Ami slumped in her chair as her father read the letter of doom to her.
“-I am very sorry for not being able to help you fulfill the alliance, but since I am already married I’m afraid I have to say no. My deepest regrets to you all, signed, Gillian McCormack.” the King set the letter down on the table and sighed. “I was afraid of that.”
He looked up sadly at Ami. “You know what this means Ami.”
Ami avoided his gaze glumly and her lower lip protruded.
“It means that you will have to be sent to Carenthia instead.” he continued, choosing to ignore her pouting. “I’ll send a letter to the King and Queen of Carenthia as soon as we’re done here. And then you will go as soon as you are ready.”
Ami huffed and scooted back into an upright position. “Yes, Father. I’ll go pack.”
She stood up, lifted her hooped skirts, and gracefully made her way to her bedroom where she collapsed on her bed.
“I don’t want to marry him!” she let out a frustrated cry.
“Now now Miss Amélia.” her personal maid entered the room and set a tray down on her dressing table. “He can’t be so bad.”
Ami sat up. “Oh yes he can! When I last saw him he was a pig-brained boy who hated me because I didn’t want to go outside in the rain, I didn’t want to toss a ball with him, and then he had the nerve to get my favorite violet dress muddy!”
She flopped back down on her bed.
“He’s older now, he’s a Prince. He’s probably much better.” the maid, Edwina, folded up Amélia’s shawl that she had left hanging on the chair. “He’s almost old enough to rule the country. I’m sure he isn’t like he used to be.”
“Ugh.” Ami rolled over and rested her chin on her pillow. “I still don’t want to! If he looked good and was mean, I could bear it. But when I saw him, he had an ugly face, and was very mean.”
“Amélia!” Edwina scolded. “That is a very rude thing to say, even if he was mean. Besides, it’s what’s on the inside that matters”
“Is. He still is mean” Ami corrected. “And I don’t care if it’s rude. He was rude to me.”
“That’s not what God would want you to do.” Edwina shook her head.
Ami frowned deeper but didn’t argue with her.
“The rest of your breakfast is on your table. You know how to eat it.” Edwina smiled at Ami and opened the door, revealing the Queen.
Edwina curtsied and got out of the Queen’s way.
“Excuse us, Edwina.” the Queen let Edwina shut the door before walking over to where Ami lay. “Ami, your Father and I have some news for you.”
Ami sat up and was still frowning.
“It’s good, in a way, and also a bit bad.” she sat down next to her.
Ami raised an eyebrow.
“I’m expecting a baby.” the Queen looked almost fearfully at Ami, unsure as to what reaction to expect.
Ami’s eyebrows shot up even farther. “Really? Why’s that bad news?”
“Well,” she paused, “the physicians say that I should not be traveling in my condition and of course Father would never leave me here by myself.”
Ami frowned again. “Can’t we just postpone the wedding until you have the baby?”
“We’ve waited long enough for the alliance to go through, we can’t make any more excuses.” her mother sadly shook her head.
“But I’m not even sixteen yet!” Ami whined and flopped back down on the bed. “I have another month to go! Why should I go so soon? I know that the Prince would be more than happy to hear that I’ve been delayed. Surely they would understand!” her head snapped to attention. “But who’s going to give me away? If Father can’t, then I can’t get married!” a small smiled spread across her face.
“They Queen’s brother is going to give you away. I hope. Your father included it in his letter. I hope they consent.” the Queen shook her head. “But please Ami, don’t make this any harder for me. I wish your aunt could have been able to have gone through with the alliance, or that I could have, but your grandfather had already married me off. You know, I hadn’t wanted to marry your father.”
Ami rolled her eyes discreetly. She had heard this story a million times, about how her mother had married her father against her will, but she had eventually grown to love him.
“I was hesitant at first. But then we got to know each other better, and I found out that I could love him.” Mother’s face was wistful.
“He was fifteen years older than you mother. And he didn’t even look good.” Ami commented dryly.
“He might have been older, and he looked fine. He may not have been the most handsome apple in the barrel, but he was fine. And you love him very much. Don’t pretend that you don’t, young lady.” she narrowed her eyes at Ami.
“But Mother! Jacques was so ugly when I last saw him! I can’t imagine how bad he might look now!” she complained. “I don’t want to marry and ugly, pig-headed, mean, boy! Not to mention his age!”
The Queen rolled her eyes at her daughter’s dramatics. “He is only five years older than you, and he wasn’t ugly when we last saw him. He just...had room for improvement.”
Ami gave her mother a flat look. “Fine.” she muttered. “I’ll pack as soon as I’m done sulking.”
Mother patted Ami on the back and stood up. “Thank you, Ami.”
Ami mumbled a string of nonsense in response.
“Jack! Jack!” the King of Carenthia’s voice rang through the courtyard.
Jack swung his sword one last time before turning around and facing his father. “Yes?”
“I need to talk to you for a minute.” he stood by doorway, watching the knights, young and old, training.
“I’ll finish this later.” Jack tossed his sword to his friend Madison and followed his father in a small room next to the fighting grounds.
“Sit down, Son.” the King sat down on fluffy chair and motioned for Jack to do the same.
Jack raised an eyebrow and sat down. “What’s wrong?”
The King’s mouth twitched. “You know that this has been coming. You’ve known it since birth.”
Jack sighed and placed his head in his hands. Yes, he had known that this moment would come. But how had that little girl gotten to be sixteen so soon?
“Andromeda Aurora Amélia the Third will be turning sixteen soon.” the King stroked his thick beard. “And you know what that means.”
Jack nodded glumly. He wished she had never grown up. Or that maybe she had died. Or maybe if she had a brother. Then his little sister could go through with the alliance instead of him. Anything to get out of it.
“They’ll probably send a letter to us, informing us what ship they’ll be traveling on and all of that.” the King told him. “And then by the next month, the alliance will be complete, and you two will be married.”
Jack scowled. “Does the alliance have to go through? Carenthia and Rhone can fight off Svenland without it.”
“Jack,” the King frowned, “you know that we’ve been waiting for this for decades. We can’t back out now. We need to take care of Svenland. And to do that, we need Rhone’s fleet. We are nothing without them. We have the funds for it, we simply do not have the materials. We have the funds. They have materials. We need to join forces..”
“We can join forces without an alliance.” Jack commented sullenly.
“Jacques.” the King narrowed his eyes at his son. “This is no joking matter.”
“I’m not joking!” Jack stood up suddenly. “This is a very serious matter, I know that, and I don’t want to marry her! She’s a snob and I don’t see why I should take the punishment for her aunt’s mistake!”
“Jacques!” the King said sharply. “You will not speak to me in that tone, and the Princess will be treated with respect! When she comes, I expect you to have your attitude cleaned up.”
“She doesn’t deserves it.” Jack muttered.
“Go to your room, and stay there until you’re ready to change that mindset.” the King stood up and tried to keep his temper under leash. “Amélia is a very nice girl and I expect you to take care of her once you’re married and treat her with respect like any other husband.”
“Most husbands get to choose their wives! I, on the other hand, am forced to marry a boring girl who is so dreary that even a dog wouldn’t want be her friend!”
“Go to your room!” the King bellowed.
Jack’s nose twitched as he turned tail and stormed out the door, slamming it behind himself, and heading up a case of spiral stairs, leading to his bedroom.
He barged into his room and found Madison sitting in his cushiony chair reading a book. “Ahhah! There you are!” Madison closed his book and dragged his legs off of the armrest, onto the floor. “What was that all about?”
Jack scowled and sat down on his bed. “Stuff.”
“Like what stuff?” Madison put the book back onto Jack’s shelf.
“Like alliances with a neighboring country, stuff.” he rested his head on his pillow.
“Oh.” Madison sat back down on the gigantic chair. “Didn’t turn out well, huh?”
“No it didn’t. I still have to marry her since she’s going to be turning sixteen soon. And Father planned the wedding to be in a couple weeks.” Jack sulked. “Why do I have to be the Prince? Why Mad? I never asked for it. I’d do almost anything to get out of it!”
“She can’t be that bad.” Madison shook his head. “She’s a Princess. She’ll at least look beautiful, right?”
Jack looked at Madison and gave him a flat look.
“What?” Mad looked at Jack with innocent eyes, struggling to keep a grin off his face. “She was adorable the last time you saw her, right? At least it won’t be a pain to look at her.”
Jack wanted to wipe the gloating look off of Mad’s face. “Yes, I’ll admit that she was cute. But she was only six! And that still doesn’t take away the fact that she was a brat.”
“And you were what. Ten? Eleven? You had a horrible pug nose and looked like a peasant boy. Do you think she’s looking forward to seeing you again?” Mad reasoned.
Jack mumbled something incoherent. “But at least I’m interesting! She was as boring as a book!”
Madison raised an eyebrow. “Books can be very interesting Prince Jack.”
“Not her. She is a book I never want to read.” he answered shortly and crossed his arms. “But even then, if she doesn’t want to marry me, then we should both just not get married. Father should understand that!”
“It’s an alliance. It doesn’t matter if you both hate each other. I’m sure nobody would care if you both lived on opposite sides of the castle.” Mad shrugged. “Besides, maybe she’s changed. Maybe you’ll love her.”
“This isn’t some fairy-tail you’d read about, Mad!” Jack rolled his eyes. “I’m sure she hasn’t changed, and she’s most likely still the same way she was ten years ago.”
“Everyone has their own story. It’s up to you to make it any good or not.” Mad shrugged. “I’m not saying that the marriage will be incredible with tons of hearts and butterflies, but you could make it bearable by trying to not think so negatively.”
Jack frowned. “I don’t want to make it bearable. I want to be miserable.”
Madison’s eyebrow raised an eyebrow and smirked. “You’re acting like your baby sister.”
“She isn’t even a baby anymore.”Jack glared at Mad. “And I am not.”
“Yes. You are. You’re telling me that you hate the Princess because she’s going to ruin your life, and yet you say you want to be miserable!” he threw his hands up in the air. “I feel bad for the poor girl who’s marrying you!”
“I feel bad for me! I’m the one who has to marry the boring girl!” Jack retorted.
Mad looked at Jack with a very flat look. “I wouldn’t mind marrying her. At least she isn’t so pig-headed as you are.”
Jack got a evil, mischievous grin.
Mad saw Jack’s expression and caught on to Jack’s naughty scheme quickly. “No. We don’t even look alike. I’ve got light brown hair and green eyes, you have very dark hair and gray eyes. Definitely not. Besides, the King and Queen know what you look like. They’ve lived with you your whole life.”
Jack rolled his eyes. “Such a downer.”
“No, I’m being realistic.” Mad crossed his arms defiantly. “Stop acting like a child and man up.”
“I don’t want to! I’d rather be a child all my life and never have to marry.” Jack pouted.
“This could be a matter between life and death.” Mad lowered his voice. “The people are relying on you two to get married. Svenland has gone far enough, and it’s time we join forces and make them stop raiding us.”
“Once and for all, we can join forces without getting married!” Jack yelled and stood up, stomping his foot in the process.
“You’re just a big baby.” Mad shook his head. “You know how neither of the nations trust the other. The alliance was supposed to go through years and years ago, but because it didn’t, there was more mayhem added to the mix. More confusion and less trust. You know that we need the alliance to go through. And what’s more, we can’t have the Princess running back to her parents crying and saying that her husband is a terribly unloving character and just plain horrible.”
“It’d be her fault.” Jack muttered. “I’m not mean to everyone. Just to people I don’t like.”
“And you happen to not like a lot of people.” Mad noted dryly.
Jack glared at Madison. “Like you.”
Mad laughed. “No. I’m your only friend in this castle and you know it. You need my friendship.”
Jack huffed and lied back down on his bed. “Go away.”
“Fine.” Mad shook his head and opened the door to leave. “But think about what I said. Try not to be too miserable, and try to not make her miserable either.”
He closed the door, leaving Jack to dwell on what he had said.