Our memories are the only paradise from which we can never be expelled.
-Jean Paul Richer
Camembert, France 1792
"Her father picked her up gently and twirled her in the air, for at long last, little Sophie was finally reunited with her beloved family! They looked out to the mysterious ocean once again, wondering where the miracles would take them…" Ayame brought the turquoise-shaded covers of the book together, and looked brightly upon the mass of joyous faces, she could practically see the sparkle in their eyes.
"Aww! She finally found her family!" "Oh please it was bound to happen..." "Hmph... it took her long enough!" "Must people always hate on dragons? I don't believe they're half as evil as people make them out to be!" "Reynold, you're the only person on the dragon's side…, right Ayame?"
"…Hmm?" Ayame blinked away the images starting to form before her eyes, as she pushed back her auburn tresses away from her face.
" Ayame… how is it that all these stories have very similar happy endings? Like in yesterday's book, why must the prince be the one to save the princess?" asked Shuno quietly, playing with her blond curls. To this, Ayame snickered. "You know Shuno, I think you have a point there. I tell you, when I write my book, I'll create the first princess who doesn't need saving, think about it, a strong, capable young woman rides out on her trusty steed across the land to save the shy prince locked up in the tower. She defeats the evil witch and frees her prince, as they ride off to the sunset…" Everybody giggled. "I think I prefer the old fashioned princess..." stated Cornelius, scrunching up his nose.
"Still got your nose stuck in those books I see."
"Tatsuki!" Ayame cried, rushing over to her best friend. On the first look, one could hardly tell they were best friends. Tatsuki was a fierce young girl, who stood up for herself and was willing to teach anyone a lesson if they messed with her principles, regardless of who they were. Ayame on the other hand was a kind and gentle soul, considerate of even the tiniest fly and constantly putting others before herself. The two were as opposite as night and day, where short dark spiky hair contrasted with long auburn locks, where attitude compensated for affection… but the both of them had hearts of gold, and it was their differences, along with their circumstances, that put them together in the first place.
"Hey there, Ayame. Sorry I interrupted, but I believe you need some fresh air, and ol' prince what's-his-face isn't doing you much good in that respect" she berated, thankful that that monster of a book had seen its last page.
"Oh Tatsuki, you know you're just too scared to admit that you secretly enjoy my stories about family, and enchantment…" she twirled, "love, and strength and courage", she pirouetted, "dance and song and friendship" she grinned "and marriage and union bred from true love", sighed Ayame, dancing with little Jeannette.
"Yeah yeah, marriage is for the weak-minded. There are bigger problems to worry about in this pathetic world of ours, marriage is just another vague notion" declared Tatsuki, "just like everything else about this revolution…" she murmured.
Ayame smiled sadly. Ever since the rebellion against the Bastille, all of France had seen chaos. True, there was reform in the air, but ideas were developing so rapidly that nobody had any time to consider the humanitarian aspects of this war, the violence, the torture… it was sometimes unendurable.
"Ayame…" muttered Jeanette, tugging on her gown, "What was your family like?" All eyes looked at her; even Tatsuki couldn't hide the sad empathy in her expression.
"I'm not sure, Jeanette, I don't remember them. But I'll bet they're all wonderful people, strong and sweet and passionate… I'll find my brother; I'll find all of them… I know I will." said Ayame firmly, gazing at her necklace. It was a delicate ivory rock, carved into the shape of the sun, with an even smaller topaz stone embedded at the center that gave of the most glorious colours when shown to the light. Upon the ivory were engraved the words: "le soleil se lèvera à nouveau".
"The sun will rise again…"whispered Ayame as she clutched her only connection to her past.
Ayame was a young girl of seventeen, an orphan girl, who lived in the 'Les Jeunes Cœurs' orphanage, in the small yet bustling village of Camembert, known for its sheep and cheese. She didn't remember much about her family or her past; she'd been found wandering alone when she was nine years of age, cold and fear stricken. She'd been found by Tatsuki, who was then the daughter of the local orphanage. At the time, Ayame couldn't recall anything, not where she came from, not how she got lost… nothing. She recalled having a brother, but that was as far as it went. All she had in her possession that provided any clue to her history was the necklace that she wore around her neck, her now most cherished possession. The necklace seemed valuable, so it was concluded that Ayame was of noble birth, yet none of that mattered because the growing unrest in France meant that nobility was not welcome in the hearts of the peasants. She didn't even remember her name, and replied Ayame mindlessly, vaguely aware of a similar ring to her own name, whatever it was. She was taken into the orphanage, where she spent the next nine years of her life.
Around her third year in her new home, Tatsuki's mother became seriously ill and within a few quick weeks, she passed away, leaving Tatsuki under a careless old woman who couldn't be less concerned about the children under her care. And thus Ayame and Tatsuki, finding strength in each other, took responsibility over 'Les Jeunes Cœurs', and through the years of hardship and difficulty, they found that friendship, and the innocence of childhood, was more powerful than anything aristocracy could boast of.
"Okay everyone, time for bed" said Ayame cheerfully, as she replaced the book back in its proper place, she sighed knowing that she was soon going to have to return it. In the tiny village of Camembert, only a handful of folk were literate. It was assumed that Ayame, being of noble birth, must naturally have been taught the letter. In these days of revolution, that was an especially appreciated fact as people were eager that more people become aware of the recent occurrences, and writings of Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and other enlightened thinkers were spreading like the bubonic plague. Ayame used her gift for France's benefit; she also used it to read bedtime stories to the children under her care.
"Awww, but we don't want to…" moaned the gathering. "I don't believe you have an option, lights out in half an hour." announced Tatsuki, only too experienced in the ways of the mischievous young. "Make us." said red headed Jinta smugly. Tatsuki smirked. He asked for it. "Why you little," she ran after them, creating a roar of laughter in the small damp room, and a feeling of family deep in the hearts of those young who had not the pleasure of the real thing. Camembert prepared for the night, extinguishing the candles and putting out they're quilts, as did our orphanage.
As Ayame tucked in with Tatsuki, beside little Jeanette and Rosalind, she murmured her thanks to the lord above who'd gotten her so far. "I pray for the best You can give us. I also pray that You reunite me with my brother, I know he's out there… I pray that the war ends soon, that we are relieved from our suffering... I pray for the best, my Lord, for those who need Your guidance… Thank you."
"Bonsoir Tatsuki, Jeanette, Rosalind. May you have the sweetest dreams…"
And Ayame gently fell to deep sleep, dreaming of a future with a real family… her family.