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  • Nep

July 2021 Contest Winner: Aurora and the One That Sought Her Out

“Curse the beloved!” The figure shouted. “I declare before you, the princess shall die on her sixteenth birthday by pricking her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel.” A crowd of gasps arose. “This fate cannot be changed!”


The room filled with the dance of smoke, the crowd breaking into a series of coughs and worried exclamations. “Miss Merryweather!” the King arose. “Must you have the power to reverse this curse!”


The fairy draped in fabrics of blue hesitantly shook her head. “I am afraid I do not have the ability to do so.” She looked down at the clamour of the crowd.


“Silence!” the Queen ordered. She turned to the small fairy. “Oh, Miss Merryweather, surely there isn’t anything you could do?”


“I suppose I may soften the curse,” Merryweather took a step towards the crib where the child lays. “But I propose what I say won’t take kindly to your hearts.”


Merryweather takes a breath and closes her eyes. “On her sixteenth birthday, may the princess fall into a deep slumber for one hundred years.”


“One hundred years!” The Queen cries. “We will not know her anymore!”


The kingdom went into an uproar. The King ordered every spinning wheel to be brought to the palace and burned. Each was burned with a hatred of the two parents. The two parents of royalty sent their daughter to live in a far away cottage with the three fairy godmothers to keep their young one from any harm.


The princess, who to be named Aurora, grew up with the friends of young critters. The birds, the deer, the rabbits, the squirrels; she formed a bond with them all. Dancing in the fields of flowers, the sound to the woodpeckers, the smell to the honey bees brewed; she most certainly was in awe of the nature that surrounded her. Yet, she had not the knowledge of contentment. She didn’t ever wonder why.


 

“Mummy, why did you make me curse that poor baby?”


Maleficent turned to her young daughter, eyes shining in bewilderment.


Not many knew of the evil fairy’s daughter; she kept her quite hidden. Many beings despised Maleficent. What they would try, what they would do if they knew she had a daughter. She needs not to think of it.


Her daughter, Asa, was born of nature's creation. Maleficent found her in the hidden reeds crowding around a great willow tree, moss forming up the roots. There were cobwebs scattered along the trunk and just underneath an engraved hole (made surely by the owl that lives close by), layed a pale and fragile child. The child was not crying. The child was not startled. She simply looked up to Maleficent, almost in an awe. She smiled and stretched her arms to the branches of the trees obscuring the sky.


Asa was a name Maleficent grew to love. She loved how the letters sounded so breathy compared to her own, almost tasting of freshly brewed black tea. The pale skin she harboured, her long, curly, black locks, her elegant posture; her daughter was everything she wished to be.


‘Shush, my dear,” Maleficent whispered with the place of her finger among her daughter's lips. “I thought you were no longer interested in this topic.”


Big brown eyes gazed upon her. “Well it was my first time visiting the palace. Everyone seemed fairly distraught.”


“Of course they were,” Maleficent responded. “You looked exactly like me and laid a curse upon the child. I see no reason why they wouldn’t be.”


“Yes muma, but why? I love you very much so why don’t they?” Asa mumbled, crawling into her mothers arms. “I wish everyone loved you as much as I did,” she sighed with Maleficent running her hand up and down her back. Asa looked up at deep green eyes. “Why don’t you like them, muma?”


Maleficent sighed, running a hand through the curls that laid atop Asa’s head. “It’s a long, long story, sweetheart. They’ve wronged me, and they needed a taste of their own medicine.”


Asa hummed with her eyes closed. “Yes, I understand,” she breathed, opening her eyes. “What’s for dinner?”


Maleficent chuckled at the sudden suggestion. “Well, my dear, if you gather a few mushrooms, we can have that soup that you love so much, okay?” she said, planting a soft kiss atop her hairline.


Asa’s eyes beamed and she practically scrambled to her feet. “Okay mumma!” Maleficent smiled at the sight of the bouncy curls running towards the trees, backtracking for just a moment to pick up her basket.


Yet Maleficent, despite having a daughter of her own, didn’t feel the slightest bit of guilt for the curse she laid upon the Princess.


 

“I’ll be on my way!” Aurora called. A chorus of ‘take cares’ echoed through the cottage of her aunts tending to their chores. Aurora picked up the basket covered with a cream colored handkerchief from atop the bookshelf levelled with her waist. She closed the door with a soft thud, breathing the fresh air contendenly.


She broke into a light skip towards the path between the trees, continuing down to her destination of the valley but she stopped in a notable realization; why weren’t the birds chirping? She slowed, starting to observe her surroundings. Where were the deer? They usually come to greet her. Why not now?


Not once has Aurora been greeted with silence in her fourteen years of life. She knew they slept, but did they really return to their chambers when the sun was at highest?


A rustle of the bushes. Aurora was ready to greet the life obscured by the greens; yet, she noticed a difference in the footsteps. Those weren’t the footsteps of a small critter. Those weren’t the footsteps of a creature with four legs. Those footsteps- they sounded like her own.

“Hello? Who goes there?” she called. Aurora hastily took a few steps back. There was not a response, but the leaves that fell in front of the bush filled with berries rustled again. A figure started to make shape.


It emerged, a hood of a cloak obscuring their face; until they looked up.


The two met eyes. Aurora, unmoving, could only stare at the brown eyes coated in the sunlight. Black curls framed the girl's face perfectly. She smiled and bowed in courtesy.


“‘Alo,” she said with an accent.


“Who are you?” Aurora fired. There were never people in the forest. How did they get here?


The girl merely hummed. “Asa,” she voiced as she finally emerged from the bushes. “What of you?”


“Aurora,” she replied, posture relaxing after overlooking the now, rather beautiful, figure in front of her. “What are you doing here?”


“Hmm, I came to pick mushrooms,” Asa said with a glance around the passage. “There seems not to be any here.”


“Mushrooms?” the blonde questioned. “For what?”


Asa raised a brow, crossing her arms. “For cooking? It’s a pretty essential herb, y’know.” Asa met Aurora’s stare. “Have you never cooked before?” The blonde met Asa’s gaze with a look of confusion. Yes, she watched her aunties cook, but never herself. They deemed it too dangerous.


Asa sighed, dropping her arms to her sides. “Come along.”

Aurora meekly followed, an expression of curiosity taken upon her features. She walked behind the owner of the cloak, the two in comfortable silence until the blonde came with a question.


“Are you the reason I haven’t seen any of my friends around?”


“Friends?” Asa looked back. “I don’t remember seeing any humans around here.”

“No, not humans. The animals.”

“Oh you mean the animals?” Asa turned around. “Well , I suppose so. Not many like me.”


“No way! Aurora grabbed her hand and spun around to face her. “Once you show me what you proceed to do with the mushrooms, I shall bring my friends over! They really are so lovely.”

“That's not very necessary-”


“I insist!” Asa stared at her beaming blue eyes, never wavering. She sighed and took her hand from her grasp, traveling around. “Fine.”


Aurora smiled in succession, the two continuing on their walk.


“So we need mushrooms, dandelions and cauliflower. Fortunately, I already have the last.”

“Dandelions? There’s many around here, but… do you actually eat this?” Aurora pondered.

“It’s quite refreshing in actuality.”

Aurora hummed. “I shall give it a try then! Oh look, I found a dandelion!”

Asa chuckled. “We will need more than that, Aurora.”

Aurora smiled. “It’s about quality over quantity!”

“That does not apply here.”


 

“You brew it like this. Come on, try it.”


“I can feel how warm the air is from here! Are you sure it’s okay?”


Asa rolled her eyes. “Yes, it is okay. It’s boiling. That’s how you cook it. As long as you don’t stick your hand in it, there’s no reason to worry,” she motioned to the ladle. “Try stirring.”


Aurora hesitantly grabbed the ladle, outstretching her arm to avoid the steam blowing in her face. Asa laid a hand over hers, gripping the handle. “Stand over here. And focus. You do it like this.”


The soup brewed, bubbles intriguing the blonde.


“Woohoo!” Aurora cried. “It’s getting crisp!”


Asa hummed. “That's the way I like it. Here, take the ladle out,” She instructed, gripping her hands on the sides of a small cauldron. She poured the contents into a bowl filled with holes, the water spilling into a small pit dug into the ground. Asa then turned to her basket, opening the flap to grab a bowl and a spoon.


“I wasn’t entirely under the impression I'd see anyone, so if you don’t mind sharing?”


“No worries!” the blonde grinned. Asa raised her eyebrows in acknowledgment back, pouring the contents of the soup into the smaller bowl carved of wood. Aurora blew the steam rising from it, Asa handing the spoon to her for tasting. She took a spoonful, taking a small whiff before lifting it to her lips. She swished it around in her mouth (quite uncharacteristically); her eyes shone with delight, connecting them with Asa.


“This is amazing!” she exclaimed. “What were the ingredients again?”


“Mushrooms, cauliflower, and dandelions,” Asa replied. “and the boiled water. Adds a touch."

“Got it! Thanks!”

Asa smiled. “Why, of course. You can finish the bowl,” she said, flipping the folds of her basket.


“Really?” Aurora’s eyes shone with the nod of affirmation. “Okay! After this, I’ll take you to see my friends!”


Asa giggled. “Okay.”


 

“Hold your hand out properly. West isn’t going to bite. Right, West?”


The deer huffed in response, sticking it’s snout out. Aurora turned her head to the very hesitant Asa, stiff as a board.


“Here,” Aurora softly said, pulling Asa’s hand forward. “You just have to let him sniff you. They smell better than they see!”


The deer took a whiff of Asa’s hand; another. Asa was quite worried at the unfamiliar sensation, especially feeling the deer nudge its snout under the palm of her hand, giving it a lick. She yelped in a shocked response.


Aurora giggled, petting her friend right on the top of his head; Asa smiled, posture straightening and hand slowly running over the bridge of West’s snout.


“See! He likes you! You just got to pose to them you’re not a threat,” Aurora looked over to Asa. “They smell fear, you know.”


“Shu-Shut up! I didn’t- I wasn’t scared!”


 

“Asa! Are you out there?”


“Aurora?” a distant voice questioned. “I’m down by the river.”


Aurora hurried down with a smile upon her face. She jumped over familiar rocks and maneuvered through a newly crafted beaver den to see her friend across the river. She waved. Asa smiled towards her.


“Come down!” Asa yelled. “There’s a really pretty bed of flowers down here! I think you’d love it!”


Aurora gasped, dancing on the stepping stones along the water. The fish nipped at the rocks she stepped on one by one, water kissing the tips of her toes. Wait, where were her shoes? She guessed she must have forgotten them that day.


Ah, yes. It was the breaking of spring after all, water finally warm enough to stand outside again. Aurora begged for the day to come where she can curl her toes in fresh grass again. Since the beginning of spring, her shoes were practically foreign to her.


Yet, even without her shoes she tripped on just the last step, her dress tangling her feet in the suede of it.


“Aurora!” Asa called, lurching forward with her arms outstretched. Her arms slipped between Aurora’s and folded over to her shoulders, embracing Aurora into a hug as the two fell down.


“Goodness, Aurora!” Asa called. “You could’ve scrapped your chin! Your aunts would never forgive me if I was there when any damage happened to you!”


Aurora groaned, looking up from her position on Asa’s chest. “Sorry, sorry,” she muttered, rolling off of her friend's body onto the soft plain of grass beneath.


“Oh!” Aurora exclaimed. “Look, Asa! Flowers! They’re finally starting to bloom again!” She plucked a small yellow one out of the grass and held it up to the sky. “We can make flower crowns!”


“Flower crowns?”


Aurora shot up with a gasp and turned. “You’ve never made a flower crown before!?”

Asa groaned, sitting up from her position as well. “No.”

“We have to pick some flowers! Come, come!” Aurora called, lending a hand for Asa to grab. Asa took it, the two running into a sprint towards the vast valley. Except, Aurora…


Aurora didn’t let go.


 

“Tilt your head.”


Asa sighed, dropping her head (almost in frustration of trying to tie the stems together only for them to break) while the curls tucked behind her ears fell to her eyes. She felt a shift that granted a small bout of vision again, Aurora placing a finger under her chin and tilting it to her gaze.

“The white really compliments your black curls,” she whispered at the close proximity.

Uh oh.

Something fluttered in embarrassment under her cloak. Aurora perked.

“What was that?”


“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Asa muttered, hastily standing up. Her cloak fluttered again.


“It happened again! What is it?”


Asa sighed, undoing her cloak and letting it fall down her shoulders, a feathery shape emerging.

Aurora gasped and stood. “A wing!” she exclaimed, going over to Asa. May I touch it?

The wing flickered and Asa looked to the grass embarrassingly. “Sure,” she muttered. “Just don’t touch it too harshly, please.”


Aurora nodded with a look of concentration, raising delicate hands to gently run over the feathers. Asa was surprised that she was so gentle; it actually felt quite nice. She relaxed into the touch, her shoulders slouching.


“How did you hide this from me?” Aurora whispered to her ear.

“The cloak, Aurora.”


Aurora’s eyes widened before she let out a chuckle, raising her hand to wave off an, “of course, of course.” Asa smiled, pulling the cloak around it once more when the blonde pulled her hand back.


“How come you only have one?”


Asa’s smile fell, crossing her arms in a defensive motion. “An incident when I was younger. Not much worth talking about. Now come on, show me how to make your crown.”


Aurora’s eyes were filled with concern; only for a moment before she registered the rest of her sentence. She silently picked up the messily half made crown sitting in front of Asa, twiddling it around before she held out a palm. Asa was confused at first, but seeing the lack of flowers; she carefully picked the small yellow flower next to her knees and placed it in the palm of Aurora’s hair. She mumbled a ‘thank you’ and continued on with her intricate handy work.


Asa watched her hands dance around the stems as if it was hypnotizing. Maybe it was, because the next moment Aurora was smiling proudly holding the creation of flowers in her hands.


Asa beamed, taking it from her hands gently. It held themes of pink rain lilies and yellow dandelions complementing each other perfectly. The two colors were a perfect combination for Aurora.


Asa motioned her head downwards, Aurora following momentarily, the flower crown being lifted before her head, it being placed gently just atop her bangs. The two held a long gaze in a comfortable silence.


She was glad she had a friend.


 

“I don’t want to see you go.”


“I’ll be back.” Aurora hushed into the warm embrace of Asa’s arms and wing shielding them from the sun. She looked up after a while, connected eyes softly searching.


“I know,” Asa whispered. “Time just flew by so quickly.”


Aurora let out a hearty laugh. “It has, hasn’t it? I swear yesterday we just met!”


“We can’t get to know each other that quickly,” Asa smiled as the two broke from the embrace, wing tucking under the cloak. “How would I have learned that you can talk to animals in one day?”


The two laughed with a held gaze.


A moment passed.

“Well, I’ll see you off.”


“No, don’t worry. I’ll be back, I said! Why do you insist I’ll be gone forever?”


“It’s the kingdom,” Asa sighed. “Why wouldn’t you stay?”


“Because you’re not there.”


 

“Mummy, how do you break a curse of sleep?”


“Asa, my darling, why must you know?”


“I am just curious, mumma.”


“Well. A spell of deep sleep can only be broken with a true love's kiss.”


A true love’s kiss? Asa loved her as a friend, but..


After Asa said her farewell to Aurora, she lingered around the trees to be certain she went off kindly. She petted West’s snout, the deer withholding a melancholic expression of distress. ‘Where is my friend going?’ his eyes asked. Asa didn’t know how to answer.


Just as Asa was about to return to her home, she heard the calls of elderly voices and the tip taps of pattering feet along the grass. They sounded familiar. Asa turned back around surely enough to see a bob of blonde hair running towards the behind of the cottage. Where was she going? Asa began to run after her.


She followed the sound of frantic footsteps sprinting through the trees and through the valley, grass protecting her feet from the rocks underneath. She ran and ran and ran, making sure to never lose sight of the blonde.


She came around to a tower. A tower of what; she didn’t know. She saw the blonde go through the entrance of the cylinder. Where did she go?


Asa stayed behind the tree, wind rustling in her hair as she waited for her returnal. Yet, she never did.


Asa cautiously opened the rickety door, steps echoing as she made her way up the spiral staircase. Her hands dragged along the dust covered wall all the way until she reached the top. There, she found the spindle of a wheel and a bout of blonde hair underneath.


Asa rushed to the unconscious girl, holding her in her arms. She was in such a state of shock, she was unable to speak. What came out were only broken and quivering words along with the fall of tears.


She held her and cried and cried and cried wondering what to do until she remembered her mothers words.


She thought not of true love, but she did know something.


She knew that her and Aurora were soulmates.


They were meant to be friends. They were meant to dance in the fields together. They were meant to teach each other their callings. Is this what true love meant?


She may as well try.


With a kiss of their friendship through the years and tears coating her eyelashes to drop on Aurora’s cheeks, she waited for her eyes to flutter.


They never did.


 

Nep, the winner of Writervana's July 2021 writing contest, is a fantasy writer. Website | AO3

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