‘Wilmina, please,’ he persisted. ‘For all of the reasons we know to be true, let Willow come with us. Let him be free, and let him grow up the way the king and queen would have wished -,’
‘You thinks I care ‘bout th’m?’ she snapped. ‘They left ‘im alone in th’ world, tha’s not what I want for ‘im,’
‘Then for yourself. For him. Allow me to tell him the truth that you could not bear to. Allow me to give him the answers, and to be hated by him for them. Please.’
He stood, waiting for her, and she looked at her hand again, this time with want, as if she would rather be burnt all over than to answer. She nodded to them so quickly it was as if she’d twitched, and she sat doubled over on the sofa with her hands against her face.
Just as her first sob came whilst Anala and Paradam brushed their backs for remnants of the sofa, there was a creak that came from the stairs at the back of the room, and when they looked, they saw him. On the penultimate stair, his head was slightly bent so he could stand straight in the doorway, and he looked as dirtied as the earthen walls. Mud was smudged across his cheeks and around his eyes, a colour that was indiscernible until he shifted and the early light showed them to be hazel-coloured, purpled underneath with weariness from far more than a restless night. His unkempt brown hair just brushed his shoulders, and beneath the dirt that made him a couple shades darker, his skin was pale. He was wearing striped shorts and a faded t-shirt that Anala saw advertised ‘Fizzbib’s 50 Flavour Soda,’ a drink that she vaguely remembered being banned for causing excessive ear-hair growth.
He looked drowsily and trusting on Wilmina, but when he noticed Percival and Anala, he became tight and alert. ‘Wilmina, what’s going on?’