Alaric and Thane could not have been more different, and yet... their times together are the times that they will always remember.
Prince Alaric was worried about his father. In fact, he worried far to much for an eleven-year-old, but, seeing as his mother and sister seemed to worry far too little, he was obliged to worry three times as much, to make up for their slacking. Or, so he thought.
Actually, Queen Valiah was a lot more worrisome than she let on, because her two beautiful children who were, quite frankly, her entire life, were constantly in danger, whether it was from undercover assassins, or visiting nobility, who couldn't seem to successfully stress just how perfect their twenty-some-year-old son was for her eight-year-old daughter, and how overjoyed they would be if young Arabella would accept his hand in marriage. And on top of all that anxiety rested her queenly duties, such as party-planning, socializing, and other political tasks. It was very trying, this queen business.
"Mummy," whined Arabella, for what Valiah was sure was the thirtieth time that morning, "my hair is fine."
Valiah pursed her lips, and continued to fuss with her daughter's hair, as if Arabella hadn't said a thing.
"Be quiet, dear, and let me finish with your hair."
Arabella humphed indignantly, and slumped back in her chair, but said no more.
Valiah found herself lost in memories of her childhood years as she plaited her daughter's hair, which was the same, fine blonde that Valiah's had been in her youth, before it had been all but smothered by silver. Those had been the days before her marriage, before she had had children. Before she had become queen.
The queen was yanked unceremoniously out of her reverie by the sound of her son's voice, which echoed through the airy, open rooms.
"Mother." The word "Mummy," Alaric had decided earlier that month, was much to childish for a future king such as himself to be using. "Where's my tunic?"
Valiah sighed. "Which one, darling?" she asked absently. Her son appeared in the great oaken doorway, the one that led to his room, looking frustrated.
"The blue one," said Alaric, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, and it was simply absurd that Valiah had not been able to read his mind.
"It's in your wardrobe, like it always is, Al."
Alaric grumbled something inaudible but most likely foul, for he hated the name Al, and retreated back into his own chamber. Valiah smiled to herself.
"Alright," she said slowly, putting a few finishing touches on Arabella's braids. "All done."
Arabella beamed, and hopped down from her small wooden chair. Then, with a swish of fabric, she promptly disappeared into her own bedroom.
Alaric couldn't find his tunic anywhere. And it was his favorite tunic, too, which just made it much more infuriating. He was supposed to meet his new friend Eryk in the marketplace that very morning, and it simply could not be done without the proper apparel. "Mother!" he called again, reminding himself for the umpteenth time not to call her "Mummy." "My tunic isn't in the wardrobe!"
And indeed it wasn't - Alaric should know, his entire torso was inside the wardrobe, arms working furiously, clinging to his last shred of hope.
Valiah strode elegantly into the room, looking positively regal in her deep emerald gown. "Well, where do you suppose it is, then, Al?"
Alaric seethed. It seemed as if his mother's one goal in life was to call him Al as many times a day as humanly possible. Or, so the eleven-year-old believed.
"I don't know, or else I wouldn't be asking you, Mum." Oops, he had let a "Mum" slip. He sincerely hoped that she hadn't noticed.
Valiah had noticed, but she tried hard not to show it, and felt that she succeeded.
Arabella skipped into the room. "Keep the noise down," she scolded her brother. "Chancellor Teddy is trying to sleep!" She shoved the worn brown teddy-bear into Alaric's face, as if to prove her point. Alaric batted it away, and huffed in annoyance, then went back to his fruitless searching.
"What are you looking for, anyway?" asked Arabella in a quiet voice.
"My blue tunic!" exclaimed Alaric, searches not relenting in the slightest. "Weren't you listening at all, Bella?"
Arabella looked at her brother for a long moment. "You mean your playing tunic?" she asked, serious.
Arabella grinned mischievously. "You mean the one you're wearing, Al?"
Alaric grumbled a "no," but looked down at himself, just to make sure. He didn't look back up.
"That would be the one," laughed Valiah, thoroughly entertained. "That would be the one."