Chapter 1: Getting Reaqcuainted

A quick glance showed that the girl –or rather, the young woman- was an ordinary peasant. She was plump and of average height with a very dark complexion and dull, dusty brown hair, which was pinned up in a neat bun. She wore an ankle-length, patched dress; black, hand-me-down gloves; and a broad-rimmed, beat-up hat, which shadowed her face. However, a closer, more detailed examination revealed a slim face with full, red lips; a small, neat nose; and a pair of dark, mysterious eyes that glittered dangerously with intelligence.

I've been watching him the whole time since he got here and nothing suspicious has happened, she thought, cautiously eying a young man standing beneath one of the pillars in the village square. He had dirty blond hair, deep blue eyes, and a muscular frame. Perhaps he really kept to his word and did not bring back up. He didn't even try a disguise. How irritating. He knows that if anyone tries to harm him, passer-bys will have to help. Thus she stepped out from her secluded vantage point and walked towards him, years of practice leaving her completely devoid of any expression.

"You're late," he said as she stood before him. He looked her up and down, and then darted a brief glance into her eyes to make sure he had the right person. Her cool, intimidating stare reassured him, and he averted his eyes. "Last time you were a skinny blond. How do you do it? The disguises, I mean."

She let out a sigh similar to that of a patient teacher dealing with a particularly ignorant student. "No, you were late by exactly 3 minutes and 25 seconds. You should know better."

He grinned. "Well, I did as I said I would. No guards; no companions. It isn't easy, sneaking out of the palace."

"Not for you, anyways," was her callous reply. His smile broadened as he followed her into the musty common room of an Inn.

Without even slowing down, she caught the bartender's eye and gave him a subtle nod, which he returned. The two walked on to a dark corner of the room.

"So, what do you want from me?" she asked.

"We don't need to be so hasty," he replied, still beaming. He is enjoying this all too much, she thought, I wish I could strike him. He seemed not to notice the menacing glare his companion fixed upon him. "So, what have you stuffed into that dress to make yourself look so fat? By the way, do you mind if I call you Nee? I would call you Nimiar, but it seems so awkward."

She bit her bottom lip, closed her eyes, and counted to ten, breathing deeply. "No. You most certainly may not. And stop babbling like a giddy little goat." He laughed out loud at this and then ordered them each a glass of lemonade.

"You haven't changed a bit! Definitely the same temper. I'm just happy that I finally found you; everybody misses you. Especially me!"

"Ugh! I have no time for chitchat. I'm leaving—"

"Wait!" he commanded, now serious. He then continued in a quiet, business-like tone, "I have not dismissed you yet, and unless you wish for me to tell everyone who you are and have them bring you back, I suggest that you remain seated until I do so. As your Prince, I order you; as your friend, I ask you; and as your admirer, I beg of you."

"That is quite an oxymoron," she replied, settling down once more.

"Well, it's the truth, isn't it?" he inquired, returning to his usual, carefree mood. "I am definitely your prince, since you live in these lands; we grew up as inseparable friends until you ran away; and I have always been in love with you." She rolled her eyes in exasperation. He eyed her in a way that made her uncomfortable. As she shifted apprehensively, he laughed. "Hah! So even after living on the streets all the years, that look makes you squirm. You're hopelessly naïve, Nee!" He chuckled again. Somehow, with his laugh, the place seemed to brighten just a bit. Despite the inconvenience of being blackmailed again as though she was still 10 and he 14, Nimiar was rather happy to have his company again. She had been lonely all on her own these past five years. She could not make friends for fear of being discovered. But there were many benefits. She did not have to stay cramped up on the palace grounds with no freedom, learning her lessons on how to become a lady and what do to as a lady dutifully (or not so dutifully) and being bored out of her mind. She had no restrictions, no standards to live up to. She had become a master (mistress) of disguise, learned to fight, learned how to pick pockets, play cards, drink, speak new languages, learn common peoples' code-words and slang, steal horses, ride like a man, and the list goes on. In her opinion, it was worth the loneliness with which one must to pay for such a life.

Now, after five years of isolation, self-discipline, and a new kind of learning, she was sitting in front of her good friend Azfur, or Aza (her short name for him), and he was laughing at her like he always used to. With these thoughts, her stony countenance cracked, and she smiled a little. Suddenly, she yearned to be home again, and to be carefree and laugh with her friends. It was similar to a half-starved person; after not eating for a long time, the stomach grows indifferent, but one morsel of food renews the hunger with a vengeance.

"There we go! That's better," he exclaimed. "I was afraid that the North Wind had frozen your face like that. Now, you just need to shed the disgui—"

"SHSHSH! Don't be so loud! At this rate, the whole damned country will know who I am within the next five minutes." He snorted. Her face had returned to indifference. His eyes suddenly lit up as an idea struck him. She watched Azfur warily as he walked around to her side of the table. "Whatever you do, remember that we are in public, and, to all of them, you are the Prince and I am a rather plain peasant."

"I won't do anything I'll regret," he calmly assured her, taking her gloved hand and forcing her to rise.

A/N: This is a story I started aaaaages ago, so the writing style in the beginning is kind of rough. Sorry about that. I beleive it improves as the story progresses...but you never sizes will probably vary sinceI don't generally planbreaks in the writing...I just go with it.

Thanks for reading!