The Queen, his mother, had a lovely smile. She had naturally dark lips that would curl up ever so slightly, and reveal her dimples. It was a smile that held so much love in it, so much happiness, and many secrets. In fact, whenever she would smile, though her face was relaxed, her whole body still held so much tension. Was she ever really comfortable in her role as the Queen? As a public figure? As a mother?

And now, after the accident, was Julian even more of a burden on his mother? Was he a liability? He can't gauge her reaction anymore, not that he really could before, but now it's worse. Julian can only rely on the inflections of her voice and the catches in her breath. The vibrations, the cadence of her voice. Julian can only trust his-

"Prince Julian? May I come in?"

Julian sighs quietly, sitting upright in his bed, taken away from his thoughts. The covers used to be blood-red with gray pillows, a size king, but still small in comparison to the grandeur of his room. Now, he doesn't know what color they are, whether or not the palace staff has changed the covers and the sheets since the accident. It feels like bedding to him, no different to his other set; just as soft, just as luxurious, and now it's a blank image to him, like everything else.

There's another knock, louder this time. "Prince Julian?"

He sits up straighter. "Come in, Kieran."

He hears his door open and shut with a soft click and hears the quiet but sure footsteps of his valet until they stop somewhere in front of him.

"Good morning, Prince Julian. How are you feeling today on a scale from one to ten?" Kieran shuffles and takes a step forward, Julian assumes and is correct when he feels Kieran's breath wrestle Julian's hair slightly. "I'm about to put my hands on your head now."

Kieran was handsome over a year ago, Julian knows. Before the accident, before his sight was gone. Kieran was almost unexpectedly handsome, not conventionally. His features a little too angular and his body too tall and gangly, but it somehow worked for him. Julian wonders how much he has changed in just a short amount of time. Is his hair still the same sandy color as it was before? Are his fingers as long and elegant? Was he-

Julian starts when he feels Kieran's cold fingertips on either side of his head. "May I have your pain scale, please?" Kieran asks again, his voice softer than before, but firm.

"It's a one right now, Kieran." Julian guesses Kieran must be happy with this answer, as his fingers leave his head and he feels his valet step backward. He wonders what he must look like to Kieran now. Does he look as pathetic as he feels? Unfocused eyes searching the room, unseeing? Sitting on the edge of his bed, waiting for people to come assist him?

But really, was Julian even strong before the accident?

Somewhere behind him, Julian hadn't even heard Kieran move, he hears Kieran let out a small chuckle. "You seem very distracted today, Prince Julian. Is there a lot on your mind?"

Julian smiles ever so slightly. "You could say that, Kieran." He folds his hands together. "I've got a lot to think about and not much to do anymore." Julian cringes internally when his words come out more bitter than he intended.

Kieran comes back to him. "I'm going to start helping you to get dressed, sir. Can you remove your shirt?" Julian nods and complies, starting to shrug off the silk nightshirt he had worn. He wonders if it's the dark blue shirt, his favorite, or maybe it was the green and white striped shirt? "Your highness, if I may, you've made tremendous progress since your incident," Kieran says quietly, but so much conviction in his voice.

Julian can't help but scoff. He feels Kieran's hands grab him and put the shirt in his hands. "And yet I can barely dress myself."

"Clothing is difficult, you know this. The physician said it would be one of the more difficult aspects of gaining your independence." Julian slips his arms through the sleeves and begins the slow and arduous process of buttoning his shirt. "But you're walking without much assistance now, you're dressing yourself better, and your Braille is coming along nicely." Kieran slips a tie around Julian's neck once he's finished buttoning his shirt and Julian can imagine Kieran's calming smile as he speaks. "You have braved this head-on and that in itself is very admirable. Remember, Illéa wasn't built in a day, your highness."

Julian smiles a larger and more genuine smile now. "Thank you, Kieran. That means a lot. I simply wish other people could see that, too."

Kieran's hands pause, just for a moment, before continuing to knot his tie. "Is that a reference to your mother, sir?"

Julian straightens his back and gently pushes Kieran's hands away. Kieran immediately steps back and allows the prince to stand on wobbly legs. "If you would, I'd like to put my pants and shoes on myself, Kieran."

There's a long silence before Julian feels Kieran grab his hands and place his pants in them. "Of course, Prince Julian. Would you like me to stay in the room, or should I wait in the hallway for you?" His voice is quiet again, unsure, and Julian feels bad for making him feel so cautious.

He tries to smile again, going for reassuring, though he's sure it comes out lop-sided and more like a grimace. "Outside, please, Kieran, I'll be out in a second."

"Yes, your highness. I...apologize for speaking out of turn." Kieran steps away and he hears Kieran walk toward his door.

"Kieran, thank you for your concern. I'm not angry with you; you did nothing wrong." The door snicks shut, and Julian's not sure if Kieran heard him or not, or if he cared. Julian continues to get dressed, slipping his pants and shoes on like it's second nature to him. He grabs the walking stick laid against the wall next to his bed and crosses the room to the door.

He looks to his right, to the mirror that always used to hang there, and wonders if it's still there. There's not much of a reason for it to be there now, but he's been too afraid to reach out and see if it's still there. He wants it to be, wants some semblance of normalcy in his life. What handsome young prince doesn't have a mirror in his room, really? His hand reaches out, slowly going toward where he thinks the mirror is, but a loud knock sounds on the door.

"Prince Julian, are you alright?"

Julian drops his hand quickly and nods. He grapples on the door for a moment, looking for the doorknob, before he turns it and opens the door. A burst of cool air greets him when he opens the door, and he feels Kieran to his right as he steps out into the hallway.

He turns his head and smiles, a little unsure. "How do I look, Kieran? Is everything on correctly?"

"Looking great, your highness. May I comb your hair before we go see your parents? The King would like to talk to you before you eat breakfast."

"Sure, Kieran, go ahead." Kieran immediately starts to brush Julian's hair and he can't help but chuckle a bit at the mental image of Kieran standing in the hallway with a brush in his hand at the ready for any unruly hair that needs to be contained. "I don't know why everyone thinks I don't know about his request." Julian sighs. "My eyesight has gone, but my hearing is still very much alive."

He imagines Kieran smiling at this. "And is it heightened like many claim?"

Julian grins. "I'm not sure about that. I certainly pay more attention to what people say now, though, because I can't focus on what they do."

"I see-I uh, I understand, I mean."

Julian sighs inwardly at the "gaff" Kieran made. As if the word "see" was going to make much of a difference in Julian's life at this point. He moves past it, however, as Kieran takes the brush away from his hair, seemingly satisfied with the style he's made it into. "Let's move forward, sir, the King and Queen are waiting for you."

They walk down the hallway in a companionable silence, the only noise being the gentle "tick-ticks" of Julian's walking stick. Of all the rooms in the palace, Julian feels as though he misses the hallway the most. Pictures upon pictures of the royal family members through the years. Members gained, members lost, solemn faces, joyful faces, young, old, he wanted to see them all again. He wanted to see his grandmother's face, especially, Queen Jeanette Schreave, the witty, clever woman who shaped his childhood. What he wouldn't give to see her face again. Lined with age and experience, but always loving and friendly. He would look at her and know exactly what she was feeling, unlike-

"Your Majesties, King Edward and Queen Mariana Schreave," A voice announces as Julian walks through the doors with Kieran by his side and steps into the throne room. The throne room, as Julian remembers, was a large, almost entirely empty room with high ceilings and lined with gold on the floor. The tiles were a porcelain white, almost see-through, and thoroughly cleaned. Often as a child, Julian enjoyed sitting on the floor while his parents sat in their thrones and would make faces at himself while his parents worked.

Julian walks forward until Kieran steadies him in what he supposes is right in front of his parents with a gentle tug of his elbow. Julian stops and raises his eyes to where he hopes his parents are. He feels Kieran fall behind him and he stands up straighter to address them.

"Good morning, Dad," He says, nodding his head. His voice drops ever so slightly, "Good morning, Mother."

His father was a formidable figure in Julian's youth, and even as he got older, his father still seemed like a large and untouchable man due to his large stature and stern demeanor.

"Julian, you look good this morning, son. Did you dress yourself?" His father's words, though seemingly kind, are tinged with a tone of condescension. Julian thinks he probably said it with a smile on his face, too, gentle, but skeptical.

Julian nods. "I did, by myself." He opens his mouth again to give Kieran credit, but the Queen cuts him off.

"Your shoelaces are tied crooked, dear." She croons, completely and totally insincere, and he knows that without ever having to look at him. "Do try harder next time to look like a prince as a whole. Even a crooked shoelace can be seen as lazy entitlement to another royal, one who looks close enough." The throne creaks and Julian imagines the Queen leaning back in the throne as if she couldn't care less. "And they all look that closely, Julian."

Julian shifts on his feet, hoping his face doesn't reveal how annoyed he is. "Did you call me here just to criticize my shoelaces, mother, or is it something of value?"

"Julian Michael-"

"Mother, do you not think I hear the staff whispering about my upcoming Selection? About who I'm going to choose and where the girls will be kept and how on Earth will I be able to someone when I have no idea what she looks like, and I never will?" Julian scoffs, crossing his arms over his chest. "I can hear perfectly fine, especially when people talk as loudly and as often as your staff does."

The Queen doesn't say anything back, but he knows she's clenching her jaw as to not use her silver tongue against him. He's been on the receiving end only a few times in his life, but he knows how cutting and deadly she can be with her words if she really chooses to be.

His father speaks up, instead. "You're right, Julian. We've been planning for a few weeks now for you to have a Selection, since your previously scheduled one was canceled, due to...what happened last year." He clears his throat, but continues on, "I know you're still trying to gain your footing after losing your sight, but I believe the country and you could use the Selection as a distraction to what happened."

"The country needs a distraction? Really?" Julian can't keep the incredulous tone out of his voice.

"You almost died, Julian. You, the crown prince of Illéa almost lost his life and was in a coma for almost half a year! The entire country held their breaths in fear and in mourning over who they could have lost! Yes, they need to see you're alright, and they need to see their prince alive and well and thriving. And they need to see how much you've recovered since your accident."

Julian hears his father stand up and step down from his throne and in front of Julian, gently placing his hands on his son's shoulders. "Julian, you've been a ghost since your recovery, and all I want for you is to see you start to live again, and I believe your Selection could be a big catalyst in that."

Julian sighs internally but takes his father's words in. Julian had a few girlfriends in the past, but not since the accident, and no one super serious. He was interested in finding someone, sure, but what girl would want to go into a competition where the prince can't admire how beautiful she is? Would she feel burdened by him? Would she feel the need to take care of him? Would she-

"Julian?" His father's voice breaks through and Julian comes back to himself. He raises his eyes to where his father's voice is coming from. "I'm not asking for your permission on this, it's happening and this evening, we're going to make it official on the Report." His father pauses, perhaps to let that sink in, before he continues. "However, I would like it if you were to stay as open-minded and receptive as possible throughout this whole process. The Selection is your mother's and my idea, so if you're going to be angry or upset, do so with us and not your selected girls."

Julian nods, only once, feeling the beginning of a migraine in the front of his head, pushing right behind his eyes. "Yes, Dad."

His father hums. "Good. Kieran, please taken Julian to breakfast. Your mother and I are going to start on the official forms that will be sent out tomorrow after the Report airs."

"Prepare yourself, Julian. A sour attitude will not get you a future wife, nor will it dissuade your father and me," The Queens says, "behave yourself like the good prince you are."

Julian steps back, gritting his teeth. "Understood, Mother." He takes another step back, feeling Kieran by his side, before letting his walking stick hit the floor and walking out of the throne room toward the dining room, where his siblings wait for him.

"After breakfast, prince Julian, we'll head back to your room and properly prepare you for the Report," Kieran says as cheerfully as he can, to break into the uncomfortable silence that has blanketed over them since leaving the throne room.

Julian smiles a bitter thing and shrugs. "Oh, do I not look presentable enough, Kieran?"

"Not at all, your highness. I completely mucked up your hair and your wardrobe is atrocious!" Julian laughs, only because he knows Kieran is absolutely serious, always doubting his abilities, especially after a meeting with the King and Queen. Julian reaches out his arm, searching for Kieran's shoulder, before landing on what he hopes is at least Kieran's arm in a comforting way.

"Well then, it's a good thing I'm only seeing Connie and Lou. They're unimportant, anyhow," Julian jokes. "I don't need to impress them."

Kieran hums his reply, and Julian's sure there's a smile on his face. They walk down the hallway a bit longer, before Julian stops, suddenly, and faces what he hopes is the wall.

"Am I close to my grandmother's portrait, Kieran?"

"Very close, sir! I'm going to show you how close, now." Kieran gently grabs Julian's arm and walks him five spaces to the left. "You're getting closer and closer every day."

He steps forward, while Kieran steps back, giving him privacy as Julian gently knocks his head against the portrait and closes his eyes, not much of a difference for him, sure, but it makes him feel closer to her. He imagines her pressing her forehead against his, breathing in his worries and insecurities, his anger, and frustration, and breathing out only love, positivity, guidance, and hope. It grounds him and sews him up wholly before he opens his eyes again, and thanks her portrait, before stepping back.

That small moment grounds him and makes him truly realize that his Selection is happening, whether he wants it to or is prepared for it. Thirty-five beautiful, hopeful, and interesting women are coming to the palace for a chance to be with him, and he needs to get with the program and welcome it. Julian squares his shoulders, stands up taller, and lifts his chin.

"All right, Kieran, let's go."

Hello, everyone! Welcome to my first SYOC story! I'm very excited to get it started with what I hope is a fairly original story idea! Please take this Schreave family as sort of an alternate reality type of family to the one we know and love from the actual series. Same country, same provinces, just a different family and set of candidates.

I won't keep you here for too long, as I'm excited to see what kind of girls you all make, but first: just a little info on all this. I'm only going to accept somewhere between twelve to fifteen official girls as to not overwhelm myself by trying to perfectly capture so many different personalities. Please only submit by PM, as I'm going to be asking follow up questions, and I want to keep the girls a surprise from everyone so it makes the story more interesting.

Please send me all different types of girls with different body types, skin tones, personalities, and backgrounds. I also love the idea of a bad girl or two and making her a "bad girl" won't automatically kick her out of the running for the crown.

I would really love as much detail as possible. If you think it's too much, it's probably not! I want to portray your girls as authentically and as best to my ability as I possibly can, and the best way I can do that is by being given as much detail as possible!

Please keep in mind, this is not first-come, first-serve. I will be picking girls based on the amount of detail that's in the form, and how well I can see her fitting into the story. I will turn away girls if I feel there isn't enough for me to work on, if I don't see them working in the story, or if I'm simply not a big fan of them, and I hope you all can understand and accept that.

I will really only be accepting Two through Sixes. I will accept only one One and one Seven, so If you're going to make a girl in that caste, please make sure she's as kick-ass as possible.

The form is on my profile, and I cannot wait to see who you all come up with! I would love it if you left a review of the story so far: I'd love to see what you all think of Julian, Kieran, the King and Queen, and of Julian's situation!

For now, I'm keeping everyone's personalities a secret and will send descriptions of them to you if your girl is accepted later on. For right now, the only character I want to know how she would react around and what she thinks of them is Prince Julian, which is on the form.

Have fun creating, and please stay safe, healthy, and kind :)

~Rose