PART I: INNOCENCE
In the cool darkness of the night, a mismatched young couple approached a silent manor, holding the sleeping form of their newborn daughter bundled between them.
Just before the man could knock on the door, his wife grabbed his hand. Her voice shook as she spoke quietly. “I’ve changed my mind. We can keep her, we must. We can... oh, I don’t know... We’ll go into hiding somewhere. Anything!”
The man shook his head and pulled his wife into an embrace, stroking her tangled hair. “It’s no use. They’ll most certainly find her if we stay together. I don’t even think you and I should—”
“Don’t you dare. Don’t you even dare.” She breathed frantically, taking a small step back. “I’m already losing my daughter today, don’t try and tell me I have to say goodbye to you as well.”
“I’m sorry,” the man said. He smiled, though it didn’t touch his dark eyes, and brushed a hand across her cheek. “I’m sorry, you’re right. We’ll stay together. But you do understand why we can’t keep her, don’t you? Lady Branimir and her husband are kind people. They’ll take good care of her. And one day, when it’s time, they’ll tell our baby where to find us.”
She nodded, fighting back tears. She’d already cried so much today. “I understand. Let’s just get it over with.”
He kissed her before bending down to kiss the forehead of his sleeping child. Then he turned and knocked on the large oak door. The manor was enormous, and grand even in the dim light of the twin moons. At least he could take comfort in the fact that his daughter would never want for money or resources.
After a moment, the door creaked open. Standing in the light of a small lantern was a stately woman in her late forties. Her greying hair, though normally worn in a bun, was loose around the shoulders of her nightgown. She looked between the couple on her doorstep, her eyes finally resting on the baby. “I suppose you’re the ones from the letter?”
He heaved a sigh of relief. So his father’s letter had arrived in time after all. “Yes,” the man said. “You’re Lady Branimir, my father’s business partner?”
“Amelia,” the Lady nodded. “So this is the child I am to raise?”
“This letter will explain everything further.” He handed her a roll of parchment. “I had hoped to speak with your husband as well?”
Lady Amelia’s expression dropped ever so slightly. “Impossible, I’m afraid. He departed this world shortly after your letter arrived. Illness.”
“We’re deeply sorry to hear that,” the man responded.
Amelia nodded. “Hiram had been so eager to meet the child.”
Suddenly reminded of how little time they had to waste, he turned his attention to his wife, motioning for her to hand the baby over.
The woman hesitated for a moment, choking back another sob, but then slid her daughter into Amelia’s waiting arms. “I hope this doesn’t trouble you.”
Lady Amelia shook her head, smiling slightly as she examined the sleeping infant. “Not at all. I was just beginning to grow lonely. May I ask her name?”
The woman stroked her daughter’s dark curls one final time. She wouldn’t see her daughter again until she was grown. And that was only if they survived this ordeal. “Her name is Hana.”