Chapter 6

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I send Matty into my room to retrieve a dress. I'm not yet prepared to face Connor... let him suffer in his guilt for all I care. In the meantime, I decide it is time to introduce myself to the kingdom, and begin to form my title. These people don't need a princess who roams the halls aimlessly, abiding the king's every wish and command... maybe they don't need a hot-headed, rebellious Hollie Barnersworth- Hollie of Clockman, that is, but they certainly need someone, and I suppose I'll have to do.
"He's out." Matty summons me, and I slide in the room, my eyes darting about the room before I feel completely assured.
"Quickly, Matty, before he returns." I urge her, sliding behind the elaborate wooden dressing screen just in case. I've already slipped out of the course trousers and woven tunic by the time she emerges holding a simple dark blue dress. White ruffles run down the velvet train like ocean spray. I'm relieved to see there will be no hoops involved.
"Corset, Miss?" Matty asks tentatively, holding the dreaded thing before me. I sigh, looking at the dress, the waist so small on the thing, even I will have trouble. I agree, and she gently slides on a thin silk white underdress, strapping on the corset over top. She begins to pull on the strings, and I gasp.
"Not that tight, Matty!" I press my hand to my stomach nearly choking at the suddenness, after a full twenty-four hours of freedom.
"Yes, my lady." She pulls it in a little more, though, before finally fastening it.
"I thought I told you to call me Hollie." I reprimand, as she unbuttons the back of my dress so I can step in.
"You did, miss." She sets it open on the ground, and I step in, letting her fit it around my petite body. "Only it's not my place. Only the prince and your closest friends may call you by your name."
"You are my friend, Matty." I cough, grimacing at the constriction in my chest. She pulls the dress tight about my waist.
"I cannot be your friend, Miss, if I am your servant." She buttons up the back of it, and I gasp. It barely fits.
"Jeez, this must have been made for a skeleton." I pant, looking in the mirror and feeling disgruntled by the sudden sharpness of my normally curvy figure.
"Like I mentioned, we simply brought in a few different sizes before we knew your measurements." She explains, untangling my dark, almost black hair from the shoulders. The dress admittedly is quite beautiful, which is something coming from me, but it is two silky and heavy to be comfortable, too tight around the waist. But I feel that, for once, I should look like a proper princess in front of my people, even if I don't act like one.
"Will that be all, my princess?"
"Yes, Matty. That will be all." I shake my hair out again, then realize I'm still not wearing shoes. "Actually, Matty, are there any shoes in the wardrobe?" I call behind me.
"I'll check, my lady." She goes to open the wardrobe, but I stop her.
"Nevermind..." I'm uncomfortable enough without the addition of pointy, tiny heels. "I don't think I want to wear shoes..."
"You really are an unusual princess." Matty informs me. She steps behind me and looks at me in the mirror. "Besides... no one will be looking at your feet."
I smile at her sweetly, and give her the rest of the day off without further ado. She deserves some freedom, poor girl. Joyously she thanks me, and bounces out the door. I follow, closing the bedroom behind me, and head to the great hall, nervous about what memories it may rekindle.
The room I was married in.
Even more daunting is the prospect that the princess, who is absent from his chambers, may be there as well.

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