Chapter 2:

He looked so bored, once my anger had left. Anger always tended to leave quite quickly. I had found myself sitting beside him. Yes, beside him. As in, on an empty throne, no doubt for some snooty princess. I almost felt sorry for him…almost.

Why had I been so mad? Of course, I figured out what they were trying to do. They wanted me to break the spell. Now, of course, if I were to break the spell, the prince would immediately fall in love with me. Thus, I would have to marry him. Thus, some sick, twisted, perverse justice would be done to the king, who had been in love with my mother, who was married to my father and also, very much might I add, in love with him.

Still not a good enough excuse? Is he ugly, you ask? Oh, anything but.

Just one glance at him had my heart beat quickening. But this had been some twisted, perverse—and what did he look like? He had dark hair, like his mother's, but for some odd reason, his eyes were a rich blue (yes, cynics who don't believe dark-haired people can have blue eyes, they were blue).

Was he puny? No, quite the opposite. His muscles were visible even through his clothing, though he was in no way bulky like a blacksmith or lumberjack. So, was he perfect? Yes, in every way. From the top of his silky dark brown hair to the tips of his no-doubt perfect toes.

And why was I upset again? Because it wasn't fair! Princes were egotistical jerks! It was a simple fact of life. They believed themselves to be above and beyond the law, probably because they ruled and ran the law, but that wasn't the point. They believed they were God's gift to the world. They believed they could get whichever female they wanted. In short, they were evil. Spawns of the devil, they were.

But looking at him, how could I be angry? He didn't seem to have that snooty personality most royals seemed to cherish as much as their jewels, money and power. In fact, he seemed lonely, distant.

Maybe I was making that up to mirror myself, or what I felt inside. Sigh. Yes, I am, in fact, very much alone. With nobody to comfort me in this great time of need…parents going off to dance and leaving me to keep the royals company—yes, that part was said menacingly. The rest of that spiel was merely show. I loved my parents. They loved me. We had no difficulties. I never wanted to leave them. Okay, maybe that's a difficulty. I mean, everybody has to leave their parents sometime, right?

Well, if anything, I could always try talking to him. The king and queen were off schmoosing.

"Hi." I offered him a smile.

"Hi." He didn't offer one in return.

"So, you're Prince Gavin?" Now I was sounding like an airhead. Bad me, bad me!

He didn't even bother gazing back at me. His eyes were on the circling dancers. "And you're Lady Rhiannon's daughter," he said at last, after a long pause.

"Um…yes, I am. And Sir Michael's daughter. And my name is Lady Rhian. Not Rhiannon, just Rhian."

"Right." His voice was so distant, so bored. So…indifferent.

Well, he could be Mr. I-want-to-do-nothing-but-stare-at-dancing-bodies-all- night-until-I-fall-asleep-from-sheer-boredom. I didn't care. I decided then, that if he didn't want to talk to me, then I didn't have to talk to him. So, I too, was left to gaze mindlessly at the swirling bodies. Swirling, swirling…so…boring. No wonder this guy was so bored out of his mind! Who wouldn't be?

"Can you dance?" I heard myself asking him. Now why would I say that?

"Yes," he returned, but made no effort to even look at me, much less ask me to dance.

I sighed. "Well, I can't."

At this, his head finally turned, and I was confronted by those damn blue eyes. Noooo! The evil, overpowering-

"You can't?"

Was there something there? A glimmer? A fleeting glimpse of a speck of humor in those eyes of his? Or was it my imagination? Of course, it would be funny to be at a ball when you couldn't dance. Even though those eyes, and I do shudder at those eyes, were watching me, my mouth turned up in my trademark grin. Yes, I was about to do another stupid thing.

I stood and walked in front of him. "I can't even curtsey, Your Highness," I cried out in mock anguish. I pulled my best rendition of how-not-to- curtsey, and landed sprawled on the floor. That glimmer was back, I was sure of it.

"I see." And there was a twinge of interest in his voice. Just a twinge.

"That's not nearly the half of it," I told him, jumping to my feet and pretending to nearly avoid swooning. "I cannot dance without stepping on somebody else's feet." I had mother's mock-shock-hand-on-forehead-appeal as I said this.

"How awful." Still, a deeper twinge. A deeper twinge!

"And nobody seems to know how to dance correctly." I was motioning to the crowd of dancers. "I mean, so boring—back-and-forth, back-and-forth, around-and-around."

He said nothing at this, instead looking back at the dancers.

Well then, he could just stay Sir-doze-a-lot. I didn't really care. I wasn't here for his enjoyment, anyway.

"He actually spoke with you?"

Ok, since when did the queen suddenly materialize from thin air? I met her eyes. She was looking at me with something akin to respect. Ah, how Mistress Peacock would go crazy because of that.

"Yes." I looked back at Prince Gavin—yes, I didn't use a strange name for him this time…I'm going soft.

He was just staring at them all. It was so weird. He didn't even seem to be bothered that his mother was talking as if he wasn't there.

"Gavin," the queen said, making his face turn to her. "Why don't you ask Lady Rhiannon to dance?"

He stood and said in a monotonous tone, "Would you like to dance?"

Ah, the monotony! I shook my head. "No, thank you, Your Majesty. It seems that Sir Bob would rather dance with me."

Confused, the queen watched as I pretended to curtsey, although rather wobbly so, to an invisible man. The prince sat back down, his look of nonchalance still on his face. But his eyes were on me. Ah, now, his eyes were on me.

I let this invisible man lead me to the center of the room, smiling at all the confused gazes. It seemed as if everyone had stopped dancing just to gape at me. Ah, the spotlight. And I began twirling, pretending to be dancing with someone, when nobody was actually there.

"Who is this girl?" I heard a princess ask once I got close enough to her.

"Who is she dancing with?" a prince demanded.

I turned my attention to my "partner." Then I giggled, as if he had said something funny. I was getting strange looks again. Oh, how that old bird would swoon. Yes, I'm talking about Mistress Peacock. I spun once and saw Mother and Father, who were laughing and watching me. Then, I felt eyes on me. I quickly averted my head to where the prince was, (Prince Gavin, of course) and he was watching me. His eyes were on me. Yes, me.

"This is an outrage," one prince yelled.

"This should stop immediately," a duke exclaimed. He was old (and probably smelly) and resembled an alligator more than a man.

I stopped suddenly. I was, of course, the only one dancing now. "Is nobody else dancing?" I asked, looking pointedly around the room.

"What display of mockery is this?" a princess demanded, stomping up to me, her blonde hair getting caught in her crown, causing her to seem all the more frazzled.

"I was simply dancing with my companion." I motioned to the invisible person who wasn't really there.

"There is nobody there!" the princess declared.

"Sir Bob says he doesn't enjoy your presence either. However, that is no way to treat another guest," I informed her.

"Another…? There is no other guest!" She was gesturing to the air.

I frowned at her. "You must be blind. Can you not see him at all?"

The other people suddenly began to talk amongst themselves. What if there really was somebody there? What if he was enchanted, and only this beautiful young lady could see him? Wouldn't it be rude to display such disregard when Prince Gavin, himself, was enchanted?

And then, something truly interesting happened. The prince walked up to us. The princess promptly smiled and fluttered her eyelashes. After all, he had shown some kind of emotion by doing something on his own. Perhaps she could break the curse?

This was all taken by her actions. I cannot read minds. So, I had fooled everyone then? They were all believing that Sir Bob was real! I felt like chuckling at their gullibility.

"Lady Rhian," Prince Gavin said, holding out his hand. "I believe I have yet to dance with you…if Sir Bob has no qualms."

I turned to the air, nodding as I pretended to listen to what Bob was saying. Then I turned back and smiled. "Of course, Your Majesty. Sir Bob decided that he could hardly be any competition, seeing as he is not even there." I placed my hand in his, and let him lead me to the center of the floor once more.

And again, nobody was moving. They were all staring at me in awe. Why? What was the big deal? Oh, it must be because Prince Dullsville never dances, him being all monotone and non-feeling. One of his hands was against my waist. The other was holding my hand.

"What I said before, about not being able to dance." I started. "Well, it's true."

He looked down at me, capturing my eyes in his blue again. Again with those wretched…

"I know," he returned, then led me in a waltz. "Just follow my lead."

I did so, concentrating on not stepping on his feet. I managed to, a couple of times, and we almost fell a few times as well, but we managed. As the song neared an end, I looked around and noticed that everyone was staring at us. They were all…staring. Strange, wasn't it?

Then, the song ended, but the prince didn't let me go. Why he didn't, I didn't know. I was caught by those eyes again. Those damn, ridiculously wonderful, evil, demonic, blue, blue, blue…

"Gavin," the queen said.

He turned his head and stepped from me, dropping his hands to his sides and regaining that blank look. Regaining? He had been looking at me differently.

"Come with me," the queen ordered.

He walked behind her, gaze blank once more.

And then the room suddenly became a mass of noise: loud, obnoxious voices, and soft, discreet voices, laughter, tears, anger, astonishment. Ah yes…how lovely. Sarcasm. There was sarcasm in that.

"Honey."

I turned my gaze to see Mother and Father breaking through the crowd. My mother had spoken. She was laughing at me.

"I see you met the prince," she said after stopping a moment to collect herself.

"Yes," I returned. Then I scrunched up my nose. "You left me! You left me with rotten old stick-in-the-mud!"

"Ah, yes," she said. A faint blush lined her cheeks. "Sweetheart, it's getting late. Perhaps we should take our leave now?"

I guess that it was close to midnight. I was tired. It was exhausting trying to talk to that guy! I'd be glad if I never saw him or his damn, infuriating, blue, blue, blue eyes again. In fact, the next time I'd see him, when he'd get married to some ditzy princess, would be far too soon!

"Unless, of course, you're too attached to rotten old stick-in-the-mud? You seemed quite mesmerized during that waltz." That was my father. Yes, my father enjoyed tormenting me.

"Father!" I whined.

"Not one joke during that whole waltz," Mother agreed.

Were they both gaining up on me?

"Hey!" I whined. "I was trying not to make our family look bad! Everyone was staring at me!"

"Of course," they both said in unison.

They didn't believe me? That was fine. Not like I cared or anything. Like I said before, princes are evil. The next time I saw that stupid prince would be too soon! In fact, if I was lucky, I'd never have to see him again.

Of course, I've never been very good with luck. It seemed as if we had a love-hate relationship. I wanted luck, wished for it, but it decided to just pass me on by. Of course, this was what I knew when, on the following day, I got a personal invitation to live at the castle. Wait, live at the castle?