As we eat our food more people ask us the expected questions and we give the obvious answers. Then as we finish speaking to the rather plump duchess Karen of Somopar, Miles walks over to us and says apologetically "Princess Genevieve I am sincerely sorry that I forced you to talk and that I hurt you. I was slightly tipsy at the time and I know that's no excuse but I am simply hoping for your forgiveness. And Lillia please also accept my apology for causing your anger."
Taking into account his tone and his face I say "I forgive you Miles."
And then Lillia goes "I forgive you to."
Then he visibly breathes out and we all laugh now that the awkwardness between us all is gone. Then as me and Miles chat about royal life and the struggles of it mainly, Queen Lola comes over in an emerald green, silk dress that has long sleeves and she's wearing matching emerald jewellery that sparkles as she walks. She stops a few times on the way to say hello to someone but eventually she reaches us and says happily "Hello Genevieve, Lillia."
"Queen Lola, so lovely to see you again."
She smiles before looking at Lillia and asking "So are you together or was it just to avoid that awful Prince Lucas?"
"We're together Your Highness." says Lillia from beside me. Lola's smile grows before she says "Well I'm glad. I think you're perfect for each other."
And suddenly I see the resemblance that Lola, Lillia and Miles all share. Hazel eyes. Then realising that I'm staring I look away before it gets creepy and instead focus my attention on Lillia as she speaks "Well, I'm a lady-in-waiting in training. But I'm getting there, I mean before yesterday I couldn't walk in stilettos, and now I can dance in them."
"Well I do hope you'll allow me to attend your ceremony?"
"Of course." She says, but her grip on my hand tightens.
Queen Lola's PoV (Another Surprise)
I can't stop myself from talking to her. It's like there's this line between us that means I have to be near her and know everything about her that I can. She just looks so much like Hannah. Her eyes that hazel brown matching Hannah's perfectly, and her voice sounds exactly the same. Before she ran away, Hannah was my best friend, we were partners in crime, we were sisters. But then she made a mistake and ran away. Leaving only me a note. Which I've never shown to anyone. Not even my mother. Hannah had said that she'd snuck out one night and she'd been a rebel, my Hannah, but she'd snuck out of the castle and gone into the town to meet with her secret boyfriend. She said that the next month she'd been sick every morning for a week and so she'd gone to the doctor and been told that she was pregnant. She begged the doctor not to tell anyone, to keep it a secret between them, and the doctor did. Not telling a soul, but every week saying he'd come to do the servants rounds but really he was seeing Hannah. And then one morning she just didn't come down for breakfast so I went to get her and found the note. I'd run back to my parents and said that she's gone and given them a forged note, they never paid any attention to Hannah so they didn't know what her handwriting looked like. Maybe that's why she ran away, because nobody cared and because she was carrying a baby that she knew the parents would disapprove of. She ran away and we still have no idea where she went.
But my word does Lillia look so much like her. Her eyes, the face, her grace, her heart.
Having been talking to Miles and Lola for a little while, I find that Miles is surprisingly funny. Like he'll say things that aren't funny but he'll say them so weirdly that they make you laugh. And he uses a lot of sarcasm as well which is also pretty hilarious. As the night goes on, lots of dancing takes place, upbeat and slow alike, my feet kill but I carry on ignoring the pain because of all the fun I'm having. The only thing that weighs on my mind is Lola and the fact that she kept staring at me as we talked. As though she was assessing me for something or comparing me. Eventually I just ignored her but I feel her eyes on me as we waltz around the floor. Then all of a sudden I see my mother stood next to Miles. Her hair flowing behind her, her mouth smiling at me but her eyes are grey. I stop laughing and I stop spotting and suddenly I'm very dizzy and I grip onto Ginger tightly as the music fades. But as we stop dancing the spinning continues, my mothers face changing and morphing into Lola's and back. Blinking I look back at Lola and see just Lola. Nothing to indicate my mum at all. Except the more I look the more resemblance I see. Breathing deeply, Ginger looks at me worriedly as we stand in the middle of the floor, me gripping her arms and forcing myself to breathe. Once I've calmed down, Ginger helps me to the side and the ball carries on as normal as she sits, rubbing slow circles on my back and holding my hand. Tenderly she asks "What happened Lil?"
"In Lola's face I saw my mum's and then mine and it all blurred together into the same person. And I just couldn't quite cope. I'm sorry."
"Don't apologise. I'm here to support you and make sure you're ok. Also heads up Lola is coming towards us."
Looking up I see Lola's head approaching us speedily with a concerned look in her eyes and an equally concerned looking Miles hot on her heels. Gripping Ginger's hand they stop in front of us and quickly Lola says "Are you ok? What happened? In fact scrap that question, you don't have to tell me if you don't want. But are you ok?"
Miles says from behind her "Yes are you? Really?"
Nodding I smile slightly at their concern before leaning my head on Ginger's shoulder. Sighing I look up at Lola and say hesitantly "Queen Lola, you keep saying I look like your sister and to be honest it's slightly freaking me out so can I visit your Kingdom and find out more about her maybe?"
She smiles happily saying in response "Of course, you're welcome anytime."
Then she turns and walks back into the crowds.
I'm slowly learning that Lillia is not as stable as she makes people think she is. She has things that rattle her and shake her, and one of those topics is her mum. And I guess her family. As we get ready for bed she stays silent, her good mood from the ball subdued by the end. By the time the ball finished it was midnight and so we don't have to get up till after ten this morning. So climbing into bed I pull Lil against me and she says sleepily "Love you."
And I whisper back "I love you too."
Shifting I realise I can't feel Lillia's presence I open my eyes to see her sat on the window seat with the windows open and the curtains blowing outwards. Sliding out of bed I pad over to her and sit opposite her, waiting to see if she says anything. She looks to me and I see her eyes are red and puffy. Immediately I pull her into me for a hug. She whispers into my ear, "All I see is her. And I feel like if I spend a long amount of time with Lola then maybe I'll stop seeing her. Because she looks so much like her. It's like looking into her eyes again. And I like that you know?" She pulls away from me, tears falling down her cheeks, "I miss her. I mean, she was the only family I ever had. She didn't mention anyone, never my father or my grandparents but I didn't mind, I just loved her and her dancing and her singing and how she just got on with her life. No matter what happened. And then when she got sick, it... it devastated me. I just lost track of everything and everyone, even you. I stopped paying attention to you grow up and the things you did and how you were doing with the whole no talking thing," she laughs, a short sound that makes it abrasive and has no laughter in it, "I fell into myself. And for a long time it was just me, myself and I. And I was like ok with that. But then one day I was like cleaning outside your rooms and you were singing. And I heard you. Like for the first time in a long time and you woke me up. Like properly, and I started to pull myself out of that state and live again." By now I realise she's just rambling but it's truthful and honest and I didn't realise how much I'd helped her. But apparently more than I thought. "Then when I was assigned to be your maid I freaked out. Like what if I annoyed you and what if I like messed up? And then I walked in and woke you up and I was like you know what this girl has helped me so much, I'm going to be fine. And then I slowly fell in love with you. And now look where we are." She laughs again, a real laugh "Happily in love. Me and a Princess. Who would've thought ?"
"I would." I say, and she laughs again, and the sound warms my heart. I take both her hands and place a kiss on the back of each one. She wipes her tears and says more seriously "How early can we go to Carollone?"
"As early as tomorrow afternoon love."
She nods. For the rest of the night we sit in silence, our hands resting between us.
At breakfast Lillia drifts to sleep four times and wakes with a start again the first three. The fourth time I leave her to sleep on my shoulder while I talk to my parents. Luckily Lucas left this morning before we got up so we don't have to speak to him. Looking to my dad I say "Hey dad, Lillia wants to visit Corallone, so I was wondering if we could leave this afternoon?"
He seems to kill over this request in his head before he says "Yes, I'll come too because I need to talk to Queen Lola about some trading things. Nel do you want to come?"
"No no." My mum replies, "I'm fine here, I have some meetings in the next few days that I need to be here for."
Dad smiles before turning back to me and saying "Can you both be packed for midday?"
Checking the time and seeing that it's 11:30 I nod before pricking Lillia up bridal style and carrying her back to our rooms and gently laying her on the bed before dragging out two suitcases and starting to pack. I pack dresses, jeans, skirts, tops, underwear, shoes, jewellery, coats, woolly jumpers, raincoats and finally makeup, hair stuff and toiletries. Then I call a butler to come and put them all in the car before grabbing a pair of shoes for Lillia, picking her up again and climbing in the car. Setting her down and belting her in, I see dad coming down the steps, kissing mum before he climbs in the car, sitting opposite me. And then the car starts and drifting off to sleep, we set off on the five hour journey to Corallone.