“Do you want me to hurt him?”
Cyrille may as well have been drowning, and those words felt like they were coming from some far off shore. He’d thought he was alone in the library.
“Your brother,” Lisianthus elaborated, crouching down beside him. “The way you ran out of here when you got the letter he was coming to visit…when he gets here, do you want me to hurt him?”
According to gardeners, the Lisianthus flower had the aesthetic appeal of a rose, just without the thorns. Maybe the same could be said of Lisi by someone who didn’t know him well enough to see how wrong that was. With long pink hair and clashing magenta-gold eyes, he looked like the flower he was named for: soft, delicate perhaps, a creature to be picked, a safe choice for anyone looking to get close to the most powerful magic family on the east coast.
In the short time they’d been married, Cyrille knew better. Lisi wasn’t some thornless rose, he was the thorns. Get too close too fast and you’d find yourself impaled like some would-be hero outside Sleeping Beauty’s castle, never to be seen again.
After all, what were all those old legends of the fae ensnaring humans, luring them away to hell-knows-where?
But there was one thing that terrified Cyrille more than the fae with all their subtle magic of glamor and manipulation. It was the only thing worse than this loveless marriage, arranged by his family in hopes of earning the favor of the Larkspur family, who’d carved out their own little empire with all the brutal power and deadly precision of a mob family. After all, with a glance and a flick of their wrists, they could walk you into traffic and you’d die thinking it was your idea to stroll perpendicular across the highway.
If forced to choose between his brother and Lisi, Cyrille would’ve let Lisi lead him into the woods behind the Larkspurs’ beautiful old mansion and bury him beneath the moss and Oleander bushes. Not because he wanted to die, not necessarily anyway, but because he’d finally be safe.
Safe was a luxury he’d so long thought he’d only get in death.
It was human superstition not to give the fae your name, but lately he’d fallen in love with the sound of it in his husband’s voice. Lisi never said it the way his family did, like Cyrille was a swear, invoking the curse of his very existence. When Lisi called for him, it made his name sound something close to holy. “Cyrille, could you drag the potting soil over here?” He sat half in the shade in the part of the garden that bordered on the woods, digging through the flowerbeds.
“I know I shouldn’t be surprised you like gardening as much as you do,” Cyrille said, hefting the soil bag with ease, “But it’s still strange to see you with dirt under your nails.”
“Not known for getting my hands dirty, hmm?” Lisi mused with a smile. Cyrille didn’t answer, in fact he’d barely heard the question once he actually took a good look at the patch of earth Lisi was tending.
“Lisi, is that…?” It could’ve been a knot of old roots or the bones of a human hand, it could’ve been a number of things but Lisi shoved a flower into the hole in the dirt before he could stare.
“A mess of my flowerbeds? It is indeed! Must’ve been squirrels trying to store shit for the winter, we get a ton of critters out in these woods.”
“Anything I need to be worried about?” Cyrille asked.
Lisi fixed him with that terrible, perfect smile, the one only a fool would look at and see anything other than thorns ready to burrow and rend at the slightest provocation against those Lisi loved. It was a terrifyingly placid expression that made Lisi look like the fae princes of legend: horrifying in their ease and charm. Ask him a year ago, when they were first married, and Cyrille would say that wicked smile was the second most terrifying thing in the entire world, that he’d sooner be dead than think of it as home.
He sat down beside his husband in the grass, wrapping his arms around Lisi and nuzzling his neck as Lisi said oh so softly: “Not anymore.”
Alice Scott (She/They) is a queer short story author/indie bookseller who may or may not be a ferret turned human by a kiss from a handsome prince. Follow them on Twitter @Allyscottauthor for more
2 thoughts on “The Importance of Properly Tending One’s Flowers | Alice Scott”
Oh–Oh!! I love this!! It packs such an incredible punch! I love how how’s both short but full of depth at the same time! Adored this line: “Ask him a year ago, when they were first married, and Cyrille would say that wicked smile was the second most terrifying thing in the entire world, that he’d sooner be dead than think of it as home.” Stunning!! I can’t wait to read more of your writing (bookmarking and checking out your Instagram stories as I type!)