((Ok, so I thought I'd try something different today... spent a total of three hours writing it (lol, breaks included) and then a good half an hour celebrating the fact that I'd actually finished :P As usual, hope it makes for a good read.))
It was hard trying to keep your tears in. Practice had made her perfect though. Not that it really mattered that much – perfection. She’d tried all her life to be just right for her parents, for her uncles and aunts… for everybody. It had never been good enough though. Never. It was why she was up here right now, trying her best to fight back tears that she didn’t want to show. Somehow she’d let the general attitude to her slide as she grew accustomed to it but today… today had been worse.
As far as acceptance went, she hadn’t known a single time when she had felt like she belonged somewhere. The only kindness she knew was from the occasional handmaiden assigned to ensure that she looked presentable in public; and those wouldn’t last either. A month at the most… That was the longest any of them lasted. Her parents had never wanted a daughter… it had been abundantly made clear to her the moment she could understand feelings. By the time she could speak and her younger brother born she had cried more silent tears than her handmaiden could try to explain away. That first one had been the kindest to her and had even gone so far as to ask if she could be sent to the country house. It was this suggestion that had gotten her fired actually. Her life had been pure misery since… She’d tried to get her parents to like her by being the best she could possibly be at all her lessons, be they academic or on etiquette or even the archery lessons she’d had for a while before her parents, being paranoid monarchs that they were, decreed that she not be taught anything that might give her an edge over them or her brother. A brother they had kept separate from her to the extent that he didn’t quite understand what it meant to have a sibling save that it was a title.
And so while all her efforts went to no avail in securing a position in the hearts of her parents she had taken refuge in fantasies and in her ability to create. She wrote scroll after scroll of her pain of her wishes of her dreams. She drew and crafted items for the same… most of her initial works had been destroyed as soon as they had been discovered. The latter works saw her sneaking in whatever parchment and ink she could and hiding her work in chest with all her old clothes. The thing about her existence, she had realized, was that she was a showpiece for the royal family. The public saw her as one of the most beautiful and eligible woman in the country and perhaps even the neighboring lands. A woman of many talents and a grace so captivating that even the most insane of people would stop in awe… and what they said about her eyes… It was like looking into the depths of the sea and finding yourself lost, overwhelmed and yet reassured at the same time.
Yet for everything that all these people said she felt nothing. Her existence was just as wretched as a beggar’s. The only difference being that where they thirsted for riches… she thirsted for love. Today however had seen what little she had left of herself destroyed. The last month had seen the son of a neighboring kingdom visit the lands to ask for her hand in marriage and thereby not only forge a much needed alliance between the two countries but also win himself the most beautiful of wives known to the world.
She knew of this. She was no fool and had given the young man as cold a shoulder as she could without upsetting her parents. If he was here to marry her for solely political purposes, than she wanted to have nothing to do with it. But over the course of the month and along the course of what started out as forced conversations she found herself warming to him… He hadn’t been the typical self absorbed prince that she had imagined him to be. He’d proven through both action and words that there was more to him than she had expected. To add to that was the single emotion that she had for ages squashed with rationale – Hope. All those years of being denied its place in her heart, it had returned with a vengeance and she found herself dreaming of him with increasing regularity. Even her sparse writing had taken a turn for the romantic, while he had petitioned that she be allowed certain privileges that till date she had been denied. Her parents and handlers of course played it off as restrictions to protect her, but she didn’t really care. The fact that she was allowed to roam the castle grounds whenever she wanted was more than she could have ever asked for… and to roam them with a man who was slowly fitting into her definition of perfection had made her dizzy with excitement.
And so the last month had gone so with the last week being a dream. She had actually let a genuine smile alight her lips for what she would have sworn was the first time in her life… and those that witnessed this would have sworn that they had seen an angel.
This dream however had shattered, the jagged edged pieces of which sliced through a heart that had only just been pieced together. It had all gone so terribly wrong the last night. So terribly wrong… she thought, as the first of many tears to follow slithered down soft cheeks and fell onto her maroon dress.
She allowed herself a sob and was soon letting loose a set of angry sobs that had been held back for more than a couple of years. She still didn’t understand how things could have gone so… It had been perfect. It was supposed to be perfect. Things weren’t supposed to turn out like this… it wasn’t how it was supposed to end.
She had met the prince in his luxurious guest quarters this evening for their first dinner together out of the general public’s or the staff’s eyes. A table had been set with a lavish array of food and a few scented candles and a magical bauble to complete the picture. The curtains around the large tapering windows had been drawn and the faint scent of flowers hung in the air as she entered and the private feast with the man she had grown to love ensued. They talked lightly of things like they always did, their conversation leading itself onwards as the pair enjoyed each other’s company… the only time they were silent was when one of the maidens had entered to change the dishes and cutlery along with the course. The night had progressed as the pair of them continued to talk of dreams they had had over a dessert whose extravagance sadly went unnoticed by the couple who only seemed to really notice each other. The food was merely a catalyst. As the evening turned into night, the stars and the moon lit up the velvety sky in romantic accordance, the couple had sat down on the bed, side by side where she was happy to allow him to lay his arms around her. Never before had she felt so safe… so secure.
But there was something different about him. She started to notice it as his eyes seemed to wander down her face and to her front… as he moved closer and while their first kiss had been all that she could have dreamed for… she was finding herself feeling uncomfortable with the way he seemed to want more…
It was then that everything around her perfect little fantasy collapsed. In one swift motion she found herself being straddled and pushed back onto the bed, her one time lover’s expression one of pure lust. She could feel his hands on her… Mouth agape, eyes wide; horrified it was a moment before she could say anything at all. Hadn’t they talked about how she wasn’t sure she was ready for intimacy to this degree? He had agreed and understood then… so why this? Why now?
It was these very doubts that escaped her lips in a terrified whisper while she tried to hold his grasping hands in hers, trying to hold back tears that stung at the corners of her almond eyes. Why? The question repeated itself over and over in her head just as he answered… He had waited a whole month, he said. That he had done everything to woo her over and he was tired of waiting. Their marriage was already planned and since that had been seen to, he could do as he wished. Plus, once he had his way with her, who else would marry her? She had been his the moment she had warmed up to him, he said and tonight… tonight he would fulfill a desire he had kept at bay for so long.
She struggled against his might, squirming as he tore at her dress or tried to kiss parts of her. She screamed for help but none would come… He seemed to take special delight in this, revealing to her at long last that the hand maidens and guards had been told to leave for the night. It was only by sheer luck that she managed to connect her knee to his groin, allowing her just enough time to break free of his grasp and topple off the bed as he froze in pain. Getting up as fast as she could in the rags that had become her clothes she stumbled towards the table just as he recovered and rounded on her, sneering. Tears half blinding her, bruises peppering her once flawless skin she grabbed a knife from the table and held it up, sobbing.
What happened next was a blur to her… everything was until she had reached her room. All she could remember at this point was him telling her that she might as well enjoy it… it would be the first of many a great night… She remembered warning him to stay away, her pleas for explanation punctuating angry sobs. His laughter… then screams and gurgled astonishment… standing alone in a room… running… the metallic echo of something being dropped haunting her progress back along deserted halls as she tried to keep her torn dress about her.
Now, here she was… hugging her knees, a once white dress that would flow about her, now a deep crimson and clinging to her while the wind like the man she had thought she loved, played at her rags trying to pull them off almost bare shoulder while chilling her to the bone. Her mind still seemed to be asking her one thing – Why? What was worse than that however was the way she found herself reliving the scene in her mind with a certain disturbing satisfaction. Every stab had seen her imagine the man to be everyone from her father to the worse of the handmaidens. Every squirt of blood that had stained her dress, her face had seemed to invigorate her… and while the fact that she felt this scared her… she found herself accepting it and reasoning that he deserved it. She’d allowed Hope into her heart… and subsequently that had seen her let down all her defenses. And to what?! A pig? A man whose agenda she should have been able to divine but had perhaps willfully ignored. Not only did she find herself angry at him but at herself for allowing him to get so close… She was supposed to be stronger than this.
But she was! She had survived… she’d been the one to leave that room alive. She wasn’t the one drowning in his own pool of blood.
Her tears had stopped. The only sound that could be heard was the wind and approaching footsteps… and now frantic calls and shouts. They had found the body. No doubt they would be following the blood trail to her room … the thought had barely occurred to her when she saw the door she hadn’t bolted fly open. An assortment of guards, bother of her country and his, charged into the room and froze. Caught in the moonlight, bathed in blood and a torn once white dress the guardsmen found themselves staring at the girl, whose hair askew, cheeks red went unnoticed as they all found themselves transfixed by eyes that bore into them filling each with a sense of sadness so profound that it had literally stopped them dead in their tracks.
She glanced at them, uttered a single word that till this day the men had yet to reveal and then launched herself from the window of her room, her white and red dress flailing behind her… wings of a fallen angel who would be found soon after, her lifeless body impaled on a statue she had loathed since the day she knew what it was… a statue of a cupid, his bow notched and pointed towards the heavens while he looked around, his expression one of mischief. It was this stone arrow that had thrust itself through her chest, her own blood bathing the statue such that its expression had turned to one of absolute glee…