You are barely old enough to show your wings the first time you consciously come to watch the Queen. She is the most radiant being you have ever encountered, her footsteps full of joy and elegance and strength. You cannot take your eyes off her graceful form. As she approaches you imitate her fouetté as best you can. Your balance fails you: You fall.
– inconsiderate – impertinent – forward – Carabosse’s aborted épaulement accuses, but the Queen smiles and twirls in a quick circle around you both.
– power – protection – healing – love- expectation – lingers as she moves on in a rustle of skirts.
Your butt cheeks are no longer sore. There is no sting in your heart upon your failure.
Young as you are you ken you’ll do anything to one day be like her.
Five-hundred years into your existence there are still untold figures left to discover. You are certain of your own body, but the resonance the members of the Queen’s Inner Court achieve is generated during interaction with others.
Carabosse insists that you must needs use your skill for the good of the whole world. Memorizing gestures that silently invoke spells, a sign language that honors those of your kind bereft of their tongues who have fled to the sea, you are utterly dismissive of wasting your time on mortals.
There are others who would prefer the circles would leave humans to their own devices. Every interest you’ve seen a fairy take in human affairs has seemed, from your outside view, unpleasant.
At a Solstice you cajole Carabosse into practicing. Be it by accident or aptitude – it is the night you discover that the right whirl can induce visions that predict and shape different futures.
The next time the Queen binds a king of the human realm to his parcel of land, you and your cousin are allowed to – are asked to - stand witness.
There is power in the world and truth between the realms.
A skip can heal. A pirouette can kill. Resonance can fuel magic and shroud the future in a blessing or a curse.
The magic gained from a dance of a pair in love can do anything. Fairykind can never turn its back on the human realm. Every once in a while the creatures become indispensible to replenish fairy blood.
You and Carabosse are not as close as Feral and Hibernia, but you respect one another and what the other can do.
You have walked the realms for twelve thousand years. You have studied it all, you have absorbed it all, and you have been part of the Inner Court these past fifteen human lifetimes.
A kingdom Titania is most interested in is haunted by the plague.
The resonance soaring high and higher from and for the healing is beyond compare.
The backlash from using such powerful magic on so many people will destroy all of you unless the price is paid by one being alone.
Your eyes meet and just as the spell breaks you take an entrechat to the left while Titania steps right and it is done. Carabosse catches you before you can stumble. The grief rising though the circles – the eyes watching you – forbid your faltering.
Always it has been so that the women have been lightest on their feet. Yet you… You have found such profound truth in the magic of leaps and twirls that no one, now, is your match.
The Queen of the fairies is no more, and you can do nothing else: You dance.
Generations of humans have come and gone. The price you paid for this particular kingdom was beyond high. The whole Court is involved in monitoring the royal line that is connected to the land.
It becomes clear that the current royal couple has not the magic between them to conceive. Carabosse, ever the one to feel touched by mortal’s predicaments, decides to lend her magic to their joining, sharing with them her innermost core.
It has been twelve thousand lifetimes since last a human’s ingratitude offended a fairy so gravely.
The dance of a pair in love can do anything, and their disregard of your cousin’s role in making it happen… In your eyes, the realm no longer belongs to king Benedict and queen Eleanor, but the little girl your cousin made.
You dance for the little princess and the resonance, amplified by her enthusiasm, spells prosperity for the land.
Had Carabosse but chosen to punish the king and queen without her rage touching their innocent daughter, you would not have intervened.
There is little time to think as your feet set the anchor points for your magic. Your Court dances around you, ever eager to fortify what you weave.
She is formidable in her hatred. Even as she is arrested first by your sway and then your guards, you fear she might have bested you. A true love’s kiss can eventually break any curse you fail to circumvent, but how likely is it that little Aurora will find it in the circles she moves in? Even her honourless parents do not share the full measure of true love between them.
You think about what you have learned of this little girl those nights you woke her from her crib, remember what her thoughts and dreams revealed whenever your fairies twirled around her. You envision the woman she will one day be and ken that she will move in her circles but also look in unexpected spaces.
You have the faintest beginning of a vision and draw it closer with all the hope and willpower you can muster.
Even as you see it you ken that success is no guarantee. If Aurora loves this boy, however, and if he loves her, then the dark forces that Carabosse has woven around her will not prevail.
Caradoc does not beg as the sentence falls and Carabosse is cast out.
Cut off from her native circles it will take little time before Carabosse dies. It is a fact you can try to outdance for centuries but would fail to even if the Queen herself did the saubresaut for you.
You wonder if he will directly challenge you. You wonder if he will join the isolationists at the fringe of your Court. Instead, he follows the affairs of the human kingdom with keen eyes.
Autumnus finds the lad from your vision who might save Aurora and the realm Titania died for. Every fortnight your Inner Court dances about his bed. Unlike the princess you watch him bond with, fall in love with, sneak around with, he never catches you at it.
You are prepared to help him out in the world, but he has a lot of common sense, this Leo has, he doesn’t need your support in matters of everyday life as someone else – say, most any of the princes Benedict likely would have chosen to save his daughter had fate but asked – would require.
He never needs your help until Caradoc makes his move and Aurora is stung by his rose. You have prepared for this moment for most of these young people’s lives. After all, it takes more to make a fairy than a bite and a little blood.
Your part is over. Leo now faces the challenge of staying in love with Aurora for a hundred years without the memory of her atrophying to a mere concept.
Leo’s dedication to his sleeping princess is a joy to see. To facilitate it, to be a part of it, becomes your life blood more swiftly than you would have thought.
At first, all you are to him is the creature who helped when nobody else knew what to do, the fairy godfather Aurora talked about at times and the fairy king who gave him a chance to one day be reunited with her when everyone else thought him responsible for Aurora’s predicament.
Then you are the king who invites him to the fairy circles to eat and dance. He may be a human boy waiting for his maiden, but he is also a fairy, now, and his body and soul both need sustenance the human body could live without.
He never appeared especially connected to his blood family. He never argues for the mortals trapped in the castle. You fear that he won’t be able to form a connection with the fairies in your Court.
At last you become the mentor who shows Leo how to hide his wings. It goes against every reason, but having been human displaying his wings is a choice he can make.
He is not your son, and yet in the millennia you’ve walked the realms he is the first fairy you have made.
You wish you knew what to do about Caradoc.
He is a skilled coryphée, Carabosse’s son, skilled enough that the force of his steps overwhelmed an independent, head-strong young woman, but that same force is also the reason he can never hope to achieve real magic from dancing with her. It is your hope that your nephew will discover this during one of his visits to the sleeping princess’ chambers.
Hibernia and Tantrum have brought up the possibility, but you have no intention of evicting him from the castle. The boy lost his mother, a tragedy you, his uncle, his king, inarguably had a hand in.
There is a chance his every action is influenced by her original curse.
If Leo’s love can – supposedly – last for a hundred years then a hundred years can – potentially – transform Caradoc’s bitterness into actual feelings. One turnout is as likely, as unlikely as the other. If you are willing to give this not-so-random formerly human games keeper a chance then you owe your nephew the chance to better himself.
He can do no real harm to Aurora while she is asleep. And if it goes wrong, you will bear the responsibility for it. You owe your cousin that much.
The humans have divided the land into different polities. The more time moves on, the more the connection that sustained Titania’s blessing is weakening. It will never die while Aurora sleeps, might be rekindled should she awake, but the blessing depends strongly on the conduit – the ruler – and those who currently call themselves royals are not acknowledged by your Court.
Autumnus tells you more than once that you should have put the whole realm to sleep but these humans are evolving too fast for that, the kingdom would never recover from awakening and being 100 years behind the times. Still, you are unprepared when the their realm descends into war.
There have always been wars, but never have you seen weapons such as these.
In the aftermath of surveying a battlefield with hundreds dead from gas Leo forms the first friendship bonds in his new life. You catch Hibernia’s eye and find her expression mirroring your relief.
The boy ventures outside every day and more. Every waking hour he practices what little made fairies can accomplish in the magic art of healing. – It is *her* kingdom – he argues, and it is the least he can do, trying his best to help those who would be her subjects when she cannot.
You make it clear to the other healers that they will not be able to intervene on the day that is still decades away, the day his final test arrives.
There is peace. There is war. There is a fraught period in between. Through it all Leo is out in the world, maintaining, waiting.
Sometimes he comes to the circles and explains to you all the curious new inventions the humans have made. Amidst all the tragedies they create for themselves, there is always love to be found, and somewhere someone is always performing a pas de chat for fun.
It keeps you from wondering if the tiny sliver of hope is worth the scars wrought on the realm.
Leo’s love prevails.
Caradoc dies at your hand.
A new life ends Aurora’s mourning for the people she knew three mortal lifetimes ago. The kingdom is healing. The princess who cannot rule in name and her consort took little time to discover the right steps to ignite the fairy magic latent in her.
The circles part to let them approach you. Their newborn treasure wriggles in her mother’s arms. Her feet are kicking a perfect rhythm. The wave of – will – strength – belonging – is all her own.
A dance of a pair in love can do anything.
A future queen of the fairies is born, and your smile is radiant as you dance.