Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or any of the characters in it. I do not claim to, either. This is a non-profit story that is used for entertainment purposes only.
Author's Note: Everyone is human.
"Cousin, come with me," Lauren muttered, standing up from her chair. My second cousin, the queen of England, glanced around the room, ignoring the ladies in waiting who stood obediently as well. I was one of her ladies—we were always with her during court and we followed her where ever she went. She sent an annoyed glance at the other ladies who stood with her, her response irking me slightly. It was their job to stand if she did.
"Yes, your majesty," I responded.
"The rest of you may sit," she snapped and they obediently did so, their baffled expressions matching my own.
"Yes, your majesty," the whispered, a few of them sweeping her low curtseys before sitting once more.
"Cousin, come with me." She lifted up her skirts and stalked in no particular direction and I followed after her, slowing my pace when she did so as well. Abruptly, she stopped her walking and turned around to face me, a large smile upon her face. We were among the dancers, but the only ones not dancing. "Today is a glorious day, Bella! And tomorrow shall be even more so." She exhaled, her hands clasping together as she momentarily closed her eyes.
"And why is that, your majesty?"
She brushed me off. "You'll figure that out soon enough."
I frowned but didn't press her—she may be my second cousin, but she was also the queen and did not tolerate disobedience. Not to mention there was the fact her husband, King Mike, had pressured me numerous times to come to his bed. Nothing went past the queen, and so of course Lauren was more than aware of these advances. I could tell she was often bitter about it; especially considering Mike was especially cold towards her. They had been married two years, and she had yet to have a child.
Our family had not been born royalty—Lauren had seduced the king, so to speak. This was one of the reasons she feared that he would fall for another girl. It would be all too easy for one of the ladies to seduce him as Lauren had done when her back was turned. He wasn't very faithful to start with. Speaking of the king, I could see he was coming over to us—most likely he had something to say to Lauren.
"His majesty is coming," I whispered, warning her as I knew she'd want. She plastered a more pleasant, but fake smile upon her face and straightened her posture.
"Your majesty," she greeted, turning around to face him when he arrived. We both curtseyed.
"Lauren," he greeted sharply, nodding his head. "Bella."
"May I assist you?" she questioned quietly, reaching out to touch his arm. He turned away from her, slipping from her grasp and instead turned his gaze to me.
"How are you this lovely evening?" he asked me, a smile upon his face. He was staring at his chest rather than my face.
"Wonderful, your majesty," I responded. "And I do hope all is well with you."
He shook his head. "I'm afraid today is a rather disconsolate day. And tomorrow shall be even worse."
Lauren looked uncomfortable for once at his attention to me instead of infuriated.
"I'm very sorry, then, your majesty," I muttered, casting a suspicious glance in my cousins direction.
"Are you… happy with the arrangements?"
I hesitated. What arrangements?
"Husband, I have not told her yet," Lauren murmured, reaching out to gently touch the top of his arm. He yanked it back, his prepossessing features twisting into a mask of disgust. Why did he look so angry with his wife? And what arrangement? He turned to me, his expression disbelieving. He searched my face, as if hoping he would find something there—eventually, he turned back to his wife. "I just have had not found the right moment to do so," she explained.
"Dear God, woman!" he hissed, his gaze flickering between me and his wife. "Have you no common sense?"
"She is to leave tonight, and you have not told her yet? What were you thinking, pray tell?"
Lauren bit her bottom lip. "Husband, please do forgive me."
He stared down coldly at her, his expression unforgiving. "Explain it all to your right now, and then I highly suggest you retire for the night." He swept her a short bow before turning to me, reaching out to grab my hand and kiss the back of it lightly. Abruptly, he seemed much more lugubrious than anything else. My diaphragm clenched in response to the overwhelming terror that triumphed over me at that precise moment—why were they so on edge? "Good day, Bella. You've been a pleasure to have at court. We shall miss you greatly here."
He swept me a bow and then he was gone.
What on earth?
I was not leaving court. I was rather confused.
"Your majesty," I turned nervously towards Lauren, wiping my sweaty palms on my dress. Perspiration dripped down my neck—it was unbearably humid in here. "Care to explain?"
She exhaled. "Cousin, do you recall the very few kingdoms that supported my marriage to his majesty?"
I nodded my head slowly. "King Edward." That was the only name that came to mind, for most opposed to his marriage to Lauren. She was known not only in this vicinity but in other countries where she had attended court—she had never been liked by the other royals due to her preposterous ways. Not to mention it was uncommon for someone of the royal family to marry someone who was not even remotely related to another royal. King Edward had sent them gifts upon learning of their marriage, and had not spoken out against it at all.
"Correct. You are aware how I have not any daughter's, yes?"
I nodded my head slowly. Who wasn't? "Yes, your majesty."
"King Tyler, as you recall, has always been most unpleasant to my husband and I. We highly suspect this is due to the fact our kingdom is nearly as rich as his—he does not dare start a rivalry with kingdoms that have more money. We fear that he may start a war in an attempt to take our money and land, and we need all of the alliances we can get. As you know, alliances are usually created between marriages. So all we've managed to do so far is be friendly to one another, so to speak."
"I understand your majesty."
"Do you?" she murmured.
"Yes, your majesty."
"I don't have a daughter," she repeated. "But we felt like we needed to create an alliance with King Edward. You are the only female we could think of, Bella… only you and we offered for Edward to marry you to create an alliance. For you see, he does not have a wife, therefore no children, so therefore no heirs. Fortunately, he agreed." A small smile rested on your face. "You shall leave tonight and you shall be gone by tomorrow." She let out a small laugh, as if we were just making pleasantries. I was rooted to the spot, speechless at her confession.
I had heard many things about King Edward. I had heard he was as graceful as they come, and that his beauty is astonishing. I have heard that when he speaks it is simply swoon worthy, but I have also heard degrading rumors—such as how cruel he is. I have heard that he does not have mercy, and that he is a very strict King. I have heard that he is not kind to those who inhabit his kingdom, including those who are high in class. I have heard he does not socialize much.
I have heard many terrible things.
"What?" I croaked out, suppressing the tears of despair that nearly fell down the expanse of my cheeks.
She stared coldly at me. "Your bags are all packed. You have no need to fret."
"You are marrying me to King Edward?" I shrieked. A couple of people turned their heads in my direction, but no one else seemed to have heard.
"You think you'd be grateful, marrying a King."
"How… why… why would you do this, cousin?" I demanded, momentarily dropping all formalities.
"Who were you parents going to marry you to? Sure, they had a few people in mind, but I would not have my cousin marrying some merchant or something else of that sort. Not when you could do so much better. And besides, marrying something so ridiculous such as that does our family no good does it? You are well aware our sole purpose in life is to make sure we do our family well. This not only helps you, but the kingdom and our family. Now two girls are queens."
"But… oh but cousin, I do not wish to marry him!" I exclaimed. Perhaps I was being a bit ridiculous, having never met him.
Her eyebrows narrowed. "But you will. You will be gone by tonight."
I stared at her, the infuriation evident on her features—she was rather choleric. Her jaw was clenched, the determination she felt practically radiating from her slim form. Slowly, but surely, realization dawned on me. I breathed in deeply, momentarily holding that breath as the absurdity of this situation overwhelmed me—Lauren cared naught for this kingdom. It was about her. It was always and it always would be, apparently.
"You liar," I whispered.
Her head snapped back in my direction, having turned to stare at a handsome lad. "What?" she hissed.
"You… you liar," I repeated.
She took a menacing step towards her, her eyebrows knitting together. "And how am I a liar, cousin?"
"You don't care about this kingdom! You never have. You're not marrying me away so that you can form an alliance—an alliance that would hopefully protect this kingdom should a war with someone else start. You're… you're a liar. This is all about you, cousin, isn't it? Everyone is aware of your husband's infatuation with me. Even commoners know it, and you can't stand it, can you? You can't stand the thought of other people saying you can't keep your husband's interest. You can't stand the thought of possibly losing your status as queen, either," I hissed.
"Oh?" she remarked coldly.
"That's why you're marrying me to King Edward, isn't it? To get me far away from here—he can't touch me if I'm not around. And the fact Edward is a king means that King Mike cannot attempt to have an affair with me, either—then I would merely lose my life and he would lose his alliance. If you had married me to… to a man of court here, he still would have made his advances seeing as how neither of us would have had anything to lose. But… but I still can't completely understand. You could have married me to… to… oh, I don't know! A man of court in another kingdom. Or perhaps a peasant from another kingdom."
She stared at me coldly. "I could not do that," she whispered, her lips hardly moving. I struggled to catch her words.
"If I did that, everybody would know why. As you stated, everyone is aware he likes you. I would be considered a bad queen, and our family would be terribly angry. I would not have some of their support should I need it. My father wished for you to stay here, due to Mike's interest. You could have been his mistress, and that way he would stay away from girls outside of our family. We would still rule. But I shall not have him putting me aside for you. So much good comes out of it, Bella. You're finally out of my way."
I gaped, tears finally leaking out of the corner of my eyes. I was struggling to accept the inevitable.
I was getting married.
"But… why would he marry me?" I whispered.
"What do you mean?" she asked slowly, although I was sure she understood my words.
"He could marry a princess or someone from his kingdom. Why me?"
She chuckled. "He needs an heir. I promised you would give him children."
I was silent for one long moment. "And what if I cannot have children?"
She didn't respond.
"Lauren," I whispered. "What if I cannot have children? What if I cannot give him an heir?"
"What about that?" she finally snapped.
"What will happen to me?"
She grimaced. "I don't know. Maybe he'll fall in love and decide to keep you, regardless." Her tone was drenched in sarcasm. "Or maybe," she began once more, her tone a whisper. "Maybe, he'll decide to take some mistresses, send you far away from him where you will rot until one of you dies. Or maybe he'll decide to divorce you, as hard as that is to do, and maybe he'll even find you a new husband. Or maybe once again he'll let you rot. Or maybe he'll have you killed."
"… Killed?" I breathed out, my heart thudding soundly in my chest.
"If he doesn't kill you himself."
"On what grounds would he have to kill me?" I exploded, wiping furiously at the tears that ran down my cheeks.
She chuckled. "I don't know. He'll be creative."
"He has no right to kill me, for failure to have an heir is not a sin. You would know, cousin," I hissed. Her hand shot out to grab the top of my dress roughly and yank me towards her before she dropped her hand, realizing people could see what she was doing. She took a deep breath to compose herself, but I had known her long enough to realize she was still angry. The failure to provide an heir to this kingdom had always been a touchy subject of hers.
"Take that back," she hissed.
"It's only the truth, cousin," I retaliated.
"Stop referring me as your cousin—you have no right! I am your queen first and foremost."
"Naturally," I muttered before raising my voice. "Do forgive me, your majesty."
She exhaled, pinching the bridge of her nose. A few stray tendrils of her blonde hair slipped from the tight bun it was in, framing her pale face. That was the only quality we had alike—the same pale skin. Her eyes slowly fluttered open and it took all of my control to keep myself cold and composed. Our petty argument and her terrible news made me feel exhausted.
"You leave tonight," she muttered, and I made no move to protest. There was nothing I could do.
"I understand your majesty."
"In fact," she continued, meeting my eye. "Go now. There should be a carriage waiting outside with all of your belongings inside of it. Take that and tell the designated driver that you are leaving now. He has already been paid, so you have no need to worry about that. Go now, and when you return, I expect it to be because your husband is coming here for whatever purpose." She waved me away with her hand, dismissing me, her eyes scanning the room in search of something. "Your parents will be thrilled with this, rest assured."
"May I say goodbye to my parents?" They didn't live too far. I could take a small detour to say goodbye.
She met my eye. "No."
I stiffened. "May I have a servant send a note to them, then?"
The smallest of a smile arrived on her face. "No."
"Are they aware that I am being married off, your majesty?" I questioned, keeping eye contact with her so as not to lose confidence.
"And what will they learn that I am gone, then?" I fumed silently, my teeth clenching together with an audible snap.
"When you arrive at your new home." She smiled mockingly. "Send them a letter."
"You are cruel," I stated blatantly.
She smiled sweetly, tilting her head to the side innocently. "But I am your queen, and you shall obey me."
I stared blankly at her, struggling to comprehend everything she just had stated. This was all due to the fact she coveted what she did not have. She coveted the interest her husband showed me, but to go out of her way to make my life miserable—especially considering I had no choice in his interest, was absurd. Instead I merely curtseyed, unsure of whether to be glad of my departure, for I would be away from Lauren or sad that I was leaving my home.
The ride there was unpleasant. It was two days in a carriage, and then another three days upon a boat, and then another day in a carriage—it was a most unpleasant experience. I bathed in nearby rivers and ate the food that was packed—most of it had already gone stale. The roads were bumpy and the boat ride was unbearably boring. Occasionally the group of men bringing me there would attempt a conversation with me but I brushed them off every time due to my sour mood. I couldn't bring myself to sing cheerfully and make pleasantries with those around me—I was leaving the only home I had ever known to marry a man I had heard terrible things about.
I often tried to console myself with the hope that he wasn't as bad as people said. That maybe he was a kind man, and that they said these terrible things because they were jealous of the power he had. I tried to convince myself that maybe I would fall in love with him, given time. Sure, I had been taught that I would marry whoever suited my family best. I was well aware of that. But I had always told myself that I would fall in love, as my mother and father had been. I had always assumed I would at least know the man I was marrying before I married him.
Upon arriving at the castle, I could feel my stomach doing flip flops. It was very pretty, and very big, that was undeniable—but the only person in sight was a girl with light brown hair. Where was the king himself? Should he not wish to come and greet his future wife? We were betrothed, soon to be married, after all. It was against my consent, naturally, but it was still how things were. The man who led the carriage got off of his horse, coming around to hold his hand out for me. I placed my hand in his own, allowing him to help me down.
"Good evening, my lady," the girl with light brown hair spoke, sweeping me a curtsey.
"Good evening," I responded, nodding my head in her direction. My voice came out a bit cold and I instantly felt a bit of guilt—it wasn't this girl's fault I was here against my wish.
"My name is Angela Weber, and I am here to show you to your rooms and anywhere else you should wish to go. I am also to explain everything you may need to know. For starters, breakfast is served at eight in the morning until nine. Lunch is served at twelve in the afternoon until one. And supper is served from six at night until seven. You may have your food delivered instead of eating in the dining room, but that is only allowed when court is not happening or when his majesty is not here. If it is either of those occurrences, you must eat with his majesty as expected from a wife. He will pick out your ladies in waiting so he can be sure they are good, honorable ladies—I am to be one." A slight blush formed on her cheeks. "And he will also handle all of the wedding arrangements. The only thing you have to do is provide your size for the wedding dress."
I nodded my head. "I thank you for the information, Mistress Weber. Is his majesty here at the present moment?"
He had best be here—it was common courtesy to greet your future wife.
She curtseyed again, almost as if fearing my wrath. "I do apologize, but his majesty is out hunting at the moment, my lady."
My eyebrows knit together, the frustration evident. Obviously, he felt his enjoyment was more important than me.
Angela's head tilted to the side slowly, as if she were struggling to adopt my thoughts as her own; as if she were attempting to understand what I was thinking. She seemed like a sweet girl—I glanced at her finger, and found there to be no wedding ring. Apparently, she was not married. How unfortunate. I knew what a struggle it was to be single and in court. Constantly men were flirting and your parents would always pressure you to enrapture the attention of a man whose status was higher than your own. Perhaps, with her consent, I would try and find her a pleasant match.
"He is out hunting?" I questioned and my voice was low.
"… Yes, my lady," she muttered, her eyes downcast.
"Instead of greeting his future wife, he went hunting?" I repeated. Even I could hear the disbelief that drenched my tone.
She hesitated. "… Yes, my lady."
I shook my head. "This is… an insult," I settled with.
"I am to apologize for any inconveniences, so… I am sorry, my lady." Her hands gripped her dress, as if she were going to curtsey at any moment.
I exhaled. "The entire wedding is planned, yes?" I had to be sure this was all settled.
"Yes, my lady. We just have to be sure we have the correct size for you dress."
I raised an eyebrow. "Do I not need to pick out my wedding dress, first?"
She hesitated again, her expression apologetic. "You do not need to do so, my lady. His majesty has given that honor to his sister, Princess Mary Alice."
I gaped. "He gave up my right to choose my own wedding dress to his sister?"
"Yes, my lady."
I inhaled slowly before exhaling, struggling to calm myself. "I thank you once more for this information, and now I ask that you must send a page boy to fetch his majesty and bring him back here. I do believe I should like to have a word with him." I was positively fuming—how dare he insult me like this! He didn't bother to greet me upon my arrival, and he obviously had no empathy seeing as how only Angela was here to greet me. She was a sweet girl, but she provided no comfort for she had not the answers I needed. For example, if I asked her what the king was like, she would no doubt preach about how wonderful he was, for he was her king. And then there was the fact I had no say in my own wedding.
"I… um… of course, my lady," she muttered, sweeping me a curtsey. Her skin color had gone pallid.
"Thank you," I muttered and she turned around to retreat to do as ordered before momentarily stopping.
"Would you um… like for me to show you the way to your room?"
I chuckled. "No, thank you. I think I should like to explore."
I turned on my heel, deciding the best way to explore would be to venture to the gardens first. Surely it wouldn't be too hard to find, because the smell of flowers was most prominent. If I couldn't find the gardens then I would at least find the kitchens to grab a snack. The ambrosial scent from the kitchens should be strong enough to lead me there—I almost laughed at how helpless I felt. This castle was huge. Maybe I should have taken her up on the offer to show me my room.
I shuddered, the feeling of being watched sending shivers up the length of my spine—I glanced back, but there was no one there. I couldn't help but feel a bit disappointed. I had been hoping it was Edward coming to apologize. I wondered if he would find me attractive, or if he would at least like me. I couldn't help but hope he would, and that I would like him, too. But this wasn't a fairytale, so there was no guarantee for a happily ever after. I exhaled in distress at the thought.
It was about an hour later that he finally arrived.
"You asked for me?"
The voice was like velvet; smooth, soft and enrapturing.
I turned around slowly; coming face to face with someone I deemed simply must be a God.
Bronze hair, green eyes, perfect features, a fantastic body—he seemed too good to be true.
"Y-Your majesty," I muttered, my face turning beat red. I stood up clumsily from the ground, sweeping him a bow.
"You asked for me?" he repeated, obviously wishing to get straight to the point.
"Yes, your majesty. I, ah… thought we should get acquainted, considering the fact we are to be wed shortly."
He raised one perfect eyebrow at my words.
"You summoned me for that?" he scoffed. My temper instantly flared up and I bit my tongue, struggling to contain the words I wanted to shout.
My voice shook a little, but other than that I managed to refrain from making a complete fool of myself. I couldn't help but feel a bit proud.
"I was a bit busy, I do hope you are aware," he drawled, his gaze drifting to stare at a nearby tree. I gaped, my mouth literally falling open at his words. Yes, he was busy hunting. I was going to be his wife, and already he was too busy for me, apparently. The nerve of him! My hands balled into fists, and I found I had the urge to hit him, which surprised even me. Generally, I was a nonviolent person.
"I'm aware, your majesty." I kept my voice cold, attempting to hide the fury I felt.
"Then what is the problem, and why have you summoned me?" he pressed.
I straightened my posture, lifting my chin up higher. "I thought as your betrothed, I was more important than your personal enjoyment."
He stared at me icily in the eye, and yet I couldn't help but feel like there were traces of amusement on his expression. Almost as if he found my reaction to the fact he didn't bother to greet me absurd, and therefore amusing. My teeth grinded together as I struggled to keep my temper in check—I was usually pretty good at that, but Edward seemed to bring out the worst in me.
"Then you were wrong."
I gasped, taking a step towards him. "Excuse me?"
"I… I… the nerve of you!" I exclaimed.
"You sound offended," he remarked, stating the obvious.
"I am!" I shrieked. "You brought me here to marry you and don't even bother to greet me! I don't ask for much. And then there's the fact you're allowing another lady to choose my wedding dress. My dress." He shrugged nonchalantly at my words, as if they didn't affect him in the least bit. As if my opinion didn't matter in the least bit. I took a deep breath, struggling to retain my calm exterior. I wasn't all that fond of marriage, none the less picking out a dress for a marriage, but it was the insult of not having a choice that got to me.
"Watch your tongue," he warned me.
"We've just met and already you have treated me poorly," I snapped.
"I am the king. I will treat whoever I want however I want. That is within my right." His green eyes seemed to gleam with satisfaction and I bit my tongue, tempted to respond with some not so lady like words.
"I won't be reproached," I hissed. He chuckled.
"Go back inside," he ordered, gesturing towards the house with his hand. Realizing my shoulders were hunched in defense I squared them, raising my head once more. I would not tolerate being talked to as if I were a child. Perhaps I hadn't made the greatest first impression, but neither had he. I shook my head defiantly, placing my hands upon my hips. I was here to be his wife, not due his every beck and call.
"No?" He raised his eyebrow. "I said, go back inside, Isabella."
"I am here to be your wife, not your servant," I hissed. He chuckled.
"And your job, as my wife, is to do as I say," he reminded me.
My father had never bossed my mother around—I wasn't accustomed to such behavior. But he was right.
"We're not married yet," I muttered.
"But I am still your king," he noted. "And therefore you have to do as I say. Now go back inside."
I stiffened, a frown finding my way onto his face. He was so bossy.
"May I ask about some of the wedding arrangements first, your majesty?" I questioned stiffly.
He exhaled in annoyance, momentarily closing his eyes. "Very well." They re-opened.
"When are we to be married?"
He chuckled. "In three days we shall be married."
"We must re-schedule," I insisted. "It took me so very long to get here, and my parents have not any idea that I am here or that I am to be married. I need to send them a letter from here informing them, which shall take quite some time for them to receive, and then they need time to pack and come. I cannot marry you without my parents attending." He shook his head, a small smile upon his face.
"Adjust. I am not re-scheduling the wedding."
"But… but you must! I cannot marry without my parents there!" I couldn't deny it. I was panicking.
He crossed the space between us, grabbing the top of my arm lightly. I could feel his warm hand through the sleeve of my dress, his touch gentle but firm—he seemed highly amused at my reaction. I attempted to yank my arm free but he tightened his grip, but my arm would not budge. I winced, tugging at my arm once more. He didn't release it. I lowered my gaze to the ground, knowing that if I stared at him straight in the face I'd lose my temper. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see that the corner of his lip was quirked upwards.
"You will marry me, with or without your parents." His voice was low. I frowned.
"But… that's not fair," I muttered. "It's not right."
"No parent," I continued, "should have to receive a letter, stating their child is married to a king. They should know beforehand and should be able to attend the marriage. Especially when their child is being married to royalty. Do you not know the bond between mother and daughter? Maybe you don't. It's not fair to not give them the chance to see their daughter—their only child, being married." I attempted to yank my arm free again but he tightened his grip, pulling me towards the castle.
"And no man, especially no king, should have to deal with a disobedient wife. And yet here I am, dealing with you."
I glared at him, allowing him to pull me back inside.
"If you weren't so disrespectful," I hissed, "I wouldn't be so disobedient."
"I'm disrespectful?" he exclaimed, scoffing in disbelief. "It's not a pleasant thought, knowing my little wife is a hypocrite." My teeth clenched together—I was absolutely seething now. Apparently, the rumors that had been whispered around court had been no exaggeration. He was a pompous man who thought he was better than everyone else—I hoped I would be able to get myself out of this marriage. If I wrote to King Mike, perhaps he'd take pity on me and find a way to return me home. That would be glorious.
"Takes one to know one," I retaliated, instantly feeling a sliver of pride at my insult.
"Go back inside," he snapped, his harmonious voice rough with anger as he released my arm to lightly push me inside.
"Of course, your majesty," I sarcastically responded, curtseying before stalking inside. The sound of my heels rebounded against the walls as I stomped inside, the anger overwhelming me. This was who I was marrying? Of course Lauren would arrange for me to marry a terribly cruel man. She would never wish happiness upon me, for I had been a threat to take the throne from her—well, at least in her eyes, I was. She would never want me to be jubilant, and would never help me break off this marriage—there was nothing I could do to prevent it.
With this knowledge I sunk to the floor, leaning against the wall as I attempted to control the tears that slipped down the expanse of my cheeks.
Author's Note: So, before I get flames stating Edward is out of character, I already know. Sorry—that will change, eventually. And his terrible behavior will be explained. Anyway, please review! I love them. They are my oxygen, you could say. Haha, okay, lame joke. But seriously, please review.