The last thing Lady Katerina Claes, age 15, remembered just before her fall was putting that commoner Maria Campbell in her place. Bringing homemade pastries to the Student Council? How disgraceful.
She awakes in the infirmary with a pounding headache, bandages swathed around her forehead. It was nighttime, judging from the darkness in the room and the lack of attendants.
Katerina felt like her head was too full. Strange memories whizzed in her mind like buzzing wasps. She saw… herself as well as her peers living their lives. Studying, talking and the like but all from Maria Campbell’s point of view. Well, no that’s not quite correct, from slightly above and behind her. How strange.
The brunette didn’t like what she saw. Ignoring the boring details of the blonde commoner’s life, she focused on memories regarding herself and her fiancé Prince Gerald. That blonde hussy seduced her beloved prince right from under her nose! And… and her cheating fiancé let himself be seduced! He even killed Katerina when she was at her lowest point, broken hearted and full of jealousy!
Slightly overwhelmed and feeling betrayed, Katerina closed her eyes, sagging into the uncomfortable cot. Had the gods given her these visions as a warning? An indirect way of saying, “Don’t bother with the prince and commoner”. They will only lead you to ruin? Katerina wasn’t sure what the visions meant, but they were too vivid and specific to be hallucinations from her head injury. The Duke’s daughter was a confident girl, her subconscious would only hallucinate good scenarios, not such a dreadful fate. It was a shame then, that such a bad future awaited her. She wasted so much of her time and energy trying to be the perfect bride. Princess training, studying the political alliances in the court, the trade and economic commerce of Sorcier. Would it all before nothing? Prince Gerald never smiled at her the way he did at that commoner hussy.
Well fine then! If her unfaithful fiancé wanted to play around with some filthy whore before they married! That was… that was NOT AT ALL OKAY! But it didn’t matter, if the visions of the future were correct, the third prince was going to break off their engagement by the end of the year anyways. Katerina would let things play out, accept her broken engagement and retake her rightful place as the Claes Heir. Who needed a cheating bastard of a fiancé anyways? If her heart ached a little... it was only natural! Anyone would mourn the time and effort she had wasted on that cheating pretty boy! There was no way she was going to let what happened to her poor mother happen to herself!
“Katerina, I’m so glad to see you up and about.” Sienna said in greeting before her eyes zeroed in on her face and she blanched. “Y-you, your forehead!”
The brunette touched her hideous scab, surely soon to be a hideous scar. “Yes, it seems history is repeating itself.” She muttered bitterly.
“You’re not going to cover it with some foundation?” Another of her friends, Claire asked weakly. “For a lady to have such a visible defect…”
“Well, it’s a good thing Prince Gerald already promised to take responsibility and marry me because of my defect years ago.” Katerina snapped. Already tired of the conversation. But she wouldn’t have a fiancé to take responsibility by the end of the year, would she? Not that she needed him.
Once they broke up, Katerina would be Claes heir again, she was the legitimate child after all. Mother and Father would arrange for some spare son of a suitable Noble family to marry her. Besides, she was beautiful enough that something as insignificant as a scar would hardly subtract from her looks.
“That’s right! Our lady is already engaged and Prince Gerald has adored her since childhood.” Sienna said. “The scar is a testament of his loyalty to her!”
Katerina wanted to sigh, if only the fantasy Gerald her friends imagined in their minds matched up to reality.
“Lady Katerina, I haven’t seen you around for a while.” Prince Gerald said placidly from beside Campbell. The two were holding hands. How… lovely. Campbell really was from lesser stock, blatantly clinging onto a taken man. Not that the prince was any better. The two were made for each other and not worth her time. Katerina reminded herself.
Still, it was to her great misfortune to have run into those two on her walk. Who liked coming across excrement after all. Katerina curtsied. “Yes, I missed you during my week-long stay in the hospital.”
“Ah, about that…”
“Not to worry, my prince! I know how busy you are with the Student Council.” Katerina said, sarcasm thick in her voice. “If you’ll excuse me.”
“L-Lady Katerina!” The blonde whore called out to her. “I’m glad to see you are well.”
If you hit her, Prince Gerald will kill you. If you hit her, Prince Gerald will kill you, was her mantra. The brunette didn’t bother to turn her head or grace that bitch with a reply. Let’s just leave those two unpleasant people behind.
True to her prediction, Katerina’s scab turned into an ugly scar, vaguely triangular shaped, like the corner of the stone that had split her skin open. Rather than hiding it behind her hair, the brunette displayed it proudly, even accenting the triangle with some make up. In solidarity, her friends also painted shapes onto their foreheads. It soon became the latest fashion trend. Katerina felt rather smug for starting it. It was good to be on the top of the social food chain.
Maria Campbell’s shameless behavior truly knew no bounds. Katerina started noticing the blonde, to her great displeasure, everywhere around the Academy grounds. Sometimes she was with Prince Gerald, but the brunette also saw the hussy with other boys. Prince Alan, that mute Lord Ascart and her father’s bastard. That whore sure got around, and it seemed that she wasn’t satisfied with just one taken prince. How greedy...
“Prince Alan. You’ve been spending an awful lot of time with Miss Campbell lately. Won’t you join me for afternoon tea?”
“Sorry Mary, I’d love to but Maria already invited me to study with her for the next exam. Maybe another time?”
Oh dear, what a conversation to walk into. As the silver haired prince shuffled out of the rose garden, Katerina watched the normally composed Lady Hunt wilt.
“Dear me, you’re not going to start weeping are you?” She asked the Marquis’s daughter.
Lady Hunt swirled to face her. “Lady Claes! I- I wasn’t…”
“Hm, I’d watch your fiancé closely, though I wouldn’t touch. If he’s been consorting with Miss Campbell who knows what genital rotting diseases he’s picked up. That commoner has been clinging to my wretched little half brother these days and you know what a slut he is.” The Duke’s daughter said with disgust in her voice.
“How dare you imply- It’s hardly any of your business who Prince Alan spends his time with! The two are just studying together…” Lady Hunt defended weakly.
“Oh, I meant no offence Lady Hunt.” Katerina replied. “I wouldn’t touch Prince Gerald with a ten foot pole at this point. He’s been contaminated for quite a while after all.”
Lady Hunt just blinked at her, rather scandalized.
“Since you’re free now, won’t you join me and my friends for tea?” The brunette continued.
“Why would I do that?” The redhead asked rather rudely.
“Well, we are both engaged to Sorcier’s princes. I’d imagine we would have some rather interesting conversations.” Katerina shrugged, not truly caring one way or the other. “If you don’t want to, I’m not forcing you. I just came to enjoy the lovely rose garden before the tea party.”
With that, the brunette ignored the other girl, instead turning to admire the flowers. Lady Hunt remained silent, observing her with a pensive expression. “Forgive me for my rudeness. I’d love to have tea with you, Lady Claes.”
“How lovely. We’ll be meeting by the fountain in the eastern courtyard in about 20 minutes. I will see you there?”
Tea with Lady Hunt, no, Lady Mary, was rather pleasant. The Marquis’s daughter was intelligent and kind, if a little distant. Katerina’s friends took to her well enough though. Since her fiancé didn’t seem to have much time for the poor girl, Sienna and the other ladies started to invite her to their tea parties and other outings. For being such an outstanding lady and fiancée to the fourth prince, Lady Mary didn’t have many allies among the nobility. It was odd. To think a lady of such high status was such a shrinking violet. It was a good thing Katerina took pity on her.
“Prince Alan sought me out today!” Mary whispered to Katerina in a happy voice. “He said I hadn’t invited him for tea these past weeks and he missed my company.”
Katerina gave her friend a smile. “Oh, that’s nice. So why aren’t you with him now?”
“Well, you invited me to go shopping. I couldn’t possibly cancel on you.” The redhead answered matter of factly. “I also wanted to see him squirm a little… We have a date for later in the week.”
“I’m happy for you.” The brunette sighed. Though honestly, she felt that Mary could do better than that blockhead. According to her sources, Prince Alan truly did seem to only study with Campbell. His behavior was unacceptable however. Prioritizing some unwed maiden over his own royal fianncée?! He truly was an idiot. Katerina had told Mary so in the past few weeks of their friendship. Sadly, the lady was truly, heartbreakingly in love with the fourth prince.
“How are things with Prince Gerald?” Mary asked.
“Wonderful.” She drawled. “I haven’t seen him nor Miss Campbell for days.”
That made the redhead frown. “Are you truly alright with Prince Gerald’s… wandering?”
“Of course not. It’s rather humiliating, but I’ve decided that he isn’t worth my time. I spent seven years loving him only for him to be swayed by another girl?!” Katerina grumbled. “He doesn’t deserve my love, nor my hate. I can only spare my apathy for him. Though I wish he wouldn’t flaunt his infidelity so openly. Sienna and the other ladies are rather disillusioned with him now. I would have liked to spare their innocence.”
“Katerina Claes! You scheming witch!” Prince Alan snarled, disturbing an otherwise pleasant day.
“Prince Alan, please stop. You’re embarrassing me!” Mary fretted.
“See! This is what I’m talking about. Stop trying to seduce Mary away from me!”
“Seducing? I think you are mistaken, your highness.” Katerina said wryly. “Lady Mary is only a dear friend. I would never dare to seduce her. I am an engaged woman after all. Infidelity to the crown is punishable by death, and I love my faincé oh. So. Much. Truly.” It wasn’t even a lie. Once upon a time in an alternate future, she would have stabbed a person for taking her prince away. Of course, her prince would have then stabbed her back.
“Well stop being her friend then! Mary always had time for me before, but now she’s rejecting me to spend time with you!” The foolish prince said.
“Prince Alan!” Mary snapped. “I am to be your wife! Not your maid! How dare you try to dictate whom I spend my free time with?! It is true that I often used to seek out your company. But since you are too busy with Miss Campbell to spend time with me, I have found others to keep me company. You would take my newly found friends away from me? Do you wish for me to be all alone?”
“W-what? No, of course not Mary!” He sputtered, weak against Mary’s watery eyes. “I miss you is all. You spend all your time away with your friends now.”
“We had already arranged plans.” The redhead said firmly. “I will not drop everything to spend time with you, just as I do not expect you to drop your plans to spend time with me. If you wish to see me, make an appointment.”
Katerina exchanged glances with Sienna. The pale blonde was suppressing a grin, while Claire was muffling her laughter. Ah, she was so proud. It was amazing how much Mary bloomed under a support system of friends and allies.
“I’m disappointed in you, Katerina.” Prince Gerald sighed. “I thought you had stopped your childish harassment of Maria.”
Katerina smiled at the blond prince in confusion. “I don’t understand? Harassment? I haven’t spoken to Miss Campbell in months.”
“Then why are so many of our peers suddenly giving Maria the cold shoulder? Even Alan has stopped spending time with her.” He said, a disapproving frown on his pretty face.
“I wouldn’t know what quarrels our classmates have with Miss Campbell. As for Prince Alan, he has been spending more time with his fiancée, Lady Mary.” The brunette said, still smiling. “I think it’s wonderful that your brother gets along so well with Lady Mary.”
“Whatever you’re doing, stop it.” Prince Gerald snapped. “Maria doesn’t deserve to be alone-- ”
“How can she be alone when you, Lord Ascart and Keith dote on her so?” She interrupted waspishly. No, stay calm. Apathy, apathy, they aren’t worth her anger.
The prince heaved a sigh. “Is that what this is about? Don’t be jealous, Katerina, it isn’t becoming of a lady. Maria is just a good friend.”
“Jealous! I’m not jealous. Why would I care if you wish to sow your wild oats before our marriage? I think you two make a fine pair! The golden prince with his golden whore!” Damn it, that wasn’t what she meant to say.
Katerina turned away from Prince Gerald in a huff. She heard him chuckle. “There you are. I was wondering why you seemed so distant these past months.”
“I know when I’m not wanted.” She couldn’t resist snapping.
“Where was this knowledge for the past 7 years?” Prince Gerald muttered. Katerina didn’t think he meant for her to hear. But. FUCK. HIM!
“I haven’t been causing Miss Campbell any trouble.” She said, feeling her eyes well up. “Believe me or not. I don’t care!” She turned tail and fled. Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Looks like 7 years of pining and love didn’t just vanish into thin air so easily. Where was her apathy? It seemed to only exist when that black hearted shit wasn’t actively cutting her heart into tiny pieces.
Katerina watched the group of young lords practice their swordsmanship half heartedly. Besides her, Claire let out a dreamy sigh. “Oh, isn’t Lord Byron dreamy?”
Sienna let out an unlady like snort. “If you like womanizing playboys.”
“Hey, I’m sure he’d change his ways if only he found the right woman!” Claire defended.
“Sure…” Sienna said skeptically, before addressing Katerina. “Why are we studying in front of the fields instead of in the library today?”
“Husband hunting.” Katerina muttered. “I’ve discovered lately that I know a distressingly few amount of second, third and fourth sons.”
Claire raised a black brow at her. “But you’re engaged?”
“For now.” Came the dark reply.
Sienna put her work book down. “Alright, what did Prince Gerald do this time?”
“Katerina Claes, I didn’t take you as a wallflower.” A fluffy red haired teen said.
Katerina glanced in the stranger’s direction. “Oh, good evening sir. You have me at a disadvantage. You know my name but I don’t believe we’ve met.”
The teen smiled. “Of course, pardon me. Sirius Dieke at your service.”
“Ah, the student council president.” She acknowledged. “To answer your question, no. I am not generally a wallflower. Unfortunately tradition dictates that I need to dance with my fiancé first.”
Grey eyes scanned the dance floor. “But your fiancé is currently dancing with Miss Maria. Oh dear.”
“Yes.” Katerina said wryly. “Oh dear.”
“Forgive me, I didn’t mean to upset you.” Lord Dieke apologized.
The brunette smiled prettily at the redhead. “That’s quite alright. I’m not in the mood to dance tonight anyways.” She’d much rather watch Prince Gerald compete for the Campbell slut’s attention. It seemed like the blonde commoner couldn’t decide on which suitor she liked best. Lord Ascart and Keith kept stealing the girl away from Prince Gerald.
Katerina watched with vindictive glee everytime the third prince was left in the dust. After their last interaction, her heart had been thoroughly smashed. While apathy was all she tried to feel for him, it still felt good to watch him wilt whenever that hussy chose someone else over him. Schadenfreude was a beautiful thing.
“You’re not jealous? Don’t you want to break them up? Cause Miss Maria a little trouble?” Came the slightly flabbergasted response.
Raising a delicate brow at the council president, Katerina shook her head and chirped. “Not at all. I wish them all the best~!”
The day of her broken engagement finally came. Though, instead of a public condemnation, Katerina instead got the news in the form of a letter from her mother.
Her parents were summoned by the King and told of Prince Gerald’s desire to break their engagement. Maria Campbell appeared to have a little class after all. She refused to accept the prince’s marriage proposal until he was unattached.
At first her mother had vehemently refused, even her father had been upset on her behalf. But after discussing the terms for hours and a hefty amount of gold was paid to the Claes for ‘breach of promise’. Prince Gerald Stuart and Lady Katerina Claes were no longer legally engaged.
Her mother apologies to her profusely in the letter, but said that for giving in to the King’s demand, her father had named Katerina as the Claes’ rightful heir.
Oh, that was wonderful news! She had passed her final exams thanks to the study sessions with Mary and Sienna. And she was the future Duchess of Claes again! Gerald and his hussy could get married for all she cared. When it came time to compete for the crown, Prince Alan and Mary had her full support!
Katerina hummed happily as she painted her scar with wine red pigment. It was graduation today and she had a new dress to wear, friends to celebrate with and a new husband to find. The second son of Count Anjou, William, was a promising candidate!