Song of the day - The State of Dreaming by Marina and the Diamonds
i hate this set so much and im sorry you have to see it but i like the story
Monday, April 29: Greetings to everyone and welcome to The Selection, where eleven ladies are competing for the Prince’s affections and the throne. Today, you will face your first challenge. You will have tea with the Queen at the Women’s Room, where you will receive a lesson in etiquette. Make sure to wear your best day dress, prepared by your maids.
Honestly, Illéa wasn't that great. It wasn't bad, per see, but it certainly wasn't paradise on earth or whatever people referred to it as. The castle was beautiful, the garden was beautiful - and that was really all I'd seen because, sadly, the castle had rules.
I hate rules.
I glanced out the window longingly. Going outside to the garden wasn't necessarily an ideal way to pass the time, but it was all I was allowed. I slipped off my pumps, grabbing the heels of the shoes with my left hand - a trick I'd learned a long time ago: if you take off your shoes and walk quietly, they honestly don't hear you. Unless the house you're in happens to be really old and not very well cared for. Which the palace was, so creaky floorboards wouldn't be a problem.
The dress was a nuisance, but I was eighteen - old enough to know how to keep a dress looking nice while outdoors. This time was ideal - I hadn't thought it would be possible to grab any moments to myself, but, low and behold, it was. For a minute, I didn't have to be the representative of Tammins. I didn't have to be a living, breathing pawn in the game of the royals to calm the rebels - because, lets be honest, that's what this entire thing was about. I could just, for a few minutes, be Tessa.
"Hello." A soft voice spoke from the benches behind me. I paused, slipping my heels from my hands back onto my feet, "Perfect Tessa" turned on. "Hello" I said back, turning slowly to glance at the seated girl.
Frankly, I didn't care if the girls were my competition - if I couldn't befriend anyone except my maids, nothing would be much fun, would it? - but I didn't know if the same applied to her.
"I'm Tessa. Of Tammins." The words came out smoothly, calmly - perfect Tessa had her perks. She was very diplomatic. "I'm Melody. Of...Panama." I nodded, gliding over to the bench she sat on to extend my hand. "Pleasure. Did you need some seclusion too?" She laughed. "Yes - the outdoors have always been my home."
"Naturally. You are from Panama, after all. Isn't it pratcially all jungle?" I already knew the answer, but manipulation tactic #007 was simple: let the person think that they are teaching /you/. It works like a charm every single time. Her voice cut in, a sharp edge taking place at the slight hint at an insult. "Yes, it is, but we're not uneducated." "Of course not - I never said you were."
She glanced up at me, and after a moment, we both looked away - no words were spoken but clearly a deal had been made. Friendship? Not quite - perhaps something more like camaraderie. Or a mutual recognition of the others strengths and the necessity of having someone to withstand the competition with.
"Tessa!" The shrill voice cut through the peacefulness of the garden full-force, and I glanced up to see, with great regret, Rosalie, her face turned purple with anger. I stood, pausing to send a final smile towards Melody. "I'll see you at tea, I suppose."
To be frank, the second I entered the Women's Room, I knew the Queen and I would be at odds. There she was, prim and proper, assigning girls to their tables easy as can be - she was one of those people who commanded a room with a calm manner and an iron fist.
Funny fact about me - I don't get along with people like that. Authority figures and I are nearly constantly on edge around each other.
"And who might you be?" I dipped down into a curtsy at the Queen's question, "Perfect Tessa" activated once more. "Lady Tessa Montevideo of Tammins, your Majesty." She barely even glanced down at her list of names before speaking. "You're at table three. Please take your seat." I nodded, sending her a final smile, and took my seat - table three, where, conveniently, three other girls already sat.
"Tessa of Tammins. Who might all of you be?" "Lady Astrid. Of Ottaro." "Melwen of Whites." "Annabel of Calgary." I nodded, committing their names to memory - rule #001 of manipulation and persuasion - always know everyone's names.
The Queen stood and the entire room fell silent. "Welcome to the Women's Room. Today will be one of your most important days in the competition for my son - today you will all learn /proper/ etiquette. Fail to learn this, and you have already failed the competition. Tea will now be served, and shortly after you have all had your fill, the purpose of the meeting will begin."
The tea was served with the usual pomp one would expect from the Royals - flashy, fancy desserts that looked to beautiful to consider eating, teacups that resembled words of art more than cutlery, china plates that were as delicate as a newborn baby - I wasn't the only one to raise my eyebrows at such a display. "You know" I said, leaning in towards Astrid, "We're already here competing for their son - you would think we're sort of past the whole 'impress them as much as possible' stage, wouldn't you? I think we're all aware that we're just pawns."
She glanced at me curiously. "Now, I didn't take you to be a rebel." I laughed, pouring sugar into my tea. "A rebel I am not - I simply just have a..problem with authority figures. And bullshit. I have a problem with that too." "I'll," she said, holding up her teacup, "drink to that."
"I'm sorry, but did I hear the two of you mention the rebels?" The voice registered as Melwen, the girl from Whites. Astrid and I glanced at her. "Isn't it such a shame that we're forced to stay in the castle all the time because of them?" Annabel, the girl from Calgary, nodded along to the sentiment. "I agree - how are we meant to rule the kingdom if we can't even venture around outside it? Those rebels really are ruining so much."
"I" said Astrid calmly, "think that it's quite noble." Annabel looked at her, shocked. "Are you saying that you agree with them?" "No, that is not what I said. I simply think that the rebels are brave to fight for a cause that's nearly impossible for them to win."
"Ladies, ladies - please, simmer down. The meeting will now commence - please, don't mind the maids, they're just clearing away your dishes." The Queen smiled graciously at the maids as the began to take the dishes back, and then sat back down, crossing her ankles daintily and smiling at us all - almost, I couldn't help saying, the way a barracuda would smile before going in for the kill.
"Now, etiquette is very important, not just to a future monarch, but to anyone who wishes to be considered a lady. If you can't adhere to these rules and guidelines, then you cannot be considered a person of good breeding."
She paused long enough to glance about the room at each girl.
"Now, it appears you all know several of the basic rules - your dresses are of appropriate length for the occasion, your legs are all crossed, and I saw that your napkins were all in your laps throughout the tea. However, there are many important rules that you may not know which /must/ be learned. The cards being passed out now have a list of the top eighteen, and we will go over each one in order."
I accepted the card from the maid - naturally, the paper was embossed with the Royal families crest - and glanced down the list of rules.
~~ Rules of Etiquette - The Measure of a Lady ~~
1. If you desire to be respected, keep clean. The finest attire and decorations will add nothing to the appearance or beauty of an untidy person.
2. Clean clothing, clean skin, clean hands, including the nails, and clean, white teeth, are a requisite passport for good society.
3. A bad breath should be carefully remedied, whether it proceeds from the stomach or bad teeth.
4. To pick the nose, finger about the ears, or scratch the head or any other part of the person, in company, is decidedly vulgar.
5. When you call at any private residence, do not neglect to clean your shoes thoroughly.
6. On entering a hall or church, the gentleman should always precede the lady in walking up the aisle, or walk by her side if the aisle is broad enough.
7. A gentleman should always precede a lady upstairs, and follow her downstairs.
8. On leaving a hall or church at the close of entertainment or services, the gentleman should precede the lady.
9. A gentleman walking with a lady should carry her parcels, and never allow a lady to be burdened with anything what ever.
10. If a lady is travelling with a gentleman, simply as a friend, she should place the amount of her expenses in his hands, or insist on paying the bill herself.
11. Never carry on a private conversation in company. If secrecy is necessary, withdraw from the company.
12. Never sit with your back to another, without asking to be excused.
13. Never thrum with your fingers, rub your hands, yawn or sigh in public.
14. Loud laughter, loud talking, or other boisterous manifestations should be checked in the society of others, especially on the street and in public places.
15. When you are asked to sing or play in company, do so without being urged, or refuse in any way that shall be final; and when music is being rendered in company, show politeness to the musician by giving attention. It is very impolite to keep up a conversation. If you do not enjoy the music, keep silent.
16. You should never decline to be introduced to anyone or all the guests at a party to which you have been invited.
17. To take small children or dogs with you on a visit of ceremony is altogether vulgar, though in visiting familiar friends, children are not objectionable.
18. Above all, be punctual.
I sighed quietly. The Queen and I were most definitely going to be at odds.
@sophieviollet @henna-enjoys-the-little-things @larissa-xo @koolkid4ever @ingrid @tania-l @followyourbliss
the story is finally finished! hope you all enjoy it + if you want me to change anything, just let me know.