Juniper sat on the bower of his willow tree staring at the leaf scattered ground below. He was hiding away hoping that the human voices he could hear, intruding into his enchanted woods, would not come near him.
A twig broke under Juniper’s fair willow tree; he glanced towards the noise and saw two humans walking directly underneath his tree. He huddled his furry legs into his chest and shrank back into his tree. The woodland creature did not want to be seen. It wasn’t typical of the fey folk to want to totally avoid humans, in fact many delighted in granting wishes and giving gold coins when the occasion arose, but Juniper had a problematic past. You see, whenever Juniper was seen by a human he had to take them of a timely tour of the Fey Kingdom, rather than merely grant a quick wish, and then introduce them to their queen. Sure in his younger days he had wanted to do his feyly duties and take stray humans on tours but that had all stopped with the very first, and last, human he had encountered. It had been an unmitigated disaster that had nearly resulted in a massive war across the fey world. Thirty years had passed yet Juniper still shuddered at the memory.
“Look Mummy.” A child’s voice called out. “A fairy.”
Juniper froze in panic and peaked through the leaves to see a finger pointing towards him. His panic thawed into hot rage. He wasn’t a stupid ruddy fairy. He was a woodland nymph. A goat nymph at that, not a silly, pansy fairy. He had furry legs with hoofs, not wings with sparkles.
Oh, there were fairies. A group of floating flower fairies flittered over towards the humans. Relief. Juniper no longer had to worry, it had been the fairies that the little girl had seen, not him. She would get garlands of fairy flowers more delightful than anything found in the human world, rather than muck up his nice quiet life.
“Oh no!” The older human said, protectively grabbing the girl. “Not fey folk, not again. You get away from us.”
She started swatting madly at the fairies in an attempt to drive them away. Unfortunately this had quite the opposite effect than desired. You see fairies are a gossipy, curious creature and the hubbub drew more out to watch the spectacle. Some had binoculars to view better and some even ate popcorn. The woman continued to shriek and swat. Most people loved fairies. They delighted and danced in their presence. This was odd. Juniper couldn’t help but sense something familiar about this woman. He edged further along his branch until he was right on the tip and stared hard. Oh dear. It was her. It was his human. It was the little girl who had gotten him into all that trouble. Well, not so little anymore. He should have run away, he should have left things alone but he couldn’t help but feel a surge of protectiveness. This was his human. They’d been to hell and back together. She belonged to him, not them. And besides, fairies are really so very annoying. Before he even knew what he was doing, Juniper was rushing out of the tree towards his human.