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The journey back to the capital was incredibly uneventful. The carriage was hot and stuffy, the countryside breeze was comfortable, yet smelled of manure, and the parade of guards continuously sang folk songs to pass their time, which created a less than perfect atmosphere for the already not-so-ideal morning.

They arrived mid-afternoon back at the Palais, unexpected as it seemed, the staff seemed shocked as the carriage pulled up to the front gates and the Prince stepped out.

Their trunks were being carried into the Palais as a servant approached them, bowing deeply, "The King and Queen request Your Highness's attendance in the King's chambers immediately."

Cal gave an apologetic smile to Ariella, kissing the back of her hand as a goodbye, "I'll call for you later."

Ariella nodded and watched as he walked away from her, her smile falling from her lips. She kept her eyes on his back, all the way until he entered the Palais and disappeared. It was strange, she felt, after being side-by-side for the past two days, that he was leaving her. She felt a need to be with him at all times, just to make sure he was alright.

She took a deep breath and finally turned to Mae who was mumbling absentmindedly to one of the other maids, "Mae," she said, her voice quiet, "I should like to find my chambers."

Mae gathered herself and turned towards Ariella, "Of course, Mademoiselle," she said as she pulled out her little notepad with Ariella's itinerary scribbled all over it, "Hmph," she mumbled irritatedly, "It seems we have a change of plans. Someone has switched you out of your old chambers and into a guest set on the Royal floor."

Ariella smirked, knowing exactly who had changed her schedule. It was then that she received a rather large embrace from behind her, two large arms tightening around her little waist, "Who in heavens name-" she muttered, turning around to find Louis, smiling misheviously, "Well, I'm glad to see you too."

Louis laughed, letting Ariella out of his arms, "It seems that I am one of the first nobles to have been informed of the Prince's arrival. If it weren't for my meddling, there would be a swarm of fiesty debutantes swarming him this very instant," he chuckled again, "I'm so happy to see you."

"How I've missed you, my dear friend!" Ariella exclaimed, throwing herself back into his arms.

"I heard you got injured whilst on tour," he said, a bit of his sarcastic tone fading away, "I would've come immediately, though I am now a married man," he lifted his left hand to show her his gold wedding band.

Ariella gasped dramatically, "Gabrielle?"

"Speak of the devil," he murmured, and glanced over to his wife who stared deviously in their direction as she walked towards them.

"Well, well, if it isn't little miss Ariella," Madame Gabrielle de Gall said in her annoying high pitched voice, "I heard you got viciously attacked while hunting. Perhaps it serves you right, seeing as though you've basically given yourself to the Prince. All the ladies have been talking about your little excursions together. You have to know he's merely using you-"

"You know nothing." Ariella spat, cutting her off mid-sentance.

Louis cleared his throat, "How do you fancy a walk, my dear?" He asked, turning to his wife who glared at Ariella.

Gabrielle nodded and hooked her arm with Louis', who began pulling her towards the gardens. He turned back towards Ariella and mouthed an apology.

Ariella smiled softly, watching them walk farther and farther away from her. She sighed.

Ariella and Mae were then led to Ariella's new chambers on the royal floor. The beauty of the Palais struck her again as if she'd never seen it before. The reflective marble tiles and the mirrored walls, it was like walking through heaven. It seemed like it was a home of sorts to her, perhaps because it she had spent so many happy days there, or perhaps, because it was Cal's home, and she loved him.

She smiled softly as she walked up the marble staircase, her hand grazing the smooth railing as Mae trailed behind her. Her footsteps echoing along the crisp tiles as she walked through the corridors, servants bowing to her along the way. When they finally reached the private section of the palais, she was hit with a feeling of pure astonishment. The walls were painted a dark red color, accented with gold and mahogany. Velvet cushions and love seats lined the walls of the corridors until they reached a grand sitting room, straight in front of her, there lay a set of giant, mahogany French doors. Two smaller matching pairs rested on the walls adjacent. Red roses, gold accent pieces and mirrors lined the walls. Velvet furnishings were arranged around the center of the room around a grand fireplace along with a gold pianoforte. Ariella glanced up to the ceiling, only to have her breath nearly knocked out of her lungs. She had never seen something so beautiful. Painted across the arched ceiling, there were two angels, reaching towards each other, their faces pained. Red and white cloth fell from their exquisite bodies, falling towards the earth below them. Flowers of gold and red were engraved in a circle around them, forced to be two inches apart for eternity. Ariella could feel their pain through their expressions. It was unexplainably, utterly, and undeniably, beautiful.

She sighed deeply, finding the strength within her to look away from the ceiling. She smiled sadly and glanced behind her, where Mae stood unlocking the fourth set of doors in the large, square room. The guest chambers, as they had been referred to.

When the doors were unlocked, Mae stood aside to let Ariella walk ahead. Instead of the dark red color, there now was a deep green that lined the walls. Forest like. She walked through the beautiful, sun soaked room. A sitting room was the first chamber, cream colored sofas and chairs laid perfectly across the floors. Paintings of flowers in frames of gold lined the dark green walls. The next chamber was the dressing chamber, shelves containing hundreds of gowns and fine jewelry across the walls, with markings labeled Royal Wardrobe. These did not belong to her, these were new gowns, things that her family could not afford in a million years, fine silk, diamonds, gold, emeralds, chiffon, lace. It was extraordinary.

Through the next set of French doors, was her bed chamber. A huge, mahogany bed frame sat across from the door, draped with sheer, white curtains and a heavy white quilt. Two cream cushioned chairs with gold framing sat before a large window overlooking the gardens. On the opposite wall, a door which led to the washroom and a set of two ceiling tall book cases, holding hundreds upon hundreds of books.

Ariella couldn't believe what she was seeing, it was if she were in a fairytale, as if she were a princess, she had never seen so much gold in her entire life. She didn't understand why she was chosen, why she was the one he chose , out of every girl in the kingdom, why her. 

She smiled, blushing, not even beginning to understand how she could have been given such a perfect existence. It was bliss, he was bliss.

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