Wild Waves, Wicked Women
"Honestly, I ask you to do one thing, ONE THING, and you can't even do that. Is it really, so hard, to stay out of trouble, just for one day?" Probably, thought Harry, but sensing that wasn't what she wanted to hear he chose to keep it to himself.
"I feel like I'm talking to myself. Is that what it is? Am I talking to myself? Is that why no one is listening to me?"
Merle bit back a smart remark as she watched the bard harangue the druid for, apparently, getting into trouble. She still didn't understand that part. So, he'd gone off into the woods and come back with a couple tagalongs. What was the problem?
From the perspective of the tagalong's, it was the bard, who continued to yell like their mere presence was some sort of insult. Whispering conspiratorially, they concocted their plan. It was easy to do, since her attention was on the druid, she didn't even notice at first, though everyone else did. How could they not when the volume abruptly went from ten to zero.
The druid sighed when he realized what had happened, "Millet, Rue."
The two twelve-inch girls floated on gossamer dragonfly wings till they were right in front of him. Neither was willing to look him in the eye which belied their oh so casual demeanor, "What did you do?"
The fairies were aghast at the accusation and denied any involvement, only briefly pausing when the muted bard lunged at them and they ducked behind their druid. One last whisper in his ear and they snuck under his robe to safety.
Sigh, "Just one a them days," he muttered, picking up his quietly furious friend and depositing her before the camp fire before taking his own seat.
"So. What did they say?" Her cat like curiosity couldn't take the suspense.
"They said she could have it back when she learned how to behave with it."
Hermione gaped like a large mouth bass. Merle fell off her log laughing hysterically. Hermione did not see the humor.
"So, how did you pick them up anyway?" Merle asked once she'd gotten the giggles out.
"Didn't even mean for it to happen," said Harry bashfully, "it just sort of did."
Merle grinned and wiggled more comfortably into her seat. She loved story time.
I'd been dragging ass since the mermaid incident, shambling around behind the men as they looked for usable timber. As time passed, I was slowly starting to get my energy back, which is good. I was going to need all the energy I could get.
The sun was starting to set, and the men were ready to head back when I had the strangest sensation, like a call just below my ability to hear. The men were making so much noise I moved away from them to try and hear better. It came again, like the ghost of a forgotten word. My curiosity, as it so often does, got the better of me.
I tried to determine a direction, a source for this unexplainable phenomenon. Failing that, I followed my gut and started into the forest. The foliage was surprisingly thick and incredibly damp. It couldn't have been more than a few minutes traipsing through, but it felt longer, and I was dripping by the time I came out on a collection of stones and sand, somehow not claimed by the green. The voice was there too, no louder than before yet it felt close.
I approached the stones cautiously. There was a tall section creating a kind of inward curving wall and that was where I found her. At first, I thought she was a dragonfly. She was caught in a large web, struggling to free herself. It wasn't till I got close I noticed the body attached to those wings was human shaped. Imagine my surprise when she looks up, sees me, and gives the most pitiful cry for help.
Her voice was still the same edge of the senses call but it wasn't hard to tell what she wanted.
I bent down to free her when a shadow moved out of the corner of my eye. I turned to look which is the only thing that saved me when the giant spider leapt.
Now, be fair, when I say giant I mean by normal standards. It was about as big as a medium sized dog. By no means the biggest spider I've ever seen but certainly big enough to make me hit the ground on pure reflex.
It sailed over me, landing on a nearby rock with frightening agility. I scrambled to my feet, gripping my staff and keeping it firmly between us. I might not have Ron's fear of spiders, but I did not want that thing getting close.
The element of surprise gone, he seemed equally hesitant to approach me, circling around, keeping his distance yet always keeping me in sight. It took me a minute to realize he was circling toward the web. I took a threatening jab at him, he hissed and jumped at me again. I caught him mid jump and swatted him into the wall, away from the web.
He landed on his back, hissing furiously, trying to right himself. Again, lacking Ron's perspective on things with eight legs and bug eyes, the idea of letting the nasty thing live never even crossed my mind.
It had just righted itself when my staff punched through its hardened carapace, slamming it into the ground. It thrashed and squirmed angrily, but I held fast till its struggles slowed, then ceased.
Panting, I jerked my staff out of the cooling corpse, using the sand to clean the goo from the end.
"Disgusting." It wasn't quite as viscous as troll snot, but close enough.
Giving the spider a kick, just to make sure, I returned to the little winged person, still stuck in the web. Carefully, I freed her from the sticky trap. Her wings were still a bit webbed, but I was afraid I might break them.
She didn't seem to notice. Or maybe it was me who didn't notice. If I had this next part wouldn't have been such a surprise. As I looked at the tiny winged person in my hand, she seemed to grow right before my eyes. That was wrong. She wasn't growing. I was shrinking, and fast.
I hit bottom like I'd been dropped. Shamefully, I will admit I fell on my butt. My staff had not made the trip with me and stood, a near impossible monolith, towering over me.
Shortly, I became aware of a sound. A familiar sound. An annoying tittering sound.
The winged girl, now equal to me in size, floated gently to the ground, her webbed wings outstretched and trying to move yet mostly failing. My new 'perspective' gave me a whole new view of her. The glow that had been all I could see was dimmed, allowing me to see the body beneath.
She was dressed in what I thought looked like large blades of dried grass with a belt of grain seeds. Her tittering, as it turned out, was due to my gracefully abrupt sitting. Being easily entertained seems to be something of a hallmark of these types of fairies, as I was to learn.
I asked her why she'd shrunk me. She playfully suggested this size would be better for freeing her wings. While I couldn't argue with her logic, that didn't stop me from being annoyed at my sudden size adjustment. She had my number though. One good puppy dog pout and I acquiesced.
Yes, I am a sucker. Shut up.
After removing the webbing from her wings, she decided to take me back to her tree. I didn't know what to say and she didn't give me any time to think about it either. Dragging me through the air like I weighed nothing, she took me to an old oak at what she claimed was the very center of the island.
And this is where things got a little harrowing. What she had referred to as her tree was the home to every fairy on the island. Including their queen.
I was a little gob smacked meeting her. Not just because she was such an impressive sight, which she was, decked out in a white dress of finely woven cotton, accented in tiny pearls and sparkling stones. No, it was mostly the fact she was fourteen inches to my ten which had me feeling very vulnerable, especially with the none too friendly look she gave me when I was dropped unceremoniously at her feet.
I thought to choose my words carefully, say nothing that might upset her, and avoid a good squashing. That was what I thought to do. My mouth apparently received different instructions. "You are really tall."
I almost couldn't believe what I was hearing, the words coming out of my own mouth. The queen quirked an imperious eyebrow, stood to tower over me menacingly, and then, she sneezed.
That alone wouldn't have been so impressive if it hadn't made her explode like a grenade of dandelion fluff. But the weirdness didn't stop there. Sitting in the middle of all that fluff was a little winged girl, looking to be no more than ten or eleven, twitching her nose.
This was the actual fairy queen, not the glamour I had seen before, a trick. The assembled fairies fell all over themselves laughing while the fairy queen begged to be picked up. She was like a happy child, cuddling in my arms. I was beyond confused at that point, beyond trying to reason or rationalize the situation, so when someone suggested we should 'play squirrel', I only had one question.
"How do you play squirrel?"
So, they showed me.
"Wow. Sounds like you had a full day," quipped Merle.
"Yeah, you could say that."
Hermione could have said a lot of things, and she was making every effort to do so. Her hands were being extremely loud anyway.
Shaking his head, "Rue, let her talk."
The little winged girl gave the bard a skeptical look, then sighed, giving a quick snap before zipping behind Harry's head.
"Can I talk again? I can! At least I can hear myself. Can anyone else hear me?"
Hermione scowled at the chirpy cat girl who just grinned, "You!"
"Girls." The last thing he needed was these two fighting.
"Just so I'm understanding, they taught you how to self-transfigure yourself?"
"I believe they called it 'wild shaping'."
"And you mastered this in an hour" the incredulity in her tone could not have been thicker.
"Felt longer," he said, choosing to ignore it, "and I wouldn't say I've mastered it." Or that they taught it, unless you call sitting there and laughing as he failed again and again teaching.
"Soooooo, you can turn into animals," Merle chirped, "do it."
"Oh yes, please, let's see it," Hermione scowled.
Unsure how to interpret his friends comment he did as bid, closing his eyes and calling up the form he wished to take. The reaction to his transformation was unexpected.
"Yeek!" Merle squealed, ducking behind her log like a frightened alley cat.
Hermione was darkly amused at this but had to ask, "Why a bulldog?"
Because taking a form required knowledge of the form to be taken, and there were few creatures he was familiar enough with to do so. Certainly few he was more intimately familiar with than Aunt Marge's Ripper.
"Hiss, don't like, hiss," hissed Merle.
He thought about chasing the jumpy feline around for a bit but opted not to. No telling how that might end. Instead he shifted again, taking the form of the gray squirrel he'd mastered earlier, and yes, that form at least he had mastered.
As unprepared as he'd been for her earlier reaction he was just as surprised when she leapt from behind the log and tried to catch him. 'Try' being the operative word.
As a squirrel his reflexes were insanely quick and he nimbly dodged the grasping cat girl, hopping onto her head to escape her hands. Frantically she snatched at him, but he was too wily for her scrambling hands, then the fairies decided to get involved.
Fifteen minutes later, Merle had tired herself out and was curled up with her head on Harry's lap, "Fine, so you can, wild shape, or whatever it's called" Hermione grumped, "What about them."
The two fairies, having also exhausted themselves, had made a nest in Harry's hair and where peacefully snoozing, "Dandelion gave them to me."
"To be my minions," or henchman as the little fairy queen had called them, "Rue was more than happy to come, and Millet didn't seem to mind. There was a third that wanted to, the one that I saved, but Dandelion said no."
Hermione was silent after that, glaring at him through the fire. He still didn't understand why she was upset but he was beginning to think Ron had been right. She wasn't going to tell him what was bothering her, and she definitely seemed to be blaming him for not figuring it out.
"Honestly!" she exclaimed out of the blue before stomping off to her tent.
Harry stared after her and sighed, "This is getting old." And it needed to stop.