Trailer Park Fae - Lilith Saintcrow



Summer, soft green hills and shaded dells, lay breathless under a pall of smoky apple-blossom dusk. The other Summer, her white hands rising from indigo velvet to gleam in the gloaming, waved the rest of her handmaidens away. They fled, giggling in bell-clear voices and trailing their sigh-draperies, a slim golden-haired mortal boy among them fleet as a deer—Actaeon among the leaping hounds, perhaps.

Though that young man, so long ago, hadn’t been torn apart by gray-sided, long-eared hounds. A different beast had run him to ground. The mortals, always confused, whispered among themselves, and their invented gods grew in the telling.

Goodfellow, brown of hair and sharp of ear, often wondered if the sidhe did as well.

The Fatherless smiled as he watched Summer wander toward him through the dusk. She was at pains to appear unconcerned. His own wide, sunny grin, showing teeth sharper than a mortal’s, might have caused even the strongest of either Court unease.

Of course, the free sidhe—those who did not bend knee to Summer or her once-lord Unwinter—would make themselves scarce when the Goodfellow grinned. They had their own names for him, all respectful and none quite pleasing to him when he chose to take offense.

Summer halted. Her hair, ripples of gold, stirred slightly in the perfumed breeze. Above and between her gleaming eyes, the Jewel flashed, a single dart of emerald light piercing the gloom as the day took its last breath and sank fully under night’s mantle.

Someday, he might see this sidhe queen sink as well. How she had glimmered and glistened, in her youth. He had once trifled with the idea of courting her himself, before her eye had settled on one altogether more grim.

The quarrel, Goodfellow might say, were he disposed to lecture, always matches the affection both parties bore before, does it not? The Sundering had taken much from both Courts, and that bothered him not a bit. When they elbowed each other, the space between them was wide enough to grant him further sway. Carefully, of course. So carefully, patiently—the Folk were often fickle, true, but they did not have to be.

He let her draw much closer before he lay aside his cloaking shadows, stepping fully into her realm between two straight, slender birches, and she barely started. Her mantle slipped a fraction from one white shoulder, but that could have been to expose just a sliver of pale skin, fresh-velvet as a new magnolia petal. Artfully innocent, that single peeping glow could infect a mortal’s dreams, fill them with longing, drive all other thought from their busy little brains.

If she, the richest gem of Summer’s long, dreamy months, so willed it.

“Ah, there she is, our fairest jewel.” He swept her a bow, an imaginary cap doffed low enough to sweep the sweet grass exhaling its green scent of a day spent basking under a perfect sun. “Where is your Oberon, queenly one? Where is your lord?”

“Ill met by moonlight, indeed.” She smiled, just a curve of those red, red lips poets dreamed of. There had been mortal maids, occasionally, whose salt-sweet fragility put even Summer to shame, and woe betide them if any of the Folk should carry tales of their radiance to this corner of the sideways realms. “And as you are an honest Puck, I have come alone.”

“Fairly.” His smile broadened. “What would you have of me, Summer? And what will you give in return?”

“I have paid thee well for every service, sprite, and have yet to see results for one or two dearly bought.” Summer drew her mantle closer. She did not deign to frown, but he thought it likely one or two of her ladies would take her expression as a caution, and make themselves scarce. They would be the wisest ones. The favorites, of course, could not afford to risk her noting such a scarcity, and so would stay.

“Oh, patience becomes thee indeed, Summer.” He capered, enjoying the feel of crushed sweet grass under his leather-shod feet. A fingersnap, a turn, as if it were midsummer and the revels afoot. “As it happens, I bring word from a certain mortal.”

“Mortal? What is a mortal to me?” Her hand dropped, and she did not turn away. Instead, her gaze sharpened, though she looked aside at the first swirling sparks of fireflies drawn by her presence. There was nothing the lamp-ended creatures loved more than her own faint glow by night. Except perhaps the Moon itself, Danu’s silver eye.

“Then you do not wish to hear of