At last, the doors of the palace opened wide just for me, giving way to the lavish interior within. It is with great pride that I readjusted my tiara and took a deep breath, ready to finally claim my rightful place at the throne. I had undergone much training and fighting to earn my way into the most revered ball in the kingdom, and who would I be to squander the chance of my dreams? The guardsman at the door gently kissed my gloved hand and led me inside, bringing me one step closer to my handsome reward.
The ballroom was adorned with thousands upon thousands of twinkling lights, as if to mimic the night sky peeking through the large stained glass windows. I made my way to my post, doing my best to ignore everyone's suspicious glances as I walked past. As judgmental as they may have been, I myself had one mission: confrontation.
It wasn't long after my fifth sip of wine before I received the expected tap on my shoulder—the signal to move forward with the plan. Without looking her way, I nodded, and slowly rose from my position towards the long hallway. I tried my best to keep quiet, searching yearningly for the room of reckoning. Then, as if on cue, I heard a sharp groan from the next room. I approached slowly, pressing my ear up to the door before knocking. I found my dear enemy splayed out in the bathtub, humming a soft tune as he stared up at the bathroom ceiling.
The prince laughed as he finally turned his attention my way, his eyes wandering up and down the length of my delicate green gown. "Why, sister, you look beautiful tonight."
"Whatever." I narrowed my eyes at him. "I've come to collect. I beat you fair and square."
"Beat me, you did." He tried to prop himself up but only sank deeper into the bathtub, wincing a bit at the pain still in his side. "All in good time, my dear." A cunning smile tugged at his lips. "As a matter of fact, I'm sure there's something you could do for me first?"
I reached down, my fingers wrapping around the knife I had tucked expertly underneath my dress. "Don't waste your breath." Just then, I felt his authoritative hand on my wrist to stop me—as if that even meant anything.
"Not so fast. You owe me a dance, don't you?" His hand snaked up to my shoulder, and he simply held his free hand out to me. "It's the least you could do."
I could still hear the music blaring vehemently from behind the door, and before long, I was removing my gloves and lifting him from the bathtub into my arms. His fingers found their natural place in between my scarred hands, and we rocked slowly back and forth in the moonlight until the end of our song.
"Give me one good reason not to end everything right now," I sighed against his chest.
"You want to know the truth?" he whispered back.
He took a small step back, and we locked eyes. "I know what your true motive was, out there in the field. And I know what I did to warrant such hatred against me." He dropped to his knees before me, hanging his head. "Kill me if you really must. At least I'll be out of this godforsaken ball."