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The ball room was decorated from floor to ceiling. Ornaments of all sizes hung from the ceiling. A gigantic Christmas tree sat in the corner of the room. The room smelled like cinnamon and pine trees. The room looked like something straight out of a magazine. The ball room was already beautiful but now it was stunning. I was afraid that by just being inside would dim the richness. In America we mostly decorated with green and red. In this room there were burgundy, emerald green, pearl white and gold. The King and Queen were drinking tea.
"She really went all out this year." I could barley hear Hayes over the sound of my heart beating. I haven't been this overwhelmingly in love with Christmas since I was a kid. I felt like a kid right now.
"Does she not normally?"
"No." The King and Queen towards us. Our voices must have traveled.
"William, Autumn, welcome."
"Queen Rachel it's like a picture from a magic book in here." Her face lit up.
"Oh I'm so glad you like it darling." They both glanced at the knot of Hayes and I's arms. I had forgotten we were still linked together. Slowly I slid my arm out and started for the tree.
"Look at this tree!" I almost squealed. "It's the biggest tree I have ever seen." Queen Rachel was walking with me. Suddenly it hit me that I hadn't curtsied when I walked in. Do I do it now? She didn't seem to notice and if she did, she didn't seem to mind. I pretended to not remember.
"That was always Williams favorite part of Christmas, the tree. Followed quickly by presents." I laughed.
"I'm sorry you don't get to exchange gifts today." The Queen grabbed my hand in hers.
"You, my dear, are a gift." The love from her words and her touch raced through me like lightning. I wanted to hug her but I knew better.
"There's no where I'd rather be for Christmas, and I'm not just saying that because I'm stuck here." A gentle smile adorned her face.
"I know."

We sat around the tree and told stories. I hadn't laughed this much in so long. Hayes and I sat out the floor while the King and Queen sat in chairs. Why Prince Hayes offered to sit in the ground was beyond me but I'm glad he joined me.
"William, are you alright?" The King looked concerned at his son.
"Yes, just feeling a little lost, that's all."
"My mother always said to have faith and if you don't to find it, it will lead you to where you need to be." The Christmas lights sparkled in Hayes eyes when he looked at me.
"Your mother sounds like a smart lady." My attention turned to the Queen, she smiled.
"I heard she was."
"I'm sorry for you loss."
"She died 2 days after I was born. That's just a blip of my life time."
"2 days is still 2 days, she was alive as your mother for 2 days. Now she's an angel and your mother, forever." Goosebumps raced over my eyes.
"Yes, yes she is." I was in a trance with Queen Rachel.
"What do you do for Christmas, Autumn?" The King asked. I drew in a long breath.
"Well, my dad and I normally decorate the tree together while my step mom makes cookies. She always makes molasses cookies and I hate molasses cookies. They're my dad's favorite. I pretend to take a box home but give them to my friend Savannah. They're her favorite too."
"Really?" Hayes chuckled a little.
"Yeah, I decorate a tree and take home a box a cookies I will give away." He smiled.
"Special meal?" The Queen asked.
"Not normally, although Jenny has been making spaghetti for the past couple of years for Christmas, but she puts sugar in the sauce."
"Sugar?" Everyone's face was filled with horror.
"Yeah, sugar." I laughed. "Spaghetti should not be sweet." I shivered just thinking about it. Everyone laughed.
"My mother used to make meat pie bites but she'd put all sorts of fruits inside." The Queen told us. I scrunched my nose. "No matter what fruit she put in there it was always awful." I laughed.
"People say women are good cooks but I disagree. My dad's the cook in that house, Jenny tries. I'm not a good cook either. From the cooking channel, a lot of the really good cooks are guys. I think they just pretend to be bad to get out of doing it." We all giggled.
"I have never cooked in my life." Hayes added in.
"So you're guaranteed worse cook than Jenny, but I'm not sure by how much." Hayes and I laughed.
"Do you always call your step mother by her name?" Asked the King. I nodded.
"I always knew she wasn't my real mom even though they've been together, officially, since I was about 2. My dad had so many pictures of him and my mom in a box that I just sort of knew. Plus I look nothing like Jenny. She's got tight curls and rich red hair. Sort of like Shirley Temple." Everyone smiled at me. "Jennys short too." I think I secretly resent Jenny a little because she filled my moms shoes. She took me on as her own child, she took on the role of being my dad's wife. Maybe I never knew my mom but that doesn't make her any less my mother. Queen Rachel helped me see that.

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