The rain came down in heavy waves. Rainbow watched the downpour, her whole kingdom blurred out from the constant deluge. Grey cascades dominated her vision as she sighed, bored with this particular Valentine's Day. She was sitting in her room as another sigh escaped her, palm resting awkwardly on her chin.
It wasn't until she decided to sit up and go back to bed that her father, the king, came in. He was a ball of excitement. "Come on, dear!" he proudly said. "You've got some fine looking gentlemen down there who would love a dance with you!"
Rainbow exhaled and said, "Okay."
Her dad instantly caught her mood and crept up to her bedside, sitting down next to her. "What's wrong?"
She shrugged her shoulders. "I just don't feel it today, daddy."
The king furrowed his grey, regal brow, ruffling his salt-and-pepper goatee. "Hmmm, yes," he began, faking a slight Austrian accent; "and this would be caused by the weather, yah?"
Princess Rainbow shot him a sarcastic glower and said, "It's not just the weather, daddy!"
He shot up his hands and said, "Okay, not just the weather, got you."
"I don't know," She said, sitting up, shrugging her shoulders with a slight tch of her cheek.
"You know what I think?" Her dad asked.
"I don't think you think you're ready for this."
"Mom certainly thinks I am."
The king laughed out loud. "Well, your mom is ready for anything, whether she admits it or not."
Rainbow smiled at that.
"Honey, I'll be right there, it'll be in the ballroom and you can leave anytime. And, if you walk in and don't feel right, squeeze my hand, and I'll make up an excuse for you."
Rainbow glanced at her dad, a sad contemplative look on her face. Seeing his face, knowing for a fact that he was there for her, she smiled bigger than at any point so far today, and said joyously, "Okay!"
She hopped out of bed and went to her armoire. It wasn't long before she had on a bright lilac dress. It had darker purple trimmings and it flowed magnificently down her form. It was certainty a dress she could not only feel comfortable in, but could dance in as well. Her and her father walked out of the bedroom, arm-in-arm.
Out in the hall plenty of servants scurried through to random destinations, carrying this or that. One short, yet strong looking maid was rolling along a hefty laundry hamper packed tight full of clothes. Another, a butler, was carrying a large stock of fine clothing on hangers. They seemed to be heading towards the kitchen, which made sense since to get to the laundry from Rainbow's room, you would have to pass the kitchen.
From the other side came servants wheeling a bunch of food to the ballroom. At least three thin maids with carts full of food ran the opposite direction, past the laundry servants. They dodged and danced around them like snakes as they scuttled for their destination.
The king remarked happily, "We should get going, looks like the celebrations have already started!" Taking his little girl's elbow, he lead her to the ballroom. They had to go down a flight of stairs, past several guest rooms, and an armory.
Finally making it to the ballroom the king and the princess opened the two big doors, and walked into a party already in progress. At least fifty or more people were dancing about in the large, spacious ballroom. Tall, white marble columns stood at every corner of the room with a few in the middle. The floor was reflective, glittering tiles, making it seem as though everyone was dancing across water. To her left was a large deck that supported the band who was playing. She could have sworn it was the same band from her birthday party. They were playing a slow, calming song that everyone still seemed to be excitedly dancing to. At the end of the ballroom were two thrones. In one was Rainbow's mother, looking as regal and in-charge as ever.
The king went to wave to his bride, but the princess stopped him. He looked at her surprised, but she just simply told him, "Dad, I don't want anyone to know I'm here yet."
The king saw the queen rise upon seeing the two, and whispered to his girl, "Too late for that."
"Ladies and gentleman, may I have your attention," The queen said loudly and authoritatively. "My daughter, Princess Rainbow, has arrived!"
The band, the dancers, even the minuet number of servants stopped and looked.
Rainbow squeezed her father's hand as hard as she could.
The king smiled and waved. "Indeed, my daughter; Prince Rainbow, has arrived. She told me she wanted to show up and, at least, make an appearance before heading back to her room."
"What?!" The queen shouted, not only confused but a bit distressed.
"You see, the princess told me in confidence that she would have…"
The king bent his ear to Rainbow's lips and she whispered, "Mom is giving me a bad look!"
The king whispered back, "I can handle her. You go back upstairs."
She shook her head. "I don't want you in trouble, she'll blame you for all of this. I really don't feel bad, daddy. I'll do a few meet-and-greets, and then be off."
"Dad, I don't want you in trouble with mom! I get sick of you guys fighting over me."
The king raised his head and said, "Well, it seems that she wishes to stay, but you lucky princes might be out of luck for a dance. Please, be mindful of my daughter, she truly is not feeling her best today."
Princess Rainbow gave a grim, fake wave as if she was fighting off an infection.
Her father led her through the crowd until she was near a few chairs by the band and slipped her down in one. He kissed her on the cheek and hugged her, whispering, "Anything you need, I'll be right next to your mom."
The band began the music again.
Her dad slid away and went to sit on his throne. This was when her mom came up and asked, "Hey, how are you feeling?"
If there was one thing in the entire world Rainbow hated to do, it was lie - especially to her parents. Her father had indeed done what he promised to do: make her feel better. She gave her mother a lukewarm smile and said in a barely auditable tone, "I'm fine, mom. Just wanted to say 'hi,' to everybody, at least."
Her mom hugged her and said, "I'm glad you came down at least, honey. Proud of you for that."
"Yeah," Rainbow moaned out, every bit of depression and sorrow coming back in one word. The way she was feeling, it wasn't hard to act sick.
The queen left her alone and went back to her throne next to the king.
Rainbow looked around and waited for one of the princes to come up to her, she figured it wouldn't be long now. As she did, she caught sight of Timmy, the tailor. She smiled and moved close to him - he was only two seats down. She smiled and forgot her cover, saying, "Hi!"
Timmy looked nervously over at the princess and choked up a breathless, "H-H-H… ahem… Ha… no… Hi."
Rainbow giggled. "Are you enjoying the ball?"
Timmy swallowed hard and grimaced, nearly choking on his own throat. "Yep."
Rainbow didn't believe him. She went to ask something else, but was interrupted by a young, male voice. "Princess, so wonderful to make your acquaintance. I am Prince Gall."
Instantly she picked up her façade and croaked out, sickly, "Oh, thank you."
This young prince was a thin, yet strapping boy. He stood tall and regal, wearing a double-breasted blue coat with gold trim and buttons. He looked like he was the leader of some army. Around his elbow was a girl dressed in the same colors. She looked very much like the prince except she was a tad shorter and a bit younger looking. He introduced the girl as, "This is my sister, Princess Wave."
Rainbow half-heartedly smiled and then sneezed, loud and proud. "Oh I am so sorry." She then stuck out her hand so the prince could kiss it - the one she had sneezed in.
"Uh, yes, charmed," Prince Gall said, turning his nose up at the princess, walking away with his sister giving a disgusted, "Eeeewwww!"
Rainbow smiled and turned back to Timmy, who had gotten up and left.
She looked around for him and saw he had not gone far. Picking up her dress, she got up and went over by him as he was holding a cup of punch. Well, actually, he was squeezing the cup so tight that it groaned in his hands. She asked him ,"Did… did I offend you, tiny tailor?"
"Huh, what?!" Timmy exploded as though Rainbow had set fire to his head. "Goodness no, Princess! I thought, maybe, you would like to be left alone, you being sick and all."
"Oh," She said glumly. "Well, you don't have to leave. In fact, I would prefer your company compared to so many others."
Timmy was aghast. He didn't know what to say. "But, your highness, I am but a tailor. Surely there is a bigger, braver, more well-off, proud, handsome, kind, tall…" he stopped himself. "guy around here you would like to keep company with."
She looked around quickly. "If I see him, I'll point him out. For right now, I would like to be with you."
At that moment, Timmy's face became redder than any apple, and he shied away so much that Rainbow thought he was going to put his head through a wall. She giggled with delight and was going to ask him to dance.
Unfortunately she was approached by a big mountain of a prince. He was wearing black and red with gold trim. Even though the uniform could be used to make three dresses for her, he seemed to be bursting out of it. Also, his left pectoral was covered in medals. All of this told Rainbow one thing: whatever kingdom this prince had come from, was a violent one indeed.
He marched up to Rainbow and said - no - told and ordered her, "I am Prince Cumulous. Dance with me."
"Prince…" She had a hard time pronouncing his name.
"Yeah, um, I don't feel really good so, maybe, we could wait for -"
"I do not wait for anything."
"Well, you are going to have to. I don't feel good."
"You look fine to me!"
Around this time, Timmy came around and told the prince, "Hey, she doesn't feel good. Leave her alone."
Rainbow looked at Timmy and smiled.
Cumulous was less than impressed. He pushed the small tailor to the ground and took up Rainbow in his arm. She struggled against Prince Cumulous, but he was a boulder of muscle and bone. She even thought about slapping him, but she thought what kind of reputation that would give her parents. (She wasn't concerned with her reputation, feeling that her actions would be warranted and justified.)
Cumulous literally carried her out to the dance floor, and began to Waltz with her. Her feet dangled above the ground even though she physically felt fine, her mental stress was peaking. Not to mention she was getting dizzy as he spun her.
The giant mountain of a man told her as he flung her around, "There is no one better than me! You'd be a fool not to marry me! In fact, how about I talk to your parents right now, and my parents can set the whole thing up. You wouldn't even have to come back to your pauper of a kingdom! Just put someone else in charge after your parents die. I know the perfect person from my forces to do it."
"Put me down!" Rainbow cried out. Not many heard her though as she was trying to stay-face.
Timmy had gotten back up and tried to get to Rainbow through the sea of people. He fought and struggled his way towards her. Even though a flood of dancers blockaded his way, Timmy navigated the rough seas of music, and after what seemed like an eternity, had finally gotten to them. He tapped Cumulous on the hip, being no bigger than waist high.
The giant prince looked down and saw the tiny tailor. He laughed and ignored him.
Timmy built up enough courage, rolled back his sleeves; as if he was about to start preening a dress, and said in the loudest voice he could muster, "Now see here, good sir, the lady asked you -"
Cumulous easily kicked out his foot and sent the small tailor flying. He smacked the back wall near the band. A few couples laughed at him.
Meanwhile, Rainbow's father was starting to get worried. Even though he was watching her dance, he wondered if she had accepted, not seeing what had transpired before. Her mother was happy she had chosen a partner. She leaned over to her husband and observed, "Look, dear, it seems she is feeling much better."
Her dad, being the more protective type, simply said, "Yes, it would seem that way."
Again, Rainbow tried to get anyone's attention, but Cumulous was so strong that he kept her tight against him. He assured her that she was not getting away from him. "Whatever I want, I get! I want you and I will have you. It is just a matter of time!"
"No one owns me, Prince! I am my own Princess, and when you put me down, I will tell my father of what you have done!"
"Go ahead. I promise your kingdom will suffer! I will drag this measly hamlet you call a kingdom into a war they will never come back from! I will run over the citizenry and leave their dead children broken in the streets with their -"
"Ahem!" A strong, noble voice hammered in Cumulous's ear.
The music stopped. The dancers parted ways, leaving most of the ballroom to Rainbow, Cumulous, and the five, well-armed, armored knights standing opposed Cumulous. One of these knights was none other than Sir Ernest himself. He did not stand as tall as Cumulous, but his loyalty to the crown was twice as big as the castle, and he had faced down whole armies who had threatened his highnesses. In fact, it was Sir Ernest who had broken up the Valentine's Ball.
The two stood their ground as Cumulous sneered at the knights.
Ernest held his helm in hand and asked, politely, "Would you please let go of the princess."
The giant prince smirked and held her close. "And why should I, sir knight?"
"Because I believe the young lady has chosen another."
Two of Rainbow's loyal knights helped Timmy up and presented him to Cumulous, showing the rest of the ball that he was the chosen one.
Cumulous smirked and waved off the small tailor, saying nonchalantly, "Oh please, she would not pick such a worm when she has a bull up for grabs."
"A bull with no manners or pride, and believes himself superior. Forgive me, prince, but I am well aware that the princess is not interested in such men."
Again Cumulous turned and told Sir Ernest, "Even if she is not, what do you intended to do to me? You are smaller, weaker, and in no position to challenge me."
"Disregarding the fact," Ernest began; "that I have years more experience in war than you, fought bigger, bolder, braver, smarter opponents than you, you are but one. Even if you were to somehow best me, there are four more knights sworn to protect the princess and me."
Cumulous grunted. "Your experiences counts for nothing, sir knight! I could easily clean this entire ballroom with you!"
"If you wish it to devolve into such a dark display, I will more than happily oblige, but I do not. So, I will ask you one more time to, please, let the princess dance with whomever she wishes."
"And if I still refuse?" Cumulous mocked Ernest's tender tone and gentle nature.
Ernest hid a smile and told him, "Then that short sword near your spleen will skewer your anatomy, and you will bleed all over this dance floor like the pig that you are."
Cumulous looked down for the sword. "What short -"
By this time, a short sword was now at his throat, ready to slice it wide open. Ernest reaffirmed, "Things are about to get very messy in here."
Looking around, knowing he was bested, Cumulous growled out, "This isn't over!"
Ernest smirked and said, politely, "I certainly hope not. I do so love making examples out of pig-headed suitors who believe the princess is their personal property."
"This is war, you know this!" Cumulous warned. He finally backed away from Ernest, Rainbow, and the rest.
"I highly doubt it!" Rainbow barked. "You're a bully! Bullies don't have any guts for war!"
Cumulous was still silent as he backed off and was accosted by his parents who seemed to be giving him a stern talking to. Both Rainbow's parents could tell the king and queen were ashamed and embarrassed of their son.
Sir Ernest looked around at the ballroom attendees and proclaimed, loudly, "The Princess has chosen her partner for this night. Please, go about the dance - enjoy yourselves."
The music started back up and the pairs began to dance again.
"As for you," Sir Ernest said to Timmy the tailor; "I believe you are owed a dance, young sir." He bowed out of the way to let him have a clear path to Rainbow.
She stood in her dress with a big smile and held out her hand. "Care to join me in a dance, tailor? I wish to dance with a noble, honorable man this night."
Timmy looked around and then pointed at himself, silently questioning if it was him she was speaking of.
She smiled with a bright gleam. "No other."
Taking a breath, Timmy approached her, his steps sluggish and his movements hesitant, almost tripping on his way to her. When he finally laid his hand in hers, he shakily told her, "I… uh…. I don't dance, princess."
Taking him in a pirouette, spinning to the front of the ballroom, she whispered, "Don't worry, I'll lead. Just follow along, like my birthday." He did as he was told, and they enjoyed two dances with each other. She lead through most of the first, but then Timmy began to lead on his own feeling the rhythm of the music. He said to himself, "It's just like stringing a piece of thread through a moving needle. Just follow the needle head." He did and was soon doing one-armed pirouettes and spins all his own with Rainbow.
The rest of the ball went on without a hitch. The knights kept a close watch, making sure no one else ruined the princess's night. Ernest was so happy for his highness and he smiled even wider when he saw the king with the same huge grin. At the end of the ball, Rainbow made a speech with Timmy by her side and her parents behind her. She also insisted that Timmy stay the night, and that he could sleep in one of the guest bedrooms. She talked the tailor into coming to her room, and there, they played plenty of games - card games and board games. It was late when Timmy was escorted by Codsworth to the guest bedroom.
Rainbow was left in her room when her dad showed up with a sandwich in hand. His black and grey goatee had a few crumbs in it as he took a bite, asking his lovely daughter, "did you have fun, sweetie?"
Rainbow nodded with a bright smile.
The king said, "Good. You know that Timmy, he really has a big heart. I'm surprised it doesn't burst out of that tiny body of his."
Rainbow giggled. She pointed at the sandwich and said, "You know mom will kill you if she sees you late night snacking."
Looking at the sandwich, the king shifted his eyes back at his princess. They were wide and sarcastic as he told her, guiltily, "I won't tell if you don't!"
With a joyful grin, Rainbow zipped her mouth, buttoned it, and threw away the invisible key.
He nodded and exited her room, but before he did, he heard his daughter. "Dad."
"I love you."
He blew her a kiss and told her, "That's what this day is all about, love of all kinds. And don't you forget it. I fully expect you to host one of these balls someday!"
"When that happens, Cumulous is not getting an invitation!"
"Neither is Timmy."
Rainbow was shocked.
"I don't think he will need an invitation by then," the king said with a knowing smirk across his face. He closed Rainbow's door slowly. "Goodnight."