I had a strange dream. I was falling through the air with Shea. It was warm yet cold at the same time. Then she was sitting beside me, holding my hand. She smiled and said something but I couldn't understand what it was. Then there was a flash of bright white light followed by someone else's voice. Now Shea and I were in a forest meadow, lying beside each other and holding hands. I looked over and smiled at her and she smiled back. Above us was a shimmering white dome.
My eyes shot open and I gasped, coughing. Beside me, Shea was doing the same. We turned opposite directions and threw up into the leaves of a forest floor.
"You're okay," I heard Sindri saying. "Folen, help Eroan."
Folen hurried over and put his hand on my back. Warmth spread through my body and I gasped as it healed multiple cuts and bruises. Shea was sobbing beside me.
"I know, Shea," Sindri was crying and I looked around. "I know but it's almost over."
Shea was on her hands and knees, her hair falling in her face. Sindri had his hand on her back, too, but it was taking longer for her wounds to heal. She sobbed more and gripped the forest floor with her hands. I saw a white stripe in her hair. Had it always been there?
When he was done healing her, Shea's arms gave out. I immediately reached out and caught her. She gripped my arm, shaking violently.
"What happened?" I asked, looking at everyone's faces. "Why do you look so terrified?"
"You-You don't remember?" Kilyn whispered and I shook my head. "What's the last thing you do remember?"
I frowned and Shea lay back down, panting.
"I was... climbing the mountain," I said. "Then we got to the peak and I thought it was weird that there wasn't any wind. It was... warm."
"No it wasn't," Shea said weakly.
"Shh," Sindri said. "I'll explain it." He turned to me, stroking his sister's hair. "You were freezing to death. When we were learning about our bodies, we learned that every race shares a common weakness: If too cold, your mind convinces yourself that you are warm. You get delirious, insist you're fine, then if you fall asleep...."
"Then why didn't I die?"
"Because Shea saved your life," Kilyn said quietly. I turned to the fairy. "You were both falling from the mountain top. I-I don't know why. We caught you and she led us here. While we started the fire, she did... something. I don't know what it was."
"She gave you-"
"Her protection," I finished, remembering my dream and looking at her.
"It took a lot of her power but she gave you enough to stop you from dying," Sindri said. Shea was asleep again. "She's going to need a lot of rest. I'm sorry but we can't move her for at least another two days. She can't even shrink."
I sat beside her and frowned. "Why did she save me?" I whispered.
"You don't know?" Sindri whispered back.
In her sleep, Shea mumbled my name. I turned red.
"I'll go search for food," Sindri said. "Somewhere along the way you lost your food. You still have the flower, though." He shrank to a tiny size and his voice was barely audible. "Keep an eye on her."
"I will," I promised and watched him fly away into the forest.
"We have to sleep, Eroan," Kilyn yawned.
"How long was I out?"
"Two days," she sighed, lying down. "Don't worry," she added when she saw my horrified face. "Mom'll make it."
I nodded doubtfully as they all fell asleep. I looked back to Shea. She was very pale but some of her color was coming back. I ran my hand through her hair, staring at the white streak. Her hand found mine and she held it tightly, turning on her side to face me. I sighed quietly as she held it close to her face.
"I'm sorry," I whispered. "I never should have gotten anyone elves involved in this. I should have gone on my own."
I looked around at everyone else sadly. My friends were snoring already. Had they been watching over us this whole time? Had I really slept for two days? And why did Shea save my life?
She shifted again and I looked over. Her face was uncomfortable. There was a tree trunk not far so I lifted her carefully. I put my back against the tree and put her head in my lap. The blankets we were under weren't far and I draped one over her thin body and one over my legs.
Sindri returned two hours later with enough food to get us home.
"We'll take you all the way home," he said. I nodded mutely. "How is she?"
"She was uncomfortable on the floor," I answered, looking down. "Her color is coming back, though." I touched the white streak again. "I just don't understand...."
"You've got a matching one now," he said, nodding at my head.
I pulled my hair as far down as I could to see and, sure enough, a streak about as thick as hers ran through mine.
"Why?" I asked.
He shrugged. "We haven't figured that one out yet." He sighed heavily. "She'll never make other fairies now...."
"Because she lost some of her power?"
He stared at me for a long time. "Because she has you."
I turned pink and looked down. Her face was at peace.
"No," I said quickly. "No, she doesn't want me, Sindri. All I am is a hybrid to her."
"Not true. I could have easily done it but she chose to."
"She probably just felt responsible," I argued.
He shook his head. "Trust me, Eroan."
"But... a fairy and someone like me?"
He arched a brow. "Is it any different than an elf and a human?"
I thought about it. So she had feelings for me.... As I watched her sleep, thinking about her save me, I realized I had feelings for her, too.
"What do I do?" I whispered.
"Nothing for now," he sighed. "If she finds out I told you, she'll kill me in my sleep."
I tucked some hair behind her ear. "Then why did you tell me?"
"Because you have to know," he answered. "Something is going to happen soon. I don't know what it is, but you need to know how she feels."
"Is it something bad?" I asked nervously, thinking about my mother.
He frowned. "No, I don't think so. I can feel that it will happen near the palace.... I doubt it involves your mother's health," he added quickly.
"But does it involve Shea's?"
He shook his head. "I don't know, Eroan."