Outside, the trees are blowing violently in the wind, and jagged sparks of lightning crash down coming nearer with every passing second. I jump back, falling into Brenton.
"Sorry." I mutter softly, embarrassed by my foolish behavior. A queen was never supposed to act scared.
"It's ok. Everything's ok." He answers, trapping me in his arms, and holding me there steadily. Storms had always scared me, even though I was the princess of storms. My mother had tried to teach me that there was nothing to be afraid of, but that never worked, and over the years I had gotten even more terrified.
"Thanks." I say eventually, turning around and into Brenton's warm embrace. He smell's like pine and something else I can't identify. I wrap my arms around his waist and lean into him. He'll keep me safe I think to myself, with every passing thunder clap sounding overhead. And then, the thunder stops. I unravel myself slowly from Brenton's soft embrace, and make my way to the other side of the room. We're standing in the large sitting room of our Quarters. Theres a huge window in the center overlooking the gardens and servants houses. It's a beautiful place, the garden, and I can't help but just stand there staring.
"My lady?" Someone says from behind me, and I startle, turning around so fast I almost fall over my newest gown.
"Yes?" I ask, my head still spinning. It's the same maid who helped me get ready before my engagement to Brenton. She's wearing the same uniform as any other maid, it's light blue and white. Her blonde hair spills over her shoulders in soft curls, and her tanned skin looks more gold in the rooms lighting.
"Your mother requests your presence." She tells me, curtsying low to me in a sighn of respect.
"Thank you." I tell the maid, looking at Brenton across the room from me. "And what is your name?" I ask her, and the shock that shows clearly on her face, makes my heart feel heavy in my chest. No one had ever asked her name before, let alone remember her.
"Laura, Miss." She answers, still deep in her curtsy. Her head is bowed low, not wanting to make eye contact with me.
"Well, thank you Laura." I say, standing up even straighter. My spine almost cracking from my stiff form.
"Yes Miss." Laura smiles slightly, before hurrying out of the room, her footsteps fading the farther away she get's. I turn to look at Brenton. His face look bright and happy, and I can clearly see a smile start to form across his lips. Slowly, he extends a hand to me, and I gracefully walk across the patterned rug of the sitting room to take it in mine.
"Your mother?" He asks, his eyebrows raising in question. "Is this more talk of the wedding?"
"I assume." I smile weakly at him, not wanting to talk about this right now. We move swiftly together, me taking the lead. Even though Laura didn't tell me where my mother is, I know exactly where she will be. And a few minutes later, knocking on the door to the library she summons me in.
"Mother?" I ask cautiously, as I step into the room. Books are piled high from cieling to floor on wooden shelves. And in the back of the room, I can see my mother reading in one of the comfy chairs lined up in a circle.
"Anahita?" Mother startles, looking up from her book. Her eyes travel behind me, to where Brenton is standing, and she smiles slowly.
"You asked to see me?" I continue, ignoring my mother as a smirk forms across her face.
"Yes, yes." Mother nods, "But he can't be here." She tells me, pointing at Brenton. My hand tightens around his, and I take a small step back.
"More wedding preparations?" I ask, already knowing the answer. Mother nods, and I reluctantly free my hand from Brenton's.
"Oh come on you two. It's only for an hour at tops." My mother laughs at my pained expression. But that's not it at all, I just don't want to plan this stupid wedding! Before Brenton, I had never dated or kissed, or even hugged anyone other than my parents. But I guess my whole life was decided for me from six years on.
"I'll see you for dinner." Brenton nods to me, and giving one last smile in my mothers direction he walks off, leaving me alone with my thoughts.
"He's not so bad now is he?" Mother gestures for me to sit beside her. I quickly make my way to her, and sit down with a sigh.
"No." I say simply, silently glaring at the ring on my finger. It's as if it's a sybol of my being trapped here, with no one to turn to. No one except for the one person who I'm destined to marry.
"Anyways...shall we?" Mother starts, reaching around her chair to pull a thick bridal magazine from a large basket. It looks as if it's the most boring thing in the world. And it may as well be. This week I had picked the flowers, location, and theme colors for the wedding. Queen Pele had been there for some of it, but she was mainly focused on other things, and not the task at hand. Today though, it looks like we'll be choosing my dress.
My mother had always told me how the dress is the most important part of any wedding. It would captivate everyones attention and make me the center of attention as I should be. And it would make everyone else jealous too, she'd laughed when she'd said that.
"Let's see..." Mother begins, already rifling through the magazine with a grace she's perfected over the years. I stare down at my dress, the vibrant blue looking back up at me. This dress has no pattern, it is just silk and has a more elegant look to it, although the neckline is cut low, revealing more of my chest than neccessary.
"How's this one?" Mother asks me, pointing to a low cut floral gown with a hint of gold shade. I shudder at the thought of my pale form in the dress.
"No." I shrug, bending down to retrieve my own wedding magazine from a basket nearest me.
"What colors are you thinking?" Mother asks, resting her head in her hands, and taking a breath of air. With my mothers strawberry blonde hair and maple brown eyes, she looks nothing like me. Instead, she looks very much the Earth commoner she is. She wed my father at 20 years old, out of love for him.
And she was a commoner in the Earth kingdom before her marriage. Of course this means she doesn't have powers, but when a commoner and an elemental Royal have a baby, the baby will always no matter what turn out to have powers within them. Its just part of our world, the strongest takes the win.
"I would love a blue shade." I tell her, my eyes diving onto the bridal magazine. Women pose in every direction, flaunting their bodies and the dresses their wearing. "I don't know, could we get one custom?" I ask, as my eyes start to blur from all the pages.
"Oh, I didn't even think about that." Mother admits, closing her magazine with a thud. "Yes. Thats a much better idea. You don't want just any outfit, you want one original and custom for you." She continues, snapping her fingers as a lightbulb goes on in her head.
"Sure." I mumble, dropping my magazine into the basket it came in, and starting to get up from my plush seat.
"Anahita! Where do you think your going?" Mother exclaims, running a hand through her waist length hair in annoyance. "We still have things to do." She says, pointing back at my seat with a firmness I've only ever seen a couple times before. I don't argue, sitting down again, my mind elsewhere. Outside I can hear the world going on around me, but like always, I'm trapped. Concealed in the walls of a palace that everyone thinks is a luxury.
"I was beginning to think you blew me off." Brenton laughs, as I stumble out of the library. Mother had made me practice balance in 5 inch platform heels, while balancing a stack of thick hardback books on my head like in the movies. And let me say, it did not go over well.
"I would never do such a thing." I smile at him, just the sight of him here for me making my heart do weird flips that I've never experienced before. I take a couple breaths, filling my lungs with much needed fresh air, or at least as fresh it can be, and try my best to contain my heartbeat as it races violently. Brenton extends a hand to me and I take it willingly, his touch sending warmth up my arm and to my heart. Stop it! I scold my weak heart. After all, this is only an act. We start off together, Brenton leading me away from the library.
"Where are we going?" I ask curiously, gripping his arm with my other hand as we continue strolling through the palace. But we stop all too soon, in front of a balcony overlooking the kingdom. The glass doors are open wide in front of us, and I can see Queen Pele and King Mishan standing on one side of the balcony, my parents on the other. How my mother got here so fast, I have no idea.
"What's happening?" I try again, my nails biting into Brentons arm with the weight of my question burning inside of me. We're standing inside the shadows of the palace still, and no one can see us, but I can't help but take a tiny step closer to Brenton.
"It's the Royal Engagement announcement." Brenton answers, grasping my hand even tighter than before, and making me bite my lip to keep from screaming out.
"But I thought we already..." I trail off. That was just in front of the Wealthy and important, but not the whole kingdom. I suck in a breath, as my whole body goes limp. Why didn't anyone tell me about this? Am I really of no importance that no one can tell me about something like this?
"They kept this from me too." Brenton nods at my reaction, "They only just told me before I came to get you from your little practice wedding." He laughs at the memory of me stumbling quickly out of the library.
"...And here is Prince Brenton Kai Uriel of FoxFire with a special announcement for all of you." My father finishes his rehearsed speech with ease. Brenton steps forward, his hand still in mine forcing me onto the balcony with him. The crowd is huge, and it looks as if the whole kingdom showed up today. When they see Brenton and I emerge from the doorway together, they cheer and call out to us both.
I fake a smile, waving at everyone politely. My dress brushes against Brenton's leg, and for a moment I forget the crowd around us. But the feeling quickly passes, and I am left with only my shock as a reminder. Brenton leads me to the front of the balcony, and lifts our entwined fingers into the air for everyone to see. Fire bursts from his other hand, and as I realize what he's doing I almost laugh in relief.
In my free hand, I summon the water within me, and a bubble of water appears in my hand, swirling around gracefully. I lift my hand, showing it to the crowd below, and as I look at Brenton I see he does the same. I shouldn't have been afraid. We are not speaking, only showing. But at the same time, this is what I should be fearing even more than just the simple words we spoke to each other the first day in the dining hall, the words that signaled or engagement.
Quickly Brenton and I both throw our power in the air, and as we watch, the fire strengthens into a symbol. FoxFire's symbol, and my water does the same, forming into StormsEye's symbol. And as they touch, a light forms in between them, until it consumes both Kingdoms symbols, and makes one of it's own. The blend of both Kingdoms, fire and water made into one. And then the light dissapears to reveal FoxFire's symbol standing alone.
The crowd goes wild as they realize what this means. And as I stare up at the symbol myself, I go numb. This means that the princess of water is no more. And that she is soon to become a Queen, engaged to the prince of fire. This means that Princess Anahita Aqua Cascade of StormsEye is no more, replaced by someone else entirely. The realization hits me like a ton of bricks to the head.
I am no longer myself. I am someone else entirely. And as the crowd continues to cheer for me, for us, for Brenton and I, I can feel myself already start to dissapear. And the last bit of hope I had for my kingdom tears away. Because if I am soon to become the Queen of FoxFire, what will happen to StormsEye? My parents can't keep ruling forever, and they don't have another heir. So what will become of my Kingdom?
Brenton twirls me around to face him, and as his lips close onto mine, my mind goes blank. His lips are soft, and he tastes sweet, like vanilla. And as he kisses me, I kiss him back. And every thought I've ever had melts away in the moment. It is just Brenton and I. But still, I can't shake the one nagging thought of how my kingdom will survive. Or was this the plan all along?
To get rid of StormsEye forever.