A Midsummer Night's Dream
For Deanna (junejulyaugust)
It was the night after the triple wedding of Lord Theseus and Hippolyta, Lysander and Hermia and Demetrius and Helena. There was much music and dancing, giving of toasts to the newlyweds and congratulations hailed upon the couples by family and friends. There was much celebrating of the young lovers, and even after the couples retired to their beds, the celebrations continued late into the night.
A short distance away, deep in a nearby forest, the celebrations were also continuing. Tiny lights were flitting around a moonlit forest clearing, almost as if they were dancing. If you looked closely enough, you could see miniature people, with delicate gossamer wings, hovering in the air, waltzing to some strange music, which the human ear is incapable of hearing. These beings were the fairies that owned this forest, tiny and simple-minded, with not a care in the world. They were ruled by King Oberon and Queen Titania, whose raging feuds caused storms wild enough to destroy the homes of humans unfortunate enough to live nearby. At this moment, however, they were at peace, enjoying an evening in each other's company, celebrating the marriages' happily ever after along with everyone else.
The fairies were dancing gracefully to the sound of a fairy choir, and the melody of a hand-whittled wooden flute. Titania and Oberon were taking a break from the dancing, resting on a rock at the edge of the clearing with Oberon's mischievous henchman, Puck, hovering just behind them. Oberon was recounting the amusing tale of how he and Puck had interfered with the couples' lives, laughing now and then. Titania, however, was not as amused.
"These silly humans, they need the trickery of magic spells to fall in love. They are unable to let nature run its course. Without magic they would all be still wandering wildly in the forest, their lives a mess."
Puck, who was slightly tipsy, replied, "Well, magic worked on you well enough," and then collapsed into a fit of giggles.
Oberon swallowed some of his drink too quickly, and started coughing. Ignoring this, Titania sat up a bit straighter, her relaxed demeanour vanishing at once, and turned around to face Puck. She frowned slightly.
"Explain yourself, Puck!" she said, harshly.
Puck's gleeful expression fell, realising he had said too much. Oberon stared at Puck and gave the tiniest shake of the head.
Hastily Puck replied, "Nothing, nothing at all! I was thinking of something else."
Titania recognised the slight trepidation in his voice and persisted with her question, her voice rising in volume. At once the dancing stopped, the music died and the joyful expressions on the fairies' faces faded away. They knew that an argument was coming, and they didn't want to be around when it happened. The fairies began to scarper, flying away into the dark, tangled forest, back to whatever home they inhabited.
Oberon gave a deep dejected sigh and buried his head in his hands. Why was their happiness always so fleeting? When he looked up he found Titania's scornful eyes staring into his own.
"I'm sorry..." he began. "Your beauty was so remarkable, that I just had to make you mine. I couldn't not risk it."
Titania's eyes widened. "Are you saying that you placed a spell upon me? That my love for you is because of magic?"
"I am sorry. I know I tricked you, but you have to understand, it was only because I was so deeply in love with you. You had to be with me and be my queen."
"Oberon, if you really loved me you would have not put the spell on me! You are such a manipulative, selfish person!"
And with that she gave him a harsh slap across the cheek and stalked out of the now silent clearing.
Queen Titania, sat on a pebble, surrounded by her maids, who fussed about her hair and made idle chatter. Her face was a mask of icy calm, hiding the turmoil inside her. She gazed into the forest, her maids' comments meaningless noise in her ears. It was a while before she spotted Puck leaning against a tree nearby, watching her.
"Please leave me. I need some time to myself," she instructed her maids.
Her maids scurried away, and Puck came forward.
"What is it you want?"
"A message from Oberon: He wishes to know whether you shall forgive him."
Titania pondered and smiled. "I shall, in time," she said playfully.
"Oberon only did it because he loved you."
"Oh yes, that I know." She whispered, smiling again this time to herself.
Puck glanced at her, slightly confused. "What do you mean?"
To Puck's surprise there was now a sly smile on Titania's face. "Between you and me, Oberon may have put the spell on me, but..." she leaned forward, positively grinning now, "...I saw him first!"