Author’s Note: Clarity and Mariposa are characters that I created for an RP on Discord. He was supposed to be an evil MirrorFolk of Isellta and be the complete opposite of everything that Isellta is. I had such wonderful plans for him. He, however, came out as an absolute fluffball who goes on an amazing self-discovery character arc. He has grown so much from his starting point.
So, I decided to introduce him over here in a small Christmas story starring him.
(Danadad and Clarissa are not my characters. They belong to their own creator — ballofflame on the NaNoWriMo forums. Mart belongs to fionaH on the NaNoWriMo forums)
The night was crisp and clear. The stars were on full display. And there was just a light layer of snow on the ground.
Clarity couldn’t remember being so cold before. The mirrored woods were not in a jungle zone, but he had no memory of it ever snowing there. And, of course, Danadad’s world was a desert. So, that was that.
He’d dressed in his warmest clothes, complete with a poofy winter coat that fwipped and whfffted with every movement of his arms. He’d also sent Mariposa, his familiar, into his shoulder to help keep her warm.
Mariposa was a white, fluffy, flying bunny with long ears, blue jay colored wings, and a long tail with a tufted tip. She’d come to life in Danadad’s world. So, she had never been exposed to cold weather at all. Clarity had no idea how well she’d handle it. So, he’d told her to stay in his shoulder until he said she could come out.
To be honest, he had no idea how she was able to go in and out of his shoulder. The best he could figure was it was similar to him being able to pull his wings in and out of his back. Maybe it was the same kind of magic. Or somehow related. It was something he’d have to read up on when he returned home.
He shivered as he walked up Raven’s driveway.
<What’s wrong, Clarity? You’ve been worried ever since we left Danadad’s world.> Her voice was an expressive trill, but he could hear her words inside his head because of their familiar-wizard bond.
He sighed. “I’m not worried. Just nervous. It’s silly for me to be so nervous. They were the ones who invited me here for Christmas. Still. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Isellta and I only know his friends from his memories. I don’t really know them as me and they don’t really know me as me.” He frowned. “I’m not sure if that really made sense.”
<Makes sense to me. Are you worried they won’t like you?>
<Why wouldn’t they like you?>
Clarity stopped in the middle of the driveway to consider how to answer that question. It seemed simple enough to do, but the answer was a complex tangle of feelings and fears. He wasn’t sure how to start untangling them. “I guess…I guess because I look like Isellta, but I’m not really him. They might see me and be creeped out. Or they might see me as some sort of imposter who wants to take Isellta’s place.”
An old memory surfaced, but its sharp edges had been dulled by time and by love. It couldn’t stab and pierce him the way it once did. Nor could it break and shatter him. The only thing it could do was just exist amidst dust and mental mothballs.
“But I am not Mart. And I am not Isellta. I am me. No matter how I look and sound, I want them to see me as me. Just as Clarity.”
<And so they will.>
“I hope so.”
Clarity smiled and resumed his journey up the driveway. “I’ll say this much for sure: It’s going to be weird to actually meet them after seeing them only in Isellta’s memories.” His large, black wings fluttered. “I’m going to meet Robin, Ambrose, Raven, Jay, Maelin, and I don’t even know who else!”
Mariposa trilled happily inside his mind.
Clarity stopped at the front door, took a deep breath, and rang the doorbell. “Who do you suppose will answer the door? Raven, I guess. It is his house. Right? Or maybe Isellta will. That would be nice. That would diffuse and kill any awkwardness that—“
The front door opened. A young man stood on the other side.
It was not Isellta.
The young man was at least 25 years old with tossled brown hair and one brown eye. A scar ran from the middle of his forehead, through his right eyebrow, through his eyelid and eye, down his face, and all the way under his jaw. Yet, despite that hard to miss scar, he had a good face. He was dressed in a simple Henley shirt, black slacks and shoes, and a black vest with sequined candy canes all over it.
I know him, Mariposa. Clarity mentally projected to his familiar. I KNOW him. This is Isellta’s Robin!
<Well, you should introduce yourself before this becomes super awkward.>
Right. “Um, hi. I’m—“
“Clarity. I know.” Robin smiled. “It’s amazin’ how much you look like my ‘sellta.”
“Well, I am his reflection. But I’m more than that. I’m a MirrorFolk of the mirrored woods. And I am me. I am Clarity.”
Robin nodded. “I know. ‘sellta told me all about you.”
<Clarity? Can I come out now? I want to meet him too.>
Mariposa emerged from his shoulder as easily and as natural as can be. She flew up to the top of Clarity’s head and perched up there. She looked at Robin and trilled her approval.
Robin looked at her with curiosity and wonder. “And you’re—?”
<Mariposa. I’m Clarity’s familiar, friend, and companion.>
“Famil’ar, huh? Sounds like there’s a good, long story ’bout you.”
Mariposa sparkled. <Actually, there is.>
Robin grinned. “I can’t wait to hear it all.”
Clarity nervously bit his lower lip before asking, “Do you mind me being here? After all, when I left the mirrored woods, I trapped Isellta in my world and tried to take his place.”
“I know. Like I said, ‘sellta told me ev’rythin’ about you.” His grin softened into a smile. “But he don’t hold it against you, e’en though he could. But he don’t. If he ain’t gonna hold a grudge ’bout it, I sure ain’t gonna be no grudge-holder.”
Isellta came outside, dressed in a red turtleneck and slacks combo. Fluffy white trim decorated the collar and cuffs. His face lit up when he saw their visitor. “Clarity!” He rushed forward and hugged him.
Clarity hugged him in return.
“Oh! It’s been so long!”
“Far too long!”
Isellta released him and just beamed. “How are you doing?”
“Very well. I’ve settled down in Danadad’s world with Clarissa and….” Clarity’s wings fluttered. “Oh, Isellta! I have so much I want to tell you about. So many things!”
Isellta took his hands. “Then, come inside. I’ll introduce you to everyone and you can tell me about everything.”
Clarity released Isellta’s hands and went inside. Mariposa hopped off his head and flew around to investigate the foyer.
Robin embraced Isellta on the front porch. “For the record, I weren’t fooled at all. I knew he wasn’t you.”
Isellta smiled. “Well, you had just seen me in the kitchen. There’s no way I could have changed my clothes that quickly and teleported myself to the front door in that small amount of time.”
Robin laughed. “True. But it’s more’n that and whole lot simpler than that. I know you, ‘sellta. I’d recognize you in a whole crew and clan of Isellta wannabes, clones, and impersonators. I’d see you. Just you. And he ain’t you. It ain’t somethin’ I can pinpoint, like the exact color of your hair or the shape of your lips. It’s somethin’ I feel inside.” He laid his hand above his own heart. “Right here. Somethin’ that tells me ‘This is my ‘sellta. This one right here.'”
“You didn’t feel that with Clarity?”
Robin shook his head. “Just you. Only you.”
Isellta looped his arms around Robin’s neck. “I love you so much.” He kissed him, a sweet, gentle kiss. “Merry Christmas, my Robin.”
Love and deep affection showed plain in Robin’s eyes. “Merry Christmas, ‘sellta.”