I did a lot of sleeping over the two days. Occasionally, I would wake up to hear the elves talking. I was in someone's lap and I assumed it was Sindri. I woke up one morning, though, and felt a hand in my hair. I looked up to see Eroan's sleeping face. I blushed but didn't want to move; it was comfortable.
On the second day, I was able to walk again. We packed up and Sindri showed me the white in my hair. I sighed sadly and felt even worse when I saw Eroan had one, too.
"I've just taken five years of your life," I explained when he asked why I was upset.
He just shrugged, stretching his neck. "It's better than me not having a life at all."
"Not funny," Kilyn snapped. "Gods, I was so scared."
He put his arm around his sister and kissed the top of her head. We began our journey back. We stayed in the forest until we were away from the snow. Eroan was adamant about not going back into it.
"You guys can go," he said. "I've had enough snow to last me for a long time."
When he asked about the flower, I showed him the several ones he had collected. I laughed a little at the memory.
"You insisted that you were going to decorate your home with them."
He groaned. "Did I do anything else embarrassing?"
"You're very pretty. Very, very, pretty. The pretty fairy. You were supposed to kiss me on the peak. It's the rules, ya know."
"No," I lied.
When we got to the bottom of the slope, we ventured out into the grass again. In the distance, I could see the centaurs watching us. I knew they were making sure we never returned. I glanced over my shoulder at the mountain. I was fine with never returning, too.
The elves were all joking and glad to be on the way back. Eroan, on the other hand, kept looking at me. I frowned each time I caught him and he cleared his throat, coming up with an excuse.
"I'm not used to the white," he said quickly.
I narrowed my eyes. "Sure you're not...."
We stopped for the night. Even though he had slept a lot, too, he was still exhausted. While he slept, I kept an eye out for any other predators. I never liked traveling in the open. It was too easy for something to attack. Nothing happened during the night, though, and we were soon up and moving after Sindri passed around some food he had gathered while I was asleep.
"Sorry I didn't help," I said but he scoffed.
"Speaking of which," he muttered. "We'll catch up," he said to the elves. I frowned at him and he held out his hand. "Shrink," he ordered.
I shrugged. "Okay." I closed my eyes but nothing happened. "Wait. Let me try again." Nothing happened. "Sindri," I gasped. "What's wrong with me? Is it because I gave-"
He sighed and pulled me into a hug. "It's because you're in love with someone who isn't a fairy."
"Not possible," I said immediately. "He doesn't even like me."
"Shea, I never said who it was."
I turned red and pushed myself out of his arms, following the elves and aware of how red my face was.
"I hate stopping!" I groaned, throwing myself onto the ground. "We're so close!"
It was true. We were probably two days away from the realm. I was itching to get back and tell my family of our travels. Well, aside from the part of me almost dying.
Kilyn just shook her head with a smile and passed me food. I muched on it while everyone else sat down in a circle. Shea sat beside me and I felt my heart flutter. I wanted to move closer but I was too embarrassed to.
Then I heard it. I jumped to my feet, Kilyn doing the same thing. I docked my arrow and spun. The creature doubled over and laughed, pointing at us. It was squat and green and blue. A goblin. And, judging by the strange crown on his head, he was the king we had been searching for for so long.
"You look just like your father," it said in a croaky voice. I frowned. I looked nothing like Elwin. "Judging by your quick actions, you're as cruel as he was, too."
"Shut up!" Kilyn shouted, pulling her arrow back. "What are you doing here?"
I stared at the goblin. My father was cruel? I looked to my sister. She was pale and her face was full of a fury I had never seen before.
"I heard ya," he said tauntingly. "Came to see if the rumors were true."
"What rumors?" I demanded.
"That Theodore's son was out of the realm," he answered.
"Who is Theodore?" I asked and he cackled.
"Oh, they haven't told you! Well, let me be the one to-"
Vines wrapped across his mouth, arms, and legs. He squirmed in anger, toppling over. His crown flew and he was shouting something, glaring at Shea. She glared back.
"We'll take him back with us," Kilyn said in disgust. "I'm sure Queen Tsarra will be please to see him."
"Kilyn, who is Theodore?" I asked.
"Nobody important," she muttered, avoiding my eyes.
I grabbed her shoulders and shook her a little.
"Who is Theodore!?"
Her lower lip trembled. "Mother was supposed to tell you," she whispered.
"Supposed to tell me what?" I snapped then frowned. "Wait. He was my father?" Kilyn nodded, crying. "And he was cruel?"
"Perhaps you should sit down," Syl whispered. "Kilyn, you've got to tell him before we get back to the palace."
I sat down slowly, observing the grim faces of those around me. Even the fairies seemed to know the story. I looked to Kilyn who was wiping tears away that never seemed to stop.
"It's true that Theodore was your father," she whispered, staring at the grass. "Our father, Elwin, is, too."
I listened carefully as she told me the story. My stomach twisted and my heart dropped as she told me what happened to our mother. I covered my face. Kilyn got to the end of the story. The only noise was the sound of the bugs chirping.
"Eroan?" she whispered. "Mother wants to tell you but-"
"Where are you going?" Galan asked.
I stood up and grabbed my bag. I didn't answer as I ran back to our realm as fast as I could.