Cristian ran out of the castle gates, laughing to himself about Alexandre and Antonya. Surely his cousin loved his best friend, and he returned her feelings, yet both were to scared to do anything? Laughing quietly to himself, he walked down to the town. Everyone knew him here and loved him too. He had no idea why he had decided to come into town, and paused, having just reached the town square. It was good at times, being known as the ‘son’ of one of the richest men in Russia, but it had its downside. People were constantly coming to him pestering him to buy things, or staring at him with pleading eyes, trying to make him give them money.

Just as he crossed through the centre of the square, a young man came running to him. “Cristian! Cristian! You must come with me! Please! Sit down and eat with me!” His He walked over with the man, and together they sat down. He looked familiar to Cristian, but he couldn’t quite figure out why. Not feeling a bit hungry, he watched this strange man order, and then eat messily. He was definitely not from a noble background, which caused his suspicions to rise.

“Who are you?” Cristian demanded, as the man finished off his last mouthful. “I am Vladimir!” He exclaimed. “Don’t you remember me? I used to train with you and Velibor with the general! We used to spend so much time together! How could you forget me?” Vladimir’s face portrayed a truly broken heart, and in that instant Cristian remembered him. “Vladimir! Oh, Vlad my friend how you’ve changed! and you’ve grown as well! I’m so sorry I didn’t recognise you, but it’s been so long! How long have you been in Moscow?”

“My family moved here a few years ago, after they heard about the war. How is Princess Antonya? Last time I saw her, she was truly a wonder.” His voice trailed off, getting lost in thoughts of his memories of her. “She’s up at the castle, and apparently Velibor got sent off to war and died there. I don’t know, but she really took it hard. Now I think she’s fallen in love with Alexandre. Such is life with her, I guess.”

Vladimir was stunned. So much had happened! “Oh! I had no idea she was here in Moscow. She must be visiting you and Marco then I guess? She’s in love with Alexandre though? After Velibor? As in Alexandre, the Tsar’s son? Wow. I can honestly say I never saw that coming.” Cristian searched his friend’s face. Did he already know then, about what had happened to Velibor? “Vladimir, you seem to care more about my sister then one of your closest childhood friends…”he started, trying to get an answer from Vladimir without directly having to ask the question. “Yeah, I already knew about Velibor, but I knew nothing of her latest. That is truly wonderful that she has found it in her heart to move on.”

Cristian looked at him expectantly, expecting him to just have to confess something stupid, like he always did when they were younger. Vladimir’s face turned serious, and his eyes were downcast. Leaving some money on the table, he led his friend to a sidewalk, where he untied the most beautiful dog in the world. “It was a present” explained Vladimir “from my aunty, before we left Serbia. A pure-bred husky, there like wolves.” The dog was of decent size, and the most beautiful, soft fur. Leaning down to pat it, Cristian quizzed Vladimir. “How come your dog has not been stolen yet? A truly beautiful dog like this is much wanted and worth so much these days!” Vladimir laughed, and together they walked with the dog. Cristian realised why, as soon as they began to walk with the dog. “Diego is old and has a limp” stated Vladimir “so he would not be worth much at all. But he is my one sole companion lately. I have given up on my sister, and my parents are both nearly dead. I was so surprised when I saw you in the square. I have never seen you here before, yet I knew you lived here. The people here love you!”

“I know,” Cristian sighed “it’s a far cry from back home though, wouldn’t you say? Most people, especially the maids and Queen Ann couldn’t stand me! What trouble-makers we were!” He laughed, and looked at his friend. How sadly he was dressed. Did he even live in a decent house anymore? “Vladimir, where do you live? For you do not look like you’ve been inside for days.” He cast his eyes immediately down, and his step lost its bounce. “Please, you don’t have to pity me, like all those poor people. I saw the way they stared at you. I don’t need that.” “Vlad” Cut in Cristian “Did I ask you whether you wanted money or not? Where do you live my friend?” Looking into his Cristian’s eyes, he told him. “You know the alley where we took Diego from? Well not far down from where we got him was a door. I live there.” Cristian looked relieved, then realised something. “Wait, you live in the doorway don’t you? Not in the house. That is why you are so cold!” Vladimir cast his eyes even further down, and Cristian grabbed his friends hand.

Cristian stopped him and pulled back along the road towards the tailor’s shop which he and Marco visited frequently. Dragging him inside, he ordered a new set of clothes for his friend, to be made immediately. Leaving a large amount of gold coins on the table, he drew his friend aside. “Are your sister and parents still waiting for you?” “No” he said, still lost as to what Cristian was doing. “Good then. You will move in with me at the castle. There are still so many spare rooms and I could do with another friend to hang around with, seeming my best friend is soon going to be tied in with my cousin. What do you say?”

It took a while for the words to sink into Vladimir. Was this real? “But what will happen to Diego?” he questioned, preferring to stay outside in the cold then lose his beloved companion. “I’ll have the physician at the castle see to him, and he can live with us! … Though I doubt father will let him in the castle rooms, he will be in the castle and well cared for, and you can see him anytime you want.”

Vladimir looked at Cristian, and hugged his friend, tears of joy coming from his eyes. “I owe you so much, Cristian. Anything, anything you need! Please, I promise I will do anything to repay you!” Cristian smiled, and patted him on the back. “Right now, all I need is someone to have fun with. Go, and let the tailor finish your clothes. I’ll wait here for you.”

He went off with the tailor into another room, and Cristian sat in one of the chairs, wondering what on earth he was going to do now. Just then, the bell of the door rang, and one of the castle maids whom Cristian knew well walked in. She glanced around, and nodded in his direction. “My lord! What are you doing here?” “Oh, hi. I’m with a friend. And what business do you have down here?” He looked at her, noticing the bag in her hand, which had the royal Serbian coat of arms on it. “Oh, her Highness, Princess Antonya sent me to town to find her the best tailor, someone who is willing to make what she pleases. I’ve been in town all day trying to find the best tailor for her, and everyone has referred me to someone else. This is the last place left that I can go to.” She smiled and bowed her head, and he laughed. “Oh, my cousin is a pain, wouldn’t you agree? Oh well, you’ll have luck with this place, as the tailor here is the only tailor that Marco and I would ever recommend. His name is Luis, he’s from Italy. I think Antonya will much like his styles. Tell him I recommended you to see him.” “Thankyou, my lord.”

Not long after they had finished speaking, Vladimir came back and Cristian stood to meet him. “Well?” he questioned. “He said that he will be present at the castle tomorrow, and will bring the clothes with him then. I thankyou so much Cristian!” Smiling, they walked outside and Vladimir whistled to Diego. Together the trio walked towards the castle, reminiscing their childhood days.