Merlin's Academy for Excellence
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     Simply Good (Lydia's Charries)

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    Kaleah Page
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    PostSubject: Simply Good (Lydia's Charries)   Mon Nov 14, 2016 10:49 pm

    [[OOC: I am not sticking entirely to book canon here with the ages and stuff, but eh, whatever. xD Since you haven't read the books (and, honestly, I have only read the first outta 3 and don't really plan on reading the other two) feel free to make up and details you want. Razz Smile]]

    There was no mistaking that this was where she was meant to be. Already back home - before she'd been Chosen - she was the one who would go around helping all the neighbours in their small town, and the one animals flocked to. She was a sweet girl of 19, and despite having a tendency to live more in her head and her novels, Kaleah was always quick to offer help to anyone who'd need it. Diligent in her chores, generous with the little she had, and always with something nice to say about those around her, when the letter came that she was accepted to the School of Good and Evil it was no surprise to anyone around her.

    Except for one thing: Kaleah hated it once she actually got there.

    There wasn't a place she felt she belonged in the least than the stupid 'Good' section, what with the Princesses and Princes prancing around like they were the best thing in the world - like everyone owed them favours. That was another thing she couldn't understand; how were these supposed to be the 'good guys' when all they did was demand things for themselves and that, just because they were labelled a certain thing or had certain parents, they were entitled to being treated nicely?

    Politics wasn't nice, and Kaleah found that she was the odd one out simply because she did not want to play by their rules. It wasn't that the lessons were uninteresting, nor was the environment. What she hated most was the labels. What was good? What was bad? She'd met people from the 'bad school' (during those rare mixed classes) that she thought had a better heart and better intentions than some of the ones she knew from her side. My side? she thought, dryly. I almost sound like one of them.

    She'd been there less than a month, and getting to know everyone had proved more tedious than she'd expected; not everyone wanted to be known, especially not by a nobody like her. She didn't have Aurora or Snow White as a mother, nor did she had any sort of fairytale history. Kaleah had simply woken up to an invitation - or rather, summon - to join.

    Wearing a simple dress, Kaleah made her way to the edge of the lake. One of her friends - a raven - landed on her shoulder, and she absentmindedly patted its black head as she stood with the crowd of females that had gathered for today's class. Nobody else greeted her, already standing in their usual groups, not that she minded.

    "Today," the teacher announced a short while later, "we introduced you to the Princes. We have kept you segregated until now while we trained you in your respective arts; from here on out, however, we will have you learning together."

    There was a murmur of excitement from the girls. Kaleah merely hid a roll of her eyes. "Here we go," she murmured to the raven as the first male head popped up from around the bend. "Cue the drama."
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    PostSubject: Re: Simply Good (Lydia's Charries)   Thu Nov 17, 2016 7:07 am

    [[OOC: Can I just say that I loooooveeeee that dress and wish I owned it!! *makes heart eyes*]]

    School was...interesting to say the least. Having grown up the crown prince of Corona, Brandon was used to having a slew of private tutors. From the moment he could walk, he was taught to, well, walk, talk, and behave the way a prince would. One could almost say that he was programmed and brainwashed into behaving a certain way. He knew how to address every lord, duke, duchess, and whatever else the higher tiers of monarchy included. He knew how to ride, shoot a bow and arrow, dance, eat, and myriads of other things considered fitting for a prince to know.

    Given all that, it would be reasonable to assume that his personality had been moulded by all that behaviour programming but thank the stars - and other heavenly bodies - that was not the case. His personality was  kept very much intact. Indeed, Brandon would find every excuse to be as mischievous as his status allowed him to be and at times, he exasperated his tutors very much. Which was probably the reason why his parents – actually, his grandparents – decided to dump him in this school. Granpa Frederick and Granma Arianna had noticed his rambunctious tendencies and counselled his mother, Rapunzel, to send him to this school. Brandon had hoped dad would be on his side - since it was dad who taught him tips and tricks anyway - he never could say no to mom. No wonder he stopped being Flynn Rider and became Eugene Fitzpatrick. Brandon almost wished he'd stayed Flynn. Rider was a much better surname than Fitzpatrick.

    But back to school.

    It was different in the sense that he now learned with a bunch of other people instead of alone and besides rules of gentlemanly conduct, there were school rules to follow as well. Although, he didn’t have much social interaction except for the other royal children, he made friends easily with his charming and outgoing personality, attracting people to him, not only because of his status but also because of the fun that seemed to follow him around. Today, however, promised to hold the most amusement of all. He had been wondering when he would be able to meet the ladies – because, seriously, where was the fun in separating the genders? When the announcement finally came, he could feel the excitement growing. Oh such fun!

    He’d dressed in a wine red vest suit  minus the suit jacket and tie – because it was too hot out – because it was too hot out, and polished black shoes. Suit and tie was normal attire for all the males but he’d gotten permission to leave out those two items.

    The whole group made their way to the lake and Brandon adopted a casual loping walk, a grin on his face. He was near the front of the group and as such, heard some of the comments that were made.

    “What do you think they’re like?”

    “Will they be hot? Attractive?”

    “Well, they must be. They’re princesses right?”

    “Settle down boys,” Brandon joked with a smile. “Don’t get your hopes up too high. This isn’t about checking out ladies. I’m pretty sure that’s…” he put on a scratchy voice, mimicking their professor, “…rule number four hundred and eighty two.” He cleared his throat. “Thou shall not check out ladies. It is obscene and ungentlemanly behaviour.”

    The group burst out laughing as they rounded the corner, coming into sight of the lake. It wasn’t very nice to make fun of their professor, but Brandon could feel the tension rising in the group and that usually meant they would mess up some stuff, which might not have a good ending considering they were going to be in the company of ladies.

    “Easy for you to say! The ladies all adore you.”

    “Yeah! They flock to you like bees to honey.”

    He gave a strong pat on Wesley’s back. “It’s okay, man. I’m sure you all will do fine. We have been trained for almost a month now,” he grinned, turning his head a little to make eye contact with the rest of the group. “Just recall your manners.”

    By the time they reached the group of ladies, most of the men had settled down, remembering to wear a smile. Brandon led the group, keeping his stride confident and yet not arrogant or proud. Once they stood in front of the ladies, he executed a perfect bow, the rest of the men following suit. As he came back up, he turned on his charm and grinned at the females.  “It is a pleasure to meet you ladies,” he greeted, congratulating himself on not using contractions.
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    PostSubject: Re: Simply Good (Lydia's Charries)   Sat Nov 19, 2016 10:34 pm

    [[OOC: IKR?! It covers all the important bits (and then some) and is below my knee. Urg. Perf for church use on the ship xD]]

    Chaos insued.

    Of course, only Kaleah really noticed the subtle change in the girls, with them standing straighter (some even had the nerve to arch their back every-so-slightly, emphasising their woman parts) and already wearing a pretty small smile and making their eyes wide to show off blue and green eyes. She wasn't even sure if they did all this consiously, but whether intentional or not, it still made her roll her eyes, although she had enough common sense to hide it.

    "Oh. My. Goodness. That's Brandon," came a hush whisper from somewhere beside her.

    "He is so cute."

    "He's going to be my date to the end year ball, so paws off."

    "Please. My linage best suits his."

    They whispers came to a halt as the boys neared, but Kaleah had already heard enough. Brandon Everett Fitzpatrick, the son of Eugene - or Flynn, depending your preference of name - and Rapunzel, was one of the most popular boys in school. Or at least, that was what she'd heard according to the gossip that was always going around. While gossip was something she was accustomed to (her town was so small, everything that happened would be officially reported two days later at the most) the way they talked about the boys disturbed her.

    It was almost as though they were prizes to be obtained, not people to get to know and befriend. "I don't need any Prince to accomplish anything," she'd said in class once - and only once, for the looks she got from both teacher and classmates was enough to make her realise that was not a popular opinion.

    (In fact, the words the teacher had said in reply still echoed in her mind, and it was all she could do to not curl her upper lip in disgust whenever she thought of it. "Don't be silly; everyone knows a Princess needs a Prince to save them," was, after all, ridiculous. Kaleah could and would save herself if she were indeed thrust into a fairytale; after all, Mulan was a Princess too, not that anyone ever mentioned her.)

    Brandon had, by this point, greeted them, and one by one she watched with some amusement as the females played their part to perfection, smiling and twirling hair strands and whatnot as the other males also began introductions.

    So? What do you think? she asked the bird, lagging behind and putting off the formalities for as long as possible. She'd not told the teachers she had this ability, for in their first class it had been said that it took years of practise to reach this sort of connection with animals, and Kaleah hadn't wanted to show off. Besides, she didn't really understand why she, of all people, had this natural ability where all the others had to work for them - yes, even the daughter of Snow White herself.

    Speaking of Annabelle, the female had already stepped forward, curtsying with a little giggle at Brandon and introducing herself.

    I think I want to take a dump on her, came the raven's dry reply - birds had the best humour, she'd discovered - and Kaleah let out a tiny snort of laughter, much to the disgust of the other girls. Not trusting herself to speak, she merely gave the bird a tap on the head, showing her displeasure at his words; she felt him chuckle to himself and had to hide another smile. I'm out of here, he added. Good luck, Kaleah.

    "Traitor!" she murmured as he gave a soft 'caw' and took off.

    Now truly alone, she took a deep breath, swallowing past the annoyance. Walking forward, she put on her best smile and waited for someone to approach her; there was no way in hell she would make the first move.

    _________________________________________________________
    "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."
    "If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman."
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    PostSubject: Re: Simply Good (Lydia's Charries)   Sun Nov 20, 2016 12:22 am

    Brandon had been told time and again that a real woman never threw herself at a man. A real woman who had an ounce of self-respect always carried herself with dignity and class. In the time he’d been in society, with the many balls and dinners he had to attend, Brandon had seen and experienced his fair share of ‘fake’ women. They were the once who clung to him and tried all sorts of ways to garner his attention and affection. His mother – and father, but mostly his mother; his father would tell him to just go with the flow and enjoy the attention – would remind him not to give away his heart so easily. He deserved a woman with self-respect, not one who would throw herself at the handsomest and richest man in the room.

    Which was why he was rather surprised when the ladies – females actually, because ‘ladies’ implied they had some form of manners – started what was so obviously flirting. Annabelle, whom he’d had the displeasure to have met and danced with in countless balls, had the audacity to wrap her fingers around his arm and give him that puckered smile that was supposed to make her look pretty. Keyword: supposed. What do they teach the girls here? I thought they were supposed to learn how to be a Princess? Princesses don’t do this. Even his sisters had more self-respect than that. And they were ten and twelve. Sure, they had their clumsy, un-Princessy, foot-in-the-mouth moments but they knew how to behave properly in company.

    Still, not wanting to embarrass Annabelle in front of the others, he tried to subtly and rather unsuccessfully pry her fingers from his arm. But they gripped him the way a snake grips its prey. Perhaps even tighter. Any tighter and she would cut off the blood flow to his fingers. It didn't help that she kept feeling the need to thrust her not-so-hidden bosom at him. It was quite atrocious behaviour. Through all this, Brandon still had to smile and nod his head and make conversation with the other females, until his brilliant mind came to his rescue and presented him with a solution. As soon as Opportunity presented herself, he took her by the horns and ran with it.

    “Miss White,” he began, keeping – with some difficulty – a polite smile on his face, “have you met Sir Charming yet? He’s the son of Cinderella and Prince Charming. I’m sure he would love to meet you.” And before she could say no, he walked her to where Charming was conversing with another girl and introduced them. Annabelle was forced to take her claws off him to perform a curtsey and Brandon took the chance to excuse himself, proud of his plan.

    What he hadn’t counted on though, were the other girls vying for his attention. Oh, horsefeathers! It took some time before he freed himself from their clutches. Thank Maximus he was so charming he could twist the conversation and make up situations and excuses to get himself away. Not an easy feat since his father taught him how to charm ladies and get their attention, not deflect it. It took longer than he liked and by the time he’d worked his way through to the edges of the roiling mass of hormones, he was absolutely relived to find that the rest of the men had managed to keep the attention of all the women. All except one.

    She’d caught his eye the first time he scanned the group of females. At first, he thought it was the crow that was sitting on her shoulder that made her stand out from the rest of the woman. Then he thought it was the conservative and yet classy dress that she chose to wear instead of the alluring once the other girls had donned. But as he recalled her face from that one glance, he almost thought that she wanted to be anywhere else but here. There was something in the expression on her face that made him think that she did not really like this kind of gathering. It intrigued him and he’d wanted to talk to her, until Annabelle had to sink her fangs into his arm.

    As he approached her, he put on a genuine smile, not the charming smirk that lured the ladies but a warm one that expressed friendliness. “What a mess of fake flirtation going on over there,” he began. “It’s no wonder you prefer the company of birds.” That last statement was not said in a mocking or degrading tone but more of a factual one. “In all honesty, I think I’d prefer my horse’s company over counterfeit smiles and pretentious simpering.”

    It was far from his normal way of greeting a lady but Brandon somehow got the feeling that the normal way didn’t work with this particular lady. After all, he was smart enough not to repeat his father’s mistake of getting knocked in the head with a frying pan when trying to woo a woman who wanted none of it. He only hoped she had a sense of humour and wouldn’t take his words the wrong way.
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    PostSubject: Re: Simply Good (Lydia's Charries)   Sun Nov 20, 2016 2:23 am

    [[OOC: If possible, could you let me know when you post? For some reason, email notifications aren't working, and I don't really check the site often because of NaNo. xD Thanks! Smile]]

    Casually, she watched the females do their thing. The rules they'd learnt, the classes, everything, had led up to this moment, when they tried to convince the Princes to be their Princes, to be part of their fairytale and to be the one that rescues them, not someone else. After all, the person who took you to the ball at the end of the year was usually the one who you would go on to creating your Story with.

    It was ridiculous, pathetic, and Kaleah wanted none of that.

    And then Brandon approached her, and all her plans of being alone went flying out the window. If nobody had talked to her, she would have been perfectly fine - happy, even - because that meant that she would get her own story. The last thing she needed was someone thinking she was a damsel in distress to be rescued, even if from the embarrassment of being called upon during classes and told to explain why she hadn't made a single Prince acquaintance or tried to get their attention.

    Truth be told, Kaleah had actually been sort of looking forward to that; the words she had planned on saying would've made everyone gasp, that was for sure, and it would have been a great laugh. Sure, she would have been the only one laughing, but laughter was laughter no matter what.

    Putting a smile on her face and knowing that failing to perform well would result in certain punishments from the teachers (and also knowing there was no point wasting a detention because some asshat couldn't keep to himself), Kaleah performed a flawless curtsey and said, "Pleasure to meet you."

    And then he began to speak, and she felt a twitch of her eyebrow before she caught it and lowered it. That was unladylike, apparently. "Fake?" she asked, lightly. "I'm fairly certain they do mean to woo you."

    Reminding herself not to roll her eyes, she grinned at him. "Birds? Those flighty things. He promised to stay with me during this ord-" she hesitated, correcting herself mid-sentence, "-meeting, but at the first sign of trouble, he leaves!" With a slight laugh, she shrugged, this time not caring that she shouldn't have. "Horses are rude. The saying 'from the horses' mouth' originated from somewhere; they're ridiculously blunt, saying whatever they feel is true or right, even if it means telling you that you look worse than a pig's bottom after its business."

    She paused, put on a light, charming smile, and airly said, "Or so I'm told, in any case." The twinkle in her eyes were clear, though, showing that she was mocking the pure ways. Dropping the 'dumb' voice, she stuck out a hand, something else against the proper etiquette of Princesses. "Kaleah Page," she introduced. "Don't bother with yours; I know who you are. The girls wouldn't shut up about it."

    _________________________________________________________
    "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."
    "If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman."
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    PostSubject: Re: Simply Good (Lydia's Charries)   Sun Nov 20, 2016 6:30 am

    “And I’m equally certain that it is not normal to bat one’s eyes at the speed of lightning, or clam onto a person’s arm like a stubborn barnacle,” Brandon replied, a lopsided grin gracing his mouth. “What do they teach you in those classes? How to blink as quickly as you can 101? Or perhaps How to clutch onto a male’s upper arm as tight as you can 201?” He paused for a moment, a teasing light entering his eyes. “At least one of you has sense and sensibility.”

    For some reason, she reminded him a lot about his mother and sisters. Although they behaved to perfection in the public eye, they were quite different in private. Especially his mother. It was hilarious to see his parents together and more often than not, Rapunzel would get the best of Eugene. His sisters were much the same. With parents like Eugene and Rapunzel, it was no wonder they grew up rather rambunctious and spirited. When they were alone at home with no one watching, they broke all the rules of their behaviour classes, laughing, running, and just being…real.

    This woman in front of him reminded Brandon of that. She didn’t follow societal rules – he’d caught her almost use of the word ‘ordeal’ – and that made Brandon all the more curious as to who she was. He didn’t recognise her and he’d danced and conversed with almost every royal female in and out of Corona. He was pretty sure he’d remember a woman like her, anyway.

    He nodded gravely, mockingly serious. “Yes, such an ordeal for one to endure,” he commented then broke out into a grin. It was and ordeal for him too, having to deal with girls throwing themselves at him shamelessly and vying for his attention. He’d enjoyed it at first, especially at his coming-of-age ball but soon he grew tired of the constant simpering and giggly tone. He’d gotten used to it over the years after attending balls, dinners, and functions but he also had a tolerance threshold. It helped that his family knew how much he could take and would come to the rescue when they could.

    He liked her laugh, it made her look so much more relaxed and free instead of the restrictive rules that a proper lady should not laugh loudly. He chuckled together with her before continuing. “Something tells me that you’ve been on the receiving end of their bluntness,” he commented once he’d managed to contain his mirth. “Well then. You must meet Maximus. He’s ten times as rude and even more loyal.” He’d asked to take Maximus with him to the school but of course, his parents couldn’t part with the crazy horse, so he had to settle with another.

    He was only half surprised that this woman talked as if she could communicate with animals. He was told that it was expected of Princesses but he’d also been informed that it was no easy feat to do. She was a woman who defied social convention and yet in possessed a rare skill. That must make her really special, but in what way Brandon was yet to find out. When she stuck her hand out instead of curtsying, his grin widened. He found himself liking her more and more. He took her hand and gave it a firm shake, not minding at all that she’d basically told him not to introduce himself. There might even be an insult somewhere in there.

    “Well, it’s a relief to make your acquaintance,” Brandon replied. Before he could continue, however, he chanced a glance upwards and spotted something that left a sour taste in his mouth. He cleared his throat. “Miss Barbie Princess incoming,” he said under his breath, sending Kaleah a silentsave me! look.

    Annabelle came up to him and again gripped his arm tightly, sticking to his side and batting her eyelashes up at him until Brandon thought they might fall right off her face. “Oh Brandon, my darling,” she began, using a sickly sweet voice. “I missed you! Why are you all the way over here?”

    Brandon tried to smile politely but it came off as more of a grimace. He wanted to tell her to never again call him ‘darling’ but he was too polite and gentlemanly for that. Instead he tried, again, to pry her fingers off him, not having much success in that area. Annabelle didn’t stop talking when she realised Kaleah was there. “What are you doing with this…this…this…scum! It is not right for a Prince such as yourself to mix with the lower breed,” she said, putting her nose so high and giving a disgusted look to Kaleah. Brandon instinctively wanted to come to Kaleah’s defense but managed to hold himself back. Kaleah was no damsel in distress, that much Brandon could tell. If she was anything like his sisters and mother, she would prefer to fight her own battles. So he kept quiet and waited to see what would unfold.

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    PostSubject: Re: Simply Good (Lydia's Charries)   Sun Nov 20, 2016 4:36 pm

    Brandon had a sense of humour, and that wasn't what she was expecting at all. From what she'd heard, he was this charming ball of cute (gag, she thought) that everyone loved and adored. Then again, in hindsight, his father was a thief once upon a time (and yes, she used those words with purposeful irony), so it wasn't too far a stretch to find that his son had inherited some of his cheek.

    With a laugh, she relaxed just a little. It wasn't so bad, if he wasn't going to insist she use full proper sentences and curtsey every other moment, or giggle at every word he said. "No, those classes aren't till next year," she replied, keeping her tone serious. "They read their textbooks in advance. It's half of a shame, because if they'd pay attention in class, they'd realise we've already completed How to Make a Prince Fall For You Without Looking Like an Ass in the Process." She paused and gave him a sly smile. "Or, in it's short form - Common Sense."

    Kaleah raised an internal eyebrow at his next sentence. Was he referencing the book, or did he just so happen to accidentally quote the title of a classic? Did Princes even read those sort of books? She grew up on those sort of things, however dull they have seem to others, and she couldn't help but be curious as to the origins of the male's statement. Carefully choosing her words, she lightly said, "Instead of the pride and prejudice of the others, you mean?"

    It would be amazing if Brandon had indeed read the books, because she hadn't found anyone to talk nerd with; it was, apparently, frowned upon by both teachers and classmates alike. Princesses were supposed to be dumb - okay, they didn't exactly put it that way, but with the way they were told to do this and do that and not say this and everything, it seemed to her that intelligence wasn't something she was allowed to show.

    She gave a polite smile, not quite knowing if he was mocking her or not with the word she'd accidentally almost used. Was he saying that she was stupid for thinking meeting 'handsome', cocksure Princes was an ordeal? Or was he agreeing with her? Kaleah had never been one to be able to read people well - with the exception of her closest friends - and she simply offered a polite smile. If he was indeed mocking her, she would be sure to have words (later, of course, but words nevertheless); if he wasn't, she'd simply move on. But until she knew which was which, she would not comment. After all, a false reading of the situation would be bad for both of them.

    This time, she really did raise her eyebrows. Was he...inviting her to his home? Everyone knew the royal horse of his kingdom (or rather, that of his parents), and that it was quite the beast (and she used that word with the utmost respect). Everyone also knew that the horse had remained behind, instead of coming with Brandon to school. All she said, though, was, "I suppose you could say that," referring to his earlier comment. "They tell me things, although not necessarily about me."

    Relief? she thought, but before she had a chance to ask, she caught him glancing behind her, and his whisper made her laugh. That was... an apt name, if any, and she didn't miss the desperate look he gave her, either. Well, well. It wasn't every day a Princess was asked to save a Prince, and it tickled her no end to know that this was exactly what was going on. The day wasn't going too badly, after all.

    Watching with some amusement - and a lot of disgust - she noted how Annabelle was interacting with Brandon. There was a familiar tone with which the latter greeted the forner, and it seemed that the female's tales of having danced with the quote unquote 'dashing prince' were true, after all.

    But then Annabelle had the decency to involve her, and Kaleah laughed inwardly. She'd held back before, but she was getting rather sick and tired of this crap, and she broke into a large smile. "Annabelle, darling," she started, imitating an uppity tone and making sure it was polite still. "Why, the way you are doting over Mister Fitzpatrick, it's almost as though you are already engaged! Was there an arrangement we didn't know about? I was certain that if such a thing had occurred, we would have heard your shrill voice carrying from one end of the tower to the other in announcement of the event!"

    It was then she turned to Brandon, offering him a sad smile. "My condolences to the Prince of Corona. However, do look on the bright side; it is not often that one gets to attend their own funeral - near impossible, in fact - and even more so is it rare for a human to be married to an animal." She paused to take a breath, and then went on. "After all, if I am a lower breed, that makes her a higher breed, but a breed nevertheless."

    She feigned a look of surprise, as if just realising something, and added, "Is it not the purest breed of dogs that give the most trouble? Mutts are easier and much less fussy." The entire time, she kept this innocent expression about her. "I would know; my mother was a veterinarian, after all."

    _________________________________________________________
    "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."
    "If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman."
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    PostSubject: Re: Simply Good (Lydia's Charries)   Tue Nov 22, 2016 8:33 am

    Brandon let out a good hearty laugh at her reply. Who cared about obeying courtly rules when standing in front of him was a woman who knew how sarcasm worked? He hadn’t expected her to pick up where he left off but she did and she did it well too. When he’d gotten his breath back, he responded, “It sounds like all of the girls need to re-sit that class. They sure could use a healthy dose of common sense.” He paused for a while, appearing to be in deep thought. “Actually, they might be too far gone to be saved, now that I think of it.”

    He grinned at her words. So she’d read the Jane Austen books and caught his reference quickly. “Oh definitely,” he replied. “Pride and prejudice are dangerous attributes if not handled with care. Like fire. But it worked out for Mr. Darcy and Miss Bennet in the end.” Those books were part of his sisters’ curriculum. It was the only reason he’d read them. Both Natalia and Avelyn found the books rather boring and had come to their big brother for help. He sped read the books and acted the whole thing out single-handedly, making it into a comedy. The girls never forgot the storyline.

    Brandon had wanted to see what kinds of books Kaleah read, if any. Too many girls read books with no substance which did not address social issues and although the Jane Austen books had their faults, at least they were written with purpose. And they definitely weren’t for shallow girls to read. He doubted any of the girls here, except for Kaleah, were able to understand those books, much less read through the whole thing. Well, it was their loss. But now he knew that Kaleah was a reader, and not just any reader. She read good books. This was getting better and better.

    He felt a slight twinge of disappointment though, when she didn’t respond to his ‘ordeal’ comment. It was made to let her know that he’d caught her half-word and didn’t mind her using it. In fact, he appreciated her use of that word to describe all these societal events he had to attend. “Because having to endure socialisation when all you want is to be somewhere else is rather tiresome.” He gave a dramatic sigh, falling back on his acting skills to exaggerate the emotion so it wouldn’t seem like he was complaining. “No offense to present company, of course. You’re actually refreshing to talk to.” Just to be sure she would not be offended, he added, “Take that as the highest compliment available.”

    He fought, and failed, to hide the smirk on his face when she raised her eyebrows. He knew it wasn’t a ladylike move to do but couldn’t care less. It actually looked rather cute on her. “Then about what, pray tell?” he responded without missing a beat. “Of course, if it was said in confidence, I would not break that but I can’t help but be curious as to what goes on in their minds.” It was sometimes obvious what Maximus was thinking about as if often showed in his actions but his mind – which could be a strange thing sometimes – wondered what other animals thought of humans. It would no doubt be entertaining to hear their opinion.

    Brandon expected Kaleah to come up with a brilliant response and she went beyond his expectation. It was all he could do not to snort in amusement at her reply and at the redness taking over Annabelle’s face, making what was once pretty become splotchy. His mouth fought a losing war between a splitting grin and a polite smile, making it look like his lips were having a seizure. Keleah was handling the situation so perfectly that he wanted to roll over on the ground laughing. It was amazing. She was amazing.[/i]

    “Oh!” Annabelle exclaimed loudly. “Oh! H-how dare you! You…you…you…ugh!” Finding herself lacking a noun and adjective, she let out a rather unladylike growl, stomping her foot down in frustration. “I’m not an animal, you…you…animal! And Brandon is going to marry me! He can’t resist me. Just you wait and see. Right Brandon?”

    Brandon by now, was almost doubled over in laughter which he barely managed to keep in check. His body shook slightly with his effort to contain his mirth. Thank the heavens that Annabelle had let go of him to stand nearer to Kaleah. He now had two options: 1) stand on Kaleah’s side and continue this hilarious conversation, not so subtly insulting Annabelle, or 2) be the white knight and defend Annabelle, telling Kaleah off for the insults. He didn’t like both options. He wanted to stand by Kaleah but his honour as a gentleman did not allow him to further insult Annabelle, not matter how much he was tempted to do so. What a pickle!

    Option number three. Wing it. “Miss White,” he began, finally gaining control over his mouth though his amusement shone bright and clear in his eyes, “I am quite sure that I am not engaged to you and will not be engaged to anyone for quite some time.” Turning to Kaleah, he responded, “Thank you for your condolences, Miss Page. They are noted and highly appreciated. I am highly honoured to be the one amongst the whole world to attend my own funeral. And yes, I heard that pure breeds give quite some trouble.” He could only hope that Annabelle was too dense to understand the underlying meanings behind his words, that he was supporting Kaleah. Kaleah would get it, no doubt.

    “I don’t understand what you’re talking about Brandon!” Annabelle whined then pointed to Kaleah. “Make her go away. I don’t like her!”

    “Unfortunately, Miss White, I cannot control the movements of another human being,” Brandon replied, trying to keep a straight face.

    Annabelle stomped her feet again and crossed her arms. “You stay away from Brandon! He’s mine!” she exclaimed, pointing her finger into Kaleah’s face.

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    PostSubject: Re: Simply Good (Lydia's Charries)   Tue Nov 22, 2016 5:01 pm

    His laughter surprised her. Had what she said been that funny? She'd merely been speaking her mind, saying exactly what she thought. It had been a joke, yes, but Kaleah never imagined she would cause such mirth. It was a nice change from the seriousness of lessons or the giggles of the girls; and really, did they think their high-pitched tee-hees were anything other than annoying?

    She shook her head gravely. "Nobody is too far gone. If not learnt, it can be-" She paused, pretending to search for a word, then gave a sly smile, "-knocked into them." Brandon was proving to be someone entirely different from what the other girls had made him out to be, and in the best possible way.

    So it was a book reference, she thought, secretly pleased. She had not exactly enjoyed those two books in the full sense of the word; it had been an interesting read, and something that was food for thought (it was a classic, after all, and the only few classics she actually adored were the lighter-hearted ones) but if she'd read it again for pleasure was yet to be determined.

    "I much prefer thinking myself as an Anne Shirley," she commented. "That is, the least likely candidate to be a Princess." She lowered her tone before continuing. "Have you ever read How to Lead a Life of Crime? Because while I hate to be the bearer of bad news, it appears that we are surrounded by wolves." With a grin, she lifted her shoulders in the sign of a shrug, without fully completing it lest a teacher was watching. "I'll explain the context of that if you don't understand - or just give you the book and insist you read it."

    His further explanation proved that he had not been mocking her, and she let out a light laugh. "Where else would you want to be? Socialising is the making and breaking of a royal person of high esteem such as ourselves," she retorted, imitating a high-and-mighty tone. "Mingling with people and having to pretend to giggle at every sentence a Prince makes is the highlight of my day. In fact, you, my darling, should be honoured that I am giving you the time of day! There are others much better looking." With the slightest wink, she dropped the tone and flickered her eyes upwards in a quick roll.

    Compliments weren't something she received well, and so besides smiling, she said nothing more about it. Instead, lowering her voice to a conspirational whisper, she admitted, "There's a clearing in the woods not too far from here. One of the birds showed it to me; nobody ever goes there, and it's perfect for a peaceful place to read in. If you swear not to tell or show anybody, I can get one of them to guide you to it."

    Faltering for a second, she considered his words, and then shook her head gently. "It would not do well for me to be gossipping about others, especially since horses tend to be biased and fickle; give them a sugar lump and they'll sing your praises for about a day after. Forget just once..." She let out a chuckle. "Always remember, especially if you said you would." Diverting attention from questions and switching topic seemed to be a gift she had, one that she used often enough to avoid answering things she wasn't comfortable with, and it was this exact capability of hers that she reverted to now.

    Annabelle's reactions were the icing on the cake. Normally able to conduct herself well, she always flustered when she was caught off guard; Kaleah had noticed this much earlier on, and made it a point never to try and embarrass" the girl. But if she was going to be the first to attack? Well, in that case, Kaleah felt no guilt for anything she was about to say next. As her mother had so often told her, a real lady never starts anything, but they can damn well finish it. (Of course, she'd also been told by others that a real lady never swore, but where was the fun in that?)

    As innocently as she could manage, Kaleah questioned, "How dare I what? I was merely following the direction of your sentiments. We are, after all, both of the same gender and species. If I am an animal, so are you."

    Turning to Brandon, Kaleah could not resist the opportunity to poke fun at who she hoped was her new friend, and, without skipping a beat, prodded, "Yes, Brandon, pray do share. What is so irresistible about your to-be-fiance?" She could tell he was doing his best not to laugh, and that made her want to laugh - and that would be bad. Brandon might have to deal with Annabelle whenever he saw her, but Kaleah lived with her, and pissing off the girl was not something she wanted to do.

    True, she already was, but she could always play innocent, telling the teacher the truth - she had just been following what Annabelle had said. Nobody would be able to argue differently.

    “I don’t understand what you’re talking about Brandon! Make her go away. I don’t like her!”

    "That's quite alright, Annabelle," Kaleah responded. "I understand, and he was talking to me, after all." To Brandon, she said, "Would you happen to remember the ending of Animal Farm? It appears we have made the acquaintance of our darling Napoleon's sister. I say, it is an honour, wouldn't you agree?" All she could do was hope that Brandon would understand her reference.

    At his comment, Kaleah had to bite her tongue to prevent a laugh. As soon as she managed to compose herself, she said, "That is highly debatable, Mister Fitzpatrick. A frying pan to the head seemed to work well for your mother, after all."

    With a light sigh, she turned to Annabelle. It had been fun, but now this was just getting out of control, and Kaleah was severely irked. "I am certain that Brandon is able to speak for himself. If you must know, he approached me first. I am intrigued, though; since when was he sold to be your servant, at your every beck and call? Is his parents that much in debt that they would resort to selling their own son to be yours to claim by title?" She kept her tone light, although there was an underlying sense of impatient that she hoped wouldn't be picked up on by anyone other than Brandon, who seemed to be quite sharp.

    "Does he sit when you tell him to, then? Or fetch your water and make your bed?" she continued, not hesitating. "Perhaps I'll consider purchasing him from you. He amuses me. How much would you be willing to offer him for? I mean, he is yours, after all, and that is how it works, is it not? Correct me if I am wrong; I am, after all, not from royal heritage. I am but a simple village girl, unaware of the social nuances of people such as yourselves, but I do have some savings I could use to buy Brandon."

    _________________________________________________________
    "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."
    "If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman."
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    PostSubject: Re: Simply Good (Lydia's Charries)   Fri Dec 09, 2016 12:32 am

    His eyebrows raised the tiniest notch at her words. Here was an unusual suggestion coming from a lady. Then again, Kaleah wasn’t the typical lady. “Knocking sense into them,” Brandon put his fingers to his chin, appearing to consider the words deeply. “I suppose that could work. Have you tried it out?”

    “Ah, yes. Anne Shirley of Green Gables,” Brandon said, nodding his head. He didn’t say more, trying to join the dots between Kaleah and the fictional character. Then some of her words clicked in his brain. Least likely candidate to be a Princess...least likely candidate to be a Princess…. Then what was she doing here? “Least likely, huh,” he commented. “Why do you suppose you were chosen to come, then?” Real smooth, Brandy. Real smooth he could hear Avelyn chiding him. Oh shut up! He knew he could do better than that, manipulate the conversation like he always did to get the answers he wanted without people even realising the conversation was heading that way. But with Kaleah…no, it wouldn’t work. She’d see right through him.

    “How to Lead a Life of Crime?” he repeated. “No, unfortunately I haven’t. It sounds fascinating though. If I wasn’t a Prince, I think I’d make a good criminal.” He grinned. After all, he was his father’s son. The love of mischief and thrill of adventure ran through his veins. “I shall read the book at your insistence, milady,” he responded with a gallant bow and a teasing light in his eyes.

    Brandon couldn’t help but chuckle at her words. Her sarcasm and wit was hilarious. Most importantly, it showed that she had a personality of her own and not one of the cookie cutter ones all the other women had. She was her own person and she wasn’t afraid or ashamed of it. Brandon could only respect and admire her more for it. “Oh yes,” he agreed. “Having your toes trod on by a horde of ladies who think they can dance but really can’t is the dream of every Prince. And the eternal scavenger hunt, looking for compliments to give to a lady and making it as true as possible is the best mental exercise one can ever get.” He bowed deeply with a hand on his heart. “I am very much honoured milady, that you would grace my deplorably ugly self with your radiant beauty.”

    Brandon held up the middle three fingers of his right hand, boy scout style. “I swear by my love of fake socialisation not to tell or show anybody the secret clearing,” he said solemnly. But just to assure Kaleah that he was trustworthy, he added, “You have my genuine thanks for letting me know about that place. Goodness and other character attributes know I need isolation once in a while from the craziness that is life.”

    At Kaleah’s next words to Annabelle, it was all Brandon could do not to laugh out loud. He managed to disguise the snort that came out as a cough. Annabelle wouldn’t know any different but Kaleah would. When she posed his question though, he shot daggers at her with his eyes. Oh, she was one sneaky lady. “I’d say her stunning performance as a canis femina is definitely eye-catching,” he replied, keeping a straight face.

    “Oh thank you, Brandon!” Annabelle gushed. The poor brainless girl!

    “Yes, I remember it quite clearly, indeed,” he answered, laughter gleaming in his eyes and one corner of his mouth quirking up. “It is the highest honour.”

    “When all else fails, the frying pan saves the day!” Brandon proclaimed. “She still has it and occasionally uses it sometimes. You should hear my father running around the palace trying to escape the wrath of the frying pan.”

    He could hear the edge in Kaleah’s tone as she talked and he made himself ready to end the thing if Annabelle continued her attitude. The only thing that stopped him from acting sooner was his the gentlemanly streak in him that didn’t allow him to hurt a woman. And the fact that Kaleah could more than slay Annabelle with her words. But if it got out of hand, he would step in. Out of all the words Kaleah spoke, four rang over and over in his head: a simple village girl, a simple village girl.

    But before he could ponder more on the words, he saw Annabelle’s hand out of the corner of his eyes, heading straight for Kaleah’s cheek. Instinctively, his own hand shot out, encasing Annabelle’s before it could reach its destination. He held it in a grip strong enough to send the message that he wasn’t playing around. Annabelle probably got lost in the maze of Kaleah’s words and not knowing what to do, decided to strike out.

    “That is enough, Miss White! You are displaying rather un-ladylike behaviour,” Brandon said, his voice hard as steel and cold as the North Pole. “If this persists, I will report you to the principle. I will also have my family cut off communications with yours. I’m sure you wouldn’t want that to happen, would you?” His family was highly prominent and relations with the Fiztpatricks were much coveted. To have communications cut off with his family was not a good move for any royalty.

    Annabelle gulped and nodded.

    “Be sure to never exhibit such unhomely behaviour again to Kaleah or any of the other ladies,” Brandon continued. When Annabelle nodded again, Brandon let her hand go. She, at least, had the decency to curtsey and mutter an apology to Kaleah before making herself scarce.

    Brandon watched her go then turned to Kaleah. “Village girl,” he commented. “You did impressively well.”

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    PostSubject: Re: Simply Good (Lydia's Charries)   Fri Dec 09, 2016 7:00 pm

    Kaleah hesitated for a split second at Brandon's question. It wasn't that she didn't have an answer, nor was it she didn't want to answer. It was simply that she wasn't sure if she should have, given that the notion she was talking about wasn't exactly the kindest nor Princess-y thing to do. Growing up in a village, she had not been raised on lifting pinkies and curtsies. Rather, as a child, before she attended the local school, she would spend her days running around with the other children, climbing trees, throwing mud at each other, jumping into rivers, and all the freedom that came from the simple life - including the occasional fights.

    Of course, it was never anything serious, but from a young age, children learnt not to bother their parents with misunderstandings or grievances. If someone took your toy, you didn't go crying to mummy or daddy; you took it back. And sometimes, if said 'thief' didn't want to give it back, you'd use force. Bullies were dealt with not by exchanging of words or 'time-outs' but by the simple and effective retaliation of other children.

    Finally, deciding that there was no use hiding who she was - and secretly wondering if Brandon would ostracise her after she admitted this (not because he wasn't a nice person, but because he was a Prince first and foremost) - Kaleah gave a sly smile and nodded. "In my village, when I was seven or eight, there was this one boy in school that kept picking on all the girls," she explained. "It was nothing serious, of course, until one day he took a pair of scissors and snipped off two inches of my best friend's hair! I chased him around the yard and sat on him until he understood that sort of behaviour was - and is - unacceptable."

    She let out a light, self-conscious laugh; it was a funny story, but not her best moment. "He's dating said best friend now, and the three of us often venture out together when we're free, so I suppose all's well that ends well!"

    The blunt question made her falter. There was no way she could answer this without sounding like she was bragging. Besides, she herself wasn't entirely sure of the answer. Honesty, to her, was always the best policy (and sometimes a weakness, since she didn't quite know how to lie) and she simply gave him a half-shrug. "I suppose many things, although I have no concrete evidence to any of them. Perhaps there was a mistake in the register, or perhaps life is playing one large joke on me. There is even the possibility that, somehow, the universe has decided that I am a Princess."

    She paused to give him a smile. "I can suppose all I like but I'm not sure, and until I am - or, until I am more comfortable being transparent; we have, after all, just met - I will refrain from speculation, if you're alright with that. I don't mean any offence, after all."

    I'll have to get one of the crows to deliver the book to him, she thought, but said nothing aloud. It would be a surprise, and besides the book, the crow could lead him to the quiet area, too. It would be a perfect combination - a quiet place to read, and a book to read!

    "Did you mean a criminal who excels at his... well, profession, although that's not quite the right word? Or did you mean a criminal who, in some backwards sense, does good deeds despite the means with which he does them?" she asked, teasingly. "Because I have a sudden image of you in green attire with a feather hat, just like Robin Hood!"

    The bow made her laugh, and she replied with a curtsey. "You shalt not be disappointed, m'lord," she said, then paused and laughed again. "Are we back in Shakespeare's time, then?"

    She nodded knowingly. "I knew it! That is, after all, one of the classes we have - How to Act Like You Can't Dance Although You Can to Impress the Men. It's a long name, so it's simply shortened to Ballroom Dancing, but the concept is more or less the same."

    Again, she curtsied, although both of them knew by now that this was more mocking than anything. "M'lord neednt be that greatly honoured. It is the duty of a Princess that begs me dwell among thorns, and nothing more!" Grinning slightly, she added, more softly, "This is the most fun I've had since arriving. For that, I genuinely thank you."

    She waved away the thanks. "Anything for a fellow book lover! If you'd inform me when your next long break is, I'll have a crow meet you here. He'll show you the way."

    When he laughed, she had to hide one of her own, biting her tongue harder to prevent it from escaping, and instead tried to focus on something else. Thankfully, Brandon provided it.

    The two words he used to describe Annabelle made her pause. They weren't English, that much she was sure, but sounded more like Latin? She'd never studied any foreign languages in school, but she did know that most English words came from Latin origins, and it took just a little mental effort to link them - canis could be canine, and femina had obviously something to do with female - but... But surely Brandon would not have been calling her a bitch?

    Making a mental note to ask him about it later, she grinned at Brandom. Animal Farm had been an interesting read, although she hadn't understood a lot of the analogies made, and already she was wondering if he'd be interested in discussing it with her.

    Brandon's description made her laugh, this time out loud, and for just a moment she forgot what was happening. "Oh, I would pay to see that sight!" she teased him. "Instead of spankings, do you and your siblings get hit with frying pans instead?" she asked next, before realising that the punishments given out by Kings and Queens were probably nothing like the kind she and her friends got from their parents. A few hard whacks of a wooden spoon on their knuckles got them to very quickly understand what was off limits and what wasn't. It was temporary pain for lifelong lessons, something definitely worth it; after all, the hurt was only temporary, and done out of love rather than abuse.

    Kaleah caught the hand movement at once and already was stepping back to avoid it when Brandon came to her rescue. For a moment, she balked, not knowing how to respond. Back home, rough play was always just that - play - and on the rare chance that two people actually got into serious altercation, everyone knew to let them handle it themselves. In time, they would sort it out and everything would be fine again.

    But here... Here was a Prince coming to her so-called rescue, and she wasn't quite sure how to react. Not that she wasn't thankful, of course. It hadn't been necessary, but she was thankful nevertheless, and she shot him a slight smile when Annabelle wasn't looking.

    And then he began to talk to Annabelle, and Kaleah felt herself shrink back. He sounded so different from the friendly, cheerful person she'd been joking around with earlier. His threats seemed to hit home, and Kaleah simply waited until he was finished. It seemed overly harsh to her. A slap was, after all, just a slap. But apprently, in their culture and way of life, it was something very bad.

    When he turned, back to normal, his comment made her chuckle. "Thank you," she replied. "I'd say you did quite well yourself, Palace-boy."

    _________________________________________________________
    "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."
    "If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman."
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    PostSubject: Re: Simply Good (Lydia's Charries)   Thu Dec 15, 2016 7:09 am

    Brandon caught her slight hesitation. A person less observant than he might have missed it but his natural perceptive nature coupled with his training to read minute behavioural changes worked to his advantage. What he didn’t know was why she hesitated. Had he touched on a sensitive topic for her? If so, why would ‘knocking sense’ into a person be a sensitive topic? Had she actually tried it out and gotten into trouble for it? Or maybe she was the victim of physical abuse?

    At that last thought, Brandon felt himself grow angry at the person who might have caused such abuse and protective over Kaleah. Realising the direction of his feelings, he pause mentally. Sure, he had an innate abhorrence against violence of any sort and he would normally demand justice but this was different, stronger, more…personal. The same could be said over the sudden surge of protectiveness he felt towards Kaleah. Oh, he had the same feelings towards his sisters and mother but this was someone he’d just met! Why would he feel so strongly towards her?

    Before he could analyse his thoughts deeper, Kaleah was speaking. The story she told made him chuckle lightly. He could just picture a feisty indignant miniature Kaleah chasing a boy and squashing him to the group. She was one piece of work! “Remind me to never get on your bad side,” Brandon grinned. “I don’t fancy having you sitting on me.” He pause a while to catch his breath before continuing. “Which village are you from? If you don’t mind me asking.”

    Brandon nodded at her answer. She’d done the wise thing and her answer showed maturity beyond her age. Whatever else that could be said about her, you could not fault Kaleah for being foolish and ignorant. Still, he owed her an apology for asking such an intrusive question that she wasn’t comfortable with. Curiosity had overtaken his manners and his better judgement. “I apologise for asking such a personal question. I didn’t mean to be nosy or invade your privacy,” he apologised, sincerity shining in his eyes. Internally, he slapped himself for having let his inquisitiveness get the better of him. It was something he had to work on, no doubt.

    “Well, then you’d better get rid of that image speedily!” Brandon exclaimed, feigning offence at being pictured in such a fashion. “A criminal who steals and robs innocent people. For my own benefit, of course.”

    “I’ll hold you to your word,” Brandon responded. At her question, he grinned. “What better time is there than the one in which forbidden lovers commit suicide and where there is much ado about nothing? Juliet, my love!” Dramatically, he acted out Romeo’s part, drinking the poison, putting a hand on his heart, gasping for air, and making a comical dead face.

    “If I remember correctly, I have next Saturday free,” Brandon recalled. “Can’t wait to see the place! Does the crow have a name?”

    Brandon shook his head. “Nah, the frying pan is reserved specially for dad,” he answered. “The punishment we get depends on the severity of our actions. Going to bed without dinner, cleaning the palace – not an easy task, let me tell you – sweeping the garden, polishing cutlery, slaving away in the heat of the kitchen and loads more. My mother’s very creative.” He paused a moment, then added, “We do get beaten but it’s usually dad who does that with his belt.” Brandon winced at one particular memory of his smarting rear end. He couldn’t sit for hours after that. To be fair, he’d done something quite stupid but that was ages ago.

    “Thank you,” he replied in response to her comment. “I know what I said was harsh but I couldn’t let her hit you or continue behaving the way she is now,” he explained. He wanted to say more, about how his parents were actually thinking of having a long talk with Annabelle’s parents about controlling their daughter a bit more and instilling better virtues in her. The Fitzherberts knew of her actions and would have done something about it anyway since they had an alliance with the Whites and bad behaviour from Annabelle would reflect badly on his family. All this he wanted to tell Kaleah but he couldn’t. Not only was it politics, but it was politics he could not discuss with anyone other than family.
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    PostSubject: Re: Simply Good (Lydia's Charries)   Fri Dec 16, 2016 10:16 pm

    Glaring at him mockingly, Kaleah said, "That isn't something a proper Princess would do; should I be offended you think I'd still do something like that?" Breaking into a slight grin, she shrugged slightly. "I don't sit on people anymore." Catching herself as she was about to add more, she contemplated what she wanted to say for a while. It wasn't exactly something that she should admit to, and yet, there was something about Brandon that she felt was safe. He wouldn't think lowly of her, surely, no matter what she said.

    Deciding to take a chance - and also remembering her promise to her parents to not lose her identity - she said, "One of my childhood best friends is obsessed with martial arts. He taught me some basic skills, should I ever need to defend myself. It's actually not too difficult, once you've learnt the right positions to stand and stuff; all you do is basically use your opponents energy against them." Pausing, she chuckled a little. "Not that I ever would, of course. It's pathethically un-Princessey," she added, dryly.

    At the question, she smiled, genuinely and proudly. Her village was small and not too well known, but it was Home-with-a-capital-H, and nothing could ever replace it. "Celilia," she told him, "and it's the best place in the world."

    Slightly taken aback by the apology - she'd been told in class before that it was the Princess' job to do that, and a Prince was never wrong - she nevertheless smiled. "It's not your fault in the slightest! You didn't invade it, honestly; it was a perfectly legitimate question that just happened to be something I don't want to answer just yet."

    With a laugh, she shook her head. "Too late, Robin. You are forever stuck in my mind wearing a green hat with a red feather."

    She tried and failed to hide her laughter at his acting, taking a while to compose herself when he finished. Still grinning, although she was doing her best to keep a straight face, she said, "O happy dagger, this is thy sheath!" With a sly smirk, she added, "I'd kiss you, but we both know that ain't happening."

    Nodding, she tilted her head, searching the skies for one of her friends. Once she made a connection, she turned to him while she waited for her to arrive and said, "Well, yes and no. They don't have names like us - Brandon, Kaleah, Susan - but rather a specific call. It's... It's hard to explain, but it's unique to each crow, and each species of animal has their own unique type of call. It's like- oh, hang on." Turning, she held out her arm, just in time for a crow to land on it. With her free hand, she patted his head and turned back to face Brandon.

    "Okay, you know how we have phonetics, and in a sense, that's how names are unique? Like, even if there's another Brandon here, the way you pronounce your own name makes it special to only you." She paused, glancing at the crow. "Yes, yes, I know you're here. Just give me a moment to finish, you impatient little creature." In a playful manner, it nipped at her finger, flapped its wings, and settled again.

    "Sorry, where was I? Oh, right. It's similar like that for animals. Each species has their own specific noise. For crows, this noise is obviously a caw. For horses, it's usually neighs, although sometimes it can be a whinny. Pigs have snorts, dolphins have either squeaks, clicks, or a mixture of both, and things like that." She gestured to the crow. "And, within each species, each individual animal has its own call. It's more like an identification noise than anything. It is personal, and distinctly unique for each individual, so I guess it's like a name. Our voices can't really mimic it accurately, so I don't suggest trying out loud, but once they tell it to you, you can do it in your mind."

    Looking back at the crow, she smiled at her. "Saturday afternoon, could you please bring him to..." she trailed off, continued the rest in her mind so that nobody could overhear, and then finished, "Thank you, little one. I'll... Hmm? Oh. Yes. Yes, I remember. Goodness, you're a worse nagger than my grandma... What? You what?! Sure, sure, I believe you... Of course that was sarcastic. You can't have an eagle as a grandma! You're a worse liar than... Oh. Ohh. Right, sorry. Makes sense. Yea, okay. Mhmm. Yea, you do that. Yup, I know! That's the tenth time you've reminded me in this conversation alone! Hah, you wish... Alright, see you!"

    With that, the bird took off, and Kaleah suddenly remembered she wasn't alone; turning back to Brandon, she gave him a sheepish smile. "Sorry about that; she loves to talk. She'll meet you at this spot at noon on Saturday. Bring a thimble for her, if you can; she loves shiny things."

    The news that they were punished came as a slight surprise to her, although a good one. At least he did get disciplined; a lot of the girls she talked to never lifted a finger around the house and got away with anything and everything, leading to a bunch of self-entitled brats, not that she'd ever say it. Nodding, she smiled wryly. "My dad was a softie with me. My brothers got the cane, of course, but I was his only daughter, you see, and so if I only sniffed a little I'd get a talking to over ice cream. It was mum who did the actual punishment. And then you have the other kids; we have our own form of righting wrongs."

    Smiling at him, she gave a little shrug. "It didn't sound overly harsh to me. Believe me, my brothers once tied someone to a tree and yelled at him until he apologised for calling me something not so nice and throwing a twig at me." She let out a laugh. "The next day, of course, those same brothers held me down and tickled me until I wet myself... I mean, I have two older brothers; honestly, there's nothing Annabelle can do or say that they haven't already at some point."

    She truly missed them, but there was no time to deal with homesickness, and she forced a smile. "Family, eh?"

    _________________________________________________________
    "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."
    "If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman."
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    PostSubject: Re: Simply Good (Lydia's Charries)   Sat Dec 17, 2016 5:12 am

    I wasn’t aware that you considered yourself a proper Princess was the first thing Brandon wanted to say to her, but he bit it back. Just barely. Saying something like that might seriously offend her and Brandon did not want to lose what he considered and amazing friendship. Though he knew Kaleah was nothing like the other girls – and he meant that in every good way possible – he still did not know the full extent of her personality and what kinds of jokes she could take without feeling offended. “Well, that’s a relief,” he said. “I don’t think I’d make a very comfortable cushion, though my sisters and dog think otherwise.”

    What Kaleah said next surprised Brandon. He hadn’t expected her to be knowledgeable about martial arts. He already knew she did not fit the typical Princess damsel-in-distress mold, but he hadn’t pictured her as a martial artist. He’d taken some martial arts training as part of his curriculum because the Prince had to save the Princess of course, and how was he do to that without training? “Oh, yes,” he nodded his head gravely. “It’s abominable for a Princess to be able to save her own behind.” He added a mischievous grin at the end to show he was joking, but the sparkle in his eyes could have said enough. “On a more serious note, if you’d like to further your education in self-defence, I’d be more than happy to teach you,” he continued. “Fencing and sword play too, if it interests you.”

    Celilia, Celilia.. Brandon turned the name over in his mind, going through the endless history and geography lessons he’d endured. If memory served him well, it was a small town beside the part of Emerald Creek that widened out. “The quaint little town between Corona and Arendelle?” Brandon questioned just to be sure. As a Prince, he had to know every town, every kingdom, and anything in between. “Home almost always is,” Brandon said simply in response to her opinion.

    He narrowed his eyes at her, his lips turning into a frown before a smirk took over. “Well then, I shall picture you in a bright pink ball gown with sparkles and more layers than an onion, paired four inch high heeled shoes and maybe..hmm, let’s see. Oh yes! A dazzling tiara sitting atop a mass of wavy hair. How’s that?” Brandon concluded, wiggling his eyebrows at her.

    Brandon laughed at her imitation of Juliet. She made a good actress. “Whyever not?” Brandon questioned, adopting the same sly smirk Kaleah had. “I think I kiss pretty well,” he said, following it up with a teasing wink.

    Listening attentively to her words, Brandon tried to imagine what it would be like to communicate with animals. Oh, he knew what it was like to talk to Maximus but to other animals? “That sounds fascinating!” he said. As Kaleah continued on her conversation with the bird, Brandon couldn’t hold back his amused smile. It reminded him so much of Maximus, but as he observed, the direction of this thoughts changed from the horse and his family to Kaleah. He could see that she was in her element, that she didn’t struggle to communicate as some girls did. It looked like it came naturally to her and from the ease with which she talked to the bird, Brandon inferred that she’d done this many times before. Together with the bird, Kaleah made a perfect picture, and the amused smile turned into a soft thoughtful one. She had a different presence about her, one that Brandon found himself liking.

    “I’ll keep that in mind,” Brandon replied, bringing himself back to the present. “And there’s no need to apologise. It’s amazing seeing you communicate with her.”

    Brandon listened as Kaleah shared about her family and upbringing. He found himself wanting to know more about her, about what – and who – made her the woman standing in front of him. Almost everybody knew who he was and the grapevine was never short on the latest gossip on him and his family. All that information about him was available – except for the private ones – but he wanted to know Kaleah more. “The apple of his eye, eh?” Brandon teased. He knew how it was like – he had two sisters after all, and his father tended to be softer towards them.

    Brandon chuckled at her story, liking that she was being open about her childhood. “Ah yes. It’s fun being the older brother,” he said. “That doesn’t mean I’m safe from my sisters’ vicious attacks though. Let me tell you, it is not easy being on the receiving end of their,” Brandon used his fingers to make quotation marks in the air, “punishment.” A faraway look entered his eyes as he recalled all the times his sisters tortured him during their play time.

    “Yes, family,” Brandon nodded. “Can’t live without them, can’t stand them but love them with all you’ve got.” A small smile graced his lips as he thought of his family.

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    PostSubject: Re: Simply Good (Lydia's Charries)   Sat Dec 17, 2016 6:27 am

    Grinning in reply, she teased, "Well, I suppose if you decide to annoy me in any way, I can always find out. It's not like sitting is that hard a thing to do, after all." Picking up the folds of her dress on either side, she mimed adjusting them a few times before pretending to seat herself on a chair, careful to maintain balance on her feet, and placed her palms neatly on her lap. "Unless, of course, you tend to sit like this-" with that, she let herself fall down onto the soft grass, crossing her legs as she made contact with the ground so that the material of her dress covered it, and leaned back onto her hands "-in which case, you get told off for being unladylike. Frankly, I don't care - it's more comfortable this way - but believe me when I say I'd rather never do this than sit through another lecture on the proper way to behave."

    Looking up at him, she couldn't help but laugh, not bothering to move from her position. "Isn't standing just a tad boring? It's much nicer down here," she said, straightening just long enough to gesture to the spot next to her before returning to resting against her hands.

    She could already tell he was joking, and this time, managed to keep her expression straight as she nodded along. "A proper Princess should never save herself. Not only is it unbecoming, it is safe to say that it is an insult to all the men out there that a woman can be entirely self-sufficient and not need to rely on anyone else!" With a sly smile, she added, "After all, if a woman can save herself, there would be no need for a man." Winking at him to show she was only joking, she let out a light laugh.

    "Martial arts is interesting enough," she said, shrugging a little. "I find it fun, but it's not something I'm all too serious about. I mean, it was something to do with Phil, and it was nice spending time with him and all that. Honestly, the only reason I took it up in the first place was because of him!"

    There was more to it than just that, but she didn't want to overshare. Phil had been her childhood sweetheart, her first kiss and the boy she grew up with and loved, but he'd been, in the end, not right. They broke up on good terms, both knowing that they would always mean more to the other in ways that nobody would understand and yet would never be enough to sustain a relationship. There had been no ill feelings, and Kaleah knew that, end of the day, they were best friends and nothing more. But she said none of this to Brandon; it wasn't the kind of thing you shared with someone you just met. Heck, besides her family, there were only two people who knew what happened between them.

    At Brandon's offer, her eyes lit up. "Sword play? With real swords?" she asked, not even trying to hide the intrigue in her tone, no matter how 'unladylike' it was supposed to be. "Because that is an offer I just can't refuse." Glancing away from him for a moment, she debated internally if what she wanted to tell him was suitable or not.

    Yes, he was different. Yes, he didn't seem to be one to judge. And yes, she liked him a lot and definitely wanted to be able to trust him as her friend - but he was still a proper Prince, and she was just a village girl. There were bound to be some things that were a part of her life that he didn't agree with, or wasn't use to. Settling for something between what she wanted to say and 'safe', she added, "My father works part-time making arrows and stuff for the hunters, and never lets me touch the hunting swords. Says it's too dangerous. The most I have is a pocket knife...but they took that away when I arrived." He's also the local butcher, she added, mentally, not wanting to freak Brandon out; after all, she didn't know how squirmish he was.

    For a moment, she was surprised that Brandon knew about it - not many people did - until she remembered that he was the heir to a Kingdom, and that all Princes needed to know that stuff. There was nothing much to say, after that, and instead, she asked casually, "Have you ever been there? It's a beautiful place."

    At his suggestion, she merely raised an eyebrow. "I believe, Robin, that you have made a grave mistake," she said, waiting for a moment for sheer effect before continuing. "It just so happens that I like dresses, and the colour pink. And what female doesn't dream of being a Princess with a tiara?" She grinned at him, tactfully not mentioning the heels, the only thing she probably couldn't deal with. "Do I look good?"

    Two can play at that game, she thought at the wink. "Oh, merely because I did not peg you to be the kind of man to enjoy kissing people upon their first meet. However, if you don't mind..." Leaning forward, she puckered her lips as badly as she could, but could only hold it for a few seconds before bursting out in laughter.

    "It is!" she replied, nodding at the bird. "But the thing is, not all animals can talk. I don't know why, but only some have the ability. I suppose it has to do with their brains? I really have no clue. Out of a murder of ten crows, maybe only three or four can communicate with people. The others don't, and I can't understand them, either."

    Blushing slightly at his words, she shrugged. "Not so amazing if you had to listen to her chatter!" she joked, brushing aside the compliment like she usually did. It wasn't that she didn't believe him (she knew her strengths and weaknesses and weren't ashamed of either), but rather the fact that she never quite knew how to properly respond to someone telling her she did good, or was great or whatever. With close friends, she could just smile and hug; with people she barely knew or just met? That was a different story altogether.

    Nodding at his comment, Kaleah smiled. "I suppose, yes! Although at times it can be frustrating; he treats me like I'm still a child, sometimes. I mean, my eldest brother smuggled me my first pocketknife years before dad let me have one, and that was only after he caught me using the one I had and realised the blade was dull and rusty, and that the safest thing to do was give me a brand new one!"

    Kaleah gave him a knowing smile. "Oh yes, never doubt the retaliation of little sisters!" she exclaimed with a laugh. "Of course, it was only ever me against two of them, so it usually ended not so well." She exaggerated a deep sigh, then chuckled again. "It seems like you're close to your sisters," she commented, nodding to his last statement. "Family is family. We don't choose who they are, but they can grow on you." There was a lighthearted way in which she spoke, hinting that she didn't mean her words literally; she loved her entirely family, and wouldn't give them up for the world.

    _________________________________________________________
    "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."
    "If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman."
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    PostSubject: Re: Simply Good (Lydia's Charries)   Sun Dec 18, 2016 7:15 am

    As Kaleah made herself comfortable on the ground, Brandon’s only outward reaction was raising one eyebrow. But on the inside, he was laughing, a warm feeling spreading through him. Kaleah was truly one of a kind and Brandon could not the growing fascination he had for her. He admired and enjoyed her carefree attitude and the way she did not hold the opinion others had of her above the opinion she had of her own self. It was rare of find a female like that. He settled himself beside her, mimicking her seating position, close enough for easy and comfortable communication but far enough to obey the laws of propriety. They were, after all, still in full view of the rest of the group and one wrong move would not be good for either of them. Though he doubted Kaleah cared very much about people’s opinion of her, he did not want to be the cause of ill-reports about her.

    “Well, you’re in luck today, Miss Page,” Brandon started. “I happen to be one who does not particularly care about the way a lady sits as long as it covers the necessary parts.” Here, he inserted a wink and a teasing grin. “You’ll not be receiving a lecture from me anytime soon.”  

    He nodded his head as Kaleah spoke, everything about his body language portraying seriousness except for the light of laughter in his eyes. “It is absolutely forbidden for a woman’s independence to cause the extinction of the male species,” he said in his best imitation of an old professor’s voice, miming the action of reading from a scroll. “Therefore, a woman must at all cost, not be able to stand up for herself in any way. She must rely on man’s physical strength to protect her and man’s superior intelligence to make the best decisions.” He chuckled before continuing, “Personally, I think a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.”

    Phil. So, Brandon had another name from her childhood. From the way she spoke and the words she chose, Brandon thought that he was probably not a relative. ”Something to do with Phil. That meant Kaleah participated in the activity so she could spend time with him. And she liked spending time with him. That left three possibilities: (best) friend, childhood sweetheart, or boyfriend. Somehow, Brandon found himself not liking the reality of that last possibility.

    He wanted to ask her who Phil was but kept his mouth sealed. If she wanted to share, she would. He would not push her to share what she was not comfortable with revealing. Inside, he yearned to know more about her history but he kept his feelings from showing on his face. He had enough experience putting up a façade and masking his emotions to be able to do it without anyone knowing. It was an occupational hazard and one he’d perfected over the years.

    Seeing the interest in her eyes when he mentioned swords, Brandon congratulated himself on saying the right thing. “Of course!” he replied. “Well, first is basic technique like standing positions and leg work, things I’m sure you already have knowledge of. Then we use wooden swords to practice offensive and defensive movements and when that’s done, use a real sword, by all means.” He paused to take a breath before adding, “We can compare schedules later and if you really want, I can teach you in your free time. You can use my spare sword and we can meet in that clearing of yours.”

    She was quiet for a while and Brandon could see that she was deciding what to say. He let her have that moment, enjoying the companionable silence. When she finally spoke, he listened, eager to know more about her. “Don’t underestimate the power of a pocket knife,” he said with a small smile. Reaching into his pocket, he took out his own pocket knife. It wasn’t the one his father gave to him to mark his coming-of-age. That was too precious to give away to someone he’d just met, no matter how much she captured his attention. But this one was no less valuable. It was simple and practical with all the necessary tools but it was of excellent quality.

    “Here,” he said simply, holding the gadget out to her. “It’s yours. Don’t let them take this away from you.” And just so she could not reject it, he added, “It’s a spare one that I don’t use. Consider it a token of my friendship.” He paused, tilting his head to one side. “Or a super duper ruper early Christmas gift.”

    “Yes, I’ve been there once,” he answered. “It is required of me to visit every kingdom, city, town, or village at least once. It is indeed a stunning place with its own charm.” He’d visited the place without announcing his identity, preferring instead to mix with the locals, getting to know their struggles, needs, and desires. He did this with all the places he visited, knowing that people were more likely to be honest with a commoner or tourist than with royalty. Of course, some people would recognise him from all the pictures of him online so in the more populated places, he took more pains to disguise himself.

    “One who doesn’t hold in high regards the insipid ways of the high class people?” Brandon said with a smirk. “No, actually you don’t. At least, not in the kind of dress I described. I think the dress you currently have on suits you much better,” he continued with an honest smile. “But I think a tiara in the same style and fashion – not garish but simple and very elegant – would also be very becoming.” Kind of like when my mother first put the crown on her head.

    It wasn’t until he’d finished speaking that Brandon realised he’d given fashion advice to a female.Oh, he was used to doing that for his sisters whenever they asked him to critique their choice of dress from a male point of view, but he knew that to someone who didn’t know him well, he probably sounded a little loopy. Oh well, too late to take that back now.

    When Kaleah puckered her lips, Brandon could not help joining her in hearty laughter. “Well played, Miss Page! Well played.” She was a quick thinker, no doubt about that. In fact, Brandon was beginning to realise that she could probably out-wit him at any given time. He would have to pay more attention next time.

    Brandon chuckled at her joke. “Oh, believe me. I know what it’s like to listen to non-stop chatter. I wouldn’t wish that on my worse enemies.” He pause for a while, pretending to ponder something. “On second thought, I actually might wish it on some of the chatterboxes I know!”

    Laughing lightly, Brandon responded, “I did the same with Avelyn. She saw me practicing with my sword and demanded to hold one too. For the safety of my own head and that of everyone else around her, I gave her one and taught her how to use it properly. This information is, of course, under wraps.” He would never reveal such information to the public. When they caught wind that the youngest daughter of King Eugene Fitzherbert knew the basics of sword play, it would ruin their family name. It wasn’t yet fully accepted that a Princess could handle a fighting, much less a sword. Sometimes, he wished the people in his kingdom and the surrounding ones as well, could be as open minded as the Chinese were when Mulan proved herself to be as capable as any male. He knew he could trust Kaleah though. She’d shown it from the way she chose not to reveal the things animals told her about people.

    “How can anyone resist me?” he teased in response to her comment on his relationship with his sisters. “I mean, I’m awesomeness personified in the flesh!” he joked. “On a more serious note, yes, family is family. They’re the ones who will stand by your side through the toughest times and that’s what makes me sad for all the broken families out there. There’s only so much one can do to mend the wounds left behind when a family is torn apart.”
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    PostSubject: Re: Simply Good (Lydia's Charries)   Wed Dec 21, 2016 3:18 am

    As Brandon joined her on the ground, Kaleah made up her mind there and then to keep him as a friend, and that he was worth it. What other Prince would sit on the grass with her? Her carefree movements had not been entirely as such; she'd planned it very carefully, testing each person she met whether she herself realised it or not. Of course, it was always harmless, and she never meant anything by her little 'tests' than getting to know the person better - and to see if they were trustworthy or not. After all, one couldn't go around trusting everyone; she wasn't a Hufflepuff.

    Harry Potter had been among one of the series she loved as a child, and there was no denying that she would've been a Slytherin had she been in that universe; all her friends agreed, and often their 'Hogwarts' games would revolve around being sorted and running around using twigs as wands. It had been long since decided that not only was she a Slytherin, she would've made prefect in her fifth year, and Head Girl by the end of her stay.

    "Does that mean if one stands in a revealing way, you are alright with that?" she teased, using his words against him. It was a sign that she was more comfortable, for she never, ever teased those she didn't like.

    She grinned at his words. Anyone else saying it, and she would've been all over them like bees swarm to flowers. But he was joking, and she knew it. Raising her eyebrows at his statement, she commented, "That's a great quote! I need to send that to my brothers the next time I write. They'd get a kick out of that, for sure." Pausing, she gave him a sly smile. "Actually, my favourite saying is, "If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman," courtesy of my oldest brother's gir-.. fiance."

    Nodding as he talked about the swords, she took in all he was telling her, eyes shining. "I would love to," she said, not hesitating for a second. Pausing for a moment, the weight of what they were planning sunk in, and she glanced around, already nervous that someone had overheard. The last thing she wanted to was get called in by a teacher for participating in something 'unladylike'.

    Heaven knew that had happened enough times the first week she was here - talking too loud, chewing too fast, swearing, even smiling wrongly - and she did not want a bad report. It wasn't that she cared, but rather, there was enough on her plate without worrying about catch-up work issued to those who failed. "But perhaps we could do this on the quiet side?" she added. "It's not exactly proper for me to even be talking about this with you."

    "Oh yes," she replied, eyeing what he was holding. It wasn't fair that they'd taken hers but not his. Still, life wasn't fair, and she understood that. "It's gotten me out of a lot of scraps before - perhaps as much as it's gotten me into them!" she joked.

    Her eyes widened as he offered her the pocket knife. This was... something else altogether. Not once did she see it as flirting or anything of that sort, but to give someone something as practical as a pocket knife spoke volumes. "Are you sure?" she asked, but even as she did, she was reaching out for it. "Thank you. I'll have to think of something for your friendship token!" That was a lie; she already knew what she wanted to get him, but that wasn't the sort of thing you said. Surreptitiously glancing around to ensure nobody was watching, she slipped the knife into a pocket she'd sewn into her dress (because dresses never had pockets, and that irked her no end) and gave him another smile.

    More pleased than she'd admit that he'd visited her town - even though it was out of obligation - Kaleah smiled. "It's small, and we don't have much in comparison to all you Kingdom-folk, but to quote a song - I'm happy with what I got, cos what I got is all I need; just cos it don't cost a lot don't mean it's cheap."

    Laughing, Kaleah shook her head. "Every girl dreams of being a Princess - or a Prince, if you swing that way, I guess - but believe me. I haven't met someone who hasn't, at one point, wanted to live in a big old Palace." She paused, gave another laugh. "Of course, if they knew the politics of it all, they'd run the other way."

    Raising her eyebrow at his words, it took her a moment to recall that he had two younger sisters before it made sense. After all, she grew up talking about guns and hunting and all that sort of thing, thanks to her brothers, so it was only natural that the opposite could be true; a guy could talk fashion because of the influence of sisters. She gave her dress a self-conscious patting down.

    "I'm told pink suits me, although green is more my colour," she said, talking as though it was with one of her girlfriends. "As for frills and glitter, I wouldn't know; we don't have those things in my village. We have three dressmakers, and one of the girls I grew up with - she lives next door - is going to become the fourth soon. She's still training, but she made this one as a farewell gift for me. It's not exactly Princess material, but it's the simple things like this I like."

    With a shrug, she said, "I've never worn a tiara before, so I can't tell you what suits me. Having said that, we get to practise being crowned in six months time, so I'll have some sort of idea then!"

    Mock bowing at his compliment, she couldn't resist one last jest. "What, no kiss? Such a tease you are." The tone of her voice showed that she was clearly kidding, and she shot him a grin when she straightened. "A few friends and I did literature as a subject a few years ago, and we decided to put on a play. This was one of the options, but we settled for The Importance of Being Earnest in the end, because that was more suitable for the younger kids. It was a huge deal; there was a makeshift stage built from wood scraps, fresh wild boar and stag, a bonfire after it ended..." She smiled. "You should've seen it. We messed up more than half the scenes, but I don't think anyone actually noticed."

    That was when everything was happy and everything was fine, and she was still innocent and young and free. But there was no use in wishing for the past, and she could still smile at the joy those memories brought - and at his words. There were a few chatterboxes she knew, but she always enjoyed listening to them talk. It was always interesting hearing someone else's point of view.

    Crossing her fingers and placing it over her heart, Kaleah nodded. "Never heard a word," she promised, breaking into a smile moments later. "But that is seriously awesome. For my last birthday, my dad finally let me tag along with one of the hunting parties." She stopped herself here. It was bad enough that she - a Princess in training - had been hunting. There was no way she was going to say that she'd actually made the first kill, and that it was the best deer she'd ever had (although that was probably in her imagination). Despite trusting Brandon, there were some things that couldn't be said in public places.

    Rolling her eyes, she pretended to give him a thorough lookover, moving her eyes slowly from his head to his feet and back up. Then, she gave a shrug. "Sorry; I don't see it," she commented. All she did was nod at his statement and say a simple, "Yes, they do." There wasn't much else to be shared - thought, yes, but not shared. No, she didn't know him well enough. Not yet, in any case, and even if she did, she wasn't sure if this was something she wanted to share.

    _________________________________________________________
    "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."
    "If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman."
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    PostSubject: Re: Simply Good (Lydia's Charries)   Fri Dec 23, 2016 6:28 am

    If Brandon were asked what he expected he would be doing at the School for Good and Evil, “Sitting on the grass a lady who defies the code of conduct for Princesses” would’ve been the last thing in his mind. He never expected he would find someone like Kaleah, one who so casually dismissed the laws of etiquette – at least, the stupid ones – and one who wasn’t afraid of bending the rules. But here he was, sitting on the grass with Kaleah as if they hadn’t a care in the world and were entitled to do whatever they liked. It was crazy, and yet Brandon found himself enjoying it, living in the moment.

    At her words, Brandon took one look at her, slightly stupefied, then chuckled, shaking his head gently. She was very sharp, he’d give her that. “That depends,” he responded, cocking his head a little, “on what the woman hopes to achieve by assuming such a posture.” He knew she was teasing but decided to answer her question truthfully.

    When Kaleah shared her favourite saying, Brandon put a hand over his heart, adopting an insulted and hurt expression. “You wound me, milady, with your harsh words,” he said dramatically, ending with a playful grin. “Is there nothing I can do to restore the good opinion of the male species? I can’t have a lady thinking ill of me.” He knew there was some truth to her words. It wasn’t entirely true but it did describe some men who expected females to carry all the responsibility. Not all men were like that, and for that, Brandon was grateful.

    When Kaleah agreed to learn sword play, Brandon felt his heart give an excited leap. Here was another opportunity to get to know her better and he was going to make every use of it. He didn’t miss her hesitation and when she glanced around, Brandon inferred that she probably thinking about the trouble she might get into if she were caught doing something only expected of a male. Her next words confirmed it.

    “Of course. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure you don’t get caught. We’ll be careful,” he said, hoping that he had guessed correctly. “And if you do get caught,” he gave a small shrug, “just say that I lost my mind and attacked you and you had to defend yourself.” He grinned, mirth showing in his eyes.

    He chuckled at her words. Somehow, getting into scrapes seemed to fit Kaleah and he couldn’t imagine her doing anything contrary. He was certain though, that when the occasion called for it, she could and would behave the correct way, but unrestricted, she would be herself. Which is actually the most important thing for a person Brandon thought. He’d seen too many people trying to be somebody else instead of embracing their own identity.

    He nodded, handing the instrument over to her with a warm smile. He’d had that knife for quite a while and was glad to give it to someone who would use and appreciate it. “You don’t have to get me anything,” he replied. He was, after all, a prince and could have anything he wanted, if he asked for it. Well, not anything. Almost anything.

    Brandon lifted an eyebrow as she quoted from a song. “No, it doesn’t have the blatant wealth some Kingdoms have, but it has a family-like feeling,” Brandon said. “It’s hard to describe but it’s like the people are warm and caring, unlike some big city folk where people do things only for their own benefit.”

    “Ah yes,” Brandon sighed. “The dratted politics. A lot of people think living a royal life is all candy and rainbows when there’s much more than that. After all, rainbows are only present when there’s rain and candy has to pass through heat before it is formed.” Often, Brandon met people jealous of his position in life, of the fact that he was a Prince and therefore had everything in the world. He had to remind them that his life came with great responsibilities but people were inclined to shove that fact aside.

    “Simple is good,” Brandon said. “You have no idea the laughs I share with my family over the insane dresses some ladies show up with. It’s bad to make fun of people,” he hung his head in mock shame, “but one cannot help but wonder why a lady needs to dress so elaborately that it becomes distasteful. “A lady would be admired and respected by all if she dresses in a style that enhances her beauty.”

    “You have to practice being crowned?!” Brandon exclaimed, incredulity in his voice before he burst out chuckling. “There’s not much to do except stand there and look the part. Though there have been some Princesses who let their crown tumble off their heads when they curtsied.”

    Brandon flung imaginary hair over his shoulder and did his best impression of fluttering his eyelashes. “I live to be a tease,” he said sassily. As she shared another bit of herself, Brandon listened raptly, smiling softly as she finished. “That sounds like fun,” he said, trying to hide the hint of longing that crept into his tone. It was simple things like that he sometimes missed out as a royal. Sure, he had goofy moments all the time with his siblings but too often, they were required to behave perfectly and spend the majority of their day focused on their lessons. Sometimes, Brandon wondered what it would be like to live a normal civilian life and from Kaleah’s little stories, he could form part of the picture.

    “Hunting parties are loads of fun! Not for the deer or rabbit of course, but the thrill of the chase is one of the best feelings in the world,” Brandon replied. After a short pause, he couldn’t resist asking, “Did you catch anything?”

    “You must need special glasses then,” Brandon responded with a bright grin. “You do not want to miss out on the awesomeness that is Brandon Everett Fitzherbert!” he continued, winking at her with a light laugh. Before he could say anything else, a bell rung in the distance, signalling that their time was over.

    Brandon stood up and though he was certain that she would ignore it, he still offered a hand to Kaleah to ‘help’ her up. It was the polite thing to do, ingrained in him since he could understand. “It has been a pleasure making your acquaintance, Miss Page,” he said formally though his eyes said otherwise. “I look forward to our next meeting,” he added, executing a perfect bow.

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    PostSubject: Re: Simply Good (Lydia's Charries)   Fri Dec 23, 2016 8:55 pm

    The feel of grass beneath her hands, the tickle of blades against her bare legs, and the wind in her hair made her smile to herself, a gentle smile that spoke more of peace than anything else; this was where she felt most comfortable. There was something about the outdoors that felt comforting, as though she were truly at home, and for at least a few short moments she could pretend that she was.

    "Using seductive clothes as a means of flirting isn't a crime," she replied, although her tone did not suggest that she was arguing; she was merely stating a fact. "My neighbour - the dressmaker - got her boyfriend by modelling her own clothes and asking his honest opinion for months in a row," she added, laughing slightly. "He didn't stand a chance once she found out what kind of clothes he liked seeing on her!" Pausing, she gave a little shrug. "Then again, they've known each other since they were young, and it was no big secret that she'd been pining for him since we were like, seven. He was probably the only one oblivious to the whole thing, the poor boy. We're waiting for the day she admits to him she meant for it to happen all along; he still thinks he's the one who got her!"

    Kaleah pretended to mull over his words, humming and haing for a few moments. "I'm not entirely sure," she replied, finally. "I'll have to let you know; there are those beyond saving, after all." Grinning at him to show she was joking, she glanced around, pointedly looking towards some of the other Princes in the area - in particular, the ones who already had a Princess attached to them.

    "Like a love-sick puppy, hanging on to every word spoken," she said, shaking her head. "And the worst part is that this applies to both parties! I'm not quite sure who's the dog and who's the master... One way or the other, we're the odd ones out. I'm entirely certain if one of my fellow classmates overheard us, they would think all sorts of ill - although more towards me for leading you astray from all your Princely glory." There was a hint of humour in her tone, subtle if one was sharp but unnoticeable otherwise. If Brandon picked it up, it would be a bonus. If not, she would know to watch herself the next time - if there was a next time.

    Laughing, she shot him with a sly smirk. "I'll keep that in mind." Widening her eyes, she gasped softly, raising a hand to her mouth in mock fear. "H-h-he a-attacked m-me. I...I don't k-know what h-h-happened. I was j-just s-sitting here... O-out of nowhere, h-he came a-at me. I had to p-pick up a h-horrible p-pointy t-thing... Oh p-please, d-don't make me t-t-touch one of t-those t-things a-again." Losing the tone, she shrugged. "Yea, I could do that. Thanks for the offer," she said, grinning again.

    "Neither did you," she replied at once. "Yet you did; and so shall I." The way she said it left no room for arguing, her tone not firm and yet holding a sort of quality about it that showed that she'd made up her mind.

    Smiling at his description, all she had to say about it was a simple - "We are a family."

    She nodded at his words, agreeing with what he'd said. There was always something positive to be found in the worst situations, and all she could think of was the quote that got her through her own rain. "Happiness can be found in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light," she said, leaving it at that. What he made of it - if he even recognised it as a quote - was up to him.

    Raising her eyebrow, Kaleah ran through his words in her mind. Did she know him well enough to correct him? No. Her mind presented the answer at once, but had that ever stopped her? The answer was the same, and, matter-of-factly, she said, "A lady should be respected regardless of how she dresses. One can like adorning themselves with jewelry and makeup and enjoy that; another might enjoy shorts and t-shirts. Makes no difference, as long as she's true to herself and what she likes." She wasn't telling him off, no, although had he been a friend she'd known for some time, she would've. In this case, she was merely sharing her point of view. After all, some feminist she'd be if she didn't correct others when they were being narrow-minded.

    Laughing at his shock, Kaleah nodded at his words. "We do. It's one of our classes; we also have to practise walking and bowing and stuff." Pausing, she tilted her head slightly. "I'm not entirely sure I'm supposed to be telling you all this. Ah well. Secrets of the trade, I suppose. Enjoy lapping it up."

    "I suppose - I prefer fly fishing, but hunting is enjoyable as well," she commented. It wasn't so much a hesitation as a careful consideration of his words. There was no harm in answering him, but if anyone else overheard it could be dangerous for her. After all, animals were supposed to be friends, and hunting was something that only men did; she was supposed to stay home and make birds clean for her. Of course, it wasn't as though all animals could speak, so she felt no guilt; it wasn't her friends she had killed. Finally, she smiled and nodded. "Yes," she said simply. "A stag."

    Already? she wondered as the bell rung, but said nothing aloud, instead glancing over to find that Brandon was already on his feet and offering her a hand. Anyone else and she wouldn't have accepted it; she could bloody well stand up by herself, she'd have said. But having been talking to him for the last - how long had it been? An hour? Two? She wasn't sure - however long, she already knew he meant no harm in this, and so, as casually as she could, she placed her hand in his, allowing him to help her up.

    "I would have to agree, Master Fitzherbert," she replied, smiling. "If you wish to, I can have a crow be at your window every evening at eight sharp for a couple minutes, in case you have anything you wish to write to me about; we never did get to compare schedules, and I'm not sure if we'll have another meeting like this that isn't in a controlled classroom setting," she added moments later.

    And then they were both parting ways, and Kaleah found herself smiling gently as she walked. This hadn't been what she expected - not by a long shot - but it had been so much better.

    _________________________________________________________
    "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."
    "If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman."
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