She’s not sure what she was expecting but perhaps it wasn’t this.

Penna has never kissed a fairy before.

Bailey’s lips are cold, thin, but warm quickly against hers. She wonders if they are always like that or if it’s just because it’s so very cold right now. Not cold enough to force them together for heat; that seems to be an added benefit to the kissing as far as Penna can see.

“What are we doing?” Bailey asks.

Penna shrugs, she shifts slightly so she can reach Bailey’s soft green wings, running her fingertips over the tops of them. Bailey shudders.

“I thought we were kissing,” she replies, following a thin vein down the side of one wing. It doesn’t create as strong a reaction but she likes the feel of it beneath her own fingertips.

“We’re supposed to be looking for a way out of these caves.”

“We’re supposed to be building a fire so we can keep warm and wait until daylight,” Penna reminds them.

“Well that’s your job, mage,” Bailey sticks their tongue out and Penna swallows the desire to kiss them again. Instead, she conjures up a flame to settle on the rock floor. It will burn long enough, at least until daylight. Not that they can really tell. Bailey seems to be basing it on their stomach. Not that Penna has anything better to go on.

She releases the globe of light back into the ether and settles down on the smoothest part of the rock floor. Bailey paces around the fire for a moment, warming themselves up, rubbing their hands over their thighs. The fabric of their leggings is thinner than Penna’s own trousers, but their jacket warmer. Between them, they have an appropriate outfit for getting lost in the caves in winter.

The kiss had been an impulse, at least the actual action, she had definitely been thinking about since meeting Bailey a few days before.

Turns out when a gorgeous fairy asks Penna to accompany them to find an ancient fae artefact that could save the world she’s unable to resist. She’s not sure she’s the most qualified for this, her entire expertise is based on the fact that she owns rare maps of the Taynan cavern system before the humans and dwarves moved in. Bailey doesn’t seem to be qualified either but that doesn’t seem to have stopped Penna from following the fairy into the cave system.

Their backside helped she supposes.

She chuckles and Bailey looks at her.

“What?” They ask.

“Nothing. Bit warmer?”

Bailey nods.

“Yeah, guess we weren’t really ready for this.”

“I’ve never been on an epic adventure to save the world before.”

“Me either.”

Penna isn’t surprised at that, it’s obvious the fairy’s experience is rooted in book, knowledge. Penna can see it in the way they walk, analysing every step they take, noting every root they trip over and rock they kick. Penna doesn’t mind, though it did slow them down, she’s just not really the adventurer either. Nor the academic.

All Penna did was inherit some really old maps from a fae great-great-great-something or other.

They hadn’t even packed the right provisions. No supplies, just some snacks Penna always had with her and an extra jumper. Good thing she was a mage really. The warmth from the fire was already seeping into the rocks of the cave, the light reflecting off the metal in the stonework that didn’t seem natural.

Ancient but not natural.

“Should we sleep?” she asks.

“Probably,” Bailey says. “We would kiss some more.”

Penna smiles. Their first kiss was impulse and accident, Bailey tripping over again and Penna catching her and unable to resist the blush on the fairy’s cheeks or the dip of their head when they said thanks.

To kiss them again, deliberately would be wonderful.

Especially now they both felt so much warmer.

Penna shifts closer to Bailey, shuffling little by little until their legs are touching and she’s able to put her arm around them. Bailey leans in, eager and smiling, pressing their lips to Penna without hesitation. Penna moans at this, can’t help it, and the fairy takes advantage, deepening the kiss.

Their lips are warmer now, softer, Bailey’s whole body warmer as they move closer to Penna even as their lips connect over and over. Penna pulls her to lie down, and Bailey pulls away slightly.

“Hang on,” they mutter and they frown for a moment, then the wings disappear, folded away into Bailey’s back, special pockets on her shoulder blades for just that. They smile at Penna. “It’s more impressive when I get them out.”

“I look forward to it,” Penna says, tugging Bailey down, thinking about what they would look like bare, wings glittering in the firelight as the only adornment on their body.

Later, she thinks, when they are home and have a bed and she knows this fairy a little better. Getting lost in a cave system does not a bedfellow make.

Something like that.

Still, they’re still kissing, Penna pressing her tongue forward cause she wants to taste and touch and tempt. Bailey groans, deep and long and rolls to pull Penna to lie on top of them, pressing them into the dirt by the fire.

It’s not romantic, it’s not ideal, but Penna can’t really stop. Nor does Bailey seem to want to either, by the way, their tongue slides into her mouth and her arms slip around her waist, one hand on her back and pulling her closer, the other resting just above her backside.

Penna arches her hips up into that hand, forcing it lower and Bailey grins into the kiss, caressing her.

Maybe they don’t need a bed?

“We shouldn’t,” Bailey is breathing into her neck and Penna pulls back.

“Probably not,” she says.

“Maybe when we save the world,” they say.

“Creators, no,” Penna cries. “I’m not waiting that long. I was thinking of waiting until we get home. Or in a bed.”

Bailey laughs, blushing high on their cheekbones.

“I can wait until then.”

“I’m pretty sure I can too.”

Penna is mostly sure, the attraction she feels is oddly all-encompassing. A new feeling she’s not experienced before that has her making out with a fairy on a cave floor. A feeling that had her following the fairy into the dark caves in the first place.

They settle down together, Penna unable to resist pulling Bailey to lie close to her, their head resting on the mage’s head. They relax into the dirt as best they can, Penna’s head now on her bag. She can feel Bailey breathing slowly, chest pushing into hers on every exhale and it’s heavenly. The rhythm entices sleep but she’s not quite there yet, mind still racing, body thrumming slightly.

“So tell me how the world is going to end again?”

“Hmmm,” Bailey mumbles. “There’s a fae, called Brean, she wants to bring magic back to the fae.”

“You were mages too?”

“Once we were the only mages,” Bailey says. Their voice is quiet, and Penna closes her eyes listening to them. “Breeding with humans created the mages. And then the humans died out, and the fae lost their magic and now only the mages control that part of the universe.”

“Brena wants it back?”

“He’s angry, at history, it’s been so long since we had magic. No one living remembers, not even the eldest of us. Brena doesn’t care, she just wants power and he will either destroy the mages or destroy the world.”

Bailey lifts their head, Penna opens her eyes. “I don’t feel that way though, I don’t need magic.”

“You can always get me to do magic for you,” Penna says softly and Bailey settles back down.

They could, of course, be lying, be doing all this for this fairy Brena. Find this ancient artefact so no one else can. Except Penna trusts Bailey, feels is deep in the universe; not that it’s something most mages would agree with, her ability to feel the magic, the pull and push of it and how it reacts to other people. Fanciful her mentor had said, another called it wishy-washy.

Penna had ignored it for so long but now, now she’s surer than ever that she can tell when things are just right in the world.

Like this, now with Bailey.

They fall asleep together.

Penna wakes later on, in the morning she thinks, feeling something pressing against her back, snorting and sniffing and she screams. She scrabbles over Bailey, hitting the cave floor with a thud and pulling the fairy with her. Bailey shouts, sitting up and pulling out of Penna’s grasp.

“What’s wrong?”

There’s another snort and Bailey laughs. In front of them stands a brown pig, one horn missing, the other lopsided, sniffing the ground where Penna had been lying. He snorts and heads towards them.

“It’s a pig!” Bailey laughs again. “You were scared by a pig.”

“He surprised me. I was asleep.”

Bailey simply grins.

“Well, he is our lucky charm,” they say. “Pigs never stray too far underground, so we must be near the entrances to the caves.”

“How d’you know that?”

“Gramps was a pig farmer. I know a lot about pigs. First time it’s been useful though.”

Penna chuckles.

“Knowing our luck, this will be the one pig who likes caving.”

“Nah, they’re afraid of the dark. He probably followed the light from our fire.”

“How could anyone possibly know they’re afraid of the dark,” penna asks.

“You want to argue about this or do you want to go home?” Bailey asks.

“Both,” she replies but she grins as she says it.

“Make a torch and we’ll get out of here.”

Penna nods and creates a little ball of light in the palm of her hand. It’s cold, but she flicks it away so that it floats in front of them. Bailey is enraptured again, same as before, reaching out to touch the light.

“Icy,” they murmur.

They start following the tracks the fat brown pig made in the dirt and stone floor, missing his steps here and there. The pig is following them, following the light Bailey insists and they are arguing for a little while about the phobias of pigs and Bailey’s grandfathers’ endless knowledge of the animals.

They don’t notice the daylight at first. Penna’s torch is bright enough to mask it and the day they step out into is dull, the sunlight filtered heavily through dark clouds. As they do so, Bailey

releases their wings, the light green sparkling slightly until Penna extinguishes the torch that floats in front of them. They sigh, flapping them repeatedly for a few beats.

“Finally,” Bailey says.

“Finally,” Penna agrees and takes a deep breath. “And hey, look there’s the path back to my village.”

The walk back to Penna’s tree is short, a couple of hours that they pass mostly in silence. Bailey flies on and off, never getting too far ahead of Penna. The pig follows them too and when they arrive at Penna’s it watches them both climb up. Inside Penna kisses Bailey again, just briefly before she even drops the maps they were carrying. It’s already dinner time and she’s famished and leaves Bailey standing on the centre of her little round living room as she heads into the kitchen.

“You’re staying right?”

“I need to get home,” Bailey calls back. Penna sticks her head out of the kitchen and frowns

“You live on the other side of Aberfan,” she says. “You’ll be flying all night.”

“I can’t stay. I have to rethink this.”

“We have to rethink it,” Penna reminds her, coming back into the living room again. She wants to kiss them again, press her lips to the fairy’s and get swept up in it all. Regardless of how far Bailey has to walk or save the world. “We’re in this together.”

“I’ve only known you two days.”

“Less than,” she says as if it would help her argument.

“I’ll come back,” Bailey kisses her on the cheek, the first time she’s initiated anything and Penna is probably rushing, pushing, but she can’t quite help it. “Can I take the maps to study?”

At this she hesitates, looking at the maps she’s dumped on a side table without much care. But they’re still in her care.

“I promise to look after them,” they say, “and I’ll be back in a couple of days.”

Penna nods.

“A couple of days,” she repeats, watching the fairy bundle up the maps.

“A couple of days,” Bailey confirms. “Three max.”

Another kiss, on the other cheek and they’re gone, out the door and flying off into the night.

Penna feels it then, a shift in the universe she doesn’t understand and doesn’t like.