Bellamy and I started to search for a loop hole, a white flag, anything that would stop the curse. The drought got worse as our search got harder. Bellamy left the kingdom for hours trying to find anyone that could possibly help. He even contemplated seeking out Roma’s distant family. Finn sought out wizards who were wanted for black magic, I sent a letter to Lincoln. I didn't tell Bellamy, I did it hoping somehow someone would be able to help us.
Two weeks passed after I learned the truth. The wells ran dry, the king brought water in from an outside source every day. Finn and Bellamy worked to construct a system to pump it from the river. The heat was getting worse, the sun was burning the ground. Crops wouldn’t grow, people were starving. I felt like a failure waiting for something to break.
I had learned the truth but at what cost? I couldn’t help my people, my family, without finding out a way to break the curse of the castle. I didn’t have magic, no one in the kingdom seemed to. We were all searching for an answer we didn’t know actually existed. All I knew was that I wanted to live. But I would sacrifice myself for Bellamy and the rest of his people if that’s what it took.
Bellamy wouldn’t talk about that option. Whenever we were sitting in bed I would bring up the option we had and he would go silent, he would shut down on me. He wouldn’t think about it, he wouldn’t let me go. He promised we would find a way to break the curse without ending my life or any other women in the kingdom. He really was a different man from the stoic figure I had married.
I started to look through Roma's old belongings, maybe she had been into magic and vengeance like her father. All I found were old journals of her writings, talking about how much she hated the kingdom, how she loved Bellamy and hated him all the same. There was an entry about the miscarriage, it brought me to tears. I felt pity for this woman and hatred. Because of her death we all had to suffer.
I stopped looking at her things after reading the journal.
I was looking at Bellamy's book case when I stumbled upon the old worn leather journal. It looked so different from all the other books, I pulled it out. I thought it might be useful, until I opened the first page and saw the writing. It was a letter, addressed to Roma. My eyes went wide as the script curled around the lines. I sat down on the big chair that was in the corner, my heart pounding as I started to read.
I don’t know the right words to express how truly sorry I am to lose you. I loved you, once upon a time I thought you loved me too. We were too young to start out this life together, I was too young to become a king and a husband in the same year. I’ll admit this to you now, it was too much for me to bare.
You would’ve been a beautiful mother, a beautiful wife to the man who truly deserved you. I don’t know how to change the course of what happened, but I will change. I won’t let someone else grow distant because of the monster I have become as king.
I stopped reading, the words blending together. This letter was intended for Roma and her family. Bellamy changes the wording halfway through and talks about the beautiful woman Roma was, the daughter he took away from her family. A tear slipped down my cheek as I turned the page, another letter for another family.
This journal was filled with a dozen letters, each addressed to the family of the brides he took from them. I turned the pages, reading half of some and none of others. Then I stopped as I found the name I was looking for. My hands were shaking as I held the book tightly, waiting for the words to change, for them to disappear completely.
I wasn’t supposed to be reading this, I wasn’t supposed to know this existed. But it gave me another side of Bellamy I thought had been lost. He was here, in this book, finally showing me he did care about the girls he had to murder. I took in a deep breath, running my finger over her name. Her letter was short, but I knew I couldn’t get past it without reading the entire thing.
I let out a shaking breath and my eyes focused on the words.
I am so sorry for taking away your beautiful daughter. She was a light this kingdom needed, a spirit that should not have been taken away. She was as beautiful inside as she was outside. I have never met a girl as beautiful, as caring and sincere as Harper Griffin. It pains me to know I am the reason she no longer walks the earth we share.
Harper was brave, she took my hand and never faltered. She knew her fate, they all seem to know these days, and she still smiled at me. She was happy, throughout the ceremony she seemed to take the words to heart. She held my hand, she smiled at me, and then when the minister said the words, she bowed her head and said a silent prayer for the family she was leaving behind.
No one else had ever asked for mercy on the souls of their loved ones. Harper was truly a special person.
I wish I hadn’t taken her away from you. I wish I could change the way things had happened. I wish I could’ve sent her back. But I cannot change the actions of the past.
Just know that she went to her death with her head held high, her chin set in determination. She never let her tears fall, she held her hands together and asked my guard to tell her family she would miss them. She asked you not to cry for her, but to know that she has gotten peace, and someday you all will too.
The letter wasn’t signed, I wasn’t not even sure it was completely finished. But it was there, in black and white, the words I never thought I wanted to know. Bellamy took away Harper’s life for his own. The curse would keep the kingdom safe as long as each bride died by morning. I closed my eyes, fighting off the fresh set of tears. He wasn’t a monster, he was keeping everyone alive the only way he knew how.
Even if he didn’t kill the girls the kingdom would suffer. They would die by starvation, dehydration. There was no alternate to this curse, it was either die by the hands of the king and have the entire kingdom hating him, or die by the curse and the lack of power from the kingdom. It was a double edge sword no king should have to bare.
I flipped the page, my name was at the top.
I never once went to visit with the girls I marry. It is too hard to bare the thought of getting to know them when I will only lose them in the morning. There was something inside those blue eyes that drew me to her room that night. Something that begged for me to know more. I went without the consent of the guards, my own cousin told me I was being stupid. I went to her nonetheless and found myself mesmerized by more than just her beauty.
Your daughter is a spirit this kingdom needs. She weaves the stories inside and out, her words holding my attention, my desire for far longer than I ever thought necessary. Had things been different I could’ve fallen for her. I could’ve been happy with her. Looking at Clarke is like breathing in a breath of fresh air —
The letter cut off, tears filled my eyes. He must have written this before they took me. He must have stopped and went to save me. He didn’t finish the letter, the last word was there staring at me. My heart stopped, it hurt to realize he had saved me but not the others. Why? Because he thought he could love me and not the other girls? He didn’t even think to talk to them, he left them alone, waiting to die.
He came to my room because he liked me. I told him a story to bide my time. It is not the start of a perfect romance, fairytales often start differently. But maybe this is a story we will tell our grandchildren one day. How we fell in love even though we were supposed to fall apart.
I shut the book, running my hand over the leather cover. He wouldn’t need this journal anymore. Not if we could find a way to break the curse. We could have the happy ending he keeps talking about. I took in a deep breath, staring at the empty room around me.
I heard the scream before I registered what it was. Then there were boots running down the hallway, towards the owner of the noise. I jumped up, throwing the book back on the shelf. I knew that scream, my heart raced as I ran out of the room and into the hallway.
My feet were faster than ever as I ran down the dark hallway towards the guards. I heard them talking, I heard someone trying to fight them off. I came to a stop just outside my bedroom door. My heart jumped into my throat when I saw my baby sister in the hands of Bellamy’s guards. I swallowed the lump, trying not to let them see me upset. Her eyes were staring at Miller, she was angry.
This was a fight she couldn’t win, but that didn’t mean she would back down. She had always been the one to fight until the very end, even if she was losing. My sister was tough, something she didn’t get from me. I took in a deep breath and took a second to collect myself before I walked towards them.
I stepped forward, into the light as the guards started to walk in my direction. Octavia’s eyes went wide when she saw me.
“Miller,” my voice was even, it didn’t shake like I thought it would, “let her go.”
He shook his head, always obeying orders, “with all due respect my grace, all intruders are to face the king to receive their punishment.”
I looked at my sister, her brown eyes met mine. I could see she was scared, I could practically hear her thoughts chanting I’m not afraid, I’m not afraid the way we used to when we were younger.
“She belongs to me,” I said before I realized what I was saying. I was admitting to aiding a criminal in the castle. Miller looked surprised as Bellamy appeared beside me, “please let her go.”
Miller looked to the king, “all trespassers must face death,” Bellamy’s deep voice was hard, “what makes her any different?”
Octavia struggled against the guards, her dark features so different from mine. Her long hair was braided away from her face. It reminded me of Lincoln’s sisters, they would braid their hair when they were ready for battle. Her skin was darker, her eyes were harder. Bellamy watched her try and reach the dagger at her waist. She couldn't reach it, Miller’s hands were holding her tightly.
I swallowed my fear, “she’s my sister.”
Bellamy looked surprised. I had told him stories of my sister, how I cared for her after our mother died. I had mentioned her without a second thought when we were honest with each other. I could see he realized how important she was to me. I looked back at him, waiting for him to give his next move.
He nodded to Miller, telling him to let her go. He released her arms and I let out a sigh of relief. I couldn’t stop the smile that came to my face as she lunged towards me. Her arms came around me and she hugged me only the way a little sister could; hard and long. She gathered up the broken pieces and tried to put them back together. This was the hug I had been missing, she was the person I needed.
“Clarke,” her voice broke in my ear, “you’re still alive. I can’t believe it.”
I pulled back hitting her arm, “what were you thinking sneaking in here? They could’ve killed you on the spot, no questions asked! Does dad know you’re here?”
She shook her head, “I didn’t tell anyone, not even Lincoln.”
I rolled my eyes, typical Octavia, always thinking with her heart and not her brain. I shook my head, hugging her once more as I realized just how happy I was to see her. She looked just as relieved to see me in once piece as I was to see her. Bellamy cleared his throat behind me, Octavia’s eyes snapped open.
She stepped in between me and the king, her hand grabbing the dagger she had so desperately wanted earlier. She held it towards him, her other arm in front of my waist. I grabbed her shoulder, trying to push her away. The guards went towards Bellamy, but I saw him shake his head. He knew he wasn’t in any real danger.
“Octavia stop,” I said as she stood staring at my husband. Her eyes were dark, her mouth was set in a thin line. She was trying to see how hard it would be to take him out. I had been in her place once before, I had felt the same way.
She huffed, “this is the man who was going to murder you, Clarke. He murdered —” I squeezed her shoulder before she could say Harper’s name. I shook my head, Bellamy watching us there together. She held the dagger tightly as she looked back at me.
“No, he’s not,” I said quietly as I stood up straighter and walked around my sister. She kept the dagger pointed at Bellamy, I stepped in between them. Now it was pointed at me. I took his hand in mine so he wouldn’t push me behind him like I knew he wanted to, “king Bellamy meet my stubborn and impulsive sister Octavia.”
My blue eyes met hers, “O, meet my husband, Bellamy Blake.”
Her face was full of shock as she slowly lowered the weapon. She watched us together, his hand holding mine gently. There was no force in his grip at all. She saw me take his hand, she knew I wasn’t under his control. Slowly she reached out and took the hand he offered, shaking it gently. I smiled, feeling his fingers squeeze mine gently.
He had been waiting to meet my family. I guess now was as good a time as any.
“It’s so nice to put a face with the name. Your sister has told me a lot about you,” he smiled as Octavia winced. I could tell she wasn’t taken by his charm. We were alike that way, I hadn’t been fooled at first either, “you’re beautiful, just as your sister said.”
She blushed, surprising me, “thank you,” she stuttered. She dropped his hand fast and then looked at me, “do you think I could speak to you, alone?”
Bellamy looked to me, waiting for my answer. We were supposed to go out of the castle tonight. He had promised me we would sneak out without the guards and try to someone who could help us. I convinced him that I could help in the quest and I thought I could find someone who would trust me. They might not have been able to trust the king, but I wasn’t as stoic as he was.
I nodded at my sister, “let’s go to my room,” the words alone sent a shiver down my spine. I had refused to set foot in there since the Murphy thing happened. I had moved into my husband’s room. Preferring to fall asleep beside him, after learning more about each other. Still I knew we needed a moment to have our reunion.
Octavia walked ahead of me after I pointed to the door. We weren’t far and she was ready to get away from their prying eyes, I could tell. I took in a breath, Bellamy grabbed my hand before I could follow my sister, “everything okay?”
I looked at him, wondering if everything was okay. After a moment I let out the breath I had been holding, “you promise to keep us safe right?” he nodded his head, bringing my hand to his lips, “then everything is fine.”
His eyes sparkled as he smiled, letting me go, “good. Because it looks like I have a family dinner to put together.”
My heart stopped as he stood there watching me walk towards my bedroom door. I knew what Octavia wanted to talk about, I knew why she asked to be alone. Which meant I wasn’t sure a dinner with the two of them would go over smoothly. She had already tried to kill him once, I wasn’t sure I would be able to stop her if she tried a second time.