Art by Celeste Jamneck
Don’t back down
Elena had thirty minutes before she had to be at the tea. Thirty minutes of sanity before she had the transform into Regal Princess of North Althezaar. That sanity was broken when she heard a metallic crashing sound outside her door. Regardless of her reserved personality Elena didn’t scare easily. The noise merely hurt her ears. She wouldn’t usually be bothered to inspect the reason for the noise but she found herself moving toward the door. She hadn’t even realised what she was doing until she felt the heat from the sun slowly evaporate from her skin. When he opened her bedroom door she found Prince Gareth kneeling over a deconstructed suit of armor. She looked back at her clock in her room. Twenty minutes. Why isn’t he with his chaperone? She thought. She would have signaled for one of the staff members but seeing Prince Gareth bent over the metal knight made her giggle.The prince jumped up with such force that he stumbled over one of the legs and fell to the floor with a spectacular crash.
“Majesty! I – I’m so sorry.” He stammered. Elena smiled as she extended her arm to him.
“Elena Please, Let me help you up.” Elena noticed that his hand was soft, even the calluses that birthed from his countless hours of sword fighting were barely noticeable. Once he was up right Elena noticed that he was a head and a half taller than her, she had to tilt her head up to talk to him. He had broad shoulders and a hard set jawline that had the beginning of a beard that shaped his face handsomely. He had piercing blue eyes that seemed to change when he smiled.
“Forgive the intrusion. I was making my way to my quarters but I must ot have been looking. I didn’t mean to disassemble the good knight guarding you.” He smiled and Elena realised he was making a joke. She gave a small laugh but when she looked at his jawline combined with his dark hair and blue eyes, she looked down for fear of flaming cheeks.
“Did I offend, My lady?” He asked, looking down to see Elena’s face. She looked up noticing that he was standing very close to her.
“Oh, no no. I’m lost in thought.” She blushed.
“Of course. The event must put you under a lot of pressure.” His voice was so perfectly rugged but not raspy.
“Oh, well yes. I’ve had sleepless nights over cupcakes.” She mused.
“I imagine that they weren’t properly frosten in the nightmares.” There was a sarcastic hint in his voice.
“No, they turned into bombs that started a never-ending war.” Her voice was hard and defensive but she didn’t stand down. He might have actual wars to train for but her job was to stop them from happening that, may very well, come down to cupcake choices.
“Ah, well I best get going. I’ll see you in ten minutes. Majesty.” He bowed his head and sped off down the hall.
Ten minutes. Elena had ten minutes to breathe and turn into the future queen. She went back into her room and sat on her bed. She was suddenly irritated and amazed and flustered. She never felt like that before, well except for when a book ended badly or took an unexpected twist. She only briefly met all the princes at the ball, it was nothing more than a bow and greeting. A short “Good evening, Your Majesty.” but she hadn’t actually conversed with them. She shouldn’t have spoken to him. They were supposed to formally meet and engage in conversation today. Technically she didn’t break any rules. They were in a public place. Anyone could have seen them.
Five minutes. She stood up and made her way down to the garden. She passed the suit of armor, currently being reassembled by the staff. How dare he patronize her. She was his future Queen and he was in the running to be her future husband. She almost paused but realised that she would be late if she stopped. The butterflies she was feeling earlier were set ablaze by irritation and confusion. She tried to summon the butterflies back as the announcer bowed to her. The butterflies kept her regal persona in place but now they had abandoned her. She thought they might come back but then her mind fluttered to Gareth’s sea touched eyes and hard set jawline and the butterflies were once again set ablaze but her racing heart and warm cheeks. The announcer placed a questioning hand on her shoulder, she gave a slight nod and squared her shoulders. She was not going to look at Gareth the entirety of the tea party. She would look beyond him and she warned herself to not look into his eyes.
“Presenting Her Royal Majesty, Princess Elena of North Althezaar.”
The light sheer curtain pulled away, Elena stepped into the garden and looked right into Gareth’s eyes.
Wordsmith: Larouchelle Leveuvre