5.5 – 2: A Distant Memory
It was a mother’s love that kept Julian locked away in that cold and dark tower.
There were seldom any visitors. His father and the first queen would occasionally visit.
Being in that tower was almost as if he were still in his mother’s womb. It kept the outside world at bay, neither letting Julian experience it nor letting it harm him. He never met a child around his own age, nor did he know pain or hardship. It must have been love that placed him there. But, it was a selfish, smothering love.
In that never-changing world he shared with his mother, Julian had naught to do but watch that mother of his grow ever more frail and sickly. When his mother had eventually succumbed to her illness, as much as Julian grieved, there must have also been a spark of relief.
After his mother’s death, Julian finally left that tower.
But, the eyes that looked his way lacked for warmth. Those countless prying eyes were too much for Julian, who was like a chick leaving the nest for the first time, as he felt as if it were hard to breathe.
But the mother that would hide Julian away from those eyes, away from the world, was no longer there.
Those homemade cookies had a simple taste.
But when he ate them, for whatever reason, he suddenly felt tears run down his cheek.
Sitting next to him, there was a girl who burst into tears just like Julian had. He found it funny that he was suddenly crying alongside this little girl who he had never met before, and began to laugh through the tears.
It felt like the first time that Julian could truly breathe in the air of this unfamiliar outside world.
Julian didn’t know the name of the girl who gave him those cookies.
He was sure that the girl didn’t know who Julian was either. Or rather, the person she was looking at didn’t look like Julian at all.
Until his magical power was brought under control, Julian’s physical form would continue to change. With his mother gone, someone would have to substitute. Even the first queen, his elder brother and his father had only ever seen Julian under the influence of that magic. There were only very few people who had ever seen the true Julian.
But… at that time, he felt like he wanted someone else to remember what he looked like.
“Can we meet again someday?”
In response to the girl who said that, Julian then taught her a single spell. It was a dispel magic, handed down through the generations of the royal family.
Julian had the girl cast the magic on him.
The spell that his mother had cast on him was dissolved.
Silver hair. Red eyes. Those distinguishing features of the royal family.
When the girl looked at him in astonishment, Julian smiled.
“I’m sure we’ll meet again.”
Then, Julian stood up.
In the distance, he could hear the voices of people looking for him. He had slipped away from his mother’s funeral for too long. The ever so slight panic in the voices calling out for him made it obvious. He’d have to be heading back soon.
“So, no matter what I look like… Once again, I’m sure you’ll find me.”
As he said that, Julian left the girl behind, running towards the sounds of the voices.
For some reason, the air wasn’t stifling anymore.