Standing in front of my parents in the small throne room, I take notice of the way the steps up to just the two thrones are slightly slanted and how the floor is stone and not marble like the rest of the castle. But engraved in the stone are the names of all the fallen warriors in previous wars and battles. The walls are covered in tapestries depicting the different battles at different wars in different places. The ceiling is painted with a mural to one of the most famous battles in our history, the civil war. When some rebels decided to overthrow the monarchs and after many battles they agreed to have a council and a monarch that would consult. Beside me stands Lillia who has her head down and her eyes focused on the ground, her hair covering her face. My mother clears her throat announcing "Genevieve," my mind wanders to how my name would sound if Lillia said it. Her honey sweet voice pronouncing it.
"You are to attend tonight's gala, Lillia you will too, so both of you will be dressed accordingly." my mother continues. Lillia's head snaps up at her name being mentioned, then she looks nervous as she stands rooted to the spot. Taking her hand we quickly leave the throne room and arrive back at my chambers. They're the same as they were when we left, my red silk bed covers thrown to one side and my dresser still covered in bobby pins and hair elastics. My floor is scattered with shoes and odd socks. My pictures on my walls are still skewed and my curtains left hanging and not tied up.
Beside me I notice Lillia still standing silently and hyperventilating. I grip her shoulders to get her attention before motioning for her to take a deep breath in, and then out. She copies my motions before she slowly calms her breathing and instead starts rambling, "Omg! I can't go to a gala, I'm just a servant! I've never been to a gala. How would I know how to react, how would I even know how to eat or dance or even speak. And how do I dress for that. The only fancy dress I have I'm wearing now and so I can't wear this it's much too casual. I mean it's a gala! A royal gala."
As she paces my room I take in her frame and build. She's slightly smaller than me so I go into my closet and head to the back where my older dresses that are slightly too small for me now are. From the selection I pick a knee length satin red dress that's embellished with jewelled red lace around the bottom of the skirt. I pick out some red heels and a simple red headband as well. Then in case she doesn't like that one I pick a simple full length silver one that has a simple silver sash belt that ties as a bow around her back, a pair of simple silver heels and a small diamond encrusted necklace and pair of white elbow length gloves for her. With all the items in my arms I exit my closet and place them on my bed. I pull her into the bathroom and gesture for her to use the shower. She shakes her head in protest but I shove her into to and threaten to turn it on while she's wearing her clothes but she soon smiles and accepts, shooing me out so she can shower in private.
A few minutes later she re-emerges with her hair washed and towelled. I show her my dress options and she points to the silver one. I shove the dress in her arms and shoo her back into the bathroom to change. Once again she emerges but this time in the dress. And by the monarchs she looks stunning. Her slight shoulders are caught perfectly by the capped sleeves and the slight dip in the neckline exposes her collarbone, her hair is pulled over her shoulder and she turns to me as I zip it up for her.
She puts the heels on and then sits down in my glass chair in front of my dressing table and I stand behind her, smoothing her hair down her back. I notice how it has a tinge of red to it almost as though a cherry has been brushed through it but not enough to displace the black. Deciding on the style I want, I get started. I take the top section of her hair and sweep it to the left before braiding it and accentuating each strand. Then I take the under section of hair and braid that, before wrapping it around into a bun. Then I take the first braid and wrap that around the bun, carefully tying them both in place.
I stand back proud of my work as Lillia admires herself in my mirror.
Then she suddenly stands up and walks into my closet as though she's a woman on a mission. So I sit and watch her muse over different dresses anxious to see the one she chooses. Eventually she brings out a blush pink tulle a-line dress that has a skin coloured top with matching silk sewn over the important areas with flowers embellishing the edges. It's gorgeous. And she brings out a pair of cute patent block heels that mean I'll actually be able to walk. Then she lets me get changed before sitting me down in the glass chair and undoing my hair she did this morning. Then she starts on a new one.
She starts by French braiding my hair down my head but stopping when she reaches the base of my skull. Then she puts the remaining hair into a hair elastic and then she puts that into a bun, all without bobby pins.
Nodding she looks at my clock and sees its six o'clock and then she visibly starts to panic again, her breathing quickening and she starts to pace again. I pick up the book we're reading and hand it to her, indicating for her to read, in the hope that it will calm her down. She sits down and starts to read and before we know it it's seven o'clock and time to take our places in the grand hall.
Sitting in my throne I feel everyone's eyes on me as my mother makes the formal welcome to all the guests. There's over a hundred people here. Most bringing their heirs no doubt. Neighbouring kingdoms always bring Princes to try and win the heart of the mute Princess.
Along the edge of the wall I see Lillia walking up the steps, carefully holding her dress up so she doesn't trip over it. She'd make a good royal. Or lady. Or duchess. She walks over to the side of my throne and whispers in my ear, "Are there always this many people?"
I nod, and also point upwards as she says, "There can be more?"
I nod my head again and she sighs dramatically, forcing me to stifle a giggle.
Regaining my composure I look around at all the people mingling and spot a few faces I've seen before that I actually took notice of. There's the plump women wearing a maroon dress that does nothing for her figure who always looks red faced called duchess Karen of Somopar. Then there's her son Callum who is just as plump as his mother. In a corner I spot Queen Lucille of Hatoop and her son Prince Lucas who is always staring at me which creeps me out. And that's it. Anyone else I'm oblivious to.
A hand is waved in front of my face as I see my mother with a tall spindly lady dressed in a long red velvet dress. Clearing my throat I say in my long learnt royal voice "I'm dreadfully sorry, I must have zoned out for a second."
Mother takes a breath before saying "Genevieve this is Queen Lola whose son is Prince Miles. I'd like you to go on a walk with him." Rolling my eyes I nod and stand, curtsying to Queen Lola. As I descend the steps, my mother says behind me "Lillia, please go with her, and don't leave her side. If Prince Miles tries to talk to her too much, warn him off."
Then Lillia is beside me having also descended the steps. We walk through the hall together, the crowds parting for us to reach the door. As soon as we leave Lillia breathes a sigh of relief before we hear a deep voice say "Your highness. I am Prince Miles of Corallone. I wish to escort you on a walk through your exquisite royal gardens."
He offers his arm and I take it as practiced and we start walking through the halls towards the gardens, Lillia following closely behind me.
The gardens are mostly outside with flowers of all kind. My favoirites being lily's because of their smell. And their many colours.
Smiling politely at Miles we enter them as the water statue trickles slowly in the background. The gardens are full of roses and chrysanthemums and ivy. Ivy always reminds me of fate. Always appearing when least expected and all intertwined. Miles still holding my arm, turns to Lillia and says with disgust lacing his voice "You can leave us now peasant." She stays where she is. Not budging. "Didn't you hear me? Leave us!" Miles says raising his voice a little. Lillia in a cool voice says "The Queen ordered me to stay with the Princess."
He turns to me and says "Tell her to go away. Tell her we want to be alone."
All of a sudden I realise why my mother wanted me to walk with him. Because their kingdom hasn't been to ours before and therefore Prince Miles doesn't know I'm mute.
He stares at me expectantly before grabbing my shoulders much to hard with his nails digging into my shoulders and shouting "Well! Speak!"
Lillia suddenly pulls him off me to face her and then the resonating sound of a slap echoes through the gardens.
Gasping I see Miles holding his cheek and a vein bulging on his forehead as Lillia says in a collected but firm voice "You do not touch the Princess neither will you shout or order her to do anything. Remember you are on her territory and you will be punished if she is harmed and wishes you to be."
Then what Lillia says sinks into his brain and his eyes go wide with fear. Then he's on his knees in front of me begging, "Please Your highness, I'll do anything but please don't tell my mother."
Contemplating this, I incline my head before pointing to the exit of the gardens and he runs inside still holding his cheek.
After he's gone Lillia runs up to me, shaking herself and asks, concern written all over her face "Princess are you ok? Did he hurt you?"
Shaking my head, she breathes out but she still looks at me with worry in her eyes. Worry still coating her voice even though I've told her I'm fine she says "Well, can we still please go back to your chambers so I can at least look at what he did?"
Knowing it will make her feel better I nod and we set off back to my chambers.
Once there I remove the top of my dress to expose my shoulders allowing Lillia to inspect the small cuts on both my shoulder blades. She opens the cupboard above me sink and pulls out some antiseptic wipes and some thin bandages. Shaking my head vigorously she firmly says "No. The bandages are thin, no one will notice them and they're bleeding pretty bad. You're having them."
Half an hour later we enter the gala hall again and are greeted by the entire hall staring at us. Looking up to the thrones I see Miles still holding his cheek with Queen Lola looking stern, my mother stood next to them both an unreadable expression on her face. Walking up the steps my mother says, her voice echoing off the silent hall walls, "Lillia, Miles is accusing you of slapping him for no reason."
Lillia still calm and collected replies "My Queen, it was for a reason." Looking pointedly At Miles with what sounds like a hint of venom in her voice she continues "Which was that he was harming the Princess. He was gripping her shoulders hard and I had to do something to remove him." My Mother turns her face to me, one eyebrow raised. I nod my head, pulling down one shoulder of my dress so she can see the bandages that are already slightly blood soaked. My mother gasps before turning to Lola as she gasps too, Miles simply looks sheepish and tries to cower into his mother but she just says extremely apologetically "Princess I am eternally sorry for my sons behaviour and he will punished accordingly once we're home." I dip my head to show her that I accept her apology I look to Lillia who seems to understand that I want to leave and whispers to my mother "The Princess wishes to retire for the night."
My mother nods before turning back to the congression and allowing us to leave.