PF02 of 20

Part the Second—
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come, when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause.
Hamlet, Act III, scene i

Octavian curled up in a corner of the train compartment reading his Potions textbook, other first-years and a few Ravenclaw second-years nattering around him.  It was battered and worn, and his maman’s handwriting was all over it, obscuring some of the print.  He sighed.  He knew it would have to do.  There was nothing to be done.  And at least Maman had been good at potions, he reminded himself.

Turning to the front of the book, he looked proudly at his name, which he had written under his mother’s: Octavian Nür Prince, pureblood.

He couldn’t help but smile a little.  His papa liked his name.  Octavian had known it was a possibility that he would encounter the wizard in England, or at least hear his name in passing.  Maman had said he was from a well-known family—one of the best.  Well respected, was how she had put it.  They never stepped a foot out of line.

Though obviously Monsieur had since Octavian had been born.

Fidelity was paramount in pureblood society.  Without it, legitimacy and blood status to an extent could be a stain on a child’s character.  A wizard did not want to raise another man’s brat, especially if the wizard was beneath him in society.  And a wizard certainly did not want one of his heirs running about with less than he deserved.  Wizarding children were the key to the future, the continuation.  It was one thing to despair half-blood bastards.  They were nothing, already tainted with Muggle blood.  However, a pureblood was worth more than all of the Galleons in Gringotts.

Of course there were situations that would occur every generation or so.  An aristocrat would have an association with another pureblood and produce a child.  These matters were hushed up, of course.  The child would be taken in by the father and his wife, and raised to be everything he could be.  Witches were known to be sentimental creatures and a child was a child, after all.  It did not matter where it came from.

At least, that’s what wizards thought, anyway.  An heir was an heir, as long as the mother was a pureblood.

When Octavian was small, he had often wished his father would come and take him away from the horrid Muggles who would kick dirt in his face and laugh at his robes.  Take him and Maman away. 

He knew his father must be a wizard of standing.  He had always known by the way his mother constantly proclaimed he was pure of blood.  It had to be so.  It must be so, he had thought for so many years.

And now he knew.  The cut of the wizard’s robes alone assured that.  Such a garment could not be bought on credit.  Gold had to be paid up front and in full and no one—no one but the very wealthy and in the uppermost echelons of society—would flaunt it when taking their child to platform nine and three-quarters in case the dust would ruin it.

Child.

Octavian closed his eyes painfully.

Of course he had always known somewhere in the back of his mind why his father had never wed his mother.  He must have been already married.  And of course he would have produced a legitimate heir as soon as possible, even if he cared for Maman and not his bride.

How could any wizard not care for Maman? Octavian pondered.  She was not beautiful, of course, but she was the most striking woman alive.  Men called her handsome when they looked at her in appreciation, even when she was wearing little more than the clothes she had on her back when she was disowned by the Prince family.

When Octavian was younger, he often wished that he looked more like Maman.  She was tall and stately, her face chiseled and her eyes the darkest of blacks that shone a deep purple in sunlight.  Her deep brown hair fell straight down her back, luscious and full, giving her an air of both power and femininity. 

Muggles would talk about her behind her back, Octavian knew, as he caught men looking after her in lust and women with jealousy.  Part of him wondered if he would have been less tormented if his maman had not been so striking—so desirable.  No one would have thought anything of a young girl with a child if she were plain.  They would have accepted her lies that the baby was her brother, or a nephew, especially if they resembled each other as strongly as Octavian looked like his papa.

But everyone loved to despise the son of a fallen women, especially if they could not have her themselves.

Men had asked Maman to marry them, of course.  Octavian was accustomed to it.  She would never accept their presents or go out to dinner with them when they asked, and yet every year there would be at least one or two Muggles who completely lacked intelligence and would ask her to become Madame So-and-so, promising her the moon and the gods knew what else.

Octavian always knew when it was about to happen.  The children would leave him alone, afraid to anger his potential stepfather.  He was never included in their games, but they would watch him warily, whispering with each other, wondering if la Princesse as they called his maman would finally marry and make Octavian legitimate.

Maman would also get quiet—more withdrawn than she already was.  She would sit for hours in front of her mirror and just stare at her reflection, tracing every line of her face with a pale, long finger, ignoring the cracks in her reflection.  Sometimes she would take out an old tome that she kept hidden in the battered trunk at the foot of her bed.  She would never allow Octavian to touch it, saying it was too fragile, too sacred. 

Sometimes, though, he would watch her.  Candlelight flickering against her cheeks, making her eyes flash unnaturally, as she would open up the volume and murmur the words to herself: unending lists of names that meant nothing to Octavian when he was only a child of six or seven, but now he knew were the names of pureblooded families in Great Britain.

Prince,” she would always come to and sometimes she would stop, her haunted gaze meeting her own in the mirror.  “Non, je ne l’aime pas assez,” she would say.

When he was small, Octavian thought she referred to her latest suitor—the grocer, the businessman, the widower, the banker from Vienna.  As he grew older, he thought perhaps she meant his father.

Sometimes, though, Octavian couldn’t help but wonder if she was speaking of him.

The train stopped abruptly, jerking Octavian out of his thoughts. 

“What was that?” a frightened girl with strawberry blonde curls exclaimed, clutching onto the arm of a boy next to her.  He looked a bit older than her, and unimpressed with her childish worry.

“Surely we couldn’t have arrived at Hogwarts already,” another wizard said as he peered out of the dark window.  “I can’t see,” he stated.  “It’s raining.”

Octavian shivered as the compartment went cold. 

“What is that?” the first frightened girl asked, but Octavian didn’t listen as his breathing became labored. 

In. Out. In.

Frozen cold breath misted in front of him and Octavian could feel his ribs rattle as voices began to echo in his mind—hurling the same insults over and over again.

He gripped the seat painfully as he closed his eyes against the memory of Madamoiselle Blanche in her pretty blue dress and white parasol, smirking down at him.  “Ah,” she said, simpering pink lips twisted, “l’enfant de la fée. Do magic, changeling-child.  Entertain me.”

Faces swimming around him, the air heavy with their sickening perfume. 

Oui,” an older man with a monocle intoned, his accent Southern.  “Il s’appelle Octavian Prince.  Et sa mère s’appelle Mademoiselle Prince ou La Princesse.  The princes indeed.  How low they’ve fallen.”

“No husband.  No father.  Simply shameful!  C’est une putain.  Bitch.”

Clinking of glasses, red lips leaving prints on china but no one seeming to care. 

“Great family, I heard, back in l’Angleterre,” the woman intoned disparagingly.  “One of the best.  You can tell by how she still dresses, although her clothes are getting a bit ragged.  Still, you have to admire la putain’s cunning.  Do we not?  One would think she would whore herself out to the next man who would take her.”

Laughter like a lion roaring, loud and cruel.

Flashing colors.  Hands pulling at his hair, hurting him instead of petting him.

“Tell us our fortunes, little Changeling-child,” whispered against his lips.

Octavian tried to pull himself out of the memories and stood up quickly, knocking his Potions book to the floor.  He had to get out, he knew it, as his senses continued to dull in the freezing cold that caused his teeth to chatter.

“Eh?  What are you doing?” an older student inquired, but all he could hear was the laughter in his mind.

He reached out numb fingers and slipped the door open, his head turning away from the cold air to the left.  He could hear rattling breaths from down the dark corridor, echoing his own belabored intake of air.  Octavian had to get away, had to get free from the oppressive cold that was freezing his mind in humiliations best left forgotten to nightmares.

Muggle lamplight shone down on him as he was passed from debutante to social climber.  “I wonder if he’ll whore himself as well,” one simpered.  “So pretty.  So dainty.  We must keep him in mind, shouldn’t we, when he is grown?”  A delicate hand slipped down his chest until it brushed against his groin, cupping it almost painfully.  “Get hard for me, little whore,” the voice echoed, red lips smiling as poison escaped from them.  “Very pretty little Changeling-whore.”

Giggling laughter.

“Now go away, Changeling-child, before the fairies snatch you up!”  A squeeze, fingernails grasping him before shoving him away.  “Not old enough, I think.  Not yet.”  A flash of bright blue eyes.

One foot in front of the other, Octavian stumbled down the train corridor, the ice pushing at his back.  He could hear deep, painful breaths not his own, but couldn’t bear to look round.  He knew what he would see—laughing, jeering faces covered in paint with champagne glasses clasped in their brittle fingers, all congratulating themselves on having ‘stolen’ the local bastard for their own amusement.

A door up ahead caught his notice, and Octavian quickly grabbed it, mentally begging the voices to just stop, stop, arrête!  Please, please, I’ll do anything, s’il vous plaît, Madame.

Je ne suis pas un putain.

As he rushed through, he couldn’t close the door but instead collapsed in a corner, bringing his hands over his head, trying to fend off the memories.  He knew he shouldn’t be weak.  Princes were never weak.

But the voices—the voices kept battering him until tears flowed down his face, partially freezing in the unnatural cold.  “Non,” he mumbled under his breath, rocking himself.  “Mademoiselle, s’il vous plaît.  Arrête!  Maman n’est pas une putain.  Je ne suis pas l’enfant de fée.  N-non.  Arrête, arrête!  Je suis un prince . . .”

Expecto Patronum!” a voice called, pulling him back to the train compartment where he now huddled, frightened and humiliated.  A bright light encased his vision, stunning him, blinding him, and then—nothing but a calm voice in the back of his mind soothing him, deep with suppressed emotions: “I never would have wished that for you.”

The lights flickered back on and the train slowly began to move again.  Octavian hesitantly opened his eyes and flexed his hands, feeling the painful pricks that told him that warmth was returning to his limbs.

“Dementors on the Hogwarts Express!” a worn-looking man with ash blond hair said angrily under his breath, his wand still held out before him.

Octavian blinked up at him and slowly his dark eyes took in the rest of his companions.  A boy with orange hair sat stiffly in a corner next to another boy who looked like he had almost fainted, his hands still trembling slightly.  A girl—whom Octavian couldn’t help but notice was wearing clothes that Muggle children thought were in fashion—stared at him with unabashed curiosity, her bushy hair untamed as it fell around her face.

The worn man looked down at Octavian kindly and held out his hand.  “They’re gone now.  Nothing to worry about.”

Octavian reached out quietly, and allowed himself to be seated next to the Muggle-born before the wizard gave him a whole bar of chocolate.  His eyes widened in astonishment as he realized that his earlier wish for chocolate had come true.  “Eat that, young man.  It will make you feel better.”  He smiled kindly, but Octavian just looked at him, confused.

Je pensais que le chocolat était une sucrerie Muggle,” he responded, his lingering fear causing him to speak in his native tongue.  He licked his chapped lips at the thought of actually being able to eat chocolate, however.

The three children blinked at him, but the Muggle-born flinched slightly at his words.  Octavian wondered why.  Perhaps she knew some French?

“It also has some magical properties,” the wizard assured as he began to give smaller pieces to the other three students.

Octavian nodded before nibbling at the chocolate bar.  He sighed in bliss as the taste exploded on his tongue before taking another larger bite.

“I see you like dark chocolate, young man,” the wizard said in amusement and Octavian could only nod.  “I’ll just go speak to the conductor,” he said before turning back with a gentle look toward Octavian.  “Eat it all.  It’ll make the memories go away.”

He slid out of the cabin, leaving Octavian with the three older students.

The witch sat up and turned to glance at him derisively, clearly not caring that he was still shivering slightly from the experience.  “What’s so bad about Muggle candy?” she asked, her voice bossy.

Octavian looked at her wearily, taking another large bite.

Fortunately—or not—the ginger-haired wizard answered.  “Oi!  Is that what he said?  What language was that anyway?”

The third companion rolled his eyes, taking a bite of his own chocolate.  He looked a lot more relaxed as soon as he swallowed it, his hands no longer shaking from the effects of the Dementor that had followed Octavian in.  “It’s French, Ron,” he said quietly, his green eyes darting toward Octavian. 

“Of course it’s French,” the witch responded, ignoring her own chocolate. 

Octavian couldn’t help but eye it hopefully before continuing to enjoy his own.  The only thing that would make it better was a glass of warm milk with a dash of honey.  He sighed again in pleasure as warmth seeped into his bones.

“Whaddee say then?” Ron asked through a mouthful of chocolate before he swallowed.  “Not all of us go to France for the hols, Hermione.”

Octavian wished they would just shut up and let him eat instead of arguing about languages.  Why weren’t they just as shaken as he and the dark-haired boy were?  Why didn’t they seem fazed by their worst memories haunting them so cruelly in the cursed and unnatural cold of the Azkaban guards?

He wondered briefly what they had been doing on the Hogwarts Express.  Octavian knew that they were supposed to be guarding the wizard prison, though perhaps they were searching for the prisoner that had escaped. . . .  Why, though, would they choose a train full of school children?  Wouldn’t the escaped Death Eater—Black, was it? or Brown?—hide somewhere where he wouldn’t be discovered?  Surely this many students would notice if there was a convicted criminal among them, especially if he were as insane as he should be?

Hermione sniffed, drawing Octavian’s attention back to the conversation.  “He said that he thought chocolate was a Muggle candy.”

The boy with messy black hair looked at her quickly.  “Well so did I.”

“That’s not the point, Harry.”

“What is the point?” Harry countered before taking his final bite of chocolate, licking the remnants off his fingers.

She glowered at him.  “It’s how he said it.”

“All right, Hermione,” Ron tried to placate her, still ignoring Octavian.  “We get it.”

Harry looked like he didn’t get it at all.  He smiled at Octavian before asking, “Are you okay?  That—thing—was pretty horrible.”

Octavian looked wearily at him before returning the smile.  “Oui.  And it was a—’ow do you say—”

“Dementor,” Hermione rudely cut him off.

Harry’s eyes narrowed at her comment but he didn’t take his gaze from Octavian.

“Yes, le démenteur in French.”

“What’s a—” Harry hesitated before trying to pronounce the French clumsily “— a day-mon-turr?”

Octavian’s heart sank.  How could Harry not know unless he was born to Muggle parents?  He shook himself internally, reminding himself that he shouldn’t be drawn to the first child who had ever been kind to him. 

That also didn’t matter here, Octavian reminded himself.  This was England, his maman had told him.  England was liberal.  He knew that wouldn’t matter to Maman, though.  He was a Prince, she would say.  Princes do not associate with Muggle-borns no matter how wealthy or important they think they are.

Perhaps, though, he was just sheltered?

“Really, Harry, don’t speak French if you can’t pronounce it properly,” Hermione chided and Harry reddened slightly.

“I know it a little.  I took it in school,” he defended.  “Je m’appelle Henri Jacques,” he recited, before crossing his arms over his chest.

Octavian smiled slightly.  Henri.  Henri Jacques.  He liked it.  It suited this ‘Harry’ better.

“Saying your name, Harry, is not knowing French.”

“As if your accent’s any better,” Harry groused.

“Je m’appelle Hermione Jean Granger,” she stated smugly, not bothering to even say her name in a French accent.  Not that she had much of an accent at all.

Octavian tried to suppress a laugh in his last bit of chocolate but Hermione turned her brown eyes accusingly at him.  Ron looked indignant on her behalf and Harry couldn’t help but smirk at the entire situation.  “So, what’s un démenteur then?” he asked as the door slid open again to reveal the ragged looking wizard.

“Dementors,” he answered before Hermione had the chance, “are creatures that guard the wizarding prison of Azkaban.  They feed off of every happy memory you’ve ever had and leave only the bad ones in place.  Speaking of which,” he turned back to Octavian, “How are you feeling?  You were shaking pretty badly and saying something about—fairies, was it?”

Octavian gulped.  “Ce n’est pas important, Monsieur.”

“All right then,” he answered.  “May I ask why you’re not attending Beauxbatons if you’re French?”

Harry looked at him in interest and Hermione examined him as if he were a puzzle she was trying to sort out.

“My parents were both at ‘Ogwarts.”

“Ah,” the wizard sighed, settling back into his seat.  “A first-year, I take it?”

Octavian only nodded.

“Know which house you’ll be in, mate?” Ron asked, before thinking a bit.  “Mind you, most people go into the same house as their parents.  All of us Weasleys are Gryffindors.”

Harry seemed to notice how uncomfortable Octavian was, and tried to deflect the attention from him.  “That means nothing, Ron.  The hat wanted to put me in another house, even though Mum and Dad were in Gryffindor.”

Octavian sighed inwardly.  Harry’s parents were magical and Gryffindors.  Maman at least couldn’t be too angry if they became friends.

Hermione and Ron blinked at him, before Ron erupted.  “What?”

The ragged looking wizard gazed at Harry in interest.  Octavian briefly wondered if perhaps he was a professor.  That would explain his presence on the Hogwarts Express.  Yes, that must be it.

“Which house?” Ron demanded, his face turning red.

“Really, Ron,” Hermione said, folding her arms.  “The hat thought of putting me in Ravenclaw.”

Ron grumbled.  “That makes sense.  But Harry?  I thought he was the typical Gryffindor and now I find out he’s not much of a Gryffindor at all!”

Harry shrugged, wincing slightly.  “What does it matter?  I managed to talk it out of it, though it wasn’t very happy about my decision.  Stubborn piece of clothing.”  He half-smiled, his eyes glinting with mischief.  “Anyway,” he said, turning back to Octavian, “you can always try to talk it around if it’s thinking about a house you don’t want.” 

“Well, whatever house you are in, I’m sure your parents would be proud of you,” the professor stated, his worn eyes lighting up.

Octavian smiled.  “Papa will,” he whispered, delighting in the fact that he had now met his papa and could say this.  “‘Ee told me my ‘ouse was not of importance as long as I followed ze old ways, it did not matter.”

Hermione’s face clouded.  “The old ways?”  Her voice dripped with disdain and Octavian looked at her curiously, his face open and innocent.

Oui.  Les traditions des magiciens.

The witch bristled again, and Octavian could only look at her in wonder.  What was her problem?  As a Muggle-born she probably clung to her beliefs that had little place in the wizarding world.  She could hardly begrudge him his pureblood culture and heritage, especially as he wasn’t imposing it on her.

“Hermione—” Harry warned, and her face only tightened more.

“Miss—” the professor began and she glanced at the authority figure.

“Granger, Professor.”  The wizard did not correct her use of the title, so Octavian supposed he really was a professor at Hogwarts.

“Miss Granger.  Your parents are Muggles, I take it?”  He smiled at her warmly, showing her he meant no ill will.

Hermione nodded.

“Well, most pureblood —” He glanced at Octavian who nodded, “— families live by their traditions, the old ways.  Many half-blood wizards and witches are brought up this way, as well.  It is a matter of culture and pride, and purebloods are in every house at Hogwarts,” he told her and she nodded, looking as if she were thinking over his every word.

“We’re purebloods,” Ron said, his face reddening.  “We don’t really like tradition, though.”

The professor nodded.  “And there are some purebloods who do not live like that.”

“But his ‘Papa,’” she said mockingly and Octavian glanced down at his hands, shuttering his eyes, before looking out into the rain, “said—”

“Hermione!” Harry nearly shouted at her, voice blazing with anger.

“I’m only saying that it’s wrong,” she said self-importantly.  “I did some reading over the summer after the whole incident with the Chamber of Secrets.”

Octavian looked up at her, confused, before his eyes met Harry’s.  The older boy had gone slightly pale at the mention of it, for some reason. 

“It’s purebloods like his ‘Papa’ who advocate the purging of wizarding society from Muggle influences.  It’s absolutely backward and barbaric.  How can you possibly defend him?”

Octavian gulped and looked out the window hurriedly, trying to hide the tears that were forming in his eyes.  At that moment, he just wanted to go back to France, back to the rundown cottage where he and Maman lived.  Perhaps he could hide under the bed for an entire year, then the Muggles might leave him alone.  Or perhaps Papa might come for him and take him and Maman away—somewhere safe.

“He said nothing against you or Muggle-borns, Miss Granger,” the professor said sternly.  “You should not insult his family or his father who was teaching him to be proud of his own heritage.  Although the school term has not officially started, be sure that I will be deducting twenty points from Gryffindor for disparaging another student.”

“But it’s wrong,” she bit her lip.  “He sounds just like Malfoy when he calls me a M-Mudblood.”

Octavian’s head snapped back toward her and Harry’s eyes squinted.

“He sounds nothing like Malfoy.  How can you say that?  He sounds more like I did when I was first on the Hogwarts Express.”

Hermione looked startled and her cheeks reddened.  She looked like was about to protest, but Harry just continued.

“You, on the other hand, sound like a magical version of the Dursleys.”

“I do not—”

“You’ve never met them, Hermione, so obviously you have no idea.  They hate magic and think it’s ‘freakish.’  They won’t judge a person individually, but instead we’re all ‘freaks’ and ‘losers’ and ‘no-goods’ and even ‘drunks’ to them.  What you’re saying, though, is almost worse.”

Hermione flinched back and Ron looked over at his friend, amazed.  Octavian couldn’t help but smile slightly at the heated speech in his defense.  Whoever this Harry was, he was certain to at least have an ally, if not a friend in him.

“He’s a pureblood, yes.  He is proud to be a wizard, but aren’t we all?  All he said was that he didn’t know that chocolate was magical, and you bit his head off, and you took everything he said and changed it.  How could you be so hateful to a first-year?”  His green eyes flashed like ice and Hermione’s eyes filled up with tears.

“Yeah, Hermione,” Ron added in an attempt to calm her, not worrying about Octavian and what he might be feeling.  “It’s no big deal.  When Mum would read us stories of the Witch Burnings as children, she would always tell us to be proud of what we are.  All magical children are when we are taught about secrecy.”  He shrugged.

The professor sighed in relief, likely glad that the argument seemed to be over.  “Now, I think it’s time you three put on your robes as we should be getting to Hogsmeade in a few minutes.”  He looked out the window through the rain as if to verify his statement, although he probably couldn’t see much of anything in the darkness.  He looked at Octavian.  “Perhaps I can escort you back to your compartment?”

Octavian nodded slowly, not looking at Hermione, before quickly getting up out of his seat.  As he passed by Harry, he smiled at the boy, who smiled back, and quickly squeezed his fingers.  “Merci, Henri Jacques,” he whispered, before slipping out into the corridor.

He didn’t look back to see the growing smile on Harry’s face.


Less than an hour later, Octavian found himself in the front of the Great Hall, waiting for his name to be called.  He looked about, searching for Henri, but he only saw Ron staring glumly at his empty plate, two empty seats next to him.

Octavian sighed, wondering what had happened.  He could imagine Hermione getting in trouble for what she had said, in fact, she already had—but Henri Jacques?  It didn’t make sense.  He shook his head slightly, realizing that he probably wouldn’t ever find out what it was.

They were Gryffindors and Octavian doubted he would be sorted into that house.  He wasn’t particularly brave, preferring to suffer in silence and live through humiliation.  That wasn’t bravery.  It just was.

Glancing at the High Table, he saw the professor from the train smile kindly at him.  Clearly he hadn’t called Hermione away, then, to chastise her.  At least not yet.  Octavian sighed again.  He knew better than to expect a champion.  No one ever defended him.  No one except Henri

A wizard a few seats down with black hair and even blacker eyes stared narrowly at him.

Severus Snape, he thought, the half-blood Prince.

Before he could think any more on his mother’s cousin, the Deputy Headmistress called, “Prince, Octavian!” and an old hat was being placed on top of his head. 

French to English Translations.

La Princesse.  The Princess (or female Prince in this case).
Non, je ne l’aime pas assez. No, I do not love him enough.
L’enfant de fée.  The fairy child/changeling.  Unfortunately, this is a direct translation into French as my beta and I had difficulty translating it.
Oui.  Il s’appelle Octavian Prince.  Et sa mère s’appelle Mademoiselle le Prince ou La Princesse.  Yes.  He is named Octavian Prince.  And his mother is called Miss the Prince or the Princess.
Elle est une putain. She is a bitch/whore.
L’Angleterre. England.
La putain. The bitch/whore.
Arrête! Stop!
S’il vous plait, Madame. Please, Madam.
Je ne suis pas un putain.  I am not a whore.
Non.  Mademoiselle, s’il vous plait. Arrête! Maman n’est pas une putain. Je ne suis pas l’enfant de fée. N-non.  Arrête, arrête! Je suis un prince. . . Non. Miss, please.  Stop! Mum is not a whore.  I am not a changeling.  N-no.  Stop, stop! I am a prince . . .
Je pensais que le chocolat était une sucrerie Muggle. I thought that chocolate was a Muggle candy/sweet.
Le démenteur.  The Dementor.
Je m’appelle Henri Jacques.  I call myself Henri Jacques (Henry Jack or Henry James).
Ce n’est pas important, Monsieur  It is not important, Sir.
Oui.  Les traditions des magiciens. Yes.  The traditions of wizards.
Merci, Henri Jacques.  Thank you, Harry James.

2 thoughts on “PF02 of 20

  1. Tomorrow is my Mother’s birthday. She died in April. She used to ask me to read an entire fanfiction story aloud to her on her birthday, the best I’d read in the last year. She would have loved your story. Thank you for writing and sharing, this was an unexpected gift and light in a dark time for me.

    Like

    1. I’m honoured that OF PRINCES AND FIREFLIES would have made the cut. That’s a beautiful compliment, to me, the story, and especially your mum. I’ll light a candle here in my part of the world tomorrow in memory of her. -cen

      Like

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