Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or any of the characters in it. I am making no profit off of this.
I gazed at myself in the mirror, my stomach doing twists and turns. My hair was held up expertly, certain strands curled and framing around my face. Alice had managed that, insisting that she would take care of everything. The only thing I had to do was repeat my vows, she assured me.
My wedding dress was a light white, the fabric brushing the floor. The bodice was square, the top of the sleeves puffed. The shoes were small and white, cramping onto my feet in an effort to make them look small. Now, I certainly did not have big feet, but Alice said appearances were everything.
I was getting married today and I was meeting the entire court. It was nerve wrecking. What if they hated me? I wasn't even sure when my coronation was, and that thought made my head become faint. I couldn't imagine being a queen—and I certainly could not imagine becoming the wife of a man I hardly knew and didn't even like.
"Oh, my lady," Angela gasped out, stepping inside of my room. "You look so very beautiful. The king will be left breathless."
"Thank you, Mistress Angela." Years of being in the court had perfected my manners, making it almost instinct. My eyes were watery, I noticed in the mirror. I blinked a few times, trying to get rid of the tears I wanted to shed. She stepped closer towards me, a sympathetic smile on her face. I guess she had noticed my tears.
"It will be alright," she said cheerfully. I was glad it was just her. The other ladies were in my sitting room, which connected to this bedroom, most likely playing some sort of card game and gossiping. Only Angela had come to give me comfort, and I appreciated that. They would all be attending the wedding, and would leave just a few minutes before me.
I avoided responding to that statement. "Who will be walking me down the aisle, since my father could not make it in time?"
"An old friend of his majesty," she responded carefully. "I think you shall like him. Most everyone does. He is a duke," she told me, biting down on her lower lip.
There was a knock on the door, and she beamed. "That might be him," she whispered, and I inclined my head towards the door, signaling she should open it. She hesitated, spending a moment fixing her hair and straightening out her dress. She sucked in a deep breath and an amused smile curved on my face.
She opened the door, dropping immediately into a curtsey.
I curtseyed as well, peaking up at him. He was fairly tall with a head of blond hair. His skin was pale, his features beautiful and well formed. He was more lean then muscular, and there was something that appeared very kind about him.
I rose from the curtsey and walked towards him, a smile on my face.
"Your grace," I greeted. "I do not believe we have had the pleasure of being formally introduced."
"My lady." He smiled, and stepped forward so Angela could shut the door behind me. "I am Carlisle Cullen, and I am pleased to have finally had the chance to meet you. I have heard such pleasant things about you from your home kingdom as well as this one. We are all honored to have you here."
It was obviously a lie, but a pretty one at the least. The king obviously did not feel honored to have me here.
"I thank you for your graciousness. Will you be walking me down the aisle?" I was pleased with Edward's choice, surprisingly. He was a kind man, and seemed quite fatherly. He smiled gently.
"Yes, I will be, as long as you have no protest."
"Considering my own father is not here, I am simply grateful that you could do this in such short notice."
He nodded his head towards me, holding out his arm for me to take. "Shall we go, my lady?"
I reached forward slowly to take his arm, my stomach twisting in another knot. I had almost forgotten, for just one brief moment, that I was to marry a man I could not stand today. I had almost forgotten, for one brief moment, that the fate of this kingdom rested on me being able to produce a son.
He led me down towards the room where I would be getting married, but it took longer than my feet, being cramped in the shoes, appreciated. The doors were shut. Two big tall doors that were carved out of exquisite wood, and yet I could not find it in myself to admire them. Two guards stood in front of the door, watching us.
"Are you ready?" Carlisle asked.
I swallowed. "As ready as I'll ever be."
He inclined his head towards the guards, obviously the signal to fling open the door. They did just that which revealed a long aisle, pews all along the side. People turned in their seats to stare at me, all of them dressed in only the most expensive of fabrics and the most fashionably designed dresses.
What was I doing here? I didn't fit in among these people, I could already tell.
Carlisle led me forward slowly while I struggled to breathe, my chest heaving up and down. I didn't doubt it was apparent to anyone who looked—which, considering the fact everyone was staring, would be everyone.
I was doing alright until I looked up and met the eyes of my future husband.
His gaze was cold, a hard green. He was staring at me expectantly, if not a bit impatiently. I abruptly stopped and Carlisle stopped with me, reluctant to tug me along. I stood frozen for one long moment, staring at his unforgiving face. My mouth went dry, my stomach twisting as I struggled to breath, my chest heaving with the effort exerted.
Carlisle leaned forward to whisper. "Are you alright?"
His voice was so soft that even I hardly heard it, none the less the people surrounding us. People were staring to whisper, soft murmurs that were filled with accusations as well as confusion.
I finally managed to rip my gaze away from Edward to look up at Carlisle. "I can't do this."
My voice was also soft, but I was not as good at whispering as he was. The whispers of the crowd increased.
"You must." He turned to start walking forward again but I dug my feet in, all but yanking him back.
"I can't. I change my mind. I'm not ready," I whisper hissed to him.
"Listen to me, and listen to me carefully," he whispered, bending down. "If you turn back now and run away, this will only make things worse for you. You will be forced to marry the king at a later date, but you will always be gossiped about viscously by people here. You will never be accepted here. The king will not forgive you and will forever hold it against you for humiliating him. Such a thing is unacceptable, and I know your upbringing taught you that. So shape up and act like the lady you are."
I stared at him for one long moment, knowing he was right. I would be fortunate to not be shipped off to a nunnery as it is, but such a thing would surely seal my fate. Slowly, I nodded, and I down casted my eyes, refusing to look at Edward. I would not let him intimidate me into faltering facing the inevitable.
Carlisle led me towards the front of the room and the whispers slowly ceased, most now too preoccupied in watching me walk down the aisle; watching to see if I'd halt. Carlisle released my arm once we reached the priest and slowly, I looked towards the side of me to glance at Edward. He was watching me, the anger barely concealed. It was not the fear of his look that had me afraid. It was the fear of marrying this man at all.
He slowly knelt before the priest and I followed suit, keeping my eyes on the floor.
Everyone was laughing, dancing around the room. I sat on a chair next to Edward, him holding my hand to appear as if we were happy. There was music, and so much joy in the room, but none of it emitted from the bride of the groom. We were also, I noted, probably the only people not dancing.
"Your majesty, my lady." A man stepped before us, dropping into a bow. His hair was dark, his body lean. I could not see much of his features.
"Lord Crowley." Edward inclined his head in greeting. "Meet my wife, the lady Isabella. Isabella, meet Tyler, the viscount of Crowley."
I smiled politely. "It is a pleasure to meet you, Lord Crowley."
"The pleasure is completely mine, my lady." He turned towards Edward. "If I may be so bold as to ask, your majesty, when is your lady wife's coronation?" A jolt of panic went through me at that reminder.
I was not queen yet, simply the king's wife. I would only become queen once I had my coronation.
Edward gave him a dark glance. "You may not be so bold as to ask."
Lord Crowley visibly swallowed and his face paled. I shot Edward a slightly shocked, but more so dirty look. His hand tightened on mine warningly and I snatched my hand back. He reached over and grabbed it, choosing to hold it tighter this time. I bit my lip to prevent my face from turning into a grimace of distaste.
"Do forgive me, your majesty. I had no intention to offend either you or your lady." He bowed again, as if that would make everything better.
Perhaps it did, for a small smile graced Edward's face. "Rest assured that no offense has been taken. Go on and dance, then."
"Your majesty, if I may," I whispered, leaning closer to him. "I assure you that I can speak for myself."
The glare he sent me made me reel, frozen for one brief moment. It was if I had committed a crime, not spoken the truth. My chest heaved from the exertion of me refraining from snapping at him; even I would confess that was inappropriate to do in public. People would whisper, gossip and stare for such behavior.
"And I assure you," he whispered back, "that I will speak for you."
"Speak for me? Speak for me?" I hissed, outrage tinting my tone. I took a deep breath to calm myself, letting it out slowly. "Your majesty, I am quite intelligent, if I may say so. I have been taught to read, to write, to sew and most importantly, diplomatic response. I think you forget who my family is. I had to learn just as much as you did."
He snorted, not even sparing me a glance. "And yet compared to me, you are but a commoner."
I bit the inside of my cheek. It was my wedding day, and if it meant keeping the peace, I would humor him and his arrogance. "I believe, your majesty, that it is time for us to dance." The words were spoken through my gritted teeth, a false smile planted on my face. If people saw us talking and frowning, that would cause speculation. Part of being born into a noble family, as I often had driven into me, was keeping up the appearance of happiness.
He sighed, standing up. I had no choice but to follow suit, his hand dragging me up. He stepped down from our section, which was a bit above the rest of the court, and ever the gentlemen he helped me down. He smiled so politely, so formally, that I almost cringed. Even a stranger, someone who did not know the unpleasantness of the man, would be able to tell that was false.
The court cleared out of the way so we could dance, giving polite applause. I saw Mistress Stanely gossiping in the corner, her hand covering her mouth as she whispered. She was watching us, no doubt relaying what a terrible person I was, or something of that sort. The girl she was whispering to, Mistress Marshall, if I remembered correctly, looked puzzled. She was also watching us, and then she turned to whisper in her brunette friend's ear. Her hair was a dark red, a stunning color I thought personally. The girl herself was, unfortunately, plain.
I watched the different faces as we danced, examining their expressions. Carlisle was watching us almost intently, and when he caught me staring he smiled. Alice smiled at me as well, but her smile faltered when she met my eyes. Maybe I looked as unhappy as I felt.
"Put a smile on your face," Edward hissed, and I obliged. I guess I did look as unhappy as I felt.
Lord Crowley was watching us as well, his face carefully blank. I would eschew that man, I believed. He seemed almost fake to me, perhaps by the way he sucked up to the king. Then again, he could just be afraid, which is more understandable. I could commiserate.
Angela was watching us, an expression that I could describe as tender and yet sympathetic on her face. My smile turned genuine when I met her gaze.
The dance took far too long. Edward smiled politely at the crowd when we finished, holding my hand once again. There was applause once more before he turned back towards me, bending down to whisper in my ear. It seemed as if he was whispering sweet words into my ear, and smiles bloomed on some faces in the crowd. If only, I thought to myself, they could actually hear him.
"Dismiss yourself in ten minutes and return to your chamber. I tire of your presence."
"It was the strangest thing, Alice," I whispered, leaning across the carriage. Edward, Alice and I were going for a ride through one of the nearby villages at my request. I had wanted to see the village, but I wasn't allowed to even leave the carriage. I was fortunate enough Alice had convinced Edward to take me along for the ride. "Consummating the marriage, I mean."
Alice leaned closer to me, looking towards the door of the carriage. No footsteps, meaning Edward was not coming. He had exited the carriage a few minutes ago, although he hadn't said why. He had just mumbled something about a horse and left us.
"What was it like?" she asked softly. "I've heard it's terrible."
I shrugged. "Surprisingly, it wasn't. It was... oh, I don't know how to explain it. Anyway, how are things with you and the man?" I had already forgotten his name.
"Don't call him that. His name is Jasper. And everything is the same. Sometimes, I just wish..." She let out a long sigh, her little shoulders drooping.
"Wish what?" I asked gently.
"It sounds terrible, and I don't really mean it..."
"Go on," I prodded.
"Sometimes, I just wish my brother was someone else, so I could marry Jasper and have him still love me."
I reached out to pat her shoulder but she turned away, preventing me from doing that.
"Don't," she said sharply. "It's a terrible thing of me to say and we both know it. You shouldn't comfort me after I just said that."
I let my hand drop, knowing the stubborn princess would not accept any comfort.
"I would suggest we go for a walk, but there are bodyguards simply coating the exterior of this carriage." I laughed lightly, and she followed suit.
"I doubt the swarm of them would let us take so much as a foot outside," she agreed.
"I'm sure they would push us back in. And then alert your brother."
She made a face. "He would have a fit, thinking I endangered myself that way."
I sighed. "And I'm sure he wouldn't approve of me disobeying him." The disdain was evident in my tone; I struggled to suppress it.
There was a high pitched scream, and a loud bellow followed suit. I jumped slightly; I had never entered a village of commoners and simply sat in the carriage. My family always made sure we went straight through, not stopping for even a heartbeat. Edward had no fear, however, unlike my parents, for he had plenty of guards to protect us from being kidnapped or killed.
"What was that?" I breathed out, my tone breathless.
Alice bit down on her lower lip, and then shook her head slowly. "Just ignore it, Bella."
"What was that?" I repeated, standing up slightly in the seat. Alice leaned over and pushed me back down.
"Just ignore it, please, Bella. I doubt it's pleasant, it's not like there is anything we can do." She looked so sad, her dainty features ever so lugubrious.
"Alice," there was a hint of panic to my voice. "What aren't you telling me?"
The carriage door swung open and Edward stepped inside. The door swung shut behind it, someone else having shut it for him. He seemed to completely expect it, for he didn't so much as glance at the door to see if it was shut.
"Your majesty, what was that? Your sister seems to be under the impression that I don't need to know." I was hoping he would disagree.
He looked almost bored. "I have not the faintest idea. I don't concern myself with commoners. Whatever it is, I'm sure your female mind does not need to know it."
There was another scream again. High pitched and frantic. Too high pitched for an adult, I thought to myself. It had to be a child.
"What's happening?" I demanded. "That sounds like a child. Is a child in trouble?"
Alice sighed. Edward grunted. "Possibly. Whatever is happening, it doesn't concern us."
"You're the king," I hissed. "Everything that goes on in your kingdom is your concern, your responsibility. Now go figure out what is happening!"
The screams were joined by sobs this time. His eyes narrowed. "Don't tell me what to do."
I sat back, disbelief making my eyes wide. "Is that all you can say to this... to this horror? A child is obviously in trouble. If you are not going to do anything, then I will."
"You will not." His tone was sharp.
I stood up, clutching my skirt and pulling it up with one hand. I would not want to trip over it. That would stall me, not to mention it would be utterly degrading. "You may be king, but you are not living up to your responsibilities. I am your wife, and so therefore I will."
I pushed open the carriage door, stepping out of it.
"Isabella, you get back inside this very instant."
One guard stepped in front of me, looking rather sheepish. "Forgive me, my lady, but we cannot let you pass."
I sighed. "Oh, very well."
He seemed content with that and turned back around, his back facing me. As soon as he did that I bolted past, ducking down so no other guard could snatch me backwards. It was the element of surprise, I figured. They all had their backs to the carriage, wanting to be able to see any threat that might come this way and be able to protect us. I heard a surprised explanation from one guard but they would not physically grab me where everyone could see me, not without the king's permission.
I hadn't been mistaken. It was a small boy who was screaming and crying. He had his wrist held by an older man. That man was tall with a protruding stomach, his repugnant features twisted into amusement. His face was wrinkled, a thin mustache and beard adorning it. He had an apron on. The little boy he was dragging along was shrieking and twisting, his hair a mop of dirty brown hair. And by dirty, it was literally dirty. His face was almost smeared in dirt, his clothes ripped and stained.
"What is going on here?" I demanded, slowing my pace down to a walk now that people could see us. Passersby's whispered and stared, some staring at the elegance of my clothes, other at just me.
"None of your business, lady," the older man growled. He then turned and stopped, examining me from head to toe. Obviously he reached the same conclusion everyone else had: that I was rich. "Are you a customer, ma'am?"
"That depends. Who are you?" I doubted we ever got anything from this man, but there was no harm in asking.
"I am the local bread maker. Once I am done dealing with this little thief, I will show you some bread. I have very good prices." He started tugging at the boy again. I stepped forward.
"What has this young boy done to offend you so, kind sir?" I asked gently.
"He has stolen my bread, and so he must be punished."
"And what kind of punishment do you have in mind?"
"I will cut off his hand. It is the correct thing to do and I am within my rights to do so." There was a shriek from among the crowd. I didn't spare the crowd a glance, but the shriek descended into sobs. The child's mother, perhaps.
"What if I give you double the amount the bread little boy stole costs? Will you let him go, even though it appears you have gotten your bread back?" There was a loaf of bread lying on the ground, which I bet had been the loaf the little boy had snatched. I hoped the bead maker didn't plan on selling it. That was unsanitary.
The man scoffed. "Nay, I think not! He deserves a punishment."
"He's just a child!" It was a girl this time, who burst free of the on looking crowd. His mother, I assumed. Her hair was dark, her features thin and young. Her clothes were ragged and her hat flimsy, looking as if it would rip in two by the slightest breeze from the wind. A gentleman followed her, his eyes intently on the young boy. His hair was also dark, his clothes stained. They couldn't afford the food, I realized. No wonder the child had stolen it.
Didn't Edward do anything about the poverty here?
"I'm sure the lad didn't mean to steal," I said as soothingly as I could.
"Mean to steal! He snuck the bread right out from under my nose and then ran with it. If I hadn't caught him he would have gotten away with it."
I walked closer and then bent down so I was eye level with the boy. "Did you mean to upset this man, lad?"
The little boy burst into tears. "No! I just wanted to eat. I don't want my hand cut off!"
I straightened up. "You see? He didn't mean to upset you. I'll pay you double the amount the bread costs and we can pretend like this never happened."
The man barked out laughter. "Why, so he can steal from me again tomorrow?"
"He's just hungry." My voice went sharp. "His stomach must hurt."
"He'll be hurting even more in a few minutes."
I'll confess to feeling a violent urge to hit this man, but I refrained from doing so. But it frustrated me. Here he was, with a stomach double the size of my head, and he was criticizing this starving boy for stealing food. I had long ago figured out the world was not fair, and yet it continued to amaze me.
"I order you to release this boy." I stood up straighter, trying to appear intimidating. There were some incredulous whispers in the crowd. I glanced behind me, but Edward had not exited the carriage. I wondered why he was even letting me do this when he had ordered me to stay in the carriage.
The man snorted. "Where do you think you have the right to tell me that, lady?"
"Allow me to introduce myself. I am the lady Isabella, the king's new wife."
The man laughed. "Oh, right, and I'm the king of England."
My mouth twisted into a grimace. "I believe that would make you my husband."
"It's true!" The boy's mother shrieked and she pointed back towards my carriage. "Look at that carriage back there! Look at it! The sign of the royal family is on it! What are the odds this lady would appear the day after the king marries and while he is also visiting town? We've never seen her before, so she is obviously who she says she is. Do as she says and let my little boy go."
Her voice was rising with each word, hysteria consuming her. He wouldn't believe her, I knew, just by looking at his disbelieving face.
"By our laws, I have the right to this little boy's hand," the man snapped at her, and his grip visibly tightened on the child's wrist. He cried out in pain.
"I said let him go. I mean it." I stepped towards the man until we were less than a foot away.
"Back it up, lady," he snapped. My chest heaved as I struggled to keep my temper in.
There was an explosion of loud whispers from behind me, and then I heard that all too familiar cold voice.
"My wife said to let him go. You would do well to obey her."
The man paled and he released the boy, stumbling back a few steps. This village was the closest village towards the castle—I figured Edward must come here often for them to recognize him. How very odd that he should come himself instead of sending a servant to run his errands.
The man swooped down into a bow. "Your majesty, I…"
"You what?" His voice was sharp. "What is your excuse for disobeying my wife?"
The man said nothing. Even I could see Edward was inconsolable.
I knew he would be furious with me, too, but seeing that mother race forward and hug that little boy made it worth it. Seeing the tears that streamed down his father's face, and how hard he tried to hide it, made it worth it. Seeing the expressions of relief on the faces of bystanders made it entirely worth it.
"Come, Isabella," Edward said coldly, and he took me by the elbow. I realized that when watching everyone else around me, I had completely spaced out whatever Edward had said to that man. I shrugged it off. I doubted it would interest me, anyway, since I'm sure they were not pleasant things. I didn't like the man, but I could feel a little pity with how scared he appeared of my husband.
Edward all but shoved me into the carriage and then slapped the top of it, the signal to get it to start up. It started rolling.
Alice was watching me with a mixture of amazement and shock.
"What were you thinking?" Edward snapped at me almost instantly. "I told you to stay in the carriage!"
"That little boy needed assistance." For once, I felt no anger at Edward, for he had come out and helped me.
"I don't give a damn! When I tell you to do something, I expect it to be obeyed."
"Edward…" That was Alice. She raised her hand up to touch his shoulder—he was sitting next to her, and he pulled away.
"Don't, Alice." He was glaring at me.
"Is this what you do? Allow children to get their hands cut off for being hungry?"
"That child stole. He had wronged the baker. The only reason I let him get away with it is because the baker then proceeded to wrong you."
"He's just a child!" I felt almost exasperated. "He needs to eat, Edward."
"But stealing isn't the way to go about it."
"A child can't work, and his parents obviously don't have jobs. They're obviously starving. Have you ever gone so much as an hour hungry?"
"Have you?" he shot back.
I sighed. "Fair enough. No, I haven't, but at least I won't stand by and allow this to happen."
"It's not my concern."
"But it is!" My voice rose with my rising anger. "You are the king, and you are lucky there has been no rebellion! You have no consideration for them and you allow them to starve because you believe it is not your responsibility. But it is! You are king and you must take care of them. You must see to the needs of your country."
"You aren't even queen, but I suppose you know much more then the king himself, is that it?" he asked, his voice cold.
"Edward!" Alice exclaimed, glancing back and forth between the two of us. She looked distressed.
"You forget yourself," I snapped. "I was not born into a family of peasants."
"Yes," he hissed, a smile curving onto his face. "Simply a family of whores."
He was calling Lauren a whore, I realized. I took a deep breath and let it out very slowly, reminding myself that I was married to this man now and I owed her no loyalty anymore, cousin or not.
"Even if that was so, which it is not, I was still educated. I know what a king must do for his people."
"Shut your mouth and say nothing else. That is an order."
"Edward!" This was Alice, and now she, too, sounded angry. "Enough of this. She's right. I think you need to be more concerned with your people as well. The world does not revolve around the rich and the noble families, you know. Your world should revolve around this kingdom, and that includes the peasants."
"You've never had any concern about the peasants before!" Edward rounded on her. "In what, four days, has it been? In four days she's gotten to you and changed your opinion? Don't be so foolish, Alice."
It wasn't me who had changed her opinion, I knew. It was the peasant she was in love with who had changed her opinion.
"She hasn't changed my opinion, Edward. I've felt this way for a while."
"Alice, none of this is your concern. You are the princess. Don't trouble yourself."
Alice turned her face away from him. I shook my head.
"Your own sister agrees with me! If that isn't proof enough…" My voice trailed off at his angry expression.
"Do not bring my sister into this. It's bad enough you dragged her into this to start with."
"I didn't drag her into this!"
My protest was ignored.
"Now shut your mouth and be quiet." He turned away from me, as if that was the end of that. I realized he really didn't care what happened to those people—either he was ignorant to how bad their suffering was, or he just didn't care in actuality. I shook my head in quiet disbelief, not wanting to accept he could be that much of a monster.
"I ask permission to take some of our money, husband, and give it to charity. I can come here and hand it out personally, that way I may also ask the Lord to bless those who I come in contact with."
"Your request is denied. You may not take my money and do such a thing."
"Okay," I said pleasantly, leaning back into the seat. "Let me rephrase that. I will be taking some of our money and giving it to charity." At his narrowed eyes, I continued speaking. "Whether I get your permission to do so or not."
Alice snickered, biting her lip to hide a smile.
"You would disobey me." He sounded outraged, but more so disbelieving.
"I will do only what must be done," I explained softly. "These people need to eat."
He sighed angrily, and looked away from me. "Fine. Do it. I don't care either way."
"I would like to get involved with more charity." I found ideas running in my head, ideas that might make staying here tolerable. I had felt such sweet relief, such warmth to see that little boy reunited with his mother, to know I had helped in some way. If I could do that again, if I could help someone else, even if it made Edward hate me, it would be worth it.
"I'd rather you stayed out of the public eye," he told me. I shrugged that off.
"I have my own duties to do, and—"
"And your first duty is to provide me with an heir," he interrupted. "A male heir."
I waved that away with my hand. "Oh, we'll get around to that eventually. I think those who are living are more important than an entity that does not yet exist."
"I'm interested in hearing about this, Bella." Alice leaned forward. "Please continue."
"These people need to eat, and we have so much extra food. We should keep only what we need and give the rest to charity." I waved my hands around almost frantically, trying to get my point across. I remembered the family with the rags as clothing, and I continued. "We all have clothes that don't fit anymore, and we all have clothes we don't need."
"We need them," Edward interrupted. "We simply get them fixed once they no longer fit."
"But we all have so many clothes, and we don't need it all," I disagreed. "So every time we have an outfit made for us, we should give an old one we don't wear away."
Edward made a face, as if he didn't understand my thinking. "Why would we do that when we could get it tailored to fit us?"
"Oh, I like that idea," Alice all but purred. "We can start with buying you an entire new wardrobe and giving away all of your clothes."
I blinked. "That's a little drastic, Alice."
"But your idea," she pointed out. "You will be queen soon, Bella. Your clothes are fashionable enough, although I get the feeling you could care less, and expensive looking enough, but they need to be better. You need to dress and look better than everyone else at court. You need to set a fashion trend."
I sighed. "Well, I suppose that is true enough. It is one of my duties as queen. Once I get around to becoming queen."
Edward snorted quietly under his breath. I chose to ignore that.
"Just how much is this new wardrobe going to cost?" I asked quietly. "More than every dress I own?"
Alice grinned mischievously. "Probably."
I groaned, but I didn't protest. As much as I hated to admit it, she was right. "Alright, so I'll give some of my jewels away as well to compensate. Well, I'll sell them, at least, and then have that money given to the poor."
"Good idea," Alice said encouragingly. "We're also going to have to buy you a bunch of new hats, since the ones you are wearing now are getting to be a bit ratty."
I made a face. All of my family's money had gone towards making Lauren look good, and I'd had a lack of clothing for a while there. Once she was queen, she had made it up to everyone but me. She didn't want me looking good by wearing brand new dresses, hats, shoes, etc. And so some of my things were a bit ratty.
"Alright," I said slowly. "I'll give away all of my hats, too, then."
"The court, thankfully, has seen you looking nothing but your best, which was on your wedding day. We'll have to keep you concealed to your wing of the castle until we can get around to getting you that new wardrobe."
I shrugged. I wasn't particularly concerned with that. I had a library in my wing of the castle to keep me occupied. "Alright, but let's not get off topic now, Alice." Trust her to switch the topic from charity to fashion. "I'm sure fashion is very important and all, but I do believe charity to be more so."
Alice smiled and let loose a laugh that highly resembled a giggle. "Okay, okay, continue."
"I think when we have supper at court that we should give the remaining food to charity. We never come even close to finishing all of our food."
Edward made a sound deep in his throat. "I disagree. We might run out of food, and then what? We'd be hungry because we gave it all away."
I sighed. "We'd be hungry for a few hours. That's how long it would take for you to purchase more food."
"That's too long."
"Don't be such a snob, Edward," Alice scolded. "Our people will love these changes." I could tell by her face she was thinking of how her Jasper would love this.
"Also, in the matter of my dowry," I began hesitantly. "I know Lauren—Queen Lauren, sorry, sent pounds after pounds of gold, silver and she gave you a large piece of land that King Mike had owned. Perhaps… perhaps you could donate a portion of what you received to charity as well, husband. I think it would be appreciated by many."
"No," he said sharply.
"But why not?" I kept my tone neutral, blank. He would not grant me something I desperately wanted, I didn't think.
"Because I deserve that dowry and so much more for having to put up with you." The worst part was that he said that with a small smile on his face.
Alice stared at him, and then just shook his head.
"That's terrible," she muttered. "Let's talk fashion, Bella." I knew she was trying to change the subject so Edward would not participate in our conversation.
"Yes," he agreed. "Let's talk fashion." He reached forward and gently touched the spikes on Alice's head. "Why do you insist upon cutting your hair like a man, sister? You have such beautiful hair and yet you cut it so short. Why, you cut it shorter then a man does! I had forbidden all of our servants to cut your hair any shorter than your shoulders, and so you do it yourself. Why is that?"
"You did it yourself?" I asked, slightly amazed. It had looked very choppy, and so very short, but I would have never suspected that she had done it on her own.
"Yes," she confessed, and there was not a hint of shame in her voice.
"I happen to like your hair like that," I told her gently. Edward glared at me.
"It is not how a woman is supposed to cut her hair. No one will marry you if you persist like this, Alice. I want you to be happy."
"You want me to be happy." She sounded incredulous, and she shook her head in disbelief. I didn't know Alice all that well, but I knew what the average person would be thinking. I knew she was thinking of Jasper and how Edward would forbid her to marry him, despite the fact he would make her happy as no one else could.
"Yes, I do."
"Hm." She didn't say anything else. He ran his finger along her short hair.
"Why do you do this, Alice?" he asked with his voice lugubrious. She didn't respond, simply turned her head away so she was out of his grasp. He allowed his hand to fall. I realized that while his people had not rebelled from unhappiness against their king in any way, each time Alice met with Jasper, cut her hair short, or even just agreed with me, she was rebelling against the king because of her unhappiness.
Author's Note: Well, that took a while. Sorry. Hopefully that long of a wait should not happen again. See, I started doing updates again last month, but I can only write two days a week. (Which should hopefully change soon. We'll see.)
Anyway, I updated my two other stories last month, started this one and got to when Tyler met with Edward. Then I had to leave for the weekdays as I always do, and when I returned on the weekend I was busy as a bee. Then the next weekend I went to write and had writer's block. Then I didn't write because of that.
So for hours today, I forced myself to write out of guilt. Eventually, though, I started to get my inspiration back and was able to finish this chapter off and enjoy it at the same time. Huzzah! Well, sorry again for the long wait. I still plan to finish this story. I would let you guys know if I didn't plan to finish it, to answer several questions.
Check my page for news on how the updating on my stories is going. If I ever quit writing this story, it would say so there.
Hope you enjoyed it and please review.