Sophina knocked lightly on the door to Timmy’s room. She had found herself visiting him every morning for the weeks she had been staying with the Grays. Timothy was a ball of light, smiling and laughing always despite his condition. Nobody had a name for it, but the sunlight seemed to have burned his skin. He would reach the point of sunburn at a much quicker rate than the average person, or so he had said.
“What about the windows?” Sophina had once asked. “The sunlight shines brightly even through the curtains.”
Timmy had looked up at her with a grin unlike any other she had ever seen before. “They say a powerful mage came and enchanted the windows. I’m not so sure I believe that, but I’m alive.”
Today was different than usual. Instead of heading down to breakfast and then going to the yard to help some of the others tend to the gardens, Lavina had told Sophina to stay indoors. “A mainlander is coming,” Lavina warned. “So if you’re still doing that run away thing, you might want to stay out of view. You stick out too much.” Sophina didn’t have to tell her that she was trying to escape her old life. That part was obvious.
“Sophina? Is that you?” Timothy’s voice was vibrant. Sophina couldn’t help but smile. It seemed her daily visits were a high point for the bed ridden 14 year old.
“How could you tell?” Sophina asked, slowly pushing the door open.
“Your knocks are much lighter. Like taps. Three in succession. Tap. Tap. Tap.” Timothy’s eyes were closed as if he were recounting the pattern in his head. “Makes sense that you’re a princess.”
“I’m not a princess,” Sophina said carefully.
“You don’t have to lie to me. I know who you really are. Lady Sophina Aguirre, formerly of Halina.”
Sophina frowned but sat by his bedside. “Am I that translucent?”
“No, I’m just the only one paying attention,” Timothy said. “The way you were dressed when we first met was a give away. Not to mention how you regard everyone. I don’t think you mean it, but you’re a bit standoffish. Closed off.”
“And you’re an open book,” Sophina commented.
“I’m here all day.” Timothy motioned to the room. “Not much to hide. But, I do pay attention to what’s happening around the land. See this?” Timothy handed Sophina a piece of paper. “Someone writes down all of the Town gossip for me since I can’t exactly get up. And plus they feel bad for me so I use that to my advantage.”
“Manipulative,” Sophina commented. She looked down at the paper in her hands.
“I only use my powers for good. That paper says that Lady Sophina of Halina was cast out of her home. You are here now, it only makes sense. You didn’t even change your name.”
Sophina angrily tossed the paper on the floor. “I wasn’t cast out, I left!”
“Well maybe they cast you out because you left,” Timothy said.
“That makes no sense!” Sophina cried. “My step mother needs me to marry the prince of Auguria so our nations can be joined together.”
“Your step mother needs a princess. It doesn’t have to be you.” Sophina jumped to her feet, startled by the new presence.
“Sorry, did I scare you?” The man extended his hand. “Dionysus Blaze.”
“The mainlander my sister thought you might want to hide from,” Timothy said to the girl. “Fear not, Lavina doesn’t know that Dio visits me sometimes.”
“You’re orange!” Was all Sophina could claim. Not that it was nice of him to occupy the lonely boy’s time and keep him company. Or that he seemed like a good person. Just…”I’m sorry, it’s just…”
“I know . The people of Halina don’t know about people like me.” Dionysus smiled. “You guys accept elves, but not colorful people. Anyway, there are things in the world you can’t explain.”
“Like Vampires,” Sophina muttered. “Or vampire hunters.”
“See what happens when you get to leave the only life you’ve ever known?” Timothy asked. “You get to see that the world is a big place.”
“Come on, kid. You see that and you haven’t left the comfort of your own bed,” Dionysus said. He walked up to Timothy and ruffled the boy’s pink hair. Then he turned to Sophina. “You’re the one who was supposed to marry Dragos?”
“You know him?” Sophina asked.
“I’m his teacher,” Dionysus said. “Or, I will be. A well hidden secret because of my skin.”
“Just stay in Moonlight Falls with us,” Timothy said, trying to get Dionysus’ attention. “You won’t have to be a secret here.”
“I have a duty to my young king,” Dionysus said. “Which is why I’m here to say my goodbyes.”
“You can’t!” Timmy cried. “You never say goodbye. That means forever.” He frowned, reaching out for whoever was closest to him. Dionysus out stretched his hand, and held Timothy’s clammy hand to comfort the boy.
“I’ve been waiting for him to hear his calling. I think it will be soon and I do not know what will happen afterwards,” Dionysus admitted.
“Calling for what?” Sophina asked, shifting her weight.
“I can’t speak of it, my lady,” Dionysus bowed. “But are you aware of the situation at Halina?”
Sophina shook her head. “No. What has happened?”
“A new princess has arrived on the scene. The beautiful and ‘exotic’ Elven princess Briella of Ragnarok.” Dionysus moved his arms around in an exaggerated grandiose fashion. “Set to marry the prince of Auguria.”
“Is that possible?” Timothy asked. “Aren’t crowns passed down by blood?”
“Not in Halina,” Sophina uttered angrily. “It’s a land based on inclusivity!” Sophina mocked her family’s motto. “What a load of crap. I see now that’s just a power ploy. Father allowed Lady Bethany to do this, just for a connection to Auguria? Replacing me, with a servant girl!? I must return right away!”
“Why did you return to begin with?” Timothy asked. “If you didn’t get cast out?”
“Because I wanted some adventure, not to be married with a man I know nothing of!” Sophina cried. “I would have returned.”
“I somehow don’t believe that,” Timmy said. “You’re still here.”
“I don’t trust Lady Bethany and I want to have a word with Briella myself. I know her, and she’s a good person. She can’t get locked up in that life Bethany is pushing her towards.”
“So am I losing my only friends then?” Timothy asked with a frown. “I’ll have to listen to Lavina lecture me to death!”
“Your sister cares about you,” Dionysus said. “You’re lucky to have her.” He turned to Sophina. “You may come to Auguria with me. Briella should be there at some point or other if she is going to become Lady of that Kingdom.”
“I would love to,” Sophina said. “As for you, Timmy, I’ll be chronicling everything in a book for you to bring upon my return. I don’t suppose I’m welcome in Halina anymore. And I quite like having a real friend who cares about what happens to me.”
Timmy’s eyes lit up. “If you’re writing me a book, then I suppose you can go.. But, the prose should mirror Tate’s style.”
“Heavy on the details, then?” Sophina grinned. “As long as you do the same. Even if you’re just writing about the sounds you hear. yeah?”
“Take care of her, Dio. I want to read this book, so if anything happens to her I’ll never forgive you.” Timothy extended his hand towards Sophina but the girl went in for a hug.
“You’re such a sweetheart. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of myself.” Then Sophina winked at Dionysus. “Maybe Mr. Magic man can help.”
“Maybe?” Dionysus raised a brow but smiled. “Well, if you ask me nicely I’ll be happy to oblige my lady.”
“Are you flirting with her?” Timothy stretched his arms over his head. “Stop being gross.”
Sophina blushed but let out a laugh, hoping neither Timothy nor Dionysus would notice. “Well, shall we discuss the journey? Oh, I should gather my things.”
“I’ll make sure he doesn’t leave without you,” Timothy said. But only because I want to hear this tale of yours.”
Chasity Lilly was unlike any girl Lapis Sikes had ever laid eyes on. Her kind demeanor, elegant posture, strong willed nature and honeyed words melted him to his core. She, a lovely noble and he, a simple peasant toiling away on land owned by her father. He watched her happily kick the water that lapped at her feet, soaking her long gown. She had not a care in the world as she twirled around, laughing.
He approached her figure, keeping a safe distance as to not disturb her. He must have kicked a grain of sand or something, as she looked up. Lapis froze in his spot when the beautiful maiden noticed him. Her bright smile captivated him. “Who’s there? Is it my wonderful Lapis?”
“It is I,” He muttered shyly, stepping forward. “I’m sorry I couldn’t sneak away from my work earlier. Your father has a tight hold on his assets today.”
“More so than usual?” she mused. “Why do you always stray so far from me, my love? I do not bite unless you ask,” She said coyly. Her suggestive words made his heart beat speed up. Surely, this was all a dream. He’d wake up and realize that the prettiest and highly influential woman calling him love was all a dream.
“If anyone sees us together,” Lapis began. “And it gets back to your father…”
“He shall have both our heads,” Chasity commented. “I’m aware, but we are far out enough, aren’t we? Not a soul is by the water today. Strange, considering it is so beautiful out here.”
“Not comparing to thee,” Lapis said, finding his voice. He allowed his heavy feet to shuffle towards Chasity. He loved how big her grin got as he approached her.
“My love!” She cried, throwing her arms around him when he was close enough. “I have missed holding you so dearly.”
“We can’t keep doing this,” He mumbled, inhaling her sweet rosey scent. “I can’t be your hidden gem. For both of our sakes.”
She frowned, though Lapis’ arms slunk around her waist. “Just give me some time to explain it to Father,” Chasity explained. “I don’t mean to keep you a secret forever. I couldn’t. I want to proclaim my love from the rooftops. I, Chasity Lilly, am in love with you, Lapis Sikes, born of a simple merchant.”
“Indentured servant to your father,” He muttered. “The only joy being that I have met thee.”
“A very big joy,” She said, eyes lighting up with each word. “I promise you, Lapis. I will tell my father that you have proposed. That I am to be your betrothed, and he will accept it. Lest, he stands to lose me and his legacy along with it. I am his only child. He will not allow me to walk away.”
“Are you sure?” Lapis asked. “Whoever he hands his daughter to gets his fortune, why would he choose me of all people to continue his legacy? I am no one.”
“You are someone!” She cried fiercely. “He will see it one day, as will the rest of the world. You are superior to those brainless nobles vying for my hand in matrimony. Please, I entreat you not to worry. True love will conquer.”
Lapis, swept by the words of a lovely maiden leaned forward and pressed his lips to hers in a passionate kiss. Nothing so wrong, could feel so good he had initially thought. But, Chasity Lily was intoxicating and he’d give up all he had left to see her smiling face up close like this.