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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7. The Wedding

Just as I’m about to actually go with my plan, I freeze.

I blink a couple times in incredulity. About half-way down the alley, are Leah and Finn, dressed in clothes so expensive we would’ve never dared to even look at. Leah’s throwing little petals on the floor, looking happy as ever, while Finn seems to be the ring-bearer, walking proudly beside his twin sister.

They’re here? They’re here! Oh my God they’re here. A string of emotions pass through me simultaneously, from surprise to happiness to dread.

My eyes automatically search for my mothers’ in the large crowd. I don’t see her. Something similar to dread presses suddenly on my chest. If she’s not with Leah and Finn, then where is she?

I can’t dwell on the thought much longer, the sound of the traditional wedding march filling my ears. It’s my cue to start advancing. My head starts pounding, my heart thumping as quickly as a hummingbird’s wings. No. Not already.

My gaze meets Zayn’s at the end of the aisle, before falling upon Louis cerulean orbs. I can’t help it. Tears start flooding my eyes. I was going to marry him. The Prince. A man I barely know. A man who took me away from my family. A man who’d starve my family if I wasn’t smiling right now.

Inhaling shakily, I wipe my tears with the back of my hand. I need to be strong. I start moving forwards, forcing my mouth to break into a happy smile.

As I focus solely on smiling and putting one foot in front of the other, I’m deaf. Every sound around me is dulled to a low hum, almost non-existent as I make my way to Louis. Don’t trip. Don’t fall. Keep smiling.

Almost too soon, I’m facing him. He takes my hand and kisses it, before sliding it into his. I bet he could tell I was shaking as he leaned to whisper in my ear.

“You’re doing just fine Annabelle... Just breathe,” He murmurs, squeezing my hand in what was certainly meant as a reassuring manner. Only the action makes me feel even more terrified. I exhale softly, nodding a little to mask my anxiety.

“Ladies and gentlemen of great importance, we are reunited today to celebrate the union of Prince Louis William Tomlinson of Headow with Lady Annabelle Hearst of Headow. May their love be accepted...”

I lose track of the rest of the priest’s speech in a matter of seconds, feeling unwell.

The air around me suddenly feels thicker and my palms get clammy. My corset seems to tighten around my torso and I start to lose focus. I can’t faint. He’d kill me.

“This alliance will change Lady Annabelle’s title to Princess Annabelle Tomlinson of Headow...”

I blink a couple times, trying to keep conscious as I hear clapping. My breathing is slightly raspy. I’m a princess now.

“The ring bearer shall now bring the rings.”

Finn.

My head snaps up to see my younger brother in his little tuxedo, walking up to us with the small pillow holding the rings. My insides tear painfully. I want to hug him, ask him about mum, but I don’t, forced to watch Louis grin and take both rings off the golden cushion. He hands me the one I’m supposed to place on his finger, gently ushering Finn back to his seat with Leah.

I tear my gaze off my siblings as the priest starts talking again.

"The wedding ring is a symbol of eternity. It is an outward sign of an inward and spiritual bond which unites two hearts in endless love. And now as a token of your love and of your deep desire to be forever united in heart and soul, you, Prince Louis William Tomlinson, may place a ring on the finger of your bride." 

The blue-eyed boy takes my left hand carefully, lifting it up to slide the diamond ring on my finger.

"Annabelle, I give you this ring as a symbol of my love and faithfulness to you," He says, his eyes meeting mine. 

"By the same token Princess Annabelle Hearst, you may place a ring on the finger of your groom." 

My throat clenches as I utter the words I had forcefully practiced so many times beforehand.

"Louis, I give you this ring as a symbol of my love and faithfulness to you," I say, a lone tear trickling down my cheek.

“Bless, O Lord, the giving of these rings, that they who wear them may abide together in your peace and grow in one another's eyes," The minister continues. “Prince Louis, in committing yourself to Princess Annabelle, you must promise to continue to be sensitive to her needs and to listen when she explains their nature. You must promise to be there when she needs you and to do everything in your power to insure her security, happiness and peace of mind. You must promise to share with her your joy of living and be a loving companion. Do you so promise?” 

“I do.” 

All I could think of was lies, lies, lies.

“Princess Annabelle, in committing yourself to Prince Louis, you must promise to continue to be sensitive to his needs and to listen when he explains their nature. You must promise to be there when he needs you and to do everything in your power to insure his security, happiness and peace of mind. You must promise to share with him your joy of living and be a loving companion. Do you so promise?” 

“I do.” 

There you go. I said the two words that would bind me to Louis forever.

“You are now as your hearts have always known: Husband and Wife. You may now kiss the Bride!”

Kiss?! I look at Louis fearfully. I had never kissed anyone before.

He on the other hand, didn’t seem at all fazed by my nervous expression. His arm encircles my hip, the other placing itself behind my head. And then suddenly, I’m tugged towards him, my weight shifting so he’s supporting me. I’m still holding his hand, scared to fall. Our eyes lock for mere seconds, before we’re kissing. My heart skips a beat.

It was very brief, though it felt nice. I actually liked it.

I’m breathless once we stand straight again, acclaimed by the hundreds of people around us. He kisses my cheek, pulling me to him as we turn around to face the guests. Bells chime loudly.

A warm feeling spreads throughout my body as I look at the Great Hall, the taste of his lips against mine seeming permanent and good. I’m now married to Louis Tomlinson. And with that thought, I feel miserable.

 

*****

 

“Congratulations on your wedding,” Yet another guest tells us. I thank him, and Louis squeezes my hand thankfully from beside me. I stand entranced for a second, staring at the array of colours before me; a series of different gowns twirling around in the room. A small orchestra was playing in the corner as the visitors talked to each other gleefully, most of them with a glass of champagne in hand.

Louis and I had already had had our first dance as a couple, and I was glad that was over. I was a horrible dancer.

“I’m so happy you’ve decided to act properly for once,” He mumbles into my hair after a lady wishing us happiness leaves. Kissing the top of my head, he turns to look at the Ballroom, identically to me.

“I didn’t really have a choice,” I tell him, placing a strand of my hair behind my ear.

“You did in fact. You chose to make this a pleasant evening, rather than a menacing one. Trust me; you’ll be delighted to have done things the trouble-free way,” He continues quietly as someone else arrives.

“Wonderful wedding! Congratulations Your Majesties!”

“Thank you,” I smile, reluctantly hooking my arm around Louis’s as he shakes his hand.

“I hope you do know you stole my first kiss,” I state softly once the man leaves.

“I didn’t steal it. You gave it to me,” he beams. “You kissed me back.”

“Because I had to.”

“If you really hadn’t wanted it, you wouldn’t have kissed me back.”

 “Do you know where my mother and siblings are?” I counter, not in the mood to acknowledge what he just said. He sighs loudly, passing his hand in his hair once. He searches around the room with his eyes and I see him stop on Zayn. Louis nods in his direction, and the dark boy nods back and heads for the doors at the end of the Ballroom.

“There they are,” The Prince says, motioning the doors as Zayn opens them.

Indeed, my mother makes her appearance in a beautiful red gown, her dark hair tied in something much more complicated and sophisticated than her usual messy bun. Holding her hands, were Leah and Finn, the latter still in his adorable tuxedo and my sister in a baby pink dress made for a princess, her hair also beautifully coiffed.

“Can I?” I plea Louis, letting go of his arm for the first time tonight. “Please.”

“It’s part of your wedding gift Princess... so go ahead,” He grins.

I beam and grab the sides of my dress, making my way towards them.

“Belle!”

The twins yell excitedly, letting go of our mother’s hands to come to me. I crouch to the floor not caring about my dress as they jump into my arms.

“Hey there lil’ shrubs!” I say, holding them tightly. “You two are so beautiful tonight!” I continue, pulling away to take a good look at them.

“You more pretty,” Leah giggles, touching my dress.

“You know that’s not true,” I grin. “Who bought you thins beautiful princess dress Leah?” I ask her.

“Pwince Louis! I’m a princess like you tonight!”

“Yes you are Leah. You’re always a princess. The most beautiful princess,” I say, hugging her again.

“Did you see me today Belle? I bought rings for you!” Finn claps excitedly.

“Yes Finn you brought me rings,” I nod.

“And Pwince Louiiee told me to be a big boy and no talk during wedding. I didn’t!”

“Me too!” Leah laughs.

“Good job,” I cheer. “High-five!” I say, holding both my hands up. The twins eagerly tap into them

I stand as my mother approaches us. “Mom.” I breathe, enveloping her into a tight hug. My eyes start itching as tears threaten to fall.

“How are you Annabelle?” I can feel her smiling in the hug as she rubs my back soothingly.

“I’m dealing with this... how are you?” I respond, wanting to push my case away. “Why weren’t you at the wedding Mom?” I enquire, voice shaking. “I was scared Mom. I didn’t know what to think.”

“Shhh Anna I was alright,” She tells me, still rubbing slow circles in my back. When I was younger, she used to do that a lot when I was nervous or worried. “I was there, you just didn’t see me.”

“But you weren’t with Finn and Leah,” I protest, breaking the hug.

“We are big kids. We can take care,” Finn frowns.

“I was a couple rows back since I was deemed less important,” My mother supplies, ruffling Finn’s hair.

My blood boils.

“Well I think you were the most important one out there,” I huff, turning to look angrily at Louis. The blue-eyed man was talking with Prince Harry and Élodie, oblivious to my hateful glare.

“Mom! I wanna go dance!” Leah declares, pulling the bottom of my mothers’ dress.

“Me too!” Finn approves. My mother’s hand rests on my arm.

“Remember Annabelle... Be polite with the royal family members... I know it’s not always fun, but it could be worse, believe me,” She tells me very seriously, her eyes drifting from me to my new husband. “I love you Annabelle and I don’t want you to end up hurt.”

I grimace. What did she know exactly?

I open my mouth to ask her but she’s already leaving for the dance floor, her hands full with the twins. I could tell some people disliked the presence of kids just by their disgusted, but I couldn’t care less. It was my wedding gift after all.

My heart aches as I watch them. They we’re happy now... but it would only be a question of time until that happiness would be ripped away from them ruthlessly.

“Princess Annabelle.”

I turn around upon hearing my name. I come face to face with Prince Niall of Iregar.

“I don’t believe we’ve met. I’m Niall Horan, Prince of Iregar,” He says, bowing in front of me. I curtsy.

“Please, call me Annabelle,” I say. I couldn’t stand being called Princess right now when my family was considered as low-life peasants by others.

“As long as you return the favour and call me Niall,” He smirks.

“How can I help you, Niall?”

“I was wondering if I could have the pleasure of having this dance?” The blonde prince asks, handing out his hand.

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