Sera continues down the random hallway. Maybe this way would take her outside. She needed fresh air. Luckily, her wish is granted. A side door in the hall leads her outside, to what seems like a forgotten rest area, hedged in with tall bushes, a rusty gardener's shed on one side and a cracked stone bench on the other. Somewhere beyond this area, there should be roses. There's a heavenly rose smell in the air, fragrant. This may lead to the Queen's garden.
She finds a small dog hole under the bushes that leads somewhere. Looking up at the clear blue sky, she checks the time by seeing how high the two suns hung in the sky. This was a skill Lucien taught her. Here, watches didn't exist. It was natural as breathing to tell time by judging the height and angle of the two suns. Good. She still had some time left.
She would take just a small peek at the garden. Just a little peek, and then go back and finish her work. Checking to make sure no one else was around, she crawled down and wedged herself into the dog hole. Wriggling, while trying to make sure she didn't dirty or rip anything, she makes her way through. The bush was bigger than she thought. It takes her a while, but she finally crawls through, pushing back the hair that gets in her face, undone from its bun.
Dusting herself off, she gets up. This wasn't the Queen's Garden. Yes, it was a garden, with roses that bloomed everywhere. But there were other flowers. Bright daffodils and tulips, lilacs and daisies. All different sorts of flowers blooming together in a marvelous chaos. It was on a smaller scale compared to the Queen's Garden, but it was every bit as beautiful. She touched the smooth petals, enjoying the shape of the differently shaped petals.
And beyond the small garden, there lay a well-maintained ,quaint, cottage. Smoke blew from the chimney. Looks like someone was eating lunch. Last night, Lucien smelled faintly like flowers too. Maybe this was where he kept his mistress. This place was too beautiful to be some gardener or servant's home.
She only came to look at the flowers. Sera would need to go back to cleaning windows. Taking one last, long look at the flowers, she crouches to leave.
A familiar voice calls out to her. This voice!
Sera smiles. Turning to face the owner of the voice, she says, joyfully,
"M'lady!" Bea drops the basket in her hand and runs to hug Sera.
Bea's become so much taller than Sera. She'd only reached up to Sera's shoulder before, and Sera was a petite girl. It's been 5 years. From a 13-year old girl that seemed mature for her age, Bea had grown to a pretty, tall lady.
"You're so big now Bea! I'm so happy you look well." Sera smiles, wiping away the happy tears the leak from Bea's eyes.
"I've been looking all over the castle for you, but no one seemed to know where you'd gone. How have you been?"
"M'lady, I've been doing well! But m'lady, what about you? Does King Lucien know you're here?"
Bea, and the head magician who sent her home, were the only two people in this world who knew when she left.
Her maidservant, Bea, was her greatest supporter. She'd begged Sera to stay, but accepted her Queen's firm decision to go home. Eventually helping Sera leave without Lucien knowing.
Sera nods, "Yes, we've met. I'm here for good this time. Or as long as Lucien wants me here."
But why was Bea here, in this cottage hidden away from the castle?
Sera echoes the thought. "But Bea, why are you here?"
Bea's face becomes serious. "I need to show you something, M'lady."
Her former maidservant picks up her basket and walks towards the cottage, opening the door for her. The inside of the cottage is just as homey and beautiful, reflecting Bea's personality.
Bea continues forward, up the stairs, to a door that looks to lead to a bedroom. She quietly opens the door, and gently pushes Sera inside. On the wood bed in the middle of the room, a small form lies. It moves, and the blanket shifts aside, revealing a small child that sits up, rubbing their eyes.
"Bea?" The child pushes his reddish-brown hair out of his blue eyes, yawning, revealing small, white baby teeth.
Sera stares at the adorable creature.
Could this be her son?
She goes to kneel by the bedside. He probably doesn't remember her. She'd left right after he was born. The moment he came out of her body, the nursemaids took him away. That was standard procedure. So she never really shared a moment with her son. Only the 9 months where he grew in her belly, while she prayed that he would live a happy life, without her. It didn't matter if he didn't remember her or not. She just wanted to stay by his side and cherish him. Make up for all the lost time. Give him all the love she had.
He tilts his head, chubby cheeks and big eyes that stare at her. His blue eyes are just like his father's. Like a clear, cloudless sky.
Not sure what to do, she reaches out a finger to him."Hi baby"
Maybe she just wanted to poke his chubby cheeks.
He crawls to the edge of the bed, short arms and legs working as fast as they can, and with a boompf-he jumps into her arms, sticking to her like a little monkey.
Sera doesn't know what to do.
Bea giggles, and says, "I always told the prince that you would come back. You didn't know it then, but the look on your face when you left said it all."
She points to a drawing tacked on the bedroom wall. It's a rough colored sketch.
A brown-haired , brown-eyed girl, stomach heavily pregnant, sits on a bench holding a white wildflower. She looks happy. The artist did a great job of capturing her happiness.
It was Sera.
"I did my best to draw you from my memory, so that he'll always know what his mother looked like." Bea says.