The Winner's Crown

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Chapter 13

Her face is wild. Her eyes searching the room for something, someone it seems. And her hands balled in fists. The queen stands still at her side, also surveying the room, but she looks as calm as she always does. She mutters something to Carolyn which works to calm her down, and her face becomes composed. She looks as if she could be one of them. One of the blues. And standing next to the king and queen, I find it hard to believe she isn't related to them. Of course she looks nothing alike them, but the way she is carrying herself right now, it looks almost as though she believes she is a blue.

The king claps his hands and the whole room stops murmuring questions and assumptions to give him their attention. He opens his mouth to speak and begins his long speech which it turns out, is the only reason there is a ball at all.

"I have invited you all today, to share a special moment with you. A moment that none of us will ever forget so long as we all shall live." He pauses, looking at the room as people start to whisper again. Gossip about the news we will hear announced right now. The king continues talking and everyone grows quiet for the second time now.

"My family and I have proud news. And it is with a humble and encouraged heart, that I tell you all we have found and picked the next queen of our growing and flourishing kingdom." The king puts a hand to his chest, and I copy him. My head seems to mimic the sounds of the crowd around me. They have erupted into cheers around him. And right as I think things couldn't get any worse, the king starts again.

"My son, Desmond, will be wed right after the competition." The crowd gathers around Desmond and I, looking and pointing. Beside me, Desmond has gone still. He looks just as shocked as I am, leaving me wondering if he even knew about this. of course he did though. But the king had deceived me before, he could do the same to his son. I knew this to be true.

The king puts out a hand, looking at Carolyn as he does this. She takes this as her que for action as she steps up to the front of the royal parents.

"The soon to be queen everyone." The king and queen hold hands as they say this together. The king's eyes bore into mine, and he has a smirk on his face. But one unlike those that Desmond gives me. This one is full of hate and not in the slightest pleasant.

Carolyn spreads her emerald dress out elegantly by her sides and the roar of the crowd is unimaginable. They can see how much of a queen she looks, even next to the royal family. She truly looks beautiful and just right for the part. But I can't help feeling jealousy rise to my frantically beating heart as Desmond abandons me, whispering something furiously into his dad's ear. But in response, his dad only smiles at him and shove's his son out next to the incoming and unimaginably desired queen.

Carolyn looks up at him daintily. Now Desmond has no choice but to give the audience what they want. I look away, fleeing the scene as he wraps an arm around her waist. But before I push the tall oak doors to the exit of the ballroom, I see Carolyn's eyes meet mine. And I notice that for a second, she looks fearful. She looks as if she does not want the prince. She does not want the wedding. She does not want any of this to be happening to her, to the kingdom, right now. But she has no choice.

And then she look's away as the Prince wraps her in a tight embrace, just like he's done to me.

I do not cry that night. I do however stare blankly out at the open air in front of me. I do not think about jumping off the windowsill, I have never thought of such an easy way out of life, even though I am aware of it. There is too much to live for. Yes, I may never marry anyone, but that isn't the goal of life. And right now, I feel as if I am only betrayed. I don't feel betrayed by Desmond, and that fact scares me. But I feel rather betrayed by Carolyn which seems to scare me even more.

Of course she chose to marry the prince. She'd probably been preparing for it her whole life, knowing the fact that one day, she was to become blue. And now that day is approaching. But one thing leaves me uneasy. If she knew that fact beforehand, then why was she thrown into the dungeon with me?
I put a hand to my head as these questions swirl around my brain. It seems as if there's fog all around me, suffocating me. And I am just sitting still, letting it. That is what my life has felt like. And not just since I arrived to the palace, but my whole life.
I remember one time when I was with Kenneth. I was young, probably only five years old. But I still remember this experience, because it was when I got "marked." Marked means getting tattooed for your social class. That is when I got my yellow x tattooed to my body permanently. I wish so much that I could rip it away. But it is there forever now.
I still remember as Kenneth held me down, but his eyes were kind and gentle. That is what I remember, because through the pain and my screaming, his love was the only thing that helped me through. And now, who knows where he may be? He must be somewhere close, and I wish that I knew where. If I did, then I would run to him as if we were out on the grassy fields of our farm back at home.
I would throw myself in his arms and let the happiness surround us.
I open my eyes as my bedroom door opens. Sara pokes her head through and my eyes open quickly, my surprise showing clearly on my face. Why is the youngest princess here? And then it hit's me. She was the one who warned me about something happening at the ball tonight. Something I should brace myself for. Well she was right, I definitely should have readied myself for that hurtful blow to my heart.
"May I enter?" She still has not come into the room, but I gesture her forward, getting off the windowsill. I am still in my ballgown. But the only reason why if I am being completely honest, is because I haven't the slightest idea how to get it off. Sara shut's the door behind her and sit's on the bed, patting the spot beside her. I oblige, sitting down beside her.
"I am so sorry. I just want to inform you, Desmond had no idea. My father only told my sister and Richard as well as myself. He needed us to be ready. But him...he knew he would resist. Telling him while at the ball, it was really his only option. Desmond could not run that way." Sara explains, fiddling with her hands as they sit on her lap.
"Why are you telling me this?" I ask. I trust the young princess, but I don't know why. Probably because she seems so honest, so pure. But trusting people is a dangerous thing. And I tell myself not to make a habit of this.
"Because you deserve to know." She nods her head, and I feel my heart jump a little. She really does believe in the equality of the world. The right thing to do for the kingdom.
In my mind and my heart I wish that she had been the first born child of the king and the queen. Then she would become queen. And she would be able to really make a difference in society. But she is a princess, and Desmond...he will follow his father.
It's not that Desmond is evil. He certainly is not. But it's just that his father will watch his every move. And that is why, I guess, every generation of royalty has ended up so wicked. They have no chance to make a difference with their parents watching over their shoulder in order to keep control of the kingdom. Keep "order," as they call it.
But Sara, she would have fought back. I can tell this. She is quite young, but she is stubborn. And if all the stories told in gossip at my village are true, then the princess has lived quite the adventure during her short lifetime. One story I was told, was that she rescued animals and helped them. I can see that with Sara, but I'm not sure if that's true. Seems too much of a story to truly be a real life experience.
"Thank you." I smile gently at the princess, and she grins back at me. "Can I...could I ask something? A question?" I look down at my dress, trying to sit up straight just as Sara is. But the dress is full of fabric and keeps pulling me closer and closer to my back so that I am almost laying on the bed.
"Of course. But you have to be aware, that I may not know the answer." Sara tells me, staring at me seriously and I nod at her comment.
"Why Carolyn?" It is a big range of answers that the princess has. Carolyn might have done a number of things in order to gain the royal family's attention. But one thing sticks out to me, the look on Carolyn's face as I left the ballroom earlier.
She looks scared, frantic even. Not the kind of look that a happy almost queen, almost newlywed would give. So I cannot be sure that she wanted the title of queen herself.
"It's a long explanation. But the short answer, it's her parents. They are prestige people that my dad has been friendly with for years now. And this whole...arrangement even though it is hard to believe, was planned when Carolyn was only sixteen years old. Three years ago. But you have to trust me. My siblings and I had no idea of the plan until right before the drawing." Sara's eyes look as innocent as she is. I can tell that if I were in the position of Venus, being the older sister to Sara, I would have my hands full trying to protect her from the world.
But then she wouldn't be prepared for life. And in that way, I see that Venus has not kept anything back from her. She has shown her the real world. Made her notice the wrong, just like the queen showed her children. All but one of course. Richard. And I know where that got him. Richard isn't evil like the king. But he sure is close.
Thinking about the queen, I wonder if I could ever know her. Truly know her. She seems like the only reason any of her children turned out fine. And by fine, I mean kind. And not blind to the world around them and what is happening to everyone outside the castle's walls. If I could have a conversation with anyone in the world, I would choose the queen. Then I might know her for the right reasons. The reasons that really matter.
"Did Carolyn? Did she have any idea of the arrangement?" I ask the question flaming inside my brain so instantly. Sara's eyes lock into mine and she says the answer that I already sense is coming.
Then is Carolyn really such a bad person? Or is she just acting, like Desmond when he had no choice but to put on a smile for the audience in front of him? She didn't know what was coming, and that might mean that she doesn't want all of this. That she really does want change in the world, just like Sara and I do. And if all that is true, then why doesn't she just run from the king and his power? But the answer is obvious, for many reasons. He has something she doesn't, for one. Her parents under his influence, feeding her to the life of a blue. It hits me hard right then.
She has been used her whole life.
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