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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5. Royal Behaviour

“You’ll have to learn that everything has a purpose here.” Zayn explains, sighing loudly. “Make sure nobody notices your lack of footwear okay? And everything will be all right.”

I gulp as he pushes me through the doors.

I’m scared to look, but I do.

Right across the room, at the end of the massive table, is the king.

I can’t help it. I freeze in fear. Mother had always warned me to be wary of him more than any of the other royal figures of the family. And there I was, about to eat lunch in his company.

“Annabelle?” Louis says from beside his father, a little annoyed. Clearly it’s not the first time he calls upon me. “Love come and take a seat.” He continues, motioning the seat in front of him. Beside the king. “Now.” The blue-eyed boy urges.

Terrified, I nod, not able to pronounce words. I start walking, only to be stopped by a powerful voice.

“Excuse him?” The king bellows, ticked off. “How dare you?! When a royal figure tells you something, you apologize and you do it!”

“I-I-I’m sorry,” I blabber tensely, carefully making my way to the seat facing Louis’s.

“Father calm down. Please. It’s her first day after all.” Louis huffs.

“I did not ask for your opinion, son.” He spits back dryly.

My heart is beating through my ears, and half-heartedly, I look at Louis for reassurance. I need someone to tell me I won’t get killed if I sit beside the king.

His eyes meet mine briefly and he nods subtly, before starting a new conversation with his father.

“So Charlotte told me Harry and Niall we’re coming soon?” He starts tentatively.

“Do you have absolutely no respect for royalty?” The older man booms harshly. He’s like a ticking bomb. “The two young lads have titles. It’s not because you have one too that you can rid them of theirs! Sometimes I think you are not worthy or royalty! You’re a shame to this family.”

I shudder, sliding my dress under my bum before taking a seat beside him. Zayn was right. Louis’s father really is mean with him.

“And you!”

I jump as Louis’s father addresses to me.

“You ungrateful little girl. You are not worthy of a royal title either!” He states, standing up. “That’s it I’m done!” The king states, leaving Louis and I alone.

There’s a few seconds of silence before Louis speaks.

“Why aren’t you wearing shoes?” He says calmly, playing with the food in his plate. I frown. How does he even know?

“Well they―”

“You know what? I don’t even want to hear it Annabelle.” He snaps.

Then why ask the question?

 “Just eat. And then after that, we’ll be picking out the wedding dress.”

“But why―”

“Don’t talk. Eat. I’m speeding up the wedding. The happier the king‘ll be, the better.”

Avoiding his gaze at all costs, I start taking small bites of my plate, thinking about how my family couldn’t even afford half of what I was eating as a simple entrée.

 

*****

 

“No that one is ugly.” Louis shakes his head while looking at what feels like the hundredth dress.

“Don’t I get a say in this?” I state angrily as Perrie walks around to help me down the little bench again.

“Nope.”  He stretches in the sofa in front of me.

I feel like punching him in the face, but I’m so constricted in the dress I don’t dare try, letting myself get dragged back to the changing room by Perrie.

“He’s really getting on my nerves.” I mutter to her as I get out of the giant white dress and into a new one.

The maid stays silent, but nods softly. Of course, she can’t insult him verbally; she’ll be fired if she’s heard.

“How does this one feel?” She asks after she’s done zipping the back of yet another dress. She arranges the bottom a little, letting the fabric pool around my legs.

“Like I can actually breathe.” I say, looking down at it.

 It wasn’t bad. Not too big, not too tight. At least this way I reduce the risks of falling over the material... The front was flowered starting from the left strap down the front and the bottom of the dress was made of different layers of soft fabric.

“He better like that one.” I huff, walking out the changing room and onto the little bench in front of him.

The prince stays silent, pursing his lips as he looks at me up and down, before standing up and walking around me.

“So?” I frown.

“What do you think about it?” he counters.

“I like it.”

“Because you’re tired of trying dresses or because you really do like it?” He probes.

“Both,” I answer carefully.

“Well I don’t like all of it.”

My shoulders drop in despair.

“Annabelle stand straight.”

Reluctantly, I listen to him.

“Perrie could you fetch the seamstress?” The blue-eyed boy continues.

I notice he doesn’t say please.

“Yes Sir.” Perrie nods, leaving Louis and I together.

“Why this dress?” I ask. “Why stop on this one? There we’re plenty of others that could’ve worked!”

“Dunno. Why not? Why do you like it?” He retorts, his fingers touching the fabric.

“Because I can breathe and I don’t think I’ll trip over it.” I say.

“Hmm. You already tripped in a dress?” He wonders. “Isn’t your family too poor to afford something like this?” He continues, motioning me.

“Yeah umm...” I weigh my words carefully, stepping off the bench to be on the ground. “When I took off my shoes earlier well I tripped.” I admit.

“Right!” Louis nods, anger slowly mounting. “I wanted to talk to you about that! Why on Earth did you take them off?! Lunch could’ve passed way better if you had kept them on! ”

“They killed my feet alright?!” I reply angrily. “And maybe if your father wasn’t so―”

His hand is suddenly over my mouth.

“Shut it. He can hear you.” He mutters furiously.

I roll my eyes.

“That’s what you think.” I respond once he removes his hand.

“No that’s what I know. It would be very wise for you not to test him. Don’t talk behind his back, or act inappropriately in his presence. Ever.”

Perrie enters a few seconds later with whom I guess is the seamstress.

“Sir? You asked for me?”

Louis takes a step away from me, warning still in his eyes.

“Yes I’d like you to improve this dress a bit... make it more royal.” Louis nods towards me. “I was thinking of lengthening the bottom a bit so the train is longer.”

The seamstress nods. “About how much longer?”

Louis cocks his head sideways, thinking.

“The length of her waist to her feet.” He decides.

I look at him crossly.

“It’s like you want me to lose my footing.” I huff as the seamstress walks over to me and starts measuring.

“Well if you do, I’ll be there to catch you princess.” He winks. “But I strongly doubt you will, because this time you’ll be wearing shoes and if I have to nail them to your feet, I will.”

“No nailing will be necessary,” I mumble.

“Good. Now come on it’s been a busy morning. Let’s get you out of that dress, I’ll show you the room you’ll be sleeping in before the wedding.” He smiles. “Because after that, we’re sleeping together remember.”

“God help me, this is going to be hell,” I mutter, shuddering.

“What was that?” His tone takes a dangerous edge.

“Nothing.”

 

*****

 

“Good morning princess!” Louis chants as he enters my room.

I had spent a little more than a week at the castle and I still didn’t understand why the royal family had to be morning people. Even I, when I needed to help mom in the morning, didn’t have to wake up this early.

I shiver as Louis pulls the sheets off my body.

“Go away.” I groan, digging my face in my pillow.

“Annabelle stop acting like a child. We have a lot of stuff to do today.”

“We always do.”

“Well today is going to be different. Must I remind you that the wedding is tomorrow? Harry and Niall are coming today.” Louis points out.

Just great. Two other pompous bastards to annoy me.

“I don’t care.” I huff.

“Well you should because your behaviour will determine if you family is invited or not to the wedding.” He says simply.

My blood boils in my veins. My family, my family, my family god dammit!

“Can you quit threatening me with my family?!” I burst, sitting up brusquely in my bed. “It’s okay! I get it! You have power over me! Over everybody! Just stop reminding me!”

“Enough with the tantrums! I was just being polite here...Don’t you want to see your siblings? Check if they’re still alive or something?” Louis sneers.

The thought horrifies me more than anything.

“You’re a monster!” I seethe, voice shaking.

“Then tame me.” He responds calmly, challenge burning in his eyes. “I dare you.”

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