Briars and Vinegar: For 100 Years, a story of fae-apoc post apoc for the Giraffe Call

For Stryck‘s prompt, although title from Rix_scaedu‘s prompt.

Part 3 of 4.

Fae Apoc has a landing page here.

Part 1: Briars and Vinegar (LJ)
Part 2: Briars and Vinegar: Blood on the Snow (LJ)

Bleeding, damp, and frozen, the three of them made it through the hedge of roses and crawled weakly towards the house.

The snow was falling in earnest now, covering their path, covering them as they struggled the last twenty meters, their clothing torn, their skin rended.

“If we never do that again,” Jeri mumbled,

“Yeah. I’ll count us lucky.” None of them mentioned that they would have to leave again. None of them were certain they could.

It was Clarence who made it to his feet to try the doorknob and, finding it locked, pushed off a mitten to pick the latch. They could break a window – but they would need the building as intact as it could be if they were going to survive.

It was Jeri who pushed the door shut again, making sure they’d all gotten in, with all their gear; it was Darrel who, knife out, began to clear the place, slowly but professionally. It would do them no good at all to get warm, only to be eaten by a monster or killed by a feral human for their gear.

“It seems warm in here,” Jeri murmured. “Some sort of geothermal heating system, maybe, old tech?”

It did, indeed, seem warm. “Could just be that we’re frozen,” Clarence pointed out. “There’s no wind here, so it seems warmer. It’s well-insulated, at least.”

“Guys,” Darrel called urgently. “Guys, come here.”

Knives out, they limped into the other room as quickly as they could, to find Darrel staring in distress at the bed.

There, in the bed, wrapped in blankets, her hair in a braid that reached onto the floor, slept – slept, because they could see her moving – a beautiful girl, no older than they were, maybe younger, with perfect-pale skin and ridiculously long lashes.

And, as they stood there gaping, roses began growing up around her, briars, mostly, with one white flower. She sat up, slowly, and they could see she was wearing a long-sleeved gown. “Goo ahway, plis, end noobahdy nids tah gite hahrt.”

Her accent was so thick, they could barely understand her. “It’s storming outside,” Clarence tried, speaking very slowly.

“Wine-tyre?” she asked, slowly. “Uhlyridih?”

“We were surprised, too. We don’t have gear for this weather.”

The roses stopped growing, and the girl stood up. “Steey,” she said, her speech becoming more comprehensible as they got used to the odd accent. “If you mean nah harm.”

“We mean you no harm,” he assured her. “We just want to warm up and dry off.” He turned to his friends, but they were staring at the girl in awe.

“Clarence,” Jeri said, very quietly, “she made those roses grow from nothing.”

“Fae,” Darrel whispered. “She’s a fae.”

“I am,” the girl agreed, “but the saddest sample you’ll evah find. That,” she gestured at the roses. “That’s all I can do.”

Clarence took a moment to digest that. “You’re a Fair Folk. A magic one. A myth…”

“…with the sole and entahre power of growing roses. Yes. You see why I hide out here?”

Part four is: Briars and Vinegar: Sharp and Bitter (LJ)

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