consumed his soul whenever he thought of her and failed to find her. It beat on though, no cracks allowing what little light left inside of it to shine out.

It was armored. He wanted to keep it that way.

Larry approached a bar that was lightless, dark, dank. There was an air of cigarette smoke wafting from inside. The music was slow, sensual. The drumbeat matched his heart. It beat like the wings of a hummingbird.

He faltered at the entrance. The entrance to her. This bar. This bar that played the music of the winglessly winged creatures. They played the music of the Fae.

He felt powerless in that moment. There were moments when he stood on stage, his voice fiercely crying out the words to “Nina Cried Power” as the entire stage erupted in fire, where he felt invincible. Thousands of faces singing along, shouting those words, his words, her words. He conducted them but they met his music punch for punch with power. In those moments he was something else, something else.

Andrew couldn’t force his feet forward. Something was in there. Someone was in there.

For a moment his heart stopped. Just for one beat it ceased it’s movement.

“No.” He whispered under his breath. A beg. No. Don’t send me her. I am not ready yet. Not worthy yet.

His thinking mind couldn’t comprehend what was going on as he tried to force his feet into action. Into movement. Larry watched him quizzically.

Madison his subconscious cried like a battle song. It chanted her name over and over again. It could not stop.

He tried to turn on his heels and stalk back to the relative safety of his hotel room even the tiny bunks he shared with the rest of the band. Anywhere but here.

His subconscious screamed her name. Then it took it upon itself to propel his feet forward whether he wanted to go or not.

He walked woodenly into the bar his hands thrust into the pockets of his pants.

Andrew didn’t want to go. He wanted to go. He wanted to run. He wanted to tie himself to bar to keep from leaving. He didn’t want this. He needed this. He was desperate. He was desperate. He was desperate.

He took a seat at one of the few cliched stools at the bar. Ordered a whiskey, it was decent like Larry had promised, and lit a cigarette.

He drank his whiskey. He smoked. He waited.

Always he waited.

He knew better than to fuck with fate.

This was Wasteland, baby.

OoOo

He was several drinks in. Enough that he felt his world beginning to tilt. He could handle his whiskey, don’t get that wrong. Tonight though he wanted that tilt. He wanted to remove the fear he felt fluttering in his chest. Like a shrike trapped in his rib cage. Slowly eating him from the inside out. Thrusting him upon a thorn then ripping into his flesh.

His thoughts got darker the more he drank. Sometimes his best lyrics came when he was so deep into the swill that there was no pulling him out. Simply let him slowly claw his way out of the dark hole he’d dragged his limp body into.

Damn his thoughts were getting away from him.

Then the hair on the back of his neck stood on end.

Like a bolt of lightning coming down from the sky he was struck with electricity. His body lit up like the Vegas strip. Something was happening.

He didn’t feel sober but the world stopped spinning. It was like his senses were on overdrive. Sharpened.

He fought it as long as he could though he still didn’t know why. His rational mind could not comprehend all the things rushing through him. It didn’t understand what he was. What was hidden inside of him. Those wings that never unfurled. He saw himself as ordinary. It was only through the lens of his fans did he even being to comprehend that he was complete extraordinary.

He took his drink and spun around on the stool. He was too tired to fight with himself.

His eyes dry and red from too much nicotine. Too little sleep. Too much heartache looked with laser focus for what it was his brain wanted him to see.

He scanned the bar. His eyes falling on person after person.

He focused on the makeshift dance floor that was shrouded in a cloud of smoke. His eyes glanced through the men and women dancing oh so slow and sensual on the floor.

Then his eyes fell on something. Someone. A profile of a woman. Dancing real slow, all by herself, as if passing the time until her lover found her.

His heart stopped this time for more than a moment. It jerked. Spasmed. Then stopped.

Andrew took a stuttering breath trying to restart it and slowly it did. It beat until it was matching the movement of her hips.

She danced like a bird of paradise. She moved lithely like the bough of a willow tree.

Her dark brown tresses move hypnotically as she danced. Falling over one shoulder then the next. It looked like a wave of water. Rippling darkness.

Though she moved slowly he could sense in her something wild. Something feral.

This was a woman who could not be tamed. Not by anyone.

She could be loved, oh could she be loved.

No one would ever possess her though.

He wanted to love her.

He wanted to slam her against the wall and crash his mouth onto her.

He wanted to sink his teeth into her neck, biting and sucking gently until he left a mark on her. A love bite. Something that reminded everyone that she was his.

He wanted her.

He needed her.

“Madison” he called like a prayer but the word was swallowed up by the crowd and she didn’t hear him.

OoOo

A man tall as a tree sat hunched over a glass that his shaking hands held ever so delicately. If given another moment he would drop that cool smooth glass and it would shatter to the ground. Breaking into a million pieces. It was foreboding. It was the potential of what this beautiful creature rarely seen could do to him. To his heart of darkness.

She was oblivious to his plight. Oblivious to those around her. She moved her hips in figure eights, a dance of veils from long ago that no one could remember. She danced in a way that she had never been taught. A way that drew the men in around her. They kept their distance. She gave off a vibe, a deep one, that said no one can touch me, no one can know me, no one but him.

He looked at her and knew instantly that no one fucked with his baby.

His fate was sealed.

The fate of the Fae.

Chapter Text

The village had been fighting the beasts for a long time. They came from the woods dragging their hairy bodies through the dirt paths between the makeshift structures. They stole food, destroyed property, then eventually they began to kill. The tore into the skin of an unsuspecting fae. The taste of that pure silver blood drove the beasts nearly mad. They hunted then. Their twisted limbs moved them quicker than you would imagine. Hunting the fae became a sport. The village lived in constant fear.

A village elder, her face a mass of creases from years of smiles and laughter was now wroth with worry lines. Her forehead forever furrowed. She feared for her clan.

The forest father was the answer.

They had heard stories of him. The winglessly winged creature who sung in such an unearthly way that it quelled the wilderness that surrounded all of them.

It was rumored that half crazed he had run into the forest and in an act of mercy raised a heavy stone above his head and crashed it down upon the skull of a dying monster. Forever from then the forest respected him.

His voice soothed the trees, the animals, the strange monsters lurking within.

Three times the elder sent a messenger to fetch the forest father.

They begged. They pleaded. They didn’t dare demand.

Their numbers dwindled as the village was ravaged by these creatures rarely seen by others.

In a moment of desperation the elder left the terrified village herself her daughter in tow.

Her daughter was not a towering tree though neither was she small. Yet, when she stood her full length she looked like a pillar. She was her mother’s pride. He long locks running down her shoulders in dark waves. When she danced it was the dance of the forest. She called just as strongly to the trees as the forest father.

The elder hoped the forest father would sense that in her and find a kindred spirit. The elder felt guilty for using her daughter as bait but her village needed her.

They arrived at twilight at the steps of the forest father’s humble abode. They were greeted by the sweet twangs of a guitar. It was delicious music, like nectar to the soul.

Her daughter as if in a trance begin to follow the music as if her heart led her feet.

They found him on the back porch. Guitar in hand a thin stream of smoke coming from his mouth. His eyes were locked on the forest. His fingers moved nimbly. He was a sight to behold.

His eyes fell on the Elder first then as if involuntarily her daughter made the smallest of noises. His eyes moved to her.

He took a deep intake of breath as their eyes locked. Her daughter let out a little gasp. It was as if as one breathed in the other breathed out. They exchanged their breaths connecting on a level that was unrecognizable to the Elder.

This was the fate of the fate.

He said one sentence as his eyes never left her daughter’s face.

“I’ll come.”

OoOo

She was the answer to the call. She was what his soul called to. She was so close, a few feet away dancing slowly still to song after song. He body had energy to release and she did so with the move of her hip and each movement of her hands. She itched for a partner yet, she was alone but not lonely in her dance.

With each movement it was like a veil she held over herself dropped off. With each song she became herself more and more. She shed the armor that she had built around herself. Another song, another veil, another piece of armor gone. She slowly stood naked of the persona she put on for the people she cared little for.

He was entranced. She was...it. There was no better way to put it.

“Be still my foolish heart, don’t ruin this on me.” He breathed out.

“What?” Larry called over the noise of the bar. It snapped Andrew momentarily from the connection that he was sharing with her. He glanced at Larry feeling almost like dismissing him but his kind heart refused to allow him to do that.

“Nothing. Just talking to myself.”

“Is everything alright?” It was the second time today someone had asked that question. First the heartsick blonde that threw his hotel lamp at his head. Now Larry. He still wouldn’t know where to start. Something in him danced with joy. Another aspect of him was wary of this connection. What did it mean? Why did he feel like this was about to go very poorly?

His dreaming mind could stand it no longer. As if propelled from a push from some type of magic he was drawn to her like a magnet. He couldn’t have stopped his forward movement if he had even tried.

“Watch my drink.” He mumbled still moving zombie like towards her.

When he was close enough that he could reach out with his hand and brush those dark locks away from her forehead she finally looked up at him.

Her eyes were like emerald pools. A green like lush grass rolling over hills. He took a sharp intake of breath as they met his eyes. Piercing, staring into the dark empty part of his soul.

That look chilled him to the bone and at the same time his skin burst into flames.

He reached out a hand involuntarily. He didn’t know what to do, what it meant, what he had intended to do with this hand outstretched but he just needed to make contact.

She scrutinized his hand, rough with calluses. Tough from plucking out his music, her music, this beautiful creature rarely seen, on his guitar.

Then without a moment thought she took his hand and pulled him gently against her. He nearly stumbled as she did.

Then her back was against his chest. Her hips still moved in figure eights and he matched his movement to hers. They danced real slow. Almost to the point of standing still.

It was divine like sweet cherry wine.

In that moment he felt free. Free of the burden of bitter dissatisfaction he had carried for years. He took a deep shuddering breath as they danced. It was as if this was the first true deep breath he had ever taken.

The armor of his heart fell away. It made him feel naked and vulnerable.

He was scared. Then he was happy in a way he had never been.

Then like a flash from a different life hit him more powerful than he had ever felt.

A hot room. A small single bed that creaked with each movement as he drove into her. He buried his pillar of pride deep inside of her. Her eyes were glazed with the deep joy of love making. Her hand brushed his hair from his eyes but it simply fell back into place. Her skin was glossed in a sheen of sweat that he wanted to lick off. It would be sweeter than any sugar that had graced his tongue.

Her moans filled the tiny room as they rocked together beneath her cotton calico blanket. He groaned at the feel of her. He felt lonely when he pulled out and completely connected as her pushed into her.

She was the angel of small death and her cries of ecstasy filled the cabin loud enough to be heard by all the fae in the village.

He didn't care.

The forest father and the willow woman became one. The wilderness was soothed.

This was what the fae fate had in store for them.

He snapped out of it back into the present moment and shook his head. What had that been? He shook his head one more time his long hair gently caressing his face as he did. She didn’t seem to notice and he was glad of that.

When a song so slow that their dancing would have halted completely came on she turned slowly and wrapped her arms around her neck. She was unafraid of him. She was unaware of who he was. It was refreshing.

She demanded nothing of him. Simply wrapped her arms around his neck and looked deep into his eyes.

Andrew rested his hands on her waist ever so gently. Inside his mind he begged her silently to caress his face. To brush the tips of her fingers over his cheeks. To run her fingers through his tangled hair. She didn’t.

A silence stretched where one of them breathed then the other did.

Finally the angel spoke...

“My name is...”

“Madison.” He supplied before she even told him.

OoOo

Silver blood called to silver blood. Fae called to fae. She was a wingless angel of the small death. Controller of the willow tree that she so danced like.

He was the forest father. Capable of quelling any creature with his mere voice.

Over thousand of years. Over death, destruction, the fall and rise of humanity they had found each other.

They had no idea who they were. What they were. Why their blood called to each other. Why they were destined to be together.

They knew none of this. They knew not each other or the power crying within them.

When they made love or when they truly fucked the world would quake at the mere magnitude of the energy they created.

The lamps would be broken. Shattered to the floor as he drove into her over and over again. She would kick them, throw them, destroy them in her pleasure

She was his goddess unknown. She would rule him. He would dedicate his life to her. Worship at her altar.

He knew not of her power. He knew not of how she would destroy him.

She was a girl who danced away pain.

He hypnotized thousands with his voice.

They were meant for each other.

They were doomed.

Such is the fate of the Fae.

OoOo

They called her the willow woman and the forest father was hopelessly heartsick for her.

As they trekked back from the forest father’s cabin to the doomed village he fell in love a little more each day. It was small things. The way her front right tooth was a little crooked but she never tried to hide it when she laughed, which to his delight was often.

Her laugh was like the tinkling sound of shells strung from his cabin roof. It rang through the clearing. He could tell from looking at the elder and the lines creased into her forehead she was losing hope. However her daughter, the willow woman, was hopelessly hopeful still. She maintained that they could save the village.

The forest father did not share her same hope but he still loved to hear her talk about the happier times her village would come to know in the future.

She believed he would save them.

He knew desperately that he was no savior.

When the elder fell asleep at night he would walk the edge of the woods with her. She was the first woman he’d known that did not jump at the sound of the baying monsters deep in those dark woods.

She closed her eyes and relished the sound.

She was wild.

And feral.

He was in love already.

It was unheard of a fae born outside of a clan being with the daughter of an elder.

It was more than unheard of it, it was forbidden.

He knew, he knew, he could not be with her.

Yet, still he'd let his fingers graze hers as they walked, talking about anything and everything. Her dreams, his music, the woods, the water, the trees, this earth that was constantly changing.

One night when he grazed her fingers with the rough tips of his calloused hand she slipped her hand into it. He was shocked and almost froze his heart beating faster than it ever had. He felt foolish in a way. The forest father, pillar of pride, falling in love. He couldn’t help it. It was a force beyond him.

He gripped her hand tighter as if he could keep her anchored to him that way. He ran his thumb over the back of her hand and she did not say anything about how rough his skin was.

They did not talk then. They did not need to. They both could hear what the other’s heart was calling out.

They were in love.

They were doomed.

Such is the fate of the fae.

Chapter Text

They called her the willow woman and the forest father was hopelessly heartsick for her.

As they trekked back from the forest father’s cabin to the doomed village he fell in love a little more each day. It was small things. The way her front right tooth was a little crooked but she never tried to hide it when she laughed, which to his delight was often.

Her laugh was like the tinkling sound of shells strung from his cabin roof. It rang through the clearing. He could tell from looking at the elder and the lines creased into her forehead she was losing hope. However her daughter, the willow woman, was hopelessly hopeful still. She maintained that they could save the village.

The forest father did not share her same hope but he still loved to hear her talk about the happier times her village would come to know in the future.

She believed he would save them.

He knew desperately that he was no savior.

When the elder fell asleep at night he would walk the edge of the woods with her. She was the first woman he’d known that did not jump at the sound of the baying monsters deep in those dark woods.

She closed her eyes and relished the sound.

She was wild.

And feral.

He was in love already.

It was unheard of a fae born outside of a clan being with the daughter of an elder.

It was more than unheard of it, it was forbidden.

He knew, he knew, he could not be with her.

Yet, still he'd let his fingers graze hers as they walked, talking about anything and everything. Her dreams, his music, the woods, the water, the trees, this earth that was constantly changing.

One night when he grazed her fingers with the rough tips of his calloused hand she slipped her hand into it. He was shocked and almost froze his heart beating faster than it ever had. He felt foolish in a way. The forest father, pillar of pride, falling in love. He couldn’t help it. It was a force beyond him.

He gripped her hand tighter as if he could keep her anchored to him that way. He ran his thumb over the back of her hand and she did not say anything about how rough his skin was.

They did not talk then. They did not need to. They both could hear what the other’s heart was calling out.

They were in love.

They were doomed.

Such is the fate of the fae.

OoOo

When his time came they could lay him gently in the cold dark earth and he would crawl back to her. The thought came to Andrew’s mind from somewhere deep inside. He felt a connection to this woman, Madison, in a way he had never been connected to someone before.

He needed her. Every move of her body, everything she did made his heart ache. She pushed her long hair back over her shoulder and it almost looked purple in a trick of the light. It was like a punch to the stomach seeing that hair color but he couldn’t tell why.

She looked instead of amazed by his magic trick of pulling the name from thin air impressed. Like this was the response she had been hoping for.

'I’m...” He started to say just to fill in the silence that stretched long and thin between them. She eyed him suspiciously.

“Andrew.” She supplied just as he had and he shook a little. Did she actually know the name or did she recognize him?

“Do you know who I am?” He asked stupidly feeling like it was an arrogant question. It felt different though, as if he was asking her if she knew who he was from a long long time ago even though this was their first meeting.

“No...should I?” She didn’t meet her eyes when she said it. She was hiding something. He frankly didn’t care.

“No. I’m nobody.”

“Everybody is somebody.” She replied a wry smile on her face. That smile matched his. A slightly crooked front tooth. Some memory wanted to tug itself free from his mind but he wouldn’t allow it. Stay in the moment he told himself over and over again.

Her smile faltered as her phone let out a high electric chirp. She quickly pulled it out of her pocket and glanced down at the screen. A look of almost horror passed over her face and she stuffed the phone into her pocket. Scanning the crowd as if looking for someone she turned wide eyes to him.

“I’ve got to go.” She told him in a rush and started making her way through the small crowd of people still hypnotized by the music and gyrating to it’s call.

“Wait...wait please!” He shouted following her through the crowd and out onto the busy street.

“I need to be somewhere.”

“I need to talk to you. Can we exchange numbers or something?” Or anything he thought desperately. He’d gladly throw her laughing over his shoulder and carry her back to his hotel if she’d let him. He shook his head. It was another thought that felt completely foreign to him.

“I...no...I just can’t. Let me go Andrew.” He wasn’t even touching her but he could feel the weight of her words. She was telling him to back off. He respected everything about her so he did. Stopping dead in his tracks on the street he watched her as she wandered away from him. Every movement of her body moved him. When she moved he was moved. It was a desperation.

When she was a good ten feet away she stopped dead in her tracks and paused. He held his breath as she paused. He watched her pull something out of her pocket then she spun on her heels and marched towards him. She got close enough that she could grasp his shirt. She yanked and he obligingly lowered his head.

“Tell no one I gave you this.” She slipped a piece of paper into his hand. The feel of her hot breath on his ear blowing strands of hair that tickled his face made him grow hot. He wanted to turn and let their lips simply brush. A featherlight kiss as if he had never been there. Then he saw the wide eyed look she carried and he drew back. She was scared. Scared of what she’d just done.

She spun back around and stalked off down the street.

He took the time to glance down at the piece of paper tucked into his hand. Her name and a phone number were crawled in hurried handwriting. He looked up but she’d already disappeared. The smell of perfume like lilies of the valley still hung in the air.

He felt empty without her presence. He carefully folded the paper and tucked it into his shirt pocket.

“Hey, I thought you’d abandoned me for another stranger.” Larry joked coming up behind him and almost scaring the crap out of him. He refrained from jumping at the sound of his voice. Still her stared up the street as if the very weight of his stare could force her to come back.

“Any stranger, the stranger the better.” He murmured thinking of this purple haired Cinderella running off down the street at the call of her phone as if the very device owned her life.

“Ready to head back?” Larry clamped him on the shoulder. He had to lift his hand to reach his shoulder as Andrew was sprouted like a tall tree. He waited a few moments before answering still staring at the space she had occupied only moments before. He waited to see if she would return. When the silence had stretched on too long he turned to Larry.

“Yeah mate. Let’s head back.”

He couldn’t help but turn his head one last time and he could swear he saw her resting against the building, one booted foot resting against it, watching him. When he blinked though she wasn’t there.

OoOo

She watched him go until he was safely down the street. Then she turned the corner and rushed down the sidewalk.

“What took you so long?” His voice was slick like oil, the serpent long sent from Eden to terrorize her. She looked up at him, her keeper.

“I had to shake someone.” She told him as he ushered her towards the black town car waiting for her at the curb with a hand on her lower back. Frankly a little too low for her liking.

“Anyone I need to take care of?” He chewed on his toothpick and raised one questioningly eyebrow at her. A chill went through her body. She could imagine what he would do. The blade he would bury in his sternum and jerk until silver blood spilled across the sidewalk. Not Andrew, please not him.

“No I took care of it.” She hadn’t. She’d made everything worse by giving him her number. It was stupid. She couldn’t help it if she tried. When they danced, like they were standing still, like they were the only people in the room, she could feel every ounce of love she felt for him lifetimes ago. She ached for him and his absence from her now hurt like the very knife cut this snake of a man would dig into her if he found out what she’d done.

“As you say.” He mumbled climbing into the back of the car with him. She felt trapped as he closed the door and she stared out the dark tinted windows. She could see but hardly be seen.

Such was the fate of the fae.

OoOo

One winglessly winged creature trapped in the darkness of the life predestined for her drove from the sight of her love long past.

The other trudged through the streets, seeing her in every woman that danced and laughed merrily along the houses of sin he walked past.

Both held the other in their mind.

Both ached for each other.

Both felt the absence of one another in their arms, their hearts, the place they held the ultimate sensual flame.

They felt empty.

The man of the forest pulled out a lighter and lit another cigarette. In the flame he could see her and he could feel himself falling for the flame. He could hardly turn his eyes away from the burning red flame. All you ever have is your fire. Don’t tame it. Never ever tame those demons. He knew though, this feeling building inside of him, the feeling over her note burning like fire in his pocket needed to be kept on a leash.

He thought it ended when he knew love’s perfect ache.

He knew now that this feeling of emptiness would never leave.

Not until he felt the weight of her in his arms.

Her.

Madison.

Such was the fate of the fae.

OoOo

Chapter Text

The village was in disrepair. Barely a fraction of the original population survived the attacks. Bodies laid to rest in the streets dried blood of silver flaking from them. A pyre had been erected in the middle of the makeshift cabins, once a shining accomplishment of this clan, in which to burn the bodies. There were too many to bury.

Willow woman looked horrified and tears rolled down her cheeks as she looked upon faces she had known. Cared for. Adored.

Forest father could do nothing other than open his arms and allow her to curl her body against his. The elder watched them curiously but silently. Now was not the time to bring up tradition. Now was the time for action towards the beasts that terrorized her clan.

“Enough tears Madison, we have work to do.” She snapped at her daughter. Her words were harsh but there was a tenderness in her voice. Andrew raised his head at the name. Not once had Willow woman expressed her name to him. He’d always just called her Willow. It was not uncommon for the fae to hide their names. To give your name was to give another control over your very soul. To everyone he was forest father. Madison, as he now knew, was Willow woman, and they had always referred to the revered leader of the clan simply as Elder.

He knew this was all common practice. It was safer for her name not to be known. Still he stiffened against her body as he heard it called out from her mother. She had never hid anything from him before. This name felt like an unspoken secret between them.

She felt him stiffen and pulled back to look up at him. He allowed his face to remain neutral but she still took a step back looking hurt by his indifference.

She could tell something was wrong and it hurt her that he seemed almost...angry?

Her mother called her name again and she could not deny her mother. She turned from the Forest Father and went to her mother’s side. Without a word they made their way towards the pile of wingless bodies that were slowly being thrown upon the high rising flames. Dancing fire over the dead.

The Elder turned back towards Andrew and stared him down. Almost challenging him to argue her next statement.

“You have work to do, do you not?” She snapped before turning back towards the funeral pyre for the members of her clan long passed.

He ran a frustrated hand through his hair knotted with tangles and pulled at it.

Why?

Why had he pushed Willow woman away? Why had he stiffened?

It was only a name.

Oh and the way she had looked at him. Like a betrayer. Like he was the one who had held something back from her.

He had not told her his name.

Not when he’d laid her down in the field and let his hands wander idly over ever inch of her body. As the milky white flesh grew tiny goosebumps as the tips of his long thing fingers traced patterns over every inch.

When he had known her as she was. As his slightly crooked teeth had sank into her flesh ever so lightly. Careful, always careful, not to leave a mark someone could see. He’d left his mark on her though. Bruises on the outsides of her thighs from when he gripped her so tightly.

They had crossed a boundary. She could be cast out for what she’d done. He could be put to death.

They didn’t care.

He had not crossed her threshold but oh did he want to. He wanted desperately to know the warmth of her doorway.

He ached in his chest for her.

Now he had pushed her away.

He growled. A primal sound deep in his throat.

He prowled the grass a few times before glancing at the burning pile of bodies in the center of this makeshift village. Nothing in this place seemed permanent except for death. The village stank of it.

He looked for her. Willow woman or Madison, if she allowed him to call her that, was nowhere to be seen.

Another growl.

Then he stalked towards the forest.

He slipped past the tree line and accepted that he had passed the gate into the world of monsters.

Such was the fate of the fae.

OoOo

She was laid out before him bare. Wearing nothing but the silky white of her skin. Budding pink peaks of flesh stood out from her gasping chest. The rest of her was the color of milk pale as a wedding veil. She looked so pure in that moment though she was anything but. The way he fucked her, oh no there was nothing pure about this moment. It was sweet sweet sin. The most delicious kind. He ran teeth down the side of her neck and nipped hard enough to pull a gasp from her. No he wanted to possess her in so many ways. The way he was buried hilt deep inside her was a start. His thoughts were deliciously dark. The way she looked up at him through slitted eyes he knew that hers were too. Divine.

She was in this moment his though he would never own her.

This was a creature incapable of being captured.

No, but she could be possessed.

Filled by him. Filled by his presence, his warmth, his love, and body.

She made him dizzy to simply look upon her in this form. It was almost as if he could see a silvery aura around her. Like a pair of thin wings or even the boughs of a willow tree. A simple trick of the light he pushed it away.

Her green eyes watched him curiously and she held her breath like a simple exhale would scare him away.

Nothing, nothing, could pull him away at this moment.

No he would laugh with joy when his pillar of pride sunk in again and again. He wasn’t satisfied. He kept driving in deeper and deeper. He wasn’t satisfied. He wasn’t. He hadn’t been for so long. She could satisfy him. The harder he drove in, the higher the pitch of her moan became. It was driving him wild. He felt feral in that moment like a wild beast. She could drive the pure white essence from him like no other woman before. He’d came before, of yes he had. This felt different. Like when Adam first came. To release into the folds of her that would be real release. A type of release he had not experienced in this lifetime.

With the weight of her in his arms he would be at peace. He could feel complete finally. Not like he was searching for the other half of him somewhere out in the world. Here she was. That missing part he’d desperately looked for in every woman he’d ever bedded. This was his Wasteland, Baby.

Finally, oh finally.

He ran his rough fingers over her flesh and she shivered at his touch. He took a sharp inhale at the way he played and teased her body. Her nipples stood at attention. Goosebumps broke out across her skin. She was a beautiful sight and all at the mercy of his talented fingers. She smiled a lazy half smile at him and let out a small giggle at her own reaction and he smiled back. Oh it felt like it had been so long since he’d truly smiled.

He needed no help to guide his hands over each sensitive space of hers with his tentative touch. Still, he accepted her guidance as she gripped his hands moving them where she wanted them. She moved them to her breasts to knead the skin. He did. Gentle at first then with firmer pressure. She dug nails into the skin of his back and he almost howled in pleasure.

He was there. Almost there. So close inside the walls of her room.

Then a look of horror passed over her face. A feeling of dread filled his body at her look. Like a piece of ice sliding down his spine he looked down at her pausing in his movements.

“Andrew?” She asked in her sweet tentative voice. The calm in her voice did not match the expression of fear on her face.

“Andrew?!” Her voice became more intense until she was practically screaming his name but not in the way he wanted her to be in that moment.

He jerked awake. Looking around bleary eyed he saw Madison’s number clutched in one hand, his phone clutched in the other. He looked around to see one of his band mates staring down at him.

“W...what?” He asked still confused. Still clutching on to the oh so pleasant dream that was quickly slipping away.

“You were sleeping like the dead.” Andrew put down the already tattered piece of paper and his phone and ran large hands down his face before shaking his head letting his dark untamed mane brush from side to side.

“Yeah. Just tired I guess. What’s up?” He ground the palms of his hands into his eyes still trying to wake up from what definitely hadn’t felt like a dream.

“Sound check started 5 minutes ago. Everyone is waiting for you.”

“Right. I'll be right there.” Andrew swiftly swung himself out of the hotel bed giving a backwards glance at the piece of paper on his nightstand before slipping into the bathroom.

Before leaving he grabbed his phone and tucked the paper into the pocket of yet another flannel shirt certain he would not leave it behind before heading out the door.

OoOo

He paced in front of her his anger red hot. She could feel it radiating off of him in waves. He’d pause for a moment, look at her, scowl and begin his pacing again. She refused to give him the satisfaction of looking scared. She would not act like the prey he so desperately wanted her to be.

Another pace. Another scowl.

“Where were you?” He growled for the third time at her.

“I was dancing.”

“Where?”

“At a bar. Your snake over there knew right where I was.” This was also the third time she had said this. The snake cast from Eden to crawl on his belly refused to confirm or deny this so still he husband to be paced.

“Who did you talk to?”

“No one. I was dancing by myself.”

“Lies. Lies and deceit!” He practically screamed at her. She tried her hardest not to flinch. He didn’t strike her. He didn’t have to. The Snake did it for him. His hand landed with expert precision across her cheek and an explosion of pain broke out in her head. She fell to her knees despite her desire not to. She could taste coppery blood and when she touched her hand to her mouth it came away slick with red like cherry wine.

“Next time tell the truth Madison.” Her betrothed said absently over his shoulder as he stormed from the room. The snake followed quick on his heels.

She spit the blood out of her mouth and took satisfaction in the way it fucked up his freshly waxed floor.

Little victories.

Next time she’d manage to stay on her feet.

She left the room then. Stalking up the stairs to her room where she in a fit of petty defiance slammed the door. She collapsed on the bed and traitorous tears began to spill down her cheeks. She wiped away at them furiously. Angry at herself for allowing that man, that thing to make her cry.

She pulled her phone out of her purse and checked her notifications but what she was looking for was not there. It had been dangerous and flat out stupid to give Andrew her number but she simply could not walk away from him completely. She should never havedone that. Still she kept checking her phone every few minutes as the tears slowly began to dry up.

Maybe he truly didn’t remember her. He’d pulled her name from thin air as if he had. As if he knew what had happened 3,000 years ago when the fae were still ruling this earth. Before the age of man. She had thought so much he remembered what she was to him.

She had thought he would be her savior.

But he was no savior.

She would have to save herself.

OoOo

She was trapped by iron bars that could not be seen.

He was trapped by the iron around his heart.

She pined for him.

He ached for her.

She was taken. Not by free will.

He was lost. No by choice.

He needed her.

She wanted him.

They were both lost.

But not together.

They had been found by each other.

Still they both searched for a way to be free.

Such was the fate of the fae.

OoOo

Chapter Text

He’d told them he was no savior.

Still when he returned from the woods silently, not meeting their eyes, the clan scoffed. Some Forest Father indeed, they thought to themselves as he trudged past.

They ignored the thick stream of silver blood that ran a steady river from his upper bicep to his fingers. It stained the ground leaving a sparkling trail behind him as he made his way back to the village.

The dirt pathways that dissected the town, creating a makeshift road between the impermanent buildings were choked thick with the smoke of burning fae. He pulled the collar of his shirt up over his mouth.

Skirting his way around the burning funeral pyre he finally caught a glimpse of Willow Woman, now Madison as he called her in his mind, helping to carry limp bodies and heaving them onto the flames. The fae had sickness of their own and it was dangerous to leave so many dead in the open. Plus the scent of that thick silver blood attracted the monsters. Whether it was dried or fresh the sickly sweet scent of it drew them in like nectar to a bee. It was dangerous. Everything about this village cloaked in the stench of death was dangerous. He yearned for nothing more than to grab Madison and drag her kicked and screaming back to the safety of his cabin.

He’d settle even to live like nomads on the land. Camping out at the edge of the woods. He’d even let himself believe that she wouldn’t fear the trees. That she would plunge herself deep into the woods with him at her side. They could live, deep in the darkness of the forest, away from all of the evil of this world. She was pure of soul, the woods would accept her. He knew it in his featherlight bones. She was the light to the darkness deep within him. The light of this world was as bright as his willow baby. The night’s were as dark as the world of his baby but they were half as beautiful too.

He was half tempted to stalk towards her, throw her over his shoulder, and leave this place. She could bang her fists against his back and scream until she was hoarse but he was determined to get her away from here. Anywhere but this cursed place.

Andrew quickly realized that he was standing in the middle of the village intensely staring at the back of her form as a pool of his blood gathered at his feet. He shook himself and ran his uninjured hand through his hair groaning. The bite hurt like a bitch and he wasn’t happy about it.

He had made little progress in the forest. Barely getting a few feet into the woods one of the monsters had jumped him in a blind attack. He’d lifted his arm to cover his face and thus earned himself a wicked bite. The smell of his blood had attracted so many that he knew there was no chance of making anymore progress into the woods. He was looking for the leader not the lackeys. He’d landed one booted foot in the chest of the beast and heaved with his long limbs. It’d gone flying.

Before any of the others could get some fangs into him he’d turned intense eyes on them. There was a moment of complete silence as the entire forest paused. He knew he couldn’t hold them for long, not this many, still the Forest Father commanded their attention. He was the damn Forest Father for fuck’s sake they would bow under his gaze.

There was a chorus of growls but slowly they sank to their haunches. Quietly and smoothly he exited the woods still holding his gaze upon them. When he’d cleared the tree line the spell broke and he heard baying howls.

This place was cursed. This place was fucked.

Willow Woman as if sensing his pain or simple sensing him turned. She had a wet cloth tied over her mouth to help with the smoke. Without seeing her mouth he could not read her expression. Her eyes looked wet but whether from the smoke or something else he wasn't sure.

A small woman almost the size of a child laid a hand on her arm. The woman had long dark hair and olive skin. She turned to see what Madison was looking at and locked eyes on Andrew. She narrowed her eyes but still he couldn’t read her expression either with the cloth covering half of her face. She gave a small almost enthusiastic wave. Andrew gave a small lift of his hand in response. He realized then that her eyes weren’t narrowed but instead crinkled with a smile. She placed a hand on Willow Woman’s arm and leaned over to her ear to be heard over the fire. The blaze ate her words but Madison shot him another look before nodding.

She turned from her work and made her way to him. Pulling the cloth down from her mouth he could see that she was frowning. Her look made a knife twist in his stomach. It was the first time she didn’t look happy to see him. They stood for a moment staring each other down not saying a word. Finally her eyes locked on his arm and a look of tenderness passed over her face.

“You’re hurt.” It wasn’t a question. There was fire in her and he loved when it came out.

“It’s only a bite.” She sighed and rolled her eyes. It made him smile and when she saw him smiling she smiled too.

“What shall I do with you Forest Father?” She asked with a sound of fake exasperation in her voice.

“Andrew.” He supplied and she looked at him surprised. Then a feeling of warmth spread through his chest as her face lit up. “And...Madison...” He tested her name on his tongue. She didn’t protest at the use of her name so he continued. “You can do anything you want with me.”

OoOo

Elle threw Madison’s door open to find her curled up on the bed her phone clutched to her chest. She clucked her tongue at the sight and moved to the window throwing open the curtains. Madison groaned from the bed and covered her eyes with her arms.

“Up, up, up. It’s almost noon. You’ve slept far too long.” Elle opened the window letting fresh air flood the room that smelled of staleness.

“I was up late.” Madison complained still covering her face.

“Your point being?” Elle leaned her head out the window staring up at the bright blue sky, cloudless for once. “Where is Tom?”

“Tom?” Madison asked sounding groggy.

“Yes. Tom as in Tom. The red breasted robin. He’s usually here by now. Tom!” She yelled out the window.

“Not so loud for goodness sake!” Madison harshly whispered at her. “Bates will hear you.” She hissed.

“Oh your ‘betrothed’” Elle said the word sarcastically before continuing “...left with The Snake a few hours ago. We’re in the clear for all types of mischief and fun. Now seriously where is Tom. Tom!” She shouted out the window again. For such a small woman she could make so much noise.

“I can’t believe you named the bird Tom. It’s so generic. Why do you need him anyways?”

“What was I supposed to call him? Balthazar? I want to know where Bates has gone.”

“Why?”

“Because I have a scandalous idea that will get us both in some very deep shit. We’ll be fine as long as I can keep tabs on that idiot you’re supposed to marry.” Madison refrained from pointing out that Bates registered on the spectrum of genius because she’d called him worst names than that before.

Elle was almost always too kind about him. She was too kind about anyone really. She was the only fae from her previous life that Bates had allowed to stay with Madison. Ripped from her village, her mother, and everything she knew Elle had demanded to come with them. She was small but she was scary. Not willing to start a fight over something so petty Bates had allowed it. Elle with her uncanny ability to talk to trees and birds came in handy. Not to mention she was Madison’s best and only friend.

“What idea is this?” Madison asked cautiously.

“Remember that beau you fell so hard for last night?” Elle asked looking at Madison finally. She registered the fat lip she was sporting from The Snake’s hand but said nothing. “Oh don’t look at me like that. The elm on Main Street told me about it.” Madison rolled her eyes at Elle but they both smiled.

“Yes, I remember. What about him?”

“He’s playing a concert today and we’re going.” Madison wanted to argue. So many words came to her mind but she couldn’t bring herself to say any of them. She desperately, oh so desperately, wanted to see him again.

“What’s the plan?”

“Oh girl you should know me by now, there’s no plan.” Elle grinned with pure mischief burning in her eyes. Madison swallowed hard a ball of nervous energy having nothing to do with her husband finding out forming in her stomach. Still she didn’t argue as Elle went to her large freestanding oak wardrobe and began throwing outfit choices on the bed.

OoOo

Staring down at his phone for the hundredth time he typed another text trying to sound cute instead of crazy and incomprehensible. He quickly deleted it and began texting again. Finally he sighed and leaned his head back against the wall he was sitting against. He gently bumped his head against the painted cement but his wild mane of hair absorbed most of the pain.

Why? Why couldn’t he come up with anything to say. His long legs cramped from being in the same position for so long. He stood and began to pace the hallway. The sound check had gone well and he was already pumped for the upcoming show.

They’d be letting the crowd in soon and already he could feel their energy like a low thrum through his body.

He wanted her.

He groaned and tore his hand through his curly hair. In this light it looked alight like a blazing fire. It matched the way his brain was burning searching fruitlessly for words.

He wrote songs. He was a king among thieves when it came to clever phrasing. Yet, he came up with nothing.

He thought again of his dream. Her sweet skin salty with sweat as he ran his tongue over it. The little gasps that escaped her with each thrust. He felt completely out of control inside of her. Like he would lose himself in her.

With another growl he typed furiously. His finger hovered over the send button. With a shaky breath he hit send and almost immediately flung his phone across the hallway. He refrained instead sitting once again, wrapping his long arms around his knees and resting his head on top.

OoOo

She glanced down at her phone and her heart leapt into her throat.

...Wasteland Baby, I’m playing a concert today, will you come?...

She knew who it was from even though she didn’t recognize the number. Madison typed back with vigor never hesitating.

...Oh baby, I will most definitely come...

OoOo

He took a deep breath and glanced at the text. He read over the words several times before smiling. He practically leapt up. He had a bounce to his step that he usual reserved for when they rocked out “Jackie and Wilson” in front of the crowd.

She’d come. Oh would she come.

OoOo

She escaped her gilded cage for a moment.

A modern Cinderella with wings.

The forest king awaited her arrival.

Unknown royalty among winglessly winged.

The glass slipper awaited to be shattered.

The bond grew.

As did the danger.

Such was the fate of the fae.

OoOo

Chapter Text

Her hands were tender as they turned his arm this way and that, looking the bite over with a warm, peaceful demeanor. He couldnʼt help but watch.

“What?” she asked, not looking up at him. Instead, she dabbed another alcohol soaked piece of cloth over the deep puncture wounds. It stung like liquid fire deep in his muscles but he said nothing. He refused to even jerk as she pressed the cloth stronger against his skin to try and staunch the flow of sparkling silver that was quickly spilling onto the floor of her cabin.

He couldnʼt tear his eyes away from her face. The way her long black hair fell like a curtain and she constantly brushed it out of her eyes as she worked on him. Bits of silver glittered in her hair as his blood began to tint her hair. The blood showed no sign of slowing down and she let out a frustrated huff.

“Nothing.” He whispered quietly in response to her question. Still he didnʼt look away. She raised her eyes momentarily to look him in the eyes then turned back to the task at hand.
“These are deep. Youʼre lucky it didnʼt take your whole arm.” She pressed even harder against his skin until he could feel his arm throbbing with the force of it.

“I had control of the situation.” He reassured her.

“Oh yeah? Doesnʼt look like it. Hold this.” She instructed, indicating the cloth. Andrew took the cloth from her and held it as silver began to flow even stronger now that her rough pressure was gone. He felt the absence of her warm touch and his heart ached without it. He hated that he was so addicted to her touch. The feel of any bit of her skin against his.

He watched as she rifled through her drawers. Finally with a satisfied grunt she returned to the bed; her bed, he finally realized. The sunlight glinted off the bright metal of the needle. With very little effort, she threaded the bit of string through the eye.

“This isnʼt going to feel good,” she warned, pressing the tip against his skin. “It didnʼt feel good to start with. Did you have to pick blue thread?” He asked, letting out a hiss as the needle bit into his skin.

“I told you it wouldnʼt feel good and it was the only thread I had on hand. The village weaver...didnʼt make it,” she admonished and he instantly felt bad for his comment. He was being callous in the face of all that had happened here. He looked around her cabin. It was strung with mason jars filled with half melted candles. Colorful cloth hung from the walls and the ceiling, creating a kaleidoscope of the space. Everything was bright and cheery. Vastly different from the death and destruction that hung outside the door. He could still smell the stench of death as the smoke from the pyre filtered in through the open door.

She cut the thread with her teeth and he could feel a stirring deep within at the idea of her mouth so close to his skin. Her breath on his arm was hot and moist. She dabbed at the wound with the cloth once again, mopping up the rest of the silver from his skin. She pushed her hair back and looked up at him, satisfied.

It was without thought that he buried his hands in her hair, tugging gently at the strands as he pulled her face to his, crashing his lips against hers. They had kissed before, oh, had they rolled in the grass of fields, his lips against hers. Kisses stolen in the black darkness of the night, away from her mother, as they traveled here to the hell of the fae. The place she called home now a dark pit.

They had chalked it up to the wine they shared at night. They had chalked it up to anything but what it was. He could blame the blood loss. He could and yet, he couldnʼt. Not anymore.
Their lips finally parted a long time later. While her fingers were still tangled in his curly locks, he tilted his mouth until it was against her ear. His breath disturbed her long dark hair. It rose and moved in little tuffs as he tried desperately to keep the words in, but he no longer could.

“Madison, I am in love with you.”

OoOo

“She’s gonna save me. Call me baby. Run her hands through my hair...” His body did a ‘bouncy bouncy’ rhythm as he belted out the chorus of “Jackie and Wilson”. His music was his life blood. It was the ultimate expression of his innermost thoughts. His hidden desires, his fears, mostly eternal random bullshitery. His love of words, of the guitar, it all came pouring out in an eclectic mix of music. He could go from fast tempo to slow and sweet. He could make the crowd dance, rail, cry, and sing.

He put even more into his performance tonight. More than he thought he possibly could. Every performance he felt he gave his all. Tonight though, he knew he gave 1% more. One tiny sliver more of energy he gave to this. All because he knew his Wasteland, Baby was somewhere in that crowd.

OoOo

The roar of the crowd was deafening. He sang. The crowd sang back. The people writhed and undulated like holy rollers at a revival meeting. He could control them as easily as he used to control the things that went bump in the night. The forest dwellers. He could control them with a look. Here that voice, like a siren calling he brought their bodies from their daily stagnation into sweet movement.

It was all so intoxicating.

Madison switched from watching the crowd, back to staring at the Forest Father. That may no longer be his title but it was still how she thought of him in her mind. He carried his common name from the past life, the life he no longer remembered. The life they shared, already forgotten. She hadn’t forgotten. No, she was left to agonize every time she heard his music in every club and bar she danced in. To see him playing on television was like a knife twisting in her gut.

It was stupid to be here. This would end in no other way than tragedy. Still, she couldn’t force herself to leave.

“Feels good. God it feels good...” He sang in that sweet timbre.

“Oh, to be alone with you,” she whispered the words under her breath.

Then he howled like the wild beasts he used to control.

It was like her skin was burning. Her clit throbbed in time to the music. Fuck, that man could still control her body with just his voice.

When he began the first chords of “Cherry Wine” Madison could feel tears begin on her cheeks. The lights were dark with bits of red threaded from behind him. It made her feel self conscious about the tears falling. She let them come fast and furious, refusing to wipe them away.

“I walk my days on a wire,” she sung along with conviction in her voice. Every day for her was a tight wire act. Trying desperately to be herself, and at the same time keep Bates on some type of an even keel. Anything to keep him from flying into a rage; things got bad, very bad when he lost control. Still the Willow Woman in her cried out to be let free. To dance, to sing, to be loved, not controlled.

The tears came angry and fast.

Then it was over.

The lights came up and the stage was empty.

Her phone buzzed. She had been gripping it so tightly in her hand that she had angry red marks on her palm.

...Wasteland, Baby. Where are you?...

...In the crowd. It was an amazing set...

There was a pause and she sighed. He was probably decommissioning from performing and she would be getting home anyways.

...I’m doing a meet and greet after the show. Can you stick around? Someone will come get you...

She needed to get home. She couldn’t get herself to type those words. She couldn’t get herself to reject the invitation. She paused and took a deep breath, staring down at her phone.

OoOo

He looked down at the phone, worried. She hadn’t responded for a good long while and he felt his gut clench. Maybe he’d overstepped his boundaries?

...I can hang around for a while...

Her reply came and he felt a lift in his spirits. Her reply was simply and lukewarm. He didn’t love it, but he’d take it.

...I’ll send someone for you...

They were calling him out for the meet and greet. He felt strange. Like his body was slowly tingling. A low thrum under his skin, like his blood calling to something, though what,he didn't know.

The name Willow Woman came to his mind. He stared at his phone quizzically. Why did that name, if that’s what it was, sound so familiar to him? Why did he picture Madison when he thought of it?

His manager called his name again and he jerked from the thought. Still the name hung on his lips. Wanting desperately to be said.

“Willow Woman,” he whispered under his breath just to test it. It felt like a wind swept through the hall even though the door to the outside wasn’t open yet. His hair rustled with it. Something deep in his chest stirred. Like a dragon slowly unfurling it’s wings.

Something had happened. He simply didn’t know what.

OoOo

She gasped. Deep and aching, she bent over in the crowd. No one saw.

He’d called her name.

Not her common name.

Her name of the fae.

Did he remember? Could he be brought to remember?

“Forest Father,” she whispered and it hit her like an arrow to the heart. A connection deep and painful anchored in her. Tears pricked her eyes.

No, she shouldn’t have said it. Even if he did remember, she could never be his. She couldn’t back then. She couldn’t now.

“Madison?” Someone asked. She looked up through watering eyes at the man smiling kindly at him.

“Yes?” She asked tentatively.

“Hi, I’m Larry. I’ll bring you back to see Andrew.” Still he smiled and she felt a warm sense of comfort from him. Madison followed his outstretched hand and he followed at her side.

She tried desperately to cut the cord that now connected her to him, Forest Father, Andrew Hozier-Byrne as he was known now. She couldn’t no matter how much she tried.

What had she done?

They were doomed.

OoOo

Two souls crying out to each other.

One remembers.

One forgot long ago.

Together they’d laid in that field so long that they’d become flowers.

Oh so long ago.

Then, death was happy, welcomed, such was love.

Now, one welcomed the idea of death.

The other searched for the ability to live truly.

They were in love.

They were oblivious to it.

They were doomed.

Such was the fate of the fae.

OoOo

Chapter Text

She hadn’t said it. She’d held the words in. It had killed her but the part of that clung to the traditions of her people wouldn’t let her.

He may be the Forest Father, that didn’t mean he had a clan.

She was daughter of the Elder. She was high born. He was of the outcasts. To love him was to throw herself from her mother and her clan. It meant turning her back on everything she ever knew. It meant becoming a traitor.

Did she love him enough to do that?

The answer was a resounding yes. Without a doubt.

Her bravery, however, faltered.

There was a breath between them. His lips were next to her ear, the long fine strands of her hair swaying slightly as his hot breath tickled her ear and sent shockwaves up and down her body. Everything was on fire with electricity. Her clit throbbed, she felt herself clench with the need to be filled by him.

He waited for her to say something. It seemed like the longest moment in his long life. His heart jerked with the pain of feeling her rejection. Still he waited desperately. The Forest Father waited for nothing; this time he did. The Willow Woman, Madison, had that much control over the fae who previously couldn’t be controlled.

When she said nothing, he pulled back from her. It was the deepest cut he’d ever experienced. Worst than any bite that had torn into his skin and ripped him open.

This was a cut that couldn’t be carefully sewn shut with turquoise thread. It was a cut to the soul that would not heal.

He drew himself back and stood to his full length. Tall like a tree. Then he turned and made his way to leave.

“Wait,” her voice was quiet. Like the whisper of the wind through a willow branch. He paused ever so slightly. His legs wanted to keep moving but he jerked them to a stop. He didn’t want to hear what she had to say. He knew it wouldn’t be what he wanted to hear. Still he listened.

“I...am not ready to say that. You know, I know you know, what will happen to me if I do. I need...time.” Madison stood and came to him. She let her fingers trace up his uninjured arm.

His body was alight at her touch. His lips parted in a contented sigh at her touch. He needed her. Craved her body. His cock twitched ever so slightly and he could not, though he tried, pull his body back from hers. His hands trailed up her arms. To her neck. He touched the hollow of her throat and let his fingers draw a line down her body, dissecting it in two until his finger rested over her heart.

“We can kiss and touch, lass, as much as we want. We can be with each other’s bodies. Baby, mine calls to you like it has called to no other. Love, until you can say the words, we will never be together as our souls call to each other. That is all I have to say...Madison.” Her name was like a prayer on his lips. It was on the very verge of being a beg. He righted himself and pulled away from her. It was like ripping off a piece of flesh to wrench himself away from her grasp.

He tried desperately to ignore the tears in her eyes as she watched him back away. They fell soft like petals from a cherry tree.

“Damn it, lass. Why? Why must you do this to me?” His voice rose for the first time with her but it was with frustration, not anger. He couldn’t help it. He came to her and she fell into his arms. They melded together. He kissed her cheeks, tasting the salt and kissing away her tears.

“How can I show you? How can I show you that I care for you?” She begged, the words falling like her tears.

“I don’t know. Fucking kiss me, for a start.” His voice was lilting and light. Lyrical, like when he sat on his back porch and serenaded the trees. It was a joke. She laughed.

Then she crashed her lips to his.

OoOo

She stood feeling awkward a few feet from where the meet and greet was happening. She picked at the hem of her full skirted dress with the teal color and small white flowers over orange, similar to calico blankets.

Her mind drifted to those nights. Her legs wrapped around his waist as he drove into her. He could make sheer force feel gentle as they made love and fucked and owned each other’s bodies in the night.

The sheets always got wrapped around his legs, long like a bird’s. He’d growl and tear them away so that he could be free to move again. She lost quite a few sets of sheets in those days.

Andrew always stared deep into her eyes every time their bodies were intertwined. His deep hazel eyes gazed deeply into her emerald pools. It was intense and oh so deep. In those moments she felt connected to him soul to soul.

His mouth was tender. Soft. Yet, the things he did with it were anything but soft. He devoured her. Left love marks on her neck, her breast, her thighs.

He was wild.

She fucking loved it.

She fucking loved him.

Her chest ached and it felt like the air was knocked out of her as she looked at him standing there. Towering over the women who lined up to meet the Forest Father. Who had fallen under his spell just as she had.

She hated waiting there. She should leave. She couldn’t.

Why did she have to be plagued with the memories? Why could she not be like him? Happily oblivious to all they had shared 3,000 years ago.

It was bullshit.

She fumed.

Then as the last fan wandered away, the feeling of a hug still warming her heart, he turned his million watt smile on her and she melted.

Fuck.

“You wanna get out of here? I don’t know this city but...” He started to say, coming over to her. He was wrapped in a black hoodie and he stuffed his hands into the pockets as he made his way over to her. He looked sweet, a little dorky, and utterly adorable. She was right back where she didn’t want to be. That dreaded L word hung on her lips. It rattled in her mouth. It twisted her tongue. It wanted to be let out. She cut him off.

“Do you like fish and chips?” Madison managed to get the words out without spitting the word love in the middle of the sentence.

“Love them. Is there a decent place around here to get some?” He brushed his hair back behind his ear and she wanted to run her fingers through that tangled mass of curls that was full of tangles.

“More than decent. Come on, I’ll treat you right, baby.” She made the last sentence a joke, still he lit up at the word.

She turned and began to walk away from him, but with his long legs, he was easily able to catch up.

They sauntered together down the street, both of them with their hands stuffed into their pockets, trying desperately to keep those treasonous hands from reaching out to touch the other person.

OoOo

He was lost in thought staring at her. She kept her eyes averted from him and it made him curious. Why was she so willing to spend time with him, yet seemed so icy towards him when they were alone? Oh to be alone with her. There were people in the restaurant. They might take offense if he threw her down on the table and took her there.

A piece of fish hit him squarely in the face. He pulled himself from the daydream, confused.

“You’re staring,” she pointed out, tossing another piece of fish at him.

This time he caught it and stuffed it into his mouth.

“I always stare when there’s a beautiful woman sitting across the table at me.” The charm came easy but wasn’t false. He meant it. He also wanted to see how she would react. She said nothing and turned back to her food.

He picked up a French fry and tossed it at her. A smile grew on her lips as the fry hit her in the cheek.

“I will hit you you know,” she said with mock venom. He laughed and so did she. The feeling of distance between them grew a little shorter.

“If you do, I won’t take you on the second date to the catacombs then.” He shrugged sitting back and tossed a fry into his mouth.

“That would be a tragedy. I would be an utter delight in the catacombs.” Everything she said had a laugh to it and it warmed his heart.

“Say the word and I'll have us on a flight in an hour.” He gauged her reaction. He was joking, kind of. If she said yes he’d pull his phone out and whisk her away to Paris in an instant.

“I don’t think you’re joking.”

“Does that scare you?”

“Nothing about you scares me, dahling.” She drawled the last part and he laughed. Andrew noted that she had not denied that they were on a date when he had joked about the second one. Everything he said was a test. He was trying to figure out this enigma of a woman. The only way he knew how to do that was to talk.

“I have some very scary qualities,” he replied, reaching for the darkness that was deep within him. With her there, it was like someone had turned on a nightlight in the dark room deep within him.

“I’ve seen the darkest part of your soul, baby doll. There is no part of you that scares me.” She said it deadpan and there was no joking in it. It chilled him to the bone to hear her say that. It rang true, though how she could know the deepest parts of him, he didn’t know.

“Do you wanna get out of here?” Madison asked, pushing her food away. It was mostly untouched other than the parts she had thrown at him. She felt perfectly comfortable with him but the idea of Bates knowing where and what she was doing made her stomach twist. He perked up at her words.

“I’d follow you anywhere, babe.” She knew it was true. That’s what made it so dangerous.

They both rose from the table and he directed her from the building with a hand on the small of her back. They both tingled at the mild touch.

Neither of them said anything about the familiarity, the easy use of pet names, any of it.

They were too scared to burst this small bubble of happiness, wafer thin, just waiting to be popped.

“Forest Father.” She whispered under breath as they hit the air outside. Thick with the fumes of the city. So different from the clean air they’d once breathed.

“Willow Woman.” He answered in like though he didn’t know why he said it.

They didn’t hear each other.

However, their souls did.

OoOo

Like calls to like.

Forest Father was oblivious.

Or was he?

Did that magic of the fae awaken in him once again?

Willow Woman was twisting in torment.

She could not bear the weight of her knowledge.

They were in agony.

Neither would admit it.

Such was the fate of the fae.

Chapter Text

The funeral pyre grew. It seemed every time they came close to extinguishing the flame, there were more bodies to add to it. This fucked village remained in a standstill with the monsters in the woods as long as the Forest Father was there. ‘How long would he stay?’ was the question on everyone’s mind, as he trudged into the woods day in and day out. Often he came back out silent and covered in his own silver blood. The forest was not going to give him this win so easily, it seemed.

His arms and legs became a rainbow of stitches as Willow Woman made small dedicated Xs on each bite in every different color thread she had at her disposal. He had so many bites that they stopped counting. He’d come back from the woods, she’d sew him up, then they'd lie there wrapped in each other’s arms until night fell.

Still, the village spent every day walking on a wire. They could hear the monsters pacing at the very edge of the forest. Howling, they wanted to be released. They were hungry. Desperate for that silver blood. The Forest Father kept them at bay. They bid their time until he left. They could wait. Not patiently, but they could wait.

The Elder worried continuously. The lines in her face grew deeper and more pronounced as leaders from other villages began to bring their dead to what had become a communal funeral pyre in creaking wooden carts shiny with silver blood.

The sickly sweet smell, like rotting flowers, filled the village so often that Madison and Andrew had grown accustomed to it. As they stole among the buildings they would bring their shirts up over their nose and mouth to escape the choking smoke. At night that smell of death filled the cabin like morbid incense smoke.

He never asked for a different place to stay and no one dare off him one. Her cabin was his cabin. It was a silent agreement that all had come to terms with.

The Elder watched them grow closer and her heart ached. She was aware that she was using her daughter to keep the Forest Father anchored here in this village to protect them. The Elder however had no intention of letting her daughter become clanless. To be banned from the village, taken from her life. Not even for the Forest Father. Not even for love. Oh no, love took many a fool, but it wouldn’t take her daughter. She let them play their parts, knowing nothing about this relationship could remain permanent.

She would break their oh so sweet bubble when the time came that she needed to. Or when the Forest Father was finally successful at driving the beasts back deep into the forest where they belonged.

The beasts were like large dogs. Their fur patchy and snarled in dirty clumps. Their snouts were large and twisted, with teeth as long and thick as fingers. Their limbs twisted in painful directions always making a crunching sound when they walked. The pain of movement never kept them from chasing down any fae caught out in the open. Their eyes were pitch black, like dark pools, soulless. They glowed red in the night when they hunted those dumb enough to be caught outside the safety of a cabin. Many were run down in the night by the monsters called Cuuls. The bodies were found the next morning usually by tearful family members a few feet from their homes. It was heartbreakingly tragic to watch. There was little time to mourn. It happened so often that the villages were clamoring to establish a new type of normal during these times of terror. The villages still had to run, or they’d all be clanless soon, left to live off the land. So they cried their tears and went about their days.

The Elders of the surrounding villages met one hot afternoon after Andrew came stalking quickly from the forest yet again dripping his blood onto the grass that grew rich with lush flowers from the amount of pure fae blood spilled onto it from him. He wore another scowl and the village knew it was another failed attempt.

The other Elders railed and ranted. Why was he not doing his job? Why was he not successful?

The mother of Willow Woman waited patiently and listened to them. She knew they were desperate for results. They were scared. They stunk of their fear. She always knew this bad of a infestation would take time to tear down. Even for the Forest Father. She knew most of all that they were jealous. Jealous that he had chosen HER village to protect. That the killings had paused as long as he was there while in their own, fae were run down on a daily basis.

They finally asked the question she was dreading.

Was the Forest Father the answer or was he a sham?

She quelled their fears only barely. The Elder knew it was only a matter of time before nothing she said would calm them. Then they would say the one thing that would break her and her daughter’s heart, though for very different reasons. Her’s because she knew the killings in her village would begin again. Her daughter’s because she had fallen so desperately hard for the Forest Father. It was one simple sentence she knew was on the tip of all of their tongues.

The Forest Father should be sent away.

OoOo

Her phone chirped and she practically jumped out of her skin. They were making their way up the sidewalk wondering the city aimlessly, both so unwilling to call it a night. It was getting late, way late, later than she should be out, risking getting caught. Her mind had been so caught up in their conversation. They came so easy. He asked questions, listened, responded thoughtfully, and was always honest when she asked one of her own. She loved the feel of this. It came so...easy. They’d known each other for thousands of years. They’d loved for a good portion of those. Until they were ripped apart from each other, they had been inseparable.

It all came flooding back now as they talked and talked.

Her feet were aching in her combat boots with the golden elephants embossed on the side, as they’d been talking for several hours as they walked.

When her phone chirped it popped that little bubble she’d allowed herself to get caught up in. With trembling hands she pulled her phone out of the pocket of her black, faux leather jacket and checked it.

He watched her with trepidation as she jumped at the sound of her phone and stared down at it like it had the ability to reach out and bite her with poisoned fangs. He remembered how she had practically ran out on him the last time this had happened when they were together. He waited. Waited for her to run off like Cinderella dropping one combat boot on the pavement as she danced her way back out of his life.

...Bates is gone on business for the next 2 days. Make the most of it. You know EXACTLY what I mean...

She couldn't believe the words she was reading. She couldn’t believe the stroke of luck. Madison had been terrified of seeing The Snake’s number asking her where she was, or worse telling her he already knew where she was. Instead it was her friend giving her the green light to have a night of freedom. Or rather morning of freedom. The hands of the large analog clock on the streetlamp hanging above them read 12:30 am. They’d talked well into the morning hours. She stuffed her phone back into her pocket.

“Trouble?” The lilt of his Irish accent was beautiful and it gave her chills. She missed Ireland. There was far more open lush green space there. Less of these iron cities, erected by the humans after the age of the fae had passed. It choked her sometimes to be around this much metal and she hated it. Her body had adapted enough that it didn’t poison her to breath in the exhaust fumes from the cars or to touch the metal buildings. Still, it didn’t feel like home. Beautiful and natural in so many places. She craved it. Something wild in her broke. She almost turned to him then and asked him point blank to take her back to Ireland. She knew if she asked he’d have her at the airport in a few moments. She also knew it wasn’t possible. Madison knew what Bates would do if she ran. She knew he’d hunt them down. She also knew he’d go back on their agreement in a moment. She’d given up on having freedom a long time ago.

She was unaware she had let her left hand hang down by her side slightly swaying as an easy silence stretched between them until she felt his soft hand take it tentatively.

He knew she had every right to jerk her hand out of his grasp. It would hurt if she did. He wouldn’t stop her though.

The feel of his hand in hers. Warm, soft, solid. It set her body alight again, just that light touch. Perhaps she had given up on freedom a long time ago, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t take one night to get a taste of it.

Without thinking, because if she thought about what she was going to do she would back out, she pushed him back against the brick building behind them. He looked surprised at first but a lopsided grin spread across his face. She grasped his shirt by the collar and pulled his face down to hers until she could press her lips firmly against his. The kiss was passionate but still tentative. She deepened it until they both became frenzied. He flipped their position so that he was pressing her back against the wall. He easily lifted her off the ground, wrapping his arms around her waist and pinning her against the wall. Her clit throbbed in rhythm to her heart as he pressed the fly of his jeans against the thin lace of her panties. He was definitely hard and his cock bulged against the fly of his jeans. She wrapped her legs around his waist and his fingers roamed up and down the bareness of her thighs where her dress had ridden up.

It was dangerous out here on the street. She let them kiss a little longer before breaking away from his lips with great difficulty.

“Are you going to do me out here on the street or do you have a place to go?” His grin was infectious and she smiled back. A true smile she hadn’t worn in ages.

Instead of letting her down he threw her over his shoulder in a full caveman carry. She laughed so loudly that it rang across the empty street.

He carried her like that all the way to his hotel.

OoOo

It all rested on the head of a pin.

Their fate was hanging in the balance.

She could scarcely survive their joining.

She would not survive their separation.

Winglessly winged loved hard.

Hated harder.

It was all of nothing with the fate of the fae.

They played with fire.

A willow tree of a woman.

A black thorn tree of a man.

Neither was man or woman but something of a completely different caliber.

They burned with a fever that could only be soothed with the feeling of lovemaking.

Then they would catch on fire.

The world would be set alight.

The cities would burn.

Then as the monsters once again descended.

The willow and black thorn tree would throw themselves upon the funeral pyre.

Such was the fate of the fae.

OoOo

Chapter Text

This was the farthest into the woods he’d made it so far. It was promising, though quite suspicious. Forest Father had yet to see one of the monstrous beasts. The woods were silent, any type of wildlife was already hunted to extinction long ago. The loss of easy prey had probably led the Cuuls to brave life outside of the forest. To hunt bigger prey. To hunt the fae.

He ducked under a low hanging branch. Up ahead was an apple tree. He’d long since stopped taking stock of the strange when he entered the woods. Faerie forests were notorious for being equal parts glorious and strange. He approached the tree slowly, never taking his eyes off the surrounding area as he observed the apples, fat and blood red like poison.

“You may have one if you’d like.” He’d smelled him before he heard him. Andrew was not startled by the voice that was deep and gruff. There was a harsh edge to it, like he was trying very hard to sound polite, when he’d rather bark orders at the Forest Father.

“No thank you.” It would have been rude not to answer, and he was already skirting danger with his refusal of the fruit. There were certain rules in the Fae world. If a fellow faerie offered you food you took it. Such were the ways. To refuse was an insult to their clan.

The man stood with a groan and came around the gnarled, twisted trunk to observe Andrew with cruel, calculating eyes. He had the expression of a hunter. He assessed the Forest Father as prey. There was no curiosity there. This man knew exactly who he was addressing. He knew Andrew, clan-less as he may be. They both were very aware that they were in each other’s territory. Each of them claimed the woods as theirs. This was quickly turning into a pissing match. They regarded each other warily, waiting for one of them to make a move.

“You really should try one, they’re divine.” The man reached up and picked two apples. He tossed one at Andrew who easily caught it.

“I’m fine, thank you.” Andrew kept the apple clenched in his hands as he kept his eyes on the man now walking lazy circles around the tree. He paced like a wild animal. His chest was bare, glistening with sweat, his hair was a mess of short curls, black as the night, his eyes a striking blue that were practically neon. They were the eyes of an animal. He was wearing a long sarong of black fur as if he had killed one of the beasts and skinned it. It was most likely exactly what had happened.

“You don’t trust me. Ah, I understand.” The man took a bite of the apple, letting the juices trickle down his chin as he the sweet fruit crunched between his teeth. “See? Not trying to poison you, I swear.” He made a sign of crossing his heart. Andrew did’t find it as funny as this beast slayer seemed to. Forest Father scanned the woods again but kept this man in his periphery to be sure that he did not make any sudden movements.

“You can relax. They won’t come for you. Not while I’m here.” The Beast Slayer, as Andrew had dubbed him in his mind, continued his pacing, watching Andrew as he continued to devour his apple. He tossed the core to the side and picked another one from the tree and tore into the sweet, pure flesh of the fruit.

“What do you want?” The Forest Father was done with the pleasantries. Why was this man here and what were his motives? He could sense they were less than heroic.

“What do I want? What do I want? That’s the question now, isn’t it Forest Father?” Andrew felt even more wary as the Beast Slayer began to laugh as he regarded him with his cool blue eyes. He finally paused in his pacing and looked deep into Andrew’s eyes. It was like he was looking into the very depths of the Forest Father’s soul. Whatever he found there he was not impressed.

“For starters, I want you to leave this place. Not this forest, this entire village.”

“That won’t be happening.”

“Tsk, tsk, you haven’t heard everything my heart is yearning for now, have you, hm? So quick to answer. I wonder what it is she sees in you.” A sliver of ice ran down Andrew’s spine. He growled and lunged. He gripped the man by the throat, letting the feral side of him free. The side he kept locked up at all times. He forced the Beast Slayer to his knees. The man willingly let the Forest Father lower him, a cocky smile on his face the whole time.

“You do not speak of her. You do not say her name. You do not even think it.” Andrew growled through clenched teeth. The man let out a choked laugh as Andrew’s hand tightened around his throat.

“Oh so strong. Oh so brave. Intelligent...well, we’ll have to test that. Alright, I concede. You’ve won...this round at least.” Still the grin stayed on his face. White teeth sharp as points flashed out at the Forest Father. “You keep the Willow Woman safe, dear Forest Father. As safe as you can that is...” Anger blazed through him and his hand struck the Beast Slayer backhanded across the face. He flew back and hit the trunk of the tree, causing several apples to rain down from the branches.

“You never say her name,” Andrew commanded, still fuming. He’d kill him now if he knew the full game he was playing. The Forest Father ran a hand through his hair smoothing it down, an old habit to calm himself. A thin trickle of blood ran down the Beast Slayer’s face from a split lip.

“Oh Forest Father, you’re going to want to run now.” The Beast Slayer’s eyes glowed even brighter and his teeth appeared even sharper as he grinned at Andrew.

A chorus of monstrous howls broke out. With nary a backwards glance, Andrew took off running. From the sheer sound every monster that hunted in that woods was on his heels. They snapped at him their huge jaws, always a hairs breath away from his skin. He ran faster than he ever had.

He was almost to the tree line when one of them hit him from the side. He went flying. With a sharp crack his head hit a rock and everything went black.

OoOo

This was all to familiar. Her thrown over his shoulder, pretending to beat her fists against his back as he carried her back to their love den. It was like being a part of another life. He laughed as she demanded playfully that he put her down and lightly tapped his back with her fists.

“I’ll let you down, baby, when I have you where I want you.”

‘Well “Oo la la,”’ she thought to herself at his words. It was almost comical, the situation; still, a ball of nervous energy in her chest warred with the electric current running from her breasts down to her clit. Her body was alight with emotions, not quite sure which one it wanted to feel first. Something deep in her knew she shouldn’t be doing this. That she should scream for him to release her. To release her like he had so many years ago. Some other part wanted him to release her in a whole different kind of way.

A lifetime, this lifetime, of waiting for the Forest Father to offer her release. She couldn’t turn it down. She needed it. Needed him. She needed to be filled and fucked by him.

“Forest Father,” she whispered against the fabric of his t-shirt.

“Willow Woman,” he answered without thinking. He didn’t know why he said it or what it meant. He noted the contented sigh she released when he called her that. Finally, she rested her head against his back and resigned to letting him carry her wherever he was taking her.

He was never this forward. He’d never thrown a woman over his shoulder and carried her back to his hotel room. This felt like a different Andrew. A wild man. A feral beast. He liked it. Something about it felt right.

He gave an awkward one handed wave to the person manning the front desk as he walked past, Madison still draped over his shoulder.

“‘Sup?” She called to the man and they both burst into giggles as the employee gave a slow wave back with a very confused look in his face.

When they stood outside the door of his hotel room, he paused for the slightest of moments. Something felt so right about this, but his thinking mind told him to think twice. Did he even know anything about this woman? ‘You know everything about this woman,’ his subconscious mind whispered. Before he could break into an inner argument, she finally spoke.

“Put me down.” It wasn’t a joke this time. He immediately hoisted her off his shoulder and she held her hand out. He stared for a moment then reached for his wallet. She kept her hand out. He started to pull bills out of his wallet.

“Do you seriously think I’m a hooker? And even more seriously, were you actually going to pay me if I was?”

“I...I mean...” A smile lit up Madison’s face and he visibly relaxed, feeling idiotic. She kept her hand outstretched though and he looked at it curiously.

“Put your money away, I want the keycard, you idiot.” She smiled a bright grin at him and he laughed. He rubbed the back of his neck, feeling awkward, then pulled the keycard from the front of his jeans and handing it to her.

She opened the door and he paused outside of it. Her hand reached out, gripped his, and tugged him slightly inside the door.

She closed the door behind them with a deafening click.

His fate was sealed.

OoOo

Bates paced the entryway of the house. It was empty. She was nowhere to be seen. Even the staff had scurried off to their respective houses. He was alone with no one but The Snake for company.

“Where. Is. She?” he growled, flying into a rage. His anger bubbled up more and more. He knew wherever she was, she wouldn’t be alone. He’d tear a piece out of her hide when he found her.

“I don’t know, mi lord.” The Snake replied. He didn’t really care where she was or who she was with. This was only a minor inconvenience. He knew he’d find her. He was the best tracker in employ. He was tired though. It’d been a long day and he wanted to go curl up and sleep. His annoyance with the Wiley fae know as Willow Woman grew. When he was annoyed it was better to not be the target. She would come to regret this decision.

“Find her.” Bates commanded pulling at his curls. “Find her and bring her to me. In one piece.” He added the last part looking The Snake in the eyes as he came to stand before him.

“Of course mi lord.” The Snake turned on his heels and stalked towards the door. He did not know what his master saw in this woman. Sure, there was status in marrying her, but he had status enough. Envy would be the best explanation. The Forest Father wanted her, almost had her, too, and it made his master happy to take that joy away from him. Regardless of the reason, he would make Willow Woman regret this one way or another. She’d come back in one piece of course, but just barely.

“Do not let me down.” Bates’s voice echoed through the halls. The Snake touched the brim of his hat as he continued the long walk to the front door. He would not let his master down. He never did.

OoOo

The clock had struck midnight.

Cinderella should have ran.

She soon would have no choice.

The beasts were on the hunt.

The Forest Father had her wrapped up in his spell.

The spell he could cast with a look.

With a word.

With a song.

She would know soon enough.

She would sense them on her heels.

She would smell the stench of them.

First she would feel the Forest Father’s teeth sink in.

Then, oh, then it would be the beasts with their teeth in her delicate flesh.

Such was the fate of the fae.

OoOo

Chapter Text

The Forest Father came slowly to his senses as hands reached under his arms. He felt his body slowly being dragged, though into or out of the woods he was still unsure. His eyes rolled into the back of his head and his stomach heaved. If he wasn’t dead and this was the less than impressive afterlife of the fae then he had a very bad concussion. He reckoned if he wasn’t dead he soon would be. He grasped a hand to his forehead, too weak to fight whatever fate he was about to meet. His hand came away sticky. He looked up at it and it was silver with blood. He registered the canopy of leaves above him even though his vision doubled then tripled as he did. He was still in the woods.

“Damn it.” He began to mumble but a hand clamped around his mouth and a voice shushed him.

“Be quiet, they’re probably still close by.” Willow Woman’s voice made him jerk from his dazed state and he tried to jerk out of her grasp. Still unsteady, he did nothing more than flail like a fish. She sighed with a deep sound of exasperation but began to drag him again.

“You have to get out of here.”

“Shush. I already told you they could be close. The whole damn village is more than happy to let you bleed to death out in these woods. I’m the only one foolish enough to come in after you. It’s almost dark,we need to get to the tree line.” He noted the way the shadows of the trees had grown tall since he had been out. She was right; if nothing else, he needed to get her out.

“Help me up, you damnable woman. You ‘should’ have left me for dead,” he grumbled under his breath. He was pretty sure she heard as she jerked him to his feet a little rougher than necessary. She gave him a harsh look and he knew for certain that she had. If it had been any other situation, he would have grinned at her. Now was not the time though. He took a few steps and stumbled. His vision was swimming as he tried to stand straight. He clutched an arm to his side where the beast had struck him. He at least had a few broken ribs from the force it had hit him with. They were built like tanks, those monsters.

Willow Woman tucked an arm his waist and he leaned against her, letting her lead him towards the tree line. They made slow progress as he tripped over every obstacle in his path, including his own two feet. He wanted to scream in frustration. He contemplated shoving her away and telling her to go on on her own. He knew his Madison though, she was stubborn, she wouldn’t go on without him and he’d only succeed in shaving off a few minutes of the sunlight they had left to waste.

They broke through the trees right as the last rays of sun left the cursed forest. Howls broke out behind them and they didn't stop to see if the Cuul had decided to follow them. What appeared to be the whole of the village stood a few paces away holding burning torches. It lit up their faces as they stared grimly past them at the forest behind.

“Were you successful?” The Elder asked in a voice that held too much hope for how little faith she held in her heart.

“I don’t know...” Andrew’s words were slurred as the adrenaline that had been driving him along since his waking, the intense desire to see Willow Woman safe, drained from him.

“Curse you, mother. He’s hurt and you don’t give a damn. Leave, all of you!” She shouted, commanding the crowd that stood holding vigil for them. With faces etched with exhaustion, the crowd began to disperse. They’d come at the request of the Elder when she had seen Madison running into the woods after Forest Father had yet to show when the sun began to set. None of them had been steadfast enough to brave the woods to find her. Instead, they stood on the outskirts, already planning her funeral.

“Willow Woman, you are a fool chasing him into the woods like that.”

“He knows my name, mother, you can drop my title.” The Elder looked genuinely shocked by the news but quickly composed herself.

“Fine, Madison. That doesn’t change the fact that you could have been killed. I’ve allowed this...” she searched for the word she wanted. “...infatuation to go on so long as you remained safe. Now you’re putting your life on the line? For him? Are you planning to commit treason as well? Leave the clan? He can hardly take care of himself, let alone you.”

“Mother, for the love of all things green, please be quiet.” Andrew was fading in and out of the conversation but he was catching snatches of it and it did nothing to quell his fears he held over their relationship. Willow Woman was bound and determined to drag him half dead back to her cabin so she kept him on his feet, though just barely, as they trudged away from her mother and the cursed woods. No one had stuck around long enough to help her so she’d have to do it herself.

“You can’t do this, Willow Woman!” Her mother cried to her as they gained enough distance that it was no longer safe for the Elder to use her common name.

“Damned if I do, damned if I don’t!” Madison called back over her shoulder without a glance back.

OoOo

He stood awkwardly inside the doorway, scuffing one shoe against the other, rubbing the back of his neck with his hand.

“Ehm...” He stated awkwardly, unsure of what to do or say. It was ridiculous. He had bedded plenty of women. It wasn’t like he was some untapped virgin. Still, he took a moment to try to breathe. This felt...different. There seemed to be a tenderness to their connection. Some type of deep meaning that he didn’t grasp yet. The way she looked at him, he saw something stronger than lust. There was a depth to the way she looked at him. She looked at him like she’d known him for far longer than a few nights. As if they had spent enough time talking to fill an entire lifetime. As if she knew his body like the back of her eyelids.

When he looked at her, finally alone in that hotel room, no random onlookers, no restaurant goers, no fans, he could feel it too. An eerie sense of familiarity. He didn’t know her, yet when his hazel eyes met hers, like green gemstones, he could feel a connection he had not felt. ‘Not in this lifetime,’ that voice deep inside of him whispered.

“Ehm...” He mumbled again when the tension and intensity of her stare on him grew too great.

“Come here.” She spoke it softly.It wasn’t an order or a demand. It held the weight of a request. He obliged, coming closer to her, that hand still rubbing at the back of his neck. She was tall enough that when he came to stand in front of her, she could reach up and tug the hair tie out of his hair. The curls fell gently to his shoulders.

“Lie down on the bed. Please?” Her voice was so soft it almost had a dreamlike quality to it. There was no part of him, body, mind, or soul that wanted to deny that request. He shrugged out of his denim jacket and laid down on his back, staring up at her, his hands clasped across his stomach. She took his hands gently and guided them to his sides. She gazed down at him with an adoration he had never seen in a woman’s face before. ‘If this is love...’ he thought absently but stopped before his mind could get the better of him.

“Did you want me to do...?” He trailed off as she silenced him with a soft flick of her hand. She was still gazing down at him.

“Shh. I want to see something.” She moved slowly to the bed, not taking her eyes off of his face. That intensity hung between them but it didn’t crackle with electricity. Instead, it flowed like a long, winding river. From one of them to the other and back again. She came to lay beside him. He turned his head so that he could look at her. She held her head up with one hand resting against her face. She gave him a warm smile when their eyes met again. With a trembling hand she traced the plains of his face. Ran a finger down the middle of his forehead over the tip of his nose and over his lips. He kissed her finger gently as it passed his lips and her smile grew wider.

She stroked the side of his throat. Moved her fingertips to graze the hollow of his throat.

Oh god, did it ache to touch him. Every emotion she had ever held for him came flooding back. Every aching bit of love she had locked deep within herself to keep from eating her alive in his absence broke free. The cage she held his memory inside of her shattered. The emotions threatened to overtake her. She leaned down and let her lips brush his, featherlight.

She surprised him by laying her head down on his chest. Despite being an unexpected reaction he wrapped his arms around her. There was something so right about holding her in these poisoned arms. She stayed like that for several long minutes, listening to the heart beating in his chest. The heartbeat she had not heard in this lifetime. He stroked his fingers through her hair, needing no more than to feel her body against his. Finally, she lifted her head and gazed down at him. That intensity began to build again as their eyes met. She kissed him again with just the slightest bit of pressure.

“Make love to me,” she whispered.

OoOo

The Snake trudged up and down the same bit of sidewalk for the twentieth time. Her scent ended here. It crisscrossed the whole damn downtown like she was wandering around for hours. With how flighty she was, it wouldn’t surprise him.

He smelled someone next to her. Someone...familiar. He couldn’t place the scent though. Not in his filing cabinet of scents from this lifetime. He cursed the loss of all the scents he had built up over all the years he’d hunted.

The street was abandoned at this hour and he was too angry at this point to care much who saw him as he leaned close to the sidewalk and took in a deep inhale. There she was...then a few inches later, he couldn’t smell her at all. He smelled her companion, musky and spicy, clearly male and that familiarity annoyed him more.

He would not return to Bates without her. Especially now that he knew that she was off running around with another man. Let her explain that one. He was likely to get his head ripped off if he had to tell his master that. Kill the messenger, his lord would. No, let her take the fall for her sins.

He cursed. The scent went dead, covered up by the strong scent of her companion. He spit on the ground. Damn the man, whoever he was. He motioned to car parked a few paces behind him with the lights still on, illuminating the cold empty sidewalk The Snake was walking on. It drove up to meet him and he climbed into the backseat but not before surveying the street once more and spitting on the sidewalk when he didn’t find her hiding behind one of the street lamps watching him.

He’d been annoyed before. Now he was straight pissed. She’d better hope this man she was running round with killed her in a fit a passion, because if he didn’t, The Snake would do it in a far far less pleasant way. The promise to bring her home in one piece be damned.

OoOo

Saving her.

Saving him.

They were always saving each other.

In more ways than one.

Such was the fate of the fae.

OoOo

Chapter Text

The Forest Father was dead on his feet by the time Madison was able to half drag him back to her cabin. She was practically carrying him towards the end. She worried she’d rip his arm out of socket with the way his weight pulled on the joint as his feet stumbled trying to take even a single step. He collapsed on the steps outside, bringing them both down to the ground. He was out cold by the time she was able to pull herself out from under where his body pinned her to the steps. Under better circumstances, that idea would be thrilling. At the moment she was anxious over his condition. He was in rough shape.

Summoning some deep seeded strength with the desire to not let him die on the steps of her cabin with a concussion she was able to lift him under the shoulders and knees. For someone so reed thin, he was still heavy. She stumbled a few times and almost unceremoniously dropped him back onto the stairs. He deserved a better death than this. A hero’s death. Where the whole of the lands would come in droves to witness his body laid to rest on a solitary funeral pyre. They would hold burning candles dripping white wax onto the soft grass and sing the songs of passing.

Her muscles screamed as she tried to lower him to her bed. She nearly lost her hold completely. The tugging of his weight against her arms caused her to drop him the last few inches to the soft feather stuffed mattress. She fell to her knees next to him, the feat of furious strength draining her. He did not so much as groan during the entire event. If it were not for the stuttering rise and fall of his chest she would have presumed him dead.

She cursed her mother and the whole of the village again for not even lending a hand to bring him back here. They might as well have left him for dead in those woods. They would have had she not gone after him herself. No matter if he stayed or left, they would curse his name. Damned if he do, damned if he did not. Oh, how the mighty had fallen.

Until he woke, there were more pressing matters than whether he would stay or not. This village was slowly killing him like it had killed so many fae before him. Even the great Forest Father could not escape the stink of death that hung in the air here. That smell of sickly sweet rotting flowers that clung to every surface, invaded every doorway, hung to their hair like flies to a body long dead.

Here he lay, half dead, and all for what? He kept sending himself into that forest every day and came out with more and more wounds. Draining him of more and more blood. Taking his life away bit by bit. Why did he keep doing it? The answer was blatantly obvious to Willow Woman. She was not a stupid faerie, she knew what love did to someone. She knew because even though she had not said it back to him that day in the cabin, she knew what she felt to be true. She also knew how selfish it was to use her love to hold him captive.

He could leave anytime. He was clan-less and held accountable to no one. He had a peaceful cabin with a large porch and a rickety rocking chair to return to. He had his beautiful woods where the beasts were tamed and he could serenade the trees with his painfully beautiful songs. He had a life to live as humble of one as it seemed. He stayed because of her.

Now, he clung to the edge of death for her. She took his hand, still warm, in hers, bowed her head over it, and wept.

OoOo

Madison had imagined their reunion as pure passion. That ‘can’t keep your hands off of each other, slamming into walls, knocking over lamps, no holds barred’ passion. She’d fantasized about their reunion for years. It had sometimes been the only thing to keep her going on particularly bad days when Bates was in a mood and The Snake’s hand was relentless.

She’d imagined she’d see him across a room and the whole rest of the world would melt away to nothing. The people, the noise, that constant stink of the iron that the humans used to erect their cities like scars on the land. All of it would just fade away. There he would be, there she would be.

“Forest Father,” she’d whisper. In their past life it’d been far more intimate to use their common names. Now in this world, where every name was common, their fae names were far more personal. They meant so much more. There were thousands of Andrews. Thousands of Madisons. Yet, there were, and always would be, only one Forest Father, and only one Willow Woman.

In that moment when his hazel eyes locked on her eyes, green like the moss that used to hang from the trees outside of their cabin, he would remember exactly who she was.

“Willow Woman,” he’d respond in like. Then there’d be nothing keeping them apart. Bates, The Snake, even death would not be enough to part them again. It wouldn’t be that easy this time when the world inevitably tried to pull them away from each other.

Their fate may have been sealed 3,000 years ago. Now though, now this was a world of possibilities. There were billions of people in the world. Why couldn’t they just disappear into a crowd of a million faces? Leave everyone behind?

How could you disappear though, when so many knew his face? She knew it was all a foolish girl’s dream. She had once not considered herself so stupid. That was long before she’d made the choices that had set their ultimate fate into motion. She had been an idiot then and now she dreamt like one.

There was passion alright, but instead of utter destruction it was slow and sweet.

He grasped the hem of her dress and pulled it up and over her head. His fingers traced the underside of her bra before reaching back and snapping her breasts free with one hand. Her nipples were pink with just the barest tint of brown. His fingers traced designs on the sides of her full breasts. Goosebumps broke out along her flesh in response. Those pink peaks grew firm and hard as he ran his thumbs over them. The simple act of stroking her breasts was enough to cause his cock to grow hard.

She paused his movements and he looked at her with questions in his eyes. She reached out and tugged his shirt from his pants. He took the hint and continued her movements pulling the shirt over his head. She ran her hands over every inch of his chest, leaving no piece of flesh untouched. She leaned her forehead against his chest and breathed in the scent of his aftershave for a moment. She placed a soft kiss against the skin there and wrapped her arms around his back. His long arms criss crossed over her back and they stood there for a moment just holding each other. It was was intensely intimate. In that brief period of time, something like a memory was triggered in his mind. He could see her. In what looked like a cabin. It was her, but more wild. Her hair was tangled with leaves. A long, flowing dress donned her body. She smiled in a way that was untroubled, so different from the Madison that he held in his arms now. When was this?

“Willow Woman,” he whispered without thought. That had been her name. ‘Had’ been. He tried to delve more into the memory but he couldn’t. It simply held that small flash of her smiling carelessly at him, her hair a mess of knots, the smell of green grass untouched by man hanging in the air. He kept the memory in the forefront of his mind as he grasped her around the waist and lifted her. She wrapped her legs around his waist and he placed her softly down on the bed. Standing over Madison, he looked down at her trying to compare the two images he now had of her. One current, one from when...he wasn’t sure. Now the lines on her face were from worry, not laughter. Her hair hung straight except for where he had mussed it up running his hands through it as the night progressed. The same woman, but still two different people.

“Willow Woman,” he whispered again, not knowing why, as he tugged her panties down and tossed them into the corner. He unzipped his jeans as he continued to whisper the name like a prayer.

She could not tell if he was remembering who he was and in that moment she didn’t care. She placed her heels against his back and guided him to her until he finally with care buried his cock in her sex. He lowered his head to her neck and bit into the flesh there. Biting and sucking, he moved his way down her throat to her chest and gave her gentle love bites on the tops of both of her breasts.

“Yes. Yes. Yes.” Willow Woman whispered in his ear as he thrust into her slowly and methodically. It was like making sweet music, their bodies yearning for each other. They moved simultaneously as one. The same one being they had been since the beginning of the time of humans.

They both cried out in pleasure as that sweet, small death overtook them. He thrust into her once more before stilling. The walls of her pussy still spasmed around him and she moaned his name, switching between the common tongue and his high title.

When she was done they stilled. Lying there together. When one breathed out. The other breathed in.

OoOo

“Stop the car.” The Snake had yet to give up even as the sun began to rise. The streets began to be littered with a human here and there as the city woke up from its dreams.

They’d driven the length of the downtown twice, turning down different streets each time.

His diligence was rewarded when he caught the barest hint of her scent. The car pulled over where it was and he climbed out.

It was thin and not fresh. This was from a few days ago. Still, he tracked her to a small bar on the south side of town. A rougher type of crowd would be here but that was usually how she liked it.

It might not be a fresh trail but chances were if she’d run off with a man, it had not been her first meeting. If she’d been here with him, someone would remember her and who she’d been with.

He was closing in on her, he could feel it.

OoOo

Their bodies became one.

He remembered if for a brief moment who he was.

The monsters closed in.

The Cuul had no respect for love.

Their moment would come to an end.

Then, they would be fed to the beasts.

Such was the fate of the fae.

Chapter Text

Three days went by and he did not wake. Did not even so much as stir. Willow Woman hovered over him constantly. When anyone was sent to fetch her for this or that she’d snarl at them. Pointing out that if they had helped her to begin with the Forest Father would not be in this condition. They would leaving reprimanded and shameful careful not bother her again. Most had been sent by the Elder who felt too guilty for her daughter’s pain to come herself. Instead she sent other’s in her stead trying to draw her daughter out. Willow Woman refused, not until he awoke she told everyone who came. They were careful not to correct her to the word “if”, if he awoke.

Offerings of food were left on the doorstep mostly by her pixie of a friend Arabella that everyone simply called Elle. She was the daughter of the weaver who had not survived the attacks. She could have been cast out of the village as her mother, the weaver, had been adopted into the clan for her skills. Despite trying desperately Elle was unable to replicate the work of her mother. She was not talented in most of the needs of the village. She usually flitted about doing odd jobs here and there. When the weaver had been found dead one hand reaching towards the very cabin Elle had been sleeping in the Elder had taken pity on the young girl and allowed her to stay. Madison and Elle after that time had become like sisters as Madison took her under her wing. Elle still did odd jobs to earn her place in the village but mostly she had taken over the manning of the funeral pyre that burned day and night like a beacon. She found something she was good at finally, even if it was ferrying the dead to the next life.

Elle could not cook for the life of her but she could bake mouthwatering loaves of bread sprinkled with seed and nuts. The Elder had tried to get her an apprenticeship with the baker but the fae had spit on the ground at the idea. He was a purist and refused an adopted clanswoman as an apprentice. The Elder had argued, the baker had threatened to leave, everyone let the matter drop. Still people sought out Elle’s baked goods. It was the way she earned money for the necessities of life. The baker hated her with a burning passion. The thing about Elle was she frankly didn’t give a heathen god’s damn what the baker thought. She was a fire cracker forged in fire. She was strong before the death of her mother she was even stronger after the death of her. If anyone would have survived on their own without a clan at that young of an age it would have been her. Still she was eternally grateful to the Elder for not forcing her into that life. She was even more grateful to Willow Woman for convincing her mother to let her stay.

“Hey.” Elle’s voice was quiet as if she spoke too loud it would wake The Forest Father out of his slumber. Willow Woman actually wished that were true. Madison looked up from where she sat mopping cold sweat off the forehead of Andrew who laid still as a statue on her bed. She had cleaned most of the dried silver blood from his body but he still glittered in some places with the flakes she could not reach. His clothes were stiff with that silver blood.

'Wake. Wake. Wake. Wake.’ Willow Woman thought in chant to herself running the cool cloth down his cheek. He shivered at times and she had pulled several of her blankets over his body.

“Did my mother send you?” Madison turned her attention back to Andrew after glancing at Elle who was standing timidly on the threshold of the cabin.

“Have you ever known me to spy on you at your mother’s direction? I respect the heck out of the old bat but I draw the line at being her lackey when it comes to you. I came to check on you. No one has seen you for days. I think even your mother fears to send anyone else after you.” Elle perched herself on the edge of a window seat that once overlooked a bustling village but not offered no more than an excellent view of the torched bodies of the dead burning on the funeral pyre. Elle glanced out wondering how long she could manage to leave the idiots to man it without her there. With her luck this short interlude would end with them burning down the entire village.

“There’s no where else I need to be than watching him. Knowing this village if I leave him alone for even a moment someone will slip in and slit his throat. Most likely at the direction of my mother.” She spit out the words venomously and even though it was not particularly funny Elle gave a chuckle.

“Knowing your mother I honestly would not be surprised. I’d like to say I would...I really would not though.” Elle laughed along as she picked at the loaf off bread she had brought along for Willow Woman. There was a jar of thick golden honey with a chunk of honeycomb still inside that was sealed with red wax. It had not been cheap but she knew it was Madison’s favorite and she was desperate at this point to get her friend to eat anything as she wasted away taking care of the Forest Father. At Elle’s words Madison gave her own small chuckle. It felt good to laugh as compared to the onset of tears that came each night staring down at his prone form. She’s cried so much her eyes burned and her vision blurred. The laugh was very welcomed and she knew no one but her friend would have been able to draw that from her.

“Do you think he’ll wake up?” Madison had not wanted to ask that question but she needed to know that someone other than her believed that he could. Losing him was a thought she could not bear. Elle sighed from her perch and came over to the side of the bed. She stared down at the Forest Father with furrowed brow. She assessed him and even reached down to push a stray curl behind his ear. It was the intimacy of a little sister helping her brother get ready to call on a girl. There was no romance in her gesture which is what kept Madison from growling at her. Elle had a knack for knowing things she should not know. She swore up and down that the birds and the trees spoke to her. In this world there was no telling what she was capable of. Villagers laughed but uneasily. Most fae were gift less. Those graced with a gift were either revered or feared. The Forest Father was both. Or at least he had been. Elle stared for a few more moments before turning and beginning to leave the cabin.

“I have to go. They’ll burn the entire world down if I’m not there to direct them.” Elle spoke as she made her way to the entrance. “Eat something please. You’re too thin already.”

“You did not answer my question.” Madison pointed out watching her go with a deep sadness. Elle turned slightly in the doorframe her light blonde hair sparkling in the sun like spun gold.

“He will wake alright. He will wake when there is something to wake up for.” Then she bounded down the steps back to her job of leading the fae long gone to their new forms.

OoOo

Madison’s phone chirped from it’s spot on the bedside table. They’d spent the night alternating between sleeping in each’s others arms and making sweet passionate love. Her lips were swollen with kisses. Her sex ached but still pounded with her heartbeat calling to him. They were in the afterglow of another love making session when that damnable connection to the life she desperately didn’t want went off bringing her back to reality.

She lay with her Forest Father wrapped in his arms sharing a cigarette between the two of them. He sat with his back against the upholstered fabric headboard. She had her head resting on his chest. His arm was wrapped around her bare shoulders. The blanket was tousled with the sheets lying forlorn on the carpet. Andrew had pulled the small scratchy throw up to her waist to keep her warm. He needed nothing more than the warmth of her body against his. That warmth sunk deep into bones that were bitter and cold. All could be damned he was happy and not loathe to admit it.

“Ignore it.” He advised absently blowing a line of smoke from his lips. She rolled her eyes and reached to the side table. A feeling of dread was already sinking into her. Elle would not bother her knowing full well where she was at the moment. Bates never sent texts. If it was from The Snake...she visibly shuddered at the idea. She flipped the phone over with trembling hands. A text from Elle. One word on the screen greeted her.

...Run....

Fear like an explosion of fireworks went off in her chest. She gasped and jumped out of the bed nearly toppling them both to the ground.

“What? What’s wrong?” Andrew stubbed the cigarette out in the ashtray and rose as she began quickly stumbling around the room collecting stray pieces of clothing that the Forest Father had thrown in their passion.

“I have to go. I have to go hom....no I can’t go there. I don’t know where I’ll go but I have to go right now.” She emphasized the last word as she slipped into her panties. Her mind was running a million miles an hour. She had no idea where to go. Bates controlled her money. If she used the card he’d know exactly where she was. He did not allow her to have a car. She’d have to hitchhike. That was her best bet. The idea did not scare her. It was much safer than returning to Bates. Returning to the hand of The Snake. Never one to spare the rod and spoil the child.

“You can’t go. Madison what is going on? Stay here. With me. Please. I... “ She kept gathering her belongings not even looking at him as he talked. “I can take you anywhere you want to go. Just don’t leave, please.” His voice was taking on a sense of pleading. He knew if she walked out that door she would not be coming back into his life. She paused for a moment and looked up at him reading the sincerity in his voice.

“You said you’d take me to Paris if I asked. What about Ireland? Would you take me there? Not someday, today, right now.” Her voice was questioning but there was no sense of kidding in it. Andrew knew she meant it. He saw fear in her eyes. Not anxiety but true life or death fear.

“Yes. I’ll take you to Ireland.”

“Now?”

“Yes.” She shoved him towards the direction of his clothes.

“Then get dressed. We don’t have a lot of time.”

OoOo

The Snake stood outside of the hotel leaning against the black town car and absently smoking a cigarette. The sun had fully risen now but it was not high in the sky. She could be sleeping but more than likely she was fucking.

Didn’t matter much to him. He could wait. They’d have to leave eventually. Then they’ both be his.

He took a long drag and flicked the butt of the cigarette to the ground looking like the cat that got the cream.

OoOo

The hunt was over.

The beasts stood at the threshold.

Not knowing who he was.

What he was.

The Forest Father could not stop them.

The beasts would tear them limb from limb.

Such was the fate of the fae.

OoOo

Chapter Text

A week went by and still he did not wake. Another week passed with no improvement. Then a month passed. Still he did not wake. He stayed there in suspended animation. Like a bear laid down for the long sleep of hibernation he did not waste away. He remained much as he was. Laid out on Willow Woman’s small bed, his hands folded over one another on his stomach, the calico blanket they had so frequently rolled around in the night pulled up to his chest. She slept in a nest of blankets on the floor watching him with worried eyes each night until she was so exhausted that sleep overtook her. During the day she would lie on the small sliver of bed that his body did not occupy with her head on his chest and will life into him. She wasted away. He remained the same.

At first the village cared very little whether he lived or died. The Elder worried for her daughter’s sake but held little stake in the life or death of the Forest Father. He had done his best and his best had not been good enough. She washed her hands of the silver of his blood and let it be.

Then as if sensing the absence of the Forest Father’s presence prowling the village, protecting it, the beasts came out from hiding. At first it was a single fae here and there. Anyone caught outside near the woods that had for a long time been safe enough. They were dragged back into the tree line a trail of silver blood sparkling in the morning the only indication that anyone had even been there. They were like ritual sacrifices as the beasts did not leave the bodies to be burned. They were restless and hungry. It was no longer killing for sport, this was survival. The forests were laid bare, the villagers were scarce, this was to be the end of the fae on these lands.

After that the village enforced strict rules. Always travel in groups, always be in before dark, always keep the funeral pyre burning, and never ever go near the woods. This caused the beasts to become even more desperate. That is when the real hunt began.

They came into the village at night stalking the streets. Elle worked through the night a cloth covering her mouth to keep the pyre burning. That sweet smell of rotting flowers. That choking smoke as the bodies of the fae burned were the only things that kept the beasts from the heart of the town. Those on the edges were left to fend for themselves.

They could hear the monsters outside of their doors. See their shadows cast across the buildings between them. Hear the snap of their tremendous jaws, the crunch of their twisted limbs as they hobble on broken legs, smell that scent of wet moss and bog water that clung to them. They lived in constant fear.

Only when half of what had remained of the village laid dead on the funeral pyre did they realize the error of their ways. The Forest Father despite his best efforts to stop the invasion had held the beasts at bay. He had offered survival. He was the slow healing of a wound not the instant cure of an infection. He had been helping them. They had been too bitter with death to see it.

That was when they came, the fae of the village. The came to Willow Woman’s cabin and held candlelit vigils. Never was there a moment where someone did not stand outside her cabin and sing the sad sweet songs of their people. They brought offerings of food to Willow Woman to keep her strong for they knew only she could bring him back from his slumber. They sang day in and day out. When Willow Woman’s faith faltered one of them would bolster her until she stood strong again. Unwavering in her belief that he would once again awaken. At night she wept not caring who outside heard her as the night was illuminated by the soft glow of candles and the songs were quiet but strong. She weeped for everything that she had never said to him. Every time she had spurned his advances. Every chance she had given up because she had told herself there was time.

When they celebrated the Forest Father even in sleep the attacks stopped. Soon the whole village stood vigil outside the cabin honoring the man that was keeping them safe.

It seemed some semblance of safety had reached them. Until the night Willow Woman was taken.

OoOo

He did not take much with him and she had nothing of her own to carry other than her purse. She’d turned her phone off then placed it on the ground and crushed it with her foot. He watched her completely baffled by her behavior. He could not understand what she was doing or her sense of urgency but he knew that something of great importance was about to happen. ‘This is crazy’ his thinking brain told him. ‘This is fate’ his subconscious said. ‘Follow her’ was the only thing the two parts of him could agree on. So he did. There was not much left in her purse once she dumped her credit cards, all under Bates’s name, her phone, and anything she thought he could track her with. It left a false ID and phony passport that Elle had arranged for her to have in case of this very situation.

Elle had always joked about the Forest Father coming to save Madison in this lifetime. At least Madison had thought she was joking. Elle told her the birds talked to the trees that were older than the birds and the trees talked to the mountains that were older than the trees and the mountains talked to the oceans that covered this earth long before anything living touched it. She told her she had heard from the birds that had heard from the trees that had heard from the mountains that heard from the wisened oceans that in this lifetime the Forest Father would be reborn.

“He won’t know who he is though. That will be your job.” Elle had told her as she took an old fashioned feather duster to the armoire. Madison had laughed but Elle fixed her with one of those looks that said ‘listen you fool’. Elle might have been younger in body but her soul was far older than Madison’s ever would be. She had still believed Elle to mistaken. Until now.

She stuck her head slowly out of the doorframe and checked both end of the hallway. The elevator was out of the question. The moment that door opened on the ground floor they’d be trapped. She wanted to think to herself “if” The Snake is here but she knew better that it was “because” The Snake is here.

She grabbed Andrew’s hand and started to drag him out of the hotel room. He had legs much longer than hers so he easily kept pace with her quick movements. Eventually he was outrunning her and pulled her along. He sensed the urgency. He knew something was wrong. Somewhere deep inside him some type of memory surfaced. Of running with her through the woods. Much like this he was ahead of her dragging her along. He looked back and she looked exhausted and sickly thin. He was practically dragging her along but he knew if they stopped for even a moment the hounds would be on them again. It was the Madison he saw in the other memory. Smiling, happy, with wild hair and glowing skin. Here she looked like she had been through the third ring of hell and back. Still in that moment as he ran down that hotel hallway he glanced back at her for a second to make sure she was keeping up. In that instant he saw them in a glorious wood. The canopy of trees was covering them. Casting their faces in a green glow. Patches of sunlight rained down on them as they raced through the woods. In that moment he was not Andrew Hozier-Byrne he was someone else. He was what she had called him. He was the Forest Father.

He stopped dead in his tracks in the hotel hallway so quickly that Madison was almost yanked off her feet when she kept running ahead of him. She turned sharply and looked at him with an even sharper expression. They needed to get out of there. She saw the glassy look in his eyes and she paused for a moment. She reached up and touched his cheek.

“You’re Willow Woman.” He said it quietly as if piecing a puzzle together. Her heart froze and stuttered before starting again.

“Yes and we need to go now.” She pleaded trying to tug him with her. She wanted so much in that moment to pull him to her and wrap him in her arms. To explain everything. Their lives together. What happened. How sorry she was. Everything. Yet when the monsters are at your door pausing for even a moment can mean death.

“And I’m the Forest Father.” He stated again as if just realizing his own name. He was remembering slowly but there was no time for this right now.

“Andrew I need you to keep running. Please baby I am begging you we have to go because they’re going to kill us.” If he remembered who he was then they would kill them both. So far no one knew that the Forest Father had been reborn. No one but Elle. If he knew who he was, what he was, then he was in just as much danger as she was.

“You mean the Cuul. The Cuul will kill us.” His voice was dead for a moment. Completely devoid of emotion. A chill ran down her spine. She could almost predict the next words that would come out of his mouth and she dreaded them more than returning to Bates.

“Yes the Cuul will kill us.” She whispered. Still she tugged on his hand even though she knew it was a fruitless effort. He would not come with her. Not if he remembered now before she could explain everything. He turned hazel eyes that leaned more towards the beautiful green moss that hung outside of their cabin before all the evil in the world had fallen on them. They were no longer the eyes of Andrew Hozier-Byrne. They were now the eyes of the Forest Father long dead but alive once again and they were blazing.

“They’ll kill us because you left me for them.”

OoOo

Sickly sweet smoke that smelled of rotting flowers.

Sweeter than any incense.

It choked this world.

He could remember nothing more than that perfumed scent of death.

And the bitter taste of betrayal.

Such was the fate of the fae.

OoOo

Chapter Text

He slept on. It turned into months and still he slept. The village remained safe from the beasts as long as the villagers continued their near constant reverence of him. Fae from the broken pieces of villages surrounding them had begun to migrate there. They were welcomed with open arms and began to fill the vacant buildings and jobs that had long hung abandoned and forlorn.

Still, they held the candlelit vigils. Still, Willow Woman wasted away. Forest Father laid there quiet and calm. His body remained thin but lithe. His hair and beard did not grow. It was like looking at a sculpture, save for the gentle rise and fall of his chest. He stayed the same, she grew more and more ill with the sickness in her heart each day.

There was no other explanation than a sickness of the heart. She was slowly dying from a broken heart at the loss of him. The loss of his laugh, his conversation, even loss of the tenderness of sewing up his arms after each damnable attempt into those woods. She touched him and he was still warm, but those beautiful eyes did not scrunch up with the happiness of a laugh or smile. They remained closed. Rimmed by long black lashes. They were featherlight to the touch Willow Woman knew from the nights when she would plant gentle kisses on his eyes before sleep claimed her.

She’d long since stopped sleeping on the floor. She had grown so thin that she could easily curl up on the bed next to him and sleep with her head on his chest. She’d let the gentle rise and fall of his strong chest lull her to sleep. Much like when she went to the coast when she was a child and the waves would crash and recede. In. Out. In. Out. Sleep.

She slept more frequently now and ignored the food that was brought for her. Elle fretted over her though Madison spurned her attempts at mothering. Her real mother stayed away. She knew her daughter. Anything the Elder said would only drive a wedge further between them. Her daughter blamed her for what had happened. The Elder rightfully accepted that blame, though it did not make her burden any lighter. She could not help but rejoice in the calm that had settled over the village, though it made her feel just the smallest tinge of guilt. She had sacrificed her daughter’s happiness for the sake of her village. Now he daughter wasted away from a broken heart. To lose her daughter for the village...she did not know that it was a fair trade.

The night was warm and humid. Willow Woman lay with her head on the Forest Father’s chest. She was close to sleep. She was in that place where she was not sure she was quite awake, but she was still conscious of thought and knew that she was not yet asleep. On the very edge she stayed for a moment then something occurred to her. It was silent. Dead silent. He eyes flew open. Nothing seemed amiss. Except the singing had stopped. The near constant hum of voices that had filled the nights of the past few months was gone. The hair on the back of her neck rose and goosebumps broke out along her arms. Something was wrong.

She moved quiet and slow to the window. There was no one there. No bodies. The candles usually held in hands in reverence for the forest father dotted the ground. Smoke still rose from the wicks that had been doused by the dew drenched grass. There had been no screams. If they had been taken it was not by the monsters...it was something else. A raid from a neighboring village?

Then she heard that tell tale baying like strangled cries of the wolves that had once roamed these lands. She knew that no matter who had begun the attack, the monsters would finish it.

'Run.’

Something in her mind told her to leave the cabin. She turned eyes to the Forest Father. She knew she would not leave him, nor could she, in her weakened state, carry him. She sighed and returned to her post next to him. She would defend him or she would die with him. She frankly did not care which happened at this point, as long as they were together.

“Hello, Willow Woman.” His voice was smooth but still a bark deep in the throat. She looked up from her thoughts to see a man covered in the pelt of a monster long dead and skinned. He had a mop of dark curls and piercing blue eyes like pieces of ice. She snarled at him and he smiled, showing white teeth sharp enough to bite into flesh.

“Leave him alone,” she growled at him. He chuckled and moved a little further into the cabin.

“I’m not interested in him. His fate is already sealed. You on the other hand...” He let the sentence trail off. She reached under the pillow that cushioned the Forest Father’s head and pulled out the small curved silver knife that Elle had given her. Elle had shot her a sad look when she had handed her the blade, as if she had known she would one day have to use it like this.

“Leave.” Madison commanded again. The man laughed and moved in closer. She brandished the blade at him. She did nothing showy such as swiping at him. Simply held it in the way Elle had showed her, putting it between him and her, and her between him and the Forest Father. ‘Live together or die together,’ she thought as they stood in a standstill.

“You’re going to want to put that down before you hurt yourself.” The man laughed in that throaty way that sounded almost like a growl. Then he moved so fast that it was like a lightning strike. He had her around the wrist in one movement, the knife out of he hand in the next, then he was dragging her out of the cabin. She struggled but she had grown so weak. It took so much out of her to simply stumble behind him. They were almost to the tree line. She could see the glittering eyes of the beasts waiting for them. She was certain she was meant to be a sacrifice.

“Stop.” The voice was neither loud nor demanding. It was beautiful and oh so clear. The man stopped dead in his tracks and his fingers loosened enough around her wrist for her to pull her hand out of his grasp. Could it be? She turned slowly, unable to comprehend what she was hearing.

There, standing in the doorway, illuminated by the light glowing inside the cabin stood the Forest Father, his eyes ablaze.

OoOo

Andrew jerked away from her and she felt her heart shatter. She had wanted so badly to explain to him what had happened. That he did not know the truth. Not really. She knew that he did not remember the whole of the story. Only the part in the middle. The truly horrible and wretched part when she had betrayed him.

“Tell me, Madison.” He spit out her common name like a curse and she winced. “Tell me, did any of it mean anything to you? All those nights in your cabin in that cursed village that your mother damned us to? Or was he just a better fuck than me?”

“It wasn’t like that. It didn’t mean...please, Andrew, listen...” Her heart was shattered and she felt sick to her stomach. All the thoughts of escaping The Snake had left her. She deserved this and she’d rather fall onto The Snake’s sharp fangs and die from his poison than face The Forest Father in this moment.

“3,000 years. 3,000 years I’ve waited to see you again and now...” He stared at her, looking into the very depths of her soul. He saw darkness. He saw pain, hurt, and sadness. He saw remorse. Despite all of that he still saw a strong beating heart full of love. “...now I can’t...fuck it.” His mouth was on hers in an instant. There was nothing sweet about this kiss. It was deep, desperate, and full of passion. He lifted her from the ground and she wrapped her legs around his waist. He moved back to their hotel room. When he could not get the door open without letting her go he wrenched the doorknob until something inside of the mechanism snapped.

They practically fell into the room. He slammed her back against the wall and her leg kicked out as he bit her bottom lip before burying his head in her neck, biting down hard and sharp until she groaned. She kicked the bedside lamp to the floor and it hit the ground with a shatter. They ignored it.

The Forest Father made quick work of her panties and had his jeans open in a moment. The zipper was far more complicated than the buttons from long past. Still, a part of Andrew Hozier-Byrne remained in him and he figured it out. It took one thrust to be inside of her. He howled like a wild beast to be buried in the gentle folds of her sex. She. Felt. So. Fucking. Good.

He had waited 3,000 years to know the intimate feel of the inside of her again. He did not go easy. He fucked her with all the passion of a lover long past. He fucked her like his life depended on it. Slowly, every memory of being buried in her pussy resurfaced and he lost himself in the feel of her. She groaned and buried her hands in his hair, trying to hold on. He slammed her into another wall, trying to get deep inside, before finally pinning her to the bed where he could really drive into her. He wanted her to remember ever time they had made sweet love and even more all the times they had fucked out their anger. He wanted her to remember what she had so easily given up.

He came fast and hard with something near a scream. It was a 3,000 year long release. It lasted what seemed like eternity and very well might have been. He looked down at her. His deepest love. Despite her betrayal and every bit of hell he had gone through without her, he could still feel his heart beating for her.

She looked at him with the deepest of sadness and placed a hand against his forehead. He did not understand.

“Andrew Adair Aturri, known as Forest Father of the clan-less clan, forget everything you’ve remembered.” She said the words with the deepest of anguish. His mind cleared in an instant of all that had came to him, and Andrew Hozier-Byrne stared down at Madison, unsure of how they had ended up back in the hotel room.

Madison closed her eyes and, with him still inside of her, wept.

OoOo

He remembered just to forget.

To find love just to lose it.

The deepest of sacrifices.

The giving of forgiveness.

The bite of selfishness.

Such was the fate of the fae.

OoOo

Chapter Text

The Forest Father moved with reverence towards Willow Woman and the Beast Slayer who stood next to her. Andrew knew full well what the Beast Slayer was now. He wore the belt of the slain, yes, but he was of their clan. He was a wolf in sheep's clothing. A monster wrapped in skin. It was why Andrew could so easily control him. He was of the forest, which meant he fell under the Forest Father’s domain.

Andrew grasped Willow Woman’s wrist gently and tugged her behind him, away from the furless monster. She stumbled on feet unsure as she stared reverently at Forest Father. He gave her the gentlest of smiles and her heart ached in such a deep way that she felt as if it would burst. She had imagined seeing him would set her free from the illness that wrapped itself around her heart. Now though, she felt so sick with the heartache that she wanted to wretch the contents of her empty stomach. Always empty these days, her stomach acid could burn through the lush green grass below. A stain on the beautiful earth that belonged to Forest Father. She felt a deep connection to him so ethereally beautiful that it hurt. Yet, she also felt like a stain to his bright aura.

He did not understand her sickness. She looked ill. She looked at him like he was a foreign god, not the fae she had known, and he still held out the hope, loved. She stared at him through glazed eyes. He could, in that moment, not focus on what was going through her mind. There were matters that were immediate and required just and righteous action in the moment.

“Take out your knife and hold it to your throat.” Andrew’s voice was steady and even. The lilt of his accent of the clan-less clan was quiet but built with such an intensity that Willow Woman shook where she stood. There was no arguing with him at this point. The Beast Slayer’s arm shook as he took his knife from the hilt on his back. The way his muscles rippled and quaked as he brought the knife to his throat it was obvious to all that he was fighting the command.

“Tighter against your throat.” The Forest Father was terrifying in this moment. Even the threat of Armageddon would turn from him if it were to see him as he stood on the edge of the woods. He was a body of magnificence. He was not of this world.

The Willow Woman was his and his alone. She was his baby and nobody fucks with his baby. He would make the Beast Slayer regret every move he made towards Willow Woman. Every breath in her direction. Even the way his eyes fell upon her form, so frail and thin now. Regardless, he would quiver with fear for the very sin of thinking of her. He would strike fear into the very heartless heart of the Beast Slayer. He. Would. Suffer.

A thin line of blood ran down the Beast Slayer’s throat. It was a pinkish silver, not the pure silver of a true fae. He was a low blood. A mix of monster and fae, he was an abomination not fit for this world. The Forest Father would wipe him from this earth.

“If you ever touch her again I will watch as you slit your own low blood throat. Now run to your clan of monsters and tell them what has happened. Tell them that any move against this village is a move against me. I will wear the hide of every monster that touches a fae. Now run.” Andrew had moved so that his lips were next to the Beast Slayer’s ear, his lips pulled back from his teeth as he snarled the words to him. To it.

Willow Woman swayed on her feet at the sheer force of the Forest Father’s fury. She was tired and weak as she had been waiting for her love to come back to her. Now that he was here, she shook as the fight left her. There was nothing left to fight for. He was safe now. She could finally rest. She fell to her knees as the Beast Slayer was left with no option but to slink back into the woods.

Andrew turned, his fury still evident and tried to pull Willow Woman to her feet. She collapsed to the ground with nothing left in her. The fury burning fiery like a blaze that could not be soothed left him, and he collapsed next to her.

Pulling her into his arms, he wrapped her in all that he had. All he had to offer was his arms, so often devoid of the weight of another. So many nights alone in his cabin. So many times he had worshipped the wood but still longed to handle the flame. She was the flame, yet nothing within her burned any longer.

A villager he did not know came running up. Andrew raised a single hand to stop his advances. Andrew did not want anyone touching Willow Woman. She was sick. So very sick.

“Forest Father.” The voice was in awe as the villager looked down at Andrew. Andrew answered with a thinly concealed threat wrapped in a growl.

“I apologize. I would not bother, but it’s the Elder.” Andrew turned blazing eyes to this young fae. He could care less about the Elder. She had forsaken them both. In his sleep he had heard everything that had happened. Trapped in the prison of his mind, he had experienced the world as an observer. He knew of the treachery of the Elder.

“I do not care. Willow Woman is sick. Leave us.”

“Forest Father. The Elder is dead. I came to tell you that Willow Woman is now the chief of the village. May the forest bless the new Elder.” Andrew turned eyes filled with loathing hate to the villager. The young fae lifted his hand to his heart then his lips and kissed in salute to Willow Woman. Her form lay prone in his arms. Andrew wrapped her in his arms and carried her back into the cabin. Now it had become their cabin.

OoOo

Andrew Hozier-Byrne looked down at Madison, feeling lost and confused. How had they gotten back into the hotel room? They had been in the hallway. He’d seen...what had he seen? Some type of dream about a forest. He could not remember exactly. It was as if a veil had been drawn over everything that had happened within the last few minutes. He gazed down at her quizzically, but with compassion. He felt a connection deeper than he had felt with any of the women who had graced the crisp white sheets of the hotel rooms he’d stayed in. A memory wanted to tug at him but something held it back. It pulled harder to the point that it felt as if his skull would crack in two. For only a moment, the veil parted and he saw a forest. Felt a guitar in his hand. Called out for his Wasteland Baby. That was it.

The Forest Father sat in waiting in the deep recesses of the musician known as Andrew Hozier-Byrne’s mind. It was his mind. His body. Born anew from the bog he had been buried alive in. The moss and peat that had filtered down his throat had born him a voice in this new body that earned him a living. It was not so much unlike the voice that had brought him to Willow Woman in the past.

This was not new for the Forest Father. Being a silent observer of the life of Willow Woman. He’d spent months trapped inside a body that did not move nor did it die. It was not living, but he had not been prepared for death yet. Now, trapped behind the eyes of the awkward and charming musician, he waited. He wanted to rant, rave, scream. He’d been there. Inside of Willow Woman. He had wanted to forgive. Instead she wiped him from the memory of this new persona. She trapped him yet again. She. Had. Betrayed. Him. Again.

Madison looked up at him, feeling the sickest feeling of guilt in her life. She had sacrificed so many people. So many things to protect herself from Bates. She was anything but innocent in her treachery. Still, she had stripped the Forest Father of his identity in this new life when it had been her express duty to bring him back. The world needed the Forest Father. In her selfish actions she had torn from this world the person it needed most to restore hope to the fae. The world did not need the Willow Woman. She had done nothing in this life deserving of it. Yet, in her desperation to hold on to her love she had wiped him of who he was. If she could get him to Ireland she could release him. He would hate her, oh, would he hate her, but at least he would be somewhere safe.

“I'll explain later, Andrew. Right now we need to run.” He nodded as he pulled out of her and zipped up his pants. It was not the most eloquent of movements, but was quite necessary in the moment. He had no idea what was happening, but some deeper part of him told her to follow her. A deeper part than that told him to follow her but not to trust her. ‘She is treacherous’ it whispered to him. It was a voice inside he had never heard before. It rang truer than any of the other voices he had heard before. It felt more authentic. It felt like a piece of him that had been missing his entire life.

She lead him out of the room and took the stairs down two at a time. Madison hated herself with each move she made. Each movement made her more heartsick as she ran down the stairs with him in tow. His hand rested in hers perfectly and it made her want to vomit with her betrayal. He trusted her. Andrew trusted her completely. He shouldn’t. She was evil. In this life, the life before, and any life that would follow in the future. There was no goodness within her.

The thought stopped her in her tracks. He pulled up short and looked her over. He could not understand why she was stopping. He could feel her urgency. He knew they needed to run. He knew that going home, to his home, was key. He knew all this. The way she looked up at him with the deepest of sadness he could not stand it.

“Whatever you’re thinking of doing, don’t do it.” The words were already out of his mouth when he saw the determination in her eyes. She stood on tiptoe and kissed him firmly. He pulled her into him and wrapped her in his arms. ‘Please stay,’ he thought as they became one. She fit so perfectly into his arms. He held her in such a way that she, for once in this lifetime, felt safe.

“I’m sorry, Forest Father. I’m sorry, Andrew.” She whispered against his lips. Her hand rested against his cheek and in that moment he felt like everything would be alright. Then like a sprite on the wind she turned and fled. She ran to the emergency exit a few feet from them. With one terrified look back at him, she pushed out the door as the alarms began to blare. She left him looking dumbfounded. She left him in the cruelest way possible, yet she for once did it for the right reasons.

OoOo

Betrayal

Or

Sacrifice.

Silver

Or

Red

Blood

High Born

Or

Low Born

Who

Was

She

What

Was

She

A Savior

Or

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.

Such was the fate of the fae.

OoOo

Chapter Text

She would die.

The gentle earth would open like a wound to accept her body. Now so fragile and frail. Wrought with a sickness that he did not understand. The grass would grow over her grave. Flowers so lush with color and scent would grow over the small hill. A bump like the full stomach of a soon to be mother. The flowers would give off pollen so pink it could be used as a blush. She would not suffer. It would be a sweet release. The kind she had never let the Forest Father give her.

She would die.

But not tonight.

It was his turn to pace the cabin nervously. It was his turn to refuse the food brought to him by the villagers. It was his turn to listen to the somber music sung by the young and naive fae outside the cabin. They were willing their new Elder to live on. It was his turn to watch her as she laid in limbo. Though this time, she did not remain in stasis as he did. Her body continued to waste away until she was skin and bones.

Once, and only once, did he leave her. It was in the very beginning and he posted Elle within the cabin when he did. She stood with a large blade made of fine silver twisted like a crescent moon. He knew at that time she would protect Willow Woman with her life if she had to. She cut slices of apple and ate them from the blade, the juice dripping down her face. There was no fucking with a fae like that. He appreciated her more than he could say in that moment.

The funeral pyre had burned down to ash. The monsters kept their distance from the village. They kept their distance from the Forest Father. He looked out at those woods and felt the monsters watching. He willed them out of their hiding place so that he may tear out their throats one by one.

They did this. They made her sick. Not once did he think it could be him. That it could be the love for him leeching the life from her body. Not once did he contemplate that she would die so that he may live. A life for a life. He drew life from the forest. Her name...Willow Woman was more than a title. There was much more to this girl, this fae, than he could ever imagine. She held so many secrets that she was pregnant with them. He never thought it was his fault. He did not turn that hate inward. He did not know.

He left to go to the final resting place of the Elder. They had left her body out until the Forest Father could come and bless it. She laid in a heap, her hands out at her side a pool of silver so thick that it still shone with a wetness as he stood over her. She was covered in bites and just as he had imagined a fate for the monsters, her throat had been ripped out. The jagged pieces of skin hung there limply. She most likely had not even had the time to scream. He hoped it had been quick. If not for her sake, then for Willow Woman’s. He said a blessing of the forest in Gaelic over her and left what was left of her corpse to the villagers. They would give her a proper burial with a gravestone. Not throw her on the embers of the funeral pyre like a commoner. She was the Elder...she had been the Elder.

No, the Elder lay in wicked sickness in the cabin that they shared. He returned to it’s wooden walls and looked around. Even the colorful tapestries that lined the walls had begun to fade and fray. It looked as if the whole place was fading with her. He grunted and set about pulling rugs outside and beating them against the railing.

“That’s commoner’s work,” Elle told him in a nonchalant voice as she stood leaning against the doorway, her small frame barely taking up a fourth of it. She tore a chunk of bread off the loaf she had brought with her, her teeth sharp and pearly white. The bread smelled like rosemary and his mouth watered. He was famished. He had not eaten since he’d awoken. His body was starved for nourishment. Still he fasted. If she were to waste away, so would he.

“The commoners aren’t doing it, now are they?” He asked his clan-less accent twisting the words until it sounded like thee instead of they. She held in a smile. He was adorably cute and she could see what Willow Woman saw in him. Elle could also see the deeper power that now surged through him. He did not see why. He was too caught up in his own emotions.

“You should eat something. Remaining strong is the best thing you can do for her now.” Elle tore a hunk of bread off of the part she had not eaten and handed it to him. He held it in his hand for a moment, feeling the warmth of it leeching into his skin.

“I’m not hungry,” he lied, reaching out to hand it back to her. She kept her hands on her own piece of the loaf and stared him down.

“I wasn’t asking if you were hungry, now was I?” She shot back and they spent a moment holding each other’s gaze, waiting for the other to break. When they realized they had reached a stalemate, they both turned their gaze down. He took a bite of bread and almost moaned in pleasure at its taste.

“What can I do for her?” Andrew knew that Elle was wise in a way that was so unusual for a girl of her age. She knew things that fae thousand of years old did not. She was capable of dredging a well of knowledge that should not be available for anyone. She knew things that were...impossible.

“As I said, stay strong. Talking to the oak that towers in the woods that has all the wisdom he had for you. Listen to your forest Father. They know things you do not know.” She informed him as she walked past him, placing what was left of the bread into his hand. He accepted it graciously and ate more. He knew it would be foolish to scorn her wisdom. Instead he simply ate the bread.

“I’ll be back tomorrow with more.” With more wisdom or more bread, he did not know as she called over her shoulder.

“Bring honey.” He responded so weakly he imagined she had not heard him. He was met with her deep and throaty chuckle as she walked away.

OoOo

As the alarm blared loud and piercing through the early morning air, she fled the hotel. Running as far and fast as she could from Andrew Hozier-Byrne. ‘Do not let him follow me,’ she begged to the forests that had once stood here but had now been leveled for the cement and stinking iron of the city. ‘Let him stay, please, if nothing else is granted to me, keep him safe. We need him,’ she continued her silent prayer as she ran tears ran streaming from her eyes. She should have taken him to Ireland. She should have taken him home. Instead, she had been selfish and wiped the Forest Father away from his rightful place. She had put herself in this position. She had to take her punishment. For him, she would pay penance until the end of time. It was her sovereign duty to the Forest Father. She owed him that much.

People filtered out of the hotel looking bleary eyed and confused. No one knew who had set off the alarm or why it was going off. Andrew was lost in the melee. He had followed her out the emergency exit only a few seconds after she had gone out of it herself. He wanted to catch her. Had to catch her. Wherever she was going, it was wrought with danger. Madison had been so scared. Now here she was running from him.

‘Treachery,’ his mind hissed to him as he ran after her. She turned a sharp corner and seemed to disappear into the sea of people standing outside the hotel lobby, staring up at the building looking for smoke or any other indication of what had dragged them out of bed at such an early hour. He finally stopped. He knew at that point that his Wasteland Baby was gone.

She ran right to where she knew he would be waiting. The Snake’s eyes glittered in a sick twist of glee as he saw her.

“Get in.” His voice was gruff as always, but held a sharp edge to it. Ready to cut into her like the blade of a knife. To gut her like a fish. He was ready to punish her for all the trouble she had put him through this evening. ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’ he thought to himself as he held the car door open for her. Still, she had run to him. Why? What was it she was hiding? If he did not get it from her, then he would get it from Elle when he returned. The sprite of a girl knew more than she let on. He would break her if he had to. It would not be easy with that one, but he would do it all the same.

“Where is your companion?” He asked sullenly. Leaning into the back of the car to get a good look at her. Her eyes were tear stained and it filled him with a mixture of disgust and perverse pleasure. He liked seeing others in pain. He always had.

“Gone,” she whispered in a voice so quiet it would not be audible to anyone without the trained ears of a hunter. Her voice rang both true and false in its proclamation. He did not believe it for a second, but a nice warm bed was calling his name and he had no desire to put up with her theatrics for a moment longer. He slammed the door closed in her face and moved to the other side, climbing in. The car drove off from the hotel with no one the wiser.

Andrew looked out across the sea of people. He pulled out his phone momentarily thinking he would call, then he remembered the moment she had smashed her phone against the floor of the hotel room. He put his phone away with a deep sigh of weary sadness.

What they hell had happened? One night. They had been together one night and he had managed to experience complete bliss and now complete heartbreak.

'Treachery. Betrayal.’ That new voice in his head whispered to him. He pushed it away as he pushed away all the feelings he had held for Madison throughout the night.

“I’ll worship at the shrine of your lies.” He whispered under his breath bitterly as he stuffed his hands in his pockets and walked back towards the crowd of people gathered around the hotel.

OoOo

The prey runs to the monster.

The hunt is cut short.

The hunter is unsatisfied.

The ritual sacrifice is brought to the Master.

The need to remember is great.

The need to remember is essential.

He cannot remember.

Such is the fate of fae.

Chapter Text

It had not been a simple death. He laid in fever on the bed of his long lost cabin and screamed. He screamed her name. Her. Always her. In his delirium, he could almost see her standing in the doorway of his cabin. Her hair like the darkest bark of one of his beloved trees. Her skin was its radiant color of pearlescent pale. She seemed to glow with an energy she had lacked for so long.

Her smile was a soft radiance that cast upon him forgiveness for all he had done. All the sins of this world he had committed. All the slain Fae he had left in his wake. If this was death, he would go willingly.

If she were to be his guide from this life to the next, then he would die happily. He would have followed her anywhere. Now he truly would. He prayed for sweet death as her shadow of a memory stood in the doorway watching.

The members of the clan-less clan worked tirelessly to revive him. He did not wish to live anymore. You cannot force life back into the lifeless. They were bitter and tired. They allowed him to rant and rave. They cared little if he would live or die. He was needed, yes. He had been gone so long they had learned to live without him. His absence was noted. His arrival greeted with a sigh.

He was alight with silver blood. It poured from every wound that was desperate for the crisis crossing turquoise stitches done by her hand. He screamed when he was approached with a needle. His feral shriek struck fear right into the very heart of the Fae trying to help him. Only she could save him. Only she could repair him. Only she would he allow to fix him.

“Madison”. He whispered her name over and over again in his sleep. They knew not who she was.

The bed and floor glowed like moonlight as the pure silver blood leeched from his body to everything he touched. He lit up the cabin with his death. The blood glowing like starlight on a dark night. Everything about his death was poetic, much like the songs he had once sung to his forest.

His burial had been simple. His death had not been.

The earth opened to swallow him whole. The bog desperate to reclaim the Fae it had given birth to. He was of the bog, and now he returned to be one with it.

They cared little if he was truly dead. With shaking hands, they tied a small bell to his right foot before placing his tall frame into the pine box. A burial within a tree. It was oddly fitting. They assured themselves they would hear the bell. They would retrieve him. Little did they know that the bog would refuse to release him.

In the night, wrapped in their warm beds, they heard that bell. Ringing furiously and lyrical. It haunted their dreams and sent chills down their spines.

In the day, they heard nothing. Absolutely nothing. The forest was silent with the absence of him.

One night, they heard no bell. If it rang at all it, was drowned out by the baying of monsters. Deep in the woods, they called to one another.

The silence was broken. Now the monsters appeared on their doorsteps. The tinkle of the bell stayed silent.

The forest wanted blood. It wanted revenge. It would have it.

OoOo

Andrew rubbed a hand over the back of his neck. It was another tryst. One of many. Rolling hot and heavy like two bodies alight with fire in the sheets, always some shade of white, in the hotel rooms he frequented. Sometimes it was a tender but still quick fuck in the back hall of the venue. He was gentle, ever so gentle with their bodies. He worshipped their bodies like a man at the altar of a goddess. They were precious, they deserved to be served, to be loved.

Their hearts and souls were another matter. Those could be left for charity. Give them away. He cared not to have them. No, he wanted the rest of them. The best of them. So he worshipped their bodies and left a string of hearts broken in his midsts.

He tried to fuck her out of his mind. With each unsatisfying deathless death. Each time he fell over the abyss into that blissful small death. That moment where you breathe on, but still your body responds like it is drawing the final breath before stilling forever. In that moment, he saw her always. Madison, Willow Woman, one in the same. He saw her in the bar, moving like a siren through the smoke of his cigarette. He saw her dance and writhe in a way that every movement of hers made him move. He felt her as he danced real slow against her precious body.

He remembered the feeling of being inside of her. The way he fell over that cliff of pleasure in such a way that his heart stopped. He died a little each time he came with her. It was not a deathless death with her. Oh no, with her, it had been a momentary death each time.

He told himself he fucked to get her out of his mind. In all honesty, he fucked to keep her in his mind. It had been three months without a trace, and still he ached for his Wasteland Baby. His mind burned like sharp pokers stabbing into his skull when he thought of her. His chest and heart felt hollow when he thought of her. His cock throbbed harder than with any other stranger when he thought of her.

He tried not to think about her.

Each brunette, always a brunette, he fucked never satisfied. Their hair was never that dark caress of waves that hung on the air like branches of a willow before tickling his nose. Not like hers. Still he was insatiable for them. Madison had driven him to brink of madness. Now he’d clearly gone over it.

“I’ll crawl home to her,” he whispered to himself as he left yet another woman to smooth down their skirt and compose their hair. Another woman with a heart aching as much as his. No, no one could comprehend as much as his heart hurt in this moment.

They pulled him out for another meet and greet. He adored his fans and tried to be amicable and charming. Mostly, he felt like walking down the road, grabbing a whiskey, and screaming bloody murder until the swill hit him so hard and deep that he no longer felt anything. He bitterly hated feeling anything.

He waited for another fan to approach as they moved the line along. This one was petite with dark dirty blonde hair and large blue eyes. She played them like they held a captive innocence but you could see darkness in them.

'Treachery,’ that voice that never left his head whispered. It berated him each time he went looking for another fuck to fill up the absence of Madison. It taunted and ranted and railed against the sides of his skull until his head throbbed and ached. Whatever it was, it wanted to be let out. All his life, he had heard voices in his head. Some sung, some like this one. Some others screamed. He knew that these voices would always rule him. They inspired him, but now they drove him farther into his madness. Still, he wrote more achingly beautiful music than he had before. He’d learned a long time ago to never tame your demons. He did however keep them on a leash before they grew so strong that they overtook him.

He ignored the voice and reached out his hand to shake hers. She smiled sweetly and with a taste of coyness. It was a smile of someone soon to do evil things. Her name was Allison, she informed him. She gently, with a sense of ease requested of him a hug. He complied without question. It was a fairly common practice with fans. When he leaned down to wrap her in his arms, his tall frame a large juxtaposition to her small one, she leaned her head in and put her lips to his ear. Her breath smelled of the wet earth of the bog and the peaty scent of moss.

“Andrew Adair Aturri, known as Forest Father of the clan-less clan, you will fall in love with me.” She whispered with her earthy breath. His mind exploded. His chest opened immediately without a choice. He took one look at her and the love overcame him. Willow Woman was pushed from him mind as the love for her, for Allison, swelled to such a sensation that it physically hurt to look upon her.

She smiled that smile of coy, thinly conceived evil. He knew not who he was. Who she was.

She, however knew exactly who he was. Bates had put her there for a reason. There was work to be done. Work that would prevent him from ever knowing who he truly was.

“Where to, my love?” Her voice took on the lilting accent of the clan-less clan. He shook his head and stared at her once as the voice that had plagued him since that night screamed unimaginable curses in Gaelic inside his head.

“Anywhere you want.” His reply was warm and kind. He would follow her wherever she went. He would follow her into the very depths of the hell he did not believe in.

She would gladly lead him there to burn for eternity. Allison would lead him to his doom. Such was the fate of this Fae.

OoOo

Forget not who you are.

Forget not the honor you stand for.

Forget not the silver blood that flows through your veins.

The blood of the high born.

Do not fall to the trap.

Do not give in to the sin.

Do not allow that silver to turn to pink.

Do not become a monster.

Act like one and you will become one.

Cursed to walk the earth on twisting and cracking legs.

Run.

See the danger and run.

Back to the land of the Fae.

Run or face a fate worse than death.

Run now Forest Father.

Run.

Instead he followed the treacherous snake to her lair.

He laid himself at her feet.

He lost himself in her.

It was a false love.

Still he gave in.

Such is the fate of the Fae.

OoOo

Chapter Text

The mud pushed in around him. The weight of the wet earth pressed against the sides of his pine coffin. The container that held his deathless body. The days were hot and stifling, even in the cool of the earth. The sides creaked as that earth threatened to break through his feeble defenses and drown him in moss and dirt. It wished to swallow him whole. For him to swallow it. To reclaim what the earth had given as a gift to this world of fae. To the very creatures who needed him most. The powers he possessed. The things he could do. The coming end of the fae. The threat of the humans with their blood of crimson and their guns of iron.

If the world did not want him, then the earth would take him back. He was its. He belonged to it. It would have him.

In the evenings, the world grew cold to the point of his breath frosting his own lips. Tiny bits of white snowflakes on his mouth. He longed for Madison’s warm mouth to kiss them away. His body shook furiously in shivers, causing the small bell they had tied to his foot to jingle in the night air. It filled the silent bog with the merry melody of music. Even in his supposed death, he still made music.

One evening, as he grew more tired, more weak, he heard them. The baying of the monsters come to destroy what he had once called his village. The village of the clan-less clan. He could do no more for them than wrap his arms around himself and pray for warmth. Pray for the warmth of Willow Woman wrapped around him, under the cotton sheets with that blue calico blanket covering them.

The small slice of happiness they had shared in her cabin with its colorful decor. Like stepping inside a rainbow after a heavy rain storm. He imagined her skin bare, alight with a burning flame after making blissful love. The village quiet except for the chirping of the crickets outside. When things had been calm. When things had been beautiful. Before. Long before either of their ends.

The monsters tore at the village. They hunted down each fae for sport. They sunk their teeth into throats and jerked their twisted mouths to rip the skin free. The village ran silver with their blood. Even the clan-less bled the blood of a high born.

The monsters, no, they did not know what they were. They did not know the true treachery of the fae. The Forest Father knew. He knew why they bled pink. Why they were the monsters they were. He knew. Though he had never told.

“Where is he?” The Beast Slayer’s voice was unmistakable, though he was too far from the bog for Andrew to hear. He screamed it into the face of each fae before tossing them to the slaughter.

Forest Father was left to shiver in his grave as he listened to the sounds of screams and the pleasured shrieks of the monsters as they destroyed his village. He was helpless to aid. Even after what they had done to him, he could not bring himself to damn them to this fate. It was a cruelty not in him, despite the bitterness that had come to surround his heart.

There was the wet sound of mud sucking at feet. Someone was coming. He tried to quiet the bell as his body shook with the cold. He prayed he would not be found.

“Andrew.” A voice hissed in an intent but lightly lilting soprano. He blanched in his movements. It was her. It was Willow Woman. He really did die for a moment as his heart stopped.

“Andrew?” Madison hissed again. Andrew remained speechless. She whispered his name a third time and still he remained quiet.

“Treachery. Treacherous witch.” He growled the words softly under his breath.

“Forest Father. Please. I...I did it for us. They were going to kill you. Please please forgive me. I know you’re here.” Her voice trembled as she was nearly in tears. He could hear the truth in the words. He could feel the love radiating off of her. He cursed once. Then he shook his foot furiously and the bell tolled like an omen.

OoOo

3 Months Ago

Madison paced her room, chewing on her cuticles as she did. She glanced nervously at the door every few moments. Still it did not open. She cursed under her breath and paced more. Her ribs ached from where The Snake’s fists had driven into them as Bates watched. She could feel her eye swelling closed. Every inch of her hurt from his fist and foot. Still, through the pain she paced.

Finally, the door opened and Elle was unceremoniously thrown into the room. She shrieked in pain when her body hit the ground and Madison ran to her side in an instant. She was bleeding from several cuts. Elle turned to the side and spit blood onto the carpet.

“Fuck, Elle, let me help you.” Elle jerked out of Madison’s grasp, not out of anger, instead because she did not like to be mothered. She was much too old for that. She did accept Madison’s outstretched hand and allowed herself to be pulled from the ground. She took a seat on the edge of Madison’s bed, not worried about dripping blood onto the cream silk bedspread.

“Motherfucker.” Elle hissed in the direction of the door, cursing once in English, then a few more times in Gaelic. Madison could do no more than hover as Elle composed herself, taking stock of each wound, cursing as she went.

“Let me heal you,” Madison whispered desperately, hating to see her friend as she was. Broken and bruised. Elle held a hand in a stop gesture and Madison halted her hovering.

“There will come a time when you need to heal someone far more important than me. Save your strength. You will need it.” Elle spit another mouthful of blood and coughed a little. She moved her jaw around to see if The Snake had broken anything. He was very precise. He was able to create pain and damage without causing anything permanent. Scars, yes. Broken bones, no. He had more delicate methods.

“What do they know?” Madison’s voice was filled with worry. For her friend, but also for Andrew Hozier-Byrne, who was by now touring, completely oblivious to the danger he was in. The danger Madison had put him in. ‘He doesn’t know. He doesn’t know. He’s safe,’ Madison tried to convince herself as she paced the room again.

“Ha! What you mean to ask is what did I tell them? I am no weakling, Willow Woman. They do not know that he has returned. They do not know who he is. I said nothing. I will continue to say nothing.” Madison’s heart both soared and crashed in the same moment.

“They will keep hurting you until you tell them who I was with. Bates will not rest until he has a name.” Madison hovered around Elle and Elle waved her off.

“I gave a name. Just not the right one. Though they will be none the wiser.” Elle laughed cruelly. Her laugh turned into a hacking cough. Madison ached for the pain of her friend.

“You sacrificed an innocent?” Madison’s voice read horror and Elle looked at her in a ‘are you fucking kidding me?’ way. They had done far worse in the past. Still, being with Andrew had changed something in Madison. She wanted desperately to do better. To do right. What had the Forest Father done to her?

“He is hardly an innocent. All is fair in love and war, baby. Trust me, we’re at war, and you’re desperately in love.” Elle laughed again causing her to cough harder and spit more blood on the floor. Madison let a tear slip down her face before setting to the task of fixing up her friend as best she could with the first aid supplies in the closet.

OoOo

Current Time

Andrew rolled off of Allison. Feeling less than satisfied, he groaned at the weight of his lack of release. He loved her dearly. More than he ever had anyone he could remember. With her though, he could never get there. He had left a long line of broken hearted girls fucked out of their senses after...someone...he couldn’t remember who. Still, with Allison, he could never quite get there. She did. He, on the other hand, would make a few grunts and eventually roll off of her.

“That was amazing.” She sighed. He leaned back against the headboard and sparked a cigarette. In the burning flame of the lighter he could see a woman so breathtakingly beautiful she rivaled any love he had ever felt for Allison. Yet, the moment he let go of the trigger and the flame disappeared, she was gone.

“Willow Woman,” he whispered under his breath.

“What?” Allison’s voice was like ice. He turned to her as he took a drag of his cigarette. Her blue eyes were wide and angry. Usually they held a thinly veiled evil. Now they were livid. Burning with a fire he had never seen.

“Hm?” He inquired unsure of her anger. He took another drag.

“What did you just say? That name? Why did you just say that?!” Her voice was reaching the pitch of a shriek.

“I don’t know. Something I heard in a movie.” He cringed away from her. True, he loved her, but that did not mean that her wild mood swings did not terrify him sometimes. She could be perfectly happy one moment then the next she would lose her cool and blow her top like an inactive volcano come to life.

“You never say that name! Ever! Do I make myself clear?” Her voice was shrill and it hurt his ears to hear it. He put his hands up in a gesture of surrender. She fumed and stormed around the room, gathering her clothes. Half dressed, she stepped into the hallway, much to Andrew’s confusion. He knew she would be gone for a while. Yapping on her cellphone for near an hour with he did not know who.

He took another drag and reached down. Picturing that single flash of a woman he did not know but desperately wanted to find, he found release with himself.

OoOo

Though he handled the wood.

He still worshipped the flame.

Such was the fate of the fae.

OoOo

Chapter Text

Like the limbs of the tree she was so aptly named for Willow Woman grew thin and reed like. Her body once full in a way that accentuated her curves, such a way that had always captured the Forest Father’s eye, grew sallow and sick. She remained in sleep as long as it took the moon to go from waxing to waning and back again.

When the moon was dark in the sky a hushed darkness fell over the village. The singing that had carried through the night as the new Elder was prayed to through song ceased. The village trusted the Forest Father to hold the line between the village and the monsters. They feared the dark despite that belief. When the village was plunged into the murky darkness of the absence of the moon the village burned with the light of a thousand torches. A hazy orange glow lit the streets, empty at night, to keep a lookout for any of the monsters trolling for a kill. The Forest Father cared not if the faerie’s faith was unwavering or not. Let them doubt him. It ceased to matter to him. He was hanging onto sanity by a thread as he watched Willow Woman suffer. To disappear bit by bit.

The night of the dark moon he could be found like any other night on the steps of her cabin. The crickets had returned in force now that the Cuul had been driven back behind the tree line. He listened to their music sweeter than any of the voices in the village calling out their prayers to Madison. No, these crickets sung a song of loneliness that fit the empty ache deep in his chest.

“Heads up.” A small package wrapped in cloth and tied with twine hit him squarely in the chest and dropped into his lap in a very unceremonious manner. Andrew picked up the package and breathed in the scent of clove. He looked up to see Elle making her way towards the cabin. The curved silver blade she carried always hung from a sheath at her waist. She looked as fierce as always with her sword and look of pure detachment. He knew she felt more strongly than any other fae he had ever known. Even stronger did she feel than Willow Woman. Elle did not allow those emotions to show though. Forged in the fire of the disappointments of life she let her demeanor be as hard, cool, and sharp as that blade. The blade that she told no one who or where she got it from. The blade that no one dared to ask about.

“I have a loaf of bread too. Cinnamon apple. I’dve tossed it too if I thought it would not catch you in the face and muss up that pretty mug of yours.” she chided as she rounded the side of the steps. She placed a loaf wrapped in cheese cloth and a jar of honey purple from the sticky nectar of the flowers the bees were feeding from during this unusually hot season. The purple nectar made the honey sickly sweet and more expensive than an ounce of fae gold. He did not ask how she had gotten it. Simply accepted the gift with a nod that she returned.

Sighing Elle reached up and struck a match against the rough wooden side of the house. She held it to the torch that lie unlit in the holder to the left of the door. Andrew was immediately flooded with light that caused his eyes to constrict so quickly it hurt.

“Damn woman a word of warning would be appreciated.” He growled at her as he tore a piece of bread from the loaf and dipped it in the honey.

“Damn Forest Father if you followed the rules of the village you would have already had that torch lit. Therefore, stop complaining.” her voice held the hint of amusement that it often did when he regarded her in his sulking moody way.

Through the shared loss of Willow Woman’s company they had struck up an unlikely friendship. Andrew regarded Elle like a younger sister. He knew though she was so much older than she let the village believe. Older even than him who had seen the growing of the forests. She had seen the moving of continents. The growth of the mountains. She had seen the beginning of the fae world. He also knew she would live to see the end of it. He knew far too many things these days. Things he should not know.

“No change I imagine if you are out here brooding.” Elle placed her hands between her knees and sat in the halo of glowing orange light that the torch emitted. He made a sound somewhere between a growl and a grunt. She had come to know that was his way of begrudgingly saying yes. She placed her hand on the shoulder of the Forest Father whom she now regarded as a brother. Despite his position, despite how important he was to the fae, despite all the weight he carried in the fate of the fae, she could see the sad lover torn from his love. He was important yes. In the end if you looked past all of that he was just a fae in pain like the rest of them. She saw a comrade in that way. She looked up to him despite their differences in age. He had become a brother and she was his sister. It was an odd feeling of having family once again. Elle had been on her own for so long she could scarcely remember having anyone to lean on.

“Those should last you a few days. I'll bring more by later on.” She nodded her head towards the cloth package in his lap. It was wrapped in teal cloth and it brought a deeper ache to him as he thought of all the times Madison had stitched his arms up with that teal thread. He opened the package slowly to find a collection of clove tobacco smokes. He placed one to his mouth and Elle held a match to the end. It glowed red and he took a deep inhale of the sickly sweet smoke.

“Thank you.” He glanced at her briefly to let her know that the thanks stood for more than just the food and the smokes. She reached out again and squeezed his arm criss crossed with so many scars that there was scarcely a patch of unmarked skin.

“Take care of yourself Andrew. That’s the best you can do for her now.” Elle stood and smoothed down her dress before making her way silently back towards the interior of the village where she maintained lodging.

He looked out at the woods once again daring the beasts to appear. Then something occurred to him that had him snapping his head up to look in the direction Elle had gone.

She had called him Andrew. She knew his name of common tongue. The name only known to him and Madison. For a moment his blood ran cold before he put the burning smoke to his mouth. He released a long exhale. Elle was wise beyond measure. If she knew his name there was a reason.

He looked up at the dark of the moon and cursed in Gaelic before crushing the burning clove smoke into the ground and dipping his tall length through the frame of the cabin doorway.

OoOo

It had been another two months and despite the deep ache of yearning Andrew felt in his chest when he was around the pixie like Allison he began to feel sick to his stomach with the weight of his feelings. He loved her to his core yet, his very being was sick with it. Heartsick. That was the best word he could use to describe it.

They were flying into Lollapalooza to play a set. He felt the nervous excitement of the band. The intense irritation they felt towards Allison who chattered nonstop during the flight. His head began to pound at the sound of her voice. Still, when he looked at her he felt that feeling of love. It felt artificial. Robotic. He felt a compulsion to love her. He felt repulsed by that feeling. Something tied him to her inexplicably though.

She followed wherever he went. With her volatile moods and glittering blue eyes that spoke of devious plans. He yearned to get away from her but every time he was he felt even more sick than he did around her. There was a steel cable holding them together. If he pulled too hard against that cable it threatened to rip out his guts. As he massaged his temples he almost contemplated allowing it to.

Every night as he rolled off Allison feeling more and more dissatisfied with the feel of her body as he was inside of her, on top of her. At night he would dream of her. Willow Woman. Then he would let that feeling of his hand on himself settle his nerves. It was never enough but it allowed enough tension release that he could keep his hands wrapped around himself and not Allison’s throat.

His thoughts had turned dark. There was still one thing for certain.

Though he handled the wood he still worshipped the flame.

OoOo

“I see no harm in it. Let them fly to the concert. It will be a relief to not have her sulking form roaming these halls for a while.” Bates gave a flippant gesture with his hand as he regarded a few business forms in front of him. The Snake grew irritated as he argued against the request Elle had put in for her and Madison to be flown to Lollapalooza. A bunch of music fans, hot days, and baby sitting his Master’s soon to be wife was more work than The Snake cared to put in.

“Remember Sir what happened the last time you gave her any freedom.” The Snake made another argument trying desperately to talk Bates out of granting this request.

“I remember clearly that you let her out of your sight. I will assume that there will not be a problem like that again.” Bates regarded The Snake with his cool blue eyes always glittering with a bit of sinister intention.

“Of course Sir. It will not be a problem.” Bates went back to whatever business deal he was trying to work the kinks out of effectively dismissing him. The Snake turned on his heels and stalked away from his clueless Master.

His Master did not know the nefarious nature of his fiancé. No matter The Snake would be sure to keep her on a very short leash. One wrapped tightly around her throat. Like his hands would be if she even dreamed of stepping out of line. Oh how he wished she would step out of line. He enjoyed bringing her pain. A little too much.

He shook his head to free himself of those kind of thoughts. They were treasonous. He would not commit treason for a few moments of pleasure. A few delicious moments of pleasure with Willow Woman. He licked at his dry lips as he made his way up the long spiral staircase. He had slithered here from Eden and he was desperate to corrupt Eve.

OoOo

“Pack a bag!” Elle came rushing into Madison’s room in such a flurry and shout that Madison jumped about a foot off the bed. Elle immediately began digging through drawers and throwing items she liked onto the bed.

“What are you talking about?” Madison rose from the bed knocking the pile of clothes that Elle had been making on top of her as she had reclined while reading yet another book to stave off boredom.

“We’re on a mission. A pilgrimage so to say.” Elle’s eyes were lit with excitement and nefarious intention.

“Slow down and tell me what the fuck you’re talking about.” Madison stayed her friend’s hand and Elle paused for a moment. She turned a wicked smile onto Madison.

“We’re off to Lollapalooza baby. We’re getting you back where you belong. With Andrew.”

OoOo

They were born sick.

But they loved it.

They could not be commanded to be well.

Such was the fate of the fae.

OoOo

Chapter Text

He was sat on her bureau. The one with the mirror shaped from a thin piece of blue reflective faerie glass. There were bubbles and ripples across the surface. It was opaque in the center then fanned out like a bowl until the edges were a deep cerulean blue. It was like a large blue rose blooming into existence. It obviously took a large amount of work and talent to create this piece. Love and dedication went into it. Molded and blown by hands and mouth that did not fear the flame. They did not fear the burn of the entrancing fire. He knew fire. Worshipped it. He knew however, how destructive just the smallest spark could be to the wood. How just a lightning strike could set the entire forest alight. Not tonight. No, not tonight.

He ran his fingers over the surface. It was smooth and his fingers skimmed over the surface easily. Still he felt each ripple like the waves of an ocean. Each bubble like a rock parting the river. Each pock mark on that clear blue surface told a story. It made the perfectly imperfect perfection of the glass even more obvious. He loved to run his fingers over her mirror. It gave him something to do with his idle hands. Hands that longed for the strings of his guitar. That longed for the smooth expanse of pale skin across Madison’s inner thighs. He longed for the feel of her skin.

He risked a glance at her. He was always doing that, stealing glances at her. He felt that if he kept his eyes away from her it would cause his heart to ache less. As if any moment he would steal a glance back at her and she would be there sitting up in bed regarding him with a raised brow and a sarcastic smile.

“What on earth are you doing?” She would ask him with that laugh in her voice. She only ever regarded him with a laugh in her voice and he loved it. He did not care if he was the object of her joke. Let her laugh. Dear lord let her laugh again.

His glance back was once again rewarded with no change. She laid there her skin pulled taught over sharp bones. He could see her collarbone like a sharp angle jutting from her chest. Her skin had taken on a sick pallor. She looked more ill each time he looked at her. Stealing glances. That’s all he could manage without breaking down into tears and sinking to the ground.

He turned back to the mirror and tore off a chunk of bread, thick with the sweet taste of purple honey, with his teeth. He did not know why but he still followed Elle’s advice. He hated doing it with Willow Woman fading behind him. He knew though that Elle was wide beyond measure. If she told him to eat, he would. If she told him driving a knife into chest would save Madison he would do it without question. Elle knew things he did not. She always knew. There was a swift knocking on the doorframe and he looked up to see the very woman he’d been dwelling on.

“You can come in.” He muttered in the low way of speaking he had adopted. As if he could not muster the strength to really converse with anyone. He was in his head most of the time anyways.

“This is sacred space now. I only enter if I am needed. Come outside I have something for you.” He wanted to roll his eyes at her words but still he followed Elle out into the night. She might know more than he did but that did not mean he needed to believe her utterances of reverence for any type of deity. Let him be sacrilege. He did not care. He practically collapsed onto the top step and Elle shot him a look. She raised her left brow and the simple look, so much like Willow Woman’s, broke his heart into two. He had to look away from her.

“You need to take better care of yourself Forest Father. I’ve told you that. You would be wise to remember it.” He turned back to her and she placed three packaged wrapped in cloth in front of him. He could smell the heady scent of clove from one.

“These will kill you. However, we all have our vices.” Elle fingered the blade at her waist as if that explained everything. She tossed the package of clove smokes at him and he caught it clumsily.

“You need to eat more than bread and honey.” She tossed the second package at him. He caught this one more easily. it smelled of a spicy mix of wild onion and thyme. He knew it was dried meat and he forced himself to pull out a pice and gnaw on it. It was delicious but he felt nothing but guilt every time he ate anything.

“This...this I’ve been working on for a while. I’ve never made one before. It might not be perfect...hopefully it will do though.” She pulled the twine on the package and revealed a guitar. It was, as she said, not perfect. The stain was excellent. The rest f the craftsmanship was questionable. He did not even begin to guess what kind of wood she had used. He put the other two packages down and picked it up with shaking fingers. He played with the strings a bit, tuning it, then feeling how the whole thing felt in his arms. When he was satisfied he strummed a few chords. Yes, it was not perfect, but like the mirror it was perfectly imperfect perfection.

“Thank you.” He told Elle. She did as she always did and nodded once at him. Then she began her slow trek back into the heart of the village.

“Play for her Forest Father.” She called over her shoulder without even looking back.

He picked up all that she had brought to him. The only offerings he every accepted anymore and carried everything inside. The room smelled of the exotic scent of wild strawberry incense he had begun to burn at night. Anything to ward off the feeling of hopelessness that had begun to creep in during the evening. The light smell of strawberries caught in the heaviness of the smoke was a juxtaposition of how Willow Woman and he had been in life. Now a juxtaposition to how they were in their slow descent into death.

He sat down on the bureau with the guitar in hand. A small thrill went through him as he felt that solid weight in his arms once again. His calluses had long since begun to fade. Still he placed fingers to the strings and began to pluck out a tune. Slow, sad, and sweet like everything about the situation. The room, the incense smoke, Willow Woman asleep, he stuck to mourn her in living. He began a slow hum that eventually turned into a low bit of vocalizing. There were no words. Not yet at least. Still he sang along wordlessly.

“Light the fire bright.” The words were barely a whisper and he nearly fell off the bureau with the guitar in hand. He looked up eyes wide. Still she laid in the bed completely still. He had...he had heard her voice though. Madison had spoken he was sure of it. He placed the guitar gently against the wood of her nightstand and walked over to her. He touched her forehead that was burning with fever. He ran his fingers down her cheek to the hollow of her throat. She moved not. He wiped her hair wet with sweat from her face. She remained still.

“Let it blaze alright.” He whispered back to her kissing her gently on the forehead. He left only to grab the guitar then he sat on the edge of her bed and played through the night. His voice filled the cabin. He sang to drown out the deafening sound of silence.

OoOo

Andrew Hozier-Byrne could not stand the incessant sound of Allison chatting away anymore. He wanted to take a screwdriver and jam into into his ear hard enough to scramble his brains. He felt a connection to her still. A pull. Yet, his entire being wanted to be away from her. She caused his skin to crawl. Every night he felt the duty to crawl atop her. Something in him told him he had to. Each night he rolled off unsatisfied and sick to his stomach. Then she would not. Shut. Up.

He lit another cigarette and rubbed at this temples where a nonstop headache had begun to settle. He pinched the bridge of his nose and tried desperately to not light the bedsheets on fire simply to give him a reason to run. Why did he stay? There were no feelings of warmth left in him. Something told him he had to stay. Out of duty. His rational mind argued with him. It told him he had no reason to stay. Something older than even him told him he had to. It was a tug of war that he fought constantly within himself.

“Allison I have to sleep. I have a set tomorrow.” Andrew took one last drag of his cigarette before stubbing it out in the clear drinking glass on the nightstand. It was filled almost to the brim with butts. He found smoking was the only thing that relieved the pure hatred he felt for himself for staying with her.

She made some type of sound between a sigh and an exasperate grunt. She threw the bedsheets off in a dramatic curtain reveal and stormed from the room as usual whenever he said anything these days. Any remark made on his behalf that interrupted her nonstop chatter of fuckery was cause for some type of overly exaggerated reaction. He rubbed at his temples some more as he heard the low drone of her voice from the bathroom.

“It’s not working...” He heard her mutter into the phone. He trained his ears to listen into the conversation.

“Willow Woman is too engrained in his...yes...I know. I don’t know why it’s not working!” He nearly threw off the covers himself at the mention of the name Willow Woman. As if sensing his excitability the fan was turned on and the sound of her conversation disappeared into the sound of droning fan.

What did Allison know? What wasn’t she telling him? What did she know of Willow Woman?

OoOo

Elle had long since sent The Snake packing off to his own tent. She had insisted that there be privacy for her and Madison based on “propriety”. Bates had idiotically agreed in the sense that he could keep his soon to be wife “pure”. Oh the things he did not know would certainly one day hurt him. Regardless of how they had managed to pull it off they had a large tent to themselves far enough from The Snake that they could talk in hushed tones and not be heard.

“Are you nervous?” Elle and Madison lay in the dark. The lights of the festival filtered in through the semi sheer material of the tent windows and cast their faces in pale light.

“Yes. I don’t know that he will even remember me. Or if he does feel anything for me but hatred.” Elle let out a sharp laugh and Madison almost jumped at the sound.

“Oh my darling if you believe that you know nothing of the fate of the fae.” Elle’s words were ominous and Madison wanted to ask more. She had come to sense though when a subject was closed for Elle. When she would talk no more of it. Now was one of those times. Madison felt it in the marrow of her bones. Don’t ask.

“Sleep Madison. Tomorrow will be a long day.” Elle sensed her discord and closed down the conversation rolling so that she faced away from Madison. There was not much to be done but close their eyes and wait for the first light of the morning.

Though she did not know it much more hung int the balance than Madison’s fragile heart. She may be blind to it but she was a piece in this game. This game that would determine the fate of the fae.

OoOo

Disgust.

Hated.

Betrayal.

Treachery.

Hope.

Light.

Goodness.

Salvation.

Such was the fate of the fae.

OoOo

Chapter Text

The guitar became his life blood. He felt ill without it in his hands. The Forest Father only paused to eat the food Elle constantly brought to him. Her packages that had once been few and far between now came in floods. Elle rarely brought them herself. Instead he recognized the thick brown paper with small wildflowers pressed into the very pulp of it wrapped in simplistic twine that seemed so out of place against the gorgeous paper. A different villager came each time as if they took one look at the wildness that was growing in the Forest Father and ran for fear now refusing to return to deliver another package. Whatever rumors may be circling around the village as to him no one questioned it and yet another fearie would arrive each day to bring dried meat, bread, honey, clove smokes, and whatever he requested.

“Strings.” He told one young faerie a terrified looking young woman. He spoke in single words these days. No reason to converse beyond that. She nodded with a look of alarm on her face at the deep gravel sound of his voice. It was as if she had expected him to have been struck mute and when he uttered the single word it drove a sharp dagger of ice into her very soul. He looked wild. Fierce. Completely untamed. He was an unbroken stallion in these moments. She did no more than nod and turn to practically run from the Father of the forest. Less than an hour later a young boy returned with a look of reverence and a small package. He handed the offering to Andrew with a deep bow. He backed away from the Forest Father without turning his back once. With slow steps he walked backwards from Andrew as if he believed if he turned the Forest Father would descend upon him and tear him to bits. Andrew watched for a while before turning and returning to the cabin.

With complete silence he carefully restrung the broken G string that had snapped in the midst of the night as he played for her. During the day the cabin was filled with silence. The fruity musk of the strawberry incense he burned in droves hung heavy on the air. He kept everything the same as that night. The single night she had spoken to him. Spoken out into the air to let the words descend on him. He wished with deep desire to hear her again but she had yet to speak again.

He spent his days eating at the bureau looking at the mirror trying to read the future in the plains, dips, and valleys of the faerie glass. Other times he sat next to Willow Woman who stayed in sleep and ran his fingers through her hair combing it. He’d run his thumb over her forehead wiping away the sweat. He could not be sure but it seemed almost like the sickly gray color of her skin was slowly returning to normal. He could almost swear that just the tiniest hint of blush was gracing her cheeks. He ran the pad of his thumb over them but felt nothing but feverish heat. It seemed almost that she was regaining some of her health. He could not be sure of anything but still he hoped beyond hope that something was changing in her.

In the evenings he played. As if there was nothing left in the world but music he played. In his world there was nothing left but music. The music he created for her. The sound of the strings, the sound of his voice ringing out truth, the cadence of it all. He rivaled the crickets that sung their sad tunes outside. He challenged the world to defy the depth of the sound he made. Let the rain fall, the window blow, the creatures howl. Let all of creation challenge his music, he would beat every bit of it.

The songs came fast and hard just like he had so often with Willow Woman back before her eternal sleep. He kept a piece of charcoal and some of the lighter paper from Elle uneven with the pulp and flower petals that marked it next to him at all times. He would scribble furiously across the surface. Frustrated with his hand that did not move as fast as his mind. The paper was more a formality than a necessity as every song for her was instantly committed to memory as it came to his mind. Played across his thoughts. Added to his insanity.

He looked at Willow Woman again and whispered the phrase he so often said to her in the night in hopes that he would hear her once again, “Let it blaze alright.”

OoOo

The sickness in Andrew grew. It did not take long for others to notice it in him. He pulled away from everyone who tried to help. Brushing them off with the simple phrase “I’m fine” as if that would solve everything. The more he said it to others the less he believed it himself. His eyes sunk deep into their sockets ringed by circles so dark they looked like bruises. He continually chain smoked until his very throat burned with the hot ash of the cigarette. He felt like he was swallowing fire and exhaling breath laden with shards of glass.

He constantly wondered if death would be a sweet release from the hell he was currently going through.

The farther he got from Allison the better he felt if only for a moment. Then that rubber band would snap, the cable would pull him, and once again he was in her grasp. Every day he pushed away from her then every night he wasp pulled back to her bed. Like a succubus she dragged the very life from him each time he entered her. Still his body would not allow them to part. Not completely. Every time he entered her it was like a full body sickness that took over him. He felt nauseous, feverish, and he shook with chills. She was killing him with each fucking. He knew it but still he could not stop it.

The only moments of peace were when he saw Willow Woman. Only on those nights when the fever was so bright that his vision blurred. For just a moment he saw her happy and smiling. A crown of white daisies gracing her head as she danced. He could feel the guitar in his hands playing the music that made her laugh and play with the movements. Then in an instant he would see Madison there slowly dancing in the smoke filled room. Her body undulating with the music. Sometimes if he was truly out of it the two images would cross over. He would see Madison in her dark jeans and light shirt moving to the music he played a crown of flowers on her head and the smoke instead of smelling like tobacco would hold the scent of strawberries.

He was going insane. Perhaps in his insanity he would find peace. Peace from the parasite that was Allison. Perhaps in death he could be free to dream of no one but Willow Woman and Madison. Though he had begun to think of them as one in the same.

OoOo

“Are you ready?” Elle pulled on Madison’s arm excitedly. Elle watched her with a fierce intensity so strong that Madison could not hold her gaze. It was as if Elle knew something that Madison did not. That was nothing new but it was the first time that Elle seemed desperate to hold the secret inside. She looked partly as if she wanted to spill her guts but still she kept herself wrapped up in knots. She had so much to tell Madison but could not. Would not. There were things in Madison’s life that she would have to find out for herself. It did not make Elle’s job any easier. Guidance. All she could offer was guidance. She could not lead Willow Woman to the answers. To the truth.

“As ready as I’ll ever be.” Madison’s own stomach was in knots. She stood on the outskirts of the crowd and kept her eyes trained on the stage waiting to see him. She could almost sense the Forest Father waiting backstage. She needed to see him for herself. A sense of anticipation so thick made her want to back away. To run scared from all that was about to happen. She could not see the things that her very presence was setting in motion. She could not, but Elle held her tongue as she watched the fate of all relying on them slowly unfolding.

Someone else watched with great interest too. The Snake stood a few paces behind them watching with an intensity that should very well burn holes into the back of Willow Woman. He too could see the look of anticipation on Elle’s face and knew better than most that Elle knew things that other’s never could. Still he kept his distance. She was wise but so was he. He knew to wait and see what the young sprite had planned. He could bide his time. He was well versed in waiting. His eyes flicked back to Willow Woman at the thought.

OoOo

A match of wits.

A game of hearts.

The sickness spreads.

The roles reverse.

Then.

Now.

Soon.

That was the fate of the fae.

OoOo

Chapter Text

The faerie glass mirror held his attention once again. In the rare case of a break from the crafting of his music he ran his fingers over the pocked surface. It was a fascination for him. Those tiny blue bubbles that rendered the piece imperfectly perfect. He loved to stroke the smooth glass with almost a caress of his hand. He rarely looked into it. A few glances showed the wildness in him. The destruction of his body in pursuit of the woman who touched his soul. The woman that lay near death in the bed behind him.

The healer had come and gone. Elle had to practically hold the Forest Father back as the faerie wise and gnarled with age ran his fingers over Willow Woman’s skin. Feeling her pulse. Measuring the depth of he faerie magic. Elle kept strong hands on Andrew’s biceps ready to pull her sword and hold it against his throat if he managed to over power her. She was small but strong. Stronger than anyone her size should be capable of. Her blonde hair was pulled back and tied with a thin piece of leather. Her dress in it’s usually complimentary cream billowed around her feet a she continued to press Andrew against the wall. Her blade that should be so heavy with it’s length was featherlight as it hung from the belt around her waist.

“If I have to hold my sword to your throat Forest Father I will so help me. Let him do his job.” Andrew’s eyes flicked to Elle and he saw the determination in her eyes. He was tired and worn but the idea of anyone touching Willow Woman set off a feeling of blazing protection. He was a half wild wolf ready to pounce and tear to shreds those who would threaten his mate.

Pulling Elle outside the healer had finally left Andrew alone with Madison once again. He could only bring himself to swallow the pain of her slumber when they were but the two of them. No words were spoken as Andrew leaned his thin body against the bureau beneath the faerie mirror. He turned to look at the bread Elle had brought sitting like an offering to the gods on the table that Willow Woman had spent hours sewing project after project. For just a moment he saw the bread moldy and maggot covered. Slowly decaying. Then as he blinked the bread had reverted back to it’s glorious golden brown with the small bits of lavender adorning the top like a crown of violet fragrant flowers that should be adorning Madison’s head. With the gorgeous straight brunette hair that fell like a furious waterfall down her back. The decaying of the bread. The vision of it. All should have prepared him for Elle’s return but though the head may know the truth the heart refused to accept it.

“How much do you want to know?” He crossed his arms thick with scars from the monsters that he had once faced daily. Now staring into the mirror before him he was forced to see the most vicious monster of all. Andrew stayed silent and stared at his haggard reflection waiting for Elle’s words. She was never one to tell half truths. To paint the hard news with a thin layer of toasted sugar. No Elle was blunt.

“She’s dying Forest Father. A few days. A week at most.” It took everything in him to not grip his hand tightly and slam it into the beautiful ocean like glass. He wanted to destroy everything beautiful in the cabin. Everything but the most gorgeous of all. Willow Woman caused every piece of beauty to pale in comparison. When she passed on he would burn the cabin to the ground. He could not stand the idea of it standing like a monument to the carousel of happiness she had built in her dwelling.

Instead of shattering the mirror he turned from Elle and moved to stare out the window at the darkened forest a mere few feet from the cabin doorway. So menacing in it’s ways he felt no fear looking out upon his domain. Cloaked in darkness the beauty of the canopy of trees was overshadowed by the darkness it cast upon the forest floor. It was more of a mirror than that cerulean glass could ever be. A handsome exterior that hid the atrocity of his heart. His soul. Everything held within the gilded cage of his ribs.

“I know you heard me. You can pretend you did not but I know you did. The words could not have gotten lost when it is just us two.” Andrew’s head snapped back from the window to focus on Elle. It was the first time he had ever turned the full weight of the dark hatred he felt for himself, for this world so ready to swallow up anything good and pure, and turn it onto Elle. She shrank back a step at the look but only allowed herself to take one step back. Then she planted her feet and as if she were fighting against a wind gust so strong it threatened to topple her over and stood her ground.

“Do not talk like she is already gone.” Andrew’s words were like blades. The rasp of his voice cleared and with perfect clarity he demanded the thing he needed most from Elle in that moment. Hope. Elle looked at him with pain in her eyes. She knew that he needed something to cling to. Any thread of possibility. She could not give it to him because she would not lie to him.

“I’m sorry Forest Father. I really thought you...I’m sorry. You did all you could. I promise you that.” Elle played absently with the hilt of her sword as she looked down at the worn wood of the cabin floor. She could not meet Andrew’s eyes. She had said what she could.

“You’re wrong Elle.” Andrew turned to look out the window yet again staring deep into the darkness of the forest.

“I don’t understand.” Elle lifted her eyes from the floor and for the first time in a long time saw the true Forest Father. She saw his strength. His determination. She saw the wildness of the land that lived in him. She saw the budding leaves of a tree in spring. The barren wasteland of the dormant forest in winter. She saw everything that had been missing in him for so long. He had lost a part of himself when Willow Woman had passed into her coma. He would lose all of himself when she her body was reduced to ash. In that moment though she once again saw him. Andrew the true and only Forest Father. Suddenly she felt fear. “What am I wrong about?” Her question was quizzical and she looked at him with a knitted brow.

“I did not do all I could for her.” Andrew turned from the window and moved towards the door. Elle’s frame blocked him from slipping out of the cabin doorway. He stared her down as his intention sank into her conscious. Every cell of her being told her to stand her ground. What he was about to do would change the course of the faerie world forever. The heat in his gaze burned away her doubts. She took a step back to clear the entryway and the Forest Father stalked out of the cabin. His long legs took the stairs two at a time. “I did not do all I could for her but there is still time for me to try.” Andrew’s words carried themselves on the breeze to Elle’s ears.

“Lord and Lady help us all.” Elle whispered hanging her head in defeat as Andrew was swallowed whole by the darkness of the forest.

OoOo

Elle watched the hypnotic movement of Madison’s body as the music overtook her. Each word caught on the wind. Each strike of the guitar string like a shock to the nervous system. Each strike of the tambourine against his chest like a heartbeat.

The music was love. It was pain. It was heartbreak, reconciliation, worship, blasphemy, and perfection.

The music possessed Madison’s body until she moved only to the commands of the Forest Father.

The crowd undulated and slowly but surely began to swallow them whole. Elle was reminded of a time not too long ago that she had watched the Forest Father swallowed by darkness. This time was different. Each mortal that began to put themselves between Willow Woman and The Snake was like a ray of light. A promise of freedom from the curse that the Forest Father had placed upon them. The deal that plagued the unsuspecting world even now.

Madison was lost. Gone. Absorbed by the music so deeply that it would take an exorcist to rid her of the way it gripped her soul and refused to let go.

“Go.” Elle’s voice was a whisper in Madison’s ear. Madison turned slightly unsure of what had been said. Elle jerked her head at the wall of people that stood between them and The Snake. “Go. For fuck’s sake Madison go!” Elle’s voice was suddenly emphatic and though it scared Madison to her very core to hear Elle so close to the verge of anger she turned and began to weave her way between the bodies. Elle got ahead of her and almost like a force of nature the crowd began to part before them as if the very world wanted them to escape.

It was thrilling. With each step away from The Snake, away from the hold of Bane on her, and towards the man who had captured her heart a long time ago Madison finally felt an ounce of life return to her.

Like the forest in winter she had been sleeping. Now as she ran towards Andrew the trees blossomed and bloomed.

It was only Elle who knew the moves like chess pieces on a board. As always she was already two steps ahead of her opponent. She could see what she needed to do. She could see how to win. Deliver Willow Woman to the Forest Father and she would finally determine the fate of the fae.

OoOo

See the future in a ball of crystal.

See the past in the blue glass of the mirror.

Close your eyes and you will miss it.

Close your heart and you will lose it.

Never doubt the cunning of your opponent.

Two steps ahead.

One behind.

Run towards freedom.

Run from the chains that hold you down.

Such was the fate of the fae.

OoOo

Chapter Text

The Beast Slayer waited with an apple grasped in his hand.

Every once in a while he’d send tingling bits of magic up his arm and his nails would grow long and sharp piercing the thin red skin of the apple. They dug deep into that white meat inside and the life blood of the fruit would seep out where the the nails like razors pierced it.

His hand had grown sticky with the juices as he sat under the tree waiting for the Forest Father.

He had been waiting a long time. Tossing the apple drained to a sad emptiness on the pile to his right he picked up another lopsidedly round piece of fruit and began the process yet again.

The pile of destroyed fruit grew and grew as did the irritation inside of the Beast Slayer. He wanted what he wanted and he wanted it now.

Suddenly he grew very still. His ears only lightly strained to hear the approaching steps of the Forest Father as he trudged towards him with just a slight determination to his movements.

The Beast Slayer took a deep inhale and the scent of wet earth and decrepit moss filled his nostrils.

With a sharp exhale he pushed the scent of the Forest Father from his nostrils. He wanted to be sure. Absolutely sure of who was approaching.

Lately his senses has been shoddy at best. His power was waning. He needed a new well to draw power from. He needed her.

The earthy stench of the Forest Father grew stronger until the Beast Slayer wanted to cover his face to block out that smell of decaying earth.

A wolfish grin with just a pinch of mischief and a heavy dose of menace graced his lips. The Forest Father seemed unfazed by the greeting the Beast Slayer offered him.

He looked like he barely recognized the woods around him. As if he was blind to his own domain. Good. The Beast Slayer wanted him thrown off his game.

He wanted the Forest Father desperate and brought to his knees in a need to beg. Eyes of a man almost dead turned on the Beast Slayer.

The Beast Slayer knew then there would be very little joy to be pulled from this interaction. The fae might as well have been lain in the earth right then.

The Forest Father’s soul was dead, only his body propelled him forward. All business it seemed then. Fine.

Less enjoyment but it still meant the Beast Slayer would get what he wanted. Simple and clean.

“What do you want Forest Father?” The Beast Slayer asked with a low growl to his voice. He ducked his head hiding his eyes between a ring of dark curls. He did not want the Forest Father to see the glint there.

“What do you have to offer?” Andrew was beyond bargaining. He knew what he wanted. Willow Woman healthy and safe.

He knew that something of that magnitude would require a trade bigger than he imagined. He was tired. So damn tired. He did not want games. He wanted a solution. He wanted absolution.

“It doesn’t work that way Forest Father. You see, you ask for something and I...”

“Cut the bullshit Beast Slayer. You know what I want. Willow Woman alive. Healthy, thriving, anything but on the verge of death. Now what do you want for that? My life? I’ll gladly hand you the knife to put into my chest. Name what you want?”

The Beast Slayer turned his back so that the Forest Father would not see his smile as it spread like wildfire across his face.

Send a man beaten and broken to make a deal with the Devil and he’ll ask for the moon and offer the sun in exchange.

Desperate men should not make deals at the crossroads.

They will always lose.

“I can do that Forest Father. I can bring her from her coma. Make her strong. Give her back her health. I can save Willow Woman. As to what I want...that’s slightly more complicated.”

The Beast Slayer made a slow circle around the apple tree. He bent down and picked up another piece of the round fruit and tossed it from hand to hand.

Andrew made not one move as he readied himself to sell his soul. That is if he even had one.

“What is it you want? I’m past the point of playing these games.”

Andrew clipped off the words punctuating his irritation with the show being put on for him.

The two men, if they could be considered something so simple, could have stood face to face and stated their terms.

 

They could have worked this deal in a matter of minutes.

Instead it was being carried on and on. Andrew was tired. To the gods was he tired. He just wanted it all to be over.

“I will save her Forest Father. Give her anything she could ever want. Anything. In exchange you give her over to me.”

The Beast Slayer seemed to think that his words would fall like a stone into the heart of the Forest Father.

Instead of shock or outrage he saw a wave of exhaustion cross over Andrew’s face.

How he could even be standing with the look of utter defeat he wore the Beast Slayer did not know.

“Save her.”

Andrew’s words carried no emotion.

In that moment he could not bring himself to feel anything. The pain that ate away at his inside only made him more tired. More sick feeling.

It was as if the Beast Slayer was a sickness spreading through Andrew’s body.

He did not fight.

He didn’t have the strength. Nor did he have any other options.

Some part of him was dying right alongside Willow Woman.

It was his ability to empathize. His ability to care. His ability to even love.

He made the deal out of obligation. He had promised to always protect her. He knew he would always love her.

He did not believe he could stay by her side.

To be with him was to be inside the darkest part of the forest as every moment of the day. It was dangerous. So much so that she would be safer with the creatures. They would protect her. The fact that they would cage her did not cross his weary mind.

“We have a deal then?” The Beast Slayer’s elongated canine flashed in a bit of sharp white teeth as his grin spread.

He held his hand out to Andrew.

Andrew took no time to think. To talk himself out of it. He did not take into account that he had no right to choose the life for Willow Woman. He felt only the weight of his promise to always protect her.

His hand fit into the Beast Slayer’s and with that simple act the deal was done.

OoOo

Gods damn he had lost her.

In this crowd stuffed of humans so ripe with the stink of mortality he had lost Madison. The phrase “yet again” rattled around in his head but he refused to let himself think it.

He was an excellent tracker. He would find her and none would be the wiser.

No, no one would know. That was except for that foolish girl.

That coquettish pixie that would finally know the pain of him. The utter destruction he could bring to her body without leaving a mark.

His hand fingered his thick leather belt as he cut through the crowd, weaving through the humans caught up in the music that they did not realize was faerie magic.

They did not know that the Forest Father commanded their movements. They were none the wiser to the piper piping their bodies. Causing them to follow like rats.

Humans. He would never understand them.

With every step the grip on his belt grew stronger and a thrill went through his body at the idea of getting his hands on Madison and loosening the belt until it unfurled in his hands.

The sudden thought of that sound of leather on skin caused him to close his eyes in pleasure.

Had he not been caught up in his fantasy of pain he would have caught a glimpse of Madison’s long chestnut hair whipping behind her as she ducked and weaved through the crowd away from The Snake.

He would have seen Elle, nearly always easy to pick from a crowd with her light blonde hair and cream colored clothes, as she turned eyes only slightly filled with fear as they were once again swallowed by the crowd.

The humans instinctively moved away from the faeries creating paths only to converge back in on themselves as the fae made their way through them.

They moved away from the stench of wild magic. It made Elle and Madison’s plight all the more easier and The Snake’s job just a little more difficult.

He could smell her still though.

hat smell like green leaves and not yet bloomed cherry blossoms. It was never hard to smell her sweetness.

The sweetness he’d like to stamp out with his own brand of punishment. Bane went too easily on her. The Snake would get her in line finally and Bane would be none the wiser.

OoOo

The small reprieve from the sickness that stuck to Andrew like blackened tar ended.

So sticky that tar was that the more one fought against it the more entrapped they became.

Allison waited at the edge of the stage and Andrew found himself moving instinctually towards her.

Each step forward made him feel more dizzy and ill.

His mind spun and his head emptied of thought.

His stomach in constant turmoil churned at the sight of her.

He hated this part of every day, night, show, moment.

When he saw her wide blue eyes and her smile neither coy nor sweet. Simply a mask of smiles that hid the insanity inside.

He was almost to her when he smelled it.

A scent like green leaves and cherry blossomed yet to bloom.

He whipped around in an instant sure she would be behind him. The stage behind him was empty as the rest of the band already had vacated the space.

His stomach lurched with disappointment. He had smelled her.

 

He could swear he had felt that delicious scent grace his nostrils if only for a moment.

He turned and continued his tortured trek towards Allison.

Then like a specter, a ghost from his past, he saw her chestnut hair like a waterfall flying behind her as she tore around the side of the stage.

He truly could not believe it was actually her. Just another moment of imaginative hurt that his mind had conjured to cope with the pain of his reality.

Then the smell more strong than the sweat that drenched him after a show hit him again. Green leaves. Cherry blossoms about to bloom.

Allison offered her open arms to him.

Without a word Andrew burst into a run knocking into Allison at the same moment and sending her sprawling.

He did not notice.

His eyes were on Willow Woman as she once again ran away from him.

Allison let out a scream of frustration and jumped to her feet. She tore after Andrew with murder in her eyes.

He would love her or she would end him. It was his choice for now.

So help it it would soon be her’s to decide.

OoOo

One after another.

The chase has begun.

The race is coming to an end.

Invisible ties.

Hidden fantasies.

Control.

Chaos.

Such was the fate of the fae.

OoOo