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Start (End, Book 2)

By @ActressMawuena

Lilac

SIX HUNDRED YEARS EARLIER

I glance at my phone. “I’ll miss you,” I say sadly. I check all my social media before I toss it into the fire like the other eighteen year old girls.

Th ceremony is done.

“I don’t think it is fair women have to lose their lives,” Maria humphs when we climb into dads’ limo.

I roll my eyes. “Just because we are forced to burn our phones doesn’t mean we lose our lives.” Of course Maria is sad. I mean, she tricks people into following her by editing her photos

“My life was in my phone!” She protests. “Thankfully, I have a backup,” She smiles mischievously as she blinks her eyes twice to activate the contacts. “Look, the newest model. Holograms,” She says.

I cross my arms. “You’re lucky your boyfriend is the Prince,” I say. “Or I’d report you.”

She seems taken about. “Oh, my boyfriend,” She says. “Yeah.”

I glance at her. Somethings wrong. Me and Maria are sisters- no, twins. I would think that at least I’d get to meet him.

I arrive at the Palace, with my sister, Maria, biting her nails.

“He might-” She says worriedly. “He might pretend he doesn’t know me. I’m not sure if he’s still mad at me.”

This is such a back-up lie. Still, I’m holding my head up high in my dress embroidered with lilacs.

If she really isn’t dating the Prince, it’s my chance.

“Maria!” A guy calls out.

The Prince. I can tell because he takes off his crown and places it playfully onto Maria’s head.

“Hello,” I say politely. “Your sister designed this dress, so funny she used lilacs.” So Maria wasn’t lying. Still, though, I plan to steal him.

Maria jealously watches me twirl. She never was good at ballet. I don’t really care, but Maria does. My mother didn’t take that very easily when she was alive, but when she was alive, Maria was skinny and pretty. Maria is jealous because I can twirl in the sun while she looks gloomy.

But for some reason, she was still the favorite of our parents. And she gets the Prince, too? Not on my watch.

I bat my eyelashes when Maria goes into the garden to do something. What, I don’t know.

He glances at me for a second to long. “You look like your twin,” He notes.

Except she has the common medium hair of Lardyia, wilst I have long, flowing, thick blonde hair (very uncommon for a dark-skinned lady) to the middle of my thighs. Maria never took care of herself. She always had to cut hers. When mom died, she had no one to do things for her, so she stopped trying. Don’t get me wrong. I tried to help her. She just didn’t do her part.

The Prince drinks up my violet eyes like wine. If Maria- a bland, not very pretty girl- could get him, I could, too, so easily. I mean we both had blonde hair, small noses, doe eyes, and strawberry colored plump lips, but it stops there. I was fit and had a nice figure, while Maria, who had given up on her looks long ago, was a bit more rounded. She didn’t get mothers’ genes, but mommy had faith in her only because she was born first. Because she lost too much blood while having me. Because I always tried my best, “Not like a real lady,” she would say.

I run my ****ers along a handkerchief that falls from his pocket.

“Nice,” I say. “Though the Royal Cursive could be better. I would do it better, I mean. I’m the youngest master in Lardyia.”

Royal Cursive was the hardest handwriting in the world. This was one of the many things I could do that my twin couldn’t.

I continued to impress the Prince- whose name was Henry. While I pulled him closer, I also pushed Maria away from him.

“It’s the grand opening of-” Henry starts.

“The Noble’s Club!” Maria finishes.

“I get to bring one person, and that one person gets a life time membership.”

Maria squeals.

“No thanks. I’m not into clubs,” I say. “Maria can go.”

Henry laughs. “No, this club, instead of a bar, there is a tea room. Instead of a dance floor, there is a ballroom. You can also get a pen pal to write to, I mean, I assume you know Royal Cursive.” He winks at that last part. “And much, much, more.”

“Sounds like fun,” Maria says. “When can we go?”

“The Grand Opening is tonight.” Henry says. “Both of you meet me here at 5:00. A competition.”

I stand up. “Maria, you better go shopping,” I say.

“Why?” She says, oblivious.

“None of your clothes match The Noble’s Club usual. I mean, every lady there is going to have a dress, and you’re… um… well, yeah.” While I wear an elegant day gown to collage every day. Did I mention I got into collage when I was 16? And I got into Harvard? While Maria is getting F’s at community collage (she never got into something better), I am doing just about every club I can. And getting so much more extra credit onto my A+’s.

The Noble’s Club will rocket my grades through the sky.

Maria is twirling in her new dress, but it would look better on someone else. It hugs all her curves, which, are not that flattering. But I get the dress that mother charmed father with. I only got it because father knew that Maria couldn’t fit in it. I’ve never worn it before. And Mother only wore it once, too.

It has a high waisted design, the top part swirled with pink and lavender colors, with long, strapless of the-shoulder-sleeves made with translucent pink cloth, a big, elegant white skirt (that reaches to the floor). The hem has dozens of jewels upon jewels.

“He’ll pick me for sure,” Maria says confidently.

I hug my robe tighter. Maria has no idea what she’s in for.

Henry walks towards us, and I hide behind Maria, giving my robe to our driver who zooms off.

“Maria,” He says. He sounds disappointed. I mean, the Prince? Bringing a girl with a green party dress? It might be as long as mine, but does it have a train like mine?

I step out into the light, my white heels dripping with jewels purposely peeking out. I curtsy. “Your highness,” I say. “I was just getting a bit more ready.”

He has to pick me, or else Maria will take my dress and ruin it.

“Oh, Lilac, you don’t have to.” He says, taking my hand to pull me up from the curtsy.

“Well, Henry, let’s go!” Maria says.

“Um, actually, Lilac’s coming, too,” He says. “The Noble’s Club are allowing me two guests now, because someone dropped out.”

“But I get the membership, right?” Maria says. “Right?!”

“Well, you don’t really know Royal Cursive.” Which is not mandatory, but Maria doesn’t know that.

Maria pouts, but doesn’t do anything. Instead, she gets into the royal limo.

Me and Henry sit on the opposite end, talking about college.

I sneak in marriage into this concept. “I’m taking a course called ‘How to be Royalty’.” I say. “It helps you learn to be a leader. Though I think Maria needs it more.” I laugh.

“Why couldn’t you be queen?” Henry says, perplexed. “I mean, you’re smart, everyone loves you- oh, right. I’m the heir.” He says grumpily. And he’s dating Maria. But not for long. I laugh. Maria, confused for a moment, starts to nervously giggle. Just then, we pull up into the Noble’s Club.

“Come on!” Henry whispers.

“Okay!” Maria giggles.

“I’m staying for ballroom dancing. I mean, there must be one incredibly old duke who wants to dance with me, right?” I says.

“But we’re going to the theatre!” Henry protests.

“It’s okay. Lilac is always a good diplomat and stays with humanity.” Maria sneers.

I stop at the bottom of the stairs. “Well, I could watch a movie or two.” I say finally.

Maria frowns as I lift my skirt slightly with my ****ers delicately to walk up the stairs, which Maria forgets to do and she trips.

“Oh, come on, Maria!” Henry says, though not unkind.

The chandelier sways slightly at the speed Maria stands up, and then she copies my skirt lift.

At the movie theatre, there is lots of popcorn, drinks, snacks, and other things I would never eat.

Seeing my disgusted face, Henry takes a buttery popcorn and throws it into my literally jaw dropped mouth.

I don’t want to be rude and spit it out, so I reluctantly chew. And it’s good.

“It’s good.” I say, “But bad for my skin.”

Henry shrugs. “You’re just like my sister,” He smiles.

I scream, for the millionth time.

Maria laughs at my expense.

“The next movie, can we watch Underground Princess?” I ask, naming the hot new movie featuring Britney Spearmint.

“Ugh, that annoying-” Maria starts.

“I’ve heard it’s a really great movie.” Henry nods.

“Unlike the Blair Witch Project,” I mutter. “How do they still have this old thing?”

Henry pats my head. “It’s not that scary. I mean, it’s-“

A SCREAM! comes from the screen.

I bury my head into his shoulder, and I know Maria has already seen.

All boys act the same- doesn’t she know that? And I’ve had a lot of experience of stealing boys by watching her. She does the research, and I do the work. She stupidly told me everything about him before she introduced us.

I sit at the dining table, still controlling my breath from the Blair Witch Project. Even though we watched Underground Princess.

Through my quiet tears, Henry goes, “It’s okay, it’s not real. It’s okay, Lilac. It’s okay. I’m sorry! Please stop crying. Please. I’ll do anything.”

Maria is glaring at me. “Maybe she needs someone to calm her down. Someone she spends a lot of time with. Like, alone.”

Henry ponders this. “You’re right. Maria, can you-” Maria smirks at me “-find a quiet spot for Lilac and I to calm down?”

Maria’s smirk wipes off faster than a race car.

“How about the tea room? Everyone is here, but dinner doesn’t start until 10?” Someone says and winks.

“Okay. Bring back a cookie,” Maria pouts.

As we walk down the hall, I know Maria’s following.

I open the door to the tea room, and sure enough, no one’s there. It’s slightly dark, and not even a servant, or robot is there.

I sit down on the couch, Henry following.

“It’s okay,” He says. “There are no witches in Lardyia. I promise.”

At one point, I “calm down” and we just sit there, hand in hand, me leaning on his shoulder.

“Do you love me?” Henry asks finally.

I stay quiet. To be honest, at one point I had fallen in love with him. But… I don’t know. I think about Maria, who’s only using him. Still I don’t want to break her heart, but…

“Yes,” I say. “Do you?”

Henry immidiatly says yes.

I turn to face him. “What about… I love her, you know? I have to. She’s my sister. But I love you, too.”

Henry looks into my eyes. His are midnight blue, contrasting to his pale skin and red hair. “We’ll figure that out tomorrow.” He says, and he kisses me.

He pulls back. “Was that okay?” He asks.

I kiss him in response.

I can hear Maria stomp away, but I know Henry can’t.

My breath mixes with his, my forehead pressed with his. And all I can think is,

“I never thought I would fall in love with a Prince,” I laugh. “I always thought I’d be with a doctor, a lawyer, or something, working in the highest job a woman can get.”

“I never thought I’d fall in love, period.” Henry quips.

We sit there, talking, for an hour.

“You will be a great queen.” Henry says.

“Will be?” I smile.

“Ha-ha. You will be.” Henry seems pleased with his decision.

“Maybe we should run away from Lardyia. Start a new life. No ruling, no diplomacy, just us, together.”

Hnery sighs. “I would.” He says. “But I can’t leave millions upon millions ruled by my sister. She’s kind and all, but in war, she’d fail us.”

He has a point. So instead, I check my watch.

“It’s 9:55.” I say. “I am so not going home before eating dinner.”

Henry glances around. “You’re right. Come on,” he says, and a stand up and we tread to the dining room.

I sit down back into my seat. Robots wheel over and hand us lobsters, with lime, some potatoes drenched with butter, and a glass of wine.

Henry stands up. “I would like to make a toast, since The Noble’s Club invited me to do so.” He says. “So to my girlfriend.” Maria is still his girlfriend, though. “My love. My now fiance. Lilac.”

I blush, as much as a black person can, anyways. I stand up, smile, and wave.

Maria stands up too, and all the live cameras turn to her.

“You boyfriend stealer!” She screeches. “You’re the worst sister in the world!”

I barely flinch at that and quickly straighten. “Oh yeah? Remember Troy? David? Alex? Remember every time you got anything higher than a D in school, you’d get to go out for ice cream with mom, but when I got into Harvard, dad said he was disappointed in me? Remember when I asked for a single book, and I got a sheet of ripped, peed-on paper p for our birthday? And you got a freaking house?” I cry. “Remember when mom died five years ago, and dad had pity on you so he gave you a car? All I got was this dress, and it was because you couldn’t fit in it. Remember? So you can take Henry too. I mean, you’d take something else from me anyways!” And I run out the room, out the door, and into the club’s garden. I collaspe into their lilacs, sobbing. I don’t remember when I wake up. I later find there was a search party. They didn’t find me. But one person did, like a magnet.

I wake up to lilacs brushing my face, and Henry sitting on the path, waiting for me.

I yawn and sit up. “Somehow these flowers are still intact,” I say softly.

I sit next to Henry. “There was more on that list,” I say softly, trying to hold back my tears. “But I’m more hungry than mad, and I’m really mad.”

Henry reaches into his plastic bag and gives me a container with two donuts.

“I don’t eat donuts.” I say.

“I know.” Henry says. “But you should.”

So I chew away, even though I don’t eat donuts. I lay my head on his shoulder.

I’m lost in the palace I’ve studied for ten years.

I left the guest chambers in the east wing, but I’m right back to them.

I sigh, open the door, and walk in.

I lay on my soft bed, sinking into it.

“Lilac?” A tear-filled voice says. “Can I come in?”

“Sure,” I say, but only because I know live cameras are following her.

Maria walks in, red eyes, and the robots filming escort her.

She sits down on my bed, making huge creases and weighing it down.

She catches me staring. “Oh, I forgot you were a neat freak,” She quickly stands up and smooths out the quilts lines.

I start to breath again. I turn to my vanity, brushing my hair.

“Look, Lilac, I’m sorry I hurt you.” Maria pleads with me.

In my calmest voice, I reply, “So why didn’t you think about my feelings earlier? When you and dad would leave the mansion, laughing, eating ice cream, while I was stuck in my room, grounded, for no reason, did you think of ever inviting me?”

Maria lies and says, “Of course I did! I just didn’t think daddy would let me.”

“Stop lying. Your eyebrows raise when your lying.”

“They do not!” And they raise again.

“Aren’t you busy doing something else? Like celebrating another F?” I say. “Do you actually think I want to talk to you?” I turn. “If you were really sorry, you wouldn’t have brought these cameras!” My voice starts rising.

Just then, Henry enters my room. “What’s going on?” He says. “I thought you were apologizing?”

“I am!” Maria pouts. “Lilac is just making it all about herself!”

“That’s the point of an apology!” I yell.

Maria walks up to me and slaps me. “You think your better than everyone else, going around helping at soup kitchens and orphanages!”

“I’d rather be an orphan than your sister!” I yell. “I like helping people, okay? Why else do you think I climb out the window to help sell lemonade to raise money for the people on the streets? I know I’ll get grounded for an even longer time. I know that you will spit on me. But I do it anyways!”

I look out the window, a crowd yelling something. I open the window to hear them saying, “Maria needs to go! She needs to go! We don’t like her!”

“I forgot about the live streaming cameras.” Maria mutters.

I smile sadly. They love me. Unlike my sister.

“Please go away,” I tell her, turning. “The mob could kill you, so you can stay somewhere, but not here.”

“You may now, kiss the bride.”

Henry wraps his arms around my waist and starts to kiss me. But then an arrow shoots past my ear.

“Henry!” Maria leaps down from the platform. “Marry me instead!”

“There was a time for this already!” Someone yells and throws a tomato on her convenient dress, which is a cheap version of mine.

But Henry ignores her, and we seal our love in one, simple kiss.

And that is the start of a new life.

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