Dangerously Beautiful: Day 23 of 31 Days
For Day 1, click on the image above
The days after the prince’s departure soon fell into a pleasant sort of normalcy. Jewel missed her prince, but she was so comforted by the constant presence and guidance of her Advocate that she soon realized that the prince meant it when he told her it was good that he went away. She hadn’t understood it at the time, and had even argued against him.
Now she knew: some things are best learned in absence. Trust was one of those. While he was with her, she did not really have to believe the things her prince said because he was always showing her that they were true. He cared for her. He provided for her. He loved her.
Now, he was farther away than her eyes could see, and yet his hand had not failed her. It made his love even sweeter because it was truer than she had known it to be before, and even more amazing. How perfectly he had perceived her needs, and how abundantly he had provided for them! It was not only that she lacked nothing; it was that she had everything.
It was a good thing, too, because there was no shortage of work to be done. Every day, Jewel opened the vault and filled her hands with the prince’s riches so that she would not be found lacking when empty hands reached out for hers.
She surrounded herself with the words from the ancient scrolls and listened carefully as her Advocate explained them to her. The little children loved to come and ask her for stories about her prince, and she would draw them to herself and talk about him because she loved him. Each day, she found more to love, and more to share with those who listened.
One day, an elderly woman walked passed just as Jewel was retelling the story of her wedding day. “Oh! You sound just like him,” the woman said, smiling a joyful, toothless grin. “I thought for a moment that he had come back for me.”
“Really?” Jewel asked. “Do you really think I sound like him?”
“Just like him.”
The old lady wasn’t the only one who noticed. Soon, people began to come to Jewel, asking for advice or help because she was reigning in his place. She was the prince’s representative in the kingdom while he was away, and she was growing more and more like him every day.
Jewel’s heart soared. It was working! It was actually working! She was doing just what the prince had told her to do—she was allowing his riches to make her more like him, and because of that, the entire kingdom could see a glimpse of the prince even when he was far away.
They kept coming. They kept asking for help with so many good and princely things, Jewel found her days filled beyond capacity. She barely had time to wave to her Advocate as she slipped out the door to teach the children or visit the sick. Some days, she did not make it down to the treasure room at all.
Thankfully, no one noticed.
Jewel was relived to find she had been so changed by the prince’s love and care for her that she could imitate him well enough. She did not need to be adorned with his riches in order to be beautiful like him, not anymore. She could remember his words and his ways, or so she thought, and she could do so much more good in the kingdom when she spent a little less time behind the wrinkles of a dusty scroll.
Besides, the people–the prince’s own people–needed her, and she could not keep them waiting. What would they say? They would think she didn’t care, and that was not true. She cared deeply, so deeply, that she began to neglect the very provision the prince had made for her because she thought she was doing the better thing. Surely, spending time in the treasure room was selfish when there was so much need outside the door!
The Advocate’s eyes followed her, but he did not say a word. In fact, he was more silent than ever, and Jewel was grateful because she did not miss the sting of his sword.
In fact, she was happy to think that there was so little to cut away these days. She thought she was glowing and radiant and busy about the work of the kingdom, just like the prince had told her to be. What a wonderful bride she had turned out to be!
One night, she looked in the mirror and was caught off guard by her own reflection. She was stunning. Only, she hadn’t noticed it before because she had always seen his reflection in the mirror, not her own. But there she was, so changed from the girl once called Obscurity.
She was no longer a nothing, no longer an outcast, no longer unloved. Now, she was beautiful. Dangerously beautiful.
“Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,” her Advocate said softly. He had taken to speaking in whispers, and Jewel found it annoying.
She turned away from him and smoothed her dress. “I think I will have some new clothes made. These don’t really suit me anymore.”
I am like him now, she thought, and she longed to show off some of the glory.
The Advocate stood in the corner and quietly drew his sword. She would have noticed if she had remembered to fear him.
Thankfully for Jewel, he did not draw it for her. His sharp eyes were focused on the door to the bride’s own chamber. A darkness was growing outside her room. While she was distracted with her beauty, it stretched under the crack in the door and slowly filled the space between the Advocate and her.
It was the shadow of one who knew, better than anyone, the power of unchecked beauty, and he grinned a terrible, beautiful grin because he knew just what to do with it.
Jewel had all but forgotten him. But her old master, her old deceiver, had not forgotten her.
He had simply been waiting.