Maddy walked into the giant ballroom. The one from her dream and the ball but it seemed even grander than in those distant scenes from her memories. Her eyes were wide, filled with awe as she took in her surroundings.
The floor twinkled, its complexion so clear that she could see herself in its sheen reflection. The tall walls were decked out with decorations of gold and silver making it seem even more regal than it already was.
The moment she had stepped through those doors she had been transported to another world.
"No! No! No! Everything needs to be perfect," Lily emphasized, her arms crossed and her glare fierce as she stood in her usual attire, a skirt and top both covered in armour.
"There you are Maddy, finally. Come I need your opinion on this!"
Maddy nearly screamed in fright as the royal guard grabbed her arm and dragged her across the room. The poor human sometimes wondered if Lily forgot that she was only human.
"This! Tell me what you think of it!" She demanded pointing at an ornament.
"It looks absolutely beautiful!" Maddy exclaimed staring at the piece.
"Exactly— wait no! It is awful. Look the shade of gold clashes with everything else! This is a coronation not a kids party, we can't afford such simple mistakes. This is the event of the century! Your mating to the king is being made official to the entire kingdom!! Do you understand how huge this is!" Lily exclaimed.
"I guess I do? But we are already mated aren't we. The ceremony thingy isn't going to change that. I'm sure everyone already knows who I am after the Arena incident. Why are you making such a big deal out of this? Also why does it need to be so large and over the top. Why can't it just be a tiny th—"
"This is small! Do you know how much Xavier made me scale this down by! Although unlike with his parents, the event is exclusive to this kingdom only. Still! Also how do you expect it to be small when the major families are all going to be in attendance," Lily said.
"But I don't need all of this big commotion. It feels like it is more to make the rich and nobles happy than to make me happy. I like doing small intimate things with Xavier not this overwhelming stuff. I know they are going to be staring at me, judging me and I don't want that. It doesn't feel right," Maddy tried to argue.
"Well tradition is tradition. Not much you can do about it other than just plaster a smile on your face and grin and bear it. Besides if we take away the coronation there will be an uproar. They will think you are trying to take over and change things. They won't like that."
"So I must just conform to something that isn't me?"
"I didn't make the rules, it's out of our control. With power comes responsibility."
"I didn't ask for power. I didn't do anything to—"
"Life is unfair, suck it up. Sorry, that was rude but it needed to be said. Xavier needs you to play the role of his Queen. It would be to more than just your benefit to do so. If our kind can see a well behaved human Queen at the side of her mate, not stepping out of line, they may be more inclined to give their mates a chance if they are human."
"But not stepping out of line and behaving aren't me, I can't just change who I am. That's—"
"Thats what it means to be Royal."
"Says you. You became a guard. You didn't do any of that. Don't be a hypocrite at least stand by your words," Maddy said.
"I found a loophole but I am still a princess by blood. The only reason I get to change the rules for myself is because I was born Royal. They still need to accept you, one wrong step and it could all tumble down for you."
"And how's that supposed to make me want all of this refined luxury?"
"I can't make you want anything. I am warning you of the consequences if you don't stick in your lane in the public eye. If you act out things could get worse. They could start believing that if given any authority or power humans could go insane with it. They'll oppress them more. If you want a better life for your people you'll have to learn to act you part."
"Why are you telling me all of this now! Only days ago you were laughing with me and making it all seem like a fairytale."
"Cause it can be one but you need to know the consequences of your actions, good or bad."
"How can I want this when it is all forced on me like this?"
"Do you think Xavier wants it all either? He had to learn just like you. The world's not perfect, not at all. Slaves are hurt, street rats starve on the streets and nobility don fake masks and keep up appearances."
"Captain do you want us to put this banner a little to the left or a little to the right?" Someone asked interrupting Lily.
"Hmm to the left," Lily decided suddenly no longer in a somber mood.
"Cheer up Maddy, soon enough it will feel natural," Lily whispered to the future queen who gave a tiny fake smile in reply before letting it drop the second Lily turned her back.
She didn't know what to think about Lily's words. Stay in line. That was not her, not at all. She had never obeyed rules before royalty. She liked it wild, she liked to run and be free.
How could anyone think royalty had freedom. She felt caged with her wings clipped. The bars around her were plated in gold and invisible to those who looked in from the outside.
Her heart felt heavy, dragged down by sadness and helplessness. She wanted to runaway but her goes to her mate anchored her down.
Maybe everything would be fine. He would be by her side. She had him. Things were not as lonely as they seemed. She had a lifeline and hope.