AN: One day I was listening to Two Princes by the Spin Doctors and thought, 'This would make a great story'. I didn't think much more about it until I was assigned to write a short love story for school. I started to write it, but there was so much more I wanted to put into the story. So I started to write this longer version. Here goes nothing....
I was the youngest of twelve daughters. Some would believe that being the baby and a princess would make a child a spoiled brat. Luckily that was not the case for me. My mother died giving birth to me, and my father, who loved my mother very much, was devastated.
My Father's sorrow affected all of my sisters. He developed a horrible temper and we learned to not disobey him. Being just a young child, I began to feel that it was my fault and that I needed to make things better. I did everything I could to please the King. I studied hard, became charming and perfectly behaved. I never spoke out of turn and never disobeyed and order.
It was not long before my father noticed what a well-behaved child I was. He became pleased in me and was finally content. I slowly learned how happy I felt from keeping everyone around me happy. It became natural for me to please others and eventually my family was almost whole again.
I grew up, satisfying everyone and making my father proud. My sisters were married and lived in many different kingdoms. All except Crown Princess were gone by the time it was my turn to be wed.
It was the eve of my 18th birthday and I was eligible to be married. That night there was to be a ball in my honor. I sat before my mirror getting ready and thinking about my sisters. They all lived so faraway and I hadn't seen them in so long. That night the King was going to announce whom I would marry. After that I would no longer live in the palace, but in some kingdom far away.
Was I ready to get married? Was I ready for the change? For the new responsibilities? I studied myself in the mirror. It seemed as though it was a different girl looking back. Starring back were bright blue eyes framed with light curly blonde hair. The girl was very small and pale, but had rosy cheeks. She seemed so calm and relaxed unlike how I was really feeling.
"Princess, the King wishes to speak with you," my ladies maid said with a curtsey. I nodded and stood up.
Slowly I walked down the great and spacious hallways. The floors glittered white and the space was very airy. I passed by the great windows overlooking the extraordinary courtyards and stained glass depicting my country's history. The palace was vast, and the decor satisfied the extravagant tastes of the King. After walking through the intricate and lavishing halls, I reached the throne room. The servant opened the door and I entered slowly.
The throne room was long and tiled with golden stone and draped with deep scarlet. At the end of the long room the thrones sat on a platform. I walked forward and curtsied deeply.
"You sent for me Father," I stated looking down.
"Ah, yes. Rosetta," the King said slowly. My Father was a tall, intimidating man with dark hair and cold eyes and spoke with a deep rumbling voice. "You know well that tonight is you ball, and you know you are now eligible for marriage."
I nodded. I knew that he would be announcing my arranged marriage tonight and the ball, like he had for the rest of my sisters. I was not unhappy about it, I was almost glad. The King knew best.
"Tonight, at the ball," Father continued, "I want you to pick suitors. You will then decide whom you will marry from those suitors."
I stared at him in shock. Me? Pick whom I would marry? Why would he let me? He hadn't done so with my other sisters.
"But Father," I said calmly after collecting my thoughts, "Isn't it traditional for you to choose who I marry?"
"Rosetta, I trust you. You have been the daughter who has pleased me most. You always make the choices I approve of. I want you to be happy. Therefore I am letting you make the decision," He smiled proudly.
A lump began to form in my throat. I had seen the volatile reactions from Father when small things didn't go his way. What if I picked the wrong person, what would he do? I loved my father and if I didn't do the right thing, I would be distraught.
Smiling nervously I curtsied deeply and said, "I will do my best." I exited quickly and hurried down the hall in a distracted manner, thinking of all the things that could go wrong.
"Rosie! There you are!" Crown Princess Harper called from down the hall. She ran briskly dragging her husband, Conrad, with her. "Goodness Rosie!" I winced at her calling me Rosie, "We looked all over for you," Harper cried dramatically.
I smiled apologetically, humoring her. Crown Princess was the most dramatic of all my sisters, most spoiled, and the hardest to get along with. Unless she had her way, Harper could be nasty, which is why I had learned to conform to whatever she wants.
Prince Conrad on the other hand rolled his eyes, "Actually we only checked you rooms," he corrected a little sarcastically.
Harper cleared her throat as she glared at her husband, "Anyway, I wanted to ask you what you would be wearing to your ball. I wouldn't want to wear something much more exquisite than you," she said a little too sincerely.
I smiled sweetly back, knowing fully well she would wear a dress far more extravagant than I, "I was planning on wearing my blue dress."
Harper nodded, "Ah yes. That is a very pretty one. Come Conrad; help me pick out my dress."
Prince Conrad rolled his eyes and said, "Go without me, I need to ask Rosetta something of great importance." Crown Princess huffed and bustled down the hall.
"Prince Conrad you shouldn't tease her like that. You're a little mean sometimes," I scolded him after Harper was gone.
Conrad snorted, "Because she treats me with her utmost respect," he retorted.
'Poor Conrad,' I thought as I nodded empathetically. Harper was going to give him a hard time till he bent to her wishes. Of course Conrad was flat out refusing to do what Harper wanted. He was going out of his way to make sure she didn't get her way.
"I'm just warning you, you might be miserable until you do what she wants," I advised.
"Well I'm not letting Harper have her way. She is spoiled and I can't put up with that. She needs to grow up," Conrad explained simply. We were silent a moment before Prince Conrad said anything again.
"I can remember the day I met Crown Princess," he reminisced. He ran his hand through his light brown hair. "I had heard many tales of the beauty of Crown Princess. Many told me she was the gentlest and sweetest Princess of Dilia," he laughed, "I was so excited to meet her. I was a fool. I met her and learned she was quite the opposite of what I had hoped. That was when I decided that I would not put up with her behavior."
We had stopped walking now. We stood in the middle of the hall, effectively blocking the way of everyone else.
Conrad grinned, "I bet you're excited to meet the man you will marry now," he teased, "You find out tonight at the ball, right?"
I looked down, "I wish," I said longingly, "No, my Father is letting me choose my husband."
"Really? What made him do that?" Conrad asked in shock.
"I don't know," I said shaking my head.
"Well that's wonderful! That's a chance none of your sisters got!" he said excitedly.
"Too bad I don't want it," I whispered sadly. Conrad looked at me confused, "I don't want to choose. What if I pick wrong? What if I don't pick whom my Father wants? I could not stand to disappoint him."
"Rosetta, your father will still love you even if you pick 'the wrong person'. You will still be his daughter," Conrad said reassuringly.
"But..." I argued.
"Don't worry about it! As long as you are happy with your choice, your father will be happy," Conrad said gently.
I still had my doubts as he left and as I got ready for the ball. My head swam with thoughts of failure. Disappointing the King seriously worried me. What was I supposed to do?
After a long and stressful day the ball finally began. Hundreds of people were there in my honor, many of which I didn't know. I made my entrance, announced of course, wearing a deep blue ball gown. The iridescent fabric of the full skirt seemed to sparkle in the lights. It was simple, but elegant. Just to my liking.
The first person to greet me was Cassiopeia, the fourth youngest child. Cassi was the sister closest to me, despite our difference in age. She was also the sister most unlike me.
Cassi was such a rebel as a young girl. She caused my Father much grief because of her sense of freedom. Back when I was thirteen it was Cassiopeia's turn to be wed, but Cassi was not one to be told what to do. She refused to marry anyone unless she loved him. The King and my sister fought endlessly about the Prince he had chosen until she ended up falling in love with him. After a year of argument Cassi finally married Prince Mortimer of Esac.
"Dearest Rose," she murmured as she hugged embraced me, "It's been too long. Look at you! To be married soon!" she exclaimed as she pulled back to look at me. I always thought Cassiopeia was such a beauty. Her light brown hair gently curled around her square face and her brown eyes sparkled.
"Cassi, I've missed you. How are Mortimer and the children?" I asked as we linked arms. Slowly we made our way around the great ballroom, greeting the guests as we went.
"Mo? He's fine, I hope. Unfortunately he had to stay at the palace. There have been a few... pressing matters that require his presence. Lynette has also been very ill and cannot travel," Cassi explained with unease, "But there is nothing you can do about it so there's no purpose in worrying over it."
I nodded and then looked around at all my guests. Most of them I didn't even recognize. I noticed many fine looking young men in the crowd. My forehead creased a little at the thought of choosing suitors. How could I know which ones would please Father?
"Rosetta? What's bothering you?" Cassiopeia asked gently when she saw my expression.
I shook my head, "Nothing it's nothing. I'm just... overwhelmed," I explained quickly.
Cassi stopped and looked straight into my face. Her expression was one I had often seen when I was with her. It was her I-know-you-are-troubled-and-you-are-hiding-it-to-spare-me look.
"Would it have anything to do with you choosing a husband?" Cassi asked slyly already knowing the answer to the question. I could only stare at her in surprise.
"I knew it!" she said smugly, "You always get that look when you have to make a decision."
"How did you find out?" I had only told Conrad of my predicament, and he wouldn't tell anyone without my permission.
"Well," Cassiopeia said casting her eyes about, "Nothing stays secret long here. Once Crown Princess finds out she tells the whole kingdom," She paused, "The real question is how does Harper hear these things in the first place?"
I could tell by her light and playful tone that Cassi was trying to make me feel better.
"Come Rose, cheer up! This is a chance that any one of us would have died for! This shows how much Father trusts you! Don't treat it like a death sentence!" Cassi mildly scolded, "You are only making it seem much worse that it really is." She knew me too well.
I pulled away form my sister and turned my back to her.
"This may seem wonderful to you Cassi, but is very stressful to me. You have never had any trouble disobeying the King but it breaks my heart to disappoint him. I don't even know where to start!" My gaze was on the floor and my face was growing hot.
Cassi put on arm around me and pulled me close.
"I'm sorry dear Rose, I forget how different we are. Now relax and don't you worry. Everything will turn out fine," she whispered gently into my ear, "Besides, you shouldn't be acting sad during you ball! What will your guests think?"
We continued on and Cassi began to make whispered suggestions.
"You know Father well enough to know what kind of a man he would want you to marry; some one with a big, powerful kingdom and enough wealth to take good care of you. Of course he'll want a prince with a good name and an alliance that would be most profitable. And someone who will treat you well," she rambled in between greetings.
I nodded, I had thought as much.
"Ooo!" Cassi cried excitedly, "Perfect!" Her hand tightened around my wrist, tugged me along to a small crowd, and stopped right in front of it.
"This is the perfect Prince that the King would approve of. Prince Lucien of Dradad, Crown Prince to be exact. Very handsome, powerful, and with all the right connections." Cassi whispered, "But he does have his flaws. He is a tad self centered and loves to be the center of attention. I've also heard he has a bit of a-"
"Rosetta!" A loud voice cried. A tall, intimidating man stepped forward to stand in front of me.
"Might I introduce myself Princess Rosetta," he said taking a light bow, "I am Prince Lucien of Dradad."
Indeed he was handsome, but with sharp angular features. He had black wavy hair and pale blue eyes. Almost as muscular as he was tall, Lucien seemed very powerful. He had an air of authority and control.
"It's a pleasure to meet you," I curtsied.
The music started and people began to dance. The Prince offered me his arm and we made out way to the dance floor.
"I hear you are to choose your suitors tonight rather then you father choose a husband for you," Lucien said after a moment of dancing. I couldn't help but smiling at the comment. Cassi was correct, whatever Crown Princess finds out, everybody finds out.
"Yes I do have the privilege of choosing my suitors," I replied.
"I wonder then if I might have the honor of courting you Rosetta, and you might consider me as a choice for marriage," He asked boldly.
Taken back by Lucien's boldness I hesitated slightly. What kind of person asks that kind of a question to someone they just met? Not that it mattered, I still would court him, the King would approve.
"I would love for you to be a suitor of mine," I finally replied.
The Prince's face brightened, "Excellent! Have you chosen anyone else yet?"
I shook my head, "But the night has barley begun and I have many more young men to meet," I pointed out.
Hoping to steer the conversation in another direction, I asked Lucien about himself. He was eager to comply. After the music ended I pulled away and curtsied, rather quickly.
"Won't you dance with me again?" the prince implored.
"I would love to, but I have other guests I must meet and attended to. Sorry," I apologized, despite being grateful the dance was over. Lucien was a bit intimidating.
Quickly I retreated back to Cassiopeia and told her of my little adventure.
"Hmm... So I guess Lucien's not longer a choice. I wonder if-"
"Wait," I interrupted, "What do you mean not longer a choice?"
"You aren't going to consider him after that are you?" she asked surprised.
"Well, if it pleased the King," I began. Cassi rolled her eyes. I replied by giving her a stern look.
Suddenly, I bumped into somebody else, lost my balance, and fell forward. Before I crashed to the floor, arms caught and steadied me. I kept my head down, blushed deeply, and quickly apologized.
"I'm so sorry, that was-" I stopped short when I looked up and saw my rescuer.
He was tall and thin and handsome with short dark brown hair. His face was soft and young and had gleaming brown eyes.
"No, that was my fault," he apologized gently. He let me go and asked, "Are you alright?" He looked sincerely concerned.
"I'm fine," I said quickly and then curtsied, "I'm Princess Rosetta, and thank-you."
My rescuer smiled softly and bowed. "Prince Meo of Illia, and the pleasure is all mine. I mean catching you, not tripping you."
In the background, music began to play and couples began to dance. Beside me, Cassi gently squeezed my arm, but I ignored her.
"Princess Rosetta, will you give me the honor of having this dance?" Meo asked offering me his hand, "It's the least I can do to apologize."
"I would love to," I replied and placed my hand in his. Smiling softly I added, "and there is no need to apologize."
Slowly Meo lead me to the dance floor and we joined in the waltz. He led me with gentleness and danced smoothly. We didn't speak for a moment, but the silence was not awkward.
"Pardon me, but I don't believe I know where Illia is," I broke the silence.
"It's very far away to be honest. Past the Desert lands and next to Dradad. It's not a very large country," he explained, grinning slightly, "It took three weeks to get here."
"Three weeks? Just to come to a ball? A ball for a princess you have never met?" I said surprised.
"Well it would have been rude of me not to have come. Besides there was business here I needed to attend to," he stated, "I have heard many great things about you Princess."
Blushing I turned my head away, "That was very sweet of you," I commented. In reply Meo shrugged.
"Your Father is going to announce who you will marry tonight," Meo said, but it almost sounded like a question.
"No exactly," I replied a little reluctantly. There was no hint of surprise in Meo's face, only amusement.
"Yes I had heard rumors..."
"Oh," I groaned. It was true, everybody know about it.
"So it's true? You're going to be picking your own suitors?" he asked.
"Yes," I answered. Quickly I changed the subject, "So, tell me about your little country. Is it beautiful?"
"It once was," he replied quietly while avoiding my gaze, "It has seen happier times. Now everything seems gloomy." The smile was gone.
We twirled silently for a few moments. Meo's eyes had a faraway look.
"Tell me about your family. Do you have any brother's or sisters?" I asked hoping to turn the sad conversation in a new direction.
It worked. As soon as I asked the grin returned.
"Yes, I have one little sister and she's the sweetest person I have ever known," Meo replied, "Her name is Elodea."
I smiled at his sudden happiness, "You sound very close."
He nodded, "Yes, she is the most important girl in my life right now. I absolutely adore her. It was difficult to leave her for so long."
The music came to an end and we pulled apart. We bowed and curtsied to each other, giving formal thanks. I didn't want to leave him; I wanted to learn more about him. He was so polite and considerate. After the ball, Meo was going to go back to his country, and it was likely that I would not see him again. But I couldn't just spend the whole evening with him; I had other guests to attend to.
There was one thing I could do...
"Wait," I said as he began to walk away, "What would it take to convince you to stay longer?" I asked quickly.
Meo stopped and slowly turned around.
"I guess it would take a young lady was looking for a suitor," he replied after a moment, "A beautiful Princess perhaps. Maybe then I might consider."
I took that as a yes.