Being the eldest child of King Francis and Queen Marie, I've always been a no-nonsense, down-to-Earth kind of girl. I never cared much for joking or playing around. I was a princess, and the eldest of many siblings. I had responsibilities. That's why I wanted absolutely nothing with my father's jester when he brought the boy to court when I was around thirteen years old.
"Amelia!" I looked up from French verb conjugations work to gaze at my little brother, Edward.
"What is it, Edward?" I asked, frustrated that he had interrupted my studies.
"Father got a new jester! You have to come see him!" He began tugging on my skirts. A jester? What did he get a jester for? I sighed and stood from my desk. Edward wasn't going to leave me alone if I didn't come with him. He dragged me to the Throne Room where a large mass of people were crowded, all eyes fixated on what was going on on the rug in front of the throne. Edward and I silently sidled up beside our brothers and sisters, my mother and father to our right. Naturally, Edward sat me with the youngest of my siblings, all cheering and giggling at the scene in front of them. I took hold of little Abigail and placed her in my lap before looking up at the performance.
A boy about my age was in the process of telling some sort of silly story. He was dressed ridiculously and in all sorts of colors, as a jester should be. He even had a ridiculous hat on with bells. Everyone erupted in laughter as he cracked a joke in the story.
I would admit, he was rather pleasant in the face, if it were not covered in that ridiculous costume. His hazel eyes were quite shocking to look at, and I found myself lost in them during several instances throughout his act.
He concluded his show with a difficult-looking juggling act, and took a bow. Everyone applauded him. I looked over to see what my father had to say. He was grinning wide.
"You are a wonderful performer, young man," my father said to him. "I would love to keep you in my household."
"That would be a great honor, Your Majesty," the jester said with a low bow. "I thank you very much."
"You're very welcome," my father said. "Come, sit by me for a while." He gestured him to the spot on his right, and the jester gleefully agreed and climbed up the steps. I saw him stop for half a second as he gazed at me, but he recomposed himself in record time and joined my father at his side, where he could not see me anymore. Much to my regret, I had a feeling this jester was going to be a bigger thorn in my side than expected.
I was forced by my youngest siblings to watch this jester time after time. When I could have been studying history or languages, I was sitting with Abigail on my lap, watching a fool pull his ridiculous jokes and acts. And what was worse, I didn't like the way his eyes glittered when he looked at me. As if I were some beautiful maiden to impress. No, I would rather he impressed me with his knowledge of his times tables than his ability to make others laugh. Not that he had that sort of knowledge. I was told he came from a peasant town far away. The son of some farmer. Upon closer inspection, he did have the build of a farm boy, but I knew that wouldn't last long. Not after living in the castle, performing tricks and eating the best food in the kingdom to his heart's content.
"Princess?" I blinked and looked up from my book to see none other than the jester himself gazing at me. He wasn't wearing his usual, ridiculous costume, but a regular tunic and breeches, similar to what the pages wore from day to day in the castle.
"Yes?" I asked, deathly curious as to why the jester would feel the need to speak with me. He certainly did not come for casual conversation, I would never converse with the likes of him.
"I'm trying to think of a special show to perform for your mother, the Queen on her birthday next week. Would you know of any tricks or jokes she would like?" I didn't like his attitude. His blatant lack of respect towards me and my family. But he was a jester, so I could expect little else. He still had that look in his eye as he watched me. But somehow, with the two of us alone and just a few feet separating us, it didn't seem as annoying.
I put down my book and thought. What sort of act would she like from a jester?
"Do you know any magic tricks?" I asked him.
"Yes, I know a few."
"She very much enjoys the magic shows," I said certainly. "I am sure just a few tricks and some more of that juggling will make her ecstatic." He gave a wide grin.
"Thank you much, Highness," he said happily. I could sense a little less lightness in his voice, however. I nodded politely at him as I returned to my book and he turned to leave. Just as he was about to walk out the door, however, I realized something.
"Jester!" I called after him. He turned back and gazed at me. "I never caught your name."
"Julian Thomas, your Highness," he said with a grin and gave a very exaggerated bow.
Julian Thomas. I casually remembered something my old tutor used to say, 'never trust a man with two first names.' "Thank you, Julian" I said. "I hope you enjoy your new life in the castle."
"Well, thank you, Princess. I promise I will." With a nod of his head, he turned and walked out the door.