Hidden Truths, Hidden Hearts

The first in the Hidden Truths trilogy.
Maria always knew she was different. From when she was a child she could do things she couldn't explain and had a power she couldn't understand. Then she meets Zac who changes her life forever. Together they embark on a journey that presents dangers, reveals long forgotten truths and brings them together in ways they could never imagine.

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19. Isolation and a Promise

A cloudless sky and a bright sun. Maria watched the rolling waves from among the highest branches of a tall tree. This is where she had been exiled. A deserted island, like a marooned sailor. She had been given fresh clothes to replace her ruined uniform. Black leather lace up boots, combat trousers, a blue polo shirt and a long, black jacket. A single pin in the shape of a horse's head she had received as a birthday present was pinned to her jacket. A single memory of a once normal life

The island itself wasn't too bad. There were plenty of fruit baring trees providing both food and shade. There seemed to be a few animals around. But she was alone. This was the worst punishment. She used to treasure her time alone but couldn't bear to be permanently separated. Her thoughts drifted back to when she was being led away after being sentenced, Zac had tried to help her. Where was he now? Then she remembered the dragon egg. They had told her she could keep her dragon. Yet no one had come. The sun was now low in the sky and its soft rays glittered over the clear blue water. The sky around it glowing shades of pink, orange and red.

Her heavy heart had finally gone still, as though it too had given up. Its spirit broken. She closed her eyes as a single tear fell. But she felt no urge to cry. Her soul itself was empty. There was nothing inside. As a gentle breeze caressed her skin she heard footsteps on the white sand.
"Maria, where are you?"
Peering through the leaves she saw Elethea walking across the sand with a wrapped bundle under her arm.
"Maria?" her voice was uncertain, and full of regret.
"I'm here." Maria declared climbing down to the lower branches, reluctant to descend any further.
 Elethea smiled unwrapping the bundle, Maria saw a flash of red beneath the cloth.
"I believe it will hatch soon. A dragon egg will only hatch when it senses the presence of its rider." she held out the bundle.
Jumping to the ground, Maria took the bundle. It seemed to have to an inner heat now, pleasantly warming her icy hands.
"I'm sorry I cannot assist you further." Elethea's silvery grey eyes seemed to dull with sadness, "But I will always be there for you. If you need me, I'll be there."
Maria smiled gratefully knowing Elethea could not help her now. But it was some comfort.
"Can you do one more thing for me?" she asked hopefully.
Elethea smiled sadly, "Of course."
Tears pricked behind Maria's eyes but she ignored them, "The boy. Find him. Tell him I'm okay. That I'm safe."
Elethea gave a slight bow, "I will make sure of it."
Maria then plucked the silver pin from her jacket.
"And give him this." she continued, "If he asks what it's is or for, say it's a promise."
Elethea took it nodding, then vanished in a flash of white. Once again, Maria was alone.

A little way away from the beach there was a cave. It was small but large enough to provide decent shelter. Once inside she placed the bundle on the ground in front of her allowing the cloth to fall away. No dust clung to the smooth red shell. No grime coated it. The egg remained shiny and clean. It seemed to glow now. A bright glow coming from within.
"Why hatch to a life as meaningless as this?" said Maria aloud, "Today my life is over. How can I raise you when I have become a shadow of myself."
As if in response to this, the egg began to shake, a jagged crack biting into the smooth ruby shell. Maria jumped up as the egg suddenly exploded, shards of shell flying everywhere. Where the egg had been, a small creature lay sprawled on the stone floor.
"Hello little one," Maria's gentle voice caught its attention as she knelt beside it.
It blinked its glittering yellow eyes and gave a tiny chirp like sound in response. Maria cautiously stretched out her hand, gingerly reaching towards the tiny creature. In response, it bowed its small scaly head allowing her to stroke it. Touching its ruby red scales a strong heat rushed up her arm and into her heart.
"You are my dragon?"
The small dragon hatchling purred softly like a contented cat, its tiny wings initially wildly outstretched, now folded against its sides.
"But you need a name." she soothed stroking its head.
The little dragon looked into her green eyes, and she looked into the yellow ones. There seemed to be an unseen connection between them. Unseen but clearly felt.
"Your name is Harmony." Maria announced, "Because I feel you are my hope and my longing."
The little dragon purred again, settling itself on Maria's lap. Within minutes it had curled up and gone to sleep. Maria watched the sun set behind the trees as the moon and stars decorated the now dark sky. The air felt tranquil and peaceful.
She had not eaten but found she was not hungry. Instead, careful so as not to wake Harmony, she stretched out her legs. Her back leaning against the cave wall, she tilted her head back and closed her eyes. it wasn't long before she too was asleep.

Zac had not gone down for dinner that night. Although his parents did not yet know about Maria, he had still stayed in his room since getting home claiming he was tired and had a lot of work to do. This was of course a lie. Instead, he had sat alone pondering and worrying. So deep was he in his thoughts that he jumped when Elethea appeared in his room.
"What do you want?" he growled, Maria had been exiled and he blamed Elethea for not trying to stop it.
"I know you are angry, Zac. I only came to tell you what Maria told me to."
Zac narrowed his eyes but did not reply.
"She wants me to tell you she is safe and is doing fine. I took her dragon to her so she is not on her own."
Zac relaxed a little, "I'm glad to hear it."
"She also wanted me to give you this." she handed him the pin.
Zac studied it curiously, "What's this for?"
"She didn't say. She only told me it's a promise." said Elethea.
Zac's heart fluttered as realisation dawned on him. He smiled as a happy warmth spread through his body.
"Thank you." he said not looking up.
Elethea smiled although her eyes were still full of sadness, "I'm truly sorry this has happened. If there was something I could have done I would have done it."
Zac looked up but stayed silent.
"But I know this is not the end. Whatever happens, I know you'll see each other again."
With that Elethea vanished.
Zac continued to study the silver pin in his hands. The silver glinting in the dying sunlight. He had put on a grey hoodie since coming home. He attached the pin to this, where his heart beat beneath.
"As you have given me your heart, Maria," he murmured to himself, "so I will give you mine."

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