Three years later.....
She combed her hair until it was smooth and soft, free of the tangles of bed and sleep which matted in ugly twists during the night. She looked to her appearance in the reflection, frowning back at her. The color of her hair had always been quite plain, dry like dirtied straw. She pursed her lips, soft and thin, matching her sharpened cheek bones and arched eyebrows, fierce when formed into their grimace. As she looked into her own face, she thought of her elder sibling, her elder half-sibling, Marie and the free, sweet form of her face, gold curls tossed carelessly over her shoulder yet placed with perfection. With a bat of her lashes, she could attract the attention of many. With her sly smile, she had imprisoned the young men and left them helpless in her presense. She looked too perfect sometimes.
Cassandra fingered her jawbone, following the upward curve of her face. While Aedrianna, the oldest Princess of them all, had those thin, frightening eyes like a snake, the youngest Princess had quite large eyes set into her face. She herself thought they looked odd against the other features of her face, nothing stunning in their own right. They were that grey hazel, yet....when the sunrays hit them just right, they shifted green or on occasions silver. She liked the mystery in that on her own, and the tone of her skin matched it well, unique from her sisters'. It was fairly colored, softly warmed by the sun just enough. Many of the other court women desired that porcelain color, almost making them appear sickly in a way - at least in Casandra's opinion.
The Princess shook herself, putting aside her haircomb. Why was she so concerned over her appearance? It was only natural, she supposed, being a Princess, and many had told her she had the look of her mother, who was said to be an extraordinary, yet unique, beauty. She overheard that, in appearance, their Aedryn Queen was very Gherion in look, being Gherion in descent. Cassandra would never know anyhow - she had never been to her mother's home country, or had seen many of the people from where she came, despite Gherion being their neighbor to the East.
She had more important things to do then sit about and stare at herself. She began braiding her hair on her own; it was nice to be away from all the handmaids and do something by herself for once. She glanced to the sprawling of letters before her on the tabletop, the most recent of Alezander's words to her. Over the years, they had still never met, but mantained this contact that Cassandra kept mainly to herself. They found similar interests and spoke through their letters cordially. With every passing birthday of Cassandra's, three of them since they started their correspondence, there was some reason one of them was unable to make the journey from their home. Aedryn was far from Navarn, and the two had major obligations at their homes as royal children. Alezander especially being Crown Prince, the King-in-waiting to his father...
Perhaps that is why she seemed so concerned over her appearance. She felt herself particularly acquainted with the Prince, and despite her initial hatred to the arrangement, she had come to live with it. Cassandra learned to enjoy their exchange, and with the coming and going of time, she learned more of him and warmed to the personality traits expressed even through his letters. The empty space still provided by their inability to meet yet let her imagination flourish with rising hopes, certainly when a portrait of him was brought before her and proved he was really very handsome. At least how he was portrayed. It would not be long before her own portrait would be made. She curled a lock of her hair around her finger. She hoped her own appearance would not disappoint. Now, as the sunlight from her window caught at it, it looked as gold and pretty as Marie Diana's. She smiled slightly to herself.
She frowned. But what if this wonderfully elusive Prince wasn't to her favor? What if he despised her, and her him? The path of her life would be wretched, and she would be doomed as a sad queen. Her mother looked like a sad queen. She had been made into King Howard's wife by force, just as Cassandra would be. It appeared as if her heart was always somewhere else. Would Cassandra end up like her?
Maybe it was Cassandra's imagination. Her mother was perfect. She had amazing beauty and was filled with love. Many did not like her because of her origin, but Cassandra thought she made a lovely queen and a tender mother, although she was only able to produce one child - a daughter. It allowed for further ridicule to be poured upon her. If Cassandra was a son, Queen Elitha would be beloved by her people.
Thinking of her father, she could not help feel a bitter taste sour her tongue. He was a scary figure, and he was the one who sold her away.
"Cassandra!" cried Marie, bursting through her younger sibling's dressing room door, unexpected. "Have you heard the latest of my party? You won't believe who is attending!"
"It will not be your Prince, but some Navarn representives will be attending, and they are bringing gifts for both you and I," she put her hands on her hips. "How unfair is that? You just had your birthday and it is my ball!"
"I am sure they will give me mine after or before your party in private."
Marie Diana slapped Cassandra gently on the shoulder, "Oh, come on. It is not really unfair. You will be their queen, after all. And you know better then I they will present you with these gifts before everyone to show off."
"I am sure they won't be as good as yours," Cassandra played along.
"Ha! I hope so, it is my party," grinned Marie. Taking her arm, she beckoned, "Come, I must show you the fabrics for my gown!"