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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1. Royal Encounter

“Remember ladies, be polite. The Prince is searching for his bride.”

People kept driving me crazy with that sentence. I wanted to hurl every time I heard it. I mean, the whole kingdom was talking about it. Talking about how the Prince was going to have to marry soon, because about to turn twenty in a few weeks. Why marry at twenty? The king had ordered his son to be married before he’d turn twenty, in order to make sure the royal family line would keep having male heirs. So obviously to them, marrying meant to have children right after, and the Prince’s bride would keep having children until the couple would get a boy. The problem though, was not the weird tradition. The problem was that Prince Louis was far from being fit to being a father. He was a womanizer. Worst part is that he glorified the title.

Media talked a lot about his ‘adventures’, but the people of Headow kingdom didn’t mind. Or maybe they did, but they didn’t dare speak wrongly about any member of the royal family because 10 years ago, one person did and he got killed. If school taught me something important during all those years, is never disrespect the royal family, whether it’s verbally or by any other means.

Anyways, we were approaching December quickly, and the Prince Louis Tomlinson had sent out a declaration mentioning that he was on the lookout for his bride, and that every girl in the age of marrying, which meant 18 or older, could come and visit him at the castle. It wasn’t long before girls lined up at his door, but I wasn’t one of them. Yes I was of age. I was nineteen years old, about to turn twenty in the month of February. The thing is, I could read between the lines easily. He wanted to shag as many girls as possible before being chained to one woman. Pathetic.

I hug my bag to myself as the cold autumn air of Headow bites my skin. Walking back from work though the calm streets, I grimace as I see yet another Declaration posted on the wall. I look around and make sure no one is looking at me, before tearing the paper with the Prince’s face off the wall.

I loathed the prince for three main reasons. First, he was absolutely gorgeous so it was hard to say no to him. His eyes were an envious turquoise, he had feathered light brown hair placed messily on his head, and his lips just looked kissable. Second, he treated women like objects. And third, well he was rich, and he loved flaunting his money. The least he could do, is at least give some to the ones in need. The poor homeless people who beg for food, they could use 20 pounds now and then.

Rolling the Declaration into a tight ball, I hatefully throw it in an alley nearby, and continue walking home silently. A couple minutes later, I arrive at a modest wooden house. I stop in front of it and sigh, looking at the faint smoke coming out of the chimney, to the little swing on the tree, to the house’s walls half-eaten by termites and other bugs.

Shaking my head dejectedly I walk up the short stone pathway, and knock on the door twice before opening it.

“Hey I’m home.” I say, shutting the door behind me.

“Belle! Belle! Belle!” The twins yell excitedly as they run out their room, the pitter-patter of their little feet resonating on the wooden floor.

The house was all on the same floor, consisting of a small kitchen and dining room, a miniature living room, a bathroom, and three bedrooms. Standing at the door, you could clearly see the six rooms.

“Hey there lil’ shrubs!” I coo, picking Leah and Finn up in my arms. I hold them tightly, kissing each of their cheeks. The twins we’re three year-old, so obviously, they wiped their cheeks off afterwards, laughing about how disgusting kissing was.

I deposit my siblings on the ground, pulling out the little blue dress I made for Leah today at work.

“Here Le I made this for you.” I grin, giving it to my little sister.

She takes it and hugs it.

“Tank you Belle!” She chirps, before skipping away to show mum.

“Belle, you make Finn a dress?” Finn asks me, pointing himself. I shake my head.

“Dresses are for girls Finn. I’ll make you something for boys tomorrow okay?”

He nods happily.

“So how was school?” My mother asks from the kitchen, after urging Leah to bring the little dress in her room.

“School was school.” I shrug, taking off my boots. “It’s necessary.” I continue desolately, taking off my scarf and coat, and hanging it up on the hook beside the door. Finn starts playing with my boots, and Leah joins him soon after.

 “What about work?” My mother enquires, setting up the table. “You made Leah a very pretty dress.”

“I only made fifty pounds today.” I announce sadly, walking over to the table to help her set it up. “My boss made me leave early, cutting off my salary.”

“Hey don’t worry Annabelle,” My mum gives me a reassuring hug. “We’ll be okay for the week.” She smiles.

“But I’m sure I could’ve made more.” I deny. “We could’ve afforded to buy dessert too. Maybe even a few more toys for Leah and Finn.” I whisper, not wanting the two younger ones to hear me talking about dessert.

“Honey, we don’t need dessert, nor toys. We only need our family.” She continues, tossing one of my golden locks away from my face. “You’re already doing a lot by staying in school and working. Stop worrying over little things like that alright?” She hugs me.

“Yeah,” I mumble, hugging her back.

“Good. Leah, Finn! Time to eat!” She tells the other two, who are only a few meters away from us.

“Yay! Hungwy!” Finn exclaims, letting go of my boots before running to the kitchen. Leah follows him, clapping happily.

I smile. Mom’s right... I only need my family to be happy.

 

*****

 

The next day at work, I got fired. Apparently, I’m not there long enough. They wanted me to quit school, and work as a seamstress full-time, but I told them I couldn’t. I told them I needed to finish school and get my diploma, in order to be able to get a better job later on. They told me it was either school or the job. I chose school.

It was about dusk now, and the air outside was chilly.

I keep thinking about what I was going to tell mum tonight. Sorry mum, I lost my job. If I don’t find another one soon, we might starve. I feel tears pricking on the sides of my eyes, but I wipe them off. At least I had the time to make a something for Finn before I got fired...

I hold my bag close to my chest, avoiding looking at anybody in the eyes. I’m almost home, when I bump into somebody.

“I’m so sorry,” I babbler, searching for the persons face. My blood freezes in my veins when my green eyes meet turquoise ones full of malice.

“It’s quite alright. I wasn’t looking either.” Prince Louis chuckles, looking at me up and down. “Say gorgeous, why haven’t I seen you before? A beautiful face like yours wouldn’t have gone unnoticed at the castle...”

“I tend to keep far away from royal people.” I reply briskly.

He cocks his eyebrow upward. “And why is that?”

“They make me uncomfortable. Now if you will please excuse me, Sir, I―”

“You can call me Louis.” He cuts.

“Well, Sir...I do not think I have the right to call you by your surname. Now sorry but have to head home.” I try bypassing him but he stops me.

“I said, call me Louis.” He repeats.

“No.” I huff, irritated.

He smirks.

“You’re a special girl aren’t you?”

“Not really. Have a good day,”

“Not so fast babe.” His fingers lock around my wrist. “Would you like to come to the castle with me, as my princess?” The prince smiles cheekily.

Whoa. What? An image flies through my mind. Lots of food, new clothes, a big castle, a warm bed, maids... but Louis. Louis and no Leah or Finn or mother. No way. How could I even think of leaving my family alone in their misery?

“No thank you. I’m sure there are many other girls who’d love to have the title, but I’m not one of them. I’m content with my present life. Goodbye.” I try leaving once more, but he stops me again, growing a little irritated.

 “You’re a peasant. I could make you disappear from these filthy streets in a matter of seconds, and no one would notice. I could take you without even asking for permission. But I’m offering you a royal life, politely, and you turn it down?” He says incredulously.

“Yes.” I shrug, before walking away. He grabs my arm.

“You don’t get it do you? I’m the prince: What I say goes and what I want, I get. And what I want, is you to be my princess.” Prince Louis insists.

“No.”

“What if I ask your father for your hand? Surely he won’t refuse.”

“Tell me when you find him okay? I’d love to speak to him.” I snap, my patience leaving me hastily due to the rapid rush of emotions the thought of my father brought.

“Hey calm down love I did not mean any harm.” The blue-eyed boy takes a small step backwards. “I’m sorry for your loss alright? But a quick word of advice, you really shouldn’t use that attitude with me. I could get you arrested. For all I know, I should get you killed for the lack of respect you’ve been showing to a royal family member.”

I look at him horrified. “You can’t do that! It wouldn’t―”

“Love, must I remind you that I’m the Prince? I have the right to do anything, therefore arrest and kill anybody I think deserves that fate.” He points out. “Although maybe I could change my mind if you decided to give me a sincere apology.” The prince threatens with a friendly grin on his face.  “One where you call me by my surname.” He specifies.

That boy is one little fucker.

“I’m sorry Louis.” I say sourly.

“Are you really? For what?” he plays along.

“Yes Louis, I am immensely sorry for having an attitude with you and disrespecting you in any way.”

“Good. See, I’m not a bad guy!” Louis smiles. “I’m actually rarely the one to forgive, but I make exceptions now and then... Now I won’t ask it again politely...will you come home with me?”

“Nice to know you have a heart but I still don’t want to be your princess. Even if you were the last man on the planet, I’d never marry you.”

“I’m sorry, what?” He growls, his eyes piercing through mine.

“In how many languages am I going to have to tell, you?” I exclaim angrily, losing my cool. “I don’t want to be with you. You disgust me. There’s no way I’m going to abandon my life, and live with you. You treat women like objects. You’re an arse.”

At this exact moment, describing Louis’s with the word furious would be generous. No the prince was fuming, his face turning burgundy by the second.

“Oh what’s wrong?” I taunt. “Are you gonna cry? Want me to go fetch your nanny? Poor Prince Louis doesn’t get what he wants so he has a tantrum?” I scoff, rolling my eyes as I turned around.

His hand suddenly grabs my waist, spinning me back around to face him as he slams me against the brick wall. “You listen to me Princess,” He seethes.

“Don’t call me that.” I spew.

“You live in my kingdom, therefore I have the right to call you whatever I want, princess.” He snaps, giving me a slight shove into the wall.

I flinch at the harsh impact, but keep my eyes locked with his defiantly.

“Why would I marry you, when you don’t even know my name?” I seethe. “You’d think you’d know the name of a person you supposedly love.”

His face changes from a scowl to a cocky smirk.

“Is that what ruffles your feathers so much? The fact that I do not know your name?”

“No. Like I said, you disgust me. You walk around like you’re God’s gift to women, when you’re not.”

“But the fact I don’t know your name does irritate you.” He points out, taping my nose. “If I do find it, princess, will you be more inclined to accept my offer?”

“No.”

“We’ll just have to wait and see, now won’t we?” He smirks.

“Prince Louis!”

The Prince lets go of me, taking a couple steps back.

A man, or rather, a boy of about Louis’s age, makes his appearance in the little alley. He jogs over to us, and even in the feeble light, I can tell he’s darker skinned. I’ve seen him before... He’s Louis right hand man.

“Prince Louis! Where were you? Your father has been looking everywhere for you!” The guy repeats.

“Ay Zayn calm down. I haven’t been far. I’ve only been talking to this lovely lady. She’s quite the bird.” Louis chuckles, motioning me.

“Is she going to be your bride?” Zayn enquires, automatically jumping to conclusions. “Are you going to bring her to the castle and present her to your father?”

“I should honestly. But she―”

“But I don’t want to.” I fill in, putting on a fake smile.

“Careful. You are speaking to the Prince. He’s your superior, therefore be polite.” Zayn’s voice is filled with venom as he talks to me.

“I don’t mind Zayn.” Louis laughs, placing a comforting hand on the darker boy’s shoulder. “It’s nice to have someone speak to me like I’m a normal person every once in a while... Although I might not enjoy it for long,” He continues, giving me a warning look. “Anyways, it was a pleasure meeting you princess, but I shall head home now.”

“Farewell then. I doubt we’ll be seeing each other again,” I say, trying to act a little more civil.

“Wrong... I think I’ll be seeing you quite soon, love.” Prince Louis winks. He waves me goodbye, and follows the darker boy.

“Hopefully not. Pompous bastard.” I mutter under my breath, before heading home.

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