This is Part 4 but it all started here...
Andrew couldn't understand how Aunt Jenna behaved like nothing strange was happening.
This whole situation stressed him out, especially because nothing felt strange about it other than the fact that he thought that he should feel strange. He was giving a bath to a fish after all, or what resembled a fish anyway. This was ridiculous.
The fish in question squirted him in the face when he wasn't looking. Aunt Jenna laughed, but he was glaring as the water dripped down. He furiously wiped his face.
Too many questions bounced around in his mind. He knew she might get annoyed with him, but he hated being kept in the dark. He had to have answers.
"I don't get it," he started, "Why did you give it to me? Why didn't you hatch it?"
"Because he isn't mine. He has always been meant for you. Even before you were born, even before your mother was born, even before I was born, he was given to you."
He sighed. All she was doing was making him more confused. Why do adults have to be so confusing?
Her hand rested on his shoulder again. "Andrew, you are a very special boy. Do you know why?"
Adults always say things like that too. Does she want him to answer? He did anyway.
He knew he was being rude, but he didn't care. It was bad enough he had to stay here for the summer. Why couldn't this have been at least a normal summer like all the others?
"Would you like to hear a true story?"
He shrugged. It was as good as a yes, because he did think that Aunt Jenna was a good storyteller. He was a little old now for stories, but he wouldn't outright deny her the opportunity to tell one. Especially since this one was apparently true, which he normally would have doubted, but after the egg hatched he found he was a little more open to mysterious explanations.
He watched her as she carefully knelt down on the folded bath towel next to him. As she spoke, she scrubbed the small creature clean with a washcloth. It was actually holding still for her, seeming to like her voice. It was almost as if it was listening too. Her voice was magical.
Once upon a time, before you and I were born, this land was a forest: a world of trees, tall as the mountains, packed so close together you could hardly see the ground. Before long, an explorer came to settle on this land, having heard that it was good land. He was a good man, strong not only in body but heart as well. His name was Erik and he built a dwelling on this very spot.
He chose this place because it was close to a deep lake. Yes, the same lake that sits here today, just down the road. He swam like a seal and dove to the bottom of the lake. He discovered the lake was filled with fish -- fish so big they would not fit in this bathtub, even some that were as big as himself.
One day while hunting these fish underwater, a body fell into the lake above him, sinking fast down past him. It was a woman, bound to a rock, sentenced to die in the depths of the lake. Using his spear, he freed her and brought her to shore. He laid her on the ground, admiring her beauty. He had never seen anyone with such long, white hair and her skin had a hue like polished copper. She was wounded but breathing. When she opened her eyes, he realized she was not human.
"What manner of human is this," she asked, "who steals a Fae from the hand of death only to slay her with such hatred?"
"I cannot hate that which I have never met," he replied and threw away his spear.
"And if I slay my rescuer?" She drew dangerously close, her eyes so strange and wild.
He smiled. "To die by such lovely hands must surely be the most pleasurable way to die."
"Truly you are a foolish human," she said, "But I like you. I am called Andalaise."
"I am Erik."
Erik took her into his arms and into his home, where he dressed her wounds and gave her food and drink. They spoke together as the sun disappeared behind the forest and continued talking until it began to rise again. Erik had fallen in love with Andalaise, and she with him.
"I will always remember your kindness, Erik."
"Are you leaving?"
"Yes, I must go."
"No, stay with me. Be my wife."
"I am dying. The humans who threw me into your waters cut down my home, the tallest tree in the forest. It was my tie to this world. I shall fade from this world when the sun touches the highest point in the sky."
"Is there nothing I can do?"
"You have made the end of my life peaceful. That is enough."
"No, I will not let you die! I do not wish to be alone again now that I have found you."
"I can grant your wish, but it comes with a price."
Continue to Part 5?