I dreamed of you last night. I dream so rarely, these days. It was that spring in the village where we'd met. I've forgotten the message father had sent me to deliver to the Human Queen, and you & your brother had been sent on some sort of penance for your misadventures. I was so young, then, and was lost in everything that season. The people were like fireworks, I thought. My father's realm has always been a bit more stoic, and I realize, now, he'd likely sent me to get me off his hands for awhile, knowing a Human settlement in the full bloom of one of their festivals would keep me occupied for a good while. My memories are loud and cluttered with all that they'd arranged for themselves, those exuberant Humans. It was like nothing I'd ever seen.
My memories are all of sensations, and sounds, snippets and bursts. Father of course sneers at me: "You have a man's memory, it's all tides and shifts, and as unreliable as they are". I can't, of course, begin to guess why this one trait of my people escapes me. Mother calls me her broken prince, and I know that everyone in the realm pities or mocks me. I've a tutor, Tulipenny, and she tells me I'm not working hard enough. I don't know. I don't feel broken, I don't feel wrong. I can't imagine what it must be like, to remember everything. I once told Tulipenny that I didn't mind not remembering, and she looked at me with the saddest eyes. They looked like human eyes, then, more full, with more things in them. She stroked my wings and after a moment cancelled the day's lesson. Since then, I've only been allowed to leave my tower to wander in the gardens. I haven't left the palace in a very long time.
When I returned from the Human realm, Father set me to work, traveling around his kingdom, learning our history, our literature. He made me learn to fight, and I held this silly long needle and sort of danced. I enjoyed it, a little, but couldn't imagine poking some one with it. Eventually I'd had five trainers, all of whom gave up on me, exasperated. Father said my lack of concentration was embarrassing. Now, it's just Tulipenny, and she teaches me about plants & animals. We tend the garden, she and I, and that is something I seem to be good at. We have a menagerie, too, and it's hard for me to remember what medicines are best when my friends there are sick, so mainly I just keep them company.
The one clear memory I have about that spring is the last thing you said to me. Father had called me back, and the festival there was over, anyway, and The Human Queen was returning to her castle and leaving the village. All of the people were streaming out of the gates of the town, and it was like another parade, but slower, and less organized (and I wasn't playing my drum). Because I was being called back, I was wearing my court clothes (which were itchy.) and a small Human boy I'd met asked me why I looked different. I explained to him that it was time for me to go, that I had to learn to be important. I told him that I couldn't play anymore, and I used father's favorite word- Responsibility. The child was sad to see me go, and so I told him we could still be friends, and still laugh, and maybe sometimes, If I ever came back to the village, we could run & yell & throw things. His family left with him still crying. I didn't know you'd been watching, but you came over and kissed my forehead. "You will be a good prince.", you said. Your brother laughed at us then, in that way he has of being mean but not threatening or hurtful, and asked, "Are you being nice?" and you punched his arm while you both walked away.
I know everyone here thinks I'm useless, and you think I am silly, but one day, my father will be gone, and I will lead my people. I am a good prince, even if I'm broken. When my friends in the menagerie are hurt or sick, I call for Tulipenny and she helps them. Sometimes, If father is away on a long trip, I make several guards stand at the entrance to the garden, and let my friends out of their cages to run free for a while. I always make sure they have food, and water, and milk. I keep them warm in winter- mother yells at me for giving them all my blankets.
I'm told all of the time that I am fully grown now, and should act like it, but no one can tell me what that means, and when they do try, it sounds terrible. I take good care of my friends, and when I am King, I will take good care of Father's people- I mean my people. I am a good prince. They'll see. You were right, Yrrw. So, thank you.