The following series is a work of fiction. It explores potentially controversial themes such as Suicide. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Reader discretion is advised.
There were only two ways for someone to attain a noble title in the Kingdom of Lacround:
succession and marriage.
Winter Blooming was Duke Blooming's bastard child. He was born out of wedlock, through an outlander mother. He knew he had no chance of receiving his father's title one day. It just so happened that the Lacround Royal House fell into huge debt from misguided policy making. Masses of people gathered each day at the gates of the royal castle, calling for the king’s head. Winter offered to pay off that debt; in return, he asked for the hand of Princess Violet Lawrence.
* * *
This was exactly how their marriage had come about, and there wouldn't be much of a ceremony, but Violet was happy. She’d just turned 18 and all she wanted to do was speak to her husband-to-be.
I’ve never seen a more handsome man….
The town gossip was true; Winter Blooming was very much an outlander's son with gray pupils. Violet heard he was 24, but he looked much more mature than she'd been led to expect. His attractive features had an unfamiliar atmosphere to them, and Violet loved it. No man had made her heart beat like this. She had never expected to fall in love with someone at first sight. And for that man to be her husband? She must be the luckiest girl on earth.
Will he like me back?
The wedding reception was drawing to an end and, no longer able to contain her curiosity, Violet shut her eyes and grabbed Winter’s hand.
Their eyes met and her heart sped up. It took a lot of courage to grab a strange man's hand. Violet suddenly felt like running away. However, she held on and pulled him towards her.
“I only realized how lucky I am after meeting you,” she told him.
She was so worried about how he'd respond that the seconds felt like millennia.
Winter opened his mouth to speak, but his attention was drawn by a sudden sound. Ash Lawrence, Violet’s older brother and crown prince of Lacround, had rapped at his wine cup with a spoon to attract attention.
Ash spoke, “As I'm sure you’re all aware, Lord Winter Blooming has paid 24 million laakne in return for the princess’ hand in marriage. We are very grateful for his generosity.”
Why was he suddenly talking about money?
Violet felt hurt, but Ash continued.
“With these funds, we were able to pay off most of the debt my father incurred due to the failed policies,” he said. “The Royal House will not stop there; it is our intention to make up for our mistakes, which placed the entire kingdom in grave jeopardy. As such, we will dissolve the Royal House as of today, and entrust all powers vested within it to the Council. Also, House Lawrence shall relinquish all its noble titles.”
Initially, silence fell in the wedding hall. But soon, someone in the crowd began a slow clap. Everyone else soon joined in on the applause; they praised Ash’s brave decision.
Winter, on the other hand, scowled and stood up. Everyone turned towards him. This was the moment his entire fortune vanished into thin air. He'd become a millionaire without suffering a single setback before now, and now he had nothing.
He’d used his entire life savings to purchase a noble title; he did not wish to live the rest of his life as someone's illegitimate son. But House Lawrence, had just announced that they'd relinquish every title they had, and dissolve the Royal House. This meant that the title of Duke granted to the husband of the royal princess was also no more.
Winter, unable to withhold his anger, slammed his cup on the ground. Violet shut her eyes in surprise at the sound of the cup breaking right next to her. Winter stalked out of the wedding hall.
Moments later people gathered around Ash, they continued praising his decision, as if nothing had happened. Everyone attending knew that Ash had sacrificed his sister to pay off the debt and buy back the support of the protesting crowd. The arranged marriage that day, at the expense of the bride and bridegroom, set many hearts at ease. Violet stood gazing into space as the angry members of House Blooming approached her.
That had been three years ago.
* * *
Violet stood at the door of the small dress room, waiting to speak to her husband.
“Little Mistress, please go back to your room!”
The maids clung to her and tried to dissuade her, but Violet seemed determined. She did not budge as she stood in front of the door.
It soon opened, revealing Winter's secretary Hayell and behind him, Winter Blooming himself, his hair done up with pomade. Winter was wearing a light blue shirt, gray vest, and pants that matched his eyes. Violet was dressed more casually than him, but she was still presentable. She wasn't wearing anything on her feet, however, and her eyes shone with a crazed blue flame.
Winter looked at her and she stepped closer.
“Don't leave. Just this once... If you can't cancel the trip, stay another day.”
“I’ll be back within a week this time.”
“You can push it back a day, can’t you? Come with me to your mother’s party tonight. That’s all I ask.”
“Just say you're ill, and stay home.”
“If it were that easy, I wouldn't have asked you in the first place.”
All ten of the attendants were looking away; they knew the repressed temper burning inside Winter. They were all thinking to themselves how difficult it would be if their spouse was as crazy as Violet.
Winter spoke — his irritation was audible.
“Do you know how much money has left my hands while I wasted time because of your obstinate ways? I paid 2.4 million laakne to buy the title you’ve had since birth. Where is it now? It’s gone.”
“I know that, but....”
“If you do, then either you give me back my money, or you somehow bestow upon me that title. If it’s to be neither, at least be so decent as to sit quietly.”
Seeing that Violet had gone quiet, Winter removed her hand from his arms. Violet wasn't done yet; she grabbed his wrists again. She was desperate.
“It’s just one day. That won't make that much of a difference. Just this once….”
The maids moved as if to dissuade her, but as no order from Winter was forthcoming they soon stepped back.
Violet looked up with pleading eyes. She slowly calmed down and gazed into his eyes. He had the look of a person who'd been grabbed by a drunk in the street.
Violet realized that her husband was not interested in what she had to say. She slowly removed her hands. With a cluck of his tongue, he left the room. His attendants followed suit.
Violet stood with a vacant look on her face before returning to her room. She could see Winter’s carriage leaving the house. She began to wonder if her busy husband would even bother to come to her funeral if she died.
* * *
Rickman, the doctor, had unwillingly answered her summons. After looking her over, he gave her a disgruntled look.
“Little Mistress, there is nothing wrong with you. If you’re ill anywhere, I can’t see it.”
“I'm telling you, I'm actually hurting. And my head, it's-”
Her words sounded like excuses. Rickman cut her off.
“I understand that the slightest ailments concern you very much, having been raised as a princess and all,” he told her. “But I’ll say it again, you have no sickness whatsoever. If you keep on feigning an illness like this, I’ll have no choice but to inform the queen.”
“I’m not feigning anything. I'm telling you, my head hurts so much I can barely stand.”
“Oh come on. That’s enough pretending for one day, Little Mistress. This will become a habit. In fact, it may already have!”
Rickman scolded her, put his hat back on, and left her room. She could see the maids standing by and stifling laughter.
Unable to refute the doctor's words, Violet had no choice but to get out of bed. When she stood up, the maids helped her change into her teatime dress. She settled onto a stool for her makeup.
“I wish for a diversion. Please cut my hair up to my shoulders.”
“Yes, Little Mistress.”
The maids finally brightened. It was a terrible chore to maintain her long hair. The maids brushed her hair after it had been cut to shoulder length. Then, they placed a diamond-studded hairband on her head, and decorated it with some flowers. She stepped out of the mansion feeling like a sheep being dragged to the slaughter.
The grounds were so large that she had to take a carriage to get to the residence of her parents-in-law. She stepped out of the carriage and noticed that those who had come early engaged in conversation. They called themselves Wohossen, and were one of the largest groups of aristocrats in the southern part of Lacround. The leading house of the Wohossen was House Blooming. Catherine Blooming, Violet's mother-in-law, found her and called her over.
“Come here, Violet.” Violet approached and Catherine spoke to her gently. “Were you ill? Is that why you are late? How are you feeling?”
“Much better, Mother.”
Violet looked around her for a seat, but the table was full. There would have been no seat for her even if she’d come early. It was a base attempt to slight her.
Catherine continued, “I've been so worried. You told me you were sick the past few months. What did the doctor say?”
Violet hesitated, and Catherine spoke in a worried tone.
“Ask Winter to get you some good medicine,” she said. “He travels the entire continent. I’m sure he can manage to find something that’ll help.”
Violet nodded, unable to speak.
Rickman stepped out of the mansion and greeted her in passing.
“Little Mistress! I see you made it! See? I told you your illness was feigned.”
Everyone in the garden roared with laughter.
Violet trembled with shame. She was no longer a stranger to such public disgrace, but it felt painful every time.
Catherine, who'd laughed along with everyone else, chided Rickman.
“Rickman, she’s a princess. She isn’t used to pain, however small.”
A young woman at the table grumbled.
“It’s been three whole years since the Royal House was disbanded. She also ruined her husband. Does she still expect to be treated like a princess?”
Another lady sitting beside her joined in.
“You’re right. For House Blooming, this was a complete fraud. You are far too kind to her after what happened, Catherine.”
It had been like this for the past three years.
Ash, who’d cleaned up the debt and given up the throne, grew popular once again with the people. No longer could voices be heard calling for repair to the damages. The greatest victim in all of this was Winter, beyond any doubt. He’d liquidated most of his possessions to put together 2.4 million laakne, and used the remaining money to secure a place in House Blooming. He was broke.
Winter procured lodgings in the capital the day after his marriage so that he could start expanding his business again; he only showed up at House Blooming every few months. Left by herself, Violet languished like a drowning mouse. At first she tried attending various events. She’d approach others with a smile, but everyone saw her as a swindler and a fraud and treated her as such.
Evening came, the party began, and the venue filled with fancily clad aristocrats looking to enjoy themselves. All throughout the party which lasted through the night, Violet leaned against a wall and waited for the day to end.
“There she goes, she’s doing that again...” one guest said.
Another person added, “Madam Blooming was considerate to even invite her, and yet she there goes, ruining the mood.”
She heard the whispers, and she began to walk elsewhere.
“Why is she wandering about so? It's irritating.”
She’d learned that ignoring what other people said to you wasn't possible unless you had something to lean on, some form of support. She had nowhere to run, and complying with all the demands people made of her was slowly chipping away at her self-identity.
Though many considered Violet a party pooper, talk of the once-happy princess and her fall from grace was always an interesting topic of gossip. Her presence always provided a source of entertainment.
Violet had stepped out of the garden to try and cool down. Her entire body ached as if all those little insults from the partygoers had been actual stones that left physical marks. Someone suddenly appeared and supported her by the arm. It was Diev, the only legitimate son of House Blooming and Winter's younger brother.
Violet wrenched her arm from his grasp the moment he touched her. Diev backed away, signaling that he understood, and pointed his chin at her short hair.
“Short hair looks good on you, too,” he said.
“I told you multiple times to stay away from me.”
She was never outspoken, but in that moment her voice was firm. Diev pretended he hadn't heard.
“You can't walk about in only a dress in this kind of weather. It's still cold.”
“It's none of your business.”
Violet backed away, pale. Diev soon grabbed her arm again and wrapped his muffler around her neck.
“Come on, be smart about this. My brother doesn't really come home, anyway.”
“Have a drink with me,” he suggested. “I’ll be on your side.”
Who would know that Diev Blooming, the genteel successor to House Blooming, was a lecher who hit on his brother's wife? Who would believe her?
If she accused him in public, the aristocracy would bury her in an instant and lock her up in her room like a real lunatic. She had no one on her side, and she knew Diev had a lot of friends.
“That's never going to happen,” Violet told him,
Diev grinned and dropped her arm, “You’ll regret this.”
Violet dashed to her carriage. She jumped in, caught her breath, and quickly removed the muffler. She gazed blankly at the mansion.
“I need to go back....”
She recalled being scolded mightily by the Bloomings after she disappeared from a party once. So, she had no choice but to return. She gripped the carriage door. She couldn't bring herself to get out. She felt as though her body might simply fall apart if she went back inside.
In the end, Violet took the carriage home and returned to her room.
She threw the fancy diamond headband on the bed and pulled out the sleeping pills she’d been saving in an empty jewelry case. She popped all of them in her mouth and brought out a bottle of champagne to wash them all down. She swallowed another fistful and forced it down her throat with more champagne, just in case.
The sleeping pills Rickman had made for her were very powerful, although she didn't expect he’d used quality ingredients when making something for her. Her death would probably be much more painful than she’d wanted, but it didn't matter. She didn't want to return to the party or become the target of anger for disappearing from the party. It was better that her life ended right now.
Having emptied with the bottle of pills and the bottle of champagne, Violet collapsed onto the bed. She spoke to the diamonds that glistened in front of her.
It pained her that she had no one to say goodbye to.