The Price I Pay
She was sixteen when he'd left and I was there to see her hide the tears, to see her suffer through the goodbyes. When her brother returned from Mars, she was eighteen and nothing had changed.
Immediately upon acknowledging him as her closest relative, they became close. It had often been remarked upon how friendly the two got on together, how wonderful it was to see such cooperation between siblings. No one had seen more than the surface gestures. None had heard more than the polite platitudes between them.
But I had.
Being her companion had many benefits. Sharing a suite in the royal household allowed me to know more than even the slyest of servants. For he was quite good at subterfuge and I was quite good at silence and abidance. Their explicable trust made me their prisoner.
Sounds emitting through the wall of her room would tell all how well they did get along. Seeing the hidden stroke of a finger up the underside of a bare arm, a hand placed lower than normal decency would dictate or a shared glance when no one else was around gave proof to their cooperation.
Suitors came and were dismissed. No time for frivolities, she'd claim. Ladies and even some gentlemen paraded themselves like birds of grand plumage at each function. He had no interest. Still recovering from his sojourn, he'd tell them. And none were the wiser.
She was twenty-three when she came to me. More than my silence would be needed; more than their trust was at stake. My honor, his pride, and her offspring.
It was a small price to pay. For they snared me not only with trust, but their love as well.