Stood outside the Princess's chambers sweeping, I can hear her singing again. A beautiful voice, the most silky, honey lilted voice I've ever heard. Dancing slightly as she sings I see the servant organiser coming down the halls with his shoes clicking on the marble floors, his tailcoat bouncing with each step. I stop dancing immediately and carry on sweeping hoping I don't get noticed or get in trouble.
He stops before me and I cower as he clears his throat before saying in a deep voice, "Lillia, you've been summoned by the King. Go there immediately."
A gasp escapes my throat as I think back through all my days, trying to think of anything I'd done wrong. Maybe I'd not been quiet enough or maybe I'd annoyed the princess?
Nervously twiddling my thumbs I enter the grand hall where King Alexander and Queen Penelope sit on their grand thrones, dressed in regal clothes and wearing their crowns. This must be serious. Quivering in my dress I curtsy low before them as I prepare for the shouting. But instead the Queen says "Lillia, I would like you to be Princess Genevieve's personal maid. You will help her dress and do her hair in the mornings and you must go everywhere together, you will do as she asks. You'll start tomorrow morning by entering the Princesses chambers at 07:00 sharp and laying out her dress on the chair before waking her up gently ok?"
My brain whirs as I process what I've just been ordered to do. Princess Genevieve's personal maid. There with her all the time. Hearing her sing. Or will she sing anymore? Knowing that I'm there?
The Queen dismisses me and I leave knowing my cleaning shift is over. I walk in shock through the majestic castle corridors that I barely notice as I head to the kitchen gardens where I know there's a bench I can sit and think on.
Sitting down I dig the heels of my palms into my eyes to check if this is a dream or not. It's not.
What if I mess up while I'm dressing her or doing her hair or if she doesn't like me? Will I be dismissed from the castle? Where will I go? I have no one outside of the castle.
No Lillia. You can't think like that right now. Just... prepare for tomorrow. So I walk back to the servants quarters and decide to take a shower, do my hair, and find out my nicest dress.
Walking into the throne room, my mother's eyes light up at my appearance. My creaseless midnight black dress and my curly caramel hair, but I just ignore her gaze and incline my head to ask what they want. Mother clears her throat before saying in her honey sweet voice "Darling, we've assigned you a personal maid. The girl starts tomorrow, and don't go too hard on her ok?"
Nodding my head I turn on my heels and walk out, wondering if they'll be like my other personal maids, always pushing me to talk and being too talkative themselves. All of them far too over excited about being my personal handmaiden. Reaching my room again I undress and put on some much more comfortable sweatpants and a large sweater and as I sit on my window sill I sing to myself as I watch the servant at the end of the kitchen gardens who always dances around them as she picks vegetables when she's on that duty, with her midnight hair that's not quite black. It's always fascinated me how it looks so soft to touch. Sighing I shut my book. Now I know I won't read any of it because I've thought of her again, I decide on an early night.
Waking up to someone lightly shaking my shoulder, I groggily open my eyes to see the dancing girl above me. Blinking a few more times I see she's not a figment of my imagination but she's real and she's shaking me to get up. Sitting up, I take her in fully at close range, she has hair that's not quite black and the most beautiful hazel eyes with a pale blue dress that reaches her knees. The dress has capped sleeves with lace frills and she's wearing white tights with dainty silver shoes. She looks adorable and so I get out of bed as she walks over to my dressing table to get my dress for the day. I see she's picked a simple, grey dress that flares out at the waist but isn't corseted. It's ankle length with long sleeves that hook over my index finger to keep them from riding up my arms. She's also picked out some heels that aren't uncomfortable, and paired the whole outfit with a simple silver necklace. After getting dressed I sit at the dressing table and she gently removes my hair tie and picks up the brush. I'm about to say to her that my hair hasn't been brushed in months but my brain prevents me from speaking. She gently starts brushing my knotted and tangled hair and after about an hour she's managed to untangle all of it so that it hangs down my back to its full length. Then she takes my hair and puts it into three braids before braiding those braids and then twisting the one braid into a bun at the bottom of my skull, before nodding to herself as though pleased with her work. I pick up a bobby pin and indicate to her that she hasn't put any in, and she replies in a silky voice, "I don't need any. The bun holds itself because of the braids." Surprised I blink a few times and she giggles to herself which is a wonderful sound that wakes my insides as she says "Yes I can do hairstyles without using those monstrous, painful Bobby pins."
Then she walks away and picks up my book from the side of my bed, turning it over and reading the blurb. She flicks her eyes to me before opening it to the page I was attempting to read last night before I got distracted by her, and she starts to read it out loud to to me. I get up and go to sit on the window seat, and I pat the space beside me indicating for her to join me. She blushes which is utterly adorable before eventually she joins me on the window seat.
I can't believe I was that calm or bold! Omg! I picked up her private property and read out loud to her and she invited me to sit on her window seat! Omg! What was I thinking!
Now as we walk along the palace corridors I can't help but remember her face when I told her there wasn't any bobby pins needed. In fact I'd left her to it, not forcing her to speak like I know others must have. Then I suddenly think that I haven't told her my name. Gently tugging on the sleeve of her dress she turns to me as I say in a much calmer voice than I'm feeling on inside, "By the way, my name is Lillia."
She smiles a dazzling smile that I've never seen ever since I've been old enough to know what a smile was. We carry on walking in silence until we reach the dining hall. The doors are covered in mosaic tiles that depict the King and Queen in all their glory. Then as the doors open your greeted by a table made of mahogany and chairs made of glass that reflect the sunlight streaming through the glass roof. Around the walls are paintings of all the monarchs of old and their best achievements. The table is filled with food, grapes piled high on silver platters with cheese boards galore and meat platters that contain all the meats possible. Then there's sparkling orange juice in a large glass decanter and bread of all kinds. And it's all baked and sliced to perfection. At the head of the table sits the King, regal as ever, to his left sits his wife. Then Genevieve takes her place at his right. I stand against the wall behind her before she signals for me to come to her. I hesitate as she pulls out a chair for me and gestures for me to sit down. I shake my head but she gives me a stare that says "Don't argue just sit."
And so I sit on the glass chair that seems to frail to hold anyone above the ground without shattering as the Queen says kindly, "Yes dear, as long as we don't have guests you may sit with us and eat with us at meal times, except dinner." Nodding my head I suddenly have Genevieve placing different foods on my plate before I can say no.
I eat slowly not knowing what to eat first. My mouth bites down into a grape and it's heavenly, the sweet taste with the kick of acidity just after you've swallowed it. The bread is slightly salty but with the butter it's perfect. Then Genevieve stands and so do I. She bows her head before walking towards the doors with me hot on her heels. Before we leave her mother says "Genevieve I need you to go down to the kitchen for me and tell them what you want for lunch dear." Instead of replying she just walks out the doors and heads straight down towards the kitchens. Realising she's taken a wrong turn I say "Your highness," she turns to me, "you're going the wrong way." She smiles sheepishly before putting her hand out indicating for me to lead the way.
We reach the kitchens and she looks to me as I say with surprise, "You want me to say what I want?" She nods enthusiastically, "For lunch the royal family would like...um...a shepherds pie with a side of rainbow carrots." I say naming my mother's favourite dish. Some of the servants smile having known my mother well. Then Genevieve walks back out and we head back to her chambers. Once we reach them she undresses and I spin round so to give her some privacy, then she taps my shoulder and I turn to see her in grey sweats and a red sweatshirt that look far too casual for her but she's still cute. Wait, no don't think that about the Princess, Lilia! That's bad! Very bad! She picks up her book and hands it to me, I smile slightly before finding where we left off and carrying on, the Princess staring intently at me as I read. Her gaze doesn't falter, but at some point she seems to be in her own world as though imagining the story and it's characters in her imagination.
There's a knock on the door and the Princess snaps out of her gaze and panics as she gestures to her clothes. Panicking I say "Take your dress and change in the bathroom, I'll distract whoever it is."
She quickly climbs off the window seat and grabs her dress running into the bathroom.
I put the book down making sure to mark where we are first before getting up off the seat and opening the door. A butler stands there looking quite impatient. I raise my eyebrow at him as I say in an equally impatient tone, "The Princess wishes to know who disturbs her private time."
He replies with a nasal voice that immediately gets on my nerves, "The King and Queen wish to see the Princess imminently in the small throne room."
Nodding I say "She'll join them as soon as she's ready."
He makes a gruntled noise before turning on his shiny heeled shoe and striding away.
I knock on the bathroom door and the Princess opens it looking expectantly at me, I say "Your parents want to see you in the small throne room ASAP."
She rolls her eyes dramatically and we exit her rooms and head to the small throne room with the Princess leading the way.