I was furious after my mother left. I had to try so hard not to lash out and break anything because that would get me into even bigger trouble.
What gave my mother the right to tell me I couldn’t choose my own husband? What gave anyone the right to tell me that? It was my life; I should be able to live it based on my decisions, even if they are the wrong ones.
I couldn’t bear to stay in my room any more, the walls felt like they were closing in on me, trapping me. I pulled a cloak on around my shoulders and swept outside, feeling a lot better when the cool afternoon air hit me, putting a dampener on my temper.
I walked slowly around the grounds looking at the dead plants that would hopefully soon spring back to life as spring swept its way across the country.
I couldn’t believe that this is what my life would become; a series of decisions made for me. I was a puppet, at the mercy of those in power, whether that was in this country or in another. It wasn’t how I had expected to live my life. I had thought that as soon as I was married I would be able to escape the eyes of the court, but it seemed that I would be walking straight into another cage.
I spun around viciously at the sound of the clipped tones of Markus’s Basedownian accent. He stepped back slightly as he saw the anger flare in my eyes, fear and confusion written across his face.
‘Oh Prince Markus,’ I said, hastily trying to recover. ‘I didn’t realise it was you.’
‘That’s alright Lady Liliana, I didn’t mean to startle you, I just wondered if we could talk. I saw you going for a walk and thought I might take one too. I fear we got off to a bad start and I would like to make it up to you.’
‘That- that’s very nice of you,’ I stuttered, not expecting this sort of behaviour from Markus. I doubted he had ever had to admit he was wrong in his entire life.
‘You did very well in the tournament,’ I said as we began to walk. ‘You have a lot of talent.’
‘I was taught how to fight from a very young age and was an officer in the army before I was twenty.’
‘That’s impressive,’ I said. ‘I’m sure there aren’t many people who can say they have achieved that.’
‘It’s the culture in my country. Every boy is taught how to fight and is enlisted into the army before his eighteenth birthday. It keeps our army strong.’
‘It must have been a hard upbringing, if you were being taught to kill while you were still a child.’
‘It’s what happens,’ he said strongly and bluntly. ‘Our cultures are clearly very different.’
‘Yes they are,’ I said, not sure how to reply to his comments. It turned out he didn’t know what to say either so we walked along for a while in silence.
‘I’m sorry,’ he said suddenly. ‘I’m not very good at this. I’ve never had to try and impress someone before; it’s normally other people trying to impress me. It all feels very…different.’
‘For me it’s been the opposite, always trying to impress my parents and the rest of the court. But you don’t want to know about that,’ I hastily retracted; shocked by my openness with the man my parents wanted me to marry.
‘Maybe we have more in common than I thought,’ Markus said so quietly I could only just hear him. ‘Of course that doesn’t matter in a marriage. Your royal name is enough to buy you almost any husband you could want.’
‘I’m sorry,’ I said, taken aback by this sudden change in character.
‘You might not be the eldest daughter, but even being the third daughter of a king, even one with as small a kingdom as your father’s, is a definite advantage when it comes to choosing a husband. People will always need allies.’
‘And you’re say that is all I’m worth? The seal on a stupid alliance that might not last my lifetime?’
‘That’s not all you’re worth,’ Markus said, oblivious to his mistake, ‘but it certainly helps.’
‘Do my feelings mean nothing to you?’ I exclaimed, outraged by Markus’s throwaway tone. ‘I’m sick of being treated like I don’t matter, like I can’t feel anything. I was starting to think you would understand that, but clearly I was wrong.’ I picked up my pace, sweeping away from a confused looking Markus.
I didn’t care how he was feeling, I just couldn’t believe I had been stupid enough to think that people can surprise you by changing. It seemed that the only people I could trust were my sister Helena and Lucian. The very thought of him made me want to laugh and cry at the same time. I needed him.