Ian used to dream about this day. He would stare beyond the iron fence and imagine what life would be like beyond the barrier. Sometimes he'd tell Ann that they'd have a different future than the rest of the children here. They were different, after all. They would go out and. . . .
He couldn't imagine what they would do.
Sometimes seemed better able to help others with problems since they saw the world differently. That difference had made them think they didn't belong, though.
And now, today. . . .
Master Bern shoved the gate open against the pile of snow. "Off you go then."
Ian and Ann looked up at the man, a little consternation on the boy's face but anger on the girl's. Master Bern stared in impatient and growing anger, pulling his cloak tighter against the brisk breeze.
Time to go, Ian thought. There was no use waiting here. The day wouldn't get warmer.
Ann went out first and her twin followed in her footsteps. Nothing surprising there. Ann had always been the braver and more daring of the two. The more stubborn, too.
So they walked down the snow-covered path past trees coated in frost, bright white against a brilliant blue sky. A magical day he thought with a silent laugh. Such a day suited them.
It wasn't more than a few hours to town, too. What they'd do when they got there was a different question. They'd never actually been to town, having spent the first twelve years of their life in the orphanage. Bern had told them that they'd been born there and their mother had left that night.
How odd to be free of the place that had never felt like home, even though it was the only one they'd ever known.
Ian caught up with Ann who was stomping through the snow as though it had personally offended her. She had a temper, did Ann. Ian suspected this was the reason they were so quickly and unceremoniously sent off into the world as soon as they came of age. He didn't say so to Ann.
She stopped at the end fence. There used to be another village here, but everyone had moved off to the bigger town. The orphanage had held on, run by a family who still owned the land. Estate workers brought them food. There hadn't been new orphans for a few years, though. The place would close down in another ten years.
Snow seemed to spring up from the ground in swirls and cover the view of even the crumbling old buildings. A few gray clouds drifted across the sky and for a moment Ian felt as though they were being closed into a ball of gray, with everything lost to them.
Ann put a hand on his shoulder. She was a little taller than him; an annoyance at his age since they were twins. No one remembered which of them had been born first. He liked to think it was him and that he had that little edge over her.
She looked worried. "What do we do?"
She'd never asked him before and by the Gods, he was not going to let this go by without taking advantage of the moment.
"We go on. We'll find work in the town. You've heard Kendel. He used to live in town until his grandma died; he knew all kinds of ways to work there."
"Yes. True." She didn't sound any more assured. How odd that she seemed so unsettled now. She'd always known her place. Ah, but this was a different world.
"Time to walk away, Ann." He gently nudged her on past the fence. "Time to be more than we could ever be in the orphanage."
"Yes." Her head came up a little and her movements became assured again. "And we no longer have to hide what we are."
She threw back the hood of her cloak and lifted her face to the snow. Her long golden hair fell back and her pointed ears peeked out. They had been the only two halfbloods at the home, and though they hadn't been treated any worse than the others, there had always been a feel of difference.
Ian wondered if it would be different in the village. He felt oddly excited about the idea. This wasn't like the old days, when humans and fae mistrusted each other. Now they could get a job and maybe learn a bit of magic to help, and people would appreciate them. In fact, he thought they probably had a better chance of doing well than human orphans would have had.
Near sunset, having walked all day, they finally reached the edge of the village . . . and something odd happened. People started coming out of cottages to look at them. Ian was starting to feel odd --
"Well where did the two of you come from?" a woman finally asked, walking up to them with a bright smile.
"Ma'am?" Ann said and glanced at Ian as though he might understand.
"We came from the orphanage, ma'am," Ian offered.
"Oh dear Gods! We had no idea there were any of the blood there! Are there others?"
"No ma'am," Ann said and still looked worried.
"Well, good. Come along then. I am sure you have plenty of questions."
"We hope to get jobs," Ian offered. "We don't have any money --"
"Jobs? Money? Those are for humans," she said,though not unkindly. He hadn't even realized she was fae until that moment. "You are children of the blood. You have a different future."
As the years passed, they discovered that having been raised among human children had given them insights other fae never possessed. They became a link that helped the village and even the local Lord asked their advice at times.
In later years, the king heard of their wisdom and they served him well, a link between one people and another, and forever proud to be different.
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