Sindri had a lot of questions for me.
"What's it like to be half elf, half human?"
I rubbed the back of my neck. "Um... interesting?"
"Why isn't your hair as long as the others?"
"Because I'm an outcast," I muttered.
"By choice," Kilyn piped in. "Besides, his hair doesn't grow back like ours does. It takes forever. He got curious around some scissors our mother uses to make her gowns. He cut it shorter than this. That was about 10 years ago."
Sindri giggled. "Can you live forever?"
I frowned. "No elf can. I have the extended lifespan, though. Do fairies live forever?"
"Enough," Shea snapped, stopped and turning to her brother. "You've shared enough information."
"They're not our enemy," he argued.
"Here's your shelter," she said, ignoring Sindri. "Good luck on your quest. Let's go, Sindri."
"But I want to stay," he frowned. "Come on. I'm tired and I know you are, too. Let's rest with them."
Shea just sighed and sat down, crossing her legs. I tried not to stare. I had no idea how her leaves managed to stay in place. The way they sat reminded me of the undergarments Mother made for Kilyn. Across her chest and around the back, the leaves were wide and tall. From her hips down to her thighs, the leaves were smaller but more numerous. Sindri's outfit was the same way only he didn't have anything on his torso.
"What are your wings made of?" I asked.
"Magic," he answered and I frowned. "I know. Everyone keeps expecting a more... interesting answer but that's all it is."
"What about pixie dust?" Rina asked eagerly. "Is it real?"
"Nah. Those are just tales people tell to understand our magic. How did you happen?" Sindri asked me.
"Well... my mother is a human and my father is an elf," I said. I frowned at the forest floor. "But there's something else she won't tell me. Something about... another man I think."
"How do you know it's another man? Maybe she's just not telling you something about her relationship with your father."
"It's just a feeling I get." She was glaring at me and I glared back. "What's your deal?"
"My deal is I don't trust humans. You always shoot first, ask questions later."
"I was about to shoot," Kilyn said. "It wasn't just Eroan. He's just faster than the rest of us."
"Then elves are just as bad," she sniffed.
"Would you stop it?" Sindri asked. "Fairies and elves are friends!"
"We are breaking so many rules," Shea groaned, putting her head in her hands.
"The queen said we were to scout. We are scouting."
"We were supposed to hide," she sighed. "This isn't hiding!"
The two continued to bicker and I yawned. I lay out and Kilyn let me put my head on her lap. I closed my eyes and fell asleep immediately.
I watched the hybrid sleep.
"Why must he sleep?" Sindri asked.
"It's the human in him," the elf he was sleeping on sighed. "Mother and Father say that he has to get at least 8 hours. He tried to stay up as long as us but his body shut down."
"So you're siblings?" Sindri asked and she nodded. "Why aren't you half human, too?"
She made sure the hybrid was still asleep. "Before we left, my father told me the story. My mother... she was... defiled." I gasped and she nodded. "He was the human responsible for the barrier being broken. There's part of him and part of my father inside Eroan." She sighed. "It kills me not being able to tell him. If my mother dies, though, it will be my task to...."
"Your mother is dying?"
She nodded again, looking incredibly sad. "She has an illness rare among humans. That's why we're on this journey. We've heard a rumor of a flower in the north that can help her."
"Why can't a human doctor or magic heal her?" Sindri asked, frowning.
"With the humans, there's no cure," she said and wiped away a tear. "We've tried everything with magic. This flower... it's our last hope."
Despite my feelings, I felt pity for the hybrid. I couldn't stop my mistrust, though. I know it wasn't justified but I couldn't help it.
"Do you fairies sleep?" the she-elf, Kilyn, asked.
I let Sindri answer.
"Yes but we don't have to for a long time. Maybe once every three days." He smirked at me. "Shea likes to sleep more, though."
I threw a clump of dirt at him. It was true. I enjoyed dreaming. I also enjoyed the way my body felt after sleeping.
We sat in silence for a while, listening to the rain hit the heavy leaves above us. Once in a while, the elves would think of a question and Sindri would answer. The same went for him. He had always been interested in elves but humans more so. I didn't understand.
My job was what I did. I didn't do anything else. I was a gathering fairy and it was my job to make sure everyone was fed. Sindri wasn't the only one who said I did too much. Last year, the queen reprimanded me. I had gathered so much food I almost caused a colapse from the weight of food.
What else was I supposed to do with my time, though?
"Make more fairies," Sindri said suddenly and I smacked him.
"Stay out of my head," I snapped.
"How are fairies born?" one of the other elves asked.
"When two fairies share their first kiss," Sindri answered.
"Well, how are elves born?" he asked and the she-elves turned red.
"I'll let you explain," Kilyn muttered to one of the he-elves.
Now I could understand why they were blushing. I looked up at the trees as he went into detail. A lot of detail.
"That sounds painful," Sindri said with wide eyes. "I mean... we mate like that but we don't give birth through the woman's-"
"Okay," I said loudly. "Wake the hybrid. Time to move on."
"We can't," Kilyn said with a frown. "He wakes on his own."
"You mean you can't shake him awake or anything like that?"
"Nope," a he-elf said. "When Eroan sleeps, he sleeps. It's like he puts on earmuffs."
"Please stop calling him hybrid," his sister said suddenly and I looked at her. Her voice was soft but her eyes were fiery. "His name is Eroan."
"Whatever," I muttered, tearing at the grass.
"Stop that," Sindri groaned.
"Sorry," I said quickly.
"What's wrong?" a she-elf asked.
"We each have a pull to the earth," Sindri explained. "Mine is the earth and plants.
"Mine is water," I sighed. "I still haven't learned the rain, though."
We fell into silence again. The hybrid, Eroan, shifted in his sleep, muttering something I couldn't understand. Kilyn cooed and rubbed his hair, though. Whatever it was, it must have not been pleasant.
Finally, he woke up. It was abrupt and shocked me a little.
"Has it been eight house?" he asked and Kilyn nodded.
"Right on the dot this time," she said. "Are you ready to move on?"
"Food first," he yawned and a he-elf dug around in a pack.
He handed some bread and Eroan ate quickly. He stood and stretched. Then he held his hand out to Sindri.
"Thanks for helping us," he said.
Sindri stared at his hand. "What's that for?" he asked.
"Oh. When we depart or meet someone, we shake hands." Sindri shook his hand enthusiastically but I didn't. "What do you do?"
"This," Sindri said and held up his right hand, palm facing out.
Eroan looked at it curiously and pressed his palm to his.
"Until we meet again," Sindri said.
Eroan turned to me and I sighed, knowing it was the height of bad manners to not say goodbye. I held my hand up and he pressed his palm to mine. I frowned when I felt a weird tingling sensation.
"Until we meet again," I muttered.