Theodore was sick of stairs by the time they arrived at the upper floor of the tower. He expected a dungeon. Instead, he was led into an ornate bedroom filled with cushions and hanging silk veils. There, he found her face down in a pile of pillows.
“Oboe?” he said, touching her shoulder gently.
She woke with a yelp and fell out of bed. Her eyes blinked in disbelief at him.
“Theo?? What are you doing here?!”
“Looking for you!” He said. “I was worried. I thought they were going to hurt you!”
“That’s what I wanted!” Oboe shouted. “But nobody will listen to me!” She hurled a pillow, only for Épée to dodge the attack.
Theodore grabbed her by the arm when she went for a second pillow. “Stop! Oboe, why are you here? Why do you want them to hurt you? You don’t deserve this!”
“Yes I do!” She yanked her arm free. “I promised grandmother I would never ever enchant a human, but I did! She said she would kill me if I did, but she hasn’t done it yet!” She marched up to the door and yelled down the stair well: “I’m waiting!!”
Épée sneered at both of them and moved to stand guard farther down the hall.
“Maybe they know there’s no sense in you dying.” Theodore reached out to her and she pulled away. “What happened with the prince wasn’t your fault. Please come home.”
Oboe covered her face. “I can’t!” She was crying. “You don’t understand! This isn’t the first time! I used my magic on a human before! You shouldn’t come near me! I’m evil!”
He wished she would let him comfort her. “Thistle told me. That was a long time ago. You were just a kid. You didn’t know any better.” He pulled her hands away from her tear-stained face. “You told me before that everyone makes mistakes. I know you. You’re not wicked. You’d never want to hurt anybody”
“Please stop.” Her gaze fell to the floor. “It doesn’t matter if I wanted to hurt anybody. I did anyway. I was too weak to stop myself. If I can’t control my magic, I’m dangerous.” She looked up, her brow arching. “Grandmother gave me a second chance, but I broke my promise. I can’t live like this. I need to do the right thing, Theo. I need to be punished.”
His blood boiled. “I’m not going to let them kill you! We’re getting out of here!”
He grabbed her by the wrist and she pushed him away. “No!! You can’t make me!” She said. How was he going get her out of here if she wouldn’t listen to reason? “I didn’t ask you to rescue me, Theo! You need to leave! Forget about me!”
“I can’t!” He said. “You’re my friend!”
Her tears broke free again, and she wiped them with her arm. Clenching her teeth, she lifted him off his feet. He tried to struggle, but she was stronger than him. She dumped him into the hallway and slammed the door.
Theodore sprang to his feet and found the door locked. “Oboe!” He pounded his fist on the door. “Let me in! Oboe!! Please!”
There was no answer. Theodore kept shouting, but it made no difference.