[UPDATE] Next Story May 17th, 2022

I have been posting stories every two weeks since September 7th, 2021.

A story would have been up today, April 19th, 2022. However, I did not have one finished to post, therefore I haven’t posted anything.

The next story is “Stolen Personality (Temp. Title)” and it will be posted May 17th, 2022 at midnight ET.

It has been started and I anticipate it to be completed by that time.

I have made a decision to use this next month to complete the story and do additional work. Stay tuned for more information on what my upcoming schedule looks like! Information will be posted over at Rambles.

In the meantime, feel free to read what is currently available or visit Rambles for a plethora of posts available for your reading pleasure!

[UNEDITED FIRST DRAFT] Untitled Bedelia’s Story #2

PLEASE NOTE: This is a ROUGH DRAFT. It is the VERY FIRST DRAFT OF THE STORY. YOU are the very first person to read it – I haven’t even read it in its entirety yet!

You WILL come across numerous issues including:

  • spelling mistakes;
  • grammar issues;
  • weak sentence structure;
  • repeated words;
  • unnecessary words;
  • missing words;
  • lack of details/descriptions;
  • confusing details/descriptions;

Critiques/criticisms, while appreciated, most likely will be discarded at this stage! Thank you.

Additional Note: Doodles, Sketches, and Artwork may be added over time. These are not the story illustrations! They do feature characters and places within the story, however.

2 YEARS LATER…

Bedelia could just feel something was off. There was an unusual air of excitement around the castle, no matter where she went. The servants all seemed to be buzzing about something but what was it? Bedelia kept her head forward, but her ears open for whatever it could be.

Was I not informed about something? she wondered. The clacking of her shoes on the ground echoed in the hallway, silencing the whispers of the servants up ahead. She glanced out out the windows around her, quickly calculating the time. It’s much too early to see the King and Queen over something like this. I am certain they would have informed me if it had been an event…perhaps it’s something among the rest of the servants?

Bedelia reached the end of the hallway and walked into a large hall filled with a large desk to the right. Straight ahead was a longuing area with a ginarmous fireplace and numerous couches. The left were several tables and to the right were numerous beds. The hall itself was pretty empty, although there was several servants scattered around.

The biggest cluster of servants was in front of the fireplace, quiet for the summer. For once, Bedelia could hear what the servants were saying.

“Are you kidding me? No way.”

“No, are you kidding me? They’re just too cute! Don’t you want to root for them?”

“Who in their right mind would cheer for them?”

Oh, is there romance in the air that I am unaware of? Bedelia pushed up her glasses. It has been so very long since a marriage came out from the castle! The last two servants to get married were from King Wilibald’s rule, yes? Bedelia couldn’t help but smile. Her mind vaguely recalled two servants – Cecilia and Monique – who had been so in love, they managed to get permission to be wed. That was shortly before I became head servant, wasn’t it?

Bedelia stood behind the couch and smiled. “Cheer for whom?”

She watched the servants scatter, moving apart from each other. The two who had been sitting on the couch immeditately stood up and bowed their heads. “G-good day, Ms. Bedelia,” they greeted.

“Good afternoon,” she replied. Bedelia’s smile grew. “I came to ask for volunteers to assist with some storeroom cleaning, but first, I would love to ask what the chatter is all about? I do seem to be hearing it everywhere.”

Bedelia watched the nervous looks being exchanged among the servants. It can’t possible be something all that bad. 

After a long moment of silence, the light purple haired woman spoke up in a small voice. “Brent proposed to Princess Angelica.”

Bedelia’s genuine smile cracked. She shut her eyes hard, as if to clear them, and swung her head to the servant. “The boy did what?”

The other servant, a navy blue-haired man stood up straight. “B-Brent proposed to the p-princess, Ms. Bedelia.”

A laugh threw itself out of Bedelia’s mouth. Again. And again. And again. Her smile never faded, but it was no longer one of joy – instead, it was stabs of anger. She could see the servants becoming paler by the moment. She leaned back and folded her arms. “How propesterous! There is no way the boy would have done such a thing – even though he often crosses the boundaries of being servant, he just wouldn’t go that far. It just is not possible.”

Bedelia felt herself increasingly become cold underneath the stares from the servants. She stared at them back. Her smile fully faded. Slowly, she stated, “even if he did cross such a boundary, the King and Queen would surely put a stop to it.”

A dark pink-haired person raised their hand. “Ms. Bedelia?” they asked in a small, quiet voice.

“Yes, Chihiro?”

“Brent asked the King and Queen directly and they…they both said they would think about it. And they seemed overjoyed by it too.”

Bedelia sent darts at Chihiro with her eyes. “And I must ask – how do you know that?”

“I witnessed the propsal last night,” replied Chihiro, quickly stating their observation.

It was as if glass had shattered within Bedelia. Her eyes glazed over and all she felt was numbness. Her eyes bore into the unlit fireplace past the servants.

“Ms. Bedelia?”

Bedelia slowly moved her head over to the purple-haired servant. “Ah…” Bedelia cast her eyes down. “Yes, Cecile?” She could feel her own voice being too soft.

“I’m willing to volunteer to clean the storerooms,” replied Cecile. Her voice was small. Bedelia’s heart-warmed – somewhere, she appreciated how observant the servants were. The quietness was just what she needed.

The other servants raised their hands. “We’ll help too!”

Bedelia gently smiled. “Thank you…very well. Please start with the basement storeroom and work your way up.”

“Yes!”

The servants scattered and ran out the door, leaving Bedelia standing alone in front of the giant fireplace.

She placed her hand over her heart and looked down at the couch in front of her, only to look over at the large windows that surrounded the room a moment later. Did they really say that they would ‘think’ about it? 

She slightly clasped the fabric of her blouse underneath her hand. No…they could not have…perhaps it was heard wrong? She looked up at the large, ash brown doming ceiling. Or could it just be entertainig them? They are still both only 15. She cast her gaze back downward. Surely, they will be having Princess Angelica find a far more suitable husband next year. She clasped her hands together. I pray to the stars that the King and Queen will reject such a proposal! 

***

Bedelia’s blood was boiling all the way up to her throat. Her eyes had once again witnessed a scene that reinforced what she had learned only a few weeks earlier – Brent had proposed to Princess Angelica. And what had she been finding? The boy continoues to overstep his bounds! Bedelia huffed, stomping her way down the corridor back to her office. Why-oh-why did I schedule him for late at night? She burst into her office and went right for the upcoming schedules on the board. I do not even have a chance to speak with him – he is always with the princess! Even more so now than he has ever before. She flipped through the schedules. Is there anyone? Anyway to switch? He must be reminded once more he’s only a servant. 

As she flipped through the schedules and scanned it for possible shift changes, her mind went back to the scene she had witnessed from the morning – Brent and Princess Angelica had been out in the hallway beside the princess’s room, holding hands and standing so close together, Bedelia nearly thought they would have kissed! The princess hadn’t even gotten out of her pajamas yet! She had watched them, her anger building each and every second she had watched them, ready to jump in and stop them had they attempted to kiss. I certainly hope the boy remembers not to kiss and consumate! 

Bedelia angrily sat down in her chair and looked over the schedule once more, a bit more carefully. They both looked very much like the King and Queen. She flipped the pages gently through her fingers. But King Engelbert wasn’t even anticipated to be King – the circumstances are far different. They know this. They must know this. 

Bedelia gut poked at her. She stopped on the third page in on the schedule and looked over it, her mind still roaring. How DARE that boy think he could even MARRY the princess in the first place! Perhaps as a child, it was an innocent statement without understanding the responsibilities behind it…but now? He is delusional at best! 

Her eyes finally laid on three servants, scheduled early enough in the evening where she could speak to Brent and late enough for Brent and Princess Angelica to be apart. She grasped her chin. I believe all three of them are working in the library today. 

Bedelia let go of the schedule and stood up from her desk. She took a few deep breaths just before moving out the door.

She walked through the halls and up a few staircases to eventually get to the royal library. She walked through the double doors. Nostalgia hugged at her heart as the warm rays of the sun beat down through the high windows. Goosebumps ran down her forearms as her eyes glanced at the numerous book titles she had once assisted Princess Johanne with – many of them were long faded, but still in good condition, despite being so old.

As her eyes scanned the room and the pleasurable hurt of old memories was sweet on her tongue, her heart began to sink, overhearing two overly familiar voices around the corner.

“Come to me old book of ye; Sir Aerlden’s diary,” chanted Princess Angelica from just behind the shelves. Bedelia turned the corner and looked up, seeing the old, yellow diary of King Aerlden jumping off from the shelf.

Bedelia’s heart pounded against her ribcage. The book! She let out the quietest of gasps before catching the book in one hand, with her other hand right behind her back. Her eyes met a rather horrified Princess Angelica and Brent who looked as if he was on the verge of glaring. She moved her arm to hold the fragile diary with two hands and walked up to Princess Angelica.

“Princess Angelica,” said Bedelia, holding out the book. Princess Angelica, slightly shaking, took it in her hands and drew it into her body. Bedelia pushed up her glasses, turning her head slightly downward to properly meet the princess’s eyes. “You must be careful with priceless articles such as this. It’s a diary, yes?”

“Yes,” replied Princess Angelica, frowning.

Bedelia’s face softened into a small smile, looking at the princess. She watched Princess Angelica’s shoulders relax. Good. 

Bedelia walked her way around the table over to Brent’s side, ever so curious as to what was sprawled out on the table. She could feel the stabs of his glares. What is the boy being taught? 

Bedelia leaned in, taking a good look at the materials. There were several books, plus a notebook Brent was clearly jotting down notes in, laid out. She zoned in on the words within the open books. Laws and history, huh… Bedelia’s eyes widened and she felt a lump in her throat. She gasped, lifting up the books. She looked at the spines and, much to her horror, her suspecsions had been correct at the moment she started skimming the paragraphs.

“What are you doing with these?! These are for royal families eye only!” Bedelia pointed to the spine. What in the vast universe is THIS?! He must have picked these books himself…there is no way this is what he is being taught. 

“Give those back!” shouted Brent. Bedelia stumbled backwards as Brent jumped out of his seat. “It is a part of my curriculum!”

Bedelia’s mouth dropped in complete disbelief. There is absolutely no way. I couldn’t even look at these with Lady Johanne – there is no way he is allowed to. 

“Bedelia.”

Bedelia turned to a stern-faced Princess Angelica. The princess’s sternum raised up higher, as did her head. Her voice was almost booming. Bedelia couldn’t do anything else but flinch underneath the power within Princess Angelica’s tone of voice.

“I order you to place the books back down. You may go inquire about Brent’s curriculum with Taliesin and address your complaints to my parents.”

Bedelia’s lips quivered. She had suddenly remembered the only time Princess Johanne had ever yelled at her – and it was for taking a look at the books only meant for royal eyes. It was frightening. Even though she had been forgiven immeditately and Princess Johanne had kindly listed the books that were off-limits to her, it didn’t lessen how terrified she had felt in that moment. Princess Angelica had that kind of power behind her own voice.

Bedelia gently placed the books back on the table, neatly stacked. “Very well, Princess Angelica.”

Bedelia took a step back from the table and faced Princess Angelica, She bowed down. After a moment, she glanced over at Brent, who was leering at her. Perhaps I should go dig up the old list of books. I believe I still have it somewhere…that way he can study what he is allowed to. She turned her eyes back down towards the ground before standing back up.

Bedelia folded her hands. “I shall go speak to Taliesin about this,” she stated. She nodded her head at regal Princess Angelica, who was clearly standing tall in her power, and the rather grumpy look Brent.

Just before she left, she leaned over to Brent. In a soft voice, she reminded him: “Do not forget your place, boy. You are here to do nothing more than serve.” And with that she walked around the corner, Brent and Princess Angelica disappearing from view.

Talisen surely must know the books that are off-limits…he’s been here almost as long as I have! Goodness me, goodness me…should I first find the list? Bedelia looked down at her hand as she exited from the library. No, let me speak with Taliesin first. If what they say is true, then it most likely is a command from the King and Queen. She let out a sigh.

And then she smacked her forehead. The servants! I forgot to ask the servants about the schedule changes! 

She paused for a moment halfway down the hallway. Eventually, she shook her hand dismissively. I shall ask them later. This is a far more pressing issue. 

***

Bedelia stopped just short of the wooden door, painted a creamy yellow with flakes of paint falling off, revealing the original dark brown wood underneath. She rhythmically tapped on the door and awaited a reply.

“Yeeeeeeeees? Come iiiiiin.”

Bedelia opened the door and gently, but swiftly shut the door behind her. “Good day, Taliesin.”

“Aaaaaaaah,” said the man, rocking his body forward and standing up from his chair. “Bedelia, it is rare I have the pleasure to be in your presence. What brings you here today?”

Bedelia’s shoulders dropped and she crossed her arms, leaning the side of her hip on a nearby desk. She glanced around the extremely tidy room – every single thing seemed to be meticliously put in its place and dusted down or shined at that! Even the papers and books sprawled out on the desk looked as if they had been neatly aligned with math and a ruler. So very clean. 

She then turned her attention back to Talisen – an old man around her age with a head completely bald except for a single large lock of gray hair tied in the back of his head with a black band. The man appeared to be wearing a white robe with a flower patterned robe with numerous warm colors over it. On his feet were loafers that matched his robe. At a glance, the clothing in general looked to be heavy and inappropriate for the summertime heat, but Bedelia could see upon closer inspection that all the fabrics were extremely lightweight – in such a way she knew the kind of protective effects they had against the heat.

Bedelia frowned. “Is it true that you’re teaching the boy royal-only material?”

Talisen closed his eyes, in thought. “‘Boy’? …hrm…do you meant Brent?”

“Yes.” Bedelia’s gut pinched at the sound of the boy’s name.

Bedelia and Talisen stared at each other for a good, long moment. Then Talisen burst out laughing. The man bent down and placed his hands on his thighs.

Bedelia disapprovingly pursed her lips. Is there something funny? “Did I say something that warranted laughter?”

Talisen shook his right hand. “No, no…you just look so serious, as always. I almost never see you.” Talisen wiped a single tear that had drizzled from his eye and he took a heavy, happy sigh. “Good to know you’re still serious!”

Bedelia walked up to Talisen and looked down into his shiny head. Talisen looked up curiously at her. In response, Bedelia lightly bobbed him in the head with her hand. Talisen immeditately stood up and rubbed where she had tapped. “Bedeliaaaaaa, that hurt my precious head.”

“I’m speaking of a very, very serious matter – the boy is reading materials meant for royal eyes only. I could not even read them. I am not sure if you aren’t aware of the books that are off-limits to non-royals. If you are not, I can dig up a list if needed.”

Talisen started to sniffle. He placed a finger under his nose. Bedelia leered at him. He’s laughing again. “Talisen!”

“Sorry. sorry! You know how long my family has been teaching at this castle? Huuuuuundreds of yeeeeeeears. Do you not think I don’t know the ‘off-limit’ books by heart? Was poured into me since the beginning!”

Bedelia’s chest tightened, as did her throat. Her lips pursed even more. She grabbed the collar of Talisen’s robes. If she had the power to bore holes through someone just her looks, that is exactly what she would have done. But she did not – instead, all she could do was stare directly into his eyes reflecting just how pissed off she was.

“If you knew, why would you teach him?! The boy already crosses far too many boundaries! He blurs the line between royal and servant! He has no understanding of his place!” Bedelia leaned in more into a rather confused-looking Talisen. “He had the nerve to request to marry the Princess, had you not heard? He had repeatedly stepped over boundaries as a child and is doing so even more now than ever before! The last thing that boy needs to get into his head that he is becoming a part of the royal family. He has no sense of place and, no doubt, learning from materials meant only for the royal families eyes.”

Bedelia’s hands loosened as Talisen took a step back. “You sound like you don’t like Brent very much.”

Bedelia found herself unable to reply. Her stomach bubbled with turmoil.

Talisen scratched his cheek. “I was under the impression that they were getting married.”

SHATTER 

Bedelia felt exactly what she had felt when the servants had informed her of the proposal. In an unusually quiet voice, she asked, “And what makes you say that?”

Talisen put his index finger in the air. “They instructed me from the beginning to teach him most of the royal curriculum. The King and Queen were pretty clear they would have me teach Brent the remainder once he and Princess Angelica were wed.”

“…and when was that?” Bedelia could feel herself shaking at her core.

“From the start. I assumed the two would be married in the future?”

“…from when he was a child?”

“Yes.”

“You thought they would be married?”

“Yes.”

Rage swelled her throat. With no where left for it to go and Bedelia knowing just what kind of space she was in, screamed. Talisen stumbled back.

“Bedeliaaaaaa, your face is red with raaaaaaage.”

“THE BOY. IS. A. SERVANT! HE IS A SERVANT!” screamed Bedelia. Her voice warped as it came out of her mouth, sounding more akin to a demon than a human. She balled her fist and slammed them down in the air. “WHAT SENSE DO IT MAKE THAT THEY WOULD GET MARRIED? WHY DO SO MANY SEEM TO THINK THAT WAY? HE IS A SERVANT!”

Tears filled with her rage pushed their way out from her eyelids. She watched Talisen’s surprise soften into empathy. Talisen placed his warm hand on her back.

“You know,” he said gently. “King Engelbert had married a peasant.”

“T-that’s different!” The volume of Bedelia’s voice fluctated. “He was not even meant to become King! He was to be a lord of an estate on the edges of Astral Isles. If it had not been for the tradegic deaths of King Gerhardt and King Leberecht –”

Talisen began to rub Bedelia’s back. Her tightened fist loosened and she looked at him, allowing the tears to flow.

“You are angry about something else, are you not?” Talisen asked. He was almost whispering.

Bedelia took a white hankerchef with lace-like embrodery around the edge out from her pocket and dabbed the tears off her face. “I am just frustrated at the way the servant boy repeatedly crosses the line with the Princess and how no one who matters thinks it is a problem.”

Talisen quietly laughed. Bedelia cringed.

“Is it something to laugh over?” she asked.

Talisen shook his head. “No. Your rage and worry are genuine – you just want what is best for the Kingdom, yes?”

Bedelia nodded her head. “Yes. I genuinely want the Princess to be happy and the Kingdom to succeed. I do not want neither to fall to the hands of the boy – he is most certainly not fit for the Princess nor the Kingdom.”

Bedelia cocked her head at the subtle smile on Talisen’s face. She leered into it.

“You know, I remember a certain servant getting close to a certain princess.”

Bedelia gasped. “Another one?! Who?”

Talisen smiled and pointed at Bedelia. “Yoooou!”

Bedelia scoffed. “Me?! I would never!”

Talisen stroked his hair-free chin, smirking. “Hmmm…I don’t know Bedelia. I watched you and Lady Johanne get closer than a servant and royal ought to be.”

Bedelia froze.

The first memory to float up was the numerous times Princess Johanne had grabbed Bedelia and pulled her onto the bed – the alluring, elusive princess would stroke Bedelia’s face, put her forehead to her’s, and snuggle right on up. Sometimes, they would even hold hands! The inappropriate memories flushed her face. Even her later memories, after Princess Johanne became Lady Johanne, Bedelia had still taken holidays per invitation from the Lady herself. When there had been no one in the room, when they were all alone, Lady Johanne would still stroke Bedelia’s face and hold her hand, even long after wrinkles had pressed their way over both of their skins.

Bedelia’s heart squeezed. She took in a deep breath and exhaled, lightly loosening it. Her head bowed down.

“Please…don’t speak so ill of the dead.”

Talisen patted her back. “I’m not speaking ill, I’m just stating what I saw.” Tailsen let out a small chuckle. “I think if King Engelbert had anything to say, you and Lady Johanne would have gotten m—”

Bedelia slapped her hand over Talisen’s mouth. Her eyes were hidden by her hair lump in the front of her face. “Talisen. Never suggest such a proposertous thing again.”

Talisen grabbed her wrist and lowered it. “I apologize. I won’t mention it again.”

Bedelia tilted her head enough to see his face. “Very well.”

Bedelia stood up and sighed. She took a look around the room once more, taking in the tidy surroundings. Her anger, embarassment, and nervousness receded back into the depths of her being.

“What are you going to do?”

“Hm?” Bedelia looked back at Talisen.

“Brent was assigned to learn and I think he may very well be on the way to marrying Princess Angelica.”

Bedelia balled a part of her skirt in her fist. “I suppose I will just have to bring my concerns to the King and Queen.” She let out a sigh. I have brought it up over the years, but they still do not seem to understand the weight of the matter.

Talisen nodded repeatedly. “Yes, yes.” He gave her a smile. “I would wish you good luck, but I am not even sure what is right.”

Splitting them up is right,” replied Bedelia without a second thought. She turned on her heel and walked over to the door.

“Good day, Talisen,” she said with a nod.

“Have a good day, Bedelia.”

Bedelia shut the door behind her. She held her head and sighed. I feel so frazzled…Talisen, why did you have to bring up Lady Johanne? I suppose I shall talk to the King and Queen tomorrow…I am far too emotional. This is unusual for myself…

Bedelia walked down the corridor, making her way to the stairwell. She took the notebook out of her pocket and began to skim over it. What else must I get done for the day? She pulled a pen from her pocket and began to cross off all the activities she had done. Soon, every activitiy had been crossed off.

Bedelia looked up the stairs, following the line of steps up to the doorway at the top. I suppose I could take a nap. 

*** 

Bedelia awoke to seeing a note slipped underneath her door. A shock of panic overcame her for a brief moment, her head whipping over to the window. Immeditately she calmed down, seeing the warm hues of the mid-afternoon sun. I did not oversleep. She stood up from recliner and moved to the letter underneath the door. She opened carefully opened up the wax seal and pulled out the letter inside. A smile brief flashed across her face, receeding quickly into a stern frown. She folded the envelope and stuffed it into her pocket. She took one moment to look in the mirror to smooth out her appearance – several locks of her silver hair had become loose during her nap – and she walked out the door with such hard steps, the floor seemed like it could break apart any moment.

***

Bedelia entered throught the giant double doors of the court with a dignified face. She turned her head over to a young man with a small trumpet and a book that looked far too prestine for a book that was marked up as much as it was. “Arwinwalde,” greeted Bedelia. “I am here due to my request being accepted.”

“Aaaaah, Head Servant Bedelia! It is so wonderful to see you,” replied Arwinwalde, smiling. He flipped through the agenda he held in his hands, his smile growing wider. “It’s not too often come to the court itself.”

“Yes, that would be correct. I would not want to take away the peoples’ times with the King and Queen. However, there is an issue that must be dealt with immeditately.”

Arwinwalde continued smiling, but his eyes were no longer naturally folding – instead, they were wide with uncertainity. “My, Head Servant Bedelia, whatever could be an issue that could not wait?”

Bedelia looked over to the two citizens who had just gotten up off the ground. She watched them walk behind her, tears of pure joy and gratitude streaming down their faces. She turned her back to the King and Queen, who excitedly waved over to her. Bedelia let out a sigh. My…I do not think there has even been a pair of royals that seem so…loose. 

Arwinwalde’s trumpet resounded around the room, followed by the sound of Arwinwalde’s voice. “HEAD SERVANT BEDELIA OF OUR VERY OWN CASTLE IS HERE TO SPEAK TO YOUR ROYAL HIGHNESSES!”

Bedelia walked down the long carpet that lead straight to the platform that the thrones of the King and Queen sat upon. Bedelia’s eyes cast down at the rug. It was a beautiful crystaline blue that matched the blue walls of the courtroom. She hadn’t spent too much time in the courtroom, generally speaking – she only remembered when she had ordered the materials for the throneroom’s redesign per the request of the King and Queen. Surprisingly, the carpet had held up over the years. Her own memories floated back even further to the old carpet she had seen all the times she had entered the throneroom – back then, the walls had been red and gold, with a long red carpet with splotches of darker burgandy…no doubt from King Siegbert’s brutal and murderous tactics. Her heart panged as her feet passed by the spot that Baadur had been struck down all because she had failed to behave herself.

Bedelia took in a deep breath as she stood a yard away from King Engelbert and Queen Pleasance. She curtesied and looked back up at them, seeing the glow on each of their faces.

“Bedelia!” exclaimed the Queen. “It’s such a pleasant surprise for you to request an audience with us within the court.”

“What could the pressing matter be?” inqured King Engelbert.

Bedelia watched the King and Queen’s bodies sink into their seats and their shoulders drop. Their smiles seemed so relaxed. Could they really not know? 

Bedelia folded her hands. “King Engelbert and Queen Pleasance, there is a rumor going around that the boy asked for Princess Angelica’s hand in marriage. Is this true?”

Bedelia felt her whole being shrunk, watching as King Engelbert and Queen Pleasance grasped each other’s hands and leaned into each other. Both of them had varying shades of flushed cheeks about them. The mid-afternoon sun that shown through the rooftops hit the glass chandelers in just the right way where the King and Queen nearly seemed to be sparkling. All within that quick second, King Engelbert looked at Bedelia straight in the eye, Queen Pleasance’s head resting in the crook of his neck.

“Yes, Bedelia, that is true,” replied King Engelbert.

“The dear was so nervous!” cooed Queen Pleasance. “It was such a sweet moment.”

“Yes – who would have thought that children would have held onto a promise for so long!”

“It’s so romantic!”

Bedelia’s eyes flittered around the room. The several castle staff – servants and knights alike – all seemed to be having a mixed reaction. Why is NO ONE finding this unacceptable? 

Bedelia closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She turned to King Engelbert. “Did the boy ask you both directly?”

King Engelbert nodded. “Yes. Brent asked us directly in order to ask for Princess Angelica’s hand in marriage.”

Queen Pleasance giggled like a giddy school girl next to him, covering her mouth.  “He actually asked us!”

“We couldn’t be more pleased,” added King Engelbert.

Bedelia’s nails dug into her palm as her fist tightened. “And what does that mean?”

King Engelbert stood up from his chair. He gave the Queen a warm smile and let go of her hand, walking up to Bedelia. He placed his hands on her shoulders. His smile was just a gentle. “Bedelia, we are most likely going to accept the propsal. It has been in our hearts that Princess Angelica find the one she loves the most and he has been here, by her side, for so long. We would be hard pressed not to accept. And as you know, we love him t—”

Bedelia’s arms pushed away King Engelbert’s. Her face was a deep red and her eyes reflected out the rage that was shooting up like a geyser of magma from deep within her. “SHE ISN’T YOU,” screamed Bedelia. “THE PRINCESS IS NOT YOU.” Her body twitched and she grasped her chest. Looking up at a rather startled King Engelbert.

“Princess Angelica is the only heir to the throne and you are going to approve her marriage to someone of such lowly status – a servant to the CASTLE for the sake of the stars! Astral Isles is in one of the weakest states it has ever been – if the surrounding Kingdoms weren’t simply Ocean Dwellers, we surely would have fallen by now! It’s absolutely proposterous – the princess marrying a servant boy! What would Astral Isles think of that?! Would the people even respect Princess Angelica when she ascends the throne and becomes Queen?

King Engelbert, I love you and Queen Pleasance, but please – you both were a unique circumstance. You were never even expected to ascend throne – you would have not gotten away with marrying a peasant had it not been for the fact you were the third child of King Wilibald and if it hadn’t been for the deaths of King Gerhardt and King Leberecht! You even allowed former-Princess Corinna to leave the royal family to marry a farmer.

Please – do not weaken Astral Isles due to a higher ideal of ‘love’ – certainly there must be a better choice of Husband for Princess Angelica that would surely meet your desires for ‘true love’ and for the good of the kingdom! I understand you favor the boy — I can see it from your actions and the way you look at him and treat him, as if he is your second child that you could never have.

It is utterly irresponsible to have Princess Angelica marry the SERVANT BOY!”

The final echo of Bedelia’s voice bouncing off the walls brought Bedelia back into her body. She could feel the heat of her redened cheeks and the tears that just wouldn’t come out from her eyes bluring up her vision. The air all around was heavy and so silent, you could easily hear everyone’s breath.

Bedelia watch the stunned King Engelbert turn his head to Queen Pleasance. Their usual bubbliness completely faded, replaced with a rather heartbreaking melancholy.

Bedelia briefly reflected on her own actions, as King Engelbert turned back to her. Her own words she had yelled slowly were refilling her head. King Engelbert walked up a bit closer to her and Bedelia quickly bowed her head. “I apologize if I may have sounded rude, but I am thinking about what is best for the Kingdom.”

King Engelbert placed a hand on Bedelia’s shoulder. Bedelia looked back up. The spark of joy that normally resided in the King’s eyes seemed to have been lost. “Bedelia, thank you for sharing your concerns with us. You have brought to our attention some very important issues to our attention. We shall take your concerns into consideration making our final decision.”

King Engelbert’s eyes wouldn’t meet Bedelia’s, although from a distance, you wouldn’t be able to tell.

Bedelia bowed her head. “You are far too kind, your highness.”

King Engelbert simply nodded his head.

“Was there…anything else you needed to speak about to us?” asked Queen Pleasance.

“No, that was all,” replied Bedelia.

“You are dismissed,” said King Engelbert.

Bedelia curtesied and walked back down the hallway. She could feel the stares of each and every person in that room, along with the sudden wave of whispers rippling as she got closer and closer to the door.

“…have a nice day, Ms. Bedelia,” said Arwinwalde.

Bedelia bowed her head. “Likewise.”

She stepped out of the throneroom and stood in the middle of the foryer. She took out her notebook, looking at her own schedule for the day. Her head lifted up to the chandeler that illuminated the area. The lights flickered as if it had been lit with fire. She then looked down, over her notebook, staring down at her child self, who was shaking where she stood.

I must have sounded quite rude…but I do not believe I would have spoken up if I did not feel like my words would have been received. She placed a hand just below her heart. King Engelbert is not King Siegbert. There is no need for me to be frightened of anything more than a verbal reprimand. 

She turned away from herself and back to her notebook. Now…who am I to inspect today? 

***

A bell resounded throughout the entire castle. It’s distinct twinkling immeditately signaled to Bedelia to stand up from her seat. She replaced her pen into the ink jar nearby on the corner of her desk, put down a paper weight onto the page she currently had open, and struted over to the door. She walked up flights of stairs and through corridors, finally finding herself in the foryer just before the throne room.

Her stomach tickled with anticipation of what was going to happen – several weeks had passed since she had spoken to them about her concerns, What could it be? Surely they would not be reprimanding me for my actions now. The slightest hint of a smile appeared on her face as she walked through the throne room door.

Arwinwalde immeditately sounded the horn. Bedelia did not even give him time to announce her presence beside from the horn – she stood in front of the King and Queen within mere seconds of entering. “Good day, your highnesses. How may I assist you today?”

The usually giggly, energetic King and Queen were far more stern. If Bedelia had to describe them, it was as if she was looking at the in-between of King Siegbert and King WIlibald. The excitement in her stomach turned into knots. She could feel the scars from her abuse as a child on her upper arms heat up, or so she thought. The out of character scene sent chills down her body.

“Good day,” greeted King Engelbert. Although he was holding hands with the Queen, no smile appeared on his face. “We have a request for you.”

“Yes?”

A pause.

“Please send Brent to us immeditately.”

The knots in Bedelia’s stomach quickly untightened. Although an uneasiness hugged her shoulders by the rather solemn atmosphere, Bedelia could not be more than happy to hear the name of the servant boy. “Yes, right away.”

“Once you send him here, you may return to your duties.”

“Yes,” Bedelia curtesied.

“You may go.”

Bedelia nodded, turned around, and immeditately walked out.

This must be it! This must be! 

She returned to her quarters and flpped through the present week’s schedule, quickly locating Brent’s name. The boy had been assigned to scrubbing the floors in the guestrooms on the third floor of the castle. Bedelia flipped closed the schedule – a stapled together booklet of sorts – and made her way back out the door and to the third floor.

The entered into the room, seeing Brent meticiliously scrubbing every cranny on the floor. Her lips smiled even more. My! It would be a shame for him to no longer be a servant…he is fairly good at the job as is. Goodness me, please Stars, please let the King and Queen see that the marriage between the boy and Princess Angelica is not a good one. 

“Brent,” said Bedelia. Her voice briefly faded as she spoke his name. An awkwardness hugged her throat, but no matter! She couldn’t help but smile, especially watching Brent suddenly jump, continued. “The King and Queen would like to see you.”

She watched as Brent seemed just as excited as her, only for his face to shift to glaring daggers at her. “Yes, right away,” he replied. Brent placed the sponge onto a cart, wiped his hands, and ran out the door.

Bedelia watched him disappear down the hallway, then she turned back to the cart. She lifted up the hastily placed sponge and neatly placed it into a nook a sort distance away from the cart’s handles. She wiped her own hands dry right after. She then turned her attention to where Brent had been scrubbing, knelt down, and dragged her index finger over it. Her smile grew. The boy needs work on putting equipment away, but he really does an impeccible job. Such a shame he preys on the Princess…

***

Bedelia flipped through numerous letters on her desk. If you looked close enough, you could see she was slightly pale, looking over each note. Goodness me, I cannot believe I forgot about these tasks. She scanned the schedule on her desk. Her eyes soon located two servants – Edward and Taylor – with open schedules. Bedelia stood up from her desk and walked over to her front door, peering outside into the hallway. The hallway was completely silent.

Bedelia slipped out from her room and quietly shut the door. Looks like I must ask myself. She hurriedly walked down the corridor, up and down stairs, eventually entering into the servants quarters. She couldn’t help but notice the overwhelming air of tension in the air. Her ears seemed to open to the murmurs of the servants around. Her hearing sharpened and honed in on the scatters of servants all around.

“Just as it should be.”

“I really thought they were going to get married!”

“I’m heartbroken for them.”

“Good – what was he even thinking, proposing like that?”

A smile couldn’t help but spread across Bedelia’s face. “Oh, what is this?” she asked, slipping in between a nearby conversation. The two middle-aged servants didn’t even flinch, although the surrounding younger ones did, finally noticing the head servant in their quarters.

“Oh, Ms. Bedelia, good day. What brings you here?” greeted the male servant. His hair was mostly gray with some strands of dirty blonde still mixed in. The top of his hair was mostly bald, but he had a ponytail that reach about mid-back behind him.

“I have a request for both you and Taylor, but first, I am so curious what all the fuss is about?”

The other person, a middle-aged woman with dyed green tips elbowed the man. “You hear that, Edward? Ms. Bedelia needs us!” she winked.

Edward pushed Taylor slightly away, quietly chuckling. “I’m happy to help.” Edward began stroking his beardless chin. “Everyone’s talking about Brent’s propasal being rejected.”

Bedelia’s eyes glinted and she pushed up her glasses. The King and Queen understood! “How wonderful!” Bedelia couldn’t help but grin.

Edward and Taylor glanced at each other. Taylor scratched her cheek and Edward began to pull on his ear. Bedelia raised her eyebrow, watching their curious behaviour. “What’s the matter?” She glanced down, looking over the top of her glasses. “Spit it out.”

“It’s…kind of sad, y’know?” said Edward.

Taylor nodded. “I was rootin’ for them. It just seemed like Brent was clearly the best choice.”

Bedelia’s heart punched her rib cage so hard, she couldn’t help but grasp her chest. “How proposterous!”

The room fell silent around her and she could feel all eyes on her, but she did not care one bit. “A servant boy cannot marry a princess. That’s how it is. Princess Angelica needs a husband most suitable for royal duties.”

Edward and Taylor lips both smacked together and their bodies tensed up. Bedelia’s eyes narrowed, watching their movements. Are they objecting me? Bedelia sighed. “No matter. Thank you for informing of the fuss.”

Edward and Taylor both bowed.

“Now, let me explain. The ballroom needs its initial cleaning started today…”

***

Bedelia left the servants quarters and made her way back to her room. Her mind echoed the quiet murmurs she heard upon exiting the room. Her whole abdomen tensed up and her face burned from her seething anger. How ABSURD. How could anyone think the boy and Princess Angelica marrying is acceptable? The princess is almost 16 and the only heir to the throne. Do they want to see this kingdom fall? 

THe moment her thoughts quieted down, she finally heard just how hard her feet were hitting the ground. Bedelia immeditately slowed down and her shoes turned into quiet clopping.

***

Bedelia mulled over the schedule, while comparing to the rather long to-do list beside her that had been delivered to her by the King and Queen personally, much to her surprise. As she penciled in the duties to each person, her eyes ended up going back to Brent’s name over and over again. Anger pinched her gut over and over again at each glance. I cannot schedule him in where he would be most suited. She began to tap the desk with her finger.

Then she stopped.

She looked over the to-do list and everything that wasn’t already assigned, and then back to Brent’s name. She took her eraser and gently removed what she had already penciled in. She then moved Brent’s studies down about two hours and filled in the remaining time with all the tasks that suited him and his abilities.

Bedelia beamed. Yes. This is it. It does matter as much when he does his studies, does it not? The boy is no longer a child and soon enough, he will be separated from the princess. There is no reason to keep him on a schedule that accomadates Princess Angelica, is there? He is truly needed elsewhere during those times. Yes, needed elsewhere. And what a perfect time to get him and the Princess used to no longer seeing each other on a regular basis! 

Bedelia sighed with relief. She continued to pencil in the rest of the list and soon enough, the to-do list was completely scheduled in. Now all Bedelia had to do was ink it.

***

Bedelia stood beside a pale-faced chef with a gentle smile on her face. “Do you mind?” she asked, hovering her hand next to the face of the chef.

“No, not at all,” they replied.

Bedelia gently grasped their warm hand. “Watch and feel,” She moved their hand holding a large pan and in a circular motion, moving the vegetables inside of it around. After a few moments, she let go and the chef continued the motion.

“See, there you go.”

Bedelia couldn’t help but smile at the color returning back to the chefs face.

Soon, the vegetables were plated and Bedelia was served the sample. She nodded and gesutred to the chef to take a sample as well.

“And what do you think?” inquired Bedelia.

The chef frowned. “It’s…a little plain.”

Bedelia chuckled. “Indeed! Make sure you salt and pepper as you cook. Follow it up with one of the all-seasoning mixes on the shelf above the stoe.”

The chef’s eyes glittered. “Oh! Wow…okay, yes. I will do that for next time!”

Bedelia patted them on the back, turning her attention to some slight commossion in the pantry.

“Ms. Bedeliaaaaaaaaaaaa!” cried out a servant.

Bedelia turned into the pantry and gasped  – literally all over the floor was flour everywhere. Three servants stood, covered in it. She couldn’t help but chuckle. “Goodness! What happened?”

“I was just trying to move the flour to a higher shelf,” sobbed one of male servants. “it turned out to be open and it went everywhere!”

“Flour always belongs near the floor,” explained Bedelia. “Always double check the seal before moving it.”

“Yeeeeeees.”

“Sally! Drew!” called Bedelia, leaning out the door. She watched the two young adults flinch. “Please bring the cleaning supplies and assist the pantry crew in clean up.”

“Yes!”

Sally and Drew scurried over to the pantry with a cleaning cart in tow. Their eyes appeared to role around in circles as they reached for their brooms and dust pans.

Bedelia extended her hand out to the second oldest servant standing in the pantry. “There is no need to stress, you two. Elizabeth is a veteran when it comes to cleaning. She will be able to guide you.”

Elizabeth stuck up her nose. “I did win the cleaning awards 5 years in a row. It would have been 6 if I hadn’t been switched to a different department.”

“Of course – you are among the best,” complimented Bedelia.

Elizabeth seemed to sparkle. The rest of the servants just looked around, avoiding eye contact with everyone else. It could only be described as an air of awkwardness.

“Elizabeth, I trust you have the cleaning crew under control?”

“Yes, ma’am!”

“Very well. I shall leave the newbies to you.”

Elizabeth grabbed the shoulders of Sally and Drew. “You got it.”

Bedela walked based the smirking Elizabeth and wildyly uncomfortable Sally and Drew, walking back out into the kitchen.

Bedelia opened up her notebook and struck off all of the kitchen task as she took a quick glance around. Just before reaching the garden doors, the rushed opening of the kitchen doors caused her head to turn. Her eyebrows rose, seeing Brent heading straight for her.

“Ms. Bedelia?”

A scowl quickly wrote itself across Bedelia face. What could this boy want? “Yeeeeees, Brent?”

Brent stood a few feed away from her. Bedelia’s nose scrunched – Brent’s hand was on his hip and another one in the air, pointing at her. She could already feel herself being accused of something, but what?

Brent leered at her. “Is there a reason why my study sessions were shifted two hours down twice next week?”

Bedelia quickly felt herself smile. And here I thought he would have asked something more proposterous! Her chest puffed out and she extended her hand out to the side. “I needed to shift your hours down because you are needed elsewhere in the castle during those hours.”

“Ah, I see.”

Bedelia turned her body in reflect to the daggers Brent’s eyes was throwing at her. Her smile was beginning to fade. What rudeness! Although he is speaking politely, his body language is telling me something far different. Goodness, goodness, goodness. 

“Will they be changed back?” inquired Brent. Bedelia could have sworn she heard anger underneath the breath that accompanied his words.

Bedelia froze. She felt herself grow cold. Her guard lowered and she could do nothing more than stare off at the intricate moulding that decorated the kitchen walls. Perhaps I did overstep my boundaries. I did not consult the King and Queen. And it is not like the Princess and the boy are not still spending time with each other. That last thing I would want is a complaint lodged against me. But would King Engelbert really do something to someone such as myself? I only truly think about what is best for the kingdom. 

Bedelia glanced into Brent’s angry eyes. Ah… “Yes,” replied Bedelia. “I will be able to do that next week.”

Bedelia watched the anger in Brent’s eyes partially shift to a rather conflicting one. What might he be thinking? 

Brent simply nodded. “Thank you.” And just like that, he turned away and walked out of the kitchen.

Bedelia flipped over to a new page in her notebook and scribbled down a note to revert Brent’s schedule. She felt petrified. In her heart, her childhood self whispered to her, “I’m scared”.

“Ms. Bedelia?”

The voice of one of the chefs cut through her fear. She turned and closed her notebook. “Yes, Jacks?”

Jacks sighed, one hand over half of his face. Bedelia’s eyes widened, seeing the man covered head to toe with water. “There’s been another pipe break again.”

Bedelia smacked her face and hurried off, allowing Jacks to lead the way.

***

Bedelia knocked on the door the King and Queen’s study, a large clipboard and notebook tucked under her arm. Once she heard King Engelbert’s voice welcome her in, she entered swiftly. For once, the King and Queen were sitting around a small round table in the corner of the study.

“Bedelia, come, sit down with us,” invited King Engelbert, extended his hand to an open seat.

Bedelia curtesied. “Yes, your highness.” She walked over and sat down. She faced the direction of Queen Pleasance, who was holding her cheeks with her palms, leaning over the table. Her eyes seemed to glitter and her smile suggested something so dreamy and far away, Bedelia’s stomach couldn’t help but twist into knots.

Goodness me, she must not be thinking about that boy and Princess Angelica again. Bedelia cracked open her notebook and pulled out the pen that had been tucked underneath the clipboard. At the top of the notebook page, she wrote in bold letters “16TH YEAR BALL”.

Bedelia glanced upward, noticing Queen Pleasance’s head outstretched.

“May I help you, your highness?” inquired Bedelia.

“Oh, pay no mind to me!” Queen Pleasance waved her hand. She then giggled. “You have such beautiful handwriting. I always forget.”

“She does, doesn’t she?” agreed King Engelbert. “I know Aunt Johanne always mentioned it when she spoke about her.”

Bedelia’s lips cracked a smile, although her eyes lacked any shine to them. “Yes, she indeed always did.  Lady Johanne was far too kind. I suppose you picked up some of that from her.”

King Engelbert laughed. “I suppose so! She was probably the person whom I spent the most time with growing up.”

Bedelia couldn’t help but chuckle herself.

After a good moment and a loud crackle in the fireplace that broke the warm atmosphere, everyone settled down and King Engelbert leaned forward. “As you are aware, Angelica’s 16th birthday is in this upcoming year. It is of the uptmost importance that the balls be extravegant, lavish, and utterly, undenialbly rich with entertainment and refreshments for every guest.”

Bedelia quickly scribbled keywords into her notebook.

She glanced up, seeing King Engelbert leaned back and fold his hands onto the table.

“It is also important that we find Angelica a suitable husband…” said King Engelbert, his voice trailing off.

Bedelia noticed Queen Pleasance, who normally would be chatty like a gossip school girl, had retracted into her seat and folded her hands. What a peasant pose. 

Bedelia smiled. “I think that is for the best of the kingdom,” she assured them. “Do you have a list of suitors you would like to invite, or shall I just invite all nobles across the land?”

King Engelbert and Queen Pleasance exchanged looks. King Engelbert, much to Bedelia’s surprise, slouched in his seat. “Hmm…I guess the best thing would be to invite everyone.”

Goodness! I don’t think I’ve seen him do that since he was a child! 

Bedelia noted the King’s words, albeit much more affirmative. As she skritched it down, she asked, “are you both alright?”.

Her stomach tightned. It’s the rejection of Brent’s proposal. 

“Just desires of the heart conflicting with the head for the kingdom,” replied King Engelbert. He sat up straight and clasped his hands. “It’s not matter – we will heal over time.”

“You are making the most correct decision for the good of the kingdom, your highness,” assured Bedelia.

Bedelia glanced over her scribbled notes so far. “Would you like me to include our oceanic allies as well?”

Bedelia jumped as Queen Pleasance slapped her hands on the table and stood up. The glint in her eye returned, along with her passionate smile. “Please invite Queen Naida and King Ocean Sphere!”

Bedelia watched King Engelbert light up just as well. “Yes, yes, please do! It has been quite a while.”

Queen Pleasance covered her mouth, giggling. “The two of them are just so different from each other, but their contrast goes so well together.”

“I suppose it might be interesting to have an Aquavian in the family, if that is what Angelica chooses,” said King Engelbert.

“It is important to strengthen the Kingdom ties and what better way than from other royals?”

Queen Pleasance frantically tapped King Engelbert’s shoulder. “Honey, honey! We must make sure their daughter that is around Angelica’s age attends, yes?”

King Engelbert snapped his fingers. “Yes! Yes…now, what was her name?”

“Midnight Star!” exclaimed Queen Pleasance.

King Engelbert nodded.

Bedelia stared at the two of them.

She had no idea how to react.

“Would you like me to write down Princess Midnight Star specifically?”

“YES!” they both happily exclaimed, startling Bedelia so much so, she dropped her pen on the floor.

Bedelia lifted up her pen and began making note. I hope they are only seeing Princess Midnight Star as just a friend. Although, I suppose even if Princess Angelica did marry her, they could make other arrangement for heirs. She found her mind slowly floating back to Lady Johanne. Even with her wrinkly skin and her deepened voice, Lady Johanne was still beautiful and alluring. Bedelia was still shy to admit, Lady Johanne had the ability to make her own heart skip. She could only imagine Lady Johanne’s corpse was probably just as beautiful, although she had no desire to go and find out herself,

“Oh yes!”

Bedelia’s thoughts on Lady Johanne quickly faded away, turning her attention back to the royals right in front of her.

“We would like the servants to practice a strict sleeping schedule,” explained King Engelbert. “We are looking to have at least one ball a month and we need to make sure everyone is on top of their toes! We are usually far more lenient, but for this year only, we would like to propose curfews.”

Bedelia nodded. A grin rose up on her face, scribbling down the idea. “That sounds positively wonderful, your highness. What do you suggest for curfews?”

“Servants must only work their shift that they are assigned. No drinking, no going out to the town past 10 PM unless as a part of their job. Overnight shift servants must be in bed by no later then noon. There are still allotted days off, but they must follow the 10 PM curfew unless they are a part of the overnight crew, in which they must abide the noon curfew. Schedule the shifts to allow ample time for servants to transition seamlessly.”

Bedelia couldn’t help but nod in agreement as she wrote down everything the King explained to her. “What brillant ideas, your highness! Strict curfews! Goodness, I love this so very much.”

“Yes. We just want to ensure everyone can show up consistently. As consistently as possible, at least.”

Just as Bedelia finished noting down the last keyword, King Engelbert spoke once more. “Ah, yes. Please schedule everyone as much as possible. While we do want ample time for them to transition and settle down for the evening, we also want to make sure everything gets done in a timely manner.”

Bedelia’s eyes glinted. A packed schedule?! How wonderful! How smart. How…what an opportunity. 

“Can I take this to mean the boy may also be scheduled this way as well?”

She watched the King and Queen’s faces drop.

Quietly, the King replied, “Yes. Just please ensure he has time for his studies and normal duties.”

Pinch 

Bedelia forced a smile on her face. “Yes, sir.”

Normal duties…no, that does not include attending to Princess Angelica. Bedelia lightly wrote down. I can add new duities in addition to what he normally does, yes? Yes…what a perfect opportunity to help the Princess and the boy get used to being apart. Princess Angelica will be married soon enough, after all! 

***

Bedelia dusted off a small spot on the upper half of her skirt, her frown more intense than usual. How unbecoming of me! She glanced at the mirror she was passing beside herself in the corridor, giving herself a glare. It may be late at night, Bedelia, yet you still look unkempt with such dust on your uniform. She clicked her tongue in disapproval at her own self. Her voice went to let out a follow-up grunt, but instead, her throat tickled.

It has been quite dry recently. I suppose I should reschedule brush clean-up much earlier. Just before she was able to reach into her pocket and pull out her notebook, her eyes caught a glimpse of familiar black hair that shined a deep midnight blue in the light sneaking down the corridor in the near distance.

Her brow furrowed. “Hello, Brent,” she greeted. She stepped forward and into the light to better see down the dimmly-lit hallway. She watched as Brent stumbled backwards from the shadows and back into the light. She watched the airy smile on his face deflate, only being held up by the muscles on his face. His eyes that shined like a clear midnight sky dulled.

“Good evening!” exclaimed Brent. “You startled me there.”

Bedelia found herself chuckling, except what was coming from her voice didn’t sound all that much like a chuckle – more like a groan. He looks so much like his mother. Her eyebrows raised up at the brief thought of fondness she had for Lillian, only to turn her attention back to the matter at hand. “And where you think you’re going so late at night?”

He watched Brent’s demeanor straighten out, far more of the rebellious servant she expected him to be – something much more in line with his usual behavour, rather than the startled young man she had seen just a moment ago. “Princess Angelica requested me this evening.”

Bedelia’s eyes popped. What was she thinking?! “Are you sure now?” asked Bedelia, finding herself almost gasping for air. She cleared her throat. “Did you not see?”

She watched Brent’s left hand slightly curl up – a gesture she was all too familiar with – as he seemed to be eying her with caution Bedelia really, really did not like. Bedelia found herself starting to frown even harder than she had before.

“See…what?” asked Brent.

Bedelia slapped the back of her hand into the palm of her other one. “There was an executive order the king and queen,” explained Bedelia. She slapped her hands together again as she spoke. “that all saff must go to sleep at certain times depending on the shift that htey work that started today. It was on the bulletin.” Bedelia’s chest tightened, booring her eyes into the boy across from her, for he seemed to be staring at her rather confused.

Does this boy not pay attention? 

“…no,” replied Brent. “I did not see that. I will have to take a look when I go back.”

Bedelia nodded her head. Yes, very well. 

She began walking off, into the direction past Brent to return to her own quarters for the night. Just before she aligned with Brent, the most briefest of flashbacks dropped into her psyche.

There had once been a similar time she and Princess Johanne had to be separated due to such a curfew. Yet, Princess Johanne had ensured they could still find a way to be together.

Bedelia stopped and glanced over at Brent. They are not getting married. Nor will they be seeing each other any time soon… “I suppose I can let this slide for the night…” She pushed up her glasses and looked back forward, her voice lowering. “After all, who knows how much longer the princess will see you for…”

Bedelia resumed walking down the hallway, her chest being gripped by a different sort of pain.

She removed her glasses from her face and blotted the tears from from her eyes. Her hand which grasped her glasses laid across her heart. She sniffled down the corridor, which seemed extra loud so late in the evening.

Bedelia glanced over her shoulder, stopping for one more look at Brent. How unprofessional of me…crying as am. I pray to the Stars he did not see me.

Her glazed eyes could see the young man’s shoulders twitching, followed by a large breathy sigh. Perhaps it was just the illusion of the light, but Bedelia could have sworn Brent had glowed dark blue for a brief moment there.

She grasped her forehead. Goodness me, I must need sleep. 

She walked down the corridor and headed for the stairwell to return back to her quarters for the night.

The harsh sunlight that poured through her window in the early AM burned, even with her eyes closed. Bedelia rubbed her eyes, clearing the water and crust from her eyes, sliding out of bed as she did so. She walked to her personal bathroom – about 2 yards from her bed on the left side when she sat on it – with a slight stumble in her step.

She leaned against the door frame to regain her balance for a brief moment. She heaved a sigh as her eyes looked up at the mirror before her. She met with her own eyes, scowling. She couldn’t see much, but she knew it was light enough for her reflection to be seen on the mirror. Do I always scowl like this? Oh my…

She went over to the sink after a good moment after staring at herself in the mirror. The water rushing from the faucet sounded extra loud that morning. Bedelia dipped her hands underneath the cool stream and rubbed it on her face. After a few rounds, she patted her face dry with a light red towel and placed it back on the hook on the wall beside her.

Bedelia walked out from the bathroom and over to her partition, disappearing behind it. With movements swifter than you would expect from an older woman wearing layers upon layers of clothing, she was dressed within minutes with her numerous petticoats, corset cover, and everything that helped to create the A-shaped sillhouette that she wore.

Her long gray hair was quickly thrown up into a bun at the top of her head. As per usual, hairs that didn’t make it into her grasp fell loose all over her head. This was no matter to her – as an active older woman and the head servant, her hair did not need to maintain perfection. In a way, it almost seemed stylish, like a hint to her alluring looks in her younger years (or so Lady Johanne would have said).

Bedelia glanced down to a small round table tucked into the corner of her partition. On the table laid a photo frame featuring an old photograph of Bedelia and Princess Johanne just after Johanne had become a lady, a locket, a small vase with a single flower that was the same shade as Lady Johanne’s hair when she was younger, and Bedelia’s glasses. Bedelia gently lifted the glasses and lifted the cord holding them up around her neck. She placed the glasses on her face and turned to the mirror beside her.

Oh my, I do wear a scowl! 

Two knocks sounded at her door. “Head Servant Bedelia – your breakfast is ready!”

Bedelia hurried over to the door and smiled. “Mr. Jaques, very good to see you.”

Jaques bowed his head and entered, holding a steaming tray of an array of food. “In the usual place?”

Bedelia rushed over to her desk and quickly pushed things aside into as neat of piles as she could, allowing ample room for the tray of food before her. “Just down here.”

Jaques simlply nodded, placing the tray on her desk. He give her one more bow and left without saying a word, closing the door behind him.

Bedelia sat down. She clapped her hands. She stared at the food for a moment, just before pushing a smile onto her face. A warm meal. She began to dig into the pile of savory oats topped with aromatic spices, vegetables, and beans, all while grabbing a list from about two papers down from the top of the stack beside her.

She read through them carefully between each bite she took. It was a long list of all the duties, expectations, and desires for the upcoming ball. Bedelia’s chest swelled with excitement at the mere thought of Princess Angelica finally choosing a suitor that meets royal family standards. In a different way than that “boy”, of course. No matter what, she was going to ensure the balls throughout the year were so superb that the Princess would fall in love with the right person!

Bedelia soon finished eating and placed the bowl aside on a small table beside her desk. She repositioned her body and focused in on the papers in her hand. After one more read through, she grabbed her fountain pen and her empty schedule sheets and began to pencil in exactly what her mind had already sorted out for her.

Every single duty had every single servant in the castle assigned to it for length unproceeded. Everything was jammed packed – besides from time for sleep and the legally required breaks – there was no room for anything else.

Bedelia glanced over the schedule, she noticed something a bit odd about this schedule – Brent was scheduled in so many places. As she consciously picked through this unconscious decision, she noticed something. He has no time to play with the Princess. She flipped through the schedules numerous times, confirming what she was seeing.

Bedelia placed a hand on her cheek and frowned. “Goodness…” Am I being too harsh? Certainly even for a 16-year-old boy, this might be too much… 

Anger began to bubble up from her stomach mere at the thought of lessening the amount of time he was working. How proposterous…me, thinking that it might be too much for him. Certainly this is for the best. Immeditately the bubbles of anger popped and she felt herself settle down.

Her peace became disrupted once more a second later as her thoughts floated to the King and Queen. Is my desire to see the Princess and that boy apart far too strong? No…this is most appropriate. The King and Queen are far to lenient, but I am sure they will agree. Surely, they must understand having a young man like the boy will be of much use during this highly important time! 

Bedelia nodded in agreement with herself. She stacked the papers neatly on top of each other and then stood up from her chair, walking towards the door.

***

Bedelia’s eyes scanned the crowd of servants. Although the vary degrees of the approval of her presence in their precious quarters was almost entertaining, her gaze wandered to the only person in the room she actually wanted to gauge the reaction to: Brent.

Bedelia raised her hand in the air. Like the moment before a sudden rainfall, the room fell completely silent. There were a few servants still moving around, but Bedelia paid no mind. She was fully aware that they were just doing their duties for the day.

“I am pleased to announce that starting at the beginning of the new year, the king and queen are hosting a series of eight balls throughout the year in order to help Princess Angelica find a suitable husband.”

Bedelia’s eyes firmly stayed on Brent. She could hear numerous audible gasps from the crowd and several people through a glance at the him. Brent himself was going pale by the second. He seems to have understood. Bedelia’s smile that was already on her face relaxed.

“The King and Queen asked each and every one of us to do our part in ensuring that the balls are a success. The first ball is the week after the new year starts, therefore preparations are to start next week. Expect your schedules to change accordingly.” Bedelia clapped her hands together. “That is all.”

***

“Bedelia, give me the schedule, now.”

Bedelia froze, seeing Princess Angelica scowling in such a manner completely unfit for a graceful princess. In fact, even the Princess’s looks seemed so lacking of elegance: her hair was loosely tied back in a ponytail and she was wearing a single-layered blue sundress that was far too plain. She didn’t even have her usual petticoats underneath!

“P-Princess Angelica, were you not to be served this morning? Who assisted you with your wardrobe this morning?”

Princess Angelica’s nose stuck up in the air and her hands were firmly planted on her hips. “Bedelia, I did not come here to speak about the messiness of my appearance.”

“But you even have dark circles under your eyes!” Bedelia couldn’t help but gasp. “Are you well? Shall I schedule an appointment with the royal doctor?”

“Bedelia, I would appreciate it if you quiet down so I can speak,” replied Princess Angelica. Her words felt short and to the point.

Bedelia folded her hands. “Yes, very well. How may I be of service?”

“Give me the servants schedules from the past two months.”

Bedelia’s brow furrowed. “Yes…right away.” Why the schedules? 

Bedelia grabbed the stack of retired schedules, as well as the current schedules that were hung up with a binder clip, and she handed them over to Princess Angelica.

Bedelia stood in silence as she watched Princess Angelica’s face became redder and redder. The princess’s eyes were widening as her brow furrowed more. Bedelia’s heart cowered. Why does she seem so angry? 

Then there was a loud SLAP and the papers in Princess Angelica’s hand suddenly had an intend. “Are you KIDDING ME?! Is this what you thought of? Trying to get Brent away from me just because we’re in love? I haven’t seen him for two months, I’m moodier than the weather, and here you are abusing your authority to keep my love away from me!”

Bedelia felt herself go into a state she had almost long forgotten – pure panic. She put out both her hands, as if she could lower the Princess’s anger with her movements. “Princess Angelica, I do apologize. I simply scheduled Brent in where I felt he would be of the most use.”

“His primary duty is to attend to me! I understand that we have this absolutely propsterous balls coming up and it’s quite a busy time here at the castle, but that does not explain Brent’s inexpiciable absence from my presence!” Princess Angelica yanked her bangs. “I am simply going mad!” She then began whacking the schedules with the back of her hand. “And here I see that he has been scheduled in such away to avoid being around to serve me and allow for me to bask in his presence! Being able to see him is the very least that can be done for me since the only person I truly want to be with has been dismissed as a suitor, no matter how much I won’t allow such a reality?”

Bedelia couldn’t even open her mouth before the Princess let out a scream and stormed out from the room, still carrying the schedules in her hands.

Bedelia gasped. She followed the Princess out the door, only for Princess Angelica to shout back: “Do not follow me. Surely, you will be summoned later.”

Bedelia stopped where she was and watched the Princess disappear around the corridor. Her lips slightly parted and her brow furrowed. What have I just witnessed? 

***

Bedelia jumped and looked up upon seeing a familiar stack of pappers being slammed onto her desk. Her eyes met Princess Angelica’s. Pure terror ran through her body and she found herself trembling.

She quietly gasped, seeing such a deep look of scorn upon the Princess’s face. For the first time in her life, Princess Angelica looked like King Siegbert.

Princess Angelica didn’t even say anything. she simply turned and left.

Bedelia began gasping and hugging herself.

A small, childish voice whispered in her heart. I don’t want to get in trouble anymore. I don’t want to get hurt anymore. 

***

“Bedelia, the King and Queen are summoning you.”

“Ah, thank you.” Bedelia bowed her head to the servant who quickly exited the room.

Bedelia stood up from her chair tapping her chin. What could it be? It is too early for our meanings…perhaps a last minute addition to the schedule? Surely they must want this ball to be extravegant. 

As Bedelia walked down the corridor, she found her stomach starting to tie into knots. Her chest began to tighten. Even though she walked forward just like there wasn’t anything wrong, something felt completely amiss. Am I forgetting something? 

Her footsteps hurried as her anxiety heightened, although you definitely could not tell from the outside. Her face was still stern as ever, although there was a softeness to it simply because she was heading to the courtroom to see the king and queen.

It wasn’t all that long until she entered and nodded at Arwinwalde. The servant lifted his trumpet and blew into, followed by a boom announcement of “Head Servant Mistress Bedelia has arrived!”

The King had a soft smile on his face, while Queen Pleasance suddenly slumped over with a pout. Bedelia glanced around worriedly for non-employees in the viacinity after seeing such an unbecoming display of immature from the queen (despite knowing fully well that was just a part of her personality). She was relieved to find there was none and she felt the tiniest bit of her anxieties fade.

“Good day, King Engelbert, Queen Pleasance. I have received your summons. I am most curious as to what it may be about – has there a problem with the ball arrangements?”

“There’s not a problem with the arrangements…per say,” replied King Engelbert. Bedelia watched as both the king and queen glanced at each other with two slightly different frowns. King Engelbert’s seemed more sympathetic and kind, while Queen Pleasance appeared like she was about to whine.

Bedelia folded her hands. “What may be the problem?”

Bedelia watched King Engelbert gently held Queen Pleasance’s hand. “Princess Angelica shared with us her concerns over Brent’s schedule. She has not seen him in nearly two months. While it has not affected neither one’s royal duties, it certain has taken a toll on both of them.”

Bedelia’s glasses slid down the brim of her nose, but she found she was too petrified to move. What is this? 

“Perhaps the current schedule can be dismissed, but the month prior is certainly troublesome when viewed. It appears Brent was scheduled during all the times Princess Angelica would have been openly available.”

Bedelia gulped.

“We have conducted a small investigation. The conclusion to our investigation is that both Brent and Princess Angelica are in poor mental and emotional health due to the way the schedule has been handled.”

Bedelia’s body ran cold. Her shoulders scrunched. For the first time in a long, long time, she found herself fiddling with her hands near her heart, although her eyes stayed firmly planted on the King and Queen.

“Is there a reason for the schedule to be structured in such a way?”

Bedelia stomach knotted. She cleared her throat, allowing the sound to shake her body free of enough tension to speak. “I simply was placing the boy where I felt was best suited. T-the balls, after all, is truly an important event! Princess Angelica will be choosing an appropriate husband for during them and I simply want to ensure that everything runs smoothly.”

King Engelbert’s frown softened into a smile full of sympathy. “We really do appreciate that, Bedelia. I am sure Brent is suited for every duty you have penciled him into for the ball preperations. This is such an important time, after all. However, this does not excuse the prior month that did not have ball preperations. What reason do you have for that?”

Bedelia found her throat growing a lump. She gently stroked her neck with her hand and cleared her throat once more. “I-I simply thought it was appropriate to get them used to being a-apart. After all, they are both becoming 16 years of age. Princess Angelica has to focus on her duties as a Princess, while the boy must focus on his duties as servant. That is all.”

King Engelbert gave a nod. “I appreciate your consideration. However, it is a part of Brent’s duties to attend to Princess Angelica as her companion. Even with all the ball preperations going on, it is important that they still have some quality time together, no matter how small.”

But they’re not ––!!! Bedelia was SEETHING. She could feel her face heat-up with the anger sprouting up from within her, but she maintained the sterness on her face. The anxiety disappeared, but the explosive anger that was leftover was far worse. Bedelia simply folded her hands gracefully once more and zoned in on the King. “Is the princess not busy with preperations herself?” asked Bedelia, her voice somewhat quiet and her words quick and to the point.

King Engelbert and Queen Pleasance both nodded.

“That is correct,” replied King Engelbert. “Princess Angelica is busy with preparations of her own. However, the lack of quality time with her friend is causing her unnecessary distress that could very well affect the ball.”

“They’re not even friends! Their relationship is troubling to witness and it is so very inappropriate for the two of them to interact the way they have been interacting,” snapped Bedelia. She gasped upon watching the king and queen’s mouth dropped. She covered her mouth and her eyes glazed over. I spoke it aloud…goodness me. 

Queen Pleasance’s look was full of heartbroken anger, while King Engelbert just simply seemd disappointed. King Engelbert patted Queen Pleasance’s hand, while still looking at Bedelia.

“It is true that they have feelings that go beyond friendship,” acknowledged the King. “But we know they both are aware of just how far they can actually go.”

Sweat dotted Bedelia’s brow. She bowed her head. “I do apologize…I have spoken out of line…”

King Engelbert lifted up his hand. “There is no need to apologize.” Kindness radiated from his face, causing Bedelia to relax – King Engelbert truly was unlike his grandfather. “I know just how concerned you are and we really, truly, do appreciate it. You are just looking out for the best interests of the Kingdom and your insight is most valuable.”

Bedelia deeply bowed. “I am grateful for your empathy.”

“You are so very welcome.”

Bedelia could still feel some level of anger stirring inside of her. I must rearrange the schedules NOW? All simply so the boy can continue to taint the Princess with his prescence? 

She then forced a smile with her face. “If it is alright with you, I would like us to have a meeting regarding the schedule rearrangements. I want to ensure the best people for each job is appropriately assigned. I believe I have already done that, however, this rearrangement is a bit troubling and could use assistance and your insight.”

Queen Pleasance sat up for once during the meeting and clapped her hands, her eyes glinting. “Of course!” She turned to King Engelbert. “Right, honey?”

King Engelbert nodded in agreement. “Yes, absolutely. We will be more than happy to help rearrange the schedule. Let us meet after dinner to discuss the rearrangements.”

Bedelia bowed. “Very well. I shall go to the study for the discussion.”

“Yes. We shall see you in the evening.”

Bedelia curtesied, then turned on the pad of her foot. She hadn’t even noticed how aggressive her movements were – her mind was too busy racing.

Rerranging the schedule for a simply servant boy. I do not understand their line of thinking. Perhaps it’s not for the boy, but simply for the Princess. But would it not be better to have her become used to being with the boy by her side? She took in a deep breath. I suppose this is just temporary…yes. Temporary. I shall ensure these balls go so very spectacularly well that the Princess will find an appropriate husband and marry at once! She clasped her fists and raised her head.

The feelings of bitterness and anger started to subside with each step she took down the hall.

***

Bedelia gathered up the schedules for the next few weeks, along with her pen set with correction ink and headed out from her room. Her door slammed behind her, complimenting the furious pace of her steps.

“Ah! Miss Bedelia!”

Bedelia paused and turned to the young man who had stopped her. The aggressiveness she had displayed but a moment ago disappered and was replaced with a calm, but stern demenaor, like she usually did. “Yes, Carl?”

The young man flipped his hair out from his eyes. “There’s been a bit of problem getting the decorations ordered.” He held out a clipboard.

Bedelia looked down, reading the note scribbled on a half-sheet with an apology. She nodded. “Very well. It seems that there is a shortage of materials at the moment. I will put in a request to the king and queen to ask our neighboring countries if they have the materials. If not, we shall choose an alternative, as much as I would like to avoid doing such a thing.”

The young man nodded. “Yes, Miss Bedelia. What would you like me to do in the meantime?”

Bedelia glanced down at the schedules in her arm. “Have you completed the rest of the decoration orders?”

“Yes. I made sure to get them done before I came to you to discuss the issue.”

“Very well. Please head to the ballroom and assist in the rearranging and minor construction. Tisha hurt her foot earlier today and must rest for the next several days. They need the extra hands.”

Carl bowed. “Right away!” And then he was off.

Bedelia waiting for him to disappear from her sight before she started moving forward again, going right to the study.

Soon she was in the hallway in front of the familiar wooden door. She gave it a quick three knocks and turned the knob upon hearing “Come in!” from the King. She stepped inside and curtesied. “Thank you for allowing me to discuss this matter with you.”

“It is no trouble at all,” replied King Engelbert, sitting down at a round table.

Queen Pleasance sat down herself, placing her elbows on the table. She leaned forward on her hands, giving Bedelia a smile. “Anything to make the children happy within reason, you know?”

Bedelia sat down, a small, irritated smile forming on her face. It was so small, that one might not have even noticed the irritation within it.

Happy within reason, I do agree, but is this truly within reason? 

Bedelia laid out the schedules in front of them all. “I have gathered the schedules that have been written for the next few weeks. Brent works for approximentaly 30 hours during the week, plus an additional 10 dedicated to his studies. His remaining time is dedicated to meal and rest periods.”

King Engelbert lifted up the schedules and began to flip through them. Queen Pleasance leaned over, peering at them curiously. Bedelia folded her hands on the table. She simply watched the King read the schedule itself.

After a good moment of silence, the King smiled. “His hours are acceptable. It appears a simple swap with other servants would be the best way to do this.”

Bedelia gave the king a nod. “That would certainly be the easiest.”

“It does appear that he is scheduled at mostly odd hours, making it impossible to make time for Angelica.”

Queen Pleasance gasped. Her whole face lit up. Her eyes sparkled even more than then the crackling fireplace behind them. “Have Brent help out with some of Angelica’s tasks too!”

Bedelia’s face stayed stern, but inside, she was frowning. How very typical of the Queen. I do not know if it is simply because she had been a peasant, but her behaviour is truly peculiar. 

King Engelbert seemed to light up as well. “What a brilliant idea! Bedelia, what are all the tasks related to Angelica that are being worked on at the moment?”

Bedelia took the schedules back and skimmed over it herself as a reminder. “The duties related to the ball are dress fittings, accessory fittings, shoe fittings, dance lessons, etiquette review, clean up and restoration of Princess Angelica’s rooms, and regular meet-ups with upperclass citizens in preparation for the ball. Each one is requires Princess Angelica to be accompanied by at least one of our servants. Non-ball-related duties include attending to Princess Angelica in the morning and evening, serving her breakfast and lunch, and accompanying her to the town for a variety of small duties including chatting with townsfolk.”

Queen Pleasance clasped her hands together. “Put Brent on all of that!”

Bedelia visibly frowned.

King Engelbert chuckled. “I don’t think it’s appropriate for Brent to accompany her to dress fittings.”

Queen Pleasance sighed. She leaned on her hand. “Yes, I suppose you’re right.” She then playfully winked. “Accessory and shoe fittings should be just fine though!”

King Engelbert paused for a moment, then nodded. “Yes, that sounds fine.”

“Is that truly fine though?” inquired Bedelia. “Would it not be better to have one of the servants who have been shown to have an understanding of fashion accompany her to such things?”

“I suppose that is true, but I suspect Brent has enough of an eye of what would suit Angelica just fine,” replied King Engelbert.

The smirk curling on Queen Pleasance’s lips stabbed at Bedelia. Bedelia leered at her.

“What areas are in need of clean-up and restoration?” asked Queen Pleasance.

“Every room Princess Angelica has dominion over, however, her closet perhaps needs the most work of them all.”

King Engelbert stroked his beard. “Hmm…have Brent work on any tasks that have Princess Angelica present there at the time, minus the typical AM and PM duties. Continue to have Natalia serve her.”

“I do not think that is the most appropriate course of action,” replied Bedelia, looking down at the schedules. “There are many other tasks that could utilize his skills far better than the restoration and clean-up of her numerous rooms.”

King Engelbert lowered his head slightly, staring straight at Bedelia. “I am sure you are concerned because they still love each other very, very much. The least we can do is allow them the time together for now. The two of them are very much aware of the lines that must be drawn between them.”

Bedelia glanced over to Queen Pleasance, who was pouting. Her face seemed to dim and her gaze casted off to the side. Bedelia could see her eyes were glazed over. The Queen placed a hand on her heart and sat up straight. “I do believe it is the very least we can do before it’s time for Angelica to find…a..different…husband….”

Bedelia scowled. She pulled the schedule papers towards her and took out her notebook. “I understand. I shall arrange the schedule in such a way in which the boy is around for most tasks that Princess Angelica will be present at.”

King Engelbert gently placed his hand on his wife’s back, rubbing it. “Please ensure that Brent has additional time between tasks and that, beyond the tasks that are related to Princess Angelica, that he is placed on less crucial tasks.”

Bedelia scoffed. “What for? The boy is generally a good worker and we could certainly use his hands for the more crucial tasks. That is simply why I assigned him to such ones!”

“We understand that. However, during this time, we would like Brent to be available at all times for Angelica’s request.”

The Queen glanced up at her husband. “Could it be after curfew too?”

“Yes,” replied King Engelbert. “Allow Brent to be summoned by Angelica beyond curfew.”

Bedelia removed her glasses and pinched the bridge of her nose. Her head was starting to ache. “Won’t that affect his work? The curfew is there to ensure servants get enough rest.”

“We trust Brent and Angelica understand the importance of the ball and will act accordingly. If it seems to be a problem, we will personally discuss the matter with the both of them,” replied King Engelbert.

Bedelia found herself huffing. Her face was slightly flushed red. Her stern look was even more strained than it was before. I must rearrange everything just to the boy can see the Princess? Something about this seems so cruel to Princess Angelica and disastor for the boy. How could he bewitch everyone so? 

“…Bedelia?”

Bedelia looked up, seeing King Engelbert sympathetically looking at her. His voice was calm and gentle.

Bedelia placed her glasses back on her face. She cleared her throat. “I do apologize, I am quite upset about the amount of rearranging that must be done and I am worried about Princess Angelica’s well being, as well as how it will affect the boy by allowing them spending so much time together.”

King Engelbert gave her a gentle nod. “I really do appreciate your concern. This only truly needs to last until just after the first ball.”

Bedelia grasped the edges of her glasses and peered over them at the King. “What do you mean by that?”

“Brent turns 16 years of age shortly after the first ball. From then on, you may increase his work hours and place him on more crucial tasks. While I do request that there is some free time for Angelica and Brent to have their companionship, if the workload truly demands them to be apart, then so be it.”

Bedelia gasped. She pushed up her glasses. “I did forget about such a thing. That boy does turn of age soon, doesn’t he?”

“Yes, indeed.”

Bedelia nodded numerous times, pulling the schedules towards her. “I understand. I will rearrange the schedule now in order for Princess Angelica and the boy to maximize their time together before it is drastically reduced.” She began to scan over the schedules. “I do believe the tasks he was assigned were certainly the best for him, but I suppose others can do the job just as well.”

“Thank you, Bedelia.”

Bedelia nodded, beginning to scribble in the new schedule as it seemed to form out of thin air.

***

“No, no! It goes in the back east corner, not the front east corner! You, grab one of the carts!” snapped Bedelia.

“Yes, right away, Ms. Bedelia!”

Bedelia walked a few more steps and turned, hand a small pile of stapled papers to one of the older gentlemen. The older gentlemen peered down curiously at them. He then let out a small audible gasp. Bedelia gave him a nod in return. “Just double check the decorations before we begin to pull them out, yes?”

“Yes.”

Bedelia scurried off, checking each part of the ballroom, watching the dozens of servants moving things around. This setup must last for one…two…three……….eight. Eight balls. It is most likely time to put in the order for the variations for the next ball, yes? 

As her eyes quickly scanned each and every person and piece, she quickly concluded that for the most part, things were running smoothly. A rare smile rose on her face. She couldn’t help but stop in the middle of the ballroom and keep it up.

“Each and every one of you are doing a spectacular job! And as you know, I do not say this lightly. The series of balls this year is of the uptmost importance for it deals with Princess Angelica’s future. Thank you all for doing your job and doing it superbly, even amongst the occasional less-than-ideal circumstances. For those who have encountered mistakes, I thank you for your swift corection! That is all!”

A round of claps echoed in the ballroom for a brief moment, just before quickly dying down. Everyone went back to work.

“Ms. Bedelia?”

Bedelia turned as she was tapped on her shoulder, seeing a slightly scruffy middle-aged man. “Yes, Frederick?”

“The King and Queen are requesting you clean out one of the old empty rooms.”

“The ones that were formly used for the royal family?” inquired Bedelia. She peered up at Frederick while holding the side of her glasses.

“Yes, that is correct. They wanted it to be the 3rd corridor on floor 3. They said you can pick the room though.”

Bedelia looked down at the schedule on her clipboard. She skimmed over it. “Are you doing anything right now?”

“No, I finished all my duties for the day.”

“Fantastic.” Bedelia turned to him with a smile. “Come with me – I will have to check the rooms for myself, but you will clean them.”

Frederick frowned. “Yes, Ms. Bedelia.”

***

Bedelia kept walking down the corridor, checking each room for their layout. Ultimately, she settled on the 11th room, tucked in the corner of the corridor, with a beautiful view of the fields surrounding the castle and great sunlight exposure. The room itself wasn’t all that bad, although it certainly needed to be aired out and dusty.

Everything was slightly tinted gray due to the sheer amount of dust. It wasn’t all that surprising though – the rooms themselves were only cleaned every once in the spring and the fall, but ultimately stayed unused. A long time ago, they were used by the royals to house their extended family, but families shrunk over time and all the rooms simply were no longer needed. Periodically, they were turned into guest rooms, but those were usually on the lower floors.

Bedelia frowned as she ran her finger through a pile of dust on an empty desk. “Open the windows and dust first, then proceed with the rest of the usual cleaning.”

“Mhmm,” replied Frederick, holding onto a duster. He dragged his feet over to the windows and swung them wide open. Immeditately pouring in was the sounds of nature and a small breeze that seemed to kick up dust as it rolled in.

“I shall leave this to you then,” said Bedelia.

Frederick waved his hand. And at that, Bedelia left the room.

Bedelia found herself chuckingly. Frederick is very rude, but I suppose that is his personality. He is sort of like Sal, isn’t it? Her memories floated back to the much older man she used to work with named Sal, who always seemed dismissive of Bedelia regardless of what position she worked in. Shortly after becoming the head servant, she witnessed his interactions with others and realized that his rudeness was simply his personality.

She glanced at the doors to all the rooms around her. Her fingers gently touched their intricate designs. I wonder who the guest is. 

***

The first ball had gone without a hitch. Bedelia could still feel how happy she was witnessing such a wonderful sight – so many suitors surrounded Princess Angelica (truly, better suited than the boy, so though Bedelia) – and the young woman seemed taken in by them! She couldn’t help but pray for the Princess’s happiness with one of them.

A knock came at her door. She strolled over after straighting out her papers and opened it, finding one of the servants with an envelope. “From the King and Queen.”

Bedelia nodded her head. “Thank you.”

She took the envelope and shut the door behind her. She opened the letter and saw it was a request to send Brent to room 11 on the 3rd floor in the 3rd corridor.

Bedelia’s squinted. For what reason would he be needed there? 

Bedelia herself went off to fetch Brent. He wasn’t too far away from her room – he was assisting with moving around some old storage at the moment along with several other servants.

“Brent,” called Bedelia, wincing a bit upon saying his name. “You have been summoned to a different floor. Please come right this way.”

Brent stopped for a moment, looking fairly confused. “Is…something wrong?” he asked.

Bedelia shook her head. “No, nothing is wrong. You simply have been summoned to a different room by the King and Queen. Now, come along. Best get this over with so you may return back to your duties.”

Brent dropped the box in his hand beside him and neatly straightened it out and nodded. “Yes, right away. Please allow me to wash my hands first.”

Bedelia watched him go over to one of the many cleaning carts around them and dip his hands into a large bowl of water that was set aside specifically for washing. He dried his hands on the rack and returned with Bedelia.

The two of them walked to the floor in silence. Bedelia found herself glancing over at Brent, who lagged a few feet behind. Even his gaze stayed fairly downcasted.

They soon reached the 3rd corridor and she lead Brent to the 11th room. Much to her surprise, the door was already wide open.

The even bigger surprise was inside: the King, Queen, Princess Angelica, and even Natalia (why Natalia? was the thought that crossed Bedelia’s mind, mostly unconsciously). There were many flowers and several beautifully wrapped gifts.

She turned to Brent, hearing him gasp.

“Angelica?” said Brent.

Bedelia watched as the Princess hopped up from the bed she had been sitting on and gave Brent a huge hug. “Happy birthday!!”

Bedelia felt her blood suddenly run cold. Birthday? 

She watched Princess Angelica take Brent by the hand and bring him over to the gifts. “I just wanted to give you a party of some sort! I do apologize that there is no cake at the moment, but we shall have some later tonight. There was an issue with the bakery and we simply could not wait to do this party!”

Queen Pleasance cooed. “Those aren’t your only gift!”

“It’s not?” asked Brent.

Bedelia found her fists tightened. Do not tell me…

King Engelbert, who had been standing beside the bed, extended his hand. “We are providing you your very own room as a gift.”

Bedelia’s face immeditately turned pale, then flushed red. She wanted to scream, but kept her mouth shut tight. They had us clean this room for the BOY? Why do they go at such lengths and overstep such boundaries! It is bad enough that the Princess hugged him as he entered the room and gave him such a starry gaze, but then they announce he has his own room? Oh, goodness me, they are far too much. Why does the boy get such special treatment? Bedelia pulled off her glasses and held the brim of her nose.

“Bedelia, are you okay, dear? You don’t look so good,” commented Queen Pleasance. Bedelia felt the Queen’s hand on her back. It was small, but warm. But it didn’t do anything to help the seething anger grasping at her stomach and her heart.

Bedelia forced a smile on her face. “I am simply worn out from all the ball preparations from the last few weeks. That is all.”

Bedelia replaced her glasses and glanced over to Princess Angelica, Brent, and Natalia, who were chatting up like three old friends at a tea party. When did Natalia become so close to them? 

King Engelbert tapped Bedelia on the shoulder. “May I talk to you for a moment?”

Bedelia nodded her head. “Yes, of course.”

Bedelia followed King Engelbert out of the room and partway down the corridor, far away enough from the laughter and chatter in room 11. Bedelia felt heavy and the dusty corridor seemed to be suffocating her more than it normally did.

“Bedelia?”

“Yes, King Engelbert?”

“I know that look on your face by now. You are trouble by our actions once more, are you not?”

Bedelia took in a deep breath, then looked straight into King Engelbert’s eyes. She found a small smile crack onto her face. “You know me far too well.”

“I would like for you to let out your thoughts.”

“It is simply what I have said before. I feel that there is heartbreak for both the boy and Princess Angelica. I also do not understand as to why the boy gets such treatment when he is simply just a servant and I am afraid that there are boundaries that are being stepped over in ways that they should not be.”

King Engelbert returned her small smile. “I do suppose you are right. We are certainly overstepping our boundaries for Brent. However, Pleasance and I truly love Brent, almost as if he were our own son, and I suppose that is where we are in the wrong. Yet, I cannot help but do such things for him. I suppose we both also feel deep sorrow for having to reject his proposal to Princess Angelica and are also making up for that.”

Bedelia’s face turned dark. “And why must you do things for him?”

King Engelbert stroked his beard. His smile grew larger as he looked at the distance, down at the large stained glass window at the end of the hall. “You must have noticed it too – there’s a certain elegance to him. His mother was the same way.”

Bedelia paused for a moment, scanning through her memories of both Brent and his mother, Lillian. Each move that they made was full of such ample grace that it almost seemed odd that they were even servants in the castle. Such a thought chilled Bedelia because they weren’t anything more than that. “Well, perhaps they picked it up from a former employer? Lillian had worked at quite a few noble homes before coming to the castle.”

King Engelbert’s eye glinted. “Do you really believe that?”

Bedelia lifted her hand. “I do not try to pry into my staff’s private lives unless it causes an issue. I do not know what to make of the boy or Lillian and their elegance. Perhaps it was simply a matter of good genes. However, I do not understand what this has to do with anything.”

King Engelbert chuckled, scratching the back of his head. Bedelia briefly had a flashback to King Engelbert as a young child, giving her the same exact expression – something so carefree, playful, and charming. She even found it quelled her anger enough to really pay attention to him. King Engelbert then said, “this may sound a tadbit insane, but Brent is clearly meant to be more than what he is. Out of love, I cannot help but provide him with better circumstances.”

Bedelia found her throat lump up, but she managed to squeak out “I still stay it is stepping over boundaries.”

“Perhaps those boundaries could change?”

Bedelia was absolutely bewildered – it was as if lightning had struck down her back. King Engelbert burst out laughing.

“I do apologize,” he said, wiping tears from him laughter off from his eyes. “I did not expect you to react in such a way.”

“B-but the boundaries,” squeaked Bedelia. “They’ve been there for hundreds of years!” She soon gasped. “King Engelbert, please do not tell me you are not going to reverse your decision regarding Princess Angelica and the boy!”

King Engelbert shook his head. “No, I do not see a reason to do such a thing. Although Brent is our first choice, as well as Princess Angelica, I do agree that the kingdom would most likely respect Princess Angelica with a person with a significantly higher social status.”

Bedelia let out a sigh and grasped her heart. Boundaries are being stepped over so much! I am glad that King Engelbert has some sense not to do such a thing regarding the Princess’s relationship with the boy. 

King Engelbert tapped Bedelia on the shoulder as he walked past her. “We will return Brent and Natalia to their duties later on in the day. Brent will have an evening meal with us for cake. Starting next week, you may increase his hours.”

Bedelia looked at King Engelbert, who stopped walking. King Engelbert then said “just make sure there is a little room in his scheduled to attend to Princess Angelica, even if it is only for a handful of minutes a day.”

Bedelia bowed. “Yes…”

She watched King Engelbert disappear down the corridor and back into the room where the laughter was so loud, it made everything seem all that more nightmarish.

The least I can do is increase his hours. No matter how elegant the boy is, he is still a servant and only a servant. Bedelia linked her fingers together and brought them underneath her chin as she walked down the corridor towards the stairs. How shall I increase his hours? 

***

  • A few months later, Bedelia realizes she had made a mistake and put herself, Natalia, and Brent on duty to help Princess Angelica to get ready for one of the balls. It was literally the same day she realized this grave error and determined that things were already off schedule as-is, so she couldn’t even change it. She instructs Brent to grab the dress for today and wheel it out when she calls for it. Bedelia goes to Princess Angelica, assisting her and nagging her regarding being late for the ball. This is the whole dress scene, including where Bedelia leaves the room (she’s heading towards the kitchen – she’s mad and wants to report to the King and Queen, but it’s much too busy);

Several months later…

Bedelia quickly tied her hair back into a bun. Numerous strands had fallen out from just how quick she had been on her feet all day long. How oh how could we have gotten so off-schedule? Her feet hit the floor with loud thuds as she flipped through each page clipped on her clipboard. She was franatically placing checkmarks next to each item that was done, but her face seemed pale and glistened in the light from the amount of sweat dripping down her brow.

Most preperations were done earlier in the year…it should have been a simple case of swapping items and yet, here we are! I suppose some discipline is in order once this ball ends, but there is no time to deal with that! 

She flipped to the last page, which listed her own schedule. Written on her own schedule was assisting Princess Angelica with getting ready for the ball for the evening. I suppose we had numerous staff leave the castle these past few months…it surely makes things more difficult, especially as no suitable replacements have come by as of yet. She flipped the papers back, stopping on one particular page. Who am I working with today? Hnnn? 

Her eyes scanned over the schedule.

Then she did a double-take.

And then she stopped where she was walking.

Suddenly the sweat on her face felt ice cold. Her finger ran over the two names. One of the names – Natalia – was of no mind to her. Natalia was already acting as a personal attendant to the Princess, so it was not all that strange to have her there.

But written underneath Natalia’s name was ‘Brent’.

She placed a hand to her head. He was meant to help with the catering and clean-up! She looked at the names and tasks above Brent and Natalia’s name realizing the grave error she had made – she penciled everyone in one box too high. She let out a frustrated sigh. It is no wonder everyone seemed to be out of place today! 

She let out a low grumble. We don’t have the time to change this error! I cannot believe I let the boy assist the Princess…no matter what sort of accident it was. 

***

Bedelia didn’t even hide her frown upon seeing the sparkling Brent standing in the dressing room. Even Natalia seemed to be radiating flowers and the two seemed to have been chattering just before she had entered the room.

Bedelia leered at them. “Natalia, you shall assist me in dressing Princess Angelica.”

Natalia saluted Bedelia. “You got it, Ms. Bedelia!”

Bedelia turned her head to Brent. “You shall be assisting in grabbing out the dress and accessories.” She then stepped up to him and leaned into Brent’s face. “You are under no circumstances to enter behind the parition.”

Much to Bedelia’s surprise, Brent’s glowing smile stayed on his face and his hands behind his back. He bowed his head and replied, “of course! It would be improper of me to help Princess Angelica change.”

Bedelia glanced him up and down. He does not seem to be lying… “Very well.” Bedelia then stepped away. All I can hope that he truly does listen. Or no…perhaps it’s this act in which he weasels his way into the hearts of others. 

She waved her hand up and down at both Natalia and Brent. “Come along now.” Natalia and Brent followed a short distance behind as they walked into the whole other room that was a closet. Bedelia scanned the rows of perfectly aligned articles of clothing and accessories, soon stopping in front of a section with ballgowns.

She extended her hand to one of the dresses that had the same sort of features as all the other ones – boned top and a skirt with layers of layers of tuelle. What made it stand out was the dark pink sparkles interspersed throughout the layers and the pink color of the dress itself – it was almost like a baby grayish-pink color. Bedelia turned her eyes to Brent. “You will wheel this out when I tell you too.” She then turned to Natalia. “Then you and I shall dress Princess Angelica in it. There is a zipper in the back, which will most likely be the easiest way to put it on her.”

Natalia and Brent both nodded. Good. It seems with all understand. 

Bedelia pointed to Brent. “You are to stay in here until I call you out.”

“Yes.”

Bedelia then nodded at Natalia. “You just need to wait by the entrance of the dressing area.”

“Sure.”

Bedelia crossed off a scribbled note reading “direct Natalia and the boy” on her clipboard and nodded, hugging the clipboard to her chest. “I must go fetch the Princess. We are already running behind schedule!”

Both Natalia and Brent nodded at Bedelia. She gave them a wave. “Get into places!” She clapped her hands. Please do not socialize while I go and do the rest…

While Bedelia felt a bit happy that two of the servants were on friendly terms, she was more than aware of how that affected how they worked.

***

Bedelia stood by the side of giant bath, which was more of a pool really, where Princess Angelica seemed to be completely ignorant of the amount of time she had before the start of the ball. Bedelia glanced over at the clock mounted inside of an inset in the wall. Her kept her outer demanor calm, but inside, goodness, did she want to start screaming.

“Princess, you mustn’t stay under the water for long,” she called out, watching Princess Angelica was her hair.

Princess Angelica’s suddenly turned, flinging water in all directions. “I know, I know! My skin will prune if I do. I’ll be out in a second.”

Pruning is not the issue, my dear, it’s the time. 

Bedelia stood mostly still, watching the princess’s movements. She watched her back out from under the stream of the water and approach one of the attendants, who was waiting by the bath side with a pink towel. Princess Angelica’s actions seemed painfully slow. Is she doing this on purpose? 

“Hurry, we do not have much time!” Bedelia said, attempting to temper the anger in her voice. She was met with quite the glare from the Princess that made her wince ever so slightly – she could still remember the day only several month ago that Princess Angelica had looked at her the same disdain that King Siegbert had once upon a time, although Princess Angelica’s glare this time was no where near as menancing. It simply looked like an annoyed teenager…because that is what she was.

Princess Angelica seemed to continue taking her time – letting her towel drop behind a partition, another servant covering her with a white robe. She then went off on her own and back into the castle. Bedelia slapped her clipboard angrily on her hip, causing the servants around her to gasp at the sudden noise.

Bedelia chased behind Princess Angelica. Could she not have waited for me? I am to assist her today! “The guest will be arriving soon and you are not even close to being ready!”

“Is that not what the dressing room will get us to do?” asked Princess Angelica. Her tone was deep and sounded like borderline sarcasm.

Bedelia frowned. She took in a quiet deep breath, grounding herself into her body. Her mood seems to be much worse than usual. 

“Your hair –” started Bedelia.

“Will be fine,” replied Princess Angelica. “Just get me a folding fan.”

Is she planning to use that magic once more? 

She watched Princess Angelica throw open the doors ahead of her. She heard Natalia yelp from inside and greet Princess Angelica.

“Please get me one of my folding fans.”

“Yes, right away, princess. Which color would you like?”

“Make it the baby pink one with hte darker pink sparkle.”

“As you wish!”

Bedelia slammed her fist on the door, causing both Princess Angelica and Natalia to turn their head. “I cancel that order!”

The glare Princess Angelica shot was positively unnerving, but Bedelia refused to wavier. She is not King Siegbert. Nor am I a child! “I will need her assistance! Princess, you do not have time!”

“Bedelia, do not raise your voice at me.”

The finger pointing at Bedelia hurt her almost as bad as the whippings she used to receive as a child. Bedelia found herself hugging her clipboard to her chest, but quickly unfurled. I do not have time for this right now. “Just get behind the parition.”

Princess Angelica leered at Bedelia just before turning away. Natalia’s school-girl-giggle reaction seemed particularly annoying. Bedelia quietly admitted to herself that she was just glad that Princess Angelica was listening to her and disappeared behind the partition.

Bedelia slipped behind the partition, placing her clipboard down on a nearby table. Princess Angelica was frowning and her arms were crossed. She truly is in such a bad mood. This is her job…Bedelia reached into her pockets and pulled out a hair tie. She then grabbed Princess Angelica’s hair and began pulling it tightly into a bun.

“OUCH! Do not be so rough!”

“Forgive me, Princess Angelica. I do not want your sopping wet hair to ruin the dress.”

Princess Angelica let out an angry snort. “As I said, there is no problem.”

Using magic for such a trivial thing… “You cannot be so relient on magic. I understand that it’s a tradition that you are carrying on, but it has proven to be unreliable over the long run.”

“…unreliable for who?”

Bedelia cast her gaze down for a brief moment, remember Princess Johanne as a Lady, close to her death bed. “The magic should be able to restore me to good health.” “But what if it does not?” “It will.” Bedelia could feel tears wanting to push out, but she knew it wasn’t time. She quickly shifted her attention away from the thoughts of Princess Johanne and back to the very time-sensitive task at hand.

She let go of Princess Angelica’s hair and hurriedly went over to the closet. She yelled inside, “Brent, bring the dress, now!” 

“Yes, ma’am!”

Much to Bedelia’s surprise, Brent returned back with the dress far sooner than she anticipated. However, the clock seemed to put too much pressure on her to appreciate the boys punctual return. She small smile that cracked on her face quickly disappeared as she ripped the dress from Brent and made her way to the parition. Her head briefly turned to Natalia, yelling “Natalia, get back here!”

“Yes, Ms. Bedelia!”

Bedelia placed the dress just behind Princess Angelica. The scowl on the Princess’s face made Bedelia slightly anxious, but she was more than used to feeling such a way by now. “Princess Angelica,, we simply must get you into your gown. Then you can go about your day before the ball.”

“I am aware.”

“That frown is most unbecoming of you.”

Princess Angelica’s leer burned. “Does that matter?”

Natalia suddenly appeared on the other side of Princess Angelica, waving her hand. “I’m here to help!”

“Of course – it’s your job,” remarked Bedelia. She could see a frown show up behind Natalia’s smile just a bit.

Bedelia motioned to Natalia to come closer to the dress and the two of them began to remove it from its stand, revealing all the undergarments layer underneath – from the petticoats to the stays and the shift. Everything came off, most of it being piled into Natalia’s arms as Bedelia sorted out each piece.

“Come – we must move quickly.” Bedelia took the shift and brought it over to Princess Angelica, who had at this point dropped the bathrobe off her body and was just standing completely naked like a woman in an old painting. Bedelia and Natalia (who had carefully placed everything on a small table behind them) began to dress Princess Angelica.

Everything was simply routine – slipping on each article of clothing, making sure it was secure. Bedelia had done this most certainly hundreds of times before, atlhough it had been a bit since she specifically helped Princess Angelica.

A small smile cracked on her face remembering Princess Johanne and the many, many times she had helped her. Her heart twinged at the mere thought of the late Princess Johanne’s beauty. Even in her old age, she was still the most beautiful. 

It was the sound of the last zipper that brought Bedelia back to the present moment. She quickly hid the zipper with the hook-and-eyes that originally hid the zipper and had Princess Angelica turn around with a simple tap on the young woman’s shoulders. Princess Angelica – still frowning and seeming absolutely exhausted, turned around. The dress swooshed in all directions. Bedelia fiddled with some pieces that looked off kilter, but for the most part, everything looked well.

“Are we done?” asked Princess Angelica.

“Yes. We just have your hair left to do.”

“All right,” replied Princess Angelica. The princess, in the most nonchalant fashion Bedelia had ever witnessed, stepped out from behind the parition.

Bedelia then heard a gasp.

“Oh, Brent, you brought my fan!”

Bedelia peered out from behind the parition, alongside Natalia. Bedelia’s brow furrowed. How…? I had not mentioned the fan once nor was there a moment for the Princess to interact with the boy. 

“Yes, of course Princess Angelica, anything you desire, I will do my best to fullfill your request.”

Bedelia’s fist balled. Is this a part of the boys tricks? She appears to still be pining over him! 

Bedelia moved from behind the partition and in-between both Brent and Princess Angelica, just after Princess Angelica removed her fan from the boy’s hand. She glared over her shoulder at Brent heavy with warning to stay away, then turned her attention back to Princess Angelica, who was glaring right back at her. “Princess, there is no time!”

Princess Angelica clicked her tongue. “You keep saying that! It’ll take no time at all – just watch.”

What a mood! I certainly hope she won’t be acting this way with the guests! Perhaps I should bring it up with the King and Queen. This is so very concerning! 

Bedelia’s stomach dropped watching Princess Angelica remove the tie from her hair in one fellow swoop, her damp hair raining down all over the back of the dress. Princess Angelica stopped at the lit vanity and within a few swoops of her fan, magic completely dried her hair and flipped her bangs.

Bedelia stood speechless for the Princess had been completely right – it took no time at all!

“I told you it would not take me all that long.”

No time indeed. Bedelia clicked her tongue. But how long with the magic even last for? And how health is it for your hair? Surely, there must be a better, non-magical way…what a trivial use for something so powerful. 

“Oh, but princess! Your shoes!”

Bedelia turned her eyes to Natalia, who was rushing out from behind the parition. Bedelia’s eyes narrowed. How could I have forgotten such an important compontent?! 

She watched Natalia quickly help Princess Angelica slip on her shoes. Her eyes narrowed as if she had been glaring, but Bedelia herself wasn’t. Or at least, not actually at anyone in the room. She was glaring at herself for the mistake she made. I am grateful for Natalia’s speedy response. 

She let out a quiet sigh just as Princess Angelica began to wave her fan in her direction. Bedelia’s head slightly tilted in confusion to the rather rude gesture.

“You and Natalia are dimissed,” stated the Princess.

Natalia bowed. “Yes, Princess.”

After a short exchange of thanks, Natalia left the room, leaving just Bedelia, Brent, and Princess Angelica behind.

Princess Angelica’s leer burned. “I dimissed you as well.”

Bedelia gave Princess Angelica a slight nod as she turned her to Brent. “You are to head to the kitchen next,” she stated as matter-of-factly.

“Yes, ma’am.”

Bedelia was slightly surprised by the neutral tone in Brent’s voice. How unusal for him. 

The swishing of Princess Angelica’s dress became louder as Bedelia watched her move from near the vanity to next to Brent. The scowl on the Princess’s face was deep. As Bedelia had thought earlier, Princess Angelica had dark circles under her eyes. Her whole body looked like it was acting as a wall of some sort. “Bedelia,” said Princess Angelica. “I dimissed you, not Brent. I understand you are head of all servants as appointed by my parents, but  Iam second to my parents in terms of final say. He is to stay with me until I dimiss him.”

Bedelia grumbled. She could feel her glasses slipping enough to be bothersome as her brow scrunched disapprovingly. “Princess Angelica, the cooks need help preparing the feast for tonight.”

Princess Angelica shifted positions – folding her hands and lifting both her head and chest – creating a far more regal wall between herself and Bedelia. A rather familiar sensation trickled down Bedelia’s back at the sight.

Lady Johanne had once done something for me…

“Brent is to stay with me until I dimiss him.”

“Bedelia is not to leave my side until the night is over. She is my most important servant and I will not allow her to serve anyone else in the castle except under my direct orders!”

Bedelia lifted her head to Princess Angelica. “As you wish.” Her eye glanced at Brent just behind Princess Angelica, the two of them leering at Bedelia. Her lips slightly pursed. The boy and the princess are not us – their relationship is unacceptable. “But please be aware, I shall bring this up to your parents.”

With that, Bedelia turned on the sole of her foot and exited out of the room. A heaviness overcame the heated atmosphere just before a massive thunderstorm. What a way to dishonor the memory of Lady Johanne and all that she had done for me! If it had not been for her hardwork, I would not have been able to serve this family and the likely hood in which I would have been dead long before I reached this age is so very high. She tightly grasped the sides of the clipboard. The boy continues to be a nusiance who continues to lead the Princess astray…how is she meant to find the perfect husband if he is still so regularly within her field of vision? 

Bedelia began to scribble down on a piece of paper “inform king and queen about improper conduct from princess” and scurried off to the rest of the castle for preparations.

***

  • Bedelia is doing her rounds during the ball, ensuring everything is in order. She goes out to one of the balconies, noticing two of the servants are there. She inquired what they were doing and they said they were on their break. Bedelia is curious what they are looking at and goes and looks down, seeing Brent and Princess Angelica on the balconies below, dancing. She is furious;

The far-off sounds of the orchaestera in the ballroom filled the hallways as Bedelia made her way to the balaconies. The orchestra was as pleasant as always and even had Bedelia almost skipping down the hall. I do hope guests have not gotten lost. 

She had been on the other side of the castle when she noticed two figures standing on the balconies up a bit higher. Even though guests were allowed to roam just about anywhere in the castle during this time, she wanted to ensure that no one was struggling. She had run off to go see who exactly was on the balcony and what she could do to help.

She finally hit the double doors to the balacony and walked outside, finally seeing the two people she had seen: Leila and Shari, two of the castle servants The two of them were chatting and giggling away, each with a small plate of food and some drinks.

“Ah, good evening,” greeted Bedelia.

The two servants turned to her. She could see nervousness in their smiles. “Good evening, Ms. Bedelia.”

“What are you two doing up here?”

Leila lifted her hand. “We’re on our break.”

Bedelia paused for a moment, her mind scanning over the schedules and nodded. “Ah, I see. That is right…you both are on break at the moment.”

Leila and Shari nodded.

“Well, make sure that if any guests show up, you guide them to where they need to go.”

“Yes.”

Bedelia watched both Leila and Shari turn back to look over the balacony, down to the direction of the bright lights. The two of them were whispering and quietly gushing about something, pointing just enough for Bedelia to notice.

What would prompt such movements? Bedelia walked over to the balcony’s rail and looked down.

Down on the balcony outside of the brightly lit ballroom was Princess Angelica…and Brent.

Dancing.

Bedelia’s pale face flushed red. She tightly gripped her clipboard. Her shoulders tensed up and she leered down at the two of them. “The nerve…!” she snapped.

Both Leila and Shari jumped next to her.

Bedelia furiously scribbled down a note right under discussing Princess Angelica’s conduct stating “improper conduct between Brent and Princess Angelica – ballroom dancing

She turned on her heel and walked off, giving a wave to Leila and Shari, who had been staring at her for the past moment completely frozen in place. She could hear their sighs and questions of “what was that”.

***

“Princess Angelica continuously spoke down to me during her dressing with a complete dimissal at the end. It was absolutely unbecoming and I cannot help but express concern over her conduct! She dimissed both Natalia and myself, demanding the boy to stay behind with her. Although he did show up to the kitchens not too long after, such a delay could barely be afforded!”

Bedelia clenched her clipboard tighter. King Engelbert was slowly nodding and frowning, while Queen Pleasance looked like she was intently listening to gossip. “There were many delays in that day. I do apologize for the careless in my scheduling that I scheduled the boy to assist Princess Angelica’s dressing – it was such an unfortunate oversight on my part and for that, I shall take responsibility. However, the same cannot be said for the Princess herself! I do not know why she was acting in such away, but I surely hope that attitude did not spill over into the ball itself!”

The brief glance exchanged between King Engelbert and Queen Pleasance made Bedelia’s stomach run cold. Goodness, Princess Angelica did act in such a manner, didn’t she? 

King Engelbert continued to nod his head slowly, but this time with a small smile. “Thank you very much for your concern, Bedelia. That sort of attitude is certainly troubling. We will be sure to speak to her.”

Bedelia slapped her clipboard with the back of her hand, shouting “that isn’t all!” Both King Engelbert and Queen Pleasance jumped.

“Yes?”

Anger started to boil up again within Bedelia’s body. “Also on the day of the ball, I witnessed the boy neglecting his duties and dancing out on the balcony with Princess Angelica, despite he had clear duties to serve the guests.”

Queen Pleasance’s suddenly staning straight up and the glow on her face started Bedelia. She could feel her anger receding in the face of her confusion. What is that reaction? 

King Engelbert laughed and waved his hand dimissivally. “That is more than fine.”

Bedelia scoffed. “But how? The ball is for Princess Angelica’s future husband, yes? This only continues to stroke the fires of her puppy love.”

Both King Engelbert and Queen Pleasance’s faces darkened ever so slightly. The atmosphere of the whole room seemed to becoming just that much heavier. Neither one of them was smiling.

“We appreciate your concern Bedelia. However, Brent was with Princess Angelica per our request on the day of the ball,” replied King Engelbert. The warmth that was usually in his voice was absent.

Bedelia’s eyes widdened. And she gasped. “I-I had not been informed.”

Queen Pleasance sat back, folding both her arms and legs, while sitting up tall. “It was pretty last minute. Princess Angelica ran off. She’s been struggling with these frequent balls.”

“Her misery has become more and more obvious with each ball. She had disappeared very early in the night and we only knew one person who could brighten her night.” King Engelbert sat back himself.

“His duty that night changed from serving guests to ensuring our daughter was happy,” added Queen Pleasance.

Bedelia’s thoughts and feelings were so heavily tied up in knots, the only thing she managed to spit out was a cold “I understand.” She nodded her head, curtsied, and walked off, mumbling “good day” underneath her breath.

She was horrified and sad that she had not been informed about the sudden change in Brent’s duty. She was embarassed she had complained about something the King and Queen had directly requested. She was furious that Brent and Princess Angelica had spent the evening together and wanted nothing more for the Princess to have a happy life…away from the boy.

Won’t this hurt the Princess more? Will the King and Queen ever allow people to stand in their proper social standing? 

***

Bedelia waved her hand in the air dismissively. “No, no, don’t put those over there. Put them to the right on the countertop in the back. They must be seen over both furniture and guests alike!”

The servants carrying the flower arrangements nodded. “Yes, Ms. Bedelia.”

Bedelia gave them a confirming nod.

Her head then turned towards the door, hearing fervant footsteps. Her brain was sent on high alert. She held her breath in anticipation…only to see Brent burst through the open door, just in front of two servants bringing in another round of flower arrangements.

The young man’s face was flushed red. He seemed unusually frazzled, with bits of hair out of place on his head. He gasped a few times as he approached Bedelia. Bedelia’s eyes fell to a very familiar piece of paper in his hand. The schedule…? 

“You’re doing it again!” exclaimed Brent. The schedule in his hand, as well as his finger on certain places, was suddenly thrust into Bedelia’s face.

Bedelia let out in inaudable gasp and stepped away, fixing her glasses that had slightly shifted to high on her face. Her eyebrows raised. What is he…“did you tear the schedule off the bulletin board?” she asked in complete disbelief.

“You overscheduled me. Again.

Bedelia’s brow slightly furrowed, her mouth slightly agape. What is this boy talking about? Her eyes scanned the schedule itself, seeing everywhere Brent was scheduled in. The times, the tasks…

Did I do so again? I don’t believe so. These tasks do look a bit more tedious, but he is perfect for them, is he not? I suppose some of these times conflict with Princess Angelica’s, but that should not be a problem, yes? Bedelia could feel a cold sweat started to drip down her brow. The room also seemed oddly quiet. What will happen if the King and Queen hear of this accusation once more? 

She pushed a calm smile on her face. “Brent, I have not over scheduled you. I scheduled you for the tasks because you are the most reliable one for the job.”

Brent’s brow seemed to furrow. A blue light seemed to flicker in his purple eyes that tickled Bedelia’s gut uncomfortably. “Am I really all that reliable?” She could hear the anger he was holding back in his voice.

Bedelia folded her hands and looked at him in his eyes. “Of course,” she replied calmly. “You are the oungest employee we have.”

She pushed up her glasses that started sliding down due to her sweat. “You have a bright future ahead of you,” she stated very matter-of-factly.

Brent smiled, but Bedelia could tell it was false.

“Yes, right away,” said Brent, who turned around.

Bedelia’s brow furrowed once more, thinking quietly as she watched Brent glance at her over his shoulder. How troublesome. She touched her fingers to her lips. I suppose I do have a history of overscheduling, but that simply doesn’t appear to be the case. Did I unconsciously make it much more difficult? After all, I still am quite angry at the King and Queen’s decision from the last ball…

Bedelia’s thoughts quieted for just a moment, enough to notice all the servants standing in the room, staring at her in silence. She immeditately scowled and clapped her hands. “Come now! You all know your jobs! No need to stare. Move it!”

Everyone chimed a “yes, Ms. Bedelia” and quickly scampered to get back to work.

Bedelia looked up and down at her notes and the flower arrangements, seeing them all being setup perfectly. She gave an approving nod, before her mind drifted back to Brent’s accusation.

If he thinks I am overscheduling him as such, is it possible to schedule him just a light bit more? We could certainly use more help in numerous places. Of course, I would still heed to the requests of King and Queen, but he really, truly is needed for jobs. I suppose I could test this out next week. 

Bedelia nodded to herself. She pulled out her little notebook from her pocket and began to scribble down just where exactly she wanted to place ‘the boy’ in the schedule for the upcoming weeks.

***

Bedelia struck off another name on her list. Her usual stern scowl was etched deeply into her face. I am aware that it is such a very nice day, but did so many have to leave the castle grounds? She let out a hard sigh. How unfortune for Bridget to break her arm on such a beautiful day. 

Her eyes turned to some movement coming from the gazebo in the gardens. She stopped walking and turned her whole body, watching Brent enter into the gazebo where Princess Angelica was clearly sitting. Bedelia’s stomach knotted for a moment, but from all she could see, Brent was bringing tea.

She took a brief glance down at her list. The boy is off today too. She looked back up, looking at the rather relaxed scene unfolding a distance away from her. Is he attending to the Princess’s needs? Or is this simply a playdate? Bedelia tapped her clipboard. If he is attending to the Princess, I do not want to interrupt his duties, even if it is meant to be a day off for him. However…

Her thoughts trialed off as she watched Princess Angelica move around the gazebo, clockwise, clearly controlling magic with her fans. Bedelia’s blood ran cold up realizing that Princess Angelica was erecting a magical ward.

She gasped. “What sort of corruption IS this?” Her eyes narrowed where she had once saw Brent and Princess Angelica, although all she saw now was an empty gazebo with a bit of a strange sheen to the inside. “How did the boy coerce the Princess into doing something so obscene?” The King and Queen trusted you, yet you have broken their trust! 

Bedelia hugged her clipboard to her chest. Something akin to a volcanic eruption suddenly burst forth from within her. Her eyes became bloodshot. Does no one see this? Should I go to the King and Queen? No…no, they will not do anything, for they are also under the spell of his allure. He’s been falsely leading everyone but myself, yes? His great skills he displays on-duty does not dismiss him from whatever he may be doing. What exactly is he after? Money? Status? Power? No…it does not matter…

Bedelia’s face darkened. I must do something. I MUST…I must keep him away from Princess Angelica at all cost! 

Bedelia continued to walk the direction she had intended to in the first place before she had stopped walking. Her steps were just as fast as the thoughts going through her head, which only amounted to short sentences regarding how to deal with Brent and his insolence.

Her shoulder ended up bumping into one of the female servants.

“Oh, I’m so sorry, Ms. Bedelia!” the servant exclaimed, bowing profusely.

Bedelia’s train of thought stopped and she gave the servant a bow back. “Thank you for the apology, however, it was me who had not been paying attention. I do apologize.”

Bedelia found herself calm down ever so slightly, although the anger was still bubbling inside of her. She slipped the list of names off and crinkled it in her hands. An unusual smile spread across her face. Even she could feel how heavy the smile was. But it was no matter – her determination to keep Princess Angelica and the boy apart had been amplified ten fold.

“Cerlyn,” said Bedelia. She watched Cerlyn flinched. “Could you please inform Brent that I need him to clean the dungeons? Bridget broke her arm and I need a replacement. He is in the gardens.”

Cerlyn nodded. “Yes,” she replied. There was a hint of a tremble in Cerlyn’s voice. That wasn’t anything unusal though for those who dealt with Bedelia. (She wasn’t much like her predecessors, but certainly being an authority figure was enough to send people shaking sometimes.)

“Very well. Thank you,” said Bedelia, waving her hand.

***

Bedelia walked back into her room, placing her clipboard down on her mess of a desk. She patted it twice and smiled. All that is left is for the evening rounds…there are still several hours before then…

A knock came at her door.

“Yes? You may enter,” replied Bedelia.

Cerlyn walked in. “Hey, Ms. Bedelia! Brent said ‘okay’ to cleaning the dungeon storerooms! Sorry I didn’t get to tell you earlier. He should be down there now.”

Bedelia pushed down the delight she felt springing up inside her. She simply return a small smile to Cerlyn. “Thank you so very much for your assistance today, Cerlyn. You may return back to work.”

Cerlyn bowed. “Yes, right away.”

Bedelia watched as Cerlyn clicked her tongue and fixed her ruby-red hair. The bun that had been affixed on top of her head was falling apart at her swift movements.

Bedelia waited until she could hear no more footsteps in the halls before she exited the room. Her feet moved swiftly down the halls and she quickly found herself within the vicinity of the dungeons.

And then she slammed open the dungeon room door she knew Brent would be working in. She payed no mind to his startledness nor the fact he nearly dropped the sponge – she simply cornered him.

Just seeing his face filled her with rage.

“What were you doing with the princess?”

“Excuse me?” Brent asked, in a quiet voice.

“What were you doing with the princess?” asked Bedelia, leaning in. She could see the terrified look on Brent’s face. That only made her rage more. Playing innocent? “Neglecting your duties once again? Trying to tempt her?”

Bedelia gasped as Brent ducked underneath her arm and stumbled backwards a few steps, still holding onto the sponge in his hands. “What kind of absurd accusations are those?” Brent’s brow furrowed. “I am off today. Am I not alllowed to see her?”

Bedelia pointed in his direction. “Do NOT talk back to me, boy – you are not to go near the princess!”

Brent held up his free hand. “She requested me specifically. Is it not our duty to–”

“Don’t play ignorant with me, boy! There is not a soul in this castle who does not know you are attempting to lead her astray!”

“What?!”

Bedelia took a few steps closer, lifting up her skirt just a slight bit to not trip over her tembling legs. Her legs were reverberating to the anger surging up and down within her body. “Once you are finished with this, report to the servant quarters and check your schedule! It has been changed.”

“Changed to what?”

Bedelia then folded her hands, in her normal calm composure, although she was seriously still raging inside. “You no longer have time to see the Princess. You shall spend all your waking hours working and they all shall be within my proxmiety so I can monitor you. I cannot have you getting your unworthy paws on the Princess.”

Bedelia watched a waterfall pour from the sponge in Brent’s hand, from him squeezing it so tightly.

“You can’t do this,” shouted Brent. “What about mandatory days off?”

“Your time will be split over several days, during hours when you cannot meet her.”

“…I will let the King and Queen know what you have done.”

Bedelia found herself laughing through her nose. A smile of delight she didn’t even realize she was capable of was written on her face. “With what time?” she replied.

The absolutely stunned look on Brent’s face was like watching a false mirror cracking. Yes, let us see your true colors, boy. You are no longer going to fool me. 

After a brief moment of staring down Brent, she whipped her head away and walked out the door, grabbing a hold of the iron handle. She then slammed it shut with all her might.

And then she found herself skipping ever so slightly down the corridor back to the stairwell.

***

Bedelia sat down and immeditately began to revise the schedule. Every single place Bedelia was going to be present, Brent was placed. Only late into the evenings would Brent be available…long after the Princess of Astral Isles had gone to sleep.

A sense of duty swelled inside of Bedelia’s heart.

I must do this for the sake of Astral Isles.

***

Bedelia found her wanting to start relaxing her hawk gaze, but every moment she started to faulter, her sworn duty to the kingdom swelled in her heart and she just could not take her eyes off from Brent.

It had been weeks – about a month from when she had updated the schedule – that she kept a close eye on Brent. From morning until night, she made sure he was always within view.

The first few weeks had been difficult – Brent tried on more than one occassion to get away from her, but Bedelia saw through him. The moment he stepped foot out from the vicinity in which he was to be working or passing through, Bedelia found herself stepping in his way and with a calm smile, asked him “going somewhere?”. Sometimes she would direct him too where he needed to go next and would follow shortly behind.

But recently, the boy with dark circles underneath his eyes, seemed to have stopped trying to escape. He seemed docile in comparison to the way he had been even a week earlier. His dusting was quiet and his breathing oddly silent, despite how empty and open the room was.

Bedelia puffed out her chest. It seems the boy finally understands his place. He no longer can bother the King and Queen nor harm the Princess. Why, I’d say he may end up becoming the best servant on staff if this keeps up! He has, after all, always had an eye for detail. 

She looked at Brent’s back with a proud smile.

***

A month or so later…

Bedelia looked at the clock, feeling increasingly tense. Where is he? 

She was still watching over Brent, even now, although his docile behavior in the past month had caused Bedelia to relax enough to simply keep her ears open to any strange movements from him.

He’s never been this late before, even prior to the current arrangement. She glanced up at the clock once more. Did something happen to him? 

Bedelia waited for one more moment before exiting the room and making her way to the corridor with Brent’s room. She went to go knock, but found the door was slightly cracked open.

“Are you there?” she asked, opening the door more. She peered inside.

There was a liminal silence about the room. Bedelia couldn’t exactly point out what, but something seemed strange. She looked outside the door for the room number markers and confirmed that it was, indeed, Brent’s room.

Strange….did I miss something on the schedule? Bedelia looked down at the schedule on her clipboard, confirming that nope, she had been in the right place.

Her face then turned pale. Do not tell me I have been far too lax? Her head whipped down the corridor. Did he find an opening to escape and see Princess Angelica?! 

She hurried on her feet over the Princess’s corridor. It is still early in the morning. She should still be resting in her room. 

Bedelia grumbled to herself about Brent neglecting his duties and soon reached Princess Angelica’s bedroom door. She knocked three times and her Natalia’s voice call out “Yes? Who is it?”

“It is Bedelia.”

There was a silence, then Natalia in a low, but loud voice replied, “Come in.”

Bedelia swung open the door.

Her eyes very quickly noticed there was no Brent.

Instead, Princess Angelica was resting on Natalia’s lap. Natalia was stroking Princess Angelica’s hair gently. Bedelia could see that Princess Angelica’s eyes were red and puffy, with crusty bits around her eyes. Tears had clearly been streaming down her cheeks recently, although it looks like they had stopped a bit before Bedelia arrived.

“What happened?” asked Bedelia. Her voice was gentle. Every thought of finding Brent had left her mind – all she could focus on was the Princess looking deeply heartbroken.

Natalia turned to Bedelia. “Brent left the castle.”

Bedelia’s head shook and she jumped back. He left? “When?”

“This morning, or rather, in the middle of the night.”

Bedelia’s mouth gapped open. “Is there a reason why I was not informed of this earlier?”

“I am not aware.,” replied Natalia.

Bedelia noticed Princess Angelia’s eyes glazed over, but glaring at her from under Natalia’s hand that was gently stroking her. A thought floated up from within Bedelia’s depths: she is condeming me.

Bedelia lightly clutched her clipboard. Her eyes shifted around the room. I never intended for Princess Angelica to be hurt like this. I simply wanted to protect her from the boy…did I make a mistake? Was my decision to protect the kingdom what led to this very moment? 

Bedelia’s gaze fell to the floor. I did not want him to leave. I simply just wanted him to stay away from the Princess and stop interfere with royal affairs…

She closed her eyes. The tiniest of tiniest hints of a smile appeared on her face. Well, I suppose this is for the better. It is a shame we must find someone to replace someone like him, but at least he will no longer influence the royal family. 

***END***

More For You

Read More

Join the Network

Sign-Up for the Newsletter
Join Our Discord

Treat Yourself

The Official TrainerKelly's Network Online Shop
trainerkelly x Kelly Mulry Etsy Shop
Art Commissions

Tip Me, Pay Me

Patreon
Ko-Fi
Buy Me a Coffee

Follow Me

Instagram
YouTube
Twitter
Facebook