Years after the first time Oberon found himself messing with mortal love, he finds himself in a similar situation with you guessed it; the children of the original four and the duke and duchess.
Hamish was never left alone, so when the chance emerged he jumped at it. Taking a walk on this cool spring day was a nice change in pace for the young man. His chin length auburn hair was tied back with a leather cord to keep it from blowing around in the wind. Despite the chilly breeze the sun was beating down hard, making the nobleman sweat. Searching for shade, Hamish spotted a large tree at the edge of the forest.
Lillian looked up from her book, startled by the sound of footsteps below her. Looking down from her perch she spotted the tall man sitting under her tree. Lillian had been climbing up this tree to hide away for years now. Unlike most girls her age Lillian could read and write fluently. She spoke two languages other than Greek. Lillian was an outcast because of her thirst for knowledge.
Once Hamish reached the tree, he sat at its base and closed his eyes, enjoying the shade and cool breeze. Satisfied and cooled off, Hamish opened his eyes and looked up, surprised to see a pair of wide golden eyes staring back. Startled he jumped up and drew his sword only to realize that the eyes belonged to a beautiful girl surrounded by books. Sheathing his sword he took a step forward and introduced himself. "Hello fine maiden, I am Hami..."
"I know who you are" she stated bluntly cutting him off before he could say his full title.
"Well, since you know who I am it is only courteous to tell me your own name. And also," he paused for a moment trying pinpoint what was so off about her. Then he got it, "why are you in trousers and a tunic and not like every other maiden?"
Lillian scowled, "Why should you care, Oh great duke to be", she jeered at him and leaned towards him with a questioning look. In the process of leaning forward she dislodged a stack of books sending them tumbling down and landing on him.
"Owwww, that was uncalled for", Hamish whined from his position on the ground. Only to look up and see the girl laughing hysterically not paying any attention to his state of distress. "Excuse me, but who do you think you are hitting a man of nobility with a stack of books!" he jumped up and drew his sword again, this time unfazed by the fact that he was pointing it at a lady.
Suddenly serious the girl spoke with venom "You are not the only one of noble birth". She glared down at him from her perch a good six feed above him, too far for his sword to reach.
Hamish scoffed at this atrocious statement, a woman of nobility being allowed to run around in trousers and climb trees! Just the thought of it was enough to make him laugh. So he did. "YOU, a lady of a noble family! I will believe it when my dog grows wings and flies away. No family of nobility under my fathers gaze would allow their daughter to dress like a boy and read of all things."
"If you do not believe me ask my mother, Lady Hermia or my Father Sir Lysander! I am Lady Lillian of Lysander's household, the younger sister of Constance. You would not know her,of course, as she is already pledged to marry."
Hamish pondered this for a moment, he had heard stories that the Lysander household has a strange daughter, but this, this was more than strange, this was wrong. "If you insist, but I must ask that you to come down so I can look at you properly". He then watched as Lillian made her way down the tree, jumping to the ground. He sucked in a breath at her beauty. Her black hair was left down coming to her thighs. And she was tall as she almost looked him straight in the eye. Her bright golden eyes were mesmerizing and he could have stood there all day searching their depths. He might have if she hadn't interrupted his train of thought (or lack there of) with a sharp bark of laughter.
"You sure know how to make a girl feel uncomfortable", she said scratching the back of her head. "It's rude to stare you know. Didn't your mother ever tell you that?" She took a step back and leaned against the tree. Really looking at him, she decided he was easy on the eyes. Just not really her type. Not that she really had a type, but if she did he wouldn't be a cocky self absorbed duke to be. He just seemed like too much work and not worth the trouble. "Well I'll be off then", she scrambled up her tree and gathered the rest of the books that had not fallen to the ground already. "Damn gravity", she muttered under her breath. Stuffing her satchel with books she hopped down and as she walked away she called back "Vous voyez autour de vous secousse égoïste". Hamish stared at her walking away, surprised at the foreign words coming out of her mouth, sounding suspiciously like an insult. He was feeling a bit angry that he hadn't taken his father up on the offer to get him a tutor so he could learn french.
Byron had always liked Constance's overly flirtatious and sweet persona, but today it was setting him on edge. Because today Lilian was also here. Byron and Constance were pledged to marry. Both being 17, the wedding was to be in two months, before Byron's 18th birthday. The problem with Lillian was her obnoxious behavior and refusal to act like a lady. She only would put on a dress if asked personally by him (which he found odd) or when ordered to by her parents. Lillian was three years younger than him, so her behavior was seen as something she would grow out of. Though Byron highly doubted it.
"Hello there Byron-soon-my-sisters-husband-and-my-brother" Lillian greeted in one breath accompanied by her signature sarcastic smirk. Byron huffed, "Good afternoon lady Lillian" Byron looked down at her disapprovingly, "It is such a shame that you still refuse to dress like a proper lady, you, like you sister, are such a nice looking young lady. I'm sure your parents would have a much easier time finding you a suitor if you only looked like a lady and not some stable boy." She threw a disdainful glance up at him before she stormed away mumbling about "stupid corsets".
Byron thought himself the luckiest man in Athens, before Constance could argue against it (or speak at all) she had been pledged to him, of all people. She was gorgeous, charismatic, and got along well with everyone. Best of all she was his. The two of them sat in the Demetrius family lounge talking quietly when Lillian burst through the door... still in trousers! "You like?" Lillian asked pointing to the leather corset and blouse she had changed into. It did make her look more feminine, but not really ladylike. "Well it's an improvement" Constance said graciously. "Though you would look so much better in a skirt" she added after a moment, not sounding so gracious this time. Lillian glared and countered with "At least I don't look like I showered in powder!Personally I like to be able to breath, so excuse me if I feel like a corset is a big leap to take! If you like to be a wheezing ghost all the time, FINE! But I will not be forced to be someone I'm not." With that, she marched back out of the room. A few moments later, the front door was heard being slammed closed as she left.
WHY! HOW! Byron, somehow, was head over heels in love with her sister and she was no different than any other lady around. How she hated that word lady. She was lady if she wore the correct clothes and acted the right way. If one damned person in this blasted place would look at her as unique and beautiful, she might burst with joy.
Little did Lillian know that was exactly what Hamish had been thinking since they met by the tree a few days ago. He had meant to put aside time and look for her there again, but had been too busy with other duties. So instead, he spent every spare moment thinking of her. She was odd, but he liked that. Unlike every other girl he has the displeasure of courting, who were flirtatious, soft spoken and eventually all started to look the same with the white powdered faces and waists the size of an apple. Lillian was no lady, but that just made her more beautiful in his eyes. She was wild and free and dark, with those mysterious golden eyes. He had used some of his many resources to ask around about her. She was a year younger than him. He was glad she was not older, that would have made it harder to convince his parents to let him court her. With his mind made up, he left to go and find his father.
Constance was not one to upset someone for her own benefit, but she just had no feelings for Byron at all. She couldn't possibly call off the wedding now, it was next month. But she also could not bare to spend the rest of her life with this weak oaf. He always told her he preferred literature to farm work or knight ship. She always countered with a quip about him sounding like her sister, picking literature over what would benefit him most. And like her sister, he stated that no matter what she said, his mind would not be changed on the matter. They weren't even married yet and they were already quarreling like a couple that was decades married. There was one man she vied for, that was Hamish, of Thesus's household. He was a real man, and the first son of the duke too, inherent to his title when his father passed. But more than that, he was a valiant warrior and didn't care for literature. Ugh, literature the very reason her little sister was such a freak. Once she got her hands on a book, and mother and father made the mistake of letting her learn to read, she started on those rubbish ideas that a women could do the same work as a man if she chose. "Yeah, I will believe that when Zeus leaves his throne on Olympus." she muttered under her breath, quiet enough as not to wake Byron in the chair next to her. They had both fallen asleep as he read a story from an old leather bound book. The tale was one of love and loss, and faeries hidden away in the forest. Oberon and Titania quarreling and finding love once again through the misadventures of two couples. The story was one that she had heard many times from her mother growing up. Unlike most stories, this one intrigued her.
Hamish had finally found some free time and went to find Lillian. It was just his luck to find her in the same tree a last time. This time though she was much less willing to talk. "Please may I have a word with you lady Lillian? I apologize for my past offenses". "Well, too bad because I'm busy", she stated haughtily, holding up a heavy leather bound book up in front of her. With that, she jumped down from her branch and stalked away into the forest. Hamish took note of the fact that instead of a tunic she wore a corset and blouse over her trousers. She looked beautiful. After a moment of thought, Hamish rushed After her.
Oberon did not believe his eyes, never did he think that he and Puck would need to salvage young love once again. The magical flower still held many petals and would be of use. But he had planned on using it to pull a prank on some of Titania's faerie servants. So when two people came marching through the forest. One yelling at the other, he could only think back to decades ago when a shockingly similar situation had occurred. When he took a closer look he saw some similar features in the girl. She looked like the dark haired boy. The young man chasing after her was not familiar to him at all. "Puck, am I hallucinating? Because if I am I need you to pinch me."
"No sireee, that is all true and there." Puck pinched him anyway, with a sly glance. "This girl seems to be a relative of that other couple years ago."
"For once in your life Puck, you make a good point. I was sure that girl looked familiar. She seems to be having the same problem that Demetrius boy had all those years ago. And look at her eyes, that is faerie dust if I've ever seen it. These must be the children we blessed on their wedding night".
"Leave me be Hamish! I don't want your company. I'm not another one of those flirtatiously dull girls you surround yourself with, and I refuse to act like one because it is expected of me!" Lillian spun around and spat those words at the young duke.
"Don't you see, that's why I want to speak to you. I like that your not one of those suffocating girls." he looked at her fondly, trying to convey is feelings through his face.
"You're only interested because I'm the first girl NOT to fawn over you." she scoffed, rolled her eyes and continued to storm away.
Oberon looked on with peaked interest, "very similar indeed."
Byron was caught up in his thoughts when he heard a twig snap behind him. Fearing it was some beast he stood stock still in fright. "Byron?...BYRON!" Byron relaxed as he realized that it was only Constance, she must have followed him from the house.
"Hey Constance, sorry I just ran out. I was stressed about the wedding, its just coming so quickly." Byron blushed slightly, his cheeks rosy pink.
"I know, it's getting to me too, I've just never had a choice in this, this wedding thing", she looked away, afraid of how Byron might react to her outburst. She meant to never let anyone know she had doubts about Byron and her relationship. But it was out now.
"I..I never knew you felt that way, do.. do you not wish to wed me? I always thought our feelings were... were mutual." He muttered the last part. He stood up straighter, his tall yet lean body towering over Constance's small frame.
Constance glanced at Byron, "you have feelings?" she asked hesitantly, unsure if she wanted to know the answer.
"Constance, I have loved you for years." after realizing what he said, Byron's slight blush turned into an intense red glow emanating from his cheeks.
"Oh, Byron, I, I didn't mean to... I'm sorry" with that, Constance ran, full speed, from the clearing.
"I knew this would get interesting, once they all fall asleep we can fix this for them. It must run in the family, this insanity. Follow the girl Puck." once the order was given Robin ran after the girl trying to keep her fleeing form in sight.
Lillian could not, for the life of her get Hamish off her trail. "Leave me alone! I don't want your attention. You are a selfish, hot-headed, spoiled brat, used to getting his way. Do you really think I should allow someone like you to court me"? She stared him down. Unlike her sister, she didn't get her mother's petite form, instead she was tall and willowy. So when she glared at his eyes, gold meeting green, she came off much more intimidating than her sister could ever hope to be. "I don't believe you could ever fall for someone like me. I can speak three languages, I refuse to wear a dress, and only recently decided I don't mind corset. So if you take a chance to learn who I am, and not just who I look to be, you may find you really don't like me at all." Lillian's gaze was steel, but Hamish thought he saw, if for a moment, a waver in her face, the mask had cracked. Underneath was hurt, from never before being accepted for who she was.
"Lillian, that's all I'm asking. To have a chance to get to know who you really are. So far you seem to be a beautiful, feisty, well learned woman who isn't afraid to show it. I could do with having someone like you at my side." he smirked. "So what do you say? Give me a chance?" he grabbed her hand and brought it to his lips, placing a gentle kiss on her knuckles. She ripped her hand out of his grasp.
"What are you doing? Don't touch me!" She jumped back, staring daggers at Hamish. " I am done with your antics and there is no chance that I'm going to waste my time with you"! With that, she ran to the nearest tree and climbed up with one arm, the other occupied by her book. Somehow she hadn't lost it during her long trek through the woods. In a matter of moments she was hidden by the foliage.
"Sorry, sorry just come back down here would you!" he called up to where she was hiding and walked towards the tree's base.
Oberon had left a faerie servant to watch the other boy. And oh was he glad he decided to check in on these two. The show was just beginning when he got there and enjoyed the entire thing. Mortals were so fun to watch, especially the young ones.
Seeing that he was going nowhere, Hamish set himself at the base of the tree and closed his eyes. "You'll have to come down eventually" he muttered as he began to drift off to sleep. Little did he know Lillian was fast asleep above him laying in a crook between two branches, using a thick leather bound book as a pillow.
Oberon jumped at this chance pulling a vile of juice from the cupids flower petals to put on the girls eyelids and for good measure he put some on the boys too, just in case the girl was right in her accusations.
Constance couldn't believe that she had actually said what she thought. She sounded like her sister, not following protocol on these things. She had years to cope with the fact that she was going to marry this spineless wimp. She was still huffing at the thought of Byron when she stumbled upon the sleeping form of Hamish. The same Hamish she had been dreaming of not hours prior to this unexpected excursion. Hamish groaned and opened his eyes to see Constance standing over him "Gosh darn, you're beautiful" he said, "and what is such a fine maiden doing out here in the middle of the woods this time of day?"
he looked at her with a goofy smirk on his face. "I don't even care if your some crazy woods beast girl, I want you to come back with me and I will make you my bride!" he said this whole thing with a straight face, completely serious.
"Going a little fast now, aren't we? You don't even know me, young duke" she looked at him sheepishly, hoping this wasn't some cruel joke the gods were playing on her. "My name is Constance, I am of the Demetrius family line."
"Well you could have fooled me, I was sure you were an angel, come down from heaven to bless me with your good looks". He stood and bowed taking her hand and kissing her knuckles. "You are much more civilized than that stable boy you have for a younger sister. She is nothing compared to you, I almost pity her." He glanced up at Lillian's still sleeping form, a pitiful look on his face. "Let us be off then". Hamish offered his arm which Constance took without hesitation.
"Oh, Puck, I've done it again." The trickster had been following the girl and went to watch Oberon when he saw him watching from behind a tree. "You would think I would have learned from the last time. I need to amend this!" He moved to go retrieve the couple when he heard another set of footfalls coming towards the clearing. He jumped back and continued to watch on from his place behind the tree. "Robin, dear friend, see to it that the others do not leave the forest."
"Yes, sir" with that he was off.
"Constance! Where are you? Can we talk about this?" Byron was yelling, to Oberon's despair, loud enough to wake a sleeping girl up in a tree. Tired, Byron went to rest under said tree and was met with a loud thump as a book was dropped onto his head. With a yelp he fell, unconscious, to the ground. Much to the despair of a very lovestruck young woman. "Byron! Are you okay my love? Byron, can you hear me?" Byron moaned and opened his striking ice blue eyes. They widened when he saw Lillian gazing worriedly down at him.
"What happened? I feel like I got hit over the head with a brick." he moaned as he attempted to sit up, clutching his head in his hands trying to stop the ringing in his ears.
"Well, it was a big book. I'm so sorry, you startled me awake with your yelling and I dropped it on you. I care for you so, and would never do something like this on purpose." she looked pleadingly at him, hoping he would not hold this against her.
Byron was very confused, Lillian had never shown any affection for him before, only respect. "Lillian, how long has it been since you decided you 'care greatly fore me' or whatever you said just now? And I am betrothed to your sister, nothing good can come of this." He gave her a pointed look before getting up to leave. "I need to find your sister, she ran off earlier". He turned and started to walk away only to be stopped by Lillian.
"But I love you" she managed to say between sobs. (wait when did she start crying) Byron wondered silently. "Don't you leave me too. Everyone casts me aside because I'm different. Do you hate me, too?" she looked up at him from where she sat on the ground. Her normally glittering eyes were now clouded with tears.
"I'm sorry Lillian, but you're not the one for me". He yanked his hand out from her grasp and walked into the woods.
Oberon sighed and walked into the clearing. He had intended to put her to sleep so he could reverse the effects of the flower. He did not count on her being able to see him. Her watery golden eyes confusing on his regal form. "Well hello young maiden, I mean no harm, I am King Oberon of the faeries. Who might you be and, umm... how can you see me?"
She sniffled taking in the sight before her. "I...I am" her body shook as she cried. "Lillian of Demetrius" she looked down and whispered, mostly to herself ,"why, why can no one love me?" Oberon crept closer and blew the sleeping dust over her shaking form, saddened by her words. He would speak to his wife about the girl's predicament after he solved the problems he had caused. Once she was breathing even, laying her on the ground, he rubbed the remedy for the love petals over her eyelids. He hoped the sadness he had brought upon her would not plague her further. He went to find his wife, knowing Puck would deal with the others and that he had until midnight before the girl woke.
Constance had never been so elated. Hamish, the man of her dreams loved her back! This night could not get any better. She had thanked the gods profusely for this and hoped she could get her parents blessings for the two to be wed. "Thank you, now I will not have to endure being married to the peasant that is Byron." She gazed lovingly over to Hamish, his lean form towered over her petite physique.
"Anything for you love." he lifted her up and carried her marriage style the rest of the way, because her skirts kept being caught in the foliage.
Puck was ready to knock the two out when he saw this exchange. If he were to undo this the girl, would be stuck with someone she did not love and the other girl would be left with this Dull minded man that would no doubt drive her mad. So he made a decision, he would let them be. It was against orders, but it had to be done. His mind made up Puck flew off to find Oberon and tell him of his decision.
Titania loved having leverage over her husband, so when he came to her for help she was very excited. "The girl could see me, it was strange, I hadn't lifted my glamor, so I should have been invisible to all mortals. But her eyes, they remind me of faerie dust."
Titania stood in thought for a moment before speaking. "this it the daughter of one of the couples that we blessed years ago? It could have something to do with that." She was thinking aloud for a while longer before she made her decision. "I would need to speak to her myself to come to a conclusion about this... predicament" she finished, slowly making her way over to her husband.
"I can take you to her, she should wake around midnight, we can make our way over there now if you would like." He held out his hand for the queen to take, not at all surprised when she brushed it off and walked past him, barking at him to keep up.
They reached the clearing just as the young girl began to stir. Titania left her husband's side and bent down to meet the girl. She turned back at her husband to reprimand him. "I can't believe you left her asleep in the middle of a clearing where she could have been attacked! You are so irresponsible." Oberon huffed and whaled off, leaving the Faerie queen to deal with the mysterious young lady.
Oh my, had she really been fawning over Byron? She hated girls who acted like she had. What on earth had possessed her to act like that? And then that man, wait it must have been a dream. Thank the gods, surely she did not meet the king of the faeries. Checking her surroundings she realized she was still in the woods, and it was late, very late at night. She was not alone.
"Greetings young one, I am Titania, queen of the Faeries, you met my atrocious husband earlier, sorry for the trouble he caused you by the way. I have already chastised him for that. Somehow, you can see us, despite the spell we have to keep us invisible to mortals like yourself. Do you know why this is?" the queen looked questioningly at the fourteen year old.
"So you mean to tell me that not only was I not dreaming earlier, but I also have some immunity to faerie powers? Sorry if I have trouble processing this" she said with a weak smile.
Titania waited patiently for Lillian to processes the new information. "Child, I have been told of your problem with fitting in around your city. I may have a remedy for that if you wish. Unless there is someone you would miss back in the town I can offer you a life with me as a faerie." The offer startled Lillian. "Immortal, powers the whole deal. Only thing is, you would not be able to go back." The queen found herself hoping the girl accepted the offer. During their conversation so far she had found she liked the girl's humor and intelligence.
"Yes" Lillian said suddenly, breaking the silence.
"What?" The queen asked, she had not expected her to agree so quickly.
"Yes I will join you. The only thing I will be leaving back in Athens is people hating me for being who I am and a disapproving family trying to sell me off to some man I barely know. So yes, it would make me very happy to be taken away from that hell".
The queen smiled as she offered the girl her hand. Once she was faerie she could find out why she was immune to her spells.
Athens was in chaos, the duke-to-be had suddenly decided to wed a lady who was already betrothed to another man. Byron was still missing stranded somewhere in the woods, forgotten in all the commotion. But wed they did. They were married before the end of the month, despite the many protests from parents and town folk. After all the chaos died down people started to accept the couple and they went on to rule peacefully for years.
Lillian was never really missed, her parents looked for her for some time but most people did not want to search for the town reject. So after a year or two she was forgotten. She lived happily in the court of Titania, living out the rest of her days as a Translator for the royals of the faerie kingdom. She learned every language she could and never again wore a dress.
In the end one thing is evident, King Oberon should not be left to meddle in mortal affairs.
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