Ileana (eel-YAH-nah): The Romanian form of Helen. Helen comes from the Greek name ‘Ελενη (Helene), probably from Greek ‘ελενη (helene) "torch" or "corposant", or possibly related to σεληνη (selene) "moon". The Romanian name day for the name Ileana is May 21st, which is her birthday too.
Brândușa (bren-DOO-sha): Means "crocus" in Romanian. It's a tradition in the maternal line of her family to name the girls flower names.
Radu (RAH-du): From various personal names beginning with the Slavic element rad "joyful, happy".
Ileana Brândușa and her twin brother Luca Aurel were born in the spring, which their mother considered to be a good sign. She loved the spring.
Their mother was soon proven wrong. As toddlers, Ileana and her brother were more or less demonic children. As if having two small children wasn't enough already, Ileana and Luca would gang up against their parents, and use team tactics; one holding the parent's attention while the other did something they shouldn't, and then both running in different directions so their parent couldn't chase them both. This wore their parents down rapidly, and the family fell into disarray — which ended with their mother taking two-year-old Ileana and Luca and leaving in the middle of the night.
For the next two — almost three — years, they moved a lot, as their mother chased employment. During this time, Ileana and Luca were neglected. Their mother often left them alone during the day, and when she came home she was usually too tired to do much. With the moving and maternal neglect, the only person they knew would constantly be there was each other, and little Ileana and Luca bonded tightly. Sometimes neighbors would help, but they became sort of self-sufficient — as much so as kids so young could be. That's when they started taking. One day their mother still hadn't come home, and they were hungry, so they climbed up to the cupboard and got some food. When their mother came home and saw that they'd fed themselves and now she didn't have to, she was pleased and praised them. And taking quickly evolved from taking things they needed to taking things they needed or wanted.
Just before the twins' fifth birthday, they went to visit their grandparents. And during their stay there in Mălâncrav, their mother left, and she never came back. Their grandparents did their best for their little grandson and granddaughter. They cherished them, and were far more attentive "parents" than their mother ever was. For example, when they first came, both them had hair that was long and matted, rarely cut or brushed. Their grandmother snipped the worst of the tangles out, then brushed out the rest and cut it to a good length. And for years, her grandmother would brush and braid Ileana's hair every single day.
They were nine when their father came back into the picture. Their mother had taken them and left in the night, and so for the past seven years he'd had no idea where they were. But their grandparents didn't want to lose the grandchildren who they'd come to love so much, and so they worked out a compromise with him. Ileana and Luca saw their father, and stayed with him occasionally, but lived mostly with their grandparents. Ileana and Luca didn't remember their father, but slowly came to know him.
When their grandmother caught dragon pox, they were sent to stay with their father for a while, until she got better. But dragon pox is quite contagious, and their grandfather contracted it too. He died, and their grandmother soon after. Ileana and Luca were twelve.
They came to live with their father full-time, in Sighișoara. His three jobs prevented him from being home much, but he cared, if nothing else, and Ileana and Luca were old enough by then that they could fend for themselves.
Meanwhile, Ileana and Luca had started EESM when they were eleven. By the end of their first week at the school, they had a group of friends. Emelia Dalca, the other Romanian girl Ileana met on the train, and Cristi Kogălniceanu, who they met though Emelia. They clumped together, Cristi, Emelia, Ileana and Luca, plus Nayden Genkov. Nayden was actually a second year transfer, but it was his first year at EESM, just like them.
For the group of friends — newly dubbed "the Aces" — the next few years flew by in a whirlwind of trouble, laughter, and secrets. Emelia made plans, Cristi made them seam sane, Ileana and Luca stole things they would need for it, and they wrecked havoc.
At the end of fourth year, it fell apart. Emelia was involved in Luca being expelled from EESM. Ileana was caught, teetering on the edge of the Aces, with the deciding question being whether she was loyal first to her best friend or her brother? She sided with Luca, at least in theory, but with her friend more in practice. And Ileana is now moving forward with her new found sense of loyalty to herself.
Ileana loves to flaunt rules; adults have described her as impertinent. She's not without morals by any means, she just has no respect for rules, that's not how the real world works. She insolent through and through, but she's truly loving. The people she cares about mean more to Ileana than she can say.
She'd a dreamer, she's fueled by her dreams — there's no other way to put it.
She has a temper but knows when to told her tongue, and she keeps her head quiet well in emergencies. She does act without thinking things through on occasion, but she's not stupid. More often than not, she has a plan, and most of her plans are pretty solid.
Ileana takes after her absentee mother, with her fair colouring. Ileana's hair is light blond, and falls past her shoulders. She braids it sometimes, like her grandmother taught her too, but only when she's bored. Ileana is on the taller side, although not truly tall.
Viorica Radu née Țăranu
Florina Țăranu née Cazan
Ileana can't remember much of her mother, but she does know what her grandparents told her. Most days, Ileana hates her mother for leaving her and Luca, and she has underlying abandonment issues from that.
The one good thing Ileana has been able to come up with, is that she's glad that her mother made a choice and stuck with it. Ileana didn't have to wait on false hope that her mother might return, because her mother made a clear decision and there wasn't any question about it. — Ileana clings to this one little thing that she's glad about, because it's as she has to keep herself from resentment and pain.
Ileana was very close to her grandparents. They were the parental figures in her life. And they weren't just stuck with her and her brother, they wanted them so much that they weren't even willing to give them to their father. Ileana trusted them — they would chide her but they never judged her. They always treated her as a person, not a silly little kid. Their serial deaths hit her very hard, and she misses them desperately.
Ileana's relationship with her father is something of a paradox. A mixture of being clingy and purposely distancing herself. She's known him for six years now, and he's her father, and Ileana loves him. But just having him in her life and having him as the parent that she lives with are two very different things. On one hand, she's older now, and she'd like to think she's old enough she doesn't need a parent. But when something bad happens that all flips.
The bond between Ileana and her brother is a mixture of being siblings and being friends. They were very close when they were little, and though that waned as they got older, it never disappeared. They teased each other and squabbled (Ileana liked to remind him that there's an ultrasound of him kicking her in the womb), but true fights were few and far between, which allowed them to be friends too.
He's gone now: Left the family and left the Aces. It weighs heavy on Ileana's mind, although she tries not to think about it. She's angry, both at the situation and at him. She feels bad for him; it was completely unfair. But his leaving hurt her more than she'd admit to anyone — he was the one family member she thought would always be there and would never leave.
Emelia is very first person Ileana met at school, they met on the train ride in first year. And with another Romanian at her side, soon Ileana was conformable enough at the new school to start causing chaos.
Emelia is her very best friend. Or her sister — Ileana feels sister is a better way to describe it. They've had fights, and grown apart at times, but it always comes back around, and Ileana trusts that it always will. And more than anything, five years of friendship doesn't die easily.
Ileana first met Cristi as "Emelia's friend" at lunch. But that didn't last long: Cristi and Ileana friends of their own right by the end of the first week at EESM.
Even in the midst of their frenzied plans, he always makes whatever they're doing seem reasonable, somehow.
Nayden's one year ahead of the rest of them. He did his first year of school in America, then transferred, and started EESM the same term that Ileana, Luca, Emelia, and Cristi did. Nayden has an intimidating presence, but the Aces are all quite protective of him, because of his lycanthropy. His age difference isn't prominent, but if you look you can occasionally notice him being a bit mature and responsible than the rest of them.
Cristi doesn't have parents, he has sisters. This is something Ileana has always taken in stride. Little Luminița didn't go to EESM until recently. And moreover, she's shy and would usually go somewhere else when the Aces went over to Cristi's house. Ileana likes Lumi though — she's on Ileana's short list of Cutest People Ever. Cristi's eldest sister Ecaterina has been going to school with the Aces for years, and when they went to Cristi's house she would usually hang around to tease Cristi. Of course Eca's not exactly a friend, but she has a status similar to one in Ileana's mind.
Emelia always seems to has a few non-Ace friends who she lets join in occasionally. In third year it was Anara, fourth year brought Kat, fifth year's was Aaron. Ileana always had a firm opinion: she did not like these people, but she put up with them for fear of loosing Emelia's favour herself. It's not that they're unpleasant people, but she hated their status as "Emelia's friends". They were Emelia's friends, the Aces, and she didn't like Emelia bringing her other friends around to parade in front of them.
Ileana and the other Aces always thought Luca was gay, so his girlfriend Val was a surprise to them. Although many of Val's family and friends looked down on the relationship, the Aces accepted her with open arms and mild teasing. But now Luca's gone and the relationship is over.
Of course, she never really believed Luca would marry his girlfriend from age 14. But with no way to foresee who his girlfriends at more marriageable ages would be (or boyfriend — Ileana hasn't given up hope that he might be gay), Val was the most concrete vision of the future she had. And Ileana liked Val. She liked the idea that Val might be her sister-in-law. And she's a bit pissed off it's not going to happen.
Ileana spent — although she now thinks the proper word is "wasted" — a long time hating Anara. She was one of Emelia's external friends, so hatred was Ileana's standard reaction. But very recently, Ileana has stumbled across a simple fact that flipped her whole opinion. That fact is that Anara is awesome and brilliant.
Ileana habitually steals things. Her favourites are keys, but pocket knives and space change are a close second.
She speaks English with her friends most of the time. They started doing it in first year, because Nayden didn't know Romanian, and now it's just habit. Ileana speaks fluent Romanian and English, and halfway-decent Russian.
Their family never told Ileana and Luca which one of them is firstborn. They felt it would only lead to fighting.