Tying scraps of cloth to a dryad's limbs in the winter so she won't feel naked
(a response to this prompt)
She first met them in the summer, when their strong arms and broad thighs and sturdy chest were covered with a thick coat of fresh growth—a dozen shades of vibrant green sprouting from the rough bark of their skin, little rivulets of life like spreading moss sheltered beneath delicate leaves and the thorny flowers that adorned their head.
They were everywhere, then, always waiting for her to venture out into the forested hills so close behind her home; up and up along the merest hints of hiking paths and deer trails winding between the last traces of decaying industry, up into the fresh-born wilderness blossoming with life—
If they spoke it was not in any way she could hear, but the two of them shared joy and desire even so, in those long sweaty summer days when the trees hung heavy with the buzz of insects and birds sang undisturbed by her presence.
They always seemed fascinated by her clothing, the contrast between the sturdy fabrics she wore and the soft skin underneath; and she was so fascinated by their leaves, by the way they curled about her wandering hands and drew back to admit her touches, to welcome her into their hollows and crevices just as they welcomed her into the forest's secret places, the springs and caves that (she liked to imagine) no human had ever seen before.
It was a magical time, no matter that her life outside—back in the world, back in the city—suffered for it. They were worth it.
But summer gives way to fall and fall gives way to winter, and the seasons march on, as as they went she began to see them less and less, and then only from a distance.
Their coat frayed and tattered, leaves dripping away to litter the ground already strewn with leafs by their ... charges? companions? flock? She'd never been sure of the relationship between them and the forest, save that their form reflected it.
The last time they let her get close they almost seemed ...
Well, she couldn't be sure, really.
But they didn't seem to want her to look at them, with so many of their leaves gone.
They seemed almost ashamed, and ever more fascinated by her warm fall clothing (and her warm skin beneath, the faint sheen of sweat from her hike and the burning, sweaty warmth that their rough fingers and long tongue coaxed from between her legs); their motions full of melancholy, guilty longing—
Of course they refused to take her coat when she offered it to them, and of course she felt stupid the moment after; even if it could have fit them, imagine how that bright thing would look as they walked their paths through the woods! Totally out of place. Imagine what the deer might think!
... they didn't let her see them for weeks after that, though she felt their eyes on her each day as she wandered the forest paths beneath a canopy fast fading into winter's grasping hands.
It hurt, being left alone like that.
Her needs denied.
It hurt less than it could have, though each time she found herself in one of the places they'd brought her in the summer her heart ached with loss at their absence, at the way winter's desolation warped her memories without even the consolation of snow.
But she was a clever thing, for all that she tried to deny that cleverness; she thought and considered, and when she finally hunted them down again (or, well, petulantly stretched out on the ground during a cold snap without her warm coat, so that her skin was going blue and they couldn't help but approach) she brought a knapsack with her.
Oh, how confused they were when she pulled out the first ragged scrap! A faded blue-green, lichen-pale, irregularly torn with not a hint of a scissor's elegance—
They seemed about to run when she caught their arm and tied it around, a weak reflection of their summer vibrance. She thought they would for sure, that this was a bridge too far—
But they didn't.
They just poked at it, confusion filling their weathered face.
By the fifth scrap they'd caught on to what she was doing, and by the tenth they were starting to smile—
And when she finally finished with their arms and started on their legs, covering their bark in what almost seemed like a fluttering coat of ghostly leaves, they eagerly joined in, wrapping clothes around for her to tie and shifting their body to make sure she could get the right angle—
In the end they bundled her up in their arms and spun her around, scraps of fabric fluttering all about them in the cold wind, their face full of joy;
And in the end they stopped hiding from her.
And that was really all she wanted.