It's a fact of life. Everyone has their own secret agenda to get what they want. People need to lie like they need to breathe. I have yet to come across someone who hasn't lied to me in one way or another. That was, until I met him. My father, my sisters, everyone has lied to me.
Everyone lies. Everyone lies… Except him.
I had never met someone who so bluntly spoke what they were thinking and did what they wanted no matter the consequences. Or at least that's what I thought, at first.
The day I met him changed my life forever, cliché I know. But hear me out! Ever since I've met him my life has been a never ending adventure! For someone with my background, believe me when I tell you it's amazing.
Whoa! Hold up! Did I really just say that?!
Okay, okay. Maybe I should start from the beginning…
Another party... Another party means seeing the same greedy men pine for the throne. It sickens me. My father has fallen deathly ill and the people are worried. Ever since nobles and people of "esteemed reputation" that I have never met show up to the castle whenever they so please thinking they may woo me or my sisters and weasel their way to the crown. I don't know how many more of these parties I can do. The kingdom needs my father, Lyonesse needs a ruler.
Tonight's ball is being held in hopes that the future queen will find a suitor. The ballroom is decorated in one of the most elaborate ways yet. Lights wrapped around each pillar and drape down from the ceiling. The kingdoms colors, blue and yellow, cover the walls. A whole buffet of food covers the span of ten tables and has everything ranging from roasted pig to chocolate cake. Most of the men are crowded here. Food is always their first stop before seeking out the future queen. Priorities I guess. Many noble families are here this time along with their single sons and daughters hoping to marry up. They litter the dance floor, moving in time with the music, while others mingle off to the side.
I sit in the back of the room where three under fluffed chairs sit to display the Kingdom of Lyonesse greatest treasures, the princesses. Farther is far too ill to join in on the festivities. My silver hair is up in an elegant braided style. The lavender dress that I wear falls loosely to my ankles but holds to the shape of my curves snuggly. The dress is cut straight across, leaving my shoulders bare and reveling a little bit of cleavage. I glance to my left and find my eldest sister gone.
The eldest princess, Margaret is off dancing with her fiancé from a neighboring kingdom, Gilthunder. She has a kind heart and was of course the first choice to take over the kingdom. We had one of these parties for her as well. That is when she had met Gilthunder. No one had thought that the first princess and first prince of neighboring kingdoms would have fallen in love. First prince duties, trump first princess duties apparently, so Margaret will move to Gilthunder's kingdom when they marry.
Thus the responsibilities to marry and become queen fall on the second princess, Veronica. Let's just say that Veronica is less than thrilled. She has always been more found of swords and shields then royal balls and dresses.
"Would you like to dance, my lady?" I am brought out of my thoughts by a man in one of the most over the top outfits I have seen all night. Pants puff out around the thighs and skinny around the calves tuck into his new black leather boots. Or at least I assume they are new; there isn't a scuff on them. His shirt is also puffy at the shoulders. Is this a new style that I haven't seen yet? It doesn't seem like he is very comfortable.
"Um... I would love to, but... Shouldn't you be asking my sister?" I asked confused, titling my head to the side. I glance at the chair to my right and find that Veronica is gone. When did she disappear? I must have really been daydreaming.
"The second princess has been gone for quite some time. You looked lonely up here sitting by yourself so I took it upon myself to try and remedy that," he spoke with a smug grin and an outstretched hand, as if he was proud of himself for coming up with such an idea.
Veronica must be off with Griamore again. I smile kindly at the gentleman in front of me and take his hand. "Thank you for thinking of my well being," I reply politely as I stand. "I am Elizabeth, third princess of Lyonesse."
"But of course! How could I not know who you are? I am Luke! I hail from the south to see for myself the beauty of the princesses." He gives me a creepy smile and I do my best not to shudder. Must keep smiling, I remind myself.
Luke leads me to the middle of the room just as a lone harp starts to play. I recognize the melody as he bows and I curtsy in return. We step towards each other as a flute joins in to make a beautiful sound. One of his hands grab one of mine, the other comes to rest on my hip. We move to the music in time with the steady beat. As the song goes along I can feel his hand move from my hip to my lower back and pulls me closer. I do my best to keep the pleasant look on my face but I know it is strained when I catch Margaret eyes. She is frowning. I force myself to smile wider and look away. I must be kind to everyone, even if they are a creep.
The song ends and I step away from the over assuming man I shared the dance with. Luke gives me what he must think is a warm smile. "That was wonderful," he states his eyes glancing a little too low for me to consider him just being shy. I want to cover myself at his gaze but restrain and remind myself again, be nice to everyone. "Would you like to dance again?" he asks in a low husky voice.
"Uh," I freeze. I do NOT want to dance with this man again. The way he looks at me and the tone of his voice make me uneasy. He has yet to make one good impression. "Um..." I stutter out again. Think Elizabeth, think! How can I get out of this without coming out rude?
"The princess must dance with all eligible suitors," a voice interrupts. "So if you don't mind I would like to cut in."
I turn around to find one of the Great Holy Knights, Hendrickson and sigh with relief. Luke isn't nearly as happy. He mumbles his goodbye, bows and leaves. Even he must know Hendrickson is not a man you want to mess with. I watch him leave and then turn my attention back to the Great Holy Knight and smile widely.
"Thank you, Sir Hendrickson!" I praise. "I don't know how I would fair if I had to share another dance with that man," I explain. My smile falters when I think of how close Luke had tried to hold me. Ugh, I shudder.
Hendrickson only laughs at me. "Elizabeth you are once again to kind for your own good. It is okay for you to turn these people down you know? That is the one of the benefits of being a princess is it not?" He gives me a charming smile as he bows. The next song is beginning I notice.
"Uh, of course!" I stumble out and blush as we step towards each other. We join one set of hands together while his other lands on my waist and I rest mine on his shoulder. Hendrickson is about 10 years older than me but I have known him for most of my life. He has always been there to save me in situations like this. It's like our own personal record that seems to repeat itself at every party since I turned 16, that was two years ago. "I know that Father would want me to give everyone a chance though..." I trail off. Thinking of Father sick in bed always makes me sad.
Hendrickson frowns. "Worry not princess, the king will pull through. He is strong like you. All will be well in the kingdom soon," he tries to reassure me and I blush again.
"You think I am strong?" I doubt it. I've always been known as a bit of a crybaby according to Veronica. He gives me a small smile and nods. "Well, I'll take your word for it. I guess," I mumble. He pats my head affectionately and steps away. I hadn't even noticed that the song had ended.
"That's the spirit, princess. The night is almost over, I suppose I should go back to my duties and check on the guards," he explains with a bow. "I'm sure I'll see you around. Goodnight Elizabeth."
"Goodnight Sir Hendrickson. Thank you again for coming to my rescue," I say giving him a small, embarrassed smile. "Perhaps someday, you won't have to come to my rescue every time there is a party."
Hendrickson chuckles and smirks at me. I feel my heart beat pick up. "We could just get married and then you would only have to worry about dancing with me."
My mouth goes dry and my eyes wide as a manage to splutter out a response, "Wha.. what?! He- Hendrickson!" I flush with embarrassment and bring my hands up to try to hide my red face. I hear him laugh at me so I peak a look at him through my fingers. "How can you suggest that so casually? I'm sure you have many women who you would prefer to call a wife," I manage to grumble out weakly. Hendrickson is a good looking man. The fact that he is in his late 20's and has yet to find a woman has always baffled me. I suppose it's because he has put so much focus into becoming a Grand Master Holy Knight that he hasn't had such time for things like that. I see him raise a hand and I close the gap in my fingers.
"Elizabeth," he speaks softly as his hands grasps my fingers gently and removes them from my still red face. "I would be the luckiest man alive if I were able to call you my wife." He brings my right hand to his lips and kisses it. Goddesses help me; I think I'm going to die of embarrassment! "Til next time, princess," he mumbles against my hand, his lips brushing my knuckles with each word. He lets my hand fall back to my side and takes his leave. I bring the hand he kissed up to my chest and hold it there while I stare at his retreating figure.
"Well look at you all flustered," an amused woman's voice mumbles next to me.
"Ahh!" I jump and looking to the side to find my intruder to be non-other than the second princess. "Veronica!" I whine, "Don't sneak up on me like that!" I hope that the red that is still on my face can be passed off as being startled.
"You and Hendrickson sure were acting chummy," she comments with tight lips as she stares after him. I shake my head viciously.
"No! It's not like that!" I deny.
"You don't have to lie Ellie, I know you've always had a crush on him," she comes to stand right in front of me with a knowing smirk. My face heats up for what seems the millionth time tonight.
Sure I've always thought that Hendrickson was attractive and never minded when he would cut in to save me from embarrassment. But, to say I had a crush on him!? No, no way.. Okay.. Well, if I'm honest I do have a little crush on him. I'm not sure what to think of him past that though. We have never actually been in contact with each other much until I started attending the parties. That was when he would come in and "save me". We would make small talk during the dance and then go our separate ways. Occasionally we would pass each other in the halls, and share a smile but that's it. He hadn't ever made any romantic actions towards me past the dances. Well, until tonight that is. "Ah!" I slap my face and try to shake my head of thoughts of Hendrickson.
Veronica chuckled. I forgot she was there. "It's alright Ellie," she tells me with a tender smile. "I'm actually quite glad that you've found someone"
My eyes widen in surprise. "What?! No! I already said it's not like that! Veronica –"
"Elizabeth," she interrupts me. Veronica rarely uses my full name. It's then I notice her somber expression and lack of her party dress. She's now wearing pants and her favorite pink overcoat with the fur trim around the collar. I glance around to find that the party has diminished greatly and the only ones left in the room are us along with a few castle guards.
"Veronica, what's wrong?" I ask worried. Her eyes seem to be glued to the floor. "You can tell me."
She sighs, "I've decided that I'm not cut out for this kind of thing."
"What – what do you mean?" I ask timidly. I'm starting to get a bad feeling about this.
Veronica finally looks up at me with determination in her eyes. "I'm not fit to be a queen and go to balls, to rule the people!" She shouts as she gestures around. "I never wanted this! I want to be a solider, a Holy Knight!"
My heart stops and fear creeps up my body, "I- I don't understand..." I whisper, afraid that if I speak to loud I may break.
"I'm not going to be the queen of Lyonesse. You are."