He ran a comb through his silvery hair, humming a made-up song to his reflection in the mirror over his bureau. He couldn't help but smile at the sounds of birds chirping and people laughing outside his open window. The sun shone brightly into the prince's chamber, giving the room a pleasant feeling of warmth. It was a beautiful afternoon.
Finally laying the comb aside, Prince Ismachi reached behind his head and carefully braided his longish hair, tying it neatly at the ends with a thin leather band. For the finishing touch he hooked a white, talon-like earring through his left ear. Taking just a moment to gaze outside at the bustling city below the stone walls of the palace, he knew it was going to be a wonderful day.
Her leg twitched anxiously as her maid tried running a comb through her long, dark hair. "That hurts!" she cried, squirming in her chair, where she was seated before her vanity.
"Princess, I do apologize," the poor servant girl said, "but it's difficult to comb her Highness's hair when the princess is fidgeting in her seat!"
"Oh, just give it here!" Lymsleia grabbed the comb away from her maid, standing and leaning close to the mirror to make sure every hair was in place.
There was a gentle rap at the door.
The princess glared at her servant through the mirror's reflection. "Get that, will you? And tell whoever it is to go away." As the maid moved toward the door, she turned around quickly and added, "Unless it's him!"
The maid might have murmured something under her breath, but Lymsleia paid her no attention, focusing once more on her own appearance. She began to wonder now if she had selected the right dress, the right bow...
A girlish giggle behind her made her turn. "Miakis!" Lymsleia cried. "What's wrong? Does it look all right? Do I have it tied too tightly? Is my hair a mess?"
The princess's young bodyguard covered her mouth with her fingertips to suppress another laugh. "No, Princess! I promise, you look glamorous. I just found that look of concentration on your face a bit funny, is all. Are you ready?"
"I don't know. Am I?" The princess spun around slowly, showing off her pale blue gown. It clung to her small breasts and hips, then flared out toward the bottom in a cascading waterfall of pure silk. The sleeves were cut short and the neckline was wide, revealing the pale skin of her throat and leaving her slender arms bared. The sides of her hair were pulled behind her head and held by a puffy blue bow. "Too much?" she asked meekly, patting the bit of fluff.
Miakis couldn't help but laugh again. "Honestly, Princess, you worry far too much! The prince will think you're lovely, no matter what."
Her words seemed to appease the princess, whose countenance then settled into a peaceful glow. She smoothed her hand over her hair one last time, then picked up her parasol and led Miakis out of the room.
Prince Ismachi was waiting for his sister just outside the palace. He had been happily chatting and joking with Georg, one of the Queen's Knights, and his own bodyguard, Lyon, when Lymsleia stepped out into the sunlight. Her appearance was so radiant that it caught everyone's eyes, and Ismachi's laughter melted away into a smile of pleasure. "Lym!" he grinned, taking a step towards her.
"Big brother!" she greeted him back, rushing forward, barely clutching her parasol.
"How ladylike!" Miakis mocked her playfully from behind.
Lymsleia skidded to a halt, a flustered look on her face. Swallowing, she curtsied gracefully to her older brother, holding her parasol elegantly to one side.
Ismachi returned Lymsleia's bow, shooting Miakis a look of irritation. He felt that sometimes she picked on the princess a little too much. But the young Queen's Knight just grinned back at him slyly, giving him an informal nod.
The princess raised herself up slowly, her eyes downcast as she said, "Good afternoon, Ismachi."
The prince stepped closer until he was standing right before her. Then, placing one hand on her nearly-bare shoulder, he gently lifted her chin with his other hand to look into her eyes for a moment before kissing her forehead tenderly. "Hi, Lym," he murmured quietly. The girl's eyes brightened at once. Smiling, Ismachi stepped back again and offered her his arm. "Well! Shall we?"
Lymsleia brightened at once, nodding happily and quickly taking her brother's arm, pressing close. "Lead the way!" she cried with glee.
Ismachi laughed happily, his guards parting the way with respectful bows as the royal pair passed by. Lyon and Miakis followed at a slight distance, ever vigilant of their regal charges. The Queendom of Falena had flourished in peace for some time now, but even if law had not required the prince and princess to always be guarded outside of the palace, the young Queen's Knights would hardly have left them go outside on their own. Miakis could be playful and teasing at times, but she actually took her duties quite seriously. Almost as seriously as Lyon, who never left Ismachi's side if it could be helped.
"I wish we could go outside by ourselves sometime," Lymsleia sighed softly, casting a quick glance back at their bodyguards, trailing behind them down the palace steps. "It's so unfair!"
Ismachi looked at the young knights bringing up the rear, giving a slight shrug. "I wasn't really paying them any mind. You're the one I'm giving all my attention to right now."
The princess glowed happily, smiling up at him as they passed through the castle gates to the city. "You're so sweet! But I just meant that I wish we had a little more privacy. Sometimes I feel like I have so much I want to tell you, but there's always someone watching." She cast the respectfully bowing townspeople around them suspicious looks.
Ismachi laughed quietly, nodding to passers-by who had stopped to watch the noble pair. "What could you possibly have to tell me that you wouldn't want any of them to hear?"
"Oh, nothing!" the princess nervously giggled with him. "It's just the thought, really!" She turned her head and peered through the window of an antique shop, feigning interest to hide her flushed cheeks, but she continued walking and kept her arm linked with her brother's.
"Well," Ismachi said very softly, leaning near enough that his cheek brushed her hair, "if it sounds that good to you, perhaps we could arrange something..."
"What's going on up there?" Miakis demanded, following the royal couple more closely. "Are you two sharing secrets?"
"It's none of your business!" Lymsleia said a little harshly, turning her head to glare at the knights. "Now be quiet! You're spoiling the mood." She opened her parasol almost violently, and used it to pointedly shield herself from more than the late afternoon sunlight.
Miakis grinned, elbowing Lyon's ribs. "Did you hear that? Ismachi must be saying something really romantic to her if she's getting that crabby about our butting in!"
"Butting in? Speak for yourself!" Lyon replied irritably, rubbing her side. "And you should speak more respectfully of their Highnesses."
"Oh, I was only telling Lym how beautiful she looks today," Ismachi said casually, peeking around the rim of the parasol. "And that's no secret."
"Oh, Ismachi!" Lymsleia cried, flushing a darker shade of red. He smiled at her, and she leaned a little more heavily on his arm, forgetting insults and embarrassment for the moment.
Miakis winked at Lyon, who gave her a confused look, receiving an eye-roll in return.
For a while the small group was quiet, the guards beaten into submission and the royals happy to simply enjoy one another's company. Then they passed by a jewelry shop and Lymsleia actually tore herself from Ismachi to exclaim over something she saw in the window. "Can we--?" she started to ask, but he was already holding the door open for her.
"Princess Lymsleia, Prince Ismachi!" the jeweler greeted them with a regal bow. "What brings Their Royal Highnesses here today?"
"We're just looking around," Ismachi told him, his hands clasped behind his back as he followed Lymsleia to the display in the window. "You can go look, too," he told Lyon, who was on his heels.
"Oh. O-okay..." She reluctantly stopped where she stood and did not go after him, but she didn't follow Miakis to the counter, either.
The prince turned and gave her a look. "Relax," he said. "We're safe, as far as I can tell."
"Y-yes, Your Highness," Lyon stuttered, but Ismachi had already turned his back on her again and was attending the princess. She turned to Miakis for support, but the young girl only shrugged at her, a funny little smirk twisting on her lips. Lyon sighed.
Lymsleia was bent over the display sculpture of a woman's bust, her eyes wide with delight. "Isn't it beautiful?" she exclaimed to her brother, eyeing the statue's jeweled necklace. "And the stone matches my gown!"
"It would look beautiful on you," Ismachi replied. He turned immediately to the jeweler. "We'll take it."
The prince turned to his younger sister, smiling. "And she'll wear it out, please."
"Yes, Sir! Yes, Your Highness!" The jeweler bowed graciously several times before even ringing up the purchase, and as the group left they could hear him clucking away at his assistant about how jealous his rivals would be when they heard that the royal family was shopping at his store.
"We should shop at every jewelry store in the city, just for a laugh!" Miakis giggled, watching as Ismachi pulled Lymsleia close and clasped the silver chain behind her neck.
"Why do that?" Lyon questioned her as the group stood on the sidewalk. "You'd just ruin everybody's day."
"Well, I thought it sounded like fun!" Miakis pouted.
"What are those two gossiping about?" the princess sighed, releasing the hair she'd held back for Ismachi to put the necklace on her.
The prince ran his fingertips through Lymsleia's hair as he brushed it gently back over her shoulder. "Who cares, as long as they leave us alone?"
Lymsleia turned her full attention to Ismachi. "Thank you so much for buying it for me," she said happily, her dainty fingers brushing the pale blue stone of the necklace.
"It looks beautiful on you," he said softly, his eyes worshiping the necklace resting on her chest. "You're so beautiful, Lymsleia." He took her arm again and began leading her down the street.
"Ismachi..." She sighed dreamily, resting her head on his shoulder as they strolled. "I love being with you."
"I love you, too, Lym."
The princess's head rose from her brother's shoulder and she looked up at him. "Ismachi... What did you--"
The group halted and turned simultaneously as a familiar voice called to the prince.
"Yo! Ismachi!" Kyle, another of the Queen's Knights, grinned eagerly as he jogged over to them. "What are you guys doin' in town?"
"Oh, Ismachi's just taking Lymsleia out for a little date," Miakis said innocently.
"W-WHAT!" Lymsleia screamed.
Miakis shrugged, even as Princess Lymsleia shouted at her and shook her small fists in rage.
"Kyle, you really ought to speak to their Highnesses with more respect, especially out in public like this," Lyon lectured.
Ignoring her sermon, Kyle blinked a little at Lymsleia, then turned to Ismachi. "I can see why you'd want to take a babe like your sister out on the town, but... why did you bring those two chicks?"
"Ch-chicks!" Lyon stuttered.
Ismachi shrugged. "They're just doing their jobs."
"Ohh..." Kyle nodded. "I see. Then maybe I should call you 'Your Highness,' too, then, right?" He laughed.
"Are you mocking the prince!" Lyon cried.
"No," Kyle smirked. "I was actually about to tell him about this hot chick I saw working at the rune shop." He turned to Ismachi. "Interested in going to take a peek?"
Ismachi's eyes widened. "Actually, I--"
"No, he's not!" Lymsleia shouted angrily at Kyle , finally letting Miakis off the hook. "He's spending time with me today, not you. And besides, it's getting late, and dinner will be ready soon." She grabbed her brother's sleeve. "Come on, Ismachi! Let's go home!"
As she dragged the prince away, two flustered bodyguards in tow, Kyle stood on the street corner and laughed.