Even when I was just a little girl, I knew I was heir to a broken dynasty. When I played princesses, the king had always perished in battle and the queen was always under a sleeping spell. The sole prince did his best to keep the kingdom running, but it left him no time to rest and he was always rushing from one rampaging dragon to another. In the middle of it all was me, the young princess raised more by her maid and dolls than by her real family.

We didn’t talk about the other prince, the missing one, even in my fantasies.

I have only vague memories of my father before he died. I recall a man who could be stern, but also kind and loving. I think I remember the same of my mother, though she must have changed after our father died – or perhaps I made those first memories up as a childhood comfort. As for that other prince, our oldest brother, I remember nothing. He would have been around in my earliest years, but I can’t even conjure a blurred memory of his face. By the time Father had passed and I was more aware of the greater world, all traces of that brother had been hidden carefully away. Never in all my exploring did I ever stumble across boxed up photos or old mementos; it was as if he had never existed. Even his name seemed more to me like a distant location we had visited long ago but not enjoyed, and therefore didn’t bother mentioning, instead of someone who must have held me in his arms.

Maybe one day I’ll ask Jon for the whole story, now that Mother’s gone and there’s no chance of resurrecting her pain. I know it won’t be a tale of magic or mystery, as I pretended when I was a child. Most likely it will be just another story with an unhappy ending. We’re used to those in this family, it seems.

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