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Anette pushed open the shudders, ready for the fresh air after a week stuck inside. The rain had kept her and her little Fenris stuck inside the entire time. Egon did his best to help but even a Tomte had trouble keeping up with a two year old who wanted to get into everything.

While the air still smelled of rain but the skies were clear and bright, beckoning her and her son outside to play. Since Egon had already made sure that Fenris was wearing appropriate clothing, all she had to do was scoop him up and take him out.

The creek was flooded thanks to the rain but it wasn’t the only place they could play. The meadow was dry enough and so she set him loose. Fenris was laughing and squealing as if it was the first time that he had ever seen the world. Any bug that was unfortunate enough to catch his attention soon became the object to chase. Anette was happy to sit in the grass and watch him play.

She still couldn’t believe how little her childhood home had changed, and she had been living in her old house for over a year now. Plucking a few blades of grass, she braided them lazily while keeping one eye on Fenris. Since they had gotten away from her abusive husband, now ex-husband, both she and her baby had been able to blossom. Fenris had gotten over it quickly enough with the help of Egon but she still awoke some nights feeling pain because she had forgotten to do something or the other.

So engrossed in her task of braiding grass and watching her son, she never noticed that they were no longer the only occupant of the meadow.

“You are very skilled.”

The strange voice made her jump and she scrambled to the side, holding a hand to her heart in shock. Looking up, she forced herself to calm down. It wasn’t her ex-husband coming back. The man was an older man, a tall older man, but he did not seem to be there to harm her.

“I did not mean to scare you, I just wanted a bit of company before continuing my journey,” He tipped his hat towards her and motioned to the ground not far from her. “May I?”

“I’m just jumpy,” She murmured, nodding slowly and watching as he gracefully sat. No man she had ever met before could make sitting in long grass look like a formal dinner. Trying not to stare, she returned to her braiding after checking on Fenris who was still chasing bugs.

“There are not many people who can braid grass like that.”

It was a safe enough of a topic that Anette couldn’t help but smile and hold up what she had done so far. Slowly but surely, it was turning into a grass bracelet. Not her best work but she had to admit that she hadn’t done it since she was a little girl. “My grandmother taught me. She liked to braid grass and flower crowns for all the kids.”

The man laughed but Anette did not get the feeling that he was laughing at her but instead at whatever mental picture she had caused. There was strangeness about the man that she couldn’t quite put her finger on but she did recognize it.

“Your Grandmother sounds like she was a good woman.”

“She was,” Anette agreed, slowly weaving in another piece of grass as the pieces she had got too short. It wouldn’t last very long if she gave it to Fenris and any grass accessory that she had ever given Egon had mysteriously disappeared.

Slowly the conversation unfolded into more about her family, some of his travels, and why he felt the need to stop. She could understand the need to stop for a bit for a bit of company; she had done it a couple of times when she had been on the run.

It wasn’t long until Fenris came running up to them. His little hands had opened up to show her the ladybug that he had caught. Smiling, she cupped her hands around his so the little bug wouldn’t fly away just yet.

“That’s wonderful! Are you being gentle? You don’t want to upset the fairies in the area,” She kissed his forehead when he nodded eagerly. While he learning new words at a breakneck speeds, Fenris seemed to prefer speaking in as short of sentences as he could manage. Sometimes it was hard to understand what he was trying to convey but she knew exactly what she meant when he laughed out a ‘let go’ and padded off.

“You believe in fairies?” The man’s eyes seemed to be alight with a mix of amusement and curiosity but she shrugged and continued her braiding.

“It’s hard not to when you have a Tomte living in your house,” in her experience, it was easier to just tell the truth when people asked questions like that. Most people would assume that she was joking and laugh before telling her that she was a nice mother for indulging Fenris or change the subject entirely.

When neither happened, she finished off the last braid and glanced up. The man was studying her in a way that she wasn’t yet sure that she was comfortable with. Thankfully, it didn’t last long before he nodded to himself and looked out towards Fenris who was returning the ladybug to the meadow.

“I must continue my journey before it gets late, I still have a long way to go,” As he stood, Anette did as well. It was only polite but she did not expect for the man to take her hand and brush a kiss across her knuckles. “You have been wonderful company, thank you for allowing me to intrude.”

“It was nothing,” she stuttered, drawing her hand back. While she had been comfortable with the man, she still wasn’t sure what this strangeness was. Before she lost her nerve, she reached out to tie the bracelet around his wrist. Ignoring his curious look until after it was secure, she smiled up at him. “For good fortune on your travels.”

The smile that crossed his face could only be described as brilliant. A little dazed, she didn’t realize that he had pulled a bottle from his coat and was wrapping her fingers around it until after the weight settled in her hands.

“For your kindness, I give you good luck as well.” His words were the last thing that he left behind. When she looked up from the bottle again, he was gone. There wasn’t a trace of him left and no matter how many times she turned; she couldn’t see which way he went. All she could think about was his words and how his gift seemed far too expensive compared to a little grass bracelet that would eventually break.

Biting her lip, she looked over the bottle as she strode to collect her son. The bottle was tinted but when she pulled the stopper, the liquid itself was gold. It wasn’t the pale gold of some wines, it looked like real gold, molten gold. But the scent was too sweet to be gold.

Even Fenris was curious about the bottle but she was careful to keep it out of his reach while they walked back. The last thing she needed was for him to get sick off of something that a strange man had given them. She hadn’t even gotten his name, how was she supposed to be sure that it was safe.

Throwing it away crossed her mind but when it actually came down to it, she found she couldn’t part with it. It was a gift from a traveling man for being kind to him. He had said it was good luck but she wasn’t sure what he meant by that. At least, not until Egon noticed it.

The little man snatched the bottle right out of her hand and Anette had to keep from snapping at him like she did Fenris when he got grabby. Egon sniffed the liquid and wrinkled his nose but smiled. It was a bizarre reaction.

“Puca. You made Puca happy.”

It took a long moment for his words to process and when they did, she nearly dropped the bowl she was holding. A Puca. That would explain the strangeness around him since it was much the same as the air around Egon. Both were considered fairies by legend. But unlike the kind, guardian entity Tomte, Puca were known for being menacing.

“As in, bad luck bringing Puca’s?” She asked slowly, giving the bottle a wary look.

Egon shook his head and held up the bottle while pointing to a glass. “Puca bring good fortune. Drink soon or it will sour. Anette do good.”

“Anette is worried about more fairy creatures popping up,” She murmured, knowing better than to ignore Egon’s instructions. Fairies were notoriously easy to offend and did not give out gifts easily. Not drinking it when Egon gave the okay would put Fenris in danger and the last thing she wanted to was put her little one in that situation.

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Finals are crazy! Sorry for the delay!

Next Creature: Cat Sith

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