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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2. Impoliteness and Threats

“So class, this morning, the Prince demanded every school of the kingdom bring their girl students, aged from 16 and older, to the castle sometime this week. Which means guys; you have a free afternoon tomorrow.” Mrs. Apricot, my History teacher, claps eagerly.

Everyone, boys and girls, cheer at the information.

“Girls this will be a great opportunity to learn about the Tomlinson family history! You may have a little quiz on that so you better pay attention while were there.”

There’s a series of groans.

I’m speechless, still processing the news. I do not like the idea at all. I can’t go to the castle. He’ll keep me there if he sees me. Louis’ll keep me there and my family will starve. I raise my hand to ask a question, for one of the first times this year.

“Yes Annabelle?” The teacher enquires. Every head turns to me.

“Is it a mandatory outing?” I ask carefully.

“Yes it is. It’s a unique opportunity for each and every girl to meet the prince.” The old lady insists.

“Trust me it’s not that unique.” I grumble to myself. Well sorry, but I’m not going to that stupid outing, even if it costs me school time. “Louis Tomlinson is an arse.” I say a little louder.

All the girls gasp in shock, while the boys chuckle to themselves. Mrs. Apricot though, is really not amused.

“Ms Hearst, due you your lack of respect towards a royal family member, I have no choice but to give you a three-week suspension. Also, due to the fact you called the Prince by his surname, you shall not be able to participate in tomorrow’s outing to avoid shaming us. You will be required to do some cleaning with the concierge for the entire afternoon, until 6 o’clock. Furthermore, your parents will be notified of your lack of respect.” She chastises, her strident voice scorching my ears.

I stay silent for the rest of the class, ignoring the girls who kept staring every now and then like I was a spider they couldn’t kill.

“How was school? And work?” My mother asks later that night, while we’re all around the table for supper

“Mom I’ve got a three week-suspension.” I sigh, a little embarrassed. “And I have to stay at school until 6 o’clock tomorrow.”

“What?!”

“What does soosension mean Belle?” Leah asks from her seat at the table.

“Nothing. And it’s suspension.” I smile at the toddler.

“Annabelle is this for real?” Mum enquires, voice barely a whisper. “Why?”

“Mom see the good side of it. I can work longer hours for three weeks. Make more money.”

And find a new job, I tell myself.

“Annabelle Hearst. Why did you get a suspension?” My mother repeats.

“Me Leah Hearst. You Finn Hearst.” My little sister states proudly to her twin brother. Finn shakes his head. “Yes Finn!” The little blonde girl nods her head rapidly. “Tell ‘im Belle.”

“Yes Finn, Leah is right.” I smile, looking at the two lovingly.

“Belle I right. I wear my special zumper.”

I beam even more when I do notice Finn is wearing the blue and green jumper I had made him just yesterday.

“Okay both of you are right then,” I chuckle.

“Annabelle please... Just answer the question.” My mother groans, placing her head in her hands. I stay quiet for a couple seconds, biting my lip nervously.

“I um... Well I insulted the prince.”

Her utensils drop. Finn imitates her and starts laughing, thinking it’s a game. He picks them up and drops them again.

“Don’t mess with the royal family Anna.” She says very seriously. “Your dad did. He used to test the limits. And see where that got him?”

“Where? You never told me.” I respond, playing uneasily with the food in my plate. There’s an awkward silence.

“He went nowhere, that’s exactly where he went.” She ends, the tone of her voice making me know this discussion was over.

 

*****

 

The next day of cleaning at school wasn’t too boring, mostly because the janitor is an old, talkative man and I knew it’d be better than having to face the prince again. I was pleasantly surprised when I realised I’d learned more about the janitor in the span of three hours then I would had learned about the Tomlinson history at the castle.

As soon as 6 o’clock strikes, I’m waving the janitor goodbye and I’m heading off to town to find some work.

 

*****

Finding work was turning out to be harder than I thought. I was already at the beginning of my second week of suspension from school, and I still hadn’t found a proper job.

I was getting desperate, the money my mother was making not being enough to respond to all the family’s needs. My mother had started asking me questions; enquiring on why I wasn’t bringing home money anymore. Repentantly, I lied to her, telling her they’d pay me double in the next week or so.

The thing that frustrated me the most though, was that the employers turned me down as soon as they saw me. They judged me so easily, just by taking a quick look at what I was wearing, how my hair wasn’t particularly washed, how my nails weren’t squeaky clean and things like that. The things that didn’t matter. They wouldn’t even bother know what I was actually capable of.

I was on the verge of crying by the time I got to the end of the week.

“I’ve been told I’m very good seamstress Sir. Please give me a chance to show you?” I said to the employer of Delicate Couture, earlier today.

“I’m sorry miss, but we can’t accept you.” He told me, a sorrowful smile on his face. Nobody ever put it that way. What was wrong with me?

“What do you mean, can’t accept me?!” I speak my thoughts.

“We just can’t.”

 Baffled, I continued to try applying for different places where I knew I had some kind of talent, but I was met with a negative answer every time.  I even tried applying for something different, something I had absolutely no idea how to do.

“I’m a very cheerful person, I love to make others happy and I’m a very hard worker. Surely I could be the waitress you’re looking for?”

“I’m sorry my dear we’re looking for someone with a little more experience. You’re a little young don’t you think? Shouldn’t you be focusing on school?”

Those were the answers I’d gotten all week, over and over again.

Friday night evening was nearing, and I was losing hope.

“I’m so sorry Miss, but you just don’t fit the description.”

“Sir I beg you to give me a chance! I really need the money!” I plead the old man. At the tinkling sound of the shop’s doorbell, he looks behind me and his eyes grew big.

“Princesses don’t beg you know? And maybe you wouldn’t have needed money if you hadn’t had refused my offer.”

My blood freezes in my veins at the sound of his voice.

“Sir please, I need the job.” I whisper, not turning around to greet the intruder. The old man though, is bowing before him. I huff.

“Don’t you think you’re lacking of politeness, Annabelle?” Louis says. I can practically hear the smirk in his voice.

“Maybe a little, Sir, but you shouldn’t pay much attention to it.” I seethe, still not facing him. How does he even know my name?

“Sir Tomlinson, was she the girl you did not want anybody to hire?” The man in front of me asks, voice shaking faintly.

“Yes.”

“What?!” I spin around angrily, only to find myself barely a centimeter away from his face. I trip backwards in surprise at our unexpected proximity.

“Careful.” Louis warns, swiftly grabbing my wrist and pulling me back to a standing position.

“What did he just say?” I repeat a little more quietly, slightly astounded by the closeness of our bodies. I take a step back from him. “You were the reason I couldn’t get a job?!” I ask, feeling sick.

 “Come let’s take a little stroll outside shall we? It’s getting late; I’ll walk you to your house.”

“I do not want to walk outside, nor do I want you to come to my house.”

“Too bad.”

The prince tugs on my arm and next thing I know, I’m following him in the middle of town, leading him towards my home.

“So princess, where are you living while I’m preparing your arrival at the castle?”

I ignore the last part of his statement, just like I ignore the various looks I get from the people walking about.

“I’m sorry, Sir, but I don’t want to tell you that information until you’ve answered my earlier question. Why were you the reason I spent the last two weeks searching for a job and failing to find one?”

“Are threatening me?” He scoffs, grabbing an apple off a small merchandise chariot.

“Do you feel threatened?” I counter, not looking at him.

He stays silent, munching his apple carefully.

“No I do not.” He says after a moment of thought.

“Then I wasn’t threatening you. I just want to have answers.” I huff.

“Fine then.” He takes another bite. “Because I’m a nice person, I’ll give you answers, but only if you call me Louis.” He accepts, smiling.

Oh yeah you are a super nice person. You’re the type of boy I’d die for. Not.

“Well then, Louis, would you care to tell me why I couldn’t get a job?”

“So you remember Zayn right?” Louis starts. The dark boy’s face immediately clouds my mind.

“Vividly.” I respond dryly.

“Good. You irritated me quite a bit on our first encounter, and I just couldn’t let that slip without consequences. Something hit me when I met you. You didn’t look filthy rich, so I just assumed you didn’t have a job. Lucky guess. So as soon as I got home that night, I had Zayn make a sketch of you, and the next morning, I handed it to every employer in town, forbidding them to hire anyone who would look like the portrait of you.”

By the time he ends, we’re in a more isolated part of town, about a mile away from my house. I replay what he just told me in my head. So I couldn’t have a job, because he wanted some sort of revenge?!

“How could you?” I murmur, stopping in my tracks to look at him directly in the eyes.

He shrugs carelessly, dumping his finished apple in the gutter. I lose it.

“You are such an uncaring prick! What a childish behaviour!” I suddenly exclaim, getting angry. “Making sure someone is miserable because he or she didn’t accept to do something! What is wrong with you?!” I shove him.

He roughly grabs me by the waist, and pulls me to him, bringing his mouth to my ear.

“Well Princess, if you haven’t realized it yet, you are living under a monarchy. Royalty rules.” He whispers harshly. He pulls back and arranges his shirt with a firm tug, glaring at me. “You should be really careful Annabelle, not to get on my bad side. I’ll give you an example of what happens to people who defy me alright?” Louis takes a deep breath, before pursuing. “Last week, I ordered every school to bring all the girls aged from 16 to older to my castle. One of them didn’t obey. She told me she forbade one of her students to go because she had been impolite towards the royal family.” The blue eyed boy stops briefly, eyeing me sternly. “The old woman told me the missing student’s name was Annabelle Hearst, and she gave me a small description. Blonde hair, green eyes, not very tall, impolite. I think you know who I’m talking about right? Because I did not see you set foot at the castle once, and you fit the description well enough don’t you?” He mocks.

“I went and you just didn’t see me.” I lie. “There are many other girls with blonde hair and green eyes.”

“Don’t you dare lie to me! This whole bringing the girls to the castle was to find you. I had eyes only for you that week. I did not care about the others; you were the one I was supposed to see!” he bursts. “I spent countless hours trying to find you through the sea of schoolgirls, but you were not even present!” He continues heatedly.

I stay silent as he exhales loudly, passing his hand through his hair a couple of times in attempt to calm himself.

“Anyhow, I did not care at all about the teacher’s excuses. She had disobeyed me, and I loathe being disobeyed.”

Oh my God what did he do to the poor lady?!

“So I fired her from her job as a teacher, took away her home and all her possessions, and gave them to the homeless the day after. She is now working as a maid, in the castle’s most degraded quarters.”

“Wh―”

The prince silences me, placing his finger on my lips.

“The lesson that needs to be learned here, princess, is try to avoid disobeying me alright? Things don’t end well when you do.” Louis explains. “The fact that you can’t get a job is just a small portion of what I can do. I can take away your home, and send the members of your family to slave quarters if I want. I always get what I want.

I hold back the strong urge to punch him.

“Now ask me, Annabelle, what do I want?”

“What do you want?” I mutter hatefully.

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

I start 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.

“I have two propositions for you then.”

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