The first thing Johan did on getting home was taking out his old, dusty travel bags that had lain without use for almost three years. He could feel himself calm down as he got into the monotonous work of cleaning and airing them. He hadn’t been able to concentrate in class after Lanie had informed him about the rumors.  Elena may be his legal guardian, but he was personally sick of dealing with rumors and humoring his father.

By the time Elena got home, the bags were already cleaned and his clothes were splayed throughout the room. Of course, this was very un-Princely of him. If he were back in Yvestolja, an army of servants would have done all this packing and cleaning for him. But this wasn’t Yvestolja, and he was starting to realize that the less he depended on others, the better and simpler life would be for him.

“Where are you going?” Elena asked in a gentle, unruffled voice. He told her about the rumors and saw her go pale. They were both thinking of the consequences of fatal rumors such as these. Johan couldn’t have his image as a Prince sullied, and Elena was in no hurry to be branded as a misbehaving teacher.

Then she asked a question that had been troubling him for a long time too, “Where are you going to go?”

“I don’t know,” he said honestly.

“You know what your father said,” she reminded him, “If you decide to run away again, he wouldn’t support you financially.”

“I’m not running away.”

“In his eyes, you are. He would go on about how your brother would have dealt with this.”

“Fine! I’ll get a job or something.” He snapped, frustrated.

There was an uneasy silence as Johan resumed his packing. Elena stood next to the door, helpless. She had known from the very beginning that he was a stubborn boy, even irrational at times. But this was bordering on insanity. He knew that he had nowhere to go, nothing to live by, and that it was only his pride that was making him do so.

“Who told you about this?” she asked as she sat down on the edge of his bed.

“Lanie asked me about it” he said, his back turned towards her, “She overheard someone and warned me about it.”

“That Asher girl?” Elena sounded confused, “You talk to her?”

“Yeah, sometimes. Why?” he turned towards her.

‘No…it’s just that she’s not really your type…”

“Oh yeah, and what’s my type? Cheerleaders? Pretty girls with no brains?” Johan’s temper frayed at her comment.

“”maybe not, but I still think that she’s not your type at all” Elena continued fearlessly, “She’s those quiet types. Non-flashy, down-to-earth. Unassuming. Everything you’re not.”

Johan laughed at that. “I just talk to her sometimes. She’s Darren’s friend. Why do you get so worked up about who I talk with?”

She smiled ruefully and got up. “I think I know of a decent apartment that’s up for rent. It’s on the way to school. Do you want to check it out after you finish packing? I’ll drive you.”

The End

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