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Adakias had once shared a room with her brother, their beds facing the great window together with the half moon illuminating their quarters. They had once spent the true nights whispering to each other, telling stories back and forth, confiding in each other, acting as siblings should.

Adakias had once shared her rapture with her brother, too. He had sat next to her when the nursemaids told stories, his face as absorbed in the tales as hers, leaning forward in his chair or on the rug; wherever they sat. His eyes had been just as wide then, back when Mother had stood in the doorframe with a patient smile.

But she can't share this with him, because there is no shared room, no storytime, no sibling conduct, and no Mother.

She had known things would be different when he had begun training to be King of the Rot. She had seen his time grow thin and his patience thinner, watched him walk with his head higher and with a knight at his heels, and when he started to meticulously apply the eyeblack that marked him as heir. She had known when his bed had moved that the barrier between their rooms was a barrier between confidence as well.

And while at one point she might have whispered her fear to her older brother- whose insight she might once have valued- she looks at the box that resides under her bed, and resolves to tell him nothing.

She locks her bedroom door and draws the velvet curtain to ensure this secret stays a secret. When the half moon's light no longer pours into the room, her nightstand sconce comes alight automatically.

Adakias pulls the lid from the box and discards the tissue paper with the excitement of a child at their birthday party’s gift unwrapping. It had cost her many an allowance and very nearly her safety, but the Bawaba ferrymen had followed through.

In the box is an outfit from the Light.

Far from the washed out pigments of the Dark, this dress looks made of spun gold. She can only wonder how much work had gone into the embroidery, a fibonacci-style pattern of concentric circles on the soft folded hems. The skirt matches, equally shimmering with a clasp of brass set with a tiny pink scallop. If this is what the commoners wear in the light, she can only wonder what riches the noble have. The castle where she had lived her whole life has never looked so drab and impoverished, compared to this single garment.

With another look to the solidly-locked door, Adakias sheds her princely suit and steps into the dress.

When she looks in the mirror, she doesn't see the Prince she's supposed to be. She sees a girl from the Light, the chosen girl from Holy The Sea. She can almost believe that she’s that chosen child, that the myth is real.

Except she can't, because she's supposed to be a Prince.

(You can't even be a boy right, she bitterly thinks to herself, let alone a Prince or a Chosen One.)

"My Prince!" a knock comes at the door, interrupting her self-pity before it can be blown into an outright party. Sangara. "His Highness requests you join him for dinner."

"I'll be--" Adakias interrupts herself to clear her throat, "I'll be right out! Give Pallis my RSVP!" She scrambles for the pile of cashmere she had haphazardly left on the rug, pulling herself out of golden sinew into the black and white suit she is responsible for wearing. While she had never been one for pressed pants or immaculate ties, when she catches her reflection she sees that she looks sloppier than usual- her tie is nearly undone and she's misbuttoned her waistcoat again. Pallis will be sure to complain about how unpresentable she looks, even if the dinner is private.

Adakias whispers a "whatever," to herself and runs out the door. She can count on Pallis finding something else to complain about, rather than her appearance.