The Warmth of the Hearth

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For the Better

Elizabeth Fjord walks side by side with her mother, Eleanor Fjord. Looking at her mother, one would think that she was nothing more than a sibling, her skin showing no sign of wrinkling and aging. Her features were like Elizabeth’s, only sharper, giving her a more cunning demeanor. They decided to take a stroll in their garden, its flowers blooming beautifully under the sun. The two of them walk in silence, passing rows of plants, all skillfully placed at the side of the pathway.

Eleanor is the first to speak, never stopping in her steps. “Elizabeth, I have come to speak about serious matters.” She pauses, her steps even as they progress. “The time has come for you to know.” Her steps come to a halt and she turns to face Elizabeth, now standing completely still.

Elizabeth speaks, not able to hide her curiosity. “For me to know what, mother?” She senses that something is wrong, like an unpleasant truth will be unveiled with her mother’s answer.

Her mother looks at her with a serious look in her eyes, her gaze never faltering. “The Fjord will join the uprising, a revolt that aims to topple the Royalties we all blindly serve.” She pauses, allowing this information to sink into Elizabeth. “There are flaws in this system that we follow Elizabeth, and it is time for us to mend it.”

“Through war? Mother, you know that there are other ways to fix this system you hate so much.” Elizabeth answers, her eyes meeting her mother’s stare. “Think about the consequences, the lives you put at risk.” She tries her best to not raise her voice, her efforts slipping.

Eleanor looks away, showing no response to the points her daughter gave. She instead continues walking, gesturing for Elizabeth to follow her. “Elizabeth, I understand where you’re coming from. We have also made efforts in trying to avoid this outcome as well.” She sighs, and Elizabeth sees a hint of sadness in her eyes. “I am tired Eli. Seeing the lower houses being discriminated against, the wall between the Feeble and us. I believe in justice, one that does not discriminate. All of that can only be made possible by changing the ones that prevent it from happening. In the years that I have played the judge, jury, and executioner…” Her mother stops, taking a deep breathe before continuing. “There is no other way.”

Elizabeth flinches once she hears the nickname, a memory of Luke on the balcony suddenly flashing in her head. His smile, the way he laughed. This fuels something within Elizabeth. “That’s assuming that those who will replace them will do a better job.” She loses all formality with her mother, driven only by the emotion that’s been swelling inside of her, threatening to burst. “It’s easy to say that change will come by replacing those who failed, that it will be better once someone new takes over. I believe you, and I believe that you want what’s better for the people, but mother…” Elizabeth stops, trying to regain whatever control she has left over her words. “I simply refuse to believe that all of it is as simple as replacing who’s at the top. Those thoughts of doing what’s best for the people have once been in the minds of the same Royals you have now chosen to topple. What assurance can you provide that those who will follow won’t succumb to the temptations of power as well?”

Her mother simply smiles, proud at how mature her daughter has become. Eleanor’s eyes glow a gentle turquoise, and water suddenly floats around her. She spreads it above the plant beds, forming a blanket on top as her arms rise above her. Eleanor clenches her fist, and in an instant an onslaught of drizzles pours over the flowers, allowing them to sparkle in the sunlight. “That is why I want you to take no part in this.” She approaches Elizabeth, and she gives her a kiss on the forehead. “Tomorrow, the upper houses with the exemption of House Blaise will commence with their preparations. I do not know of what’s to come Elizabeth, but know that I care for you, my morning dew.” Eleanor puts a hand on her daughter’s face, a tear slides down her cheek. After a moment, she turns around to leave, her stride as elegant as they always have been. “House Blaise will become an enemy, I’m afraid.” She pauses in her steps. “That means that you and your friends will be affected as well. I’m sorry Eli, but the safety of Carson and Claire will depend on how they choose to act.” Eleanor walks away, leaving Elizabeth in the garden, speechless.

Elizabeth finds herself in a dilemma, one that she never imagined would be a possibility. A choice between her House or the friends she has grown up with. She looks up at the sky, the sun and its warm glow hitting her. What do I do now Luke?

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