There once was a young weaver who worked day and night at his craft. He worked so hard, in fact, that fairy-folk and elves came from surrounding villages to see him. Butterfly-lace shirts, satin vests, and skirts made from the silvered manes of unicorns- he could take any material given him and turn it into sheets of fabric, and then again into delightful garments.
At least, he liked to imagine that he could. You see, this talented, young weaver had an adventurous spirit. He never worked with the same material twice in a row, and never more than four times a month. It was too easy to get lazy that way.
So, each evening, after he'd closed his little shop, the weaver fluttered his wings and flew to the nearby forests and fields. He could lose hours there, gathering hundreds of abandoned spiderwebs and baskets upon baskets of petals and leaves.
One day, the fairy decided this was not enough. None of it. He was well-known in his part of the kingdom, yes, but royalty had never heard his name. Nor had he worked with everything he desired.
The weavers of legends- the few who went down in history- had all worked with the rarest material of them all: giant's hair.
Giants, or "humans"; as they called themselves, lived in a vast land far, far beyond the mountains. They lived without magic, poor souls, but were still dangerous creatures. Why, a giant's fist was as big as an ogre! To go questing in the land of giants was regarded with awe and wonder- a great act of bravery to be sure. To visit there, unseen, and gather what one needed... Why, who could ask for a better adventure? The weaver would there find this final, spectacular material, and he would return with stories to captivate the king himself! His customers were particularly impressed when they heard of this plan.
“Ye be a downright fool, Ari.”
“Thank you for your business, Mr. Greely! Always a pleasure.”
“No, I mean it. Little twig like yerself? Ye'll do no better than those poor elves. Last I 'eard, a giant still had 'em locked up, slavin' away on shoes the size of houses. Houses, I tell ye!”
“Thank you, Mr. Greely.” Hands buried in feathers, Ari dug his heels in and shoved harder. “Rrmph. Give the Mrs. and the griffonlings my regards.”
“They'll use ye fer a toothpick! Fer their giant teeth!” A last, parting squawk was managed before the door slammed shut.
Yes, all of the villagers admired the heroic, young weaver. There were none so daring as he, and he would surely overcome every obstacle to obtain the coveted hair. Off he flew, taking only his shears, two baskets of berries, and a pack stuffed with all the equipment and spare clothes he could fit.
I am a downright fool.
Teeth chattering, Ari wheeled to his left and flapped hard, barely missing a drop the size of his foot. He'd been hit by a dozen already. And, since they fell from such a ridiculous height, getting hit with each had been like taking a swift kick.
Thunder threatened to deafen him, and it drowned out the poor fellow's yells when wind took him. His delicate wings crumpled inward. Clinging to his baskets, eyes shut tight, Ari tumbled head over heels and prayed the end would come quickly. The ground raced toward him.
Another gust came from the West, tossing him the other way. It stole one of his baskets. It filled his ears with a terrible, screeching sound.
Oh, wait. That was him.
“Oh...” The wrinkled heap that was Ari untangled itself, leaving him sprawled out on his back. Blearily, he tried to guess where the sky had gone. Where angry gray and storm spittle had just been, there were only shadows.
His ears were ringing, his body ached, and his wings were screaming beneath him. He probably wasn't dead, then. Probably.
There was cool softness piled up beneath him, and a warm breeze flowing over him. Stifling another groan, Ari picked himself up and reached back. He winced when he felt the folds in his wings and began to pull them straight. Once that was finished, he got to his feet and looked around.
It was dark in here, but a fire's light gave it a cast of warmth. He followed the light to a candle twice as tall as himself, seated upon a dresser of unfathomable size. He was inside a giant's home! Craning his neck, he looked up to where he thought he'd fallen from.
Ah. There was a window, and one of the shutters had come open. It struggled in the wind, letting in the occasional drop of rain and fairy.
So where are the people who live here?
...Breezes weren't supposed to smell like that, were they? It wasn't strong, but it was...breath? There was a hint of peaches in it. He turned slowly, heart thumping, and laid eyes on his first giant.
She mumbled something, then nuzzled deeper into the pillow they shared. Her eyes moved beneath their lids. Dreaming. The ocean of (cheaply-made) cloth before him, then, was her blanket. And the rivers of gold that flowed over her shoulders was hair. Giant's hair. He had found it at last!
A flap of the wings sent pain lancing through his back. No flying for a couple of days, at least, so he would make the most of being grounded here.
He opened his pack. Tools and dry clothes greeted him, and he sighed in relief. There was even a loaf of bread that he'd forgotten about. He would have to find more to eat, since his berries had flown away, but he would worry about that in the morning. His giant would wake up and go about her day. Now, though, she was resting.
Taking out the shears, he grabbed a thick lock and hauled himself further up the pillow. He bunched twenty strands of hair as he sat. Then he spread them out and, carefully, began to snip.
So soft, but stubborn. He frowned at it, confused. It seemed so easy to manipulate, but it sprung back into its curls the moment he let go. He knew hair could do that, of course, but seeing and trying to work with it on such a large scale was challenging. He really was skilled with all kinds of material, though, and he had his remaining basket filled within moments.
She won't even notice, he mused. Maybe he could fit more in his pack, once the bread was gone. It would be worth leaving a few tools to make room for. He could always buy replacements.
A glance out the window revealed no sun. Well, he could still practice working with the hair while he was waiting to heal. His loom had been too heavy to carry along, but he did have a couple of crochet hooks. He took them out and set to work, determined to master the fascinating threads.
Ari woke to the sensation of falling. His eyes were half-open by the time he toppled onto the mattress. “Mmph!” He scrambled up, head peeking out over the blanket's edge, and watched as the giant stepped to her mirror.
She could squish me like a bug. He swallowed. If she caught me, she could keep me here forever. Like the elves.
The giant didn't appear to be in the mood for slave-making, though. Instead, she grimaced at her reflection and felt around groggily for her hairbrush. The bristles swam easily through her hair, and she began to hum to herself.
He should have been looking for a better hiding place, but Ari found himself watching instead. He could just make out the patterns he'd put in her hair from last night. His mouth pulled into a grin. She would find them, and she would be thrilled to see such art. It had taken him hours to get the technique down, but once he had-
The brush snagged on a ream of stars. He froze, horrified, as the giant tugged right through it. She complained, growing unhappier with every design she ruined.
What a brute! How could she destroy his handiwork so carelessly? He had thought she would smile, at least. Had she even noticed?
No, probably not. Well then. He was just going to have to make her notice. He had time to spare. Any practice he got here would mean better work when he returned home. First, though, he would eat his bread and find a safe place to sleep.
That night, the weaver waited until she dozed off. Scaling a bedpost proved difficult, but possible. He crept up to the pillow, hooks in hand, and hesitated. He could see an eyelash slanting out of place. It hung loose, ready to fall in the moment she opened her eyes. Gingerly, he climbed up her cheek and plucked it.
She turned her head and threw him off.
Eyelash discarded, he spent the rest of the night twining together strands, then arranging them into snowflakes. She ripped them out in the morning, and cried a bit when her brush caught the largest one.
Maybe knots weren't the right way to go about this. He certainly hadn't meant to harm her, and he did have other skills.
She came in the next night with her hair trimmed to her shoulders.
Guilt prodded him to do something genuinely nice for the lady. After removing his scarf, Ari cringed and ripped out all of the enchanted flowers he had sewn in. Their delicate petals looked marvelous against her hair. He twined them in gently until they made a ring around her head. She looked like a princess, that way, and there weren't any knots involved.
She stared when she found them. Then, dismayed, she began to claw at the tiny, white flakes in her hair.
He decided “dandruff” must have been a curse word.
Phoenix feathers. He was going to do something nice for her, or he was going to die trying!
The following night was a fitful one for her, and Ari had to wait until her dreams calmed to get close. Noticing the sweat on her brow, he paused by her ear. “It's okay,” he murmured, heart hammering. “You're all right, Miss. Please don't worry. Also, could you stay asleep a while longer?”
She did. She didn't even feel him tugging strands into thick ropes. And when he forced his aching wings to help him lift, she didn't hear. She slept peacefully through the night.
Ari, on the other hand, huffed and heaved and slaved the hours away. One rope was laid over the first, and a third across both of those. The middle one was plucked up and moved to the side. Again and again, all while working in the kite-sized petals he'd stolen from a flower arrangement. He was so exhausted by the end, he completely forgot to hide himself. Ari fell into a dead sleep.
The fairy snuggled up against something warm, only stirring when it twitched. One of his eyes opened.
His arms were wrapped around a giant thumb. Yelping, he scrambled away until his shoulder hit a wall of fingers.
The giant yelped back and quickly set him down.
“D-don't be afraid!” Don't kill me!
Ari tried to swallow the quiver in his throat. “I'm a we-weaver, my lady.” His eyes traveled to the braid hanging by her ear, decorated with petals and tied with the remnants of his scarf. He gestured to it. “I only wanted to share my work with you. Do you...like it?”
The smile she gave him was confused, but it was the most beautiful smile he had ever seen. She liked it.
And she never once reached for that dandruff brush.