Oboe broke her promise.
After years and years of trying her hardest to be good, she did it again. She enchanted a human. The magic slipped out. She lost control. She changed Percy into a hawk and grew stronger doing it, just like before. It didn’t matter that she changed him back. It didn’t matter that the prince and Theo forgave her. Sooner or later the whole kingdom would know. She broke her promise.
The other fairies were right. She deserved to be shunned and thrown away. She was wicked. There was no use denying it. The realization crushed her, but it wasn’t kind enough to kill her.
Oboe stared at the threshold. It was a bend in space between the trees that led to the Circle. It was where she was born and where her family lived. It was where she belonged. For most of her live she yearned to go back, to cross over, but she knew the cost was too great.
Today she was ready to pay the price. She stepped through.
The sight of the green sky was too much. She wanted to cry but her eyes were already too sore and red from weeping. The orchards of the Outer Circle stretched ahead of her. Fauns, laborers with juice-stained mantles, were hard at work collecting the late-summer harvest. The one nearest gasped when she saw Oboe. She dropped her basket and apples spilled across the ground.
“What’re you doing?!” Her mane was tied back. Her violet eyes darted toward the other workers. “You can’t be here!”
Oboe said nothing. Seeing other fauns made her feel naked. The feeing never went away no matter how hard she ignored it.
“Nameless!” The farmer called to the others in disgust. “There’s a nameless here!”
The others froze, watching with anger and caution. One of the taller ones marched up.
“You don’t belong here!” He said. “Get out or I’ll call the spriggan!”
Oboe wished the humans had killed her. It would’ve been better than coming here and seeing the way these fauns looked at her. It would’ve been easier than facing grandmother again after breaking her promise. Oboe was scared. She wanted to run away but she knew running away would be worse. Running meant living with the guilt. It meant knowing all the things others whispered about her were true.
“Call the spriggan,” Oboe said. “I’ll wait.”
The farmers shot confused looks at one another. When it was clear she wasn’t going to leave, they rushed to send word. A magic flare was fired into the air, whistling like a firework.
It was only a matter of time now. Oboe went to the well to wait, and admired the wooded village that was once her home. It was hard to look at the cute little homes with their gardens and mailboxes and not wonder how different life could’ve been.
It would’ve been kinder if grandmother had killed her at the tournament of titles. It was hard to live as a nameless. Sometimes the shunning was more than she could bear. Thistle was her friend, at least, but she knew deep down that he was only her friend out of pity. Even so, she was grateful. He was all she had. Until Theo came along, anyway. She smiled. Theo was good and sweet. He’d done everything he could to fix the mess she’d made. But there was no way for him to fix this when Oboe was the problem.
The furies came. A whole troop swooped to surround her, with polished leather armor bearing the symbol of an acorn with a keyhole on it. They unsheathed knives from the holsters strapped to their legs, poised to attack.
“Nameless are forbidden in the Circle! Why have you come?”
Oboe held her hands out in surrender. “I want to see the Fair Lady!” She said. “I wish to face judgment!”