Something poked Mary's head. She made a moaning sound at it and turned, but it poked her again. She frowned. The next poke was harder, and aimed at her stomach; her eyes snapped open. "Huh?"
"I'm going to be very rude to you, soon," whispered Abby. "Sorry; It's a Princess Abigail thing; I can't be nice to anyone, or mom gets mad."
"Huh?" Mary whispered.
"You'll understand in a moment," Abby told her. "Sorry." She heard the sound of fabric, and the door creaking open, before a candle lit; the candles in the room weren't anything she'd ever seen before, tall glass that seemed to light up from within with a press of a button. They filled the whole room and never flickered, unlike the little candles she knew.
Abby was bright beneath them, resplendent in a gown of red and crimson that flowed over her hips and across the ground. The little hands on her hips made her look petulant when added to her scowl, and Mary tried not to giggle; her desire faded along with Abby's expression as the girl picked up a circlet of silver from the table and placed it on her head.
The girl staring at her at that moment didn't feel like Abby anymore. Her expression was cold slate when the door opened to emit a servant. "My mother is calling me," the princess informed her; Mary tried not to jump from the sound.
"Princess Abigail knows her mother well," murmured the servant, with what seemed to be just a subtle hint of distaste; the man blushed when Abby raised an eyebrow, and hurried out again. Abigail's expression didn't change; Mary thought she knew why the Princess always made such a big deal over being just "Abby" most of the time.
"It would be un unwise thing to upset my mother with tardiness on your first day, Maid," Abigail informed her. "No post is permanent if she decides otherwise; I will have you follow me for the day. Next time you will go first, so that others will know to clear my path."
Mary nodded, jumping a little when Abigail made an imperious gesture with a slight sound of annoyance attached. Her foot caught on her legs, causing her to stumble as she ran for the door, and hesitated; the princess was supposed to take the lead, but Abigail was merely making that gesture at her.
Abigail sighed again, her face turning to the heavens as she mouthed a quiet request for help; Mary could feel her face burning.
"The door, maid," Princess Abigail muttered after a moment. "You need to open the door for me; it's unsightly if the princess walks through anything but a fully opened door; my dress could snag."
"Oh. O-Of course, princess." She smiled, pushing the door open the rest of the way; it strained her arms a little, but she smiled for Abby's sake. The princess took no note, walking through the door with her head held high; she didn't seem to even look. Mary hoped Abby saw it anyway.
The hallway to the queen was long. It took effort not to stare at the tapestries on the way, or the suits of armor; the large spears didn't have any interest to her, but the existence of them in the castle did. She wondered what sort of people had worn them; of if they'd simply been produced in the castle. She wanted to know how many of the tapestries were really true, too; but she was scared of talking to the Princess.
It wasn't the same as talking to Abby at all.
"You're going to make me late," declared Abigail, glancing behind her. Mary squeaked and hurried up, trying not to trip as she caught up with the princess and picked up the pace. Abigail's glare made her slow.
"It's not polite to make a princess walk fast, either," she was informed. The princess kept her head high as she continued a stately pace, seeming to actually slow just a fraction of a second as they neared a golden door frame. The princess paused it, taking a deep breath, and then another. She stiffened when another maid came by, carrying a cart of food, and kept her face so still it might have been made of stone. When she moved again it was to glare at Mary. "The doors open outward."
Mary nodded in feigned understanding, gripping one of the handles and beginning to tug; it was heavier than the doors to the princess's room, and only opened slowly. She wondered why no one helped; the queen would have to be able to see her daughter from inside at this point. Maybe she was supposed ot announce the girl first; royalty was confusing.
When the door opened, Abigail gestured for her to go first. She gave a confused look but walked in ahead of the girl. She blinked after in sudden understanding of why no one had helped her open the doors; another gilded pair awaited her.
It was going to take hard work to get to the queen.