The prince walked over to me, smiling.
"Enchanté," he murmured, kissing the back of my hand.
His hair was a dark blackish blue but when occasionally the sun's rays illuminated natural red highlights. He looked up, smiling, and I was instantly caught and held by his hypnotic deepest blue eyes.
Stop it, I hissed to myself. Handsomeness doesn't matter.
"You're beautiful," he stated, with slight strain in his eyes which seemed odd to me. I could tell he didn't mean it as a compliment: he was merely being polite.
"Beauty doesn't matter," I murmured, as if in a trance, but even as I said the words which I had believed in for so long, it felt like I was telling a great lie. I suddenly felt insecure, unsure of myself.
"Would you like some time together?" my mother asked, smiling at me, and then at my father.
"I'll show him the gardens," I replied, tearing my eyes from his gaze.
As I led him out of the room, I saw him exchange glances with Felicity. What was that about? I forgot it though as we sat down on a bench and Nathan looked around.
His gaze finally settled on me. "So what kind of things do you like?"
I looked away from his midnight blue eyes, to make it easier for myself, instead looking at a flower.
"I like ... poetry, art, novels. Um... I like music. Yeah, music's good. The songs whose beats throb in your chest and evoke an emotion."
"Yeah," Nathan murmured, but I could tell he wasn't ... all there.
"What about you?"
"I'm a big fan of adventure. Travelling. If I weren't a prince, I would sail the seven seas."
I smiled and looked at him, even though I knew I'd be transfixed. "Travelling's good. It means you can really look at the world around you and think more intelligently about it."
"Hm, you keep saying these profoundly insightful things," Nathan said, looking interested, the distracted look having faded from his eyes. "What d'you do in your free time?"
"I ... think, I guess. I write (it's really satisfying to produce a good piece of poetry). I enjoy thinking up something which tells me I'm not ... shallow. I like describing things - just everyday things I see around me - bringing in lots of imagery. But writing's the most satisfying thing, I think. That ...
"It provokes a reaction deep within me ... A feeling of ... great happiness. But, you know, profound happiness. Almost like spiritual happiness."
Nathan looked fascinated. "So you like ... thinking. And you don't just think, you think deep?"
I nodded, unsure of whether to be flattered or worried about how he was reacting.
"What d'you like to think about?"
"Um.. my views, I guess. I really hate war: I'd be a conscientious objector if the tragedy of conscription ever came back into place; I disagree with Capital Punishment, I am of the belief that love means a deep and meaningful relationship and that casual relationships with no depth are wrong. I ... I just think about things everyday. Like, sometimes I think about ... poetry. Not just writing it but ... the meaning, ... the feeling of the words. How great it is at expressing something. How effective a form of self-expression it is. How when one writes, one's emotions go into the peace."
Throughout this, Nathan was nodding, looking serious. I half expected him to take notes. I wondered how I had managed to say all that while still caught by his eyes.
"I see." He grinned. "I think travelling's way better than thinking so deeply all the time, though."
I shoved him playfully. But then, in a serious tone, I said "You don't know what you're missing out on."
"Well, maybe you could show me some time," he suggested.
"I'd like that," I replied.
"Bet you would," he said.
I laughed with him. He had a magical laugh.
"So, what d'you think of this whole arranged marriage thing?" he asked.
I tore my gaze away, blushing slightly. "I was really worried that my parents would set me up with some shallow jerk who shares none of my interests. I really wanted to pick my own husband: I have this dream of finding my soul mate. What I want out of love is to be understood. I find it really depressing if I think too hard about what's been taken away from me."
Nathan nodded understandingly.
"What about you?" I asked, thinking briefly that he could say what he liked because I would have been prepared to slate my parents' choice a little while ago.
"I see the need for our kingdoms to unite but..." He sighed. I looked up. "I guess I should tell you that I'm slightly into someone else."
"Oh," I said, not quite knowing what to say.
"Yeah... I bumped into her this morning. But it's okay, you know, because nothing's going to happen and our kingdoms are going to unite. But I thought you had a right to know seeing as you're technically my..." He seemed to struggle with the word.
"Fiancée," I said. And then sighed. I hoped this other girl didn't return Nathan's feelings - that would just be awful, for both of us.
"Well, ... could you take me on a tour of the Palace, ... fiancée?"
I smiled a little. "Sure. But don't call me that."