Write a quick love story. The story must end badly.
We met as most young people do, at a ball celebrating some noble’s birth or another’s accomplishment. The music carried us late into the night, where we found ourselves out on the terrace catching our breath from the dancing. I should have realized then that she was dangerous; princesses didn’t spend their nights dancing with third sons of small estates, regardless of their prowess on the ballroom floor.
Maybe I was a bit star struck, but who could blame me? Emmeline Violetta Isolde Lockhart, First Princess of Thanorum was not called the Beauty of Castle Rianelle for nothing. She had her mother’s luscious dark locks, her father’s sharp cheekbones, and eyes that drank the stars. She carried herself with the authority she had been born with, but didn’t flaunt it like her older brothers. All the same, when Emmeline wanted something, she usually got it.
I still don’t know how that ended up being me. Eliot Ravenswood, youngest of four children borne to the Earl of Ravenswood. Princess Emmeline is a year older than me. Had I even thought about the implications of any potential courtship, I would have realized that it would make far more sense for her to express interest in my brother, Liam.
We had so much in common, though, that it never crossed my mind. We were both the youngest in our families, and therefore our prospects were limited, hers much less so than mine. I’d been thinking about taking an apprenticeship with the town alchemist, which fascinated her. She’d always wanted to try it as a hobby.
After that first night, we began corresponding weekly. She usually inquired if I’d been invited to the latest party so she had someone interesting to talk to. Being from a small family, we didn’t get invited to everything, and couldn’t attend each of them even if we did. She lamented that we couldn’t speak in person and alluded that she even missed me. There were references to my freckles that still make me blush.
Towards the end of the summer I received a personal invitation from her. She had had enough of dull parties where I was not present and insisted I attend. A young lord was being knighted so all the wealthy sons and daughters of similar age in the kingdom were requested to attend. It was the perfect excuse.
We drank and danced and after a full evening of socializing with our peers, found ourselves once again secluded in a garden. We talked about my alchemy lessons. She had been reading the books in the castle library and we discussed theory and application and the various taboos. I was so enthralled with her knowledge that I didn’t notice the obsession in her eyes.
Alchemy is a delicate art, there is a balance to it that cannot be altered. But that never stopped people from trying. And for a princess with several older brothers standing between her and the throne, a throne she whole-heartedly believes is her birthright, messing with that balance is worth the price to gain power.
I was never anything more than a means to an end for her. My knowledge, my skill, my body, all just things to be used and sacrificed for the good of the kingdom. My greatest sin is pride, deluding myself that she would have seen me for me.
Well, she’ll see me alright. I’m the only one who can bring her reign of terror to an end. She won’t fool me a second time.
Notes: Well that sure is a bad ending. I don’t know why this one was such a struggle. A lot of the love plots in my stories end “badly” so I feel like I’ve already written enough of them. Heck if the story from Friday’s prompt wasn’t a love story that ended badly, I dunno what is.
Coming up with love stories on the fly is tough. “End badly” is also a loaded order. I suppose it doesn’t have to be dark and dreary (we’ve all had super awkward dates even in well established relationships) but it’s hard to come up with something bad that isn’t altogether horrible.
Love stories also don’t necessarily have to be between lovers/romantic attractions, love comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes after all. One of the first ideas that came to me in that vein was of a parent-child love, but in order for that to end badly it would almost have to be tragic. After Friday’s story I figured my blog had enough dead kids for one week.
Then I was lamenting to my friend that I couldn’t settle on a story idea for tonight and he threw some ideas at me in a fantasy twist. It helped, as I came up with the evil princess instead, (I know her name was a bit on-the-nose but so sue me) but I’m still not happy with the quality of the story I put out tonight. I know I’ve said in the past that they can’t all be winners, non-zero days are always a win, but I get frustrated with myself when I can’t articulate a well-crafted short story in a handful of hours. Something I gotta work on with myself, of course.
As usual, now it’s your turn. Think on the prompt, come up with a love story of your own, end it on a low note. If writing a full-fledged story is proving too difficult, make a list instead. Jot down ideas of different ways a love story could turn bad. I have faith in you!
Wednesday’s prompt: Why do you think some people are successful in life and others are not?
I don’t really think there’s one right answer to that question. Guess I’ll have to explore it through a character or two. See you tomorrow!