I spent the next few days getting to know Jaguar better. He was a very friendly guy. We spent most of our time walking around the palace and talking. He asked me all sorts of questions about my life in the human world. Even though I had already told him about me being home schooled, he still asked me other questions. “What was the food like there?” “How advanced were the humans?” “How did their technology work?” Things that I would be able to explain easily to him. Though, it was pretty funny when I tried to explain to him what a television was. He gave me a really puzzled look and didn’t seem to understand the concept. Well, I guess that is what you get in this world. They were not nearly as technologically advanced as the humans were. Made me wonder why.
“Tired.” Jaguar said to me as I yawned.
“Yeah.” I said. We were in the library. I was reading up on my studies. Most of my teachers were not proud of my behavior the day Jaguar arrived. They gave me extra work for my rudeness. Jaguar had joined me to keep me company.
Jaguar smiled at me from across the table. He had a book in front of him that he was reading while I studied. Even though we hadn’t really talked, him just being here made things a little less boring. I don’t know why, but just having company around seemed to make things better.
I groaned and laid my head down on the book I was reading. It was the first volume of The History of Ferrentaea. It was boring as hell. I couldn’t really concentrate on what I was reading. All I was seeing was words on a page. None of the information was sinking in. It’s kind of like when a person listens to somebody lecturing them. The words go in one ear and out the other. Same thing, just with eyes.
Jaguar reached over the table and touched my hand. I looked up, and saw his smiling face. I smiled back, but my boredom still showed. “Ara, let’s go for a walk. You could use the fresh air, and I’m sure you’re tired of reading that book.”
“You’re being a bad influence Jaguar. Are you sure you should be encouraging me to shirk my studies?” I said teasingly.
“Well, I’ll take full responsibility if we get caught. But watching you sit here and be bored and depressed makes me unhappy. I would rather see your smiling face. You’re more beautiful when you smile.”
I blushed and looked away from him. “Well then, let’s get out of here.” I said standing up. We walked out of the library and to the garden. I took a deep breath of the fresh air. “It feels like I’ve been locked of for years and this is the first time I’ve been outside.” Spun around, laughing, and enjoying the nature that surrounded me. I fell to the ground and just laid there laughing.
I heard, more than saw, Jaguar sit down next to me. I turned my head, so I could look at him. “It’s nice to see you smiling.”
I turned away, hiding my blushing because I remembered what he said earlier about me smiling. The only person who I would have ever expected to say that was Leon. My smile faded when I thought of Leon. I hadn’t seen him in days. It made me kind of sad, since he was my only friend here in the palace. For now I had Jaguar to keep me company and to laugh with; however, Jaguar was going to be leaving tomorrow. After he was gone, I was going to be alone again. If Leon and I never speak to each other again, then that would leave me completely alone in this place. If that happened, it would be unbearable.
“Is there something wrong Ara?” Jaguar asked, concern could be heard in his voice. “You look sad for some reason. Did I do something wrong?”
I looked at Jaguar again, and shook my head. “No, I was just thinking about unpleasant things.”
I turned my head, so I was now looking up at the sky. “You’ve been a royal a lot longer than I have. You’ve been living the life of a royal when you were born. Are you ever lonely?”
I head Jaguar sigh. There were a few moments of silence between us, which probably meant he was trying to think about how to answer my question. “Yes.” Jaguar finally said. “For most of my life I’ve felt lonely. I have older brothers, but since they are in line for the throne, they do not have time to socialize with me.”
I didn’t look at Jaguar, but continued to look at the sky. “Are you not in line for the throne?”
“No. My mother was not a royal or a noble. I will never have the chance to be king.” I heard Jaguar sniffle. “My mother was taken from me when I was five. They said she left; she ran away they told me. Found out a couple of years later that she was forced out by my oldest brother’s mother, the head wife and Queen.” It was obvious that he was trying not to cry. Hearing sound so sad almost made me want to cry too. “I don’t get to see my father much either. Being the king, he is always busy and doesn’t have time for his children.”
I sat up and looked at Jaguar. I gently touched his face with my fingertips and looked into his sad eyes that shined with unshed tears. He had lived a much lonelier life than I imagined. I was new to living the royal life, so I was alien to this loneliness. I had a loving mother and father for most of my life. Jaguar, on the other hand, lost the only person who gave him love and kept him from being lonely. I was tempted to ask him if he wanted to stay here, since he would never obtain the throne.
“Prince Jaguar,” We both turned our heads to see one of Prince Jaguar’s soldiers. “Come quickly, we have urgent news.” the soldier said.
Jaguar looked back at me. “I’m very sorry princess, but I must go. Hopefully I will see you later, but if I don’t, I hope you will see me off tomorrow.” I nodded my head. Jaguar took my hand and kissed it. He stood up and left with his soldier. I stood up as well and dusted myself off. I hated the dresses here. I really wished I could wear just simple jeans and t-shirts again.
“You two seem to be cozy with one another.” It came from a familiar voice. I turned around and saw Leon leaning up against a tree, his arms crossed. He didn’t look to happy while he stared at me.
I smiled and rushed over to Leon. I threw my arms around him and hugged him tightly. “Leon, I’m so happy to see you. It has been a while. I was starting to worry that you were avoiding me or something.” Leon didn’t hug me back, nor did he say anything. I let go of him and took a couple of steps back. He didn’t look happy to see me at all. “What’s wrong?”
Leon turned his head away from me, his eyes staring off into the distance. “Don’t get close to him.”
“What?” I was confused about who he was talking about. “Do you mean Jaguar?”
I saw Leon clench his teeth as I said his name without the title. I thought I heard him mumble, “So you’re that close already huh?” but I wasn’t really sure. “Yes, I mean him. He’s trouble princess. I advice you to not let your guard down around him.”
“Couldn’t have just given me a simple ‘hell, nice to see you Ara’?” I was confused as to why Leon was acting this way. We hadn’t seen each other in days, and he was standing here and telling me I should be cautious around the only friend I had besides him. Then a thought crossed my mind. “Are you jealous?”
Leaned finally turned to look at me. He looked a bit panicked, his cheeks starting to turn red. Whether they were turning red from embarrassment or anger, I wasn’t sure. “What are you talking about Ara? Me? Jealous? Don’t flatter yourself.”
I smiled. From how defensive he was being, it would seem I hit the jackpot. “Your jealous because I’m getting too close to him. What? You’re the only one who is allowed to be my friend? Come one Leon, don’t be so greedy. I don’t feel that way about Jaguar. We’re just friends.”
“That’s not what this is about!” Leon shouted. He surprised me by grabbing my arms and shaking me a bit. “I’m telling you this because I really have a bad feeling about that guy. I’m just worried about you.” His grip on my arm was tight, and it was starting to hurt.
“Let go of me Leon! You’re hurting me.”
“I won’t let go until you promise me that you’ll stay away from him. That you’ll keep your guard up.” The grip was starting to get tighter. If it got anymore tight, he was going to pop my arms off.
Anger started to build up inside me. I growled at Leon. “You’re just like everyone else aren’t? Telling me what to do. Well I’m sick of it.” I Leon flinch from the hot anger that that I was throwing at him. “Let go of me Leon. That’s an order from your princess. Or do you want me to call the guards.” I didn’t want to threaten him, but he was really hurting me.
Anger and hurt crossed his face. He let go of me and clenched his teeth again. He bowed. “Sorry for my rudeness your highness.” he said. He straightened up and then he was gone.
I stood alone in the garden. I was angry and hurt. Hot tears stung my eyes and I balled my hands into fist. The first time I have seen him in days, and we end up having a fight. But I wasn’t the one to blame. He was the one who started it. He was acting just like everyone else. Trying to control my life by telling me what to do. I was tired of people ordering me around.
That night I had a hard time falling asleep. I lay awake in bed, thinking about the fight between me and Leon. I wanted to go and apologize, but I wasn’t the one who started it. I was so conflicted that I didn’t know what to do.
There was a knock on my door. I jolted in surprise when it started to open. “Ara?” I heard Jaguar whisper into the room.
“Oh, Jaguar. Come in.” I said. Jaguar stepped into the room and closed the door. He walked over to the bed and stood in front of it. He didn’t say anything, just stared at me. I was starting to feel like something wasn’t right. “Jaguar?” A pained expression crossed Jaguar’s face. He looked conflicted as if he was trying to decide whether or not to do something. It was only making me worry even more. I got from under the covers and stood up.
“Jaguar, how did you get past the guards at the door?” They wouldn’t have let him in; not at this time of night. I walked to the door and opened it. The guards were passed out in front of the door. “What?”
“I’m sorry Ara.” Jaguar said from behind me. I felt something hit me in the back of the head, then the world went black.