They arrive weeping.

They look like fairies, or elves, or angels - not human, they don't want to lie to you, but close enough to have faces, close enough to be beautiful, close enough to wring their hands. Close enough to cry.

(If you betray a hint of sympathy for their plight, they will only mourn harder. They don't want to upset you.)

(But they will, because they have to.)

You get one of your own. So to speak. She's not your obedient servant; she would save you if you crashed your car, but she will not make your coffee. She will only follow you around, and, when you seem most receptive - she will offer you gifts.

She cares about you. She wants you to be happy. She wants it so desperately that she weeps, sincerely, whenever she dares - though she doesn't want to upset you . It's not for show... exactly. She wasn't born looking like a fairy. This isn't how she'd normally convey grief, and she is wearing this face so you'll understand her when she does.

That doesn't make it any less real.

What is she so upset about?

You won't take the presents.

Some people do take the presents. Those people turn into fairies/elves/angels - or whatever, because there are enough of the original visitors to go around pleading with the holdouts. Those who accept don't have to look alien and pretty and expressive if that's not their favorite thing, and the visitors don't care about shape. They care about happiness. And you don't have enough of it, and that hurts your fairy friend. It hurts her so bad for you to hurt that you wonder why she doesn't kidnap you and force delight on you.

She'd like to. Oh, she wishes she could. It would be so much easier. But she cares about you; and you won't take the presents. You would be upset if she forced you, and it would only be a technicality if she did it so fast that you never saw her coming. And she doesn't want to upset you.

So what she will do instead is follow you around whenever her company doesn't make you too furious, and make sure you don't die if she can possibly help it because she does care more about your life than your permission, and sometimes she whispers in your ear. Maybe on Christmas because everyone else who loves you gets to give you gifts then (and she does love you). Maybe when you have to put your dog to sleep and it eats you up inside, she wonders softly if you'd like to make it stop. Maybe when you're standing over gorgeous scenery and breathing delicious air and squeezing your lover's hand, your fairy and your lover's angel whisper in unison that it could last .

If you take all her presents - the big presents, not just the little ones that she hopes to tempt you with, the massive life-altering presents - then it will last. You'll be happy. You'll still be complicated (she wants you to be happy, not some simplification). You can take your lover with you, if you say yes at the same time or close enough.

Why isn't she happy? She wants to be happy. She could be happy. She wears most of her own offerings herself; if you tried to hit her she'd be unmarked, and her lovers never argue with her, and when it served her designs to take fairy form (for you, so she could better communicate with you) she could do that as easily as you can put on a sweater. She could be happy. That's what she's for; that's what they're all for; that's what they want, for themselves as well as you -

Well, she can't be.

Because she loves you, and you don't have the things she thinks you need, and she will not, will not destroy you to fix that - so she wears a face that looks like yours, and cries real tears that look like yours, because if you'd love her like she loves you, if she could only become that important to you, you'd take what she offers instantly. If you'd want her to stop crying the way she wants you to stop hurting, you'd let her change your nerves, you'd let her pour magic into your hands, you'd let her lay hands on your soul.

You won't, yet, but your friends' friends start. You don't, yet, but your town looks emptier. You haven't, yet, but the ranters on their soapboxes speaking out against the alien menace, standing in the park with their elves wringing their hands in chagrin beside them, are thinning out.

You aren't, today, but if she bravely restrains one more sniffle of misery -

Well, you like being happy, too, don't you?