She called Alistair a Prince all of once in Father’s hearing. It had been when she was much younger, just after he’d arrived at the Palace, and she hadn’t known of the difference between a bastard child and a natural one. That day she had been swiftly informed of just what the distinction and it was one of the few instances where she feared Father just that tiny bit. She had never forgotten the lesson.
Years later, sitting next to Cailan on one of the benches in the Palace gardens and watching a newly six year-old Alistair, she ended up bringing up that lesson because of a comment made by the boy beside her.
“I think everyone’s wrong about Alistair.”
“Wrong?” questioned Anora, confused as to what he was talking about.
Frowning seriously – a look that was strange on his eleven year-old features – Cailan explained, “Father says that he can’t be a Prince.”
“Well he can’t. That’s just what happens with bastards.”
“Adults are stupid then. So he has a different mother. We’re both Father’s sons!”
Sighing, Anora said firmly, “He was born out of wedlock. Imagine if you’d been born without the King being married to the Queen, Cailan. It would have been the same thing only the Landsmeet probably would have confirmed you.”
“But why does it even matter!” he exclaimed, throwing up his hands.
Pursing her lips together, she summoned her father’s words from years before.
“Because blood is important. And Alistair’s mother was just some servant girl.”
“So?” spat Cailan, turning to look at her with his blue eyes blazing. “Loghain was just a farmer before he became Father’s friend and they drove out the Orlesians! Now he’s a Teyrn and you’re a Teyrn’s daughter! Blood isn’t important, Anora, it’s just words!”
Turning to look at his half-brother, he continued, “Alistair’s a Prince, same as me. No matter what anyone says, I’ll always believe that.”
For a moment Anora just stared at him then slowly turned her head to also watch the younger boy where he was playing with some of Cailan’s old toys. There was something in Cailan’s words that rang of truth and it reminded her of one of her teacher’s favorite sayings, that words were the greatest power one could harness. Words could raise King’s to power or bring an entire country to it’s knees.
And words, too, could raise a bastard son to a true Prince.
Suddenly Father’s words seemed more than a little hollow and she found herself wondering at the motivation behind them. Surely he knew this? Father was the smartest man she knew, so surely he did.
Why then? Why tell her that Alistair could never be a Prince because of blood when it perhaps wasn’t the truth?
Shaking her head, Anora reached out and covered Cailan’s hand with her own where it rested between them on the bench. As he turned to look at her, she smiled and said softly, “I think what I’ve been told might have been wrong.”
His eyes widened then he closed them as he sighed heavily. “Anora, if you’re just agreeing because our fathers have this whole marriage arrangement idea between us…”
“No,” she snapped, her voice stern. “I honestly think you might be right. Bastard born, natural born, they’re just words. And blood…” Bowing her head, Anora continued, “If blood were really that important to titles, then Father wouldn’t be a Teyrn. Alistair has far more reason to be a Prince because of blood than I do being a Teyrn’s daughter.”
Cailan just stared at her and she smiled. After a moment he shook his head and turned his hand underneath hers to squeeze her fingers.
“Thank you,” he said quietly as his eyes drifted back to Alistair.
Nodding, Anora softly said, “No one else will see things like we do, though. You know that.”
They lapsed into silence after that, just watching the younger boy with their hands clasped and Anora suddenly found all of her thoughts shifting, wondering, pondering what else Father might not have had right.