I don't think it went through, so try two!
As Xavier and I were walking, I noticed Alex trying to catch my attention out of the corner of my eye. I pointedly ignored him, instead whispering to Xavier, "Don't look now. But it looks like they're coming our way."
I noticed Xavier's attempts to appear more relaxed as Princess Malaya and Alex headed towards us. I smiled. I hoped something could be done that would let Xavier get together with Malaya. They really are cute together.
Alex walked up to us, and it seemed he was trying to introduce everyone. "This is my brother, Xavier. Xavier, this is the Canritan family."
Of course. No introduction for me. Alex saw Xavier and Malaya conversing and took the moment to pull me aside. "Look, Em -"
"I don't want to talk to you," I said, trying to pull away. "My job is to protect, not to chit-chat."
Alex grabbed my by my shoulders so I was forced to face him. I could have easily broken away, and he knew it, but I decided to give him that small victory. "Em, I need to tell you something."
"What?" I snapped, irritated.
"What?" My tone changed to one of slight confusion and shock.
"I said, I'm sorry. I was such a jerk earlier. You were right. There has to be some other way to seal the treaty."
I should have been pleased that he realized that, but part of me was still angry. "Well, that's lovely, but I have to -"
"Em, I'm not done."
"I'm sorry I've been putting you second all the time."
My eyes widened. "Really?"
He nodded. "Yes. And if you'd please listen to me, we can figure out some other way to seal the treaty."
I bit my lip, thinking. "Well, I think we need to get Princess Malaya in on this. As you've probably noticed, she has eyes for someone else."
He nodded. "Okay. I'll tell her at dinner. See you later." He kissed me on the cheek, then returned to Malaya, who standing awkwardly to the side of us.
I noticed Xavier had vanished, and I couldn't help but wonder where he'd gone. I saw Alex begin to lead Malaya to the table, so I followed. My excuse?
"It's my job to protect. And if I'm not in the vicinity, then there's no point in protecting."
But I had a feeling that excuse might not fly by when the King called me. "Emmaline."
I moved over to where the King was and sank into a deep curtsy. "You called, Your Majesty?"
He stiffened. "Do not take that tone with your King."
I curtsied again. "Of course. My apologies."
This seemed to relax him a bit. "I saw you with Alexander. I have told him before that you are not worthy, and now I shall tell you. Alex must marry someone with royal blood, which is exactly what you do not have. You are a common girl, and Alexander cannot be seen with you. He is to wed Crown Princess Malaya."
I nodded and curtsied one last time. As I walked away, I overheard him mutter something about there being too many rebels in the Castle. I smiled secretly. Xavier must have done something similar. Just then Darren dashed outside, where all of us were half in and half out the Castle.
"Your Majesties, it is time for dinner," he announced.
The King smiled. "Ah, thank you Darren! If you'd follow me, everyone....."
I stopped listening to him as Xavier suddenly appeared beside me. "Where have you been?"
He simply shrugged. "Just hiding away."
I stared at him, then deduced he was lying. "No, seriously, Xavier."
He sighed. I could tell he didn't want to talk about it, but I didn't care. "Father just told me to avoid the Princess, because I was messing up the treaty, It's no big deal, Em. Some things just don't play in our favor."
I frowned as we headed up the steps into the Castle. Surely there was something that could be done about this treaty.....
My father led everyone to the table while giving some boring speech. My mind drifted away to more important things. Basically, Emmaline. I wondered if she'd ever truly forgive me for pushing her aside for so long. I'd done it for 5 years, so I wouldn't be surprised in the least if she was still mad. To make matters worse, she knew how to hold a grudge.
I pulled out Princess Malaya's chair for her to sit down, then moved to the other side of the table, where Darren pulled out my chair. He bowed his head politely.
"Hello, Darren," I said, unable to hold back a small sigh.
"You seem down in the dumps," he said, "but I've got a small solution."
"I created the seating charts, Alex. Who do you think is seated next to you?"
I felt a small blush color my cheeks. He didn't -
Emmaline took a seat next to me. Darren winked and walked away, most likely to go help in the kitchen.
"Get any ideas?" I murmured to Emmaline.
She unobtrusively shook her head. "None."
I remembered what she had said earlier about getting Malaya in on this, so I leaned across the table. "Malaya," I hissed. "Malaya!"
She turned to look at me after what appeared to be an awkward conversation with my brother. "What do you need?"
"You don't want to marry me, do you?"
She looked surprised. "Well, no, but it's for the good of Canritan, so I must -"
"A wise person once told me to follow my heart for once in my life. I plan on doing that, and you need to do the same." I saw Emmaline's cheeks color out of the corner of my eye.
Malaya flushed. "I don't know what you're talking about."
I chuckled. "I've seen you with my brother. It doesn't take a genius to put two and two together. So what can we do to change this?"
She bit her lip as she frowned. "Hmm. I don't really know. But I'll think on it."
Someone coughed. It was the Canritan Knight in a black dress. "I sincerely hope you two aren't plotting against the Kings," she said, "because could lead to treason."
I glared at her, but Malaya simply rolled her eyes. "That's my Knight, Katerina. She seems scary, but she's really nice at heart."
I nodded and returned my attention to Malaya. "Just tell me, Xavier, or Emmaline the moment you think of something, okay?"
She nodded and resumed the slightly tense conversation with my brother.
"Good job," Emmaline whispered in my ear. "I think you've convinced her."
I smiled, but it quickly turned into a frown. "If only Father would actually listen to what we have to say."
"I bet he will. I mean, he won't listen to me, but you and Xavier are his children."
I laughed bitterly. "When has he ever cared about what his kids want?"
"Don't talk to me like that," she said sharply. "All I did was state the fact that if it was me or you had to talk to the King, he would count you as priority." A dark look appeared on her face. "I'm nothing but a common girl to him."
I resisted the urge to glare angrily at my father from across the table. Emmaline was not a common girl. "Don't listen to anything he says, because that's wrong. You are not a common girl. You are the most unique and amazing person I know."
She blushed. "Thanks, Alex." She looked like she wanted to say more, but just then, the food was brought to the table and the dinner began.