The lanterns flicker in the night, casting strange shadows against the wall. The girl shivers and pulls her cloak a little tighter around her. Without noticing, one of her hands falls, protective, over her rounded middle.
She has been reciting regrets in her mind for so long that it has become a habit. It is to this rhythm that she hurries through the snow. Crunch...Should have...Crunch...If only...Crunch.
The hole was exactly where she remembered. The holly bush that covers it has grown tenfold since she was last here, pricking her as she presses her back against the wall and slides behind it.
She is free.
How long had it been since she was outside the walls of her father's house? A snowflake falls, landing on her cloak. Several others quickly join it. She clutches the cloak tighter.
Somewhere inside the walls, one of the king's horns sounds.