I don't talk about the childhood that used to define me.
The childhood that lost my innocence.
The childhood that made me fear solitude.
I know I am Romanian. That of my past I cling to.
Instead I talk about how I fear myself still. It's been ten years since I made the greatest mistake of my life.
Yet its ghost, their ghosts, live on.
At the time I felt it was victory. If it was, it was a pyrrhic one. In hindsight, it now feels like a failure I cannot erase. My whole EESM legacy is something I regret and would now like to shed. A campaign driven by self-hatred I redirected at Eastern European School of Magic's headmaster, Dmitri Rasskazov. Spurred on by foolish adrenaline.
I had my clique. We all did. EESM was that kind of school. To be cliqueless was to fail and be deserted. We called ourselves the Aces, an accidental trick of the cards our namesake, and henceforth set about making a name for ourselves.
I was Spades. Neither precious nor loving. It seemed sharper than Clubs too, plus that particular suit also ended up having two bearers. I was the first Ace, and the last, left alone to suffer in the dark.
Cristi was a sword bearing blonde who took on the suit of diamond. Even now I swear his jaw could cut them. Getting involved with him romantically was a mistake. It made things complicated. Not to mention the ship name 'Creme'.
Siân was a year older than us, Clubs. It was irritating at times, the difference. She was a Welsh ginger with a temper. None of us knew where she disappeared to. She was filled, or the void she left was, by American werewolf Nayden Genkov. We don't know what happened to him.
And the Hearts. Split in two, my dearest friends.
Luca Radu. Mischievous boy, now a mischievous man. I got him expelled when Rasskazov discovered punishing me did not work. Me and another friend who I'll come onto later did destroy his office. And for a while he hated me. After the action we reunited. Now he is my everything, my rock.
Ileana Radu. A beautiful blonde pickpocket thief, sister in all but blood. She was my favourite. But then she lost trust in me. We eventually reconciled but there was nothing left to say. I do not know what she is doing and I have not spoken to her in many a year. I don't know if I ever will.
Other than them I had some other choice friends.
Aaron Leppälä. A boy with tattoos and a love for vodka. He knew how to do most everything. He was determined he'd die before he was thirty if he had to do it himself. I try not to think about it as it nears. Four years will go by too fast for me, as ten have.
Celaena Sardothien. She had the alias of a book character. I sassed her in my first year. Nobody knew her real name really. She had this friend, Anisim. He was killed. I never saw her so possessed by rage. Usually she was calm. Did things because she had to. She's probably with Johan now, an assassin co-worker she found. I hope they're doing well.
We didn't understand we were lucky.
That was when Brenna Amory walked in, hell in high heels. She made the native rulers, the Hexteria, cry. I blamed it on her being spawn of Rasskazov at first. Then the maze burned, Aaron lost his leg, my head was screwed with. I lost Cristi and everyone. It's all a blur really.
What I do remember is this.
Alfred Caison came back screaming. A lifeless Johanna Kassenburg draped across his shoulders. He said it was Larisa Vrubel. Her twin had gone missing as Cristi had. Yet even as she was stone cold he denied she was dead, that Joakim was dead. Part of him loved Joakim. He married Cristi's sister still loving the bones of the boy.
Aaron was in love with Johanna. She'd dated a faux French boy who pretended to be happy. Yet he was numb, he did not cry. The fight of our lives ensued. People believe I died and I like it that way. Sometimes I ponder removing my memories to forget it all myself. Yet I realise though the events were tragic the people are worth remembering.
The three Mielkute girls who loved each other. Kateryna Vrubel my photographer friend. Shannon Kentwell, living in fear of her family. And Lucia D'Ambrosio the ultimate Kute. Astrauckas, the eccentric flying mint bunny loving professor. There were so many souls in my story that should be remembered.
After EESM was over I became reckless. I thought myself to be infertile so I slept around. One of them was a Rasskazov. I found myself pregnant. I joined the Band. Swallowed my pride at last. When my girl was born I named her Ileana Siân Dalca-Rasskazova. I had befriended Luca again and become a sort of mother to my daughter's only friend, Tatiana Emelia Schuyler-Radu.
We left the Band to find our own safety eventually. My girl is eight now. I cannot believe how she has grown since she was born. She made the least maternal person into someone who loves. She deserves to settle down and be secure after so long. I don't know how I will do it.