She’s always laughing and Ama doesn’t mind so much, her laugh is sweet not grating like her own is but now really is not the time.
They’re lost on their way to a funeral and Ama doesn’t think it’s supposed to be funny. Though by the way, Ceri has her arms folded over her stomach and she bends over and giggles at the ground, Ama think it might be a touch of hysteria rather than genuine amusement.
It’s hard to tell.
Her wings are beating in time with her laughter, and are a brighter red than Ama has ever seen. It would be interesting, and she would ask about it but again. Lost. On the way to a funeral.
She’s not stopping or slowing and Ama reaches out and touches her shoulder gently.
“Hey, Ceri, you okay?” she asks.
Ceri manages to shake her head before dropping to the floor. Her wings droop, and when she finally looks up Ama sees tears tracking down flushed cheeks.
“We’ll miss it,” she says, “we’ll miss the soul being released and Eri won’t know how much we loved her.”
“She’ll know, she knew,” Ama says, dropping to her knees, “the funeral’s just a formality, one of those funny human things we’ve taken on. Her soul won’t be released until we get there anyway, we were her best friends.”
Ceri nods, dropping down onto the grass.
“They have them in buildings,” Ceri says, on a slight wheeze, “can you imagine it? How is her soul supposed to return if it’s bouncing off the ceiling.”
Ama smiles, and stands, pulling Ceri up. She brushes some of the dark hair from her face, cupping her cheek for a moment. Ama thinks she follows her hand when she drops it but perhaps she’s imagining things.
“Why aren’t you more upset? You guys were in love,” Ceri asks, and Ama blushes slightly.
“Yeah, a decade ago. We were kids,” she says, “that makes me sound old.”
“You are old,” Ceri tells her and Ama elbows her.
“We both are,” she replies, and she links their arms together.
“Gonna be hard to fly like this,” Ceri says, looking at their arms.
“No need, I can see the smoke, we’re nearly there.”
Ceri relaxes a little and Ama is a little annoyed she hadn’t noticed how tense the other fairy was. Still, she’s tense too, these gatherings are never easy. Lots of old memories and even though they joke about being old, Eri wasn’t even forty when she died. Perhaps it’s shock that has dulled Ama’s senses down so that she isn’t collapsing in a field on the outskirts of Day country in the middle of the day.
The bonfire is relatively small in comparison to some funerals Ama has been too, and that’s a thought that depresses her. Having something to compare this too, having more than one to compare it too. The crowd is large though, Eri was sweet, well-liked, friends with everyone she ever met.
Eri would want all these people here too.
It is a formality though, her soul is gone, back into the air where it belongs. Her body disintegrated and only her wings remain, bright green like her eyes, Ama will always remember that.
“Just in time,” Mouka says, urging the two of them forward and Ama has to let got of Ceri quickly before she pulls her over in the rush. They come to a stop in front of the fire, where Eri’s wings lay on the grass. She’s not ready to see them, she realises, they still have some shine, but no life. They’re so utterly still and Ama thinks she’s about to crack when Mouka reaches out down and takes one, handing Ama the other.
“Me?” she squeaks
“Eri insisted,” Roufi tells her, coming to stand next to her, tawny wings flapping back and forth to a slow beat. “Her mother and her best friend.”
“You’ve known Eri since you were both six years old.”
Ama can’t argue with that, in fact, she spies a few other friends of theirs from when they were that little. Faces she remembers belonging to names she has forgotten. She’ll be reminded in time, it’ll probably come to her in dreams later.
She feels Ceri’s hand on her shoulder and smiles. She brushes her hands over the wings, cold as always, but her fingers snag on the thin webbing like never before. Eri’s wings weren’t particularly sensitive, but she felt pain easily.
However she died, it hurt, and Ama finally cries.
She manages though, to cast the wing she holds into the flames as Eri’s mother does the same beside her. The fire rips through them, there is a flash of green and then they are gone.
So is Eri.
She does collapse then and Ceri is back by her side, helping her up this time and holding her as she cries.
“I got you,” she says and Ama can’t even see her through her tears, to see if Ceri is crying too.
When she kisses her she tastes tears but then, she’s crying really hard. Ceri pulls back after a moment, wiping her own cheeks before doing to the same for Ama with her thumbs. It’s useless though because she can stop crying.
“That was weird right?” Ama splutters and Ceri laughs.
“The timing more than anything,” she says, but she embraces her, pulls her close for a long moment as the fire burns behind them and the rest of the mourners are forgotten.