AN: This is the backstory of Yvonne, to help with the understanding of my very erratic murder mystery, Masqued. Any questions, click on 'fili' and read what's on my main page.

----------------------------------------------------------

Yvonne wandering the halls, unseeing. Her world was crumbling around her, and even her strong brother was cracking. Instinct made her wander the corridors of her memories as her steps echoed in the physical world.

She was loved, she knew that from the beginning. She was cherished, and she loved being loved. Her parents were in love with each other, but they never excluded their children from that love. Her brother, older than her by a few moments, loved her, even when he resented his inherent duty to care for her through everything. And her people loved her, loved her as their beautiful little girl, loved her as part of the miracle that twins are, and loved her as a sign for a glorious future.

So she was a bit of a brat. She knew that, and exploited it.

It made her life easier. The servants jumped faster, the nobles bowed lower, and people wondered about her more. She could sense the occasional resentment, and remedied that accordingly. But for the most part she cultivated her reputation, as it made her own self-appointed job easier.

Her brother protected; she would heal.

She had no talent for the real healing, the stitching of skin, the stopping of blood. But she had a natural talent for bringing two people to discuss things that would have make them kill over it before. She soon learned that this was called by some 'diplomacy', this bringing about a reconciliation. And she studied it.

She didn't have a Talent, like so many other of the noble females. A Talent required a gift from the gods, and a spark of magic. This Talent could come in many forms, so women who were working with their Talent were required to wear their hair down and expose their jewelry—under the assumption that magic would reflect in the jewel's spark.

But she pretended to. This ability she had to reconcile difficulties grew. First it was between servants fighting in the courtyard, then the nobles around her, then in political situations. Her aunt, Empress Della, knew that this was more Yvonne taking off her public mask than a gods-given gift, but she did not object when the Counselor insisted that Yvonne put on the appearance of having a Talent.

After all, he argued, the people need their female Heir to have a Talent. It wasn't enough that she was part of the rare event that was the birth of twins, nor that she was a gorgeous example of their race—black as pitch hair, pale green eyes, translucent skin. But she had to straighten her hair out of its natural corkscrews, lest the people think her mother's blood run too strong in her.

Her mother was Hugi. Her father had been on his Tour—the travel of all the known countries that nobility took—when he met her. She was a daughter of the Hugi king, and he had rescued her from a kidnapping that took place while he resided in the Hugi palace. It was a romantic tale, and the Gydian people loved it—loved her father all the more as the hero he proved himself to be time over again, loved her mother for the strength she showed, for it had taken over ten men to actually kidnap her, as she was armed with a pike at the time, and loved the children that resulted, as the Empress had given them no official children.

Surprisingly, Yvonne felt no jealously when she learned that Rayne had a dancing Talent. She actually liked Rayne a lot. Yvonne believed in a nobility of humanity, but not one of birth, as practiced, but one of character, and Rayne had Imperial nobility in her character. As far as Yvonne was concerned, Rayne was a daughter of the Blood.

After the assassinations, Yvonne buried herself in her public façade. Kellin was the only one she could be herself around. Kellin was a blessing—a confidante, a sparring partner, and understanding to all her moods. To be yourself meant feelings, real feelings, something tender she couldn't deal with yet. Sinjuin understood; they wrote each other from their respective fortresses as often as possible, sharing things that twins needed to share.

Yvonne conducted as many diplomatic summits as she could from that fortress. She could be, she would be of use to her Empire. She didn't fear death. The worst that could happen was that which happened to her parents. And if it was good enough for her parents, it was good enough for her.