ashes and snow

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sixteen


It didn’t take long until the stall came into sight. The house was small, made out of dark wood, and built with metal doors. It looked rather old, some parts of its wooden walls covered in moss and other plants.

Eira had already seen the boy and his horse from far away before Cailin would’ve even been able to recognize him. His hair was black and curly, not in any way like his father’s. But his eyes. He had definitely gotten them from his father.

They silently neared the stall.

They hid behind it, a wall was the only thing that kept them from his sight. “Don’t you wanna talk to him?” Eira whispered, turning to look at Cailin.

She quickly shook her head, her eyes wide. “I can’t,” she choked out.

Eira raised one eyebrow at her. “You just have to open your lips and speak. It’s really that simple, Cailin...”

“We haven’t talked in a while,” she muttered. Her fingers played with the fabric of her dress.

“What if he doesn’t want to see me?”

“Go up and talk to him, then you’ll get closure,” she chuckled, lightly pushing Cailin forward. The girl shook her head, her hair flying around her head.

“No! I don’t even know what to say! I can’t just-” she let out a small shriek as she tripped forward, into the boy’s view. His gaze immediately flashed to her. She stayed frozen as they stared at each other. It took her a second to remember how to move her body.

“Hey!” he greeted her with a big grin on his face. He took a step towards her. “Haven’t seen you in a while!”

She chuckled and stroked over her hair. “Yes,” she muttered with a slight waver in her voice. She seemed nervous.

A second passed in silence before he awkwardly cleared his throat. “I would’ve gone to see you sooner, but I figured you didn’t want to see me. A week ago, you said that you would come to the stall to meet me the next day, but you never came,” he ran his fingers through his dark curls. “Did I do something?”

Cailin’s eyes widened, “Of course not, Bastian! There was just so much to do- I completely forgot! I truly am sorry.”

“It’s alright,” he smiled at her. “I’m just glad you don’t hate me.”

“I could never!” She shook her head as if his statement was the dullest thing she had ever heard. A smile widened on her face. “It’s just- something great happened, and I had to work very hard for it.”

He tilted his head to the side with a smile, “Well, tell me about it then! What’s happened?”

Eira stepped out from her hiding spot and stopped just a bit behind Cailin. “She became my head maid.”

Cailin turned to the side to look at her and smiled warmly. The boy, on the other hand, stared at her as if he was seeing a ghost. The color drained from his face before bowed for her. Eira could smell his fear and hesitancy.

She almost laughed. The poor boy had probably not expected to see her today.

“My queen.”

She shook her head. “Just call me Eira, please. It’s always too formal to be called the queen.”

His head snapped up. “But, it’s-”

“No, no, no,” she chuckled. “As your queen, I’m telling you to call me Eira. There’s nothing other I want to be addressed as, alright?”

He nodded quickly, doing as she wished. He seemed like a nice young man, but that could change over time. Eira needed to watch him. He couldn’t become a threat.

A second later, the boy’s eyes widened, and he looked to Cailin. “Did I hear, right? You’re her head maid now?”

She nodded with a grin on her face.

A grin spread on his face.

“Congratulations!” he exclaimed, rushing to her. He lifted her up in the air and spun her around. Cailin laughed in joy. Happiness lit her face, and Eira seemed entirely forgotten.

After he’d let her down, they smiled at each other before they fell into each other’s arms. Eira smiled. There clearly was something between them. Both of them just couldn’t read the signs in the other yet.

Eira heard the echo of her name. She frowned, tilting her head to the side. Had she misheard?

No, there it was again.

She knew that voice, had only heard it once before. It was Zandro. The guard that had been supposed be at her side all the time...

It seemed like she had forgotten about him. How hadn’t she noticed? When they’d left her room, there had been no sign of him. She chose to stay calm and just wait for him to find them. She couldn’t let him blame Cailin or Bastian for this. If he’d say anything, she would have to use her magic on him.

His nearing footsteps echoed in her ears. Bastian and Cailin would soon get a glimpse of him.

“Eira!”

Bastian and Cailin broke out of their holds with wide eyes. Eira simply turned around, not feeling bothered at all. She would get him to do what she wanted, no matter what it took.

“Eira!” he shouted again, staring at her with angry eyes.

She gave him a sweet smile. “Hello, Zandro.”

He shook his head and stopped in front of her. She could smell his anger and the fear he had felt once he’d discovered she was had left. Sweat had drenched his uniform.

“You just- how could you just leave without me?”

She frowned at him. “You weren’t there, Zandro,” she sang. “I wasn’t going to wait for you to come back. Who do you think I am?”

“You were ordered to stay where you were, or have someone with you at all time! If the king knows about this-”

“What if he never found out?”

Zandro shook his head. “It is my duty-”

“You had to protect me, and you clearly failed by leaving. Who can tell, maybe he’ll have your head for this,” she stated calmly. “But, if you want me to, I’ll tell him. I would have said that nobody needs to know, but if you insist...”

“Alright, alright!” his voice was slightly panicked. “We’ll let this slide. Just this once.”

She gave him a sweet smile and nodded at him. Then, she turned to Cailin and Bastian, who were staring at them. “See, this is how easily adults can come to an agreement. If you have something against them in your hand, you force them to do anything you want.”


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