A/N: WOOT here's my second entry for the "Once Upon a Twilight" Contest. I'm kind of proud of this one, even if it did get a bit confusing towards the end... You'll see. Lol
ONCE UPON A TWILIGHT CONTEST
Author: Entropic Kitten
POV: Third Person
Word Count: 3053
Summary: Edward is forced to choose a princess to be his bride. But how to tell who's a princess and who's lying?
This story is being submitted as an entry for the Once Upon a Twilight Contest, hosted by wishimight and staceygirl aka jackbauer. For complete contest details, to read the rest of the contest submissions, or if you are interested in entering, please visit the contest community at:
Entries accepted until 8/20/09
Voting begins 8/22/09
Once upon a time there was once a handsome prince, and he had to find a bride, but his family was adamant it be a princess as their family held great sway over the citizens of the city they ruled and it would not do for a man of our young princes' stature to marry a commoner.
The King sent men around the world to find a bride for his son and through there were plenty of beautiful girls ready to fall at his feet, only four were from a royal background.
The king called the women in for our prince to meet and demanded that he pick one and be done with it. The women came in their pretentious carriages but only three of them had a handmaiden by her side.
But perhaps we should begin the story where all good stories should really begin. In the beginning.
"Your father wishes to see you sir." One of our maids was at my door looking shyly at the ground beneath her. I sighed and stilled my fingers on the ivory keys of my piano.
"Thank you…" I trailed off, realizing I didn't know her name as this was one of the few maids who hadn't tried to offer me a tryst or ambushed me in one of the many rooms of the castle.
"Angela." She blushed and quickly continued. "It's no problem though sir, your father is waiting for you in the throne room." She hurried away down the hall when I nodded, showing her I had heard her.
Lord knows why he wishes to see me in the throne room, that's where he sees supplicants and passes his judgment on prisoners brought in from around Volterra. I quickly racked my mind for any reason he'd demand my presence there but came up short.
Pushing open the huge oak door to the lavish throne room I saw my father lounging on his throne looking every part the king of Volterra he claimed to be, though we all knew that it was really his advisers, Aro, Caius and Marcus that ruled the city. Edward Masen Senior was nothing more than a figurehead for the commoners.
Rolling my eyes internally I approached the throne and dropped down onto one knee in a show of respect. Maybe this was why he demanded the throne room, I thought as his eyes flashed in amusement at seeing his rebellious son kneeling before him.
"You may rise, Edward." He said calmly. "Come, sit. We have much to discuss." As he said this a manservant bustled over with a plush chair for me to sit in at my father's side.
"You are 17 now son and it's time for you to find a bride." He began, pausing as servers rushed forwards with chilled wine. "I have sent Jasper to issue a summons to the various kingdoms around the world and he has returned with four beautiful women for you to choose between, I want you to pick one and be wed by fall. There will be a banquet tonight for you to meet them."
I looked up at my father's face, trying to gauge if he were joking. The look in his eye said otherwise. "You're serious? I have to choose between these women? I don't even get a chance to find my own bride?"
"You are lucky I'm giving you a choice, I never had that privilege." My father replied, the green eyes that I inherited from him flashing angrily.
"But, what about love? What about what I want?" I retorted quietly, attempting to keep my anger in check. Realizing now why he chose to see me in the throne room, in this room he is the king and I am just a prince. In this room, his word is law.
"This isn't about what you want, Edward." He snapped. "It's about what's best for the kingdom, you WILL marry a princess and these are the only ones your age who are not already betrothed. And as for love, you have two weeks until the first leaves are due to fall to find it. But you WILL be wed then, regardless of love." He waved his hand for more wine and I took that as my dismissal, angrily leaving the room.
That night as I entered the banquet hall I wished I hadn't been born a prince, the commoners may think my life is so much better than theirs but I wish for nothing more than love and a family for my own life.
I was seated at my father's left hand side, across from my mother, who gave me a tight smile as she sat. The doors leading into the hall opened and seven women entered, four of them were dressed impeccably in flowing silk gowns with tight corsets that were created simply for drawing the eye to their ample chests. The three women who stood behind them were obviously their handmaidens, judging by both their woolen dresses and lack of jewellery.
The princesses were seated on either side of the table; two blondes were beside my mother while a brunette and a redhead were placed beside me. Once they were seated the meal began and I got a chance to be introduced to the women my father wanted me to choose my bride from.
"I'm Lauren Mallory," One of the blondes across from me said in a nasally voice and I was tempted to offer her something to blow her nose with. "My father has a great army that it would be very wise for you to be allied with." I internally groaned, veiled threats, though they were empty threats as Volterra's army was unstoppable.
The redhead beside me spoke up. "I'm Tanya Laurent." She scooted her chair closer to mine to whisper in my ear suggestively. "And I could make you a very happy man." I surreptiously leaned away from her.
The remaining blonde cleared her throat and shot me a dirty look. "I'm Rosalie Hale and my mother sent me to you, sure you would choose me and chase all ideas of marrying another out of my mind." She paused to glare at me threateningly. "You had better not choose me."
The brunette beside Tanya laughed suddenly. "Oh Rose, you're just bitter your mom won't allow you to marry a common lumberjack. I'm Bella Swan, Rose's half sister. Her mom married my dad after my mother died."
I was kind of afraid of the way that Bella was looking at me, as though I was something to eat, I quickly looked away from her when I realised something. "Bella? Where's your handmaiden?"
She looked uncomfortable. "She… err… wandered off before we arrived. I just woke up one morning and she was gone, right Rose?"
Rosalie nodded, shooting Bella a quick look of loathing. Interesting I thought. Sibling rivalry or something more?
Finally the meal ended and I was allowed to escape the women who were all frightening in their own ways. Rosalie; with her angry looks both at me and her half sister, made me scared for both our safety. Tanya; with her attempt at seduction made me sure that she would not be a loyal wife and that I'd never know if any kids we had were mine or another's. Lauren; with the voice that hurt my ears and her veiled threats of her daddy's armies. And finally Bella, I was pretty sure that I'd choose her as she was the best of the four her, though there was something… off about her.
I had two weeks until I had to be wed and since Bella was the least flawed of the bunch I might as well tell my father she was the one I chose and use the time to get to know her better, as I will be stuck with her for the rest of my life.
I wandered through the halls to my father's library to let him know my decision to so he didn't continue to pressure me. Though none of the women really appealed to me all that much I knew he wouldn't allow me not to choose one.
After I told my father my decision and was leaving the library lightening flashed with a horrific crack, the thunder making the thin glass in the windows shake. Glancing at the window nervously, in case it was going to shatter, I saw a figure approaching the castle on foot. As the figure tripped I realised it was a woman and she was tripping on her skirts.
I was going to call a maid to lead the woman into the kitchen, when thunder boomed again and lightening hit the ground near the woman who had, again, slipped in the mud.
I ran through the halls with no thought to decorum, yelling for a maid to find my father's physician, Carlisle. Reaching the large doors that led onto the grounds I was at the girl's side in seconds.
Looking at her torn, muddy clothes and the dirt streaking her face and hair I quickly figured that she was a beggar, though she was rather young to be a beggar as most girls her age quickly got jobs as maids or servants in Volterra. If she made it through this I would make her Bella's maid seeing as hers ran off.
Carlisle reached us and hurriedly checked for a pulse, finding one he gathered her in his arms and carried her into the castle. I followed behind him as he brought her to his study. I stood there helplessly while he performed CPR and was surprised at the relief that coursed through me when she started coughing.
"Edward, find a maid to draw a hot bath, she needs to warm up, also get someone to go and see if Esme can spare some warm broth. Quickly!" Carlisle ordered.
I hurriedly rushed into the hall and spotted Rosalie's tiny, dark haired handmaiden hovering outside the room, wringing her hands. "You! Go to the kitchen and get hot water drawn for a bath and some warm broth."
She blinked at me, before turning and running down the hallway to do as I ordered.
I returned to the room to see that Carlisle had wrapped the girl in a blanket and was trying to speak with her.
"I need to see the king." The girl said in a soft voice.
Hearing a commotion in the hallway I ducked back out so that the water could be brought in. The dark haired handmaiden dashed into the room with the broth and I heard her gasp.
"What?" I asked, rushing back into the room hurriedly.
"Oh thank god, you're alive!" She said, placing the soup on Carlisle's wooden desk before leaping into the girl's arms.
"You know this beggar?" I asked, perplexed.
"She's not a beggar." The dark haired girl said, turning for face me. "She's…"
"My handmaiden, Jessica." Bella interrupted entering the room then sneering at the both girls in front of her.
"I am not your handmaiden." Jessica snapped, standing. "Nor is my name Jessica."
I looked between the three women, confused. "So who are you then?" I asked, trying to make sense of the situation.
"Jessica." Bella announced, the same time that three other voices said "Bella."
I turned around to see a teary Rosalie in the doorway, staring at the muddy girl in the blanket. I was shocked when she rushed to embrace her.
"So let me get this straight." I started, looking from one girl to another. "This beggar is Bella Swan?"
"She doesn't look much like a princess." A nasally voice said and I groaned when Lauren entered the room.
"Alright. EVERYBODY OUT." Carlisle yelled, shooing everyone from the room as Esme had arrived to help the beggar/Bella/Jessica bathe.
I shooed the girls back to their rooms and turned to leave when my mother's voice stopped me. "Someone is lying and there is a way to tell. Call Bella back here and keep her occupied for an hour, and then you are free to let her go to bed."
I stared at my mother like she had three heads but did as I was told. No one, not even my father, crosses Elizabeth Masen.
The next morning my mother called me into her sitting room, upon entering I was startled to see the small dark haired handmaiden, Jessica, Bella and Rosalie in the room with her.
"Ok." My mother began, looking very much like she knew something no one else did. "How did you sleep Bella?" She looked over at Bella who simpered before answering.
"Wonderfully, Queen Elizabeth. It was like sleeping on a cloud, I must tell father where you get your mattresses made."
"And you, erm… Jessica? Alice?" She turned to Jessica and Rosalie's handmaiden.
"I slept very well ma'am." Alice replied, inclining her head respectfully.
"Not so well, I'm afraid Queen Elizabeth." Jessica responded, looking as unrested as she claimed to be. "I was tossing and turning all night, it felt as though I were sleeping on a lump."
"Rosalie?" My mother prompted.
"The same, the mattress in my room had a lump, as well." Rosalie looked slightly more rested than Jessica, but that would be expected considering the events of last night.
"Very well. Ladies, you may leave. Edward come, walk with me." My mother dismissed the girls and led me to the gardens in silence.
"The girls who slept badly are truly princesses, the other two are not." She broke the silence and looked at me sideways.
"How do you know this?" I asked her, wondering how she can be so sure.
"I had Jasper and Bree place a pea below their mattresses. Only a princess has skin so sensitive as to be able to feel it through the mattress." My mother explained. "The beggar who you were so taken with last night is really our Princess Bella and the woman who arrived; calling herself Bella is nothing but a treasonous handmaiden."
"Wait… taken with? Mother I was merely concerned about her well being." I protested.
"No son, even while you thought she was nothing more than a commoner you were already considering keeping her around, I know you were." I was amazed at how perceptive my mother could be.
"What are we going to do about Jessica? The REAL Jessica?" I mumbled.
"That's up to Bella to decide." My mother shrugged. "Now, how about we go hear the whole story?" I led my mother back to the castle and sent a maid to fetch the girls and bring them to my father's library.
My mother and I sat as the girls entered the library; my father followed behind them with his guards Felix, Jasper and Jacob around him.
He sat in his favorite chair by the window and looked at the girls. "Princess Rosalie, please, sit." Rosalie took a chair near my mother and snickered quietly when Alice stood as close to Jasper as she could.
"Now, ladies. You do know that claiming to be royalty is treason? And that treason is punishable by death?" The girl I now knew as Jessica looked smug, even as Alice and Rosalie both snapped their heads to my father, ready to protest.
"No!" They screamed together. "She's not impersonating anyone, she really IS Bella!" They both stood and rushed to Bella's side.
Jessica's smug look faded a little at their show of solidarity, but was back again when my father continued to speak. "Oh but she is, and though Bella might protest, the law is law and not even I can change it."
"I understand the law, sir." Jessica said smugly looking at Bella. "Do what you have to do."
"Very well." My father smiled victoriously. "Arrest her."
I watched as Jacob and Felix approached Jessica and grabbed either arm. "Bella, if you will." My mother invited.
"Jessica Stanley, I, Princess Isabella Marie Swan, hearby charge you with treason in the worst degree. Not only did you impersonate me, you hijacked my carriage, left me for dead on the roadside, blackmailed both my sister and her handmaiden (who happens to be my best friend). I now hand you over to King Edward the First for punishment." Jessica paled as Bella stood and looked down at her. "I now step aside to allow my sister to place her own charges against you."
Rosalie stood and slapped Jessica across the face with all her might. "You." She seethed. "You tried to kill my sister, and threatened the life of the person I love to blackmail me with. I don't care if mother says I can't marry a commoner, I will regardless. You'll never get back to Mike now so Emmett is safe from him. Alice got anything to say?"
As Rosalie stepped aside Alice spat in Jessica's now tear streaked face. "I hate you."
I was amazed by the various threats Jessica had made to keep their silence, and now that they were out she had signed her own death warrant several times over.
"Well." My father said suddenly, over the sounds of Jessica's sobbing. "Felix, Jacob, take her away. Edward, Bella and I have a wedding to plan, that is, if you're agreeable Princess Swan?"
"Yes sir." Bella replied, looking at me shyly.
And so, our prince and princess were married when the fall came around, and King Edward Sr and Queen Elizabeth also received invitations to Rosalie and Emmett's wedding in thanks for allowing Jasper the freedom to marry Alice. King Charlie had no problem with allowing Alice her freedom and even found that he and Emmett, the lumberjack, got along remarkably well and knighted him then gave his blessing for them to be wed.
And so, they all lived happily ever after… Well… except for Jessica who was beheaded.
A/N: Lol. I love the last line so much.
Review my lovelies? I'll give you a virtual cookie.