Jamie was terrified. The iron bars of her cell were closing in around her. She couldn't breathe. Jamie compacted her small body into the corner of the cell on top of the single bed that hung from the wall, her knees drawn up to her chin which was still smeared with dried blood. Wracking sobs sent tremors through her, and Jamie wrapped her arms tightly around her knees. She hadn't meant to do it. She didn't know that the woman would die. The young girl could still feel it, an unending hunger that tore through her stomach. It had subsided slightly, but it was the only thing that Jamie could think about. Her small, cat-like canines lengthened, piercing her lower lip. Jamie clenched her mouth closed willing her thoughts to disappear. But they didn't. Voices at the end of the hall made Jamie look up, peering into the darkness through her mane of strawberry-blonde hair.
"What do you plan to do with her, you majesty?" A man's voice asked. Jamie didn't recognize it, but the coldness laced through it made Jamie's heart wrench.
"I haven't decided yet, Nathan." That was the queen's voice: Queen Tatiana. Another sob wracked Jamie's body at the thought of the Queen. Maybe she would give her mercy for what Jamie had done, but a piercing uneasiness mixed with Jamie's restless hunger at the thought.
The man spoke again. "Obviously you can't simply let her out, she could be Strigoi."
The Queen's voice was calm. "I know that, but I'm not so sure that she is Strigoi."
Nathan sounded incredulous. "She killed her teacher! That little girl drained every ounce of blood in that poor woman's body. How could she not be a Strigoi?"
"She doesn't look like a Strigoi." Queen Tatiana pointed out.
"Well she certainly isn't Moroi."
"Then what is she Nathan?" The Queen asked challengingly.
"An abomination that has to be killed to protect our people." Nathan said matter-of-factly.
Queen Tatiana nearly gasped. "She's a six-year-old girl, and you expect me to execute her?"
"It's what the people want, hell, it's what they need." Nathan's voice sobered. "She could kill all of us, Tatiana."
Jamie screamed. "I didn't mean to hurt Mrs. B, it wasn't my fault!" Those trembling sobs returned, shaking Jamie's entire body. She began to mutter to herself. "I didn't mean to. I didn't mean to. I didn't mean to..." She repeated the phrase. The two adults walked over to Jamie's cell, peering inside at the fragile, broken child.
The Queen murmured silently to Nathan. "I can't kill her." Nathan opened his mouth to protest, but after gazing at Jamie for a moment, promptly closed it.
"She can't stay here." Nathan whispered almost inaudibly, but Jamie still heard his words even though she was edging on hysteria.
The Queen thought for a second before answering. "I have an idea, but it must be kept secret." Nathan nodded at Tatiana as she launched into her idea.
After she'd finished Nathan looked hopeful. "That could work."
A sparkling gleam appeared in Queen Tatiana's eyes as she looked back at the trembling, muttering child in the cell. "It will work."