“Cristiana, meet your betrothed, Frederick.” Her mother had called to her, holding her shoulder tightly as she led him to the gentleman in front of her. He was so much older than her, roughly five years.
“Cristiana,” He said bowing slightly before kissing her hand. She backed her hand away and had a look of disgust.
“Frederick, how about you show Cristiana around a bit.” She turned to see King Leopold say. She watched as Frederick took her hand and led her out of the room.
“Will do!” He shouted behind him, once far enough out of the room, he let go of her hand.
“Eww, I was just doing as my father said, this is the castle. I’m gonna play with my sword if you want to come to watch.” He said looking at her carefully, her eyes reverted back a bit, noting his fine details and how he looked, his hair longer and not cut, like his father and her father had it.
She didn’t like all the rules that were always in place when it came to her hair, but especially the rules around her playing with swords.
“I want to fight you then.” She said looking boldly at him as she followed him out the back and to his stables where he was with his sword.
“You can’t play, you’re a girl.” He sneered her way, she looked at him angrily, if she had to be betrothed whatever that meant, she didn’t want it to be like this. He was cruel to her because she was different than him.
She sat in the corner before getting bored and walking back up to him.
“Give me one. I can prove to you that I am good with it too.” She watched as he seemed offended by it almost.
“Fine!” He said grabbing one and thrusting it into her hands, her hand sunk to the ground at the mass of the sword, for a five-year-old child, she was unprepared for the weight of such an object.
Leaning upward she tried her best to lift it, swinging it to the left and the right.
“Come at me, I bet I could get you real good.” She said, enjoying her fun with the sword, as she swung it to the right, she felt it land on the ground as she heard a shriek. Leaning up she saw her mother and watched her mother’s face turn sour with distaste.
“Cristiana! You are a lady; we don’t play with swords. Not one bit. Say goodbye to Frederick, we are heading home, and you will be in trouble for your use of a weapon.” She didn’t like to hear her mother talk about trouble.
“I just wanted to play with him.” She said as her mother began to drag her away, she walked away knowing that she hated him, for getting her in such trouble. The entire ordeal went down as one reason she dreaded the next visit, as she went to him the next time she would be prepared.
The next time was much longer, she was about fifteen years old, at this point he would be twenty, a man. As her parents dragged her there once more, she watched as he stood next to the door beside his father, King Leopold. She looked at him, the hair slowly growing on his face, the hair longer than last time. It had been seven years since they last saw each other, the hate that she felt for him, the trouble she received because of him.
If she had played with the sword sooner, then they would have finished quicker and her mother would have never known. As the golden carriage came to a stop, she felt his eyes gazed upon her. She stepped out of the carriage and curtseyed to the King and then to the prince, knowing her place.
“Frederick, why don’t you spend some time with Cristiana. Margaret, Erik, I have drinks ready. Come!” He shouted with delight as Frederick gave him a simple nod. Looking at her gently before extending his arm, how things had changed since the last time they saw one-another. Once young school children, now fully aware of what their betrothment meant. Only two years away from the specified date.
“Nice weather, we are having this spring, don’t you think?” She asked as they trailed through the stone path, looking at each other as he stopped in his tracks.
“We don’t need to do the pleasantries. We have to be married to each other one day. I think we should get to know each other. What is something you love to do?” He asked her, wanting to make conversation, but the topic seemed so foreign.
“I love music, playing the piano is fun. What about you?” She asked, trying to keep the conversation going, even though it felt as unnatural as ever, knowing that they had this expectation on their shoulder.
“Swords, anything to let my anger out.” He declared before starting to walk again. They continued to walk in silence as she noticed a pond, she stopped in her tracks.
“Let’s go for a swim!” She said as she began to take off her dress and slowly the linens that followed, leaving her slip on, she jumped into the pond, the splashing of the water as it sprayed the stones and landed some on him.
“We can’t do this, its improper!” He shouted looking at her with his hands on his hip, practically scolding her in his position and not with his words.
“Come now, live a little. We can be proper when we are old, we one day will be wed, you will see more of me than in this slip. Now get in, you silly bugger.” She giggled before she splashed him once more.
“I’m going to get you.” He shouted before ripping off his own clothes and jumping in after her. They swam and had fun before they climbed out letting the sun dry them up.
“If we are going to do this, we should make our own pact, since they do the treaty. We will do this to promote our own friendship.” She smiled and nodded gently.
“I propose we try to have a clear head, don’t let romance get in the way. Do you believe that I can keep you safe? Protect you, trust you and together we lead fairly.” She didn’t like all that he was saying, no romance? How would she go without, it was beyond her?
At this point in time, she had Robert, mixing her head with thoughts. But that was nothing, she was to marry this man. Before long, the words seemed to foam at her mouth.
“I believe.” She said looking at him gently as he scratched his head.
“How should we seal the pact?” He asked her, but as he seemed to think about it, she did something she knew they would do anyway.
Leaning in she closed her eyes and pressed her lips to his, she didn’t know what to do, this being her first time. Leaning in she felt his lips kiss her back, and then she broke it, taking in his sight.
“There, the pact is sealed, we will help each other, figure this thing out.” She noted before hearing a wretched voice calling out to her.
“Cristiana! We are leaving! Come along darling!” She heard her name being called and jumped to her feet as she pulled the rebellious cloth that she had taken off and began to pick them up.
“I must go, we will see each other again, whenever that may be. Maybe at our wedding, or sooner. But alas, I can say I like you a bit more than I did last time, Frederick.” She shouted before running away, turning back at him once as he stood there, watching her go.
What did he think of her?
She knew what she was thinking, her thoughts on what he had said. No romance? No love? Life would be dull and imperfect when she hoped for the storybook dreams.