I hate the dreams. I’ve always hated them, they’re disorienting and I never know what they mean, and they’re always the worst at this time of year. Of all the powers the goddess and god could have given me, they chose prophetic dreams.
It’s not terribly useful.
This one, the one I’ve had again and again, at least ended differently this time. I was walking through a city, Dovetail, probably, though I haven’t been there since I was a baby, so who knows to a large palace. I enter the palace and see the bodies. Sometimes I can make out the faces, sometimes I can’t. When I can, I see Olivia, and Caleb and Aaron. Our friends, Kathy and William sometimes too. This time, it’s all of Pantona Village. I swallow, gripping the sword, my father’s sword, at my belt and walk into the large throne room. Seated at the end is him. Brayton, dark hair, pale skin and a satisfied smirk on his face.
It usually ends when I see him. But this time is different. He isn’t alone, sitting beside him is a girl. She looks a lot like me actually, the same light brown skin and curly brown hair. She is smiling adoringly at him, dressed in white.
“Darling,” he addresses her, “welcome our cousin properly.” She turns at looks at me, smiles softly and lifts her hands, I feel myself choke.
“Happy Birthday, Cousin,” she says softly. I woke up with a start. I’d never dreamed that before. I’d never seen my cousin Marina before, beside him. My hand caught on my throat as I caught my breath. I wasn’t choking, I was safe, in my bedroom in Pantona.
It’s not even my birthday! That’s not for three more months. I’ll be seventeen. Which means I can be crowned. What a horrible and wonderful thought that is.
I keep thinking about Marina. Lady Marina, my cousin, who I’ve never seen. Brayton’s my cousin too, and they’re so far from me, a breath away from my throne, both of them, connected by magic and yet in a completely different world.
I won’t be sleeping more tonight, so I got up and got dressed. I walked down to the kitchen and went to the fire and began boiling water. I didn’t want to wake any of the servants. I gathered some tea leaves and placed them in a cup and waited for the water to boil. Then the door clicked open and closed.
I shook my head as Aaron walked in.
“You’re up early,” he noted.
“You too,” I said. He grinned.
“Didn’t sleep,” he grabbed a cup of his own. I rolled my eyes. “Gods, Kathy is vocal.” I made a gagging noise. “You’ll understand someday, Lisette.”
“Aaron,” I laid my hand on his, “I assure you, I will never understand your need to run out to the woods with village girls, who, when you inevitably end things badly, take it out on me.” He laughed. “I had a Dream.”
“Bad?” He asked. I nodded. “What happened?”
“Oh, I saw your dead body, and then my cousin tried to kill me,” I shrugged.
“Well, that’s the usual thing right?” He asked. “He always tries to kill you.”
“Not him,” I whispered. “Lady Marina was with him.” He stopped. “I know.” I rubbed my hands against my face. “Trust me, I know.”
“She wouldn’t join him,” he shook his head, “Father trusts her. The vision could be wrong.”
“Maybe,” I mumbled. “I wish I knew her, you know? It would make it easier to judge.” He nodded. “She’s very powerful, I know that much.”
“So are you,” he whispered. “And you’re the princess, you could always order her head chopped off or whatever.” I laughed.
“I don’t think it works that way,” I said, “but thank you.”
“It’s what I’m here for,” he said. “A messenger came last night. Mother’s on her way back, she was at Waythorn yesterday.”
“Just Olivia,” I said. He nodded. “Do you think Caleb is alright?”
“I’m sure he’s fine,” he said. “Probably busy, after all, we’re only a few more months from,” I nodded. “Everything’s going to be fine, Lisette.” I swallowed. I wanted to cry. Everything wasn’t going to be fine. I wasn’t even going to be Lisette anymore. I was going to be Annalise Dovetail, Queen of Cammadan, and I don’t know who she is, and that terrifies me.