stefanie_bean: (anton smiling)
[personal profile] stefanie_bean
Chapter 3: The Greening of Brigid
Pairing: Anton/Original Female Character
Characters: Anton the Giant, Leroy/Grumpy, Astrid/Nova, Original Male & Female Characters, Regina Mills
Rating: T
Length: 1517 words
Notes: Set in Season 2, in Storybrooke, Complete

Summary: Anton the Giant is growing a new crop of magic beans, but what he really needs is a happy ending.

Chapter 3: The Greening of Brigid

On a fine Midsummer morn in the year of our Lord 1844, young Brigid O'Dea went to fetch the water at sunrise. Sixteen summers had she seen, and the yearning for adventure burned in her breast. But poor were her da and five siblings all, scrabbling out a crofter's existence in County Clare on the green isle of Erin.

A fair island it was, too, set like a lush emerald jewel in the breast of the dark grey sea, a fine bauble to decorate Queen Victoria's realm. And be assured, Britannia bound her province to her copious breast with bands of iron. For many a century had the men of Erin fought, but England's soldiers were stronger, leaving Erin to evasion and sabotage. The tributes were high, and the worst was when the young men of Erin went to fight in Britannia's wars.

A trudge of two miles to the well it was, as the old one close by their cottage was now dry as a nun's purse. So Brigid made the walk to the new well twice each day, paying the old one no mind.

However, on this morning which changed everything, the old dry well echoed with the most piteous cries. Brigid could have walked on by. Believe you me, she thought about it. The sun was climbing; the road was dusty, and she was already worn out from the milking and the baking. Curiosity got the better of her, though, so she went over to look anyway.

Brigid peered down into the dark well. In its shadowy depths someone yelled again, an old woman from the sound of her. So Brigid tied her own bucket to the creaking pulley and lowered it down. “Here, take hold.”

“Heave away,” came a voice like a rusty hinge. As Brigid pulled, her heart pounded in fear, for light as a feather the old woman was. Surely the woman she'd rescued was an Old One, one of the fae.

And indeed fae she was. She'd offended a wizard, who had cast her into the well, and cast a spell such that none could lift her out save a human. None of her own folk were allowed to help, or sure as you're born, she'd have been back to shaking her feather-beds and baking her bread long ago. As it so happened, the fae woman had been down in that well all day and night, and was mighty tired of it.

So to reward her, the Old One offered Brigid a choice. On one hand, in a few years a fine strapping Dublin man would offer Brigid a life of steadfast love, a secure home, warm nights under the comforter, a houseful of children, and then whatever dreams might follow the death-sleep of humankind.

But there was another possibility, too. Brigid could go into the service of the Green Lady. It meant the freedom to go at will at sowing time all bare-naked in the green-o, under the equinoctial or solstice moon. But there were strings. No apron strings, to be sure, but no one man's head to share her pillow, either.

And no fixed home. Rather, the wind would blow her like a leaf along the margins and the corners, into the wild places on the border between sleeping and waking.

Brigid might settle for a time in those special places, where the walls between the worlds were worn thin as a clipped coin. But else-wise she'd have to travel, and everywhere she went, the corn would grow high and the fruit would hang heavy on the branch.

“Will I die?” Brigid wanted to know.

“All things die,” the fae woman answered. “You'll fade in time, like all the children of earth. The mermaids get their three hundred, then back to the sea foam they go. After two hundred fifty years, the dwarves return to the stone from which they were made. For you, maybe a little less.”

“What happens to the fair folk? Do you die, too?”

“Don't get pert with me, girl. Our secrets are our own to keep. Will you serve the Green Lady, aye or nay?”

At first it didn't seem to young Brigid like a hard decision. Her own mum had died, worn out by bearing twelve children. Yes, her da had doted on them before their mewling cries faded to silence in the cradle, and he had loved her mum as well. Not that it stopped him from siring yet another babe upon her.

However, her da hadn't raised a fool, and Brigid wanted to know a few particulars first. “What are the terms?”

“Terms,” the old woman mused. “Smart girl, asking for terms. As you know, all magic comes with a price. Here's yours.” Then she told Brigid something astonishing. “The winds shall get a daughter on you, whenever they will. Just one is all they ask.”

“Will they steal her from the cradle?” Brigid's panic rose. She'd seen too many women die in child-bed; seen too many babes whimper and fade. To bear a babe only to have it ripped away, that would be too cruel. And everyone knew that the Old Ones, the fair folk, took children.

The old fae woman looked surprised. “Of course not. How would you ever have the raising of her?”

“That seems no price at all. What's the catch? How many others must I bear in the blessing of the fields?”

“I'll warn you,” the fae woman said. “Don't even think about potions or midwives' tricks. That will break the magic. When you lie down upon the land, the land comes first. The land takes from you what it needs. There'll be nothing left for the growing of a babe. Not unless it be a babe of the winds.”

“So I'll lie with men, but not bear?” That sounded too good to be true, it did.

The fae woman must have read Brigid's mind. “Nothing's ever too good to be true, Missy. I know girls and their tricks, their dreams, their secret ways.” She crossed her thin wrinkled arms, a little impatient now. “I've said my piece, and haven't got all day to dicker with you.”

But Brigid pushed on, heedless. “One more thing about these farmers whose fields I bless. Must I lie with any who ask? Or just the ones I fancy?”

The old fae woman laughed such a ragged caw that the blackbirds on a nearby bush flew away in surprise. “I've never seen such a one as you. You'd rewrite the whole contract with the devil himself. Yes, Missy, only the ones you fancy. I thought that would have been obvious.”

“Nothing ever is. My da always told me that. Landlords have been cheating him his whole life, and as the eldest I was always right there to see it. I was glad to pull you out of that well, reward or no, but I won't let you cheat me. I won't have any man that I don't fancy.”

“And so you never shall.”

Brigid thought about it for about three seconds. “I'll cast my lot with the Green Lady.”

The old fae woman smiled, her teeth white and shining for one so old. From her apron pocket she took out a coin of fairy gold and a long sharp needle. “Your finger,” she demanded. With the needle she pricked Brigid's finger, so that a single drop of blood fell onto the coin. Briefly it glowed red, then faded once more to gold. “Put it in your stocking, and spend it only in dire necessity.”

The bargain was done, sealed in blood.

Twelve moons later found Brigid's da dead from the Great Famine, all her siblings gone to heaven save two, and those given to the Sisters who ran the orphanage at Ennis. Brigid ran away so the sisters wouldn't catch her as well. The fae coin must have brought her luck, because even in the first wave of famine, the fields in which she lay still bore, at least for awhile.

Then the second famine came, and even Brigid's now-honed skills couldn't stop the potatoes from rotting in the field. So from her stocking she took the fae coin, and with it booked passage on the good ship Jeanie Johnston to the port of New York.

City life didn't suit Brigid, though, so she wandered from farm to farm, helping with the sewing, washing sheets, even reaping. In between she lay in the plowed furrow, as moonlight shone on the bare backside of some landsman who'd caught her eye.

As the cities grew and the farms shrank, Brigid began her travels across North America from east to west and back again, finally coming to rest in Maine. Casting her lot with the fae had been a fair bargain. So steeped had she become in the green magic of earth that she was close to fae herself.

And until this Sunday afternoon in March, as Brigid welcomed the Grey sisters into the Bread Basket for an after-hours brunch, she had never regretted it.


(no subject)

Date: 2014-04-12 05:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Beautiful chapter. I've been wondering what Brigid's backstory was and how she found her way to Storybrooke. I liked her questioning the fae woman closely about the price for this particular bit of magic.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-04-12 08:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"All magic comes with a price, dearie."

One of my favorite themes in OUAT.

Thanks for reading!

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-02 04:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Lovely, lovely chapter.

And now for the next one!

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-02 05:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks. I do so appreciate your reading.


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