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Ethan had forgotten his worries of the day and the biting chill in the air as he gazed at the pale woman’s perfect face.

“The night is cold, and my bed awaits,” she said in a soft, alluring voice. She held out an ivory hand, her skin almost shining in the moonlight. “Follow.”

Ethan reached out, but her hand was already gone, and she stood several feet away, lilting a chuckle that encouraged him to give chase.

What had he been worried about earlier?

Something about his reputation… something he had done… hadn’t it been wrong? No, he thought, it wasn’t important. He shook the thoughts away, took three steps more, and blinked.

The pale woman peeked out from behind a nearby tree, curling a beckoning finger. Her waves of pitch black hair seemed almost alive as they swayed in the freezing wind. He forgot what he had been thinking and followed after her, a reckless grin upon his face and no care for the shiver running along his skin.

She led, and he followed, to a frozen pool.

Its ice glittered gently beneath the moon’s watch. He took in the bright face in the sky, then looked down and caught sight of the woman again. She was just reaching the far side of the pond, taking her last step from the ice onto land once more.

The pale woman turned, ocean-blue eyes teasing. “Follow,” she crooned, her voice melodic and intoxicating.

Ethan fought down his nervousness at crossing the small pond. He saw not a crack in the ice to fear.

What had he been fearful of earlier?

He couldn’t summon it to his mind. Not important, he decided, and forgot once more.


Ethan took a step onto the ice of the pool and found it solid. He took another, and another, entranced by her stare.

Then he reached the pale woman, and he realized dimly that she had met him halfway, in the center of the frozen water. This close to her presence, he lost all sense, and did not spare a thought to the stability of the ice beneath his boots. All he could see was her face.

She smiled, and his heart instinctively pounded in his chest. Her razor sharp teeth should have sent him running, screaming for his life, but it was too late. He was caught by her spell.

“Two chances you have had to flee,” intoned the woman, her voice like liquid velvet. As she spoke, the azure of her eyes gave way to the white of Winter’s heart. “Harken well unto to your third.”

Ethan knew he should be terrified.

He stared at the face of his death, yet her spell held firm. He nodded slowly, taking in her words, knowing better than to speak.

The pale woman reached out and placed one finger upon his shirt, and frost formed at her touch. “Tell me, mortal,” she murmured, “if you regret what you have done.”

For a moment, Ethan was confused. Yes, he regretted following this fae very much. He’d been warned since he was young—oh… oh no. “Oh God,” he whispered.

The finger pressed against his shirt, and he felt the sting of frost on his skin now. “Your god cannot help you, mortal,” the woman mocked. Her pointed white teeth flashed. “Speak to me the truth.”

As her touch compelled him, Ethan felt the truth beginning to fight its way outward. He remembered the night, knew what the fae was asking about. The girl… the girl he had… she had been drunk. He—

The truth wrenched its way out of his throat. “No,” he felt his mouth say.

They found his body in late spring, when the pond had finally melted, long after all around it had become green and warm again.

Ariel Cross

Ariel Cross is a fantasy author and blogger with a love for representation and subversion. To them, happiness is a warm glass of mead on a cold day.

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