Happy April, y’all! Can I say it’s officially Spring now?
I love Spring!
Anyway, The Sacrifice:
Part Eleventh: Hard
The familiar ride ended at the hills, somehow seeming longer and yet shorter than before to the Princess. Brother and sister dismounted at the edge of the very first of the tree-clad slopes. Neither thought to keep hold of their horses’ reins, but Captain and Snowflake stood still and watched them, as if aware that this moment was a solemn one for their masters. Both humans stood and looked at the ground, unwilling to break the silence.
“I have to go,” said Penelope at last.
“I know,” said Henry. Slowly he reached out and hugged her. “This is harder than dying in dragon-fire,” he said softly, as she pulled away from him.
“I am sure it is,” she answered, gently. “But we have to, Henry.”
“I know,” he said again. “But it’s so hard.”
“Of course it’s hard. And your part is harder.” She wasn’t quite sure this was true, but she said it anyway. “But you have to stay. I—I’m dying for these people. They shall need a King. Help them. . . when I’m gone?”
“Sure, Penny,” he answered, halfheartedly. “Anything you like.”
“Anything except forget me?” she teased sadly.
“Right.” Something that might almost pass for a smile flickered across Henry’s face as he brushed windswept strands that had escaped her braids out from between their faces.
Penelope closed her eyes as his hands played across her face. It had always been her and Henry. Did she have to do this? Would anyone blame her if she didn’t? Probably not, but that wasn’t the point.
She shook the thought of turning back out of her mind as she shook her brother’s hands off her face. She gently placed her hands on his shoulders and craned her neck to kiss his cheek before she turned her back and marched up, into the the foothills. She could hear Snowflake whinnying for her like crazy, but she never turned around. She had said goody-bye to her brother as best she could, she would not ruin it by looking back again now.