Badly disfigured, Geoff lives alone in the woods with only his wolf as companion. It’s a solitary life, but one he is comfortable with. When he discovers a fairy with an injured wing at the beginning of winter, his whole ordered world is turned upside down. But will Mauve be horrified by his rescuer’s visage? Or can the fairy look beyond the scars and see into Geoff’s heart?
Originally published in the Bus Stories anthology.
It was warm and dark and he couldn't move.
Something soft but heavy and confining was hold him down and Mauve panicked, trying to free his arms.
That was a mistake.
Pure agony flared through him as he moved, centered on his left wing, radiating out from there and he froze, breath coming in short, dismayed gasps. He tried to stop his whimpers of pain, he was trapped, hurt and making far too much noise, but he couldn't quite stop making the soft sounds.
He heard a sharp bark and heavy footsteps and then the weight above him lifted away. The light from the fire was bright, forming a halo around the dark figure hulking above him.
"Oh, you're awake. Don't move around much, it'll hurt. I'll grab the medicine."
The dark shadow moved away, leaving Mauve face to face with a silver wolf, blue eyes watching him intently, chin resting on its crossed forepaws.
He blinked, the pain easing as he stayed still. He watched the wolf carefully as he tried to figure out where he was, what had happened. He could remember flying through the trees, something catching his eyes and then an awful pain. He must have hit a tree while he wasn't paying attention.
The question was, who was his rescuer? Too large to be a fairy, Mauve surmised he must be a human. Except for the wolf. Humans didn't usually keep wild animals; neither did they rescue fairies.
His rescuer wandered over and sat. Mauve blinked, it was a human. At least he thought so. One of the man's cheeks and jaw was terribly scarred, dips and valleys and long, broken lines. The other was clear, if somewhat wrinkled and tanned, framing dark green eyes.
Huge, rough hands held out a wooden spoon filled with some vile-smelling potion. "This will kill the pain, let you rest and heal. The first taste is the worst."
Mauve sniffed delicately and curled his lips. He would have shifted away, but had learned his lesson regarding movement quite well.
"Come now. Open up and take it. Can you understand me? I'll get you some sweet water after, to wash the taste down." The man looked down at the wolf. "You think he can understand me, Wolf?"
To his amazement, the wolf seemed to nod, large head bobbing for just a moment.
He opened his mouth to protest, but before he could say a word, the spoon went into his mouth. Half the vile liquid went down his throat, the other half spat back out and he began to spit vigorously, trying to get rid of the taste. "You're poisoning me!"