Title: Rejected

Chapter: 1

Category: Romance/Historical

Summary: On the eve of the final dance Prince Damian rejects the girl chosen by his mother without meeting her and without knowing the girl can hear every word of his rejection. Years later he finally meets her again and falls for her without knowing she is the same girl.

The view in front of her was beautiful.

The sun was setting and the colours filtering through the wooly clouds turned the whole mountain side into an artist's palette of reds and pinks.

Fronton Palace was built on the edge of the mountain cliff face and it had an uninterrupted view into the valley below. The balcony connected to the blue parlour was specifically designed to take advantage of this.

Delilah breathed in the fresh air and felt like she was home.

"Isn't the view just stunning? I had to fight tooth and nail with Damian's father to get this parlour after we were married," Queen Rosemary spoke from inside the room.

"This view is definitely worth fighting for," Delilah agreed still in awe she was having a private meeting with the Queen herself. A month ago she would have laughed in the face of whoever suggested such an occurrence would be possible and even now she scarcely believed it.

The attention she had received in the ball by the royal family had allowed her to dream of things she knew she did not deserve. She was the common looking daughter of an impoverished baronet. Her father loved her and wanted the best for her but her mother seemed to think she was nothing compared to her older brother. Where her older brother would be given privileges and an extensive allowance she was confined and abhorred.

Her dowry would take away a good chunk of her father's dwindling fortune and if a good dowry wasn't the only possible reason for her to be married off Delilah was sure her mother would have asked for it to be decreased.

Her mother and aunts had laughed at her when an invitation came at their doorsteps asking for honour of having their children for the ball. Her brother was already betrothed and their family fields were being plagued by invasive pests so he declined and none of her cousins were old enough to be out yet so only Delilah was left. All her aunts and even her mother were sceptical about letting her out in such a public arena all on her own. In their opinion Delilah had little to offer to the nobility in way of looks and personality.

Delilah's mother was a sunning woman to behold and in comparison Delilah looked no better than a maid. Her mother was grey eyed beauty whose raven hair, while contrary to common standards of beauty, were remarkable nevertheless. Delilah had similar colouring but she had dull, thin hair she kept in a bun regardless of where she was going. She had the same grey eyes and pale face but they only accentuated the dimness around her eyes. Delilah had no sense for what fabrics were popular or what hairstyle was appropriate at what event and she neither had a taste for intrigue and gossip. According to her mother that made Delilah a very dull person to be around.

Delilah was used to the condescending behaviour and it was only at the insistence of her brother that she even made it to the ball. The ball itself was a month long event and her father had given her full control over an extensive allowance to make preparations for the trip. Delilah had needed so many new clothes that even her mother had gotten involved in having them tailored for her and for that Delilah was grateful. Every few nights there was an event to be held and she needed to look just right; who knew who might take a fancy to her.

Her mother had taken an unnatural obsession over her posture, how she ate and how she spoke. Her mother had even made her practice how to bow in front of the queen. While Delilah was annoyed at being badgered over the minute details but she wasn't so self-involved in her woes to not notice that her training would only benefit her. She really didn't want to look like the odd one out amongst the nobility.

Once Delilah reached Fronton palace with Chaperon Lady Winston and her two daughters the grandeur of the palace and the imperious manners of the inhabitants and guests had made her lose most of her confidence. At times she could barely speak and at other times she spoke too fast that she tripped over words. It had been a humiliating experience to watch people sneer at her when they thought she wasn't looking. At least those who waited for her to turn away were the polite ones; some didn't even bother to conceal their disdain. Lady Winston, an old friend of her mothers, would snub her every opportunity she got.

It was only at the fifth dinner that the queen had taken notice of her. Delilah had been standing in a corner just after the evening dances had begun. Her dancing card was empty and she knew it was too late to be asked for a dance. Men apparently wanted a dancing partner with lively manners and sparkling eyes. One young man who had danced with her on the very first dance had called her a cold beauty. He was obviously trying to say something complimentary about her grey eyes but she couldn't see how being called cold was pleasant.

After the initial dances all the young people had gotten to know each other and all those testing waters with Delilah seemed to have found her unsatisfactory. She had wit but it needed time to surface in front of new people and besides that her mother had strictly forbidden her to be frank with the nobles. Since she lacked the capacity to regurgitate flowery untruths about people she had decided to keep her mouth shut. That had unwittingly made more of the wallflower.

She had been about to search the room for a quieter sitting place when she was tapped on the back of her shoulder.

"Bored, my dear," A voice came from behind her.

"Very," Delilah spoke mournfully, instinctively and then instantly clamped up.

Her horror increased manifold when she turned and found herself facing the queen. Delilah quickly bowed.

"It does start to look the same after a while," The queen answered in her own gentle voice. To Delilah's relief the queen didn't look the least bit offended.

"I might just have to organize a garden party in the east garden with some fire charmers to get away from this stagnation," the queen continued.

"But doesn't the wind blow from the east during the evenings. The fire charmers wouldn't be very successful," Delilah added her opinion while she berated herself for being a blabber mouth.

The queen looked at her and she suddenly smiled.

"How absurd it is that I forgot such a crucial detail. That wind would certainly ruin everything though I am still tempted. How fun would it be to see the ladies trying to keep their clothing from flying them off? Lady Dalhousie's clothes certainly look like they would take flight even in this gentle breeze."

Delilah looked in the direction of the queen's gaze and Lady Dalhousie's ridiculous 5 tiered gown certainly looked part of a flying contraption.

"And they look flammable as well," Delilah added still feeling like the need to cringe every time she opened her mouth but the queen's gentle manners put her at ease.

The queen shook her head, "Well, that ruins my plans for entertaining the guests with fire charmers. How in the world did you know how the wind flows in this place?"

"I like the east gardens. They're good for an evening stroll and I'm not so unobservant to not notice which direction my dress wants to fly off in," Delilah answered. The queen continued to smile at her until a certain Lady interrupted them to congratulate the queen on another successful evening of merriment.

"I have never seen such a stupendous success in my entire life," The lady prattled easily lacing her comments with high praise, "And where is Prince Damian. I remember what a darling boy he was; Sarah, my daughter, often speaks of him fondly."

The queen was polite and gracious, "Why, thank you, for your kind compliments. Damian has certainly grown up from the last time as you could have seen from his portrait hanging in the stair way. Unfortunately he won't be joining us this evening."

The duke's wife's shoulders drooped but she found the painting another topic that could stretch out the conversation.

"He certainly has grown up to a fine, handsome young man."

"He has, hasn't he," The queen asked and it took Delilah a few moments to realize she was the one being questioned.

The Lady's eyebrows rose as she noticed the attention being put on the girl.

Delilah shrugged awkwardly, "I think he looks very fine in his green cap."

Both ladies in front of her looked confused, "My dear, the painting you are referring to is of Damian's grandfather," The queen looked thoroughly amused after the confusion passed.

"Oh," Delilah muttering vowing to herself to get a good look at the prince's portrait. She ignored how the grand Lady tittered at her stupidity.

After the dances were over and the queen bid her farewell Delilah passed by the staircase and paused in front of what seemed to be Prince Damian's painting. He had great a likeness to the queen but that in no way made his features feminine. He had an angular face and very striking blue eyes. He was a very handsome man and she could see why so many women were eager to catch a glimpse of him. It was odd that at a ball in his honour he wasn't even present. That unsettled Delilah and when she saw his painting and the sheer arrogance he held himself in it she felt she had inkling of why he wasn't there. The man was obviously too proud to mingle with anyone.

She got more hints about the prince's absence and his personality over the various other functions the queen organized. The queen seemed to favour her company and consequently Delilah rose in popularity. She was asked for dances and suddenly invited to exclusive soirées. A few women would often boldly hint that the queen wanted her to be her son's wife.

Delilah tried to ignore these hints but that seed of suggestion was powerful. She sometimes felt the same when the queen would talk about the crown prince with a knowing smile on her face. Delilah started to feel inexplicably shy and self conscious whenever anyone mentioned the Prince. It was so silly would to feel so nervous about a man she had never even met.

The queen asked her to tea occasionally with a group of wives of the highest of ranking nobility but when she was asked for tea in the queen's private parlour on that dreadful day Delilah was surprised to find herself as the only guest.

The queen had greeted her asked her to sit down. The maid's made them tea and left them in peace.

"Turn around my dear. Behind you is something that you don't want to miss."

Delilah was flabbergasted to see such a stunning view behind her. Delilah's own rooms at the castle opened towards the north and that view could not compete with the one in front of her.

Upon seeing the open balcony doors Delilah asked for permission to go outside.

The queen smiled at her request, "I knew you would appreciate it. None of my other guests find they can take their eyes off the expensive furniture or the cushion covers. Go on, my dear, I know you can barely resist."

Once she was outside she and the queen made some small talk as they walked along the balcony. The queen pointed out some of the mountains and plants growing in the balcony.

"Damian loves the outdoors. The boy would live in a tent if he could manage," The queen spoke fondly of her son. The queen looked down at her empty teacup and went back for a refill. She stopped Delilah from following her as she insisted the sun was about to set and that was a sight she needed to see.

As Delilah admired the sunset the door of the parlour slammed open. Delilah moved closer to see what was wrong as the queen seemed to have broken something.

Her grey eyes widened as she noticed Prince Damian walking in the room. She felt her cheeks go red at the thought of meeting the man. All the innuendos thrown at her over the weeks suddenly became very real. She could see he was very attractive and wondered self consciously if he would find her the same. These thoughts vanished the instant she started to overhear bits and pieces of the conversation inside the room.

Delilah's hand trembled as she opened a window pane just a little bit to hear more clearly.

"She's ugly and plain and incredibly dim. I can't think of a worse person to marry me. If you can't have chosen someone smart at least someone with some amount of looks would have been adequate," The prince shouted in an ugly fashion and Delilah felt her heart break.

She tried to swallow away the lump in her throat but it was impossible.

"Why do you think a pauper of a girl with nothing to recommend herself could be worthy of my station. I am to be king and she certainly isn't good enough to be my queen," The prince spoke bitterly.

Delilah tried to blink back the tears but they traitorously slid down her face.

As the prince closed the door behind him when he left, the queen slid down on her sofa, trembling.

In this portion Delilah is younger and naive but she will become more assertive and a stronger person when we see her after the time leap.