I’ve never seen him look like that before. I’ve seen all sorts of different sides and emotions to the blonde haired man who stood before me. I’ve seen his face lit up with elation or clouded with thoughts. I’ve seen his brow furrow in frustration when problems came our way. I’ve seen the scolding looks he would cast at his personal butler on occasion. I’ve seen the way his eyes warm with love when he looked at me.
But I have never seen him look like this. I’ve never had the horror or shock of watching the corners of his lips sink to a scowl, or seeing those enticing blue eyes turn penetrating and cold, or hearing his voice sharp and filled with something much more than mere annoyance.
I have never seen him so mad at me.
It all started a few weeks ago. Things had been going fairly well, after all, I had been improving in my princess lessons. But a sudden change caused me to begin stressing regularly. That change involved a very few important aristocratic guests temporarily residing at Phillip castle.
I hardly noticed at first, too busy with my studies to deal with them much except for a few meetings at meals and passings in the hallway. But the fact I never noticed was the reason why I never realized the cold, disapproving glares they gave me when no other risk was around.
The peaceful obliviousness I was granted with wasn’t a privilege I got to keep long though. They made me take note of them soon enough. They had come to my room while I was alone studying. It was just three of them, two females and one male with their heads held high as they looked down their noses at me. They told me I was a lousy commoner, someone who wasn’t fit to take the crown or be the princess, nor would I ever be.
They took their enjoyment of teasing me for a while, name calling and taunting. It was harmless seeming enough at first. Sure, I didn’t enjoy it, but I knew if I made a scene and tried much to defend myself against people currently in greater power than me, Claude would give me an earful about it later along with layering even more intensive training as well.
Besides, it was soon brought to my attention that the two girls had been possible suitors for Wilfred before I came along and the male was a relative of one of them. I pegged their displeasure with me to simple jealousy and I just decided I’d grit my teeth and bare with it, they’d leave soon enough after all and I had bigger concerns at the time being.
But that wasn’t the end to the harassment. It built up more and more. These people completely despised me. I didn’t even realize how much the comments had begun to effect me until they were already plaguing my mind. I’ve heard bully and harassment seminars back in school, but I’ve never realized how much those type of words can lay with you.
My studies got hard as my mind told me I was too stupid or too clumsy to fufill what was asked of me as my thoughts echoed the very things the three had said to me. I had doubts of how accepting the kingdom would be of me. I worried that I wouldn’t fulfill Wilfred’s expectations. I feared I would let everyone down.
I couldn’t even look at the mirror without grappling with those dark ideas ebbing at my mind. And Wilfred began to notice.
He’d ask about it a lot, trying to figure out just what was bothering me, but, as naive as it may be, I could never bring myself to tell him. I would always just smile and wave it off, trying to dispell his worries.
It was just today though, after weeks of being verbally tormented that Wilfred finally found out what was wrong.
They had ended up cornering me in my room again today, glaring at me like I was a filthy piece of trash. “I can’t even fathom why His Highness choose you of all people. Just look at you. You’re pathetic,” one of the girls began, her high pitched voice ringing sharply in my room as she reached for a strand of my hair in her firm grip. “Maybe he feels sorry for you, is that it?”
I batted her hand away just as the male picked up her taunting with an annoyed look. “What a lame reason. The prince shouldn’t have to feel bad for such a lousy peasant. Doesn’t he realize how bad of a choice she is? She isn’t fit to be a queen. She’ll never fit in. Probably crack under pressure the first time it shows,” he spoke with daggers lacing his words, “She’s not even anything to look at either.”
The third one let out a witch of a cackle. The three of them had a certain tone possessing their voice. They spoke with money and riches. “He’s making a terrible choice with you. Why are you still here? Don’t you even see how no one wants you here?” She asked leaning closer to me, “I bet even Prince Wilfred doesn’t like you. It’s probably just for publicity. The prince marring a commoner? It’s probably an attempt to reach out to the public. He doesn’t actually care about you.”
That was what got me.
Before I even knew what was happening, a sound of flesh hitting flesh rang out and a huge red mark began to blaze the girl’s pretty little cheek as she stared at me in shock. I think it took me a longer time to figure out I slapped her than she needed.
"Why you little!" Once recovered from her shock, she was screeching as if I had just pressed a button to detonate the world. Her arms thrusted forward, crashing into my chest in a force large enough to blow me back and knock me into a table. I popped to the floor at the same time that a vase that had been placed on the wood did, causing the glass to shatter around me in jarred fragments. I felt the edges cut against my skin in several places as the girl cried out. "You stupid girl! You’re absolutely worthless! You’re worthless to the kingdom and even more so to Prince Wilfred! Just go-"
"That’s enough!" A loud voice cut through the air before a heavy silence filled the room as all eyes went to the door way to rest upon Wilfred, his expression dark. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking, all I know was that he didn’t look at all pleased.
Claude came up behind him, his own visage easier to decipher, strict and ready to scold.
It didn’t take long for the two of them to scare the three off. Actually, it only took Wilfred. He strode over to the three with a fierceness in his step, like a predator locking in on it’a prey. As the prince spoke harshly, Claude came to my side and helped me up, examining the small cuts that now lined my arms. It took awhile for him to appraise the cuts of low damage, all the while Prince Wilfred could be heard scolding the others. “Are you okay?” Claude finally asked softly, just as the other three hurried out of the room like cats running from dogs.
"I’m fine," I began, my voice slightly shaky out of the shock from it all. "Thank you, Claude.. Thank you, Prince Wi-"
Again, Wilfred was cutting me off with the way he looked over at me, as if I were the offender here - as if I was in the wrong. I immediately shrunk back, unsure what to make of his look. Was he mad at me? My answer soon came to me like a punch in the face.
"You’re supposed to be a princess. Why didn’t you defend yourself?" The way he said it cut me more than any of the other three could possibly ever have. And his gaze was even more cutting than that.
And that’s how we got to where we were at now.
“W-Wilfred, I’m s-sorry,” I began, my voice barely managing under his iced glare. I couldn’t grasp at any other words, feeling my own throat tighten as if it were being clenched at.
Wilfred’s demeanour didn’t soften any though at my lame apology. “You’re sorry?” He repeats, making my response seem even more pathetic. I’ve never felt so defenceless in my life as I did now, as the man I loved more than anything looked so disapprovingly at me - his future princess. His voice rang out in my name, which was something I normally fawned over, but due to the tone he took this time, made me want to burst into a geyser of tears. “Sorry doesn’t cut it this time,” he rapped bluntly, his arms folded over his chest. “You’re going to rule the kingdom one day. You can’t be so easily manipulated like that. What if they were trying to convince you to do something involving the kingdom negatively. Would you sit around and take that quietly too?”
I stand there shocked, unable to form words. I hadn’t expected this outburst of rage. But then again, I hadn’t necessarily thought about them pushing me around for other reasons. What if it had been about the kingdom? Would I have taken it? No! I wouldn’t. I couldn’t. Not with the kingdom… It was just this.. “It was personal, Prince Wilfred, I didn’t think it mattered..”
"A princess shouldn’t be able to be pushed around by brute force so easily, whether or not it was personal," he tells me strictly, causing me to sink back in my helplessness.
I bite my bottom lip nervously, trying to gather up something in my defense but unable to I just repeat my former excuse. “I’m sorry.”
Wilfred’s eyes flash with a look of skepticism before he shakes his head, and turns on his heel so I can’t see his face. “If you can’t even handle holding your ground,” he mutters as he begins to walk out the door. “Then maybe you weren’t meant to be my princess after all.” And taking my crumpled heart with him, he was gone.
He hates me.
That was all I could think as I found myself back in my room after being guided there by Claude who had remained silent for the way here and during our short trip to a washroom to clean my wounds.
Numbed by the shock of it all, I plop onto my bed, despite knowing the down feathers of my sheets wouldn’t comfort me right now. I grip at the blankets as tightly as I could, as if it was a dream I could just wake myself up from by grabbing a hold of something and trying to shatter it.
Claude, who’s normal sharp gaze was currently sympathetic as he watched me, remained awkwardly by the door, unsure whether to leave or stay. I didn’t bother giving him direction. I didn’t care right now. Right now my mind was on Prince Wilfred and those new-found, steely eyes.
Claude didn’t leave though. Instead I heard him clear his throat loudly in an effort to gain my attention. I looked up at him with a teary gaze that seemed to shake him enough to have him clear his throat again before speaking. “I don’t think his highness meant it,” he began carefully, his voice low and quiet, as if he spoke any louder I may break. “He’s just very,” he pauses as if looking for the right vocabulary, “stressed, is all.”
I know Claude was just trying to be nice and reassure me, which although was unusual for him, I appreciate the thought, even if I don’t believe it.
Instead, I use a sleeve to wipe any tears that may have slipped out in the hallway, before feigning a smile for his own benefit and nodding. “I’m sure you’re right…” I murmur in response, causing him to analyze me once more and eventually, realizing I wanted to be alone, he exited quietly.
His exit brought relief into me, because when he was gone that’s when the tears actually fell, tracing down my cheeks in a less than delicate manner.
Maybe I wasn’t meant to be his princess? Did that mean he didn’t want me anymore? Was I not fit? Maybe those three were right - every word. I wasn’t born to be a princess and having me here was just an inconvenience to everyone here, especially Wilfred. At least that’s how I felt.
Despite the blur from my tears, I get up and go to the window touching the glass. The grey skies seemed to be mirroring my emotions. In the early evening the clouds are still visible, warning of the rain that was soon to come.
I look out, trying to glimpse parts of the kingdom, a kingdom that one day I’m supposed to rule… Could I do it? It sure didn’t feel like it. Maybe it would be better if I wasn’t here - if I just left and erased this part of my life, then Wilfred wouldn’t have to be bothered by me and the kingdom wouldn’t ever have to be in danger of being ruled by someone who easily crumbled. Actually, that seemed like the best idea at the moment.
So that’s what I decide to do.
I’m alone now. I couldn’t deal with the stress anymore. I had to leave. He probably hates me now anyway. It’s best like this. But… If that’s true, why does this hurt so badly?
I ran away. It was probably one of the most impulsive things I’ve ever done, but I did it and from a castle no less. I ran away from a position as a princess, as a member of the royal family and from a fiancé who probably didn’t even want me anymore anyway.
It had been a few hours since I had left. No one even noticed as I snuck off the castle grounds and snuck into the city. I was out. The only problem was the rain on the verge of breaking through the clouds. It was already starting to sprinkle about fifteen minutes in my trek into the city. Unfortunately due to my bad planning, I didn’t bring money for a hotel and in consequence, didn’t have a real place to stay. But, as I was walking, I had noticed an old home that I had once seen with Claude and Wilfred when we had been seeing the town. I had admired it, only to be told it was abandoned and no one lived there anymore.
To my relief, when I went to the door, it was unlocked.
I know I probably shouldn’t have went in, but I didn’t have many options as the rain was getting steadily heavier at it beat down, so I took shelter, planning to wait out the rain and leave as soon as I could. It was the only option I had.
So that’s where I am, sitting on a used, dusty couch in the living room, a blanket pulled around me tightly to protect me from the cool air that came throughout the house.
I sat in a daze, still depressed and confused from everything that happened, but to top it off, I felt exhausted. I can feel myself trailing off into sleep. I had just about gotten there when there was a sudden a flash of light beamed out from the doorway on the far wall as the sound of thunder crackled and my door flung wide open.
I jolt awake that moment and fly into an upward position on the couch, my eyes readjusting to the dark figure at the door.
I could feel my heart beat as loud as the thunder as I immediately recognized him.
There he stood in the doorway - Wilfred.
He is soaked and shivering. His face is stained with raindrops and his hair clings to forehead. He’s panting deeply, his air coming out in shaky breaths as he trembles deeply to match. His eyes are fierce with determination and strength, yet a worry was apparent as his eyes came to land on me.
And finally, after what seemed like an eternity wrapped into mere seconds, he collapses to his knees in exhaustion, but as he looks back at me, he does something so completely contradictory to his appearance that my heart skips a beat. With relief and all the love in the world, he smiles. “I found you…”
I’m out of my seat in that moment, coming to his side and sinking to my knees in front of him. “Prince Wilfred, you’re soaked,” I begin nervously, not sure if he’s okay or why he was here or even how he found me in the first place, but he wasn’t in the mood to answer questions. I find this out as his arms come around me suddenly, and I end up in his wet embrace.
"I’m so sorry," he murmurs into the croon of my neck where his head found a home nuzzling in. "I didn’t mean it. Any of it. You’re my princess, you’re the only one."
My brain couldn’t keep up with it all. All I know is the sensation that begins to pass through me like an electrical current at his touch. It’s warmth, like I had found a real home, despite it all. But I sought out answers in the moment. “What are you-“
I’m cut off by his lips crashing onto mine, engaging in a heated dance as his tongue swept into my mouth hungrily, as if he had been starved. My head went dizzy with the intensity of him taking control of the kiss and steering right into a overflow of emotion. He finally pulls back slowly, meeting my quizzical look with his glassy, blue gaze. “Earlier today, I shouldn’t have yelled at you,” he tells me in an almost pleading tone, already appearing to ask for forgiveness. “I just… I didn’t know what else to do. I acted on an impulse and I regret it. Seeing you today with those three treating you so terribly,” he trails off for a moment trying to decide his words, “I felt like it was my fault. If I had been anyone else without this position, you wouldn’t have to deal with people like that or any of the burden of being a princess for that matter. And not only do you have to deal with it all, I…. I… I may not be strong enough to protect you, which is probably why you didn’t tell me. I hated feeling so powerless. Seeing you hurt like that on my behalf - because I’m selfishly asking you to be my princess - I couldn’t take it,” his words are slow and he leans in closer at this, our lips just barely grazing against each other every time he spoke. My cheeks flush, leaving me hanging on every single one of his words. “My only thought then was that I needed to get you out of the situation. And the only way I could think of was to get you to get angry with me. But it turns out it was a bad idea, because when I found out you were gone…”
"Well, at first I had tried to accept it. I tried to tell myself it was for the better. I honestly tried. But whether that’s true or not, I just couldn’t let you go. It didn’t take long before I was searching the entire castle for you with the rest of the staff and when it was clear you weren’t there I almost lost it. I kept thinking I needed you here in my arms. I needed to hold you and kiss you and tell you just what you meant to me. I want to tell you to come back, no matter how selfish that request is."
"I couldn’t even wait for the car to pull up when we decided to look for you outside the castle. I was running only a few seconds after Claude disappeared to grab the car," he adds softly, before lifting a hand to brush a lock of hair from my face and tuck it behind my ear, "I was running before I even knew what I was doing. I’m not even sure how long I was running and I don’t care either. I would have ran all night trying to find you… I even had Claude call all of the hotels before we left trying to see if you had checked in. When none of them said they had you, I wasn’t sure what to do. I thought you were still on the streets in the rain, which made me run even faster. It was by pure luck and luck alone that I ran by this house and remember we had saw it together. Looks like we both thought it’d be good cover from the rain."
The whole story had me thrown for a loop. I watch him with wide eyes, trying to absorb it all in, from his reasoning to yelling at me, to how he had went on a search for me, to how he had found this place. It’s obvious he’s serious - one look into the depths of his eyes tells me that much. Besides, he hardly spoke, but when he did it was almost always truthful - almost.
I just can’t believe it. After all the things I’ve been told in the past few weeks and what Wilfred had said earlier today, it wasn’t true?
"I love you. I’m sorry about everything you have to go through due to where I stand, but please, stay with me. I promise I’ll become strong enough to protect you. I’ll become someone you can talk to about anything that’s bothering you. I’ll do anything for you. So please, stay with me?" My heart catches in my throat with each and every line. There is no way I could say no to him. Not a single fiber in my body could argue or protest as I nod my response weakly, feeling a relief flood through me at hearing him speak. He seems to be feeling the same as a smile came to his lips and his eyes shine a little brighter. He slowly gets to his feet finally and then proceeds to help me up as well, just before fishing a phone out of his pocket. Without speaking to me for a moment, he dials a number and hold its to his ear.
"Hello, Claude? I found her… We’re both safe, yes," he pauses a moment, and I hear Claude on the other line demanding to know where we are. But Wilfred doesn’t respond, instead he flashes a rather mischievous smile at me. "We’re safe and warm. But since it’s raining out, the two of us will be staying here tonight. We’ll be sure to contact you when the rain settles." A sudden eruption of what I assume is protest rings out on the other line but Wilfred just laughs softly, "Sorry? What was that? The rain is messing up my connection. I think we’ll have to post pone this conversation. Goodnight, Claude." And with that, he shuts his phone and places it on an old table before smiling at myself, who is now staring at him with wide eyes.
"Are you sure that was okay to do?" I ask in my own surprise, knowing Claude would be the equivalent of a demon when he finds us.
Wilfred doesn’t seem to care though as he smiles at me and takes my hand, leading me to the couch where we both sit down. “Probably not,” he admits, his intense stare coming to me, “but I tend to be reckless while I’m around you and tonight, I want you all to myself.” He comes closer, once again wrapping me in his arms and pulling me into him. “I’ve never been so impulsive before. I’m used to being the image of the prince all the time, but maybe this is the me as a man, someone I can only be around you.”
Even through his chilled and drenched clothes, a sweet, uncontrollable heat was rising in my core like he had ignited a fire inside of me. The water didn’t matter at the moment. I was willing to get more than a little wet for him. “Prince Wilfred.”
"Just Wilfred. Tonight, I’m not a prince, just a man. The impulsive, loose cannon of a man that you make me," his forehead makes contact with mine and I can feel his own warmth flooding into me slowly. His hand traces up the curve of my hip before skimming just teasingly under my shirt. "So, can you handle the real me? Because I don’t think I’ll be able to hold myself back this time," With every word, his hand trails further and further up my bare side, causing a tremble to erupt through me. Once again, I find it impossible to speak, too entranced by everything about him. I nod slowly, just fleetingly meeting his gaze as my teeth run over my own bottom lip softly.
"Don’t bite your lip," he tells me which causes my lips to part slightly in surprise. He uses this as an opening for a kiss, our lips intermingling once more. He didn’t hold back at all, his tongue exploring and exploiting every part of the inside of my mouth as it could for lingering moments before he finally pulled back slightly, but not before nipping at my bottom lip as he pulled back. "That’s my job." He sends me a cheeky wink. "Tonight, I want to make up for every time they hurt you. For everything they said or did," his hands finally came back to the bottom of my shirt, only to gather the hem and begin pulling it up my body, my arms obediently raising above my head to help him remove it. As my shirt is stripped, he pushes me back into the sofa, causing me to sink into the worn out fabric as he yanks his own shirt off before coming over me and connecting his lips just above my chest. He speaks again, this time each word reverberating through me as his hands slide to the waist line of my pants, "I’ll make you feel all better."