Not So Proper Introductions
I, Samantha Louisa Courdine, youngest daughter of King Raymond Courdine, have the most stupid brother in the world. Trust me.
Like, how the hell did he manage to get his fiancée kidnapped on the day of their marriage? It takes a special kind of stupid, I'll tell you that.
Let me elaborate...
So my oldest brother (because I have three more brothers and three sisters), the heir to the throne also had the honor of being named after my great-grandfather who won a war or something and his name was Bernard. Well, no one calls my brother that, we all just call him Bernie, but you get the point.
There are also (from oldest to youngest) Clarissa, Cornelius, Rosaline, Andrew and Andrea (the twins) and Darius. Out of this unfortunate bunch, I happen to be the youngest. Seriously, though, I pity my mom. So many kids... Ouch.
Anyway, Bernie was getting married to the beautiful Darlene Scarlet. Seriously, though. I ain't even being sarcastic right now. That girl was really pretty and a really good person. She definitely deserved better than my doofus of a brother.
(cue an exasperated sigh by everyone who's ever met him)
The usual cliché; the "handsome" prince getting married to the beautiful princess because he's just great and all and he deserves it, while nobody really asks the princess if she's into him. Like, at all.
I wouldn't even be surprised if Darlene orchestrated the entire dragon thing just to get herself out of marrying Bernie.
Alright, enough introductions. Let's just get in with the story of how my brother embarrassed himself so much that I finally got my chance to shine because, honestly? I was a little tired of living in the shadows of all my older siblings.
Like, you know that thing when parents compare you to everyone that needs oxygen to stay alive? Yeah, it's ten time worse when you have seven older siblings. My mom is a pro at that...
"Oh my goodness! Raymond, look at what Darius painted! Samantha, you never do anything productive!"
"Clarissa! I'm so proud of you! You finally got married! My baby grew up... Samantha, when are you going to get married?"
"Samantha, why can't you do something good for the kingdom like Cornelius? He helped build a beautiful fountain in a nearby town! All you do is sit around and judge people!"
Like, I'm sorry I don't live up to your expectations, mother. It's not my fault you didn't want an eighth kid, it's yours and dad's. Like, damn. Stop blaming everything on me! And it's not my fault I'm not interested in any of the suitors you bring for me either. Why can't you just take a hint and realise that I'm not into guys so I don't have to actually come out to you because I'm a huge coward?
Anyway, enough rambling on my part. Time to be a "responsible" narrator and actually get on with this bloody story, right?
My sisters and I were having some sort of sleepover with Darlene in one of the biggest rooms of the palace. My brothers, Darlene's brothers and Clarissa's husband were having a sleepover in another room down the hall. This entire thing took place the day before the wedding as some way to have us bond or something? I don't know and I wasn't really fond of the idea of having all my brothers gathered together in one room.
They caused enough destruction on their own, I didn't want to know what they'd do if they all schemed together.
I didn't really complain, though... I couldn't say no to spending more time with Darlene. It's not that we didn't spend time together, we had practically become best friends over the past few weeks she'd been staying at our palace, but being around her always made me feel better about myself. She was so encouraging and friendly and supportive. She even took my side in multiple fights I'd had with my parents, something that my sisters had almost never done for me. The only other person that had actually done it, was my brother Darius, the second youngest.
I really can't believe my parents expected someone like Darlene to get engaged to Bernie and that were actually surprised when it didn't stand.
And I'm babbling again. Let's get back to the sleepover, shall we?
So us girls stayed up late talking about crushes and all that girly stuff.
Just kidding, obviously. We stayed up late discussing world domination and how we'd bring down the patriarchy.
Okay, okay, we might have talked a little bit about crushes. It was mostly Clarissa talking about how married life is going and some juicy gossip on Rosaline's account. I'm going to start with the boring stuff though, because if I get right to the gossip you won't enjoy it as much.
"So... How are things with Chris? Is he treating you well?" Andrea asked Clarissa, who blushed. She and Chris had been in love for a very long time and they'd been too afraid to tell our parents (anyone would have been, trust me), but it turned out they were pretty chill about it and even encouraged their marriage.
"Well... It's been pretty great! I've been getting to know his family better and all that and we've been spending more time together."
"Why do I sense a but coming?" Andrea eyed her suspiciously.
"Because there is one. Things are really quiet there... I miss all the fuss and the pranks and the fights we had here. I know it sounds crazy, but I miss you all guys... That's why I was so excited to get back here." she said shyly.
Clarissa had always been the second quiet one in the family (after Rosaline- no one was ever as quiet as Rosaline), probably because she was the second oldest and was well taken care of when she was my age. Our parents started losing interest after Cornelius (their third child).
"That's not crazy! Andrea is crazy!" I reassured her, earning a punch in the shoulder by Andrea.
"Shut up, youngling." she smirked at me.
"You're older. You're going to die first." I glared at her.
"That doesn't make any sense. You could catch a disease or something and die. You could even get yourself murdered for saying things like this." she glared back at me.
"Okay, that's enough." Darlene intervened. "Rosaline, what about you?" she changed the subject. Rosaline turned redder than Clarissa had.
"Oh, do tell!" Clarissa encouraged her.
"Okay, there's this guy..." Rosaline started.
"Do we know him?" Andrea interrupted her.
"Of course you do!"
"Well? Who is he?" Darlene asked curiously.
"Robert." Rosaline blushed harder.
Clarissa gasped. "The chief guard's son?! Does mom know?"
"No, she doesn't and she can't find out! She's all about prestige and money and having a good image. She'd never approve..." Rosaline frowned.
"Does Robert know?" I asked her.
"Duh! We might have kissed a couple of times..." she bit her lip shyly.
"Maybe you could run away!" Andrea suggested.
"And never see you guys again? Are you out of your mind? Besides, I'm not the adventurous type. You know me."
"Fair point..." Clarissa agreed.
"I don't know... We could come visit in secret. Living in a small house in the countryside doesn't sound so bad..." I shrugged.
"You're only saying that because you and mom don't get along and you want an excuse to get out of the palace." Andrea rolled her eyes.
"What are you talking about? You were the one the suggested this in the first place! Besides, whatever is going on between mom and I is none of your goddamn business!" I crossed my arms.
"Oh, please! If I have to listen to the two of you argue one more time, I might throw myself off a window."
"That would be delightful for the rest of us! You're really starting to get on my nerves!" I argued, crossing my arms.
"Is it because mom actually loves me?" Andrea replied. Everyone in the room froze and gasped. She immediately covered her mouth in regret.
"Andrea!" Darlene exclaimed.
But I wasn't going to let my sister have the last word. "I don't think that's something you should be proud of," I hissed. "Goodnight." I grumbled and made my way to my bed.
"Sam, I'm so sorry! I didn't mean it!", Andrea rushed.
"And I don't care." I growled, covering my head with my blanket.
After that there was silence. No one spoke. A few moments later, I heard everyone else going to sleep too, but I couldn't really fall asleep myself.
I don't know how much time had passed when I heard movement again. Then someone sat at the edge of my bed. I pretended to be asleep.
Then the person placed their hand on my arm. "Sam, I know you're awake." Darlene whispered. I really wanted to reply to her, but I forced myself not to. "Sam, please. I- We need to talk."
I couldn't resist anymore. I sat up. "What's wrong?"
"Can you take a walk with me?" she frowned.
"Of course! I mean sure, yeah." I tried to play it cool (and failed, obviously).
"Get up, then." she smirked.
I got out of my bed and we slowly got out on the corridor. We quietly made our way out in the garden and started strolling around.
We'd been walking for about half an hour when she finally spoke up about what was bothering her.
"I don't want to marry your brother." she started. It came as quite a shock to me, because they'd grown pretty close in the little time she'd been in the palace. It's true that it was a sort of arranged marriage, but they seemed happy together.
"Oh... Why not?" I asked her.
"For many reasons." she shrugged, staying silent after that.
"What are you going to do about it?" I asked again a few moments later.
She didn't say anything for a while. "I don't know. I mean... I wouldn't mind marrying him, but I don't really want to either."
"Right... I have one more question, though." I bit my lip. "Why are you telling me all this? Do you want advice or help or anything?"
"Nope. I just want to blow off some steam and I trust you more than anyone in here."
"Oh." I replied. I have to admit that I was taken aback by this; I'm usually the last person anyone would trust.
Darlene seemed amused by my surprised expression.
She grabbed my wrist and pulled me along. "Come on."
"Where are we going?"
"Have you seen the pond at night?" she asked me. She appeared confused when she saw me shake my head. "You grew up here and haven't seen the pond at night?! You're going to regret not seeing it earlier..." her eyes lit up and she ran faster, still pulling me along.
She stopped so abruptly that I almost fell on her.
"Look!", she pointed at the pond. Fireflies were swarming it, making the landscape glow, but that didn't matter to me. Darlene's eyes were sparkling with excitement and she was grinning from ear to ear. She was much more beautiful than the pond and the fireflies.
She slipped her hand into mine, making me blush furiously. I thought it was by accident, but then she rested her head on my shoulder, making my heart beat faster than ever. I wanted to gulp, but tried not to.
Eventually, I remembered that Darlene was supposed to be marrying my brother the day after and decided to remind her too.
"Darlene?" I called her.
"Yeah?" she said, not taking her eyes off the pond and the lightning bugs.
"You do know you're supposed to marry Bernie tomorrow, right?"
"Of course I do. That's why I'm making the most of tonight." she smiled again.
"What are you talking about?" I asked in confusion.
She smirked and tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. I turned even redder than before. And then she started leaning in.
I panicked. I know I had the biggest crush in Darlene and that I had many reasons to hate my brother, but she was supposed to marry Bernie. I couldn't do this.
"What about Bernie?"
"I love him, just not in the way he wants me to.", she shrugged, frowning.
"I made this awkward, didn't I?" her face fell. "Dammit... I'm so sorry, Sam. I wasn't thinking clearly. I can't believe I did this..." she sat down on a nearby bench and buried her face in her hands.
I rushed next to her and squeezed her shoulder.
"I must have had a little too much to drink at dinner, after all.", she chuckled lightly. "I'm sorry I made you choose between me and your brother. I should have taken the hint."
"Darlene, it's not that I don't like you! I just- I can't do something like this to my brother." I frowned.
"I know. That's part of why I shouldn't have pushed you." she sighed. "Let's just go back to the room. We should get some sleep. It's a big day tomorrow." she smiled weakly. "Besides, I need my beauty sleep."
Before she got up, I leaned in and pecked her cheek.
"You don't need any beauty sleep, you're already beautiful." I smiled at her.
"Shut up..." she muttered as we made our way back to the palace.
The next morning it was really hard for me to wake up, much less get out of bed.
But my brother was getting married. To my crush. And I had to be there.
Why do weddings have to be so complicated?
After getting dressed, my sisters and I lead Darlene to another room where my mother and her mother were waiting, so we could all do our part and help her get ready too.
Like, please. Darlene was more than capable of getting dressed herself.
Once we were done with all that, we left the bride and went to our seats. Things were going smoothly until the moment she had to say the two binding words: I do.
Darlene got nervous and started glancing around the crowd. She stopped when she spotted me and I gave her two thumbs up.
I can't believe I actually encouraged her to marry my brother...
She seemed to be on the verge of tears.
"I- I can't do it.", she said. Everyone gasped, but I'm not everyone and kinda saw that coming, so I just frowned and shook my head. Our conversation from the night before hadn't just been about Darlene opening up to someone; it had been about her making a decision.
People started muttering to each other. Darlene's father glared at her.
And that's when our guest of honor arrived! And yeah, if you guessed the dragon, you're right but you won nothing. That's life. Deal with it.
The bloody dragon flew into the room, shattering the window, making everyone stand up screaming and run for their lives. Darlene and my brother stood frozen on the altar as the dragon mistook the priest for a snack and gulped him down.
Someone screamed like a very little girl. I think it was my brother, because Darlene was gaping at the huge fire-breathing lizard in front of her and not making a sound.
I tried to reach them, but the crowd kept pushing me back.
My brother remembered his manners and stepped protectively in front of his fiancée, but it did nothing, because the dragon swang its tail and sent him flying across the room.
I'd have burst out laughing if the beast's next move hadn't been to grab Darlene and fly back out the window.
I guess the wedding is off, then...