The Princess Academy ~ New Chapter 25
Even though I am leaving
I still must keep believing
My heart I am bringing
Mount Eskel is singing
"Who do you think he'll choose?" Britta asked Miri.
"I don't know, but whoever it is the most important thing is that their happy," Miri told Britta. Miri wondered if she would be happy if Prince Steffan, of Danland, chose her to be his bride. Maybe she would miss Mount Eskel, her home, too much, or maybe she would enjoy seeing the world.
Miri flashed back to reality, "Yes, Britta?"
Britta gave Miri a questioning look, then dismissed it. "Do you want to be chosen?" Britta asked. She toned down her voice to a whisper, "What about Peder?" Miri's hear seemed to skip a beat as Britta mentioned Peder.
"Truthfully, I don't know if Peder and I will ever be more than friends," Miri explained. "Pluss," Miri went on, "If Steffan picks me, what can I do? Say no?" Miri paused. "What about you? Would you want to marry him?" Miri asked Britta the same question.
"I, ah, I… haven't even met him yet," Britta stuttered. Miri and Britta sat in a long silence, until Britta spoke again. This time her voice was filled with regret and sorrow, "Oh, Miri! I can't lie to you any longer! I know Steffan! We were childhood friends! My parents faked their death so I could come live with my other relatives, and be an eligible girl from Mount Eskel!" Britta took a deep breath, and then continued, "I lied about being sick on the night of the ball, because I was afraid that Steffan wouldn't love me." Britta let out a whimper and spoke again, "I couldn't lie to him, because I love him!"
Miri starred at Britta, clearly overwhelmed by the truth. "Britta, you have to try and see if he loves you back. There is no possible way you can get a reward without a risk. Also, wouldn't you be more happy knowing the truth, good or bad, rather than not knowing and never finding out?" Miri advised.
"I… yes, thank- you, Miri," Britta replied. She forced a smile through her barrier of sadness. The two girls exchanged a hug, then proceeded outside to wait for the prince.
"Girls, come here please!" Olana called to her former students. Britta, Miri, and the other mountain girls gathered around their tutor from the Princess Academy. Tutor Olana had a radiant smile on her face as she looked around at all the girls. She spoke loud and clear, "I am very proud of all of you! Whoever is chosen, I wish you luck as my queen! Also, I find it nesasary to congratulate Miri, who made a very good impression as Academy Princess, and who saved us from the bandits back in winter. For this Miri, good luck!" Once Olana finished, the girls clapped for Miri, making her blush. Then it hit her, like a block of linder being dropped on her heart. What if she had made to much of a good impression, and she ruins Britta's chance of marrying her true love? No! Miri pushed the thought away, and another appeared. No one would pick her, who would want to marry little Miri? Would Peder?
A loud horn sounded in the distance, interrupting Miri's thoughts. "The prince must be here!" Esa, an Academy girl, shouted. Miri wanted to shout in excitement too, but as soon as she saw Britta's pale face, she held her tongue. Miri felt the urge to comfort her , so she walked over to her and whispered, "Don't fret! C'mon, be confident! Don't give up, like I did on Peder." Britta forced a weak smile to show Miri her gratitude. Miri giggled. "What's so funny?" Britta asked. "You! There's no need to panic!" Miri told her, then turned as to go. "Wait, Miri," Britta pleaded. Miri turned back to her. "Even if he picks you, I still want to be friends!" Britta said, showing a true smile. "Same here! I wouldn't want it any other way!" Miri said back. Miri grabbed Britta's hand, and together they ran to catch up with the other Academy girls.
As the academy girls marched up the school stairs, probably for the last time, Miri could sence mixed emotions. Esa was excited and curious. Girti was happy and jumpy. Katar was nervous. Britta, of course, was scared and fidgety. But, the one person's feeling's Miri couldn't read were her own. She felt like she was going to explode from anticipation, but no real emotions flowed through her.
Another horn sounded, just much closer this time. This is it! Miri's conscience yelled inside her head. "The prince is here to choose his bride!" A woman stood by the door and made the announcement welcoming Prince Steffan. Prince Steffan walked carefully around, conversing with each girl. His look was soft, kind, and gentle, but when he saw Britta he stiffened. Britta, who was still starring at her feet, never met his gaze.
Finally, when Prince Staffan came to Miri he smiled, more warmly than to any other girl. He slowly held out his hand, and Miri reached to meet it. Gracefully, Miri stood up. Her heart pounded, he had chosen her! The Prince of Danland had chosen small little Miri as his bride. Miri was touched, but then the pictures flashed through her mind. Peder. Her father. Britta. All these people, people she loved, she would be leaving behind, and maybe breaking their hearts.
"Prince Steffan chooses Miri Larendaughter to be his bride!" The woman called.
"Miri Larendaughter, do you take Steffan Sabetson to be your husband?" The woman asked Miri. "I...I..." Miri paused, she couldn't say no to the prince, "I do."
"Steffan Sabetson do you take Miri Larendaughter to be your bride?"
Miri had done it. Britta jumped up after Steffan's words, and let out a small wail. Clearly, she couldn't stand it. Britta let one small tear roll down her cheek, looked at Steffan, then sprinted out of the Academy.
"Steffan, one moment please?" Miri asked. He gave a small nod of approval for her to go. Miri raced after Britta.
"Britta, please wait!" Miri called.
"Why should I?"
Miri answered sharply, "Because you're my best friend!"
"Well, if you were my friend you wouldn't have said yes!" Britta countered.
Miri lowered her voice to sound more comforting, "Britta, I thought we promised we would still be friends no matter who was chosen?"
"I… I… I'm so sorry, Miri, it's not your fault," Britta whispered.
"I understand, I just broke your heart," Miri paused, "And Peder's"
"I'm happy if you and Steffan are. I just freeked out about the way he looked at me. I'm sorry! Do you forgive me?" Britta begged.
"Yes, you had all the right to get upset. I know you're hurting, but it'll pass after a while. I'm sorry, too." Miri said, while she gave Britta a friendly hug.
"Go back in," Britta told Miri. Miri turned to go, then she stopped, when she relized that Britta didn't follow, and said, "You coming?"
Britta replied, speaking as if she was unsure, "I guess so."
Britta and Miri entered back into the Academy, with all eyes on them. Britta took her seat again, only this time she held her head higher than ever. Miri rejoined Steffan. She leaned over and told him something, in a hushed voice. He whispered back. Then, he turned to the woman, "We would like to take a walk." She nodded, and told two of the soldiers to keep a watchful eye.
Miri and Steffan walked through the academy door, side by side. As soon as they were out of earshot, Miri spoke, "Steffan, please excuse Britta."
"I will, and if you could go get her, I would like to have a word with her," Steffan said calmly.
Moments later Miri returned with Britta. Britta curtsied to the Prince immediately. "Britta, I know you came here for one reason, and you're parents aren't dead," Steffan informed her.
"I…" Britta stuttered nervously.
"It's ok, I understand. You are free to go back to living with your parents. I explained to my father that they're not actually dead," Steffan explained.
"You knew?" Britta asked, astonished and ashamed.
"Yes. I wish you a happy life. Good bye."
"Thank- you, good bye."
That's all, they were friends, never to be anything more, just like her and Peder.
"Lady Miri, Prince Steffan," Britta curtsied amd turned to go.
"Wait!" Miri called after her. Miri ran to meet her. She caught up and gave her best friend a tight hug.
Miri whispered in her ear, "Friends?"
Britta smiled, "Of course, I wouldn't want it any other way!"
Miri waved, then ran back to join her prince. Her prince! The prince picked her to wed, and she was a Mount Eskel girl, and always would be no matter where she traveled.