“Queen, you must take rest,” Ara said, walking beside me.
“At least eat something, Aravena! And, slow down for a moment, please. Ara, say something!” Vena jogged beside me in her heel which made her look like she was staggering on the floor.
“Yeah, serves you right for wearing those kill-heels.”
Vena sent Ara a murderous look while Ara smirked to make things even better.
“Like you could ever be like me with those stupid pumps, Turtleneck!” Vena was fuming.
Instead of giving the usual glare, Ara quirked her brows. “I appreciate myself just the way I am. At least, I am not the one struggling with those spikes you call heels.”
She brushed away a stray curl from her face.
“Well, the one who completes us is breathing fire at the moment.” Vena looked at me with worry in her eyes.
Ara nodded while humming. “Gunderson shouldn’t have said that.”
Damn right! He shouldn’t have done that.
I clenched my fist, drawing out blood from my palm. My mind was filled with vicious thoughts and even my velhems couldn’t do anything to stop me now. I knew they were as furious as me with the Gunderson matter. But for my sake, they were trying to divert my attention which I truly appreciated but it wasn’t enough. Nothing could be enough for me, at this point.
My head throbbed as his words kept ringing in my ears. Goodness! I wanted to tear apart everything. I wanted to scream, to run away from this place, from me. I-I wanted to cry, to let it go, whatever it was. I wanted my freedom. From these people, these rules, this golden cage of a palace, this kingdom, most of all, I wanted him back.
I wanted him to come back from that stupid heaven and take this burden of a position from me. I wanted some unthinkable to happen and make me free. Was it too much for me to ask? Couldn’t the superior strength grant me this much?
I snapped my fingers to cut off Ara. I might have snapped too hard for my fingers to throb in pain, but I didn’t care at this point. I didn’t care for anything.
I ran through the silence of the night. These vast hallways seemed to want to swallow me whole. I ran and ran with all my might. I didn’t care who watched me, what they thought, would it look proper or not. I just didn’t give a damn!
I kept running until I stumbled upon a door on my way. I leaned against the door, trying to catch my breath. Sweat trickled down my face and I wiped it with the back of my hand. There was a mirror on the left wall. I went there to look at the vicious woman glaring back at me with so much venom in those dark blue eyes, it wanted to kill and destroy.
Destroy. Destruction. War.
I snapped out of my vicious thoughts. What was I thinking? How could I even think about that?
I took a step back from the mirror. My eyes snapped back to the mirror to see the same woman whose eyes were widened. I could see emotions swirled in them, lots of emotion. Fear, anger, disbelief, you name it. But, among all those emotions disbelief stood out the most.
I couldn’t believe I could ever think of harming my own people. I was ruthless, I was cruel, but never careless enough to destroy them. They were my people, for goodness sake! I was their Queen. They hated me, yes, but I could never do that to them. What kind of pathetic Queen would that make me? What kind of Queen considered killing her own people?
I should have been ashamed of myself and I was. I wiped my face off the dark makeup with my gloves. I discarded them on the floor and looked back at the door. It was then I realized where I was.
It was a forgotten part of the palace. That black wooden door there was forbidden to open ever since I became the Queen. I didn’t want the past to haunt me. And, the room beyond the door had everything I wanted to forget.
Of course, I assigned a group of maids to clean this part of the wing, even the inside of the room. But it was only them; no one else was allowed in there.
After all these five years, I stood before this all too familiar door again. My mind filled with those forbidden, haunting memories and my hand itched to reach out the golden knob. My primal urge won my rational, stubborn mind for once and I let my feet guide me toward the door.
The cool knob twisted with the flick of my wrist and a slight push made the door creak. I pushed further until the grand room graced my eyes. I took in the almost empty interior. Something in my me felt hollow. The old wounds were getting scratched and I was standing helpless there. I softly closed the door behind me.
It was dark for the most part, the moon cast a heavenly light through that big window in front of me. The place before the window was adorned with pillows. And, in the middle of the pillows, was a violin resting well under the cover of a silky, white, see-through piece of cloth. My throat clogged as I tried to swallow. My eyes burnt back, struggling to keep the tears at bay and barely making it through. This violin!
“A violin?” I asked as I touched the smooth black surface of the instrument.
“How do you like it?” He asked with a smirk.
He knew what I was going to say. But I decided to give him something different.
“Good. It’s lovely,” His eyes widened a bit. “But I still liked that piano better,” I smirked.
He narrowed his electric blue eyes. “Aravena! Not happening.”
I frowned this time. “Why not?”
“No, I don’t. Tell me why you won’t give me the piano.”
“That’s mine, so no.”
“Then get me one.” I crossed my arms. “In fact, I have precisely asked you to bring me the grand Bellevonian Piano this year.”
Bellevonian Piano was the most expensive piano in all around the seven kingdoms and only king Valden of Bellevon had that beauty in his possession. I wanted that lovely thing for so long now. And, this cruel Crown Prince had brought me something entirely different.
Come on! You only turn sixteen once.
“This is the one I especially bought from the kingdom of Garland.”
“Garland? You mean from that dirt-mouthed prince Donnovan! Oh, come on!”
“His father actually. And, yes, I did because... look at this! Have you ever seen a violin that touches the heart with just one look at it?”
I deadpanned. “I have seen plenty.”
Instead of being affected by my words, which he hardly did, Arnold smirked. “How many have you seen on your sixteenth birthday, little princess?”
Now, that caught me off guard. I looked back at the violin covered with a thin piece of cloth, surrounded by the sea of fluffy pillows. It was getting a royal treatment already and I didn’t even accept it... yet. It was an arrogant violin, just like this egoistic brother of mine. And, if I was honest with myself, this instrument kind of looked rebellious, outshining itself in black in the sea of white. It was kind of like me which many didn’t appreciate.
“I hate you,” I said in a whisper, not looking at him in the eye.
I could feel him shuffle closer to me. I still didn’t look up at him. So, imagine my surprise, when I found him, wrapping his arms around me and pulling me in a tight embrace.
“You know why else did I bring it for you?” He mumbled in my hair as I let myself lean in his embrace.
“So, whenever Father forgets to wish you a very happy and beautiful birthday and you bawl out your eyes at those nights, you won’t cry, ever.”
I furrowed my brows and pulled back slightly to look at him smiling at me.
“Let the violin take away your sadness, little princess. Let your tears turn into your music. So, that when you are finished with your notes, you stand up proudly to the world and show them how wrong they are to think you are weak.”
I was speechless.
When did this irritating brother of mine learn to talk in that way to me? I thought his sweetness was only reserved for all other ladies and Lady Elene, his betrothed, out there. This twenty-one-year-old soon to be king was a charmer to all except me, after all. But what he said today really had struck my heart.
It was true my father, King Beverdon always forgot to wish me for, well, everything. He was a busy king. My mother, Queen Audriella, made sure to cook food for me on such occasions though. And, my grandmother Merilda and grandfather Galvin never forgot to shower me with love. But this bother of a brother of mine was a whole different story.
He would pull pranks on me, irritate me, infuriate me and made me wish for death on most of my birthdays. It was like he was an angel to all, but a dear son of the devil to me. So, I was wary of his devilish plans the whole day. But, now I was confused and awestruck at this sudden change of his behavior. My eyes were wide in wonder. I still couldn’t believe he spoke those words with such depth of the meaning.
And, his signature smirk was back. “Aren’t I the best?”
Tears trickled down my eyes as I sat there sprawled on the floor. The same pillows were there around me, the same violin lay untouched there, the same moonlit night welcomed me with warmth, only he was not there anymore.
I touched the smooth surface of the violin after lifting of the veil and throwing it away. He had been right. I had never seen a violin that sprouted the deepest of the emotion in my heart just by looking at it. I wiped my tears with the back of my hand.
I slowly picked it and placed it on my left shoulder. I grabbed the bow that was lying on the floor and placed it just over the strings. I took a deep breath and straightened my posture. I was ready to let the music wash away my sadness. I was so ready!
“You were right, Brother. You always had been."