Forbidden

Princess Calliope of Wenchire, her heart as big as her dreams to escape. At least, in the past it was. As the time passes she finds her passion and heart shrinking together. Her desire to escape, paint, or do anything she used to dream and love begins to demolish as the time she must take the thrown approaches. Ever since her brother, Leonardo, and her closest friend, Shepard, died at war, her life has been without meaning. She fears it will never be the same again.

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1. Chapter 1

Calliope

 

Ever sense I was a child, painting has been my simple escape beyond the walls. Though it used to fill my heart with joy every time I picked up a brush, I now find the colors have just blended together since Shepard and Leonardo have been gone.

 

I can remember their smiles like I saw them just moments ago.

 

Shepard’s blonde, curly hair flowing in the wind as he winded up his wooden sword, prepared to plunge it at me with playfulness in his young eyes. We would play for hours together. Shepard was my best friend. I fear I will never find anyone like him again in my life. He and I were friends since we could talk. He used to be my neighbor, or at least, that’s what I assumed when I was younger, too naive to realize his parents worked the garden for mine. Even so, he was like a brother to me, and his parents, like my own.

 

Shepard taught me how to draw a sword, and strike, and slice, and all sorts of warrior techniques. You see, Shepard, ever sense age eight, was being trained to go into war. His parents were not wealthy enough to pay the alternative debt aloud to get out of fighting in the war. Poor Shepard had no choice.

 

When we were both fifteen, a year before he was sent off, he told me he always imagined me as his wife. That was after he had stolen a kiss, and while I want to believe that’s true, I fear I am simply just not worthy of such a boy.

 

Before he was sent off he promised me written letters. I received one before soldiers came to his parents house and informed them that he was lost at war. They assumed death.

 

My mother comforted me by saying “At least he died doing what he loved.” I calmed myself so I wouldn’t disrespect my mother. For she did not understand that Shepard did not love battle, nor did he love war. He was kind and absolutely despised arguing. Anytime I would fight with my older brother, he would step in and ask us to stop. Even though the fighting was harmless, it was still too much for him.

 

My brother got me through those dreadful three months of grief, then he was sent off as well. My parents offered all of the riches to allow him to stay but, Leonardo insisted. He, being next in line for king, claimed this is the duties he’s going to have to face when he rules.

 

It only took eight months, one less than it did Shepard, for us to get soldiers at our doorstep.

 

Dead. Body found. Died protecting his kingdom.

 

My heart was so heavy it was unbearable.

 

Father stopped me from committing suicide when I was seventeen. I still have the scars over my wrists, reminder of the pain I was in.

 

But that was years ago, and my brother is safe in heaven now.

 

As I stand by Leonardo’s grave on his, what would have been, 27th birthday, I lay flowers down and tell him I love him.

 

Shepard did not get a grave, for his body was never found.

 

I don’t have much time, so I get back on my horse and head back to the castle.

 

***

 

When I arrive home mother is waiting for me in the dining room. She is sitting with two masculine figures to whom I don’t recognize.

 

“Calliope, come here a moment.” I walk towards my mother who shows no sign of sadness on her face. Even on her dead son’s birthday. She goes on like any other morning.

 

“I would like to introduce you to my daughter, Princess Calliope. Calliope, this is Prince Armando and King Ricardo from the western kingdom. They are coming to the ball tonight!” She says excitedly and I understand that’s my cue to fake a smile, so I do.

 

“How delightful.” I nod even though I’m dreading this evening. Ever sense my brother’s passing, instead of grieving like normal parents, my parents have been preparing me to rule the kingdom. However, they don’t believe I’m capable of ruling without a king, which is preposterous considering they had no intentions on marrying my brother before he was crowned. But of course, as my mother does, she has no faith in me, and instead decides to hold a ball, full of dreadfully rich and handsome, suitable princes to accompany me as ruler. On her dead son’s birthday.

 

Forgive me if I assume that’s shallow.

 

“Calliope, it’s an honor to meet you. Your mother has told me so much about you.” The tall, dark-haired prince holds out his hand and takes mine softly. 

 

“I wish I could say the same.” I look at my mother, emphasizing that she should have warned me of this brunch date.

 

Mother disregards me and suggests me and Prince Armando head towards the garden to chat, while her and King Ricardo talk business.

 

Because that’s all this is; business.

 

Armando is nice, sweet, gentle and over all programed. He speaks as if everything he says is from a script burned into his brain since brith. He moves like he’s been trained to walk, gesture and sneeze a specific, prince-like way.

 

“Answer me something honestly, Armando.” I say as we listen to the early birds chirp in the garden, Shepard’s parents’ old house peeking along the horizon.

 

“Of course, princess.” Once again, programed.

 

“In your life, who is the girl whom you’ve loved the most?”

 

My question catches him off guard, but like a prince would, he collects himself quickly.

 

“I beg your pardon, madam?”

 

“Your love, whom did you imagine yourself happily marrying? You know, one chosen by your heart and not your father.”

 

I can see his posture loosen up already. He waits a moment, smiles at the ground, and chuckles.

 

“Her name is Gabriella.”

 

“What a gorgeous name,” I say “I presume she is no princess.”

 

“As in royalty? No, but she is certainly a princess in my eyes.”

 

The way his eyes glow when he speaks of her. No program, no script. This is his heart seeping through.

 

“If you love this girl like I see you do, then why do you still go along with your father’s shenanigans?”

 

“It is my duty.”

 

“It is your duty to not make decisions for yourself? To marry because its beneficial to your riches, and not your kingdom?” I sigh and choose not to continue with my rambling, I would just overwhelm the boy.

 

“Do you trust your Gabriella?”

 

“With every fiber in my being.”

 

“Would you believe her to be a fit ruler?”

 

He smiles. “I never considered the possibility, but, yes. She would rule by my side like no other.”

 

Then, my mother calls for us from the balcony and, on that note, we close the conversation.

 

***

 

In the dining room, our parents await us. Mother, smiling and fake-laughing at the King across the west, and the King, politely grinning in gratitude, like he’s just made a specific treaty to end an inconvenience.

 

“Well you two should really be on your travels now,” I suggest as I approach the two chipper parents.

 

My mother laughs. “Calliope, dear, they’re coming to the ball tonight. They shan’t go far, and certainly not for long.” She says. “However, my princess does need to start preparing for tonight. So I will show you two towards the door.”

 

“It was a pleasure meeting you, Princess.” Armando smiles and plants a small kiss on my hand. I can only imagine his Gabriella green with envy. I pull my hand away in guilt, nod, and curtsy.

 

“As was you, give my best to your kingdom.” I say and he nods. Mother walks the men down the wall and steps of the palace. They vanish and I breathe again. I don’t know whether it’s the company of my mother or a stranger that seems to take my breath away, but I don’t like it.

 

***

 

Father is in his study when I find him. He’s halfway through his favorite poetic book, the one he always reads when he feels down, when he notices me in the doorway.

 

“Calliope,” He smiles and puts down his book. “What a pleasant surprise.” He holds out his hand. “C’mere, child, where have you been all morning.” I walk towards my father and hug him. He smells of rich fabric and old books, just like Leonardo. I inhale his scent and give him a kiss on the cheek. “I went to Leo’s grave this morning, then had to have a horrid brunch with the king of the Western kingdom and his son, Armando.”

 

“You don’t fancy this Armando, I presume?” He asks, I shake my head.

 

“I don’t fancy anyone at the moment, and frankly I don’t plan to.” My father sighs at this, for he knows my stubbornness too well.

 

“Calliope, please…”

 

“We are waisting mine and the princes across the land’s time with these shenanigans, father. I am not this kingdom’s next ruler. We can ask Aunt Roselyn if Andrew will be willing to take over, can’t we not? Or Isabelle! Isabelle I heard was just married off, what makes her unfit?”

 

“Cali, your cousin is going to take over his kingdom, and Isabelle is going to rule by her husband in the Balance Kingdom. You are our last hope for queen here, Calliope, and I have complete faith in you.”

 

“Clearly you don’t.”

 

“Just because we want to make sure you have someone by your side at all times, doesn’t mean we don’t trust you to rule.”

 

After a moment of silence as I stand in front of my father, he sighs like he now understands.

 

“Is this about Shepard?”

 

“What?” I am insulted. “What makes you believe this has anything to do with anyone other than myself?”

 

“Calliope, please, collect yourself.” I obey my father. “I apologize, I just assumed you were hesitant on choosing a husband because your heart still belonged to Shepard.”

 

“Regardless of where my heart is, that isn’t why I am hesitant on choosing a man to marry for a reason that is against my wishes. Father, I don’t want to rule. I don’t want to be queen, with or without a king.”

 

He sighs once more and I understand he is dismissing the conversation. He does not want to hear anymore of my complaining.

 

“Why don’t you go to your paint room, Calliope.” He says and tries to form a smile, but I know he is just tired of listening to me.

 

“Okay father,” I nod in understanding and make my way towards the door. Although, just before I shut it, I hear him call after me.

 

“Calliope,” I turn my head. “Please just- promise me you’ll try to find a husband tonight. If not for yourself, then for me.” There is some sort of desperateness within his tone and I fear there is something he isn’t telling me.

 

“Okay, father.” I agree because I can’t argue with him. 

 

I am then off to paint.

 

***

 

I can’t paint.

 

My mind is in whirling and I have no inspiration as I stare a blank canvas. Nothing is flowing out of me, nothing is there. My mind is a chaos of colors but I can’t seem to structure them to move it to the paper.

 

Instead I sit and wait until the very last minute I have to start getting ready for the ball. Guests will be showing up in less then an hour and I’m still in my rags. Mother hates my rags but I can’t paint in a ballgown.

 

My mother is at the door calling my name as I put down my brush and walk to open the door, letting the light flow deeply into my dark, shallow paint room.

 

“We have to start getting you ready, dear! No one should see you like this!” Typical mother drags me along to my room and in the closet. She picks out my gown, does my makeup and has Miss Caroline finish with my hair. After 45 minutes of powdering, pulling and plucking; I finally look like the princess I am meant to be. My hair is up in braids with loose strands framing my heart-shaped face. My makeup is subtle and nude colored, as a princess should be modest at all times. My ball gown was a gift from my aunt, it’s really the only part of the whole get-up that I like. My aunt Roselyn knows my true characteristics and most importantly, embraces them. The gown is baby blue with layers upon layers trickling the bottom. It’s creative and daring, for most princess would be suggested to wear something less noticeable and overpowering. “A princess, when looking for a husband, must present herself as obedient and quiet while at the same time graceful and respectful.”

 

My aunt ran out on her arraigned wedding. She is my inspiration.

 

It’s funny to see me like this from time to time, it amuses me honestly, because I don’t feel like this. I don’t feel extravagant or graceful. I feel clumsy and cluttered, messy and a bother. Too quiet when I should speak and too loud when I need be silent. Never good enough.

 

My mother and father like to blame my insecurities and flaws on the fact that I lost my brother and best friend in the same year to the same deadly war.

 

But truthfully, my flaws that make me less than a princess have been with me sense birth, and frankly I believe that’s harder for my mother to wrap her head around than myself. I’ve come to terms with who I am, at times it’s hard because who I am doesn’t nearly fit the role to whom I’m suppose to be, but I live with the burden. When I was young, I always imagined myself going on wild adventures and fighting dragons and giants, sailing out to sea and living with only my pride and the clothes on my back. Never held responsible, never told what to do or how to act; forever free, I’d imagined.

 

Nothing like how my life is, however. My mother snaps me out of a trance and ushers me to go downstairs and prepare for my introduction. “There are people waiting for you, Calliope.”

 

Oh how I hate to keep people waiting…

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