So I met the King and Queen briefly after the prince and my dance, and tomorrow morning I’ll be dining with them. The King seems like a nice guy, but I’m pretty sure the queen had some suspicions of me. However, the King was so ecstatic that the prince had actually picked out a bride that it quelled her skepticism. The prince explained my situation and said they’d gladly arrange rooms for us by the next day. Well, the King said that. Like I said, the Queen, kind of stingy about it. I’ll really have to pull off this primp-and-proper routine if I want this to work out. They said we’d talk more about it tomorrow morning over breakfast. I could go for that.
Early in the morning, a fancy looking carriage came to the inn to pick us up. While I’d usually prefer to sleep in, I was up at the crack of dawn, unable to sleep at all because of the thrill I was feeling. I woke up Flora and Daniel as eagerly as a child on their birthday and rushed downstairs to the main floor of the inn. A few people were up and seated in the tavern of the inn, and some even recognized and congratulated me. I gladly accepted their good wishes and made my way to the carriage.
A few moments later, we were back at the castle. Guards escorted us to the foyer where we were greeted by Nieven.
“Good morning, Lady Maerwynn. Lady Flora. Sir Daniel.” He said, bowing to each of us individually. I curtseyed in return, with Daniel and Flora sloppily following my example.
“Prince Kurt has been waiting eagerly for you, Lady Maerwynn. I shall escort you to him, then return to help your siblings get settled in their new rooms.” He said generously. Nievan always seemed to be so content and cheerful, I like that about him.
“No need, I would be happy to escort the beautiful lady myself.” A voice said from down the hall. I turned my head and saw it was the prince. I almost couldn’t recognize his voice without the snarky attitude.
“Prince Kurt, how sweet of you!” I replied, rushing over to him. I stopped once I reached him, not sure if I should hug him or something. What do normal couples do? He held out his arm out in front of him, which I thought was weird until he directed me with his eyes towards his arm. I quickly grabbed his arm, pulling him down a little on accident. Nievan chuckled,
“Aren’t you two just precious together.”
“Nievan, you’re too kind.” The prince said with the fakest smile I’ve ever seen, but it seemed to fool Nievan, so I just giggled flirtatiously (or at least I think I did).
“Come, Milady. We will meet up with you all soon!” Kurt said as we walked around the corner. Daniel gave the prince a suspicious glance as we left the room. Ugh, just what I needed, another apprehensive eye.
Once we were out of earshot of the group, I asked;
“So what’s going on exactly?” Without even looking at me, he hastily replied;
“My father wants to begin making arrangements for our marriage over breakfast.”
“Can’t we do that later?”
“Quiet.” Sheesh, you think he’d have some manners.
“You’ll learn soon enough that he’s quite an… Ambitious fellow… Regardless, my mother will also be there.” Yikes. I better keep up this act well enough so that she doesn’t get suspicious again. I almost had a heart attack last night with that look she gave me.
“You do not speak unless spoken to, I will handle all the talking otherwise. Just keep a calm composure, and act as elegant as possible. One wrong move and my mother will catch us and we’re both in a world of trouble.” I nodded along, keeping quiet like prince saucy asked.
We came up to a double door and I stopped as he pushed it open. I waited, expecting him to waltz through first, but then he looked at me, then through the door. Whoops. I entered the door into this huge hall with a table the size of the entire room, filled to the brim with food. I felt like I was going to start drooling with the selection laid out in front of me, but I resisted — thank goodness, that could have been awkward.
“Welcome, welcome!” The King bellowed out, “Come, sit right here next to me, my dear!” He said pulling out a chair at the corner right beside him. He was so sincere and joyful — maybe Kurt was adopted. There’s no way they can be related.
I sat in the chair he offered me, and right across from me was the queen. She stared at me so intensely, I was getting chills. Should I say something? No, the prince told me to stay quiet, so that’s what I’ll do.
“Good morning Mother. Father.” Kurt said nodding his head at each of them accordingly. He then looked at me expectantly. Guess I was supposed to say something after all.
“Good morning, your majesties!” I said, bowing my head as well, probably a little too hurriedly though — talk about your head rush.
“And to you as well.” The Queen grimly replied.
“Go on and grab a plate, no use planning on an empty stomach, am I right? Help yourself!” The King invited.
“O-oh, thank you, your highness!” Yes, just the words I wanted to hear. While everyone made themselves a plate, I made sure to grab one of everything. Hotcakes, oatmeal, and a whole variety of fruit- they were even sliced up ready to eat! While my instinct was to shove everything in my mouth at once, I behaved like the proper lady, taking itty-bitty bites, using my napkin between each one. As we continued to eat, the King spoke up again.
“So I was thinking that we could have the ceremony in one months time, what would you say to that, Kurt, my boy?”
“I suppose that would be –”
“A month would not be enough time.” The queen interrupted.
“What?” I shouted. I wanted to get this seal the deal as soon as possible! I don’t want to have to go a whole year or five or whatever to get this thing done! He’s a King, surely he can get everything together in a month! He can get anything he wants! Everyone was staring at me though, Kurt giving me the devils eye.
“Oh, I’m terribly sorry. Forgive me for shouting aloud, I was just so excited about the date being so close, but I suppose you’re right. That does sound a little soon to plan an entire wedding.” I quickly covered. The queen raised an eyebrow at me and I got the chills again. She quickly turned her head back to her husband when he gave a hearty laugh.
“Oh ho! Aren’t you a spirited young lass!” The king laughed. Phew, saved myself there.
“I’m sure we can hire the finest planners, bakers, and all the rest and have them work out something in that amount of time!”
“Dear, do you want a good wedding or a rushed, disheveled one?” The argument went on for a while, though it never got out of control. The king seemed to get a little flustered from time to time, but the queen always kept a calm composure. Kurt ignored them and continued to eat his breakfast. I, on the other hand, was completely entertained by this. I’m not sure why, but seeing these two go at it was just… hilarious! This isn’t what I expected royalty to act like, but I love this. I think I made a good choice.
“Fine! We’ll settle for three months then!” The king bellowed, crossing his arms.
“Very well, three it is.” The queen complied.
“But that doesn’t mean we can’t start planning it today!” The king chuckled, “Imagine it, my boy getting married! The time sure does fly!”
“So it does.” The prince remarked, looking down as he spoke. The King looked towards me and gave me a great big grin.
“So then, Maerwynn, tell us about yourself!” He clamored. I was in the middle of eating a hotcake when he asked me this. I quickly swallowed my food and panicked.
“Oh, I um–”
“She’s a noblewoman from Cadelthia, born and raised, if am I remembering correctly?” Kurt interjected.
“That’s right!” I said, going along with his scheme. The Queen gave me a sideways glance.
“She loves traveling with her siblings in her spare time and thought it to be a fine idea to give our humble island a visit. She heard of the ball and wanted to attend to see what all the fuss was about, and one thing led to another and here we are!” Kurt said, leaning one hand on his cheek, staring at me in this really dopey way. I dare even say it was… cute? Weird.
“Oh ho, how delightful!” The King cheered, “I’ve been to Cadelthia quite a few times — a very nice place! Where did you grow up?”
“She grew up in–” Kurt started.
“Kurt, your Father was speaking to your betrothed.” The Queen interrupted.
“Oh, well… I grew up in Summerburg.” I said, not necessarily lying. That was where the old orphanage was.
“Oh, Summerburg? Do you know the Lovells?” She asked.
“Not personally– but that was only because I only lived there during my childhood. My family and I later moved to Landton, then Faydell. Father’s Business had my family moving around quite a lot, but I suppose that’s where my love for travel began!” I said with a smile. Dang, I could lie! Even the prince seemed impressed– Either that or he was playing along so well that I couldn’t tell either… But whatever, I’m taking is as he was impressed regardless.
“How interesting.” The Queen acknowledged.
“Yes, you’ll have to tell us all–” The King started before some men came into the room, escorted by Nievan.
“Sire, your planners have arrived.” He announced with a bow. The Queen gave the King a nasty glare.
“You already hired planners?”
“Well of course! Can’t plan a party without planners!” He chuckled. She sighed and got up from her seat. She looked over to Kurt.
“It seems your father and I will start devising the details for your wedding, in the meantime, why don’t you take your fiance on a tour around the palace, Kurt?” she suggested.
“That sounds like a fine idea, Mother.” Kurt replied, “Are you finished with your breakfast, Maerwynn?”
“Oh, yes, I’m finished. Thanks!” He stood up from his chair, and I followed his lead. I didn’t know if I was supposed to or not, but I curtseyed to his parents before we left — just in case! The king laughed and the queen simply nodded in return.
We were halfway down the hall when I decided to ask,
“So do I have my own room?”
“Yes.” The prince replied.
“Yes!” I exclaimed in a hushed tone.
“Mavis will show you to your room.”
“I’m leading you to her chamber now. I’ll also instruct her to give you proper etiquette lessons.”
“Etiquette. Manners. Behavior.”
“Alright, alright, I get it. No need to be a wise –”
“You’re quite decent at spinning tales and enthralling enough to fix your sudden outbursts, but you shouldn’t be having them in the first place.”
“Hey, that was adorable, alright?” I said, pointing at him sternly.
“This time it was passable as such, but I’d rather not risk it. Your speech is also much too casual for someone who was supposedly raised in a high-end home. As Mother and Father said, we have three months until this whole arrangement is set in stone. We have a lot of time before then, so let’s make sure we don’t hinder our arrangement.”
“You got a point there. Alright, make a princess of me. How hard could it possibly be?” I said with a shrug. He scoffed a little with that cagey grin of his before approaching a doorway. He knocked on it, and a few moments later a girl answered the door. Not just any girl, but the very same girl who danced with Daniel! She looked a little different now, wearing a maids gown and her hair tied in twin braids, but I could recognize her face for sure.
“Good morning, Prince Kurt!” She said with a slight curtsey. She looked to me and gave me one as well, “And to you, Milady!” Once she looked up from me at her curtsey, I could see on her face she remembered who I was just like I remembered her.
“Mavis, this is my bride-to-be, Maerwynn.”
“Oh! Yes! We met last night!” She replied with a cheerful grin.
“Very good. Maerwynn, this is Mavis. She will be your retainer from this point on, if you are in need of anything, you may rely on her.”
“You can count on me! O-oh, I suppose that’s what Prince Kurt just said…” She said with her cheeks glowing a bit.
“Mavis, I would also like you to train Maerwynn in proper etiquette. She has never been properly taught, so I would like you to teach her in your spare time– and also for you to keep it between the three of us. I do not think my mother would react kindly if she was made aware of this.”
“Of course, your highness!”
“Now then, you may get started as you please. I have other matters to attend to for now. I will retrieve you when I can, Maerwynn.” He said before just leaving. Alright then. Guess this was how it was going to be– not that I really minded, I didn’t want to hang around with him all day anyway.
“I’m ready to start whenever you are, Lady Maerwynn!” Mavis said with a cheerful grin on her face.
“Thank you but–” I paused for a minute, “If it’s alright, I would like to see my brother and sister first. We had to split up before, I just want to know if they’re settled in.”
“Oh! I didn’t even realize they were staying with us! How exciting!” Mavis’s cheeks turned rosy as she spoke. Guess she and Daniel hit it off last night, good for them! Plus it’ll keep him busy and less focused on my phony romance.
“I would think that they would be getting situated in their new rooms. I can take you there if you’d like!”
“Thanks, I appreciate it.”
It wasn’t long until we found them; while the palace is huge, it’s not terribly hard to work your way around it. We met up with Daniel and Flora in a hallway with five rooms lined down it on the exterior wall and one door on the interior wall. They were standing in front of the middle one, casually talking.
“Maerwynn, you’re back!” Daniel called out, noticing me from down the hall. Flora turned around and gave me a short wave. I rushed over to see them.
“Nievan’s already brought your belongings to your room down at the end of the hall.” He informed.
“Great!” I replied.
“I’ll leave you to your business for now. Lunch will be served in the afternoon, and perhaps after that, you and I can start your… meetings?” Mavis asked timidly.
“That sounds great, thank you, Mavis!” I answered. Can I just call her Mavis? Or is there some fancy term for retainers? If not, I’m sure she’ll tell me so during our first lesson. She bowed her head to me and took off. I eagerly rushed to my friends and grabbed their hands.
“So? What do you guys think? Fancy, isn’t it?” I asked.
“Well… Yes, it’s beautiful.” Flora answered. She seemed to be calmer than before. Maybe she was already starting to warm up to this place!
“Yeah… It’s beautiful…” Daniel said, still watching Mavis as she strutted down the hall.
“…But how long until that beauty wears out?” Flora mumbled.
“Don’t talk like that, Flora. It’s going to be great! Fantastic even!” I blurted out. What wasn’t to love about this place? If every morning goes like this morning, that would be fine by me!
“… I… Suppose.” There she goes, acting all weird again. So much for her mellowing out.
“So how was your breakfast with the King and Queen?” Daniel questioned.
“Oh, it was great!” I answered, thinking about the hysterical banter between the King and Queen.
“And how long until you officially become a Princess?” He asked again.
“Three months or so.”
“Three months… There’s still time…” Flora said, looking towards the ground as she spoke.
“…Time for what?” I asked skeptically.
“Time for you to change your mind! Maerwynn, you rushed into this!” She squealed, “This isn’t a good idea!”
“SHHHH! Flora, don’t go screaming stuff like that!”
“But it’s not! Why would you do this to us, Maerwynn?”
“To you?” Are you kidding me? Are you KIDDING me? I pulled her by the arm into one of the rooms, which I’m assuming was either hers or Daniels.
“How could I do this to you? What you mean to get you a nice place to stay? Have you served by butlers and maids, well fed all the time, and being allowed to do whatever you please? Oh, how could I? You poor child!”
“Maerwynn I… I didn’t mean it like that…” She said in a trembling voice. I could see tears rimming her eyes, and I immediately backed off.
“Flora, I’m sorry I didn’t mean to yell… It’s just…” I started. Daniel rushed in shortly after and pulled us apart.
“What’s gotten into you two?” He asked.
“Nothing…” I replied quietly. Flora didn’t respond at all.
“Flora, you… Want to go for a walk with me? We can go through the courtyard, I hear they have a lot of rare flowers… I know you like that kind of thing…” I asked with a hint of guilt in my voice. Flora just shook her head. I didn’t know what else to do or say.
“…Well then… I’m… Gonna go for a walk by myself then…”
“You going to be alright?” Daniel asked, walking over to me. I nodded confidently. He leaned in and whispered, “I’ll take care of Flora, don’t worry.” I nodded again and walked out the door.
I wandered around the halls a bit before making my way back to Mavis’s room. I couldn’t get that stupid argument out of my head. I mean, who does she think she is to tell me something like that? Everything I’m doing is for them! She makes it sound like I’ve locked her in a dungeon! Then she goes and gets all weepy eyed, which I just can’t stand. I’m always the bad guy.
I just needed to distract myself and the prince’s mandatory etiquette lessons would probably do the trick. Mavis wouldn’t mind if I stopped by early, would she? Of course, when I got to her room she wasn’t even there, so I just sat by the door for God knows how long. It wasn’t helping that the anger was just festering in my head. Ugh!
“What are you doing?” A voice suddenly snapped me out of my ongoing struggle. I looked up and it was Prince Kurt.
“…Waiting for Mavis.” I answered. I noticed he was wearing a cloak– and a pretty dingy looking one too compared to his normal garments. I found it a bit odd, but who was I to question?
“Get up off the floor, sitting like that is rather undignified for a lady.” He scolded. I sighed and got up, patting off my dress when I did.
“Don’t let my mother see you do things like that– unless you want an earful from her.”
“Yes, your highness.” I said, mockingly bowing to him. He rolled his eyes and continued on his way down the hall. As I watched him leave, I could see Mavis coming down the hall headed my way. She gasped when she saw me.
“Lady Maerwynn! I didn’t expect you to arrive so soon, I’m sorry!” I heard from down the hall. Mavis was rushing over. I shook my head,
“It’s fine, don’t worry about it.” I replied. She opened the door for me and let me in.
“Please, come in!” She invited. I walked into the room and it was really nice. Even the servants got a decent place to stay! I mean, it was a little too pink and girly for my tastes, but still, it looked nice.
“So where should we begin?” Mavis asked.
“Begin with what — oh, the lessons! Um… I guess from the top. I’ve never been to any high-class events before the ball yesterday so… Show me the ropes, I guess.”
Mavis began with the simple stuff. Proper responses and good manners and such, but then I started to doze off and stopped paying much attention. That fight was still burning a hole in my brain.
“You seem rather… distracted. Is something on your mind?” She asked.
“Oh, it’s nothing, it’s just been… Well, an overwhelming kind of day, you know?” I answered, not really wanting to tell anything about what was going on between me and Flora.
“I hadn’t even thought of that. It’s only your first day at the castle, you must still be adjusting to everything. Why don’t we skip the lesson for today?”
“What, no!” I shouted. Mavis seemed kind of taken aback by this.
“I mean, it just seemed so important to Prince Kurt, I would like to continue on with the lesson…” I covered. Man, Kurt was right, I did have a lot of sudden outbursts.
“I wouldn’t want to smother you on your first day here, why don’t I show you around the town instead? My father had told me you came from the mainland, correct?”
“Oh, yeah. I guess that would be nice, too.” As long as it helped me take my mind off of things.
“Wonderful! I’ll show you this lovely little cafe, we can have lunch there together! I’m certain their majesties wouldn’t mind if I took you out for a treat.”
“Sounds great.” I said with a smile. This really does sound like just what I need– better than some stuffy old manners class.
We walked into town together, chatting lightly along the way. I was really starting to like Mavis already– which is really something considering I don’t like most people. She was really sweet and kind, not to mention she laughed at all my corny jokes. She’s alright in my book.
We arrived at the cafe and were seated outside. They served us the fanciest tea and cakes I’ve ever seen, and they tasted incredible– not to mention, it was on the house for the princess-to-be. Sweet! Everything was going well until Mavis suddenly shifted the tone of the conversation.
“Um, Lady Maerwynn? I’m terribly sorry to ask this so suddenly, it’s just… I can’t stop thinking about it and…”
“…That’s fine, what’s on your mind?” I said, though I really was afraid to find out what exactly she was about to tell me.
“…Earlier… You weren’t upset by anything Prince Kurt said to you, were you?” She asked. Whoa, that’s not what I was expecting. I shook my head.
“No, it wasn’t anything like that!” I mean, he was being a pest, but he wasn’t the one that threw me into a fit.
“…Why do you ask that?” After thinking about it for a few seconds, it occurred to me how strange it was that she was asking me that. Did she know about our arrangement? That it was all just an act?
“Oh, I just saw you talking with him before I arrived and… I-it’s nothing, really.”
“No, go on!”
“Oh, I couldn’t, I mean I don’t want to discourage you if nothing happened.”
“Believe me, nothing you say could possibly discourage me. I’m tough as nails!”
“Well… I suppose it’s only fair you knew in advance…” Good, I’m starting to wear her down. Now does she know what I think she knows?
“I’ve known Prince Kurt for some time and… It doesn’t happen often, and really, he is a sweet young man, it’s just… Well, he’s not very… Social.” She stuttered. Really? That’s it? I knew that! Anyone with eyes could see that! But I didn’t expect her to continue,
“And sometimes… He doesn’t know what to say or how to act and… Sometimes he has sudden outbursts…” Ha, and he made fun of me for having those. Yeah, I could see that happening. He probably throws royal hissy fits all the time– Not my problem, though.
“He gets frustrated. He doesn’t have too many friends since he doesn’t leave the castle too often… A lot of the time he doesn’t even leave his quarters, and I worry most of the time that he’ll never get to show his true colors to anyone.” He showed me his true colors, alright. He’s a schemer.
“Yesterday, I have to admit, I was really worried that he wouldn’t take a liking to any of the women who came to the ball… But when I saw him dancing with you… It gave me hope.” She said with a timid grin. I stood there with a blank look on my face, unsure of what to do or say.
“I’m not really sure if there’s such thing as love at first sight, but I really think he sees something special in you to have actually asked you to dance. I think this could be the beginning of something beautiful.” It’s weird, for a minute there, I kind of wanted to believe her. After everything that’s happened today, I wanted to think what she said would come true. Maybe not necessarily between Kurt and me but with living at the castle. I came here thinking that life was going to get better all of a sudden, and so far it only feels worse. I got into a fight with my best friend, got scolded at by the Prince, and was almost caught by the Queen. But then I remembered the good that came out of today too. I made a new friend, and maybe even if Kurt and I don’t get along, I still got a family out of this. Maybe Mavis was right. Maybe this will be the start of something beautiful. It just has to be.
Author’s Notes: Thank you for taking the time to read this! This was my story for National Novel Writing Month, and though I did not complete the entire story before the deadline, the story is starting to take off. I will continue to post chapters as I write them but without the progress in between such as I have done before for NNWM. This is my “published copy”, but I’m sure that I’ve made mistakes or could improve, so please, if you have any constructive criticism, I am happy to hear you out! There might be changes every now and again, so please come back every now and again to see the progress! Again, thank you so much for taking the time to read this. It really brings joy to my heart that I can share these stories with you, I hope that you enjoyed reading them as much as I did writing them!