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Fairy Tales Save Lives

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"Well this is a surprise."

Logan had just opened his bedroom door to find a more-anxious-than-usual Virgil already pacing in there and carding anxious fingers through his hair. Virgil perked up as soon as Logan said something. "Do you need the usual?" Logan asked.

Virgil nodded.

Logan closed the door behind him and walked over to the bookshelf, kneeling in front of it to peruse his collection. He hummed, feeling along the spines of the books before pulling a thin, red-covered hardback out. "Ah, here we are. Let's begin."

Virgil took his seat on Logan's desk, rocking a little where he sat and nibbling on his thumbnail. It must've been a particularly bad day for him if he was this unsettled. Logan pulled his desk chair out and sat, thumbing through the pages for the start of a particular fairy tale. "I don't believe I've read this one to you, but it should be of interest to you. It's called 'The Happy Prince' by Oscar Wilde," he explained.

"Yeah, yeah, sounds great, please just read it already," Virgil said quickly.

"Very well." Logan cleared his throat and began reading. "High above the city, on a tall column, stood the statue of the Happy Prince. He was gilded all over with thin leaves of fine gold, for eyes he had two bright sapphires, and a large red ruby glowed on his sword-hilt. He was very much admired indeed."

As Logan told of the Prince and the Swallow so infatuated with a Reed, he made sure to occasionally glance up at Virgil to be sure he was calming. Though Virgil had yet to ever stay in a state of heightened anxiety when Logan read to him, he didn't want this time to be the first. Sure enough, Virgil had slowly but surely relaxed as the story wound on.

"'Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow,' said the Prince, 'will you not stay with me for one night, and be my messenger? The boy is so thirsty and the mother so sad.'

"'I don't think I like boys,' answered the Swallow. 'Last--'"

"Can't relate," interrupted Virgil.

Logan just smiled and said, "Nor can I. Now let me finish. 'Last summer, when I was staying on the river, there were two rude boys, the miller's sons, who were always throwing stones at me. They never hit me, of course; we swallows fly far too well for that, and besides, I come of a family famous for its agility; but still, it was a mark of disrespect.

"But the Happy Prince looked so sad that the little Swallow was sorry. ‘It is very cold here,’ he said; ‘but I will stay with you for one night, and be your messenger.’"

Logan told of the good deeds the Prince sent the Swallow to do. His selflessness led him to have the bird pluck every last bit of finery off of him and give them to the needy people of the town. The bird's love of the Prince kept him there through the cold winter to tell the blinded Prince about his travels, even when the Prince wished him to go to Egypt with the other swallows.

"The poor little Swallow grew colder and colder, but he would not leave the Prince, he loved him too well. He picked up crumbs outside the baker's door when the baker was not looking and tried to keep himself warm by flapping his wings.

"But at last he knew that he was going to die. He had just strength to fly up to the Prince's shoulder once more. 'Good-bye, dear Prince!' he murmured, 'will you let me kiss your hand?'"

"'I am glad that you are going to Egypt at last, little Swallow,' said the Prince, 'you have stayed too long here; but you must kiss me on the lips, for I love you.'

"'It is not to Egypt that I am going,' said the Swallow. 'I am going to the House of Death. Death is the brother of Sleep, is he not?'

"And he kissed the Happy Prince on the lips, and fell down dead at his feet."

"Wait wait wait. You're telling me the bird fell in love with the statue of the Prince? And now that he confessed, he just ... dies?" Virgil said, a little outraged.

"I suppose tropes like this must come from somewhere, even with such esteemed authors as Oscar Wilde," Logan replied. "But the story isn't over yet."

Logan went on to tell about how the Prince's leaden heart split in two when the Swallow expired. He told of the statue's destruction because it wasn't shiny and golden anymore, and the greediness of the town council.

"'What a strange thing!' said the overseer of the workmen at the foundry. 'This broken lead heart will not melt in the furnace. We must throw it away.' So they threw it on a dust-heap where the dead Swallow was also lying.

"'Bring me the two most precious things in the city,' said God, 'for in my garden of Paradise this little bird shall sing for evermore, and in my city of gold the Happy Prince shall praise me.'" Logan closed the book and looked up at Virgil in earnest, whose mouth was agape. "Well, Virgil?"

Virgil closed his mouth and shook his head with a lopsided grin. He climbed down from the desk and gently kissed Logan, cradling his face in his hands. "It was perfect, L, just what I needed," he said.

Logan didn't need a mirror to know that his whole face was red. He gave a little nervous cough. "Y-you're quite welcome, I was glad to do it," he nervously said.

Virgil just smiled. "So, does that make me the bird or the Prince?"