"Forgive me for asking, my lady," he said carefully, "but I'm afraid I must ask this. Where have you come from? Who are your family? And, forgive me, but how did you come to be in the forest when we were passing?"
I turned away, brushing my hair behind the back of my ear to give me some time.
"I've lived here all along. In the woods. We all have hidden, because of your father. So forgive me if I don't tell you anything about my family, or the people I live with. I just want to keep them safe. Can you understand that?" I turned back to face him.
His face was transfixed, but he nodded.
"May I ask how you managed to be where we were when we were attacked?"
I smiled. "I was looking at the sun as it set. When you were attacked I was in the tree above you."
"You like watching the sun set?"
"I love to watch the sun set, and rise, I love to watch the moon and listen to the song of the trees. I love the birds, the animals and rivers. But especially the sun and the moon. And then your highness, you came and spoilt my evening."
"Well I hope I can make up for it."
"Perhaps you can."
I smiled and stood, moving away to the window of the hall. Guests watched me as they danced but I ignored their looks. Instead I focussed my attention on the return of the Prince who had disappeared soon after the meal. He saw me instantly, and looked to be struggling between smiling and glaring. I bowed my head and smiled slightly, looking from under my lashes again. It was a trick I had learnt that made even the toughest men admire me. Flirting had always been the easiest way to get what I wanted in the forest, so I knew it would be easier here amongst the finery. The prince had turned away, and was talking to his brother. I turned and went to join the dance. They watched.