And there it was. A huge golden and elegant castle, lined with guards holding out their swords. The door was open and about four or five news reporters were blocking it, ready to pounce. Standing inside the doors were who I assumed were the king and queen. There were also people crowded around the streets, screaming and chanting. I stepped out of the carriage, almost falling on my butt, and walked up the lushious red carpet. The sun beat down on my exposed back, and the dress I was wearing didn't help with the heat. It was a spare that they had given me with a floor length skirt, a very tight corset, and elbow length sleeves lined with gold. I walked past all the guards, each of them bowing, and got to the news reporters. "Princess Lilly!" a woman cried out, shoving a microphone into my face. "How does it feel to find out that you are a princess?" I scoffed and shrugged. "It is pretty freaky and it's going to take a lot of getting used to, but I will get by." She nodded and then another question was asked. "Are you sad to leave all your friends from Bright Side Orphanage?" I nodded. "Yes, of course I am, but I will see them again. Maybe as a princess, but I will see them again." Suddenly a booming voice came from inside the castle doors. "Alright, enough! It has been a hard and exhausting day for the princess, let her through so she can settle in." I looked up and saw the queen holding her hand out to me. "Come child." I took her hand and she guided me up the stairs. As soon as we got in the doors, they were slammed shut, with reporters still banging on them. "Lilly, I know this has been a great deal of excitement and shock to you, but I hope that you will fit in with the rest of the princesses and not find it hard to adapt to our way of life. For now, I will take you to your temporary sleeping quarters and you can change. I will send someone down to escort you to the dining hall for supper. I want everyone to meet you." I thanked her and we started our walk to my 'sleeping quarters'. We passed many girls and boys my age, all elegantly dressed, and smiling politely. I assumed they were the other prince and princesses.
She took me to a building connected to the castle by a long hallway. It was were the other princesses and princes slept, along with the non-royals. We arrived at a room with two beds, two closets, and two chests of drawers. "I hope that it is okay that you will have a roommate. We could not prepare an extra room at such short notice."
"Oh, no, it's fine. At the orphanage, I shared a room with 11 girls and a bed with four of them. This is more than okay." She seemed to cringe at my description of the orphanage but I kind of expected that. Royals wouldn't be used to sharing a bed with anyone but their significant other. She left and told me I had thirty minutes to fix myself up. I walked over to the closet to find something to wear that was a bit more comfortable but found that all the gowns were exactly like mine. I groaned and took the one that stood out to me: a blue and green one with short sleeves and laces along the middle. I threw it on the bed that I assumed was mine, along with a pair of matching green high heels. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and noticed that my hair looked extremely frizzy and out of control. "Great, my first appearance as a princess and I looked like this." I stripped and walked into the bathroom right next to the closet. It had two sinks with the minimal tooth brush, hair brush, and a few cosmetics. Then there was a toilet, towel rack, and clawfoot bathtub. I turned on the water and sank down into it, feeling my muscles relaxing. I didn't realise how tense all of this 'hey, you're a princess now' stuff was making me. I must have been in there for a while and lost track of time, because there was a sudden knock at the door. "Uh, coming!" I shouted, scrambling out of the bathtub and into the room. I threw on the dress and shoes and swung the door open, panting. There stood an extremely tall, tanned, toned, handsome guy. He towered over my five foot 6 figure at a probably 6 foot two height. He was a skyscraper as far as I was concerned. He looked at me expectantly but, as he scanned me up and down, his expression turned to one of disappointment. "Let me help" was all he said before stepping into the room and closing the door. I was a bit shocked but decided that he probably actually knew what he was doing. He walked into the bathroom and came back with a towel and a hair dryer that I didn't even know was there. He told me to sit down on the bed and I obeyed, a bit intimidated by his confident persona. He gently towel dried my hair, squeezing the water out of it and being careful to not get any on my dress, and then finished it off with the hair dryer. He put them away and returned with hair clips. I started suspecting that he was a wizard or something that could pull items out of thin air because I did not see those while I was in there. With intense concentration, he pinned my hair in certain places and made it look like a...well...princess hairdo. "There, all done. Thankfully, the queen gave us a bit of extra time incase this happened, so we are not late. Let's go." He grabbed my hand and we walked out of the room and towards the castle. I just walked in a daze, trying to comprehend everything that happened that day. I could tell, I was not going to be a good princess.
We got to the dining hall and found everyone seated but us two. "Lilly, come, sit down right here." The king insisted on me sitting right next to him and across from the queen. I did and then noticed the guy sitting on the other side of me. He was probably almost five foot six and if I thought the guy that helped me earlier was cute, I was sadly mistaken. The queen stood and lightly tapped her glass with her spoon, getting everyone's attention. "I am so glad you could all join us for this special occasion of the return of Princess Lilly." She turned her attention to me. "We hope you will enjoy your new life and find it suitable for you." Everyone clapped and she sat back down, smiling at me. I smiled back, politely, and observed the room. The table was long and golden with porcelain plates and silver utensils. The chandelier above us was large and lit with what seemed to be a hundred candles. Everything had a design, not matter how little. Even the forks had little designs on the handles that you would overlook if you weren't paying attention. "So, Lilly, tell us about yourself. Anything." the king insisted, leaning forward in his chair. He was an elderly man, probably in his late fifties with a gray beard and very little amount of hair on his head. The queen was probably the same age, but obviously dyed her hair and added extensions. "Well, there isn't much to say. I lived at the orphanage since I was only a few months old and had a lot of friends there. It was small, but we didn't care. We had a lot of fun and always were getting into some kind of trouble. But then our caretaker died and I ran the orphanage. Now that I have left, the responsibility has been passed down to my best friend who is only a year younger than me." They both looked very intrigued, like they have never heard what it is like for orphans. "So what were your responsibilities as the person who ran the orphanage?" the queen asked. "I had a night job as a waitress so I could get some income, bought the groceries, cleaned, cooked, gave the girls baths, just pretty much anything a mother would do." The queen made a small gesture to the king and they seemed to exchange a message with their eyes. "Well, isn't that wonderful. What do you like to do in your spare time?" I had to think about that a bit but answered, "Read, paint, listen to music, and I love to play with animals." The queen nodded, seeming to approve of all my hobbies. It seemed like she was going to ask me another question, but suddenly platters of food were put down in front of us and they began to eat.
I watched in confusion at which of the many spoons they used to eat their soup, but couldn't figure it out. Suddenly, there was a tap on my shoulder and I looked over at the boy sitting next to me. He gestured at a spoon and picked his up, showing me which one. I silently thanked him and picked it up, beginning to eat. But, before I even got a spoonful in my mouth, he reached over and stopped me. He dumped a little of the soup back into the bowl and then lifted my pinkie finger. I nodded and then drank the little amount of soup in my spoon. Then I repeated, but exactly how he showed me. As I did, I saw the queen look over at the boy next to me and praise him silently for helping me. He proceeded to help throughout the night as they kept bringing us out all different kinds of food. It was all so confusing that my head almost exploded, but I got the hang of it by dessert. "So, Lilly, do you know what happened to your parents?" the queen asked. I saw the boy next to me tense but just shook my headed. "Well, they were the very respected and loved rulers of the next kingdom over: Vreamador. They were wonderful and just leaders, but had a few enemies. The rumor is that they ran from the kingdom shortly after you were born to hide you from those enemies, but were found right after they hid you. They were killed and their kingdom was taken over by those that killed them and they have been looking for you ever since so that you couldn't take your rightful place on the throne."
"Is that why I was brought here instead of there?" She nodded.
"Well, why this kingdom? There are plenty of others. Why this one?"
She looked over to her husband who gave her a short and sharp nod. "Because, you parents wanted to make an alliance with this kingdom and promised your hand in marriage to our son for that alliance. They were planning on bringing you back out of hiding when you were eighteen to marry you off and you become queen of Vreamador." I just kind of looked at her wide eyed and shocked. "So, is their deal with you still in place? Am I still going to have to marry your son?"
"It is your choice. You can either do what your parents intended for you to do and save their kingdom, or you can turn away and go back to the orphanage. Since they aren't around to guide you, you have to make the decision by yourself. But I urge you not to say no until you have completely thought it through. We will give you time to sort it all out." I nodded, but didn't hear much of what she said. I was expected to make this kind of choice now, sort of on the spot, without anyone's guidance or opinion. "Um, I not feeling well. I think I need to go lie down." The king suddenly put his hand to my forehead and nodded. "She is very warm. Justin, take her to her room." The boy beside me stood and took my hand, gently standing me up and walking me out.
We were halfway there when Justin cleared his throat and started conversation. "So, I assume this is a very big shock to you. I am really sorry for how they just tossed the arranged marriage at you. It was not good timing." I scoffed and rolled my eyes. "Not good timing? How about the worst. And I don't even know what I'm going to do. Is it normal for people to be forced into arranged marriages and be okay with it?" He nodded. "Most royals are married to another just for the sake of an agreement or treaty between two kingdoms."
"Wow. Okay, didn't expect that." He chuckled and oh, let me just say, it was the most heart melting thing I had ever heard. We arrived at the door of my room and he opened it, leading me in. "Well, it was nice to meet you, Lilly. I hope we will become more acquainted in the future." He was about to walk out and close the door before I stopped him. "Wait, I might need a little bit of help." He raised an eyebrow. "With what?" I gestured to the closet. "Figuring out which of these dresses is night time attire and untying this dress." He shook his head with a smirk on his face and closed the door, walking over to the closet. "You can tell which are night gowns by what they are made of. If it is made of thin silk, it is a nightgown. Anything else is a dress you wear during the day." He pulled a pink one out and put it on the bed, walking over to me. I turned my back toward him and lifted my hair, exposing the multiple laces in the back that kept my corset tight. Most say they are used to make you more attractive to men, but I say they are used to suffocate you. He slowly untied each of them. Once he was done, he went over to the door and asked "Anything else?" I shook my head, thanking him. He said smiled and then walked out, closing the door. I stood there for a few seconds before putting on the nightgown and climbing into bed. I wasn't tired, but I needed to be comfortable so I could start thinking about what I was going to do about this arranged marriage.