The first 18 or so chapters of this story have already been written but not typed, and I know we all (myself included) hate those authors that never update for three months, so I'll do my best for my readers. (If I have any, anyway) The first few chapters aren't as well written as the next 15 or so, as I wrote them a few years ago and then wrote the rest in 2007. This year. My writing style has morphed, but I hope at least that the chapters after the first few are better, rather than worse. Not that I think these chapters are a disaster, their just unripe. Else I would re-write them. But, I'm a very lazy person, so no doubt, if they were a disaster, I probably wouldn't re-write them anyway. Please don't walk away because the characters are royalty. They may be called princess and prince, but they don't necessarily act like it. (All the time.) And that's all for this A/N, though it was rather long. Brace yourselves.

Chapter 1 POV Prince Aaron

The River Claire

to me

people change very quickly

falling in and out of my favor

the slightest change in your manner

can send you tumbling over the cliff

of my distaste

or shooting up in the catapult

of my approval

-Princess Noella of Princess Claire

The second time I met the Princesses they were introduced by the Queen. Queen Verde. Being so unusually named, she then favored her daughters with rare, but customary names. Vanessa, Cynthia, Rebekah, Claire, and then, with her voice being overcome with revulsion, Princess Noelle. Who, most unprincess-like, had not dainty stepped her way over to curtsy at me - but sat staring from the fires hearth at the opposite end of the chamber. Not much of a stare though, more like a glare, as if she knew things about me that she couldn't possibly.

This undoubtedly, was played to the purpose of her being the most interesting of the five. Counting all their breathtaking beauty. I decided to ignore her obvious cry for attention and present myself in the most princely way, to the famed River Princesses. So nicknamed for the five rivers marking each line and each side of the kingdom. Each River named the same as each princess. Beautiful rivers, beautiful girls. I bowed low over the hand of each princess, pressing my lips to the baby soft skin of each dainty wrist.

Claire I believed was my favorite. Her sharp blue eyes were large and held only her strong will. She was the kind of girl that knew what she wanted, or at least figured it out real fast, and did whatever she could to get it. She had blond hair, mirroring Noelle's, over by the fire, but Claire's was cropped to a bit below her shoulders, falling in layers around her ears. She had a pretty, round face, with a nose that turned up at the end in an irritating way that you couldn't avoid looking at.

Her river, the river Claire was… unpredictable. It could be soft and smoothly flowing one day, and flooding the surrounding fields and towns the next. The princess was known for her quick temper but also for her good days, where she showed the ability to melt the heart of any stubborn maid or stone cold suitor. This was one of her good days. As I dropped her hand, her eyelashes fluttered at me and her posture seemed to arrange itself into looking soft and formly.

I did not pursue the change; she wished me to think her worthy of me, and I did. But I despaired over the lack of intelligence found behind her eyes.

Once again my attention was returned to Princess Noelle, the glaring poet. Her hair was pulled over her shoulders to keep her from sitting on it, and it spilled over the seat of the chair where the ends just barely brushed the floor. Dark blue eyes stared from under half closed lids, and the smirk on her lips put roundness to her cheeks and a softness to her jaw. It gave her a hateful look, but a beautiful one, though I hadn't seen an ugly look out of her yet.

The river Noelle had the appearance of calm and slowly flowing waters, perfect for bathing or wading or boating, but set one foot into what seems to be shallow waters and be swept away by the powerful, yet invisible current. There are many stories and sightings, however, of the princess of the same name, swimming and playing in those same currents. Easy to believe even when I, myself, set a strongly made boat lightly in the waters and watched it fly downstream, submerging in the thousand record speed currents. Turning to look at the woman, I saw a glimpse of a smirk. Obviously caused by the introductions to her sisters. Perhaps she wasn't so attention seeking after all. Seeing me look at her, Noelle's smirk, however beautiful it made her face look, was instantly replaced by a scowl, and she turned angrily to the parchment on her lap. Penning down what was most likely to be some rather livid sounding poetry. About to approach her and convince her to be courtly with me, I found myself halted by the ever stubborn Claire.

Unfortunately, it seemed I had wandered my way onto Claire's various wantings and she wasn't going to let the ever sarcastic Noelle get in the way or her having of me. In a magnificent soprano tone voice, she invited me to a walk in the gardens with the three other princesses, not including the poet. Sadly, I was forced to agree, but managed a glance back as we left the hall, just glimpsing the smirk that I hoped desperately I would see many more times to come.

The River Vanessa

Not much of a name for a river but for a girl who became irresistible to look at during our walk, it was a very fine name. Vanessa was tall and elegant and graceful and she was beautiful in her height. Her long arms and long fingers and long legs were only lengthened by the white and blue embroidered summer gown that made her look all the more elegant. She was the tallest of the five, without much competition, but her eyes were brown, contrasting the rest of the girls, and her hair was a sandy brown, the darkest of all her sisters, grown to her waist and frizzy. The hairstyle only made her look taller. Even her thin lips made her face look skeletal, and stretched. If she wasn't so graceful, I'd think she was gaunt.

Vanessa has a very unique river to put it lightly. It is long, just like the princess, but unlike the river Noelle or Claire, it has neither swift current nor raging floods. The river Vanessa is just as it appears, slow moving and calm and at many points, the water doesn't move at all. At the side of the river for the entire length, it's lined with weeping willows. This leads me to believe that the princess is a bit depressed. But the trees also cast the entire river into shadow. This, of course, leads to the leaches. Almost every inch of the longest river in this kingdom is infested with leaches. Blood sucking and extremely painful to remove. Don't get me wrong, I am sure that the princess Vanessa is not a vampire, but no doubt she is a leach, hiding under the surface and living off the life's work of another.

I've often wondered what she thinks about her river. And if she wishes that leaches didn't even exist. But I don't believe she minds. The amazingly tall and elegant Vanessa I don't believe cares that she is known in every town and village as a leach and known for her beautiful weeping willows and not for her long sweeping hair.

While concentrating on the princess Vanessa, the only thing I was distracted by was a poem the mysterious Noelle once wrote about her tall sister.

She is a pool

reflecting the moonlight

but unable to see it for its beauty

leaves floating on the surface

waiting for unsuspecting passerby

to dip a hand for drinking

lifting out not water

but black and slimy creatures

and no blood in his left hand.

It took me several times of reading that to realize that the ever metaphoric Noelle had not been writing about a river or a pool of water but about her own sister. Quiet, tall and elegant Vanessa held not sweet water to drink but black and slimy creatures. Lying silent and careful under that soft beauty was not something a passerby would want to dip his hand into.

The River Rebekah

After I forced my mind into escaping from the thought of leaches covering my hand, I managed to focus my thoughts on the second oldest, Rebekah. The only thing I remembered about previously meeting her and the introductions was that her hands were icy cold. Her eyes were a lighter blue than Claire's and she'd cut her hair short since the last time I'd seen her. It was as long as a boy's, and ashen blond, any lighter and it'd be white.

The river Rebekah is the widest river (not that the princess is wide) and guards the north border. Her waters are covered with who knows how thick ice which would make it perfect for skating across if in an invasion or just for childish play, if not for the weather surrounding her. The river, and the princess, has surroundings that are dreadfully cold and stormy. Also, being the widest river, it takes the longest to cross, even on skates, and halfway through, most probably you'll be faced with a blizzard or an ice storm, (meaning sharp pins and needles of ice cascading on any uncovered spot of skin- illustrating Rebekah's sharp tongue, I believe) Not the kind of weather even invaders would want to be traveling in.

Why, of course, I know so much about the rivers and the princesses is that I was forced to spend three years of my teenage life with them. They hardly remember, and they hardly want to, three of them look back on that time with shame and embarrassment. Thankfully, I don't. They were making fools of themselves and I was looking on with firm indifference. For Noelle, it wasn't exactly indifference as she was watching through a window at her three little sisters' display. I personally encountered each river myself beginning around two days after my three year stay- where I realized what monsters would soon overtake the throne. My overconfident teenage self decided that no matter how long it took, I would escape this dreadful country. Don't get me wrong, it is a beautiful country, guarded by beautiful rivers and ruled by beautiful people, but I spent two years of my life trying to escape it. After I had attempted unsuccessfully to cross each river (except Vanessa of course, just moments before I was about to dive in, I witnessed an adult male try to commit the same feat and also witnessed his bloodless corpse sink to the bottom) I decided to return to the castle and learn more about the lovely princesses I was betrothed to.

Yes, betrothed. But different, I suppose. My parents had granted me the choice of which river princess I would marry. Dangerous prospect.

Her poem had been carved into my mind by Noelle's forceful language and I had no trouble remembering it. Again I was faced with someone I believe would be very hard to get rid of, and, if faced with that future, would be hard to live around.

My lovely sister

may have horribly cold hands

and her surroundings

may not be as pleasant

as others

her personality may be icy

her tongue as sharp as

her storms

as broken glass

but under the surface

you'll find

a swiftly flowing river

warm as day

with comfortable travel.

When I read that, in the comfort of a warm castle in a library that had more eyes in it than I had realized, I guessed that that last bit meant that under her cold exterior, Rebekah was kind and interesting as a person. But in my rebellious escape years, I suspected it spoke of an underground exit. This appeared not to be the case - after five months of searching.

The River Cynthia

Cynthia was the shortest of the five and the youngest, last in line for the throne and most likely wouldn't ever have the chance to rule, if any of her sisters provided an heir. She was the most childish, but had yet to be proven wrong. She had had bangs the last time I'd been here, but she was in the process of growing them out, so they were long, but not long enough to not be called bangs. They swept across her forehead like an eye patch, working in the same way, covering almost half her face, the rest of her hair falling like Claire's around her shoulders. Her eyes were hazel, changing from green to brown depending on what she was wearing at the time. At the moment they were a dark green that was hard to concentrate on, her eyes hardly standing out compared to the rest of her face.

It took me quite a while to find Noelle's poetry on Princess Cynthia. It so confused me, as I could not find the similarities between the princess and the river.

Cynthia the brave

is forever falling

forever

entrapped in

an endless drop.

The outer layer

of our beautiful girl

is every appearance of

magnificence

but under her

quickly changing expression

are smooth and slippery rocks

waiting only for a hand

to unsuccessfully attempt grasp.

The River Cynthia is a waterfall so high that is classifies as a river in itself. Miles and miles of falling water is the cause of the currents of Noelle.

Cynthia is indeed known for being brave. Brave and reckless and never failing at a dare. She has no known fears, but consequently, she is amazingly confident in herself. She refuses help in anything. Surprisingly, for a princess, she has no maids. Does everything herself. Very independent. She would make a horrible friend, wife, queen, sister, anything.

I believe, in Noelle's poem, she was trying to tell people that they have no hope with Cynthia. And no hope at escape.

The Girl Noelle

Unlike the other four girls, I have no past with Noelle. In my three year stay so long ago, she successfully avoided me, despite my attempts at spending time with her. The only times I saw her was when she happened to be in the library at the same time as me, or at the meals held in the Dining Hall and the dances held after dinner, when she would always be with a partner, and sat at the opposite end of the table from me. I never understood her appearance of hatred of me as I never acted against her in her life. Or mine. In fact, if she had let me, I almost certainly would have courted her, she seemed the most attractive to me, long strawberry blonde hair to her ankles and sky blue eyes with flecks of gold in them. I hardly would have known of their color, if she hadn't been forced to introduce herself to me during my first visit, some years ago.

Thanks to her brutal avoidance, I knew hardly anything about her childhood, besides what her poetry let me in on and I hardly knew a thing about her personality. She hardly ever wrote things about herself and it left people seeing her as a silhouette on a horizon with the sun behind her. You can see the outline, but no physical features. Everything's a mystery and nothings as it seems. Much like her river.