“So everyone thinks it’s your fault?” Tristan asked as he spun me around. We were at the third night of the Kingdom Banquet. I kept tripping on my purple gown and I was afraid that I might step on his Tristan’s toes with my pointy shoes.
“Yeah” I replied.
“Don’t feel so bad” Tristan said.
“But I do. I feel embarrassed”
“Why?” he said “Because you did something amazing?”
“Yes” I replied. Tristan always tries to make me fell better but I don’t think that’s going to work this time.
“How did you do that?” he asked nervously.
“I don’t know. I must have been feeling strong emotions and I did that” I said.
“You were just talking with me” he pointed out.
I turned pink “Maybe you...make me feel things...” I hesitated “Good things”
The song ended and Tristan’s little sister started crying so Tristan went to cheer her up and Granny came over to me.
“Come on” she said.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“The king is about to make a speech”
I rolled my eyes at that. My plan was to sleep through it. Granny and I sat down at a table close to the thrones. I sipped on a fizzy drink while everyone gathered around.
“Good evening everyone” King Jaxon greeted “Thank you for coming”
Not that we had a choice, I thought but didn’t dare say it out loud.
“As you all know that the Kingdom Banquet is a way for the prince to find a bride. It is our tradition”
Yes, we know can you speed this up so I can go home. I thought.
“But traditions can change, because our kingdom is growing weak and the Hydras cannot do this alone we need the help of the only other constellation we know that is powerful enough....” he continued. I took another sip of my drink.
“...Virgo” the King said at last. I nearly threw up. Granny put her shaking hand on my arm and she was beaming with pride. I could see Dad looking smug emerging from the crowd.
All eyes fell on the three of us.
“And that is why I am presenting my eldest son, Prince Alec....” Prince Alec stepped forward so he was in the center of the room.
King Jaxon continued “To the only daughter of Virgo I know, Annabelle Virgo”
This time I really spit out my drink, it flew out of my mouth and landed in my glass.
King Jaxon didn’t seem to notice “In an arranged marriage”
I looked at Granny she looked at me with pride. I felt was going to pass out. Is this some sort of sick joke? I needed someone to pinch me so I would know that I was not dreaming.
“Annabelle” Dad was now sitting next to me “Do you accept?”
A million thoughts ran through my head, the fact that every girl would hate me and also the fact that my best friend, Lyra would hate me because she likes the prince and now I’m being forced to marry him. A little part of me whispered, what about Tristan? All those emotions came rushing at me and I did it again. The star stone around my neck started to burn my skin like the fire of hell and so did Granny and Dad’s because they broke of the chains around their necks. I could barely move.
I lit up Virgo and Ophiuchus and the light could have blinded everyone and it could have broken the windows. I tried to calm down but it took several minutes for that. The curtains were now covering the windows and my chest was burnt, I yanked out my necklace from under my dress and stared at the stone. It was hot with anger just like the constellations I lit up and just like me.
“Annabelle, what did you do?” Granny scolded.
“My apologies, Your Majesty” Dad bowed to the king.
“Looks like your daughter didn’t take the news very well” King Jaxon said. Everyone else was leaving or they had been sent away.
“She’s just in shock” Granny defended.
“That’s alright, she’ll calm down soon. About the wedding....” King Jaxon continued “Antonio, our children can get engaged in a week which was supposed to be the second week of the Kingdom Banquet. We will have a small celebration then you and your family can stay at the palace to make preparations for the wedding”
“As you wish” Dad promised. I felt angrier than I have ever felt and when we got home I blew up like a bomb.
“What just happened?” I said through gritted teeth.
“Annabelle, we were going to tell you but the king made us promise not to” Granny explained.
“You knew about this?” I bellowed.
“Calm down” Dad demanded “Yes, we knew about it and the Kingdom Banquet was just to make it look like it was fair”
“Well it’s not really fair when the king announced an arranged marriage in front of the entire kingdom” I pointed out.
“Yes but now you are going to be the next princess” Granny said excitedly.
“I don’t wan to be” I said.
“I thought you did”
“I did but not anymore” I explained “and I think even he hates the idea of an arranged marriage”
“What makes you say that?” Granny asked.
I remembered that night when he was dancing with Lyra and laughing with her. “He likes someone else ans she likes him back”
“Don’t say that” Dad said.
“Annabelle, the stars are growing weak with only Hydra controlling them” Granny worried “That is why we must unite the two largest and strongest constellations”
“And this marriage is the only way to do it” Dad added.
“What if I say no?”
“We’ll probably be executed” Dad said.
“Or exiled and the outside world is a corrupted area” Granny yelped.
“Don’t be silly, we can’t leave the kingdom and nothing can enter the kingdom” I reminded “But I would like to escape right now”
“Annabelle!” Granny scolded.
“You are now betrothed to Prince Alec and you will marry him, end of discussion” Dad yelled.
I ran to my room and ripped off my dress and broke off my shoes and sobbed.
I thought about everything that had happened. I thought about my friends and what would they be thinking, especially Tristan. But most of all I thought about Lyra, what would she be going through. I would’ve called her or texted but now all of our electronic devices weren’t working and they would most probably never work again.
I knew how Lyra felt about Alec and how I felt. The only difference was that she really liked Alec and I didn’t hate him but I respected him.
I didn’t let the feeling of being betrothed sink in because every time I thought about it tears pricked my eyes. I cried for almost three hours and then I passed out.
My dreams were anything but nice and relaxing, they were confusing and irritating. First I saw the palace and then the scene shifted to the army base in my previous dream. Star stones scared me the most. I mean sure everyone has them but it’s dangerous to have a weapon around your neck at all times, you could hurt someone or murder them. Why was I seeing these things? What’s the point? I thought. People training for battle. Maybe I was seeing visions of the outside world where everyone is always fighting and there are wars going on. That’s what we’ve seen over the past few years, we may not be able to leave Stellaregno but we keep tabs on the world. How? I have no idea.
I almost missed school the next morning, I dressed hurriedly and then Granny drove me to school in a rush. Better late then never.
She tried to start a conversation but I stayed quiet. I also kept quiet through all my classes until fifth period which was free. My plan was to hide in an empty classroom and revise for the English quiz but then all my friends gathered around me.
“Hi” Tristan greeted. I didn’t respond.
There was a long pause. Lewis kept staring between me and Lyra. “Awkward” he muttered and Tristan elbowed him in the ribs. “Owww” Lewis yelped.
“Hey” I replied lamely.
“Before anyone says anything,” Lyra started quickly “I know you all think that I’m jealous of Belle but I am not”
“You’re not??” I gasped.
“No, of coarse not” Lyra sounded offended. “I’m actually still digesting everything that happened”
“Me too” Amara broke in.
“Same here” Lewis added, raising his hand lightly.
“That makes four of us” Tristan crossed his arms.
I smiled lightly and spoke, “You forgot me”
Tristan grinned at me. “So....” Tristan sighed “now what?”
I swallowed and tried to find my voice. Now what? I thought to myself. This isn’t any different. I was going to get paired someday anyway. Why is getting paired with Prince Alec any different?
“I guess,” I croaked then cleared my throat. “Look guys, this is not any different than the pairing system. I was going to get paired with someone anyway. Let’s just pretend that Prince Alec is my pair and that’s the end of it” I finished.
There was a long pause. All four of them were staring at me with blank faces. I looked at Tristan, my expression sent a clear message. Say something.
It was Amara who spoke. “You have a point” she agreed.
Lyra’s expression lightened. “Yeah, why are we making such a big deal out of this?” Lyra asked no one in particular. “Belle, just pretend that he’s your pair and you’re gonna live happily ever after”
I gave her a light smile. Typical Lyra, always looking on the bright side.
“I liked to see that happen” Tristan muttered. I glared at him. When he caught me looking he relaxed his arms, cleared his throat and pretended that he didn’t just say that.
“Okay...” Lewis started. “So we’re good then?”
“Yes” I replied.
“Then why is it still awkward?” Lewis said in a small voice.
“I have no idea” I said, smiling weirdly.
“Amara, do you have something to talk about?” Lyra breathed.
“As a matter of fact I do” Amara started.
“Here we go” Lewis muttered.
“We have a test to study for” Amara informed.
Everyone except Amara groaned loudly. Amara looked offended and said, “Oh haha. Very funny”
“Now can we please study for the test?” Amara said opening her book.
“Why do we have to?” Lewis said “No one else is”
“That doesn’t mean we should do the same” Tristan explained.
“That’s exactly what it means” Lewis insisted “and will you two please stop staring into each other’s eyes?” he said turning to Tristan and me. I didn’t realize I was staring at Tristan and he was doing the same. I broke away. Just then Gwen and Violet walked in the room.
“What are you guys doing?” Gwen asked. Violet kept looking between me and Lyra.
“We are learning?” Amara said “You should to. We have to pass all our classes if we want to graduate next month”
But Gwen and Violet were already out the door.
“And.....they left” Lewis said
“If we’re studying and they’re not does that make us nerds?” I wondered.
“No” Amara said “It only makes them carefree”
We studied for a good twenty minutes before the bell rang.
“Saved by the bell” Lewis sighed in relief “Let’s go fail a quiz”
Amara rolled her eyes and with that we all headed off to class.