"My ladies," called a male's voice from where we were heading in the pleasant summer air. It was James Burnheart, the princess's long time friend and the Duke of Magalia.
His family had escaped right before the bombing happened, and he took up residence in Faria just after we did.
"You wanted to see us?" asked Gwen, sitting down on a marble bench near where he was standing.
His gaze drifted over to me. He was only two years older than we were. He often sought us out, only to ask me if I had time to meet him in the library later. This was probably just another attempt at asking me, a lowly servant, out on a date.
"Yes, I did," he answered, his gaze snapping back to her.
"I'm not meeting you in the library again, James," I sighed.
"I wasn't going to say that, Lia," he muttered. "Well, actually I was, but I was also going to say—"
"Would you to please just go out on a date?" demanded Gwen, crossing her arms. "You obviously are attracted to each other!"
"I'm not attracted to her!" cried James, glaring at me.
"Him!? I hate him!" I nearly screamed.
"What were you going to say James?" asked Gwen, raising her eyebrow.
He took a deep breath before saying, "Your father, King Francis the Third, is talking to the King of Agama, King Alfreado the Four."
"Who?" asked Gwen.
"Please don't make me say that again," pleaded James.
"Of course not, but why is this relevant?" Gwen demanded.
"Kings only talk when there is either war, or an arranged marriage going on."
That was the last time I saw Gwen for…a long time. We'll get around to that in a little while.
"Thalia!" cried Cook as I walked into the kitchen that afternoon. "I haven't seen you in ages darlin'! Why haven' y'u come down an' seen yer favorite cook?!"
"I'm sorry Cook, I've just had so much going on, you know, being with Princess Gwen all the time," I answered, sitting down at the worn out table. "How have you been?"
With those four words Cook went off on a monologue about everything in her life since I had last seen her a week ago. This left me to think about other things.
Mainly Gwen things.
So there I was sitting thinking about how my life as the Princess's double when he sat down next to me.
Formally Prince Edward Philippe Montgomery Jacques. But to me, in the future, another name. A simpler name.
"Who are you?" demanded Cook, bringing me out of my pondering.
"Sorry, ma'am. I am Edward," answered the boy. He had brown hair which contrasted excellently with his skin, a light tan color. His long, thin fingers lay spread out on the rough wooden counter.
Cook frowned. "Just Edward?" she inquired.
The boy blushed, his deep blue eyes glancing hurriedly around the kitchen. "No," he answered, looking like he wanted to make himself as small as possible. "I am Prince Edward."
"Of which country?" asked Cook, her fists on her hips. I would have laughed if I had not been so caught up in restraining my fingers from leaping into the boy's dark curly hair.
"Of Agama, madam," Prince Edward answered.
Cook narrowed her eyes, making the boy, Edward, shift on his seat. "I like you!" declared Cook, going back to bustling around. "You might not have met Miss Thalia here!" called Cook over her shoulder as she poured a large amount of something into a pot.
The boy turned to me. When my face registered in his mind he raised an eyebrow. "I think you must be mistaken, madam, for this is Princess Gwendolyn," he laughed.
I frowned. Cook turned around, her hands once again on her hips.
"That is Thalia Marinette," Cook stated. "And don't 'madam' me!"
I tried to hold back a laugh, but it didn't go unnoticed by the Prince.
"Forgive me Miss Marinette, I thought you were Princess Gwendolyn. Please call me Edward," he requested.
"One thing Mister!" called Cook, bustling over to a cupboard. "We don't do titles in here! It's just Thalia, or Gwendolyn, or Edward! No title when Cook is around! No sirie!" She hit a pot with a spoon, bringing a loud bang around the kitchen. "Second thing! Lia knows she looks like Gwendolyn!"
"You might want to escape while you can," I whispered, "we can leave while she's rambling."
"That would be impolite," Edward said, frowning.
I smirked. "Fine. Hey Cook! I think Gwen might want to meet Edward here! After all, she might end up marrying him," I smirked. Cook swung around so fast I thought she might break her neck.
"A wedding! Oh my…" she exclaimed.
"Don't tell anyone I told you, please," I said, pulling my best pleading face. "I don't want to get in trouble."
"Oh don't you worry dear! Now go along! Don't let Cook stop you doing anything!" she exclaimed, shooing the two of us out of the room.
I smirked at the Edward boy, pulling him down a hall towards an empty dining room.
"That's how you get away from Cook," I smiled, sitting down on the table.
The boy pulled out a chair and sat down after dusting it off with his coat sleeve.
"Sorry, I don't believe we've properly met," I said, sticking out my hand. "I'm Thalia Marinette, Gwe-Princess Gwendolyn's friend and handmaiden."
He shook my hand. "How do you know she's your friend?"
I narrowed my eyes. "You don't ask a person how they can breathe do you?" I sighed. "I'm sorry Your Highness, I shouldn't have spoken to you in that way."
"Do you truly think that I will have to marry this Gwendolyn person?" he asked. "Why couldn't I marry you."