My entire life I had been preparing for this day. I always knew that I was never going to be able to choose whom to marry because I was a woman and a princess. I didn't have the right to choose. Hell, I didn't have any rights at all. My opinions and feelings didn't matter to anyone, not even my own family.
In fact, my father viewed me as a tool to gain more power, to create an alliance with the kingdom of Decresh - a very powerful kingdom - by marrying me off to one of their princes.
"For a prince and princess, the kingdom comes first," Father said. "Your desire for something comes after."
Yeah, right. It could for a prince, but not for a princess. If a prince married for alliance and didn't like his wife, he could just marry another. Usually most of them had several wives and mistresses, but for a princess the story was different. There's nothing she could do. She just had to please her husband and watch as he married other women when he gets bored with her. I felt my blood boil, but now was not the time to get angry.
Leaving all the bad thoughts behind me, I studied myself in the mirror. My maids had spent hours preparing me, making me look more beautiful than I was. I was wearing a white and golden dress, and my brown hair was combed back beautifully with golden hairpins in the shapes of flowers and leaves. The makeup was perfect, the only problem was the jewelry. They were beautiful but heavy, now that I was wearing a lot of them. I was already feeling weak because of nervousness, or was it fear? I didn't know, but I was feeling sick. There was a knot in my stomach that refused to go away no matter how hard I tried to calm down.
"My Lady, don't you like the dress?" Lydia asked.
Lydia and Ylva, my handmaids, have been taking care of me since I was a little girl. They were the only ones I could talk to. I would miss them once I left.
"No, I love it. It's beautiful." I tried to smile, but failed.
Lydia could see the fear on my face.
"Everything will be alright," she told me. "Don't listen to the rumors, they are nothing but just that. Maybe your husband is a nice man." She tried to sound positive, but I could hear the doubt in her voice.
Not that I believed the rumors, but they did affect me. I wasn't scared because people said that he was the devil's son, they couldn't be speaking literally. They were probably referring to his personality, that maybe he was a liar, a tempter, a murderer, a manipulator or that he was just pure evil, and that's what scared me.
A knock on the door interrupted my thoughts, and shortly after a court lady came in.
"My Lady, it's time," she informed me.
I descended the stairs, careful not to fall or stumble, but it was hard with the long dress and the heavy jewelry. I was relieved when there were only a few steps left, but just then I stepped on my dress and stumbled forward, almost falling before a strong arm came around my waist and saved me from ruining myself on my wedding day.
Straightening myself, I looked up to see who it was. Who had dared to touch a princess like that? Not that I minded, I was just curious.
Looking up, my eyes met a pair of golden eyes. No, wait! Not golden, they had the color of flames or the lava from a volcano. I had never seen eyes like that before.
"Are you alright, My Lady?" asked the man in front of me with a frown.
If I had knots in my stomach before, now suddenly I had butterflies as I gazed into his eyes.
Who was this man? I had never seen him before. He was tall, broad-shouldered and his thick raven black hair fell over his shoulders down to his waist. You could tell from the clothes that he was royalty. Could he be one of the royalty who came to attend my wedding?
"Yes, yes... I am... I am fine, My Lord," I replied.
"My Lady." He bowed elegantly before turning around and leaving.
"That's one good looking man." Ylva pointed as I stared at his back while he walked away.
Yes, I thought to myself. Very good-looking, but I was getting married and didn't have the luxury to look at other men.
"Shall we?" I asked, but Lydia and Ylva were too occupied to hear what I said. They kept following him with their gaze until he was out of sight.
I snapped my finger in front of their faces to wake them up. "Yes, yes, My Lady. Let's go." They hurried to say.
The ceremony would begin with a greeting exchange between the bride and the groom and their families. I gave the guard a nod, and he informed my presence, then motioned for me to enter.
Lydia and Ylva gave me a reassuring smile before I left them behind to walk inside. Now I was all on my own.
Taking a deep breath, I strode into the hall carefully, and immediately all heads turned to look at me. I walked with my head high but kept my gaze low, only looking at the floor until I reached the throne where my father was sitting with my mother next to him. While greeting them, I felt my legs tremble.
Mother smiled at me nervously, but my father just gestured for me to sit down at a table nearby. He was unbothered by the fact that he was marrying me off to a prince rumored to be the devil's son.
Ignoring my father, I smiled at my mother then went to my seat. I could feel everyone's eyes on me, some stared at me with pity and others with repulsion as if it was my fault I was getting married to whoever I was getting married to. They should blame my father, not me.
After a while, the guard informed the groom's presence and everyone turned their attention from me to the door. The room went quiet as the guests waited for the groom to enter. I, on the other hand, looked down quickly and rubbed my hands together nervously as I felt the knots in my stomach return. I wanted to look up, but I was afraid.
What if I didn't like what I saw? What if the rumors were true? Would he have red eyes and long nails and maybe even black horns on his head? Don't be ridiculous, I told myself and decided to take a look.
Slowly, I glanced at the door as my heart hammered inside my chest and almost gasped when the groom entered.
This was the man from earlier with the golden eyes. He couldn't be the groom, could he?
The guests stared at him surprised as well and began to whisper hysterically into each other's ears. They must have been expecting someone with black horns to enter the room and not some tall, elegant looking man.
Not the least bit bothered by the whispers or stares, he walked gracefully toward my father, taking each step with confidence.
"Your Majesty," he said, bowing slightly.
I dropped my jaw. So did the guests. No one bowed slightly to the king. This man was truly fearless and being disrespectful toward my father. I already got a bad feeling about him. Not because I thought my father deserved any kind of respect, but because he was so daring with his actions already.
He must have noticed people's reactions; it was so obvious, but he didn't seem to care. My father, on the other hand, didn't react. He just gestured toward me.
As I saw him turn to me I looked down quickly, then heard the clicking sound of his footsteps as he neared before sitting on the other end of the table, facing me.
He didn't utter a word. Wasn't he supposed to greet me or at least tell me his name? I don't think father ever told me his name, but I don't think I gave him the chance to either. I had fought and cried the day that my father told me he was marrying me off to some stranger, but my father was stubborn and had already made up his mind.
"Today I gather us to celebrate my daughter's wedding to the prince of the Decresh," Father spoke once everyone was seated. He raised his golden wine cup, "Let the ceremony begin, and enjoy yourselves."
People clapped while dancers and musicians walked in to entertain the guests. People seemed to enjoy themselves. I of course couldn't see since I was supposed to keep my gaze down, because 'that's what a lady should do'. Well then, I hate being a lady.
"Don't you like the music?" He finally asked, breaking the awkward silence. I peeked through my long lashes, but once I gazed into his eyes, it was hard to look away. They were captivating.
"I do, Your Highness," I replied.
"What do you have in store for the tea ceremony?"
Oh no! The tea ceremony! That was the traditional part of the royal wedding where the bride has to show one of her talents to entertain the guests and impress the groom. Hell with impressing. I didn't want to impress anyone, especially not this man.
"It is a surprise, Your Highness," I said, sending him a staged smile.
Soon it was time for the tea ceremony. I was sitting in a chair in the middle of the room, everyone's attention directed at me. The guests would sit and enjoy their tea while I would have to entertain them.
I took up my flute before lightly putting it on my lips and started playing. Soon my nervousness disappeared. I loved playing the flute and loved the sound of it. Closing my eyes, I let the sound take me far away, to a peaceful place. Now and then I would hear some people praising me through my haze, and they applauded when I was done.
Opening my eyes, I found him staring directly at me. He wasn't applauding, but there was a hint of a smile on his face.
Now it was time for the gift exchange. We exchanged our gifts, and then it was time for me to go to my new home. The knot in my stomach returned with such intensity that I felt like throwing up.
Mother came up to me while father spoke to my husband. Husband? The word sounded strange in my head. She took my hands in hers. "Everything will be fine," she said, "just remember what I told you".
Yes, I remembered very clearly our mother and daughter talk. To be a good wife, to listen to your husband, and to not make him angry.
"Yes, I will," I said, enveloping her in a tight hug. As a princess I wasn't supposed to hug people, but right now I didn't care because I might never see her again.
The carriage was waiting outside. The prince, or should I say, my husband led the way. I looked behind me one last time and found Lydia and Ylva standing on the balcony, their cheeks wet with tears.
"I will miss you too," I whispered.