"Grace, where have you been?" One of my old instructors at the Academy, Brently, chided. "You said you'd be here an hour ago!" I had gotten back in to Albion when Calla had come again, claiming I needed supplies, were I to stay in the human world. Once through the Amaranth Gate, I had gone straight to the Academy.
I sighed. "Comfrey wasn't available an hour ago. She said the Eirelanders wanted to discuss treaties with Albion." I sighed, falling back into my habits as a Fall to a Summer. In truth, no one at the Academy knew why Brently was even here. It was one of the mysteries of the Academy, just a little less mysterious than who built the building.
"Well, regardless. You said you were worried about something?"
"Yeah, but I need to talk to Comfrey. She's the only one that could help." I groaned.
"Look, I know you're a Fall and you're above the rest of us, but that doesn't mean the Fall teachers are below you, too." Brently chided.
"I'm not saying they are. I'm just saying that Com is the only one that could understand."
"If you're sure." He sighed. "I'll contact her immediately."
"There will be no need of that, Brently." A chilly voice entered the room.
"Comfrey! I missed you so much!" I grinned as I set eyes on my best friend. Her soft blonde hair and baby blue eyes were such a relief after the harsh tones and colors of the human world.
"And I you, Grace. You called for me?" Her voice was a welcome change from eternal stoicness. The customary steely voice of the Winter monarch was gone, replaced with true happiness.
"Yes, I did. But I did it for something that is better discussed behind closed doors." I smiled.
"Alright, Grace, I'll take the bait. Come, we can discuss this in the upper chambers of the Palace." She grinned, aware of how the Summer professor would respond.
"But... your Grace, the upper chambers are for state emergencies only!" Brently gasped.
"And this is a state emergency. One of the greatest Falls ever to bloom has something on her mind." I blushed.
"Forgive me, your Grace, but that hardly qualifies as a state emergency!"
"Professor Brently, your place." I joked. He was talking to my best friend, after all.
"Come on, Grace. Let's talk." Comfrey smiled when she saw me defend her. I had always been stubborn.
"So what's on your mind, Gracie?" The Winter queen-regent smiled, the facade of royalty melting until it left behind the child I knew. Comfrey was only fourteen, after all. I was sixteen now, by my estimates.
"Well, I was worried. I haven't blossomed yet, Com." I blurted.
"Really? That's what you were worried about?" Comfrey laughed. "It is warmer in that world, Grace. Maybe if you spent a few days here you would blossom."
"I don't think so, Com. It's gotten cooler there, and I still haven't blossomed."
"And you want me to do something about it?" Comfrey asked.
"Yeah. You can sense what Season a faerie is, right?" I asked.
"You want me to make sure you're still a Fall, right?" Com giggled.
"Better to be safe than sorry! You know me, Com. I like to be sure."
"Fine, I'll do it. You did bring one of your famous White Bryony brownies, didn't you?"
"Of course. I know why you-" I stopped as a tingling sensation overtook me. For a moment, I saw what Comfrey saw. It scared me. My outline was a frosty white, and not the dull red she often said she saw.
"Give me one, Grace. Now." Comfrey's voice strained. I quickly tore off a piece of brownie and stuffed it between her lips. After several minutes, she began to seem stronger. "Grace?"
"What did I see?" Her voice was childlike, scared, a huge difference from the regal monarch Albion usually saw.
"I have no idea. What did you see?"
"I saw a Winter. An extraordinarily strong one. Grace, have you mixed any potions lately?" Her voice sounded urgent, and confused.
"No, why?" "What do you need for a basic White Bryony Tea?"
"Bryony, water, and lily."
"Get them. Make some. Report to me what happens."
"Of course, Comfrey."
"Professor Renell, why isn't this working? I've been making White Bryony since I was five!" I screamed at the professor of Herbology. He had seen me make my first White Bryony when I was five.
"Grace, perhaps you should ask Queen Comfrey."
"Go see her, Grace."
"Sir." I nodded.
"I don't know why I can't make it! I can't feel plants anymore, either. Am I dying, Com? Tell me I'm not dying! Are there any pollutants that could do this?"
"Grace, this may be a shock, but you were only 20 when you were sent to the human realm."
"I know. I was sick."
"You weren't really sick, per se." I was suddenly scared. Why had Serina seen fit to send me there if I wasn't sick?
"Then... what was I?"
"We had to give you a sleeping potion. You were going through... changes. We couldn't risk the contamination of the other Falls. Only one is fit to lead. Come in, Calla."
When she said that, a door opened, and the Guard from the clearing entered. "I was Queen Serina's personal Guard. She asked me to give you this." She handed me a sealed envelope. I was quick to open it.
I was not always a Winter Faerie. I used to be a Summer. I went through changes, just as you are. After you left the Realm, you became sixteen again. You were twenty. This is because you have not bloomed yet. At least, not during these changes. The power behind this did not know how old you were, but it needed you to bloom immediately. Do not be scared, dear Grace. It is so joyous an occasion for the Realm, and for you. I have made a final decree. As Comfrey is not of age yet, my dearest Grace, hereby known as Bryony, is to take the throne. Good luck, Bryony. You shall do well.
Yours forever, Serina
P.S: Take the pendant enclosed. It will help. Primmy sends her love. She says to tell you that you are never alone."
"Oh, Serina... Ellery..." I cried. "If only..."
"Princess... would you like the pendant?" Calla asked gently, withdrawing a golden heart pendant from the envelope.
"Yes, Calla." As I sobbed, the guard lifted the pendant above my head and let it settle onto my neck. I smiled forlornly. It was a beautiful necklace, but it only served as a reminder of what I had lost, of what Albion had lost. "I'm so sorry, Bryony." Comfrey placed a hand on my shoulder.
"No one should have to go through this. At least, not alone." With that, Comfrey gave a me a quick squeeze and strode out the door.
This time, Grace- I mean, Bryony, gets back to Albion and the Academy, but receives a surprise and a mysterious necklace. Do you think the necklace will come in handy later? If so, what do you think it'll do?
Thanks for reading and commenting! It really helps me decide where to go from here. Not to mention makes me want to continue the story. Dont't forget to vote!