Authors: Tera Lynn Childs
“You feel it, don’t you?” he asked.
Lowering to his side, she nodded.
“There is fae magic all around you,” he said.
“I can’t—” She tried to explain. “I can’t see it, but I …
“You can see me,” he replied. He ran a hand over the grass and the blades seemed to bend before him, like he was a mighty wind.
Winnie mirrored him. Her jaw fell slack when she saw the blades bend in the same way.
He smiled. “The magic is also inside you.”
They sat in long silence and Winnie focused on the world around her. She listened to the rustle of wind through the trees. Felt the life in the earth
beneath her. Smelled the mix of pine and soil and a scent she could only describe as midnight that seemed to surround Cathair. The fae magic and the power
of nature combined to create a spectacular sensation.
It relaxed her. Compelled her.
“I saw you,” she whispered, inspired to confess even more. “In my dream last night, I saw you.”
He didn’t turn, but she sensed his attention on her.
“On the roof of the palace.” She relived the scene in her mind. “You seemed so… sad.”
He looked out, over the glade and into the forest beyond. “I was.”
Something about the moment made her bold. Bold enough to ask, “Why?”
“This was not the first time you dreamed of me?” he replied with a question of his own. “You saw me before?”
“What did you see?”
“You were longing for love,” she said, reliving the dreams as she explained. “Wanting her, but not being able to have her.”
When his amber eyes caught hers, they glowed like fire. “What did you think?” he asked. “When you saw me longing for my love in your dreams, how did you
As much as she wanted to look away, to hide her embarrassment, she couldn’t. “I felt,” she began, then had to start over. “I thought…”
Cathair lifted his hand to her face, running his fingertips across her cheek.
The touch made her bold.
“I wanted it to be me,” she admitted. “I wanted you to be wanting and longing for me.”
“I did,” he said. “I do.”
Without stopping to think, she leaned forward and let her lips brush his. This was different than the first kiss, when she was still not certain he was
real. When she still feared that it was all part of her imagination.
This time she knew it was real. And this time his magic was in place.
She felt it in every pore. Every cell. It flowed through her bloodstream, filling her with more energy and excitement than adrenaline ever could.
Which made it even more surprising when he placed his hands on her shoulders and pushed her away. As she pulled back, she saw the twin streaks on his
“What?” she asked, her heart aching for his pain. She traced the lines of his tears with her fingertips. “I saw this sadness in my dream last night.”
He gave her a sad smile. “I felt you there. As if my greatest wish had finally come true.”
“Then why is your heart so heavy?” She didn’t understand. “I’m here. I’m with you now.”
And she was. She was with him, and she wanted to stay with him.
The thing she hadn’t realized about her dreams until this moment was that they had become more than simply a place she went when she slept. They had become
a place she longed to visit in her waking hours. That was why she wrote them down, committed everything she saw to ink so she wouldn’t have to rely on
memory. So she could revisit them whenever she wanted. At times they felt more real than her other life.
“Tell me,” she pleaded.
“Because it is too late,” he said, his voice flat. Dead. “I should have approached you sooner. Should have sought another way. Before.”
Winnie didn’t understand. She had felt his longing and his love in her dreams. Had felt her own feelings grown, wishing she could be more than a spectator
watching from a painful distance. She never realized the longing had been for her. And now that they were together… She didn’t understand why this broke
“What’s happened?” she demanded.
His jaw clenched and he let out a long exhale.
“I am betrothed. On the next new moon my marriage shall ally the Moraine with the Deachair, making us stronger and ensuring our survival.” He reached for
Winnie, but pulled back at the last moment. “It is all but done.”
Cathair cursed himself a thousand times the fool for waiting this long to meet her. Of course he knew that a marriage would be arranged. But for all his
watching and wishing, part of him believed his obsession with Winnie was nothing more than infatuation. He never thought he would truly love this girl.
One evening with her and he knew that was a false hope.
“It’s not too late,” she insisted. “You’re not married yet.”
He wanted to laugh. She had so much faith, so much certainty. She believed things could change just because they wished it so. If only it were that easy.
What bothered him most was how much she made him want to cast duty aside.
The fault was not hers, but that made her dangerous. To him and to the future of his clan.
There were dangers to her as well. Dreamers were a rare enough thing. That she was also a seer made her extremely valuable. One who can both see and
interact with fae without special intercession and dreams of their world would be counted a powerful weapon. To know what enemies were planning, to hear
private conversations, to see rival clan weaknesses. It would give whichever clan possessed her a distinct advantage.
He allowed himself only a moment to consider how having Winnie in his palace might aid his clan. But that would mean breaking the betrothal, sending them
into almost certain war with the Deachair.
And her presence would make the Moraine a target of every other clan—not just those in North America. The dangers would far outweigh the advantages.
Besides, she would be forever at risk.
Any human in the veil was under constant threat. He would not subject Winnie to a life of fear and uncertainty.
“There are traditions,” he replied, trying to convince her to abandon the idea of ever entering the veil, “rules you cannot possibly understand. You have
no idea what my world is like. To bring a human into—”
“I have no idea?” she echoed. “I have every idea. I have been living in your world every night for years. I know about the assassination attempt on the
snow queen last year. I know about the solstice ritual when young fae maidens weave daisy chains and string them throughout the forest. I know about the
rules of the court, the high council, the twelve kingdoms, the lost—”
“Stop!” he shouted. “Stop,” he repeated, softer.
He studied her for several long moments, his eyes tracing over the curve of her lips, the soft halo of her hair, the vibrant green of her eyes. This girl,
this human, was more enchanting to him than any of the fae magics he had ever seen.
That he wanted more than anything to bring her into his world only convinced him that he need to keep her far from it.
Although Winnie knew how his world worked, she didn’t understand the truth at the heart of it. She needed to experience the magic that branded his clan as
unseelie fae, to understand the darkness that ran in his blood.
She had to see the veil.
She would never wish to return.
“I must show you something,” he said, helping her to her feet.
With her hand in his, he led them farther into the forest. Over sprawling roots and past bubbling brooks. The magic of the natural world around him filled
his spirit, while her gentle trepidation fed his magic. He led her deeper than most humans ever ventured. Only fae and other wild things dared seek out
this corner of the woods. And not only because of the remoteness.
The closer they moved, the more fear radiated from her.
Fae magic protected the entire area and drove away all who would dare to enter. Created a wall of fear that both kept the veil safe and fed its magic with
the artificial terror.
Winnie’s hand trembled in his.
“I’m not sure this is such a great idea,” she whispered, her voice shaking with fear.
“Trust me,” he said, squeezing her tighter and pulling her forward. Ignoring how his magic thrived on her terror.
When they were just yards from the veil, she tried to jerk away.
“I can’t go any farther,” she said.
“It’s fine,” he insisted, knowing that he had to make her go through this. He had to make her understand. “You’re with me and—”
“No!” She struggled to pull her hand from his, yanking wildly. “No, I have to go! I can’t—”
He spun her around and clamped a hand over her mouth before all the fae realm heard her shouts.
His magic had not felt so strong in as long as he could remember.
“Shhhh,” he soothed against her ear. “‘Tis the fae magic that builds your fears. That drives you away. It is one of our greatest protections.”
She squeezed her eyes shut, shaking her head as tears leaked from her eyes.
“Your fear keeps us safe,” he whispered. “And it keeps us strong. You understand what it means to be unseelie? You understand that negative human emotions
build our powers?”
She managed a tiny nod.
“Good,” he continued. “So you know this is magic. Feel it. Sense it. I know you can feel the magic.”
She shook her head harder, fighting his request.
“Try,” he insisted. “For me.”
She stilled in his arms and then—with one long exhale—she relaxed. He uncovered her mouth but kept his arm tight around her waist.
She shivered, but he felt the fear leave her body. He knew she was starting to feel the calmness of the underlying fae magic—not just the darkness meant to
feed fears and drive dangers away, but the deeper, ancient force that gave his people life and powers. That kept their realm invisible to human eyes.
She gasped and opened her eyes. “Oh wow.”
“That is true fae magic,” he explained, turning her in his arms to face her. “That is the source of my powers. And yours.”
Her face beamed.
“Where... where does it come from?” she asked. “I mean, why here? Why don’t I feel this at home?”
He gestured at the invisible barrier, at the wall of magic that shimmered and fluctuated a few feet away. “This,” he said, crossing to the barrier, “is the
edge of the fae veil.”
She clung to his side.
He watched her study the magic that divided his realm from hers. She shook still, but she was determined. He admired her courage.
When she reached up, as if to touch it, he stopped her.
“It is too dangerous,” he explained. “The fae guard do not take well to unexpected visitors, let alone a human.”
Her eyes widened, but she lowered her hand.
Cathair heard the crackle of magic, like static in the air, which traditionally announced a crossover from the other side. He didn’t stop to think, just
dove forward, taking Winnie to the ground beneath him. She looked up at him, questioning, but he shook his head. Hoped she understood his plea for silence.
Hoped she could sense the danger she was in.
Cathair sensed the two fae guards emerge from the veil. They had probably heard the voices and come to investigate.
He was not usually this careless. Though Winnie was not in any immediate danger since she was with him—not even the boldest of fae guards would dare defy
their prince—he did not want her exposed. The last thing he wanted was some of his darker kin taking an interest in her. Knowing of
If the missive his mother received was correct, if there truly was a traitor in their ranks, then that made the danger to her even greater. A traitor would
not hesitate to turn the knowledge of a seer who dreams over to a rival clan.
The pair remained there, still and silent against the soft earth, until he heard the guards return to the veil. And for several minutes after that, just to
be certain. He didn’t want to take a chance they be perform a second perimeter check.
When he felt it was clear, he pushed back to his feet and pulled Winnie up with him. Her hand held tightly in his, he turned to walk back through the
“Where are we going?” she asked.
“But I thought we—” she said. “
is your home. You said—”
“We’re going back to
home,” he replied. “I should not have brought your here. It is too dangerous.”
A raven screeched overhead, and a shiver ran down Cathair’s back. Somewhere to the east a coyote barked into the night. Threat surrounded them. He hoped it
was not too late already. He had been so transfixed by her, by her magic, and the impossibility of a future together, that he had not stopped to think.
He ran, her hand in his. Faster and faster. Winnie struggled to keep up. He made sure she did not fall behind.
Not until they were miles from the veil, where the forest drew closer to town, did he begin to relax.
“Cathair,” she said, panting as he finally slowed their pace, “what happened?”
“It was a mistake,” he said. “You should forget you ever saw that place.”
She should forget she ever saw him.
“I don’t understand. Why are you—”
“If the guards had seen us, they might have killed you.”
She stared at him, perplexed. “You wouldn’t have let them.”
“Did you see the raven overhead?” he asked. “And hear the yipping of the coyote?”
“Unseelie fae are dangerous.”
She pulled him to a stop. “You aren’t.”
“My clan is dying, Winnie,” he said. “Our magic is dying. Some will take drastic measures, do whatever it takes—even killing—to save the Moraine. You, your
powers, your abilities, are too great a temptation. If any knew of you…”
He trailed off, unwilling to voice the remainder of the thought.
This had all been a mistake. The moment she saw him the night before, he should have never visited her again. Not even on
. For her own
protection he should have stayed as far from her as possible, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t stay away. He’d had to be near her once more before the wedding.
Because once the wedding took place he would never see her again.