A/N: Thank everyone for all the reviews! I love them. This chapter is sorta short, and not the best of chapters, but it's a chapter. Enjoy!



I reached my rooms only to have six of my ladies-in-waiting gather around me. These six were girls with brains, not like some of the head filled with fluff noble girls that I had met. These ladies were some of my closest friends.

" How did it go? " asked Lady Swailla of Gytilin.

" Ooh, she was a bitch, wasn't she? I can see it on your face," that was from Lady Tyonia of Voxly.

" She persists on calling me that stupid nickname Mara," I said with a shutter, flopping ungracefully onto the bed. " And she gave me this to wear, whatever it is, " and with that I threw the package to the floor. Lady Jaiklee of Saccar picked it up.

" Can I open this, Amaranta? " she questioned, and in reply, I nodded. Even though these girls were my friends, they were not as close as Lelle, Dev, and Gen, so they called me Amaranta instead of a nickname. Amaranta means, ' flower that never fades.' My mother wanted to name me that. And, as royals traditionally have more then one name, my father picked up the theme flower and named me thirteen additional names all meaning flower. Or at least something related to flower. I even have a list of what all the names mean.

Anthea - flowerlike. Ardice - flowering field. Cleantha - In praise of flowers. Diantha - Divine flower. Evanthe - Flower. Jessenia - Flower. Leilani - Heavenly Flower. Lilikia - Lilly flower. Philantha - Lover of flowers. Sidonie - Flower. Violet - violet, duh. Zinnia -From the flower. Zytka - Rose flower.

I was torn from my flowery thoughts when Lady Alaiusia of Petrigon gasped, " Oh! " and the other ladies made other sounds of surprise. Jaiklee held up a fashionable blue gown dripping with jewels. Miniature diamonds, of all things, were sown into the skirt part. Tiny sapphires rimmed the low neckline and the sleeves. Then I saw the shoes and gloves. The shoes were made entirely of blue gemstones, somehow melted into one another so they would stay together. The inside was flat, so when I tried them on, they fit comfortably. The gloves were of - and I had to check twice, even though I am excellent at identifying stones - diamonds with a pattern of emeralds and sapphires so each glove looked like it had a white background and then the stem and flower of a blue rose pictured on it. The stones were so tiny that when I tried on the gloves they bent and to my surprise did not prick or hurt me.

"Oh my god! " exclaimed Rehcia of Cystain, " That outfit alone could buy Cystain! "

" Lady Invidia gave this to you? " said Mayiil of Hlorze. " But she hates you, you said! "

" Oh, trust me she does," I said. " But I think she did to spite me, to show everyone else how much she loves me. "

" Damn politics," murmured Swailla, and the rest of us muttered agreement.

" And," I added, " I have to wear the silly thing all day.

" You'll be really hot," Alaiusia commented.

" And, god your shoulders will hurt. This thing is heavy, " Mayiil said.

" It's just screaming with the fact that the wearer has wealth," said Tyonia. " I can't believe she had the nerve to give this to you!"

" She's totally implying that you couldn't pay for this yourself," Jaiklee angrily spat out.

"God, don't you just hate it when someone pulls rank or money by giving you a gift?" The rest of us nodded in agreement to Rehcia's words. " And she really isn't in any position to pull rank on you! You're still the Crown Princess, and she's just a Lady . . ."

" A lady bound to become queen," I said bitterly. " And no doubt she'll debase be publicly because of my mother's low birth." It wasn't fair! I cried silently. It doesn't matter that Mama was born a commoner!

"But that's why all the villagers love you, Amaranta!" Alaiusia argued, the other girls agreeing. " Because you're mother was born like them."

" They don't give a damn that your blood on your father side in the book of gold," Tyonia said, always strong. " It's because your mother walked among them, talked among them, and left explicit orders that you were to do the same that they love you. They would only faintly care for you if you were just their princess . . . they do love you because you have walked through their villages, played with their children, sat at their hearth as they bandaged your knee along with their child's. But those are only the villagers that have seen you running barefooted through fields . . . Other, wider apart, love you, as unfairly as it is, because of your mother. And so far the court has not cared at all about your father marrying Queen Kasline. She was a beauty, and princes have been known to sweep peasant girls out of their regular lives because of their looks . . ." she gave an unladylike snort to show her disapproval, " and it's accepted. The new 'queen' won't get anywhere with her taunts," Tyonia ended fiercely.

I sighed, looking down at my feet. Actually, at my jewel encrusted shoes. I wished I could believe Tyonia . . .

The six ladies helped me out of the dress was in now and put the new one on me. Then they took it off, made me change from the five straight down petticoats I was wearing into seventeen puffed out ones. Then I had the gown put on me. The uncomfortable shoes were already on, and though I had removed the gloves. I replaced them, half my mind filled with wonder at the dazzling outfit - and half my mind filled with disgust. My friends brought me to one of my full-length mirrors. I stared at myself, like the other girls had when I first put it on.

" I'm sparkling!" I burst out. And I was. Literally. The diamonds and sapphires gleamed in the light. And this was inside. If I went outside on a sunny day like this, my slippers and gloves would surely blind people.

" Yes, Princess. We'd noticed," commented Mayiil dryly.

" Oh my god, I hate this! Everyone's going to be staring at me like I've gone crazy. I can't even go outside without the sun burning out people's eyes when they look at me. And I certainly can't go outside outside. Down to the city, I mean. Not that I'd want to. I'd be way to embarrassed. But if I did - I'd be a complete beacon to thieves. God! " I would have liked to fling myself onto my bed, but it would have messed the dress. I'd like to, I thought angrily, but still sat down in front of a mirror so my ladies-in-waiting could do my hair. It was brushed gently and then quickly done up. (With jewels.) I suddenly realized *bang! * that I could just stay in my room all day, and no one would see me.

Okay, so it wasn't that brilliant. It was sorta obvious. But the Lady Invidia had only told me I had to wear the damn dress. She hadn't told me I had to let anyone see it on me. And so what if I should eat in the banquet hall for another feast tonight? I could skip. Done it before, and I'd do it again.

" Ladies," I said sweetly, and my ladies in waiting turned to me. " I am afraid I am a little . . . indisposed at the moment. I think I shall retire to my bed for the day. If any visitor come to call - excluding, of course, my father - then please tell them I am feeling sickly. " I flopped onto the bed, wincing as the gems dug into me.

" You're just going to stay in your quarters all day? " Rehcia asked, with a laugh.

" You're joking! " Jaiklee exclaimed with an astonished look.

" Duh! That is so obvious! " said Tyonia with a grin. " How come I didn't think of it? "

* * *

I spent the rest of the day in boredom. Father stopped by once, and I assured him that I was "not ill, just ill feeling." he stayed by my bed for an hour, talking about the kingdom at first, then about Mama. I always try to make him talk about her when we're together. He tells me all these memories he has of the two of them, and about them playing with me when I was a baby. Their story, to me, is like something out of a book.

Mama was a silversmith daughter that lived in a small village Giedonn. It was located in Hlorze, where Mayiil's from. Of course, Mayiil wasn't born back then. Anyway, Father met Mama when he was riding to visit the lord of Hlorze. He was riding his horse at a calm pace, when speeding out of the woods came Mama on her horse, at breakneck speed. Father's stallion reared and threw him into the air. Then he stood, calmly (the horse that is, Father was unconscious) like nothing had happened. Mama's horse had managed to avoid hitting the stallion, and she stayed on. But of course, Mama felt she had to wake him up - she couldn't leave the crown prince lying in the dirt. She couldn't however, wake him up, so she draped him over her mare and led the two horses back to her house.

Then, of course , they fell in love.

One would think that Father would have guards and the like all around him, because he was the crown prince. Crown princes - and princesses - actually do a lot more sneaking around then the public knows. The reason he was on a back road, alone, when he went to Hlorze, was because he was sneaking away to see the Lord of Hlorze's son, one of Father best friends. Which, duh, he wasn't supposed to be doing.

Father and Mama met secretly, as often as they could. Father wanted to marry my mother - 'she was as kind as she was pretty," he would tell me. My grandfather never learned who Father loved. My grandmother had died when Father was fourteen, and her husband seven years after. At twenty-one, my father was crowned, and he married my mother immediately after.

They loved each other. They loved each other more then anything. So why did Father want to marry again? Why marry Invidia, with the cold emerald eyes?