The next morning after breakfast, I gathered some parchment and my quill. Octavius led me to the painting room and I looked around while I waited for the queen to come. It was large and had five easels. There were also five desks and I had a feeling this is where Angel came for her lessons. I put my supplies down and looked around.
On one wall was the confirmation of my thoughts: it was an old parchment in a frame. It had Angel's name written in crooked letters. Below it, nearly 100 gold stars were painted and she had colored little stick figures at the bottom. One was shouting 'Yay!' and it made me smile. It was absolutely adorable.
"That was from her first year of schooling."
I jumped. The queen walked in with her lady-in-waiting. She was dressed in a magnificent red and blue dress and held a large canvas in her hands. She set it down by one of the easels and stood beside me while her lady-in-waiting tied an apron on her.
"We had made a special deal," she explained, pointing. "For each 10 gold stars she received, she'd get her favorite dessert. If she reached 100, we would have a special party for her."
"How old was she?" I asked, looking at the cute stick figures.
"Five," she said then giggled. "She's not been able to go beyond stick figures, though. It frustrates her which is just adorable to me."
I laughed then remembered I was in the presence of the queen. I turned red.
"I'm so sorry," I breathed and bowed to her.
"Oh, don't worry," she laughed. "If it had bothered me, I would have spoken. Now, I brought you a gift."
My blush deepened. "You didn't have to-"
"Hush," she ordered and beckoned me to the canvas. "While I was getting ready, I remembered this hidden in my closet. It was the first painting I ever made. It reminds me of you so I wish for you to have it."
She turned it and I bit my lip. Just looking at it and I had a feeling she knew more than she let on.
It was the right eye of someone with a tear drop. Just below it was a goblet full of blue. At the bottom of the painting, though, was a bright star.
"Thank you," I whispered and looked at her.
"What happened to your cheek?" she asked and I sat down.
"What would you like me to draw?" I asked.
She frowned but sat down at the desk beside me. She looked around, tapping her chin.
"How about roses?"
"Perfect," I said immediately.
While I sketched - I always did so before I painted - I thought to her gift. It was eerie for that had been the first thing I drew when I had learned how to draw. But how could it be possible? I was 12 at the time and we had just moved from the large home to the small shack. I couldn't help but smile as I worked. Though I wouldn't be here for very long, I felt more at ease here than anywhere else.
"Sometimes that happens," the queen said then her eyes widened.
I looked at her. "Beg your pardon?"
Her lady-in-waiting was staring at her in shock. The queen sighed and lowered her quill.
"Maria, stand guard," she said quietly.
"Are you sure, milady?"
"He will not harm me," she said. "Please. I do not wish to be overheard."
Maria sighed but did as she was told. I put my quill down, too, and turned to the queen. She looked unsure but cleared her throat.
"You feel slightly resentful that you will be spending the last week with my daughter." It wasn't a question. "You also feel confused that you feel at home here. Something is going on in your home that brings you great emotional pain." She pointed at the painting. "You drew that, am I correct?"
I leaned back. "How do you know all of this?"
"You must swear to secrecy, David," she whispered and I nodded. "I come from a long line of Seers." My jaw dropped. "It comes and goes. I can't read your mind, so don't look so panicked," she added with a laugh. "It's when you feel strong emotions. For example, when you avoided my question of your bruise, I felt like you were thinking about your father. Is he the one who struck you?"
I looked at my lap, not sure if I wanted to tell her. She had just given me her confidence, though, and it would be rude not to return it. Besides, there wasn't any harm now that James knew, too. I sighed.
"My mother died giving birth to me," I started quietly. "My father... he took to alcohol shortly after. I try to tell myself it was from grief but I don't think it was. Something in me tells me that my mother was the only thing keeping him from drinking. Anyway, he drank so much that he stopped working. When I was five, he had me learn how to shoot a bow and arrow so I could hunt for us. Eventually, we ran out of money.
"I was 10 when we moved to a small shack from our previous home. I was put in charge of getting the food for our table and soon I had to start working. One night I came home without carrots." I scoffed. "I don't know why he got so mad. He hated carrots. He beat me and.... I guess he decided beating me was just as much fun as drinking."
"So you were abused," she whispered.
"When I was 12, I drew that," I said, looking at the painting. "I was learning how to draw because I had to find a way to get rid of my pent up anger. I... have a bit of a temper. The shoemaker in the village, James, taught me. He kind of helped me growing up. He taught me how to shave."
"Did your father know?"
"No. If he did, he would have hurt James and his wife. I didn't want that. I lied, saying I watched him in secret. I was beaten for it but better me than such a lovely couple."
Her eyes filled with tears. "And it's been like this all your life?"
I shrugged, toying with the quill. "Just 15 years. I mean... it doesn't matter anymore. When I leave, I won't be going back home."
She leaned back in shock. "When you leave? Who said you were going to leave?"
"Your daughter will not pick me," I said, turning back to my sketch.
She took the hint that I was done speaking of it but I could feel her eyes on me as we painted. We finished shortly before dinner time and we stepped back.
"You are a wonderful artist," she complimented and I smiled.
"Thank you. Though I do not hold a candle to you," I added, laughing for the first time. "My rose looks so juvenile!"
She laughed, too, as we cleaned our hands. "Don't be silly. We each have our strengths and weaknesses. And, if you don't mind me saying, you are very strong. You don't think it, but you will find it out soon."
I looked at her. "Is that something you... see or sense?"
She just gave me a cryptic smile and beckoned for me to follow her to the dining room for dinner.
When we walked in, King Roland grinned.
"Miranda! I haven't seen you all day! I was starting to get concerned."
He kissed her cheek and I sat down after bowing to him beside Hugo. He beamed and I returned it, not used to having someone willing to be my friend. Of course, he didn't know much about me. I knew he would change his mind if I told him. My father told me I wasn't worthy of friends, much less a princess.
"I had a great partner today," Queen Miranda answered, smiling at me, and I blushed. "How was your ride, dear?" she asked Angel.
She was sitting beside William but she looked a little upset. She was about to speak but William interrupted her.
"It was wonderful," he said, placing his hand on hers.
She took it back and he glared at his goblet for a brief moment. Silence fell awkwardly and I glanced over at the princess. I had decided to make a portrait of her as a farewell gift and studied her when she wasn't looking. I wanted everything to be right. I didn't look away quick enough, though, because she saw me looking at a small scar on her chin. She covered it and I turned red. She didn't look offended but I still pulled her to the side.
"Please forgive me," I whispered, unable to meet her eyes. "That was incredibly inappropriate of me."
"It's okay," she answered. "I haven't-" William cleared his throat loudly and her face flickered in annoyance. "Good night, Sir David."
William walked me back to my chambers. I was incredibly irritated but I hid it. The whole ride was spent talking about him. Not once has he asked me anything about myself. Any time I would speak, he would interrupt me. He was not like this at the ball.
"I had a lovely time today," I lied when we reached my bedchambers. "Thank-"
Without even bothering to ask, he kissed my lips roughly. I glared and pushed on his chest, slapping him when he let me go.
"Sir William! That is most inappropriate!"
He heaved a dramatic sigh. "Oh, my dear Angel. I did not wish to do this so quickly but it is obvious you will not make this easy."
"Make what easy?" I demanded and cried out when he tossed me over his shoulder. "Put me down this instant!" I yelled.
"Just be quiet," he snapped and I gasped indignantly.
"How dare you!? Put me down!"
He did but it was to slap me and I gaped at him in shock. He took the opportunity to gag me and I started to kick and hit at him as he carried me over his shoulder again.
"Did you hear it, too?" Hugo asked as I ran down the hall.
I had been sketching Angel's face when I heard the scream. I just nodded and we stopped in the main hall, looking around. The guards looked just as confused and I noticed a back door open. I ran to it and swore.
"Hugo!" I shouted. "Grab a weapon! He's trying to kidnap the princess!"