Two identical infants lay in the cradle. “One you bore, the other is a Changeling. Choose wisely,” the Fae’s voice echoed from the shadows. “I’m taking both my children,” the mother said defiantly.

Once upon a time there was a peasant woman who was unhappy because she had no children. She was happy in all other things – her husband was kind and loving, and they owned their farm and had food and money enough. But she longed for children.

She went to church and prayed for a child every Sunday, but no child came. She went to every midwife and wise woman for miles around, and followed all their advice, but no child came.

So at last, though she knew of the dangers, she drew her brown woolen shawl over her head and on Midsummer’s Eve she went out to the forest, to a certain clearing, and dropped a copper penny and a lock of her hair into the old well there, and she wished for a child.

“You know,” a voice said behind her, a low and cunning voice, a voice that had a coax and a wheedle and a sly laugh all mixed up in it together, “that there will be a price to pay later.”

She did not turn to look at the creature. She knew better. “I know it,” she said, still staring into the well. “And I also know that I may set conditions.”

“That is true,” the creature said, after a moment, and there was less laugh in its voice now. It wasn’t pleased that she knew that. “What condition do you set? A boy child? A lucky one?”

“That the child will come to no harm,” she said, lifting her head to stare into the woods. “Whether I succeed in paying your price, or passing your test, or not, the child will not suffer. It will not die, or be hurt, or cursed with ill luck or any other thing. No harm of any kind.”

“Ahhhhh.” The sound was long and low, between a sigh and a hum. “Yes. That is a fair condition. Whatever price there is, whatever test there is, it will be for you and you alone.” A long, slender hand extended into her sight, almost human save for the skin, as pale a green as a new leaf. The hand held a pear, ripe and sweet, though the pears were nowhere ripe yet. “Eat this,” the voice said, and she trembled with the effort of keeping her eyes straight ahead. “All of it, on your way home. Before you enter your own gate, plant the core of it beside the gate, where the ground is soft and rich. You will have what you ask for.”

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The woman took the pear, and drew her shawl further over her head before she turned, so that all she saw was a pair of fine leather shoes with long pointed toes. She ate the pear as she walked home, and it was the finest she had ever tasted. When she reached her own gate, she wiped the juice from her chin with the edge of her shawl, and knelt to bury the pear’s core in the soft ground near the gate. It was not the right time for planting… but she did not think that would matter this time.

And in the spring, she bore a child. A girl, with curling leaf-brown hair like her mother’s and merry dark eyes like her father’s, who was not fretful or difficult, but always a joy to her mother. That spring was the happiest of the woman’s life, and she tended the tiny sapling that had sprung up where she had buried the magical pear almost as carefully as she tended her daughter. Whatever price would be asked of her, it would be worth it.

She expected the price to come at Midsummer, but it did not. Still all was well, her daughter was sweet and healthy, and they were happy all through the summer and the autumn. But when winter began, the child fell ill. She cried day and night, and grew thin and pale, staring up at her mother with sad dark eyes as if she begged Mother to make her well again. For a whole month, her mother nursed her tenderly, never laying her down but tying the babe to her back or her breast with her brown woolen shawl, for warmth. In time she grew better, though she was still thin and fretful, and her parents doted on her as much as ever. “It is the cold, no doubt,” her father said comfortingly. “Come spring, she will grow stronger.”

She did grow stronger, and in spring she was less fretful, stumbling about on her baby legs and reaching for things like any child. But her mother noticed that the dark eyes did not often look into hers now, and sometimes she laughed or cried for no reason that the mother could see. And if unwatched, she would always creep or totter out to the sapling pear tree and sit by it.

When the woman woke on that next Midsummer’s Day, the child’s small bed was empty, with a pear leaf on the pillow, and the woman knew it was time. She drew her brown woolen shawl over her head, and went in the cool light before dawn to that clearing and that well. She did not cast anything into the water this time, but stood and waited.

“You are timely,” said the voice, with a triumphant purr in it now. “Now walk around the well, and look behind it.”

When the woman did so, she found a small bed spread upon the moss, and in the bed two little ones side by side. Each had leaf-brown curls, and merry dark eyes, and lifted baby arms towards her.

“One is the child you bore,” the voice said from the shadows, smug and satisfied with itself. “One is the changeling that made all your winter days a burden. The child in your arms when you leave here will be yours always, and the one you leave you will never see again. Choose wisely.”

It was a cruel, cruel test, and the mother wept as she looked down at the two little girls. It was not long before she saw that one pair of dark eyes slid away from hers when she gazed into the small face, while the others gazed straight at her, and yet she wept. Then she wiped her eyes on the brown woolen shawl, and straightened up, staring straight ahead. “You said,” she said carefully, “that the child I carry away will be mine forever, and a child left behind I will never see again. Is that your only condition?”

“Yes,” the creature purred. “The choice is yours entire, as are the consequences.”

“I understand.” She pulled the brown woolen shawl from her head and shoulders, and spread it out beside the small bed, and wrapped her choice tenderly in its soft folds.

And when she stood, both arms cradling her burden, the voice sounded different. There was no coaxing or wheedling, no laughing or purring, only shock and disbelief. “You cannot take them both!”

“Why not? You did not say I must take only one.” And now she turned and faced it, the fairy creature, and though it stood more than a foot taller than she, and was fearsome to look upon with its goat’s eyes and sharp teeth, it stepped back from her glare. “Perhaps I only bore one, but both I have held in my arms, and nursed at my breast. Both have I sung to sleep, and kissed on waking. They are both *mine*.”

The creature stared at her as if it had never seen anything like her. “But one is sickly and fretful. It is strange, and eats insects and cries without reason.”

“She is not sickly and fretful now, not after nursing and care. And if you think eating insects and crying without reason makes a babe strange, you know little of them.” She hitched up the heavy bundle, the two girls cuddling happily against their mother. “She did not make my winter a misery. A labour, perhaps, but a joyful one, for she is my child. And I will go now, for I have made my choice.”

She turned and walked away, and the creature did not stop her, and when the woman reached her home again, she set down both children on the soft sheepskin before the fire. “Well,” she told her puzzled husband, “they took our child at the beginning of winter, and left a changeling in her place, and then bade me take one and leave the other this morn as if I would ever turn my back on either one of the babes I’ve nursed and loved. If the Fair Folk think it is a punishment to give me two children instead of one, why, the more fools they.”

“Foolish indeed,” her husband said, and he reached down to ruffle two heads of leaf-brown curls. “Do you know which is which?”

“Of course,” the mother said, affronted. “What mother could not tell her children apart? This one is our Wulfwynn.” She pointed to the child she had borne, and named ‘Wolf joy’, for any child born of a bargain with the fae brought danger as well as happiness. “And this is our winter child.” She pointed to the other. “I thought about it on the way home, and I think we should name her Wulfrun, for she was a secret meant to bring us harm, though she will be our joy hereafter.”

Ever after, Wulfwynn and Wulfrun were spoken of as twins, and if one girl was a little shy and strange, a wild fawn to her sister’s sturdy calf, well, that was the nature of twins. Certainly both girls were pretty and kind, taking after the mother who’d refused to give either one of them up, and dearly loved by their parents. They tended the pear tree all their days, and often called it their third sister, and its fruit was the sweetest to be found anywhere.

Now and then in secret, the women whispered of the trick the fairy creature from the well had tried to play, and laughed over its downfall, being fool enough to think that a woman so desperate for one child would hesitate to take two, given half a chance. And more than one barren woman followed her example, in the years after, hoping to trick the fairy creature into giving them two children instead of one.

The people of that village have a reputation for being sometimes strange, these days. There are many whose eyes slip away from one who stares into them too long, who are a little wild and a little shy, whose voices are too soft or too loud. But they are merry, and kind, and their families love them dearly.

What the creature of the well thinks of it, no-one knows. But it never stops a mother from taking both babes, and never stopped offering them, so perhaps it is content with the bargain.


#fae #storytime #fun with loopholes





[OPENS FRIDGE, REMOVES TUPPERWARE CONTAINER LABELLED “Pomegranates from land of dead do not eat”]

[I REMOVE A SECOND CONTAINER LABELLED “Fairy apples do not eat (Autumn Court)]


Hi there, and welcome to my channel!

Today we’re going to be playing with Fae loopholes: see, the rule is, for each “seed” you eat, you’re stuck in the underworld for a month… and for each “bite” you take of these fairy apples, you’re bound to the Autumn Court for a month…

My plan? Well, if I turn it in to a smoothie, you definitely can’t measure it in “bites”, right? We’ll also be finding out whether the underworld defines a seed as a whole object, or if it’s still a seed once you blend–

Ugh, BRB, angels are trying to thwart me again. This keeps happening!


#fae #food #mythology #fun with loopholes #storytime #poison cw?

The Gate



When I was a child
I found a gate.

I was a bullied child, and solitary.
(Isn’t that always the way?)
It was a winter day, impossibly bright
As only winter days can be.
I was out behind the school.
(It was Saturday. That was why, really.
No other kid would be there to bother me.
On weekdays there might be other kids here
Who would bully me
If I tried to play here.)

There was snow on the ground.
The puddles of slush on the parking lot
Looked like deep, cavernous lakes of ice.
There was a mulberry bush
I called a blackberry bush
That gave up sweet fruit in the late spring
And a rock
As tall as I was
That we made believe was a mountain.

Between them there were trees
And bushes
A woods too small to be called a forest.
And today
Unlike yesterday
The bushes bent into an arch
And the arch stretched into a tunnel of branches.

Through the arch I smelled spring.
Flowers, and grass.
Anything really – in the cold you can’t smell.
Warm air wafted on my face
And I knew what this was.

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I was reading the latest one of Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series, and I got to the point where the child goes through the gate, and I realized… that could never have been me.

My mother really was disabled – she had fainting spells, and then she had hypoglycemia, and then she had diabetes – and I’d felt it was my responsibility to take care of her since I was four and she was crying because my grandfather was in the hospital. She also probably suffered from anxiety and was known to flip out from terror because I got on the wrong train.

For obvious reasons, no one tells the story of the child who doesn’t have the adventure because they have responsibilities at home. So I decided to. It’s a lot shorter than the story of the child who had the adventure.

It’s interesting that the protagonist assumes the portal is something *good*.

I went down a path once. Like yours, it wasn’t *quite* a forest, but the path was lined with trees and smaller plants. At the end of the paved path, what looked like a desire-path bike trail stretched off into the distant fields, leading who-knows-where.

It was…*peaceful*. Incredibly so. The trees shook in the breeze, and the leaves fluttered across my vision with different shades of green on each side, and the sound of their rustling brushed against my mind.

There was power there. It hummed in my bones, resonated through my soul.

I did linger. I let the power flow through me. Once.

And then I left, and I swore never to return. Because I know how that story ends, and it ends with me getting kidnapped by the Fair Folk. I’d walk out onto that narrow path, called by some ineffable compulsion, and never be seen again.

That’s not how I want my story to go.


#*knocks on wood* #in which Brin tries not to become an erotic-horror protagonist #(…I never quite make that explicit up there in the main post‚ do I) #(I guess I can’t think of a good way of doing it) #(probably an important part of the context though) #reply via reblog #storytime #fae #sexuality and lack thereof #abuse cw #kidnapping cw #this probably deserves some other warning tag but I am not sure what #[epistemic status: Pascal’s Wager]





I love when fantasy worlds have some nonsensical magical force that prevents technology from working.

Like… how does the magic determine where technology begins? I mean, a gun is just a little house for tiny explosions to live… what part of that process is interrupted by magic? Does gunpowder simply not combust in Magictopia?

What about the wheel? Bifocals? Condoms? Skateboards? Bicycles? Vaccines? Pyramids? Does a flint-knapped knife not count as technology?


“What seems to be the matter?” asked the Elf, in that same insufferably airy tone that would have made it a fortune doing voiceovers for shampoo commercials.

Khalil sighed miserably. “Phone’s dead,” he said, scowling at the shimmering city. “Figures. Of course it lets me take a thousand blurry cat pictures and then konks out on me the moment I find something worth photographing.”

The Elf laughed. Khalil suspected it was meant to be a scornful laugh, but his companion had the emotional inflection of an automated voice messaging system, and it lacked punch.

“Foolish human,” said the Elf. “Your ‘phone’ will not work here. No technology functions past the borders of Faerie.”

If Khalil let his eyes unfocus and used his imagination, the expression it wore could almost pass for smugness. “Now hang on,” he said. “That’s a fucking lie. No way is that true.”

“Foolish human, I cannot tell a l—”

“Oh, shut up. You say no technology works here, but you’re clearly wearing some kind of ritzy elf sword. Are you gonna try to tell me that they grow on trees here? Obviously you’ve got smelting and forges and metallurgy. You’re wearing woven fabric, and you stole a bunch of medicine from that pharmacy in Detroit. We rode my bike over that troll bridge and it didn’t stop working.”

“That’s different,” protested the Elf, a shallow groove between it’s eyebrows betraying profound distress. “That’s not technology.”

“It is, though! ‘Technology’ doesn’t just mean guns and electron—”

There was a hand clamped tight over his mouth, smothering him before he had even registered movement. “Hold your tongue before I cut it out of your head,” hissed the Elf in his ear. “You don’t know what you’re messing with.

It released him, and Khalil stumbled back, staring wildly. It had moved terrifyingly quickly. No doubt it could make good on its threat if it cared to—six years of boxing and he still had no hope of defending himself against something that could move like that.

“What magic doesn’t know can’t hurt it,” said the Elf in a low and strangely unsteady voice, sounding for the first time like a living being. “Be careful what ideas you give it. Some things seem right, and that’s what matters.”

The Elf must have grabbed him hard, Khalil realized, tasting the tang of blood where his lip had been torn open on his teeth. He swallowed, and stared at the Elf in horror. “Are you telling me,” he said slowly, “That your entire magical system, the physics of your entire world… is based… on vibes?”

The Elf grimaced and did not meet his eyes.

As the Elf’s screams grew louder and more frantic, Khalil’s mind alternated between two distinct but equally insistent convictions: first, that this was the stupidest plan anyone had ever advised in this world or any other; second, that it was going to work.

The part of him that was a twenty-seven year-old peace activist recoiled in disgust even as the ten year-old pirate fanatic vibrated with excitement. If I live through this, he thought, I’ll have to tell my mom that all those hours glued to the History Channel weren’t wasted, after all.

Very gently, he tipped a little of the powder down the barrel of the gun. He had no way of knowing the appropriate amount to use and simply guessed; after all, if his suspicions were correct, it might not matter much in this world.

He pried the moldering leather bag out from under the skeleton’s arm and reached inside. A few dozen lead balls clinked together under his fingers, along with a little bundle of greasy cloth. With trembling fingers, he tore off a square of fabric and wrapped it around one of the bullets. Like a swaddled baby, he thought grimly, and pushed it down the barrel until it was nestled snugly over the gunpowder.

Almost ready, he thought. He dropped a pinch of powder into the flashpan on the top of the gun, flicked the frizzen back into position, and rose to his feet.

“Step away from the Fabio impersonator,” he said, kicking the rotten door off its hinges. “Or I will shoot you with my gun.”

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“You have the name of a poet,” said the queen, studying him cooly with pupiless eyes as green and unsettling as a neglected swimming pool. “That is a good thing, Khalil of Ann Arbor. We are fond of poets here.”

The queen was beautiful, but she was not attractive. No, thought Khalil, that’s not right. She was attractive—in the way that the lights of beachside cities attract baby sea turtles away from the surf; attractive in the way that hot stoves attract curious children’s hands; attractive in the way that trays of beer attract garden slugs. 

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#storytime #fun with loopholes #fae

These things the Fae would like you to remember


These things the Fae would like you to remember:
Your world is very big beside our own.
We are ashes crushed from cinders, one last ember
Left to smoulder through the Winter all alone;
The tower in the rowan-grove is leaning;
The tunnels from the blasted oak run under
The new estate, its solemn children dreaming
Of the slow descent of ravens like a wonder:
But we may not yet survive the next December.

These things the fae would like you to remember:
That straying from the path is never wise;
The beasts out there don’t care who they dismember;
Our night, as yours, contains a thousand eyes;
That wisdom is a salve against adventure;
That the knight who rings the bell at set of sun
Knows a whispered spell to save you from indenture;
That dismemberment can sometimes be undone;
That the dragon leaves the tapestry at midnight;
Pull the red thread, not the green, behind her tail;
That the ravelled thread will vanish in the sunlight;
That the witch has only smoke behind her veil:
Tonight the hunt will have another member.

These things the Fae would like you to remember:
The fruit is bittersweet and tastes of freedom
From those things you do not want to set you free;
Some say it is a trap, and you should heed them,
But some find though it a self they need to be;
That there is no riddle here without a catch,
No power so strong you cannot still entreat it;
That the tower’s wicket-gate is on the latch;
And if you do not want the fruit, don’t eat it;
That our time in sparkling runnels and in torrents
And in floods and gyres and mournful doldrums flows;
It will loose you from your hours’ weary warrents;
It will teach you things that every forest knows:
As distant from Midsummer as September.

These things the Fae would like you to remember:
That gold without its glamour is just metal;
That you have bled and burned from iron too;
That beneath the hemlock-umbel and the nettle
Is the earth that claims us all as well as you:
The gentle earth of May knows no November.
These things the Fae would like you to remember.


#fae #poetry #death tw




What the devil didn’t know when he went down to Georgia looking for a soul to steal is that “Johnny” was one of the fae who went up to Georgia looking for mortals to play tricks on. Instead, Johnny found someone more challenging than a mortal…. or rather, the challenge found him.

They were in a circle of mushrooms playing a fiddle sung of chesnut,

when was heard from the hickory stump  “Boy, let me tell you what.

“I bet you didn’t know it, but I’m a fiddle player, too.

And if you’d care to take a dare I’ll make a bet with you.”

Now games were their specialty, they played them oft enough;

So they charmed their face into a childish gaze and prepared to win some stuff.

A soul the devil was looking for, they scoffed at the very thought;

But this one fae was ready to play – for there’s a lesson to be taught.

The fae called themself Johnny, and said that “it might be a sin,

But I’ll take your bet and you’re gonna regret ‘cause I’m the best there’s ever been.“

The Devil Rosined up his bow, and made it hiss like a snake,

The fae eyed him slyly- a step forward’s all it would take.

They heard a band of demons back up that fiddle gold;

But it would take more than a sizzling score to beat a fae of old.

When the Devil finished, the fae said, “Well, you’re pretty good ol’ son,

But sit down in that chair right there and let me show you how it’s done.”

“Fire on the Mountain.” Run, boys, run!

The Devil’s in the house of the rising sun

Chicken’s in the bread pan picking out dough

Granny, does your dog bite? No, child, no”


Nonsensical though the words might be, that one chant would prevail;

For it was sung with sorcery, the kind which could never fail.

Indeed they saw the devil bow his head like he’d been beat;

And he stepped inside the mushroom ring to lay the fiddle at “Johnny’s” feet.

Then he turned to go, but quickly saw he’d been deceived;

For no matter what he did, it was impossible to leave. 

The fae saw that he was stuck and said “that’s really quite a shame;

But you know, since I’ve got you here- why don’t you give me your name?”



#poetry #music #fanfic #fae #hell cw

here’s a story about changelings


reposted from my old blog, which got deleted:  

Mary was a beautiful baby, sweet and affectionate, but by the time she’s three she’s turned difficult and strange, with fey moods and a stubborn mouth that screams and bites but never says mama. But her mother’s well-used to hard work with little thanks, and when the village gossips wag their tongues she just shrugs, and pulls her difficult child away from their precious, perfect blossoms, before the bites draw blood. Mary’s mother doesn’t drown her in a bucket of saltwater, and she doesn’t take up the silver knife the wife of the village priest leaves out for her one Sunday brunch.

She gives her daughter yarn, instead, and instead of a rowan stake through her inhuman heart she gives her a child’s first loom, oak and ash. She lets her vicious, uncooperative fairy daughter entertain herself with games of her own devising, in as much peace and comfort as either of them can manage.

Mary grows up strangely, as a strange child would, learning everything in all the wrong order, and biting a great deal more than she should. But she also learns to weave, and takes to it with a grand passion. Soon enough she knows more than her mother–which isn’t all that much–and is striking out into unknown territory, turning out odd new knots and weaves, patterns as complex as spiderwebs and spellrings.

“Aren’t you clever,” her mother says, of her work, and leaves her to her wool and flax and whatnot. Mary’s not biting anymore, and she smiles more than she frowns, and that’s about as much, her mother figures, as anyone should hope for from their child.

Mary still cries sometimes, when the other girls reject her for her strange graces, her odd slow way of talking, her restless reaching fluttering hands that have learned to spin but never to settle. The other girls call her freak, witchblood, hobgoblin.

“I don’t remember girls being quite so stupid when I was that age,” her mother says, brushing Mary’s hair smooth and steady like they’ve both learned to enjoy, smooth as a skein of silk. “Time was, you knew not to insult anyone you might need to flatter later. ‘Specially when you don’t know if they’re going to grow wings or horns or whatnot. Serve ‘em all right if you ever figure out curses.”

“I want to go back,” Mary says. “I want to go home, to where I came from, where there’s people like me. If I’m a fairy’s child I should be in fairyland, and no one would call me a freak.”

“Aye, well, I’d miss you though,” her mother says. “And I expect there’s stupid folk everywhere, even in fairyland. Cruel folk, too. You just have to make the best of things where you are, being my child instead.”

Mary learns to read well enough, in between the weaving, especially when her mother tracks down the traveling booktraders and comes home with slim, precious manuals on dyes and stains and mordants, on pigments and patterns, diagrams too arcane for her own eyes but which make her daughter’s eyes shine.

“We need an herb garden,” her daughter says, hands busy, flipping from page to page, pulling on her hair, twisting in her skirt, itching for a project. “Yarrow, and madder, and woad and weld…”

“Well, start digging,” her mother says. “Won’t do you a harm to get out of the house now’n then.”

Mary doesn’t like dirt but she’s learned determination well enough from her mother. She digs and digs, and plants what she’s given, and the first year doesn’t turn out so well but the second’s better, and by the third a cauldron’s always simmering something over the fire, and Mary’s taking in orders from girls five years older or more, turning out vivid bolts and spools and skeins of red and gold and blue, restless fingers dancing like they’ve summoned down the rainbow. Her mother figures she probably has.

“Just as well you never got the hang of curses,” she says, admiring her bright new skirts. “I like this sort of trick a lot better.”

Mary smiles, rocking back and forth on her heels, fingers already fluttering to find the next project.

She finally grows up tall and fair, if a bit stooped and squinty, and time and age seem to calm her unhappy mouth about as well as it does for human children. Word gets around she never lies or breaks a bargain, and if the first seems odd for a fairy’s child then the second one seems fit enough. The undyed stacks of taken orders grow taller, the dyed lots of filled orders grow brighter, the loom in the corner for Mary’s own creations grows stranger and more complex. Mary’s hands callus just like her mother’s, become as strong and tough and smooth as the oak and ash of her needles and frames, though they never fall still.

“Do you ever wonder what your real daughter would be like?” the priest’s wife asks, once.

Mary’s mother snorts. “She wouldn’t be worth a damn at weaving,” she says. “Lord knows I never was. No, I’ll keep what I’ve been given and thank the givers kindly. It was a fair enough trade for me. Good day, ma’am.”

Mary brings her mother sweet chamomile tea, that night, and a warm shawl in all the colors of a garden, and a hairbrush. In the morning, the priest’s son comes round, with payment for his mother’s pretty new dress and a shy smile just for Mary. He thinks her hair is nice, and her hands are even nicer, vibrant in their strength and skill and endless motion.  

They all live happily ever after.


Here’s another story:

Gregor grew fast, even for a boy, grew tall and big and healthy and began shoving his older siblings around early. He was blunt and strange and flew into rages over odd things, over the taste of his porridge or the scratch of his shirt, over the sound of rain hammering on the roof, over being touched when he didn’t expect it and sometimes even when he did. He never wore shoes if he could help it and he could tell you the number of nails in the floorboards without looking, and his favorite thing was to sit in the pantry and run his hands through the bags of dry barley and corn and oat. Considering as how he had fists like a young ox by the time he was five, his family left him to it.

“He’s a changeling,” his father said to his wife, expecting an argument, but men are often the last to know anything about their children, and his wife only shrugged and nodded, like the matter was already settled, and that was that.

They didn’t bind Gregor in iron and leave him in the woods for his own kind to take back. They didn’t dig him a grave and load him into it early. They worked out what made Gregor angry, in much the same way they figured out the personal constellations of emotion for each of their other sons, and when spring came, Gregor’s father taught him about sprouts, and when autumn came, Gregor’s father taught him about sheaves. Meanwhile his mother didn’t mind his quiet company around the house, the way he always knew where she’d left the kettle, or the mending, because she was forgetful and he never missed a detail.

“Pity you’re not a girl, you’d never drop a stitch of knitting,” she tells Gregor, in the winter, watching him shell peas. His brothers wrestle and yell before the hearth fire, but her fairy child just works quietly, turning peas by their threes and fours into the bowl.

“You know exactly how many you’ve got there, don’t you?” she says.

“Six hundred and thirteen,” he says, in his quiet, precise way.

His mother says “Very good,” and never says Pity you’re not human. He smiles just like one, if not for quite the same reasons.

The next autumn he’s seven, a lucky number that pleases him immensely, and his father takes him along to the mill with the grain.

“What you got there?” The miller asks them.

“Sixty measures of Prince barley, thirty two measures of Hare’s Ear corn, and eighteen of Abernathy Blue Slate oats,” Gregor says. “Total weight is three hundred fifty pounds, or near enough. Our horse is named Madam. The wagon doesn’t have a name. I’m Gregor.”

“My son,” his father says. “The changeling one.”

“Bit sharper’n your others, ain’t he?” the miller says, and his father laughs.

Gregor feels proud and excited and shy, and it dries up all his words, sticks them in his throat. The mill is overwhelming, but the miller is kind, and tells him the name of each and every part when he points at it, and the names of all the grain in all the bags waiting for him to get to them.

“Didn’t know the fair folk were much for machinery,” the miller says.

Gregor shrugs. “I like seeds,” he says, each word shelled out with careful concentration. “And names. And numbers.”

“Aye, well. Suppose that’d do it. Want t’help me load up the grist?”

They leave the grain with the miller, who tells Gregor’s father to bring him back ‘round when he comes to pick up the cornflour and cracked barley and rolled oats. Gregor falls asleep in the nameless wagon on the way back, and when he wakes up he goes right back to the pantry, where the rest of the seeds are left, and he runs his hands through the shifting, soothing textures and thinks about turning wheels, about windspeed and counterweights.

When he’s twelve–another lucky number–he goes to live in the mill with the miller, and he never leaves, and he lives happily ever after.


Here’s another:

James is a small boy who likes animals much more than people, which doesn’t bother his parents overmuch, as someone needs to watch the sheep and make the sheepdogs mind. James learns the whistles and calls along with the lambs and puppies, and by the time he’s six he’s out all day, tending to the flock. His dad gives him a knife and his mom gives him a knapsack, and the sheepdogs give him doggy kisses and the sheep don’t give him too much trouble, considering.

“It’s not right for a boy to have so few complaints,” his mother says, once, when he’s about eight.

“Probably ain’t right for his parents to have so few complaints about their boy, neither,” his dad says.

That’s about the end of it. James’ parents aren’t very talkative, either. They live the routines of a farm, up at dawn and down by dusk, clucking softly to the chickens and calling harshly to the goats, and James grows up slow but happy.

When James is eleven, he’s sent to school, because he’s going to be a man and a man should know his numbers. He gets in fights for the first time in his life, unused to peers with two legs and loud mouths and quick fists. He doesn’t like the feel of slate and chalk against his fingers, or the harsh bite of a wooden bench against his legs. He doesn’t like the rules: rules for math, rules for meals, rules for sitting down and speaking when you’re spoken to and wearing shoes all day and sitting under a low ceiling in a crowded room with no sheep or sheepdogs. Not even a puppy.

But his teacher is a good woman, patient and experienced, and James isn’t the first miserable, rocking, kicking, crying lost lamb ever handed into her care. She herds the other boys away from him, when she can, and lets him sit in the corner by the door, and have a soft rag to hold his slate and chalk with, so they don’t gnaw so dryly at his fingers. James learns his numbers well enough, eventually, but he also learns with the abruptness of any lamb taking their first few steps–tottering straight into a gallop–to read.

Familiar with the sort of things a strange boy needs to know, his teacher gives him myths and legends and fairytales, and steps back. James reads about Arthur and Morgana, about Hercules and Odysseus, about djinni and banshee and brownies and bargains and quests and how sometimes, something that looks human is left to try and stumble along in the humans’ world, step by uncertain step, as best they can.

James never comes to enjoy writing. He learns to talk, instead, full tilt, a leaping joyous gambol, and after a time no one wants to hit him anymore. The other boys sit next to him, instead, with their mouths closed, and their hands quiet on their knees.  

“Let’s hear from James,” the men at the alehouse say, years later, when he’s become a man who still spends more time with sheep than anyone else, but who always comes back into town with something grand waiting for his friends on his tongue. “What’ve you got for us tonight, eh?”

James finishes his pint, and stands up, and says, “Here’s a story about changelings.”


#storytime #autism #my past self has good taste #fae #violence cw






Sweet, Salty, Sour, Bitter, Savory courts

Dog, Cat, Bird, Small Mammal, Reptile/Amphibian, Large Mammal, Fish courts

Aerobic and Anaerobic courts… that one’s going to be a little unwieldy

Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous courts

Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous, Permian courts

Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune courts. WE DO NOT TALK ABOUT THE PLUTO COURT THING. (…There’s a story there.)

Clockwise and Counterclockwise courts

…or Deasil and Widdershins, fine, but the clockwise version is more neutral

Proton, Neutron, Electron courts

you know I could keep going but I think I’m going to stop

This is not as much of an issue as it used to be – to my knowledge no one has been killed over it for a few years, but my advice to humans who must deal with the Courts remains the same: Do NOT ask if there is a Court of Pluto. Do not ask why there is no Court of Pluto. Ideally avoid mentioning the word ‘Pluto’.

The problem is that the story is rather embarrassing to several powerful people and they would really rather it not be brought to mind. Ever.

You didn’t hear this from me.

Keep reading


#storytime #fae