Balance must be preserved.
- Second Primary Rule of Magic
If you cast a spell to make someone fall in love, you'll also make someone fall in hate. The trick lies in picking the right persons to do the hating, the loving, the being hated and the being loved. Personally, I never pick myself as any of them, but hey, that's just me.
- Anonymous instructor to a class of first-year students while explaining the Second Primary Rule
This is what Charon remembers: his father, shouting: "It's killing her! You're killing her!" and a woman's voice, murmuring in answer. He's been told to stay in his room, but the sounds have woken him up, and there's a sense of magic being worked - he's curious and old enough to feel he should be allowed to make his own judgments.
"Charon? What's going on?" Medea asks, and in reality, in the one inalterable history, the memory stops there - with Charon leading his younger sister back to her room, turning his back on the argument going on in the main-room.
In his dreams, sometimes, he ignores her, or takes her hand as the two of them slowly make their way, because Charon wants to know who this mysterious woman is, whom his father accuses of killing his mother. In his dreams, he hears her talking to his father, about affinities and the sacrifices that must be made, and he almost thinks he recognizes her voice.
He always wakes up before he can see her face though.
"You," the King said, "have a very persistent sister."
Charon wasn't sure if he should take that as a compliment - given that the King seemed to have entered Charon's office for no better reason than to avoid Medea, probably not. Then again, one did not call out the King of all of Avalon for insulting one's sister.
"I'm sure it's her great love for your highness that moves her," said Charon smoothly, mind racing as he tried to recall where he'd put the largest stack of documents that required the royal signature. Chances like these were rare, not to say unheard of.
"Yes, well, she could be more subtle about it. Nothing wrong with admiration from a distance." The King took out his pipe and stared at it. "Besides, doesn't everybody love me?"
"We all aim to please your highness." Maybe, Charon mused, he ought to simply pick the nearest stack, before this opportunity slipped past. Pain had told him he ought to try and think less - not an advise Charon particularly intended to follow to the letter, but useful nonetheless.
"The only time you're stalking me is when you want me to sign papers."
Maybe he ought to forget about the whole 'pounce on the King and make him sign papers'-thing.
"I'm merely trying to do my job."
"Really?" The King eyed him curiously and absently toyed with his pipe. "No love at all, then?"
Charon wondered what in Heaven's name he was supposed to say to that.
"It's interesting, you see - well, I find it interesting, at any rate," the King went on. "Your sister barely possesses any magic and is rabidly in love with me, whereas you are the exact opposite. And I'm not particularly fond of your sister, but I do wish you'd stop flooding me with work every time we meet."
Pain would consider that a confession of love - or an invitation to flirt at the very least. But then, Pain considered a sigh and a complaint about the weather an invitation to flirt.
"Of course, it's utterly forbidden to cast any love-spells on the King," the King chattered on. "I'm sure nobody would be foolish enough to break that law, not even for a chance to make their daughter the future queen of Avalon."
"You suspect the Lady Oran of having cast a forbidden spell?" Charon asked, instantly alert. At least half of the wards surrounding the King were Charon's - if anyone had tampered with them, Charon ought to have felt it. Still, Oran had lost a considerable amount of influence after her stay on Earth, and who would gainsay the King, if he accused her of having tried to bespell him?
"Lady Oran?" The King gave him a wide-eyed look. "Not at all."
Charon managed not to groan, and tried to focus on feeling relieved.
"Faerie Fanta is quite a charming young lady," the King continued. "Who'd need a love-spell to fall passionately in love with her? She never presses me into doing anything I don't want."
"Indeed," said Charon, who knew quite well that Fanta hardly ever spoke to the King, unless he spoke to her first. It made people speculate about the King's interest in her being only due to a (pretended) lack of interest from her side - which was good, because it meant people didn't view Fanta as a serious candidate for the position of Queen. "Speaking of which, I've got quite a lot of work to do. If your majesty would be so kind ... "
"There's lots of people more appreciative of my company than you are." The King sniffed. "Honestly, some days I wonder why I ever made you my Prime Minister."
Some days, Charon wondered, too.
"Don't you ever chill out?" the King asked. "Relax? Shake it up? Let it all out? Get groovy?"
"I'm busy with work," said Charon.
"You should come to the hot springs with me next full moon," said the King, adding, as Charon opened his mouth to politely refuse, "And that's a royal command. Now, go check if your sister's given up yet, will you, there's a good fellow."
Charon sighed and practically bumped into Medea the moment he exited his office. She looked slightly disappointed to see him, but apparently cared enough to try to not let it show.
"Medea ... " There were at least three people within hearing. Clearly, a brother-sister heart-to-heart was out of the question. "Please go away." Please tell me why you keep doing this to yourself. Or if it's just an act, please tell me what you think you're going to accomplish with it.
She looked hurt. "I only wanted to - "
"He doesn't want to see you." Charon caught himself before he said something truly unforgivable, like suggesting she might spend her time more usefully by studying magic. He knew she had - it wasn't Medea's fault she simply seemed to lack the talent. All faeries were created unequal, and while Charon had gotten lucky, Medea had not. There was nothing he or she could do about that.
"Please leave," he repeated, before turning on his heels and hurrying back inside, praying he wouldn't find the King re-arranging his documents or something like that.
"I only wanted to see how you were doing," Medea told the empty air where Charon had been.
Things are never what they seem.
- Third Primary Rule of Magic
A hot chick? That's not what I see. What I see is a girl whose brother I'd really like to get to know. Although what you were actually supposed to notice was the fact that she's wearing several illegal love-charms.
- Anonymous instructor to a class of first-year students during their entrance-exam
the above story in less than
20 15 words:
FAERIE KING: Yo, Charon, guess what? I think I'm in love with you!