Wenna’s wings glowed white in the moonlight. The dark dappled patterns danced as she fluttered toward the Home Branch. Wenna’s knees bent slightly as she set down on the rough bark. A hole in the trunk beckoned her with golden light spilling out into the chilled night. She took a shuddering breath, held her head high, and entered.
Every head turned her way. Fairy eyes can hide many secrets, but she saw astonishment in each.
Pernala rushed over and threw her arms around Wenna. “Darling! You’ve finally molted! And your wings! Aren’t they just divine? I’ve never seen white wings before!” Her own dark wings fluttered in silent jealousy.
Wenna backed away and twirled, giggling. Pernala still liked her!
A crowd gathered. They prodded her wings. They spoke glowing words. She basked. Jaega sulked in the corner, her black wings folded tight to her body. Wenna made her way over. “Guess being the first to get your wings doesn’t make you the best anymore, does it?”
A hush settled over the group and every face turned to the dais at the far end of the room.
Queen Mayrin stepped down from her throne. The assembled fae bowed as she waded through the crowd, her own dark wings spread wide. “My daughter. Long have I desired to see your wings. Long have you waited to come of age. But now, you must go into the night and tear off your wings. None of white wings may grace the presence of the Hall of the Home Branch. My daughter, you are exiled until you return with dark wings, or none at all.” She tilted her head, her eyes searching Wenna’s face. She whispered, “My daughter, you are different, and we cannot allow that. There are rules that even a queen may not break.”
The queen took a step back. “My people, we will mourn our daughter now until she returns to us. Let no merriment break this night of sadness!”
Black wings fluttered until they wrapped around each owner, a shroud of flight embracing each frowning form.
Every form but Jaega’s. A grin bloomed on her face.
Wenna stuck her tongue out at her in one last effort to save face. She spun, her head still high, her chin quivering, and stepped back into the cold, cold night. She leaped from the branch and let the air fill her luminescent wings.
Queen Mayrin was jealous. That was all. Why else would she send away someone with such beautiful wings? And Jaega? She had always been Mayrin’s favorite.
Wenna let the wind dry her tears as they leaked from her face. The moonlight gathered on her wings, shining into the dark forest.
Wasn’t it good to be different? Wasn’t it good to shine in a dark world? Wasn’t it better to stand out for who you were than to hide it?
Wenna didn’t even feel the owl’s talons wrap around her until it was too late.
If only she’d had dark wings, the owl would never have seen her.
This story shouldn’t have been written, but I was dared.