I watch the country side stroll by. I still had trouble believing that I was being set free even if it meant into the hands of the family that I had hurt. Even though I had no recollection of anything before my arrest, the name of the Rosenheart daughter, Aryiana, always brought a wave of fierce loyalty and devotion that knocks my breath away.
Sitting across the carriage was Aryiana's mother, Ren. She watches me with concern that I feel is undeserving. If I had really intentionally hurt her daughter then I didn't deserve anyone's concern. I grimace. We would be arriving soon to the manor and I can feel my confidence shrinking away with each minute. How could they bring me to live with the one who no doubt hates me?
"Everything will be fine, Jellal." Ren states.
"How? I would much rather live in jail for what I did than to come back to the one who was hurt by me. It's not fair for her to have to be anywhere near my presence." I bitterly retort, turning back to view the manor as the carriage begins to creep to a stop.
As she helps me out of the carriage, she calmly replies, "I don't believe you did it. At least not intentionally."
I frown. She was the only one so far that believed that. Even I had trouble believing that I didn't do it, because the blanks in my memory leave me doubting everything I am told about what I was before this happened.
"Now we're going to tour the outside first." She pulls on my sleeve and leads me around back to the garden.
As we pass through the garden into the orchid, I find myself halting near the center. A quick flash of a warm smile and a joyous laughter echo my mind. Taking in a deep breath, I ask Ren, "Did I used to stay out here a lot?"
Surprise flickers across her face. "Aryiana hid you in the orchid for about a year before we found out. Did you remember something?"
I shake my head. It isn't a complete memory but the emotions it sprung forth takes me awhile to fight off. Even if I had been happy then, things were different now. I allow myself to glance around the apple trees and the berry bushes before following Ren back towards the house. As we reach the edge of the orchid, we run into a young woman with long scarlet hair and eyes colored a minty green.
My heart skipped a beat and a tinge of fear crawls up my spine. Aryiana stands before us. With a glance at me, she takes a deep breath and holds out her hand. Even without taking it, I can see that it is shaking. Mostly likely from fear, I decide as I slowly take it.
"Jellal, it's been awhile." Her voice is soft with a hint of a chilling hatred that causes me to wince and steady the sudden wave of despair that grips my chest.
"I'm glad to see that you are doing well, Aryiana." I whisper formally in attempt to hide my own nervousness.
She eyes the two of us for a moment before addressing her mother. "I'm going to the attic to draw so I may be late for lunch, Mother."
Ren smiles and shoos her off with a nod. I watch as she turns around, the knee-length emerald dress exposes a faint outline of an angry red scar that peaks out from the low halter-top neckline.
I find myself locking my knees to prevent me from fleeing the property. I can feel the coolness of a blade in my hand and the overwhelming stench of iron. A young girl's scream echoes through my head and the image of this woman as a child, drenched in blood and eyes wide with horror and fear leaves me shaking and paralyzed with fear.
I didn't do it. I couldn't have possibly hurt her. She is too kind. My mind reels in shock as Ren attempts to calm the panic that washes over me. There has to be something that happened! I would never have hurt a friend in such a way.
"Jellal, what's wrong?" Ren firmly takes my face in her hands, forcing me to look into her eyes.
"I couldn't have!" I find myself saying, "There's no way I would've hurt someone I was so close too!" But the image was still engraved in my mind and I knew that until I got all the memories back then I would forever be haunted by the uncertainty of what happened that day a decade ago in this very manor.
"Did you remember something, " Ren questions as she leads me inside the manor and into a bedroom on the second floor.
"Just the image of what she had looked like after the attack. But it felt strange. It was as if I was looking through a mist. It was as if there was something there, stopping me from remembering everything." I admit. I know of few spells that could cause such a reaction to a memory and all them were powerful and very dark. I had been researching during my stay in the prison on anything that would have explained my sudden loss of memory and the possibility that I had been used by an enemy of the Rosenhearts.
Ren frowns with a worried glance towards the attic. She runs her hand through my extremely long violet hair in a soothing gesture. "You really should cut it." She smiles slightly in attempt to hide the unease we both felt.
I nod absentmindedly. I had refused to cut it during my stay and it now reached almost past my waist. It had been something I could control during my time. There was no one who could judge me for it even if they didn't like it. Even now I feel anxious at the thought of cutting my hair that I had taken to enjoying.
I sit down at the window seat and allow myself to get lost in the afternoon sun that warms my chilled body despite the thick layer of winter clothing I had worn. The long isolation deep in the underground prison had left my skin pale but also caused a huge issue with staying warm. So lost in thought, I didn't notice Ren leave nor the arrival of Aryiana when she came to get me for lunch a few hours later.