A queen? So the princess...
"The princess... she's supposed to be your wife?"
"And that's why you don't want her to be. Because you want to change how the planet is ruled?"
"Yes. You're very astute."
"That was hardly brain surgery."
"No," He turned away from the window once more to face me, "But most of your race would not believe me when I said that." I stared at him, unable to speak. Tom was right. I had completely misjudged him. He raised an eyebrow in concern. "Are you alright?"
"Yes. Sorry. I just; I really was totally wrong about you."
He smiled slightly.
"Well, first impressions can be deceiving. As I know all too well." He looked pointedly at me.
It was my turn to raise an eyebrow.
"Is this what you're like normally? Sarcastic and jokey?"
"I have been known to be. Only in informal settings. Although you are a little overdressed for the occassion." He was actually being... normal. And he had a slight attitude. No wonder he was impressed with mine- he had one too, he just couldn't use his.
I looked down at the dress and twirled a little.
"It feels strange being this formal. I've never been dressed up before. It's... nice."
"You look as though you were born to wear dresses like that one." I blushed a little... was he flirting? No of course not. Don't be stupid. But now I knew his opinions on equality, I couldn't help feeling a little more... amicable towards the guy. I didn't even notice that he was an alien any more. No. "Surely your date is missing you?" He said, distracting my thoughts as he peered down at me.
"My date? Oh Tom. He's not... I mean, he... he's just a friend." He nodded and came towards me. "That doesn't mean he won't be missing you. Don't you want to dance?"
For one crazy moment I thought he was asking me to dance. With him. I cleared my throat and changed the topic.
"Aren't you supposed to be waiting on us? Hand and foot and all that?"
He smiled again and stepped back in to a bow.
"As you wish my lady. What would you have me do?" He stood up straight and looked at me with those eyes and I knew I couldn't joke anymore.
"I should get back." I muttered. His smile faltered and he nodded.
"Alright. Would you object to me walking with you?"
"I- I suppose I had better walk in on my own. What would they think if I walked in with the prince?"
"Most humans don't notice who I am if I am not wearing my state clothes."
"Then I shall just walk you to the door." He seemed to be judging whether I was comfortable with that.
We walked in silence for a little while, and then he paused. I stopped with him, unsettled.
"You never fully replied. Would you stay, you and your brother, after the princess is gone?"
"I- I don't know. I'd have to think. Why do you want me to stay?"
The question seemed to stump him.
"I find you interesting..."
"... So I'm your guinea pig again?" I recalled the banquet and how affronted I was. I fel similar now that he had brought it up again.
"No, not in the slightest. What I mean is that... if I am to make a bridge between our races, I can't do it with only my race."
"You want me to help?"
"If you were willing."
I opened my mouth to reply but we were both interrupted by the loud and obnoxious voice of the princess.
"I don't know why it's such a big thing! They're servantsfor goodness sake. I need to talk to my prince."
"DON'T MADAM ME! Where is he?"
I felt the prince grip my arm and I was pulled through a door on my left. He shut it quietly and all the light was gone. I could just hear him breathing, and feel him close to me, one hand on my shoulder. I didn't dare move, in case I made a noise. We heard the complaining princess go past, and the scurrying of feet from the poor guy who was following her. A few minutes followed before the prince shifted, and a light flew on. Now I realised why he had been so close; we were in a broom closet.
"That was close." He muttered, looking down at me.
"Very." I whispered.
There was a little more silence.
"We should probably...
"...Yes!" I let out a relieved breath and we exited the room.
"To the ball?" He asked. I was so exhausted and my nerves so torn by all that had happened that I didn't even know. But I nodded anyway, and we continued the progress we had made. A few silent minutes later we were outside. "Well, I hope you enjoy the rest of your night." He said, looking down at me again.
"Thank you." He bowed again and was leaving when I caught his arm. "The answer is yes by the way. Yes, I'd love to help." And with a smile on my face, knowing I'd caught him by surprise again, I re-entered the ball, leaving him outside.