Chapter 2

Prince Alezander watched the goings-on of the ball blandly; all the pretty women glowing in their sumptuous gowns dancing, twirling, laughing, with all but him. Even Daniel, his younger brother, danced with the pretty Lady Amelie, making her eyes alight, her cheeks bloom like roses, and her voice trill in sweet, playful giggles.

He frowned and pushed himself from his throne, slipping unnoticed from the merriment of the ballroom, the music fading behind him as he marched briskly down the halls of the palace. He yanked undone the buttons of his sleeve cuffs, not acknowledging the guards who bowed and nodded as he passed. He continued down the way, only pausing briefly as another guard opened the door to his father’s office.

Frowning, Alezander looked about the room. The king must be still down in the ballroom, or doing various assignments which his station required. The only reasons that he saw his father as often as he did was that he was the heir, the one whom King Alezander placed all of his spare attentions on to teach him the ways of the title. There were endless hours in the night the two had spent in this very office by the glow of the candle, leaving very little time for leisurely activities. Young Alezander hardly ever saw his brother any longer . Daniel. There was always a certain envy for Daniel, who spent his days free to do much of what he wished. As the brothers had grown older, a certain tension had grown between them, and thus they had grown farther apart. Daniel almost acted like he wanted the throne. Alezander felt like sometimes he could just tell him "Have it!", and yet it was his right, as the eldest, and he had worked hard to mantain it.

With a heavy sigh, Alezander fell into the chair in which he called his, the one in which he sat during all the lessons. He stared aimlessly at the piles of the papers crowding the desk, the books set upon the shelves.

He didn’t look back as he heard the door open, the brush of fabric over the floor and the footsteps, muffled by delicate silk slippers. "What is wrong, Alezander? Do not think you slipped out unseen. What are you so upset about?"

When he did not reply, his elder sister moved so that she could look into his face, examine his expression. "I thought you enjoyed balls," she gently prodded.

"How can I, Nara?" his frustration came out all at once at his gazed into her face. "I have no choice. I am very simply a married man. To a child! A child!"

Princess Nara remained silent, slipping into her father’s chair. Breathing deeply, Alezander began again, "How much younger is she? The princess….,"

"Five years your younger--"

"Thirteen years old," laughed Alezander grimly. "It is the most ridiculous thing … what … if she has the nose of a witch? Or a frog-mouth-?"

"The ambassador mentioned nothing of a frog-mouth or a witch-nose, Alezander. He said she was growing to be a handsome girl…," replied Nara mildly.

Her brother looked away from her. "You understand my point, though. How is it fair? How …?"

Nara stood sharply, "I understand your point, and I see it as unfair. You have been complaining about this for years, and nothing has been done. Only continuing to complain will do nothing.  You cannot change it, so you might as well make the best of it. Write the girl a letter, at least may be on good terms with her so that when you do meet her perhaps the two of you can get along tolerably." She continued more softly, a tone melted by sympathy. "She is also being forced to marry you Alezander. You must remember that it is she that has to leave her home and come to live with strangers, to marry a stranger, while she is still young. It has become both of your duty. You understand the reasoning; Father explained it to you. It will….advance our nation. It is a sad thing, yet it must be done. It is your obligation."

The End

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