I’m still undecided on the title but “Leo and Lyra” is what my sister and I use when we talk about it. I’ll ask for any suggestions once I post more of the story! I hope you enjoy, any feedback would be much appreciated!
Theo woke me up, pulling back the bed sheets. The light didn’t take long to get used to, not like in the stories when they would pull open the curtains, gently arousing whomever had been lucky enough to sleep in darkness. No, there was none of that. Instead my eyes opened sharply, a small black dot appearing in my vision, the same dot that appeared every morning. Then I thought-only for a moment or so-of what I had dreamt about the night before. That was until I, rather unpleasantly, was brought back down to the real world where, just like stars, dreams were merely something my mama had told me stories about as a little girl.
“Stella said that mama wants you in the hall.” As I untangled my legs from my ornate bed sheet that my brother had so carelessly ripped from me, I looked up at him in disdain. My brother Theo, mousy brown hair that reached just below his ear lobes, light green eyes and freckles dotted across his face just like mine.
My cold hands pressed against my stinging eyes as I sighed.
“What do they want this time?” As my eyes reopened I glanced up at the huge linen drapes hung across my four poster bed, then to the homely yet daunting windows that covered every side of the hexagonal stone walls and finally to some of the intricately designed furniture that was centuries old. A wooden dresser stood next to my large closet on the wall opposite my bed. Right next to it sat a vanity, one that should be filled with all the cosmetics gifted to me but instead held only a few lonely, and necessary items. It was given to me on my 6th birthday and my mother told me it was to be used when I wanted to “make myself look pretty” one day; even at 6 I knew how to roll my eyes.
My bedroom is beautiful, somewhere I can go to when everything gets a bit too much, but even there I cannot escape the light.
As soon as the darkness disappeared everybody thought it would be a fantastic idea to make the most out of the blinding light that now surrounded them. This included fixing windows on every wall possible and since that just wasn’t enough, skylights on every ceiling you can find. On top of this, mama has always objected to my pleas for some type of material to cover them. You would think that living in a constant state of sunshine would provide quite a pleasant existance, and it does for most people, but for those of us who truly feel we do not belong it really is quite dismal.
Opening my closet doors I admired the extensive collection of clothes. There was white lace upon pink lace upon mounds of delicate looking shoes.
“I wonder what you’ll wear today?” Theo chuckled and rolled his eyes at me before leaving gracefully. I do not like to think of myself as the type of princess you read about in books, but a lot of the time I find my life fitting quite nicely into that stereotype. ‘I really am quite the caricature’ is what I thought to myself as I picked out a short, lacy pink dress that I knew would be suitable for a hall meeting.
The only reason I would ever be called to the hall by mama and Stella would be to inform me of some duty I must attend to or because I had yet again gone against the rules.
As I made my way down the lengthy, elaborate hallways to the main hall, I peered up at all of the painted faces I see each day; a great grandmother here, a long lost uncle there.
The doors to the hall were wide open and I leaped up the stone stairs, my feet hitting the hard stone floor just inside the hall.
“Darling! I am so glad you’re finally here”
“Likewise” I mumbled. My mama glided towards me, almost as if she were flying across the floor.
“You could have put on some shoes dear.” She raised her delicate eyebrows at my bare feet, her wrinkles shifting before falling back into place. I wriggled my lilac coloured toenails in response.
“I promise to put on shoes next time mama,” kissing her on the cheek I peered over her shoulder at Stella, her plump exterior radiating a warmth and sparkle that I struggle to find in many of mama’s employees. “Hiya Stella!”
“Hello dear.” The kind voice of my nanny, teacher, and for most of my life, guardian called from across the hall.
My gaze shifted upward towards the chandeliers attached to the decorated ceiling of the hall before mama tapped my chin to bring the attention back to her. “Now, I have a proposition for you.” Here we go I thought as mama guided me toward the back of the hall to stand next to the thrones.
“What sort of proposition mama?” My fingers twitched as she slid gracefully into the tall seat. The throne boasted golden swirls and suns that had been carved into its curved legs and a pale blue cushioning that always looked uncomfortable to me. The aged brass of the seats reflected my mamas appearance as she sat with her hands folded neatly on the lap of her apricot coloured dress.
“Well I don’t suppose you remember matrona Arias?”
My eyebrow uncontrollably shot up, “The woman that thinks she’s great but really isn’t anything special?” Stella smirked at me. Matronas are the women that run the towns and villages on this side, or Civitas as many people (the pretentious ones) like to call it.
There are two sides to the world that have been separated practically down the middle, our side is filled with light, the flowers bloom and the birds sing and every single resident under our ruling has freckles covering their face. The other side is a mystery to me-I have only ever read about it in books. But I know that there are stars. And I know that the people don’t have freckles and they sleep in the darkness. When I sleep, my eyes close and my vision is filled with blinding white light. Obviously I am used to it, falling asleep is easy, but dreaming isn’t. The people on the other side dream, they sleep soundly with visions of everything imaginable dancing in their heads. That’s all I know. Mama says that they live differently to us, that everyone is equal and there is no Royalty and there are no Matronas. This seems unfathomable to me, how do they control everyone? How does anything stay civilised?
“Lyra…” mama said in a warning tone, breaking me from my thoughts.
“I’m sorry, sorry. Matrona Arias, I know who you mean-what about her?” I picked and bit at my fingers, a habit my mother hates.
Mamas closed eyes twitched before looking at me. “She is on her way to the palace, with her son.”
“Ok, are they coming for dinner?” My fingers move from my mouth to twirl my hair-the auburn colour unmistakable in the light streaming through the windows.
My mama glanced at Stella and then back at me. “Yes, but,” What was she trying to tell me? “Arias’ son is called Hamilton , he’s very wealthy and only a couple of years your senior.” Rolling my eyes I continued to bite my nails. What sort of name is Hamilton? Mama looked at me with her eyes squinted so that her skin was pulled tight-so that I could see the years of ruling and decision making etched into her skin.
“And? What is this all about mama-I have training soon and-” mama cut me off with a wave of her hand.
“Lyra, you are eighteen in a few days,” My birthday has always been a huge celebration with extra frills and even more elaborate clothing. But this birthday was going to be special. I had been waiting to bring my own proposition up, Betty had told me that I needed to mention it at the exact right moment, and now was definitely the right moment. I raised my hand so that mama knew I was about to ask her something really big.
“Are you telling me that I can go to the edge? Can I go to see the darkness mama? I know that you wanted to give me that dress for my birthday but Betty said that sometimes on your eighteenth birthday you get to go right up to the edge and sometimes-if you’re really lucky-you get to see a star, oh please mama you know how much it would mean to me.” Inhaling I looked to my mama.
“Lyra! Please darling just listen to me. This is not about the other side! Arias and I think it would be delightful if you and Hamilton were to marry.”
My heart sunk. It sunk like a ship that won’t ever be found, it sunk as if there were a giant magnet pulling my heart right down to the core of the Earth to be incinerated by the heat.
“Marry? But, I.” No words could describe the feeling of having your heart incinerated by the Earths core.
Mama glanced away, her power faltering for only a second “I knew you wouldn’t like the idea. Darling, listen I think this will be best, not only for your future but the future of the Civitas.” She nodded her head triumphantly.
“The future of the Civitas? Mama-I am not the queen, and I won’t be unless you decide to make me, or if something happens to you.”
When my mama became queen it was because my grandfather passed away; She immediately stood up to claim the throne and the people of our Civitas have never admired a ruler so much. But she will remain queen until she dies, and that isn’t happening anytime soon.
“Darling I don’t want you to be queen. But you have to do this, for the future-not now! You and Hamilton will be happy together, I know you will.” My mouth opened and closed again, mama arose from the throne in a definite manner, conversation over. “Arias is arriving at 8pm sharp-I have a dress picked out for you. Love you darling” She kissed the top of my head and swiftly left, the door gracefully clanging behind her. Stella was gone. Not that it mattered, I didn’t want to talk to anyone.
My room greeted me like a warm hug. Marry? My mama wants me to get married? And my husband-to-be was a complete stranger. Hamilton? What sort of pompous, stuck up name was that?
“AGGH” I screamed at the air. No one was there to hear me. How could I get out of this? There had to be a way. I could just kill him, my combat trainer always gives me tips on how to swiftly murder someone if necessary; one perk of being a privileged princess from the light side. Maybe not.
I could run away. But where would I go? Everyone here knows I’m the princess-it wouldn’t take long for me to be dragged back here kicking and screaming. And I would, kick and scream.
This couldn’t be happening, Betty, I needed Betty. Grabbing the zip from behind me I practically ripped the dress off of me, replacing it with a floral knee length dress, a comfortable option. Then I ran, I ran out of my room, down the stairs, down some more stairs through corridors and finally out of the tall, thick wooden doors. The fresh air hit my face like a tonne of bricks.
Breathing in I took off again, running down the concrete steps and out past the grass mazes. “Madame Lyra! So lovely to see yo-” past the stupid caretaker, so fast that it nearly knocked the hat off his head. Instead of taking a right towards Betty’s house, I carried on running ahead until the short grass became super long, soft grass. My legs just kept moving until suddenly I stopped.
The sun was hitting the back of my neck. I’m not sure how long I stood there for; approximately 20 minutes I think. The wind whispered softly in my ear and it felt like the ground was pulling me down. I fell into the grass and it swallowed me up, it felt like a warm blanket, felt like a mothers embrace. Except this mother wouldn’t force you into a marriage. As the grass engulfed me I felt myself sink into a deep dark sleep.
Just without the dark bit.