1) Born to be Alone
April 16th, 2024
Everything was quiet.
Usually, I would have loved the silence, but the quiet wasn’t calm. It was eerie and unnatural. It wasn’t that everyone just decided not to talk, it was just...what was there to say? On a day like this, no one could come up with the words. I sat staring at the floor of the limousine, not wanting to make eye contact with anyone. I didn’t want to see the blank expressions of the people around me. The atmosphere was suffocating, the air drenched in shock, pain, and anger. And variations of one question seemed to silently ring through the air.
How did this happen? How the hell could this have happened?
I adjusted my skinny black dress as well as my gloves. My long, blonde hair had been pulled out of my face and rolled into bun so tight, my hairline was starting to hurt. I didn't touch it though. I wanted to look my best. I wanted to be beyond presentable. I needed to feel like I was contributing something to the day. Like I was actually supposed to be there.
Anyone who knew me knew that I was happiest when I was alone. I was content with existing around my family, but not with them. Every once in awhile, I would spend some time with one of my siblings or one of my parents, but the most interactions I’d had with anyone was my nannies. I just didn’t seem to care about any family functions or ordeals. I was an enigma to the nobles and to the public. So when it came to something like this, some questioned why I was even attending in the first place.
My sister had just died. That’s why I was fucking attending. Katherine, my older half-sister, had perished in a car accident in Madrid and the entire royal family was on their way to her funeral. It was of course private, the only ones allowed to attend being those who were related to her. I had no doubt the public didn’t even know this was happening today. Everything had happened so fast, it was a wonder the public didn’t have emotional whiplash. People thought the worst it could get would be losing a monarch, a ruler. And they had. My father, King of England, had been found deceased just a month before. His loss had of course shaken the whole family, but news of Katherine’s sudden and accidental death had practically torn us all apart. Everyone in the family took it hard, none more so than my older brother Henry, who was now to be crowned King as a result.
I couldn’t say I was close to my sister. I couldn’t say I knew her all that well. Even so, receiving the news that I no longer had a sister was disorienting. My demeanor afterward had sparked conversation and controversy. My expressionless and indifferent attitude had made people think I didn’t care. That I felt nothing at having lost a member of my immediate family.
But that wasn’t true. I was feeling a lot more emotions than I was used to and all at once. Sadness at having lost two members of my family in the course of a month, angry and guilty that I hadn’t tried to be closer to them, upset at the idea that I would never get the chance, heartbroken for my brother who had to be a complete mess inside, and confusion at how this was possible and what to do next. Where should I go from here? What would my life look like now that Henry was to be King? Honestly, would anything change? More guilt crept up on me at the idea that my life wouldn’t change that much.
The limousine coming to a gentle halt tore me out of my thoughts. The chauffeur opened the door and one by one the royal family climbed out, I following suit, letting out a couple silent breaths and looking around. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to face the ceremony… There wasn’t any manual on how to mentally prepare.
“Genevieve. Come on.”
I don’t know who said it but I didn’t care. I blinked a few times and willed my body to move forward.
May 22, 2025
“Now presenting Her Royal Highness Princess Genevieve of Cornwall!”
As my name echoed throughout the ballroom, people immediately turned to get a look at their youngest princess. Eyes full of curiosity, judgment, and eyes full of nothing at all scanned my face as well as my dress, trying to absorb the image of Princess Genevieve Glynn Katherine Sophia. I knew this would happen but I still dreaded it all the same. The noble public (or anyone in the public really) wasn’t used to seeing me. I had been kept away from their gaze for most of my life, which I was thankful for, so naturally our guests were taken aback by the announcement of my arrival. I wouldn’t have been shocked to discover that a lot of the nobles had doubted my existence entirely.
I lifted the bottom of my dress and descended down the staircase. My long hair, which I had curled, was gently bouncing against my bare shoulders with each step I took. As I made my way to the floor, I was flooded with the sound of clicks and I was momentarily blinded by the flashes of camera lights. It wasn’t paparazzi per say, more like hired hands who were good at capturing moments. To the rest of the room, my presence was an unnatural phenomenon and the better part of me knew that I needed to just go with it. Thankfully, my mother’s voice cut through the clicks, beckoning the bodies around me to disperse.
“Alright, alright. You’ve gotten enough pictures. Let my little girl breathe.” If I were capable of smiling, a faint one would probably be gracing my features.
“Yes, your majesty,” the photographers bowed and turned on their heels. My mother, Meira, sauntered over to me, her fingers immediately adjusting my hair. I had the top of it pulled and pinned back so people could see my face and the excellent masterpiece of a makeup job my stylist had caked on my face. My hair was extremely long so I had the ends draped over my shoulders.
“I don’t understand why you never just put your hair up.” my mother stated, still messing with it. I rolled my eyes, staying silent. Most, namely my cousins, would have argued the fact that thicker hair was heavier on the top of someone’s head, and my hair was impossibly thick. Some would argue that my hair looked better down, where people could see it. However, none of them knew my mother the way I did, and the last thing you wanted to do was argue with her. She was a loving mother, like every mom is I guess, but she had a temper that could kill...well...so to speak. No one really liked even entertaining the idea of getting on her bad side. Just didn't seem worth it to face the consequences. Once she was done fidgeting with my hair, she moved on to inspect my dress.
“Mother…” I tried quietly. We were now drawing the eyes of the nobles and the last thing I wanted to spark was rumors from this one small interaction, but my mother didn’t seem to care very much.
“Blue...why in the world are they putting you in blue? Stupid gits.” She was now more talking to herself than to me. I decided not to tell her that I was the one who picked the dress out. It was voluminous, more like a ballgown then anything my mom would have picked out. It was strapless with a sweetheart neckline and small white jewels peppered throughout the entirety of the sheer fabric. My mother was definitely more a fan of the form fitting and low cut dresses, as she was sporting a tight red dress with a long slit on the left side, but I didn’t enjoy flashy. I coveted simple. She turned me around and started pulling my dress upward, as if trying to cover the exposed skin of my upper back. The action didn’t surprise me, the force she was using to yank the fabric up did however, and I was struggling to stand still.
“Mom.” A strong and stern voice carried from the top of the stairs and we both immediately looked up, meeting the gaze of the only person I had wanted to see that night. My older brother, Henry.
“Now presenting His Majesty, The King!”
Everyone in the room except myself bowed as he made his way down the stairs. When most people imagine a king, they think extravagant outfit, hair, someone who breathes money. Henry walked downstairs with his hair styled the same way he’d had it since he was sixteen and a simple three piece suit. Nothing that screamed he was the King of England, which never failed to amuse me. It was as if he took his role as King about as seriously as I did. He made his way over to our mother and myself, but I didn’t receive the smile I was expecting. His expression was cold, unfeeling, and my heart sunk to the pit of my stomach. That’s not how it used to be. He used to be warm, compassionate, kind, but he had changed drastically since he had inherited the crown, and the saddest part was I couldn’t blame him. Not after everything…
“Henry, darling. You-” my mother started, but Henry cut her off abruptly.
“Keep your hands to yourself for the duration of the party mother.” He ordered quietly, and I realized that he was speaking in reference to her fussing with my wardrobe. I didn’t know whether to be extremely happy or embarrassed, so I settled for relieved.
“I was just-”
“We are supposed entertaining guests. You can play dress-up later.” He then turned his gaze from her and extended his arm toward me. “Shall we?” he asked. I wasn’t sure how to respond. This was the first time he’d said anything to me in almost a month and it was in front of the entire room. I had of course, only attended the gathering because Henry was going to arrive, but I hadn't expected that he would offer to personally escort me. The only reason I was brave enough to take his arm and officially walk into the room was because I could feel fury standing behind me. My mother wasn’t used to being humiliated and she was definitely seething. I wasn’t interested in calming her down, so I allowed my brother to walk me to the front of the room and took a seat next to him.
The two of us didn’t say anything to each other for awhile. We simply sat in a comfortable silence and watched the nobles chat over champagne. I didn’t bother listening to what they were talking about. I had been a part of enough conversations with nobles to know most of them had the most vapid thoughts you’d ever hear. I did what I could to tune out the voices around me, which made me disappointed in myself. I promised myself that I would try to be like Katherine during the night. She always excelled at social gatherings, always knew exactly what to say and when to say it. She always knew where to be and what to wear, so it was no wonder that she easily became the pride and joy of the people. I was nothing like that. I detested social interaction, especially with strangers. I didn’t understand fashion or public speech. I didn’t know how to respond to situations accordingly and I was terrible at thinking on my feet. I had decided I would try and branch out, try to be at least half of the public figure Katherine was, but I just wasn’t equipped to be that person. I snapped out of my thoughts and people watching when Henry spoke to me.
“Wait what?” was my brilliant response.
“You look nice.” he managed. He hadn’t looked at me when he said it, so I couldn’t tell if he was seriously commenting on my appearance or if he was simply saying it to fill the void left between two broken royal siblings. Whatever the reason, he had paid me a compliment, so I bowed my head.
“Thank you. So do you.” It was simple and painfully awkward.
“Ah, I just threw this on. Not really interested about dressing up for these twits.” I snapped my head in his direction, blinking a few times. I hadn’t heard that correctly, my brain must have mixed it up.
“Um…” was all I could say in response.
“This is all just formality. Soon they’ll all go back to their perfect lives and gossip about people they don’t know or understand.” For the first time that night, I actually managed to smile. It was a small one, and it might not have passed as a smile to any normal person, but it was there on my face nonetheless. It came as a shock to me that he and I felt the same way about the nobles and it was nice to find out we had something in common. I silently wondered if Katherine were here, would he still feel the same way. Just how much of him had changed since our sister’s death?
“Gossip is gossip. I’m more worried about those photographers to be honest.” I answered, leaning back in my seat. “They can take a moment out of context and come up with any story they wish. They are definitely the more damaging bunch.” Henry hummed, turning to me.
“Maybe, but the rich families of this country are nothing to scoff at. Ever heard the saying, “The truth is what everyone believes it is?” he asked me. I nodded.
“They sure are a dynamic duo the pair of them. They are the perfect storm for ruining our lives don't you think?" He scoffed but didn’t reply, which I was fine with. I was simply thankful for a glimpse, even if small, into my brother’s brain. Over the course of the last year, I had longed to be closer to him. He and Katherine had been inseparable, so I knew he was probably being crushed under all the pain, anger, and stress of losing her and inheriting her crown. I didn’t think I could ever be a replacement for Katherine, but I was hoping I could be just as good. I was about to open my mouth to say something else when our cousin, Arthur, approached, holding a glass of wine.
“Henry, the Cavendish family just got here. You have got to see the asses on these girls.” he chuckled, obviously a few glasses into his night. I slumped in my chair, suddenly finding the woodwork of the table fascinating. Talking to Henry was one thing. Talking to our cousins was a whole different ballpark and I wasn’t in the mental space to even make eye contact with any of them. I heard Henry respond, but didn’t process just what he said as he got to his feet and exited the hall with Arthur
I sat there staring at the table for awhile. I was upset, annoyed, disappointed and simply over the whole night. I wasn’t interested in spending time with anyone but my brother and he had been scooped up by our cousin. I had no one to blame for that but myself. Henry was much closer to our cousins than he was to me, so why wouldn’t he rather be with them? They seemed like they understood him a lot more and knew how to have fun. Myself? I was as antisocial as they came and I had so many walls up around me, it was a wonder I came out of my room at all.
After an hour of simply sitting by myself, I got to my feet and headed for the stairs, smoothing out my dress. I let go of any delusions that I could do things the way Katherine could and found myself aching to be alone. I wanted to get out of the ridiculous dress and spend some time in the garden with a good book surrounded by silence. I pushed gently passed royals and made my way to the stairs, my heels clicking against the marble as I climbed them.“Screw formality.” I though to myself. Even if the nobles missed me, no one knew anything about Princess Genevieve anyway.
Realistically, I knew that by leaving, I was giving the nobles ammunition to use against an already weakened family.
Realistically, I knew I should turn around and go back to the party...