Bonus chapter

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Clarissa's POV (she hasn't been introduced in the story yet so don't worry)

I looked in fascination as the ball curved in a graceful arc spraying mist and dirt as it flew towards the top corner of the goal. The goalkeeper looked towards the flying ball which would most probably splatter her precious clothes in mud and retreated to the far side of the goal. Not that I expected her to jump in front of the terrifying projectile.

Princesses don't play these 'physically exerting' games – or so my mother, the queen claims. What a pity I didn't size up to her girly expectations. Soccer, in the castle grounds couldn't be any less exerting. I've been playing for an hour and I haven't yet broken a sweat.

Considering that the otherwise lousy guards don't let me run 10m before delivering the ball at my feet and that my goalkeeper, Alicia cannot play (more like stand) for a quarter of an hour without 'desperately needing' another 15 min water break, it is hardly surprising.

I like to play soccer, to run, to kick, to fall and I used to play with the boys, the princes but now they have gone to study or called by their parents to assist them- much like what my parents are now trying to make me do.

While I was lost in thoughts – which no one had any problem with (unlike when I was supposed to sort out the mails), a young man in the uniform of the staff approached me.

"her majesty, the queen has requested your presence in her chambers, your royal highness" a young butler informed me and left. Hmm... he looked quite athletic. I wonder if he plays soccer, maybe I can coax him to come and have some fun with me some day.

For now, I aborted soccer and started towards the palace.

"would she mind a little delay?"

"I...I don't know, your highness. She didn't specifically mention whether she wished to meet you immediately... but she did say that I was to escort you" he stuttered and blushed.

Definitely new and young! Everyone knows that when my mom calls someone then they need to be present there in an instant. She even expects the person whom she is thinking of to 'magically' read her mind and be present outside her door. Though I pity this poor lad, there is no way that I am not taking the advantage I have to avoid her disappointed glares when I stomp up mud on her precious antique carpet in her office.

I quickly rushed into the residential wing, unlacing my boots and straightening the angry knots in my hair at the same time. Soon the footsteps behind me faded and I looked behind to find a very flustered looking young man frowning at his feet which had led him to step inside the restricted section of my private wing.

I held back the urge to laugh as I instructed him, "it's okay, it's a carpet, not a bed of coals. There's no problem if you step on it. Wait outside my room, I'll be back in a jiffy!"

Changing my clothes and throwing the muddy studs off, I quickly refined myself. To look like a princess. Not only did I change my outer appearance but my mannerisms as well. The light of excitement went out and was replaced by mild indifference and a polite expression – a mask.

The girl who entered the room was a stark contrast from the one who exited it. I braced myself for the scolding or disappointed glares I was going to get.

The young butler walked ahead of me the whole way. Only now did I feel a little regret for the delay I had caused which would most probably earn him a scolding. Or they could also fire him.

My throat ran dry. I hope they don't fire him. They wouldn't take such drastic measures... would they? I thought uncertainly.

Raised voices carried through the corridors as we neared mom's chambers. Coming from her bedroom. How odd. Mom never lost her composure even when the neighbor threatened us with war, she was calm as ever. She reviewed the sealed document with as much expressiveness as she would review the tax papers of some farmer named Oswald from some remote corner of our country who never missed a deadline.

As we came closer, I recognized the voices. My parents were fighting.

A strained silence descended as I entered their room. My escort was nowhere in sight, probably scurried of to less turbulent places of the castle where he may be required.

Both their faces were flushed. Even though mom was in her work clothes, they were wrinkled, her eyes were fierce and hair unbrushed. Dad seemed guilty but adamant and angry. His breathing was ragged.

They looked at me expectantly.

"Who do you want to live with?" he asked.

"Him" mom said, addressed more to dad than me

"or me?"

I had so not expected this. What had happened? Were they divorcing? That would be news! The press would have a field day with it.

What has mom riled up? Did dad cheat on her? It wasn't uncommon in royal families, but I had thought he loved her. I wanted to marry a man who loved me as much as he loved mom.

Looking at both of them and the state of the room, it was the most probable reason, no matter how sick it was.

"answer" dad roared; his voice hoarse from all the shouting.

I flinched back. He had never raised his voice on me.

"you don't have to shout on her. Its not her mess, it's yours mom shouted back at him.

"if you haven't yet realized, asking me to choose between you has already dragged me to the middle of this mess. And if I have to choose, then I ought to know what happened" I interfered before it could turn into another shouting match.

Silence reigned

...and stretched.

"I'll live here, in the castle" I spoke up, unable to bear it any more. It was an obvious decision. All the people I have ever known were here. I cannot start again. I don't need a restart button in my life.

Dad looked dejected, like I had slapped him while mom had a triumphant smile on her face.

"fine, then I'll leave alone" he stated audibly and stormed out.

Looking at his back retreating down the corridor, I felt a pang in my heart. I would probably never see him again because he wont ever be allowed to come near the boundary of the royal palace.

It was as if a knife was twisted in my chest. The realization that he was leaving me, his only daughter who loved him more that she craved adventure hit me with the force of a speeding truck.

I saw my vision blur as I remembered my childhood with him. He was always there with me, to support me, to pick me up when I fell, to show me the top of the world from his shoulders. I ran to him when I scraped my knee, when the prince of spain had tried kissing me and I didn't like it. I took comfort in his hard body whereas I feared mom. He held me when I cried and stayed by me when I was sick.

How wicked is the human brain isn't it. It shows us the love of a person when he leaves us and only bitter thoughts when he is with us. I sank to the ground as tears rapidly fell, my mask breaking. Sobs and shudders racked my body. Who will hold me now? I asked god as I hugged myself away from the pain.

Subconsciously, I knew I have to be with mom, to support her. But if I go to her like this then it will do more harm than good.

How did things turn from an enjoyable morning (I might be exaggerating) to this... ?

I hope you like it!

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