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BHM What's in a Name? [SSBHM, MAGIC]

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Dec 2, 2021
New Zealand
(A variation on the classic "man stumbles upon a strange woman in the forest" story. Magical weight gain, weirdness, and eventual romance. Whenever I read this trope I always think about what happens afterwards. The happily, or not so happily, ever after. This story plays on that question.)

What's in a Name?
by Mopsette


A mist had come up. Stephen crouched in the brambles. His legs ached and he was still bleeding. Every time he tried to ease himself into a more comfortable position a dozen thorns hooked into his clothes and skin. He could still hear them, searching, calling out in the darkness. One of them had a dog. It would only be a matter of time before it caught his scent. He had to move.

He couldn’t believe they had followed him this far into the forest. The shadows of the nearby oaks slowly retreated into the mist. If I can’t see you, you can’t see me. The night air was heavy with the scent of damp earth, tainted with sweat, and the sharp tang of blood. There was a shout, and then another, coming nearer and a howl split the air. No wolves lurked in these woods – it was the bloodhound finding his trail.

Stephen leapt and staggered, one leg prickling – half asleep – and the other still bleeding. He pressed down on the wound and limped onwards, not knowing where he was headed except that it was away from the too close cries of vicious delight as the dog tracked nearer and nearer through the mist.

He stumbled on a tree root and fell, holding in the scream of pain that threatened to burst from his lungs. Crawling now, he dragged himself forward. In the distance, beneath the whoops of his pursuers and the shallow gasps of his exhausted lungs, he could hear the gentle rush of a stream. He could still survive this. Buoyed by desperate hope, he launched himself toward the sound even as his body buckled beneath him. Soft grass gave way to moss-slicked rocks that jarred his knees.

The canopy of shadows yawned open. A shaft of moonlight painted the world in pale and glittering colours. The gossamer threads of a web strung between two trees, the shimmer of water just beyond, and the dark shine of his own blood.

A figure loomed in front of him and he cried out, trying to draw away, but it did not move. A stone – a statue – no weapon held in its outstretched hands. It was a crude thing, its features marred by dirt and lichen, carved with the signs of the people who came before. Stephen used it to get to his feet, smearing blood across its craggy face, breathing hard, looking round for signs of his pursuers.


The soft voice startled him and he turned to see a woman. Except she wasn’t. This creature had more in common with a moth or butterfly, her tall, lithe figure backed by silvery wings that shone like the palest flame. Her skin, alabaster white, was clothed in silk so fine it was near translucent. Her head was bald but for a crown of flowers and two curling antennae. Her eyes, lashless, glowed like twin opals. She wore no shoes.

Stephen shook his head, disbelieving, stumbling backwards, but then he stopped – unable to move. The ground was ringed in a circle of light.

“I heard something over here!” came a shout, too close, and the bloodhound burst from the mist sniffling around the edges of the clearing. One, two, three of the hunters followed the dog, their bows ready, watching it closely. The strange creature watched too, her eerie gaze flickering between it and Stephen, who held still. He was convinced that if he spoke or shifted the light would go out and he would be caught.

“She’s lost the scent,” one of them said, holding up a lantern. “Look her – going in circles.”

The dog yowled, pawing at the ground, and Stephen shivered.

“They won’t find you,” the creature murmured, suddenly standing beside him even though his straining ears had not heard her move.

Not daring to speak, he looked up at her strange, beautiful face, searching for a sign of kindness or sympathy. Her fine features, sternly composed, held no such trace. “Why?” he coughed out, his throat raw.

“You are under my protection.”

That was enough for Stephen. He let himself collapse, wincing in relief and agony as fear gave way to exhaustion. It didn’t sound like she was about to murder him and – right now – that was all he needed.

She crouched beside him, her gleaming wings closing behind her. “Your blood has bought you time, but if I leave you here you will not see the dawn.” The creature sighed. “I do not wish to ask for more. Give me a strand of your hair and I will grant you sanctuary.”

Hair? He blinked, his eyelids weighted like stones, stars pricking at the edges of his vision. Everything hurt and he couldn’t summon the effort to move.

Something hit him across the face.

“Your hair – quickly!”

“What…?” He just wanted to rest. “Yes, fine… take it.”

He didn’t even notice as her long fingers plucked a single strand from his head.
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