Chapter 9

The wedding rolled around and a sense of joy descended on the whole family, Rosalie was particularly in her element since the day was all about her. It was the morning of the wedding and Carlisle was already at the church with Jasper making sure everything was reading leaving Rosalie, Emerelle and Isabella alone in the house. Isabella stumbled downstairs yawning and was met at the sight of an unsmiling Rosalie.

'What's wrong?' Isabella panicked, thinking the worst as her sister's sad face. 'What's happened?

'I have news,' she whispered, banging to envelops against her hand, 'and I don't know if I should tell you this before the wedding or later but -'

'What is it, Rose?' Isabella asked feeling a sense of dread flow over her.

'Prince Alec is to be married,' she said her voice still low and Isabella felt that she had just been punched in the gut. She stumbled back and sat on a low step, Rosalie came towards her, handing her the two envelops. 'This came through the post with this.'

Isabella took them and realised that instead of two envelops, one was actually just a piece of card. She flipped it over and read the words with a sickening feeling in her stomach.

"The King of England is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Alec to Princess Clara of Scotland,

The wedding will take place in the spring of next year in London."

Isabella took a deep breath trying not to cry on her sister's wedding day and quickly opened the envelop that her name scrawled on it in a fancy script that she knew as Alec's just to distract her. She wasn't really sure she wanted to know what he had to say - she hadn't seen him since she quit her job.

"Izzy, I love you" was what it started off with and Isabella squeezed her eyes shut before continuing "and I think Clara knows that my heart belongs to another but there's nothing either of us can do about it - I have to marry her or risk disgracing the family, Jane's already caused enough problems. I need to see you before I lose you forever, please, Izzy, please. Come to me on the first day of December, I will meet you behind your father's church. I love you, I always will, remember that, if you remember nothing else remember that."

He didn't even sign the letter and Isabella just sat there on the bottom step staring at his handwriting instead of the words. He wanted to see her - why? What could he possibly want from her now? She couldn't go, she knew, she couldn't, it would hurt too much and it was best to keep her distance from him for she would have to.

'Izzy?' Rosalie asked softly, brushing a gentle hand through her younger sister's hair.

'Don't you have a wedding to be getting ready for?' Isabella smiled up at her tearfully. 'Isn't there a lot of wedding/bride stuff you could be doing right now?'

'Yeah, but there's a sister thing I want to be doing too,' Rosalie replied with a soft smile that she reserved for Isabella alone. 'Are you okay?'

'I'm fine.'

'You've always been a terrible liar.'

'I know,' Isabella quirked a smile. 'Can we just pretend this didn't happen and deal with it later? You should be getting ready!'

'For my wedding,' Rosalie beamed down at her seeming in another world now, she bounced on her toes. 'I'm getting married!'

They both giggled as Esmerelle came out the kitchen, a beaming smile on her face. The rest of the morning was filled with them all getting ready - the wedding was at midday. It wasn't going to be much the wedding, they couldn't afford it, but they were going to have the ceremony which ended in them being married which was all that they really wanted. There would also be a little time to celebrate but there wasn't going to be food and drinks like wine, it was literally congratulating them and then dancing until they left for their honeymoon.

'Are you ready?' their fathers voice sounded from behind Rosalie and Isabella just before the wedding.

'Of course, Dad,' Rosalie grinned back at him as she and her little sister turned to face him.

'You two look beautiful,' he observed making his way toward them but the way he said it made it sound as though this was nothing new.

He was right though. Rosalie was dressed in a draping organza gown with a asymmetric skirt and a sweetheart neckline. There were beaded touches around the waist in rose inspired flowers. The white fabric flowed into a little chapel train. Her hair was done up elegantly and she was even wearing makeup, a luxury for their family. It was the cleanest Isabella had ever seen her sister.

At that moment, the organ started: this was Edward's part in the wedding. Isabella tripped gracefully for once toward her sister, standing on her tip toes to kiss her cheek. Once she sent a grin to her father, she turned to head down the aisle. She walked slowly in time with Edward's playing trying to make sure she didn't fall over her floor-length lilac dress which was beautiful with the surplice bodice and draped sleeves.

She beamed at Emmett as she walked down the aisle so please her sister had chosen him. He was exactly what she needed: cheerful, childish, optimistic and loving to her loyal, naïve, self-centred and short-tempered personality. He was handsome too, tall and burly but innocent. He was 6ft 5, had slightly curly dark brown hair that was almost black, his eyes were a deep, dark blue in contrast to Rosalie's light, crystal ones and when he smiled, like he was in that moment, he had dimples just like Rosalie's friend Vera's son had..

He winked at Isabella as she took her place on the other side of alter from him and she wrinkled her nose playfully in reply but then Edward changed the music and they both turned to see Rosalie start walking down the aisle on Carlisle's arm. Isabella was sure her sister never looked more beautiful than she did right them with a beaming smile of happiness on her face, her eyes sparkling with joy and love. The church wasn't large so it didn't take Rosalie long to reach them but Isabella was sure it seemed like a life time for Rosalie and Emmett. Their father handed her other with a kiss on the cheek before taking his place in the centre of the alter ready to perform the ceremony. Rosalie handed Isabella her bouquet as she turned to face Emmett.

Rosalie's wedding was beautiful, despite the insufficient funds because that wasn't what made a wedding a wedding. Isabella glanced around as the couple kissed on her father's words that they now could with a wide smile on her face and clapping with everyone else. Her eyes scanned the room but then jumped back to one specific point. Hidden at the back she could see Alec and she wondered how no one else had noticed him but then a thought struck her that maybe no one else was aware of him as she was, no one else knew how he hid so others wouldn't see or recognise him.

Before she could catch his eye though, Rosalie and Emmett broke apart - a good thing because the guests were beginning to get uncomfortable with their, turning inappropriate, show of affection. They turned to face the crowd who got to their feet clapping before beginning to make their way down the aisle. Isabella smiled as she took the best man's arm, Emmett's eldest brother Jackson, and followed them down. She could feel Alec's eyes on her the whole way but tried to ignore it - he was now engaged and she needed to let him go.

She couldn't though and sought him out as Rosalie and Emmett were sharing their first dance and the crowd had gathered to watch.

'Gate crashing, your highness?' she asked sneaking up behind him and using his title to try and distance herself from him already.

He turned around slowly and though he seemed slightly hurt by the title he didn't mention it or show any sign that she had ever called him anything else (she read the hurt in his eyes).

'Honestly,' he spoke, his voice low, 'you weren't supposed to seem me … how are you?'

His sea blue eyes burned into her desperately and she tried to control the urge to reach out to him or even take a step closer

'Good,' was all she said in reply. 'What about you?

'Trapped,' he told her and Isabella looked away, breaking the connection with his eyes.

'I'm sorry,' she said and he swallowed at her polite but detached tone.

He took a step forward bringing her gaze back to him and wrapped an arm around her waist pulling her closer so she was only inches away from her. She stared up at him, a blush beginning to rise on her cheeks and she was glad they were in a dark corner and everyone was distracted.

'Izzy, please,' he whispered and she shook her head: she wasn't going to let herself be drawn in, even if it was just speaking, she needed to distance herself from him and he needed to let her do that - he was engaged now, for heaven's sake.

'What are you doing here, your highness?' this time he flinched and Isabella tried not to notice that stab of pain that sent through her.

'I honestly don't know,' he muttered in reply, releasing her and she took a step away from him.

'Well,' Isabella said formally beginning to feel tears close her throat in, 'in that case, since you have nothing to say, I best get back to my sister's wedding. Goodbye, you highness.'

She curtsied very gently not looking at him and walked away quickly, her head held high as she swallowed trying not to cry. Emmett and Rosalie had finished dancing and he know came over to her, giving her a teasing bow. Feeling a smile creep up on her face at her new brother-in-law's antics despite her feelings, she took his outstretched hand and curtsied to him as well, allowing him to spin her under his arm and into a dancing position.

When Isabella glanced back at the place Alec had been, he was gone and Isabella sighed heavily.

'Bye, Al,' she whispered too low for anyone, even Emmett, to hear.

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