There had been fire. Fire that blazed the colors of autumn, burning hot against my flesh. Though it had invoked fear inside my soul, it felt good to feel the singing heat. The pain reminded me that I was still here, still...alive. I awoke to find the boy, Oti, curled against me. He was such a sweet little thing. I smiled at his sleeping form.
My legs felt numb and pain pulsed in the bottoms of my feet. I pondered for a moment why the bottoms of my feet would hurt if I had never walked on them a day in my life.
Muddled by this, I arced my back, stretching as much as my crippled body would allow. My spine crackled satisfyingly, muscles twitching along my thighs.
The boy stirred, lifting his head from the ground, "Er?"
I laughed softly, "Go to sleep, little one,"
He made a little noise and fell back to his slumber. I was absolutely exhausted, but I could not sleep any longer. The ground had made me stiff, my limbs aching from lying there. I could no longer be a burden to these poor people. The owners of the burned home were crawling through its smoking remains, picking apart the rubble in an attempt to recover some of their belongings. A little girl cried out as she found a blackened teddy bear, one eye missing. She hugged it close to her, a puff of ash sprinkling black powder on her dress. Her mother wrenched it away, throwing it back into the debris. She began to cry, clinging to the woman's skirts. I sighed. Then, gathering my strength, I called out to them, "Let her have it!"
The woman looked up in surprise, a look of pity crossing her face when she caught sight of the speaker. Me.
"I said, let her have the bear," I struggled to prop myself up on my elbow, craning my neck to meet the woman's gaze.
The little girl lifted her head from the fabric of her mother's dress, a puzzled look on her reddened face.
"I am Princess Irene, I have the authority to order you to give her that teddy bear. Now give it to her!" My voice cracked painfully on the last few words.
The woman's face grew pale. She nodded in response, crouching to pick up the poor burnt toy. The girl squealed with delight, snatching it up into her arms.
She raced over to me, throwing her arms around my neck, awakening poor Oti.
"Thank you nice lady!" She cried with glee. I smiled, hugging her back as best I could, "You're welcome, dear," She broke away, twirling around in circles with the bear at arms length. Her blonde hair whipped around in the wind. I wondered for a moment if that would have been what I would have looked like if I were not as I was - crippled.
Her mother called her away and she went bounding over the grass to her family once more.
Oti rubbed his tired eyes, staring after her, "She's pretty," He murmured.
I laughed. What a joy it was to be free of the castle. Of my mother and her favorite color. I licked my lips, tasting the dried blood there.
I would have this joy, even if it would kill me.