Xehanort turned slowly around. "Wha... How do you know that?"
Aqua snorted. "You're not hiding your hair, and there's only one royal our age." Only people related to the royal line had silver hair like his, much less an X in their names, which was reserved for people directly in line for the throne. Xehan couldn't really understand why people would name the Prince the same thing six times in a row in the first place. "How'd you get out of the palace, anyway?"
Xehan shook his head slightly, coming back to his senses, carefully not looking into Aqua's bright blue, enchanting eyes. "There was a little gate in the garden… The lock sort of fell apart…"
"So you snuck out?" Terra's voice almost made the Prince jump.
"I didn't mean to!" He turned his head. "It just sort of… Happened!!" Xehan ignored Ven's barely restrained snorts of laughter. Terra rolled his eyes. "What?"
"Typical noble, never been out in the real world before, just listens to what the king says…"
"My father is a good king!!"
"Hmph! Like hell!" Terra turned stonily away. Xehan blinked. Ven looked away, putting a hand on his friend's shoulder. Aqua sighed.
"Xehanort, I'm sorry, but a lot of the things you've been shown in the palace aren't right at all… Trust me when I say, paper cranes don't bring children to their parents."
"I know THAT!!" Xehan refused to let the tears seeping from his eyes show. "My mother died in childbirth!!" Aqua stopped. "I watched her die!!"
"…I guess the palace really is nothing but lies… We were told she was assassinated by Firinton…" Aqua sighed. "And I thought I had it bad…" Xehan watched her carefully, noting that the strange accent he'd seen in the market was almost completely gone here and now.
"What? Had it bad when?"
"When I still lived with my father." Xehan blinked hard as she continued. "Yeah, I was a noble once. Aqua of the Noble House of Castiglione—what a joke. All he wanted to do with me was marry me off to some rich, fat old man as soon as he could. Bastard. I never wanted to marry in the first… So I left. And now I'm here, and even if I spend half my time starving, I'd rather be here than there." Xehanort was wide eyed by the time she finished. "Oi, boys, your turns. I'm done."
Terra, apparently, wasn't in a storytelling mood. Ven glanced away and sighed. "You heard of the rebellion in Nutue a few years ago? I lived there then.
"My parents were farmers on the outside of town; they wouldn't be involved in something like a rebellion. Dad just came to market every few days and sold our extra food. No big deal. But once the rebellion started, well, we didn't care, Dad brought food in the same as always. But the soldiers were convinced we were with the rebels— we were "supplying" them. Never mind that the soldiers had as much chance to buy from us as the rebels.
"They came in the middle of the night. My family lived away from everyone else—I'd be surprised if anyone noticed that my parents and sister were dead for days." The blond's voice broke slightly. "If the cat hadn't screamed when a soldier ran her through on his sword, I'd be dead, too. For no other reason than being there, for my father selling food to the wrong people at the wrong time. Nutue's a ruin now. Everyone who survived moved to Zamami, except me. I came here. Ended up fighting with Terra over who had the right to which baker's stall, and it just sorta went from there." Ven sighed. "I miss them a lot…" Xehan glanced at Terra, but the brunette still had his back turned and didn't seem interested in looking at anyone. The prince looked up, and saw the faintest hints of clouds covering the sky.
"I should go, before someone realizes I'm not in the palace…" Ven snorted.
"Yeah, we don't wanna get killed for kidnapping the Prince, moon forbid. Get going."
Xehanort turned to the mouth of the alley, then paused, not sure what to say. After a moment blinking, he turned and ran back to the palace as fast as he could, promising himself that he would be back the next day, to see more of this strange, different world on the outside.
That night, the prince lay awake in back for a long time, looking out his window at the always-cloudy night sky. Every so often, he shook his head, glancing out at the clouds of the night and the wall that kept the palace from the rest of the world. A wall, he was starting to see, hat blocked out the things that weren't wanted as the truth by both sides. "They said she was assassinated…" Xehan mumbled the words into the pillow, rolling over and trying to make himself sleep.
Aqua… Like some same goddess of the past, she'd jumped out from nowhere and taken over his thoughts, twisting and turning them unknowingly to her will. Xehan promised himself he'd find a way out of the palace again tomorrow, even if just to catch the smallest sight of her again. The prince considered himself, almost romantically, to be head over heels in love. He glanced at the clouds again, wondering if the house of Castiglione was perhaps descended with the ancient moon goddess and her lover, Así, the blue-haired hero of so many legends…
Xehanort lay awake thinking for a long time, before finally drifting off to dreams of blue hair and bright eyes hidden in an alley, in a place away from the world, a place that was far more of the world than not.
"He really likes you."
"I know… HE and Ven are going to fight over it someday…" Aqua shook her head slightly and sighed, glancing at the sleeping blond on his crate. "I don't want that to happen…"
Terra sighed. "You're too kind, Aqua."
"No, you're just a pessimist. Learn to laugh a little, my friend. It would do us all some good."
"And for crying out loud, don't blame him for what happened to your mother. It's not his fault, you see how sheltered he is…"
"Is that why you choose him to be your "helper" in the market today?" The blue hair swished about as the girl shook her head.
"He chose to help. He's a good person, Terra, I can see it in him. He's not corrupted by the rest of his family into a horrible monster. And if we show him the world and nip that in the bud, he might not end up having to be. Shaddon would have a truly good ruler at last. Wouldn't that be wonderful?"
"I guess…" The brunette turned away, and sat down on one of the other crates in the background. "Goodnight, Aqua."
"Goodnight." Aqua looked up into the sky, and smiled. It had been a good night, and a new day tomorrow, the start of a better world for the people she cared about most. She didn't even notice the smallest flash of silver hair darting into her heart and locking itself there, forevermore a piece of how she would see herself and the world, forever a difference between the Aqua of the House of Castiglione and that Aqua who now sat beneath the clouded over stars, waiting for the dawn.