The night air smelled of autumn, the ocean, and expensive perfume, and the sounds of laughter and music and nobles talking filled the night. Floating lanterns caused little puddles of light to illuminate the luscious plants of the garden, unpopulated despite the rather large party going on within the property. The very princess the event was being held for was relieved to find some peace upon entering the garden - it wasn’t that she was not enjoying herself, it just got quite exhausting to be surrounded by people she didn’t know pretending to be interested in things she didn’t know for hours on end. Perhaps she was just a bit miserable, actually, but it being her sixteenth birthday she wasn’t willing to think of things in a negative light - she only got presented to the neighboring kingdoms twice in her life, and the next one would be for her coronation, which she genuinely hoped would not be necessary for a long time.
It was a night in early November, but being the southernmost kingdom, the weather was not horribly bad or cold. If anything, it was a bit unnaturally warm for a night so close to the winter solstice. The princess sighed heavily as she found the spot she normally treated as a sanctuary, behind one of the largest rose bushes in the garden. Folding the poof of her dress around her, she sank into a sitting position, examining the cobalt skin of her arms for any of the scales that tended to appear when she got close to the edges of the castle’s property and would give her away as a result. Luckily, it remained pure and smooth, and her little detour to her hiding place would go unnoticed by her mother. Upon gaining the unspoken okay to relax, she reached up to pluck the silver tiara adorning her navy hair, gazing with disdain for a moment at the multiple lapis lazuli stones announcing not only her status, but her name as well. This was the tiara that her mother - Blue Diamond - had worn when she was Lapis Lazuli, and the Blue Diamond before her, and would be passed down to her daughter when she had one. It frustrated her that she did not have her own unique name, and it frustrated her that there was a plan that had her by the arm and would continue from generation to generation until the fall of the monarchy.
Lapis turned to hide the tiara in the roses, proceeding afterwards to hide her face in her hands and groan loudly. She didn’t want to look at the item that announced her royalty, nor did she want to think about the responsibilities it brought with it. For the moment, they were simple - look nice, be a beacon of light for the kingdom, attend the occasional court, sometimes go out and deliver food and blankets to the poor. But later in life, when Blue Diamond died, she would become queen, and the weight of the kingdom’s problems would rest on her shoulders. She hated it with a passion, wanted nothing to do with the politics regardless of the blue blood she held in her veins. She loved her subjects, sure, and she would take on the title of Blue Diamond with grace when she needed to and pretend it didn’t bother her until that happened, but no matter how long and how well she pretended she would never be able to move past how thoroughly she did not want to have to go through with everything. Fake it until you make it, she’d always told herself, but even after years of faking it she was not making it.
She longed to run to the ocean and swim far, far beneath the tides, return to where her people had come from and never have to come back out. Or at least, not come back out until she was older and wiser and ready to face her destiny. But that was the childish thing to do, and the entire purpose of this party was to mark her as a woman, declare her the one that would inherit her ancestors’ reign and legacy. Sixteen was a bit young for that, in her humble opinion, but there was nothing much she could do about it.
Lapis was startled from her thoughts by the sound of approaching footsteps. Caught like a deer in headlights, she could do nothing but stare with wide eyes at the direction of the source of the sound. If it was a high up member of her mother’s court, she was in worlds of trouble, and might not be capable of talking her way out of this one - and even if she wasn’t, not even the dark masquerade mask guarding part of her face would protect her identity and keep her from an excessive amount of bumbling and “your highness”es. Her break was over, evidently, and she would have to return to the festivities and possibly get a stern talking to from the queen. Already she dreaded it.
Luckily, however, she could tell quickly by the dress and yellow diamond symbol that the stranger wore that this person was not from her kingdom, and from the more war-oriented kingdom that belonged to Yellow Diamond, who had not arrived until after she was presented and the ceremony was over with (a rude gesture which Blue Diamond was sure to be passive aggressive about for a while). She was safe for the moment - she might just need to find another spot.
Perhaps the most fascinating thing about the stranger was the odd triangular shape of her blonde hair. Based on the light green gemstone resting against her throat, she was an important figure as well, and if she weren’t a good head shorter than Lapis, the long claws extending from her fingers and the sheer amount of black she wore might have been intimidating. She wore no masquerade mask, but black horned glasses were present around her lime eyes - and for a moment, Lapis found herself thinking that this stranger was quite pretty. The princess could tell rather easily that this was Yellow Diamond’s sorceress, chiefly due to the claws and the black clothing. Her own kingdom had no wizardry, mainly because hydrokinesis was so commonplace amongst the naiad species. Briefly, she wondered what sort of powers the other girl possessed… though she looked around the same age, and was probably still in training just as she was. It was almost a comfort to have someone around that was the same age or younger.
“I’m sorry, is this your spot?” The sorceress asked in a slightly nasally voice, glancing around the night-graced garden. “I was just looking to get away from all the people, and this is the biggest rosebush. I can just take a walk, um, I’m sorry if I startled you.” Well, at least she was polite, and it looked like they had a common wish, so… why not try to make her acquaintance? It wasn’t as if they’d ever see one another again, after all, so nothing she said tonight would reasonably bother her for very long. A sorceress was not a noble she would need to impress and pretend to be somebody else to gain the approval of, and for that reason, Lapis had absolutely nothing to lose.
So she scooted over, careful not to rub the grass too much against the sky blue fabric of her skirt, and patted the ground next to her. “This is my spot, but I’m willing to share if you want to relax for a little while too. It’s kind of overwhelming in there. And stuffy.” The princess offered a smile, trying not to make it look like her standard crowd-winning beam. Kind of ironic how, after so much training and so many damned lessons, acting as a normal person would now required a bit of effort.
The sorceress glanced around a couple of times, as if checking to see if anything was watching them, before easing herself to the ground beside the naiad. It looked like she truly couldn’t tell that Lapis was royalty, for which she was grateful. She just needed to avoid using her name, and perhaps she could have a brief friend for the night. And she could just tell her mother that she’d been with a member of Yellow Diamond’s court discussing the discourse between their kingdoms or something along those lines. In her eyes, it was a foolproof plan.
“What’s your name?”
Pretty name for a pretty sorceress, she thought to herself, and was surprised that she hadn’t guessed it based on the gemstone she wore. “It’s nice to meet you, Peridot.” She spoke with a small nod, purposefully avoiding using her own name.
“Nice to meet you too, I guess.” The other responded, folding her clawed hands in her lap and turning her gaze to the wide ocean before them. Silence followed, the two girls slowly getting used to and comfortable with each other’s company. It took a while for Peridot to speak once more, breaking the quiet that had once more enveloped the night. “This might be a little rude, but you seem to be a naiad of status, so what are you doing all the way out here? I thought parties like this were your forte.”
Lapis shrugged. “Too many strangers, I got overwhelmed. I would ask what you’re doing out here, but I guess sorceresses are pretty asocial - what species even are you, anyway?” That last question probably came out a lot ruder than she’d intended, and internally she beat herself up for it.
Peridot shrugged a little. “Being honest? I don’t even know. I’m probably a mix, though, considering I have traits from a few different ones, or I was created specifically for my job. I don’t remember anything before my apprenticeship started when I was no more than three.”
“I guess we’ve both kind of been molded into knowing nothing but our current situations, then.” Lapis responded, barely remembering to keep herself vague. “The organization is pretty annoying. I envy those that can make their own choices in life - it doesn’t seem very fair to push expectations for a child’s life on them when they’re just babes.”
“Maybe it’s a good thing. At least we know what to expect for the future. I can’t imagine the fear that would come with not knowing.” Peridot responded, turning her head to rest that tired lime gaze on the princess. Lapis wondered if, somehow, without being told, the sorceress had figured out who she was. Given her slip-up and the way she behaved, she didn’t doubt it. “I have to agree that it might be nice to have one decision, though. Just one. A very small one.”
The naiad thought on that one for a moment, studying her companion almost scrutinizingly closely. In the dim light of the floating lanterns, Peridot was, in fact, rather beautiful, and for once in her life Lapis had someone to whom she could relate, someone who, to some extent, understood the struggles that came with having one’s entire life planned out and mapped before them. Being a sorceress, she had to have been intelligent. And, all things considered, she was never going to see this girl again. So what was the harm in making a single, stupid little choice that only a lonely and stressed out sixteen year old could make?
“Perhaps you could make the decision to kiss me.”
The way the sorceress spluttered, cheeks heating up a light cyan color, was almost amusing and certainly endearing. “What? I couldn’t kiss a noble, much less someone of Blue Diamond’s kingdom. It’s… it’s the biggest faux pas anyone could ever pull. I could be executed, and so could you.”
“Unless you plan to tell anyone, I don’t think we would be discovered.” Lapis huffed a little, turning to watch the ocean instead of her companion and trying to pretend that her face was turning a light gold. “But alright. I won’t make you. Kind of ridiculous for a princess to be asking a member of an opposing court to kiss her, anyway.”
If Peridot was surprised at her identity, she didn’t show it. There were several moments of silence, in which the sorceress was apparently considering her options, before Lapis felt clawed fingers lightly grab under her chin and turn her face towards the sorceress. Peridot’s hands drifted downwards to her shoulders once they were making eye contact - and Lapis was well aware that their faces were very, almost unbearably close.
The kiss was sweet, and soft; brief, and stolen.
The moment was the one in which Lapis would later swear she fell in love.