It was a quiet evening. Winter seemed fine. Elle had been worried about his occasional bouts of insanity but he’d seemed quite normal since the wedding. She hoped he would be alright. But tonight, lying on the bed with her husband, she was thinking of something else – the baby she never saw again. He must be a teenager by now.
Winter noticed her change of mood. “What is it?” She seemed sad.
Elle was afraid of saying anything. “Tell me.” She shook her head. What if he got angry again? What if he stormed off to find his son? She couldn’t bear the thought.
Winter watched her thinking. He could guess. “I know.” he said quietly. Elle looked at him. “What do you know?”
“What you’re thinking.” Elle searched his eyes. Did he?
Winter lay back against the pillow. Elle heard him swallow and turned to look at him. He was gazing straight ahead.
“I used to think of him. I wondered what he looked like. I would try and guess how old he was… is …” he turned to look at Elle. “What did he look like?”
Elle went to stroke his cheek but Winter caught her wrist and held it. “Tell me.”
She paused. She was still afraid… “His hair was brown”
“Yes. I think…”
“I think he looked a little like Yohanes.”
Winter dropped her wrist as if in anger and looked ahead again. “Yohanes.” he said disgustedly.
“Why do you hate him so?”
“I don’t hate him. He’s just an idiot.”
Elle shook her head. “Don’t….”
“Don’t what?” Elle sighed.
“Please, I don’t want… “ she felt a tear form. What didn’t she want? Suddenly she had no words. She didn’t want him to feel angry about anything. She just wanted him to be happy with her, with the girls, with Primavera’s new husband.
Winter saw her tear and stroked it away. “I won’t. I won’t do whatever it is you don’t want me to do. I only want to see you happy. You’re all that matters to me.” Two more tears welled and trickled down Elle’s cheek.
“What did you name him?” Winter asked as he stroked the tears away. She gazed into Winter’s eyes but didn’t see anything other than pity. “Ulric.” Winter nodded. “A good name.” He said no more and just held her. It was as if the child were dead. They didn’t mention him again.
Meanwhile, at the school, Hivera was disturbed by the visit of a nun, the queen’s sister, Silencia. She walked in on the headmaster and the nun…. it was too awful.
Apparently the headmaster was the father of the nun’s fat daughter. Hivera shuddered and returned to her room.
Her sister, Primavera visited her the next day. They sat outside to talk. Hivera had been thinking lately.
“I’ve been thinking…” Hivera said to Primavera.
“What? What to do after school? Will you enter the monastery?”
“Oh please. Ugh! No. No, I was thinking about him.”
“Who? Do you have a boyfriend?”
“Pri, stop! Stop trying to guess what I’m thinking, cos you’re wrong!”
“Sorry! Go on then. Who is him?”
Primavera gasped. She went pale. “What of him?”
Hivera looked into Primavera’s eyes. “I want to find him.”
Primavera closed her eyes as she fought back the urge to slap her sister. “No. Just no. Leave it be, Hivera. He’s not our brother anymore.”
“He was born to our parents. That makes him our brother.”
Primavera took her sister by the shoulders and shook her a little. “Do not try and find him, do you hear me? It will only bring heartache to everyone, especially to father.”
Hivera fought back a tear. “He deserves to know who he is.” she said determinedly.
“Ok, let’s just say you find him and tell him, then what?”
“Well, then he finds out he has two sisters, and that he’s of royal blood, and…”
“And what? What then? What does he do with that information?”
“I don’t know… I…”
“You didn’t think it through, did you. Forget it, Hivera. Mother resigned herself to never seeing him again and father… don’t be stupid, Hivera.”
“Did you talk about it?”
“Did you talk about him with mother?”
“Once. Just once, years ago. I asked about him.”
“You never told me! Mother’s never said a thing to me…”
“Sometimes you’re such a child…. don’t mope. I asked about the baby, and mother said that he was gone forever, that he was being taken care of by someone else, and that we were not to think of him again…. so don’t!”
Hivera said nothing more, but she hadn’t given up.
“Promise me! Promise me you won’t try and find him.”
Hivera hesitated… then sighed. “I promise.” It didn’t mean she didn’t hope to one day see him, to maybe recognise him. He had to look like one of them, surely.
“What if he comes to the school?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. You think the queen would let our brother go to the same school as you, to be recognised?”
“Then you think we will recognise him?”
“We’ll never see him. He’s probably miles away in another country.”
“I don’t think so. I think he’s still here somewhere – far away perhaps, but still in the realm, where the queen can keep an eye on him.”
“You’re mad, Vera.”
“Don’t call me that. And don’t say I’m mad!” Hivera didn’t want to think that maybe she’d go mad like her father sometimes was.
“Just leave it alright?” Primavera stood up. “I’m going to meet Edmund. We’re going to the park.” and she smiled a soppy smile. Love made fools of people, thought Hivera. She nodded sullenly.
And what did her future hold? Was she destined to be a nun like the stupid Silencia and her fat child? Hivera shuddered. Perhaps she would train as a warrior like the Lady Arya. Primavera gave her a stern look then left, leaving Hivera to her dreams.
In a forest far away there was a small house.
There were trees as far as the eye could see.
The woman in the house earned her living by painting.
She had earned enough to provide for her son. She had brought him up well, teaching him to walk and talk and he had excelled at schooling. Now he was a teenager.
She wondered what would become of Alfred. What would he do with his future?