“Congratulations Princess Adrianna.”
“Thank you very much,” Princess Adrianna says with a beaming smile.
“I loved your solo Princess Adrianna.”
“Why thank you very much,” Princess Adrianna says.
“Your performance was very exquisite Your Highness.”
“Thank you very much, Princess Catherine,” Princess Adrianna says.
I watch as everyone congratulates my sister. My mother gives her a peck on both cheeks with a beautiful smile plastered on her face. Father kisses her head to show his pride. If you are wondering who I am, I am a brunette girl, with blue and green eyes and with freckles on her face sitting on the second roll in the class with the violin in her hand.
The girl everyone is congratulating is my fraternal twin sister, Adrianna. My name is Iris. Adrianna is my parent’s favorite. She plays the princess role pretty well. She courtesies better than me, dances better than me, eats better than me, walks better than me, well let’s just say she is a better princess than I am. Me, I like to describe myself as anything but a princess. I am more of a hugger. So instead of courtesy, I hug. Who says you have to use a particular cutlery for a particular food? So BORING! The worst is walking; my mother forces us to walk like statues with our noses in the air. Well me, I don’t just walk like a clown, I run like one too and that’s so fun. So instead of the old-fashioned way of dancing, I love to move my whole body to the beats of the song. Yeah, I love my little world of freedom and it never seats well with father and mother. Mother is constantly trying to change me and my father never fails to show his disappointment when I rebel.
Royal Academy is the name of my school and every midterm each class holds a music performance. It used to be a small event but now it is a show everyone looks forward to. It never fails to attract the far kingdoms beyond the sea. Because of that Royal Academy has the largest and highest entry every year. Every kingdom and each royal family as far as the ears are aware attends Royal Academy.
Father and mother are dressed in their royal attire today, which will be because they are the King and Queen of Filamonda. My Father’s name is His Royal Majesty, King Matthew the 2nd. He is the 12th King of Filamonda and was named after the 2nd King of Filamonda. My mother’s name is Her Royal Majesty, Queen Mariah of Filamonda. I look around and notice The Four Great Kings of the four kingdoms are in attendance.
“What a rare occurrence,” I say to myself.
King Archer of Divimon is here, King Donatello of Cerphila is also here, King Theodore of Octavalia is here too and of course father. Of all the four kingdoms, Filamonda is the strongest kingdom. It is known for its rich bounty and feast and of course its great army. Father told me a great kingdom is measured by its army’s strength and might.
Just then the sound of the bell breaks me from my thought. My sister runs back to her seat. We wait patiently for the signal from the instructor. The bell sounds again and the instructor signals us as we all curtsey and bow, signaling the end of our performance.
The music gets rowdy. I carefully navigate myself through the pool of people looking for father and mother. I turn in time and watch Queen Marilyn of Cerphila scope her daughter Princess Esmeralda into her arms for a hug. Her sister Princess Octavia doesn’t fail to hug her too. Her brother Prince William warmly pecks her. This right here is not my scene. I feel a gentle pull at my chest.
“I want to go back home,” I say to myself.
I love the forests and everything in it. Four nights ago I jeopardized the guard’s hunting tools. I cut the strings on their crossbows. I ordered the girls to throw the guard's swords into the sea. The thought of anyone hunting the animals never seats well with me. I don’t know why anyone sees killing innocent animals as a sport and game. I will not stand for such.
This has gotten me into a lot of trouble with father and mother. I have lost count of how many times I have been grounded over the years. But I am sure I do get into trouble at least four times a day. I always sneak out of the castle into the forest to build little shacks for the birds. They don’t seem to mind me but I don’t go close so I don’t scare them off. I see it as my duty to protect them as no one else seems to be willing. I can still remember the time I jeopardize the knight’s hunting equipment for the 100th time father grounded me for two days and my mother took away my maps.
Mother’s voice brings me back from my thoughts.
“Stop daydreaming and come over with me. Your sister played her solo so well; you should be congratulating her and not plotting your next prank.”
“I don’t get a kiss too for a well-done job?” I tell her.
She looks at me, shrugs, and goes over to meet father and Adrianna. Adrianna looks at me concerned. I smile at her telling her and mouthed ‘I am fine.’
Ri as I love calling my sister worries about me, especially when my mother and father scold me.
“Since everyone is here, why don’t we head back to the castle,” Father says.
I take my head out of the carriage, looking up into the sky. I love the smell of the air during this time of the year. It smells so clean and musky. I call it, The smell of Nature. I close my eyes and inhale the air, I smile to myself and open my eyes. We are on our way back to the castle and my feet are itching for a good run in the forest.
“Iris, get your head back in here. You don’t want to catch a fly,” Mother says.
I frown to myself and do as she says.
“The medal is so shining father,” Ri says.
“Yes, my dear. It is deserving of a good talent such as yourself,” Father says.
This is why I rather stick my head out of the coach and catch a fly. The father-proud-aura is starting to get old. I watch the exchange for a while until father kisses the top of Ri’s head and he catches my stare.
“You did well too, Iris. You played the instrument so…”
“Violin,” I corrected.
“It is called a violin. I played the violin Father,” I say.
“Oh, is that what that was? I would have never guessed the name if not been told. Anyways you sounded good playing it,” Father says.
“Oh Father, everyone knows what a violin is and Iris didn’t just sound good playing it, she was brilliant,” Ri says.
“Of course my dear she was,” Father says.
“It’s a good thing we invited the other princesses and princes to the after-party. You both get to play for them again,” Mother says.
“Wait, what!?” I ask.
“Didn’t I tell you yesterday, that there will be a ball after the music festival at the palace?”
“No mother, you never mentioned it to me,” I say scowling at her.
“I thought I mentioned it,” Mother says acting clueless.
“You only told me, mother. I was going to Iris's room to tell her and you said you were going to,” Ri says.
Mother waves her hand up in the air, agreeing with what Ri said.
“That must be it, after Constantine told me the royal chef was waiting, I must have forgotten.”
“It’s alright,” Father says to mother calmly.
“Now Iris it’s not too late to prepare for the ball, have your head…”
“Of course, it’s too late to prepare for the ball. It’s going to take me a whole hour to get ready. And I gave the ladies the rest of the day off.”
“Then I suggest you find a way to ready for the ball and get to it,” Father snaps.
I look at my father shocked and I scorn him, I look at my mother and she is avoiding my eyes. I feel the coach stop.
“Do I at least get to play Nana’s harp?” I ask.
Father looks at me deciding if he should let me play one of Filamonda’s most treasured assets. Nana’s harp, well it wasn’t technically Nana’s. She inherited it from her mother, who inherited it from her mother and it continues down the lane. Nana didn’t have a daughter to teach how to the harp so when Ri and I were born, Nana decided to teach one of us and she chose me. Before she died she wanted me to have it but father has it on lock and key.
“You are not responsible yet to have the harp,” Father always said.
“Fine, you can play the harp tonight. Only tonight Iris, am I understood?” Father asks.
“Have Veronica come find me after you are dressed so I can make your hair,” Mother says to Ri as she warmly takes out the pins from her hair.
I look at Iris and she looks at me. I surrender to my anger. Turning to the door, I lean my back on the seat, raising my both feet, I hit the door with force and it opens. I jump down from the coach and make my way to the castle.
“Iris!! How many times have I told you…?”
Mother’s voice fades away as I make my way into the castle. I hear Ri’s footsteps behind me but I don’t stop or slow down. I ignore the guards and servants as they salute. I make my way up the stairs, I head to the royal quarters, and reaching my room, I open the door angrily, take off my shoes and climb my bed facing down. I scream my frustration to the bed. I hear my door close; I hear the footsteps on the ground as it reaches my bed and stop. I feel my bed deep as I continuing scream. I stop screaming after a while.
“Now, now Iris, you need to stop screaming. I don’t want you catching a headache,” Ri says.
I turn my head slowly and look at Ri who is also looking at me. She smiles at me. I raise my head to look at her dress and I look at the clock at my table stand.
“Shouldn’t you be getting ready for the ball? It’s in less than an hour,” I say.
“There is no way I will go to the ball without you. What will everyone think?” Ri replies.
“That Princess Iris is feeling so ashamed she did a bad job at the music festival, that she locks herself away in her room.”
“What! Why will you think that way?” Iris asks
I watch her pause for a second as she frowns at me
“Is that your plan? To lock yourself away in your room,” Ri gestures to my room.
“No, but now that you put it that way, it won’t be a bad…”
“Don’t you dare say it, Iris, Don’t you dare,” Ri says.
Feeling defeated I put my face back on the bed.
“I am sorry about father and mother.”
I feel myself getting angrier, I push myself off the bed and make my way to my wardrobe to get my nightwear and finally to the room divider to change.
“You have to get back to your room Ri, have your maids dress you up. Mother is not going to be happy if she sees you are still dressed like that,” I say as I change my cloth.
“But I don’t want to go to the ball without you,” Ri says.
“You have no choice Ri,” I walk out of the room divider in my nightwear “Someone has to go down there and it has to be you.”
A knock comes on my door before I could answer, the door is flown open revealing my head maid Bridgette, and the other maids, Elizabeth, Paulina, Juliette, and Caroline conversing among themselves.
“Princess Iris hates those gowns with a bow on them, so the orange gown is out of the question Paulina,” Bridgette says.
“The sliver gown will look good on her waist,” Elizabeth says.
It seems they haven’t noticed me and Ri yet as they continue conversing.
“I know a hairstyle you could do for the Princess, Caroline; it’s simple and elegant…”
“Caroline please fix the Princess’s bath before she gets back from receiving the guests,” Bridgette says interrupting Paulina.
Bridgette turns to the bed and finds I and Ri watching them. I watch her eyes open wild with shock.
Everyone turns towards us and gasps. I read the shock on their faces as they stop what they are doing and curtsies.
“We are sorry; we didn’t notice you were there. We thought you were downstairs with the King and Queen receiving the guests,” Bridgette says.
Ri stands from my bed and walks to me.
“No, we are up here,” Ri says.
“What are you ladies doing here? I thought I gave you the rest of the day off,” I say.
“We were in the village and heard His Majesty is throwing a ball to celebrate the excellent performances of his daughters,” Bridgette explains.
Ri and I share a look, knowing the true reason behind the party.
“So we gathered ourselves and ran to Madam Fab to pick the perfect gown for the party,” Juliette says showing me the gown.
I look at the faded gown in her hands. The colors are of shade and it looks like something a person will wear.
“Let me get something straight, you went to Madam Fab’s Palace and picked that up for Iris?” Princess Adrianna asks.
I sigh knowing where the discussion is headed.
“Ri not now,” I say.
“Hush you,” Ri says.
“How is that gown befitting of a princess? Just look at it. I have told you so many times, if you can’t take this role serious, I will find someone else who will. You all are one of the reasons why mother has been so hard Iris and here you are showing…”
“Ri that is enough. You are going to make her cry,” I say when Bridgette’s eyes start to get wet.
“Really? That is your problem? You need to be telling her when she does something wrong. Whatever she does reflects on you,” Ri says.
I turn to Bridgette and the girls. They all like are about to cry.
“I will handle this,” I say.
“Thank you very much ladies for going out of your way to get the gown. But I will not be wearing it the ball,” I say looking at my night wear.
I look and watch as maids look at my nightwear with a frown on their faces and they look at one another.
“Forgive me Your Highness for asking,” Bridgette says.
As my head maid, Bridgette is in charge of my making me look good and the only one who is permitted to question my decisions on my wardrobe choices.
“Go on with it Bridgette. I know where this is headed,” I say walking to my dressing mirror.
“Is that what Her Highness will be wearing to the ball tonight?”
I look at the nightwear and look at the girls.
“I won’t be…”
“YES!!” Ri yells.
I look at her speechless
“Yes, that’s what we will be wearing to the ball. We were just discussing that before you all came in.”
“We were?” I ask Ri.
“Yes, we were,” Ri says gnashing her teethes together, signaling me to compile.
I turn to the girls with shock on their faces.
“Will you ladies excuse us, I want to have a private discussion with my sister,” I say.
They bow and leave the room.
“Have you gone mad Ri, what exactly goes on in that head of yours?” I ask.
“It’s almost time for the ball and you are not ready yet. This is the only way out,” Ri says.
“By wearing our night wears to the ball? I know I can be difficult but this is plain madness,” I say.
“Iris you are not missing that ball. Even if I have to drag you there naked then I will,” Ri snaps.
“I am not going to the ball dressed in my night wear,” I say with my hands folded.
“Like you have a choice when it comes to me and besides, we are not going in our night wear. We will use a silk and cotton cloth for the base,” Ri says as she walks to the door and opens it.
“Ri what are you up to?” I say to myself.
“Yes, we have decided to wear our night wears to the party tonight.”
I can still see the disbelief on the faces of my maids.
“But Your Highnesses, if you wear that to the ball tonight, His Majesty is going to be very furious and not to mention the scandal it will cause. The Queen, your mother…”
“That’s for us to worry about and not you Bridgette,” Ri says silencing Bridgette who curtsies at her.
I smile warmly at Bridgette who looks at me concerned. I look at the girls and I read the concern on their faces.
“I know this is not what we normally go for but Ri and I have things under control.”
“Yes we do,” Ri says smiling.
“Caroline, go to my room, have Veronica and Cassandra bring my change of clothes and tell them what’s happening.”
“Yes, Your Highness,” Caroline curtsies and leaves.
“Paulina I need you to lose my hair,” I say.
“Yes, Your Highness.”
Paulina starts attending my to hair almost immediately. Shortly Veronica, Ri’s head maid, and Cassandra arrive and start undressing her. In no time we are ready for the party.
“Father is going to be mad at us,” I say.
“I can’t wait to see the look on his face,” Ri says chuckling.
“Ri the scandal will be heartbreaking. Mother will be furious.”
“Hush now Iris, since when have you cared about any scandal? You lavish in it. You are always in front of every newspaper for one scandal or the other.”
“That’s for the great or good Iris and you know it. This, this is just to spit mother and father.”
“No, it isn’t.”
“Yes, it is and they will accuse me of dragging you into this,” I say.
A knock is heard on my door interrupting our discussion. Bridgette walks to the door and opens it to reveal Constantine, the castle butler. Thanks to the room divider he can’t see us.
“Constantine,” Bridgette greets.
“Bridgette,” Constantine says bowing.
“Are their Highnesses ready? All the guests have arrived.”
Bridgette looks back at me to make sure am ready for the consequences. I nod my head at her. She turns to Constantine.
“Yes, Constantine the princesses are ready and will be heading down soon.”
Constantine bows at her. When he leaves, Bridgette closes the door and turns to me.
“Well it’s now or never,” Ri says and walks up to me.
She takes my hand and puts something in it. I look at her and open my hand. My ring, Nana gave it to me before she died. Father ceased it from me last week when I stole the guard’s map and heard Caroline burn them.
“How did you…”
“A true sister never reveals her secrets”
I laugh at Ri and she joins me. I put on the ring and I pull her in for a hug. Veronica clears her throat. We pull apart and look at her.
“Your Highnesses, it's time.”
As the doors open, I hold Ri’s hand and we leave the room with our head maids and the guards walking ahead of us. We reach the large curtain that is above the royal stairs. The guards at the two entrances of the curtains look at us with shock on their faces. They look at Bridgette and Veronica who are keeping straight faces. I smile at Bridgette knowing she is trying to look cool under pressure. I know she is scared.
“I know you are worried about mother and father blaming you for this but I want you to know that I will be there with you and I won’t let you take the fall for this,” Ri says.
Ri has always been my rock and true, she has never let anything bad happen to me. She has always stood up for me.
“Thank you Ri,” I say and pull her into a tight hug.
Just then the trumpets sound and I grip Ri’s hand tighter. She reciprocates my action as the guards move to draw the curtain. We start walking down the royal stairs and I don’t fail to hear the gasps. The music playing stops and everyone is looking at us. We walk down until we reach our angry father and mother waiting for us at the end of the stairs.
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