someone forgot to tell Prince Charming he was supposed to be, uh, charming
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Thread: someone forgot to tell Prince Charming he was supposed to be, uh, charming

  1. #1
    beautyinsilence
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    someone forgot to tell Prince Charming he was supposed to be, uh, charming
    [taken from live play]

    Two weeks later, here they were. Erik was uh... well he was a little better at the daily -- yeah, no. He was still horrendous and merrily screwing things up, which poor Josue or Nicole would fix later, just to give him a sense of accomplishment. Some things he did get right, which was a welcome surprise, but for the most part? Not-so-much. The only thing he had a flair for was planting things, digging holes, getting insane amounts of dirt all over himself. And then, for some reason, he promptly came inside the house and hugged Nicole as hard as he could, which she found unamusing. And then he'd try to kiss Elise, who was always unamused. But it was an early morning now, a little chilly which was a sure warning that the winter was coming and Nicole was going to pick the last of the vegetables in their garden before tearing it up to make way for next year's crop. Erik had wandered off... somewhere, or maybe he wasn't awake yet, she didn't know. He was a big boy, he could take care of himself! ...but she still worried, standing out there with a basket full of zucchini, she worried because she didn't see him and Josue off in the distance and she didn't hear their voices in the barn. They were probably asleep! Still. She worried.

    God, had it been two weeks already? During the day it seemed like it had only been hours since he happened upon the farm [or rather, since he had been hit by a horse. Heh.], and yet on those nights when he lay in his small bed, body sore and somewhat miserable from the hours spent labouring over vegetables and horses and everything inbetween, he was sure he had been there forever. Still, there were no complaints. But to the surprise of everyone around him. He knew that he offered very little help, often making things worse than they had been before, but he was trying. Hard. He really, really was. Vegetables seemed to be his only talent, and he took an immense amount of pride in his simple and modest work - something that was highly foreign to him. More importantly, he was growing ever-so-fond of the people living in this glorious paradise. Josue, who was patient and kindly, with an excellent sense of humor. Elise, who was sweet but tough, and seemed to have little time for the young Prince--- er, man. Always scolding him and shooing him out of the kitchen when he tried to steal a bite of the freshly baked bread. And then there was Nicole. Oh, how he adored her, sometimes following her around like a lost little puppy, eyes full of simple, warm affection. He never said anything, of course - not about who he was, or how he felt - because he was not sure that she felt the same way. In fact, he was beginning to doubt it very much. She probably just looked at him like some foolish servant, but still he could not help the warmth in his blood whenever he saw her beautiful face. On this morning, however, he and Josue had slept in, as they were rather exhausted from staying up all night with a sick horse. How wonderful that had been, knowing his presence somehow comforted this poor creature. How he and Josue sat for long hours in the cold, gulping warm tea and laughing over shared stories of boyhood. Finally climbing out of bed and peeking in on his "master," Erik decided to let the old man sleep and make his way downstairs for his chores after dressing. So it was that he did not hear the horse and carriages stampeeding upwards, so busy was he at the side of the house, repairing broken wooden slats and cracked bricks. The carriages, however, came to a crashing halt in front of the Manor, where a lovely [in the physical sense, anyway - her ugliness went much deeper than that] stepped out and promptly, shrilly, demanded to see whomever was in charge.

    Nicole had heard the carriages in the distance, pummeling their way up the long gravel driveway and around the broken fountain that had once been a magnificent welcoming to their castle... and stampeding to what once had been a magnificent castle, honestly, but now lay halfway in ruins. So, she'd headed up front to see what the commotion was about, wondering if maybe they were going to be evicted. Chin high and firm, she practically strode toward the pretty woman (much more gorgeous than she was, she couldn't help but notice, since this prissy snob obviously never spent a working day in her life.) "May I be of some assistance? My name is Nicolette and I am the proprieter here." How odd for a servant looking girl to have such manners and impeccable speech, that would be the first thought. The second, of course, would be that she couldn't possibly own the property because men were supposed to do that. "Where is the owner of this wretched little ruin?" She was English, the accent gave her away, and Nicole cleared her throat. "I am, madamoiselle. Are you lost or do you have a purpose? I have a very busy day." Her patience usually wore thin with people who didn't know hardship. "I am looking for my husband -- Prince Erik, you common little peasant folk might know something, I am told." She snorted. With that? Nicole's jaw clenched and she told this prissy Englishwoman to wait just a second, she would ask her servants if they'd spotted anything. Instead? She stomped to where Erik was working and promptly began smacking him as hard as she could, wherever she could. "YOU'RE MARRIED?!"

    Though Erik hadn't heard the carriages, he did hear the heavy stomping of feet coming towards him. Glancing up from his place crouched down by a small well [he'd been attempting to fix the cracks that kept leaking water, but so far it was going .. uh .. not so well. Big surprise.] "Nicole!" Absolutely beaming when he saw her, strong legs bringing him easily to his full height of 6'1". "Good morning, m'lady. I was just about to--- OW!" Cringing away when she started slapping him repeatedly. "I.. ow! What the hel-- Stop! Ow! Urgh, ow, hey! Goddamnit, Nicole!" Roughly backing away a few steps, only to shake her away once he was out of her reach, face set in a rather shocked, angry expression. "What in God's name has gotten into you! No, I'm not married!" Huffing, glaring at her like she'd just grown another head. "And anyway," clearing his throat, wiping his dirt-caked palms on the back of his modest, slightly-torn trousers. "Why would you care if I was?!" Blue-grey eyes narrowing harshly on her, shaking his head, as if digusted with her outburst. It was becoming very apparently she didn't feel anything even REMOTELY close to what he felt for her! ...Which hurt a lot more than he was willing to admit. ....Which was probably the reason he went storming past her suddenly, muttering about women and vegetables and what trouble they both were. "God, I should have known. You're just like the rest." Under his breath.

    Nicole was watching him with her blue eyes narrowed dangerously, after he pushed her away. "HM! I don't know why I would care! Maybe because I --" Their commotion -- or at least her commotion anyway -- must have drawn the attention of the annoyingly beautiful young lady because Nicole saw her rounding the pathway behind Erik's back. "Because..." But she didn't think it was her place to tear this man away from his wife -- even if she wasn't his wife yet, he had a duty to do. "Oh, how stupid of me to think that you could ever..." Her thoughts trailed though and she sighed, the fire having left her feeling suddenly very tired and on the verge of tears. "Your princess is looking for you." Gesturing over his shoulder, she stood with a stony look on her face and when he turned to look at the young woman, she hurried away. She didn't want to interrupt their little reunion! Maybe he'd gotten amnesia, forgot who he was or where he lived and then that he'd gotten married -- she didn't know!

    When Nicole mentioned his "princess" he was about ready to groan aloud and run far, far away in the opposite direction. But he knew she was standing right behind him, and so he turned to look, keeping his mouth tightly shut, and transforming instantly into the Prince. He'd never met the woman, after all, and did not want to hurt her feelings [although him running away on the day she was supposed to arrive might have done that already] bu showing any sort of bad manners. For those that knew him, and there were not many - only his mother, and perhaps Nicole and the others on the farm, who were only just getting to see past his facade - it would be apparently that Erik Daae and Prince Erik Daae where two very different people. Erik was laid-back, willing to learn, passionate and kind. The Prince was perfectly mannered, well-spoken, well-read, beautifully educated, handsome ... and a complete snob. Perhaps the man - his true self, anyway - was a mixture of both. It was just that no one ever gave him the chance to just ... be. To live. To be a man, instead of a Prince. [Save his mother, Nicole, Josue + Elise ... but look how that was turning out!] And so he was forced to hide, to never show the world anything but a Royal Shell. When his future bride stomped up to him, he was a bit dazzled by her beauty, there was no doubt about it. Bowing deep and kissing her hand, he made all the formal introductions that were required of him. And then seemingly climbed into the carriage without the slightest bit of hesitation, to be taken back to the Palace in preperation for his wedding. For those who had a keen eye - Elise, to be specific - they might have noticed the dazzled look in his eye promptly fading, the way he spoke harshly and yet quietly with the man that ushered him into the carriage, and the way he glanced back, longingly at the farm, searching high and low for any trace of a certain someone. One month later, and there had been no word from her. He'd sent three letters to the small farm. Short, polite, and by no means giving away any of what he might have felt for Nicole, but still making it obvious that he wished to see her. And yet no word came, and he found himself trapped once again his title, his duties. Even the will to run away, to live, to be free had left him. Days spent wandering alone, still on the Palace's land, but far away from the Courtiers, his father, and his fiance - all of whom were busily planning his up-coming wedding. Erik was in hell.

    "Why don't you write him, Nicolette? Don't be a fool." It was clear that from the day Erik left, a part of Nicole was diminished. She wasn't the same playful girl she had been before, she was a somber woman who went through the motions of having a real life, but felt very little. Little things no longer brought her joy, not even the old ruins could heal whatever hurt was inflicted on her heart. Elise could understand well enough -- she couldn't imagine life without Josue, couldn't imagine what it would feel like if he left her... especially so seemingly willingly, for another woman. "He misses you, Nicole -- just write to him, tell him how you feel. It will do both of your hearts good." The idea was more noble than anything else, and Nicole wasn't going to have any of that. Three letters crumpled and thrown away (only to be uncrumpled and put in her jewelry box later) and a whole month passed, but Nicole still felt like someone had squashed her heart. Erik had. "I need you to go into town and fetch some herbs -- " Josue was rattling them off. Something about a calf being born, herbs were good for healing, she didn't know. But she was going, basket over her arm and hair pinned back. She didn't bother dressing for market anymore, she just went as a commoner, as she was. Meandering along the outskirts, she wasn't paying attention to anything but the little fuzzy floating in the air -- and that was when she smacked right into a broad, familiar chest. Maybe he was following the same piece of fuzz on the wind, she didn't know, but when she looked up at him, she tried her best to scowl instead of cry.

    Fuzzies went more or less unnoticed by the Prince - he much preferred the brown leaves and dead twigs on the ground, the somber chirping of birds who seemed to understand the hole in his heart. Head turned towards some little noise that had caught his attention off to the side, he hadn't even been aware of anyone in his way until he ran right into them. About ready to turn around and snap at the offender to watch where they were going [even though it was most likely his fault - the misery of his surroundings and fate had left him rather irritable, as of late], his jaw damn near hit the ground when he saw who it was that had crossed his path. Reaching out swiftly to take her elbow, steadying her so that she did not fall, he pulled away just as quickly, although perhaps his fingertips stayed a bit longer than they should have. Reluctant to let her go. "...Nicole." Seeing her in the clothes of a commoner had a strange effect on him. She'd dressed that way every day on the farm, and he had understand perfectly, as it was impossible to work and not ruin fine cloth. Yet suddenly it hurt him to see it, this woman dressing in plain clothes when she deserved to be dripping in glorious silks and jewels. All of which he could give her - which every woman seemed to want of him. Except her. "I-- I wrote you." Because that seemed to be the wittiest thing his mind could come up with, so muddled with racing thoughts, as it was. How odd it must have been for her to see him as he had been his entire life - no longer a man, but a Prince. Tall, handsome, Royal. HIs clothes beautiful, tailored, regal. A saber at his side. Hair no longer a tangled mess from hours spent in the fields working, but shiny, clean, combed. Skin freshly shaved, smelling softly of cologne imported from Spain. Ashamed of his appearance, of his title, of everything, he dropped his head a bit, eyes lowered to the ground. "I never wanted you to see me like this."

    Nicole wanted to hit him, but she was afraid the guards would drag her away and then her poor little family would be... poor and even littler! So, she refrained, her basket had dropped at her side and the herbs were strewn about haphazardly, but she didn't care. She just stared at him, icy blue eyes ready for war. Or tears. "I saw you write me." Seeming to suddenly realize that her goods were on the ground, she bent to pick them up. In reality, she couldn't bear to look at him anymore. He looked so handsome, so Princely! Like all of the stories she'd ever heard about men coming to save their women -- she wished it would be him, but knew that it would not. After gathering her things, she stood, smoothing her skirts down... very self conscious about his appearance next to hers. People were probably wondering what the hell he was doing, talking to someone like her. "Well. As nice as it was to see you, I have chores that need done." Steeling herself against him, she wanted to look like a cold hearted bitch so that maybe he would be more willing to accept his new life, and maybe she could get on with her own instead of wondering what he was doing every other second of the day.

    Shame was quickly turning to anger. Head snapping up at her easy dismissal of him. "Watch your tongue, m'lady. It is a crime to show such disrespect in the face of your Prince." Lashed out harshly, but it was clear by the look in his eye that he had spoken out of anger and didn't truly mean it. Sighing, lowering his tone, as a crowd was beginning to gather and stare at the pair. "What is it that I have done to warrent so much of your hatred? Did I not offer you every penny I had on my person? And when you did not accept, did I not try? I worked as hard as I could --- Jesus, Nicole, I tried as hard as humanly possible. I'm not a stupid man. I know I did very little, I know I was not much help, but I wanted to be." Someone was calling out to him, most likely some Baron who wondered what the hell was going on. But when Erik heard the word highness spoken instead of his name, he snapped his head to yell something rather rude at the poor man. And then his attention was slammed back upon the girl in front of him, eyes narrowed in what could have been pain, or anger, or both. "Christ in Heaven, you're just like them, aren't you?" Gesturing wildly back with this hand towards the crowds. "You knew who I was from day one! No matter how much I denied it, no matter that I said nothing, you knew! And that's the only reason you kept me around, wasn't it?" It hurt him to say it, unshed tears shimmering in his eyes. But he wasn't about to cry, that was for damn sure, he wasn't about to give her, or anyone else the satisfaction. Funny, wasn't it? How betrayed she felt that he had left, and how hurt he was that she didn't seem to care [he was kind of thick like that, you know.] "Of all people, I thought you would understand. You would see past all of ... THIS." And then he was shaking his head, turning around, and stalking away from her. "How could I have been so stupid?" Yelled towards the sky.

    For just a moment, Nicole was content in letting him stalk off thinking the worst of her. He would go on with his life, never give her another thought -- but that was the part that tugged on her heartstrings the most. So, instead of respecting some stupid rule, she grabbed him by the elbow, turned him toward her and slapped him as hard she could. Gallows be damned, he needed to hear what she was going to say! "I did see past all this, you ignorant fool! I couldn't care less what grandeur you think you have, I don't give a damn about what anyone else might think of you -- I wanted you to stay on my farm with me and Elise and Josue because of you. Because of that day we shared in the ruins, because of the way you were so willing to try, because you wanted to do something... I thought maybe you cared about me -- I didn't complain once about picking up your messes! I tolerated everything about you because I -- because I -- " The words welled up in her throat and she had to choke them down with a sob. "And if I had never known you were a prince, I would have loved you with the same ferocity I do right now." The last part was half shouted, half sobbed and before the guards speared her to death for slapping the prince, she was running awaaay.

    No one had ever dared to speak to him in such a manner. Perhaps that was one of the [many] reasons he cared for her so. Back on the farm, she had always been straight with him [aside from letting on that she knew who he was, but that was most likely his own fault for doing such a horrid job at maintaining his cover.] and though at first he was taken aback, he swiftly grew to adore it. When she slapped him his head had snapped to the side, skin flaming-red where he hand had struck him [she had one hell of a right hook!] and he made no attempt to move, to look at her. He stayed in that position, eyes cast to the side, cheek stinging, while she ranted and screamed at him. It was only when he knew she was running away from him and caught the guards advancing towards her that he bothered to look up, signal them all away. "Leave her be." "But sire, she---" "I SAID. Leave. Her. Be." Quite a crowd had gathered, and fell into a stunned silence when they saw the Prince be assaulted by what appeared to be some insolent servant. They remained stunned, and silent [although the guards were looking as if they'd just seen a demon in a dress do a jog] when Erik turned without so much as a word to anyone, and stormed back to the palace.

  2. #2
    beautyinsilence
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    [taken from live play]

    "Damnit all to hell, Erik! This is no time for the heir to the throne of France to be whining about some arranged marriage! Things have been done this way for centuries. Don't let your ego fool you into thinking you're any different from every other Prince that was meant to reign!" Those were the last words Prince Erik Daae heard from his father. Before the King could say another word, the Prince was storming away, slamming doors behind him and stalking towards his chambers. 27 years old, and he, of all people, was expected to marry some English brat! Some princess he didn't know - hadn't even met! Not that he wanted to. Her father had arranged the deal, a "My daughter marries your son, and in turn we become true allies." sort of thing. No doubt she and her father were like every other person in the Kingdom - simply after him for his status and power. The only person who had ever looked past his crown to see the real man beneath was his mother, but even she was powerless to stop this wretched fate. And so, under the cover of darkness, he fled. Stealing clothes from an unsuspecting servant [he left the man several pieces of silver as compensation], he changed, grabbed his sword and dagger [the only things from his Royal Life he thought he could afford to take with him], pocketed a large amount of money [though he kept it hidden away from view] and climbed down out of his window. Upon hitting the ground he took off at full speed, through the courtyard and gardens, down the dusty pathways and into the wilderness, where he would no longer be kept locked away in an elaborate cage. Still, this peasant thing was harder than it looked. Why had no one told him that walking for 14 hours straight was so very exhausting? The sun had risen long ago, the roosters sounding all too happy in their crowing. He was ready to throttle one of the little bastards if they didn't shut up soon. Modest clothes now covered with dust, a cloak and hood hiding his face, he almost felt ... normal. But not quite.

    This was all very disconcerting, being dressed up in fine robes, her hair well done and her mother's sparse jewelry adorning fingers and hair plainly but eloquently. Her mother was sick and their fortune gone now, since her father had disappeared years ago on some trade route or another, and now Nicole was forced to act drastically after the government had seized their "wandering cattle," which wasn't wandering at all. Their bastard neighbor had told the authorities -- said that the family was trash now, unworthy of the land they owned, unable to tend it properly -- which was half true. They were semi-unable to tend it, but worthy? Oh they were worthy! That was what most irritated Nicole and so she was willing to borrow a few horses from a neighbor who was much kinder and try to scam their government out of the cattle. Or beg, if worse came to worse! All of this was on her mind when the carriage came to an abrupt halt, her hair spilling about and her "nurse" (who was actually just a friend, not a SERVANT) tutted about it. "What's going on?" More concerned than anything about the shouting that was going on, she stepped out rather un-lady-like-ly (she didn't know any better) and rushed to the front. "Oh my, are you all right?" Poor peasant almost died there.

    So. Not only had no one ever bothered to tell him that walking for over 14 hours was dealthy exhausting, but they ALSO failed to mention the fact that men were nearly run down on the streets. Erik, minding his own business, had simply been wandering about, looking at trees and birds, contemplating his new life, when suddenly there was a horse and carriage who seemed to think he was in their way. The nerve! Having been knocked to the ground, his hood had nearly slipped off his face, but he managed to pull it down just as the driver jumped down to see what was going on. Heated words were exchanged, which must've been what brought the women out. Dust-covered, exhausted and pissed as hell, Erik couldn't help himself. "My God, is this how things are done around here?" Voice deep, smooth, cultured. His accent far too upper crust and refined to have been that of a servant, and yet his appearance said otherwise. And anyway, he had so much on his mind that he forgot to think about how some might perceive his voice. "Because, honestly, what do we call the day when a man cannot walk freely on the streets without the threat of a most insulting demise?" ...No servant, or peasant for that matter, would have dared to speak to anyone above their station in such a matter. But old habits died hard, and he had been a prince for 27 years, mind you! He was trying his best, damnit. Nevermind that at times he was rather ... arrogant. His mother always said it would come back to bite him in the ass, as one day someone would show him the error of his ways. It seemed that currently, however, the only thing he had to worry about biting him in the ass was this run-away horse.

    Nicole was no fool but she was also getting rather used to being talked down to. It hadn't occurred to her that since she was a countess and he a peasant, he shouldn't speak that way. Not until she realized Elise was messing with her hair from behind, muttering about stupid horses and people walking in the middle of roads. "Excuse me?" Brushing the stray hairs from her face, she pulled up the sleeve of her dress which was just a twitch too big -- she hoped no one would notice. "I apologize for any fault of ours, of course, but a person really should not walk in the middle of the road if he does not wish to be trampeled." Nicole was graced with good manners and polite speech, something she'd retained through childhood, no matter what she might have been classified as now.

    Blue eyes were staring at this woman, this ... countess, who had the nerve to speak to him in such a manner! [He had, once again, forgotten his manner of dress, slipping back into his Prince persona.] No one - no one, no matter how polite - had ever had the audacity to stand up to him! "I ... beg ... your pardon?!" Not an apology so much as an incredilous statement. "I ... you ... I was not ... how dare! ....Bloody hell." Advancing towards her, hands balled into fists. Not threatening by any means, no, but it was obvious he was angry. "Perhaps your driver should watch for men who simply want to cross the road!" Nevermind that he hadn't actually wanted to cross the road, and that he had, in fact, just wandered in the middle of it due to distraction. But still! "Why, I have half a mind to--- ...Do you have a twin sister?" Because he was seeing two of her, side-by-side. "Urgh," a groan, hand placed to his forehead, his face still hidden beneath the cloak's hood, just incase someone would recognize him. A well-fed Prince who spent his days doing whatever he wished was not used to walking for so long without the benefit of water or food. Hell, he hardly walked anywhere outside of the castle, much preferring his horse for long distances. "I... am..." Words cut off abruptly, because suddenly those pretty blue eyes were rolling back up in his head, and all 6'1 of his Royal Ass was toppling forward on the poor girl, sending them both crashing to the ground in a heap of limbs, fine cloth, and servant's clothes. ...Mm. Went well, didn't it?

    She was just about to open her mouth and say something scathing at him -- or try, anyway -- but before anything could come out he was sputtering and then all of a sudden she was in the house. Apparently, they'd both been unconscious for quite some time! She'd hit her head on the wheel and he was simply exhausted and both of her friends, the last of the servants who stayed on without pay, had decided that perhaps the castle could wait for another day. "Mmmrrr." Hands over her eyes, she groaned. "Did we go to the castle?" Slightly dizzy, she had made her way downstairs and was inquiring of Elise. "Oh no... that man -- was he all right?" Suddenly remembering what had been said and then falling, she reached for the back of her head and felt the knot there."Ugh. Wretched man. Where is he, you brought him here?" Of course, she assumed as such. They'd never leave anyone in the middle of the road like that! No matter how unpleasant their disposition.

    Things felt ... strange. There was no other way to put it! He was in his bed, yes, but his linens had never smelled like lavender before. And he didn't remember his pillows being this firm, nor the quilts so ... old. Antiuqe, really. Not to mention--- waitaminute. He didn't have quilts. No! He had gorgeous velvet blankets that had been a gift from Spain why they came over to do business with his father! "What the hell---" Snapping up in bed, only to have a wave of illness hit him. "Urgh, I..." Groaning, flopping back down on the matress, palm over his eyes. Such an odd growling noise coming from his stomach. And the pain! Why, he'd never felt anything like it! Erik had never even known the smallest twinge of hunger, so it was panic that greeted him when he felt this twisting of his gut. "Good God, I must be dying! That horse, it ... I must have ... Where the hell am I?" Because things were still far too fuzzy for him, and this damn sensation was frightening him. Was it some sort of illness that only effected those outside of the Castle. And why had no one told him? Why were the Royal Doctors not busy slaving away for a cure to give to the peasants? After all, his father was a bastard, but he was not cruel. There was a difference. Grrrrrowl. Bending in half at the waist, eyes squeezing shut tightly, confused by his pain. "What's happening to me?"

    The old man, Josue, who was Elise's husband was laughing quietly to himself about the young man's condition. Or rather, lack thereof. Luckily for him, the prince that is, Nicole was breezing through the door with a tray of food -- though only tea and sandwiches which certainly weren't worthy of the prince. When she smiled at him kindly though, now that she wasn't in her uncomfortable dress but back into the clothes she'd worn well, she nearly dropped her tray. "You -- you're -- but you can't be --" Setting the food on the table near the bed, she looked at him as if he were a ghost. "Are you the prince?" Wide blue eyes, her down around her shoulders and she was blushing, suddenly very aware of the fact that if he was the prince, she was simply a peasant and he wouldn't want to converse with her. "Oh my, I'm so sorry." She didn't know how royalty worked! Hands pressed against her face, her cheeks burning red, she turned and hurried out of the room. Right into Elise. "Do you know who that is?" Hissing. "He looks -- well if it isn't the prince, it's his twin." Exasperated, she slumped into a chair.

    Erik could smell the tea as the girl edged through the doorway, and his stomach nearly jumped out of his throat and did a dance of joy. When she asked if he was the prince, however, his eyes nearly bugged out of his head. "No, I'm not---" Spluttered out quickly, but by then it was too late, because she was turning rather odd shades of red and rushing out of the room. "...Alright then." Dark brow raised, and he almost called out after her, but the food was drawing his attention back to it. A good ten minutes passed before he meandered his way out of the bedroom and into the hallway, one hand holding a cup of tea, the other a sandwich [his fourth, actually] and his mouth happily chewing away, pausing only to grin widely. "Dear God, this is the best food I have ever tasted. How do you make this? What is it?" Because sandwiches were not served in the palace. "Honestly, you are all too kind, to lavish me with such food. Food of the Gods!" Gesturing wildly with his left hand, sloshing a bit of tea about. Words all muffled behind his giant mouthful of food, mind you. "These are a most miraculous form of nourishment. Do you have more?" Because he'd just eaten four, and was now madly in love with them.

    Elise was standing there with her hands half drying on her apron and her eyes on Nicole. Prince? Was the only word she mouthed. Obviously, she didn't believe it and Nicole was suddenly doubting her own judgement. "Oh... yes, more, sure." Snapping out of her smirk and Elise. "Would you, Elise?" Asking her politely, of course. "Monsieur, may I ask your name?" Anyone who saw Nicole noticed first what a striking beauty she was -- and secondly what talent was in her bones. She was well read, well spoken and as graceful as sin... it was hard to believe that she would be just another peasant. "And what were you doing on that road, besides starving to death and trying to get yourself trampeled?"

    "Mmpmhm." ...That was his attempt at some form of a name, but being that it was muffled behind yet another massive bite of his sandwich, no word seemed to form. ...Believe it or not, dear Prince Erik was actually a very charming man, as far as society was concerned. Educated, well-spoken and read, he could ride and dance and fence, among other things. He was a gentleman to the ladies of court, and an interesting companion to the men. But in his desperation to get away from the Castle and the prison he found himself in there, and he slipped into a sort of ... depression, perhaps. A place where whatever good qualities he may have once had, were now buried deep under the surface, hidden away so that no one would ever find them. So that no one would ever use them against him, to manipulate him. Hurt him. ...And anyway, he was supposed to be a peasant now! Plus, he was starving. So manners weren't really first on his mind. Food had taken precedence over everything, and so he had not noticed the girl for what she was, at least not right away. The aching in his stomach now gone, however, he was free to look her over with the eye of a man who had seen many women, and despised nearly everyone of them. [It wasn't that he hated women, you see, but being the Prince he was ruthlessly hounded by clones and drones who all looked/talked/walked/acted the same, and were only interested in him for his crown.] Her manner was both confusing and ... interesting. At first she looked a lady of court, and now she looked a peasant! And yet her manners were has fine as that of his mother, the Queen. Finally coming into his senses, he gently placed the cup of tea on a table, and as his sandwich was now completely eaten, he bowed, deep and respectful. True, he never had the urge to associate with a commoner, but they had given him food and a warm bed. And he'd have to get used to it if he was going to prance about as a servant! "My apologies, m'lady. My manners escaped me in my moment of difficulity. I am Pr-- uh, ...Er-- um, ..." Swallowing a deep breath, shoulders rising and falling with the effort. "...Just call me Erik." Same name as the Prince, but look at him! Surely he could not be royalty. ...Right? As for being in the middle of the road. "Well, I... you see, I... was lost."

    Pursing her lips, Nicole watched him bemusedly. Maybe she was simply playing along with him, maybe she really knew the truth, but she wasn't going to let on. Who was she to judge anyone and their decisions? If he wanted to deny his prince-ness, then she wouldn't question him about it. Everyone had reasons for everything, some people just didn't have the decency to leave them rest. "Erik, of course." Nodding her head at him, an amused smile still firmly intact. "Well I am Nicole and this lovely woman is Elise and you met Josue earlier, I believe. Welcome to our little home." Their tiny castle wasn't so tiny upon inspection, but part of it had fallen into ruin without money for maintenance and so they made due with only a few rooms. "You can stay as long as you like, so long as you earn your keep. Everyone here works equally for what we share." She was very diplomatic in explaining this to him, if only so he would understand -- because, for some reason? She had a feeling he had no idea how any of this was going to work. And she didn't want him to wander out and get killed for being a pompous ASS that had no idea about the real world. Not that their little home was anything like the real world. But close enough.

    If Prince Erik was to be killed, it would no doubt be because of his pompous ass-ness, she was more than right about that. Though he listened patiently to her speech, noddingly calmly when he felt it was appropriate and making soft, low sounds in his throat to let her know he was paying attention, he was also staring at her blankly, as if she'd suddenly grown three heads. "Dare I ask, madam, what do you mean by ... work?" Oh, he could spout the dictionary's definition off the top of his head, but somehow that didn't seem quite appropriate, given the situation. Back at the palace his "work" had consisted of fending off status-hopping wenches who never bothered to try and see him as a man. To them, he was only a Prince. Deep down? Maybe there was more. But years of keeping his guard up had left it buried. So yes, he did work, you see? He denied obnoxious women, argued with his father about the rights of peasants and servants [though he would never actually ADMIT it, nor did he have the slightest desire to mingle with commoners, he actually fought tooth and nail to ensure they were given access to good doctors and libraries and other such essentials. ...If anyone asked, of course, he'd deny.] "I can ... fence! And ride horses. Dance, recite sonnets and poems. I'm very good with mathematics, too." Listing off just a few of his abilities, hoping in a rather adorable way, damn him, that he could be of some service. Nevermind his skills would do no good in such a place! Because she was quite right - hard as he tried, he was failing miserably at this peasant thing.

    She was scratching her eyebrow and trying not to laugh, at least not for him to see her laugh. "Horse riding might be handy and maybe ever mathematics -- but what I mean is work, Erik. If you want to eat every night, you can work with Josue and plant the vegetables... you can do many things, if you want to be useful, and he can help you learn them." Learn them, because any other good peasant would be well versed in this art and he... was not. She already knew that. "Perhaps in the morning, you can get started -- unless you'd like to be on your way, that is all up to you. But I do wish you would stay the night and rest." He was lucky she was so kind.

    Did she notice the small frown tugging at his lips? Brows knitted together in an unidentifiable emotion. Frustration, perhaps. Even he didn't know for sure. Back at the Castle, he was considered the most charming, handsome, educated, desirable man in the kingdom! Yet here, in the simple country, among commoners, he was ... useless. Something sharp hit his heart when he thought of it, though he was sure to never vocalize such a thing, and therefore pushed it away quickly, locking it into the dark shadows of his mind. "I ... would like to learn." Spoken quietly, softly, perhaps the most genuine he had said all night. ...Maybe even in his life. When his blue eyes met her, so similiar in shade, it was a strange sort of bashfulness that tinted them. This normally confident man, this Prince, peeking up at a peasant girl through the veil of his thick chocolate hair. "I always wanted to learn to ... bake a loaf of bread." Admitted sheepishly, before he diverted his eyes, cleared his throat, and straightened his posture, as if that little interlude had never occured. When he spoke again, his voice had returned to normal, the small bit of himself he had dared to show tucked back away, safe from public view. "As for tonight, is there anything I can do? Perhaps the lady would care for a dance?" Nevermind his servant's clothing, he was flashing a cheeky grin at her.

    Nicole was more relieved than pleased, truth be told, because he might have been a bigger burden to bare than she was anticipating. But, even if he was, at least he was willing to learn, at least he wanted to help -- they could use that now, especially with Josue getting so on in years. A young back around would do the planting and plowing good. "Then you will learn." Simple as that, she let the subject of bread drop and laughed when he asked her if she wanted to dance. "Ohh I cannot dance, but thank you." Smiling and laughing still, she stood up and realized that he was quite a bit taller. And handsome. Good God. "Why don't you go rest, take it easy for a day. We all deserve it once in a while." And Elise chortled from behind them. "Maybe you should take a day then, Nicole. Lord knows how long it's been since you've slowed down." The old woman gave her a pointed look, and Nicole rolled her eyes. "Nonesense, I have things to do." She was obviously a young woman who knew how to work, though she looked like she belonged in diamonds and the most expensive materials. She was usually covered in muck from field work.

    A playful pout tugged at his lips when she refused him, but then it quickly disappeared as he offered her the crook of his arm. "Madam Elise is right, Nicole." If ever there was a doubt of his heritage, it would be given away by the refined tone in which he said her name. "Take a day. Walk with me, hmm? Show me about your lovely land." He had never before conversed with a peasant in such a manner, and it was both odd and delightful. Although his new found interest in the rustic society could have been due to the girl's beautiful face and sweet manner. And Erik? He was the classic fable. A prince in pauper's clothing. Did she know? He didn't think so. But then, he wasn't really paying attention, having assumes she would think nothing of his manner or speech once he had denied his royalty. ...A bit naive perhaps, at least in that respect. "It had been a long while since I've enjoyed the company of an intelligent young woman." And by 'long while,' he meant ever. The courtiers, no matter how refined or educated, were far from intelligent. They had no soul, only desires for money and shiny objects and power. All of which he could give them, but refused to do upon principle. ..What? Even he had convictions!

    This was obviously painful for Nicole to take a day off, she was furrowing her brows at Elise. "We can't afford that I should take a day off, so when you need me don't complain." Shaking her finger at her old friend, she relented and took his elbow. They made a fine couple -- everyone seemed to notice except them, so far. "Mm, I don't think I have ever enjoyed the company of an intelligent man." Whoops! That slipped out faster than she could catch it and she laughed. "No offense, of course, but most men are not quite as refined as you are."

    Though the words seemed sharp at first, he was grinning all the while, enjoying her company whether or not she was insulting or complimenting him! "Mm, likewise. Most of the women I meet are ... well, they're nothing like you." Which was the highest of compliments, coming from him! Strolling about her land was soothing and peaceful, a welcome change from his usual day. Careful not to walk too fast [it looked as if he was much taller than her, and due to the long legs, he didn't want to make her run to catch up to his stride!], and even more careful not to hurt her [although it probably wasn't even possible, given their positions], he was the perfect gentleman. Imagine! But then sense kicked in, and he realized, much too late, that he was supposed to be a servant, not a refined ... uh ... whatever she thought he was. "I, uh, well, you see, my ... my ... master! Yes, my master always taught me to be a gentleman. I doubt I could live with myself if I was not." Was that last part the truth? Seemed awfully convincing, didn't it? "Pray, Nicole, tell me of you, hmm? Though I know it is not polite, I simply must ask ... are you not married? Where are your suitors? No doubt men are hounding you constantly! A beautiful, young [though he had no idea how old she was] woman like you is a very rare treat indeed."

    She didn't want to be enamored, no way, but she was quickly becoming infatuated with him. Especially since she had the sneaking suspicion that he was the prince whether he liked it or not. He just had that royal air around him, or so she thought. "Married...no. Never have." She was humming thoughtfully. "I'm twenty two years old and never married, quite a scandal." Though she sounded like she was poking fun at the entire situation, it was strange. "Mn, suitors." That made her laugh and pull away from him, toward the woods at the edge of property, but she held onto his hand to drag him along. "I have had suitors, but I am the one in charge here, so to speak, and I will not share my property with anyone, which makes it difficult, and I don't want to marry only because of something silly and fleeting like money." Brushing off the whole idea with a wave of her hand. "So? I choose not to marry." Simple as that, she shrugged her shoulders and led him deeper into the forest. "I bet I end up a poor old spinster that all the children think is a witch." Amused at that, they finally came upon the old ruins of a castle that was long forgotten -- which was a rarity, if nothing else.

    Damn her. Everything about her, every she said, had him following after her like an adoring puppy. Nothing something he was used to! When she pulled away from his arms he wanted to protest, but then they were hand in hand, and somehow that seemed much ... better. "Mm, I know what you mean." It just slipped out! He was failing miserably at keeping his cover. Such a fool! Silently berating himself, muttering under his breath about what a damned idiot he could by, stopping only when she pulled him into the ruins. Fingers suddenly sliding away from hers, jaw nearly dragging on the ground. "Dear God." Whispered, the passion plain on his voice. "This reminds me of La Rouque." La Rouque was a lovely old Castle, on the same land as that of The Royal Castle, and owned by the King. Everyone knew it, for it was renouned for its beauty. "I used to play there as a child. Before the war, anyway." The War which had destroyed it, much to the heart-broken dismay of little Prince Erik, who was only 12 at the time. ...And now he'd pretty much given away his entire identity. Not that he noticed. So in love with his new surroundings, rejoicing in this gorgeous place which she had chosen to share with him, he was utterly oblivious.

    Nicole was grinning at him, arms over her chest, before she wandered away from him and into her favorite part of the rins. The part in the middle, through dark hallways that were still standing (and pitch black even in the daylight), to the middle of the once brilliant castle courtyard. Overgrown flowers of every color, every vine (and weed, probably), and butterfly -- this was her safe haven and she was showing him because she was afraid he might leave if he only had to work and had nowhere else to go to relieve stress. Or uh, maybe she just wanted to show him. Whatever! "I have heard of La Rouque, but only in passing." As if this secret garden was nothing special, she climbed up onto a pillar, even in her skirts, and looked up at the sky. "Even my own house used to be so brilliant.. one day it'll be just like this."

    "Do you not think this is brilliant? My God. What I would give to live here, in this place, sleeping under the stars, living in the open air." Following her happily, enjoying her presence to the fullest extent. Blue eyes taking in every bit of color there was to offer, and yet suddenly he was turning her back to her, as if it hurt to glance in her direction. In truth, it was his own words that strunk such a deep note within him. "What I would give to escape my cage. My slavery." Whispered, though the last word was hissed out. "You have no idea how ... lucky you are." Something he never thought he would say to a commoner. But this was a day of firsts, to put it mildly. Shoulders shrugging, trying to ease away the tension. "La Rouque?" Because, apparently, he'd just noticed she'd responded to his rambling. "Yes. Most people have. It belonged to the King. A wonderful place. Destroyed by the English." Goddamnit. He was not a man that revealed himself. He was not a man that fawned over women. He was NOT a man that ever showed a softer side, his vulnerablity, or even the smallest trace of his true personality! Leave it to ... her ... to knock him off balance.

    Nicole scratched her head gingerly, watching the clouds pass with mild interest. "You call it lucky... I call it poverty. Things always look so beautiful from far away, I think -- sure I can wander off whenever I like, but I don't. I have more responsibility than any other woman my age. I have a castle that was so beautiful once, but is crumbling around me no matter how hard I work. I have a father who is gone and a mother who lays up in her room dying... I have three friends who are all old and will be gone long before I am and then what will I have? My broken piece of land with no one to tend to it and no one I can trust." She sounded so old speaking about it, but it had to be said. "You have to look into the future sometimes, before you can look into the present."

    At first he merely glanced over his shoulder, but then he was turning fully towards her, slow steps bringing him level with her legs, since she was propped upon a pillar. "We have more in common than one might think, you and me. ...I never thought it would be possible." Gentle hand reaching up, placed on her arm in what he hoped was a reassuring manner. Arrogance gone from his features, he smiled, almost sadly. "I want to help you." Pausing just long enough to reach into his pocket and retrieve a large velvet pouch. Jangling happily, it was thrust towards her, his eyes focused, intent. "Although, to be honest, I think you'll be helping me more than anything else." Here he was, Prince Erik Daae, handing this young woman every dollar he had. ...Well, had on his person, anyway!

    Nicole only smiled down at him serenely, watching him with her blue eyes semi-bemused and mostly appreciative. "I won't take that from you." Her fingertips brushed his face, through his hair fondly. "I appreciate the gesture... I have been doing this on my own for a long time now, I can keep on doing it." Pushing away the velvet pouch. "And you should keep it anyway, you never know when you might need it." Drawing her knees to her chest, she balanced awkwardly on the pillar she'd perched on and watched him. "You have such a kind soul, Erik. I feel like I've known you for such a long time."

    When she pushed his money away, he was about ready to argue. After all, he didn't exactly need money, you know? But he didn't want to offend her, didn't want to think he was offering charity, when that had not been his intention at all! He had far too much respect for her to ever pity her. So he simply pocketed it, nodding fondly at her, leaning slightly into her touch. "You're an amazing woman." At the mention of kindness, however, his demeanor changed drastically. Turning from her again, almost violently, sighing and shaking his head. "No, I'm not. There are a million people who would assure you of that fact - and I'm one of them. I am nothing but a statue. And a cruel one, at that." Thinking back to his harsh thoughts towards those whose station was not worth of his. Servants and peasants, people that, until today, he never had any use for. "If you knew who I really was... what I am... you would turn away from me. Run. Despise me. And you would be right to do."

    Even though she had an inclination of who he was, she only rubbed her nose and shrugged at his back. "Well...the only Erik that I have met thus far is a kind person who makes me laugh and someone I want to be around. If there's another side to him, I would rather not know about it and I might even ignore what I have heard -- or will hear -- if he were to stay this way." Breezily, she jumped down from her spot. "We ought to go to the lake." Grabbing his hand again, before he had time to argue or brood, she dragged him out of the ruins and deep into the forest which all of a sudden cleared and there was a lake! Imagine the luck. She'd been rather surprised when she discovered it one rainy night as a child lost in the woods. Ahem.

    Strange, how simple some things seemed. Even though they never truly were.

  3. #3
    beautyinsilence
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    someone forgot to tell Prince Charming he was supposed to be, uh, charming
    <center>

    <s>Prince</s> Erik Daae



    "All I ever wanted was to be free from my gilded cage."</center>

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