Verlaine’s house outside of the palace is very lovely, but it’s painfully close to what my home in the woods looked like. I’m sitting on the floor by the fire, watching the happy flames dance with each other, and I’m reminded of mine and Derek’s dance at the festival. I smile at the memory.
Boss and Derek are outside, with Boss drilling Derek in everything he’ll need to know to take over his position as Queen’s Champion. As my champion. The walls of the large home suddenly seem too close, and I quickly stand and walk outside.
Outside, the moon is high and bright, and dots of colored light show the lanterns that are providing colored light for the festivities for my festival. I smile as I hear lively music.
“Sad that you’re missing your party?”
I turn around and see Derek standing behind me, his eyes seeming to have been taken from the night sky. “Oh. A bit.”
Derek smiles. “We could always go.”
“But Boss said he wants me here.”
Derek shrugs, and he suddenly turns back into my thirteen year old best friend. “The Alyessia that left four years ago wouldn’t have let that stop her.”
I put a hand on my hip. “And you’re saying that’s going to stop me now?”
Derek grins, and I realize I fell into the trap he set. “I’m saying it seems like it will. The old Alyessia never let anyone tell her what she could and couldn’t do.”
I look over my shoulder at the bright lights. “Derek, would you like to accompany me to my birthday party?”
Derek laughs and takes my hand. “I thought you’d never ask.”