fingerpaint the sky

till everything shines

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Fic, yes. DiR, no. Astonishing!
[misc] dreamers
genarti
copinggoggles sent out a general request for a story based on "She Moved Through The Fair." (Lyrics here, for the version I used and for links to a couple others.)

I'm not sure if this story was the kind of thing she meant, but it's what I came up with.


She Went Her Way Homeward

The fair is a place to find things. Not just cattle in the pens and cheese and apples and onions in farm-wagons and gold in other men's purses, though all those are plentiful enough. But if you are young and sharp-eyed and easily pleased you can find any number of things that others pass over: coins in the dirt, songs on the dusty air, games of hoops and stones at the edges of the crowd where bored children play.

And, if you are very lucky, a wife.

When he first saw her she was swirling through a crowd, blue skirts and tumbling brown hair and laughing dark eyes. He caught up to her by Thomas the chandler's, and asked her name. Maire O'Donnell, she said with a twinkling eye, and yours, good sir? He bowed in as courtly a fashion as he could manage -- which wasn't very, and so he turned it into an exaggeration for her and she laughed aloud -- and introduced himself as Kieran Connelly. By the end of the day they had talked for hours, laughing and serious both, and he had bought her a blue ribbon for a fairing with one of the coins he had plucked from the dust of the road earlier that morning.

By the end of the week's fair, they had traded tokens as well as names, and those he bought not with found coin but with the pocket money he had earned as his share of the sales of goatsmilk and goat cheese and kids.

She lived most of a day's journey from his home village, and she was a farmer's daughter, raised on morning milkings and hoed fields. He was a goatherd only, working for an uncle with great stretches of land and no sons. Never mind, she told him lightly. My mother won't mind and my father won't care, not if I choose with my heart. My father has land aplenty, and you can learn to milk cows instead of goats.

They kissed, tucked into the shadow of a great oak tree, and then he watched her move away through the fair. She slipped from booth to wagon as she was hailed, with a laugh and a wave and a greeting for everyone. Her hair was bound back with the blue ribbon, and her cloak pinned with the brooch he had bought her as a love-token. He watched until she had vanished into the twilight, with the evening star glimmering overhead, and then he sighed and turned back to help pack up his uncle's goods and ignore his friends' teasing about lovely Maire's dark eyes. In his pocket safe was the embroidered handkerchief she had given him.

But the fair is a place to lose things, too.

He never heard from her again, though he sent letters sealed with kisses and waited for word. On a free day he managed to beg the loan of his uncle's mare and traveled to her village, but she was not there. Sick, they said, with a fever, and sent to her great-aunt's house to get her strength back. He left worry and wishes with her parents, and returned home with a heavy heart. There was no more word for months, and then a single note. She was dead, it said, dead and in the churchyard. The fever had come back, and this time it had won.

But that night he slept -- once he could sleep, for silent weeping -- with the embroidered handkerchief under his pillow. And in his dreams she came to him, silent on bare feet, laughing in the moonlight as she had on that last evening of the fair under the waning sun and the rising stars.

He learned to laugh again, soon enough, and the next year he went to the fair again with his uncle's goats, and when he could slip away he wandered the dusty grounds looking for dropped coins and fiddlesong. But the handkerchief stayed in his pocket in the day and under the pillow at night, and always he watched for swirling blue skirts in the corner of his eye.

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That was beautiful. Although I always saw the girl in the fair as being pale, you've picked up the bittersweetness of the song really well.

*applaudes*

Thanks! Glad you liked it. :)

I think I was subconsciously blending her a bit with the nut-brown maid of "Star of the County Down," and that's why she was dark and laughing and known by everyone in my mental image.

*jumps up and down* I caught it! I caught it! The girl with the nutbrown hair!

*hugs you* This was lovely.

Yay!

*snugs* Thankee. :)

*sniffle*

So, you're just out to break me in pieces then? ;)

Nice use of images in this; I can very nearly see the crowds swirling around, broken here and there by a flash of blue. Your work has a lovely lyrical feel, as well.

*shifty eyes* Maaaaaybe.

Though, in my defense, the plot was kind of pre-scripted. :)

Glad you liked it!

That was lovely. Thanks. :-)

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