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The Happy Prince
Nicholas woke up to someone violently rattling the bars of his cell. What a bizarre dream he thought to himself. As he opened his eyes the only thing he could see was pitch black. He waited a few moments for his eyes to adjust to the darkness and after a few seconds, he was able to make out different shapes. Through the darkness, Nicholas could barely make out the form of a small boy just outside his cell. The small boy appeared to be around the age of ten, wrapped in a what looked to be a warm, green, wool cloak. He had on some soft brown leather boots and seemed to be wearing his nightclothes under the cloak. His hair as bright as the sun, a beacon in the darkness. Messy curls delicately framing his face, elegantly falling on his soft features making him look angelic. The blonde hair and vibrant clear blue eyes made the light dusting of freckles pop against his fair skin.
“Hello there, what are you doing here? Aren't you a bit too young to be in the dungeons? I mean you are just a kid” Nicholas asked.
The boy frowned, pushed his curls out of his eyes and glared at Nicholas defiantly before speaking.
“I am ten. I am not a child anymore. And I was curious to see what my parents and older brother and sister were discussing all day, the prince of Aurelia. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about,” he responded defensively as he moved closer to the cell. Studying the prince with scrutiny, like he was an exotic species or a caged animal whose only purpose was to be entertainment. As he he did there was frown on his face, as if displeased by what he was seeing.
“One of the princes aren't you? Won't you get in trouble if your parents realize that you are down here?” Nicholas said, trying to get the child to stop looking at him as if he were a magical creature he had never seen before. "Haven't your parents not taught you that curiosity killed the cat.”
“First of all, what my parents don't know won't hurt them. Second of all, you are are the only prisoner in the dungeons and want my parents help; therefore, you wouldn't dare hurt me. Besides I am the prince, no one would dare even dream of hurting me.” The child responded cockily, sure that his title and place in the court made him impervious to harm.
“So what do you want to know?” Nicholas asked the boy amused by his arrogant attitude. He stood up, moving closer to the kid. “Nicholas Valente, Prince of Aurelia, at your service,” he said with a mocking bow.
The boy laughed and responded with his own introduction. "Loras Grimaldi, Prince of The Kingdom of Aragon, at your service. So, why are you here? What do you need my parents help for?”
“I am here in this cell because I am the prince of Aurelia. And, as you may or may not know since the beginning of my parent's reign they have wanted to possess control of this kingdom and have attempted to invade, unsuccessfully, various times. So I guess that would make me “the enemy”. And I am in the city because I was looking for your parents. I need their help because I want to overthrow my parents and...” Nicholas answered as truthfully as he could.
Why do you want to overthrow your parents? Sure they are evil, but, they are still your family, and if there is anything my parents have taught me is that family everything” Loras continued confused as to why Nicholas chose to betray his family.
“Well princeling, if there is something I have learned over the years is that family is what you make of it. That family isn't defined by last names or blood after all blood just means you are related not that you are family. Family is about faith and loyalty. Two things I've never shared with my parents or older brother so while we are related we aren't even close to being a family.” Nicholas said as his eyes were fell to the floor, his body slumped, collapsed into itself.
“I could never imagine not getting along with my family. Family is everything to-" a door slammed into the wall with a clang.
“Quick hide,” Nicholas warned the young prince as he turned his head frantically searching for a hiding place.
“What are you doing here?” yelled the voice of the Crown Prince Nathaniel as he pulled the child into a bone-crushing hug. “We have all been worried sick looking for you. Just what were you thinking coming down here? It's dangerous. The dungeons are no place for a child. Please, do not ever do that again. You had us all frantically looking for you.” The price continued burying his head in the crook of Loras's neck and shoulder.
The prince was everything that Nicholas wasn't. Strong and muscled where Nicholas was lean and slim. All broad shoulders where Nicholas was long and narrow. All light and hope and warmth whereas Nicholas was dark and death and cold.
. . .
After a while, he looked up finally noticing where they were. The dungeons, where his little brother, his precious baby brother, had been talking to the prince of Aurelia. The prince of Aurelia, the enemy, a criminal probably just as bad as the rest of his sick family. His little brother snuck into the dungeons in the middle of the night to talk to the enemy, to a Valente.
“Loras, why are you here?” he started to ask coldly, feeling a calm cold rage settle over him, as he waited for the answer. The calm before the storm.
“I was curious to see what you were all talking about, I do not see what the big deal is. He looks as if he couldn't hurt a fly even if he tried. He isn't that bad, in fact, he is kind of nice, friendly even," Loras answered not noticing that he was sealing Nicholas’s fate.
“Do you not know how dangerous the castle is? Especially the dungeons. And you,” Nathaniel said turning to face Nicholas, who noticing, started to back away towards the wall as cold sweat broke through his skin. “How dare you speak to him? How dare you try to corrupt his mind? Did you think he would fall for it because he is young? Because he is still mostly unaware of all the things your family has done to mine? Can't you see Loras? He is a Valente, and the only thing Valente's do is to cheat, lie and try and make your life miserable. He is a Valente and Valentes are not to be trusted. Loras go upstairs mom and dad are worried about you.” Nathaniel commanded with a firm tone that no one would dare disobey.
Loras started heading out of the room when he saw his brother did not follow, unease settled over him. “Aren't you coming upstairs with me?” he asked, for he did not want to leave Nicholas alone with his brother.
“I will go upstairs in just a minute. I need to have a little chat with our guest over here first,” he directed. Loras climbed the stairs and disappeared but not before casting a worried look Nicholass way.
As soon as Loras left, Nathaniel quickly turned to Nicholas his arms shooting out, grabbing him by the collar of his shirt. Gathering up a handful of the fabric he used this to lift Nicholas up, his feet barely touching the ground, and painfully pressed him against the bars. Nicholas gasped and struggled but was unable to extract himself from the tight grip due to the strong grasp and the shackles that remained around his wrists.
“Listen to me now, and listen to me carefully Valente,” Nathaniel ordered Nicholas spitting out his last name as if it were an insult. “You are not to speak to my brother again, do I make myself clear? Or anyone else in my family for that matter. Hell, you are not even allowed so much as think of them. I will have you transferred to the cells in the northern towers effective immediately. These cells are the ones intended for solitary confinement; meaning that, from now on you will not have any more unexpected visitors. No one apart from my father, myself and the guards will be allowed inside your cell. There will be guards posted outside your door day and night. The leniency and mercy we have shown you has clearly been misplaced for you don't deserve it. You will have no more opportunities to try and poison my little brother's mind in the future," He finished with this before harshly throwing Nicholas back, making him stumble and fall landing on his back jarring his spine.
“I was not trying to anyway!” Nicholas yelled at Nathaniel as he raised himself on his elbows. Nathaniel already walking out of the room by then, slamming the door on his way out.