Episode 6 Chapter 5

Thistle led Oboe by the wrist into the kitchen.

“Explain to me what’s going on,” Thistle said. “No fibs. No jokes. Why are you wearing that thing?” He tugged at her mantle. “Did you steal it? They’ll kill you for wearing a family name!”

“Thistle, please.” She pulled her mantle free from his grip. “What Theo said is true! Grandmother gave me my name back!”

“No.” His face squeezed like a fist. “That’s not how the Circle works, and that’s not how the Fair Lady works. The truth, child! Tell me what’s actually going on!”

Oboe glanced at the door, wondering what was safe to say. “Grandmother said she was impressed with me. She likes how I got a job here, and that whole transforming the prince thing too. Did I tell you about that? I figured she’d be mad, but she wasn’t! Anyway, she was so proud that she said I could have my name back if I did her favors.”

Thistle’s mouth flexed to enunciate each word. “What… sort… of favors?”

“Little stuff! Normal stuff!” Oboe forced a smile. “Like, I give Theo ideas on what to do! Or, like, I help some fairies get visas who wouldn’t normally be allowed. Maybe she wants me to steal that sword? I don’t know! Normal grandma stuff!”

Thistle’s antennae twitched. “There it is. I see now.” He heaved a sigh. “Can you bend down for a moment?”

Nervous, Oboe squatted. Thistle looked her in the eye.

“You need to get rid of that mantle.” His tone was calm. It was strange for Thistle. “You need to cut all ties to the Circle. Forget any of this happened.”

“What?” Oboe said. “I can’t do that! I just got to see my family! I can’t lose them again!”

“That family abandoned you,” Thistle said.

“They didn’t have a choice!” Oboe said, angry. “They’re still my family! The only one I got!”

“Do you think the Fair Lady cares about you? This is Circle politics! She’s just using you!”

Oboe stood back up. “Maybe I want to be used! Did you think of that?!” She took a deep, heated breath. “I live every day knowing I’m worthless. I know I don’t matter! I’m sick of it! I want to belong. I want my family. I want to be useful! Grandmother doesn’t have to love me, she just needs to give me what I want.”

Thistle began to shake. “You don’t need her. Don’t make my mistakes. Get out before she makes you do something you regret the rest of your life.” His voice dropped to a hush. “She’s wicked!”

“All of us are wicked.” Oboe said.

“Not you!” Thistle shouted. “I know you! You aren’t like that! I forbid you to have anything to do with her!”

Oboe hopped into a wide stance. “Don’t tell me what to do! You’re not my family! You don’t even LIKE me! You just put up with me before because you felt sorry for me! Well, I don’t need your pity! Grandmother says I should take what I want, and what I want is my family!”

The old sylph made a noise, somewhere between a choke and a grunt. He tried to say something, but wrestled with it until he snapped. “Fine!” He said. “If you want to be a stupid idiot, that’s your life!”

“That’s right! And if you don’t like it, you can stay out of it!”

A stone silence fell between them. They glared at one another, anger cooling to resentment. Thistle looked at the door.

“Are you going to tell him about all this?” Thistle said.

Oboe stopped. She reached into her muddy feelings. “…He doesn’t have to know.” She said. It would be better that way. “Why? Are you going to tell on me?”

He looked away. “I guess not.”

Oboe marched out of the room and to the front door. She wasn’t going to be ashamed anymore. She didn’t like lying to Theo, but if that’s what it took then that is what she was going to do. She held her head high, and pushed her fear aside. She pulled the door and walked outside.

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