One of the girls named Caroline gave Firranda an evil glare and shooed her away. "We no longer need the scones. We'll just eat the prince up instead," she said as she sat on my lap and wrapped her arms around my neck. I gave Firranda a "help me" look. When Caroline was drug off of me by one of the other girls, I got up real fast and walked over to Firranda. "Let me escort you back to the kitchen, please," I whispered in her ear as I put my hand on the small of her back and urged her towards the door. I looked back at the group of girls, arguing over who had the right to sit on my lap, and said, "I'll be right back. I'm going to the kitchen to request that a lunch be made for you lovely girls." As each girl tried to yell good-bye to me over the other, I led Firranda through the door and out into the hallway.
"What's your problem?" Firranda snapped at the prince after the door was closed. "Are you trying to get me in trouble? First your head on my lap, now ditching all those rich girls?" She paced up and down the hall, grumbling, then turned back to the prince, head held high. "I don't care anymore. You can tell the king that he can tell the whole kingdome my secret for all I care, I'd rather live free like an animal than live here, being constantly mocked and riddiculed." She sarcasically added a "sir" and curtseyed deeply.
"Do you really think I want to be with those snobby spoiled brats? My mom, oh sorry, the QUEEN, is making me MARRY one of them. They are nothing like me and I'd rather hang myself than have to deal with one of them for even five minutes. I don't know what secret you're talking about, but my father isn't that conceited. He may act it, but he would never spread a big secret. And I would happily give up my position as prince anyday. I HATE IT!" I exclaimed as I slumped to the floor with my head in my hands. "You may think I'm a spoiled brat, but I'm not. I have to act that way whenever my father is around because he would put me out in the streets if I acted any other way. I wish I could help all those hungry famillies out in the streets. I've been having the butler sneak out platefuls of food for them, but it's not enough. I just don't know what to do anymore." I admitted as I put my head in my hands once more. It felt good to finally let someone know how I felt.
Firranda stepped back with shock, putting her hand over her quickly-beating heart. "This...isn't about my secret?" she asked softly, mostly to herself. She had never seen anyone open up to her like this, much less royalty. "Well...I"m sorry for being presumptuous," she started slowly, bending down to comfort him, "but...why have you been acting so...weirdly around me?"
"Well, since this has turned into a huge confession session, I may as well tell you that I'm in love with you," I whispered as I looked up at Firranda with tear-filled eyes.
Firranda's mouth fell slack, her eyebrows shot up into her forehead. "No.." she muttered, begining to shake her head. "You can't be...this must be some kind of joke! It's not funny..." she was trying to convince herself, but she knew she was just in denial. "How...how long?"
"It's no joke," I said as I stood and took her hands in mine. I looked around the hallways, checking to see if anyone was around. I led her through the servant's room into the small room that held all the cleaning supplies. I turned to look Firranda straight in the eyes. "I've been in love with you since you first came to work here. I've always thought you to be the most beautiful girl I've ever met. If I could, I'd ask you to marry me, but let's see how that would turn out with my parents." I gave a small laugh as I shook my head and smiled. "You're the only girl I'd ever want to be with."
This was the closest we had ever been. I felt the heat radiating off her body. I was almost giddy with happiness. I gave her hands a squeeze and smiled at her.
Firranda's breathing became quick and shallow, finding herself in completely unfamiliar territory. Her natural defenses started going up: pulling away, glancing around, but when she saw how sincere the prince was being, she let them all fade away. She had never looked at him like this before, he was like an actual human being now. When he squeezed her hands, she pushed him away gently. "I'm flattered, really," she said gently, "but..you know this can't work. We'd both lose everything we've ever worked for, and...it would never....you know. I don't want to start something I can finish..."
Tears sprang to my eyes. I turned away as I slumped in defeat. "I'm sorry that I've sprung this on you so quickly. I was just hoping for something else other than refusal." I walked over to the wall and leaned my head against it, taking deep breaths.
Firranda quickly put her hand on the prince's shoulder. "You said it yourself," she argued, a bit angrily, "it's not me that's the problem, it's our situation. If things were different...I don't know, what's the point dreaming. Point is, I can't offer you anything...I'm sorry..."
It felt like a lightbulb went off in my head. My eyes went wide and I got the biggest smile on my face. "I have the perfect idea!!!!" I exclaimed. I grabbed Firranda's hand and ran with her down the hallway to the queen's closet.
"Hey, what are you--" Firranda protested, struggling against the prince's grip halfheartedly. She felt like she could be safe around him, but still wanted to play it safe. She hadn't completely ridden off the "joke" theory as improbable. When they were safe in the closet, she whispered excitedly, "what's your idea?'
I began scanning through my mother's dresses. I turned around with an almost hysterical look in my eye. "What do you think about becoming high royalty?" I asked slyly with a humongous smile on my face, super excited that I had come up with such a great plan.
((And by high royalty, I meant high class))
Firranda gasped, almost daring to smile. "You...you can do that?" Her fingers crept to the base of her neck, where her birthmark was, the symbol marking her as a shapshifter. "I don't think you father would allow that..for someone like me.'
"I have the perfect idea. I'll have you put on one of my mother's old dresses that should fit you, and we'll say that you're Darlina from the Gertman family. I'll have my mother's stylists give you a total makeover, and you won't look the same, that way my father won't be able to recognize you! What do you think?" I asked excitedly as I pulled out a few dresses for Firranda to try on.
((sry, back from drama! Busy on saturday too but be back at night :( ))
Firranda couldn't help smiling at the idea; finally, a mostly normal life, a little luxury, and...no, she didn't want to start considering romance yet. She wanted to be sure this would work before indulging in delicious fantasies. "But...what if we get caught? Won't someone notice?"
"If it's anyone but my parents, a little money can go a long way." I said as I winked at her and turned back towards the dresses. "Oh, and if you aren't wanting to change how you look dramatically, that's perfectly fine. Just a haircut, new wardrobe, and some makeup should do. I don't want the stylists to change how you look because you're beautiful just the way you are." I said as I gave her a wink over my shoulder. I turned back around, pulled one more dress off the hanger, and turned back around. "These are my mom's older dresses. She shouldn't notice if one of these is gone. Which one do you like?" I asked as I handed the five dresses to Firranda.
((And it's okay. I totally understand the business. :) ))
"It's fine, change me all you want," Firranda offered, "I"m quite used to change..." She cursed herself for blushing every time the prince winked at her. Now that safety seemed so eminent, she couldn't help but imagine her dream-like future. The prince held out dresses for her, and after a moment's hesitation, she chose the green one. It wasn't too extravagent, but still very beautiful, much better than anything she had ever owned.