Hi! starting a new prompt list from AU-Gust on tumblr. This is the first day, Fantasy AU. Prince Evan and Princess Madeline finally decide to run away from home. Hope y'all enjoy! ~Meowser :)
Once the castle had been a place of joy, gaiety, and celebration. Madeline walked the hallways of the castle back to her room after her weekly magic lesson, reflecting on the differences now.
These castle walls held no joy anymore. The somber tone of Madeline's dress was a signal for how the kingdom was still mourning Daniel's death the previous year. Even her upcoming marriage to Prince Douglas brought no joy to the kingdom or the castle...or to her.
She'd left her magic lesson feeling just a little less hopeless about her future. Omar had taught her several very simple spells to keep people away, and she murmured one as she flexed her hand in the way he'd taught her. "Viseriste," she whispered, and the servant who'd been about to speak to her turned away at the last second.
Omar had warned that these spells wouldn't always stand up against very strong willed people. It all had to do with intention, and swaying someone's mind in an imperceptible way.
She was afraid it wouldn't be enough to keep Douglas away from her. She'd seen the look in his eyes; she knew from experience that he didn't take no for an answer.
She still couldn't believe that he was the man her parents had chosen for her. Just from their brief meetings, she could tell that the man was a bully. He was everything her older brother had not been; coarse, mean, worldly, crude. Daniel had been graceful, honorable, and kind.
She whirled around, hearing her twin brother's voice. Evan was running up the stairs, looking disheveled as usual. He panted as he reached her. "Can you hide me in your room?" He questioned, and Madeline nodded without needing to ask any more questions.
"Hurry," she said, picking up the pace considerably. Evan, though her twin, stood almost a head taller than her, and he easily outpaced her. They finally reached her room, slamming the door behind them.
Madeline bolted it, knowing that no bolts would stop their parents if they were determined.
"What happened now?" She asked, going to the pitcher of water on her vanity, and pouring it onto a scrap of fabric.
Evan had sat down on her windowsill, still out of breath, and Madeline carefully pressed the wet cloth to his forehead. "I got tossed off Parable again," he admitted, and Madeline groaned. Parable had been Daniel's horse; since Daniel had died then Parable had allowed no one to ride him. Evan was expressly forbidden from riding Parable, but this hadn't been the first time her brother had snuck away to do just that.
"If you were caught, that would be the end of you," she scolded. Evan shrugged.
"So?" He said. "Our lives are already over. You're getting married off to the highest bidder, and I'm getting shipped off to military school as soon as the wedding is over."
"Don't say it like that," Madeline began, but Evan scoffed.
"It's true," he insisted. "There's no other way to say it. Our parents don't care about us."
"They're trying to do what's best," Madeline said, but even she didn't believe the words.
"They only loved Daniel," Evan said. "And now that he's gone then they have no reason to keep us around."
Madeline pressed her lips together. She didn't want to admit it, not to Evan, not to herself, but he was right.
She rinsed out the fabric, wringing it dry so that she could take another go at the still bleeding scratch on Evan's forehead, but he shrugged away from her.
"Don't you ever think about it?" He said, voice wistful as he looked out the window. Madeline looked with him, seeing the land spread out before them. Fields of greens, and roads that twisted out of sight; the blue sea on the very distant horizon.
"Think about what?" Madeline asked carefully, pressing the damp cloth to his forehead again.
"Running away," Evan said, his eyes meeting hers, and his hand reaching up to pull her hand away from his forehead. "Don't you ever want to just leave?"
"Of course I do," Madeline said, after another long moment. She swallowed, looking at the scene before them. It was a picture of freedom, with the ships in the distance, and the roads that led to the sea.
"So why don't we?" Evan asked. "I mean it. Why don't we just leave?"
"It's not as simple as that," Madeline said. "Do you really think our parents wouldn't send the troops after us? We'd be caught before we made it three leagues."
"We should at least try," Evan said. "I know a deckhand who can get us passage on his captain's ship."
Madeline wanted to say yes. She really did. Douglas forever hung over her head, and thoughts of her upcoming marriage outright terrified her. It was impossible, though. They would be caught. Her parents would send the whole navy after them if they left on a ship.
"You want to travel with a merchant?" Madeline scoffed. "That doesn't sound like you."
"Not a merchant's ship," Evan said. "A privateer. Captain Nash."
She had heard that name, and she knew what a privateer was; a pirate that now had the king's commission. Captain Nash had made a name for himself as one of the most dastardly pirates, ruthless and bloodthirsty, and then suddenly, three years ago, he'd changed. He'd taken a commission from the king, and now he sailed the seas under her father's flag.
"How is that safe?" She asked. "He serves our father, he wouldn't let us on board if he values his life."
"He's still a pirate," Evan said. "He's just pretending to work for our father."
Madeline's eyebrow hiked. "How do you know this?" She protested. "How much time have you been spending with this deckhand?"
"Too much," Evan shrugged. "We met at the tavern, he doesn't know I'm the prince."
"It sounds like a good opportunity," Madeline said. "A chance to get away."
"I know," Evan enthused, before Madeline had gotten a chance to finish her sentence.
"For you," she said, and Evan's gaze jerked back to her.
"No," he said.
"I can't go," Madeline said. "If you go alone, you have a chance, Evan. You can escape, see the world. I can be here protecting you from our parents, convincing them that you'll return."
Evan was shaking his head, and grabbed her by the shoulders. "Madeline, you're my sister. I am not leaving here without you. Not in a thousand years, no matter what awaits me. Either we go together or not at all. I'm not leaving you for that monster to marry either."
"I can't go with you," Madeline repeated. "You said it yourself. It's a pirate ship. Where does a princess fit into that? You can disguise yourself as a deckhand, and learn your role. You've been playing pirate since you were four anyway. I can't do that."
"You can be a deckhand too," Evan said. "We could cut your hair, get you some trousers."
Madeline's gaze could have blistered him. "No," she said simply, pulling away from him. "I would be discovered in a matter of minutes. My hands are soft, my voice is soft, I'm so short I can't ride a full grown horse easily, and no, Evan. That idea is ridiculous."
"Disguising you, yes," Evan admitted, after a minute of pacing. "But not escaping. We can dress you like a maid, and pretend that we're villagers. A sister and a brother, which we are, whose parents died and left us to fend for ourselves. You can work in the kitchen or something."
"Do you think I know how to cook?" Madeline scoffed. "Besides, isn't it called a galley on a ship?"
"You can learn, and see, I knew you remembered those stories we used to read," Evan begged her. "Please, Madeline. This is our only chance. Captain Nash leaves at dawn, and I won't leave without you."
She was torn. She wanted to leave, of course she wanted to leave. Her magic lessons wouldn't be enough to keep Douglas away, and their wedding was fast approaching. The diamond ring on her finger was a deadweight.
"We wouldn't have to stay on the ship long," Madeline began. "Just until they port somewhere else. I can sell this atrocity," she held up her hand, showing off the ring. "It should be enough to get us a start somewhere."
"We can bring other jewels too," Evan began, but Madeline shook her head.
"Too risky," she said. "Too much gold or riches will be both a dead giveaway and a target on our backs."
"You're right," he said, and she could see the smile spreading on her brother's face.
"I haven't said yes yet," she cautioned, and Evan grinned.
"You're about to," he said. "I can see you thinking it through, making a plan. This is why we work. I get the ideas, and you plot them out."
"We need to plot it out," she said. "I don't have a map here, but I do know that Angeles is the farthest port from Hershel. We can go there."
"I've always wanted to go to Angeles," Evan said. "It's supposed to be warm year round."
"We just need to keep a low profile until then," Madeline said. "Change our names, leave our whole past behind us."
"I've never liked the name Evan anyway," Evan said. "It's a new start."
"It could be," Madeline cautioned. "There are still more plans to be made."
"We can leave after dinner," Evan said. "Can you get an outfit from one of the maids?"
"We'll have to get me something in the village," Madeline said. "I don't want to get someone in trouble nor do I want anyone catching onto our plan."
"This is going to work," Evan insisted. "I'm going to go pack a few things, just what I can fit in a knapsack."
He opened the door leading out, checking the corridors before grinning at her, and sneaking away.
Madeline took the ring off of her finger, for the first time since she'd put it on two months ago. She felt so much lighter, so much safer. She walked to her jewelry box, taking out the plainest, longest chain that she had, and looping the ring onto it before stringing the chain around her neck.
It tucked under her dress quite nicely, it should be invisible to any passersby. This ring had once been the dark guarantee of a grim future with a violent prince. Now it was hope. The promise that she and Evan would be able to restart, somewhere far away from here.
Madeline went to her closet, knowing that there was nothing inside she could take with her. Her fine dresses had no place on a ship, especially not if she wanted to lay low. She wasn't in search of a dress, however. She reached in the very back, past the heavy weight of numerous ballgowns, until she found what she was looking for.
It was a stone that had been given to her by her godmother. While fairy godmothers were a thing of the past, Madeline had always secretly wondered if this stone was magical. It had always given her luck when she needed it, and she would need all the luck she could get. Omar's magic spells were really just tricks; they wouldn't do much out in the world.
She could sew this stone into the hem of her dress, she figured. Keep it with them, and see if it helped them.
It couldn't hurt, after all.
She walked to the mirror, and saw her long hair, realizing that Evan was partially right. She did need to cut it, but not yet. When they got to the village tonight, she'd chop if off, have Evan buy a simpler gown for her, and then princess Madeline would be no more.
She'd be Maddie. Just Maddie. A village girl without a past. Evan would ask people to call him Buck, most likely. That had always been his alter ego in the village.
An hour ago Madeline had been hopelessly awaiting a bitter future. Now Maddie looked out at a bright new world, knowing that this would be like nothing she'd ever expected.
This was going to work.