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I decided to write this piece to create a strong female lead.
Stars. Specks of white in the night sky. Balls of gas light-years away from earth. Such simple things. But, it is the simplest of things that hold the most meaning. Two children, a boy, and a girl adore the stars. For as long as they could remember they would lie on a grassy hill and watch the stars together. One night, they lay on the hilltop, barely a few inches from each other. They made a promise. No matter what happened, they would always be there. This promise may have changed the course of their lives. Considering the boy was only ten and the girl eight. These two young children have made unbreakable promises on a green hilltop, underneath the stars.
“Happy Birthday!” shouted the crowd.
Nearly eight years have passed and it’s almost the girl’s, Maddie, sixteenth birthday. So far they have kept their promise. Through every high and low, they have been together. She and her older brother, Mark, snuck out of the palace to meet up with the boy, now eighteen. Jace, the boy, threw the girl a birthday party at an underground club. The club was meant for anyone aged thirteen to twenty-one. The club was illegally run in an old warehouse just outside of the capital city. About ten minutes away from the palace. It was risky, but it was the only place there was to run it outside of the city, while still being near it.
Jace threw the party a week before her actual birthday because there was a ball on her actual birthday. Also, Jace would be leaving for boot camp the day before her birthday with Mark.
Maddie adjusted her jacket and continued toward the back of the room towards a pair of familiar faces. Brooke, Jace’s seventeen-year-old sister, came up to wish Maddie a swift happy birthday before running off with her boyfriend, Mark. Maddie rolled her eyes and continued back to Jace. As she took the final few steps towards him he pushed himself off the wall where he was leaning.
“Happy birthday,” he said disinterested, like always.
“You hate it here,” Maddie playfully pointed out.
“It’s your birthday and you love it.”
“Not my birthday yet.” They laughed as he rolled his eyes playfully. He leans down to give her a quick kiss.
Suddenly another voice pops in jokingly, “Your Highness.”
Maddie turns around an annoying smile on her face, “I believe I told you and everyone else here many times to just call me Maddie.”
“You did, Madeline, it's just fun to tease you.”
“You know Andrew, I could have this place shut down and have you arrested,” she said, a teasing smile plastered on her face.
He laughs and replies, “You wouldn’t. You like it here too much.”
Andrew was right. He has also been running the club for years, even though he was only twenty-three. His family has actually been running this place since before he was born. It was also Maddie’s favorite place in the world, other than the palace library. She would often sneak out of the castle to come here with Mark.
“So,” Jace speaks up, “Wanna dance?”
“Of course Jacin, when do I not want to dance?” She asked rhetorically.
He smiled and began to walk to the dance floor. Maddie went to the bar.
She began to talk to the bartender, “Hey Brisa, mind watching this for me?”
“Gladly,” Brisa said, grabbing the jacket from Maddie.
Maddie muttered out thanks as she turned away. She pulled back her dark, long, wavy hair so it wouldn’t get in her face while she danced. Then, she made her way over to Jace who was calmly waiting for her to get back.
When she approached he looked her up and down with a questioning look. Mark had done the same thing when he first saw her outfit. It was understandable, she wouldn’t usually wear a shirt like this. It was a black crop top, but there was a v-neck shape that had a mesh covering from the top to the bottom of the shirts. The pants, though they were still slightly out of character for her, she was known to wear semi-often. They were black ripped jeans. The laced-up red leather heeled combat booties along with the red leather jacket were normal for Maddie to wear.
She didn’t pay any mind to it, it was her birthday, she could wear what she wanted. Maddie just walked onto the floor and started dancing. He stood still for a moment, still in shock, before he broke from his trance and joined Maddie.
The music was loud and fast-paced. Until they played a slow song. It happened to be Maddie’s favorite song, but without a partner, she slowly made her off of the floor. That was until she felt someone grab her wrist. Shocked. she turned to face the person. It was Jace.
“This is your favorite song. We’re gonna dance,” He said.
She sighed, “You can’t slow dance.”
He laughed, “ I can slow dance. I just don’t like to. And I’m not letting you skip dancing to your favorite song.”
She let a bright smile overtake her face. She let him pull her towards him.
“Thank you,” she whispered happily.
He smiled. When she wasn’t looking, he would look at her longingly. Knowing that this relationship could never last. She was a princess and he was a soon-to-be guard. He was happy though. Happy with what he could get of her. Anyone would be lucky to even know her. Just before the end of the song, he pulled her in for a light, gentle kiss.
The song ended and they walked off of the dance floor.
“Meet me outside after you get your jacket,” Jace said before walking towards the back exit.
She didn’t get a chance to respond. So she went to the bar.
“Brisa, I need my jacket,” she said shortly, curious about what Jace wanted.
She handed her the jacket saying something, but Maddie wasn’t paying attention, she just grabbed the jacket and walked away. As she made her way through the maze of people, her curiosity built.
Finally, she opened the door and stepped outside to see Jace standing in a far corner. He wasn’t alone though. Mark and Brooke were there with him. Confused and even more curious than before she walks up to them.
“Gift time!” Brooke calls out excitedly.
“No. I told you all no gifts,” Maddie claims sternly.
“Too bad!” Brooke yells and walks up to her with a gift.
Maddie could tell it was a dress from the packaging. But as she opened it, she realized that this was the same dress Brooke was wearing in a different color. Brooke had known that she wanted this dress forever, but could never justify getting it enough. It was a skin-tight black dress. It had spaghetti strap sleeves that crossed in the back and an asymmetrical skirt.
“You’re welcome,” she said smugly.
Maddie glared at her jokingly and thanked her.
“By the way, I helped Mark pick out his gift,” she claimed.
Mark screamed in disagreement as Maddie leaned towards her and whispered, “I figured.”
She then reached for Mark’s gift, which she assumed was some type of jewelry based on the box.
She opened it and she was right. It was a necklace. It had a black chain. And from the chain, hung a single black rose charm. It was a necklace she would wear often. She could tell Mark and Brooke picked it out together. Brooke told him to get a necklace. He picked out this necklace. He knew that she would wear it often compared to all the other more glamorous and expensive necklaces she had. She also knew that Brooke would never get her any jewelry that wasn’t covered in diamonds or some type of gem.
“Thank you,” Maddie looked up from the necklace and saw that Brooke and Mark were leaving, “Or not?”
“Maddie,” Jace called.
“Here.” He handed her a box. It was long, she couldn’t even guess what it was like with the other gifts. So she just opened the box. Inside, was the most beautiful dagger she had ever seen. She gently removed it from the box and unsheathed it. Carefully running her fingers across the sharp blade she admired its indescribable beauty.
“Careful,” Jace whispered harshly.
Maddie scoffed, “I know.”
After she stared at it a moment longer she whispered, “Why? You always refuse to get me any type of weaponry?”
“I and your brother are both leaving. I asked him first and he agreed that you should have something to protect yourself now that we’re gonna be gone. And yes, we know you have other weapons, but this one is easy to conceal when you need to.”
“Thank you!” she shouted as she leapt onto him for a hug.
He hugged her back, embracing her warmly.
She looked up and pressed a passionate kiss to his lips. He returned the kiss happily.
They broke apart after only a moment and went back inside the club. It was about time for them to leave so Maddie and Jace quickly grabbed Brooke and Mark. They all left the club and began to head home.
Mark and Brooke walked slighlightly ahead of Maddie and Jace. They were talking about varying, indiscernible things. Maddie and Jace were silently enjoying each other’s company listening to the murmurings of their siblings.
After about five minutes of hiking, they reach a car that Maddie and Mark hid earlier before the party.The car ride was silent except for the soft music coming from the radio as Mark drove to the palace.
Only ten minutes into the car ride they pull into the hiding spot near the palace. This time they were all silent on the minute-long walk. Brooke and Mark say goodbye to Maddie and Jace as they head up to Mark’s room.
Jace follows Maddie as she carefully climbs to her bedroom balcony. Once they both make it up, Maddie tells Jace to stay quiet and that she will be right back.
Maddie then goes through her large room and out to the hall. She quickly makes sure that nobody is out there. It was just her guards, but they had fallen asleep. She quietly walks across the hall to her little sister’s room. Maddie had put her to bed earlier, but she wanted to make sure that she was still asleep. She opens the door and enters. Quietly she closes the door behind her and walks over to The six-year-old’s small bed.
The young girl was still asleep, but she was shivering. So Maddie pulled up the pink covers to the young girl’s shoulders and brushed some hair out of her face. She kisses Callie softly on the forehead before carefully going back to her own room.
When she enters her room, she sees Jace sitting on her bed. She takes off her shoes and lays down patting the soft material of her blanket beside her indicating for him to lay down too. He does. She moves her head to his chest, listening for the calming rhythm of his heartbeat. Soon he starts gently stroking her hair. Not long after, she falls asleep.
A little later, Maddie wakes up groggily to Jace’s voice, “It’s time for me to leave.”
It takes a minute for the statement to register before she replies, “Oh.”
He laughs and kisses her quickly, “See you later.”
After he is gone, she’s finally able to quietly mutter out, “Bye.”
Then, she goes back to sleep, wishing he didn’t have to leave. Wishing that she didn’t have to hide him from her father.
If her father were to find out, he would be banned from the palace, and she would be put under constant watch. Mark was lucky. He could be with whoever he wanted.
Nearly an hour after Maddie falls asleep, a maid walks in and sees her in her club outfit that she forgot to change out of. Along with the gifts that Maddie forgot to hide.
“Your highness!” the maid screams.
Maddie wakes with a jolt, scanning the room before her eyes land on the distraught maid. “Allie? Is everything okay?”
“It is not. What are you wearing? And where did you get these gifts? Did you go to the club again? You know that it’s illegal!”
She continued on her rant, not letting Maddie answer any of her questions.
After a minute Maddie calmly replies, “Allie! Yes, I went to the club. I’m the princess so yes, I know it’s illegal, unfortunately. And these gifts are from Mark, Jace, and Brooke.”
“Hmph. Well, in any case, I need to help you clean up. Your father wants to see you.”
Maddie frowns and slowly gets up from her soft mattress.
She grabs the gifts and heads to her closet. She enters and heads to the back, where she hides the things she doesn’t want her father to see. She hangs the dress up behind a lavender gown that he would approve of. Then, she puts the necklace in a jewelry box hidden behind her shoes in the back of the large closet. Finally, she puts the dagger in a walk-in safe, hidden behind her shoe wall, with all of her other weapons.
Once all the gifts are in their proper places, she heads back towards the front of the closet and picks out a dress. Not really in the mood for big extravagant dresses today, she selects a simple dress. It was a floor-length, blue velvet dress with long sleeves. It also had a black strap that almost creates a halter look. She also puts on a simple pair of black combat boots that she was sure her father would scold her for. She just brushed her dark hair and let the waves cascade gently to the middle of her back, not feeling like pulling it up today.
Now that she was dressed, she walked out of her room to be greeted by her guard Will. He also happened to be an old friend and one of the few people she lets see her after her mom had died.
She greeted him. He returned with a silent nod, letting her know that he was on duty and that this was not just a friendly visit.
Taking this into account, she proceeded to her father’s office. It was quite a long walk from her room to the office, but it was filled with silence.
She finally approached the office and knocked lightly on the large wooden doors. A calm, harsh voice spoke through the door, “Come in.”
She gulped looking back at Will. He gave her a slight nod and smile of encouragement. She looked back at the door and sighed. After a moment, she opened the door and walked in. Will stayed behind as usual.
She obeyed her father after shutting the door.
He was quiet for a moment. She wished it had stayed that way because what he said next was absolutely horrifying.
“You will be meeting your fiance on your birthday.”
“What do you mean?”Maddie shouted at her father.
“I mean you are getting married and will be meeting your future husband at the ball.”
“What? How could you? Without telling me!”
“I am your father and I am the king! You will not talk back to me! You are to get married without further argument!” He said. Finality in his harsh voice.
Maddie jumped back, frightened by the volume. She quietly breathed out, “Yes sir.”
“You are dismissed,” he said, his demeanor calm once again.
Her eyes wide, and her heart shattered, she walks out of the room quietly, not acknowledging Will. On the long walk back to her room, she could feel Will’s worried stare at her. She ignored it. She thought she had more time. She thought she could be with Jace a little while longer.
Now. Now she would be married in the next few months to a man she doesn’t even know.
Maddie finally enters her room and locks the door behind her. She walks over to her bed and collapses onto the silky blue sheets, and lets the tears fall down her face. Releasing sadnesses she’s been holding back for what feels like forever.
She cries over her mom. If she were here, she would have waited a few more years at least before marrying her off. She cries over her little sister. Her sister who already lost her mother before she even knew her, and is now about to lose the person who practically raised her. She cried for her brother. He would now have to abandon his dreams to raise their little sister. She cried for Jace. He loved her and she loved him. Now she had to break his heart. She knew she could never be with him, but she just wished she had more time.
Finally, she cried for herself. She cried over the fact that she had to break her own heart. She would lose her family. She would have to say goodbye to her sister. She would have to say goodbye to her brother. She would have to say goodbye to her life. She was only sixteen, she lost the last two years of her childhood because her father couldn't wait until she was eighteen like he had promised. It wasn’t long, but at least two more years would have been enough. She cried because she is giving what she has left of her life to a man she had never met. To someone whose name she didn’t even know. She cried because she couldn’t explain how she felt to anyone. No one else would understand what she was going through right now. All she had was herself. And she would never have anyone else for the rest of her life.
That was the most upsetting thing of all. Giving up her life here would be giving up everything she had ever known and everyone she had ever loved. Knowing that she wouldn’t ever be able to be this close to anyone again. Not as close as she was to her siblings and her friends and the palace staff. Where she was going, wherever it was, was going to be completely different from here. She just knew it.
So she cried. And she cried. She cried for hours. Then she heard a soft knocking on the door through her sobs. She ignored it.
The knocking came again followed by a voice. Her sister’s voice. She didn’t hear what she said.
Despite not knowing what she said, Maddie called, “I’ll be out in a few minutes!”
She was lucky that Callie was young and easy to fake emotions in front of. If it were anyone else she wouldn’t be able to hide.
She gets her crying under control and heads into her bathroom. She looks in the mirror. Her cheeks are red and tear-stained. Her eyes are puffy and wet. Her hair is damp and knotted. Luckily though, her dress seemed to remain in good shape.
She puts light layers of makeup on to cover the redness and tears.
Maddie brushed her hair and pulled it into a simple low bun.
Looking in the mirror she deemed herself as good as she could get, so she went to open the door.
She took a deep breath and put a smile on her face. Then she opened the door. “Hey, Callie! What’s up?”
Maddie glanced up at Will and he nodded in confirmation. “Well then, I guess we should get to the library.”
The young girl giggled and took off running towards the library, her guard easily keeping up with her.
Maddie however takes a moment for herself before quietly following.
“Madeline?” Will asks, breaking protocol.
Maddie turns around surprised. He was not one to break rules. At a loss for words, she says, “You know it’s Maddie. You’ve called me that before.”
“What happened with you and your dad?”
“Don’t. I know that something is wrong. I’ve literally been following you and was standing outside your door all day,” he interrupted.
“Promise you won’t tell anyone?”
He nods. She sighs and bluntly states, “My dad arranged a marriage. I don’t know who to. I don’t when. I just know that he arranged it and I am meeting him at the ball.”
Will gets quiet. Will knows all of her secrets. He probably knows more about her than anyone. Even more than Jace. Solely because he is often assigned to protect Maddie.
They almost reach the library before he speaks again, “I know I don’t completely understand, but I know this is going to be hard. I also know that you will make it work in the end.”
And with those words, they reach the library. But before they enter, Maddie turns around and gives Will a quick hug, and thanks to him. He returns the hug, and they both enter the library.
“Took you long enough!” Callie screamed from the gray sofa.
Maddie laughed, “Well then Callista, then you should have had enough time to pick a book, correct?”
Callie smiled brightly and showed her the book.
Maddie grabbed the book and joined the girl on the sofa. Callie laid her head on Maddie’s lap, adjusting her orange dress.
Maddie is reading the book when Brooke walks in angrily. Maddie looks up at her and gasps. She talks to Callie, “I think we’re done reading today, why don’t you go back to your room?”
She nods. Brooke waits for the young girl to exit the room before speaking angrily, “Where were you today? We were all worried sick about you! You never skip a get-together.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Maddie replies nonchalantly and walks out. Brooke doesn’t follow her. She looks at the clock at the end of the hall and sees how late it is. She had been reading to Callie for longer than she thought. She goes upstairs to put Callie to bed.
Maddie walks into Callie’s room and calls out, “Bedtime!”
Callie groans, but aware that she can’t argue her way out, she crawls into bed.
Maddie laughs and drags Callie out of bed and into her closet, “You need to change silly.”
Callie laughs as she puts on the pink nightgown Maddie had just pulled down for her. Then they walk back towards Callie’s bed.
Callie crawls into bed and under the pink blanket. Maddie tucked her in and kissed her forehead.
“Goodnight Callie,” Maddie whispered before walking to the door. She turned off the light and exited the room quietly.
She sees Will in the hall, looking as if he wants to say something. He opens his mouth but seems to think better of it because a moment later he closes it and stays silent. Maddie ignores this and goes into her room. She goes to her closet and changes into a sports bra and shorts to sleep in. Then she goes into her bathroom to brush her hair and teeth.
She walks out of the bathroom towards the closet again and freezes halfway there.
Jace was there. Jace was there sitting on her bed.
She turns around and tries to get back into her bathroom.
Just before she closes the door, she gasps. She looks back and Jace is holding onto her wrist.
He walks her towards the center of the room.
“What happened?” he asked. The question was simple enough. But the answer, the answer was anything but simple.
“Yeah okay. Nothing happened and my name is Madeline.”
“What? You never told me that!”
“Tell me what happened.”
Maddie groans, very unladylike, and responds yet again with, “Nothing.”
She quickly looks away trying to avoid looking him in the eyes.
Now angry, in a low tone, he says, “Madeline. Look me in the eyes and tell me what happened.”
“It’s none of your business!” Maddie yells, now angry.
“It is my business!” he claims now yelling, “I’m your best friend and if something is wrong, I deserve to know!”
“No! You don’t need to know everything about me and if you think you do you can just leave!”
“I’m not leaving until I know what’s wrong!”
“FINE!” she yells finally.
She goes to grab a t-shirt from her closet, ignoring him as he tries to get her to talk. She grabs a simple red shirt and crawls into bed. She lays down and pretends to be going to sleep.
Jace sighs and says, “Fine. Don’t talk to me.”
Then, he leaves. He just walks out.
Maddie begins to cry again. She cries for hours. She cries until the late hours of the night when she finally falls asleep.
Her final thoughts before falling asleep were that she was wrong. Her father didn’t even notice her boots.