Chapter 1 - Alex
My fingers fly over the keys of the piano as I work on the new piece assigned to me by Monsieur Bleu. When I play it is like the world ceases to exist and all I can see and hear are the hypnotising cadences of the music. My favourite thing to do is to master a new, extremely challenging, piece of music.
I am so close to mastering this piece, when I am brought crashing back to reality by the sound of someone clapping. I am so annoyed by this interruption, as everyone in the palace knows not to disrupt me when I am playing. I turn around to see who has rudely interrupted me and am ready to serve them a new one. When I see who it is though, a feather could knock me off the piano bench, I am in that much shock. It is my father, King Phillip. I can’t remember the last time he has heard me play, let alone come to the music room, he is tone deaf. I only ever see father at family dinners and state functions that require the whole royal family. I never know what to say when I actually do see him.
“Father? It’s nice to see you. To what do I owe the honour of your visit?” I ask awkwardly.
I see him fidget with his hands, which he never does and hear him clear his throat. “Alexandria. You play beautifully. Come, join me on the settee, I have something I need to discuss with you.”
I am scared, but also a little intrigued, as I walk over to sit down next to him. He clears his throat again before he speaks. “Alexandria, I, uhh… how do I say this?” He pauses. The last time he was this awkward and anxious he was telling us that mother had died. All intrigue leaves my mind and I’m just scared. He takes a deep breath and says the words I never thought he’d say. “Alex, you are to be officially married to Henry Robert Alexander, the Crown Prince of Ellory next week. You leave for the ceremony today”.
Time freezes. I look at my father. I don’t know how long we sit in awkward silence before questions come tumbling out of my mouth. “I’m getting married? In a week? I’m leaving today? Wait, did you say officially married? What does that mean? Can I back out of this? What is going on?”. My mind is spinning. This has to be a joke.
Father sighs and rubs his temple with a pained expression on his face. Oh, I am so sorry if you are finding this difficult. You have just changed my life in two simple sentences! This I only think and wisely don’t say. My head might be spinning, but I would like it to remain attached to my body and being rude and sarcastic to the King doesn’t guarantee that outcome.
“Let me start from the beginning” he says. Might be a freaking good idea! Again, I only think this and don’t say it. I do like my head.
“As you might be aware, we have had peace with Ellory for a few decades, but this has always been tense as we compete over many trades and share borders. Before you were born, the world was in chaos and the possibility of war was imminent and ever present. There was no way that both small countries would survive if a world war broke out, so we formed a more intricate and long-lasting peace treaty. There are never any guarantees that both parties will uphold a treaty though, and for centuries peace treaties between Elton and Ellory had been broken, so King Harland and I took some fairly drastic measures. The treaty is contingent on the first-born Princess of Elton marrying the heir to the kingdom of Ellory. If either party backed out of this, they would owe the respective country millions of dollars and half of their land. This would forever move the borders and bankrupt one country”. Father pauses and walks to the liquor trolley in the corner and pours himself a bourbon.
“Three days after this agreement was signed your mother gave birth to twins, you and Nicholas. Ellory already had an heir, the six-year-old Prince Henry. Your birth sealed this peace treaty and the betrothal contract was drawn up and signed when you were only a few hours old”. Father takes a long drink of his bourbon.
“So, you are telling me I have been betrothed to a man I have never met, who doesn’t have a good reputation, since I was born and no ever thought to tell me?” I can’t believe what I am being told. “Did I not deserve to know?”.
Just as I think Father has delivered the worst of the news and that nothing else, he could have to say could shock me, he goes and outdoes himself. “Your mother and I were going to tell you when you were twelve, but after she died, I never found the right time to tell you. and then time got away from me. Then I couldn’t put it off anymore as you are married and leaving in a matter of hours”.
I can’t have heard that correct. “I’m married? How is that possible?”.
“Well, Lord Devereaux, our ambassador, went to Ellory, on my behalf, to finalize the betrothal contract with King Harland and Prince Henry, now that you are all of age. When he was in Ellory he stood as a witness in your proxy wedding ceremony. You have been married to Prince Henry for a week”.