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Bound round - part one

My first fic with a 12 year old as a hero.  I don't make a convincing 12 year old - I nver did (even when I was 12)

This is mine - not a fan fic, I would like it if peopel didn't take it.

 

 

   Bound Round

My name is Tegue Timms and I live with my family on a farm about twenty miles outside of Bathory City.  It’s a quiet life.  Or it was.  Last week was our birthday; my twin William and I turned twelve.  Last year on our birthday our Father died.  I’m surprised I can say that so calmly.  We knew it was coming, but that doesn’t, or shouldn’t, make it easier.  It’s weird how it still doesn’t seem real to me; I still think he’ll be walking around the corner.  I don’t know how William, my twin, or Ryes, our older brother, feel about Father’s death.  We don’t talk about it.  To talk about it would make it too real.  

“You were always his favorite,” William’s voice comes out of the dark from the bed next to mine.  At twelve we still share a room.  

“And you are mother’s,” this is true, since our magical abilities first started to manifest each of our parents took one of us under a wing, to teach us.  Before we were old enough to go to school, to be taught at the school in the city.  With others like us; Magic Users, well Magic Users and people who should be.  People like Ryes, who should have Magic but don’t. I’ve always felt bad about Ryes, he should have been one of the strongest magic users in the area, but has never shown any sign of it.  Ryes was good with the animals, but was never troubled with the sounds of their minds in his head, nor can he see the future, make plants grow or anything else.  No power that has ever run in our family seems to run in Ryes blood, but he is strong and steady and he is the one who keeps things running. He’s the one who made the funeral arrangements; he’s the one watching over Mother.    

“And Ryes is my Father’s favorite,” from behind William comes the voice of Gawain Bright the son of the farm’s hired man.  Mr. Bright calls us the Three Musketeers completely inseparable.

“You are,” William argues with our friend.  

“I don’t think so,” Gawain says, I hear a thump as William hits Gawain with a pillow.  Then giggling as the two start fighting.     



“William is gone!” Gawain is shaking me.  I open an eye, it’s not even light yet.  

“I’m sure he’s just outside somewhere.”

“No, he’s not anywhere,” I don’t question him, the panic in Gawain’s voice lets me know that William isn’t anywhere that Gawain can find.  And Gawain can find William anywhere.  

“Did you tell Mum?” I ask rolling over and pulling the blankets over my head.

“She isn’t here either.”

“Well then they are somewhere together.”

“Of course, but it’s somewhere bad.  I can tell.”

“Fine,” I get up and dress quickly, “You look around the house and I’ll go talk to Ryes.”

I walk down to the barn, knowing that searching a house that was designed to hold four families should take Gawain awhile.  And by the time he gets done I hope that Ryes will have given me the answer to where Mum and William are.  After all Ryes usually has the answers, I’m sure he will this time as well.  I find Ryes in the dairy barn, the click and hum of the machinery is almost deafening, he has his baseball hat pulled down over his eyes. Five years older than William and I Ryes has become increasingly more responsible for the day to day operations of the farm.  He looks like he could be sleeping.

“You shouldn’t sneak up on people, Teg,” he says without opining his eyes.

“You shouldn’t be sleeping in the milking parlor.”

“I wasn’t, I was listening,” he says tipping his hat back.  

“You couldn’t hear anything.  You go through life half deaf and blind,” I know that it is cruel to mock him that way, but I can’t help it, he keeps trying to be something he isn’t.  

“I can hear all sorts of things Teg,” he says turning to a cow whose machine has stopped milking.  His hands move over the cow’s udder, just like Father’s or Mr. Bright.  When he is done he walks back to me, “Just because I’m not Magic doesn’t mean I’m deaf or blind, or that I can’t see the world.  I hope some day that you will understand that.”

“I said half.”

“Whatever.  Now what do you want?”

“Do you know where Mum and William are?”

“No. And I would guess you wouldn’t be asking if they were in the house asleep.”

“Gawain says they are somewhere bad.”

“Since when does Gaw see the future?”

“He always knows where William is.”

“Normally he does,” Ryes says looking up at me, small lines of worry forming over his eyes, “go see if Tristan knows where they are,” he says to me turning back to the cows, “meet me back here to let me know what is going on.”

I can’t believe how nonchalant he is being about this.  He should be upset and searching for William and Mum as well, he shouldn’t be looking after the stupid cows and letting me search without him.  I turn and walk out of the Milking Parlor without a glance at my older brother.  As I walk up the hill, back toward the house I see Gawain and his father Tristan hurrying to me.  That is bad; Tristan never hurries anywhere, at least not anywhere that doesn’t have to do with the livestock.

“They aren’t in the house,” Tristan says quickly.

“We looked everywhere,” Gawain says glancing up at his father, “What did Ryes say?”

“He said to check the house while he finished up.”

“I’ll finish for him,” Tristan says, “I’ll send him right out.  Your brother has friends that may be able to shed some light on what is going on here.”

I sigh and look at Gawain, who shrugs, “I don’t know,” Gawain’s voice is quiet and strained; “Dad said something about Ryes having friends that live in the woods, friends that may take kids.”

“Kid’s like us?” I ask knowing he doesn’t have an answer, “Why would Ryes have friends that would take kids like us?”

“He wouldn’t,” Gawain says firmly.

“But if your father said-”

“What would Dad know?” he asks sharply.  I’m about to respond with ‘more than we do’ or something equally as silly when Ryes walks up to us, rubbing his hands on his jeans.   He glares at the two of us and then pushes his baseball hat back, glares at me and starts off twords the wood lot at the edge of our farm.  We hurry to follow him.  

He leads us into the woodlot along the familiar bridle paths we had always used and then without warning he made a quick left turn into the deep woods.  We had always been warned not to leave the paths.  Gawain takes my hand and gives it a squeeze, as we step off the path and into the woods proper.    Ryes walks on through the underbrush for what feels like an hour before stopping in front of a tree bigger than any I remember seeing before.  

“If you say anything about this,” Ryes turns to me his threat hanging unfinished between us.  

“I won’t.”

“Me either,” Gawain says as Ryes looks at him.

“Good, then,” he knocks on the tree.  We stand for several long seconds; just long enough for me to start to think nothing would happen.  Just as I start to think Ryes is crazy as well as untalented the trunk of the tree splits.  The crack spreads and soon an open doorway is standing where the tree trunk was.  Two women stand in the open doorway, smiling at Ryes.

“Ryes has come back to us Poppy,” the one standing closest to us.

“Of course he has Laurel, he knows we are the only ones who can give him what he wants.”

The first one, Laurel, steps up to Ryes and strokes his face, “We can make you like Thomas the Rhymer.  We can make the words flow from your mouth.  We can give you magic like your family has.”

“I know.”

“All you have to give us is one night.”

“I know, and I know one night for you could be a hundred years for my family,” Ryes gives Laurel a sad smile as she steps back from him.  

“He is too smart for the likes of us sister,” Poppy says reaching out to touch Ryes’ arm, “What do you need from us Mortal?”

“My brother and mother are missing.  Mr. Bright seems to think you would know why.  Know why and where.”

“We know why,” Laurel says.

“But we don’t know where,” Poppy continues.

“Why then?” Ryes is standing straighter than straight as he asks.

“The blood debt your family owes for the Magic that runs in your blood,” Laurel giggles before continuing, “Well in all but your blood.  Your family owes a debt to the Sidhe in the city.  They would have taken your brother, but not your mother.  They would have no interest in her.”

“But she could have followed the boy,” Poppy says.  

“She would,” Ryes confirms looking over at me, “she would have followed either of the twins.”

“We can not help you find them.  We can not go to the city, but we can help you find one that can help you,” Laurel reaches up and pulls a single hear from her head and ties it around Ryes’ wrist.  Then she stands on her tiptoes to kiss his forehead, “Just because no one can see Magic in you, that doesn’t mean the Magic isn’t there.”    

“I know that.”

“Do you?” she pauses for a few seconds, “Take the train into the city.  The one who can guide you will find you on the train.”


I’ve always loved taking the train into the city.  The train takes us right to the Museums; our parents would take us into the Museums once a month.  And then when Ryes got older he would take us.  The trips themselves were as fun as and instructive as the museums.  You learn so much seeing all the people on the train.  But today there aren’t that many people.  Maybe it’s still too early or maybe it’s because it is a Saturday, but we have the whole compartment to ourselves.

“I don’t see anybody here that will be helping us,” Gawain has been getting more and more agitated the longer William is gone.  It’s not like William is Gawain’s brother, I’m the one who should be upset, but I know I’ll be seeing William again.  I know we won’t be separated for long and I know that Ryes will figure out how to find the rest of our family.  

“Well Poppy and Laurel may not always be completely honest, but they’ve never out and out lied.  If they said someone will find us on the train someone will find us,” he sounds so sure.  We sit quietly, the three of us in a row watching as the city of Bathory comes closer and closer.  The door to our car opens and a girl Ryes age walks down the aisle.  She looks like any girl form school.  OK maybe not any girl, but certainly like any number that Ryes hangs out with. Girls that are into art and music and don’t seem to care what they look like.  Not that she isn’t pretty, she is, but everything she has on is a shade of gray. She has blond spiky hair and big black army boots.  She stops next to Ryes and squats down so her face is even with his.

“Why did those Sisters send you here to find me?” she asks, her voice light but with a quick rhythm to it.

“My brother and Mother are missing.  The girls in the Tree said you would know where to find them.”

“You must be the Oldest son of the line of the First Dancers.”

“My father was a Dancer,” Ryes replies.  He means the Bathory Folk Dance Club.  Our father was one of the head dancers in the club, but I can hear the different way both of them are saying Dance, I just don’t know why.

“I’m glad they sent you to me, a handsome man like you, and I do have an idea of where your Mother may be, and I think that I may know someone who may know where your brother is as well,” she smiles.  Her smile lights up the train car.  Ryes smiles back, I’ve never seen him smile like that at any of the girls from school.  

“You got a name?” Ryes asks.  The words sound harsh but the tone of his voice is soft and light, it matches the smile that is still lingering on his face.

“Sapphire.  You?”

“Ryes.”

“Well, Ryes and?”

“Tegue, and this is Gawain,” I supply.

“OK so Ryes, Tegue and Gawain, interesting names, anyway we take this train to the Financial District and then from there we go to my place.”

“Your place then.”

I watch as Ryes and Sapphire talk for the rest of the ride, both joking and laughing in a way that is totally inappropriate for what is going on.  Gawain keeps drawing my attention away from them and that’s hard with Ryes laughing like he is.    

“Everything is going to be fine,” Gawain says slipping an arm around me.  I’ve always loved having Gawain with me, he is a comfort, Mum says someday we will be married, and Mum always knows what is going to happen.  

“When we find Mum and William,” I reply.  
It’s probably only a half an hour to our stop and then Sapphire leads us up and out onto the street.  I’ve never been to this area of the city, and look around in wonder at the glass buildings rising above me to make a corridor of shadow and reflection.  I stop to look up in wonder.  I can’t believe that these buildings belong to the same city as the brick homes of Seven Sisters or the ivy covered museums of the Museum district the only areas of the city I have ever known.   

“Come on Tegue,” Ryes calls back to me.  I hadn’t even realized I was being left behind.

“This way.  Over here,” Sapphire says as I catch up with the others.  She is gesturing at a three-story building that seems both old fashioned and out of place in the area dominated by slick modern buildings of glass and steel.  She starts up the front steps and holds the door open for us.  The three of us follow her up into the building and then into the first floor apartment.  

If I was surprised by the tree opining for Ryes, or stunned by the corridor of glass and steel of the Financial District then I have no words for Sapphire’s place.  The door opens up to an open field ringed by trees.  The field has normal living room furniture in it and there seem to be a few breaks in the trees looking for all the world like doorways to other rooms.  She walks across what I will call a room and leads us, not through one of the doorways but she slips between two of the trees that form the walls of the room.  Ryes stands close to the trees and looks back at us.

“Well what do you think?” he asks.

“I don’t know,” I reply quietly, “but I want to find Mum and Will and I want to go home.” What I don’t say is that I didn’t think walking into the woods and taking advise from people who live in a tree was a good idea.  I sigh and try to remember that Ryes always has the answer; but then again that was back when I thought Ryes was without any access to magic, back when I thought he was jealous of William and I our Magic.  Things were different yesterday.

“I think if we follow everything will be alright,” Ryes smiles looking back to where Gawain and I are standing.

“Do you now?” Gawain asks.

“Are you three staying behind?  If you don’t want to come I can bring Elisabeth back here if you’d like,” she pauses looking at Ryes sadly, “I understand if you don’t trust me.”

“No.  No it’s not that,” Ryes denies so quickly I think he could swallow his tongue.  He turns back to us, suddenly serious, “Look we stay together.  We stay on the path and we eat nothing.  Got it?” he pauses long enough for us to nod dumbly at him, “OK then.  We go.” He holds out a hand to each of us and we follow Sapphire through the trees together.  

“Follow me,” Sapphire says quietly as we emerge onto a path through the woods.  Woods in the middle of the city, woods that you get to by stepping into an apartment inhabited by a woman that we met on a train.  Admittedly it’s odd, but is it odder than being able to hear the voices of animals in your mind or seeing the future? I try to tell myself that what I’m doing today is no stranger than what my life is like everyday.  But somehow no matter how odd your everyday life it’s still your everyday life, “Follow right behind me.  Don’t stray.”

“We won’t,” Ryes assures her, squeezing my hand tight.

We walk along the path, it’s wide enough for the three of us to walk side by side, and after a time Sapphire starts to talk with Ryes again.  I can feel Ryes relax as they talk.  It feels like we walk for hours.  I’m starting to feel tired when Sapphire stops and leans back into Ryes.

“We have arrived,” she says with a smile directed at Ryes, “Right this way,” and she steps through another ring of trees.  We find ourselves in a small room, it has no windows but is well appointed, it feels like an entranceway.  

“Where are we?” Ryes asks.

“Under City Hall,” Sapphire answers stepping forward again. We follow her into the next room, “Elisabeth?” she calls.  

“Yes child?” a woman of old fashioned beauty, responds, “Ah, the children of the Dancer.  Good if you will come this way?”

The woman called Elisabeth leads us into yet another room.  This one is filled with people.  People of all different types, rich and poor, old and young, some are colorless like Sapphire and some seem to be dressed in as many colors as they could put on at once.  Some don’t even look human; they look like large dogs standing on their back legs, some look like mobile rocks.  My heart leaps as among the odd people I see –

“Mum!” I drop Ryes hand and run to her.  She looks happy and sad at the same time as she lakes me in her arms.

“Teg, you shouldn’t have come!”

“How could we not?” Ryes asks coming up behind us.

“I would have been happier if the two of you were safe at home,” she reaches out to Ryes and then to Gawain, “You too, your Father must be beside himself.”

“He sent me with these two,” Gawain says gruffly, “he thought friends of Ryes carried William off.”

“The girls in the Tree?” Mum asks with a laugh, “those two would never hurt anyone.  And they have never taken Changelings, at least not that anyone in our family has recorded them taking Changelings.”

“They don’t,” Ryes supplies, “Everyone that goes with them, chooses to go with them.  They don’t take children.  And they told us how to find you.”

“Did they now?” Mum asks, eyebrow raised.  

“Well they told us how to find someone who could find you,” Ryes looks shamefaced.    

“Well I guess that’s good enough son.  We are all here together,” I relax into her warm arms and realize how tired I am.  

“It’s been a long day,” Ryes says looking at me.  

“It’s almost midnight,” Mum says.

“Where did the day go?” I ask stifling a yawn.  

“Time has been moving differently since we left the path in the wood at home,” Ryes says to me, “Mum is there someplace the kids can sleep here?”

“Of course dear,” she looks up at the woman who brought us into this room, “Madam is there a place for my children?”

“Sapphy, please show the children to a place of rest.”

“Yes, Elisabeth,” Sapphire says, dipping her head in respect to the other woman.  Then she turns to us, “Come on you three.” She leads us down a few halls and into a room set up with two beds.  

“Get in, Baby Girl,” Ryes says guiding me to the bed, “It looks like you have to share with Gawain or me.  What’ll it be?”

“Gawain,” I say pushing against Ryes playfully, “You take up too much space.”

“Fine then,” he looks happy that I don’t want to share with him, “Gawain you hop in too.”

“Well sleep well you two,” he reaches down and tucks us in and then kisses my forehead and squeezes Gawain’s shoulder, “We’ll find William now that we’ve found Mum.”
Someone turns the lights in the room out and I hear Ryes stretch out on the other bed.  Sapphire joins him.  I listen to their whispered conversation as I try to fall asleep.

“So what is it like being a Dancer?”

“It’s hard to say.  You just get this feeling that you need to be somewhere and you go, then you Dance and then go home.”

“But you hold everything on this area together!  It should feel like something.”

“It feels like dancing.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“Well maybe it feels like someone is dancing through me.  I like to think that Dad is there with me.  I wish he was,” Ryes sounds so quiet and sad, I wish that I knew what they were talking about.  I wish Ryes would talk to us about missing Dad with William and me.  I’m still wishing when I slip off to sleep.



When I wake Mum is sitting on the edge of my bed.  For a few minutes I think everything is back to normal, that we are at home and it is William snoring gently beside me.  Then I remember everything, “Mum?”

“I’m here baby girl.”

“Is everyone else up?”

“No I thought I’d get you up first,” I glance over to where Ryes is sleeping with Sapphire curled up in his arms.  Mum’s eyes follow mine, “She isn’t the girl I had thought Ryes would be attracted to,” she sighs, “but we can’t control our children.  I just wish he liked human girls.” Next to me I feel Gawain shift, “Up little boy,” Mum says gently.

Gawain sits up and looks around, “Ryes isn’t up yet.”

“Yes I am,” Ryes says without opining his eyes.  

“You don’t look it,” I retort.  

“Teg,” Ryes tone warns me not to continue, as he gets up, pulling Sapphire behind him.  

“We should start out soon,” Mum says.

“You should eat before we go,” Sapphire says.

“Not safe,” Ryes replies.  

“They aren’t Fairies,” Mum says, “It’s safe to eat here.  But not where we are going from here, so Sapphy is right, we should eat before we go.”

Ryes doesn’t argue with Mum, no one ever argues with Mum.  We follow Sapphire back to the main room under the City Hall.  There are less people there now, but the woman who met us here.  Elisabeth.  She shows us to a table laden with food.

“Will this do?” Elisabeth asks us.

“Yes, Ma’am,” Mum says bowing her head slightly.  It seems odd that Mum would bow to anyone.  We sit as a family and Sapphire drifts off to speak to the others and it is just the four of us.  

“What is this place Mum?”

“This is the basement of the City Hall,” Mum says with a smile, “I think this was built for them.”   

“But who are they?”

“These people are the spirits of the city.  Each one protects a different thing, the girl that brought you here protects the trains, or the subway, I’m not sure what one, maybe both.”

“So they are like Fairies in those flower books?”

“Well they call themselves Trolls, but I think it’s the same idea,” Ryes supplies.  

“It’s true,” Mum nods, “Fairies live in gardens and things like that, and Elves protect the wild places.  Trolls protect the things we have made.  Like houses and things like that.  Elisabeth protects the city its self.”

“That sounds like a lot of work,” Ryes says picking carefully at the food, but not eating it.
“I’m sure it is, Ryes,” Mum says looking at for a long heartbeat, “Now eat your breakfast, don’t need you starving to death on the way.”

We eat quietly for a time, each of us taking comfort that we’ve found Mum.  The food is wonderful, sausage and eggs and anything else I could want.  Ryes is still picking at his food when Sapphire comes back.

“We don’t poison Mortals.  And I wouldn’t do anything to harm you,” Sapphire’s eyes are soft, “Elisabeth says the Sidhe are out on Border Islands today.  I’m going with you.”

"We will be grateful for your company,” Mum says with a smile.

“No we wouldn’t,” Ryes says in a short tone.

“Don’t listen to him,” Mum says thumping Ryes’ arm, “he thinks he has to protect everyone.”

“He’s sweet,” Sapphire says with a laugh.  

“Yes,” Mum says with an affectionate look at Ryes, “He’s a perfect gentleman.”

“Except for when he’s being crabby,” I say.

“I’m not being crabby,” Ryes snaps.  

“You are,” Gawain replies.   

“Not.  And eat your breakfast, Gawain,” I got the feeling if Ryes was younger he would have stuck out his tongue.  After breakfast Sapphire leads us up through City Hall and out to the plaza in front of the building.  She leads us across the open area of concrete and back down into a subway station.  Ryes goes to get inline for tickets, but Sapphire puts a hand on his arm.

“This way,” she says pulling him to the turnstile, “Just go though.”

“No, we should pay.”

“Don’t be stupid,” Sapphire says as she shoves him into the turnstile and touches the token slot.  The arms turn and then he is on the other side of the fence.  Then I am.  And then we all are.  We stand on the dim platform for a minute or so before the subway pulls in roaring like a lion in a wind tunnel.  “Get on,” Sapphire shouts over the wind that comes with the train, and we all do.  Alone in the subway car we all sit and ride for three stops and then Sapphire makes a quick hand gesture, the train comes to a slow stop.  

“Now what?” Ryes asks.

“Have faith son,” Mum says turning to Sapphire and lifting an eyebrow silently asking the same question Ryes asked.

“Out,” Sapphire says gesturing to the door.  The door slides open to allow us down into the tunnel, it’s dark and gloomy and damp and dusty all at the same time.  She leads us into a side tunnel and then gestures back at the train.  The train starts off slowly and eventually pulls out of sight.  Sapphire turns to Mum, “So do you know a way to keep people from drowning?”

“You know I do, or you wouldn’t have brought us this way,” Mum says with a smile.

“Do it then woman.  I want to be home for supper.” Sapphire is smiling at Ryes, and he smiles back.  Mum turns to him and takes his face in her hands, she whispers a few words and then turns to me.  I don’t recognize the words she whispers over me but I can feel the magic flowing into me.  When she’s done with me she turns to Gawain.  And then we are ready.  Sapphire turns to the wall and presses her hand flat against the tunnel wall.  It opens.  “Everybody in.  I need to close it behind us.”

As the wall heals behind us a green light appears on the palm of Mum’s hand.  She steps forward and we all follow her light. I can here Sapphire moving behind me and then moving around us until I can see her in the glow that surrounds Mum.  She leads us upward and then we are under the ocean.  The world here is a dim green but maybe that’s Mum’s light.  The floor of the sea is covered with litter; I’d never thought it would be that way.  I had always thought it would be clean under the sea.   I don’t know why I had thought that, I had seen the displays a the Aquarium showing what the bottom looked like, but for the life of me I hadn’t expected the broken posts, abandoned picnic tables and grocery carts.   The deserted things and the half-light is really creepy.  We walk and walk and walk, Ryes in front with Sapphire, the two of them holding hands. We walk close behind them, Mum and Gawain and me, Mum in between us holding our hands.  She holds us tight to her as if she is afraid to lose us.  Like I would go more then a few steps from her while we are under the water.   

“We are almost there,” Sapphire calls back to us, and as we walk on I the world around us becomes less and less dark and gloomy.  We start walking upward through the rocks and the rubbish and then our heads are out of the water and we are on one of the Border Islands.  I can’t tell what one we are on, I don’t normally walk to the Islands, I normally take a boat.

“Deer Island,” Sapphire says as if to answer my unasked question.  Deer Island used to have a prison on it, but now the whole thing is abandoned.   It’s not the sort of place you go on a picnic and I’ve never been here.  I look around, the prison rises off to my left; Sapphire starts toward it, Ryes following her.   The building is large and brick with moss growing on it here and there, walls seem to stretch as far as I can see with only one large door in the wall. I can feel sorrow rolling out of the building, like fog.   The door stands open and that is where she is taking us.  

“I don’t want to go in there,” I say pulling back.  

“I don’t either,” Mum says, “but we have to, that’s where William is.”

“I can feel him,” Gawain says quietly.  I know William is in there as well, but I still don’t want to go in.  

“Look Teg,” Ryes says looking over his shoulder, “none of us want to go in there, but we have to.  Do you want to stay out here by yourself?”

“No,” my voice is small even to my own ears.

“Good, then come on,” I follow along with everyone else.  As we enter the building the feeling of fear and sadness increases until it almost chokes me.  On the other side of Mum I hear Gawain groan.

“It’s OK Gawain,” Mum murmurs gently.  The building smells like old socks that have been shut in small spaces for way too long.  We walk down a long hallway and out a large door.  We walk right into a fairy tail.    

They don’t look anything like the people under City Hall.   They are tall and lithe and move with unimaginable grace, some have pointed ears and some have the heads of animals, but all seem to be made of light.   And all a dancing to a wild music, the music comes from all around us, as if it is coming out of the earth its self.  

All around us the music rises and falls.  The most exquisite music I’ve ever heard; and I’ve grown up in a house full of musicians.  A house full of dancers.  I see Ryes’ hand trace a pattern on the side of his leg eager to join in the dance with the Fairies.  I want to dance as well, but he is actually leaning forward, moving slightly to the fay music.  I remember Father teaching Ryes the old dances, the dances I always wanted to learn, but Father had only wanted to teach Ryes.

My eyes turn from my brother back to the dancing fairies.  Back to the lithe bodies of spirits made flesh.  My eyes travel to the center of the circle dance.  Through the dancers I can see a raised dais and on it a throne.  On the throne is a woman, her hair is the color of the midnight sky and her eyes are like stars, even from this distance and with the dancers between us I can see her clearly.  I feel drawn to her, not because she looks welcoming, but because I can feel the Magic flowing off of her.  At her feet, sitting on the dais are other fairy courtiers, and among them I see my brother William.  I grip Mother’s hand tightly as my breath catches in my chest.

“I know Teg, I see him,” she says quietly.  She turns to Ryes, “Do you think you can get to him?” she asks.

“I don’t know.  Why me?”

“Because you are the dancer son, none of us could get through that.  No one but you,” she reaches out to touch Ryes’ face, “You have to save your brother.”

Ryes looks nervous; I’m not used to seeing him look like he may not be able to do something he is asked to do, I find it odd.  He looks over at the dancers and then to Sapphire, she smiles and pulls him toward the dance.  She walks backward drawing Ryes along.  They enter the dance and are drawn away from us, spinning with the other dancers.  I watch as Ryes dances, the steps coming quickly to him.  The two are lost in the dance and then re-emerge and then are lost to my eyes again.  The music seems to increase in speed and intensity and I see Ryes dance by again, now looking harried and then, just before he would have slipped out of sight again, he slams his feet into the ground, coming to a complete stop.  As if a cord had been cut, all dancing, all music, all movement stops.  

The queen looks at Ryes and stands from her throne to address him, “Why are you here Dancer, son of Dancers?” she asks, her voice sweet as honey.  

“I am here for my brother,” Ryes points to William, “You had no right to take him.”

“I do have the right to him.  It is payment for the blood debt your family owes me.  I have lost my last servant and your brother is to be my new one.”

“No,” Ryes says quietly.

“NO!” Mother cries out, “You can not have my son, take me and not him,” she rushes forward, past Ryes and onto the dais.  She takes William in her arms.

“To take you would place the burden two times on the same generation.  I took your brother, you should not have to bear the burden twice.”

“You think that taking my son is kinder than taking me?”

“Indeed.  Is it not?” the Queen seems surprised.

“It is not.  It is not kind to make a woman live longer then her children.”

“If it is what you wish,” the queen says drawing Mother up to her, pulling William away from her.  The queen takes William’s head in her hands and kisses him on the brow, “He will always be touched by me.”

“And my other children?” Mother asks.

“I will not touch your daughter, she bears my name and will be left with all the knowledge she has gained.  She will remember our court.  But the Dancer must be punished,” she gestures to Ryes and he comes to her, “I can not bind the magic of his Dance,” her hands reach out and stroke his hair, “but he will have no memory of this.   His eyes will be blind to my kind, his ears deaf to our music and our call.  His own Magic will be Bound Round him and keep him from knowing magic.”

"He has no magic so your curse will not work.”

“He has magic, just because you never saw it, dose not mean it is not there.  He is a stubborn boy.”

“He is,” Mother admits.

“He did not want you to see his power, so I will place you outside of this spell.  He will see you Fay, even when no one else can.  He will be blind to the worlds that are not his own for a period of fourteen years,” she leans over and kisses Ryes and suddenly he slumps.  Sapphire catches him and grabs Willaim’s hand.  She walks them back to Gawain and me.  I look over at Gawain, his eyes look glazed over, I know he won’t remember this when we get home.

“We have to go now,” she hisses.

“No,” I say, “Not without Mother.”

“You don’t get it do you?  Your Mother isn’t coming.  And we need to get these two home before they wake, I don’t think either of them will be well when they come around.”
I let her hustle me out of the old prison and down to the docks.  A ferry is at the dock and we get on without paying.  No one challenges us.  After the ferry, we take a subway and then we get a train.  The train we met Sapphire on.  Sapphire holds Ryes head on her lap, stroking his hair gently, “I really like him.  Fourteen years aren’t that long for me, but by then he will probably be married to a human woman by then,” She seems so sad, “when you get off the train Gawain’s Father will be there to meet you with bad news.  Someone will have found your mother’s body.  You have to pretend she is dead, everyone else will know she is dead; you just have to go along with it.  I’m sure she will watch over you from court.  Everything will be fine, I know it will or Fay would not have gone along with it.  She would never have agreed to anything that she did not know the outcome of.”

When she is done speaking the train pulls to a slow stop.  Sapphire seems to blend into the background, as the boys seem to wake.  When we get out into the parking lot Gawain’s father is sitting in his car waiting for us, just as Sapphire had said.  He doesn’t seem to know we have been gone for a full day; he seems to think we’ve just to a Museum in the city.  He gets us in the car and tells us they’ve found Mother, that she’s dead.  The drive home is quiet.  I guess you would expect that.

Mr. Bright shows my brother and I up to Mother’s room, I can tell by the reaction of William and Mr. Bright that they really think it is Mother but I see a bundle of branches tied together in a roughly human shape.  It’s not my Mother, but my twin seems to think it is.  I think back to the deal Mother made to bring William back to us, I know she isn’t coming back and then it is easy to pretend the bundle of sticks is my Mother.  
Ryes looks like he is about to be sick, “Tris?”

“Yes?” Mr. Bright responds.

“We aren’t gonna be sent off are we?  I mean I’ll be eighteen in a few months…”

“Don’t worry, when your Father died your Mother made arrangements.  You shouldn’t be worried about that now.”

“I have to,” Ryes voice is short, strangled, “I have to worry about the twins, no one else will.”

Ryes pushes past Mr. Bright as Gawain’s father says, “I will worry about all of you.”


It’s a crappie few days, after all having a funeral for a bundle of sticks that everyone thinks is your Mother is not normal for any twelve year old.  Not even me.  Ryes is acting oddly: as if, maybe, he sees a bundle of sticks as well; as if, maybe, he knows our Mother isn’t dead.  

I don’t ask.  I guess I don’t want to know.  It’s easier to not talk about, than it is to share and maybe have him think I’m crazy.  


It’s a few days after the funeral and I’m walking past Ryes room, music pours out of his door.  Not the loud thumping music he normally listens to; this one goes out to the one I love, this one goes out to the one I’ve left behind, the singer croons. Ryes looks up from what ever he is doing when I walk by, “Hey Teg, headed to bed?” he asks, pen tapping on his desk.

“Not yet,” I say trying to catch a glimpse of what Ryes is writing.   

“You could just ask.”

“What are you working on?” I ask with a mock sweetness.

“College application. In the city, I can commute by train.”

“By Train?”

“Yeah, I keep having this dream that I met someone on the train,” he says wistfully, “Anyway Mother wants me to go.  Er- she would want me to go.”

I smile as I walk down the hall to my room.  I know I’m not the only one to know Mother is out there somewhere watching over us.