A/N: Thank you for taking your time to read this :)

I stood quietly, staring out the window, watching as the last of the snow gave way to the sun's rays. It was the beginning of spring, the most peaceful time of the year. The time when nature gave birth to new life and everything grew. Somehow it just seemed hopeful to me. And hope was something I needed at that moment, because as beautiful as it was, life goes on. And it's not always pretty.

"Sian!" my mother hissed, rushing into the room. She pushed me roughly out of the way, closing the curtains over my window quickly.

I landed hard on my backside on the floor. I looked up at her, my light blue eyes welling with tears. "Why did you push me?" I asked. I already knew the answer, but I wanted to know why she had pushed instead of just asking me to move, or even telling me to move.

"Because I had to get you out of the way as quickly as I could," she answered, looking around fearfully, seeming to listen to everything.

I sighed and put my head in my hands. Since my father's death three years ago, my mother had become paranoid of everything, paranoid to the point that I thought she was crazy. And I withdrew from people to the point that I was so shy, so afraid to talk to people, that I usually just ran away. It had affected us both negatively.

I was never allowed outside anymore, I couldn't go to school, although that I didn't mind, and now she wasn't even letting me look out my window. She was always convinced that there were people watching us, stalking us from the shadows. I knew it wasn't true and I had tried to convince her numerous times, but all to no avail. Keeping me locked up in our little house certainly wasn't helping either of us.

I lay on my back on my floor, staring blankly at the ceiling while my mom checked my closet and under the bed. When she had finished inspecting my room she stood up, brushing the dust off her skirt. "Don't let them see you," she whispered before quickly slipping out my door, closing it softly behind her.

I groaned, closing my eyes. It seemed like she was getting crazier with each passing year. First it had just been that she was afraid of the dark and strangers. Then the next year it escalated to the dark, strangers, inanimate objects, and outside. This year it seemed to be almost everything, and she was enforcing her strange, crazy rules more than she ever had before.

Rule one: I wasn't allowed to turn any of the lights off. I had to learn to sleep without the dark.

Rule two: I wasn't allowed to talk to anyone. She didn't seem to be able to differentiate between friend and foe anymore. This is probably where my extreme shyness and fear of people stemmed from.

Rule three: I wasn't allowed to have any sort of furnishings in my room, or the house in general. The only things we owned were clothes, two beds, and a single pot. That was it. Well, plus the curtains on the windows.

Rule four: I wasn't allowed to go outside. I wasn't even really allowed to even go near the door. The only time it was opened was when we were in dire need of food and then she would brave the world for an hour to go get it.

Rule five: I wasn't allowed to bring up anything about dad. No stories or memories from when he was alive, and no thoughts about his death. If she caught me crying over him, I would be punished.

It was crazy. She was crazy. But I was only fifteen. I could do nothing to avoid her paranoid delusions. If I went against any of the rules, I would be punished. And that wasn't fun.

I sighed, opening my eyes again and looking back toward the window. I wanted to be outside so badly. It's like the early spring air was calling to me. I longed to feel the softness of the new green grass beneath my bare feet. I could barely remember the last time I had been out of the house. Sometime the year before I guessed.

I sat up, running my fingers through my long, pale blonde hair, gathering it in my hands. I debated briefly whether or not to put it up and finally decided to leave it down. It fell around my face and shoulders in a light, silky curtain, hiding my face.

Thinking about her stupid rules, got me thinking about the reason for those rules and I felt tears stinging in the back of my eyes. Why did my dad have to die? What had he ever done to deserve what happened to him? Absolutely nothing. Our stupid village however, had all thought that he was guilty of murdering the leader of our village. I knew he wasn't. But no one believed us. They had him quartered, all because they thought that he had done it.

I buried my face in my hands, trying to stop the tears. I didn't want to get in trouble today. But I just missed him so much. I missed his warm smile, his sparkling green eyes. I missed the way his arms would wrap around me and spin me in circles out in the grass. I missed all the times that he told me he loved me. I missed everything about him.

I missed my mom too. Technically she was still with me, but she wasn't really. What I was living with was just some insane shell that my mother had left behind. I truly believe that whatever made my mother the kind, caring, and loving woman that she was died the same day that my father did. I just couldn't accept that the same, crazed and violent woman that I lived with now was the same as the sane, gentle one I lived with three years ago. Three years ago if I was crying my mother would've hugged me and comforted me. Now if I cry, she hits me and kicks me and tells me to shut up.

I scooted to the end of my bed, grabbing the one comforter that I was allowed and pulling it up to my face. I tried to wipe my tears away with it, to destroy the evidence that I had broken one of her rules. It was no use though, if she saw me now she'd know right away from the puffy redness of my eyes and the tearstains on my cheeks. There was no hiding anything from her.

I'd contemplated running away several times, but had never found the courage or the willpower to do it. Simply the thought of encountering people scared me to the point that I would start to hyperventilate. Sad, but true. But then having to face her when I had broken a rule scared me too. I could just never decide which fear was greater: punishment or people.

I took several deep breaths, trying to clear everything out of my system and simply be calm. Then I stood and just looked around the room. I was at a loss for what to do. I couldn't go associate with my mother, as that would only make her angry. So that was out. I had no friends and no siblings. But then again, I couldn't go outside or speak to anyone anyway. So that was out as well. I had no books to read, no materials to draw or doodle with. So that, too, was out. I literally had nothing to do, and it was slowly driving me insane.

I stared longingly at my curtain covered window for a good hour before I worked up the courage to step over to it. I was constantly listening for footsteps that would warn me when she was coming.

Cautiously, I looked over my shoulder, holding my breath as I listened and looked for her. I didn't hear her so I assumed she might be asleep. She had nothing to do but worry all day long and she often wore herself out and slept. I was hoping that I was right.

I hesitantly lifted the curtain just enough so that I could see a sliver of outside. I felt a little better, but not much. As I was just watching the clouds go by outside, a man caught my attention. He was standing out in the meadow that surrounded our house, his arms spread wide at his side. I watched as the wind whipped his black hair about, revealing his tanned skin. That was strange. No one in Arthi had skin and hair like that.

My hear rate sped up as my mother's words from all these last years pushed themselves into my head, making me slightly paranoid. Was my mother actually right? Were there people that watched us? I didn't really have any other explanation as the man turned to me. Even with the distance between us, I could tell that he was staring right at meā€¦and that he liked what he saw there.

I dropped the curtain back into place as my stomach rolled uncomfortably. Maybe I was feeling sick because I was so stressed out. I had no other explanation for the way that I just felt. It was gone as soon as I felt it, but I was sure it would come back.

I started to turn around, figuring that I would take a nap and see if I felt better later. My breath caught in my throat and I froze mid-turn. She was standing right there in the doorway, seething with rage. I backed up until I ran into the windowpane.

"What did I say about outside?" she hissed, storming over to me. Her pale grey eyes scoured my face, looking for signs that I had been crying. She always did it anytime she was close enough. I knew what she would find there. It had been over an hour since I had cried, but my skin was so pale, and it marked so easily that you could still see the redness around my eyes, the faint streaks of my tears.

She wrapped her skinny hands around my neck and slammed my head back against the glass. Luckily, it didn't break. The second time she slammed me against the window though, it broke, the glass shards embedding themselves in my scalp, the back of my neck, and all throughout my hair. I didn't really care about that too much, yes it hurt, and yes I was bleeding, but I was more worried about the hands around my throat that were choking the life out of me.

I tried to pry her fingers loose, tried to get a breath. I failed at both.

I was just starting to see spots when she released me, sending me sprawling on the floor. "You could've exposed us!" she whispered angrily. "What were you thinking?!" she asked a little louder, kicking me in the gut. I screamed, but she didn't seem to hear. She continued hitting and kicking and slamming me into the wall and the bed until I was limp and couldn't fight back anymore.

When I went still, she dropped me in the middle of my floor and left me there. Once she was out the door, I sat up slowly, moaning and crying the entire time. When I was sure that I wouldn't fall over, I reached back and gingerly began pulling the shards of glass from my skin. I screamed each time I had to pull one out. By the time I was done, I had a pile of twenty pieces of glass next to me. My hands and neck and hair were coated in blood and I needed to get it patched up.

Terror washed through me as I realized we didn't have any more bandages. I had used them all up. I got to my knees, searching my room for something to wrap around my head to stop the bleeding. I was losing too much blood, it needed to quit.

"I can help you," a smooth voice whispered from the direction of my window. I screamed and turned toward the window. It was that same man I had seen before. He was leaning cautiously through my broken window, a hand extended toward me. He smiled warmly at me. "I can help you," he repeated. "I can heal you. I can take you away from this place. I can take you somewhere safe, where no one will hurt you." His voice came out so sweet I could almost taste it.

I shrank back, away from him.

He skillfully climbed in my window. I scrambled backwards, getting my discarded glass stuck in my hands as I did so. I screamed again.

The man walked over to me slowly, his honey eyes on mine. "Shh," he said softly, trying to ease my whimpers of fear and pain. "I'm not going to hurt you. Let me see one of your hands. I'll prove to you that I'm not lying when I say I can heal you."

I just shook my head, scooting backwards again. He reached out and grabbed my leg, pulling me closer to him. I almost screamed again. He touched my face, his gentle fingers trying to calm me down. "It's okay. I promise I won't hurt you," he whispered, trailing his fingers down my bloody neck to my shoulders. His hands stayed there for a moment, his fingers playing with my birthstones there, before he finally took my right hand carefully in his.

I watched, strangely fascinated, as he began to whisper words that I didn't know. I could see the glass move up and out all on its own, I could watch as my skin knit itself back together. In a matter of seconds, my hand was back to how it had been.

"See?" he asked, taking the bloody glass that was resting on my palm. "I healed you. There's not even a scar."

I looked up into his oddly mesmerizing honey eyes and sort of smiled. I took three deep breaths, looked at the floor and whispered, "T-Thank y-you." I didn't normally stutter, but I was so shy that I was rendered nearly brainless when it came to talking to other people that weren't my mother.

"Come with me," he murmured quietly, healing my left hand. "I'll watch over you and protect you. You'll never have to fear anything ever again." Something about his words didn't ring quite true, but I still found myself nodding. I didn't want to be here anymore, living with a violent ghost of what my mother used to be, surrounded by haunting memories of my father.

He smiled, scooping me up in his arms. I took one last look around my barren bedroom and then nodded slowly. The man nodded as well, climbing back out the window.

I looked over his shoulder, back at what I used to call home. It was gone in a matter of minutes.