The day dawned on which she would meet her betrothed. She had dreamt about chains and being chased, and impenetrable forests of thorns, but strangely she woke feeling coldly calm. All her tears had been spent. There was nothing more to do than follow orders. There was no one to go to if she did not.
She dressed in a gown of silver and gold that sparkled with crystals. Her hair was dressed with soft curls piled high and diamonds glinting. She sat in her reception room waiting to be called to the banquet, sitting still so she did not crease her dress or disturb her intricate hair. She stared ahead trying not to catch a glimpse of the guard, who was standing to attention just beyond the doorway, dressed in his grey and purple ceremonial uniform.
Soon there was a commotion, at the far end of the corridor a man was striding towards the room, declaring to someone scuttling behind him. ‘I will see her now! To be damned with etiquette.’
The guard calmly stepped in front of the open door.
‘Move aside,’ the man said. He was as tall as the guard, tall enough to glare at him eye to eye. ‘I am here to see the Princess. She is my betrothed.’
The court advisor had finally caught up on his short legs and he nodded an affirmation to the guard who reluctantly stepped aside.
The man swept into the room and declared confidently, ‘Your Highness,’ and bowed stiffly.
He was tall, a fact already noted, but he was also long legged and athletic looking, dressed in stylish coat tails. His hair was blonde and curled fashionably over his forehead.
She regarded him with curiosity.
‘I wanted us to meet in private before the banquet,’ he said looking round at the maids, the advisor, the guards, ‘Well, relative privacy.’ His voice was refined and smooth.
‘Please be seated,’ she said, all that expensive training coming to the fore.
Instead of sitting in the seat she had gestured to, he sat next to her on the small couch, his leg brushing against her skirts. One of the maids repressed a giggle. ‘Can you dismiss your servants?’ he whispered to her.
‘I don’t think that would be proper,’ she said demurely.
‘No,’ he said, looking at her appraisingly, ‘Well then, can I escort you to the banquet?’
And she stood and offered him her hand.