Happily Never After

Annabelle Hearst is just another person in the Headow kingdom, ruled by the Tomlinson family. Pressured by his father the king, Prince Louis is searching for a bride, a wife to make him a heir. He stumbles into Annabelle, one of the few who doesn't venerate the royal family. Can he convince her to come to the live the royal life with him willingly, or will he have to force her into it?

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3. Heart Wrenching

“Well si

“Well since you’re asking so nicely, I want your hand in marriage.” He smirks, holding his hand out for me to take.

I open my mouth to answer but he cuts me off.

“You should know though, that even if you do refuse my offer, you’ll end up marrying me in the end, willingly or not. I’m just being polite here, giving you one last chance to accept without any threats.”

“I already told you. No. My answer will always be no.” I reply firmly. He drops his hand, a little deceived.

“I have two propositions for you then. You do know that the reason why my parents want me to marry is in order for me to get an heir, right?”

I nod curtly.

“Wait you know what having an heir implies right?” He frowns

“Yes.” I respond dryly.

“Perfect. So here’s the deal; either you come to the castle within the next week, open-minded about the advantages the royal life could give you, and we marry in mid-December, that’s about a month away by the way, a―”

“I know when December is, I’m not stupid.”

“Don’t interrupt me, please. So as I was saying: if you come to me willingly, I could let you the time to get used to your new life, and we could take things slow. On the contrary, if you don’t come to the castle before the end of next week, I’ll get Zayn to come and fetch you, we’ll marry a couple days later, and I’ll be taking care of your sweet virginity right after the marriage.” He smiles cheekily. “So which option will it be?”

“None. Have you forgotten that maybe I have a family in all this?!” I say between clenched teeth.

“They’ll do without you.” Louis replies simply.

Feeling anger coursing through me, I slap him hard.

“They're fucking starving!” I yell, making big movements with my arms. “We’re fucking fighting for survival, and you want me to leave them?! It’s bad enough you prevented me from getting a job, and now you expect me to just leave them in their misery?! How heartless are you!?” I shout heatedly, forgetting for mere seconds the fact that I just cursed at a Prince, and slapped him.

“Are you done your little tantrum?” He asks calmly, his left cheek reddening where my hand collided with the skin.

I stay silent, my breathing still irregular from my previous outcry.

“Good.” He backs me up harshly, my rear hitting a tree. “So listen to me carefully Princess, because I won’t repeat myself. You better start packing your stuff tonight, because tomorrow morning, you’ll be at the castle, with me, and we’ll start making preparations for the wedding.” His gaze drops to my lips for a brief moment. “Anything resembling to that little fit you just did will not be tolerated. Ever again. They are childish, and you often regret the things you say and do afterwards. You just created your own example, reducing your time with your family for a full week. Sad isn’t it?” The Prince mocks, before letting go of me.

I’ll just leave during the night with my family. We’ll find another place to live. Anything will be better than this hellhole anyways.

“Louis!”

Said boy sighs in relief, looking behind him. “Zayn is coming, how convenient. What took you so long?” He turns to him.

My eyes stay alertly trained on the dark boy as he advances towards us calmly.

“I was following you through town like you had asked me to, but then Lady Charlotte sent Paul to tell me some important news. He distracted me long enough for me to lose you from my sight. It took longer than I thought to locate you again. Forgive me.” He explains.

I watch quietly the conversation between the two men.

“Forgotten and forgiven. What was the important news?”

“Paul wanted me to inform you that Prince Niall was coming over for a visit next week.”

He smiles giddily, clapping his hands.

“Well isn’t that great news! He’ll have the chance to assist to the wedding!”

“Wedding Sir? Is it confirmed?” Zayn frowns, looking between the prince and I.

“Not completely yet but it will be certain very soon. Now Zayn I need to ask you a favour.” Louis tells him, turning his head to look at me.

“Anything Sir.”

“I want you to escort Annabelle home, and keep a watchful eye over her during the night. I have a feeling she’ll try to flee the kingdom...” He cocks his eyebrow doubtfully. “Also, I want to have her in my quarters tomorrow morning at 10 o’clock precisely. I give you the permission to use any method you think appropriate to bring her to the castle on time.”

“Your wish is my command.”

Zayn bows before him, while I stand there dumbfounded.

“Louis no please. I do not need an escort whatsoever!” I protest, on the verge of tearing up at the reality of all this.

“You do. Now stop acting like a child, and accept the consequences of your actions responsibly.” Louis ends. “See you in the morning Annabelle.”

I stand there horrified, watching his back almost pleadingly as he left.

“Please Louis don’t do this!” I shout, voice cracking at the end.

He doesn’t turn around to change his decision, calmly walking towards town.

“No, no, no this isn’t real.” I stammer once I can’t see him anymore. “This isn’t really happening please God. I never wanted this. How is Mom going to be able to take care of Finn and Leah? Oh My Lord please help me.” I suddenly drop to the ground, and start sobbing. “Why? Why does he have to be so heartless?” I cry.

Zayn clears his throat.

“He’s not heartless. He really isn’t. You just caught him on a bad day.”

I look up teary-eyed at Louis’s right-hand man.

“Him? Prince Louis? Have a bad day?! Have you seen mine?!” I spew hatefully, my sadness turning into frustration. “I’m about to get married to a complete ar―”

“Stop being so melodramatic.” Zayn cuts me off. “Judging by the red handprint on his face, you did hit him. You’re actually getting better than what you deserve. Now pick yourself up, you need to go home and pack your belongings.”

“You can’t make me.”

“Try me. Stand up.” He threatens.

I stay sitting on the ground, hugging my legs to myself. “No.” I retort.

“Your choice.” He picks me up and throws me on his shoulder as if I weighed a bag of feathers.

“Put me down! You don’t even know where I live!”

“That’s why I’ll be taking you to the castle right away.”

“No, no, no! Fine I’ll show you! Just put me down!” I plea, hitting his back.

“Good to see you’re getting cooperative.” He smirks, depositing me on the ground. “To your house we go.” He presses, nodding towards the road to my home.

Shooting him a dirty look, I huff and start walking with my head hung low, Zayn close on my heels.

 

*****

 

“Mommy! Leah! Belle bought a stanger!” Finn yells excitedly as Zayn and I step through the threshold. My mother laughs, turning around.

“No Finn she brought....” She stops laughing brusquely. “A stranger.” She ends, voice dry and void of any emotion. “Annabelle why is he here?”

“Mommy who is that?” Leah whimpers, scurrying to hide behind Mum’s legs.

“Mom you know Zayn right?” I say carefully.

“I’m Prince Louis’s right-hand man.” The dark boy smiles pleasantly.

“Pleased to meet you.” She states wryly, not an ounce of sincerity in her voice. “To what pleasure do we owe your visit?” She continues carefully, looking between Zayn and I worriedly.

“Your daughter, has been chosen by the Prince to be his wife. I am here to make sure she gets to the castle safely by tomorrow morning, as it will be her new home.”

I swear she stops breathing.

“Tomorrow? That soon?! The prince is only turning twenty in December; she shouldn’t have to leave that soon.” She whispers. “December 1st is two weeks away.”

“It was supposed be later, but Annabelle lacked of respect and her stay with you was automatically shortened.” Zayn elaborates.

“Mom where Belle going?” Finn asks worried, also hiding behind her legs now.

“Not now Finn please....Anna please tell me this isn’t true. I had told you a couple days ago you had to be respectful towards royal figures. Why’d you disobey me?” My mother pleads.

Ashamed, I look down at my feet.

“Look at me when I’m talking to you young lady!”

“I tried defending you okay!? He was being a complete arse about everything!” I snap, yelling at her.

I feel Zayn stiffen beside me.

“Don’t you see you’ve only made matters worse?” She shouts back.

“I’m sorry okay! I didn’t do it on purpose! I don’t think when I say stuff!”

“Clearly not!”

“I’ll go and start packing your stuff.” Zayn puts in, suddenly making our shouting cease. “Where’s your room?”

“The last one down the hall.” I mumble, pointing the right direction. He nods and goes.

“Leah quick! We need to potect Belle’s room from stanger!” Finn yells, tugging his sister to my room.

“Annabelle why didn’t you listen to me?!” My mother scolds.

“Mom please I don’t want to argue.” My lower lip trembles. “Not now. We don’t have much time together. I don’t want to spend it on arguing.” I say, before my voice cracks and I start crying. “I’m so sorry you have no idea!”

“Oh honey.”

She comes over to me, and hugs me tightly. I hug her back.

“Mom I am sorry!” I hiccup, crying some more.

“Shh it’s okay baby,” She kisses the top of my head, rubbing my back soothingly. “I’m sorry I yelled alright? I’m just so scared and confused...I can’t imagine what you’re feeling.”

I weep in her blouse, holding her tightly. Something wet trickles down my neck, and I realise she’s crying too.

“Everything will be okay. We’re gonna be okay.” She says softly.

We stay like that for a few minutes, just holding each other while we cried, mumbling apologies and I love you’s.

 

*****

 

“Could you quit looking at me while I’m trying to sleep? It’s creepy.” I whisper, not wanting to wake up Leah and Finn who slept peacefully in the room beside mine. “It’s hard enough I can’t sleep because of my thoughts, I don’t want your stare to make it harder.” I mutter.

“What else do you want me to do? It’s not like I can sleep either.” Zayn whispers back.

“Who said you couldn’t? There’s a sofa in the living room, serve yourself. Or you could always head back to the castle.”

“Not happening. Louis didn’t want you to leave my sight.”

I groan, digging my face into my pillow.

“Well that was pretty attractive.” He chuckles.

“Shut up.” I grumble.

“Stay polite.” He warns. “Jesus how does the Prince even tolerate your lack of respect?” He mumbles to himself.

“How do you even tolerate that―?”

“Don’t you even dare to finish that sentence. You don’t know half of him.”

“I know for a fact that he’s self-centered.”

“That’s exactly why I say you don’t know him. It’s an image he gives himself when he’s in public.” Zayn snaps. “Now quit whining and try to sleep a little.”

I stop talking and exhale loudly, shutting my eyes.

“What a horrid day.” I grumble to myself.

“Like I said earlier, I still think Louis has it worse than you.” The dark boy states. I sit up in my bed to look at him. Peering through the darkness, I only see the faint outline of his body, sitting on my sewing table.

“And why is that?” I sneer, crossing my arms over my chest.

“First off, he’s madly in love with a girl who doesn’t love him back, that’s you by the way, and that girl keeps making his life more complicated.”

“How is his life complicated?! He’s a prince!” I half-whisper, half-shout angrily.

“He has people plotting his death almost every second that passes, which means he constantly stressed when he’s out of the castle’s walls and even then. Everyone always has high expectations of him; he rarely can allow himself to slack off on something. Plus, his family isn’t what I’d call united. Louis deals through all the problems of his life pretty much alone, except when Prince Niall and Prince Harry come to visit.” he pauses, and I can almost see his amber eyes glowing in the darkness. “You don’t know how lucky you are to have a family to support you through hard moments of your life. Even Leah and Finn are there to support you, to defend you. And they’re what, two years-old? Three maybe?”

“Three.”

“They’re three years old and their love for you is already infinite. They came to see me in your room earlier, ready to defend you. Out of love. Not many people do the things for Louis out of love. They do it out of terror of being killed.” He explains softly.

“So you do admit that Louis is harsh and heartless sometimes?”

“He has to be. Because of his father. Every time the Prince doesn’t do something right, the King beats him up. Every time the King feels like the royal family is losing its supremacy, he blames Louis and hurts him, either verbally or physically or both.”

I squint at him, trying to see if he’s lying about this or not. He seems serious though.

“What about Queen Joannah? Doesn’t she do anything about it?” I say quietly, trying to find a loophole in his explanation.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve seen the Queen strolling in the castle.  The King keeps her locked up in his private quarters most of the time. Louis has rarely seen his mom.”

I sit there, perplexed. Maybe I judged Louis too easily.

“Yeah don’t tell him I told you that. You aren’t supposed to know I think.”

“I need to sleep.” I mumble, lying back down in my bed.

“Yes you do. You have a big day tomorrow.”

I clench my eyes shut, feeling a wave of sadness overcome me. Even though Louis doesn’t have it easy, it doesn’t give him the right to force someone into marriage.

*****

The twins we’re crying at my departure next morning, identically to my mom and I.

“Belle don’t go! I be nice if you stay!” Finn pleads for the tenth time.

“Belle why you not love us?” Leah continues, fat tears trickling on her cheeks. I bend down and hug her tightly.

“Of course I love you.” I coo, my heart breaking into tiny shards.

“Zayn is a big meanie!” Finn pouts before joining our little hug, followed then by my mother.

“Zayn will be even meaner if we don’t leave now Annabelle.” The dark boy huffs. “Louis said 10 o’clock. It’s quarter to.”

“Please Zayn I don’t want to go!” I beg, looking up at him teary-eyed.

“I can’t care! I do, but I can’t okay? Because Louis’ll be angry. And that’s a problem because Louis is unable to do anything to me, since I’m one of his only friends at the castle and when his father’ll know I disobeyed Louis and he didn’t do anything about it, Louis’ll get hurt. It’s a vicious cycle Annabelle. I told you about last night. You have to come willingly okay? I don’t want to carry you; we’ll arrive late if I do.”

“Go Annabelle. Zayn is right. If there’s someone you can’t annoy, it’s the king. Go.” My mom cries, kissing my forehead one last time before reluctantly pushing me towards him. Zayn’s hand wraps around my wrist, and he tugs me away from my family.

“No please! I can’t leave them!” I sob, watching appalled as I got pulled farther and farther away from my family. “Zayn they could die without me! Zayn please!” I weep, trying to pry his fingers off me.

“I’m sorry.” Zayn tries, but there’s nothing to make me stop crying.

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