He was not serious? No, he must surely be jesting. Why would he want me to kill him? I couldn’t do it. No, no, there had to be a reason for why he said this.
“Bancroft. Surely, you do not mean the words you uttered,” I said, shock causing my heart to tremble.
“I mean it, my beautiful rose. This is the only way for you to break free from the shackles of your past. You must punish me in the same manner I punished you. I used a knife on you and made you bleed; you must do the same. You must give me your pain in order to be free from it,” he said, his eyes downcast as if he was not a mighty King but a mere peasant.
I shook my head as his words traveled through my mind, trying to understand why he was doing this. Did he really wish for me to do this? And did I have the courage to harm him in such a brutal manner?
This is what you wished for, right?
Yes, I would not lie, I desired to harm him just as he punished me. I yearned to make him beg for mercy. I was thirsty for his blood. But that was when I was not aware of the goodness that resided deep within him. That was before I came to Sodora. That was before he expressed remorse for his actions.
Now. Now I was not thirsty for his blood. I knew I would not be able to forget what he did to me, but harming him would not help me in any way. I was no longer vying for his blood. I just wanted to put the past behind us and start a new life with him. I had agreed to give him a second chance, which meant I wanted to make new memories with him. I wanted to see more of the good man who was now kneeling in front of me, holding out the dagger.
“Is this your solution? Make me revisit the hell you put me through?” I asked, relishing in the fury that ignited within me.
Bancroft looked up, green eyes clouded with confusion. “I do not understand what you mean.”
“You promised to make new memories with me…happy memories. Why are you going back on your word?” I asked him. The thought of seeing Bancroft in pain made me feel as if the sun had sunk and I was surrounded by darkness.
“I do wish to make happy memories with you, my nymph, do not think for one second that I would go back on my word,” he stated, his voice reverting back to its usual dominance.
“Then why are you offering me the dagger? Why do you wish for me to harm you? Do you think inflicting pain on you will bring me happiness?” If he had not asked me for forgiveness, I would never have said those words, because at one point, spilling his blood was all I desired. But not anymore.
The confusion did not leave his face. “I thought this would help you release your anger. I know it shall take you a long time to move on from what I did to you.”
“It will not be so difficult if you stay true to your word and keep me happy,” I argued. No matter what happened, I would move on from this. A Queen was supposed to be strong, and I had shown my strength by forgiving Bancroft and showing him how kindness was much more powerful than cruelty.
Bancroft looked away clearly at a loss for words. The man who left me fumbling for words was now trying to find the appropriate ones. The changing of time was truly a marvel, and I was sure I would see more changes in the future.
I smiled, kneeling down in front of him because I was not used to seeing him on his knees. I took the dagger from him, eyeing the jewel encrusted hilt, wondering if I should tell him the truth. It was important for him to know how I felt, I could not let my feelings hinder me from having a happy future.
“You know, if you had not expressed remorse for your actions I would’ve taken this dagger and stabbed you in the heart.” I told him, allowing my feelings to come out and for once choosing to ignore his. “I wanted to hurt you, wanted you to suffer like I did. I have been plotting my revenge against you since you first took me out to the gardens in Quopia.
“You caused me so much pain, I couldn’t even sleep properly. I was afraid of you and did not wish to see you, but you always came to me.”
“Because I was unable to stay away from you. I wanted you to know that I was all you have and you must get used to my presence in your life,” he explained.
I nodded, understanding his reasons. “Be that as it may, it was not easy for me to endure the pain you inflicted upon me. I thought you will never change, and I always used to wonder why you were punishing me so severely when I did not do anything wrong. The women in the harem told me that you are a King and you have every right to do whatever you please, which made me wonder if you enjoyed hurting me.”
“I should’ve expressed myself in a different way. I will never forgive myself for harming the one woman I swore to protect. That is why I wish for you to seek your vengeance, so I can take this burden off my shoulders,” Bancroft replied.
His words made me see something I couldn’t before. Revenge was here, and all I had to do was take it. This was the perfect way to make him pay for all that he had done.
“I am seeking vengeance here, Bancroft. This will be your burden to carry for the rest of your life. I will not harm you in any way,” I said.
His eyes widened and I smiled. I had won, just like I wanted to. “You will be punishing me in the worst way.”
“Consider it my revenge, Bancroft. I am sure you can endure this knowing that I will be at peace,” I responded, feeling my heart sighing in bliss. I felt so light, as if all my sorrows and pain had been lifted and I was left with nothing but happiness.
I had won.
My vengeance had been extracted.
I was at peace now.
“If that is your wish, so shall it be. I vow to carry the burden of this guilt for the rest of my life, as this is what I deserve. And if my Queen wills it, then I shall have no problem carrying this burden,” he stated, looking in my eyes.
“This is the only way I can think of to punish you. I cannot bear to stab you and spill your blood, though it is what I wished for. But I believe, there are other ways to punish a person,” I said, placing the dagger on the floor and taking a hold of his hands. “I hope you are able to carry this burden.”
“Knowing that it would bring peace to you, I shall take this burden with me to my grave. Carrying this guilt in my heart will not be difficult knowing that you are no longer suffering because of the past,” he said, pulling me closer to him, placing my head on his shoulder.
“As long as you stay true to your word, I shall have no problem relieving myself of past memories.” I never thought I would come so far with this man. A few months ago, all I could do was tremble at the mere thought of him and now I had him in my control. I was the one who was ruling over him.
“All I want now is for us to have a happy life together. The future of Sodora is in our hands, my beautiful rose. And I know you will make a wonderful Queen,” he said.
“How can you say that to me? A woman who knows nothing but how to serve others, how do you expect me to rule?” I questioned.
He pulled me back a little so he could look at me. The disbelief on his face puzzled me. “How can you say that?”
“How can I not? It is what it is. You have seen it for yourself, so why do you look so puzzled?” I queried.
“When you rule the King, then why are you afraid to rule the people?” I gasped, unable to believe him. No, I did not rule him. Just because he loved me and agreed to my punishment did not mean I ruled over him.
“How can you say that? You claimed me, which means you rule over my being. I cannot rule, Bancroft,” I argued.
“I may have claimed you but you ruled my heart since the first time I saw you. Not only my heart, but my mind as well. You are the one who ruled my entire being, my fierce nymph. Everything you did, just added another bar to my prison from which I desire no escape,” he said, kissing me tenderly.
How could I refuse anything he asked of me if he kept on saying things like this? He had finally told me the truth and it was unbelievable, yet beautiful. All this time, I believed him to be the one in power but according to him, I was the one in power.
“I wish to see you free, Bancroft, not a prisoner.” I would do it. I would rule this Kingdom beside him. He had made my dreams come true, given me all that I ever wished for, I would do this for him. I had no desire to rule over people but I could not deny what Bancroft was and what he needed me to be. I had already given him the burden of my pain, I would not let him rule over his people all alone.
“Being with you is the greatest freedom, my beautiful Queen. You may have captured my heart but I feel free when I am with you. However, it was when you fled that I felt this world become a prison. It became difficult to breathe, to live. I wanted the guards to find you and bring you to me because every hour that I was forced to spend without you was excruciating.” He gave me a soft smile. “You punished me when you were not with me, and I do not wish to feel that pain again.”
“I give you my word that I will never run again. I will stay here with you, Bancroft,” I vowed, meaning every word. If he stayed true to his word, then I would have no problem staying true to mine. I was done living in the past. The future was happy and bright and I wanted it. It was time to shed the shackles of the past and run towards the happiness Bancroft was promising me.
“Thank you, my Queen. That is all I wish to hear. Your promise has brought me peace like no other, and even if you punish me a thousand times, I shall endure it knowing that you are with me for eternity,” he stated, kissing my forehead.
I smiled. “You should stand up now. I do not like seeing you on your knees. A King should never be on his knees.”
“A King has no choice but to kneel in front of his Queen,” he argued, his face breaking out in a beautiful smile.
“Now it is his Queen who is commanding him to stand up,” I said.
“There is something important which I need to do first.”
I frowned, wondering what could he possibly want to do while kneeling. “What is it?”
“You should be standing, but it is alright if you choose to kneel in front of me,” he said.
“What are you talking about, Bancroft? Please tell me already, I cannot bear the suspense,” I pleaded.
I watched as Bancroft slipped a hand inside his robes and produced a small box. The red, velvet box was only big enough for small jewelry, which had me wondering why he would be giving me jewelry.
“I punished you because in some strange way, I believed I was loving you. You showed me the reality and made me realize that I was wrong to hurt you. And you proved your point by punishing me…for the rest of my life.” I held my breath as I continued to listen to him.
“Yes,” I said, the lone word nothing but a whisper.
“Though it is a punishment I will endure for the rest of my life, I am in peace, because you promised to stay with me.” He opened the box and I gasped when I saw the ring with the biggest jewel I’d ever seen.
“Oh my God,” I said, feeling the familiar burn of tears. Was he really going to do what my heart was saying?
“Since you promised to stay with me, I refuse to let you go. So the only way to keep you here is to give you your rightful place here and make you the official Queen of Sodora. I refuse to take the risk of leaving you free,” he said, pulling the ring out. The green stone was one which I had never seen before and wondered what it was called.
“I thought you would no longer keep me prisoner,” I teased.
“I have to. I claimed you, my beautiful rose, and I shall keep you for eternity.” He looked deep in my eyes. “I know I do not deserve to ask this of you, but will you do me the honor of becoming my bride and blessing this Kingdom with a Queen. Will you marry me?”
Did I hear him correctly? Did he just ask me to marry him? Yes, yes he did. Should I make him wait? He needed to wait for me, right?
Have mercy on him. He has already waited for you for years.
My inner voice was right; I should not make him wait. My future was waiting for me and I was all too eager to embrace it. No longer would I remain in the past. It was time to embrace my happiness.
“Bancroft, I will marry you.”