Chapter 1: Coming-of-Age

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I was particularly downcast the morning of my coming-of-age, for I'd been dreading this day for months.

The sunrise peeks in through the castle window, and as I stare at the canopy above my bed, I can hear the birds singing a song- a song of change. And yet, I feel no older, or wiser, or more royal than I had the day before.

Coming-of-age. I scoff at the mere thought. Also known as, 'You're old enough to be married and sent away'. As if that lined up with what I wanted in any way. Nevertheless, there was to be a grand festival in my honor today, that would finish off with a feast in the evening where I'm meant to be presented gifts from my betrothed and the entire kingdom.

Ugh. My betrothed. I groan just thinking about it, pulling up my soft covers to my chin and lying there deep in thought. I wanted to be married no more than I wanted to jump off the Western Cliffs and plunge to a watery death... though that was an option I was seriously considering at the moment.

I had never met him. No, seriously. The man I had been promised to since birth? I hadn't seen him once. Of course, I'd seen his portrait. He was handsome enough, I supposed. And smart. If the Holmes royal family of the kingdom of Motenir was known for anything, it was their sharp minds and quick wit. And the fact that they were, apparently, unbearable to be around.

"It could be worse," my older brother John loved to tell me, "You could be marrying a Moriarty." I shuddered at the thought, pulling the blankets closer. The Moriarty family ruled over the kingdom of High Avange, a smaller kingdom to our Northeast named for its towering mountains, rumored to be permanently shrouded in a dark mist. Wives' tales, of course, none of which bothered me. I wasn't scared over a little fog.

What scared me was their reputation. The Moriarty's were notorious their cunning and conniving ways, most notably used to assume the throne decades ago. There were a dozen rumors as to how they overthrew the last royal family, but I was fairly certain it wasn't by asking nicely. Once they were in control, the first thing they did was become the only of the three kingdoms to allow the free practice of magic. The royal family even had a court sorcerer, from what I had heard.

But no matter. My father the King would never allow me to go near a Moriarty, much less marry one. I was to be married to the eldest Holmes brother, Mycroft. Over past few decades, tensions have been high between our kingdom, Cair Fidetum, and Motenir. That is, until I came along. The day I was born, it was decided that Mycroft and I would be the ones to unify the two lands- bound them by blood. Allies for as long as our royal line lived on.

My stomach drops. It's a lot of pressure to put on one young woman's shoulders. No matter how much I want to back out, there's no stopping it. Together, our kingdoms would be able to withstand any attack, even from the Moriarty's. It was necessary.

"Your Highness?" I hear a familiar voice and a knock on the door, snapping me out of my thoughts. I take a deep breath. It's time.

"Come in, Molly." The wooden door creaks open and my handmaiden Molly peeks in. A short, mousy, brown-haired girl that I had practically grown up with. She'd been assigned to me since I was twelve, but she was only a few years older than me. At first, she was around to keep me out of trouble- a glorified babysitter if you will. But over time, she had proved to be a loyal friend.

"Ready for today, then?" she asks with forced enthusiasm, scurrying in and setting her tray down on the table.

I sigh as I swing my legs over the side of the bed and stretch. "Molly, if anyone knows how much I've been dreading this day, it's you."

She chuckles, "I've only heard you complain about it every day the last year, Your Highness."

I shoot her a fake-annoyed look, standing and smoothing my nightgown. "How many times have I got to tell you? You can just call me (Y/n)."

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