Aubrey awoke with a start. Looking around, she realized she was in her chair with her tutor, and she had drifted off. Her tutor was sitting in a chair across from her, looking puzzled.
“Are you alright, my Lady?” Aubrey nodded slowly. Her tutor began talking again about the advantages of planetary-related medicines, but Aubrey couldn’t listen. She was thinking about her daydream; that same dream she had been having for almost a week now. In her mind, she saw her father’s face; he was in so much pain. Then a great white light and she looked down to see her own heart in her hands; and then she woke up, every time. Aubrey looked up just as the door opened unannounced; it was her sister.
“Princess Dara!” The tutor shot up from her chair and bowed quickly, gathering her things and bustled out of the room. Aubrey stared after her; she honestly couldn’t remember a thing from the lesson today. Dara skipped over and plopped down onto the bed next to her. Aubrey looked at her younger sister with endearment; she was wearing one of her old dresses. Their father told Dara she could have as many new dresses as she wanted, but often Dara insisted on wearing Aubrey’s hand-me-downs. It was silly, but sweet. Dara began to babble about her session with the tutor.
“Boy, my lessons were hard today! I couldn’t understand the physics part. Was yours hard? I can’t imagine what hard stuff you have to learn…” Dara prattled on, and Aubrey let her thoughts drift back to her dream, staring out the window. What could it have meant? Why did it keep coming back? She wished she knew…
“AUBREY!” She spun around.
“What, Dara?” Her little sister grinned impishly.
“I SAID are you taking a date to your birthday ball this weekend?”
“Oh.” Aubrey shrugged. “No, I hadn’t thought about it.”
“Why not?” Dara jumped up. “When I turned fifteen next year, I’m going to take a date: someone really dreamy, maybe Nicolas or someone.” She began to spin around the room, dancing with her imaginary partner.
“Well now, next year? That’s a big young don’t you think?” Aubrey teased. Dara turned around, pouting her lip.
“But you’re going to be sixteen in three days! That’s only one year’s difference.” Aubrey smiled and rose to cross to her baby sister. She put her arm around Dara’s shoulder.
“And that one year is a big difference. But when you turn sixteen, you can take date.” Dara pouted for a few more seconds, and then gave in.
“Oh alright. But promise me you’ll still dance with the boys for me.”
“Okay, good. Now let’s go get our dresses for the party!” Dara skipped towards the door and Aubrey followed. She hadn’t forgotten about this dream of hers, but it would have to wait.
Aubrey sighed, and held her arms out. It always took forever to get fitted for these overly-fancy dresses. It had been days since she had first had the dream, and yet it danced across her mind every night since, flitting in and out, as if it knew it was teasing her. Her mind wandered back to her dream as she tried to focus on the faint pictures in her mind. She could almost swear there was someone there in her dream; standing right in the great white light. If only she could see more clearly…
A knock came at the door, then it opened briskly and four girls filed in.
“My ladies,” the seamstress sewed the last bit of the hem on Aubrey’s dress and then left. Aubrey sighed. She was so tired of people always leaving her all the time, knowing they were doing it because they were obligated to. Some royal life this was; secretly she wished she wasn’t who she was. Maybe if she could figure this dream out…
The four girls knelt at her feet.
“Princess Aubrey,” the only closest to her spoke. Aubrey stared at her, and then threw up her hands.
“For the last time, Inanna, I told you not to call me that!” The brunette’s cheek flushed as she looked up at Aubrey, mouth open, as if to speak. Then she pressed her lips together tightly.
“As you wish… Aubrey.” Aubrey sighed again.
“Get up, all of you.” They rose, taking chairs around the room. The red-head strolled over to a chair and relaxed, while the little pinkish girl twirled into a chair nearest her. The tall girl rose and just as gracefully as she had stood, while Inanna sat in a chair across the room, hands folded, looking at her feet. Aubrey crossed her arms and threw herself down onto a fainting couch.
“What’s wrong?” The pinkish girl asked quickly. Aubrey didn’t look at her.
“I’m so tired of all this, Nina.”
“Tired of what?”
“Being…this!” Her arms gestured wildly around the room.
“Being… a princess?” Nina looked at her quizzically.
“No Nina,” the tall one, Esen, spoke quietly aside to her. “She tired of having tedious duties when she would rather be doing something else.”
“Exactly!” Aubrey huffed and crosses her arms again.
“Well boo-hoo, tired of being royalty.” The red-head picked at her fingernails. “Geez, Aubrey, you are seriously the master of pity parties.” Aubrey threw her a glance.
“I’m serious Tallulah! This just all seems so… pointless to me. Life can’t just be sitting around, learning to be lady, going to “balls” and crap. There’s got to be more…” Her eyes drifted towards the window as her thoughts went to her dream. No one spoke for a moment.
The door opened.
“Aubrey!” Dara ran it, dressed in a deep green sparkling gown. She spun around, her smile wide and eyes intent. “Do you like it?” Aubrey glanced at her.
“Yes, Dara; beautiful.” Dara’s brow crinkled.
“Why are you wearing black again? You always wear it; like you’re going to a funeral.” Of my life, she thought. Aubrey paused, and then summoned her best fake smile.
“Silly girl; this dress is red with black on it this time.” Dara didn’t look convinced. They stared at each other a moment, then Aubrey exhaled.
“Alright, it’s black; I just like how it looks!” Dara giggled. “It’s my birthday, after all!” Esen walked up to Aubrey and placed a hand on her shoulder.
“You’re right; so try not to worry and just have fun tonight.”
“Yeah!” squeaked Nina. “You’ll have your pick of the boys tonight too! They will all want to dance with you.”
“But how will they know who I am?” Aubrey said. “It’s a Masquerade Ball.”
“Oh, it won’t be hard.” Tallulah rose from her chair. “All the attention will be on you all night; you’ll have to beat them off with a stick. Only because your face is covered, though.” Aubrey threw her a dirty look. Inanna leaned and whispered in Aubrey’s ear.
“She’ll just jealous.” Tallulah must have heard it, because she looked as though she wanted to rip Inanna’s hair out. Aubrey stepped down from the stool.
“Alright, alright! Let’s just all calm down. Because tomorrow is my birthday party and God forbid we are going to enjoy ourselves.”
The girls gave a cheer and began talking about what dress they would wear tomorrow and who they hoped they would dance with. Aubrey took a deep breath; she would just have to deal with this dream later, she promised herself. After all, she should have fun at her own sixteenth birthday. She pushed her question to the back of her mind and joined the giddy chatter about the birthday ball.
Aubrey walked slowly down the grand staircase in beat with the fanfare and hundreds of eyes upon her. She suddenly wished her mask was an entire blanket to cover her up completely. She followed her father down the final steps and towards the giant seats set out for them. Maybe I can melt into the floor if I try harder, she sighed inwardly. Finally the music ended, and they sat. Everyone returned the normal party chatter, and Aubrey’s ladies descended onto the floor large pillows laid out in front of her.
“Hey, how are you holding up?” Nina peered at Aubrey through her shimmering pink mask that matched exactly with her dress. Aubrey just shook her head.
“You’ll be alright,” Esen whispered, sporting an elegant violet ensemble with pearls. “No one is even looking at you now.”
“It’s not that,” Aubrey whispered back. “This is just all so… silly.”
“Maybe for you,” The turquoise peacock mask turned her way. Aubrey knew who was behind it without even having to guess. “But for some, for ladies, this is important.”
“Hush Tallulah,” the golden moon mask scolded. “This event is for our Princess, which you are not, in case you forgot.” Tallulah said nothing, and suddenly seemed to be very interested in watching people pour themselves drinks. Inanna looked at Aubrey through her mask, eyes searching.
“Please… just have fun. Go dance!” Aubrey shrugged.
“I don’t know, I really don’t feel--”
“My Princess!” Aubrey started and turned to see a man bowing low before her, his head almost touching the floor.
“Oh most beautiful one, the most delicate and sweet flower, jewel of my heart.” He said all of this still bowing as low as humanly possible. Aubrey exchanged glances with the other girls; no doubt who this was behind the mask. Aubrey cleared her throat.
“How… could I
“Then let me remove the mystery that no longer separates us.” He started to pull it off. Aubrey quickly reached up and stopped him.
“Ah… um, dear
“I see, a love game this! Well, I shall play it with you my pet! That its, I mean… beautiful stranger.” He rose and winked at her. “Then, until the fates bring us together, oh mysterious one.” He swirled his cape around in his bow, hitting Tallulah and almost knocking her mask off. Without yet another wink, she swirled around and marched through the crowd. Aubrey watched him go with the sudden urge to hurl all over the ballroom floor.
“What… was… that?” Nina whispered breathlessly. Aubrey rolled her eyes.
“Well, I’m sure
days ago he asked my father for my hand, and my father has been thinking it
“Aubrey!” Inanna grabbed her arm. “You’re joking, right?”
“Yes, I suppose,” Aubrey slumped a little. “But it would be the worst thing to ever happen in my life.”
“Just speak with your father,” Esen said. “I’m sure he will understand.” Before Aubrey had the chance to answer, Tallulah interrupted.
“Heads up; here comes the rude prick again,” she grumbled as she was still fixing her hair again.
“Excuse me, beautiful stranger. Could I have this dance?” Aubrey paused and then reluctantly rose.
“Ah… of course, Captain.”
Aubrey threw back
pleading looks as she was taken hostage to the middle of the floor. The music
was jaunty and brisk, and Aubrey felt herself getting dizzy as she was whisked
in circles by the overzealous suitor. Maybe she would have a real reason to get
sick and throw up everywhere, she thought.
The music finally ended and everyone applauded. Her dizziness must have
been obvious but
“Would you like to
dance?” She turned around, surprised, because this wasn’t
“I’m sorry,” she finally said. “But I don’t think we’ve met before.” He smiled slightly.
“This is a masquerade ball… isn’t everyone a stranger?” She started.
“Well, I suppose, but I mean… well, I don’t recognize you from the courts at all.” She stared at his crystal blue eyes as they studied hers. She could almost swear that her pulse picked up a little. He sure looked handsome; a mysterious dark stranger dancing with her at her birthday. Well, at least this part was kind of exciting. She couldn’t help but smile a little when she thought of how jealous the girls would be, especially Tallulah.
“What?” He had noticed her grin, and her smile quickly faded.
“Oh, it’s nothing.”
“Please,” he whispered. “At least, smile again, for me.” Aubrey could feel the blood rise to her cheeks. “Your smile is so beautiful.” Aubrey attempted to recover herself.
“How would you know if I’m beautiful? I’m wearing a mask. You don’t even know who I am even.” He spun her around while holding a few of her fingers, then pulled her even closer to him.
“Oh?” She was so close; she could feel his breath on her face. She froze and he held in her in his arms for what seemed an eternity and a second. Then the song was over.
Aubrey pulled herself back and turned to applaud the musicians. Whew, get a hold of yourself! You don’t even know him. She turned back to thank him for the dance and gasped.
He was gone. Her eyes quickly scanned the ballroom, but his dark figure was no where in sight. She stood there for a moment, dumbfounded. Then someone grabbed her arm.
Princess—your beverage!” Aubrey sighed; only
“WHO were you just dancing with?” Aubrey could feel her face blushing again.
“I, um… don’t know.”
“I mean, I don’t know who he was. He just asked me to dance.” All the girls immediately assaulted her with questions.
“How could you NOT know?”
“Was he that
handsome up close?”
“Did you see behind his mask?”
“Did he tell you his name?”
“What did you talk about?”
“Did he KISS you?” Aubrey held up her hands. They all froze, waiting expectantly. She cleared her throat.
“All I know is he asked me to dance. We danced. Then he disappeared before I could say another word to him.” They all sat in pensive silence.
“Do you think you’ll see him again?” Inanna spoke in a low voice.
“Honestly, I have no idea.” Aubrey sighed. “But at least something exciting happened tonight.” The girls mumbled in agreement.
The rest of the
night passed without event;
The night was almost over; the musicians called for the last dance.
“Aubrey; dance. It’s the last one.” Esen encouraged her. Aubrey shook her head.
“It’s fine. I… just need some fresh air.” She scooted past everyone else quickly so they couldn’t beg her to stay. She walked out onto the grand balcony, the cool air blowing gently across her face.
The stars twinkled
brightly back at her as she looked up into the sky. Aubrey’s head swirled with
all her thoughts; her betrothal to
“I want my life to be more than this. To be exciting. To make a difference. I want people to remember me not because I was a queen, but because I was someone who stood for something. I don’t want to be stuck doing nothing; I want to live.” She put her head in her hands. After a moment, she could see a faint light through her fingers. Funny, she thought, there wasn’t a moon out tonight. She lifted her head and gasped.
Swirling towards her at an enormous speed was a ball of light. Aubrey froze, she couldn’t move, she could only watch in horror. It came closer and closer, and Aubrey squeezed her eyes shut, bracing herself. But then nothing happened. A few more seconds, and then Aubrey slowly opened her eyes.
Before her stood what must be a goddess. Her long, flowing white hair cascaded down her back and her short dress glowed with an effervescent aura. Upon her head was a shining star, and her grey eyes sparkled as they stared at Aubrey. In her hand she held a staff and shone like the sun. Aubrey couldn’t speak; this woman was the most beautiful creature she has ever seen. They both stared at each other for a long while, until finally Aubrey found her voice.
“What… who are you?” The woman smiled; the most beautiful smile of anyone alive. When she spoke, her voice tinkled like the tiniest bell, making the most beautiful sound.
“I am…Sailor Cosmos.
And you, Aubrey, have been chosen.”