The fresh morning sunlight shined through the window, giving the room a soft orange tint of natural light. Katilene sat across from Anya, still in her worn out pink nightgown, and Sirian sat beside her, who was now wearing an old t-shirt after Katilene had scolded him for parading around shirtless around a princess.
That's right; a princess. Anya had tried to avoid telling them the full truth but unfortunately for her, Katilene and Sirian were not that daft. They had figured it out on their own, what with the numbers adding up, the name, and even her physical appearance. And so, the three sat at a table as morning came, discussing secrets that hadn't been spoken for years.
"You look a lot like her, your mother," Katilene said. She touched Anya's hand and squeezed it. "She was a beautiful woman and possessed great magic. Both she and your father did. You must have it as well."
"Did you know them…know them personally, I mean?" Anya asked. Katilene looked at Sirian and then back at Anya. Anya noticed that Sirian's green eyes were just as perplexed as she was.
"Well, I suppose I have a lot of explaining to do, don't I? To the both of you. You see, Anya, Sirian and I have been looking for you for quite some time. It's a funny coincidence that you were just there, beneath our noses."
"Why were you searching for me?"
Katilene looked once more towards her son. Anya could only assume that this would not only be new information to her but also to Sirian. "My dear, that is quite a complicated story," she sighed, "But I suppose I do owe it to you. Sirian was such a small boy when we left Zelione, he was about four. You were three, just a small little thing." Katilene let out a sad chuckle. "You and Sirian were even friends then. You two would run about the castle, terrorizing the poor people who worked there. The only spell you knew, and heavens knows who taught you it, was how to turn things pink. It was quite funny, though I don't think your maids were entirely thrilled about it."
"We knew each other?" Sirian and Anya asked simultaneously.
Anya hid behind Lenia's leg. Though she had only known the woman for but a few weeks, she was already one of the few people in her comfort zone. She studied the woman and little boy that stood in front of them. The woman had brown hair that was grey at the roots and styled in a bun with tired green eyes. Her son, who was around Anya's age, stood looked at Anya curiously. He was thin and not much taller than she, with messy brown hair and big, green eyes.
"Anya," Lenia said, "This is your new nanny, Katilene, and her son Sirian. " Lenia gently nudged Anya towards them.
Katilene squatted down so that she was Anya's height. "Aren't you a cute little thing?" She fixed one of the pink bows that kept Anya's waves in pigtails. "Why don't you and Sirian play while I talk to your mommy?" Anya looked down and swayed shyly before she nodded. Lenia and Katilene walked away, leaving her alone with Sirian.
"I'm Sirian," he said. She wondered if she had seen him before for he looked awfully familiar. But Anya thought little more of it. "Race me to that tree?" He pointed to the big one that lay what seemed like miles away from where they stood.
They still debated about who won that race. It probably had been a tie but both Sirian and Anya were stubborn and competitive, not wanting to admit the truth. Anya turned her attention back to Katilene, who was explaining that Sirian's father was one of her father's knights.
"They were very close, your father and my husband. He was one of the few that the king trusted conditionally," said Katilene.
"What happened to him, to Sirian's father?" Anya asked.
"But where's your daddy, Sirian?" an eight year old Anya asked as she lay beside him in the grass. "I've never seen him." She rolled over on her side and peaked through the tall blades of yellow-green. Sirian's arms were tucked behind his head as he kept his eyes focused on the sky.
"He died when I was little," Sirian said. Anya fought the urge to say that she understood because her parents too died not too long ago. But to Sirian, her parents were Jaim and Lenia Jolan, who were very much alive. "I barely remember him."
"I'm sorry," Anya said, "You don't have to talk about it." She knew that she never wanted to talk about the time her family was murdered. She often wished she didn't remember and often wondered how life could be so unfair. But Anya was still curious; she couldn't help but wonder how his father passed away.
Sirian turned his head to glance at her before returning his gaze back to an abnormally large cloud. "It's alright. I was three. My mother doesn't tell me much about him; she gets so upset when I mention him."
Katilene stared at Sirian. It was then that Anya knew that she hadn't told Sirian any of this. "My father was a knight?"
Katilene's eyes were glazed over as she continued to speak. "Yes, he was a knight. He was the reason we left Zelione." Katilene paused as she let the words form on her mouth. "He and the king had known about Jaet's conspiracy to destroy the throne years before it happened. They doubted their strength; they even doubted Fondore's intelligence. Until, that is, that Fondore was able to kill one of their own men, even through the magic. That's why we left, Sirian. We were part of a plan."
"They knew?" Anya asked as her body grew warm with anger, "They knew and they didn't do anything to prevent it? My parents, my brother, they could still be alive!"
"They did all they could, Anya. They sent Sirian and I to Jaet, to be spies," Katilene said, "No one would ever suspect a single mother. I said that Sirian's father died and that we had lost our money. We took the lives of peasants. I sent Sirian's father the Jaet newspapers, any sort of information I could get my hands onto. But then, when you were about five, Anya, I received a letter from the king. About you and your brother, if anything were to happen that they would send you to Atziole. When we learned that your brother was killed, we figured that a little girl of six wouldn't have made it there on her own."
Sirian stood up and walked to the window that sat above the kitchen sink. He crossed his arms and looked outside. The golden light danced upon his face which made him look unworldly. "We never heard from my father after that," Sirian said, "I always wondered what happened to him."
"He was supposed to come to Jaet," Katilene said. She wiped under her eye and sniffed. "He wrote a letter shortly before the murder. He had thought that it would be all over soon. He was excited; they were so close to a breakthrough. I thought for the longest time that he had survived but time years passed and I lost hope for closure."
Sirian looked at his mother. He sighed and uncrossed his arms before making his way towards her. He gently placed his hand on her shoulder. "I went to Atziole a few times, looking for you, Anya. But no one had seen sight of you. I tried to cast spells, tried to find you, but your parents must have protected you from that. I started to give up hope until I heard speculation that you might have been here. Speculation, I suppose, turned out to be reality," Katilene continued.
"Why were you to look for me anyway?" Anya asked.
"To help you learn magic, to help you to Atziole. And most importantly, to help you find warriors."
"Warriors for what?"
"To win back your throne."
Anya looked at them both, mother and son, waiting for them to say that they were only joking. But they didn't. If Fondore could destroy her parents, then how could they expect her to destroy him and his tyranny?
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