This story is true, as all fairy tales are true.
Once upon a time, there were two sisters. The younger was as bright as the sun, with both cheerfulness and temper to match. When she was happy, smiles were a catching disease. When she was angry, everything around her burned. The older was as dark as night, cold where her sister was hot. She dealt in reason instead of whimsy. She walked alone while her sister held court with a crowd. Instead of fire, her anger was ice. But they loved each other for their differences.
They stumbled into faerie, not knowing what it was. To them it was just a pretty bit of land, perfect for building a house upon. They did magic, not knowing what it was. They started with a couch, then walls and a roof. It was a refuge against the real world, a place they could be free from cruel mothers that would shape them into things they were not, and were never happy with what they were.
And the magic did not go unnoticed (this was Faerie after all). Soon there were knocks on the door, and eyes watching in the woods. First came a horned god who had lost his magic. A dragon that loved its reflection. A dead brother who rarely spoke. A live brother who never stopped. A goddess who loved them all so much she might eat them (and declared herself third sister instead). The house grew into a village.
But Faerie takes as much as it gives. The house filled with laughter, noise, love. People, and beauty. But danger always curled at its edges. The house was a house of mirrors that reflected everything inside it, and made it more intense. It pulled secrets, better kept, into the light, where they were as sharp as knives, cutting where they went, until both sisters were bloody.
The secrets cut all the meat from the elder sister’s bones, and made a fuel of them for her the younger who grew hotter and brighter. Laughter turned into anger. Fondness turned to jealousy. This close, they both burned, until it was unbearable to stay. Even to look at each other became pain.
One day, the older sister knew that if she stayed there would be nothing left of her, because the truth is, you cannot survive in another person’s dream. And if she stayed, love might turn to hate.
So she left, even though her sister was angry at her for leaving, and magic done by one is never the same as magic done by two. She tried to go back to faerie on her own, but it was never quite the same. Never as bright. Never as true. (But it was still there)
But by and by, flesh grew back onto the older sister’s bones, and she could start to think about what she might become instead of what she lost. And the silence between the sisters began to ebb, tentatively; eroding like sand on a beach to the gentle pull of love.
Sometimes the older sister wondered if the scars on her bones were worth the price, but when she looked at what she had become, and looked at the gifts she had been given, she would always say yes.
Faerie had taken so much, but it always gave as much as it took. And those gifts were something she held dear, and close, and would never speak of aloud.
Some dreams are only meant for you.
(First of 3. Part 2 continues here.)