Chapter 1: Plans


I walk to the edge of the cliff, the pearls glowing on my hand. I throw them as hard as I can out into the ocean. Then, something unexpected happens. They fly back into my hands. I study them for a moment and break the pearls apart and throw them back again. Again they return to me, but instead of catching the pearls they attach themselves to my dress. I try to pull them off but they won't budge…

I look back at the people I love and their confused faces. Why was the moon refusing the offering? Didn't she want her beloved Pearls back? I then realize what must happen. So, I turn to my friend, my dear tutor and my family. And then I turn. And I jump.

The last thing I heard were voices yelling after me. They were begging me not to jump, but it was the only way.

The water is warm and welcoming, taking me down to rest on the ocean floor. I close my eyes and welcome death. But moments later I hear a voice. "Maria?" it calls.

"Maria!" the voice calls again.

"Maria!" My eyes flashed open. Just a dream, I tell myself, it was just a dream.

Knock, knock, knock.

"Maria! You must awake, dear girl!" Mrs. Heliotrope called through my closed bedroom door. Is it really morning already?

I rolled out of my bed groggily and head for the door, stumbling a couple of times on the way.

"Good morning," she cried giddily as I open the door. My beloved tutor has been much kinder since she became married to Digweed, making her much more tolerable. "Have you had a good night's rest?" I can only nod as she continues on with simple chatter. "Breakfast awaits us, dear. Please, hurry and prepare yourself for the day. I hear Master Robin has the day all sorted out for the both of you. He's waiting for you downstairs."

Robin? When did he arrive? No matter. Hearing this awakens me enough that I rush to get dressed, brush the knots from my hair and skip down the stairs of the tall tower that leads away from my bedroom. While walking through the main hallway I notice Loveday has covered every decorative pedestal with her stunning pink roses, their sweet scent filling my nostrils. Uncle and Loveday married shortly after the five thousandth moon, and ever since then Loveday has been putting her own personal touches on Merryweather Manor.

I began to hear the conversation in the dining hall as I came closer. Just simple small talk, nothing important. Uncle was clearly trying to fill the awkward silence by questioning Robin about how Coeur De Noir and the rest of De Noir castle's inhabitants are doing.

"Good morning," I said as I turned the corner to enter the room. I am immediately greeted with a small chorus of good mornings from my family and best friend. I take my usual seat between Uncle Benjamin and, when he visits us, Robin, and began to eat my omelet in silence.

"So, Maria," Loveday said, causing me to look up from my food. "How are we going to celebrate your birthday?" for a moment I was unsure of what she was speaking of. Loveday obviously saw my confusion and began to explain. "Well, we must celebrate you sixteenth birthday! Dear heavens, Maria! Your birthday is next week and you haven't made any plans? You will only turn sixteen once. We must celebrate in some way!" I saw the look on her face and knew immediately that this was a plan of Loveday's that I would not be able to escape.

"A simple dinner, I suppose." I shrugged. "I do not want anything big. I'd prefer to keep my birthday small. I would like just our family to attend, and Robin and his father, of course." I smile up at De Noir boy sitting beside me.

"If that is what you wish, princess. It is your birthday, after all." He grins back at me.

"No, no. A dinner simply will not do. As you will be turning sixteen, you will be acknowledging the beginning of womanhood. An occasion such as this deserves a grand party. Perhaps a dance? Yes… a dance would be perfect! Wouldn't that be absolutely wonderful, Maria?" Loveday asked. I started to object to her idea, but she silenced me with a childlike giggle. "Oh, I knew you'd love the idea! And you need not worry, dear. I'll arrange everything."

"No, Loveday," I replied " I would really just prefer a simple din-"And there it was, the notorious pout. She knew exactly what she did when she did that. She always got her way when she pouted, heck, she always got her way anyway. "Oh, alright, we'll have a party," she giggled with delight "but no dancing. You know I can't dance…" I grumbled, receiving chuckles from everyone around the table. They clearly still remembered the wedding incident.

Robin pulled me out onto the dance floor, not taking "no" for an answer.

"Come now, princess, you must dance at a wedding. To do otherwise is simply unheard of." He cried in a teasingly manner. "What? Haven't got those two left feet fixed yet, have we?" normally I would punch him in the chest for this remark, but due to our current situation, I simply shook my head slowly. This made him laugh. "then let's work on that, shall we?"

"No, Robin, please," I begged "I'll end up trampling all your feet." This made him laugh even more.

"I'm sure I'll survive, just follow my lead, and whatever you do," he pulled me up into proper stance "don't break my toes. I think I may need them at some point in my life."

That's when disaster struck. We started dancing and not two minutes in, I stepped on his left foot. He acted as if he didn't notice, but I heard him curse under his breath. We continued on like this, me stepping on his feet and him respectfully pretending not to be in pain. Then I tripped and we both fell down. He was laughing hysterically while I turned red with embarrassment. He helped me up like a gentleman and insisted I never dance again. I was a "hopeless cause."

We all finished our meal in silence after they finished their laughs. I then became caught up in thinking of what Robin might have planned for us today. When I had finished, Robin stood and we excused ourselves.

"Off we go, then, princess." He smiled at me and led me through the sitting room where Wrolfe lay snoring loudly. There was no need for our dear pet to hide his true form anymore, so we had become accustomed to seeing the brilliant black lion. But Robin still tenses up around him, remembering all the times the Wrolfe has attacked him to protect me. I place a hand on Robin's arm, assuring him, once again, that Wrolfe is harmless. He simply gives me a small smile and leads me to the back yard and into the forest.

"Robin," I call after him. He was only a few yards ahead of me so it wasn't hard to get his attention.

"Yes?" he replies, not slowing his pace ahead of me.

"Where exactly are we going?" he chuckles, amused by my already curious mind, and slows down a bit.

"It's a surprise," He says. I frown, wanting to know more.

"I'm not particularly fond of surprises." I grumble, making him laugh. He stops and turns to face me and we crash into each other, making me nearly fall backwards and making him laugh even harder. He catches me and holds me steady until I regain my balance.

"Don't you trust me, princess?" he raises an eyebrow, and uses his big brown eyes to bore into me. He seems to notice that whenever he does this, I begin to melt at his feet. I merely nod. He grins and offers his arm to me and I accept it. He then begins to lead me deeper and deeper into the forest. "Then, come along and don't ask questions. Like I said, it's a surprise."

(A/N) So? What do you think! I'll try my best to have at least two chapters each week

But no promises :/

Please Review! i would LOVE to know what you think!