The Winner's Crown

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Chapter 18

My dress is beginning to tear and has dirt all over the bottom skirts. It makes sense, the competition was only yesterday. And that bit of information makes my head feel as if it has exploded. How was it just yesterday that Kenneth and I escaped with out lives, while four others died vicious deaths? The memory of the men's...Victoria's death, runs through my mind as I lay on my bed. Carolyn said I was safe here for now, the king and his guards never go inside the holding chambers.

The memory of Carolyn leaning towards me, her hands on my waist hits me then. It makes me feel better, but at the same time, it makes everything so much worse. So much more complicated. Carolyn surely didn't know that I have had an interest in Desmond since...well since the first time I met him. The realization hits me strong as I realize I have liked the mysterious prince since the beginning. I just hadn't wanted to admit it to myself.

And might be too late. So many, too many new feelings of my likings for both Carolyn and Desmond flood through my memories. I remember so many things now.

When I was younger, about eight years old, that was the first time I'd met Carolyn. I remember staring at her. A purple in my yellow village? She had arrived just as the upper classes would, in a horse drawn wagon. Something too expensive for any of the lower classes. Something we could only ever dream about as we walked barefoot everywhere we went.

I couldn't take my eyes away from the beautiful girl as she stepped off the wagon. She was ten years old then, but I still had a split second of wanted friendship between us. I thought the way she walked was the most elegant thing in the world. One step forward, another step forward, but instead of the boring sluggish way of yellows walking, her pace was fluent and straight ahead.

I even remember the exact thing she had been wearing. A purple layered dress, to make us aware of her status. And low black heels that would click as she walked. She had come towards me, and I was in awe as she opened her mouth to ask me something. She had said something along the lines of, "Wow, yellows really are disgusting filthy animals."

I guess that really wasn't the most friendly thing she could have said to me. But those were her first words towards me in any way.

A tap on my shoulder jolts me out of my memory and back to the here and now. I wish it didn't end, my remembrance of things long ago, but it did. And when it did, I knew it wasn't going to come back so easily as it came the first time.

I look behind me, expecting to see Carolyn with a blush and a smile on her face. But instead, I am greeted by the familiar sight of Desmond. His eyes are bright and blue as ever and his ever so used smirk sits on his expression. It makes me blush that I had thought that it was Carolyn who was behind me even at all.

"I need to talk to you." Desmond's smirk widens as he see's my face is red.

"Sure." I say quickly, wanting him not to mention the fact the my face is probably red as a strawberry. Unfortunately, he doesn't take the hint. Putting a hand on my cheek he watches as the color grows at the touch. He laughs out loud and I close my eyes, all too embarrassed to even look at him right now.

"Don't." He says softly, touching my temple now with his hand, and I open my eyes to see him staring gently right at me.

"I...I need to tell you something." I stutter, knowing I need to keep my priorities straight. He looks disappointed, but finally gets the message and sits back on the bed we both sit atop, his hands leaving my face.

"I'm sorry for the thing's I said yesterday. I know there was no way you could have stopped it." I twist my hands in my lap awkwardly, not knowing what I should be doing right in this moment as I tell the prince...the future king this.

"I wish you had believed me from the start. If there was anything I could have done, I wouldn't have stopped until you...all of you were safe." He takes my hands in his, stopping my fidgeting all at once. Our eyes hold each others stares, and my stomach seems to plummet forwards as I realize how wrong my situation is. I'd only spent a little time with Desmond, I'd known Carolyn my whole life really. But with Carolyn, in the beginning, we were anything but friends. And with Desmond, we had always been some sort of team. Even when I didn't really believe it. He was still right beside me.

But how could I choose between the two? They are both so kind, so loving. I might never be able to choose which one truly has my heart in it's entirety. But luckily, I do not have to worry about that. Well...luckily but just as well unluckily. Desmond and Carolyn are getting married soon. And I cannot be in the way of their lives together. Except for one thing, I don't think they love each other. I mean, how could they? They have known each other for the slightest amount of time.

Of course so have Desmond and I, so they just as well might be the most in love as people come. When it comes to love, to crushes, I have little to no experience. My only crush...I never actually had one. Not until this point in time. And it is confusing, I've learned that much. To be in love is something deeply terrifying. But with the right person, it should feel natural. Right? My mother told me that, but I don't know whether to believe that statement, or disregard it completely. I know I love both Desmond and Carolyn. Both for different reasons. Both in different ways, but it still a mess trying to figure those details out.

Desmond looks me in the eyes, and I find myself hoping he will lean forwards right towards me. But that thought is quickly replaced by the image of Carolyn doing the same. I am such a bad person! How could I be thinking of two people while in this situation! That is just not the kind of person I am. Not the kind of person most people are. Most people fall in love and stick with it, my parents are proof of that. But I am one of the exceptions. I have fallen for two people.

"You're awfully quiet. Thinking about something?" Desmond squints his eyebrows down, making his whole face look serious.

"Yes, in thought." I say, surprised. He can read me so well, and we don't...we barely even know each other, as I have mentioned countless times before.

Desmond's eyes don't leave mine, even when I turn away, I can feel them staring at my face. They are gentle, unlike the burning stares the King gives me when I am around him. And I find myself in wonder about how Desmond could possibly be related to the man. The stories of the queen raising her children, with the exception of Richard, come back to me.

I barely know the queen, I haven't even spoken to her and she usually keeps her distance from everyone inside the palace. I do know that she was a pink before marrying into royalty. Marrying into becoming a blue. I have been told by local village gossips that she had always been a loner, but not with the King. They fell instantly in love and shortly after, they were arranged to be married.

I find that hard to believe. That the queen, if she is as kind as mentioned in those stories, would fall for a man such evil as the King. There could be no way in which would excuse him of such actions towards the lower class colors, yellows, oranges, and greens. To kill so many people every three years, it is...he is a murderer!

"Lydia." Desmond strokes my hand with his thumb and I look back at him, my eyes glazed over with too much thought. I wait for him to continue, looking at our hands entwined within each others grasps.

"I think I'm in love." He finishes. My face has to show some emotion, I think to myself. But I'm not completely sure. I feel numb inside, not the kind of thing you would expect at this revelation.

"With?" I urge him to tell me, and he smiles kindly. I can tell he is about to laugh, but he doesn't, restraining it. He would rather keep this a special moment, not to be interrupted by the rough sounds of laughter.

"It's you Lydia." He says, his expression nervous but his eyes still not leaving mine. He wants to know if I feel the same way.

But I cannot answer that. Not now. Not when all of my emotions are swirling out of control over this mess with both Carolyn and Desmond. It feels too fast, like Carolyn tried to rush the friendly relationship we'd had together, and suddenly she'd wanted us to be something more. But I'm not even sure if I love her. I know I feel something towards her, a strong amount of friendship. But not quite that of love. With Desmond however...I can't even begin to describe what I feel for him. It is something completely new and different.

"I...I'm so sorry. I can't." I get up off the bed, picking up my skirts and rushing out the door. Desmond sits still, watching as I leave, his face falling in a way where I know I have broken his heart.

I knock on the door I know leads to Venus's chambers. The door is deep red, the color of the dresses she always seems to wear, and that is how I know. She unlocks the door, letting me inside with a single gesture of her hand. I need to be with someone who is not Carolyn or Desmond. And someone around my age, who understands, if only a little, what I am going through.
"What's wrong?" She asks as she see's the tears that stain my cheeks. I didn't mean to hurt Desmond. I didn't. I just knew that I needed more time to figure out everything going on. With not only Carolyn, but also Kenneth.
"I'm much is going wrong!" I break down, the tears streaming down my face quickly. Venus looks afraid, she isn't used to such emotion. Probably no emotion at all. Her father seems like the kind of person that would make emotion something to be feared, to be repulsed by.
But still she comes toward me, pulling me into a hug. It comforts me a little. It doesn't resolve my problems though. They are still all there, hanging over me like a dark cloud over my head, waiting to drop at any second.
I pull away, looking around the room. It is covered in ruby's, reminding me of the holding chambers crystal covered accents. But her room reflects that of what a true princess should have. It is beautiful in here, and sparks my interest as the falling light outside reflects the room's ruby's, casting something like fire to dance around the space. My eyes sparkle as I watch, and Venus stares at me, confused by my change in attitude.
I guess I am unpredictable in many ways. My eyes find something in the corner of the chambers. It is an elegant white dress with many gold accents running all the way through it in delicate patterns, looking like long gold leaves. It must be Carolyn's wedding dress, I realize. And with a strong pain to my heart, I remember that the wedding is tomorrow.
And it will happen. Whether I like it or not.
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