Tonight is the night I am to dine with my father. Facing him alone is a fearful prospect. When the press and government officials surround him, he does have to make some little effort to appear human. Soon I will be with him unprotected. He can do to me as he pleases. I'm not sure what to expect. It's not all that bad though, I can always hope he will confirm my engagement. This evening may give me the certainty I need; still I can't believe it. Me, getting married. To a King!
Much as I hate to sound vain, when I look in the mirror I feel beautiful. It's been so long since I've had chance to dress up. It makes such a nice change. As much as I need to keep my wits about me tonight, I am still enjoying wearing such nice clothes.
My gown is made of a gold silk with a red fur trim around the bottom and the sleeves. The bodice is a simple red corset that ends with a 'v' shape that goes over the skirt. I can hear the layers of net and silk rustle as I move; it is a full skirt that drags along the floor, the trim weighing it down. The top layer, (the gold silk) is slit open at the front to reveal the layer underneath, red silk with an old-fashioned pattern.
Lottie, my maid, came in to do my hair. Although I told her not to bother with anything complicated, she insisted on doing something special. We don't really have the relationship a lady has with her maid. Instead we are becoming good friends.
She curled all my hair and pinned every curl individually to the back of my head. She then put lots of tiny pearls in amongst my new look.
I was also given a necklace that matched the pearls in my hair. It was simple but eye-catching, a classy single string of pearls. Lottie did all my make-up to, she's ever so good. I feel like a fairy-tale princess. At least tonight I look fit to marry a King. I wish Arios could see me looking nice for once.
It's not just how my outfit looks; I love how it feels. The weight of my dress and the hugging feeling the corset gives. I feel sophisticated and lady-like.
Me and Lottie sat chatting until a messenger arrived to take me away. For a while I was so perfectly happy. Why did he have to take it away so soon?
As I enter Lord Binnin's personal dining room, I note how stiff and tense the atmosphere is. The room is luxurious but not pleasant. There doesn't seem to be enough air, it is dark and decorated with poor taste.
However I am so relieved, it seems Binnin didn't want a cozy chat to get to know his long lost daughter after all. There are already several people besides Binnin at the table. One of whom is Arios. Still in the red wig, odd spectacle look but now dressed up in some kind of uniform. Now he looks regal, for the first time he looks like a king. He holds himself properly, his face serious and important. His clothes are stately and he looks wise. He sits to Binnin's right.
“Vita, you have decided to join us at last. Come, sit opposite me, for we have much to discuss tonight.”
I do as he commands, now is not the time to start an argument. Besides if this discussion is about what I think it will be, then I am looking forward to it immensely. Though I really must hide that this time.
When I sit down, I try desperately hard not to smile at Arios. It's hard to resist so I give up but aim the smile towards Binnin instead. He might get suspicious but I think his vanity will stop him dwelling on it. He will think I am honored to discover I am his daughter.
Arios smiles at me, he isn't facing Binnin so he can be subtle. His smile melts me all over again. There is so much of his personality contained in it. Kindness, charm, confidence etc. It's perfect because it's him.
All the others at the table seem to be foreign officials. They all look at me curiously. As much as I want to pretend it's because I look stunning, like the princess at the ball, I know it's my rather odd situation. They all have so many unanswered questions about me. There's something unnerving about that but I'm not sure what.
“Vita darling, you know I am a very busy man. I am delighted, obviously, to be at last reunited with my long lost daughter, but my duties cannot wait. I promise to get to know more in future but we're only going to have a few quiet moments together. I can't give you the attention a young girl needs. Fear not, fear not, I have at least found you a husband. You arrive before me yesterday and you have suitors already. It seems there was a young foreign king quite struck by you. You are so fortunate; he is of very high standing and noble birth.”
“This is so soon. I don't know what to say,” I reply, trying to look as disappointed as possible.
Arios winks at me, I hope that means I'm doing well. I'm afraid to say I'm used to lying, an unfortunate habit I got into when I was a kid. Although I hadn't even thought about getting married before, it's become so important to me now. Deep inside I was probably expecting it, maybe I'd just assumed it would happen eventually.
The first course arrives and we spend most of the meal in silence. This is the sort of social dinner people attend out of obligation rather than inclination.
Towards the end of the dessert Arios asks Lord Binnin, “Obviously this isn’t the best setting for me and your daughter to get to know each other, and if you're not against the scheme I would desire an opportunity to converse with her properly, my lord. Alone.”
As he speaks I do my best to look worried. I do my best horrified face when he asks to be alone with me. Hard when I'm so thrilled at the idea.
“Of course, I should have thought of it myself, would you like to take Vita for a walk around the gardens after dinner?”
As the sun begins to set, the light becomes an intense red glow flung low across the ground. The breeze was refreshing after being stuck in the hot, still dining room.
The scenery is beautiful, the atmosphere is romantic and I can even hear soothing water somewhere. If I was here alone I'd appreciate it far more, probably launch into a lengthy description of my surroundings, but I tonight I am distracted.
Dusk has always been my favorite time of day. I find we always appreciate things most when we are going to lose them, and at the end of the day, before the sun sets, you know you have little of the day left. You have to make the most.
Spending dusk with Arios I know I am savoring the last part of the day. With him I am happiest, perfectly content. I don't dare wish for anything else in the whole world. There is nothing else to want.
Walking beside him, I watch his every move. He is graceful and elegant. Every stride falls confidently into his rhythm. He is beautiful. Being with him leaves me breathless, he is too good to be true.
“Arios, I figured we’re the story. You know, the king of Mylian and Binnins daughter. I can’t believe I’m that lady or that you’re actually my fairytale King.” Immediately he started laughing, his gorgeous, consuming laugh. I thought for a second he was laughing at me being stupid. However he eventually manages to give me a proper response.
“Sorry, I was laughing because your disbelief reminded me how bad I was at it. I know I don't seem particularly kingly but still I get the beautiful princess. How does the legend go? Dark and beautiful, strong and compassionate, a real lady. And soon you will be a real queen unless you've changed your mind. I'm sure you'll make a better ruler than me. There is something stately and regal about you. And you’re firm and decisive. The people will respect you instantly whereas I am more of an everybody's best friend type person than a figure of authority.”
“Unless I've changed my mind? Do you have any idea how much I love you!” At that he pulled me straight into his arms, telling me not to look so pleased about it. Binnin may have spies watching on at a distance.
It's terribly unfair that he can hug me and kiss me and adore me as much as he likes while I have to pretend I am totally indifferent. And it's hard pretending not to care for the man that automatically sends the blood gushing into my cheeks by simply living. Whenever I'm anywhere near him I can hear my pulse in my ears and feel the blood thudding uncontrollably under my skin. Basically, I can't help but react to him. Hiding me feelings is difficult. I hope our wedding is soon, then all this acting will be over.
“Do you know when we are to be married,” I ask.
“No, I will ask Lord Binnin tomorrow, why, do you need more time?”
“Obviously not, I was actually just thinking I want it to be as soon as possible. I can't bear to have to pretend all the time like this. Besides, however much you refuse to believe it, I am wholeheartedly looking forward to being your wife. Strange as it may be, I want to spend my life with you, every single day at your side.”
“Then I shall tell him I have business to attend to at home and want to get the wedding over with as soon as possible. I will ask if we can fly out to Mylian tomorrow so we can have the wedding at home in four days’ time. How does that sound?”
“Delightful.” He kissed me lightly on the forehead; I could feel his eyes on me, looking lovingly at my face. I could feel him examining every feature in detail before concluding,
“You will make the most beautiful bride. I just can't believe you'll be my bride.” Wow, he makes me feel so precious.