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Maggie and Fen peered at one another then up to the big man tangled up in their webbing. Her wee friend had been right. Their trap worked.
“I told you we would catch a giant.” He bragged. He fluttered his gossamer wings as he held his fists to his hips.
“He’s not a giant, Fen, it’s just a man.”
“A Hue-Mon.” He asked mispronouncing it yet again.
“Yes silly, a human, we will have to let him go.”
“No I want to keep it.” Fen sulked, he stomped his tiny feet onto her shoulder.
“And just whose house will he be sleeping in…yours?”
“No we can share him like we shared Mr. Jay.”
“He is not a pet bird Fen, we can’t keep him.”
She sighed deeply as she spun the net around and around. The man trapped inside complained in a strange language. It sounded familiar but it had been so very long since she last heard it. As he stared down at her with his sea blue eyes he continued to grumble. Slowly, the words he uttered picked at her memories and Maggie began to understand the man. He wasn’t very happy with her.
She nodded to Pep and the rest of the gang up in the tree. The small group of fairies began to hack away at the rope which suspended their prize in the air. With a painful sounding crash, he hit the ground hard. A foul cuss word hissed from his lips just before he lay very still.
“Is it dead?”
“I don’t know.” She picked up a stick from the ground and poked at the man. He didn’t move.
“Oh that looks fun, my turn…my turn!” Fen exclaimed.
“Stop it,” she told him as she shooed him away from the stationary form.
With the greatest caution, she untangled him from the net. A small trickle of red ran from the side of his forehead, matting in his golden colored hair. He wore a pair of dark blue trousers without suspenders. The odd shirt had been painted with letters and a set of draft horses pulling a wagon. Never in her life had she seen such clothing. He must be very important to wear such outlandish things, she thought.
“Oh my! I think he is a Prince.”
“Should I jump on it?” Fen asked.
“No silly, I think he is asleep.”
“Well wake it.”
“He may be angry with us.”
“Don’t be scared, I’ll protect you Maggie,” Fen stated bravely as he wielded his darning needle.
Maggie laughed at her pint sized friend. He was the bravest friend she had. The other pixies and fairy folk were timid around humans. She glanced up at the gang flying overhead. An idea floated into her thoughts.
“Let’s take him to my house.”
“I thought you said we had to let him go.”
“We will but he can’t stay in the woods by himself after dark,” Maggie was still very much afraid of the woods at night.
His head pounded, his eyelids struggled to open and a warm heat covered him. As he cracked his eyes, he was a little surprised. A small fire flickered in the darkness. The silhouette of a curvy form lounged in front of the flames. The fiery light making the long flowing hair appear as red as the blaze itself. The day’s events filtered into his mind. He peered around nervously, realizing he had been caught spying on the naked lady in the pond.
He tried to move quietly, as he did the pine boughs that covered him rustled. The figure turned to him and smiled warmly.
“You are a sleepyhead,” She stated.
“Where am I?”
“My house. My name is Maggie.”
“Hi, I’m Liam O’Riley, listen I’m ”
“The O’Riley’s from the Loch, is Aideen your sister?” She broke in.
“Ah no…no relation. Listen I’m sorry about earlier.”
“Sorry for what?”
“The pond, I didn’t mean to…well…yeah I’m sorry,” He told her. He felt as if he were a school boy getting caught doing something naughty. Heat rose up to his face at the idea.
“No need to be sorry.”
He scanned the area over; a small lean-to had been erected behind him. The ground around the area appeared to have been swept clean of the forest litter. A small fire pit lined with stones sat in the center of the area.
“So are you one of those survivalist?” he asked. She shook her head as she stirred the fire a little. He noticed as it flared that a flat stone rested beside her leg.
As he watched her, she pulled what appeared to be a blackened fish from the coals and placed it on the rock.
“A naturalist?” he ventured.
“Oh yes I love nature. Here you must be hungry,” She stood with the flat stone and walked to him. As she sat on the ground she placed the food in front of him.
“Ah…thanks,” He told her staring at the charred remains of a trout, “it looks great.”
Liam poked at the meal, it fell apart into burnt chunks. Not wanting to be rude he nibbled on a piece.
“Mmm, it’s awesome,” He smiled with the mouthful of uneaten fish. Maggie beamed at him. He forced the swallow, fighting not to gag on the ghastly flavor of charcoal.
“You have water,” he almost coughed out.
“Of course,” She rose and walked toward a stand of trees. With her back to him, Liam tossed the rest of the fish into the woods.
Maggie turned and crouched low to the ground, her gaze darting all over the area.
“Ah you okay?”
“Shh I heard something,” She whispered.
“Oh that was just me, I moved the branches,” He lied as he picked up a pine bough and waved it at her.
She eyed him for a moment, her lips in a lopsided grin. His cheeks grew warm as she passed him a skin bag, it was tied at the top with a strip of leather. He drew in a big mouthful of the warm water, it helped wash away the burned residual bits in his mouth
“I see you ate all your dinner, would you car .”
“Please no,” he blurted out, “I mean I’m stuffed, I couldn’t eat another bite. Thank you though it was the best fish I ever at.”
“Oh thank you.” she smiled the proudest grin he had ever seen. She wiggled herself a little closer to him as they sat there. She gazed up at him, the firelight reflected in her eyes. He was overcome with an urge to kiss her. Common sense kicked in as he berated himself for being lucky to get away without a peeping tom charge being laid on him.
“Where are you from,” she asked breaking his train of thought.
“I’m from New York.”
“Is that the same as Old York?”
“Ah funny.” He said, “how about you, where are you from.”
“The Gleann not far from here.”
“I never heard of it,”
“It’s not too far from here, Oulart itself is maybe a half days ride from where I’m from.”
“That’s a far enough trip. Must be a hell of a boring trip.”
“No, whenever we used to visit, we would stay at the inn by the Loch and my brothers would take me fishing.”
The young woman had an innocent nature about her that he rather liked. Her thick rich Gaelic accent he found musical to his ears. They talked for hours lounging in front of the warm camp fire. As the sun began to peek through the forest canopy he finally drifted off to sleep.