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Here’s a story about changelings: 

Mary was a beautiful baby, sweet and affectionate, but by the time she’s three she’s turned difficult and strange, with fey moods and a stubborn mouth that screams and bites but never says mama. But her mother’s well-used to hard work with little thanks, and when the village gossips wag their tongues she just shrugs, and pulls her difficult child away from their precious, perfect blossoms, before the bites draw blood. Mary’s mother doesn’t drown her in a bucket of saltwater, and she doesn’t take up the silver knife the wife of the village priest leaves out for her one Sunday brunch. 

She gives her daughter yarn, instead, and instead of a rowan stake through her inhuman heart she gives her a child’s first loom, oak and ash. She lets her vicious, uncooperative fairy daughter entertain herself with games of her own devising, in as much peace and comfort as either of them can manage.

Mary grows up strangely, as a strange child would, learning everything in all the wrong order, and biting a great deal more than she should. But she also learns to weave, and takes to it with a grand passion. Soon enough she knows more than her mother–which isn’t all that much–and is striking out into unknown territory, turning out odd new knots and weaves, patterns as complex as spiderwebs and spellrings. 

“Aren’t you clever,” her mother says, of her work, and leaves her to her wool and flax and whatnot. Mary’s not biting anymore, and she smiles more than she frowns, and that’s about as much, her mother figures, as anyone should hope for from their child. 

Mary still cries sometimes, when the other girls reject her for her strange graces, her odd slow way of talking, her restless reaching fluttering hands that have learned to spin but never to settle. The other girls call her freak, witchblood, hobgoblin.

“I don’t remember girls being quite so stupid when I was that age,” her mother says, brushing Mary’s hair smooth and steady like they’ve both learned to enjoy, smooth as a skein of silk. “Time was, you knew not to insult anyone you might need to flatter later. ‘Specially when you don’t know if they’re going to grow wings or horns or whatnot. Serve ‘em all right if you ever figure out curses.”

“I want to go back,” Mary says. “I want to go home, to where I came from, where there’s people like me. If I’m a fairy’s child I should be in fairyland, and no one would call me a freak.”

“Aye, well, I’d miss you though,” her mother says. “And I expect there’s stupid folk everywhere, even in fairyland. Cruel folk, too. You just have to make the best of things where you are, being my child instead.”

Mary learns to read well enough, in between the weaving, especially when her mother tracks down the traveling booktraders and comes home with slim, precious manuals on dyes and stains and mordants, on pigments and patterns, diagrams too arcane for her own eyes but which make her daughter’s eyes shine.

“We need an herb garden,” her daughter says, hands busy, flipping from page to page, pulling on her hair, twisting in her skirt, itching for a project. “Yarrow, and madder, and woad and weld…”

“Well, start digging,” her mother says. “Won’t do you a harm to get out of the house now’n then.”

Mary doesn’t like dirt but she’s learned determination well enough from her mother. She digs and digs, and plants what she’s given, and the first year doesn’t turn out so well but the second’s better, and by the third a cauldron’s always simmering something over the fire, and Mary’s taking in orders from girls five years older or more, turning out vivid bolts and spools and skeins of red and gold and blue, restless fingers dancing like they’ve summoned down the rainbow. Her mother figures she probably has.

“Just as well you never got the hang of curses,” she says, admiring her bright new skirts. “I like this sort of trick a lot better.”

Mary smiles, rocking back and forth on her heels, fingers already fluttering to find the next project.

She finally grows up tall and fair, if a bit stooped and squinty, and time and age seem to calm her unhappy mouth about as well as it does for human children. Word gets around she never lies or breaks a bargain, and if the first seems odd for a fairy’s child then the second one seems fit enough. The undyed stacks of taken orders grow taller, the dyed lots of filled orders grow brighter, the loom in the corner for Mary’s own creations grows stranger and more complex. Mary’s hands callus just like her mother’s, become as strong and tough and smooth as the oak and ash of her needles and frames, though they never fall still.

“Do you ever wonder what your real daughter would be like?” the priest’s wife asks, once.

Mary’s mother snorts. “She wouldn’t be worth a damn at weaving,” she says. “Lord knows I never was. No, I’ll keep what I’ve been given and thank the givers kindly. It was a fair enough trade for me. Good day, ma’am.”

Mary brings her mother sweet chamomile tea, that night, and a warm shawl in all the colors of a garden, and a hairbrush. In the morning, the priest’s son comes round, with payment for his mother’s pretty new dress and a shy smile just for Mary. He thinks her hair is nice, and her hands are even nicer, vibrant in their strength and skill and endless motion.  

They all live happily ever after.

*

Here’s another story: 

Keep reading
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writing-prompt-s:

An old and homely grandmother accidentally summons a demon. She mistakes him for her gothic-phase teenage grandson and takes care of him. The demon decides to stay at his new home.

It isn’t uncommon for this particular demon to be summoned—from
exhausting Halloween party pranks in abandoned barns to more legitimate (more
exhausting) ceremonies in forests—but it has to admit, this is the first time
it’s been called forth from its realm into a claustrophobic living room bathed
in the dull orange-pink glow of old glass lamps and a multitude of wide-eyed,
creepy antique porcelain dolls that could give Chucky a run for his money with
all of their silent, seething stares combined. Accompanying those oddities are
tea cup and saucer sets on shelves atop frilly doilies crocheted with the
utmost care, and cross-stitched, colorful ‘Home Sweet Home’s hung across the wood-paneled
walls.

It’s a mistake—a wrong number, per se. No witch it’s ever
known has lived in such an, ah, dated,
home. Furthermore, no practitioner that ever summoned it has been absent, as if
they’d up and ding-dong ditched it. No, it didn’t work that way. Not at all.
Not if they want to survive the encounter.

It hears the clinking of movement in the room adjacent—the kitchen,
going by the pungent, bitter scent of cooled coffee and soggy, sweet sponge
cakes, but more jarring is the smell of blood. It moves—feels something slip
beneath its clawed foot as it does, and sees a crocheted blanket of whites and greys
and deep black yarn, wound intricately, perfectly, into a summoning circle. Its summoning circle. There is a small splash
of bright scarlet and sharp, jagged bits of a broken curio scattered on top,
as if someone had dropped it, attempted to pick it up the pieces and pricked their finger.
It would explain the blood. And it would explain the demon being brought into
this strange place.

As it connects these pieces in its mind, the inhabitant of
the house rounds the corner and exits the kitchen, holding a damp, white dish
towel close to her hand and fumbling with the beaded bifocals hanging from her
neck by a crocheted lanyard before stopping dead in her tracks.

Now, to be fair, the demon wouldn’t ordinarily second guess
being face-to-face with a hunchbacked crone with a beaked nose, beady eyes and
a peculiar lack of teeth, or a spidery shawl and ankle-length black dress, but
there is definitely something amiss here. Especially when the old biddy lets
her spectacles fall slack on her bosom and erupts into a wide, toothy (toothless)
grin, eyes squinting and crinkling from the sheer effort of it.

“Todd! Todd, dear, I didn’t know you were visiting this year!
You didn’t call, you didn’t write—but, oh, I’m so happy you’re here, dear!
Would it have been too much to ask you to ring the doorbell? I almost had a
heart attack. And don’t worry about the blood, here—I had an accident. My favorite
figure toppled off of the table and cleanup didn’t go as expected. But I seem
to recall you are quite into the bloodshed and ‘edgy’ stuff these days, so I
don’t suppose you mind.” She releases a hearty, kind laugh, but it isn’t
mocking, it’s sweet. Grandmotherly. The demon is by no means sentimental or
maudlin, but the kindness, the familiarity, the genuine fondness, does pull a
few dusty old nostalgic heartstrings. “Imagine if it leaves a scar! It’d be a
bit ‘badass,’ as you teenagers say, wouldn’t it?”

She is as blind as a bat without her glasses, it would appear,
because the demon is by no means a ‘Todd’ or a human at all, though humanoid, shrouded
in sleek, black skin and hard spikes and sharp claws. But the demon humors her, if only
because it had been caught off guard.

The old woman smiles still, before turning on her heel and
shuffling into the hallway with a stiff gait revealing a poor hip. “Be a dear
and make some more coffee, would you please? I’ll be back in a jiffy.”

Yes, this is most definitely a mistake. One for the record
books, for certain. For late-night trips to bars and conversations with colleagues,
while others discuss how many souls they’d swindled in exchange for peanuts, or
how many first-borns they’d been pledged for things idiot humans could have
gained without divine intervention. Ugh. Sometimes it all just became so pedantic
that little detours like this were a blessing—happy accidents, as the humans
would say.

That’s why the demon does as asked, and plods slowly into
the kitchen, careful to duck low and avoid the top of the doorframe. That’s why
it gingerly takes the small glass pot and empties it of old, stale coffee and carefully,
so carefully, takes a measuring scoop between its claws and fills the machine
with fresh grounds. It’s as the hot water is percolating that the old woman
returns, her index finger wrapped tight in a series of beige bandages.

“I’m surprised you’re so tall, Todd! I haven’t seen you
since you were at my hip! But your mother mails photos all the time—you do love
wearing all black, don’t you?” She takes a seat at the small round table in the
corner and taps the glass lid of the cake plate with quaking, unsteady, aged hands. “I was starting to think you’d
never visit. Your father and I have
had our disagreements, but…I am glad you’re here, dear. Would you like some
cake?” Before the demon has a chance to decline, she lifts the lid and cuts a
generous slice from the near-complete circle that has scarcely been touched. It
smells of citrus and cream and is, as assumed earlier, soggy, oversaturated
with icing.

It was made for a special occasion, for guests, but it doesn’t
seem this old woman receives much company in this musty, stagnant house that
smells like an antique garage that hadn’t had its dust stirred in years.

Especially not from her absentee grandson, Todd.

The demon waits until the coffee pot is full, and takes two
small mugs from the counter, filling them until steam is frothing over the
rims. Then, and only then, does it accept the cake and sit, with some
difficulty, in a small chair at the small table. It warbles out a polite ‘thank
you,’ but it doesn’t suppose the woman understands. Manners are manners
regardless.

“Oh, dear, I can hardly understand. Your voice has gotten so
deep, just like your grandfather’s was. That, and I do recall you have an affinity
for that gravelly, screaming music. Did your voice get strained? It’s alright,
dear, I’ll do the talking. You just rest up. The coffee will help soothe.”

The demon merely nods—some communication can be understood
without fail—and drinks the coffee and eats the cake with a too-small fork. It’s
ordinary, mushy, but delicious because of the intent behind it and the love
that must have gone into its creation.

“I hope you enjoyed all of the presents I sent you. You
never write back—but I am aware most people use that fancy E-mail these days. I
just can’t wrap my head around it. I do wish your mom and dad would visit sometime.
I know of a wonderful little café down the street we can go to. I haven’t been; I wanted to visit it with Charles, before he…well.” She falls silent in her
rambling, staring into her coffee with a small, melancholy smile. “I can’t
believe it’s been ten years. You never had the chance to meet him. But never mind
that.” Suddenly, and with surprising speed that has the demon concerned for her well being, she moves to her feet, bracing her hands on the edge of the table. “I may as
well give you your birthday present, since you’re here. What timing! I only
finished it this morning. I’ll be right back.”

When she returns, the white, grey and black crocheted work with the summoning
circle is bundled in her arms.  

“I found these designs in an occult book I borrowed from the
library. I thought you’d like them on a nice, warm blanket to fight off the
winter chill—I hope you do like it.” With gentle hands, she spreads the blanket
over the demon’s broad, spiky back like a shawl, smoothing it over craggy shoulders
and patting its arms affectionately. “Happy birthday, Todd, dear.”

Well, that settles it. Whoever, wherever, Todd is, he’s
clearly missing out. The demon will just have to be her grandson from now on.

this is so sweet. it made me want to hug someone.

i had to

I WOULD WATCH SIX SEASONS AND A MOVIE

Okay but she takes him to the little cafe and all of the people in her town are like “What is that thing, what the hell, Anette?” and she’s like “Don’t you remember my grandson Todd?” and the entire town just has to play along because no one will tell little old Nettie that her grandson is an actual demon because this is the happiest she’s been since her husband died.

Bonus: In season 4 she makes him run for mayor and he wins

I just want to watch ‘Todd’ help her with groceries, and help her with cooking, and help her clean up the dust around the house and air it out, and fill it with spring flowers because Anette mentioned she loved hyacinth and daffodils. Over the seasons her eyesight worsens, so ‘Todd’ brings a hellhound into the house to act as her seeing eye dog, and people in town are kinda terrified of this massive black brute with fur that drips like thick oil, and a mouth that can open all the way back to its chest, but ‘Honey’ likes her hard candies, and doesn’t get oil on the carpet, and when ‘Todd’ has to go back to Hell for errands, Honey will snuggle up to Anette and rest his giant head on her lap, and whuff at her pockets for butterscotch. Anette never gives ‘Todd’ her soul, but she gives him her heart

In season six, Anette gets sick. She spends most of the season bedridden and it becomes obvious by about midway through the season that she’s not going to make it to the end of the season. Todd spends the season travelling back and forth between the human realm and his home plane, trying hard to find something, anything that will help Anette get better, to prolong her life. He’s tried getting her to sell him her soul, but she’s just laughed, told him that he shouldn’t talk like that.With only a few episodes left in the season Anette passes away, Todd is by her side. When the reaper comes for her Todd asks about the fate of her soul. In a dispassionate voice the reaper informs Todd that Anette spent the last few years of her life cavorting with creatures of darkness, that there can be only one fate for her. Todd refuses to accept this and he fights the reaper, eventually injuring the creature and driving it off. Knowing that Anette cannot stay in the Human Realm, and refusing to allow her spirit to be taken by another reaper, so he takes her soul in his arms. He’s done this before, when mortals have sold themselves to him. This time the soul cradled against his chest does not snuggle and fight. This time the soul held tight against him reaches out, pats him on the cheek tells him he was a good boy, and so handsome, just like his grandfather. Todd takes Anette back to the demon realm, holding her tight against him as he travels across the bleak and forebidding landscape; such a sharp contrast to the rosy warmth of Anette’s home. Eventually, in a far corner of his home plane, Todd finds what he is looking for. It is a place where other demons do not tread; a large boulder cracked and broken, with a gap just barely large enough for Todd to fit through. This crack, of all things, gives him pause, but Anette’s soul makes a comment about needing to get home in time to feed Honey, and Todd forces himself to pass through it. He travels in darkness for a while, before he emerges into into a light so bright that it’s blinding. His eyes adjust slowly, and he finds himself face to face with two creatures, each of them at least twice his size one of them has six wings and the head of a lion, one of them is an amorphous creature within several rings. The lion-headed one snarls at Todd, and demands that he turn back, that he has no business here. Todd looks down, holding Anette’s soul against his chest, he takes a deep breath, and speaks a single word, “Please.”The two larger beings are taken aback by this. They are too used to Todd’s kind being belligerent, they consult with each other, they argue. The amorphous one seems to want to be lenient, the lion-headed one insists on being stricter. While they’re arguing Todd sneaks by them and runs as fast as he can, deeper into the brightly lit expanse. The path on which he travels begins to slope upwards, and eventually becomes a staircase. It becomes evident that each step further up the stair is more and more difficult for Todd, that it’s physically paining him to climb these stairs, but he keeps going.

They dedicate a full episode to this climb; interspersing the climb with scenes they weren’t able to show in previous seasons, Anette and Honey coming to visit Todd in the Mayor’s office, Anette and Todd playing bingo together for the first time, Anette and Todd watching their stories together in the mid afternoon, Anette falling asleep in her chair and Todd gently carrying her to bed. Anette making Todd lemonade in the summer while he’s up on the roof fixing that leak and cleaning out the rain gutters. Eventually Todd reaches the top, and all but collapses, he falls to a knee and for the first time his grip on Anette’s soul slips, and she falls away from him. Landing on the ground.He reaches out for her, but someone gets there first. Another hand reaches out, and helps this elderly woman off the ground, helps her get to her feet. Anette gasps, it’s Charles. The pair of them throw their arms around each other. Anette tells Charles that she’s missed him so much, and she has so much to tell him. Charles nods. Todd watches a soft smile on his face. A delicate hand touches Todd’s shoulder, and pulls him easily to his feet. A figure; we never see exactly what it looks like, leans down, whispering in Todd’s ear that he’s done well, and that Anette will be well taken care of here. That she will spend an eternity with her loved ones. Todd looks back over to her, she’s surrounded by a sea of people. Todd nods, and smiles. The figure behind him tells him that while he has done good in bringing Anette here, this is not his place, and he must leave. Todd nods, he knew this would be the case.Todd gets about six steps down the stairway before he is stopped by someone grabbing his shoulder again. He turns around, and Anette is standing behind him. She gives him a big hug and leads him back up the stairs, he should stay, she says. Get to know the family. Todd tries to tell her that he can’t stay, but she won’t hear it. She leads him up into the crowd of people and begins introducing him to long dead relatives of hers, all of whom give him skeptical looks when she introduces him as her grandson. The mysterious figure appears next to Todd again and tells him once more he must leave, Todd opens his mouth to answer but Anette cuts him off. Nonsense, she tells the figure. IF she’s gonna stay here forever her grandson will be welcome to visit her. She and the figure stare at each other for a moment. The figure eventually sighs and looks away, the figure asks Todd if she’s always like this. Todd just shrugs and smiles, allowing Anette to lead him through a pair of pearly gates, she’s already talking about how much cake they’ll need to feed all of these relatives. 

P.S. Honey is a Good Dog and gets to go, too.

the last lines of the show:

demon: you’re not blind here – but you’re not surprised. when…?

anette: oh, toddy, don’t be silly, my biological grandson’s not twelve feet tall and doesn’t scorch the furniture when he sneezes. i’ve known for ages.

demon: then why?

anette: you wouldn’t have stayed if you weren’t lonely too.

demon: you… you don’t have to keep calling me your grandson.

anette: nonsense! adopted children are just as real. now quit sniffling, you silly boy, and let’s go bake a cake. honey, heel!

honey: W̝̽̂̿͂͝Ọ̮̹̲̪̋ͦͅO̸̘͔̬͊F̜̫͙̟͕͖̙̋ͫ͌͗

that addition is a+ :)
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