Henri in Faerie

Versailles 83

Versailles 83 (Photo credit: shogunangel)


I have another oldie for you today. It is not quite as old as Foes, actually it is quite a bit newer than that story. I wrote Henri with the intention of eventually finding an illustrator to work with and turn it into a children’s book. The idea was to create a book that would pique a child’s curiosity about both language and history. I would still like to find that artist and make this project come to fruition. Until then, I hope you all enjoy Henri in Faerie:


Henri lived in Normandy, on a farm, with his mother.
Henri and his mother, alone.
Henri’s father and brother were taken away to fight the English.
He was a good boy. Although he was only eleven years old, he was man of the house.
He milked the cows.
He plowed the fields.
He tended the horses.
“Go play, Henri.” His mother pleaded with him.
“But who will do the work?” Henri asked.
“I will manage for one afternoon.” She smiled, “Go play.”
It had been so long since Henri had played, he almost had forgotten how.
He went to the woods near the farm and turned over rocks, and climbed trees, and picked up a strange bug.
Then Henri realized he was not alone.
Watching him was a sandy-haired boy.
“Je m’appelle Henri.” Henri smiled and introduced himself.
“I am Puck!” The other boy smiled back.
Henri thought it was an odd smile. It was the smile of an old man and a little boy all at once.
“Let’s play!” Puck smiled wider.
Theh chased each other.
They chased a rabbit.
They played hide-and-go-seek.
When Henri found Puck again, his new friend was standing with three other boys in a field beneath a hill.
On top of the hill was a castle of silver.
“I am Tetsuo.” Said the boy with the blue rob. His hair was black and his almond-shaped eyes were a dark brown.
“I am Mathias.” Said the dark skinned boy with a shaved head.
“I’m Jack.” Said the blonde-haired boy wearing strange, skin tight blue pants with a skin tight white shirt.
“Bonjour.” Said Henri.
Then they played.
And played.
And played.
Henri started to think it odd. It must be night time, he thought, but the sun was still high in the sky.
Then he saw it.
The horse’s coat was so white, it hurt Henri’s eyes.
Atop it’s head was a pearly, spiraling horn.
Henri gasped.
He knew a unicorn when he saw one.
“Where are we?” He half whispered.
“We are in Faerie.” Puck told him. “Here we can play forever.”
Then she walked from behind the unicorn.
She was tall. Taller than any man Henri had ever seen. Her long, curling hair was like sunshine and her eyes bluer than the sky.
“Her hair is black as midnight.” Tetsuo’s jaw dropped.
Mathias and Jack smiled at each other, for they had been in Faerie longer than their friends.
“She is Queen Titania,” Puck put his arms around Henri and Tetsuo, “and you see her as you wish to.”
The boys stared a while longer and Titania smiled down at them.
“Let’s play!” Puck beamed.
And they did.
They played a long time.
Henri realized his mother must be worried.
He waved to his new friends and walked toward the woods.
Before he took one step in he was face to face with them most fearsome creature he had ever seen.
It walked like a man, but had the head of a hungry wolf. It’s eyes were brightest red.
“These are the Queen’s woods,” it snarled “and I am her Hound. None may enter unless she permits it!”
“But I must get home!” Henri pleaded.
“Then you must ask the Queen.”
Henri’s head sagged.
Nervously he dragged himself up the hill.
The gates of the castle were twinkling glass, yet something told Henri that the mightiest dragon could not push through them.
Before the gates were two men in armor. At least Henri thought they were men. Their faces were fairer than the loveliest maiden in France, yet their eyes were stern and Henri gulped as he approached them.
“May I speak with the Queen?” Henri asked.
“No.” The dark haired man on his left told him.
“But only she may give me permission to go into the woods.”
“Why would she do that?” The fair haired man on the right asked.
“So that I may return home.”
“Child,” sighed the first man, “you are a Changeling now.  Your home is Faerie.”
“But my mama…” Henri started.
“Will no doubt miss you,” the second man nodded, “but the Queen will not let you leave.
“No she will not,” the first agreed, “and we cannot let you disturb her with requests we know she will deny.”
Henri’s entire body drooped as he shuffled back down the hill.
He sat on a log and cried.
He cried a long time.
Then he looked up and saw a pretty girl.
“Why do you cry little boy?” She asked.
“I miss my mama.” Henri explained.
“I am sorry.” She pouted and sat next to him. She put her head on his shoulder. “I am Marie.”
“I am Henri.” He presented himself.
“You are from France?”
“Oui.” He smiled slightly.
“I am from Austria,” She lit up, “but I visit France and my governess teaches me French.”
They held hands as she led him back to their friends.
To Henri it seemed forever, and he always missed his mama.
Still he played.
He chased Pixies with Tetsuo.
He hid from Satyr with Jack.
He danced in Elven balls with Marie.
And he played chess with Mathias.
Mathias always won.
“You always win.” Henri told Mathias, his thoughts far away in Normandy.
“My father is a great general.” Mathias held up his head.
“Oh?” Henri urged him on.
“Yes,” Mathias continued, “he marches to invade Rome.”
“Why would he invade Rome?” Henri wondered. “Is he going to ransom the Pope?”
“You still do not understand how Faerie works, do you?” Mathias laughed.
“I suppose not.” Henri moped and stated at the chess board. “Why do you always win?”
“My father taught me,” Mathias explained with pride “to try to think as my opponent thinks.”
“Hmmmm…” Henri pondered as he watched Titania across the field.
He watched and listened as Elves fawned.
As Pixies cooed.
As Satyr flattered.
Everyone heaped praise on proud Titania, except for the Hound, and his adoration was plain in his eyes.
Henri started to think as his opponent.
Mathias still won the game.
Henri knew he would not have to wait long.
Mathias and Jack had both told him how Titania would send for all the Changeling children so they could regale her with tales of their homes.
When that day came, Henri was ready.
It was a good day.
He listened rapt with Tetsuo’s stories of his village on the cast of Nihon.
He was awed with Mathias’s tales of Carthage and its conquests.
His head spun at Jack’s talk of tall towers that reached to the sky, and how the poorest of the poor lived in them.
Then it was his turn.
“And what of you little Henri?” The Queen asked.
“My home is simple, and plain. It is but a small farm village.” He narrated, “but it has one distinction.”
“What is that.” Titania took his bait.
“It is home to the most beautiful woman in all the worlds.”
“The most beautiful woman on your world?” The Queen probed.
“No your majesty,” he corrected, “in all the worlds.”
“Really?” The Queen’s brow furrowed.
“Even more beautiful than your majesty,” he pushed, “if I may say so.”
“No you may not!” An Elven man spat.
“But it is true!” Henri insisted.
“Lies!” Growled the Hound as he leaped into the throne room. “You dare insult the peerless Titania?”
“I do not!” Henri was truly frightened. “She is beautiful. In all the worlds, only the woman of my village is more lovely, I am certain!”
“Show me!” The Queen towered over Henri.
“Of course,” Henri agreed, “Puck knows the way, he can show us and I can introduce you to the lady of my village.
And they left the castle.
They marched down the hill.
Across the fields.
They tracked through the forest.
Until they came to the farm.
The woman tending the chickens was bent from hard work.Gray hair peaked through red. Lines of joy and sorrow were drawn on her face. She looked up and saw them.
“Henri?” She cried tears of joy.
He wrapped his arms around her.
“This,” Titania stepped forward amused, “is the woman fairer than I?”
“She is my mama,” Henri introduced her, “and no woman, on any word, could be fairer to my eye.”
Titania smiled softly. A tear ran down her perfectly smooth cheek. She turned toward Puck.
“You knew?” She raised an eyebrow.
“I suspected.” Puck rocked forward on his toes.
“Henri,” his mother was puzzled, “who is this?” Where have you been?”
“I was lost mama,” Henri explained, “but mam’selle took care of me.”
“You tricked me,” Titania was not angry, “I am impressed.”
“I am sorry.” Henri was sincere.
“Do not be,” she knelt beside him. “For the rest of your life, when you dream, you will return to Faerie to play with your friends.”
“Merci, mam’selle.” He bowed.
“No, Henri, thank you. For reminding me of beauty’s true nature. I promise, no one will ever take you from your home against your will again.”
With that, she left.
Henri did his chores every day after that.
At night he played with his friends.
He grew to manhood.
At night he played with his friends.
One day, soldiers marched up the path to his house.
The captain asked an old man if a farmer named Henri lived ahead, for all the men of the village were to draw lots to see who would serve n the king’s navy. The man told him yes, and the soldiers marched forward.
Before long, the captain realized he could no longer hear his men. He turned around, and they were gone.
When he turned back, the Hound stood before him.
“No one will take Henri from his home!” He commanded. “Do you understand?”
“Oui m’sieu!” The frightened captain fell to the ground.
When the captain turned around, he saw his men standing there, confused.
At night Henri played with his friends.
He married and had children of his own. His farm grew and he became wealthy.
At night he played with his friends.
One day his mother could no longer tend to the chickens. She stayed in bed until it was her time to go.
At night, he cried with his friends.
His children grew up and had children of their own. He spoiled them and told them his funny “made up” stories of the Faerie Queen.
At night he played with his friends.
His eldest granddaughter grew up and married an aristocrat.
“Please grandpa,” Collette begged him, “Grandma is gone, Papa can care for the farm. Come stay with Luc and I.”
He did as she asked, and moved to Paris.
At night he played with his friends.
One summer, Collette and Luc took Henri to Versailles to meet the King and his young Queen. A familiar face stared down at him proudly from the top of the stairs as the young King and Queen greeted their subjects.
“M’sieu,” the King greeted him haughtily, “have you ever seen a more magnificent court?”
“Only one your Highness.” Henri bowed and looked to the Queen, “have you not my queen?”
“I have.” She whispered back in wonder.
That eveining Henri sat in the gardens to watch the sun set. Marie approached him.
“Who are you?”She asked both delicately and forcefully.
“I am Henri.” He grinned.
“But you are old!” She was very confused.
“You still do not know h ow Faerie works?” He asked amused.
“no, m’sieu,” her head dropped, “I had to leave Faerie. I have a destiny.”
In his heart, quietly, Henri cried. Puck had long ago told him Marie’s destiny. He stood up, kissed her hand, and bid her adieu.
That night, Henri joined his friends forever.




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