The grin seemed to have been wiped off of Alex’s face. Everyone including me, Aaron, grandfather and the Grand Duke stood still, glancing at each other. Everyone had only one question in their mind. What was the princess talking about?
I thought I was good at reading people but all I could think was, nothing made sense, but the princess seemed very confident of her words. It looked as though she had said something perfectly logical, and we should be thanking her for it.
“I don’t understand. Have I done something wrong?” asked Aaron.
“If Aaron has done something wrong, shouldn’t an official letter be delivered about his crimes?” asked Alex. A frowned appeared on the princess’ face.
“An official letter? If the problem is too serious, Aaron might be arrested directly,” said the princess.
I approached Aaron’s side. “Have you met Her Highness before?” I whispered to him.
He shook his head. His face was a mix of awkwardness, distress and fear. Nobles weren’t ever arrested unless they had committed a very serious crime. How could Aaron have committed a crime? Did he steal some restricted book from the academy? I wondered. I couldn’t think of anything Aaron might have done. Aaron was the last person who was capable of committing a crime.
“Your Highness, I think it would be better to wait and talk about this kind of thing after it has been officially announced,” said the Grand Duke. The princess finally looked at him and seemed shocked to find him here. Momentarily, a strange smile appeared on her face and then it disappeared just as soon.
I know that expression.
It had a very primal quality to it. That smile conveyed an animalistic satisfaction just before an enemy is crushed. How did that smile appear on a fifteen-year-old princess’ face while looking at her uncle?
I glanced at the Grand Duke. As if he felt my eyes on him, he turned to me and averted his eyes while directing an awkward smile at me.
As if she perceived the Grand Duke’s gaze, the Princess also turned to look at me. The pretty princess studied me with her eyes as someone who would gauge their enemy. What have I ever done to her?
“Excuse me, Miss Alice Warwick. I am Hugo Duplo, Count of Ayble. Would you like to have a dance with me later…?”
There is always a damned person who cannot ever read the room. The young man who had spoken to me registered the Prescence of the princess and bowed down to her hurriedly.
“Your Majesty, I congratulate you on your 15th anniversary,” he said.
The princess waved him away and turned to the Grand Duke. “Are you trying to turn the Marquess of Wishburn to your cause? I might as well tell you it’s of no use. His loyalties lie with the royal family.”
Aaron and Alex glanced at each other, while grandfather was rubbing his temple at this point. As if sensing the tension, people around also glanced at us. I saw our parents approaching.
The King and the Queen were still seated in their thrones and either didn’t know or care what the princess did.
“I’m not trying to win anyone over. First, the land of Glouster doesn’t need any more people, and I’m not the most sociable person either,” the Grand Duke responded wearily as though this conversation had happened many times before. The princess didn’t seem to believe him.
“Everyone knows about your ambitions, Uncle. Father does too. You can continue with your ways. The situation has twisted a little but not so much. In the end we have to face the truth anyhow.”
My brothers looked at each other, stunned. Grandfather stared at the Princess, too. Noticing everyone’s eyes on her, the princess jutted her chin out and declared, “I already know how this ends. Of course, you wouldn’t believe me just because I say so. But uncle, please do not mess with my people.”
“Anything the matter, Your Highness?” asked my father, who had finally reached us.
The young count next to me was anxious. He seemed to be confused on how he got involved in such a situation. While the princess turned to my father, I gestured to the young man to leave. He nodded and slipped away and disappeared into the crowd. Thick-skin number two.
“Marquess of Wishburn,” said the princess, turning to my father, “Nothing at all! I was telling Aaron that I will stand by him and vouch for him even if his decisions are criticized by others. There is no need to worry.”
“I don’t understand…,” said my father, “Whatever do you mean?”
My father looked puzzled. Give an explanation kid, I thought. Do you like it when you blabber stuff that no one understands? Of course, she does. To know something that no one else knows about holds a certain kind of power.