“Uncle, I don’t understand.” All the words seemed to wash over him. Just water over rocks, no real substance.
                Marten turned to face him then, finally. He breached the space between them and held Edaran’s cheek in one hand. “No, I don’t expect you do.” He allowed a smile. “And for now, at least, I can be glad of this.” He moved the hand and dropped his gaze. “I’ve looked after you ever since you were a babe, your mother before you.” His voice was so soft, a pillow that comforted Edaran greatly. “I taught you what I could of this world whilst you were mine to teach. I have tried to guide you the best way I could, and now you are leaving.” Then he enfolded his arms around Edaran and squeezed tightly. “Nephew I shall miss you when you leave, but be brave, and honour my teachings where you go.” The numbness of shock took a hold of Edaran so that for a while, he simply allowed his Uncle to hold him. He decided he wouldn’t get upset; he simply returned the embrace and closed his eyes.
                Edaran hadn’t realised they had become so attached. He would miss his uncle, but he would do him proud too.
                His Uncle broke away. “You should go and speak to your mother, Ed. No doubt she misses you already.”                                        
                Edaran nodded and allowed himself to be guided out of the door.
                He all but sprinted through the castle till he reached his parents’ chamber. It was a grand room, a postered bed with satin drapes, floral curtains and a rich rug on the floor, amongst other things.
                But lying on the bed was his mother.
                His earliest memories of her were warm. Of soft words and songs spoken next to a fire. He swore he remembered flames curling and spitting.
                But somehow, as he grew up and remembered more, he’d noticed something, the slightest of changes. The kindly mother he’d once known had given way to something different and he didn’t know why, but he knew it was something he had done. What else could it be?
                And then now, she was heavy with child, and she rarely even left the room any more.
                Another change had come about her.
                Edaran moved to his mother’s bedside. He looked down upon her clammy face, thin and pinched. Her eyes were distant and hazy, yet still a big warm brown colour, her long hair, though wet with sweat, still curled down her back.
                With effort, she raised her hand. Edaran clasped it and tried to smile, but found it very hard.
                “Uncle Marten told me to come see you.”
                “Eddy...” she muttered. She smiled then, an odd smile as if she weren’t quite herself. “...love—you.” And her eyes closed.
                Edaran’s stomach fell to the floor then, for a wild moment he thought maybe she had died she was being so strange, but then her chest rose and fell and he let out a breath.
                He kissed her cheek and watched her for a little while. Finally, he left the room.

The End

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