Perhaps more of a serious story. Yet not. Dunno. Written for self-satisfaction, means there aren't set updates. Reviews are welcome. All just a rough draft. Title subject to change.

Prologue: Aria

A sigh of relief escapes my stepmother's lips as her invisible burden seems to lift off her shoulders. She straightens up to her full height, her perfect posture just adding to the advantage over me. I remain seated in the hard chair, hands placed on my thighs as she begins pacing around our small kitchen, mumbling about how great it was. How amazing it was. All because the prince spoke to me. I don't see what's so great about it—in fact, I find it absolutely repulsive. But I purse my lips and say nothing, not moving anything besides my eyes as they follow her pacing back and forth.

"I'm so glad," Jaclyn breathes, almost laughing as she shakes her head in disbelief. "I'm so glad he's taken an interest in you. What else would we have done? How would we have survived with such a disgrace?" She turns to look at me disapprovingly, and I shift uncomfortably in my seat. "You should have known better than to have spoken out of turn! And on their returning day, no less! They must be exhausted from their long journey, and then they have to deal with the death of their father!

"How could you have even thought of insulting even one of them? Everyone has their faults, but you have no business to tell our princes just what theirs are! What would have happened had he not stepped in? We would have been banished! Shunned! What can our neighbors think of us now? Oh, but that dear prince has saved you—taken interest, no less! Oh, and the sheer wealth of them! Their crowns alone hold a priceless jewel that could pay off all of our house!"

I scowl as she speaks, annoyed with her rejoicing at my expense. She had taken the words 'taken interest' in the wrong way, I hope. I may not have had a right to insult the royals, yes, but it just slipped out, and it was all true anyway. I don't even care what those princes think of me anyway; I just regret having told Jaclyn of the youngest's actions.

Her endless rambling fades into a background noise though, and I think of my father and how he'll be the one to deal with her ridiculous chatter. It was already 8:15pm, and he was to come home from work soon, which would allow me to make my escape then, if not sooner. I pity him tonight, though; he would have a lot to deal with when he arrived, but it wasn't my problem. At least, for now it wasn't.


My name drags me back to reality, much to my dismay, and I glance at Jaclyn with a fresh scowl on my face. "What?"

"Stop with that nasty face!" she commands, and, with one imperceptible twitch of the eye, I fake a smile, though, by the disapproving glance I get from her, it probably looks more like a grimace. "Anyway," she continues, avoiding looking directly at my face, "don't be rude when you see him, okay?"

I knit my brows together in confusion, the scowl having disappeared. "Who, Father?"

Before I can even finish my question, she clucks her tongue and shakes her head. "Aria," she sighs, "were you not listening to me from before?" Of course I wasn't—who would want to listen to their stepmother as she planned your future with a prince that you didn't know, let alone hated?—and I open my mouth to defend myself, but she continues before I have the chance. "I'm talking about him. Prince Krys!"

I almost laugh, though I instead choke when she says the name. "You think I'm going to be meeting with him anytime soon? He's a prince, I'm not anywhere near royalty."

She just giggled mischievously. "You'll be seeing him soon, honey. I'll bet on it."

Why? Because he's 'taken interest' in me?

I wasn't going to be seeing him soon; there was absolutely no way. He was a prince, after all. As a prince, he probably had a bunch of tasks he had to do anyway—especially since his father just recently died. He'll most likely just forget me—how many other commoners does he see a day anyway? I was forgotten as soon as I had retreated back home and left his and his brothers' sight.

I make a face and she raises an eyebrow, daring me to defy her verbally. I can hold my tongue when I know I need to, though. With a barely-detectable sarcastic tone, I say, "Of course, Jaclyn."

She smiles warmly, but all I can seem to make out is the grin of an evil witch forming a plan to set up a very impossible meeting. Or marriage. And even if it was possible, I'd go willingly as soon as Jaclyn becomes my mother, I touch a fish (which are probably the scariest animals out there), or see someone flying through the air like a bird. Which is never.

"Great," she praises, her gaze already shifted somewhere else as she counts on her fingers. "Oh, and dear," she turns to me, a sickeningly sweet smile on her face, "you don't have to call me Jaclyn. We're family now, aren't we?" The vacant look in her eyes shows just how much she believes the statement—how tuned out she is—and I simply murmur my agreement and nod, knowing she would forget the minute details of our conversation the instant my father returned. "Off you go then!"

She wants me gone so she can have some alone time working on whatever demonic plan she had concocted. I'm not going to object. "Night," I say, knowing that would probably be the last time I saw her for the night anyway. Standing, I quickly make my way up the creaking steps, catching parts of her words as she mumles to herself.

"How old…oh, yes…fifteen. Prince Krys…sixteen…only half a year. It's legal...fourteen…yes!" She erupts into a fit of laughter, her high-pitched and obnoxious cackles ringing throughout our small house. Unable to take it, I dash the rest of the way to my room, closing the door behind me before slowly sinking to the ground, leaning against it, exhausted from the day's events.

Finally, I have some peace and quiet in my sanctuary.

—End Prologue