The chill autumn wind felt almost like magic as it whipped across her cheeks, tossing her snowy colored tresses behind her shoulders. Her heart pounded in her ears like a merry drummer as she was transported to a world of blurred buildings and people walking in slow motion. Sounds rose and fell around her, everyday noises melting into a symphony of giggling children and tweeting birds. This world was beautiful and there was no stopping her.
"Your highness!" cried out a familiar voice. So much for being unstoppable.
She slowed down to an average jogging pace. "Alfred! How lovely of you to join me." She looked back and smiled.
"Princess," panted the older man, trying to keep up. "Princess Charlotte, what are you doing?" He paused to catch his breath, the princess following suit. The young girl gave a small laugh and placed her hand on her hip.
"Just a morning run. What's going on back home?" Charlotte knew something had to be off for Alfred to run such a far distance to find her. The plump assistant just shook his head, signaling to not ask questions. They slowly strolled back to the castle, not sharing a word to one another. It was terrible news. She could feel.
She burst into the castle, eager to know what had happened. "Mother!" she called out. "Mother, where are you?" Charlotte rushed through rooms, scanning for sight of the Queen.
"The Queen is in her vanity, dear," said Alicia, a housemaid who had watched over Charlotte since she was too tiny to tie her laces. Charlotte rushed over and hugged Alicia, the older woman kissing the top of the girl's head.
"How was your family? I hope well. It's great to have you back," said Charlotte. The older woman just smiled and nodded, knowing the princess was in a rush. She petted the milky locks that clung to the girl's face from sweat. Charlotte rushed up the stairs and knocked on her mother's door, receiving no response. She knocked again and invited herself in. "Mother? It's Charlotte. Alfred said I needed to hurry home."
Her mother looked up at her, her skin as pale as her hair and her eyes looking sore from crying. The young noble took a seat next to her mother, resting her hand on her shoulder. "It's your cousin, Poppy." Charlotte's heart sunk. Poppy was her best friend in the whole universe. "She's in a coma. They believe she fell off the roof of her home." Charlotte was practically shaking at this point.
"No, mother! It can't be true!" Composure and royal expectations were tossed out the window. Tears slowly streaked down her face as she rest her hand over her the aching hole where her heart was supposed to be.
Her mother enveloped her daughter into a warm embrace. "I must take business for a while about Poppy's state to find her the best medical attention I can. Please, I know you can watch the kingdom until I return. I hate to leave this on you so suddenly but I have no other choice. I trust you to be strong." The woman kissed the young woman's forehead.
Charlotte ran out of the room, storming out of the castle and breaking into a run, her feet smacking the ground. She cried out, tears blurring her eyes. How could this happen to Poppy? Her run the kingdom until her mother returned after who knew how long? She wished she had Poppy with her to comfort her like she always did. She'd say something like, "Charlie, everything will work out, you'll see. It'll be fine."
She pressed her cheek against a tree. She had found herself in the forest behind the castle. Charlotte had ventured there so many times before. As she thought back on Poppy, the autumn wind didn't feel so magical anymore.