Disclaimer: Any character you recognize most likely doesn't belong to me. Neither does the title per say. I swiped and fiddled with it from a MaryHigginsClark book… I think.
A/N: *yawns* I finally finished my sequel to DearDiary, and can start on something brand new. This would be that. (that sounds weird). Yes'ms anyway, I think this is different than my usual style and plot lines, but I wanted to play around with an alternate universe. Here we go.
Chapter One: Cursed Prince
"But he doesn't love her," she whispered quietly. It was always quiet. True to what was rumored, the King and Queen could hold an intelligent argument longer than anyone, and in most cases it resulted in an empty gap in the bed, as the Queen stubbornly slept as far away from her husband as possible. But in the arguments that really mattered; the ones that she truly believed in, they always ended in whisper. It was what tore the King's confidence and self-assurance apart.
Even now her head was bent downward, her arms dangling almost lifelessly by her side in utter defeat. It was hard for her to argue politics with him. He just knew too much, and it was even worse since they were both as stubborn as oxen. Her sudden switch from flaming arms and screeching words to barely whispers were of use to the King, because it gave him a strong indication on the seriousness of the subject, and the Queen seemed quite steadfast on this one.
The King and Queen were quite a pair. King Vegeta was well known for his steadfast rule, and his demeaning appearance. Although rather short in stature, his black cold eyes and matching flaming hair made up for it. A constant scowl was always pressed on his sharp features, his arms always crossed, giving him a cold stare that no one in their right mind would want to mess with. In fact, no one ever had tried to mess with it until his wife; Bulma. The Queen was quite renowned for her looks, with the classic fairy tale beauty sparked up with some pizzazz. She had a naturally slim body and was well off in areas that spark any man's interest, but Bulma was unique and more head strong than all of the other candidates that had been lined up for the thrown. Her large cerulean eyes and shiny aqua hair only added to her beauty, but she had other qualities other than her appearance. One had to be her intelligence. Not to say the King wasn't smart himself, but the two majored in different fields, so when added their wit and intellect together they created the perfect team to govern the country; not to mention some very heated arguments.
While the Queen could be quite opinionated and stubborn, she had a secret weapon that she could yank out whenever she saw fit. And that was Vegeta. She had him wrapped around her finger whether he knew it or not. Silent tears or devastated pleadings often did the trick to make the sullen King give in; but this time he would not yield. Love was an emotion that was a weakness to a king. Never mind that he himself had fallen for his bride, it was a burden towards a man who had a whole population on his shoulders.
Vegeta snorted, and turned his stare away from her own, but she didn't follow. Despite his eyes turned away, he could sense hers bearing into him. With a low growl that added to his already beastly attitude, he turned back to face his wife, finding no comfort turning away from her.
"Woman," he began with an exasperated sigh, the name he often addressed his wife as, "it doesn't matter if he..." he paused in his speech to physically cringe in order to make it apparent his feelings on the word, "...loves her or not. It never does for a king." This seemed to trigger something in her quiet manner.
"Never, huh? So, are you saying you don't love me?"
"Love doesn't matter for a king. Am I a king?" Vegeta shot the words out slowly and deeply. She wasn't sure whether to run up and slap him or to just curl up and cry. How could he say he didn't love her? They've been married for over twenty years! She was always there for him, whether it was helping him solve a political debate, helping him relax in his off time, she even bared his child! And yet; he didn't love her? How? When he was an arrogant, self-absorbed, conceited, unruly man; yet she loved him, how could he not find space in his heart for her. It was heart-wrenching and left her feeling empty.
"So that's that?" She asked, her voice quivering. Bulma wore a smile on her pale features; definitely not one of joy, but the one placed when one tries to hold back tears that are begging to be let free. Bulma hated to be seen vulnerable. She hated it with a passion. Vegeta already had a power over her - she didn't like to make it any worse by setting herself up as a weakness. Pressing her eyelids shut for a second, she rolled back her tears, and lost her pained smile. She wouldn't let him win. She wouldn't give him the satisfaction he always seemed to derive from her when he pained her. She didn't want to hear the heartless laugh that always ensued when her tears came. She didn't want it.
Gathering whatever strength she could find in her body and mind, she stood up straight and walked briskly to the door. With effort, she attempted to push past her husband and out of the room, but his strong hand reached out and grabbed her firmly. The sheer force that his hand held on her own was enough to send tears to her eyes, so with these new ones reinforcing the old ones, her carefully built dam collapsed, and they flooded down her cheeks. It was bad enough she had broken her promise not to cry, but he had to do his part as well. The laugh.
It started out as a mere chuckle or sometimes a snicker, but it would grow until his entire body shook with his mad laughter. Laughter towards her. He pulled her towards him, and dubbed down his laugh in order to speak. He chuckled quietly, holding the blue-haired queen at arms length, looking her up and down with his coal eyes.
Bulma cringed involuntarily. She hated when Vegeta was like this. She had come to terms on how to act when they were in public; their relationship was only a political one there. But in their own time, which this was, she could be herself, and he himself. All walls were torn down, and they learned to communicate. Even when their monstrous arguments ensued, it was always followed by a peaceful, relaxing or passionate time with just the two. But other times... today it had been simply on their opinions for their son's marriage. Was it that hard for him to at least listen to her? Her opinions should matter! Vegeta was bent on tradition and arranged marriages, but she wanted it to be for love. So often arranged marriages fail, simply due to the fact that the couple don't know each other. They aren't given the chance to either, when the whole ordeal is shoved in their faces, and resentment and anger has to be placed on someone, so they simply place it on their new spouse. She and Vegeta had been different, but only on fluke. Somehow their personalities mixed well enough that there was room for love. At times though, it felt like there was nothing at all. This was one of them.
Bulma raised her head and looked at her king venomously. She was tired of being treated this way. She had a long day, and she only wanted to fall asleep in his arms, and not have him cynically laughing at her.
"Curse you, Vegeta." She spat out. This only made him laugh louder. With a burst of new-found energy, Bulma discovered she wouldn't let him mock her openly, and tore away from his grasp. "You are so contemptible!" She yelled. This produced a smirk from him.
"And you, woman, are so weak." He replied back with mockery in his tone.
Weak? Is that what she was? No. Weak isn't waking up everyday to an empty bed. Weak isn't living your life where your inferiors fear you and your equals mock you. Weak isn't putting up with his torments every day. Weak isn't watching your son grow up before your eyes, only to follow in his father's footsteps. That's not weak - that's strong.
"You're wrong." Bulma replied shaking her head. She looked up to Vegeta with an angry passion only shown on occasion. "You are the one who is weak. You couldn't last a day in the real world. You just sit on your high throne and give orders. You think you rule this country... that its wealth and power is a reflection of your own. And that is why you are wrong." She looked up at him, satisfied with her speech, and was shocked to find his expression indifferent. An insult like that hadn't struck a nerve? But then she saw it. His face may be unreadable, but his body language wasn't. His fists were balled to the side, shaking in rage. His eyebrows slowly descended downwards until they pointed angrily; more defined than usual.
"You don't know what you say," he whispered through clenched teeth. Without another word, he turned on his heel and left the room. Bulma stood for a few seconds, not fully comprehending what had happened. But when it hit her, it hit her hard. She sank to the ground and those tears flowed in a heavy downfall. She had won. She never had - ever. Vegeta always had the last say. Vegeta always had the last insult. Never her. But then Vegeta always brought them back together. She didn't know how. What had she done? She pushed too far, and maybe this time, it was too far to come back from.
And with that, Bulma's world crumbled beneath her.
Vegeta stormed through the hallways, vengeance and anger written clearly all over his face. Normally passerby's would bow, or give a sincere nod, and they'd be on their way, but if the King was in one of these 'moods', a different approach was necessary. A handmaiden came towards the king, walking through the hallway heading in the opposite direction. In her hands was a basket of freshly baked dinner rolls - no doubt she was returning from the market square. Upon looking up, she noticed the king, smiled slightly and prepared to bow when he neared, but then she got a look at his face. Fists still clenched and he was even muttering death threats under his breath. Did she want to be near him? - no way! With a frightened cry, she dropped her basket and dashed to the wall, where she pressed herself tightly up against it so there was slim chance the king would even see her, much less bump into her.
"...incompetent... worthless... arrogant..." was all she could make out through his clenched teeth as he walked by. Hearing his footsteps dim, she stepped away from the wall, and began to pick up her basket and bread. The king was certainly in a mood; she would hate to be the person that put him there, but then again, they would probably already be dead.
Vegeta was a strict ruler, but a just one. Never had their country been more wealthy and successful. He laid down fair rules, and he expected them to be obeyed. Often their was hell to pay otherwise. Unfortunately, every great leader has a down point, and his was his anger. He did a good job of keeping it in check, but some days it was let loose, and those were the days you stayed away from him. Placing the last roll on top of her basket, she stood up and dusted off her skirts before continuing her trek towards the kitchen, making a mental note to warn them of the king's foul disposition.
How could she do this to him? He was the king! Vegeta's grip became tighter as he stalked down the hallways. She had no right to say what she did. None whatsoever! It infuriated him. He needed to vent, perhaps a good fencing match with his son would do the trick. But then again, it was his son that had caused the argument in the first place. Love. Bah. It was never needed before, and it wouldn't be need for the future. Why was Bulma so bent up on having his son marry for love? His father had never needed it. Vegeta didn't even know his mother - a sure sign that love wasn't in the equation. The old man didn't even let her hang around long enough to meet her child. She wasn't killed, that would be dishonorable, she was most likely locked away somewhere only used as a political character. The queen wasn't needed to govern a country, only to keep it balanced. So where did she get the idea that his son had to love his wife?
Vegeta halted in his stride, as a thought struck him. Perhaps it wasn't Bulma's idea at all. His son had been known to go through her to get to him - it was possible the entire idea was his. New anger boiled to the surface, and Vegeta changed his direction of walking towards the throne room where the prince was taking care of business. He struggled to keep his pace normal, it wouldn't do to have the king gallivanting through out the castle, but he wanted, no, needed to know if his son was foolish enough to believe in love.
A young swordsman rounded the corner, and was advancing towards Vegeta. He came from the direction of the training room, and since a large grin was stupidly plastered in his face, it would appear he had won some good matches. When the man was close enough he bowed in Vegeta's direction.
"Your majesty," he addressed, "Impeccable afternoon, isn't it?" He added with an even more cheerier grin. Had it been a normal day, Vegeta would have let the grin slide; he probably would let the small talk go as well. But today was not normal. Vegeta growled, and in a quick movement, grabbed the sword that swung from the young man's belt and used his own blade on him. Vegeta was an expert, so in no second flat, the swordsman was on the ground in a bloody dead mess. Satisfaction replacing some of the anger, he dropped the sword by the body and continued onward.
It wasn't uncommon to find dead people lying around the castle; not with a king like Vegeta. The guards had become familiar with his fighting technique so were able to identify a corpse by the hands of the king or one by an enemy. Rounding towards the final corridor, he spotted a market girl walking towards him. It wasn't his style to kill females, but God help him he would. However the girl looked up and saw him, and as she got closer, she also saw his expression. With a small yelp, she dropped her basket of bread, and dashed to the far wall. Vegeta strolled past her with a smirk. That was interesting. It seemed his market girls had more sense than his swordsmen.
It had been another dry boring day for the prince. Sitting atop a high throne for the entire day wasn't his cup of tea. The problems or tasks that were brought before him were meaningless and dull. His word was final and no one ever argued it. It just wasn't the place for a young man.
The prince was nearly twenty, and his youthful age shown through. The prince had a reputation of being quite handsome, so there already was a string of girls eagerly in line for the role of being his bride. He copied his muscular build from his father, but inherited more height from his mother. This would have given him a demeaning appearance, except the prince had deep cerulean eyes and soft lavender hair that completely canceled that out. From looks, he appeared to be a lady's man. A show and tall figure without any leadership qualities. That of course was only looks. When he wanted to, his attitude could rival Vegeta's and he had the intellect of his mother. He was the best of both worlds. This worked for and against him, but in the end he could get his way. And this was Trunks - prince and heir to the throne.
The large front wood doors to the throne room slowly pushed open, letting Trunks know that someone would be entering the room. This gave him the motivation to sit up straight from his formal slouched position, and quickly smooth down his light blue tunic. The doors finally swung open the entire way and a stout man glided in and walked towards the throne. Trunks recognized him. He didn't know the man's name, but he had grown to despise his presence. He was the man who would enter when someone was there to see the King or himself. Basically this man was the bearer of work. Quite quickly, Trunks had begun to hate the stiff shuffle of his slippers, and swishing noise his maroon robes made when he walked. Trunks never had any interest on who this man was, but his guess was he was someone important, by the clothes he wore. Dark robes were often a symbol of power or intellect, aside from the royal attire, those clothes could represent someone second to the throne. And for that, Trunks kept his respects for the man, although he hated the sight of him.
The man scurried up to the throne, his back hunched slightly, reminding Trunks of an old hermit scourging around for food. He gave a slight bow but quickly stood tall. Another reason Trunks disliked the man. He saw himself of more an equal than an inferior.
"A matter of state has presented itself. May I show the representative in?" he asked, in a low yet screechy voice. Since the messenger was all alone, the 'matters of state' where on the topic of commoners. Had they been of high-class, there would be more diplomats and more delegates. With a tired sigh, Trunks waved his hand in a casual motion, allowing the commoner in his presence. He was raised to be a prince, there was no ifs or buts, it was apparent. At any glance, he looked like prince material. His looks, his smile, his just rule; he was the standard fairy-tale prince. But not a king. Trunks improved his posture, if possible since his back was already as straight as a board. Even if it was a mere civilian, he had an image to keep. He cast his gaze forward, and it landed on the citizen before him.
What he saw shocked him. He expected an overly-plump, old man, but what he saw was a complete opposite. Before the crowned prince standing tall was a young woman, he at most three years her senior, determination rearing in her eyes. No page boys, or grand entrances definitely struck Trunks' logic that she was a simple girl, and not a courtier, but her appearance... she looked neither like a peasant or a courtier, more of both. Her simple blue dress and scratched cloak were definitely low class, and her hands weren't placed delicately before her like a lady's would, but hung at her side. Her skin was tanned from hours in the sun but had a pale complexion underneath. So although her garments and lifestyle may reflect a peasant - her beauty was meant for a queen. Long ebony hair strung halfway down her back, only styled with a few braids near the front and pulled back to keep the front pieces away from her deep matching eyes. Her lips were full, and they opened to speak.
"Your highness?" she questioned, a sense of authority evident despite her being the inferior. This girl was a walking contradiction. She had the grace, looks and air of nobility, yet dressed as a plebeian, and looked liked she worked long hours under the sun. Maybe it was all a practical joke? Or perhaps his father was testing him? Was this really a noble lady in disguise? No. He had met all of the nobles when he had set out to choose a bride. Trunks was positive that he would have remembered such a vibrant young woman. She was defiantly a commoner. A beauty, but still, just a commoner.
"Learn your place girl. Don't speak towards royalty until you are addressed." Trunks lectured, suddenly feeling extremely high and mighty in his clean silk tunics and grand castle. "Now, what is it?" he asked, purposely placing annoyance in his tone. The girl's fists seemed to clench, and her once full lips, diminished into a thin line as if she was trying to bite her tongue.
"I am here," she spoke after calming, "on authority of the land which belongs to us." She talked forcefully, but Trunks decided to let it pass. However, she had made a slip. 'The land which belongs to us' was a false statement. He owned all of the land.
"You mean my land." He spoke with arrogance. This seemed to trigger something in her. She took a step forward, and flared her arms as she spoke.
"Your land?! Our estate has been in my family for decades! We have been pouring our sweat and blood into it before your father was even a thought in his own father's eye!"
"Do not speak of your king so informally, girl." Trunks spat out.
"I speak of him with all of the formality he deserves! You can't just take away our land for taxes. We have always been loyal and dutiful to this country!"
"Your loyalty means nothing to me," Trunks said icily. "I could have your head for saying such things. But since you are a mere child, a girl no less, who has no education what so ever, I'll let it pass. So long as you get out of my sight." She frowned, cringed, steamed, but in the end could do nothing. She turned her back and walked briskly to the door, her thin skirts swirling around her, giving off a good indication on how slim her legs were. Upon reaching the door, she paused and turned back towards him.
"If you proceed in taking our estate, mark my words... you will regret the day you met Pan." She turned and stepped out of the room with shattered dignity. Trunks couldn't hold back a chuckle towards the spunky Son girl; Pan. She had traveled all that way to the castle to plead for her estate back. He recalled vaguely the case of the Son estate. The farm itself provided quite a fair share to the country, and that was the reason it had sparked interest in his father to begin with. He wanted such a flourishing farm to be under his control and by his own men. Vegeta had made it sound like they had done something wrong and that was why their land was being over thrown. In reality, perhaps the only thing done wrong was owning a successful cropland. He chuckled slightly at her weak threat, and leaned back in his chair. Being a prince was a cinch.
"Boy!" The holler rang out in the spacious throne room, causing Trunks to to cover his ears to block out the loud echo. The red-robed man dashed from the room, nearly tripping over his own feet when he saw who the rant had been issued from. Trunks too, turned to see who it was, already having a good idea.
"Father?" he questioned, as Vegeta stomped into the room. Trunks mentally cautioned himself. It looked like his parents had been fighting again. Trunks scrambled from his chair and stood to meet the King as he stalked towards him.
"Don't use that tone with me!" Trunks mentally sighed. It was worse than he thought. He hadn't used any 'tone' of voice, so it meant Vegeta was extremely angry. He stalked over to him and crossed his arms, adding a glare to his opposing figure. "So? Have you chosen your queen?" Vegeta asked. Now they would see whose idea this 'love' was. Trunks took a step back and nervously bit his lip. Now was not the time to answer negatively, but what could he do? He hadn't chosen a bride yet.
"Father, I was under the impression that you would be choosing for me... as the king and all." Trunks stammered, fearing the worse from his answer. Surprisingly, Vegeta looked relieved.
"So, she just has to be picked, and that's it? No love?" He asked, his anger dissipating by the second. Trunks glanced back and forth trying to figure out his father. Was this a trick question?
"I thought love got in the way of being a king." Trunks said quietly. Vegeta nodded, and beamed.
"That's exactly what I wanted to hear," he said with a slight nod of his head. "Koslin will bring her to you," he said, referring to his future wife and with a smart smirk, Vegeta turned on his heel and left as soon as he had come. Trunks was left gaping and confused. What was that all about? Did Vegeta even know the word 'love' existed? With a confused exhale of breath, he slumped back into his chair. What a tiring day. First the delay at breakfast, then that Pan girl, and now his father spurting nonsense. It was enough to drive a prince mad. What had Vegeta said? Koslin? Who was Koslin? Trunks gave up, his mind was too tired to think anymore. It was a long day, and Trunks just wanted to go to sleep; he didn't want any interruptions whatsoever. However, all fantasies of relaxing vanished when through the rustle of the curtain, who should return but... the guy in the red robes. He stuck his long nose out, and peered around to make sure Vegeta had left the room before waltzing up to the prince. Behind him followed a cloaked figure, attired in blues that matched the prince's robes.
"Your highness..." The man said with a bow. "Allow me to present your bride," he said, gesturing towards the woman behind him, before standing up straight and re-shuffling out of the room, once again reminding Trunks of some poor lost hermit. Now at least this 'hermit' had a name. Koslin. Trunks stood up and walked down the carpeted stair until he was on equal grounds with his future bride.
She was a few inches shorter than himself, and had grace, beauty and charm. Unlike the other girl Pan, it was easy to tell that she was a noble woman. Golden blond hair curled around her angular face, giving her a sense of strong dignity. She had piercing eyes that were the colour of the sea after a storm. She was beautiful, but something about her bothered Trunks. He knew all of the ladies in the court; but he had never seen her before.
"What's you name?" he asked, crossing his arms and taking a stroll around the girl. It was like he was inspecting a horse for sale, a normal person would have felt weak and nervous under his stare, but she seemed neither.
"Do you love me?" she asked. Even her voice was perfect, and it made Trunks suspicious. His father often said there was no such thing as a perfect woman; how could she appear to be then? When her words hit him, he was taken aback. Did he love her? How absurd. He wasn't even sure if he could trust her character, let alone love her.
"No," he answered bluntly, yet honestly. He was half expecting a shower of tears, but none came. In fact she seemed still unaffected. She merely asked him another question.
"Will you ever love me?" she asked, stressing the word 'ever'. Trunks stopped his circling and placed a hand on his chin as if in thought. He tapped his foot softly, before turning to look her straight in the eyes.
"Mmm... no." Once again he watched her expression, waiting for the sobs, but none came. In the first few minutes he had met this creature she intrigued him. Imagine an entire life with her.
"I see," she said simply. Now it was her turn to do the surrounding. She took careful strides around him, all the time having a knowing smile covering her sharp features. "You wish to become king one day without love. A noble ambition, yet unattainable. I can guarantee you will die a lonely empty death without my help. You see prince, you need love. Whether you know it or not. But I can sense that it would be impossible for you to ever have it. Your heart is corrupt and your soul is too tainted to have the sacred emotion." She paused to look at Trunks and his countenance. He had a playful grin on his face, and was nodding to everything she said; he was mocking her. "However, I have the ability to make your life a happy one. But you must ready your heart first with friendship." She walked directly in front of him and stood face to face with the prince.
Trunks blinked. What happened? His, oh so 'sane' fiancée was right in front of him until... a light. As blinding as if you were to stare straight into the sun. He blinked a few more times, focusing his eyes. When the light dimmed, and his eyes focused back on his surroundings, Trunks looked around for the girl. Sensing her more than anything, he whirled around to meet her standing behind him. A playful grin was crossing her features, and it looked like she was holding back a laughing fit.
"What did you do?" Trunks asked after a silence awkward to himself. Her grin widened and this time she couldn't hold back a small giggle, before her face turned completely serious.
"I guaranteed you happiness. All you have to do, is find the one that can see you, and bring him to me. Do that, and I warrant your eternal content." Trunks narrowed his eyes in confusion. What was she talking about? She just wasn't making any sense.
"I... I don't understand." He was getting confused and slightly agitated. This was to be his queen and she was speaking nonsense.
"Let me make it simple. You can't live a happy life as you are now. So, I took the liberty of casting a spell that would eventually allow you that. If you can break the spell, then I personally can say you will be happy. I won't marry you without love."
"Let's just pretend, for a second, that I believe you," Trunks said, really not sure whether to laugh at her, or cower. Had she really cast a spell? Magic wasn't unheard of, but it was definitely rare. Most of it was also only practiced by old solitaries in the northern mountains, and she was a young village girl; was it even fathomable? "You cast a spell on me? So, how so I go about breaking this 'spell' as you say so I can... what was it? Live in eternal happiness?" Trunks let out a chuckle despite himself. The woman nodded, and seemed to find it amusing herself that he found this so entertaining. He would change his thoughts soon.
"To break the spell, all you have to do is find the one that can see you, and bring him to me. If you can pass that, you are worthy of love."
"The one that can 'see' me, eh?" He asked, with the tone of voice a parent uses towards his child when they use their simple child logic. "You can see me."
"I cast the spell," she said. Trunks still didn't understand; it was all a big joke to him. With a sigh, she took him by the arm and led him to the other side of the room towards the large mirror that hung on the stone wall. "Find the person that can see you," she repeated. Trunks looked into the mirror, gazed at the girl reflected on it, she still looked the same. Yet, he was still shocked at what he saw, or more of what he didn't see. According to the reflection, she was alone. His reflection was not there. The one who could see him? Realization hit Trunks, and it hit him hard.
"No... you - you... You made me disappear?!"
*does a wacky dance* please review.
- Angel Eevee