Title: Back in Time [Writer’s Digest Your Story #19 Entry]
Fandom: Fires of Albion (Original)
Characters: Gwydion, Oblivia, Yorath
Notes: This fic was finished on 2009.07.04, but has been held until after the judging finished on this month’s competition. As of this writing, I do not know the winner, or even the top five, but if I don’t post it with a hold, I’ll forget to release it at all…
What will Oblivia do, when Gwydion gives her the chance to change the past?
"Bitty? Bitty, wake up…"
Oblivia muttered something incoherent and rolled over, pulling the blankets over her head. It didn’t matter what the time actually was; to her, the relative hour was far too early for this… Why is someone in my room? She sat up swinging.
"Now, Bitty, that’s no way to greet a friend," the man said, lounging against the foot of her bed, looking like a study in cinnamon.
"Gwydion? Jesus, Giddy, you scared the piss out of me. What are you doing here?" She rubbed her eyes and threw a pillow at him. Gwydion d’SanctMarie had been her best friend, in high school, though she hadn’t seen him in more years than she cared to count, at this point. "And how did you find me? I wasn’t living here, last you knew."
"Well, that’s a story, Bitty, dear, and one I haven’t time to tell. The important thing is that I’m here to give you something — it’s very rare, very special, and it’ll only work once." From his pocket, he drew a long, silver chain with a peculiar hematite pendant. "I think you, alone, of all of us, have the clarity and strength to use it well."
"This is ridiculous." Oblivia swiped at the necklace, but Gwydion pulled it away. "You woke me up, in the middle of the night, after, what, four years, to give me some shiny object with secret magical powers? Giddy, you’ve lost it."
"What, my mind? Yes, that’s not news; you knew that years ago. But, this? I found this, and it’s yours. It has to be yours." Gwydion leaned forward and fastened the necklace around Oblivia’s neck. "Just think about your worst regret, and you’ll have one chance to do it over."
"I don’t have any regrets!" she protested, jabbing at his shoulder with one finger.
"Yaz and I think you do." He stepped off the bed, slipping on his sunglasses, and stepped toward the door. "Lotus? Shinma? Vatican City? So many things you could have done, or could have not done… You may have one of them to do again."
"Leave me your number, so I can call you!" Oblivia called after him, as he let himself out.
She leaned back against the headboard, and thought long and hard about the suggestions he’d made. There was nothing to be done for Vatican City. That one she regretted the most, but there were no changes she could have made that would have let her go. There was no money for that sort of thing. Shinma was tempting — she could have turned him down, from the start, or let him die when he tried. The world would be a better place without him, she admitted. But, it was Lotus who really had her eye. Much like Vatican City, though, there was nothing to be done. He’d been disgusted from the word ‘hello’, and nothing she could say would change that.
For days, she let the necklace lie against her chest, just trying to anticipate the rippling effect of the changes she could make on everything around her. For all that Oblivia was displeased with some things she’d done, the world around her wasn’t that bad of a place. There was nothing she had done that didn’t lead to here and now, and here and now was a reasonable conflation of time and space. Gwydion had left the choice with her, but she had most of what she wanted, and what she didn’t have could still be salvaged tomorrow — most of it, anyway, but Vatican City was still out of the question, then or now.
After a week, she called Yorath, the friend she still had from those days with Gwydion. Giddy said he’d talked to Yaz about it, and that meant he had to have a clue what she should do with this gift. But, he offered her the same list of alterations she’d already thought of, and when she offered him the charm, he refused it, just as he had the first time.
"I can’t take it, Bitty. I’ll ruin your life, by accident, or something." His fear was palpably cold, even through the phone, as it was the same one she had about the affair.
In the end, she twist-tied an explanatory note to the chain, and left the necklace in a beggar’s cup, on her way to catch the train. Let someone with nothing to lose play dice with the universe, she thought.