Their tears had long since dried up, but they still sat on the balcony floor, holding each other close. Angelica laid her head on Brent’s shoulder and Brent’s head on her’s. Brent stroked Angelica’s hand with his. They both stared blankly. The stars had already notably shifted before they said any words to each other.
“They said no,” said Angelica.
“I really thought they would say yes.”
“As did I. But that was a ridiclious thought…”
“Your parents said the same thing…”
“I just…I just don’t know how they said no.”
“Well, as they explained to me…” said Brent. He took a deep breath. “you have an important duty as the only heir to the kingdom. To ensure the kingdom listens to you, you need to marry someone of a higher status than I and no lower than a noble.”
“But I only want you.”
“I want you as well.”
“My mother was originally a peasant woman.”
“I am aware. I asked about that – your father explained he had a special circumstance which you do not have.”
Angelica tightened her grip on Brent. “I…I do not like this at all. I’m the Princess of Astral Isles and I can’t even choose my own husband because of something as abritery as ‘he’s not a noble’.”
“What do you suppose we do?”
“I do not know.”
Brent laughed. Angelica shot him a glare.
“Oh, I am not laughing at you.”
“Then what might be so funny?”
“One of the other servants, Natalia, suggested we elope, but I informed her that you would not be for that.”
Angelica laughed. “You are correct about that.”
“You’ve always known about your duty as the only heir to the kingdom and have been keen on seeing it through.” Brent looked into Angelica’s eyes. “I’ll be with you, even if it is not as your husband.”
Princess Angelica sat in front of him, leaning angrily into his face. “Do not say that to me. You are going to be my husband.”
“How do you suppose?”
Angelica sat back down next to him, leaning on his shoulder once more. “Hmm…perhaps we should just wait on my parents.”
“They do not have to decide right away. They could always change their mind in a year or two, you know?”
“And if they don’t?”
“Well, I’ll just have to wait until I take over the kingdom then.” Angelica then sat herself up regally. “You better be prepared if that is the case then – we will not have much time to produce heirs than if we got married much earlier.”
Brent laughed and grabbed Angelica by the back of the head, bringing their foreheads together. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” Angelica smiled back.
They held hands, gazing into each other’s eyes. Brent then turned his eyes towards the stars. “You know, Angelica, even though everything makes so much sense to me, I still cannot shake off us being together in this lifetime.”
Princess Angelica turned her gaze to the stars. “Yes, I cannot shake that either. That’s why I said to wait on my parents. It is just painful know we have to wait.”
“Yes…it is painful indeed.”
Brent and Angelica hugged each other close. They stayed that way, dozing off.
In the morning, they awoke with aching bodies and a large blanket over them. They nuzzled each other before they parted for their proper bedrooms in the morning.
Brent raised an eyebrow at the posted servant schedule. For the first time in forever, his study hours had changed. Not by much – two hours later twice a week, while the remainder stayed the same. He took a look at the previous week’s schedule and went to find Bedelia.
Bedelia was in the kitchen, finishing off supervising a partial crew shift in the kitchen’s cleaning department. Brent pushed through the doors and into the back. “Ms. Bedelia?” he called.
“Is there a reason why my study sessions were shifted two hours down twice next week?”
Brent could see through Bedela’s forced grin. He frowned in response as she extended her hand out to the side, as if pointing to an explanation. “I needed to shift your hours down because you are needed elsewhere in the castle during those hours.”
Brent forced a smile back at her. What are you up to? “Ah, I see. Will they be changed back?”
“Yes, I will be able to do that next week.”
Brent nodded. “Thank you.”
He turned on his heel and left. His guts were yanking him in all different directions. He did not trust her one bit. He just needed to wait and see why he couldn’t trust her now.
“I was thinking we could go have tea in the garden tomorrow,” said Angelica. “It is to be such a lovely day outside again. We can study and review together.”
Brent’s face went dark. “I can’t.”
Princess Angelica was taken aback. “You can’t? Well, why not? Is this about the other day?”
“No,” replied Brent. “at least, I don’t think so.” He let out a sigh, laying his head down on the table. “Bedelia shifted my study sessions tomorrow and three days from now down two hours.”
“She did what?”
“It may be perfectly valid,” defended Brent. “She says that there is work I need to do elsewhere in the castle. It appears it’s cleaning the upperrooms in the castles, which, as you know, do take quite a while. Perhaps she was genuinely considering my study needs.”
Princess Angelica looked skeptical. “Or it could be something else.”
“Or it could be something else,” echoed Brent.
The next week came and Brent sighed relief at his schedule, excited to see his studies were restored once more to their proper time. He exited the servants quarters with an electricfying skip in his step. He walked down the hall, looking as if he was about to break out into a dash at any moment. She said she was going to be waiting on the balcony, yes? A smile began to stretch itself across his face.
He then stumbled backwards at the sudden body that stepped out of the shadows right in front of him.
“Hello, Brent,” greeted Bedelia. Her voice was low and nearly croaked. The dim torches that lit the hallway only lit her partially – half of her was still hidden in darkness.
Brent’s genuinely smile became a forced one. “Good evening! You startled me there.”
“And where do you think you’re going so late at night?”
“Princess Angelica requested me this evening.”
“Are you sure now? Did you not see?”
“There was an executive order from the king and queen that all staff must go to sleep at certain times depending on the shift that they work that started today. It was on the bulletin.”
“No, I did not see that. I will have to take a look when I go back.”
Bedelia walked up beside Brent, looking straight down the hallway. She pushed up the brim of her glasses. “I suppose I can let this slide for the night, after all, who knows how much longer the princess will see you for.”
Brent’s mind first felt twisted in knots, then his stomach twisted and rage began to surface deep within him. He quickly took a deep breath as Bedelia took her leave and disappeared down the hallway. “What I am I doing?” Calm down, me, killing Bedelia on accident won’t do me any good.
Brent shook his head, clearing away his thoughts and continued down the hallway. He turned the corridor, went up the stairs, and went down another hallway. At the very end was the entrance to the balcony, He walked through its double doors and was greeted by Princess Angelica’s soft smile that was illuminated by the waning moonlight.
Brent immeditately grabbed her hand, got down on a knee, and kissed her it. He then lifted his head and his eyes met her’s. Angelica’s lips were now covered by her fan, but Brent could tell by the rest of her face that she was smiling.
“What was your schedule for this week?” inquired Angelica.
Brent grabbed both of her hands and stood up. “My schedule has been restored!”
Brent’s shoulder’s dropped, looking over Angelica’s. “Bedelia caught me in the hallway. She said there was an executive order from the king and queen?”
Princess Angelica nodded. “Yes. My parents were talking about it. From my understanding, they will be hosting a series of balls soon and want to ensure the staff is in tip-top shape for it.”
“Yes. I am to have numerous dressed made up for them.”
“You are going to look beautiful.”
“You’ll be one of the first I will show, of course.”
Brent followed Angelica as she gently guided him with her hands over to a table. Brent pulled out her chair and she sat down. Brent sat across from her. Angelica pushed a book towards him. Brent opened up the knapsack hanging off his shoulder and pulled out his school books. He placed them beside the book Angelica pushed towards him.
“Make sure you leave some room,” said Angelica, gesturing her hand in a sweeping motion. “I have tea coming.”
“Well, yes. We did not get to last week, so why not do it now?”
Brent laughed. “’tis true! I will admit.”
“Did someone order tea for twooooooo?”
Brent looked up at the friendly voice and his face lit up. “Natalia!”
Natalia slid the silver tray onto the table. “Look at you, getting special treatment.” She placed a hand on her cheek. “I’m still so sorry about what happened that day…”
Brent grabbed Angelica’s hand. “At least we can still see each other in some capacity.” His eyes met Angelica’s curious gaze that seemed even more alluring under the moonlight. “We both decided to see if her parents will come around.”
Natalia squealed. “Ooooh, I hope soooooo! You two are just the cutest. I know you two are super young, but just…just look at you both!” She then let out a romantic sigh. “I’m cheering you two from the sidelines.”
“Thank you, Natalia,” said Angelica.
Angelica turned to Brent, extending her hand out towards Natalia. “Natalia has recently been assigned as my personal assistant.”
Brent’s eyebrows raised. “Already?” he turned to Natalia. “I thought you just started helping in the royal court room?”
“Oh, I did,” replied Natalia. She flashed Brent a V-sign with her fingers. “I guess they were just so pleased with how I helped you both that day, they assigned me to be Angelica’s personal assistant. I’m primarily on the night shift, but sometimes I do other times as well.” She leaned forward and placed a finger to her lips. “Do not tell Bedelia of the help, okay?” She winked.
Brent and Angelica were both confused.
“I know you helped me,” said Brent.
Angelica pointed to herself. “You have been very helpful so far, but I don’t recall seeing you other than the morning that day.”
Natalia stood up straight with a big grin plastered on her face. “I was the one who covered you in blankets. You’re welcome!”
Brent and Angelica gasped.
Brent grumbled in his head, cheek in hand, sitting in the servant commons. The rest of the servants, save for Natalia who sat beside him, didn’t seem to notice his unusually obvious scowl. Brent normally showed his emotions a lot quieter, but he just seemed to be radiating them today. It had become increasingly harder for him to hide it – he managed to make it to three weeks without a schedule change, then all of a sudden, his schedule started to change. It was just minorly annoying at first – that strange two hour shift-down schedule for his studies returned. Then his study days started to disappear. And now he was only studying three times a week and they were never aligned with Angelica’s anymore.
To make it even worse? He couldn’t even voice his complaints to Bedelia. Oh, he tried. But every single time he would catch her, she would disappear or suddenly become unavailable. At this point, he was certain the schedule change was done on purpose for some sort of nasty reason that Bedelia would never actually admit aloud, not with everyone else around and listening.
Natalia placed her hand over Brent’s shoulder. “What’s been going on with you? Every time I see you lately, you look like a cannon about to go off!”
Brent didn’t even turn to her. “If you haven’t noticed, I haven’t seen Princess Angelica at all for the past month.”
Natalia nodded. “Yeah, I did. What has happened to your schedule?”
“I swear she is doing it on purpose…” mumbled Brent, glaring at Bedelia, who was standing up on the slightly raised stage at the back wall of the servant commons.
The servant commons was where all the servants could unwind after a long days work, eat together, and spend their leisure time. Originally, the part of the castle the servant commons was in was a weapon’s storehouse, however, the current king and queen felt the weapons would be better stored elsewhere and had them moved to a storehouse closer to the knights quarters. With space left, they had it converted to a space where the servants could enjoy life just a bit more. The stage was put in only a few years ago, per the request of some of the more musically and theatrically-inclined servants, who wanted a chance to practice. Of course, it ended up being useful for other things such as the announcements like Bedelia was about to make.
Bedelia held up her hands and the whole room went silent. Most of the servants turned their attention to her, although a few continued with whatever they were doing.
“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.”
Brent’s eyes met Bedelia’s and his face became pale. Although Bedelia’s smile seemed genuine, Brent could see the curls of a smirk at its very edges. Natalia gasped rubbing Brent’s back.
Bedelia continued. “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.”
An excited wave of chatter rolled across the room and Brent felt like he was drowning in it. He stood up and left as fast as he could. He clenched his fist as he made his way down the corridor.
“Hey, wait up! Brent!”
Brent stopped with a huff, seeing Natalia not too far behind him.
“Where are you going?”
“To the dungeons.”
Natalia was taken aback. “Dungeons? Why would you need to go there?”
Brent stomped a foot forward. “Did you see how she looked at me? She was mocking me. It was written all over her face.”
Natalia sighed, putting a hand to her cheek. “I did. I know she’s notorious for being old fashion, but she’s just being outright cruel.”
“I suspect she has been purposely avoiding me and now she’s mocking me…”
Brent glared at Natalia as a huge grin spread across her face. Natalia leaned forward. “I suspect it won’t be too long before Princess Angelica raises a complaint.”
Brent tilted his head.
Natalia walked next to Brent, elbowing him in the arm. She winked and stuck out her tongue. “She’s already started complaining to me.”
Brent’s anger dissipitated as he laughed. “Of course she would.”
“I’d give it another week or two.”