Your father's smile when he first held you was still is one of my most treasured memories. Evandar was slain two months later. From that moment I raised you in fear, in grief, making you a porcelain doll to admire upon a shelf. My daughter words cannot explain my regret, as your mother and as your Queen, I have failed you.

I loved you, loved you more than anything, but my love was not for you. In losing your father I clung to you, terrified of losing all that I had left of him. I did not see you as who you were, what future you had in front of you. I have taken that from you my child.

I took away your trips in the forest, the walks in the garden, the games with the other children. I took away your childhood, selfishly clinging to you. It was all for you. Lies. Everything I did, I did for myself. My selfishness blinded me and it was you who paid the price.

Before I knew it your childhood was gone and you were a young lady. I saw myself in you, beautiful and regal. I never let Arya bloom, but rather tried to make you into my mirror. I see you, beautiful and strong yet cold and emotionless. I see not the child my husband cradled, but the stoic bastion of propriety I had made. I have ruined you.

I preached duty, told you of your importance to our people. You were patient, you always heeded my words. While telling you of who you should be, I never told you of who you were to me. I was blind. The way you talked to me, the way we interacted. It was not as mother and daughter, but as Queen and subject. The words of those around me were always of praise, of how I was raising you. I listened, listened to what my ears heard but ignored my heart.

The day I saw the Yawë on your shoulder I knew I had lost you. You never knew that I would always love you, regardless of what you did. You were my daughter how else could I feel? I never told you. My words were never of praise, always of propriety and expectation. You pledged your devotion to me, to our people. Why would you feel the need to? Because I never affirmed your worth.

You left me. I drove you away. You took the burden upon your shoulders out of expectation, out of a desire to prove yourself. The moment you became courier, carrying the hope of our people I was proud. Proud but devastated. You were everything I could ever want, but I had broken part of you. Arya. You were Arya. And yet I tore that from you, admonishing and criticizing every semblance of personality you showed.

In your absence my dreams haunted me. Hearing your laugh, seeing your smile. I realized these were only figments of my imagination. Those were luxuries I did not allow you, after all happiness and expressions of emotion were not fitting for a princess. But you were not a princess, but rather a child. What sort of child had I raised? A soldier. A princess smiled, she laughed, she loved. You were more a soldier than a princess, and for that I grieved.

You fought. You won. You did it Arya, with the dragon rider by your side, against all odds you had triumphed. I could not be more proud, proud of what you had accomplished, of what you had become. I hoped, I longed for you to find happiness. Your opportunity came, and my failings exacted yet another price, a price that you had always paid.

The moment I saw you with him, the full weight of my failure became known to me. He looks at you, I see the adoration in his eyes. He loves you. Eragon loves you Arya. And yet you deny him. You suppress your feelings, the power of the unknown emotion confusing and scaring you.

You never knew the love that I owed you, the love that I desperately wish to share with you. He turns away, and I know that in denying you my love, I have denied you his.

A/N: Companion piece to Gaining the World and The Heart Goes On.