During Erika’s short time as Princess Anneliese, she learned of the immense stress caused by her royal duties. It was still a breeze compared to Erika’s life of indentured servitude, but now that’s been fixed. Erika was currently living a plush life as Anneliese’s personal seamstress. She had one client and very few dresses to make, so most of her time was spent singing.
Anneliese problems persisted. She had saved her kingdom by her crystal discovery, as well as dodged a hasty marriage, but she still had her duties.
Then there was Julian, the man she was completely in love with. He had revealed that he simply didn’t feel the same once Anneliese came with the news that her wedding with the king had been called off. Apparently, Julian had been having some interesting late night discussions with King Dominick while he stayed in the castle.
So, Anneliese was heartbroken and overworked. Genevieve was ill, which strained Anneliese. Every day, she took over more of the Queen’s duties. There was only so much a girl could do.
Erika walked into Anneliese’s suite wearing the latest pale pink dress she made to add to the princess’ collection.
Anneliese looked up from the letter she was writing, carefully setting the quill in the ink pot. “Erika, why are you wearing my dress?”
“It’s simple, Princess,” Erika replied as she waltzed over to the grand closet. She pulled out a wig of long, blonde waves. “I’m going to be you again.”
“Why?” Anneliese questioned.
“You’ve got bags under your eyes,” Erika began. “Because you were up all night reading a proposed trade agreement with a neighboring kingdom. And tonight you’re supposed to host a ball.”
“I’m fine, Erika,” Anneliese said with a soft smile. “Thank you. It’s nice that you care. But these are my duties, I can’t pass them off to my seamstress.”
“Your best friend seamstress,” Erika reminded as she secured the wig onto her head.
“Yes, my best friend seamstress who doesn’t actually know what will be happening at tonight’s ball,” Anneliese said as she stood from her desk chair.
As the Princess walked towards her, Erika guessed, “Dancing? Chatting? All the normal ball activities?”
Anneliese reached up a took the wig of off Erika’s head. Her brown hair came tumbling back down. Anneliese wrapped a strand around her slim finger. She frowned while she stared at the wig in her grasp. “It’s a suitor’s ball. My mother requested I have one. She wants me to marry before I take over as Queen.”
“Oh,” Erika stated. “You don’t seem thrilled.”
“I’m not,” Anneliese replied. “I thought after everything with Dominick, I’d be free to marry…” she paused for a moment. “But I misjudged Julian’s feelings.”
“Is there no one else you have feelings for?” Erika questioned as she placed a hand on the Princess’ shoulder.
“Well, I…” The blonde’s eyes cast down to the floor.
“Is it that Duke we met last week? He was quite dashing,” Erika teased with a raised eyebrow.
“No, not him. Not any sort of him, besides Julian.”
It took a few seconds for the words to process in Erika’s head. When they did, her mouth gaped slightly. “You… I didn’t… So, is it going to be ladies at the ball?”
“It’ll be whoever my mother invited, so probably gentlemen and ladies,” Anneliese sighed. “She’s made it clear that if I can’t find a husband or wife on my own I’m going to have to settle with someone of high status.”
“There’s really none one you have any sort of feelings for, other than Julian?” Erika questioned.
“Well, I suppose there is someone,” Anneliese said softly, tugging at the sleeves of her gold dress. “But I’m not sure she feels the same way.”
“Any girl would be lucky to be with you,” Erika assured. The princess smiled in a way that made Erika’s heart flutter like a butterfly’s wings. Erika knew who the princess had fallen for. She reached out for Anneliese’s hand, holding it tightly. “I never thought I’d have a chance to be with you.”
Anneliese placed a kiss on Erika’s cheek. “I’m glad you’re better at picking up romantic signals than I am.”
“So, are you going to the ball tonight?” the brunette inquired.
“Of course!” Anneliese proclaimed. “I must introduce my new partner.”
“Can I still wear the wig?” Erika asked with a smirk.
Anneliese laughed. The sound was light and relaxed.
Erika laughed too. She had managed to take away an evening’s stress of her overworked princess, all while revealing some rather fairytale feelings. “The Princess and the Pauper,” Erika singsonged. “A love story for the ages.”