Izuku wasn’t afraid of the King Under the Hill.
Far from it actually.
Of course, he was angry with him.
He had taken him from his mother, from his home. From his life. He often tried to slip new rules alongside the old ones, or change the rules all together.
He also requested lots of things from him.
Requests that weren’t really requests at all.
After all, what kind of requests take parts of you in return? What kind of requests change you? Leave you less than before?
He often got annoyed by his requests.
To sing songs for hours, to dance until his feet were as brittle as twigs, to weave elaborate tapestries that would take five seasons to make.
He really was a bully at times.
But not like the bullies he used to run from on his way home from school. Oh no. He was worse. He liked to play with Izuku’s head, try and make him forget what he was, and where he came from.
But Izuku knew what he was.
He knew where he came from.
He was not Moon and Mirror.
He was Flesh and Bone.
And he regretted everyday eating that thrice damned pomegranate.
He regretted handing his name to that silver tongued creature. The damned King Under the Hill.
He was so desperate as a kid, wasn’t he? So desperate for even a drop of affection, he happily swallowed that poison without a second thought.
And he paid for it.
But not for long. He thought to himself, as he laid on a bed of laurel leaves, the darkened chamber only lit with crystallized amber entwined with the roots creeping through the walls. He made sure not to look at the walls for too long. When he did, they would shift and change, and wouldn’t recognize the room anymore, despite the fact he knew it was the same room as before. So he made sure not to look. That way the vines knew to stay where they were, and he wouldn’t have to shake them into submission as he’s had to do many times before.
He turned the trinket over in his hands.
It had been an accident really.
Some human, stumbling through the forest, unknowingly wandering past the entrance to this world, his cage, and dropping an iron ring into a crevice in the ground, all the way down Under the Hill. Of course when Izuku came across the fallen jewelry, he had flinched at the sight of the iron, instinctively wary after hearing the Fae speak of its terrible burns, the way it would make their skin boil and hiss like oil meeting water.
But, then he remembered.
He was not Moon and Mirror.
He was flesh and bone.
He’d picked it up reverently, tucking it carefully out of sight, escaping to his chambers, to his bed of laurel, to examine his new found treasure.
It was a rusted piece of jewelry, the hammer marks broad and unrefined, compared to the finely carved and twined silver the Fae used. It was almost ugly in appearance, but Izuku knew he would treasure it until the end of his days.
Because, now, he could bargain.
Now, he had an upper hand in the deal.
He took a deep breath, and slipped the ring unto his finger.
Standing up from his bed, he moved through the darkened tunnels, unheeding of the soft laughter and silvery bells that chimed through the empty halls.
He walked into the king’s chamber, moving to stand in front of the looming figure seated high above. The throne was made of flower and bone, cypress and marigolds twisting along the arms, tangled in the yellowed hollowed bones of doves as blackened thorns twisted around broken wide ribs spread like wings along the back of the throne.
The chamber was empty and silent, nothing just dead leaves and rotted tree roots casting the room in a bitter red glow.
Izuku steeled himself, and raised his head, gazing into the King's dark eyes“I’ve come to bargain.”
The king laughed, the sound vibrating through the earth. “You bargain often, and you lose every time....Izuku.”
Izuku hissed, the name aching like a fiery brand against his skin.
“I have had enough of your games. Do you want to barter or not?!” He yelled back angrily.
The man hummed, the roots and bones rattling loudly at the sound. "What have you to offer me?"
"A lock of my hair." Izuku pulled a strand from his hair, letting it fall to the floor.
"A drop of my blood." Izuku bit his finger, holding it out to let it drip into the hair.
"And the promise I will not harm you, as long as you let me leave so I may never return to this place. You will let me leave, and you will keep your life. On my Life I swear."
The ground shook with the King's laughter, as if the earth itself found humor in his plight.
The King stood, the bones creaking and shuddering from the movement as he walked down the steps, his long and slender form towering over the boy, his features sharp like a blade, as he slid his mouth next to his ear.
"And how could you harm your King? When you have eaten of our fruit? Have sung our hymns? Your own mother may not recognize you, so Fey are you. Why would I accept this bargain little changeling?"
Izuku's hand darts out like a snake, his hand hovering mere inches above the pale skin of the King's throat.
"Because if you do not let me go..." Izuku murmured, the heat of the metal radiating like a merry fire against Izuku's hand. "I will just kill you now and be done with it."
The air shuddered with tension, like dead leaves clinging to their empty branches just before a storm.
Then.....the King laughed.
Izuku didn't dare move, as the King's lips brushed against his ear. "Clever boy......I knew I liked you....."
The King withdrew, his skin an irritated red where the ring hung before it.
"A compromise....." He hummed, pressing a slender, moon pale finger to his lips. "We give you a head start....and if we catch you, you remain....forever..."
"And if I win, I will never return to the Fae Realm." Izuku said, glaring him down.
The King was silent.
"Say it." Izuku growled.
"You will never return to the Fae Realm." The King conceded, the earth shuddering in agreement.
"Now.....Run little Izuku...." The King said, silver threads lifting from his coat, twisting in the air like snakes, only to coalesce into snapping, snarling hounds, waiting for the signal.
"Run while you can....."
Izuku turned, barreling out of the room, the shrieking howls of the King's hounds echoing behind him. He darted through the halls, the lights flickering past him, shifting, changing-!
"Damn it!" He cursed, reaching a dead end that was not there before.
He turned, doubling back, hearing the baying cry of the silver hunting dogs fast on his tail. He raced through the twisting tunnels, dodging twisting vines and roots, searching for any filtering sunlight of an exit.
He could feel the hot breath of the hounds on his heels, teeth snapping and barking viciously.
Izuku whipped around a corner, and darted back into a nearby alcove, as the hounds raced past, silver coats shining even in the red light.
He breathed a silent sigh of relief, stepping out of the alcove to run back up the hallway. The hallways began to shift, roots and lights gleaming around him. "No, no, no!" Izuku chanted, struggling to stay oriented. Suddenly-
"There!" Izuku cried, a flash of sunlight appearing in the tunnel. Izuku leaped, reaching, his fingers brushing the rays of light-!
When Izuku stepped out of the forest, the first thing people noticed about him was that he was naked.
People hurriedly covered their children’s eyes, and some even pulled out their phones to record the strange boy wandering about naked without a care in the world, star burst scars stretched over his slim chest and shoulders, his dirty bare feet slapping across the sidewalk as he strode off into the city.
Predictably, the police became involved.
Cornering the boy, who was friendly, if wary, he asked in a soft voice if he could barter for information about his mother.
And this was how, 2 days later, after seven long years, dressed in oversized police sweats, Izuku met his mother.
Inko stood behind the glass, staring through it at the slender boy picking at the sleeves of the sweatshirt he wore, staring at the walls in what appeared to be genuine interest. “And you’re sure that it’s him?” She whispered, her white knuckled grip on her purse betraying her desperate anxiety, despite her seemingly calm exterior.
Naomasa nodded, as Tamakawa passed a file to him. “Thanks to you, we’ve already had a DNA confirmation, and the fact that he keeps trying to…” He held his fingers up in quotation marks “”Bargain” with us for information of his mother’s whereabouts seems to confirm that not only is he your son, but he does indeed remember you. All we need now is the confirmation.”
Inko, took a deep, shuddering breath, blinking against the tears already threatening to spill.
Naomasa turned, and after looking to her for permission, placed his hand over hers. “Everything will be alright Miss Midoriya.”
She nodded, sniffling softly.
He helped her to her feet, and lead her to the observation room. Knocking softly, he opened the door.
“Midori-san, you have a visitor.”
Inko, blinking at the nickname, nonetheless stepped into the room.
Izuku stood up, and suddenly, everything hit her.
Her boy was so big now...
Izuku might have been slim, but he was tall, a good head taller than her now. His fingers, which had been still small and chubby at seven years old, were now longer, slimmer, almost spindly in nature. His freckles seemed to have exploded while he was gone, covering his cheeks and dotting his neck and what she could see of his shoulders from his baggy sweatshirt collar. There was a starburst scar peeking over his collarbone, and his bright green eyes shimmered with recognition.
“…….Mom?” He asked, his voice shaking.
Inko couldn’t contain it any longer. She flung herself towards him, clutching him to her chest like he might disappear again, simply vanish from her arms if she didn’t hold tightly enough. And Izuku held her just as tightly, his hands fisting into her sweater as tears soaked her shoulder in a painfully familiar way.
“Izuku…” She whispered into his hair as she sobbed, murmuring it like a prayer. “My Izuku….”
“Momma….” Izuku murmured back, his longer, stronger arms gripping back just as tightly. And if Izuku stared over his mother’s shoulder at the policeman in confused gratitude, Naomasa would have nothing to say about the matter.