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Absense makes the heart forget.
Who: Oberon and Mabb.
What: A bittersweet reunion.
When: A day or so after this narrative.
Where: The Sleeping Woods.

Days of searching, and still no Carabosse. Mabb had grown frustrated. But more than that, she'd grown weary. Since arriving in this new land, she'd been going non-stop, frenetic energy driving her ever forward in her quest for vengeance, but it could only sustain her for so long. Especially with spring growing stronger everyday. She needed a place to rest, a place to call her own. The whispers were guiding her well enough, but as far as finding her a bower they'd been sadly unhelpful.

Seeking shade from the bright spring sun, Mabb leaned weakly against the trunk of an oak to rest at least for a moment. Eyes closing, she pushed away the whispers, needing to clear her head. A moment's peace, please! she thought to no one at all. No one listened and the quiet was immediate. Blessed silence. It allowed her to think, to gather herself. To catch once more that trace of magic that beckoned her days earlier. She stood up straight, eyes scanning the area, though she knew she'd likely see nothing. No matter. She didn't need a visual clue to tell her where to go. With no whispers, with nothing at all to distract her, Mabb began to follow the thread, this time determined to see where it led her in the end.

It was hours still until she reached her unknown destination, a deep, hidden corner of the forest that seemed to embrace her with dark twisting branches and deadly beautiful blooms. It was almost like finding home and the relief she felt would have brought tears to her eyes were she capable of tears anymore. It was a bower, shadowed and cool, perfect for her and she finally let herself collapse, let her body fall into a bed of creeping ivy that seemed to be waiting for her. This was the seat of the magic that had led her all that way, and had Mabb not been so worn she would have wondered at its source. Or realized that this place was not intended for her, but rather the home of another.

Oberon had been out. His moping could only last so long, even he realized this. He wandered the woods, plucking from tree to tree, observing the sights and sounds of spring. It was rare that he could enjoy the change of seasons, but his current mood seemed to put him in the right disposition. With a deep breath he returned home and found his bed occupied, much like the three bears. What the fuck? He did not know who would have so much gall as to invite themselves into his bower. He approached rather loudly, his irritation overriding any sort of good judgment he might have. He was about to clear his throat and interrupt the reverie of his unwanted and unexpected guest. He took one more step and stood over her, his eyes growing wide. Her eyes were closed of course, but her features were striking enough to recall the dream. The very scent of her was so familiar, overwhelming. He stood above her quietly, watching her sleep. You've come at last.

It wasn't the loud noises that roused Mabb from her much-needed rest, nor the looming presence above her. It was the sudden surge of magic, slipping over her in steady waves that coaxed her reluctantly back to awareness. Her eyes were slow to open at first, slow to focus on the dark shape above her. And then they flew wide, her body slowly drawn up by the whim of her power than by any physical movement. It was him. He was alive, and well, and here. "Oberon." Such longing in that single word, a wealth of disbelief and uncertain hope. "My Oberon..."

He was not aware of her name to whisper it back so softly, so lovingly. "You," he said quietly. "You're finally here." He sat on the edge of his bower and gazed into those soul burning eyes he had longed for. Perhaps I am dreaming. I must be dreaming.

Her smile, one of her incredibly rare smiles, was uncommonly warm as she touched his face with something akin to wonder. "I'd thought I'd lost you, my love. It's been so long. Too long to bear." Those last words were whispered, an ache underlying them as she leaned into Oberon, face burying against his chest as if she had every right in the world to do so.

Has it? Did I know you before? He sighed, a strange, happy sound. His arms wrapped around her and all of the questions lay just under the surface. What's your name? Where have you been all this time? Is this real? He listened to her heart beat and closed his eyes. Just lay here with me forever.

It was all just too perfect. She had her Oberon back, safe from harm, and he loved her still. Her weary body leaned comfortably against his, letting him support her for a little while as she basked in his presence, fingers curling into his shirt just to maintain contact. Her heart felt as if it were learning to beat once more. So what if the whispers were trying to get her attention again; she ignored them. "I knew they couldn't have put you down so easy," she murmured, sounding terribly satisfied. "Surely, that's why I can't find the rest of them as easily as I did the first three. Noxweed, Carabosse, killed them all for me, didn't you? When you found out what they'd done." There was no doubt in her voice, just a kind of loving awe that bordered on adoration. For how could she not adore her Oberon for taking vengeance against those who had wronged them both?

But then, why had he not found her? Surely he had searched for her all those many, many years? The questions slipped in like a snake, slowly dripping poisonous doubt into Mabb's mind.

The doubt and confusion crept into his own mind and there would be no sweet reprieve. He would not be able to lay with this creature in his bower until all of the questions had been answered. "I do not know," he whispered, "my sweet lady. I have only seen you in dreams. I know of nothing else that you speak."

He didn't know? But how could he not? He'd been there that awful day...And yet, when Mabb sat back to search his face, his eyes, there was only the vaguest sort of recognition there, as if seeing a friend long missed but forgetting their name. Her heart's newly learned rhythm stuttered in her chest. "Nothing of which..." The words faded, the dark faerie unable to comprehend what Oberon could possibly mean. " must know. You simply must!" Desperation crept into Mabb's voice, had her fingers digging sharp into Oberon's chest through his shirt. "Please. That day, you must remember what they did to us. To me." But she could see that he didn't recall, not a thing, not even...Her hands came up, cupped his face and held his gaze, searching. "My name, Oberon. Tell me my name." Please, my love. Don't tell me they destroyed everything so completely.

The pain she caused him was little compared to the pain he caused himself trying to remember. Only blanks, empty holes. More questions and the hazy feeling that this had been done to them both. We were both fooled. Both had. Carabosse. He knew she would have answers, simply from the dropping of her name. Perhaps that is why she came and his inability to speak on the subject sent her away without leaving him any more knowledgeable. He looked away, too pained to admit that he didn't know her name.

It was answer enough. She's thought assuming Oberon dead had been Hell enough, but this? this was far worse than she could have imagined. Mabb release Oberon slowly, eyes gone shattered and hollow before throwing her head back, mouth opening and face contorting on a wail of anguish so soul-deep no sound came from her. The leaves cried for her, rustling and shifting above as if caught in a gale. The ancient trees circling the bower moaned and creaked their sympathy as their timber was bent and twisted to their limits by Mabb's unrestrained grief. And just as suddenly as it had started, it stopped, Mabb having curled in upon herself and shaking as if sobbing. But her eyes remained dry as they had for the last several centuries.

It was the first time in his life when he didn't know what to do. He sat helpless at her side. "Tell me," he whispered. Maybe your name will bring with it some recollection. Please, give me anything to know you.

It was a while before she could speak, could bring herself to force words from her lips. But she did eventually, burrowing herself against Oberon's side, head practically shoved into the crook of his arm. The whispers were talking to her again, but she didn't have the will just then to try to tune them out, so when she spoke, he voice was vague, distracted as if she were carrying on two conversations at once. "Mabb. I am your Mabb, dear one. I am your vengeance, your retribution in this frail form." She rubbed absently at the scars marring her wrists, the hurt still very much a living thing though hardly noticed these days. "I'll kill them all, slow as the crawl of glaciers and they will beg for mercy." She sighed, a sound that was both weary and regretful. "But they killed my mercy when they took you from me."

"Mabb," he whispered, the word reverent and familiar. "What did they to do to you? To us?" It was so very strange, to be weak and confused. These were emotions he had only felt once before and that once had been erased from his memory. He noticed the scars as she rubbed them. Iron. They chained you in iron. He wanted to touch the wounds, but he didn't know if he could bring himself to do it. They reminded him very much of a scar hidden under his hairline, the reason why he couldn't remember much before Titania.

She told him, relayed the treachery of the council and told him what they'd done to her and - of what she knew, which wasn't much - what they'd done to him. She told him of her iron cell, of the tears she'd cried for them then and thus could not cry for them now. She told Oberon of her escape, rebuilding her magic from the bare flicking that had remained after. All through it, her voice had been alternately emotionless and choked with unshedable tears, but when she got to the part about her hunt there was no mistaking the vicious satisfaction in her words. Mabb told of her murder of the three council members she'd manage to find so far in gruesome detail, finishing the tale with, "They deserved everything. I only wish I'd taken more time with them."

He shuddered, only a little surprised to find himself imagining those gruesome deaths with admiration. He agreed that someone deserved to be punished. For tinkering with his memory. For taking Mabb from him (though he could only infer from his dreams what that truly meant to him). For destroying their lives together. They must all pay, he affirmed, though he wasn't certain they all deserved to die. He needed to know what Carabosse knew before he could let Mabb kill her. "Why?" he whispered finally. 'Why tear us apart so cruelly?"

"I'm not sure," Mabb admitted as she slid down to rest her head on Oberon's thigh, dark hair spilling into his lap like a pool of shadows. "I heard them mention a marriage before they shut me away, but I..." She smiled once more, rueful and a tiniest bit self-depreciating. "It didn't occur to me to ask while I was killing the three I've found thus far."

He wasn't sure if he should regret. He didn't know that Mabb was Titania's sister and that the insult of his marriage to her was worse than any other he could have imagined. "I was married," he said. Still am. "Though we have not been close in years. We have decided to divide our courts and end our marriage."

The stillness that settled over Mabb was so complete, one could have mistaken her for a statue were it not for the sudden darkness in her eyes. "You were married." Soft words have never held such weight. She sat up slowly, tone deceptively calm when she asked, "Oberon, who exactly did you marry?" Because the mention of courts niggled something in the recesses of her mind and the whispers had gone silent once more so they were no help.

"A seelie," he replied, his amusement masking his disgust. Why did I ever agree? The answer was simple. Because she was the only fae left with power to rival my own. "It should have been you," he whispered, avoiding the name Titania as it caught in his throat.

"Vile union!" Her disgust was readily apparent, clear on her face and in her body as she recoiled instinctively. But his next words banished her distaste, softening her features as she swayed into him, fingers smoothing over his cheeks once more, his lips before slipping comfortably into sable-soft hair. "It will be me. You said yourself your...marriage is ending. I will put things right and we will be together." There was absolute certainty in her voice and the whispers murmured their agreement. Nuzzling his cheek, she teased coyly, "You never really answered my question, love. Though, I suppose it doesn't matter."

"It won't soon enough," he whispered, his hands running through her mane of hair, his lips brushing over her cheek. "She is entirely inconsequential."

"Mmm..." Something made Mabb doubtful of that, but she wouldn't press the matter, not then. She really was so tired, her body nowhere near as strong as her magic and she'd been going non-stop for days. What she needed now so desperately was rest. With her Oberon in her arms again, everything else could wait, at least for a little while. "Will you hold me, my love?" The question was little more than breath against Oberon's lips. "I need sleep, but I'm loathe to be without you again, even as I rest."

"Undoubtedly," he replied. I will hold you until the end of time. There were many thoughts to process, sleep wouldn't claim him easily, but he would lay with her. It was far too soon to even think of leaving his bower when she was in it for the first time in his memory.

Reassured, Mabb leaned herself more surely against Oberon, face burying into the crook of his neck and arms looping around him. Her eyes slipped shut with little coaxing and finally, for the first in a long while, Mabb slipped into a deep, dreamless sleep.

Tags: mabb, oberon

Community: [info]pentamerone
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