So, this idea came to me awhile back, and with support from a ton of wonderful friends, I am so excited to bring this new story to the fandom.
Also, a huge shoutout to tyozzie123 for becoming my beta for this story. Love you!
I hope you all enjoy.
King Abernathy didn't pace. It was unkingly to do something that showed so much weakness. Instead, he would make rounds around the room, making sure that no one was slacking on the job and that the jobs were being done correctly. He didn't have time for people who couldn't do things correctly.
It was different in the intensive care unit of the hospital though. He was told to sit down as they gave him the news that his wife and daughter had died from their wounds, and that his son was gravely injured. And he had been sitting ever since.
That had been over a week ago, and the bodies had been laid into the ground.
He looked over at his son, Crown Prince Adrian Ernest Schreave. His brown curls laid unwashed against his face and eyes, the oils from the hair made it shine a gross shine in the fluorescent lights of the hospital.
The machines were beginning to come off though. When he had first seen Adrian, he had been covered in wires and tubes that did everything for him, even pump his blood. The other day, the intubation tube had been removed and replaced with a nasal cannula that helped him breathe, instead of the intubation tube that forced him to breathe. All that was left was the feeding tube, a catheter, and the three IVs that dripped antibiotics, pain medications, and a bunch of other things into his veins.
He was still waiting for him to wake up though. They didn't have forever. In fact, they had the opposite. The public would begin to get restless if things continued like this for much longer.
And what would he tell the Elite? What would he continue to tell the Elite? That nothing had changed and that the prince was still in intensive care? No. The less he told them, the more desperate they would become, and there was nothing easier to manipulate than a desperate woman.
He sighed, and then stood up. He stretched out his back, and then looked at the guard in the corner of the room. The guard said nothing, he didn't even look at the king. He kept his eyes trained on the door, as if at any moment someone would break through the door and kill the remaining royals.
King Abernathy looked over at his son one last time, then left the room. He had to go back to the castle and run his kingdom. If people outside of the castle knew of everything that was going on, they would definitely start some sort of uprising. It was his job to keep the public from knowing that Adrian was seriously injured, and that less than a week ago his heart had stopped multiple times.
No. They couldn't know that. Not right after Princess Anastasia's death, his only other heir. They would start to plan things. Things that would involve him losing his crown, and maybe even his life.
The drive back to the palace was uneventful, as it had been every time since he started making these daily trips. He was waiting for the day that there would be a bomb in the car or the driver would pull a gun on him. But now that Anastasia and Aurora were dead, would he really put up a fight?
When he walked into the castle, he could hear the sounds of the construction workers rebuilding where the rebels had destroyed the ballroom with their bombs. It was a miracle that only a few people had died; but why couldn't they have been a couple of the selected that he couldn't believe were still there? Why did it have to be his Ana and Aurora? What had he done to deserve that?
King Abernathy sighed before walking up the many steps to his office. When he sat down at his desk, he couldn't focus on the work in front of him. On days like these, he would pass the work onto Adrian, but he was still in a coma, and couldn't do any sort of work.
He shook the thoughts away and began to write out all of the needed paperwork that was due by that evening. He had been letting his thoughts take up too much of his time these days. He had to focus. This was the first time in his life that he had waited so long before finishing the needed papers. It was disgraceful.
The words he needed came at the pace of a snail, but they looked right on the crisp, white paper. The sooner he was done, the sooner he could do other things.
The door banged open. The sudden, loud, firecracker-like noise caused King Abernathy's heart to pound so quickly in his chest that he could hear the beat in his ears. He refused to show how much the noise had scared him. Instead, he opened his mouth to berate the man who had ran into the room before knocking.
But the other man spoke first. "It's Prince Adrian," he spoke between gasps for air. It was obvious to King Abernathy that he had run to him from quite a distance.
King Abernathy had never stood up so quickly, not even when the bombs were going off in the same room that he was in. Adrian was not only alive, but awake.
Adrian was awake. The selection could continue.
Prince Adrian had decided that he was definitely in a hospital, but why was he there? What had happened? And why did every part of his body hurt?
It hadn't been his father, right? That would never happen. As much as his father hated him, he would never hurt him enough to send him to the hospital. That would be too reckless. The occasional slap in a moment of anger was normal, but this wasn't a slap.
"Excuse me, what happened?" Adrian asked one of the many doctors who had suddenly surrounded him. He rarely felt claustrophobic, but the amount of people made his chest squeeze tightly, although he wondered if it was a broken rib instead of his claustrophobia.
The doctor- her name tag said Josie on it- looked over at him, her green eyes glittered and a huge grin had broken out on her face. Why did everyone seem so happy to see him? And why was he here?
Her face grew somber, and she grabbed his hand and began to examine the IV in his hand. "There was a bomb set off at the castle last week," she told him. "You were found underneath the rubble. You got a nasty concussion from it, which is probably why you don't remember it."
Adrian leaned back against the pillows, they were hard and painful on his neck and head. He wished that he could have the ones that laid on his bed at the castle. His pillows at home felt like laying on clouds made of silk that cradled his head when he laid against it.
Wait, did she just say a bomb?
He sat up straight. "Was anyone hurt?" He asked. If it was a bomb, then he was certain that someone would have died, but he didn't want that to be true. No, he needed it not to be true.
Adrian looked up as King Abernathy pushed the door open and forced his way into the front of the group.
"Are you alright?" He asked, and then turned to Josie. "How is he?"
She smiled again, and Adrian couldn't help but notice how her smile lit up the boring, beige hospital room. "He is doing very well," she told him. Her voice was filled with enthusiasm, more like that of an extra peppy preschool teacher, not a doctor working in the intensive care unit. "Hopefully, he can go home in a few days."
King Abernathy nodded, and then cleared his throat. "Good. Very good," he said. "Excuse me, but can I have a moment with my son in private?"
Josie nodded at the two of them, and then quickly curtsied before leaving the room, the other doctors and nurses following quickly behind her.
Adrian looked up at his father. He looked different, his eyes more tired, his hair more wild. His beard hadn't been shaved in days. Adrian reached out to touch his own face by instinct. It was scratchy from short stubble, but it wasn't as long as he thought it would be.
"Dad, what happened?" He asked. "They said there was an attack, bu-"
King Abernathy held up his hand, silencing Adrian with just a movement. "It's all your fault," he told him.
Adrian gaped at him. His fault? Hadn't it been a rebel attack? "I thought…"
"Well, you thought wrong," he said. His voice was low and violent, like the warning growl of a tiger. "The rebels detonated bombs in the ballroom while you were announcing The One. If you had just done what I had told you to this never would have happened. And now your mother and sister are dead!"
They couldn't be dead.
"You're lying," Adrian said as his eyes began to burn from tears. "They can't be dead."
King Abernathy glared at him, and Adrian squirmed under his gaze. The look he gave him was more poisonous than the bite of a cobra. "Well, they are."
Adrian bit his lip as the tears began to cascade from his eyes. How could they be dead? All of the fantasies that he and Ana had shared for the future… They would never happen.
"Don't you fucking dare cry," Abernathy growled. "You don't have any right."
Adrian nodded and wiped his eyes. "Yes, Sir."
"Good," he said, and then placed his hands behind his back. "Now, let me explain to you how this whole selection thing is going to work."
Selection? What selection?
Abernathy didn't give Adrian a chance to ask. "You are the reason your sister and mother are dead, so don't think that you're getting out of this whole selection thing just because it was bombed. No, you don't get a choice," he said. "The Elite from your selection are still placed in the castle, so you have them to choose from, and you know what will happen if I don't agree with your choice."
What was his father talking about? What Elite?
"I have to get back to the castle, Adrian," he said. "I have to take care of everything you messed up."
Adrian said nothing, but watched as King Abernathy left, slamming the door behind him. As soon as he was gone, Adrian shuddered, and then started to sob.
They were gone. His sister? Gone… His mother? Gone. All that was left was his father. The same father that had always told him how much he wished that Ana had been the heir instead of him.
Adrian closed his eyes as he leaned back against the rock hard pillows once again.
Maybe this was all just a dream.
No, this was a nightmare.
Adrian hated the live episodes of The Report.
Sure, they were only once a month, and it was the only time he had to be in front of a live audience without a script, but it was still the worst thing ever in his opinion. Why did they even have to do the live episodes anyway?
Anastasia bounced into the backstage area, her eyes glowing from excitement as her pink skirt jumped up and down with her.
"Ana, stop it," his mother, Aurora, told Ana as she caught her daughter in her arms. "Let me fix your hair, you silly thing."
Adrian smiled as he brushed his brown curls around his crown so it didn't continue to slip when he moved his head. In the background he could hear his sister whining as Aurora tried to work Ana's own brown curls into submission.
"Mama, please don't put my hair in a bun again!" She wailed, and Adrian had to hold back a chuckle at his sister's dramatics. She was so ridiculous and she knew it.
"What about a braid?" Adrian suggested as he turned away from the mirror to his little sister. "Does that sound good?"
Ana looked up at him, her big blue eyes filled with tears that threatened to pour. She wiped her nose on her sleeve, and Aurora groaned in disgust.
"You do it, Adri?"
Adrian smiled at his little sister, and then scooped her up into his arms. "Of course, Ducky," he said.
Adrian sat down with Ana sitting on his lap, then began to braid her silky curls into a long french braid. He wasn't sure when or how he had been taught to braid, but the movement was as natural to him as playing the cello was.
Over, to the side, pull, grab more hair, repeat… It was easy to him.
"Hold still, Ana," he said as she started to squirm. "I can't make this look nice with you being a wiggle-worm."
Ana huffed, and crossed her arms, but she held still until he was finished.
"Okay, go to mom so she can put some hairspray in there before it falls apart," he told her.
Ana jumped out of his arms and ran over to Aurora. Adrian wished that he had a fraction of her energy, he might actually be able to survive some of the boring meetings his father sent him to.
"Okay, time to go onstage, your majesties," one of the workers backstage told them.
Adrian's hands became cold and sweaty from the sudden anxiety that hit him. Being onstage while playing cello or piano was easy, the music could just sweep him away and he could forget about the audience until the piece was over. With the live Report Episodes, he had to listen to every word that was said and come up with a non-controversial response as fast as possible. It was hell.
Adrian followed the royal family to the thrones that were set up for them, and he sat down in his. He was squished between his mother and sister, but he didn't mind that much. Unless Ana became squirmy, then who knew what would happen.
After the national anthem, it was still one of Adrian's favorite pieces he had ever learned, the lights dimmed and the audience hushed.
And then she walked onstage.
Jensing Angelov, the woman who had been the host of the Report for the past year and a half. She was three years older than him, but she definitely didn't look twenty three. She looked much younger, if he was being honest.
She wore a short, navy colored romper with white flowers on it, and a light, baby pink jacket that stopped at her elbows. In her blond hair, tucked behind her ear, was a single pink daisy. It was the embodiment of late spring, and she wore it well.
Her hair swayed behind her as she glided onto the stage. She smiled at the audience. "Good evening, Illea!" She greeted, and then walked over to a chair near the thrones. She sat down in it, and placed her hands on her lap.
"Good evening, your majesties," she said, grinning at every single one of them.
"Good evening, Miss Jensing!" Ana exclaimed. "I missed you. Why do we only get to see each other once a month?"
Jensing smiled at her, and then cleared her throat. She looked over at King Abernathy, and then to Adrian. They made eye contact for a moment, and then back at Ana.
"Well, that will all be changing soon," she said, and then looked back over at King Abernathy. Why was she looking at him so much tonight? She had never done this before. "Would you like to do the announcement, your majesty?"
King Abernathy stood up from his throne and walked to the middle of the stage. "Since the beginning of Illean history, our heirs have taken part in many different traditions over the years as they came of age, none of them have quite stood the test of time like The Selection, when thirty five young ladies would come into the castle and one of them would be chosen as The One, the girl who would be wed to the prince," he said. "But you all know that."
Adrian frowned, and then looked over at his mother. She kept her gaze on King Abernathy, clearly just as on the edge of her seat as the audience was.
Why was he talking about the selection? Everyone knew what the selection was.
"You also all know that our son, the crown prince, just had his 20th birthday last week," he said. "And because of that, we have decided that it is finally time for Prince Adrian to have his selection."
The crowd went wild, the screams so loud that Ana covered her ears and Adrian had resisted the urge to cover his.
They had finally done it. They had finally decided that he was going to have a selection.
And he was not prepared for it at all.
So, I hope you all enjoyed the first chapter! This story will be updated on the first of every month for the foreseeable future. Please follow, fave, and review! I can't wait to find out what you thought!
Thanks for reading, and thank you to everyone who has supported this fic so far! Love y'all!