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She was in love. Or at least she had been before the truth had slammed into her with brutal force. He didn’t love her, never had. She had been nothing but a diversion for him, someone soft and willing to pass the time with. And she would be forever grateful that she hadn’t divulged her secret to him in the afterglow of great sex. For really that is all it had amounted to. Great sex. And that only made her hurt more now that she knew who he was, what he was. And the things he had done.
Lydia hurried to the room where the twin infants that she was nursemaid to awaited. She prayed that she was in time to stop her queen—no her best friend—who happened to be queen, from making a mistake that would wound them all. Someone had to talk some sense into Queen Ona. Someone had to stop her from going to meet Wilhelm, from walking into what was sure to be her death.
Lydia stopped just inside the door as she heard Ona talking to her daughter Aurora. Her eyes filled with tears as she realised her friend was telling her children goodbye.
“You’ll begin the salvation of us all. Your blood shall start what his shall finish. When the time is right, you shall draw the sword and become the strength as is your birthright. You’ll grow strong and smart. You’ll laugh. And you’ll love. You’ll lose and you’ll find. My heart breaks for all you will face. But rest assured that you will not stand alone. Time will bring you all together. And a common enemy shall bind you tight.” Ona bent low to place a kiss on her daughter’s brow. “You are my daughter. Know my strength, know my love, and call upon them as you need.”
“Please don’t go,” Lydia begged as she walked into the room.
“I have no choice,” Ona told her.
“He will kill you,” Lydia stated.
“Yes,” Ona agreed. “He will.”
“Then don’t do this,” Lydia cried. “We need you.”
“If I do not go, he will kill us all,” Ona said and Lydia fought tears once more as her friend’s gaze went back to her children.
“We will fight for you,” Lydia declared.
“It is my choice,” Ona said softly. “And I choose to do what is best for everyone. The death of one to save many.”
“How can your death be good for anyone?” Lydia cried.
“You will see,” Ona said. “But first I must ask something of you.”
“Anything,” Lydia promised and meant it more than anything else in the world. “I will do anything.”
“I was hoping you would say that,” Ona said. “I ask the most important task of you. Take my daughter and flee back to your people. He must not find her until the time is right.”
Lydia held her sobs back admirably as she nodded. She was humbled by the great task that Ona ask of her, the task of raising her daughter, the future queen.
“And Lydia,” Ona reached out to place her hand on Lydia’s still flat tummy. “He must not know of the child you carry. All of your lives depend on it.”
Lydia gasped. How did Ona know of the child she carried? How could she when Lydia had only just realised herself? Her adoration of Wilhelm was well known to her friend, so that Ona knew it was his was understandable. She placed her hand across her stomach. She would have two children to watch over and protect. And she would see that neither knew a day without love.
“When you hear the commotion you must take up Aurora and flee,” Ona told Lydia. “They will head here first. His guard. They must only find Aslan. They will guard my son with their lives. But you must be gone before they get here.”
Lydia nodded her agreement and Ona reached out to take her into a fierce hug. “Sister of my heart, know that what you do for me is the greatest gift of all. Guard her and raise her as a sister to your child. They will need the bond to conquer the battles that lie ahead.”