A Rose Among Thorns – Una's Story

{Author's Note : Hello, Natalie here! This is my first uploaded Fanfic. I started this a rather embarrassingly long time ago and never uploaded it onto my old account, which I am unable to delete, so here it is now! Hope you like it...

Chapter One – Princess of Stormhold

I woke up one morning with a small feeling of dread trickling through me like a little stream, and in only a moment's time it had turned into (not literally.) a waterfall. Today was my fifteenth birthday – a cause of elation to some girls, a cause of doom to myself and other girls of my high birth. I was now at the age at which high-born girls of Stormhold could be married. And, knowing my sly and cunning lord Father, His Majesty the king, he will seize at whatever marriage prospects for me he can get.

I should really stop complaining and introduce myself, it's a horrible trait of mine, Primus tells me all the time, but that's just stuffy old Primus – oh, off I go again! My name is Una, the youngest child and only daughter of the King of Stormhold, Comgan. I have seven older brothers and I can often not remember all their names, but today is your lucky day – Primus the Prince Royal, Secondus, Turtius, Quartus, Quintus, Sextus and Septimus. My mother, Queen Fiona, died giving birth to me, on this day fifteen years ago. My father was distraught at her death, which is a big thing for him, he is like a rock – completely unemotional. They say that he does not like to look at me nowadays, for I look much like my late mother, but he was quite fond of me when I was little and nobody had a clue who I looked like.

My brothers are my joys and my "thorn in the side," as Primus likes to put it. Primus himself was fourteen when I was born – we, the children of the king, are all two years apart – and it was him who had known my late mother for the longest time. Until my fifth birthday, it's said that he blamed me for our mother's death – he was very fond of her. Secondus, rash, sharp-tongued Secondus, being thirteen when Primus first said this (I was one) immediately remarked sharply, "Oh, yes, little Una entered this world with a single desire to murder her mother," and this infuriated Primus so that he actually made to attack and beat his younger brother. Primus was fifteen years old, and Secondus was thirteen and not as strongly built. Quintus (who was eight at the time) told me that it was quite scary but it ended quickly, and my lord Father had words with both of them, so that was over quickly.

I maintained a strong enough relationship with my brothers, but it was Septimus who I was closest with. He turned two a few weeks after my birth, and we have been very close since before I can remember. We would giggle together in the Palace gardens, telling secrets and swearing on our lives (that was not a very big thing for us back then) that we would never tell any living soul. When we were six we would drop plums from the high windows onto a few unlucky, unsuspecting heads, and quickly duck into the windowpane when they looked up suspiciously, covering our mouths to smother our euphoric shrieks of laughter. We did our studies together, we were taught together. When Septimus was twelve and began his sparring lessons, I would go to watch and gasp and applaud at just the right moment when Septimus disarmed his teacher or brothers, pride glimmering in his dark blue eyes.

On my fourteenth birthday during the supper banquet, he very suddenly whispered in my ear, "You look beautiful." I started, then snorted with laughter. I was no beauty. My hair was thick, impossible to tame and the colour of darkest night. My eyes are a plain, undistinguished blue, my complexion fair-skinned yet ruddy and covered with freckles. I turned to face him, expecting him to also be grinning along with the joke, but his face was serious. He was almost sixteen years old now, and was rarely serious.

"I'm not joking, Una. You look beautiful," he repeated.

I wanted to roll my eyes, but was suddenly afraid that this would seem rude. I stared at this new, solemn and intelligent Septimus, beloved brother of mine, and felt our childhood gambols slipping through the fingers of my memory. What was happening to Septimus?

"Any lord or prince would be lucky to have you as his wife," he continued.

The somber atmosphere broke. I made a face.

He smiled and playfully swatted the tip of my nose with his finger. "Oh, Una. You're really too stubborn for your own good, you know. You know our lord Father, he'll try to get you a husband as soon as possible – probably by this time next year." I made an even worse face and he laughed softly. "But our lord Father loves you, Una. Don't forget that. He would never force you to be happy or unhappy, he would never force you to marry a man you hate."

"That's too bad," I replied nastily, finally recovering the use of my voice. "I'll never marry."

Now, as I lay in my bed on the morn of my fifteenth birthday, I realized how unlikely it was that the future I had set for myself a year ago was going to happen.

{Author Note : Well, that's Chapter 1! Be prepared for an update soon. And just in case any of you were wondering - yes, it's possible that a fifteen-year-old girl would've been married off at the time. In the 1400s, there are examples of girls being married off at the very young age of twelve. This continued into the Victorian era, I think. Pretty nasty if you think about it. Again, thank you for reading! Reviews and constructive criticism are always appreciated :D}