Theo opened his eyes. Oboe leapt to his side, almost knocking the doctor down as she did, and grabbed his hand. “You did it!” She said. “I knew you could do it! You’re amazing!”
He opened his mouth to speak, but let out a rasping cough instead. Something was wrong. His aura was like thick, dark smoke, and his skin was hot to the touch. He was sick.
“No!” Oboe’s relief was stripped away. “You had too many dreams!”
Wincing, Theo tried to focus on her. “Did it work?” He gripped her hand tighter. “The duke. Is he okay?”
Oboe looked. The duke groaned, and sat up in bed. Dr. Stillwell moved to check on him, prodding him with all sorts of gizmos.
“He’s… stable,” the doctor said. “You actually managed to pull it off. I don’t believe it.”
“You should!” Oboe said, annoyed. “It worked just like Thistle said it would!”
“Where am I?” The duke said. “What happened?!”
“The experiment was a failure,” the doctor said. “The fairy cursed you instead of what we agreed on.”
“I knew it!” The duke threw his arms into the air. “Which one of these monsters did it? I’ll have their head! Mort! Why are you standing there?! Kill them!”
“Lie down!” Stillwell said. “The culprit has been dealt with. You need to rest while I run more tests.”
“I’m not going sit back with assassins in our midst!” He said. “Guards! Mort! Seize them!!”
Oboe stiffened. Part of her hoped the dream would change the duke’s mind, but a dream could only change someone a little bit at a time and only if that someone listened. Thistle poked her side and flicked his antennae towards the door. He wanted to run. Oboe wasn’t going anywhere without Theo.
“You won’t touch them!” Theo got out of his chair to stand. His legs shook. He was still too weak. Before he could fall, Oboe stuck herself under his arm to help hold him up. “These two did everything they could to save you!” He said. “We broke your curse together. I won’t let you harm them!”
“They’ve muddled his brain,” the duke said to the doctor. “Their magic is killing him. Made him a puppet. If we don’t do something, they’ll do the same to us.”
“Shut up!” Theo said with a shout so loud it startled Oboe. “I don’t care what you think! I don’t care what happened that made you like this! It doesn’t matter! You have no right to treat fairies this way, least of all Oboe! She’s a good person and she’s my friend!”
Oboe gaped at him. She knew they were friends, but there was always doubt in her mind. A little voice telling her that it wasn’t real, that he was just pretending, that it would turn out the way it always did. Hearing him declare they were friends made her battered heart burst with a happiness she didn’t know was still inside.
The duke sneered. “That is not how you speak to a lord of Laien. Mort! What am I paying you for?! Get rid of them! Jail them! Kill them! Stop staring at me, and do something!”
The big knight gave Oboe a pitying look, but did not move. His sword stayed in its sheathe. Maybe he wasn’t so scary after all.
“We were just leaving,” Theo said. He turned his head towards Oboe with a tired smile. “Come on. Let’s go.”