"Mother!" I grab her arm as we enter the palace from the balcony, the guards closing the glass doors behind us. Mother looks at me with disbelief. I had just grabbed at her. Bowing my head low, I stare at the floor worriedly.
"Anahita, that is of no way to treat your mother." Mother stares daggers at me, and the real meaning behind her words jumps into my mind so quick I almost fall backwards, but Brenton steadies me just in time. She means, that is of no way to treat your Queen.
"Yes, mother." I take Brenton's hand, hoping he'll keep me steady. My mother smooths her green dress and starts forwards again, but I won't let her go. I need answers. "Mother. I have a question." I start again, and as she turns around, I let go of Brenton's hand. "In private." I add, extending a hand to my mother. She takes it wearily, and walks with me to the nearest room to us, the lounge. The lounge is an area of the palace with games, and huge T.V screens. When I was little my family used the lounge for family game nights.
"What is this about Anahita?" Mother asks me, sliding her hand out of my grasp. Oh no! I should have thought this through, I think to myself in a rush.
"Mother, I'm just confused is all. I mean, I just realized that if I become Queen of FoxFire...who will rule StormsEye?" I ask in a rush, and my mother's face tells me exactly what I need to know. There is no plan for this. "If you have no plan, then why am I engaged to the prince of FoxFire?" I blurt out before I can control myself.
"Because...it was needed." My mother breathes, reaching up to straighten her beautiful gold and pearl crown.
"What was needed?" I ask confused. "And mother, sooner or later the commoners will figure this out as well." I say what we're both thinking. As I wait for my mother's response, I play with the ring Brenton gave me, sliding it on, off, on, off of my finger.
"I knew you would figure it out eventually Anahita. But I didn't want you to, and why today of all days?" She sniffs as she takes a seat in the corner of the lounge. After a moment, I join her.
"Figure what out exactly?" I wrinkle my forehead in thought, just as Brenton had before.
"There's been a....a war. A war that's been kept secret for societies safety. Between the commoners of StormsEye and FoxFire. They've been getting stronger with each passing day." Mother starts, my eyes widening with her every word. "And your father and I thought that to marry you to Brenton would be our best option. When we approached King Mishan and Queen Pele with this idea, they agreed. And so, from birth you two have been destined to marry each other. For the good of the Kingdom." She adds, her voice breaking with every word.
"How do you keep a war secret? And what are they fighting for?" I ask mother, my confusion growing with her every answer.
"Well...it's complicated, the soldiers who fight have kids, and their kids continue the tradition. No one else has to know, no one but the rulers of StormsEye and FoxFire. Both sides want to keep the war secret, so then they can become more powerful and defeat each other. The war has been going on for over 100 years. Their fighting because..." She trails off, her eyes wide.
"Because what?" I press, noting the way my mother's stare softens, her eyes focusing on a part of the wall, not blinking. "Mother!" I shout, and she jumps in her seat, breaking out of her strange trance.
"Sorry. Just thinking." Mother explains, biting her lip anxiously. "Well, because...the rulers of StormsEye and FoxFire, they didn't get along quite well. And so, their kingdoms grew divided. Water against fire. That is, until both kingdoms declared a silent war, a war that no one would know about. And chose their most trusted soldiers to defeat each other. The benefits of this war? Well, the early StormsEye King wanted FoxFire resources, and as for FoxFire, they wanted more land, land that only StormsEye had. But as time went on, the war became about something else entirely." Mother goes on. "Hate."
"And so, that's why I'm being wed?" I whisper, shocked by such news. "But mother, who will rule StormsEye?" I repeat my first question to my mother.
"Your father and I for now. But after..." She doesn't finish, but I know exactly what she means. There will be no more StormsEye. "I'm sorry Anahita. It was the only way to stop the war. We have to make sacrifices sometimes. And that's why no other ruler of StormsEye wanted to make this one." She takes my hand in hers, trying to sooth me. My brain feels like it's about to explode with all the new information, and I can't help but curse the commoners fighting in the war. Because of their hate for one another, my life, and many other's are turning upside down.
"Does Brenton know?" I ask mother quietly, staring down at my ring in time with my words.
"No." Mother shakes her head. "But I'll tell Queen Pele to discuss this with him tonight. It will be much easier if you both know the truth."
"Yes. I agree." I nod my head, standing up from my chair. "If there's anything I can do to help..." I offer, but mother just waves the gesture away.
"You already have so much to worry about. Just let your father and I work this out." Mother smiles weakly at me. And as I leave the lounge, I see my mother put her face in her hands, her shoulders shaking in what must be silent sobs.
I'm sitting on the large bed in Brenton's and my Quarters, trying not to think about the part of the world where a war I never knew about rages on. The sound of the key in the lock causes me to jump, and sweat breaks out across my brows.
"Sorry, did I wake you?" Brenton whispers from the doorway as he slips inside, shutting the door behind him silently.
"No, no. It's fine." I murmur, sliding off the bed to greet him. I guess all the information about the war made me realize how marrying Brenton will really help everyone, of course not StormsEye, but I can't think about that right now. I won't. He drops the key into the usual spot on the dresser, and wraps his arms around my waist.
"They told you?" I ask him, my breaths coming out short and slow.
"Yes." Brenton nods into my hair, his hands finding their way up to my hair, and twisting it like is his habit.
"It's awful, don't you think?" I mutter into his chest, my arms around his waist tightly. He takes a deep breath, and I do the same, clearing my mind of all my worry.
"Of course it is. But at least it means our marriage will help people." Brenton speaks slowly, speaking both of our minds.
"Yes, yes of course." I agree with him, standing up on my toes, my new dress and heels, not making it any easier, and plant a delicate kiss on his cheek. Even with the darkness outside, I can still see a slight blush creep it's way across Brenton's face.
"What was that for?" Brenton whispers, his hands going back to playing with my hair.
"Does it have to be for anything?" I ask him, and this time both of us blush. I reach up my hands from Brenton's waist and hold onto his arms, letting them steady me. Even though everything is wrong with the world, and there are so many lies and secrets within these Royal walls, I can always count on Brenton to make me feel better.
"I wonder if their keeping anything else from us." Brenton speaks suddenly, drawing the question right out from my mind. My hands tighten around his arms.
"They probably are." I admit, nudging my head into his chest as if he were a pillow. "But let's not think about that right now." I continue, wishing that the world was just Brenton and I, and that we could live peacefully together. No war, and no problems.
"Ok." Brenton agrees, unraveling himself from my hold, and making his way over to the bathroom. I pat down my dress, and walk to the bathroom opposite his, locking the door behind me. In the mirror I check my reflection. I look like a completely different person. Ever since the day of my engagement to Brenton, my maids had painted me into a queen and not a princess. Today, they had dressed me into a light blue gown, lace flowers lining my shoulders and skirt, and a low neckline that stops right before any cleavage shows.
My eyeshadow is turquoise, and my blush and lipstick is a light purple. As for accessories, today I have on simple pearl earrings, a diamond tiara that looks more like a crown, and a gold and pearl bracelet. And then there's my ring of course. I look every bit the Queen I am soon to become. Quickly, I slip out of my dress, the smooth silk gathering between my fingers like water as I lay it on the ground in front of me.
Ever since the first night with Brenton in our Quarters, the night when I didn't have any night clothes, I've demanded as many nightgowns as I can possibly have in my huge wardrobe. Tonight I select an aqua color, and slip it over my head easily. It gathers around me right before it hits the floor, and as I walk it moves with me. Taking my last steps of my daily nightly routine, I brush my hair, put on a face mask, and brush my teeth, all while thinking about the war and everyone trapped inside it. Just like I am trapped within the walls of Royalty.
I scold myself for the thought right as it appears. I am very lucky to be a princess. Very lucky to have anything and everything I'd ever want or need at my fingertips. But in any way, these are completely different situations, I have to keep reminding myself. Stepping back from the silver mirror, I leave the white tiled bathroom to find Brenton sitting on the bed, even though it's my night on the soft cushions. I walk over to him slowly, cautiously even.
"Yes?" I ask him, sitting down next to him, my nightgown rising to just pass my knees as I sit. Brenton watches me, as I try to slide it farther down my legs, and I turn a bright crimson. But instead of laughing like I thought he would, he turns my chin towards him softly with his strong fingers, and brings his mouth to mine in a second. I almost gasp out with surprise, but catch myself before doing so. This was too delicate a moment. Anything could shatter it.
"Sorry. I wasn't thinking." Brenton tells me as we break apart. I smile, resting my head on his shoulder, and his hands quickly make their way to my shoulder, keeping me in place.
"We never do." I whisper. This couldn't be part of the act, could it? No. But maybe it was the weight of the war looming over us both, that made us both so lost and lonely that we looked to each other for comfort? Brenton fall's back against the soft mattress, and I follow him. His hands find my waist, wrapping around it gently, and I close my fingers on top of his, wishing that this moment could last forever.
My mind empties of all thought as I fall into a sound sleep, Brenton's arm's tight around me, keeping me safe and warm.
We must've fallen asleep together, because when I wake up to the sun shining brightly, there's Brenton, right next to me. His arms are hanging onto my waist and his head is right next to my hair. Gently, I pull back the covers, and slide out of bed. Walking over to my bathroom, I note how Brenton's eyebrows scrunch together in a cute line as he sleeps.
In the bathroom I summon the maids to help me get ready for the day. They fit me into a bejeweled dress, the skirts different types of blue fading into a splendid silver color. My white heel's tap on the floor as I escape the bathroom, my maids rushing out of the room before I can thank them for their help. Brenton wakes up to the sound of me approaching, and rolls over on his side, rubbing his eyes with his hands.
"Good morning." I say cheerfully, "I'll meet you in the dining hall." I add before heading out the door and rounding the corners of the palace. The palace is a beautiful building with white marble flooring and beautiful crystal chandeliers hanging overhead. As I walk, I notice many things that I haven't had time to before, like the flowers in pots on silver tables, and windows overlooking the kingdom of StormsEye.
"...She shouldn't know. Not now at least." I hear someone say from the room beside me, and I can't help but stand still, my curiosity getting the better of me.
"But she will find out. Just like she found out about the rebels." My mother's voice is clear, and I take a light step towards the door, peeking my head in the crack of the door that's open. My father sit's in his seat by the fireplace, his back towards me, and my mother sits directly across from him, her forehead rimmed with lines she usually covers with heavy makeup.
"Then let her." My father grunts out, shifting in his seat. "But I'm not going to be the one to tell her about Aella. And neither will you." He finishes slowly.
"Don't you think she deserves to know the whole truth?" Mother cries out, her eyes brimming with tears that threaten to spill over any moment.
"She wouldn't understand." Father blurts out, clearly irritated. "Would you if you were her?" He challenges mother.
"No. But I am not her. And I do think that given time she could forgive us. I mean, all we did was for her, to protect her. To protect both of them." Mother speaks, a single tear trailing down her cheek.
"This is not up for discussion." Father growls, and I can feel anger rise between both my parents.
"No Atticus, both Aella and Anahita deserve to know the truth. It's the only way." Mother pleads now.
"No." Father silences mother with a deathly look.
"Well I can't help you when they discover what you've been hiding from them. For crying out loud Atticus, their sisters! Their bound to find out sooner or later!" Mother cries into her hands, but the rest of their fight I drown out. All I can hear is the same words repeated over and over again, until I'm sure that it's branded inside my brain. "They're sisters." My mother had said.
I have a sister.