"What about?" I asked, anxious at the distress she was in.
Slowly, Charity Waterfall regained composure. She calmly walked to my bed and sat upon it, appearing not to notice the leather-bound book I had so carelessly thrown upon my sheets when I myself had entered.
"About the fact you spent so long at the home of an Eagle family after having to explain, in the presence of the Supreme Ruler, your reasons for being nice to a Phoenix."
I was suddenly frightened: a) that Charity was on the ‘bad' side and b) that she would disapprove of me and shun me for being on the opposite side. The latter fear was not so trivial as it seems for to be hated by the one you love most dearly is truly heart-breaking.
"What needs to be said?" I asked quietly, almost whispering.
"That our parents no longer trust you!" Charity cried despairingly. "That they suspect you have breached the rules of the Phoenix-Dolphin conflict. Oh Selena, they think you have been recruited in the Eagles' struggle against the supporters of tradition and know of the Great Betrayal."
"What Great Betrayal?" I asked, confused.
Charity's voice became a murmur. "There are things you should know, Selena. Things that concern you and me - and Terrence - and that may change your whole view of the conflict."
She took a deep breath, evidently about to begin.
"Wait," I said suddenly. Seeing her furrowed brow, I quickly said "What do you think of me?"
Charity sighed. "I think, Selena, that you have unwittingly entered a world of secrets and deception. I am worried for your safety. As controversial as it may see, I don't care whether you've breached the rules of the conflict or not."
I breathed a sigh of relief. "Then I've got something to tell you."
Charity looked even more confused. "Okay," she said slowly.
"I know about Henry Waterfall and Vanessa Flame."
Charity looked shocked, then calm. "So the Eagles did tell you." Her brow furrowed. "But then I don't understand how you don't know what the Great Betrayal is."
"Perhaps I do," I theorised. "Perhaps I don't know the act by that name."
Charity nodded. "That would make sense. So, what do you know about Henry Waterfall?"
"Well, he was our great-uncle and he became the High Prince of Wavia and so really should've reigned over the land rather than our grandfather."
"That's what the Great Betrayal is!" Charity exclaimed happily, evidently overjoyed that I knew. "The act of depriving Henry and his descendants of the throne."
"The name makes sense," I stated. I shook my head disconsolately. "Poor Henry."
Charity nodded in agreement. She grimaced. "You have to keep the fact you know a secret."
I nodded. "I know," I said quietly.
"Have you made any plans with anyone for tomorrow?"
"Yeah - there's something important I need to do. Why?"
"There are some people you should meet. Some people we can trust."
"Oh, that would be interesting. Maybe when I return."
"Yes. I'll wait for you." Charity gave me a hug. "I'm sorry you were lied to."
"You couldn't help it - you were lied to too."
"Remember you will always have me on your side," she told me hugging me tightly.
Charity broke away. "Right. I'll let you rest now. It's been a long day for you."
Sighing I said, "It has."
"Remember you have your duties to attend to before lunchtime tomorrow. Good night."
As soon as Charity had left, I picked up ‘Punishable Courting'. It would be good to know as much about my grandfather as possible.
Another knock on the door meant I barely had time to find the point which I had reached last time. I shoved the book under my pillow and called "Come in."
In walked a maid carrying a large jug of steaming water.
"Is Her Highness ready for her bath?" she asked.
"Oh yes. Thank you."
The maid closed the door behind her and walked over to the corner of my room which contained a screen behind which there was a large basin. I heard the sound of water being poured into my bathtub and waited patiently while the maid fetched a towel and a nightgown from my wardrobe. She placed them neatly over the top of the screen before curtseying and leaving.
I undressed and slipped unto the warm, soothing water behind that wonderful screen, which as well as ensuring my privacy, provided a place of comfort and security.
I picked up ‘Punishable Courting' and was relieved when a resounding peace let me know that I could finally read.