ashes and snow

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six


Hours later, both of them were still sitting in their spots, smiles on both of their faces. Their time had been filled with laughter and conversation, something Eira hadn’t experienced in a long time.

Sitting back, Eira looked around.

Only now, she noticed the time that had passed like a flowing river. The sun had begun to set, her room now painted in faded orange light.

She had been so focused on the girl that she had forgotten everything else.

“You really did that?” the girl chuckled. She had laughed so much that tears had filled her eyes. The image filled Eira with an unknown emotion.

Eira tilted her head to the side. “I don’t think it was that bad.”

“You stole something from the red king!” she chuckled. She lifted her hands to wipe away her tears, shaking her head.

“I’m not a thief. I am just really good at acquiring things that aren’t mine.”

The girl grinned at her, another laugh on her lips. “And that’s not stealing?”

Eira smiled a wicked smile. “Only if the owner misses it.”

The girl made a choking sound. “Do you still have the rubies?”

“What if I do?”

Her eyes widened, and Eira chuckled. If only she could tell her about all of her adventures. There was so much she didn’t know, so much Eira could teach her with all her knowledge.

For a second, her gaze wandered to her window. The snow was still falling silently.

She chuckled quietly. How long would it take until the man in the forest was completely covered in it?

Would he be found before his limbs turned blue?

Shaking her head with a smile on her face, she looked back towards the girl. “What is it?” Eira asked as she noticed that the girl was staring at her.

The girl shook her head, choosing to stay quiet.

Eira lifted one dark brow.

“Alright...” the girl started carefully, “what did you do before you came here? I mean, not everyone arrives with shackles around their wrists.”

Eira swallowed, her gaze dropping down to the ground.

She had prepared for this, the first time she would need to lie about who she was before. But right now, sitting in front of this innocent girl, she had never imagined it to be so troublesome. “I was a slave,” she said.

She looked up slowly to see the girl’s mouth open slightly, her soft gaze on Eira’s eyes. She hated lying to her, but this was the only way.

Eira moved her gaze to the wall behind the girl. She had to make sure that the girl would believe her lies, spread them to everyone she knew. Sadly, it was only the start of the lies she would have to build.

“I was born into poverty, living in a shed with only my mother to take care of me,” she started. She tried hard to remember every detail of the past she had created in her mind. “She died of a disease when I was six.”

It was quiet for a second.

The girl looked at her with eyes full of sympathy. “What happened to you?” She asked quietly, careful.

“I was alone for a week, no food, and just about enough to drink. Then, there was this man- he found me and brought me away. I had to work in the Brumes mines for years.”

Eira looked into the girl’s brown eyes, the lies flowing out of her mouth like water.

“Did you hear about the bloody snowfall?” she asked, tilting her head to the side.

The girl only nodded.

“That’s how I was brought into the red kingdom,” she said. “The guards brought the surviving ones of us to the castle -only to imprison us again. And I guess, after some time, the red king took a liking to me.”

She shook her head as she remembered how she had gotten into their cells. She had used her magic to appear in line with the survivors. None of them had even batted an eye.

They had all been so tired.

Eira stayed silent, waiting for the girl to say something. Would she believe everything she had just told her?

“I’m sorry that you’ve had to experience all of that,” was the only thing that left her mouth eventually.

Eira shook her head. “It’s alright,” she gave her a small, reassuring smile, “It lays in the past, there’s no need for sorrow.”

The girl nodded but said, “It is not alright, but I understand what you mean.”

Both of them fell silent, trapped in their own thoughts. What was there left to say?

There still was something important she needed to know about the person in front of her. How could she have forgotten?

She needed to ask for her name. She couldn’t keep on calling her girl.

Eira leaned forward, “I never happened to ask-”

Both of them flinched when the door was thrown open and banged against the wall.

Their gazes flew towards it, towards the tall male that entered with a proud stance.

Eira almost rolled her eyes. Did he really have to interrupt her now?

He walked forward, a frown appearing on his face when he saw who she was talking to. Wasn’t she allowed to at least have someone in here?

“You are dismissed,” he said to the girl without another glance. His eyes were focused on Eira. “We need to talk.”

The girl stood up without another word, bowing her head for him and looking to the ground submissively. She walked away, not once looking up.

Eira leaned back into her chair, folding her hands in her lap. The door closed shut with a quiet click, and she almost growled. She had wanted to talk to her for a while longer.

Her husband walked forward, taking the place the girl had possessed a second ago. They openly stared into each other’s eyes for a few seconds. His face fell grim as he did not find the servility he had wanted from her.

Knowing that this would get her nowhere, she relaxed her body, her head falling down.

He leaned forward, his hand reached for her face. He stroked over her cheek with his thumb, watching her every move.

She closed her eyes, acting as if she was enjoying his touch, but on the inside, she was fuming. She needed him to talk, not treat her like an animal.

“We will need to attend to something important tomorrow,” he finally said.

She opened her eyes, looking up to him slowly. She needed to be careful about this, one wrong move, and he could change his mind. He needed to trust her.

Opening her mouth, she tried to say something, but he laid his finger over her lips. She was tempted to bite it off just then.

His lips turned into a small smile as he tilted his head to the side. “Caught me a curious one, haven’t I?” He removed his hand from her face, his faded touch almost burning. He straightened and sat back, his eyes focused only on her.

She looked back, trying to look as soft and vulnerable as possible.

This submissive behavior seemed to get him to talk. It must make him feel like he was someone of worth.

“There will be trials tomorrow,” he stated, looking deep into her eyes. “We will be needed there.”

Was this everything he would give her now? The only thing she was worth knowing about until then?

A second in silence passed.

Fuming inside, she accepted the fact that she wasn’t in charge right now. She couldn’t do anything until she had figured out why her magic didn’t work on him. She felt the need to rip something apart.

He looked her up and down, his brows furrowed slightly. “Why are you dressed?” he asked.

Her shoulders tensed just a bit, almost revealing her. Why hadn’t she thought about that before? Hadn’t she planned for something like this?

She tipped her head up with a small smile on her lips, “Oh, I was bored to death. I thought I should see what my new wardrobe has to offer.” Her lie left her lips swiftly, no hesitation.

His gaze dripped down to the hem of her dress. “Slightly wet clothing seems to be a part of it?”

She moved her foot, almost cursing as her skin met the material. He was right, the bottom of her dress was soaked in melted snow.


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