Fierya had been counting down the seconds till she could make her escape, unimpressed by the string of never-ending courses.  Finally, sugared fruit tarts and sweet warmed cider were placed before each person.  She looked down at her plate wishing she could enjoy the treat, but instead Fierya started the conversation, “What are your plans for me Dronocum?”

He picked up his cider with a careless gesture and sipped at it thoughtfully.  “Let me begin somewhere else Fierya.  You are without a doubt my daughter, one need only look at your eyes to see that, and you most decidedly have power.”

“But why does this mean she must be your responsibility,” Haddie cut in.  “I am sorry to be the one to say it, but it does seem questionable that your bastard child appears only in time to usurp your legitimate heir and be sent to the Phlox.”

Auria could almost feel Haddie’s fingers upon her strings as if she was no more than a puppet, but she could not help responding.  “In three short years I am to be named Queen Heir, and you would find me hard pressed to give that up.  Father, it is all I have ever learned, I do not know how to be anything else.”  As quickly as the words dried up on Auria’s lips, tears welled in her eyes, which she unconsciously wiped away.

“We’ve been through this,” Fierya said exchanging looks with both Auria and Dronocum, “I want nothing from you.”

“Then why are you here?”  The hate in Haddie’s voice colored each of her words.

Fierya pivoted in her chair to take the white-haired women on face to face.  Drono tried to break their eye contact with a wild but unfortunately useless gesture.  “Have you something to say to me girl?”  A half-smile played across Fierya’s face, but her eyes were empty and unforgiving.  “I’m not like you.”  The words were simple but they seemed to hang upon the air heavy and full of meaning causing the smugness to fall from Haddie’s face as if she had been hit.  However, before she could say anything Fierya continued.  “How did you ever get those snow-white locks?  I wonder?”  The way the words rolled off her tongue left little to no doubt that Fierya did more than wonder.  “And, why suffer the humiliation of being the Queen that wasn’t?  I am nothing like you, and you will do well to remember it.”

The silence that followed rang with the same finality that Fierya’s threat had.  “Enough!  Fierya?”  Dronocum was torn she now had answers to the questions which often kept him up at night, but this had to end.  “You are my daughter and shall be named as such on the same day Auria will be named as my heir publicly in four nights.”  The King then spoke to Haddie, “I shall escort my daughters to their room and then will receive my Lady-Consort in my suite.”  He rose stiffly but without hesitation, and holding an arm out for both girls left supported by their youth.