I don't wake up until we're nearly to Rowan, and when I do, Gabriel has one of the flight attendants get me some food, steak, potatoes and salad, all of which are delicious, and very filling. I quietly thank him, and he just gives me a small smile. He is holding my spell book carefully, still reading through it.
"There are some great spells in here we can work on, Aria." Gabriel tells me, with a goofy grin on his face. "Some of it takes complete concentration, so that, overall, will help you with your magic."
"Sounds great." I say. I glance at the spell book again. "You know something weird? It's been forever since I've actually tried anything in it, much less read through it. My father would have told me I'm not grateful for the gifts I possess, and I should use them to my advantage."
"How old were you when he died?" Gabriel's voice is a whisper, but it's full of concern.
"I was only 4 years old." I say, my voice choked. "I can still remember the smell of his aftershave, and the timbre of his voice when he sang to me, and when he let me use his wand to practice with, for when I finally got my powers. My mother hated it. She didn't want me to be close to him."
"She was just jealous because your father loved you more than he loved her. That's how it's supposed to be though. You're supposed to love your children more than anyone else in the world." Gabriel tells me.
"Yeah, that's how I'd like to be." My voice is quiet now. "She broke his wand in front of me when I was 5, to prove to me she was the boss, that I had to do as she said."
"She is so horrible. There has to be someone else you could live with." Gabriel says. His face is thoughtful, his eyes kind, but I see something else in his expression, something I can't comprehend. I just have a feeling that he's thinking about something very important and life changing.
"There's no one. I don't know any of my father's family, and my mother is an orphan." I say. "And even if I did know my father's family, they'd probably hate my mother too and would think I'm just like her and not want me around."
"Don't worry. We'll think of something." Gabriel reassures me. "I have my ways of figuring everything out."
"I hope so." I whisper, and glance across the aisle, staring at Kesheva and Cleopatra. Kesheva and Cleopatra watch me with curious looks on their feline faces, and when Kesheva winks at me and grins, his long, pointy, rounded teeth show, and I blush scarlett. Staring is impolite, and I glance down at my lap, worried I might end up making an enemy just by staring.
"Don't worry. I will." He gives my hand a gentle squeeze. The pilot announces we are landing and I clip my seat belt, and Gabriel clips his. The descent is gradual and smooth, and soon we've landed. Everyone slowly exits the jet, and all of our luggage is taken for us to the palace. Gabriel holds onto my hand as we exit, and step out into the sunlight. A small gathering of people are awaiting us. The sun is bright and harsh, the wind is but a gentle breeze, and the best and worst part is seeing Gabriel's parents for the first time. Gabriel looks a lot like both of his parents. His height and muscle comes from his father, Phillip, who is dark haired and has grey eyes. He has a kind face, but I can also see that he looks a lot older than the last photo that had been taken of him, clearly meaning that he's lived a harsh life, but that he is still kind and soft hearted. I let go of Gabriel's hand, hiding behind him and among the other villians and heros kids.
"Mother, father." Gabriel says, smiling. "I believe introductions are in order. After each one of you is introduced, you may go with the staff, and they'll take you and your luggage to your room."A woman begins to read the list of names, and each son or daughter curtseys to the King and Queen, then allows themselves to be led to their rooms, luggage in hand."Daughter of Prince Ferdinand and Princess Snow White, Cera."
"Daughter and son of Prince Henry and Princess Cinderella, Lia and David."
"Son of Anastasia, Henry."
"Son and daughter of Cruella de Vil, Lawrence and Drucilla."
"Son and daughter of Scar, Taka. Kesheva and Cleopatra."
"Son of Hades and Meg, Rolland."
"Daughter of the Evil Queen, Maureen."
"Daughter and son of Shang and Mulan, Daiyu and Ping."
"Son of Ursula, Uriah."
"Son and daughter of Princess Rapunzel and Prince Eugene, Flynn and Ella."
"Son of Princess Belle and Prince Adam, Rephaim."
"Son of Gaston and Esmeralda, Lucian."
And last, "Daughter of King William and Maleficent, Aria."
I peek out from behind Gabriel, who moves out of the way, taking my hand and keeping me close to him. I curtsey, then bow, my eyes down. The silence is deafening, and I look around to see who will be taking me to my room, in hopes of escaping quickly. I meet eyes with Gabriel's parents.
"You won't be going to your room right away, Aria." Gabriel tells me. "We have plans first. After we talk to my parents, that is."I blush, shaking my head.
"It's alright," Phillip says. "Hello, my dear. It's a pleasure to finally meet you."
That's the strangest part of this whole mess. I gasp, and Gabriel just smiles at me."It's a pleasure to meet you, Your Highness." I duck my head again, embarrassing myself already.
"Oh no, no. You don't have to do that." Phillip says. "Please, you're our guest, and you deserve respect just as much as the rest of us here. Isn't that right, dear?" He looks at his wife who is watching me with interest.
"Indeed." She says. I meet her eyes, and she smiles. "Hello, Aria. I'm glad you could come visit for the summer. If you need anything, please do not hesitate to ask, darling. We want you to feel welcome here."
"Thank you." I whisper.
"Well, now that that is settled, we have plans, Mother, Father. I shall see you guys in a little over an hour." Gabriel tells his parents, and they nod. "Come along, Aria." Gabriel takes my hand and motions for one of the staff to grab my sole bag.When we're far enough from his parents, I sigh, my breath catching in my throat.
"They don't hate me." I say.
"What did you expect? That they'd have pitchforks and torches? Of course they don't hate you, Aria. They don't know you yet. I'll admit my mother hadn't been happy when I said I wanted you to come here, but she hasn't been that kind to someone in ages. I think she likes you already." Gabriel leads me to the palace, and to a room off to the right. My first thought when I enter the palace is I'd never thought I'd ever get to be in a place as magnificent as this. My second thought is that I don't belong in a place like this. A woman with a tape measure is waiting for us, and I give Gabriel a questioning look. "Celeste is a royal semestress of ours, one of the best, I might add. I thought you might feel better if you had some new clothes."
My heart leaps in my chest. I hadn't had new clothes, clothes that hadn't belonged to someone before me, since my father died. The clothes I'm wearing are horrendous, just as the ones in my suitcase are. I know the look on my face is enough for Gabriel to know how thankful I am, and I blush, trying to get the words out to convey what I'm feeling.
"I, you, Gabriel." I blush brighter.
"I know, your welcome." He hugs me then, and I hug him back, tears trailing down my face. When he pulls back he wipes away my tears, and kisses my cheek. I glance down at my feet, and Gabriel turns to Celeste. "Measure away, please." He smiles at her and she smiles back, asking me to hold out my arms and legs.
"My, my you're tiny darling. How old are you? 9 or 10? Do your parents know you're here?" She asks, very talkative.
"I'm 17." I whisper. "And my mom knows.""17, ah, getting close to you're coming of age ball, aren't you? Yes, you'll look wonderful for that as well."
"I'm not a princess." I say. "I don't get a ball."
Celeste's cheeks turn red and Gabriel says "Maybe questions are best for later." His voice is kind, and Celeste nods, and begins to measure my arms and legs, my torso, my neck and chest, and my feet.
"I'll have some stuff shipped over before dinner so you have plenty of stuff for the next few days, and by then, I'll have months of clothes supplied for you. Prince Gabriel has already informed me of everything you need."I nod, and thank her."I think I know the perfect colors for you as well. I'll get right to work, Prince Gabriel."
Gabriel steers me away from her, and we walk to another room, and a man is waiting with a cell phone."Ah, Prince Gabriel. I have the phone you requested, and the contract has been paid 3 years in advance, as well as all of the contacts you asked for." The man says.
"Thank you, Horatio." Gabriel smiles, and hands it to me. Inside the little box, the phone is powered on, as if waiting for me, and the charger is inside, along with an instructions manual.
"What color case would you like, miss?" Horatio asks me, and my eyes widen. I glance at the table sitting in the middle of the room. "You can take as many as you like."
Gabriel nods at me, and I step forward, picking out three different cases, one in green, one in blue, and one in purple."Thank you, sir." I say, and he bows to me, and Gabriel leads me out of the room. "Why are you doing all of this. I don't need all of this..." I trail off.
"Aria, I want you to have everything you want, everything you need, everything you deserve." Gabriel stops walking and I stop beside him, facing him.
"Why?" I whisper."Because... it's about time someone treats you how you should be treated. Wendy is nice and all, but she's fully human. We're not. We're different. The magic in us will forever divide us from them. She may be your friend, but even she didn't help you when you really need it. I want to give you everything." Gabriel tells me. "I don't want you to ever feel worthless or unwanted, unneeded, or even helpless again. You said you deserve how your mother treats you and you're wrong. You deserve much better than that." His voice is calm, but I see the fire in his blue eyes. He truly believes what he's saying. "You deserve everything I'm giving you. And you're not going to try to give any of it back."
I nod, whispering "Thank you, Gabriel." I hug him again, and his arms warp around my waist, holding me close.
"You're welcome, Aria." When he lets me go, he gives me a small smile. "I can show you your room now, if you'd like."
"Yes, please. Thank you." I tell him, holding the box with the phone in it close. He is still carrying my bag, and we walk to a room on the second floor, and when he opens the doors, I gasp at how magnificent it is. "Oh my goodness." I say, awestruck.
"I thought this would be the best room for you." He tells me. "I'm guessing you like it?"
"Like it? No." I say shaking my head. He looks surprised, the smile fading into a frown and I quickly say "I love it." He smiles again then.
"I'm glad." He tells me. He sets my bag down by the bed, and puts my spell book on the bedside table. "I also have a surprise for you in the morning, so I hope you don't mind getting up at 9:30."
"A surprise?" I ask, and he nods. "I don't mind. But haven't you done enough for me already?"
"Not until you're happy." He says. "And by happy, I mean the happiest you have ever been before." His face is full of emotion, and I look down at the floor.
"You don't have to make sure I'm happy. It's not required." I tell him.
"Aria, I know it's not required." Gabriel reassures me. "But I need you to be happy. I want you to be happy. And I promise this surprise is going to be the best one you've ever gotten."
"What is it?" I ask."Wouldn't be a surprise if I told you." He reminds me, chuckling
."Right." I say, blushing.
"Oh, you have a private bath and a balcony as well." He pulls open a door leading to the bathroom, a huge one I might add, with a walk in shower and everything. The door to the balcony he also opens, and when I step outside, I can see miles and miles away, and I smile. It's beautiful. We close the doors after walking back inside. "Anything else you need, you just have to call me and I'll have it arranged." Gabriel tells me. I take the phone of the box, slipping the green case onto it. I click the button on the top, and the touch screen lights up. "I put my number in it, your home phone number, Wendy's number and Celeste's number, just in case you have any last minute preparations that need done. We have a lot of parties and balls here." He says.
"Thank you." I say, smiling."Oh, and there's also a laptop, and wifi in the room as well." He points out the laptop and charger sitting on a plush couch on one side of the room. "If you get hungry, and want a snack before dinner, all you have to do is push the intercom button, and tell the head chef what you'd like, and he'll have it up within 10 minutes." Gabriel shows me the button by the door, and I nod when I see it. "Anything else you can call me." He tells me. "Do you need any help with anything?" He asks.
"No." I shake my head. "Thank you though."
"You don't have to keep saying it." He hugs me a bit tighter than before, and I feel so safe in his arms. "Oh, um, the bruises. Did you want to have the doctor check them out after dinner?" Gabriel asks with concern.
"I doubt theirs anything a doctor could do..." I trail off.
"She's a witch. She can easily heal them for you." Gabriel says, and I nod. "Good. Well, I have to go talk to my parents and see how everyone else is settling in. If you have any problems or need anything you know who to call." His smile is big and bold and I smile and nod. I don't know what else to say, and he let's go of me, going for the door. "Take it easy, Aria." He says before walking out the door, closing it behind him. I am, at last, for the first time in my life, all alone.
When I walk into my parents room, knocking on the door, my parents smile at me.
"Hey honey. How'd your 'plans' go?" They ask me.
"Fine. I have Celeste making her some clothes, and she's having some shipped for her before dinner for the next couple of days so she can work on the clothes she's making. I also gave her the phone, and showed her how stuff worked in her room and everything." I say, taking a seat in a chair. "I figured you'd want to talk."
"How in the world can she be Maleficent's daughter!?" Mom bursts out. "That girl is so tiny and quiet and shy. And on top of that respectful! There's no way Maleficent could raise a daughter like that."
"I know she's tiny. She doesn't eat very much." I say. "A lot of the time, her mother doesn't even give her money for lunch at school. I've been making her eat some of my food."
"You really care for her don't you, son?" Dad asks and I nod. "Can't her mother afford to feed and dress her? The poor girls clothes don't fit and their torn. I know Maleficent has money."
"She doesn't like Aria." I tell him, and he nods. "Aria isn't the girl her mother wants her to be. She's quiet, and shy, yes. But she, like I told you, has
trouble with her magic. Her mother abuses her." I say, looking between the two of them. "Oh how awful." My mother says. "That poor girl."
"I might have a talk with Maleficent about this." Dad says.
"No you will not. Maleficent has the worst temper, Phillip. We can't confront her. She's too powerful with magic."
"You guys... I think Aria just needs practice with her magic. She could be powerful if we helped her. She'd be able to get away from her mother. She does turn 18 this summer." I remind them.
"Oh, yes. We'll have to throw her a coming of age ball." Mom says.
"But..she's not a princess." I remind Mom.
"Yes she is. Sort of." Mom says, and I give her a strange look. "What I mean is...William Goodkin was a king...of the Faeries. Or should I say, one of the kings. Like we have lots of kings, queens, princesses, and princes, so do the Fae. William Goodkin was king over the Seelie's."
"Seelie's?" I ask.
"The good Faeries. The Unseelie were the bad ones. Like Maleficent. Maleficent wasn't very high up in ranking, a noble at best, but not royalty. Each Faerie Court, Seelie and Unseelie, has 12 kingdoms, 12 families who are royalty. William was the highest ranking Fae King in all of the Seelie kingdoms. Aria, as the daughter of him, is rightfully a Princess. I take it she doesn't know about this either does she?" Mom asks.
I shake my head. "She doesn't know anything about her father's side of the family. She knows her mother is an orphan though."
"Poor child. So much has been kept from her." Dad says. "We have neighbors who are related to William. His brother and sister, his parents, and his other two children, who are quite a few years older than Aria. Perhaps it would be good for her to meet them."
"Good idea." Mom says. "We can even have a supervised meeting.""That would be great." I say.
"But...I should tell her first, shouldn't I?" I ask.
"Yes, we don't want her to be embarrassed in front of them because she didn't know about them." Mom says. "She seems so fragile."
"She is. I wasn't lying when I said her mother abuses her. She hits her and pushes her and even uses magic on her." I tell them. "She has bruises and you guys seen the clothes her mother makes her wear, and how little she is."
"You care for her more than you told us." Mom whispers.
"Yeah." I reply. "We're only friends, but... I love her. For so long, I wanted to be friends with her, to get to know her."
"And now you have, and you don't know where to go from there." Dad replies, nodding. "I think maybe it'll be good for you to spend time with her. Make sure she knows how to use her magic as well. She'll need it if she ever is going to protect herself from her mother."
"I know. I will." I say. "You guys aren't still mad about me wanting to bring her here are you?"I ask, "I know you guys said it was fine for the others to come, but I know it was hard to decide that she could come."
"I'm not mad." Mom says. "Not now. Not after I've seen her, and seen how she is. The poor girl probably thought I'd hate her...I thought I'd hate her. But you're right. She's nothing like her mother. She may have the dark hair and green eyes like her mother does, but they look nothing alike. She looks like her father. And I must say, while she's fragile, she's also very, very beautiful. Her hair is so long and thick and curly, and her eyes are so much lighter than her mother's."
"So light they seem to glow." I nod. "I know. And she's so sweet and kind."
"I seen that." Mom replies. "It's too bad she was raised by her mother and not her father. He absolutely doted on his children."
"Yeah, she loved him very much." I say. "If there's nothing else you guys wanted to discuss, I was going to go check on the rest of our guests."
All of this talk about Aria has made me feel worse, and I want to do all I can to make her feel the way she should feel. She should love herself as much as her father loved her...as much as I love her.
"Sounds like a fine idea, son." Dad says and I smile. I give them both a hug, and excuse myself from the room.
Not long after I lay down on the bed, there is a knock at the door, and curious, I get up to answer it. I step back in shock when I see Kesheva and Cleopatra watching me with large, soulful cat eyes, their heads tilted to the side.
"Hey." I say, stepping back a few more steps, holding the doors open further so they can come in, then close the doors behind them. I sit down on the bed, motioning for them to sit as well.
"We just wanted to ask if you'd like to be friends." Cleopatra sits close beside me, and I smile.
"I'd love that." I smile. "Thank you." I whisper.
"No problem." Kesheva says, smiling back. "You seem really cool and nice, so why not, eh?" He asks, and I notice he has a slight accent, something that sounds maybe Wales or English.
"You guys seem a lot cooler than me," I say. "Not to mention you guys are both gorgeous."
"You're not so bad yourself." Cleopatra says, winking at me. "And not to mention the fact that Prince Gabriel is totally in love with you. What spell did you use on him? You must be killer at magic to get him that in love with you."
"I,um, I didn't use magic on him. I suck at magic. And he doesn't love me. He doesn't even really like me like that." I know my cheeks are scarlett.
"Nonsense. You're probably just scared of what your magic can do. Soon enough, you'll get used to your magic and you'll be able to do anything. And believe me, Prince Gabriel is in love with you. Am I right, Kesh?"
"Yes, too bad though. Cause I think you're really cute and would love to date you." Kesheva says, and my cheeks brighten even more.
"I, um..."I trail off, and Cleopatra shoves her brother.
"Don't embarrass her. She's not your type anyways. She's too good for you, Kesh."
"Thanks, that's a real confidence and self esteem boost, Cleo." Kesheva says, playfully shoving her back.
"Are you guys..." I trail off.
"Twins?" They ask together. "Yeah. How could you tell?"
I whisper "You just act like it."
"Well, I guess so." Cleopatra says, grinning. "Don't worry, we love each other. Just don't let anyone know we're this cool with each other."
"Yeah, it'd ruin our reputation if everyone found out we get along so well." Kesheva says.
"By the way.. I'm not too good for you... I just..." I trail off, unsure of how to put it.
"You just don't like anyone but Gabriel." He smiles, not hurt one bit."Is it that obvious?" I whisper.
"No, he hasn't noticed it. But he loves you already so it's not that big of a deal, Aria." Kesheva says. "And anyways, it's alright. He's not a bad guy. He actually cares about you a lot. Even his parents know that. Even though you're Maleficent's daughter, you're not evil."
"Yeah... I'm the least evil person ever." I say. "According to Gabriel, he can see my aura, and it's gold, more so than anyone he's met."
"Well, he'd be right about that. You're pretty special."Cleopatra says, grinning."Not really. I'm pretty much below average."
"Nope." Kesheva says. "You're way above average." His voice is quiet and kind and his face is stretched in a smile.
"Anyways," Cleopatra says. "How did your mother react when you told her you wanted to come here during summer?"
"Badly." I roll my eyes. "She's a pain."
"I bet." Kesheva says in a funny tone. "She has a nasty temper doesn't she?"
"Yes." I say, my voice making it clear that I don't want to get into it.There's another knock on the door, and I get up to answer it. Celeste is standing with another woman, and there are boxes sitting on the floor.
"Your clothes, m'dear." Celeste says smiling, and I open the door wider for her, and the two women bring the clothes it. "I wanted to see what you think would be best for dinner tonight." She tells me, and I nod, glancing at Kesheva and Cleopatra.
"I'll be seeing you later," Kesheva says, winking at me, and he glances at his sister. "Why don't you stay and help. Some girl bonding would be great for you."
"Of course." Cleopatra grins, and her brother scoots out the door, closing it behind him.Celeste shows me some of the things she chose, and I smile. The color's are mostly greens, blacks and various shades of violet and rose. All of them will look great on me.There are quite a few dresses for special occassions and I pick a seafoam green one that will look amazing on me.They tell me to take a shower, then they'll help me dress.The shampoo, conditioner, and soap is all so expensive, it shocks me. I've always used the crappy, cheap kind my mother got me. Immediately, I feel the difference, and it relaxes me. After I dry off, I wrap the towel around me, and walk out of the bathroom. I feel completely exposed, but I realize it's necessary.Celeste has me put on a matching set of sea foam green panties and bra, both lace, and Cleopatra points at the bruises on my side after they all remark at how thin I am.
"What happened?" She asks.
"My mother." Is all I say, and they all remain quiet. They help me into the dress, zipping the back of it easily, and I remark about how soft the material is.
"Only the best, Prince Gabriel informed me." Celeste says, and Cleopatra winks at me, making me blush. Celeste hands me a pair of small black flats. "I had to guess on the size, but a 5 seemed perfect." I slip them on and nod. They fit perfectly.
I smile and thank her.
"You look beautiful." Celeste, Cleopatra and the other lady, Amanda, says.I blush brighter, and Celeste asks Cleopatra "Do you know how to use a hair dryer properly, and fix her hair nicely?"
"Yes, and I'll be happy to do it." Cleopatra grins
."Alright, well, all of your clothes are here. I have the boxes labeled so you know what is in what box." Celeste says. "And I'm going to get to work on your other clothes, too."
"Thank you." I say again, and impulsively give her a hug.
"You're welcome, my dear." She hugs me back. "Well, I'll be leaving you girls to finish up."
The two women leave, and Cleopatra says "Gabriel got you clothes?"
"Guess he felt sorry for me." I say.
"No, I think he just wants you to have everything possible. He really, really likes you. He probably also thinks you should dress like the rest of us, instead of dressing in the stuff your mom makes you wear because she hates you. He wants you to feel like you belong."
"You think so?"
"Yeah. Plus, you're a princess, you should look like one everyday."
"I'm not a princess."
"Yes you are. You're William Goodkin's daughter, aren't you?" Cleopatra asks, leading me to the bathroom, and pulling out the hair dryer.
"Yes." I say, giving her a questioning look. She doesn't turn on the hair dryer at once. Instead we talk.
"He was a king, one of the 12 Seelie Faerie kings." Cleopatra says.
"He was?" I ask, confused. There was so much I didn't know about my family."Yes. I don't know much more about him though, except that he has two kids other than you."
"I have siblings?"
"Half siblings. Not your mother's kids." Cleopatra says. "You have as much of a birthright to the thrown as they do, but I doubt you'd want to rule a Faerie kingdom. It's brutal. They kill without mercy."
"Everyone says my mom killed my dad." I whisper. "Do you know if it's true?"
She shakes her head. "I'm not sure.""Hmm. Are any of them here? My dad's family, I mean?"
"Some of them live on the edge of Gabriel's parents kingdom. But none of them are within it. They'll come for the parties and balls though. They apparently are good friends with Gabriel's parents."
"Does he know?" I ask.
"I don't know. I doubt it, though. Most of the hero's kids don't pay much attention to the villians kids. Makes me wonder why Gabriel is so in love with you." Cleopatra says. The look on my face must be as hurt as I'm feeling, because she quickly says "I'm sure it's because you're so nice and sweet and amazing."
"Sure." I say.
"Hey, I wasn't trying to hurt your feelings. I was just saying the way the hero's kids treat the rest of us. They don't pay us much attention, so usually they won't even speak to us. I'm not saying Gabriel has alterior motives, just that you two must have a special connection."
I blush, and she smiles. "I must admit, there is something there."
"Do you love him?" Cleopatra asks me.
"I don't know... I do have feelings for him, but he never paid much attention to me until last week." I say.
"Seriously? He's always watching you. During lunch, in the halls, in class." Cleopatra says. "You just didn't notice. He's liked you a while."
"You're in my classes?" I ask.
"Actually, Kesh is." Cleopatra says. "But only two of them. He is in your drama class, as well as your English class."
"I never noticed." I say, glancing at her.
"That's because you're quiet and shy. The only people you talked to were the teachers and that human girl, Wendy." I detect a note of jealousy.
"Wendy doesn't know about my magic." I say. "And anyways, if you wanted to be friends, all you had to do was ask." I say, honestly. "I would have said yes, immediately. It's nice being able to actually talk to someone about everything."
"We should have asked." She agrees. "Gabriel's not the only one whose crushing on you though." Cleopatra raises her eyebrows, and I squint, unsure of what she means.
"You mean...your brother?" I ask, and she nods.
"Don't worry. He wouldn't want to talk about it anyways. I think he figured out that you like Gabriel." She tells me."
Oh." I blush, and she chuckles.
"Don't worry about it." She repeats. "Now, your hair." She helps me dry it, and then she says, "Hmm. I think we should just let it stay down, it will curl up pretty quickly, since you have natural curls."
"Yeah." I agree."I can't believe how long and healthy your hair is." Cleopatra tells me. "How in the world is it to your waist and this healthy?
""I don't know." I blush. "All I do is wash it, but I haven't had it cut since I was 4."
"4, seriously?" She asks.
"My dad was the last person to cut my hair." I say, hugging myself tightly.
"Oh." Now she's speechless. "I'm sorry." She says.
"Do you want make up? I've never seen you wear any, and you're so gorgeous you won't need it." Cleopatra says.
"Um.. eyeliner and mascara would be nice." I say.
"Blush?" She asks and I nod.She grabs it out from the cabinet and applies it expertly to my face.
"I don't think lipstick would be good on you, but maybe a clear gloss?" She asks.
"That'd be fine." I say, and she applies it as well.
"Beautiful." She says, pulling me over to the full length mirror. I gasp when I see my reflection. I've always been very, very pale, but with the blush on my cheeks, I now have some color. The liner around my eyes, applied thinnly and expertly, and the mascara makes my already full, and long eyelashes longer and thicker, and makes my light green eyes pop, and the shampoo and conditioner and made my hair bouncy and much more soft, and the curls are amazing. The green dress looks amazing on me, and I look gorgeous. I look like...a princess.
"That's an understatement." I whisper. "I look...so different."
"No, you look the same as always. Gorgeous." She hugs me and I hug her back. "Gabriel will be shocked when he sees you though. You look like a princess for sure."
"Not to mention Kesh..."I trail off.
"Oh, he's not going to be shocked. He knows you're a princess, and has always thought you were gorgeous. But he will be watching you most of the night, I'll assure you of that." Cleopatra says.
"You think?" I ask.
"Hun, I know he will." Cleopatra chuckles. "He and I are twins. He really adores you. He'll definitely watch you."I blush, and she laughs loudly.
"Well then." I whisper.Another knock sounds on the door, and I answer it. It's a woman, and she says the two of us should come with her so we're not late for dinner.Since Cleopatra is already in a nice dress, we go along with the woman, right to dinner. Everyone is there, and everyone is dressed so nicely. But then again, this is how most of them dress all of the time. I spot Maureen across the table, and the look she gives me is a shocked one, and then she sneers. I look away. Instead, I glance around the room, noticing the crystal chandeliers that hold candles for soft light, light that is much, much more comfortable for my eyes. The low lighting also makes it a much more relaxing place, and I notice how it makes my wings brighter and they shimmer softly as well. The music is harp as well as piano and violin, and it's very, very soothing. My hair falls around me comfortably, and when I spot Gabriel across the room, I smile.
He walks towards us, and says "Would you ladies like to sit with my parents and myself?"
I nod and Cleopatra asks "Can Kesheva join us?"
"Of course," He says with a smile, looking around to find him. Kesheva strides over, and smiles at me when he sees the way I'm dressed.
"Ladies, Prince Gabriel." He says politely.
"Please join us for dinner." Gabriel tells Kesheva and he nods, and the four of us walk over to where Gabriel's parents are sitting.
"Your majesties." Cleopatra curtseys and the rest of us, other than Gabriel, curtsey as well. They smile and nod, and the four of us sit down, and the talk begins. I sit there quietly, waiting for dinner to be served.The waitstaff bring our food to us, I eat slowly and calmly, happy that all of the food tastes good.
"How are you enjoying the palace, Aria?" Aurora asks, smiling.
"It's amazing, Your Highness." I say. "I've never been in such a wonderful place."
"Well, you are welcome here, and at our house in Montana anytime." She says, and gives Gabriel a look.
"Aria, my parents told me something I think you should know. Your father, William Goodkin, was one of the 12 Seelie Kings." Gabriel says in a calm clear voice.
"Um, yeah. Cleopatra told me. Is there any way I can meet my father's family?" I ask.
"Of course, darling." Aurora says, her blue eyes sparkling. "We can set up the meeting any time you want. They are probably a lot better than your mother. In fact, they actually are very nice."
"They are?" I ask.
"Yes. I can see if they'll come after lunch tomorrow if you'd like." Aurora tells me.
"That'd be lovely, Your Highness."
"Darling, please. There is no need for you to call me your highness. You can call me Aurora and you can call my husband Phillip."
"Are you sure?" I ask, my cheeks red.
"Of course." Phillip and Aurora say at the same time.
"Alright. Thank you." I say, and continue eating.
Under the table, I feel a hand take my free one. I glance at Gabriel and see it's him that took my hand. He smiles and gives my hand a small squeeze. I smile back, giving his hand what I would think is a hard squeeze, but to him, it's probably a small squeeze. His fingers then lace with mine, and I gasp inaudibly, then glance around. The only person watching is Kesheva and he doesn't seem mad or upset at all. I give him a small smile and he smiles back. I look down at the table, and finish eating slowly. Then it's time for desert. Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Delicious and very, very sweet.After desert, Gabriel pulls me along outside for a little bit, and I'm surprised by how warm it is even though it's already dark. The moon hangs in the sky, bright and brilliant, and I feel safe beneath it. My wings shimmer in the light, glowing brighter than they had in the low light in the dining hall. Walking beneath the moon hand in hand with Gabriel is something I really truly had never expected would happen. My skin is chilly but my skin brushes up against Gabriel's occasionally, and it warms me instantly.
"So what do you think?" Gabriel asks as we come to a halt beside a huge lake.
"It's beautiful here." I say, and Gabriel and I take a seat on a rock formation.
"It really is." Gabriel says. "But I actually meant about your family." The look on his face is questioning.
"I would like to meet them. But do they even know about me?" I ask, and he's watching me, watching my expression.
"I would guess so." He says, "But then again, they might not. Your mother and them never got along, so maybe she never told them?"
"They'll probably hate me." I mutter."I don't know how anyone could hate you." Gabriel says, wrapping his arms around me. I cuddle into his arms more, my heart racing. He strokes my hair, carefully, gently. "I don't understand how your mother could hate you either. I mean, you're her daughter. You're supposed to love your children unconditionably. And anyways, you're amazing. Someday, you're going to be even better at magic than your mother. She should be excited and happy to have you as a daughter."
For some reason his words strike me in the heart and tears fall down my cheeks, and when he realizes I'm crying he hugs me tighter, gently rubbing my back. Shortly after, the tears run out and I pull away from him. He wipes at the tears."Do you really think those things about me?" I murmur.
"Yes." He admits. "I thought you knew how amazing I think you are."I shake my head, wordlessly. Nothing I could say would come even close to what I think, or what I know. My cheeks are scarlet with natural blush, brighter than the artificial blush Cleopatra had painted onto my cheeks.There is a long silence for several minutes, not an uncomfortable one though. In that short amount of time, a number of things pass between us.Then, "Say something, Aria." Gabriel whispers.
"What should I say?" I ask. "I don't think I'm amazing, so I don't know how you could think I am." My voice is quiet and it's almost as quiet as the wisp of wind that blows from the west of the palace grounds to lift Gabriel's and my hair.
"I guess I don't know what you should say." His voice isn't a whisper now. Instead, it's normal volume, and I hear the shakiness of his voice. "You don't think you're amazing because of your mother. She broke you down all these years, treating you horribly. But she doesn't see what I see when I look at you." Something in his voice is telling me to ask what he sees, and it's just what I do.
"What is it that you see?" I murmur, looking away from him, out across the lake that stretches so long I cannot see the end of it.His voice is clear and his words are honest.
"I see a beautiful, talented girl who could very well rule her fathers kingdom someday if she chose to, or even some other kingdom if she married a prince. I see a girl who has been abused by the one person alive who should love their daughter more than anything else in the world. I see a spark in your eyes that says very well that you could be anything, anyone, you wanted to be, despite your upbringing. And mostly, I see a girl who means everything to me even though we only started talking a week ago. I also think that despite the dispute between our families, fate has brought us together, Aria."
The silence between us now is slightly uncomfortable, and I draw my legs to my chest, wrapping my arms around my legs. The only sound to be heard is the soft beating of my iridescent wings.Several minutes pass before I whisper, "I never thought anyone could care for me."
"I care for you." Gabriel says loudly, honestly. "More than I could ever express."
"Do you really think I'm beautiful?" I ask, turning my head so I can look him in the eyes."More beautiful than the sun, the moon, and all of the stars put together." He says. "So... yes." His voice is hesitant only because he fears what I'll say.
"Do you really think I'm fit to rule a kingdom?" My voice is scared, and I proceed carefully, without his answer. "Because... I'm not very healthy, or strong, or brave, or even good enough at magic to make anything of myself. In fact... I don't even know what to do with my life."
"You're definitely fit to rule a kingdom. I assure you of that. You have a clear view of right and wrong. And you'll get healthier, a lot stronger, and honestly? I've never met someone as brave as you are in my entire life. To go through what you do, everyday, means you're stronger than anyone else I know. And magic, Aria, you actually have to practice it to get better at it. You haven't had magic very long, so it's all so new to you. It takes time. As for what you could do with your life... we could take care of other kids who have been abused by their parents, children of the villains who haven't had a fairy tale life."
"We?" I ask, my heart skipping a beat.
"Yeah. You'd always have a place to go... and I'd love to be able to help out others, and I know you would too. I know you volunteer at the orphanages in Montana, reading to the children, helping feed them. You also volunteer at the hospital, reading and keeping the sick kids comfortable. I've seen nothing but kindness from you. I know you also want to do more for kids like that. We can. Together." Gabriel says, and I'm still looking him in the eyes. "We could even help out the poor in the villages in this kingdom. I know what your thinking. I can see the wheels turning in your head, Aria."
"You're right. I do want to help everyone I can." I whisper. "My father used to, too. I used to help him, and then when he died, and I got old enough, I decided I could do the same as he did. Helping anyone in need. But could I really make a life doing that? I don't have the money to feed the poor all of the time. I don't know where I'm going to go after I turn 18. I'll probably be stuck with my mom."
"You can stay with me." Gabriel's voice comes out rushed, almost like he hadn't realized he was going to say it, but couldn't take it back once he'd started to say it. His face is so child-like and innocent. "My parents said I can stay with them for quite a while after I come of age. You can stay with us. They wouldn't mind."
"Gabriel-" He cuts me off.
"At least think about it. Give it some actual thought. You can tell me what you think by the end of summer. Please?" He asks, his hands gripping my shoulders lightly. His blue eyes seem to burn into my green ones, and I nod.
"I'll think about it." I whisper.
He nods as well, and then he says "Sorry if I made you uncomfortable." His voice is a whisper as well."It's fine." I say, blushing and looking away. "I'm getting tired. Shouldn't we head back?"
"Of course." He says, and the two of us walk slowly back to the palace. "If you need anything, you can call me." Gabriel tells me, as we near the palace.I nod, and thank him.
"Gabriel..." I whisper.
"Hmm?" He asks, his voice light and curious.
"If you think I'm amazing, why did you wait so long to start talking to me?" I whisper.
"I was scared." Gabriel says. "Not that you were evil, because I knew you weren't. I was scared you'd reject me like most of the villains kids did. But then again, you aren't much like them either. Maybe it's because you're the daughter of not only a Unseelie faerie, but a Seelie as well, you always seemed so different, and you have always been quiet and shy, but you always stood up for yourself so easily, I thought you'd think I was just another hero's kid trying to start trouble. Honestly... It's also because-" his voice cuts off abruptly when we reach the palace doors.
"Because what?" I ask.
"It's stupid." Gabriel says.
"I bet it's not." I say, my hand reaching for his. His long fingers over lap my own, and he also gazes down at our hands. "You can tell me anything. I'm not going to laugh at you."
"The crazy thing is, I know you're not going to laugh at me. That scares me even more."
"Just tell me. It can't be that bad." I roll my eyes, giving him a small smile.He must agree because his voice breaks through the air, saying "I kind of have feelings for you, Aria." His admittance isn't something to laugh at, and it's also not something I thought he'd say, despite Cleopatra and Kesheva's saying he loves me. "You didn't laugh." He says quietly.
"I said I wouldn't. And it's not exactly something to laugh at." I tell him. "I guess I should have known though. Kesheva and Cleopatra were insisting you have feels for me... I just didn't realize it was true." My voice is deathly quiet, and my belly churn while my heart races.
"It's true." Gabriel says, his eyes meeting my own.
"If we're being honest here... I have feelings for you too, Gabriel." I murmur, biting my lower lip.
"You do?" He asks, his voice breaking off, shock clear on his face, and his eyes are wide. I nod, and his cheeks turn pink, making him look like a little boy. "I guess maybe we should have talked sooner then." His voice is now as quiet as my own. We just stand there for a few minutes before he says "I know I made things weird. Maybe it'd be best if you went upstairs on your own, if you can find your way to your room on your own."
"I'd like you to take me to my room. I don't mind. Things aren't that weird." I say, glancing at him from under my long black eyelashes.
"Alright." There is a small smile on his face, and the two of us walk inside into chaos.
Maureen and Cera are glaring at each other, screaming obscenities, all the while throwing magic at each other, their magic clashing, and mixing, but ending up nowhere. Unconsciously, I move forwards, unaware of my movement towards the magic until Gabriel grabs my arm. But for some reason unknown to me, I shake him off, walking up close enough to them to feel the electricity from their magic run over me.
"Enough, this is no way to act in a place such as this! We're guests here." I yell at them, throwing my magic blindly at theirs, and the magic hits theirs, causing it to bounce back at them, but not at me. They both fall to the floor from the impact of the magic.
"Shut up, you piece of scum." Maureen yells, standing up, throwing an orb of magic at me, and Gabriel yells, but isn't quick enough to pull me back. The magic hits me, and while it knocks me off of my feet, it hurts me very little. Gabriel is bent down beside me, asking if I'm okay, and I nod, and take his offered hand to stand up. "Yeah, yeah, have your boyfriend save you this time. But when we're alone, you better be ready for a beating."
"Enough." Aurora's voice echos loudly in the hall. I glance at her, and she gives me a small nod, and I realize she and Phillip had seen the whole thing. "You are indeed a guest in my home, and if you would like to make threats, I will have your magic taken away, as well as having you thrown into the dungeon, where you can resume until the end of summer, young lady. Is that clear?" Aurora asks.
"Yes, Ma'am. Crystal clear." Maureen says, and walks away.
I walk over to Cera, asking "Are you injured?"
She hastily shakes her head. "Thank you, but no. How did you..." She trails off, unsure of what I had done. Or why.
"I don't know." I look down at my hands, surprised that my magic had actually worked this time, and had done, somehow, what I wanted it to do. Even if I wasn't sure what I wanted to do at the time. "There's no need to thank me." I say, and glance at Aurora and Phillip.
"Why don't you go on up to bed, Cera?" Aurora asks, "Hermoisa will assist you to your room."
"Yes, Ma'am. Good night." She says, and I'm left with Gabriel and his parents.
"Thank you for stopping them, Aria." Phillip says. "For someone so young you have a clear head in dangerous situations, for that, we are thankful."
"It's alright." I say, glancing at Gabriel.
He takes my hand and says "This is why we need to practice your magic. It'll make sure you can protect yourself and others."
"I understand." I whisper. "But I have a lot to learn."
"Which is why I'm here to teach you." He grins. "But for now, how about I take you to the nurse to make sure you're really okay, then you go up to bed?"
"Sounds good." I say, glancing back at the King and Queen.
"Get some sleep, hun." Aurora says. "I'm sure things will be better in the morning."
"Thank you. Good night." I tell them, letting Gabriel guide me to the nurse. She checks me over, and heals my bruises, then sends me off to bed, Gabriel following close behind me, making sure I get to my room alright. Stepping inside, I smile at Gabriel.
"Good night, Aria." Gabriel says, smiling back.
The silence that falls after he says that is comfortable and welcoming. The same electrical feeling I'd felt when Maureen and Cera were using their magic falls over us, and it draws us together in a way it never had before. His arms pulls me close, and my hands rest on his chest. His liquid blue orbs look into my glowing green ones, and then his lips lower to mine, and we both close our eyes, and the electricity that had been going through us changes to a slow burning fire, like molten lava flowing from beneath the earth's crust. His lips are soft and I taste the chocolate we'd had for desert on his tongue when it lightly caresses mine. I kiss him back, my hands sliding up to his shoulders, and to the back of his neck to bury my fingers into his soft blond hair. When the kiss finally ends, after quite a while, we both open our eyes, his arms still around me, and my fingers still in his hair.
"I should go." He whispers.
"Until tomorrow, then." I whisper back, and brush my lips gently across his.
"Good night, Aria." Gabriel whispers to me, and steps back.
"Good night, Gabriel." I say, my cheeks flushed. He smiles, and turns around slowly, walking down the hall to a staircase I hadn't noticed this afternoon, and I'm guessing it leads to his bedroom. I close the door when he walks up the stairs, clicking the lock into place, and glancing around the room.
The boxs of clothes are against the wall, and I glance at them. I find two boxes, one marked tank tops, the other marked shorts. I dig some out of the boxes, and pull on a pair of sea foam green shorts, and a pair of black shorts. I slip off the dress, laying it across the bed for now, and take off the bra, and pull on the shorts and tank top. The material is soft, and lacy at the same time. I also find a comb in a box marked hair care. I comb my curls, and then go to the bathroom to wash off my makeup.
Then, I wander back to the room, and place the dress on a hanger, hanging it in the closet.I decide if I wake up early, I can always unpack everything then, and then I turn out the light, laying down in the soft bed, pulling the thick blankets around me. I think about the fact that Gabriel had kissed me...and I had kissed him back. It had been my first kiss, and I must admit, it was thrilling as well as scary. I'd never thought I'd be in a place such as this, everything is so nice and perfect and pristine, things I'm not. I'd never thought Gabriel could actually have feelings for me but I'd been wrong. I'd tried to bury my feelings for him, because I can't be with someone as good as he is... can I?
My mother wants to take over the kingdom, and for her to do that, it'd mean betraying the one person who actually understands me better than I even understand myself, as well as cursing his mother to sleep, and who knows what else. It makes me sick to my stomach, but I doubt I'd ever be able to make it up to Gabriel if I were to do that. It also makes me sick to think my mother has such a strong hold on me, the same woman who has abused me, and treated me like crap, as well as cut me off from my father's whole family, leaving me feeling empty and secluded in a horrible world I don't belong in.How quickly my thoughts could turn from happiness with Gabriel, to something as horrible as curses, black magic, and possibly even death, all because of the woman who gave birth to me.But maybe I wont have to hurt anyone. Maybe I wont have to curse Aurora or help my mother take over the kingdom. Just maybe... I wont have to go back to that godforsaken house. Maybe my father's family will actually care for me, and want me to be with them. Maybe.I feel the pull of sleep, and give in, exhausted not only from the long fly here, but from the physical and mental drain of my magic and everything that happened today. I drift off to sleep just as the moon shines brightly through the window.