Cafuné by Joelsweet
He was late that afternoon. He was never, ever late. I lied in bed wondering where Illian was.. Perhaps he had left me? I racked my brain, trying to think if I had done something wrong; but nothing was coming to mind. Maybe Illian found somebody better than me, someone more handsome, and had abandoned me. A man that was smarter, braver, and less anxious. A man more deserving of such a wonderful person as Illian.
I sighed, and looked up at the wooden ceiling. I tried to go back to sleep, but my thoughts kept returning to Illian.
Why hadn't he told me that he wouldn't be here? He must have done it purposely, because he never forgot anything. Was this his way of breaking things off with me? No, I don't think he'd do that without talking to me about it first. Illian hadn't acted any different in the weeks leading up to this point, had he? No, he had been the same as usual. Logical and sarcastic and loving.
He always came over every other afternoon to spend time with me. Some days we cooked meals, some days we went for a walk, and some days we practiced magic together.
But every single night, after we finished whatever activity we were doing, I fetched Illian’s brush from a shelf in my bedroom and called him to my bed. He sat or lied there, folded his wings in, and then I brushed his hair for hours. Sometimes we talked during this time, and sometimes Illian quickly dozed off. After he fell asleep, I’d put the brush aside and gently run my fingers through his hair until I joined him in slumber.
I remember the first time Illian asked me to brush his hair for him. I was reading a book on my bed, and he was standing up on the other side of the room. He'd been struggling with his wavy black hair for a while, and finally said in a frustrated voice,
“Could you help me with this, please?” I nodded, and gestured for Illian to come over to my bed. He sat down with a plop, his wings spread out to help him maintain balance. They were the wings of a blue morpho butterfly; for Illian was a fae. The outside of the wings were brown with eye spots, and the inside was bright blue. He tucked the iridescent cerulean appendages closer to his frame and tossed his locks over his shoulder. “I forgot to comb it out before I braided it this morning, and now it's an awful mess!” he said, annoyed; his antenna twitching.
Looking at his thick, classic-length hair, I couldn't discern any tangles. All I saw was a midnight-colored curtain of delicate waves, with ringlets at the tips. I began brushing out Illian’s hair, starting at the bottom. Soft locks gently skimmed over my fingers as I worked. About half way up, I encountered some knots. I worked through them as carefully as possible, not wanting to hurt Illian. I finished untangling the hair, but then began just brushing it for fun. I reveled in doing this, and so did Illian. Illian was almost purring in happiness (although he would never admit that). I avoided his antenna so that I didn't injure them. After I was done, I separated the tresses into three sections and messily braided it.
And so, it became a part of our routine. Every other night I brushed Illian’s hair for him and braided it. I had the late shift on the nights in between, so we couldn't spend time together then; although I wish we could. We’re engaged, us two. But when my dad died, he left a debt behind that I have to pay. And, according to our country’s laws, that debt has to be paid off before I can marry. At the moment, I just had enough money for necessities and to pay the bills; with a little extra for a treat now and then (although lately that had been going to slowly paying off the debt). Considering this, it could be years before Illian and I would be able to wed.
But I'm okay with waiting for Illian. I love him so much...
That was my last coherent thought before I slipped into a fitful sleep.
The next morning, I awoke to find a stranger sleeping next to me. Quickly, I grabbed my glasses off of the stand next to my bed and slipped them on (they were taped in the middle), blinking blearily. Yes, I had seen correctly! There was a man lying next to me on his stomach, his tan cheek flat against the pillow. He was snoring lightly, his short black hair falling in his face. But wait… that's how Illian sleeps, isn't it?
Oh my lord.
I gently pulled back the blanket and saw familiar tawny, tan, cobalt and black butterfly wings folded and resting against the man’s back.
It WAS Illian. I shook him awake carefully.
“Illian?” I asked softly. He awoke, confused.
“What is it?” he mumbled, and then gradually sat up. He looked a little dazed. Illian reached behind to grab his braid and undo it, but… there was no silky plait there. He looked surprised for a second, and then like he remembered something. “Oh…,” he said, smiling sadly. Illian gingerly stroked the back of his head, then dropped it. He didn't look like he got much sleep, judging from the dark shadows around his blue eyes.
“What happened?” I asked, but it had a hard time coming out. I swallowed nervously.
“Umm…” Illian bit his lip and avoided eye contact. I took his hand; the one he had felt his head with.
“Please tell me. Are you okay?” I urged, concerned.
“Uh.. I'm okay, don't worry… And,well, I c-cut my hair,” he said softly and anxiously.
“I can see that,” I responded; somewhat bitterly. He knew how much I loved his hair.
Heavy silence fell over us.
I got a better look at Illian’s cropped locks. His head had been buzzed high up in the nape; perhaps an inch below his crown. The rest was roughly chopped a tad above his ears around his head; besides the back, which was shorter. He had cruelly and shortly cut bangs. His hair was so thick and wavy that the bowl-bob cut hybrid stuck out far from his scalp. I let go of Illian's hand and tenderly ran my hands through his hair. What was left of it, anyway. The ends were blunt and stiff against my fingers, and the shaved part was bristly feeling. The longer parts were still silken and smooth under my fingers.
“Why?” I asked melancholily. Illian gulped, and I could tell he was trying not to cry. He took a deep breath.
“I.. I sold it,” Illian admitted, sighing. I stopped petting his head, and my heart skipped a beat.
“But why?” I repeated, softly and confusedly. Illian looked at me hopelessly. There was sadness glimmering in his eyes.
“Because I couldn't wait, Morrel,” Illian murmured. “I sold it to get money so we can pay your debt and get married.”
“Oh.” I sat there in shock; eyes wide and cheeks burning. He sacrificed his hair for me? Illian slid his arms around my neck and embraced me. And suddenly I was crying.
“Th-thank you,” I stammered as tears rolled down my face against my will.
“Don't cry, my sweet.” Illian laughed, leaned up and kissed my cheek. “I would have cut off my wings as well if I had to,” he divulged, grinning.
I nearly had a heart attack.
“Illian, d-don’t say things like that!” I cried, and squeezed him tightly.
“I'm serious, though.” He rested his chin on my shoulder. “If I could be with you forever, I would.”
“I l-love you so much,” I sobbed. “Ugh.” I wiped my eyes. “Sorry I get like this.”
“It's fine! And I love you too,” he asserted. I relaxed my grip on Illian and then looked into his earnest (and slightly mischievous) sapphire eyes. Suddenly, Illian leapt off of the bed. He pulled his satchel over to him and began rummaging around inside of it. Out came a burlap sack. Illian tossed it into the bed, where it landed with a chink, and then beamed.
“Open it!” he ordered. I untied the string around the sack and gasped.
“This is more than what we need!” I exclaimed. The sack was stuffed FULL of coins. Tears were still dripping down my face.
“I know!” Illian said, smiling wide. “And I was afraid it wouldn't be enough!” he added. “Because the hair seller ripped me off..” he sighed. “He didn't pay me half as much as what we agreed on..” he looked a little crestfallen. “Hey, but that's alright. I got enough, which is what counts.” Illian climbed back into the bed.
In the morning light filtering in through the window, Illian looked absolutely beautiful. His silken, loose white tank top hung from his form and had a slight translucence to it; almost ghostly looking as it shrouded him. Choppy, poorly-cut black hair surrounded his head and caught the sun, almost like a halo. His tan face was slightly flushed; his cerulean eyes were happy with a tinge of loss in them.
And I realized something. I had loved Illian’s long, coal-colored hair a lot. But I loved Illian infinitely more. It didn't matter what he looked like. He was still my Illian.
(Did you like it? If you did, please check out my other stories ^^ Also, sorry for grammar mistakes, haha