Sun and Moon

By Laura Schiller

Based on: The Faerie Path series

Copyright: Frewin Jones

Titania sat in a window-seat in the best guest chamber of Caer Circinn, her red hair framed by the long, pale golden curtains. Her gown was dark green, with voluminous skirts, embroidery in white thread and tiny pearls, puffed sleeves and a stiff white ruff. She was reading an old history of the Wars of Lyonesse, a leather-bound, handwritten volume heavy with dust and dignity. Her eyes, however, had not been on the page for some time; instead they were drawn irresistibly to the window.

And when she finally saw the covered wagon stop in front of the gate, the book fell right out of her trembling hands and landed on the floor, loose pages scattering like autumn leaves.

The Queen picked up her skirts and ran, with an utter disregard for high-heeled slippers, out the door. She barely registered a startled maid in the corridor, whose food tray rattled and clinked from the whoosh of Titania's passing. She swept down the wide, curving staircase with one hand on the rail, brusquely ordered the guards to let down the drawbridge, and walked across it once it was down with more speed than dignity.

Two young men were climbing off the driver's seat, one she recognized and one she didn't. Glancing behind her, she noticed that the Lord and Lady of Circinn were following behind her with somewhat more decorum.

"Your Majesty."

The two men bowed, taking off their hats; she nodded in return.

A perfect Faerie Queen would doubtlessly, at this point, have kept up the protocol, exchanged pleasantries with the two men, and waited until they were inside before investigating the wagon's contents. Titania, however, hadn't needed to be a Queen for five hundred years, and she had always been impulsive. Besides, she was a wife first.

So she climbed into the wagon, and what she saw there made her let out a choked little gasp and cover her face with both hands.

Oberon Aurealis, the Sun King, her beloved husband was lying wrapped in furs, as pale and thin and motionless as a corpse.

His golden hair had faded to straw; his high slanted cheekbones stood out starkly in a wasted face; his summery blue eyes were screwed shut as if in fear or pain. Tears began to burn in her own eyes as she reached out to touch that face, so strange and so familiar; when she had dreamed of their reunion on so many cold and empty nights, she had never imagined it like this.

For a moment, her hand remained in the air. Suppose he didn't wake up after all? And if he did, would he still love her? Would he be angry with her for leaving him,? She had never meant to be trapped in the Mortal World for so long.

Another look at his face, like a small sleeping boy's, decided her. She placed her hand gently on his cheek and whispered his name, just as she had whispered it in their bedchamber in the Faerie Palace.

"Oberon...Wake up, my love. I am here."

Then she bent down and gently kissed him on the lips.

A burst of golden light radiated out from between them, flowing out through the wagon like a second sun. Titania flung up her hands to protect her dazzled eyes; as she did, streaks of silver leaped out from her fingers to intertwine with the gold like vines. The light of the Sun King and the Moon Queen sank into the earth and sky of Faerie, refreshing the air, bringing joy to the heart of every living creature.

They had found each other at last.

The first thing Oberon saw when he opened his eyes was his wife, smiling and weeping, her green eyes shimmering with gold dust, her hair curling down her shoulders like liquid fire.

"Titania?" he whispered. "It cannot be...Am I in the Blessed Land of Avalon, then?"

She shook her head. "Thanks be to the gods and the courage of our daughters, you are alive."

He reached out to touch her face, frightened she would vanish, reassured by her warm skin and familiar scent. A hallucination would not have a scent, surely? How he had missed her! Missing? It was too weak a word. He had been dead without her, and now he was alive. Impossibly, gloriously alive.

"Have you truly come back to me, beloved? Come to stay?" he asked – the mighty King of Faerie, in a voice like cracked glass, looking up at her with eyes like crushed forget-me-nots.

His heartbreak had plunged his kingdom into five hundred years of dreary twilight; he had been attacked in his sleep by the Sorcerer of Lyonesse and trapped in an Amber Prison on the nightmare island of Ynis Maw. He had gone through horrors, almost more than a man could endure, and after all this, losing Titania again would surely shatter him like a thin sheet of glass.

"Why else would I be here?" she flashed, an echo of her old sharp wit.

"No, Oberon, I will never leave you again. I promise."

She kissed him again, and it was as if the heat of the Sun and the cool sweetness of the Moon met and melded into one.