Elena lay in her bed, tossing and turning. Her hair was a mess, and she was uncomfortable. Though she tossed and turned, she couldn't seem to find a comfortable position. She eventually gave up and threw the blanket off herself, staring up at the ceiling, her robe slightly moist from her sweat in a few places.
Elena let her mind wander in hopes of taking her attention off how stifling the room was. She started wondering about how she would kill the king. Poisoning wouldn't work, or was at least extremely unlikely. The cold, emotionless way she was acting wouldn't help her either. She'd probably need to be more amicable, or at least less rude. Elena put her thoughts of killing the king out of her mind; it wasn't helping her sleep in the slightest.
Elena thought of less stressful topics. She realized how much she missed Amaya, and how spending just over a week without her sister had been so detrimental. She longed for the one person who could make her smile, make her genuinely laugh, make her feel safe.
Elena shut her eyes and thought about her childhood, trying to remember happier times.
Amaya ran across a field with a small white flower in her hair. She was wearing it down instead of in her usual two braids for the first time in as long as Elena could remember. Amaya had just turned eleven on that day and wanted to have some fun with Elena.
The sun was nearing the horizon. Elena was a bit concerned about this, as she wanted to have light to walk home by, but she ignored her worries and tried to have fun with her sister.
The pair ran around for about an hour, playing various little games to pass the time until the sun set. Amaya ignored Elena's pleading to head back and kept playing, eventually tripping on a rock and falling.
Elena ran over to Amaya, who was now on the ground with tears streaming down her face. She crouched down to see where she was injured and saw a steady stream of blood coming down her knee.
"Oh, Amaya," sighed Elena, wiping off the blood with her own dress. She'd have to clean both her dress and the wound when they reached their house again, but it'd be harder now that Amaya was hurt. She crouched down next to Amaya and gave her a hug.
Amaya was a bit surprised at this. Elena rarely showed anybody affection; she maintained a stoic appearance for the most part. However, Amaya could feel Elena's love in her hug, and it was enough to take the pain away. She wiped her tears and stood up shakily with Elena's help.
The two hobbled home slowly. Elena supported her sister on her shoulders until they reached their destination. After cleaning the wound, she put Amaya in her bed and sat by her until her breathing slowed and evened out. Only then did Elena get up to wash her dress. After all, Amaya came first.
Elena couldn't help but smile fondly at her memory. It helped remind her how much Amaya meant to her. This was one of the reasons she refused her help at the palace.
"Please, please Elena! Let me come with you! I don't want you getting into trouble!" cried a distraught, frustrated Amaya. Elena paced throughout the house to try and find all the money she could.
"For the last time, Amaya, it's too dangerous. I won't have you in any sort of peril," she grumbled, pulling out the new dress she bought for the journey ahead and putting it in a bag.
Amaya stomped her foot. "It's not fair. I want to help you! Let me help you!" She grabbed Elena's hand. "Please, Lena, I'm begging you."
Elena dropped her bag and took both Amaya's hands in hers. "Maya, please. I'm doing this for your own safety. You stay here, and I'll be back before you know it, after I kill the king." Elena knew this last part was a small lie. She didn't expect to make it out of the palace after killing the king; she'd probably be executed on the spot. Nevertheless, her goal was to exact justice, and that was what she was going to do.
Amaya pulled Elena into a hug. "I believe in you, Lena. You can do this." She pulled back to look at her, smiling. "Go get your crown."
Elena nodded, grabbed her bag, and walked out the door.
Elena held back tears at this memory. It was among her most painful ones. Having to leave her sister was one of the hardest things she had ever done, but she'd done it for a reason.
Elena filled her head with more pleasant memories and drifted off to sleep, dreaming of her determined, pure-hearted sister.
Elena awoke to the sensation of being shaken. She opened her eyes and looked up to see Reeve above her. She was holding Elena's shoulders and shaking her gently so as not to startle her too much.
"G'mornin, sleepyhead!" Reeve smiled widely. "You're a tough one to wake up."
Elena sat up and groaned, rubbing her eyes. Reeve was already dressed with her apron on. "Wh-what time is it?" she grumbled.
"Time to get up! Change, grab some grub, then we can go to the kitchen together!" Reeve walked away from Elena's bed and through the door, probably heading to get some food. Elena forced herself out of bed and changed into her dress, pulling on her apron sluggishly. She rubbed her eyes once more and walked out the door in the direction that Reeve went.
Elena walked past a few maids before arriving at a medium-sized room. Inside, she could see a few tables and a large basin filled with some sort of food and small bowls beside it. Elena walked over to the basin and ladled some of whatever was inside. It looked like oatmeal, but it was thin and didn't look very appetizing. She grabbed a spoon and looked around the room.
Elena suddenly felt tiny. She was in a strange place with nobody she knew and realized she didn't have anybody she knew to sit by. She tensed up. Her usually tough and calm demeanor was reduced to that of a scared little girl.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Reeve waving to her happily. Thank the Gods, she thought, as she walked over to where Reeve sat alone. Elena sat across from her and smiled. She thought about how there maybe was a benefit to having friends.
Reeve and Elena walked to the kitchen together. They made small talk, though it infuriated Elena. She found small talk annoying and useless and thought it would be much more interesting to talk about topics that were actually meaningful. Nevertheless, Elena wanted to work her way up in the palace, and she guessed she had to start somewhere.
After what Elena thought was way too much boring conversation, Reeve and Elena arrived at the kitchen. They walked in and immediately got to work. The kitchen wasn't as busy as the day before. Elena assumed it was because the workday had just begun, and some of the maids hadn't even arrived yet.
At around lunchtime, Elena received some bread. She stood with Reeve outside the kitchen, quickly eating her meal. She wanted to break the silence while also finding out more about Reeve.
"What brought you to the palace, Reeve? Why'd you start working here?" Elena looked at Reeve expectantly. Reeve looked down and cleared her throat before looking up at Elena again.
"Well, I never really had all that great of a family. My parents had four kids, and I was the second oldest. The youngest two died very young, and my oldest brother died three years ago, when I was fifteen, after he got caught up in some illegal dealings." Elena realized they were both the same age. She waited for Reeve to continue.
"My parents started to ignore me. They spent their time drinking, doing drugs, and spending all our money on gambling. I left shortly after that when I was 16, and I've been here ever since."
Elena stared at Reeve, whose eyes were now fixed on her face, waiting for a response. Elena was surprised that Reeve would tell her something so heavy, but she supposed Reeve didn't really have many friends to talk to.
Elena smiled softly at Reeve, whose face lit up. This was the most genuine affection Elena had shown to her in the time they had known each other, or to anyone she'd known for such a small amount of time for that matter. Elena decided she should probably be kind to Reeve; she'd had her own grievances and deserved better than how Elena had been treating her.
The pair finished their bread and walked back into the kitchen. They were quiet. However, the silence wasn't stifling or awkward, but comforting and reassuring.