My old room hasn’t changed at all during these four years. It seems like it’s been stuck in time. Everything is exactly the same as I left it, including my just turned down, not slept in bed. I slowly walk across the room to the window seat where I last saw Nirvana. I gently run my fingers across the still soft silk.
I look up to see Derek standing in my doorway. I smile. “Can I help you?”
He returns my smile and walks in. “I was heartbroken the day after you left. You were my best friend, and I couldn’t believe you had left without saying goodbye.”
“I wanted to say goodbye, and I told that to your father, but he said he’d give you a message.”
“He did. That’s the reason I’m the Queen’s Champion. I did it for you, Alyessia.”
My smile is even wider. “I really missed you, Derek. Tianna was nice company, but it was nothing like playing with you.”
Derek laughs and leans forward. “Remember our last day at the pond?”
I laugh along with him. “How could I not? It was the last time I saw you, and the only thing I had to hold on to while I was gone.”
Derek reaches out and grabs my hand. “Can we go to the pond again? After dinner?”
I nod. “I’d love that.”
“Isn’t this a sight for sore eyes?” asks a deep voice. I look up and see Boss standing in the doorway.
“Boss!” I exclaim and run to hug him.
He laughs. “I’ve missed you princess, we all have.”
“I missed you too, Boss!”
“Verlaine has some of Gwen and Nirvana’s old dresses for you, since I doubt your old clothes would fit,” Boss said with another laugh as he stepped to the side.
Verlaine was standing in the carved doorway holding a pile of dresses.
“Verlaine! I missed you!” I exclaim as I tightly hug her.
The dresses fall to the floor as everyone laughs. “I missed you too, Princess.”
Boss clears his throat. “I must go, I have things to attend to. Derek, come, we must talk.”
Derek nods and walks out with his father. As they walk down the hall, I hear that mysterious word, “marriage.”
With a smile, Verlaine starts gathering the dresses off the floor. I lean down to help her, and set them on the bed.
“What all has happened during my absence, Verlaine?”
She sighs. “Well, not too much. Derek has become champion, but the kingdom had gone into a kind of slumber waiting for you.”
“And what of Nirvana and Gwen?”
Verlaine shakes out a blue dress and sets it back on the bed. “Gwen is still a statue, and has been moved to a garden your mother created for her. And no one has seen or heard anything of Nirvana since she told you to leave until you knew what your gift was.”
“And what do the people think of Gwen and Nirvana?”
“They call Gwen a martyr and Nirvana a witch.”
I look down and spread out the silken folds of a pale yellow dress. “And what do they say of me?”
“Some say that you were a coward for abandoning us, but you were twelve, there was not much you could do. And others say that you will be the best queen we’ve ever had.”
“And where do you stand?”
Verlaine looks at me with a warm smile. “I stand with those who say you’ll be the best queen we’ve ever had.”