Angelica slightly lowered her fan, letting her eyes meet with Brent’s. The sincereity in his eyes greatly touched her, as it normally did. It didn’t matter even if Brent joked around – he always brought back the conversation to sincere honesty with her.
However, she didn’t like the solemn look that suddenly appeared in his eyes. Even though his lips were smiling, she could tell a thought had popped into his mind that he didn’t like very much. She knew she wasn’t going to like it very much either, but couldn’t help but be curious. “What are you thinking about?”
Brent placed a hand on the banister and turned his gaze out to the castle walls. “I’m just thinking you’ll make a fine Queen and Wife one day.”
Angelica began to feel like someone was stabbing her with needles. “I’m…I’m sure I will.” She leaned over the banister once more, looking at the same spot Brent appeared to be staring.
“There are many suitors here for your hand, you know?”
“Did my father and mother request you to come get me? For just that reason?” scoffed Princess Angelica.
Brent was a bit taken aback. “Princess A –”
Angelica gripped the banister and whipped her head at Brent. “I understand that one of the aims for the ball tonight was to continue to assist in helping me find a suitor. Even though my parents know fully well who I want to be with, they still are attempting to give me an option to choose. Yet, they know my choice full and well. Do you understand how difficult it is for me? I can’t be with the one I love and I won’t choose someone I don’t. I’ll most likely end up being forced into a marriage to some stuffy, rich nobleman who I could never love.” Her eyes glossed over, although tears had not come out of them.
“Angelica,” Brent whispered. “I know fully well of that hurt because I can’t be with you either.” Brent brought his hand close to Princess Angelica’s, linking his thumb with her’s. His voice heightened. “The King and Queen just want you to be happy, but they also want to do what they feel is best for the kingdom.”
Princess Angelica turned away, turning back to the outer castle walls. “Why couldn’t you have been born a noble?” she asked under her breath.
Brent grabbed Princess Angelica’s hand, holding it tightly with his. Princess Angelica gazed into his intense eyes that seemed to say “I would if I could” to her.
As they read each other’s eyes, a waltz began to fill their ears. The tension that had been within them blasted away as the music covered them like being submerged in water. They both shivered and Angelica gasped.
“How beautful!” remarked Princess Angelica. “I have not heard this one before.”
Brent’s face lit up. “Ah, I heard from Oran that there would be a new waltz performed today.”
“Did he say that now?”
“Yeah, he did. He told me a weeks ago.”
The party’s mingling guest had mostly stopped talking to dance together instead. Even though the song was brand new, the choreography done was made up from older dances, all rearranged in time to the new song. The movement of each partnership on the floor was awe-inspiring. On the outskirts of the dancing partnerships were other teenagers, mostly prettied-up sons of noblemen, who looked around the room, eager to join in the fun.
Brent placed a hand on Princess Angelica’s back, attempting to usher her folder. “I am sure they are waiting for you.”
Princess Angelica frowned. She whipped around, grabbed Brent’s wrist and pulled him forward. “As Princess of Astral Isles, I order you to dance the waltz with me!”
Brent lifted his finger to point behind him to the noblemen sons on the look out for someone like her. “But, the noblemen – ”
Princess Angelica glared at him. His panicked expression faded, replaced by a much more playful one. “As you wish, Princess Angelica.” Brent got down on one knee, gently holding her hand. “May I have this dance?” He asked bowing his head at her.
“Yes,” replied Angelica. She held out her other hand to him. “You may.”
He grasped it, standing up. “I apologize I am not dressed for the occassion.” Despite his apology, a genuine smile of joy was plastered across his face.
Princess Angelica’s guffawed. “As if I care about that!”
“You’re right!” replied Brent. He laughed along wth her, gently starting to lead the dance.
The two of them danced to the harmonic waltz in time with the many others inside who were dancing along. For them, at that moment, the only two people in the world was each other. They hadn’t noticed Bedelia, Natalia, and a few other of the servants observing them from inside the ballroom and the balcony above. Bedelia gritted her teeth and her face flushed, seeing the joyful sight. Natalia watched on, worriedly.
The flames dancing in the fireplace tinted the room reddish-orange. The colour deepened and eventually got engulfed in the darkness of the edges of the room, towards the door. The room was long and spacious, with a tall ceiling easily the height of three tall people stack on top of each other. You couldn’t tell at night and with the fireplace’s red embers, but the walls were decorated with pastel pink wallpaper with specks of darker pink, accented with white crown moulding and frames around the room. Receeding into the darkness as a long couch, a coffee table made of marble, and a small, but packed library. A bit further back was a door to Princess Angelica’s own personal bathroom. Diagonal from the fireplace was a small armoire, filled with Princess Angelica’s casual wear and pajamas, allowing her to look decent without having to go to the main closet.
Across from the fireplace was Princess Angelica’s canaopy bed. The posts stood half as tall as the ceiling. Medium-weight fabric drapped from the canopy all the way down to the floor. Each section of fabric was secured to the nearest bed post, appearing almost like the curtains of a large window. Natalia worked her way around the bed, pushing the dark pink comforter underneath the mattress. Princess Angelica sat in bed, turning the lamp up next to her more as her eyes intensely worked over every word in the book she was reading.
“Princess Angelica, are you sure it’s okay to keep such artifical light on?”
“‘Tis fine, Natalia. I’ll be going to sleep soon,” replied Angelica, stretching her arms. “I’m quite tired after today’s ball, you know?”
A smile rose on Natalia’s face. “Oh yes! Especially the way you and Brent were dancing together during the waltz!”
Princess Angelica froze for a moment, letting her hands holding her book plop into her lap. She looked at Natalia with the same intensity she had for the words in the book. She watched Natalia’s cheerful face rhythmically tucking her into the bed, ensuring not a single unnecessary wrinkle was there. “Natalia?”
“Yes, Princess Angelica?”
“You saw us dancing?”
“Yes, of course! Oh, lots of us saw you too! It was quite heartwarming warming to watch, as you seemed so down earlier in the night. I love the way you and Brent just light each other up.” Natalia then let out a sigh. She touched her hand to her cheek with a worried look, pausing for a moment before she finished tucking the princess in. “Bedelia was not happy one bit. I heard she went to your parents afterward, but that just made her more mad.” Natalia looked up.
Princess Angelica frowned. She shoved the bookmark laying next to her back into the book, shut it, and placed the book on her nightstand beside her, near the lamp. Her face had gone from red to pale from red again. “Of course that wretched head servant did such a thing! What did my parents say to her?”
Natalia’s face softened, giving Angelica a gentle smile. “I heard they defended you and Brent, Princess Angelica. It’s no secret that you two are in love with each other.”
Angelica let herself fall backwards, the upper part of her back resting against the headboard. She stared off into the dancing flames. Natalia resumed to tucking her into bed as the pregnant silence continued to grow. Just as Natalia finished, while stilling gazing at the flames, Angelica asked in a small voice, “…is it really that obvious?”
Natalia folded her hands. “Princess, if I may say something a bit out of line?”
“…go ahead. You have my permission.”
“Despite the hush whispers about Brent, it seems to me that you two were put on this planet to be together. It is so clear that Brent only has eyes for you and you only have eyes for him. Your parents routinely defend the both of you, yet there is also a pressure for you to go with someone else – I do understand the worry about the impression it will make on the kingdom as a whole. If I had to be quite honest, I think a big reason you two haven’t gotten married by now is because Bedelia continously reminds your parents that it ‘will not look good’ if you marry a servant boy.”
As Natalia spoke, Princess Angelica’s face increasingly became flushed. She was filled with bashfulness, which gradually turned into bitter anger by the end.
“I would like to know why Bedelia is so against Brent and me? I understand the need to make a good impression on our subjects, however, my mother was a peasant prior to marrying my father! What other reason could she have?”
“Perhaps she’s worried about you, Princess?”
“Worried about me? I suppose the kingdom could harshly judge us and fail to follow my rule otherwise…”
“Oh no, Princess, not just that.”
Princess Angelica raised an eyebrow. “What else could it be?”
“Brent is the number one suspect in the murder of his mother.”
Angelica’s face twisted and she let out an awkward, forceful laugh. “Brent? Murder his mother? He loved her! What sort of baseless accusation is that?!”
Natalia was surprised. “You never heard about it?”
“Of course not! It’s preposterous. Brent, murdering his own mother…”
Natalia lightly put her fist to her lips in thought. She seemed slightly concerned. “I suppose that makes sense. It was only a few years ago, after all…perhaps people shielded you from the suggestion.”
Despite the burning fire, Angelica felt cold. She wanted to shiver, but held her posture. Inside, she was ready to start screaming, but she retained a neutral expression on the outside. Her lips pressed hard together as her mind wandered into dangerous territory. “What…were the accusations against Brent?”
Natalia folded her hands. “Are you sure you want to know?”
Natalia eyes darted to the side. “I am not so sure I should say anything.”