Depending on whom you asked, it could have started any number of places. Ask Valerie, and she'd say it began when her mother was smitten by who she says is "an unfaithful, smarmy, vile excuse for a man." Ask Dahlia, and she'd say it was a few weeks later, when she found herself separated from her twin sister, if, indeed, she would tell you anything at all. And if you had the guts to ask Morgan herself, she'd say it was when her younger sister gained the master's seat instead of her. Although, if you traced the tragedy back as far as you can, it would probably have resulted from the splitting of the Fey clan into the main and branch families. But that was a long, long time ago.
"Dahlia, Iris, we're leaving."
The shy twins clutched at each other's hands, looking uncertainly between their furious mother and their rapidly retreating father. Iris, the more sensitive of the two, had tears welling up in her eyes. Dahlia was on the verge of tears herself, but remained under control. She bit her upper lip and looked one last time at both of her parents, then at her sister's eyes, glittering with tears.
Even though she was only six, Dahlia was able to analyze their situation, albeit simplistically. She creased her pale brow, drawing delicate eyebrows close together.
Mama wanted them to be great mediums, but neither of them had much power to speak of. Papa was going to marry another lady, presumably rich. So going with Papa would be better for them, personally, but then, Papa didn't love them as much. Mama always spent time with them, training and feeding and dressing them even. It seemed like Papa only wanted them to come because he didn't want Mama to have them.
Dahlia raised her head, deep red hair flashing in the light. She looked back at her mother, desperately searching for some reason to do something. But all she saw was white-hot rage in her eyes. With a muffled squeak she grabbed Iris's hand even more tightly and ran after her Papa, trying not to cry.
The car ride was scary, tense, and made it all the harder to keep from crying. Both girls had heard their parents arguing deep into the night, often saying things that they would have reprimanded the twins for saying. There were also instances of cold politeness, when the air around their parents seemed about to crackle from the tension between them. More than once, the twins had fled their family common room to seek the escape of their aunt's manor. They liked it better over there, and even though their Mama hated Auntie Misty, she was nice. Plus, Mystic Mia was loads of fun to play with, even though the nine-year-old was almost always busy with her acolyte training. At any rate, the Manor was a good place for them to weather their parent's arguments.
They longed for that escape now, trapped in the back seat of their Papa's car with no option but to wait. Iris, who had always been the more timid of the two, leaned over to whisper in Dahlia's ear.
"We're not going back, are we?" Her voice was choked and frightened, and it was difficult to hear through her suppressed sobs.
"N-no, prob'ly not," Dahlia whispered back, mirroring her twin's distraught expression.
They tried to scoot closer together, but the seat belts held them apart. So they just held hands all the more tightly, trying to convey some measure of comfort.
What felt like hours later, they pulled up to a temple. The twins looked curiously at each other, then out the window to get a better look at the place. It reminded them vaguely of home, only much colder. Snow covered every inch, punctuated by a track of footprints leading from the main gate over to a bridge in the distance. Their observation was cut off by their father's brisk voice.
"Girls, get out of the car."
They obliged, unbuckling the seat belts and hopping out of the car and onto the snow. Neither girl was dressed for the cold, however, so with giggles, they latched onto one another for warmth.
"Stop that!" their father ordered, and twin pairs of hands dropped soberly to their sides. "Very good. Now, what would you say to living here?" He had crouched down to look them in the eye, making the twins unconsciously step back. Dahlia responded first.
"No!" she blurted out. "Er, well, it's cold…And it feels lonely…"
She ducked her head and glanced at her father from beneath her red tresses.
"Very well," he said, standing suddenly. "Iris, come with me."
The dark haired twin took his hand meekly and followed him as he led her toward the temple gate. Dahlia watched them go, wondering if she was going to be punished, or if she was receiving it right now.
A few minutes after her father and Iris had gone through the gate, her father returned. He was alone. Before Dahlia could even open her mouth to ask, she was ordered into the car.
"Forget about her. Pretend she no longer exists."
Eyes wide with shock, Dahlia began to run back to the temple. Her arm was nearly wrenched from its socket when her father grabbed it, causing her to fall into the cold, cold snow.
"Iris!" she screamed desperately. "He's gonna leave without you! Come quick!"
But even if Iris had heard, Dahlia was thrown into the car and the doors were locked. A split second later, the engine revved up and the car was speeding away from the temple. A tearful six-year-old beat on the windows to no avail, her heartbroken cries muffled by the glass and metal.
"Why daddy? She's my twin sister!"
The meeting with "her new mommy" was disastrous. The drive had been long enough that Dahlia's tears had dried and she realized exactly what had happened. Iris had been left at some temple somewhere by their own father, and now Dahlia was supposed to just accept her new family. For the first time, she began to understand that her father was not a good person, and would not protect her. Well, fine.
She refused to speak to the woman standing in front of her father, and wouldn't talk to him either. When the lady tried to take her hand, Dahlia slapped it away. Eventually the adults got frustrated and left her with the woman's daughter to "loosen her up."
The red-haired girl stood defiantly, arms crossed, in front of the older, black-haired girl.
"So, that's your daddy?" the older girl, who had been introduced as Valerie, asked.
"Yes," Dahlia replied shortly. "Do you think he's a bad man?"
Valerie cocked her head to one side and pretended to think.
"Yeah," she said spitefully.
"Good," Dahlia replied. "We can be friends then." She held out her hand. Valerie took it, although she looked surprised.
"You…hate your daddy?"
"Yes. I hate him a lot."
"He left my twin sister at a cold place in the mountains all alone."
"Oh…I hate him because he's gonna marry my mommy, even though I already have a daddy. I don't want another one."
"He's gonna marry your mommy? Why?"
"I dunno. But that means we'll be related."
"Hmph. I don't want another sister." Dahlia re-crossed her arms, and glared at Valerie. The older girl shrugged.
"Mommy says I have to make the best of it."
"Well I want Iris back!" Dahlia's stare turned angry.
"What can I do about it?" Valerie demanded, getting angry herself.
"You can take your stupid mommy and just go away!" Dahlia yelled, bunching her hands into fists.
"How about you take your stupid daddy and go away?" Valerie yelled back. With a shriek, Dahlia reached back and punched Valerie as hard as she could in the stomach. Valerie retaliated, and the fight would only be broken up when the adults came back to check on them.