A/N: Alright, this idea was in my head for a while now and after I started to write down little pieces, people pushed me to writing the first chapter and here you go. Big thanks to my lovely Beta and to all the people who read this chapter before and who encouraged me. I hope you enjoy the first chapter.
"I will take away what you love most."
The king never believed that something like that would happen just because he killed an animal. But he went too far into the woods of the witch; he hadn't noticed it was a special animal, and before he could have stopped his son, he had already shot the animal with a bolt from his crossbow. Only seconds later, the sky had become dark and the witch had appeared.
"And you, you have to pay with your soul."
She pointed her finger at the young boy of fourteen years, and then she spoke the words that would change his fate. A cruel curse fell from her lips, and the boy was wrapped into a dark aura that disappeared into his body. A disease no one could stop. It would guzzle into his bones, eating him alive from the inside, and it would destroy his life and one of his loved ones. A few weeks was all he got. A few weeks full of suffering and the thought that he could die every day.
For days, the king and the guards searched for a cure, but they couldn't find one. No books knew the old words the witch had spoken, no healer and no wizard knew what they could do. The king would lose his son, and the people would lose their future king. He couldn't let that happen. He needed to find a way, so he went through half the kingdom to a mountain everyone feared. At the top of it lived a witch, many years old, no one knew if she was good or bad, but he had to try.
In the second it took to reach the door, she had already opened it. She knew. She saw it in his eyes before she looked to the boy, almost a man, but with this curse in his bones and his heart, he would never have the chance to grow up. His face was already pale, his eyes looked tired, and his body was weak. The disease had almost reached its high, and he would die soon.
She let both in and studied the boy until she looked at the king with a face he couldn't read. "It's in his heart. His heart is dying. It's black and rotten."
The king swallowed hard, and the boy just took a deep breath, closing his eyes, but he didn't want to show any fear. "Is there-"
"A way? Yes. But it won't be pretty."
The king tilted his head, looked at the witch, not knowing if he should be happy or afraid. She kneeled in front of the boy, stroking a strain of hair out of his eyes and looking back to the king.
"I have to take the heart."
Silence. She placed her hand on the chest of the young boy, could feel how he struggled with his breathing, could feel how the heart beat slowly.
"I have to take your heart. The curse won't affect you anymore and you will live. But you will also lose the feelings that come from your heart. Love. Happiness. The good things. You will feel empty, hurt, and the darkness of the curse will still be in your bones and in your soul."
The boy looked to his father, then back to the old woman. He swallowed and didn't really understand what she meant, what consequences all of this would have. He was too tired, in too much pain, and he just didn't want to die. He wanted to be a great king one day. He wanted to make his father proud - he couldn't die.
Whispered words from the weak boy was all she got and all she needed. The witch nodded and pushed her hand into his chest. He screamed, biting down hard on his bottom lip, tasting his own blood. Seconds later, the witch held his dark heart in her hands, putting it into a black chest and locking it before giving it to his father. The boy fell on his knees, breathing hard, trying to ignore the pain.
"You have to hide it. Keep it safe. If someone attacks the heart, your boy will die. Hide it."
The king nodded and took the chest, looking worriedly to his boy. When his son got up and looked him in the eyes, he froze. He saw nothing in his eyes. They were dull, and the bright blue was gone.
8 years later
Her butt hurt. Badly. This road was the worst, and she didn't want to be here. This carriage was annoying, and she would prefer to take her own horse to ride, but no, it was too dangerous. Yeah, sure. The only thing that could attack her here was a bunny.
They were on the road since the early morning - since the first sunbeams were out - and she hated it. The sun was going down already, and the night would be here soon. Great. In a dark forest in a crappy carriage in a foreign kingdom. First a long journey with the ship and now in this damn carriage.
"What do you think? How long is it until we're there?"
Her friend and lady raised her head, looking up from her book. Ruby was one of her best friends and the only one that was allowed to come with her. Emma was glad that the other woman was coming with her because she was great. Alone in that big, strange castle with a man she never met before would be awkward. She knew no one in the other kingdom and would probably have no one to talk to.
"I don't know, but I hope we're there soon. Are you excited to meet him?"
Emma wrinkled her nose and tilted her head, shrugging slightly. Excited? No. Nervous? Yes. The arranged marriage was a stupid idea, but she understood why it was necessary. Both kingdoms had their weaknesses, and together they would be strong enough to face the coming war that was boiling up in the west. She did it for her kingdom and her people; her parents were really proud of her, but she wasn't very keen on the marriage. She never met the prince. She only heard stories of him, and they were…well, not very flattering. A womanizer, cruel, and ruthless. Some people even say that he has no heart. Emma didn't know what of that was true or not. She wanted to wait until she met him before she would say anything about him.
"No, not really, I guess. I still don't want to marry him. Hell, I don't even know what he looks like!"
Emma ran her hand through her hair and chewed on her bottom lip until she heard the laugh of Ruby. She raised an eyebrow at the other girl.
"Well, I heard he's hot."
The blonde rolled her eyes. Of course Ruby had to say that.
"Maybe he's ugly as hell, and then I'm still stuck with him."
"Oh, come on, try to be positive!"
Emma sighed but nodded slightly. She really hoped it wasn't as bad as she thought because she had no idea how to survive with an ugly asshole for the rest of her life.
She had basically been preparing for a marriage like this since she was fourteen. And now, six years later, she wasn't ready at all. She was kind of scared, even if she knew she shouldn't be. It was the best for her land, for her people, for her family. She did the right thing.
"Emma, look! We're here!"
Ruby's voice sounded excited, and she was about to jump up and down. Emma turned around and looked out of the window of the carriage. She could see the big castle, how it came closer and closer. It was an impressive building, and she was sure she would totally get lost in there.
The carriage stopped and the door opened. A servant held out his hand to help the girls out. Emma got out first, and when she looked up, she saw a few people standing around, watching closely and interested. Then the heavy doors of the castle opened and a few guards came out, followed by the king and his son. She didn't even need to know them, you could clearly tell their positions. The king was wearing his crown, and his son had this arrogant look on his face that only royals wore. Great. He was arrogant.
"Oh, shit, he's hot."
She heard the voice of her friend behind her and next to her ear.
Emma slapped her friend gently on the arm and waited for the men to come closer. Well, she couldn't really deny that he was handsome. He was tall, and she could see how his muscles moved under his clothes. Scruff on his face, dark hair, blue eyes. She frowned slightly. His eyes were dull instead of bright, and on his face was no smile, just a thin line. Maybe he was just as nervous as she was.
The king stopped in front of her and bowed slightly, taking her hand to place a kiss on her knuckles. She smiled softly when he straightened himself again and nodded to Ruby.
"I'm happy to welcome you and your lady to my court."
He seemed to be friendly, so that was at least a good thing. His son couldn't be so bad if the king was nice. Well, that's what she hoped.
His voice was rough when he bowed before her but not caring to take her hand and kiss it like every other man always did. He didn't seem to be keen on being here, and she didn't like the way he was looking at her.
"Well then, Killian can take it from here. I have some business to do in the throne room. We will see you for dinner tonight."
The king smiled slightly and walked away, everyone watching him until he was back in the big castle.
"And you are…the princess?"
The prince raised an eyebrow, and she totally didn't like the look on his face, like he was something better than her. She bit her bottom lip slightly and nodded. That question was quite weird; he should know who she was.
"That I am."
He tilted his head slightly and shook his head then, crossing his arms over his chest.
"I guess I'll have to take a mistress then."
Her mouth fell open at his words, and she was extremely confused. A mistress? Why? She didn't even understand and gods, she wanted to slap that look from his face. It wasn't good that she already had violent thoughts against him.
"Excuse me? What does that mean?"
He rolled his eyes, leaning closer to her with a smug grin on his lips.
"Oh, I'm quite sure you know what a mistress is. I'm sure your daddy has a few of them."
He chuckled darkly, and something dangerous sparked in his eyes when he looked at her with this wolfish grin, like she was his prey that he would rip apart, and in that moment, she really felt like that.
Ruby was about to say something, but Emma just held her hand up to stop her. She would be able to deal with him alone, but before she could say anything he was yelling after some servants.
"Your lady and your baggage will go with my servants. You'll come with me."
He smirked slightly, and Emma shook her head.
"Ruby will come with us."
She could see how he frowned, and it was kind of satisfying. Then he sighed and shook his head.
"You are at my court. You are are my future wife. You should listen to what I say before you or your friend end up in a cell."
What the hell was wrong with him? She wanted to answer, but Ruby put a hand on her shoulder.
"It's fine, Emma. I'll visit you later."
With these words, Ruby left with some servants and vanished in a side entrance. The little crowd around them also disappeared and the people went back to work. She was basically alone with this man she already kind of disliked because of his behavior toward her.
"Well then, my dear princess, let me show you the castle."
He held out his arm, but she ignored it, just started to walk towards the entrance. He chuckled slightly before he followed her, and it seemed like it would only be a game for him.
Two hours. It took them two hours to walk through the whole castle. This building was a monster, and she would probably need a map. He had explained to her a little bit about the castle, but not too much. She didn't get a lot information while they spent the time together.
They were walking down another hallway, their steps echoing, but then she stopped. He had already walked around the next corner and didn't bother to look back at first. In front of her was a door made out of black wood and it looked…burned?
"Come on, don't waste time."
She heard his impatient words and growled slightly, turning around to face him.
"What's behind there?"
He raised an eyebrow and walked back to her, grabbing her arm.
"Quite nosy, aren't we? But that's none of your business," he said in annoyance and literally pulled her away from the door.
"I can walk on my own!"
"Then do it!"
Maybe it was just her mind playing games with her, but he seemed angry. Just because she stopped in front of that door? It didn't really help to make her curiosity go away. Maybe she could ask a servant later.
They walked up a few more stairs and through several hallways before he stopped.
"And here is my room, in case you need something."
Emma huffed slightly. Did he really think she would go to him to ask for help or anything? If yes, he was probably the most stupid person ever.
"Great," she just said briefly and rolled her eyes. And he chuckled - again. He obviously had fun with annoying the hell out of her.
He turned around and walked down the hallway, stopping in front of another door.
"And here is your room."
She blinked a few times at him and then at the door.
"Are you serious?"
"My room is almost next to yours!"
Gods she hated that smug grin on his face. She didn't want to be near him if he kept acting like a dick. His mistress comment still sat in her stomach. She didn't want to think about if her father had one or two. No, that was disgusting, he loved her mother more than anything else.
She took a deep breath before she turned to him.
"Are you done then? Can I have my peace?"
He laughed and nodded, opening the door for her. Oh, now he wanted to be nice? She growled slightly and walked in, wanting to close the door, but he stopped her.
"I'll come and get you as soon as the dinner is ready."
And of course he didn't let her walk there on her own. Okay, maybe it was good because she would probably need some time to get there on her own, but she wasn't very keen on spending more time with him. Emma nodded slightly, and he let her close the door. She took in another deep breath and looked through the room.
It was a huge room with a large bed. The sun shone right through her window. A table, a few chairs, a wardrobe…it was basically a normal room just…prettier, and it also seemed to be bigger than her room in her castle.
She walked towards the window and looked outside and could see the garden. It was beautiful. The flowers, a little pond, and it made her smile, probably for the first time since she was here. Without him around it seemed to be peaceful. His presence made her feel…she didn't even know. She didn't feel safe around him, she didn't feel well in her own skin, and she just wanted to be away from him as long and as far as possible. Of course, it was a stupid thought if she had to marry him, but the king decided when the time was right, and he would probably give her a few weeks to get used to her new home.
She also still had hope that his attitude would change. At the moment, he was mean and rude, no real gentleman like she always imagined a prince. If he wouldn't change, she had no idea what she would do. Maybe steal a horse and try to get home. She missed her family, her parents, her friends, her court. She had a strange feeling when she was here - something wasn't right, and she just couldn't tell what it was.
Emma sat down on the bed and leaned back until her back hit the soft mattress. She sighed. It was a good feeling to calm down for a moment. She closed her eyes and tried to think about nothing, tried to let all the worries go away, to find some peace and silence in being alone. She had to be positive about all this. It was a good thing for her people, for all the innocent people she would protect with this marriage. She understood how important it was to unite the kingdoms, otherwise they would lose the war that was raising in the west, and she just needed to find a way to accept this man at her side. To tolerate him. That couldn't be so hard. He couldn't be as heartless as he seemed, even he needed to care about something.
A knock pulled her out of her thoughts.
"Please don't be him," she whispered to herself before she got up, fumbling with her dress a bit before she walked over and opened the door. Thank god it wasn't him, but it also wasn't Ruby.
"Hello, my name is Tinkerbell. May I come in?"