I lifted my cup of tea showily in reply to her question, amusement tugging one corner of my lips. She huffed.
"I enjoy quiet places with good food and drink, and free internet." I tapped a finger against the edge of my laptop's screen. When the girl made no move to speak again, I went back to typing up my notes. The redhead was quiet, though I could feel her eyes on me, while a low hum of curiosity buzzed unwaveringly around her.
Shortly after she took her seat, the sharp smell of ozone off the Fae girl distracted me, its pungent odor rather unpleasant, seeping slowly around my senses, and I found myself trying to mask the scent by pulling the sleeves of my sweater over my knuckles and covering my nose with it.
"Do I smell that bad?" The Fae girl said, already scowling when I set my eyes to her face. She pulled the collar of her shirt over her nose and took an audible sniff.
"Ozone." I couldn't help but chuckle a little when the girl fixed her shirt back into place with a sheepish smile.
"Sorry. I flew here. I love the smell, so I kind of forget it bothers others." With that, my interest had been piqued. Her Elvõr'eybätræän, the dialect of Elvish created to be Fae common-tongue, was choppy and hesitant, though her speaking it gave me a little peace of mind that we would be able to communicate without the risk of humans eavesdropping. This made the prospect of learning about her all the more appealing.
I looked the girl over carefully, challenged to figure out her species before she told me. It was, odd as it may seem, her outfit that was my greatest clue. Only Pixies, Sylph, and Fairies, of all the humanoid Alpha Fae I could immediately think of, could fly. From what I’d heard of them, she certainly fit snugly into a Fairy’s description.
When I spoke again, I did so in Elvõr'ävõrvän.
"You're a Fairy." The girl looked troubled and for a moment did not speak. "I'm sorry. Do you only speak common-tongue?" I switched to common Elvish with a grimace I tried to suppress; the two original Elven dialects were far more elegant than the compromised language most Fae spoke. The girl nodded slowly, so I repeated my first statement in that language instead.
"I hardly know much common-tongue, and god your accent is thick. It doesn't show when you speak English; caught me all the way off guard." I hummed at that; I grew up in a somewhat secluded Elven sanctum, it was only to be expected that I spoke with a heavy accent. "But, you're right, I am. How did you know?"
"Call it deductive reasoning," I smiled knowingly.
"You're an Elf, aren't you?" She replied, leaning unconsciously towards me, an excited spark igniting in her eyes and flashing through her aura.
"Sun Elf, yes. How did you know?"
"Wow, and you're young! You don't look over twenty-five. The rest of the Elves I've ever met were ancient and did not care for making nice with a Fairy. And it's like a sixth sense, almost, like an internal compass that constantly points to other Fae. I guessed what you were because of your accent, and your height, and your face. Actually, it wasn't a question at all." The girl absolutely beamed, and while she may have spoken a little too loudly of the Faerfolk in her first statement, I had no chance to correct her before she continued, "I'm Rose." I nodded and made a note in the back of my mind to ask the Fairy more about the alleged sense later.
"Lydia. And I am two-hundred-and-twenty-three."
"No kidding," Rose uttered in a tone meant for only her to hear. Of course, I heard it just as well as I could hear her heartbeat. "Do Elves really live forever? Is it true you read minds?" Again, sizzling ringlets of magic radiated from her skin, giving her an almost glittery appearance. Her Elvish was still painfully broken and would have been impossible to make out if I hadn't grown up speaking it, and her excitement only served to worsen her pronunciation.
"Our lifespan falls around one-thousand years. In a sense, we can read minds, but we are empaths, not telepaths." When Rose simply stared at me, with the slightest tilt to her head, I repeated my answer very quietly in English. Her lips formed an 'o' and her eyes lit up at the information.
"So, like, relatively, we're around the same age." Rose grinned widely, still covered in a layer of pulsating, crackling energy.
"I knew your namesake on the Titanic, just over... one-hundred-and-seven years ago, if I am not mistaken. No, we are certainly not the same age in any manner of speaking." I laughed at the Fairy's bewildered expression. "You need to take more care to control your magic." My face pinched into a sudden frown when the sizzling magic from her body sparked even more fiercely. She was surely excitable if nothing else.
"Wow, okay, I didn't think of it like that, I mean— damn. I meant like, I'm nineteen, so in proportion to our live spans, we're about the same. But wow. The stories you could tell, right?" The girl whistled quietly from between her teeth. While she appeared outwardly to have not heard me, the little glimmering sparks of magic quieted to nothing on her skin, though I guessed it was because, as evidenced by the faraway expression on her face, she was deeply distracted. Then, she looked back at me, smiled, and lowered her eyes to the array of my belongings set on the table. "Can I have your number?" She pointed briefly at my phone before looking up again to me.
"Why?" I asked, still unlocking the device and sliding it over to her as I spoke. A swirl of bashfulness colored the energy radiating from her, as well as appearing a flustered pink on the tip of her exposed ear.
"Curiosity," she replied with a stutter that made me suspicious there were other reasons, "like I said, all the others I've met have been way too old to bother with a Fairy trying to... collect them." She cringed at the word, her fingers curled nervously and a sheepish smile pulled her lips apart. I heard what I assumed to be her phone buzz in her bag as she returned mine to me.
"I'm sure." I lifted an eyebrow, which had her flush just a little redder. Something in the Fairy's swirling emotions made me sure she knew I saw what intentions lay below her words.
"Shut up; you still gave me your phone." Before her skin had been fair, very much in character given the bright rust of her hair, but it was now apparent too how thin her skin was, as it did nothing to hide the blood that rushed to her neck and face. Still, suffused with color as she was, she appeared nearly luminous in the foggy light.
"I'm agreeing with you; I have no idea why you're getting so worked up." I smiled, a little teasingly, at the girl. She huffed, biting a lip to restrain a smile. Her eyes crinkled at their corners, betraying her mirth almost more so than the sparkles of energy I noticed had begun to crackle off her skin. "You're doing it again." I looked pointedly at her hands, where the sparks of magic were most obvious. She at least had sense enough to look mildly contrite as she breathed out heavily and raked both hands through the unruly curls of her hair. With them being displayed now serving no benefit, she took care again to cover her ears. Excitable, I thought, but at least sensible enough to remain cautious. Fairies were somewhat known to have such spirit that their judgment came secondary to impulse; if they were not also clever with magic, they probably would not have survived so long in human domains.
"So, really, what brought you here?" The Fairy sat back and stretched her arms laxly over her head, some of her joints popping at the motion. When she brought them down, she crossed them comfortably over her stomach, a casual smile settling into place. I could still feel the bubbling pressure of the giddiness she suppressed, but, to her credit, her outward appearance betrayed nothing of it.
"Research. I can't say more in English; not in public." Intrigue, acute and piercing, flashed in the redhead's verdant eyes. I would have told her, of course, if I had any confidence that she would be able to understand enough of any Elvish dialect to make explaining it to her worth the confusion.
"God, you sound like such a snob when you talk like that," she laughed affably, once again quelling a spike of palpable excitement. Her humor almost completely hid the fact that it was somewhat skewed. "Really though, I don't get any hints?" She cocked her head facetiously, once again flashing a full, beaming smile, even if it was made more in humor than anything else.
"Elvõr'eybätræän exists for a reason. I suggest you try and learn more of it." I chuckled when her arms tightened and her amusement turned into a pout, though her eyes showed a coyness that was at odds with the well-buried uncertainty I felt from her.
"Who better than you, then?" She bit her lip in a form that outwardly appeared collected, even expectant, but underneath was riddled with shivering tremors of worry, even if she did try her best to mask them.
I was conscious to allow the question to settle between us, letting the Fairy weigh her intentions, and allowing me a better look at her; she was young, yes, very young, but it would have been inconvenient, if nothing else, to seek companionship with anyone my age. I was sure that for as much use I could find of her, she had as much to gain from me, and while symbiosis teetered dangerously close to parasitism, it was an alluring prospect. Besides, I had very little knowledge of Fairies, and meeting one was far too great an academic opportunity to sacrifice.
"That's not what you really want to ask me." There was certainly no mistaking my statement for an answer, or even a question. I knitted my fingers together and pressed my arms into a steepled shape on the table, my thumbs against my lips. The Fairy girl's aura shifted, flashing her dejection before she layered over it with heavy intrigue.
"My shift starts soon," she started, collecting all of her hair into one shoulder, briefly showing her ears again, before the air around her rippled ever so slightly, and she looked flawlessly human. "I'd like to talk to you more. I'm serious about you teaching me, too, if you're up for it." Again her eyes squinted and crinkled at the corners as she put on her most charismatic grin. "I'm here for a while today, but I'm off tomorrow. I don't know if you've got a day job, but if you're free, I'd love to meet up. I'll follow up on that question I 'didn't really mean to ask' then."
"Let me know the details. My schedule is flexible until my colleague arrives on Wednesday." The Fairy tilted her head questioningly. "She is flying in from England to help with a project of mine. We're going to be out on the water for a few days."
"You're a fucking tease, you know? Telling me nothing about your secret job." Rose laughed, though the hungry longing for information in her aura bled through and tainted the sound. "I've got to go now, really. I'll text you later?" Her question was asked without any note of the anxiousness that played from her until I nodded back (at which point, she smiled again, bright and full, and rivaling her hair in prominence.
When she stood a moment later, I caught a few sparks fly off her fingers as she pranced toward the door in the back of the café marked staff only, radiating a giddiness that was somehow amusing, as she was surely not so happy to be working.
Realizing that, in the time I had spent talking with the young Fairy, my tea had stopped steaming, I whispered a short spell and light tendrils of moisture began rising from the reheated liquid once again.