“I told you Erwin would be back, he always comes back. When I met him he was a lizard then he ran away and came back as a cat, but I like this new Erwin better—he likes hugs and pettings. Are you still mad because you got beat up by a little pussycat? To be fair he is quite impressive, so it’s not that much to be ashamed of.”
“You’ve been acting strange lately, puffing your chest out and strutting like a peacock. I don’t understand, it’s silly and if we’re going to have lots of babies one of us can’t be foolish.
Don’t look at me like that. I do want to give you babies—they’d have wings, and horns, and pretty little scales. They should have my wings, though, because bat wings look far more impressive with scales and horns. I never said I didn’t want babies, of course I want a big family of my own. I want lots of babies—with you. Only you. What if his babies break me so I can’t give you any? What if I can’t kill my baby, even if it came from a monster? Not all demons are monsters, you’re not—they could be like you. Could you raise the child of a monster with me if it was an innocent? Would you even still want me after he’s defiled me?
I don’t want to be shoved in a cage and molested and used as a broodmare. I’m not an animal to be caged, but I will do it for you. …and, I suppose, for Gregor and ‘Shen, Ragnar and shiny new Erwin, Eri and my sisters. I’ll do it to spite my father.
But I’m scared.
I’m not scared to be in the cage or kept chained up next to Sewermouth; I’m scared for you. You don’t scare me when you’re all growly and big because I know that’s just you putting on a show. I know the real you—the real Jay. I know my Jay. But we’re going to stick me in a cage and take away my Jay. We’re going to jam you full of organs and lock away my Jay, somewhere deep inside, and just hope that he survives and comes back to me.
But what if my Jay doesn’t want to come back? What if he never gets the chance? You think if you stroll in with me in a cage you’ll be greeted as the prodigal returned. And if instead you’re killed where you stand? If everything else works, all of our plans succeed, but you aren’t there to see it with me? That’s not a victory, that’s not a life worth having.
Let the rest of the world burn if I have you, but I know we’ll never be safe as long as Sewermouth is still out there. We can’t hide in time, I told you my kind would find us and bring us back to fulfill the contract, and we can’t even hide in space. We could run, never stopping, always fleeing from one city to another, one world to the next, but I don’t want that. I want a safe happy life with you and babies, but the only way to keep you safe is to put you in more danger than we ever have been in before. And I’m scared.Iuz can rot, and even Gregor with it, if I could only keep you safe.
But how can I? I can’t do it alone and how do I say to them ‘ ’Shen, you’ve been like a mother to me, but I need to feed you to the flames to keep my Jay safe, could you kindly just step into that fire pit over there?’ They are my family and I love them and I need them…but more and more I know I need them differently than I did before. I need them to help me rid myself of the pestilence my father sold me to; I need them so we can be free. We can run away once Sewermouth is gone, fly far and let them bicker over who should next sit in the throne. I’ve seen a vision of ‘Shen and Gregor fighting—once I didn’t know what it meant; now I don’t care.
I don’t care.
I care that you smashed the clock for me. I asked to run away and you didn’t even think about what would happen if we were stuck here—you said you wanted to see Y’Bend again but you just smashed what could be our only way home, because of what I said. It was not a smart thing to do, but then again I rarely do the smart thing myself (which is why you really need to be the one to think things through or our children are doomed). I talk without thinking; I saw that when you smashed the clock, and then I was afraid I’d say the wrong thing again.
I can’t do it anymore. I can’t be the silly little fairy with her silly little jokes laughing at nothing because she doesn’t understand how else to fill the silence. The silly little fairy that just doesn’t understand. I prance and prattle and none of them expect anything more from me. I’m just silly little Rue with her silly little laugh and her silly little ways. They’re using me as bait—oh, loving and gentle their motives may be, but I am still once more a pawn in another’s game—and I will let them use me. I will let them trot me out, and underestimate me. I will let them use me, so I can use them—I need ‘Shen’s wisdom and strength, I need Gregor’s sword and will, Ragnar’s axe and army, and Erwin’s power. I need them, because more than anything I need you. If I could spirit you away somewhere safe, somewhere for just the two of us for the rest of our days I’d….I’d leave them all behind.
And I don’t know if that makes me a monster or a fool but I don’t care anymore. I love you, every last scaly inch and I can’t…can’t lose you. I can’t, I c-can’t—“
The first kiss in space had been clumsy and sweet. The many that followed were equally as sweet, though steadily less clumsy. Tonight the clumsiness returned, not from inexperience and hesitation, but from pure need. Travel and close quarters forced modesty, but tonight fear has stripped it away.
Poets and bards have immortalized the first consummation of love—and they got it all wrong.
There was no time for the teasing slow unbuttoning of trousers or even the quick ripping of a bodice. Cloth was shoved impatiently out of the way as limbs found how best to entwine themselves to their needs. This was not their first time exploring their passion, but before there was the gentle consideration of claws and fangs. Tonight. Tonight there was no time for gentle, no time for extra tenderness, no time for even thought.
Fear had awakened a deep and frantic need, and who knew when they’d have this privacy again, this chance. The wine that should have been sipped and savored was instead gulped before the cup could be snatched away.
And there was pain, too much burning pain. There was always some burning, even during the gentle explorations, but this burned her to the core. It was too much, far too much, and even if the fire didn’t consume her she would surely be torn in half. She wondered before how they could…fit together, and even feared it. There was no more time for wondering, for easing or fitting. There was only time for joining, desperately, while there still was time.
The poets describe tears of joy during love making, but all she had were tears of pain. And even the pain penned in poems was all the burning emotional turmoil of the heart—so many fail to describe just how physical that burning pain of love can be.
Even so, even with that scorching tearing pain, there was serenity. The feeling of completion as if regaining a missing piece that she never even knew went missing.
Soon, too soon, the great shuddering demon stilled and held her for a moment before adjusting himself off of and then next to her on the bed. Bed? When did they sink to the sheets in the red fog? It only seems like a moment ago he was lifting her up to stop her ravings with a kiss.
The fairy felt an ache in her hips, and a soreness and emptiness that jangled with every jostle of the mattress. The demon gently removed himself, finally remembering his bulk in the aftermath, and returned with a damp cloth to tenderly clean, to blot the blood from clothes and sheets. For some reason the poets seem to forget to mention the blood; but how fitting, that much like all contracts, love should be sealed in it.
The poets also fail to address the delicate intimacy that follows passion. The reassurances that while the whimpers had been more pain than passion filled, there was no regret and no damage done. The anxious promises of all the joys “next time” will bring, along with the whispered declarations of love. Affection can be loudly tossed around in the day, shouted from the mountain tops and mean nothing; but those moments murmured in the moonlight—after desire had been fed, after the itch scratched—those were no longer words but promises and bonds.
Fear gave way to exhaustion, and so still entwined the fairy and her demon lover drifted off to the sounds of drunken birds brawling below, as the room filled with the exploding light of the fireworks outside.