Disclaimer: Janiya and most of her friends are mine, but that's it. Also, the name Zane comes from a character written by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, because I hate making up boys' names!

Chapter 4 - Magic Revealed and Midwinter FlirtationsI came to a few minutes later to find Lady Alanna bending over me, her hand glittering with purple fire. Our eyes met for a moment and then she straightened and walked back to her seat. I stood up on shaky legs, staring at the ashes of the table. King Jonathan cleared his throat.

"You never spoke of magic, Page Janiya," he said coolly. I flinched. "I, I've never told anyone. I, well, it's just that one thing I remember is Duke Roger having magic, and I never met any other mages, so I got a bad first impression of magic. It made me afraid to be a mage, so I never said..." I was babbling. I couldn't help it; I was really scared now. This could really get me in trouble.

But the adults were looking at me differently now. I wasn't sure why, but it didn't seem bad. Then the king spoke again. "Well, I understand why you never said anything, but really, Janiya, you have to tell people these things. Uncontrolled magic is dangerous." He sighed. "You'll take magic lessons now. And as for the oath... I think you're a bit too young. But just to warn you, I may ask for one later. Dismissed." I bowed and fled.

I was wandering the hallways - no one was there now to guide me - when I heard footsteps behind me. I spun around to see Lady Alanna. She studied me through guarded violet eyes. I stood there, wondering what she wanted.

"Walk with me, Page Janiya." I fell into step beside her. "So, you want to be a knight. Why?" She had to ask? "I want to bring honor back to my family, and I want to make up for my father's mistakes."

"That makes sense, but do you want this life? It's a hard one," the Lioness told me. I nodded. "It feels right, like it's what I'm meant to do. I can't explain it." I replied. She nodded. "That's all I needed to know. Goddess bless, Janiya." She left before I could reply. I noticed she'd brought me back to the pages' wing. Grinning, I went back to the library to get my things and then went to bed.

With the addition of magic lessons, my workload increased. I now had to research spells and practice meditation along with my other studies. But as the weeks passed, I found that I enjoyed learning to use magic, much to my shock. And, what with all the work I had, it seemed like no time until it was Midwinter.

Midwinter was a shock to me. We pages served each night at the main banquets, while the squires served at the parties that came after. I had never seen so many people dressed so gaudily before. I drank in the sights, including the arrivals of several convent girls. One was Lara of Tralfar, my cousin. Her mother was my father's sister. She'd always disliked me, and when I served at her table, I saw her sniff. She approached me later. "So, you really think you're doing the family name any good?" she questioned tauntingly, gripping my arm. "Yes," I hissed, glaring at her. She smirked. "You merchant's whelp. You'll never pull this off. If you make it to squire, the Chamber will kill you. And I'll be there, waiting to laugh." I ripped my arm from her clutches and walked off. Merchant's whelp... she was right. My mother had been a merchant, who my father had married in secret. I never knew if it was for love or because she was pregnant with me. She died giving birth, and Grandmama claimed not to know. But did it matter? I was still a Tirragen, after all. I wasn't illegitimate, so...

Lara knew how to undermine my confidence. I recognized her tricks, but had fallen for it anyway. I was an idiot and I knew it, but there was nothing I could do. I ran outside, needing a breath of air, and I collided with someone. I looked up to see a young man about 5 years older than me, wearing the colors of Fief Mindelan. He was a squire, I realized, and then I remembered Anders mentioning his father's squire, Zane of Eagle's Peak. This had to be him.

My suspicions were confirmed a moment later when he introduced himself. "Hello there, page. I'm Zane of Eagle's Peak and let me guess, you're Janiya of Tirragen." He grinned at me, eyes as blue as the sky twinkling with mischief. I smiled almost in spite of myself.

"Yes, that's me, but you can call me Jani if you like, Squire Zane." He laughed. "Very well, Jani," he responded, "but only if you drop the squire bit and call me Zane." I nodded, and was then rescued by a short man who looked very like Anders and Inness and a tall woman who had to be his wife. Anders and Inness were behind them. My friends introduced me to their parents, Piers and Ilane while Piers scolded Zane for flirting. I jumped in, saying, "Oh, no, Baron. There was no flirting, just friendly conversation."

Ilane chuckled. "Janiya, 'friendly conversation' is how Zane has romanced half the girls of Mindelan," she remarked. "At least my older daughters are at the convent and Keladry is just a baby. He can't break their hearts." I glanced at Zane. He looked at me in a hangdog way. "Sadly, I am a heartbreaker," he said mournfully. I shook my head as he left with Piers and Ilane. Anders wasted no time before he began to tease me. "Jani's in love, eh?" I whacked him on the arm and stalked off like an insulted empress, my nose in the air. I knew that once Anders told Jace and Galen, I'd never hear the end of it. They'd all think I was in love. But they'd be wrong. Most definitely.

A/N: So... make your own assumptions about Zane. We haven't seen the last of him! I apologize for not updating, but my brain was invaded by other characters and I had no choice but to write about them and put Jani aside. And for those who don't understand why Jon went all nice again, well, I don't really hate Jon, and I don't want him to be completely evil.