“What?” I repeated for a second time, disbelief hanging in the air.

Everyone stood in silence, unsure of what to say or do in this awkward situation, awkward scene. Finally, Mother stepped forward, turning her cool, calmed eyes to me, “Well, this shouldn’t matter, then,” she sniffed, “We shall forget this ever happened, and move on to the wedding.”

“The wedding!” exclaimed Julio, Samuel, and I simultaneously.

“Indeed,” Mother continued slowly, focusing her eyes then on the Prince. “I spoke to the King and Queen this evening, Your Highness, and we believe this arrangement has been solidified. The deal has been struck, so to speak. We weren‘t going to tell you for a while, but it now seems necessary.”

“What?” I murmured, fearing I almost lost my voice. Suddenly, hard, deep fury built up in me, “How-how-How could you do that to me, Mother! You know it! You know I do not want it but you did it anyways! Without consulting me! How could you do that!” By now, tears were flowing freely, staining my cheeks. I looked to the faces of all around me, almost everything blurred and mixed.

I tore past my Mother, my Father, all the servants watching in the hall who rushed to move out of my way. I kept running, racing down the halls as quickly as I could. Cool air hit my face, the sky and stars opening up above me as I escaped the boundaries of my house and into the garden paths.

Throwing myself on the ground, I held myself, hiding my face, hiding from the world. Why was it so unfair? I didn’t understand!

An arm came around me, drawing me into a warm embrace. “It’s alright, Helena. It will be alright,” murmured Julio.

“How do you know?” I pulled away sharply, looking up into his face. “How do you now anything of me? How can such destruction be caused when we do not know one another?”

He frowned, moving aside a strand of free hair.

“I’m frightened,” I whispered. “What do we do?”

The End

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