He first lays eyes on her at a ball. Whose ball it was, he doesn’t care to remember. What he does care to remember centers around her.
He had never seen hair the color of wheat on any of his people and soon found himself following her movements around the ballroom with his eyes. She was the epitome of elegance; just a simple turn of her body had him entranced by her graceful figure.
But only staring wasn’t enough. He stepped forward, his eyes always on her.
It was enough to draw her attention. She met his gaze steadily and smiled slightly as he risked his own pride to ask her for a dance.
To his surprise, she laid a gloved hand in his, and the smile she wore: much too dazzling to look at directly. He thought it all too good to be true, especially now that he was this close to her. He could see every little detail: the way the light played about her pretty features, reflected off the turquoise comb keeping her hair in an elegant bun. The proximity was overwhelming.
She was like air in his arms, following his movements with her own fluid ones. Whenever they drew closer and he could feel her breath at his collarbone, his heart skipped a beat. He was in a daze; he could have kept on dancing with her forever.
However, it was bound to end. The music stopped and they stood still on the floor as everyone around them exchanged polite farewells. His heart sunken, he couldn’t bring himself to do anything until finally she curtsied, her eyelashes overshadowing her downcast eyes. She held out her hand and he bowed over it, brushing his lips against the silk of her glove. For a brief moment, he hesitated in straightening himself. She didn’t make any indication that she had noticed the hesitation, and turned to leave.
Against his will, his hand reached out and grabbed her arm. She whirled around to face him with wide eyes. His other hand went to her cheek.
These were bold acts, but the way her eyelids lowered as she leaned into his touch lowered his inhibitions completely.
Before he ran away from her, his face burning a bright red color, they had shared a short clumsy kiss. All he could remember about that kiss was the painful clink of teeth clashing and her surprisingly soft and willing lips.
The next time he saw her, they were engaged to be married, which was something he should have been happy about. However, she had changed. Her eyes had become sharper, more calculating. Her cold manner gave off the impression that she was after the throne, and endless were the rumors circulating around about her questionable motives. With the painfully unfamiliar way she treated him, the rumors weren’t too hard to believe, and he found himself thinking of the ball as just a distant illusion.
On the day of the wedding, he tells her that he wants to sleep in different rooms, an attempt to get a reaction out of her. With an expressionless face, she nods. She says, “I can arrange that.”
He figures out why when she climbs into his bed at night, an action which doesn’t seem fitting of her, so every night, he pretends to be asleep whenever she comes, and in the morning she’s gone.
He does more to make her do something, anything. He wants her to call him a jerk, a heartless bastard, anything that’s not her usual “My King”. He spreads rumors of his unfaithfulness, makes sure that the maids exchange gossip in front of her, but she continues to sit at her throne with indifference. He finds himself putting up a cold face in front of her, letting everyone else see his carefree smiles. She makes no indication that it ever bothers her.
And the memory of the ball, which used to be something he cherished, soon becomes something hated. If he had never met her at that ball, if he had never had a dance with her, maybe then he could give up more easily.
Or maybe not….after all, her hair is still the same beautiful color it was when he first laid eyes on her.