Chapter 1 - breatheI walked as daintily as I could in my huge pink dress, desperately trying to remember how great an honour this was. To be chosen as one of the future king's consuls was a wonderful opportunity, and one I couldn't pass up. It was a week before the Special Prince's marriage to the Princess, and his acknowledgment ceremony in Gatemoor Abbey, and seven selections had been made from the seven regions of the country. I was to be representing the Great South, chosen from all the girls in the region on account, they say, of my intellectual ability and "suitability for the role"- a code we all know means really looks and manners. It had been a whirlwind week. After being picked from the hat fourth and the dress fittings and photographs for the press, on Thursday I'd met the princess. God, she was so beautiful, and kind and welcoming- I'm not a royalist fanatic or anything but I nearly fainted. Cassandra, her name's going to be. It suits her. And I was so scared it would be awkward as well. I know I wouldn't have handled it well in her position, meeting the seven girls you know are going to sleep with her husband before you.
That was another thing we had to deal with- the revolutionaries who want to overthrow the great traditions. There's only a few, thank god, but they're getting a lot of face time and it's bloody tough being asked over, and over, and over by the press what you think of the system when the first thing you were told after the selection was that there could be no inappropriate comment to the press whatever. Yes, yes, we all know it's an archaic system, but this is a traditional country and there's no way it's changing any time soon. And, let's be honest, it's almost a scholarship for the lucky girls selected- a day with the Special (soon to be Crown) Prince, experiencing life in the palace, wearing the royal dresses! The sex is incidental these days. Yes, we all know how it started- just a way for the poor inexperienced prince to know how to treat a virgin, but it's far beyond that now. Sort of. The reasons behind it aren't important t me anyway- I get a day-long date with the future king, and he's supposed to be the kindest, loveliest, most gorgeous man in the country! Screw those revolutionaries anyway- I saw one on TV and he truly didn't look like he was anywhere near even 300.
So, this dress. It's huge. I can't even get over the fact that the princess wears something like this every day. So many frills and petticoats. I look beautiful, I won't lie. I hope he likes it. I wonder how big he is now. The last photo I saw of him, he was about 500. But that was absolutely ages ago, and they're so private, you rarely get to see a picture of them. He has a gorgeous face, or he did then anyway. I hope he's as wonderful as they all say.
Oh god, I'm at the door. My heart is fluttering. Everything is gold and white, and the paintings cover the walls. It's so bright. Oh god, oh god. Someone touches my arm and asks if I'm ready. I nod and try to smile and stop my hands shaking. One deep breath, she says. I take it, and smile demurely, prettily. Out of the corner of my eye I see her nod in approval. Then she opens the door.
I blink it's so bright. The room is huge, like a ballroom, with a long table in it. At the end of the table, with his back to me, there he is, dressed in red, gold and white, huge and round, flowing over the sides of his chair. The space on the table in front of him is heaving with food. It's only breakfast time, but he's clearly feasting, stuffing down toast, and eggs, and bacon, and porridge, and- then he stands up.
With much difficulty. It takes a long time, as he breathes, and puffs, and with one final little groan manages it, straightening his enormous, thick legs, shaking with their covering of fat. He lengthens his back, and turns around, looking me straight in the eye. My knees nearly give way. He is so, so much bigger than 500. He must be nearer 700 now. He is the biggest man I have ever seen. Every part of him is just encased is layers and layers of shaking, glorious fat. Most of him is hidden in clothes made to emphasize his strength, red and gold and pure white cotton. But they can't hide that stomach. Nor do they want to. It's just so impossibly huge, covering his body down to his knees in a huge swollen droop. Unable to see the size, or the detail, because of the layers of clothes, I can only really take in the size. Oh god, what a size. I start imagining the stretch marks, and the way it would tremble as he shook it.
"Good morning." It's a soft, deep, sweet voice. The Princess is a lucky woman.
My eyes snap up to his face, which is fixed on me, his neck tilted to the right, a smile playing on his lips. He saw me looking at his belly, I think, panicking. I bet the first and second girls didn't do this.
"Good morning", I manage. I sound so quiet and high-pitched. I swallow, then cough as daintily as possible. I'm looking firmly at the floor, at the air over his shoulder, anywhere but his face or body.
"What's your name?" I can feel his eyes boring into me. I can feel panic rising in my throat.
"Jessica". He moves; he's walking towards. Startled, I look straight at him. God, he's beautiful. He's got high cheekbones, offset by quivering cheeks, big smouldering eyes like embers of fire, a strong nose and what would almost certainly be a strong jawline if it wasn't covered with jiggling flesh. The way his body moves, slowly, proudly, knees bending to lift that huge stomach. The moment of suspension, then the heavy thud of his foot as it hits the floor again. Even his cheeks shake as he walks. He's moving so slowly and there's a smile on his lips still. A gentle smile, not a smirk. He seems understanding. I want to kiss him, just reach out and kiss him.
He stops with his belly a foot in front of me and I suddenly realise my mouth is open so I close it fast. He doesn't bat an eyelid, just holds out a chunky hand. Despite moving oh so slowly, he's breathing deeply, and there are tiny beads of sweat on his brow. I don't know what to do. Do I give him my hand or do I kneel and kiss his?
"Um", I mumble. That's all I can manage.
He gives a massive grin, showing straight white teeth and says, "Give me your hand, Jessica". An impulsive grin comes over my face as I do just that. The skin on his hand and the soft covering of fat is so comforting, and suddenly I feel safe. He raises my hand to his mouth and kisses a soft little nibbly kiss. Not particularly romantic, just friendly. He's aiming to put me at ease, and it works. I giggle helplessly. He's smiling at me.
"Come and sit down Jessica. I was just finishing off my breakfast. I hope you don't mind."
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