Author's Note: No, this isn't a remake of the story. It is a reformatting because…well, certain ellipses weren't placed where they were supposed to be (darn you, FictionPress!). Also, some grammatical errors will be fixed. Maybe when I'm done, I'll put up a new summary too.
There was to be a ball held, at the castle—no, not the old castle, musty and dusty and decrepit, where I spent most of my childhood developing impersonations and acting abilities. This one was supposedly glorious and white, and sparkling, and…well, white. That's all I really knew about it. It's glorious and sparkling and, unlike the gray old castle, this one was white. That's right, it was white.
Which brings us to why there was to be a ball. According to the townsfolk, the prince was enchanted, cursed, however you wanted to say it. He couldn't laugh. He never showed any emotions. He was like a stump. Who made him like this? I would like to say it was my evil, wicked, fairy godmother whose soul purpose in life was to bring joy to me. Of course, people would give me strange looks if I were to say that, so I'll have to stick with what Mother told me.
An evil—dark and gruesomely evil (and dank, musty, and probably smelly)—old (I mean, all old men are smelly, right?) sorcerer put a spell on the young prince at birth, saying that he would fall in love with whomever could make him laugh. (Laugh... hmmm...) Although I can hardly see why a sorcerer wanted to do that! I mean, I'd be happy just swirling magic at people, turning this one into a pig, and that one into a rabbit. And if you're giving me a strange look, some people do deserve to be turned into pigs and rabbits. You can't be greedy, and you can't be afraid of everything. But no, he has to go torture a poor, helpless, defenseless (well, maybe not with his army of knights and guards), baby prince who did nothing wrong.
Did I lose track again? And you're probably wondering who I am. My name is Rhian Delaney. Yes, Rhi-an. Not Rhian, but Rhian. Sound it out with me. Rye (as in bread)…en (end without a d). I hate it when people see my name on paper and they automatically think that it's Re (as in repeat or retard) Ann (my aunt who was taken by a dragon). Oh, and I should also probably tell you that I, my friends (friends? I don't even know you people), am a Lady. Lady Rhian Delaney.
Ok, ok fine. I was christened at birth as Rhiannon (Rye-en-nen), after my mother. And my mother is probably the one whom you've heard more about than I. Lady Rhiannon of Ruse. The most beautiful woman in all the lands who could've married a prince, but, instead, chose my father, a man as equally quirky as she was. Yes, I said quirky. They're funny, hilarious, scorned, although never looked down upon by anybody. And who was this prince who had been enamored with my mother? Why, the king whose son is now zero-personality.
Right, did I lose you yet? Not that I was trying to. I just get sidetracked a lot. One of the shortcomings of being a comedian. If you are going to be like stuffy Mistress Peacock (her real name too!) and tell me that humor wasn't made for a lady of my status, I'll throw a rabbit at you.
Why a rabbit, you say? Well, simply put, who'd expect a small rabbit to suddenly turn on you and become a monster? Ah, my plan to rule the world… Mother says it would never work. I should probably see that old sorcerer who made stick-in-the-mud princey boy who he is today. Maybe he'd lend me a magic wand or something. Father says I'd scare him away.
Me? Scary? Ha! It's hard to be the epitome of scary when you're beautiful and a klutz (one of the few things I hold valuable in my life, is my klutziness). Do you think I am strange yet? Do I have you thinking rabbits are evil? Not yet? Pity. Must not be trying hard enough…
Ah, sidetracks! The ball! The ball! Anyway, the ball was to be held at the… What do you mean I said that already? I can assure you that I didn't! And I said it was white? Uh-huh. Yeah, ok. What do I look like? I have dark brown hair, with just a tint of red to make it look…like it's on fire! You'd never believe how many people I've got to believe that my hair was on—my eyes? Oh, they're dark, dark brown, almost black, and really handy when it comes to scaring people at night. Mother says that they make me seem mysterious. If she says that, I'd have to believe her, because, I am the exact duplicate of her. Yes, I am one of the most beautiful girls in the land, and a Lady to boot.
Which brings me back to that ball…
Mother had come into my room at quarter to six, asking if I was alright. Of course I was, but I feigned that I had grown a double head and was now an evil ogre, come to steal her real daughter away. Ok, so it was hard to believe when I had stuffed a pillow into my shirt as my other head and drawn a crooked frown on it. An ogre couldn't smile now, could she? Mother told me that we would be leaving shortly, but, as she left, she shrieked. Running to see what was wrong, I saw that my mother had grown two heads! I screamed, of course, causing the two heads to break apart, and Stephanie, mother's maid, walked away, tears of mirth in her eyes.
Of course, on the way there, I was still trying to persuade my mother that, in fact, I had not fallen for the trick, and had only meant for it to be for her amusement.
And what was I wearing? Well, hardly a tunic, I can assure you! It was a ball! Even I wasn't brash enough to dress up in common clothing. I was wearing a nice, cream colored evening dress. Complete with satin slippers to boot. And even better, because of my tiny waist, I didn't have to wear a tight corset.
If you want to torture someone, put them in a corset. Don't lock them in a dungeon. Soon, they will be begging to be released. Air is such a precious commodity, really.
Around my neck, I wore an heirloom: Mother's diamond rose on a silver chain. She had given it to me on my birthday just that year. I was sixteen, by the way. Old enough to be married, but loved enough not to be married off against my will. My parents believed in the whole "love creates a marriage, not money" shebang. So, if I got married to a pauper, they would never bat an eye about it, or so they told me.
Oh, come on, like I'd marry a pauper? But I was of marrying age, and, noticing quite frequently despite myself, I really did want to fall in love. I mean, how hard could it be to fall in love, really? You meet a handsome young man (no stench), and he falls madly in love with you, and you him. How hard could that be? How hard? Why hadn't it happened yet?
Mother told me not to worry about it. After all, the prince was seventeen, so he was older than me. And the prince's name? I didn't know it. Frowning, I looked over at mother, who was quite comfortably nestled into father's side.
"What is the prince's name?" I asked, frowning, because I didn't know.
"Gavin," Mother replied, smiling at me. She put a hand to her forehead and exclaimed, in mock adoration. "It makes me so happy to see you interested in my future son-in-law!"
"Future son-in-law?" My father and I both said in unison, in dull, drab voices. Maybe we were making fun of the prince a little too much. But it was so much fun!
Mother chuckled and hugged father. Then, she pulled away and sat up straight, as if pretending to be a proper woman. "But we must be on our best behaviors. I mean, it is royalty."
Why was that snooty voice an almost exact replica of Mistress Peacock?
"Yes," I replied, mocking Mistress Peacock as well. I even managed her hum as she seemed to be thinking hard. "No more jokes or mockery. We shall all be prim and proper."
"And embroider," Mother added.
"Yes, and embroider. And always use a berry spoon."
"Never forget the blueberry spoon from the strawberry spoon."
"Or you will never succeed in life and be deemed a failure. Cast out… For all eternity."
We both incorporated her sigh, as if she were pitying something that was hopeless. Then, we both said her clichéd, "You know I cannot take you in. Think of the scandal. Please just behave yourself for once!"
Father broke out into laughter, tears of mirth running down his cheeks.
I decided then that I could never get married. Not when I loved my parents so, and we had so much fun together. My gaze swept across mother's pale gold ballroom dress and my father's dark brown evening wear, lined with the same exquisite pale gold as mother's dress. How wonderful they looked. Mother had her hair in an upswept style so that only a few select tendrils escaped and framed her face, much the way an angel's ought to have.
My hair was swept up in a severe bun, the type that just about makes your eyes water even though it's been up for a while. Oh well. It was for the good of the cause. And besides, I looked a little like a foreign girl with my eyes a bit pulled upward. Oriental perhaps? Mysterious…? Of course, Mistress Peacock had to be there to advise it, and almost swooned when she found out that my dress wasn't a formal ballroom dress, but an evening dress. So, maybe I was a bit of a rebel.
And who was Mistress Peacock? She was the woman who always stopped just about all my fun. How sadly pathetic, to be living with such awesome parents and having an instructor so set on "traditions." "This must be done like this!" and "There are to be no arguments! Shall I call your parents?"
Mother thought it would be funny to put me with the same old crone she had for life instructions. I decided, though, that if she turned out so wonderful, then so could I. Of course, one or two pranks on poor wittle Mistress Peacock couldn't hurt, could they? Like, switching sugar for salt and watching her spray the liquid across the room when she was trying to teach me the proper way to sip tea. That had been priceless. And there were all those other times when… Alright, so maybe I had been just a little hard on poor wittle Mistress Peacock. But she claimed that I was just like mother was. And for that, I was happy.
As we neared this wonderful white (white, white, white, not gray, but white—Mr. Anderson's wonderful description of it after he had brought over the furniture that he had made for them) castle, I couldn't help but be amazed. Well, it was majestic, and white, and sparkling, and white, and glorious. Okay, so it was extremely white. It was so white, that nobody could miss it. Which, could be a bad thing, if you had enemies.
Duh, which way is the castle? Which way is the castle? Is it that white one?
Maybe that was why the sorcerer was so mad. Perhaps it hurt his eyes when he had to look at it. Hey, old guys can get pretty mean when they can't see. Trust me. This one time, I tried to help this old beggar, but he thought I was mugging him. I had to run away from him as he hit me with his cane. That was Mistress Peacock's idea. Of course, she thought being generous to the poor would earn respect. It earned an angry bruise on my head when I was twelve.
Ah, such fond memories. But, the castle. Not only was it white—the shock was really overwhelming, I'm telling you—but there were beautiful fountains in the front of dragons and unicorns, fairies, elves, and centaurs. And their hedges were green. And I mean green. I know it sounds silly, saying white as in white and green as in green, but that was what they were. I mean, they were some seriously beautiful colors.
As our carriage drew up to the front gate, a doorman opened the door and escorted mother and myself down from the carriage. There was a red carpet. This time, it wasn't as extraordinary a color as the green and the white, but I had never seen a red carpet. You know, those ones that you hear about sometimes. They're magic and unroll themselves so there isn't much labor. I wondered if this one was.
I take back my previous remark, about it being majestic and glorious. Right now, it seemed, well…looming. So, ah, it was actually quite scary and disturbing. I mean, really, who would make something so big? I was suddenly extremely happy that mother and father had a normal sized home of nobles. I mean, hello? How would you find your way around? You'd have to have tape or string or…
"This way, please," a stoutly old man said. Stoutly? Ha! He had a snooty accent too. I wondered if he had any relation to Mistress Peacock. We followed him after I exchanged amused gazes with Mother and Father.
It was so wrong to make fun of people and be amused by them. So wrong… so wrong… But hey, he was the one sounding condescending, so maybe it was okay. Just a little okay…
As we neared the ballroom, I caught glimpses of bright colors. So many beautiful dresses: reds, blues, yellows, greens, any color imaginable, even browns, blacks, grays, and whites. We entered, and the man made our arrival known.
"Sir Michael, Lady Rhiannon IV, and young Lady Rhiannon V."
Young Lady Rhiannon V? Rhian. Rhian! Repeat it with me.
"Ah, Lady Rhiannon. You are looking well."
"As are you, Your Majesty," Mother was curtseying, although there was no air of comedy in it. And Father was bowing. I looked at the man before me.
Okay, so he was wearing a crown and obviously was wearing some pretty expensive clothes. But he wasn't nearly as handsome as father. Father, the tall, dark and handsome, funny man that he is. This man had golden colored hair and blue eyes.
Oh come on. Who's going to fall for that?
"Lady Rhiannon," a regal woman said, stepping up as well.
Apparently she would. Although she fairly resembled mother, (dark hair, fabulous body) she in no way had mother's sense of amusement or life. She seemed like a stick-in-the-mud. And her eyes weren't as dark as mother's.
"Your Highness," Mother was once again curtseying.
Father was once again bowing.
I held my ground. If I would curtsey, I'd fall. I knew that. Mother and Father knew that. Strange, but these people didn't seem to.
"And you must be the young Lady Rhiannon," the king said, addressing me.
"Yes, Your Majesty." I tried my best! I did! How could I help the snigger I got from Mother, and the amused glance from Father. My curtsey didn't flatter me at all.
"How charming you are," the queen said softly as she gazed at me.
Was she sizing me up? Why was she looking at me like that? Then I remembered. Oh yes, the curse on no-emotions. Speaking of chore-bore, where was he?
"I'm sure Gavin would love to meet you," the king said. "There are so many young women here his age: Ladies, Princesses, Mistresses, Duchesses, but not a Lady Rhiannon."
What was that supposed to mean? And why was I being led away by a strange man and woman? Mother and Father were going to dance, obviously laughing at my discomfort. Oh, they'd pay for this, they would.
"Lady Rhiannon, this is our royal heir, Prince Gavin." The queen had that soft gaze about her again. Why was she looking at me like that?
And then, I gazed at the boy who sat emotionlessly in front of me and decided something on the spot. I hated princes.