I refused to think about the king as anything other than a monster. Sure he had saved me, called off the second execution that would’ve ended my life. That didn’t mean I would forgive him, I couldn’t forgive him. Not when Harper was all I could see as I walked down that hallway. I wondered if she had been scared, if she had thought of me and the rest of her family as they wrapped the rope around her neck. No I couldn’t let him get under my skin, no matter what he said or did.
I was here to end his torturous reign on this kingdom.
Raven seemed surprised to see the finished product that was my drawing. She smiled, impressed with my talents as she called them. Drawing was a hobby, it wouldn’t save me. Still I always appreciated someone who told me I had a good eye. My art was important to me, just as everything else I held close was.
As I waited for Bellamy, I wandered out into the castle. I had made my way out into the evening air. The sun was still up in the sky, it was warm and beautiful. The wind was blowing, causing goose bumps to form on my arms. I closed my eyes as I took in the night air, wondering what Harper would’ve done had she been granted more time.
Would she have tried to escape? No, she was brave. I can still remember the day she broke her arm falling out of the big oak tree outside her house. She didn’t even shed a tear, she let her dad pull and prod it as he made the cast. Harper had been fearless, another reason why we were best friends.
Wells had been heart broken when we found out that the king picked Harper to become his next victim. Wife hadn’t been the right word back then, because it wasn’t reality. She wasn’t his wife, she was his prisoner and then his victim. Wells and Harper were supposed to get married and have enough babies to fill our village. They were almost as sickening as Octavia and Lincoln. They were happy together, they were the lucky ones.
I was the one who held his hand when we received word that she was gone. I remember the way he broke down, his tears falling without a sound. He squeezed my fingers, his best friend was gone. The love of his life would never kiss him goodnight. I couldn’t even imagine what he was feeling, because I had never been in love before. Not the kind of love they shared.
I tried top pick up his pieces before I picked up my own. Of course he was half the reason I was here inside this kingdom. Wells’s heartbreak had fueled my hatred and heartache for the king. Now here I was, in his castle, falling for him. At least I was trying to talk myself out of whatever it was I was feeling. I couldn’t possible feel anything but hatred for the person who had taken away my best friend.
I willed away the tears that had gathered. I was done crying. My friend was gone, the tears wouldn’t bring her back. All I could do was bring justice to her name.
I opened my eyes, walking out into the middle of the yard. I wondered if Harper had seen the beauty this castle held, before she was walked out onto that balcony to her death. There was more beauty here than one would realize, if you looked past the evil that clouded every corner of this place. Even Bellamy held some beauty, if you dusted off his heavy shoulders. That was something I never thought was possible.
I sat down slowly, pulling my dress under my knees as I let my legs out hang in front of me. I took in a deep breath, looking down at my hands. As I sat there I realized that killing the king wouldn’t bring Harper back to me or Wells. It wouldn’t solve any problems, it would only cause more. Another body would be added to the count, whatever family he had in this kingdom would mourn him.
He might be a monster, but there was a soul hiding behind his eyes. Finn would hurt if he was gone. People would riot for his title. There would be total chaos within the walls as well as outside them. No killing Bellamy wasn’t the answer to everything he had done. But now I wasn’t sure what the answer was.
My plan was slowly changing. Before I even knew it, I no longer wanted him dead. Now I wanted to understand. I wanted to understand him and everything that had happened before he saved me. If he offered me the truth, maybe we could find a way out together.
Somehow I had let him get to me. Even before he saved me from the execution, I didn’t stop myself from imagining his strong arms wrapped around me. I didn’t forget the way he touched me, ever so gently, our first night as husband and wife. The memory was still burned inside my head.
I smiled to myself, imagining a different life with Bellamy, one that didn’t have secrets and stories that kept us alive. I thought of a life where I could actually fall in love with my husband because he was a man everyone respected. My heart yearned for that life, for the man I imagined Bellamy to be. This kingdom was holding him back. Maybe I could find a way to bring that man to me.
I heard the door open and I knew he was there behind me. I had started to sense him, my body asking for him to touch me, or talk to me. Sometimes I thought about kissing those freckles that lined his face. I shook my head, blushing as he walked towards me.
How long does it take for people to fall in love? Some believe if it’s the right half of your soul, it takes no time at all. I was started to wonder if they were on to something. Because one look from Bellamy was all it took to make me forget every single reason why it was wrong to fall for him.
"Clarke," his voice was deep, but it was soft and sincere. Even though I had been waiting for him, but this time I didn't fear the dawn, "you weren't in your room. I got worried. After this afternoon, I thought something happened.”
I smiled as he sat down on the grass across from me, "I'm fine Bellamy. I just wanted to enjoy this beautiful evening. I've been shut up in my room for too long now.”
He sighed, bringing his knees up to his chest, "it is a nice night. Unfortunately it's probably the last one.”
I raised an eyebrow, wondering what that meant. But I knew the moment I asked he wouldn't give me a straight answer. I sighed, running my hands over the top of the grass, letting it tickle my palms.
I looked over at my husband, wondering what had changed his mind. He was squinting as he looked up into the sky, “I’m sorry,” his voice was soft, the wind carried it to me before the words faded away. My heart stopped, his eyes finding mine, “for letting the guards take you this morning.”
I nodded my head slowly, “I’m just glad you changed your mind.”
“I shouldn’t have had to change my mind about you. I,” he stopped, shaking his head as he took in a breath. His chest puffed up, “I think you’re exactly what this kingdom needs.”
I raised an eyebrow at him, “what about you?”
“Yeah,” his eyes never left mine, “I think you’re exactly what I’ve been looking for.”
I bit my lip, stopping the smile that spread across my face. I didn’t realize how beautiful and intense a compliment from Bellamy could be. I felt like I had finally gained access to an area no one else had ever seen. The king was closed off to everyone, but sometimes he let me into those hidden parts.
Bellamy cleared his throat, and I looked out at the beautiful kingdom that belonged to him, "what's your favorite color?”
He laughed, which surprised me more than anything else, "we've been married for three days now and you want to know my favorite color?”
I shrugged, "I want to know you, Bellamy. I don't want to be married to a man who I've only heard about in stories. Because as you learned the past few nights, stories are deceiving. I want to know your likes and dislikes. I want to understand you.”
I looked over at him and he was staring at the horizon, the sun starting to set. His eyes were glossy, like there were tears gathered in the corners. He sighed, his fingers laying on the grass between us. A desire to reach out and touch them washed over me. After he saved me from my execution, brushed his hand gently over my cheek after the poisoning, I was craving his touch.
"Blue," he turned to look at me, "like the color of your eyes.”
I blushed, "I'm partial to green myself. I love the smell of roses, but my favorite flowers are sunflowers. They're so happy and bright. My mom used to pick them out of the field and bring them home to sit on the dinner table.”
Bellamy sighed, "no one has ever cared to ask me these types of things. I've always been the king, straight to business with someone like me. But you," he turned so he was facing me, "you still surprise me."
I smiled, "good that is my goal. I don't want you to think I've grown soft in our marriage.”
He laughed, "you remind me a lot of the mother I lost. She didn't like being told what to do, or how to live either.”
I stopped getting ready for our banter when I realized he was opening up to me. He never mentioned his mother, or anyone else in his family.
I thought Finn would be the person I would ask about his past. I sat up straighter, his eyes staring at my hands.
"Well she sounds like my kind of Queen," I smiled softly at him, waiting for him to go on.
He sighed, "she was beautiful without even trying. A lot like you," he looked away, hoping I didn't hear that last bit, "but my father was controlling. He hated having a wife who wouldn't be seen and not heard. He used force to make her listen. I always promised myself I would never touch a woman the way he did. I hated him.”
I leaned closer, putting my hand over his, "Bellamy I never thought you'd hurt me. Not like that anyways.”
He nodded, "I know you think I'm a monster," his voice broke, "everyone does. They don't understand what happens here, or why it has to happen.”
"Bellamy," I said his name slowly, waiting for him to look up at me. He sighed, tears in his eyes as they looked at me, "I'm not going to ask you about it anymore. I understand you don't want to tell me.”
He laughed, it was dark and humorless, "I've upset everyone by saving you. It's not supposed to happen this way. You are supposed to die, but I can't let you.”
My heart stopped as he kept staring at me. We were getting close to my answers, but I changed the subject. Right there in the moonlight I didn't want to hear the horror stories of the kingdom. I wanted to live in a tiny little bubble, oblivious to the evil that surrounded me for a little longer.
"So your mom, did she tell you stories when you were little?”
He nodded, grateful that I didn't pry harder, "she loved telling stories. She was almost as good as you were. I loved our story time. I'd crawl onto her lap late at night and she'd start to weave a tale as amazing as any book I would read.”
I smiled, "I hope your children say the same about you one day.”
"I shouldn't have children," the humor was gone again, "I would only cause them pain. The same way I've caused this kingdom pain."
I knew I should tell him that if he gave everyone an honest answer as to why their daughters had to die, then maybe they wouldn't think of him as a monster. But he wouldn't even tell me the truth, I knew he wouldn't tell his subjects what happened behind closed doors. Although I'm sure everyone had heard that he saved me. Rumors flew around this castle faster than a fly, it had to have gotten out into the kingdom.
I wondered if Octavia and my father had heard. I hoped they had. Maybe they wouldn't worry as much if they knew I was still alive.
"I never thought I wanted kids. But when my mom died I took to caring for my little sister. We were pretty young, she clung to me the way she used to cling to our mom. One night she looked up to me and told me she was glad I protected her from the monsters," tears gathered in my eyes as I thought back to the night of that terrible thunder storm, "I realized that's why parents love their children so much. Because they only have unconditional love for each other.”
"Your sister is lucky," he whispered, "to have a sister as strong and brave as you. I wish I had had a sibling like that when my mom died.”
Everyone knew his mom was dead long before his father. But no one knew why. I bit my lip, trying to stop the question as it formed on my lips. After a moment of silence I sighed.
"What happened?" My voice was soft, I was afraid to break the spell we were under. I didn't want to push too hard. I didn't want him to close up on me.
Bellamy ran his hand through his curls, and then sighed loudly, "my dad was paranoid. In the last few years it took all of the castle to convince him his guards weren't going to kill him. Before that he always thought my mom was too good for him. She was, she was beautiful and sweet. She took care of me and gave me love for the both of them.”
I smiled slightly, thinking about my mother and how similar they were. Of course my father wasn't a monster. He sighed, wincing as he remembered her fate, "I was eight. She had just finished telling me my bedtime story. I used to love that, as much as I enjoy our story time," he smiled at me, "but before she could even brush a kiss on my forehead my dad burst into the room.”
Tears gathered in his eyes as he looked away, "he accused her of sleeping with his first guard. Of course she denied it, but he held up a pregnancy test. I didn't know that's what it was at the time. Anyways she said that it wasn't hers, but he found it in their bathroom. He took her away screaming. She screamed for me, for her life. I can still hear her screaming," he closed his eyes hard, "I followed. I shouldn't have, but I went to their bedroom. He had a dagger to her throat, insisting she tell the truth. She said she was, and then he went silent.”
I gasped as his hands started to shake. I wanted to reach out and steady them, but I stayed still, afraid I would break the spell he was under, "he slit her throat. I can still remember her eyes losing their light. Her screams silenced. Once it was over, he looked at me. He knew I had been watching. He told me that a woman should be faithful, even if they hadn't slept together in three years.”
He took in a breath, "I hate my father. Even when he was dying, going mad and accusing everyone of things that weren't possible. I hated him with a passion, because he took away the one person who loved me as much as I loved them.”
My heart broke as his voice faltered. He was so strong all the time, but he was still a child. He was just as broken as the rest of us. I didn't think about it I reached for his hands and pressed them between my tiny fingers.
"Bellamy," my voice was low, "I know it doesn't matter, but that's not true. Your father took away your mother, but he didn't take away everyone. Finn is your cousin, he loves you. The guards are faithful to you. And now you have me.”
I smiled slightly as my heart started to pound in my chest. He was staring at me like he was trying to figure out if I was being honest. I squeezed his fingers and then he pulled me in closer. He hugged me against his chest, I felt his heart beating under his shirt. Even thought we had slept together twice now, this was far more intimate than we had gotten.
"I knew there was a reason I couldn't let you go," his voice was soft as he ran his fingers through my hair and down my cheek, "thank you. For understanding.”
I nodded, "you can tell me anything, Bellamy. I am your queen, your wife. I just want to understand you. I want to support you."
He nodded, "and I you.”
I started to pull my hands away, getting ready to tell him more of the story. But he closed his big fingers around mine, holding it gently in his lap. He didn't want me to let go, and despite the reasons why I was here, neither did I. I smiled as I looked at our hands, the tan of his skin against the paleness of mine.
We might not be perfect, we might have ghosts following us. But together we might just find a way to help each other end the wars inside of us.