Brent’s heart raced as he brought out the butter cookie and jam to the dinner table. The King, Queen, and Princess Angelica were all eating at the dining table together in the dining hall. Surprisingly, their table was smaller than one would expect in a castle. This was done on purpose – the king desired more intimacy between his family, so he swaped the long table for a short one. The table was plenty big, fitting the everyday feast for the royal family, but it was still small enough for conversations. Brent loved seeing, even from a distance, the way the royal family interacted. The King and Queen were just a lovely couple and you could tell just how much they genuinely loved their daughter – it didn’t seem like a lie or a chore, but genuine. Brent only hoped that he and Angelica could be just as lovely as her parents.
Brent gently placed the small platter of cookies onto the table. He breathed in through his nose and held his breath, attempting to calm his nerves. He was both excited and anxious all at once. He could feel Princess Angelica’s bashful stare bare into him. The King and Queen attentively turned to him.
“You requested an audience with us?” asked the Queen.
The King let out a laugh. “Angelica here insisted it be quiet, in a much closer setting.”
Brent swallowed and moved closer to Angelica. He nervously took her hand and looked at the King and Queen. “As you know, p-princess Angelica and I-I t-turn 16 n-next year…” said Brent. His body was trembling.
The Queen covered her mouth as a delightful grin spread across her face. The fire from the fireplace seemed to dance in her eyes as she excitedly pushed the King’s shoulder. The King looked intrigued. He extended his hand towards Brent. “Brent, there is no need to be nervous.”
Brent put a hand over his heart and took a few deep breaths, still holding onto Angelica’s hand. “Thank you,” he said to the king. He increasingly trembled less and less. “When I first met Princess Angelica, when we young children, I loved her right away and I boldly declared that she would be my wife one day.” Brent turned his head to Angelica, who looked into his eyes deeply. “My love for her has never left. It has only grown as time has gone on.”
Princess Angelica’s cheeks flushed a light pink. “My love has also grown over time.”
Anticipation swelled as Angelica and Brent looked into each other’s eyes. The Queen clinged a hand tightly to the King’s cloak, both of them looking eager to hear more. Brent and Angelica finally looked at the King and Queen and said simultaneously: “We love each other.”
“That is why,” said Brent. “I am asking now to marry Princess Angelica next year.”
Then the Queen squealed with absolute delight! The King clapped his hands together and lifted them into the air. “Oh, tell him, dear!”
The King cleared his throat. “Brent, your propsal is more than what we could have hoped for. One of the reasons we decided to continue your education was for this possibility. You have repeatedly demonstrated your devotion to our daughter. I can only imagine the devotion you would have to the kingdom. The love you both have for each other is clear as the stars in a cloudless sky.”
Brent and Angelica’s hands tightened their grasp in participation, carefully watching the King’s expression go from a pleasant smile to a much more stern expression. They held their breaths.
“We cannot make arrangements now, but we will let you know our decision regarding your marriage propsal for our daughter when it comes closer to the time.”
Brent and Angelica lowered their heads a bit.
The King then smiled once more. “In the meantime, please, continue your studies.” He then extended his hand towards an empty chair, “And please, have a seat. Indulge in some butter cookies with us.”
Brent bowed his head and took a seat right besides Angelica. “Yes, sir.” He kept his hand on Angelica’s as he used his free one to eat a butter cookie.
Brent and Angelica sat next to each other in the library, discussing the day’s lesson with each other. Although they were not learning the same things, they liked to exchange what they had learned with each other anyway. Brent had been learning more about the history of the kingdom and how it was run through each generation. Princess Angelica had been studying air magic, a royal family specialty – after all, the only way you could truly reach the stars was through the air.
The servants and knights who were spread around the library quietly whispered amongst themselves. Brent and Angelica knew they were all trying to be quiet, but in a place like the library where it was normally so silent, it was easy to hear their comments.
Since talking to the King and the Queen regarding the marriage proposal, Brent and Angelica were even closer than before. When they spent time together, whether it was studying in the library, having tea, or Brent simply accompanying Princess Angelica somewhere, the two of them were always within each other’s personal space, to the point it seemed to overlap. Brent and Angelica no lonnger had the desire to hide their love from everyone, especially with the marriage proposal out in the open.
After Brent inquired about marrying Princess Angelica, the few servants and the knights that had been in the room had told the others about it in casual conversation and knowledge of it spread throughout the castle. They both could hear that there was a range of reactions – from those who were in disbelief at Brent’s boldness to those who couldn’t help but gush.
Brent pointed to a series of words in gold ink written in one of the books in front of him. “I find it fascinating that air magic used to play a much bigger role in the kingdom,” he said, tapping the words. “just thinking we were almost renamed ‘Isles of Winds’ is such a delightful oddity.”
Princess Angelica nodded. “Oh yes. Such a strange thing to do! It’s not like most of our subjects can use air magic the way we can. I suppose that King Aerlden couldn’t help his joy. After all, it was his specialty.”
Brent nodded, taking notes on the text. Princess Angelica leaned onto his shoulder as he wrote down. “Is it true he stopped appointing court mages?”
“Yes, that is true,” replied Princess Angelica. “That is because he was a mage himself.”
She took out one of her fans and closed her eyes as she turned to a bookshelf across the room. “Come to me old book of ye; Sir Aerlden’s diary,” she chanted. One of the books from the top shelf slowly moved from the shelf and seemed to jump off from it. Brent jumped as Angelica jolted up and out of her seat, watching at the old diary fell to the floor.
Just as Princess Angelica let out a yelp, Bedelia appeared and caught the book. She pushed up the bridge of her glasses as she handed the book to the princess. “Princess Angelica, you must be careful with priceless articles such as this. It’s a diary, yes?”
Princess Angelica frowned. “Yes.”
Bedelia then moved over to Brent’s side, who glared at her. She leaned in and scanned over the materials her was reading. She then scoffed. “What are you doing with these?” she lifted them up, seemingly horrified. “These are for royal families eyes only.”
“Give those back!” snapped Brent. He stood up from his seat. “It is a part of my curriculum.”
“Bedelia, I order you to place the books back down,” commanded Princess Angelica. “You may go inquire about Brent’s curriculum with Taliesin and address your complaints to my parents.”
Bedelia’s lips slightly pursed as she gently placed the books back down in front of Brent. “Very well, Princess Angelica.”
Princess Angelica regally lifted up her head. Bedelia bowed her had, but at such an angle for Angelica to not see her gaze.
Brent straighted out the books Bedelia returned as he looked over his shoulder. Bedelia’s glare was burning into him. He returned it back to her. He watched her eyes narrow.
“I shall go speak to Taliesin about this,” she annoucned. She then turned to Brent and leaned into him. In a low voice, she said: “Do not forget your place, boy. You are here to do nothing more than serve.”
Bedelia quickly disappeared behind the bookcases.
Brent slammed the table with his fist, causing Angelica to jump. Angelica quickly sat down next to him, wrapping her arms around his. She looked at him, concerned. “Brent, what happened?”
Brent shook his head. “She told me to ‘not forget my place’.”
Brent turned to look into Angelica’s gently smiling face as she lightly stroke his hand. “Your place is besides me.”
A smile spread across Brent’s face.
She’s right…my place is besides her. Brent took Angelica’s cheek into his hand. “And your place is beside mine.”
“Brent, the King and Queen would like to see you,” said Bedelia. Brent sprung up from the floor he had been scrubbing. He turned to Bedelia, seeing a small, smug smirk on her face. His initally giddy excitement quickly faded, being replaced by a skeptical curiousity.
“Yes, right away,” he replied. He placed the sponge back onto the cleaning cart and rubbed his hands dry. He then scurried past Bedelia, whose gaze he could feel on his back as he disappeared down the hallway to head to the throne room.
Since Brent was only a few corridors over from the throne room, it didn’t take him very long to get to it. He soon walked through the large double doors, greeted by a gasp and the opening of a book.
“Ah, yes, Servant Brent,” said Arwinwalde, tapping his finger inside of the book. “The King and Queen shall see you now.” He then raised a trumpet, announcing Brent’s arrival. Brent’s face flushed as the trumpet echoed off the tall walls of the throne room.
Brent walked down the carpeted pathway up to the raised platform where the king and queen stood. Brent immedtiately felt like washing himself off – there was something about their solemn looks that made him feel dirty. He stopped a few feet away from the King and Queen’s platform.
“Hello, your royal highnesses,” greeted Brent, bowing. “I have heard that you have summoned me from my duties.”
The King signaled Brent to come forth. Brent stepped closer, only stopping when the king lifted his hand to stop him. “Do you know why we have summoned you here today?”
Brent paused for a moment. “If I had to usher in a guess, I would say it was either about the marriage propsal or Bedelia finally complained about my school being unfit for me.”
The King and Queen let out a laugh that cut through the serious atmosphere for a moment. The King’s lips curled. “It is not about Bedelia’s complaints, but I have heard them. Your studies shall continue as is, so you do not need to worry about that.”
Brent laughed back. “Could I guess this is about the marriage propsal?”
The lighthearted cut in the atmosphere quickly disappeared. Brent could feel the weight once more. Oh, how badly he wanted to shake to get it off from him!
The Queen let out a sigh. “Brent, we love you. We really do.”
The King nodded in agreement. “We acknowledge that you are the first choice for Angelica and you are our first choice as well. However…”
Brent held his breath.
“…upon further reflection, we must decline the proposal.”
The colour sunk from Brent’s face. “Is…is it alright to ask why?”
“Yes,” replied the King. “We came to the conclusion after taking the future of the kingdom into consideration. As you are aware from your studies about the history of this kingdom, there are no others in my family besides my younger sister who has renounced her rights to the throne and my daughter alive other than myself. We need to ensure that Angelica marries into a partnership that not only can provide us with descendants, as this kingdom is a hierarchy, we also need to ensure that her ruling king is of high enough status to ensure compliance from those living in this kingdom. Therefore, we cannot accept proposals from anyone less than a noble.”
Brent had no idea how he was standing up. He was trembling as the words sunk into him. He covered his mouth, manging to let out a small “oh.” Brent could feel the distance between them. How…how could I forget status? Then another question floated up into Brent’s mind.
“M-may I ask what the difference is between myself and Princess Angelica getting married a-and both of you?”
The Queen and King exchanged awkward looks. The King looked at Brent stern. “I had special circumstances. As you know, I was third in line and I was not expected to ever run the kingdom, so I chose who I fell in love with, which was a peasant woman. However, Angelica does not have the same luxury as I do. She is an only child and will be ruling after us. I hope you understand.”
Brent nodded. “Y-yes…” He covered his face. “I-I’m sorry for asking such a propsterous thing in the first place…”
The King and Queen immeditately jumped to their feet. The King put a hand on Brent’s shoulder and the Queen knelt down to look up into his face that was simultaneously both pale and flushed. “Nothing you asked were proposterous,” assured the King.
Brent continued to tremble. He bit his lip as he felt his eyes beginning to water. I do not need tears right now! Come on, me, get it together! Calm down…calm down…calm…down…
The Queen turned over to one of the servants across the room. “Natalia, can you please bring him to the guest room two corridors over? And Enela, please inform Bedelia that Brent will be off for the remainder of the night.”
A purple haired woman ran right over to Brent, placing a hand on his back. “Sure thing, your highness. Come on, Brent, let’s go to the guest room.”
Brent started to follow Natalia. Brent stopped in his tracks, just as he stepped off the platform, and turned to the king and queen. “Does Angelica know about this decision?”
The Queen cast her gaze downward. The King shook his head. “No, she does not. She will know after dinner.”
Brent nodded and continued to follow Natalia out of the throneroom, unaware of the King and Queen’s troubled expressions.
Brent sat on the bed, still trembling, albeit a lot slower and more in bursts. Natalia sat down next to him. She folded her hand into her lap and leaned forward, giving him a smile. “Hey, I don’t think we’ve met before. I’m Natalia. I recently got promoted from low-level servitude to mid-level. I’ve heard so much about you!”
Brent cracked a smile. “Y-you have?”
“Yes, all about you and Princess Angelica.” Natalia swooned. “It’s just absolutely romantic. I’ve seen the way you two interact from a distance and it’s so clear that you are very much in love. Not to mention, the way the King and Queen treat you, geez, you would almost think you were their own son!”
Brent laughed, then falling backwards onto the bed, looking up at the ceiling. “Thank you, Natalia.”
Natalia leaned back and looked up herself towards the ceiling. After a good moment of silence, she said, “I’m sorry that they rejected the proposal.”
Brent felt himself started to tremble again. “T-they’re right, you know. I am just a servant boy a-and Angelica has a very important duty to this king…there’s no way for us to be together.”
Natalia frowned, sitting up, turning to Brent. “Look at you, using the Princess’s name so casually! You two could always elope, you know?”
Brent scoffed. “Angelica would never do that.”
Natalia let out a sigh. “I’m sure you two will figure out something, even if it takes a long while.” She then sat up, brushed off her dress, and gave Brent a thumbs up as she walked out the door. “I’ll be rootin’ for ya!”
Brent waved at Natalia. “Thanks…”
The door shut. Then Brent cried.
Brent stood on the balcony, on the upper levels of the castle. The stars glittered brightly above and the wind ruffled his curled hair. The cool breeze felt even colder on his face where the trails left behind the tears and he had just finished crying once more. He rubbed his face as he absentmindedly stared at the patrolling guards in the distance rearranging their formation to walk back.
Brent turned around as Princess Angelica’s hysterical voice ripped through the air. He couldn’t even get a word out before she was in his arms. They both fell to the ground. Angelica’s tears prompted Brent’s own to begin tumble down once more. He held her head tightly and bright her close and they cried together.
They sat in silence on the floor, Angelica holding him even tighter.