hen shoulder, as if he is looking past her.

hen she reaches the Jorn residence it is so still that Talia worries that she had missed him. The sunset is particularly pretty tonight. The sky turning a vibrant pink, as the moon starts to rise. But as Talia goes to climb the rickety porch steps for one last time, she sees a hooded figure in the stable tending to one of the horses. “Joshua?” The figure tenses, before slowly turning around. It is Joshua, but now he has purple and brown decorating the upper corner of her eye. There is a cut on his lip, and Talia’s heart is aching. “You’re leaving?””It’s time for me to go.” The words come out devoid of any emotion. Joshua’s gaze remains at Talia’s shoulder, as if he is looking past her. “You still have a little bit of time.” Talia wants to reach out, place her hands on Joshua’s face one more time, but she stops herself. “Please,” she says, her voice cracking.Please look at me, she thinks. Please grab my hand, so maybe it’ll stop shaking. Please don’t look at me like I’m a stranger. Please don’t go, please don’t leave me, please stay just a little bit longer,”Talia.””Please.” She sobs, reaching her hand out to cusp the side of Joshua’s face. It is cold under her grasp but Talia doesn’t even flinch. “Oh, Joshua please.”Talia wonders who Mrs. Jorn will cook for now that Joshua is gone. She wonders if Mrs. Jorn regrets the day she ever let a princess into her home. She wonders if she resents her for ruining her son’s life. “You shouldn’t waste your tears on someone like me.” Talia notices how strange the world moves around her, now that she has been knocked out of orbit. “What the hell does that even mean.” Talia whimpers. “Someone like you? Don’t leave me Joshua. You’re the only one that I have ever known. You’re the only one I’ll ever want.”Talia knows she is asking for something that the boy can not give. So Joshua gives her the only thing he can. And just like the did, nearly twenty one years ago their eyes meet. Joshua’s just as large as ever, and they look at each other, the last moments that pass by them until the rise of the moon. To the world, Joshua is already forgotten. “Wait, Joshua – “”I’ll see you again.” The boy says, “Live happily, princess.”I love you, Talia wants to say one last time, but the boy is already gone. So you must be wondering by now, is this the end of the story? To most people, yes. It was the end of a bittersweet chapter, the end that the queen and king had known. The queen and her once beloved king had a broken relationship after the banishment. The queen couldn’t stand knowing that she had taken the only love her daughter ever had away. The very thought of it had haunted her to her death, some might say. The king died less then a year apart from the Queen. King Richard was less remorseful in his actions, never apologizing for his actions, but trying to rebuild his relationship with his daughter.And Talia? When she finally came in to power, she wanted a different kind of reign. She wanted to be the merciful queen that her parents never were. She was married to Emmett, only a year after the banishment of Joshua. She had two children, a boy, and a girl, and lived as happily as she could. After all, it was the last words that Joshua had ever spoken to her. For the princess and her stable boy, there was still a new chapter beginning.”Mom! Mom look at me!””Thomas! How are you expecting to get down from there?” Talia looks up fondly at where the young prince is hanging off the branch of a tree. “What do you mean? I can just jump down.””Aren’t you scared?” Thomas makes a disgusted look. “What? Of course not, I’m five now you know that right?” The prince has the same light brown hair as his mom. Unlike his mom, he manages to jump off the tree himself, with no need for anyone to catch him.”You’re a brave boy.” Talia smiles, “I always used to need someone to catch me.””You used to climb trees?””Not trees, a rock actually.””A rock?'”Yes.” Talia reaches forward for the small prince, collecting him into her arms, laughing when he squirms away. “Did Dad used to catch you?””No, it was someone else.””Who?””Just a friend.” Talia squints against the bright light of the sun, “But that’s a story for another time. We should be heading in now, it’s almost dinner time.”Summer days past quickly like this. This summer in Wales was the hottest summer to date so far, the scorching heat enough to drive Talia mad. It was no surprise that Mia, at only one year of age, could not sleep. “I’m sorry your grace,” A handmaid ushered out quickly, “We’ve tried everything, but she gets so restless, so easily.””It’s alright.” Talia reaches into the crib, Thomas by her side, “It’s nearly four in the afternoon now. I think it’s time to take her outside.””Can I come?” Thomas peers at his baby sister.”Of course.””She’s so little.” Thomas remarks on the walk to their backyard. “You were once just as little.””Really?'”Yes. So was I.” As soon as the three of them are in eyesight of the birch tree that hangs in their backywad, covering the stable from view of the palace, Thomas is off, runing to climb the tree.”Thomas! Don’t climb too high.””Stop worrying. And the view is better the higher I go!” Mia giggles from where she resides in Talia’s arms, one hand wrapped around Talia’s hair. The day is beginning to turn windy, Talia’s brown hair fluttering gently. “Hey Thomas! What did I say abou-“”Your highness,” Norman’s voice comes from behind her, “Uh, there’s, um, there’s someone here to see you.””Tell them to wait.” Talia turns around to face him, looking over her shoulder to make sure Thomas is not climbing out of sight.”Well, uh, it’s actually kind of urgent, they said.””Are we being attacked?” Talia jokes, her laugh falling short when Norman looks at her with a hesitant expression, “Wait, seriously?””No, no!” Norman says, “No attack, but, uh, something else, or someone else. They need to see you immediatly.””Very well then.” Talia frowns in annoyance. She was not in any mood to talk politics today, “Send them here then I guess.””What’s going on?” Thomas asks, when Norman has left. He sits halfway up the tall birch tree, swaying slighly in the summer breeze.”There’s someone here to see me.” “Who?””I’m not too sure,” Talia grimances when Mia pulls at her scalp particularly harsh, “Thomas, you need to climb down a bit, you’re too -“”Princess.” The entire world seems to freeze. The wind comes to a sudden halt, and Talia’s breathes turn into ash in her lungs. The voice does not belong to Norman, but it is one that she recognizes. It’s one that she thinks she will never be able to forget. The voice alone seems to spark something inside of her that she didn’t knew she still had.”Tal-?” The boy, rather the man, is wearing a worn out t-shirt. There are wrinkles deep in his forehead, a scar on his cheek. He carries a light jacket in his hand, one that is not needed. “Joshua.” Impossiblly, Joshua. But here he stands. His eyes are hardened, as if he has seen the world by now. Talia doesn’t realize she’s crying until a teardrop lands in her mouth. “Mom?” Thomas wearily makes his way closer to his mother, as he climbed down the tree when he saw the approaching stranger. “Mom, are you okay? Who is this? Why are you crying?””Thomas, can I ask a favour of you?” The boy nods slowly, eyeing Joshua up and down. “Can you take your sister back to the palace? Hand her off to one of the nice ladies when you get there. You have to be very careful though. Make sure you keep one hand under her head, and don’t let her go.””Okay, I can do it.” Talia and Joshua watch in silence as the young prince grabs hold of his younger sister, a troubled yet determined expression on his face, as he slowly walks his way to the palace. Joshua watches him with an expression that Talia has seen before. It is one that she once knew to understand, but now it’s a language that she has forgotten. “How old?'”Just turned five.””And he’s already braver then you. Jumping out of trees all by himself.” Joshua doesn’t miss a beat. “Why are you here?” The tears sting on the sides of Talia’s face. “I heard about the passing of your parents. And of Emmett.” The latter had died nearly two years ago after a battle with cancer. Mia had never seen her father’s face, and would never be able to. “How did you know it would be safe for you?””After I was exiled, I spent my time in Iceland. I worked in fish processing. Not as glamourous as being a princess.” Joshua smiles slightly, “I was alone. But then, nearly nine years later, someone came to see me.””Who?””A seer. Halle Ler. She said she had been banished too. I don’t know how she found me. She was nearly ninety years old, and had been banished for telling the queen a propochey that she didn’t want to hear. She told me you needed me.””So you came?””She travelled from the outskirts of Sweden to tell me this. I knew it had to mean something.””So you’re back?” Joshua’s eyes are trained on the ground. “For good?” The wind seems to remember it’s purpose again, and picks up speed.

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