"Mistress Aida, it's time to wake up."
Aida woke with her heart racing. When she opened her eyes, she instantly grabbed the small, fragile hand that was gently shaking her shoulder. She launched forward and stared fearfully at the person who was touching her. It was only her Lady in Waiting, Antoinette. Her almond-shaped, pink eyes widened and she reached out her other hand and pressed it to Aida's forehead.
"Are you sick Miss? What's gotten you into a fright?" Antoinette asked, worried. Aida began to control her rapid breathing as she looked over Antoinette. Her tan skin glowed in the rising sun's light as her brown freckles decorated her nose and cheeks. Her shoulder length flaming red hair fell in curls. She was short, since she wasn't an elf like Aida, she was a winter sprite, so she only reached to Aida's shoulders. She was wearing a light green dress with her white apron tied around her waist. She wasn't wearing shoes, she never did unless she had to go out into the human world - something all the seasonal sprites did.
Aida closed her eyes for a second and breathed deeply and let go of Antoinette's hand.
"I'm alright. Just had a bad dream." Aida said. Antoinette grabbed Aida's hand reassuringly and pulled her over to the vanity sitting across Aida's room. Antoinette started to brush Aida's long blonde hair.
"Wish to share your dream, Miss? You gave me an awful spook with that awakening." Antoinette asked, calmly. Aida stared forward at herself, eyeing her pale white skin, her large, beautiful emerald green eyes, her curvy figure, then her pointed ears.
The obviously give away to my non-mortal life. She thought.
"I dreamed of the night I was transformed." She said, softly. Antoinette continued to brush her hair, and smiled.
"Miss, you don't need to fear of that day."
"Why do you say that Antoinette? That was my last day as a human, and I didn't even know it." Aida asked, looking down, confused.
"Mistress, in your human life, you suffered a lot. You were alone for six years. You could barely get enough food to feed yourself - my you were so skinny - and you only owned one filthy dress that didn't even fit you properly. You missed a lot of society's advancements and you probably wouldn't have been able to function well in society with all your seclusion in the woods. Yes, that day was tragic since you were attacked and whatnot. But that was the day that your mother found you. She adopted you and gave you a family and a home. Best of all, we discovered that you weren't just a transformed elf, but you had powers and the mark of the royal court. That day, you were promised a whole kingdom. Now look at you. 100 years later and you are finally to take over the kingdom soon." Antoinette said, smiling at Aida. Aida smiled back, feeling better about her dream.
"You're right." She responded as she began to put makeup on herself. Antoinette finished brushing Aida's hair and she began to braid it. Moments later, two small Winter Faeries made their way to Aida's side, presenting her with jeans, a white blouse, and white flip flops.
"Thank you." Aida smiled at the Faeries and they giggled as they walked away. Once Aida was dressed and ready, she picked up her bag and walked out her bedroom door where she ran into her mother.
"I was just about to come in and speak with you, my dear!" Her mother smiled. Aida was always jealous of her mother. She was tall and beautiful with deep, flawless olive skin and large, smiling brown eyes. Her extremely long black hair reached all the way to the floor and trailed a bit behind her when she didn't have it done. She wasn't wearing her crown or jewelry yet, but she wore her pink house dress and robe. Even without being fully ready, her mother always looked like a model.
Her mother extended her arms out to hug Aida. Aida smiled and gave her mom a tight squeeze.
"Are you sure you want to keep up with going to a human school? I just don't think it's right for you…" Her mother began, her voice unsure. Aida laughed and nodded.
"It helps with being able to connect with the humans. Other Elven royalty do it." Aida said. The two began to walk down the mansion's long hallway towards the stairs. Winter Sprites, Faeries, Woodsmen, and other Winter creatures walked past, making sure to bow in recognition to the two girls. Many stopped to ask questions or fill information to Aida's mom. She waved them away as she continued to speak to Aida.
"I know it's what other Elves do, and I agree it is a fantastic way to do things until you take over the throne, but I still can't be so sure about it. I don't want the humans to influence you too much on their ways, or worse, I don't want you to leave and rejoin the mortal world." Her mom looked at Aida with concern. The two walked down the stairs together and towards the front door. Aida stopped at the door and turned to her mother.
"Mom," Aida smiled, "don't stress out. I could never leave, I love this world so much. But this is something I have to do. I'll be finished with school for good in a few weeks then Winter Solstice is coming. I think you're so worried because you have all this planning going on too for the Solstice Ball." Aida kissed her mother's cheek, "Don't worry. I'll return in a week's time to visit and assist. I am going to take over the Winter Court soon, might as well get some experience in."
Aida's mom's eyes welled up with happy tears. Her mother leaned down and kissed Aida's forehead, "I shall see you home soon, my wonderful little Aida." She said, smiling happily. Aida smiled back and walked out of the mansion and towards the dirt path. There was a glow around the gate of the mansion that only the non-mortals could see; a spell hiding the secret of the non-mortals from the mortal human eyes.
No one can know of us. Humans are a danger to us, if they knew we existed… They would stop at nothing to destroy us. Then without the non-mortals to protect and take care of the Earth, humanity will be destroyed as well. Aida thought. A quick pain struck her heart, What if I never became an Elf? Would I still be oblivious to the non-mortals? Would I go to school with the very creatures that I am now in command of and still not know that they were only wearing a glamour? Aida wondered. She sighed, these questions hung over her every day when she saw that glow.
As she approached the gate, Aida formed her glamour so she could be seen by the humans as one of their own. Her long, pointed ears shrunk into the tiny shape of a humans' as her elven glow faded. There wasn't much change as she turned human, but enough to make a difference. She kept her looks, which made heads turn as she walked past the humans, no mortal girl could ever be as beautiful as an elf holding a glamour. She opened the gate to hear a deep, throaty voice call her name.
"Princess Aida! Do you not wish for me to drive you, m'lady?" A giant troll with large muscles and a long brown, mangy beard covering his leathery face ran up to Aida. He was a woodsman of the Winter Court, and one of Aida's most trusted guards. He was terrifying when he became serious and knew how to battle and use a sword like no other that Aida has met. But he was a kind creature, who tended to all his duties around the mansion and was sure to keep an eye out for Aida. Aida smiled at him.
"Don't worry Kale, I like the walk. It's not too far until I meet up with Merida, and she shall, of course, have her guards swarm us." Aida smiled, reassuringly. Kale looked down on her and his deep red eyes softened as he smiled back.
"I've taught you some moves, you'll be alright. Have a good day, m'lady." He said, walking back to the mansion. Aida turned and left the safety of her home and began to walk down the dirt road. The forest trees lined the pathway as seasonal creatures and human animals thrived within them. The sun was rising and it casted a beautiful golden glow on the trees. The morning dew made the leaves appear to be glistening as morning birds called to each other in the distance.
It all will be even more beautiful once snow covers the land in a few days. Aida thought, her heart skipping at the thought of the cold, beautiful wonder that was winter. Even in her mortal life, Aida cherished the winter season. At the moment, the Fall Court dominated the Earth. As Aida walked closer to the Fall Mansion, she could feel the spirit of Fall dancing all around her. She noticed more the change of the leaves' colors and how the morning air was chilly and crisp. The chill didn't bother Aida, she was used to the freezing touch of Winter. The Fall weather was quite warm to her. All around her, Aida could feel the change, it was calm, soothing. Aida breathed it in as she approached the Mansion gate. A woman greeted her there, through her glamour, Aida could see that she was a leaf sprite from the Fall Court. Her light brown hair poked from the sides of her head in little pig tails as her dark hazel eyes looked into Aida's. She smiled as she opened the gate and bowed to the girl walking out. The girl was taller than Aida, but just as beautiful. Under her glamour, the Elven lady had long, thick dark brown hair that fell down to her knees in relaxed, beautiful waves. Her skin was so pristine and pale that she almost looked like snow itself - just like Aida. Aida stared into her big, dark brown eyes and the two smiled and hugged each other.
"Good morning Aida!" the girl giggled, squeezing Aida.
"Very good morning to you too Merida! I must say, this Fall season has to be the best one I've experienced so far! Other than that one gorgeous Fall you and your Father created in Rome, that was remarkable work!" Aida exclaimed. The two girls linked arms and began walking the path together. All around them, Aida could feel the invisible Fall Sprites following them to ensure their safety. Aida smiled, she didn't mind their company.
"How are you feeling about last term?" Merida asked. Aida shrugged.
"It'll be okay. Honestly, I'll be happy to be done with schooling. Having to repeat school so many times can be such tedious work. But I must admit," Aida paused and smiled at Merida, "it is nice to be around the mortals. They are so interesting. It's also interesting to assume the way I would have acted if I were still a mortal." Merida nodded in agreement and the two continued their chatter as they approached the town.
The town was very small, it only had about 500 people living in it and had a few restaurants, town hall, a central park, the school, and a movie theater. There were barely many shops around, everyone mostly went to the miniature department store in the middle of town. The Mansions where the Courts all lived were far from the town since they rested in the mountains. It was the perfect place for the Courts to be in touch with the Earth and still maintain some form of contact with the mortals. Aida adored it.
"Aida? Can I ask you something?" Merida asked. Aida looked at Merida with confusion and nodded. Merida sighed, "How are you feeling about becoming a Queen so soon?"
Aida was quiet for a moment. She hadn't given too much thought to becoming Queen.
"Well honestly I haven't thought about it… But now that you mention it…" Aida began.
"I'm scared to death." Merida cut her off, Aida looked at Merida with concern, "What if I mess up?" Merida asked, her voice shaking a bit.
Aida smiled at Merida, "You'll be fine. You're already doing an amazing job! Besides, you're betrothed to Dominick, he will help guide you and ensure you can handle it. Plus, Elise and I are always here too." Merida smiled weakly as she looked at her engagement ring.
"You're right. I can't believe I'm going to marry Dominick. It's perfect since he's the Prince of Spring. It's the joining of the two changing seasons." Merida and Aida laughed, then Merida gasped, "Oh! And I forgot to tell you! But Elise is engaged now too!"
"To who?!" Aida looked at Merida with shock, "I can't they actually found a match for her. I hope he can handle her, she's a little rocket."
"He is a warrior from her Court. The top warrior, actually. You know those Summer Creatures, they hate to go outside of their Season to marry. At least they were able to find someone." Merida giggled, "Now all that's left is you."
Aida felt a lump for in her throat. The thought of marriage was so strange to her. She wasn't sure if marriage was right for her. She wasn't even sure who she would marry.
"Not sure how I feel about marriage. I may just take on the court by myself for awhile to be honest." Aida said. Merida sucked in a lot of air.
"Oh no," Aida groaned, "you have a secret you're dying to tell me." She laughed as she poked Merida's inflated cheek.
"How can you tell?!" Merida asked, letting out all her air.
"Because every time you know something and want to tell, you do that." Aida laughed, "Out with it then."
Merida squirmed for a second and sucked in more air. The two stopped walking and Aida turned and looked at her.
"Merida? Cat got your tongue?" Aida said, cautiously. Merida looked around, making sure that the Fall Sprites already returned back to the mansion. Then Merida turned and stared at Aida, putting her hands on Aida's shoulders.
"You're my best friend, so I feel that you should know about this, especially since you seem so uneasy about marriage." Merida took a deep breath and Aida raised her brown in confusion and worry. Please don't tell me she's going to say what I'm thinking… Aida thought.
"I overheard your Mom's announcement to the Royals at the meeting they had at my house last week. You're engaged and she will be announcing the engagement at the Solstice Ball. I didn't catch who you were engaged to, but everyone seemed very excited about it." Merida whispered quickly, "I'm actually excited for you! It's all so mysterious and romantic! And the Ball will be like your engagement party!"
Aida stood and stared at Merida in shock. She felt everything escape her, everything inside seemed to be crushed. I'm… engaged…? She thought. All the air seemed to leave her body, making it hard to breathe and the lump in her throat made it hard to swallow. Aida shook away the feelings and started walking again towards the school. Merida looked confused and jogged a little to catch up to her.
"Aida! Are you alright?" Merida asked, reaching out to Aida.
"Engaged?!" Aida shouted in panic, "I'm engaged?! I don't even think I'm ready for marriage! Let alone not even know who I'm going to marry!"
Merida put a calming hand on Aida's shoulders and walked her inside of the school's gates.
"It's not as horrible as you may think. I mean look at Dominick and I. We barely knew each other when we were promised to each other as kids. Now he is the love of my life. Your mother knows what she is doing." Merida said, calmly as they entered their first class. Aida nodded and sighed, sitting down in her seat. Dominick walked into the room and greeted the two girls then quickly gave Merida a kiss. Dominick was a lot taller than the two girls, standing about a good foot or so above them. His vibrant green-blue eyes always seemed to be dancing and full of joy while his dirty blonde hair flipped and curled in all different types of direction, like he just woke up. His skin was lightly tanned and he was a muscular guy. Aida always just took one look at him and could instantly tell he belonged to the Spring Court.
"How is my queen?" He asked, smiling. Merida giggled and blushed.
"You guys are so adorable it's disgusting!" Aida groaned as she threw an eraser at Dominick. He laughed and grabbed Merida's hand. Her golden engagement ring gleamed from the bright classroom light. Aida smiled. As upset that I am about my secret betrothal… I can't help but always be happy for these two. She thought, closing her eyes for a moment. She heard the ruffling of other students entering the classroom and their annoying chatter that followed. Humans sure do talk a lot. She thought to herself.
"Dom!" A deep, cheerful voice called out. Aida opened her eyes and looked at the boy that Dominick was high-fiving. She felt her heart almost stop for a second. The boy was gorgeous, too gorgeous to even be human. She tried to look past him, but she saw no glamour being held. How is that even possible?! She wondered, accidentally gasping. The boy looked at her curiously. His bright, electric blue eyes met hers as his tan skin seemed to glow. He was tall, like Dominick with muscle and long, sandy blonde hair. He smiled at Aida and turned towards her.
"Hi!" He said, enthusiastically, "I'm Trenton." He extended a hand for a hand shake. Aida looked at him with wonder, Am I dreaming? Is this even real?
"Aida." She smiled, taking his hand. Instead of shaking her hand, he grabbed her small hand and kissed her knuckle. Aida's face grew bright red. Trenton smiled and poked her nose.
"You're really cute Aida." Trenton said. Aida's eyes grew big and she shared a glance with Merida and Dominick, who both looked equally as shocked as Aida was.
"Well you're quite forward with what you think. Thank you!" Aida responded, smiling at Trenton, "Are you in class with us?" Aida gestured to Dominick and Merida. Trenton nodded.
"Yep, I transferred to this class for the last term. How do you know Dom?" Trneton asked, taking a seat right in front of Aida.
"He's my cousin." Aida said. Trenton nodded and suddenly the first bell rang. He turned around as faced forward as everyone took a seat. Merida sat next to Aida and instantly began scribbling down a note for her.
Aida! What are you doing! You shouldn't be flirting with a human! Merida looked at Aida with worry. Aida sighed and wrote back.
I don't know what came over me…
Merida shook her head, Be careful. Don't get involved with a human, it will only land you in a mess with the courts, and even worse mess with your mother.
Aida nodded in understanding and didn't write back. She stared at the back of Trenton's head for majority of the class.
What are you?