Bright. That’s how he would have described the smile. Rare, too, if you had prodded him for a bit more. Perhaps rare wasn’t the right word but it was fitting for the moment, sitting across the table from the brown haired cherub that had caught his attention. The village council of White Pillar village had arranged a special dinner for the foreign visitors, of which the boy was one. They crowded the long rectangular table in flowing robes of lilac, azure, crimson, gold and whatever dye was ascribed to their country. The boy flourished a turquoise scarf over his honey-coloured tunic – the only one in the room. Although he seemed to be alone, as in no parents, beside him was his guardian-slash-fairy god something; a long haired, blonde old man who seemed to be a combination of bearded wizard and robust ancient warrior – save for the tiny, star-capped wand in his large hand. The brute did nothing to lighten the boy’s mood and only when the food arrived did something akin to joy wash over the boy’s freckled face. An entire roasted pig, tantalizing in it’s crisped golden-brown skin, sat atop the very leaves one would have expected the pig to eat, only fresher. The boy’s upturned nose wriggled slowly with the sweet smell of pork, lost to memories swishing past his closed lids.
“What does it remind you of?” The man asked over the curled tail of the pig. The boy’s eyes shot open, the shade of blue darker than his scarf.
“Huh?” Unbroken, his voice was a welcome change to the baritones of the men and screeching sopranos of the women.
“I asked what the smell reminds you of. Home?”
Thin pink lips stretched pulled to one corner,
“I have no home. It reminded me of hunger.”
“Oh yes, sir, hunger. It’s the reminder to all humanity that below our rigid masks of self-importance and egotism, we are all the same. We all get hungry. I like to remember being human.”
The answer caught the man by surprise, not only in its maturity and profundity, but in the revelation that if the boy was no longer human, what was he?
“So what are you then… if not human?”
“Hmmm.” He tiled his face upwards, lips pouting in thought. The manly-god-parent leapt on to the boy’s shoulder and whispered something into the small ear. The boy’s eyes widened.
“Angel?” He gasped. The boy’s eyes drew towards the man,
At this point the man was more than just curious about what the herculean imp might be whispering into the boy’s ear.
“But he’s a…” the boy turned his face away from the man and returned his whispers. They continued for a long while before both boy and fairy turned towards him. The voices around them seemed to dull into a whispered roar in the background, the smell of meat temporarily swept away to a mere whiff; even the light seemed to dim. In their place shone the boy in a golden hue encompassing everything around him.
“Well… as much as you are the great and powerful Grand Knight, apparently I am your appointed guardian angel! That explains why I can see your aura.”
“Me? Guardian angel?” The man laughed, the noise around him settling back in place to add him to the raucous. The boy smiled, his eyes mirroring the stretched lips. The rarity of it was not lost on the man, who sensed the boy hadn’t smiled in a long time.
“What will you be guarding me from then my young friend?”
“Loss of innocence if I understand Thoriel correctly.” He tapped his index finger on the head of Thoriel on his shoulder, “This is Thoriel by the way.”
“Greetings little one.” The man replied to the fairy. The fairy stomped his foot down, swept his wand around himself and disappeared in a golden sparkle. The boy leaned forward conspiratorially,
“I don’t think he likes you much.” Then another of those flash smiles the man realized was genuine joy.
“So have I lost my innocence my guardian angel?”
“Not at all, or you wouldn’t be able to see me. Like everybody else.” The boy gestured at the others who were too caught up in their own world to notice the man, or notice that he was seemingly talking to himself. The man recognized many of them as statesmen, seasoned warriors, knights, barons and baronesses; influential people from across kingdoms. Had they lost their innocence?
“So… you’re here to save me from losing my innocence?”
“Not quite… more like here to guard what’s left of it. As an influential man will one day say, ‘All things truly wicked start from innocence.'”
Decided to go for something light this time. Too much darkness swirling about. Also, the quote was from Ernest Hemingway, just by the way.