by Anastasia Gammon
You’ve felt the hum of the earth in your toes from the day you were born. Seawater floods your veins, the crackling of fire is barely contained beneath your skin, and the rush of wind settles in your every breath. There is dirt and magic under your fingernails. The world is yours to command. The very things that make life and death are under your power.
But you are not.
You were born first but his being born at all stripped you of any authority you might have had. The sea and the sky and the ground you walk on all obey you but you must obey him. Your brother. The king.
From the moment he arrived in your world, all pink and new and so very loud, you were told to hide your skills. Parents, friends, servants, all begged you to bury the things that you could do. You could never be more powerful than him. You must never be seen as a threat. Even when he was still an infant screaming in your mother’s arms and you could already bend the tallest oak trees to your whim. Your magic was made a secret to squash down where no one would see it.
No one could ever know the challenge you held back by your teeth.
It is a difficult secret to keep, the power to mould the earth to your own desires. It tries to escape. You felt it bubbling beneath the surface every moment of every day, the itch of the fire trying to tear its way out from under your skin. But you are strong. The magic obeys you, it is the one thing that does, even when that means holding it down where it can not breathe, where it struggles against your ribcage and fights to be free. For the sake of your brother, you kept it where it could not see the sun.
Your brother knew the secret you kept for him. He did not know the full extent, did not know how your magic fought to be free, but he knew enough. You were not always so good at keeping it hidden. He told you he didn’t fear it. He said he trusted you to never use it. The two of you kept your secret together and you trusted him not to have secrets of his own.
“It is a difficult secret to keep, the power to mould the earth to your own desires. “
Then a new man arrived at the castle. One who could do the same things you could do. Not all of them, but enough. The things your brother had said he didn’t fear. The things he trusted you never to do. The things you kept from the world for his sake.
The new man was older than you both. He didn’t have your long, dark hair. He didn’t line his wide, bright eyes. He didn’t feel the thread of every living thing as you do.
No one asked him to squash his magic down.
This man did not have to keep his power a secret. He could bend the oak trees, and let the fire out of his skin. He was allowed the peace of letting his magic be seen, the relief you denied yourself. No one saw him as a threat.
You had always been denied entrance to the important meetings your brother held. This man smiled from your brother’s side as his magic slammed doors shut between you.
You had become so good at hiding your skills, the fight was second nature now. But this new man brought new troubles. His magic called to yours as the fox calls to the hound. You could feel the itch, worse than ever. With every trick he played, with every force he shifted, your magic begged to be let loose, to fight the threat it sensed.
All those years you had kept your secret close. All those years you had made yourself small and toothless, never challenging your brother, never letting anyone see the power you had that he could never dream of. This man had never had to hide himself for anyone’s sake, least of all the king’s.
He told your brother what to do and worse, your brother listened. You began to see the truth. The king would be advised by someone who held powers like yours. Just not by you.
The man told your brother to send you away, he advised that you were the threat you had always made sure not to be, that it would be safer for everyone if you left the castle. You saw the relief in your brother’s eyes at these words. You saw the secret he had been keeping all by himself for all these years.
You should have known you were too wild, too close to the earth, for him not to fear you.
For so long you had allowed yourself to be eaten from the inside by the magic that your brother embraced in someone else’s hands. Now he turned his back on you with such ease, knowing that you had sacrificed your very nature for him from the day he was born.
He smiled when he told you he had found a husband for you, far away from this castle. Far away from him. So far away from the home he had taken from you with his first breath. That same smile he had shown you so many times in your childhood, every time he saw you hold back the magic trying to pierce its way through your skin, every time he saw you shut down that part of yourself to keep him safe.
It is any wonder you summoned the crows to peck out your brother’s eyes or the breeze to snap his neck?
How could they ever have expected you to bow to such a mortal king?
Anastasia Gammon | @StasiaWrites
Anastasia is a writer from Cornwall, somewhere between the moors and the ocean. Her twin loves are writing and photography, and she frequently uses each to procrastinate the other, which sort of works. She blogs about both at anastasiagammon.co.uk/