She hadn’t changed at all, except for her hair that had once been black and straight but was now an effusion of silver curls. “Kari,” she said, and strode towards her.
Kari surrendered to her mother’s embrace, to the protective arms that had not held her for over twenty years. “Why?” she whispered. “Why did you never come back?”
“I’m sorry, my love,” she whispered back. “I’m so sorry. I tried. I really tried. But the forest wouldn’t let me go – just as it will never let you go, now that you are here.”
Kari pulled away and looked at her in confusion. A single tear rolled from her mother’s eye. Before it could fall from her cheek, Acorn swept down and captured the twinkling tear, binding it with silver thread and winding the ends into a delicate necklace. “Thank you, Acorn,” she said as the fairy tied it about her neck.
Kari nodded her understanding and acceptance. “You are the Silver Queen.”
“I am, and it has brought me great happiness – though I was almost mad with grief until the Oracle foretold your coming. I have waited for this day for so long.”
Her mother turned to Lisa and smiled warmly. “In slaying the dragon and the silver knight, you have earned the friendship of the forest. As long as my daughter loves you, you are free to go and come as you wish.”
Lisa glanced at Kari, clearly as startled as Kari herself by that declaration, before nodding respectfully. “Thank you, Your Majesty.”
“I know what your quest is, and for your friendship with my daughter I am willing to give you this.” She took the twinkling necklace from around her own neck and fastened it about Lisa’s. “The last tear I shall ever shed.”
Kari’s mother nodded, and turned back to her daughter. “I have so much to tell you – so much I wish to say – but it can wait until tomorrow. Look for me when your friend has gone.” She looked up and around, and spotted Acorn and the other fairies watching curiously from a low branch. “Come, my friends. You have fulfilled the promise you made me. There must be some way I can repay you.”
They flew down, laughing and singing as they circled about her. Somehow Kari understood their language, though it was strange to her. “Come with us,” they said, leading her into the forest. “We have so many new songs to sing.”
Kari was left alone with Lisa, whose deepening flush of embarrassment matched the one Kari could feel heating her own cheeks. “I was hoping you would come with me,” Lisa said quietly.
Kari shook her head. “I can’t. I belong to the forest now. Will you come back?”
“I don’t know.” They stood in silence for minute, not quite able to make eye contact. “Do you love me?” Lisa asked.
“I do.” That was one thing Kari was sure of. “We’ve known each other such a short time,” she said, “but I know that I’m going to miss you terribly.”
“But what about this?” Lisa demanded, suddenly angry and pointing at herself. “Could you love this?”
Not for the first time, Kari tried to imagine herself kissing Lisa, or even making love to her. As usual, it left her with very mixed feelings. “I don’t know.”
Lisa nodded, and looked at the apple. “Acorn gave me this. She said it would make my dreams come true.”
“Fairy magic is powerful, but it doesn’t last. Your dream wouldn’t last. You would have a few hours of happiness, at most a day.”
Lisa sighed heavily. “Can’t we have that at least? A few perfect hours together before I must go?”
Kari smiled. “I’d like that. I’d like to see your dream come true.”
Still Lisa hesitated. “I don’t know what this will do. Whether it will change me, or you, or both of us.”
Kari stepped closer and kissed her. “Let’s find out.”
Lisa positively glowed in response. “I love you, Kari,” she said, and bit into the apple.
The song of the fairy magic was deafening, and more like a choir than a soloist. The words of the song and their intent escaped Kari, however, and their effect, if any, was subtle. Not until Lisa was down to the core was the changing apparent. “Your hair is growing,” Kari said, running her fingers through the increasingly long curtain of fine, blonde hair.
“Not the only thing,” Lisa observed, her voice breaking like an adolescent boy’s. Her hands caressed her chest lightly, and Kari tugged her tunic and undershirt off to reveal a body that was still powerfully muscular, but now unquestionably feminine – with more than a suggestion of breasts, and very prominent nipples. Lisa’s face, similarly, softened at the edges; framed by the blonde hair that now fell past her shoulders, she was very pretty indeed.
“Wow,” Kari said. “Soon you’ll be making the naiads jealous.” Laughing at this, she tugged down Lisa’s trousers. “Let’s see how complete the change is.”
Lisa’s fingers explored the smoothness between her legs, even as the transformation continued. “I have dreamed of being this way,” she said, her voice now as feminine as the rest of her, and Kari was startled to see tears forming.
“You are cruel indeed to show me this,” Kari said teasingly, “and then deprive me of it.”
“Let us not talk of leaving.” Lisa pulled Kari tight against her and kissed her hungrily. “Why am I the only one who’s naked here?”