Of Roses & Thorns: Reflections of the Princess

(An ADwR Fanfic)

Disclaimer: I do not own Neverwinter Nights or the wonderful module "A Dance With Rogues." My Princess character Belle, is my own creation. All other characters mentioned in this story are property of Valine.

Author Note: After a couple rewrites, this story is now done. This fanfic tells about my Princess character Belle and her memories and observations of the past happenings of the game storyline. This story takes place about ten to fifteen years after the events of the game. Belle is of good alignment, and this short piece is a stand-alone, completely separate of my other story with a different Princess depicted here. This is basically about the Princess's recollections and her thoughts and feelings on all that has happened and how it has changed her as a person. This is just my viewpoint of what the Princess would be thinking and my attempts to get inside her head on how all this has affected her in the long-run.

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Where to begin? I suppose I should start at the beginning. Yes, that would be ideal. Begin from where it all started.

Betancuria Castle.

So many memories here, both good and bad. Memories of joy, of childhood. Memories of shelter, family and comfort. Memories of being the pampered little Princess. Things used to be so simple at first. But as Fate would have it, those things were not meant to last forever.

The siege on the castle and the fall of my home of Betancuria were the start of a new life. A new beginning. It's funny how things never turn out the way you plan. But then again, they hardly ever do.

Belle looked up for a moment from her writings in her journal, gazing out the window. The sun was setting, orange bars of the coming dusk casting shadows across her smooth, pale skin. To her, the golden sunset symbolized the last vestiges of a journey ended. A journey which had had a huge impact on her and her view of the world.

Belle, now Queen of Betancuria, had come a long way, in her heart, mind and soul. She was a changed person after what had transpired those several years before. Having grown stronger in both body and mind after all the battles that had been fought, Belle had developed a greater appreciation of life and the world, as well as herself. She found that she could rely on herself to get out of a sticky situation more so than she ever could before, growing up in the castle. Mastering the arts of stealth and hiding as well as persuasion, amongst other talents, Belle discovered that her self-reliance had brought her even greater self-awareness. No longer the scared and insecure girl she had once been when she was first introduced to the thieves' organization, better known as "The Family", Belle felt more confidence than ever before. There was a certain strength in that.

Life has a strange way of turning out it seems.

Belle returned back to her journal and her recollections.

The day my father's castle fell, was the day things all started going to hell. I remember that day as clear as if it were yesterday. Memories of sorrow, of loss and of innocence shattered. Running through the castle, running for my very life, not knowing where I was going. I wasn't sure if I would survive. And it scared me to death.

So I ran, past all the Dhorn soldiers, hoping for some small measure of justice to be granted this day, that I would somehow make it out alive. I still remember the sounds of their footfalls on the hard stone floors as they ran after me, pursuing me in their twisted sense of what was right and what was wrong.

When things turned black, that was when the last shreds of my sanity began to unravel. Vico's sexual assault of me tore away a part of my soul I can never get back. I will never forget the mad light in the man's eyes as he mercilessly forced himself upon me. But, I suppose I should thank him. After all, if it weren't for him, I'd have died, perished along with everyone else in the castle. Even with as cruel as he had been that fateful night, I have to thank him. For I owed him. He had taken my innocence in exchange for saving my life that day. Others might have viewed it differently, but I felt I had been lucky. I didn't exactly relish the thought of having my head mounted on the castle walls as part of a display of prized, morbid Dhorn trophies.

The others who had perished did not deserve their fates, this I firmly believe. Sometimes, a small voice in the back of my mind still questions as to why only I survived. But Fate doesn't answer questions. One just has to accept whatever is thrown at them, no matter how painful, no matter how many times one has to die inside before they can live again.

Yes, I suppose I was lucky in the end. I have since come to terms with those events. If I was offered the chance of going back, to change what happened, would I take it? I have thought long and hard about this. My answer may surprise some, but I would have to say no. Yes, things were difficult and I suffered quite a lot. But there were many silver linings in the dark storm clouds, one can find if one just looks in the right places. For I never would have become part of "The Family", had things progressed differently. I never would have met my friends and companions if things didn't turn out the way they did.

Take Pia, for example. Optimistic, giggly and fun to be around, Pia was one of my closest friends in the long-run. She was like a bright sun in the darkness, illuminating a spark of hope within me that I thought I had lost for good. Nathan and his stern, yet fatherly and protective demeanor. Alfons and his grumpy bear attitude. But he had a big heart and a soft side, once one gets to know him and earn his trust. And Caron, with his roguish charm and his naughty, dirty mind, was still very much a sweetie who did not deserve what had befallen upon him. It had taken me a long while to get over his death, to convince myself that his death wasn't my fault. Anden, the ranger whom I had to rescue from the bandits in the woods.

Belle looked up for a brief second and smiled at this. A real damsel in distress, that one, she thought to herself. She went back to her writing.

Vico and his possessiveness of me. But in the end, he had betrayed me and left to go on his own path. I did not grieve this at all. It was only a matter of time I had told myself. Rizzen, the dark elf whom I had escaped with from the Underdark. He had accompanied me as I searched for Nathan and the others. He had made a fine addition to "The Family."

And finally, there's Bran.

Belle smiled at this and touched the locket around her neck that Bran had given her as a symbol of his love for her. Bran was kind-hearted, nice and a decent, loving soul. Belle had immediately fallen for him the moment she had laid eyes on him at the Three-Headed Orc Tavern in the town of Westwood. He had surrendered his quest of revenge to stay with her and protect her. And protect her he did. They were married now with two daughters and a third on the way, for she was once again with child. Belle's hand went to her growing belly and she smiled at this. No, she wouldn't dare change a thing. Everything happens for a reason after all, she thought silently.

And in the end, Belle had been granted the title of "The Countess of Delberg", by the Earl of Delberg himself, in exchange for her help in defeating the orc raid on the castle. As a result of this, Belle was able to gather enough forces to her side to drive out the Dhorn from Betancuria, and claim her rightful place as its Queen. "The Family" had also worked to restore itself to its former status and was now thriving as before.

The celebrations of the city's victories over the defeat of the Dhorn Empire lasted many days afterwards. Banners had been raised, cheers and cries of joy could be heard and there was much feasting and rejoicing. Belle smiled at the memories.

Returning to her journal, she continued writing.

As the Queen of Betancuria, I now have a duty and role of protecting and leading my people with a firm, yet compassionate hand. Alongside of my husband, Bran, the King of Betancuria. Bran was at first hesitant to take up such a demanding role but now he embraces his duties whole-heartedly and without doubt. I can tell the citizens of Betancuria sorely needed the Royal Family back on the throne as they tired of having the tyrannical Dhorn hold sway over them, ruling them with a cruel and unrelenting hand. But those days are over now, and for this I thank all the gods for helping to set things right again-I am now the Queen I had always dreamed of becoming, the Queen I was always meant to be. And as the years go by, eventually my eldest daughter will take up the throne one day and be where I am at, at the current time. And the legacy of the Royal Family would continue on for years to come.

Belle stopped writing and set down her pen. It was dark now, the sun had set in the sky. She got up from her writing desk in her bedroom at Betancuria Castle and went to check on her two daughters in the adjacent rooms. She stood in the doorway of each for a moment, smiling at their sleeping forms.

Belle returned back to her room. The moon glowed through the tall windows in the bedroom, casting an ethereal, silver light upon her hair and features, making her seem like a heaven-sent celestial being momentarily. Retiring for the night, she lay down beside Bran in the huge four poster bed adorned with silk sheets and velvet drapes that hung down from the bed.

Thinking about all the past happenings, Belle drifted off to sleep beside Bran. The events had left footprints upon her psyche, footprints she dared not erase. After all, how can one decide the path of destiny? Destiny takes its own course and one must simply go along with the flow.

Wherever that may lead.

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a/n: Well, I hope you all enjoyed reading this. This is just my depiction of the thoughts and feelings of the Princess. It is a one-shot and won't be continued. Reviews on this would be nice. Thanks for reading and leave a comment or two!