Maribelle and Jane were awakened to a jabbing feeling in their side. Maribelle was the first to open her eyes. She realized she was not being stabbed, but being kicked gently. It took a while for her eyes to adjust to the light. There was a young man standing before her. And he was not the guard. The guard was back at his post, and seemed to be ignoring the boy.
For a moment, Maribelle was mesmerized with the new face, one she did not recognize. In an instant, Jane scrambled to his feet and bowed lowly. "Forgive me your highness. I did not recognize you." Jane said softly.
Embarrassed, Maribelle stood up and bowed too. She made sure she was low enough that he couldn't see her bright red cheeks.
Next thing they knew, the drawbridge was opening. Maribelle presumed him to be Prince Ryan. He led them into the castle and through many pearly-walled marble-floored rooms with large open windows and silk curtains. Jane was overflowing with excitement right now. Had her wish been granted? Was the prince going to fall in love with her? He certainly had a mild and patient temperament. All the while, Maribelle's stomach was doing somersaults.
"You wished to see me? And you refused to leave until I had a word with you? I must say that's a first. Whatever request you have must be of highest importance." The prince said kindly.
Jane's heart took a leap. "Our mother. It's our mother. She's marrying this man named Orneo and my sister and I don't want it to happen. He's just an all-around creepy guy. I can just sense that there's something the matter with him. Don't you agree, Maribelle?" Jane turned around when Maribelle was silent. "Maribelle?"
Ashamed, Maribelle said, "I can't do this. It's not your problem and we shouldn't bother you." She bowed to the prince and quickly made a way to the exit.
Jane and the prince soon caught up with her. "So you came all this way…just for that? My guard Barney tells me you've been travelling for four days."
"Yes, four days." Said Jane.
"I'm so sorry…it's just that you…you're Great, and Jane and I, we're nothing special we're just ordinary villagers. We have money and we have a lot of clothes, but as I've learned in the past few days, we actually can settle our differences. I've made a new friend." She said to Jane.
Jane smiled approvingly. "Me too."
Suddenly, another young man entered the room. He was dressed as a high knight. He had dark skin and strange green eyes and a long, shiny sword. "Hello, your highness." He greeted as if they were good friends. "Who are they?"
Prince Ryan was confused. He looked back and forth between the girls, sensing there was an inseparable bond between them that had just recently been formed. Kindly, he said, "Well, if you don't require my help, then I'll show you the way out of the castle."
Maribelle paused a moment and looked at him. She didn't expect him to be standing right behind her, so very close to her. She looked into his eyes. They were blue, bright blue. A gentle blue. Like the color of the sky. Maribelle knew that the sky outside was cloudy, even though it was supposed to be forever blue. Ryan's eyes were forever blue. Maribelle hated having to tear herself away from them. But she just couldn't bear it. She was falling in love.
"You're too good to be true." She said. "You're a hero." And with that final farewell, she walked away.
"I can't be a hero," Ryan called to her, "If I don't have anyone to save."
And that's what made her little footsteps stop. Maribelle and Jane went back to the prince and his sidekick. "If you won't allow me to help your mother, then at the very least, stay for my wedding." The prince invited them.
Jane gasped, delighted. Maribelle smiled slightly.
"Sir Richard here can show you to the room. My sisters and my parents are out buying clothes for the wedding. My father couldn't be happier that I'm finally getting married." The prince said enthusiastically. Jane's heart sank.
He then went about his normal life around the castle.
Sir Richard smiled at the girls. "Right this way." He seemed very friendly. He showed them to a large room above the winding staircase. The cool breeze from outside blew in through the open window.
"Here is the powder room. Prince Ryan's sisters make themselves look beautiful in here. You can too." And he left for the door.
"Wait a moment, Sir Richard. I've never met a knight as dashing as you before." Jane curtseyed.
Sir Richard seemed flattered enough. "Arise."
"Can I entrust you with a secret."
"Oh yes, brave one."
"My mother, Ursula, does not know that I and my stepsister are here. She may just think we've run away." Jane said.
"Your secret is safe with me." Sir Richard bowed nobly, leaving with a smile on his face.
Jane whirled around. "Maribelle, I think I'm in love."
"With the knight."
"But I thought you loved the prince?"
"Prince Ryan is devilishly handsome but a knight has to be a thousand times more chivalrous." Jane said.
Maribelle and Jane combed through their hair. It took Maribelle half an hour approximately. Then Jane looked in the closet. There were dozens of exotically patterned fur coats and only a small handful of dresses to choose from. Jane took a plum colored one. Maribelle thought it was plain. One dress stood out to Maribelle alone. It was white and it had layers and layers of thin wispy fabric. It had a stain near the bottom which is probably why it was shoved to the back of the closet.
"This is the dress." Maribelle said awestricken.
And so they washed themselves and made their hair looked pretty and slipped into the dresses. By that time night had come and the wedding was about to begin. People from all around the countryside were arriving at the castle.
"What if mother recognizes us?" Jane asked.
"There's no way she'd be able to. We look completely different using other people's stuff."
"Hey Maribelle, do you think we look like princesses?"
"Just wearing their clothes doesn't make us princesses."
They walked down the spiral staircase. In the midst of the mingling travellers, there was a feast prepared. The girls ate and ate and ate. They were so full of turkey and pork and cherries and lima beans that they had to loosen their corsets.
Ursula was dressed in an elegant dress and she was holding hands with Orneo, her betrothed. Maribelle and Jane spied on her.
"Do you think they have already wed?" Jane asked with a concerned whisper.
"He looks awfully frightening." Jane noted. "And not in a good way."
"Do you think we should dance?" Maribelle asked.
"No, no. I was thinking you could ask the prince's knight to dance."
"If I ever see him." Jane said hopelessly. "He's probably already smitten with some other girl…"
"Well, ya never know." Maribelle said dreamily. She was thinking of Prince Ryan and unbeknowedly wishing to dance with him.
The stepsisters swirled into the ball on light feet, though their hearts were heavy.
They were bored and very weary as they watched all the young gents and ladies dancing, and feeling left out, Maribelle finger-combed her hair. Jane felt downright absurd. It was polite for a gentleman to ask a lady to ask especially if she had no partner.
And so far nobody had asked either girl to dance.
"Don't you think it's time you went home?"
The girls looked behind them. Maribelle raised her little eyebrows. Jane gasped slightly.
There was the Prince and his knight Sir Richard. Both were smiling broadly.
"Or do you want to say?" The prince asked. "If you would rather stay then it's only polite of me to ask you to dance."
"Oh yes." The girls chimed in unison. They both took one hand of his, forcing him to choose.
"Never before has somebody come such a long way to see me. I confess I've never been much of a hero because nobody took me seriously. They told me that because I'm a rich prince, there must be a catch involved and there never was one." The Prince said.
"You're still my hero!" Jane threw herself at him playfully. However, he did not share in her reprise.
"When I first saw you, I mistook you for a peasant. But then I dared to look closer. I realized that you must be the daughter of Princess Helane of Evermor, my mother's cousin. Once Helane married a man outside of royalty, the ruling line was passed down to my mother. But you, my dear Maribelle, are a princess after all. Although nobody would have recognized you except me, I do believe it would be wise for you to accept my hand in marriage." Prince Ryan extended his hand. "Then you would no longer have to worry about your stepmother marrying somebody you don't like. You can come and live with me here, in the castle, and never leave. Or we can travel other places, if you'd like. But I have refused to marry Princess Delurishiama."
Maribelle took his hand, her eyes watering at the edges. He swept her up into his arms and they kissed.
Jane crossed her arms and frowned.
"I don't suppose you'd settle for me then, fair maiden." Sir Richard bowed honorably. Jane shrugged and allowed him to pull her away into a dance.
There was a double wedding to be held at noon. The king's dragon, Drew, was guarding the gate. King Leonard and Queen Linny congratulated their son for choosing such a beautiful bride.
Sir Richard's parents arrived soon enough—a rich Duke and Duchess. Jane was pleased to have met them. Jane's own mother presented her blessing on the marriage. Jane was very grateful that her mother was not angry.
It was nearly time for the king to marry the two couples, when Ryan's sisters, the two princesses arrived fashionably late. They strode in on horseback. The elder sister had short red hair and she looked very educated and ambitious. The younger sister looked ever familiar.
But Maribelle didn't know where she had seen the beautiful little lady before.
The king married Prince Ryan to Maribelle, and Sir Richard to Jane, and they wed. The four of them walked down the aisle gallantly. Little children threw flower petals at them. Women cast kisses. The younger women that were the Prince's age were crying, and Maribelle could not tell whether it was out of joy or misery. The men tried to keep their poise, but some of them were breaking down.
"You're a princess, Maribelle. How does it feel?" Ryan kissed her lightly. She kissed him back.
Sir Richard carried his bride Jane away on his trusty steed and they rode off into the sunset. But they'd return within the hour.
Ryan and Maribelle and the others began to dance, though nothing could distract the young couple from each other save one tap on Maribelle's shoulder.
It was such a small tap that Maribelle thought she had imagined it, until she heard, "Did you get what you wished for?"
Maribelle turned around and all at once she recognized the fair Flufferbuff.
"It was your power, then, that made him love me?" Maribelle whispered desperately to Flufferbuff. "Your magic?"
"Magic? I have no magic at all except for the power to make people believe in themselves."
"I stopped you and Jane from splitting up. If you had gone in separate directions, you would have never reached the castle and both of your wishes would have gone unsatisfied." Flufferbuff said with a smile. "I'm glad you came. I'm glad to have you in my family."
Maribelle smiled and hugged her new sister-in-law.
Prince Ryan and Princess Maribelle no longer needed to worry about anything so long as they had each other's love and friendship. Jane moved into Sir Richard's home and they had a fabulous life.
Prince Ryan knew in his heart that he had become a hero to Maribelle, because he loved her. And she will always love him back. They lived happily ever after in the castle of Evermor and had many, many kids. The end.
Hey! I hope you liked it, everyone. Please review!