A/N: Another addition into the Legend fanfiction archives, and – more pointedly – into the Oona/Lili femslash archives, tiny and starved for attention as they are. I've really been pushing the femslash this month, haven't I? ;)
The Mummers Dance by Loreena Mckennitt
All the Things She Said by T.A.T.U.
Disclaimer: Legend and related characters © Ridley Scott and Twentieth Century Fox.
A young breeze, high and giddy in the crowns of ancient trees, danced among the boughs, pestering the leaves that waved in reply, vainly trying to capture the teasing zephyr. High above the canopy, birds rode that same playful breeze, wheeling and bobbing in its currents. The sun, too dignified to take note of such goings on, shone down on all, its caress warming all it touched, filtering through the trees to cast the forest in green, dappled light. Hidden in a small grove of whispering alder and lacy ferns lay a girl in white finery. Her face was such a one that broke hearts with the smallest of smiles, now relaxed and only more beautiful in sleep, surrounded by thick, dark curls. To find such a lady in the middle of the forest was an odd sight, for she was obviously no villager or huntsman's daughter. But whoever she might be, she slept the sleep of one perfectly at ease, without a care for curious animals or mischievous faeries.
Truly, a lady alone in such a place should have given more care to the ways of the faerie folk, for even now one sat near, watching her as she slept.
There could be no doubt that the girl, seated comfortably on a moss covered log, was not mortal. Winged, her ears delicately pointed, an aura of otherworldliness hung about her like a mist. Clad in what looked to be mere gossamer, her face was the face of a child, when in truth she was many time older than the slumbering lady at her feet. It was her pixie heritage that bestowed the appearance of youth, though her eyes betrayed her age. In those wide, bluer than blue pools, a kind of internal struggle was taking place, pulling the normally light hearted expression to a little frown.
The faerie, whose name was Oona, had led this human, who was called Lili, on a merry faerie's chase through the forest, disguised as another mortal named Jack to lure Lili ever deeper into the trees. It was not so long ago when the three of them, Oona, Lili and Jack, as well as many others, had fought against the Lord of Darkness himself and triumphed. During that battle, Oona had become intrigued with the forest child Jack, had even almost convinced herself she loved him when he resisted her charms. But she was a faerie to the core, and could not dwell too long on a single thing or person. When continued attempts to catch Jack's notice all failed, Oona grew bored and found herself growing more and more interested in Jack's love, Lili.
She was well worth the interest, Oona thought. A human girl of noble birth who spent every moment possible in a forest teaming with fae folk and goblins, she'd captured the heart of Jack, the child of the forest, who was hardly mortal himself. So innocent was she that the unicorns had been charmed, and even allowed her to touch them! To their own peril and everyone else's, as it turned out. Still, she had remained strong, and resolved to set right the wrong she had done. So innocent, so pure, so… fragile, she had nevertheless managed to resist Darkness, even to deceive him and free the captured unicorn mare.
The bane of unicorns, the vanquisher of Darkness… no one would ever suspect it when they looked upon her sweet face. Yes, Oona was intrigued.
So she had spun an enchantment about the girl, a simple chase. It confused her senses, drew her on, always a few steps behind what she sought, which she believed to be Jack, but was really Oona, human sized and cloaked in glamour to appear to be Jack. She lured Lili deeper and deeper into the wood, along paths that closed up behind her as though they had never been, through gloomy vales and over skipping brooks, until the mortal would be hopelessly lost. Then she had lifted the web of enchantment, that drove Lili to pursue without thought, and hid herself from sight, leaving the human suddenly alone and lost. She should have, upon realizing her plight, been frightened. But Oona was to be surprised again. After a few plaintive calls after Jack, whom she seemed to believe was playing some lover's trick on her, she had quieted. After a few moments spent in investigating her surroundings, the girl had settled herself comfortably among the ferns, and eventually drifted off to sleep.
Oona was baffled. She had no definite plans for what she had wanted to do with Lili once she had caught her, but this complete nonchalance was beyond her experience. It wasn't how mortals were meant to behave when they were caught in faerie power! Perhaps it was because of all the time she already spent in these woods, or the adventure with Darkness and the unicorns that made her so. Oona suspected it was more her own nature that was to blame.
How was Oona meant to deal with a situation like this? She had enchanted countless mortals in her lifetime, on her own and as part of a group, and so carefree a response had never happened before. She was perplexed on how to proceed, so she was left watching her uncooperative prey as she slept the sleep of untroubled dreams. Even so, with all the frustration this brought, watching Lili's steady breathing and her lips, gently curved as though smiling at her dreams, Oona could not find it in her to begrudge the girl her peacefulness.
An hour slipped by in the alder grove before Lili stirred, the sun taking the white golden glow of afternoon. She turned in her sleep, towards Oona on her log couch, and stretched luxuriantly, as though waking amongst her finest bedclothes. Her eyes fluttered open, revealing eyes as brown as hazelnuts and smiled.
"There you are, Jack," she said drowsily, her gaze falling on Oona. "Where have you been?"
Oona, her glamour firmly in place, smiled with Jack's mouth, and flipped her head to a side as the boy often did. "I thought you were still following me close behind. When I came back, you slept so soundly I had not the heart to wake you."
One brow arched up quizzically. "So you watched me sleep, did you?"
Still smiling, her grin full of flashing teeth, Oona nodded.
Lili sniffed, and put on the airs of a noble lady, as difficult as that must have been half-submerged in ferns. "You are quite presumptuous, young Jack, and not at all a gentleman to watch a lady in her sleep. Why, the very thought is shocking!"
Oona had to stifle a giggle in her Jack guise at Lili's tone and manner. Instead she stood, feeling the glamour stretching taller than she was as she did so, and made a sweeping, ironic bow. "Please to forgive, my lady. I would not dream to be presumptuous. I do throw myself on your tender mercies."
The human girl also had to swallow her laughter, but she composed herself quickly, and looked up at 'Jack' in mock sternness. "I may forgive you, sir, if you would but help me to rise." She held up her hands, awaiting her gentleman.
Still playing the gallant if playful gent, Oona took Lili's hands in her own and pulled her up to her feet. So small a feat was almost too much for the faerie girl. Even in her current state, she was not at all physically strong, and Lili weighed considerably more than she did. She was relieved when the girl didn't seem to notice any struggle on 'Jack's' part in helping her rise.
Once on her feet, Lili wrapped her arms about Oona's shoulders, gazing into her eyes lovingly, as she would Jack's. The faerie, caught in the embrace, her face a mere inch or two from Lili's, felt herself grow unaccountably nervous. It was because of the glamour, she told herself. She wasn't sure if it was strong enough to hold up against such close contact. She forced herself relax, and looped her arms about the girl's waist.
"And now," Lili said with an impish little grin, "you may kiss me, Sir Jack."
Oona hid her surprise, and returned the smile. "But, my lady," she said with Jack's voice. "To bestow kisses upon one so high above I, surely that would be the worst presumption of all?"
"Not if I have given you leave," she murmured, her face, her lips inching closer to Oona's. "You may be as free with your kisses as you like."
A faerie kissing a mortal was no small thing. It was more than a mere pressing of the lips. Oona pulled away very slightly, keeping a little space between them. "Lili," she said, sounding uncharacteristically uncertain to her own ears. "Lili, I don't—"
"Jack," Lili interrupted, catching Oona's cheek in the palm of her warm hand, and came near, her eyes closed.
Oona squeaked, starting back and letting her glamour slip away all at once. She stood, still within arm's length of Lili, completely as herself. The gossamer frock, the pointed ears, the hair as light and airy as thistledown blowing into her face, the nervously fluttering wings at her shoulders, she was as unlike Jack as it was possible to be.
Lili was startled, and her eyes widened as the glamour quickly melted away to dew. But she did not recoil, nor did she cry out. She looked at Oona, fully exposed as herself… and began to smile again. Not a nervous or uncertain smile, but good humoredly. "I thought so," she said, her voice full of laughter. "I thought the faeries felt close today. And who may you be, good sprite?"
Oona could not help but return the smile with a satisfied grin of her own and drop into an arrogant courtier's bow – no silly curtsies for this faerie! "I may be many or none, lady, but I am Oona of the fae folk, friend of one Honeythorn Gump." She straightened again, her blue eyes flashing merriment as a pond flashes with silver scaled fishes in its depths. "At you service for this brief time, lady, as you discovered my little mischief."
"Answer me truly, then, Oona, why you led me here? Do you intend me harm?"
"Nay, nay!" Oona laughed, her hair and wings both fluttering. "No harm was meant, but is it not in the nature of the faerie folk to befuddle and confuse our mortal neighbors? For all that it what this was: harmless amusement."
The breeze that whispered among the leaves came to play with Lili's hair, casting a stray curl before her eyes. She brushed it back, her dark eyes a little more solemn. "That is so. But then why return to me, still in the guise of Jack? Is it not more in the nature of the faerie to leave their quarry once they are caught?"
"Tis so," Oona agreed easily. "Once caught, there is little pleasure to be had. What enjoyment is in a hunt already ended?"
The girl tilted her head, her mouth smiling and her eyes serious. "Then why, friend Oona?"
The sprite hesitated again, and then gave a small, helpless shrug. "I was curious about you, lady. You are known to all at the Faerie Court, yet none can say they know you. The mortal Princess Lili, they say, she is like the moon herself, they croon, with both light and dark faces. She who can tempt the unicorns to their doom, and yet can deny Darkness, and send him tumbling from his throne. Your adventures are well known, lady, and I couldn't help but wonder at such a mortal girl." She smiled, a touch of that unchecked mischief creeping into its corners. "I couldn't help but wonder if she could stand firm against my wiles, as well."
Lili, into whose expression had crept a dark shadow of recollection, laughed at the faerie's easy arrogance. Such was the way of all fae folk, but coming from this little wild-haired faerie was disarming. "Well," she said, twirling a little circle, her skirts flying out, "I don't seem to have been fully captured by your wiles. Have you any others you can try, or am I to be Lili, escaper of the faerie's lures, in addition to my titles?"
Oona's wings fluttered, her eyes flashing silver. She was certainly a strange one, this Lili, she decided. Even forgetting the unicorn and Darkness – and who really could? – she had no fear of the fae folk, as most mortals did, whether deserved or not. Not only did she not fear, she bantered, she challenged a faerie standing right before her. The smile that spread over her face was genuine as she decided; I like this Lili-girl. She is human, but she has a faerie spirit.
"Not so easily can you escape a faerie's entrapments, nor especially mine." She leaned forward at the hips and cocked her head. The breeze came up, bringing the sweet, heavy smells of honeysuckle and lilac. "I would not go home and say I had lost the Lili-girl once I had her. For that would court humiliation."
"I would not have you humiliated before your kin, gentle faerie," the girl said with mock solemnity. "Come! What other snares have you to confound my senses and lay claim to me? At the least, we should make the attempt to show willing."
"I have many such snares, but merely one that may prove when a chase has failed." Oona felt her heart trip a little in her breast, her wings echoed the tremble, their iridescence catching the dappled light and shattering it to motes. "Tis but a simple kiss, from faerie to mortal." She tilted her head, measuring Lili's reaction. "Tis much like faerie food or drink, when once taken by a mortal, it binds them to the faerie realm forever, entrapping them past all hope of return. But where to eat faerie food or drink faerie wine is to become a part of Faerie, to kiss a faerie is to lose your heart completely, and to be lost not to the realm, but to the faerie whose kiss you have taken."
Lili stared, dark eyes wide and fingers pressed to her lips. A little dismay played her features, a line appearing between her brows when she frowned. "I may lose my heart?" she asked through her fingers.
Oona grinned, pleased with herself. "Should it prove too flighty, lady. It could be you resist my charms. But then again… you may not."
For a time, the girl was silent, staring off into the gently swaying boughs, the lazily humming insects, the occasional diving bird. As she waited, Oona became aware of the warm touch of the sun across her shoulders, where it touched her bare arms and legs. It was a warm day, and made her limbs feel heavy and lazy, but at the same time she felt an odd buzz in her veins, which only seemed to grow as the silence did.
Finally Lili flung her hand wide, a sparkling laugh tumbling from her. "I fear not your snares, Oona-faerie. My heart is not so easily swayed as by a single kiss." Her smile still wide, she held her arms out, welcoming to the faerie maid. "Come, kiss me and see."
Oona shook her head, her eyes dancing. "Nay, lady. A faerie but offers her kiss, while the mortal chooses to accept or not. You must kiss me."
The faerie didn't hold out her arms in welcome as had Lili; she simply stood and watched as the girl came close, the only sign of trepidation in a slight tremor in her step. The mortal was a little taller than she; Oona had to tilt her head slightly to look up into her eyes, to offer up her lips, if Lili would take them. She cupped Oona's cheek, her palm smooth, warm and smelling of buttermilk soap and lavender. She lowered her face to the waiting faerie, and hesitated only when their noses were nearly touching, her breath fluttering over Oona's mouth.
Then Lili pressed her lips to Oona's, and a small shiver passed through her. Possibly she had meant to pull away immediately, but such was a faerie's kiss that made disentanglement no easy matter. Once begun, Lili found herself falling into the embrace with the same easy acceptance as a fish slips into a current.
Oona, to her own surprise, found her own reaction much the same as the mortal's. She had coaxed many a human to her kiss before, but none had ever been like this. Always before, their kisses would bruise as much as caress, their greed making them careless and rough. But Lili's mouth was all giving softness and generosity. For the first time, it was the faerie that leaned a little into the embrace, seeking more of that smooth lip, that soft cheek beneath her hand. She felt her face grow warm, a heat rising in her ears all the way up to their pointed tips. The buzzing in her blood grew until it was all she could hear. Her belly grew hot, and her head spun, it was as though she had drunk glass after glass of honey wine, its sweetness filling her to her fingers and clinging to her tongue.
Her hand, which she had lain on Lili's cheek, slipped down to her throat, and she felt the quickened throbbing of the girl's pulse beneath her fingertips. Against her will, her own heart echoed the eager rhythm, which in turn was passed to her quivering wings.
She might have stayed until the owls and the nightingales took up the nighttime songs from their light-loving cousins, and it was when it was Lili who had to break the kiss that she realized just how lost she was.
Lili, at least, seemed a little flushed and breathless when she looked into the cobalt depths of Oona's eyes. "Well," she said, reaching for that same playful, bantering tone from before. "Am I now a captive to the Faerie, to you, Oona?" She smiled, and it was as though the rest of the world simply fell away in the light of it.
"It could be, Lili," she replied, her own voice more breathless than she would have liked. "Though it may behoove me to make certain."
"Oh?" There was the raise of an eyebrow, and Oona noticed that she had yet to remove her hand.
It delighted Oona inordinately to see she had not pulled away, and she smiled. Her own small hand moved to the back of Lili's neck, and she pulled gently as she went up on her toes. "Surely you could not resist a second one," she said, lightly coming up to her lips.
Lili gave one breathy laugh before taking Oona's proffered caress. Then, at least, Oona was reassured that if she were lost to this mortal, then at least she had Lili as well.