"Princess Annabel. Princess Annabel." My father slams his fist against the marble table, "Sit down. You will be excused from the table after all of your sisters have finished their breakfast."
Under the pretense that I am refilling my plate, I sit back down, "Why? By tonight I will be owned by a new King."
Princess Naia places her hand over mine as I grip my fork, "Your wedding will occur here in one week Princess Annabel. Father? We should allow her some time to freshen up before the proposal."
Princess Naia always has a way with words. Especially when it came to our father. The second I'm in the clear, I grab the overflowing plate and escape from my bedroom window to the dungeons.
Ignis tracks the plate of food in my hands with his lips slightly parted. He licks his lower lip and tongues the scabbed scar resting there with gentle prods, "Are we sharing today Annabel?"
His usual confidence shakes me from my father's overpowering dominance, "Just the fork, I was under too much scrutiny to grab a new one."
Ignis finally flicks his gaze to mine, looking like he could eat me. My thighs pinch together under the fabric of my dress, Ignis grins like he noticed, "I don't mind sharing you." The fork nearly slips from my hand, but Ignis dips forward to capture it in his mouth, swallowing his food before continuing, "Oops. Don't worry Princess Anna, we can start with sharing food first."
"Are you..." my words clogged in my throat when he leans forward again.
Our faces are mere inches apart, and Ignis doesn't hide his wandering eyes that travel down my face. Leaving a burning path across my skin. The chains cuffing his back rattle suddenly and I lean away.
With a scowl I push a full fork at his face, pressing the metal utensil against his injured lip, "Aren't you trying to find a woman?"
He continues eating after my blunt question. If he was trying to seduce me into removing his chains, he would need to try harder than that.
I can feel my palms heat up under my gloves, mimicking my growing annoyance that his attempts to flirt had almost worked.
Ignis sits back, his plate empty, "I am, looking for a woman that is. But seeing as I am trapped here, I may as well get to know you better. When is your lover-boy coming?"
"He is not my lover," I glower at Ignis and stretch my legs out, sitting at the side of the cell and leaning back. Only turning my head slightly, so I could look at him.
"You don't seem to be fighting very hard to get out of the marriage proposal. I'd assume you were smitten over Prince Hemorrhoid."
I gasp and struggle to control my laughter on the dungeon floor, "Do not call him that, I will laugh at every meeting."
Ignis shrugs, "The prick deserves it. Ruling a Kingdom at sixteen because of their power. It's reckless, a show of power, a-"
"-a way to subdue the other Kingdoms." I frown looking at my gloved hands, "I'm assuming the Kingdom of Ice is no kinder to the Kingdom of Nature than usual."
Ignis snarls, "Something like that. I know they will freeze the harvests near the border to weaken their trading ability."
I fist my hands, "I wish I could stop them. Or help the other Kingdoms... or do something."
Ignis shakes his head, "Many have tried." He huffs out and his chains rattle from behind him, "The Kingdom of Fire helped thaw out the frozen harvest."
My gaze snaps to his, unaware that he was staring at me angrily, it makes me stutter, "I- I heard they-"
"What? Burned houses? Burned land? Lose their King every month? Why do you think he would do such a thing?" His last question wasn't spoken angrily, he genuinely wanted me to figure it out.
I look at the floor, my brows scrunching, "I- I don't know. Everyone just says-"
"You should stop listening to everyone Annabel," Ignis raises a brow, "you are in the dungeon after all."
I'm on my feet and running from his cell. Holding the empty plate against my chest. Ignis and I were not the same. I came to the dungeon of my own free will. My ability to control fire is strong. Growing with every day of practice. Not like anything Ignis would've ever seen.
I groan as I heave myself through my bedroom window. I should not try to show anything to Ignis.
But a small part of me wanted him to know I could help. That I could control fire like the Kingdom of Fire and save harvests.
When I glance at the clock on my wall, I notice a solid hour has passed. It takes me a moment to remove my gloves from my hands when the door to my room barges open.
Princess Naia and my other eldest sister, Princess Coral, stand in the doorway. Princess Coral holds a pure white dress, and Princess Naia rushes to my side with a towel, "Shower immediately. We will help you dress and prepare, Princess Annabel."
My older sisters are dragging me to the bathroom and removing the lace of my corset in quick tugs, "Prince Hennel and his father have arrived. Far earlier than expected, and this proposal has to go well, Princess Annabel."
The seriousness of the situation dawns on me as I jump into the shower and scrub my dirty skin. Princess Coral controls the water, and ensures my hair doesn't become wet. Leaving me with no form of privacy as I scrub.
I want more time. Fuck, no amount of time or prolonging would help me prepare for Prince Hennel.
Only the slightest of smiles inches onto my face when I think back to Ignis and his dubbed name for the Prince of Ice.
Thinking back, Prince Hemorrhoid could never sit still during meetings, that much was clear from our first meetings together that started one year ago.
The Kingdom of Nature must have seen that unfortunate inability and gave Prince Hennel a... unique nickname. One that I would surely be using for a long while.