"Rose!" a voice shouted, effectively stirring me from my restless sleep. "You're going to be late! Get dressed," Gretchen shook my shoulders until my eyes focused on her face. I quickly shot up from my cot and threw on my skirt and corset, tying the cheaply made thing expertly with my hands behind my back.
"I'm so sorry! What time is it?" I asked, flustered. Gretchen had already headed out the door and into the hallway that lead from the servant's quarters and I hastily lagged behind, still fixing my blouse and corset.
"It's half past. The prince will wake soon. You'd better not let the Stewardess know you've overslept again in your first week," Gretchen muttered, half sympathetic but with obvious displeasure.
"I didn't have to wake up so early in the village... I'll adjust, it won't happen again," I replied, feeling slightly defeated. It was only my first week working at court and I was already making a mess of things. Typical.
"You'd better. If I were you," the older woman turned as we reached the servant's entrance to the kitchen, "I'd try and gain favor with some nobles or even the royal family if you want any shot at making enough money to pay off your family's debt to the crown." I swallowed sharply at her words, but nodded. Gretchen looked at me with scrutiny, her hazel eyes boring into mine for a moment too long before she abruptly entered the kitchen. I followed after a beat.
Court was... intense. I'd been trying out different tasks since most servants worked a specific area. Before they placed me though, they were having me help where needed until they saw what suited me best. I'd already done laundry, which was fun. There was no interaction with nobles and lots of servant gossip to be shared. I also had cleaned a family of nobles' chamber while they were visiting court yesterday, and that was difficult work. The only upside to that task was seeing all of the beautiful gowns and jewels that these high born wealthy people acquired. I had always wanted to be able to wear things like that, but unfortunately I was born into a family of peasants. My acquisition of this job at court was practically the best thing anyone in my family had ever done.
"Alright, let's start moving these platters to the table. The prince will be down soon," one of the chefs said, startling me out of my thoughts. I'd been warned about serving meals, specifically the crown prince's meals. He had a... well a notoriously large appetite. The gossip between servants suggested that the king allowed his son to indulge privately in a separate dining room because his gluttony was meant to be a 'private affair'. I didn't quite know what to make of that information, but the amount of food that was being transferred to the dining room was truly more than I've ever seen in one place in my entire life. There were platters of pastries, all kinds of bread, piles of meat, sausage and bacon mostly, along with fruit in abundance and some strange bowls filled with a mush-like mixture I'd never seen before. The amount was truly excessive. My task was filling chalices for the prince, which meant I had to carry three large pitchers to the private dining room. My thin and undernourished arms shook under the weight and I prayed that I wouldn’t spill anything. Following the line of other servers, we reached the private dining room that was West of the extravagant main dining room where the other royals ate. I noticed that more servants were scheduled to serve and prepare the prince’s meal than the other meal, despite the fact that they would be serving around twenty people and we were only serving one, but I’d learned by my first few days at court that asking questions was not always the best way to get information. When we reached the still-extravagant, but much smaller dining room, I placed down pitchers filled with milk, water, and wine. As I set each pitcher down carefully as to not spill, I saw that my fellow servers began to bow towards something behind me. I quickly finished and spun around. Before bowing, I took in who I saw.
So this was Prince Simon. His head was topped with curly brown hair that framed his face. He had a softness to his face that made him look truly kind. He sported a double chin before the rest of his body was covered in what must have been the most expensive tailor made ensemble I'd laid eyes on. It was blue and red patterned fabric that looked like the highest of quality, threaded together with gold. I noticed his stomach immediately, which was by far the largest aspect of his body. Though concealed with fantastic clothes, it stuck out considerably and seemed to be straining the gorgeous outfit. After my quick appraisal, I curtsied.
"Your Highness, your breakfast is served," someone behind me announced. I quickly joined the other servants standing by the walls of the room. We are trained to not be noticed by the courtiers, but always be nearby should they need anything. Prince Simon nodded and waltzed to his chair, which I noticed was slightly larger than the other chairs at the table. His walk was more of a strut, but he seemed to shift his bulk to each foot with a bit of a waddle. Once he took his seat, I met him at the table to fill his chalice, just as I'd been trained to.
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