“Ivan, please meet Miss Irina.”
Katyusha gestured her hands towards a young girl about his age. She had a large gold necklace with diamonds, and her hair was curled and pulled back. She smiled at Ivan and curtsied.
He tried to smile back.
Katyusha had set up a nice table to seat, with two cups of tea and a sunflower plant at the center. There were cream colored napkins aside each cup with the royal symbol printed on it.
“She is certainly a nice friend of mine, and I would like you to be nice.” Katyusha winked towards him.
Ivan began to understand what was happening, and dreaded it.
“Now why don’t you sit down and get to know each other a little.” Katyusha said leaving the two alone.
“It is an honor to be in your presence, Prince Ivan.” Irina said while sitting down at one end of the table. She began to stir her tea.
“Yes of course…Miss…um…”
“Irina.” The girl said.
“Yes, of course…” Ivan mentally face-palmed.
It was silent for a few moments. Ivan’s mind wandered as he tried to think of what to say. Irina seemed to be waiting for him to talk first, tapping the table impatiently.
Outside door, Katyusha and one of the palace’s maids listened closely, both of them with one ear on the door.
“They aren’t saying anything.” whispered the maid. She peeked through a tiny crack. ”They’re just sitting there.”
Katyusha frowned.”I did not know it would be this challenging. We have tried so many times to find him a girl to marry, but he never seems to like any of them the Royal court and I agree to choose for him.”
The maid looked at at Katyusha,”How were the last ladies like?”
She thought for a moment,”Well, they were all from wealthy families, and had a good status and appearance…”
The maid interrupted,”Well maybe your not looking for the right kind of girl for him. What if he does not want a girl for her looks or riches?”
Katyusha sighed,”I guess you are right, but the Kingdom would just simply not allow or accept the girl if she were some maid or a peasant. That would give the Kingdom and Ivan a bad reputation…”
The maid looked at her with disgust,” Katyusha, I cannot believe you just said that. You can’t judge a book by it’s cover. All these rules of having the Prince limited to only marry some spoiled rich girl. I hope he DOES marry a maid, or some peasant. I bet she would make a wonderful Princess.” She stormed of with her broom and began to sweep again.
“I come from a very wealthy family, Prince Ivan.” Irina assured him.
“Yes, you have addressed that to me already now.” Ivan said, trying to sound polite. He wish he had his scarf on so he could just bury his face into it. She really did not seem interesting at all to him so far.
“Oh, I have? I’m sorry,” Irina began to laugh., nearly spitting out her tea,”Being rich is everything right? It’s what a prince should look for in his future wife.” Ivan awkwardly chuckled.
“No, of course not,” Ivan said,“I really don’t mind if-”
“I must say,” she said flicking back her curls,”You have an absolutely gorgeous palace. What is like to live here?”
Ivan blinked as the light reflected off the diamond on her necklace into his eyes,
“Well, I see it everyday, for my entire life, so it’s just normal for me.” he said with a shrug,”but it would be wonderful to live in a warmer place with fields of sunflowers…” he said gazing at the sunflower on the table.
“What do you mean?” Irina asked,”It’s every persons dream to live in a palace like this! To be royalty! To have all the riches, the dresses, the power…”
Ivan smiled and pretended to agree with her,” Right…it was silly of me to think of that, I…already have everything…” he felt sadness wash over him.
“So, what do you think of the lower class?” Irina asked.
Ivan didn’t know much about the less fortunate people outside the kingdom. He has seen them on a few occasions when he had to go and give speeches or travel through the villages.
“Well, I can’t really say,” he said awkwardly,” but I’m sure they are nice people-”
Irina giggled,”Oh, of course you don’t know. What a silly question of me to ask. You’re the Prince, I should know you don’t mingle with those worthless commoners.”
“Worthless…commoners?” Ivan asked.
“Of course,” Irina replied sipping her tea,”That’s what my daddy calls them, and I couldn’t agree more. You see them on the streets, the peasants, the poor, in there nasty, run down villages. They are so gross. It makes you wonder if they even wash themselves. They’re uneducated and good for nothing but work. Your very lucky that you haven’t actually met one before, ugh. When I do become princes I‘ll be sure that they do nothing but work.”
Ivan felt his stomach become queasy.
”Irina, it was nice meeting you.” he stood up and opened to door,”I think you should be leaving now.”
Irina sat straight up, knocking over her tea,”What!? You think you can just throw me out just like that? I am rich! I am pretty! You should want me! I am the future Princess!”
She began to throw a fit like a child. Ivan rolled his eyes,
”Guards! Please escort Irina out to her carriage.” Ivan watched as two large men came and took her be each arm.
“You will PAY for this Prince Ivan!” She yelled with anger.
“I am supposed to be the Princess!”
Ivan sighed and adjusted his crown. He stepped out into the large hallway and saw Katyusha walking toward him with a smile. “So how did it go?”
Ivan glared at her,”Katyusha, you know I hate when you set up these ‘surprise meetings’ to meet a girl I have never met before, and then expect me to marry her!”
Her smile dissolved,”I’m sorry, Ivan. I was just trying to do what was best for you…and the Kingdom…” her words slowed near the end of her sentence as she thought about what the maid had said.
Ivan looked at her,”I’m sorry for yelling. It’s just that I want to marry someone that I love, not for how much money they have.”
Katyusha looked down at the shiny, marbled floor. “I understand…” she felt guilty for putting her brother through all this.
“Katyusha, I think I should go and find her myself.”
She looked at him in surprise.”What do you mean?”
“I want to go and find her myself, Katyusha. What is not to understand?” he said with a laugh.
“But Ivan,” she said with concern in her voice,”You cannot. It’s the rules that the Royal Court must choose for you a lady of nobility. You can’t just go and pick anyone. Besides, you cannot even go outside the palace!”
Ivan grinned,”Then I guess some rules must be broken. I want to have happy life with a girl I love, and I will find her starting early tomorrow morning.”
He began to turn up the stairs. Katyusha was disappointed, because she knew there was no way in changing his mind.
Katyusha held out her arm,” I know I should not allow this…but I will for the sake of your happiness.” she said with a soft smile.
Ivan smiled back at her.”Thank you, Katyusha,” he paused for a moment,
”You will probably be sleeping when I leave, so I will tell you that I will try to return before midnight at Winter Festival. Even if I don’t find her…”
“Don’t say that, Ivan,” Katyusha said, ” You WILL find her and we could have great ball where you shall dance with her under the moonlight. It shall be a great celebration.”
Ivan blushed,”I would hope that would happen…”
Katyusha smiled,”You never know…I wish you good luck, Ivan”
The two said their goodnights to each other as it began to snow and the clock tower chimed outside the palace.
It was very early, and cold.. The sky was a blend of soft blues, violets and pinks. (Name) watched as her breath came out of her mouth like smoke. She looked back at her house for a moment, which was now a distance away. She remembered the letter she had left for her step sisters and step mother;
To my family,
I have decided to go out and find my own life. I don’t know where I will go, or where I will end up. I know I might have always got in the way. I know I may have never done a good enough job, and I am sorry to have disappointed you.
It was a little short, but (Name) couldn’t really think of anything else to write. She had dreams, and she wanted to go and make them come true. Her life at home was just not an option for her anymore.
She continued on her path, listening to the few birds that began to chirp. She began to hum a melody to herself.
(Name) had to admit to herself that she was a little nervous and scared. She had never been out herself before. She had always been inside her house, doing chores. There were times when she would take walks by herself, but she was always scolded by her step mother afterwards. She did have a few friends at a very young age…before her step mother and sisters moved in. On that day, she was never allowed to play with them again. She never saw them again, either. (Name) assumed that they moved away.
It wasn’t fair because as they grew older, step mother would always allow her step sisters to go out with their friends. (Name) knew better not to complain, or her step mother would give her twice as much chores more.
(Name) took out the piece of bread she had in her basket and began to munch on it.
She really had no plan, or any idea where she would go. After pondering, she decided that going into the city would be her first destination. Looking at the piece of bread in her hand, she thought maybe she could be the baker’s assistant at the bread shop to earn money.
Unfortunately, she had one problem. (Name) had no idea where the town was.
She stopped in her tracks for a moment. There was no way she would go back to her house.
’I guess I can ask for directions,’ she thought to herself, but there seemed to be nobody around this early. A few leaves floated in the breeze ahead of her, and as she blinked, a dark figure had appeared.
(Name) felt her heart jump in surprise. It seemed to be walking to her. There was a smaller figure walking next to it, and it appeared to be a cat…wearing a top hat?
As the two walked in to the sunlight, (Name) saw it was a woman in a black hooded robe with her cat. She could she that she had blonde hair and glasses. She had the same bright green eyes has her cat. The cat had light colored fur with an orange/brown spot on one of its eyes.
“Good morning, dear.” she greeted (Name) with a smile. The lady had a weird accent.
“A little lost, are we?”
(Name) took a step back. She should have known that she would run into weird strangers.
“Um, yes, I mean, no I know exactly where I’m going!”
The cat went to (Name) and rubbed against her legs with a meow.
“No need to feel frightened, dear. I’m here to help you. I know you ran away from your family.”
(Name) looked up to her with surprise. “H-how…?”
The lady smiled, ”You can call me Ms. Kirkland. I am your fairy godmother.”