Tom got me a large portion of a strange french delicacy. It smelled nice but tasted horrible. He seemed to like it though.
"Do you want mine?" I asked him, "It's not my thing."
"Oops, sorry Kayla. Yeah just leave it there, I might have it." He grinned. I placed it in the centre of the table and went up to the serving stations, picking up a clean plate as I went. There were so many different foods to choose from, and my stomach churned as I looked at them. There was so much here, so little back home. All the stress from the last few days was building up in me, and I felt sick. I took a deep breath and shoved it away. I wouldn't let it ruin my evening. But just to be safe, I had better get soup instead.
I made my way along the line to the soup station, eyes lowered because I didn't dare look at the aliens. I thought I would smile to see them in our position, and they would take offence. But then, they couldn't be so bad, if they were throwing this party for us. I reached the soup station and held out my dish. A ladel appeared and poured hot soup in to my bowl. I was distracted by the hand of the alien doing the serving. It was bandaged... oh god the Prince. It's the Prince... what do I do? Suddenly I felt nervous, and I wanted to look up but couldn't. The ladel had stopped serving and I was just standing there, looking in to my soup. Behind me the noise of everyone eating and talking seemed to fade as my brain went in to overdrive. I had to look up, I had to.
I let my eyes slide up, through my lashes and on to his face. He was looking at me expectantly, but when he realised I'd looked at him, he froze. Not noticeable to anyone around him, but I saw his body tense. He seemed to be waiting for something. I had no idea what to do. Our last conversation had been so... odd. I settled on getting back to my seat as fast as possible.
"Thank you." I said, although my voice came out a little hoarse. I smiled brilliantly at him to cover it up; didn't want him knowing he affected me. Then I turned and walked back to the table.
"Are you alright?" Anna asked, noticing the shake of my hand as I reached for my spoon.
"Fine." I said, putting on a smile. "What are we talking about?" I asked, putting a spoonful of soup in my mouth.
"The Prince." My stomach muscles clenched and I forced myself to swallow the soup. It was delicious, but I barely noticed the flavours.
"What about him?"
"About him punching that mirror. Guess something pretty bad happened. I think the Princess is after him, you know, for a husband. I kind of feel sorry for the guy." Tom said jovially.
"Why?" James asked.
"Well, it's not like he has a choice in all this. I saw his father when he visited a year ago. That bastard was terrifying. And the princess is so awful. The guy has no escape. At least we can do basically what we like. He has to do what he's told and what's expected of him all the time. Poor guy. That's real oppression."
I stared at Tom. I'd never thought of it like that. I felt a wave of guilt crash over me. Perhaps I'd been too hard on the Prince. Maybe he couldn't really control what he did. I glanced over at his station and found his eyes were on me. He held my glance for a while, then looked away. I realised Tom was waving his hand in front of my face.
"Are you alright? You zoned out."
"Yes. Yes I'm fine. Look, people are starting to dance." I pointed over his shoulder to distract him, and everyone looked over to where a few couples had gotten up and begun to dance together. I didn't know when the music had started, but heard it now. It was soft and beautiful. Alien music. I recognised it. It was one of the few parts of their culture I had enjoyed before being captured.
"Do you want to dance?" Tom asked, looking back at me.
"Can I finish my soup first?" I smiled. He nodded and turned to watch everyone dancing.
I resumed eating my soup and had the oppertunity to look over at the Prince. What was his name? I knew nothing about him I realised. I had judged him on what I thought of his race. I felt ashamed. Then, as though he felt my eyes upon him he looked around, straight in to my eyes. It seemed to surprise him that I was looking at him. He raised an eyebrow, then lifted the soup pan off it's warmer and carried it away. I lost sight of him and turned my attention on the soup again. It was lovely.
When I finished Tom led me out on to the floor and we started dancing. I'd never done this before, and I wasn't used to it. But Tom was patient and grinned at me. I was starting to smile back when I realised the Prince was back, staring over from where dessert was being served. I blushed and looked away.
"You do look very nice you know." Tom said.
"Thank you. You don't look too bad yourself." I replied, trying to stop myself from looking over at the Prince again.
"Kay!" I looked around as I heard my brother's voice. An alien woman had appeared at the door holding his hand, but he broke away and ran towards me. I leaned down and pulled him in to the air in a hug.
"Kevin! What are you doing here?"
"Prince said me come see you! Say I have to see how pretty you looks! You looks pretty Kay." He whispered in to my ear. Kevin was shy in crowds, so no one heard what he had to say.
"The Prince? He said that?" I muttered.
"Said I got to see Kay, she look real nice and I'd be... I'd be... pwoud!" He replied, cupping my ear with his little hand so I could hear his hushed tones.
I blinked away tears, and realised people were staring. Tom bent down.
"Hey little man. Who are you?"
Kevin stared at Tom with wide eyes.
"This is Kevin, my brother. Kevin this is Tom. He's a friend."
Kevin stuck one hand out and gave a quick wave before giggling and hiding behind my skirt.
"He's cute." Tom smiled.
"He is." I was distracted, searching for the Prince. He wasn't there anymore.
"Who're you looking for?"
"Anna. I want to introduce her to him."
"She's there." He pointed back at the table we'd been at. Keeping up my excuse I went over and introduced them. As Kevin grinned a toothy smile at Anna, I saw the alien he had come with walking over. So it was only a short visit then. I gathered him to me and rained kisses on his head.
"I'll see you soon kiddo."
"Love you Kay! You love me?"
"Course I love you. Who wouldn't?" I gave him another kiss, and then allowed the nurse to take him away. He held tightly on to her as he looked back to wave. I waved back. Anna gripped my hand once he was out of the door.
"Your brother is here?"
"Wow. First I've heard of siblings being put together. He's adorable."
"I know. Anna, I have to go and get some air. I'll see you later."
"Want me to come with you?" She asked.
"No, no it's alright. I need to be alone."
I told Tom the same thing and then slipped from the room. I knew I had to find him. I had to thank him. I tried the room I now knew was his, the study... and then finally the mirrored corridor. At first I didn't think he was there, but he appeared out of the shadows near the fire place.
"I wondered if you'd come." He said in the moonlight.
"I had to. I had to thank you. For letting me see him. Thank you... it meant everything to me. Everything."