A.N: I just wanted to thank my reviewer. After reading your review I went over the previous chapters and corrected all the typos and spelling errors I could find. Thank-you for telling me, I hope this makes the story easier to read.
Finally it was the night of the ball. Everyone was excited and rushing about to get ready. Out of the three hags (no wait, I'm going to...swallow grudgingly...change my mind. So that would be TWO hags and one...other person. Look, I have trouble letting go of a grudge, deal with it!) Well, they were in gear that was just as tacky as before. The moment they were gone, my sister rushed outside to the garden to await Lucinda. After catching up with her I shook her slightly.
"Ella! Listen to me. Don't pin all you hopes on the fairy returning. Who's to say that she even knows we need her-"
"Give me some credit will you!" came that wonderfully familiar voice. Both of us turned and grinned at the sight of Lucinda.
"You came!" Ella exclaimed as she ran up and hugged her magical benefactor. The fairy stroked her hair gently for a moment before stepping back a bit.
"Ready to go see your prince?" Ella nodded. With a smile and a few (okay more than a few) spells and waves of her wand, the pumpkin was a carriage again, and the farm animals and I were back in our fancy livery/tack (depending on what you became of course) and Ella was in another beautiful gown. This one was a pale pink with clear sequins down the front, making it look like it twinkled in the moonlight. It also had a glittering silver trim, with matching gloves and also a mask that matched the dress. The style two was a little different. This time it was sleeveless with gloves instead of long sleeves and the bit at the shoulders stuck out only a little in a nice fashion. And once again, glass slippers, although this time I didn't comment.
"Hey Lucinda." I said, walking up to her "Don't get me wrong, I am extremely grateful, but...how did you know?"
"We in the MAGIC business have our ways. But if you ever need me, here." She said sticking her hand up her opposite sleeve and giving me a-a mirror?
"A scrying glass, well, more like a two-way communication device. I have the other one. Whenever you need to talk to me tap it three times and say Lucinda Rosethorn." At my raised eyebrow she shrugged.
"Hey, there are certain, how shall I say it, guidelines, that we have to follow. Its part of the job. Don't have to like it, but since I don't get to make the rules...Oh remember, at midnight the spell will wear off."
And with that we were off again.
This time getting there was MUCH easier. For one thing, the "horses" seemed to have figured out that 'Hey! We're 10 times bigger and stronger with big sharp hooves now! Those cats won't touch us!' Therefore, they were going much better. The cat/footman was also behaving a little; well, at least a little more human which was a start.
I also found it much easier to navigate the palace a second time. (Meaning I got my hands on a sweet little map complete with, yes you guessed it, secret passageways!) I was rather pleased with myself for finding it! Oh all right. I took a wrong turn and ended up in, yeah you got it again, ANOTHER closet. But in my defence, there was water, an un-used mop and tipped bucket involved! Anyway, when I slipped, I knocked over a small chest and the map fell out.
So I ended up in the courtyard again, (although I hadn't necessarily intended to...once again, bad sense of direction!) When I scrambled through the trap door disguised as a large concrete stepping stone I saw that my "friend from last time was just exiting the ballroom. There was no time to hide effectively, but there WAS time to put the stepping-stone back in place, which needless to say, I did. The young man stopped short when he got close enough to recognize me, then smiled arrogantly and walked over.
"Well, well, well." He said snatching my hat off. I let him. He actually had done me a favour. I suppose that Lucinda hadn't gotten everything EXACTLY perfect as the stupid thing had been a size to small and consequently, uh, sort of...stuck.
"Couldn't stay away could you?" he drawled.
"Will you just shut up? It had nothing to do with you so stop acting like your all that! Because newsflash, your not!"
"Do you have any idea who I am?!" he replied testily
"I have a pretty good idea. Fancy throne, long documents needing signatures, important and powerful parents..."
"Newsflash, your not all that." He looked a little taken aback, and then shook his head with a small smile.
"I don't think anyone's ever said that to me."
"Really? Well you clearly need to hear it." I said with a smile of my own.
"I could call the palace guard..." I scoffed.
"You won't do that and both of us know it."
"Only because you've got something of mine." He muttered.
"What you mean this?" I said taking out the paper. He snatched it from me.
"Ha!" he trumpeted. I shook my head and took out another paper, exactly the same the one he held in his hand.
"Nice try. But I came prepared this time. But I won't play this card unless you force me to." He glowered at my aloof, satisfied expression.
Suddenly, before either of us knew it we were sitting on opposite sides of the wall around the garden talking. I was careful not to give anything away that would give him a clue as to who I was, but I found out a lot about him. He was a Prince as I suspected, Crowned Prince Derrick to be exact, cousin to our own Prince Conrad.
"So. What's it like to be royalty?" I asked. Derrick shrugged.
"It's okay I suppose. There are a lot of boring formalities, but I get to do pretty much anything I want."
"Don't get me wrong. It's not all fun and games. I don't have any real control over my life yet. Oh No. That won't happen until I'm King."
"I know what it's like to feel like you have no control over what happens to you." I said quietly. Just then Derrick spoke again.
"Sometimes I wish I could be more like Conrad. He's perfect to my family's point of view. He does what he's told, doesn't argue, it's like he lives in his own little dream world and doesn't see the real picture sometimes. Do you know anyone like that?"
"Ohhh yes. You bet I do. Maybe I'm just pessimistic, but I don't seem to think the way she does. Where she sees magic and dancing and a happy ending, I just saw how many things could go wrong, how many holes there are in a hastily-made plan."
"That's not pessimism, that's practicality." For a mew moments there was silence. He broke it by saying,
"You know who you remind me of?"
"Who? Your mother?"
"Yes actually. She's a very strong and practical woman too. She wanted to be a warrior when she was younger."
"Let me guess. She had to married instead."
"Yes, but not for the reasons you think." He said evenly.
"Oh. So it wasn't because she was a woman?"
"No actually. My grandmother was a warrior. No my mother has a physical ailment."
"Really? What kind?"
"You know the joint disease that the elderly get?"
"My mother was a rare case. She developed it when she was a small child."
"Ouch." I winced in sympathy. Then I looked up at the time. 12 minutes left. I had to get going!
"You know," the prince said, interrupting my thoughts, "I've never talked to anyone like this, except for her that is. She's off negotiating with a powerful kingdom of warriors. She's been away a lot these past few years."
"I-I" I was a little taken aback, but recovered quickly "I have to go. Sorry." I took that opportunity to hop off the wall and start jogging back. I heard Derrick call after me and he caught up when I got to the fountain.
"Hey wait!" He called, grabbing my arm.
"Let go." I said calmly.
"No, I'd like an explanation."
"I told you. I have to go. Now let me go." This time I yanked, but he held firm.
"Not to take a leaf from my cousin, but when will I see you again." I shrugged.
"I don't know. But. Let. Go!" As I said so I pinched the skin between his thumb and forefinger. I knew it hurt, as I had had that done to me once. He let go a little too suddenly though, and we were both thrown off balance. He landed in the thorn bush and I in the fountain. Stupid shoes! They had NO friction. Still, I climbed out quicker and once again escaped him, ducking around some decorative statues and into the secret passage again.
However, this time we weren't fortunate enough to get all the way home before the spell wore off and I had to walk just over 2 miles soaking wet that night. In the rain...through sticky mud...dragging a giant pumpkin behind me.
Needless to say I was NOT in a good mood by the end of the night.
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