HEY. STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING. This chapter has themes of KIDNAPPING, SUICIDE, RAPE, AND TORTURE. If you have problems with this, please skip ahead to further in the chapter, or just don't read it at all and wait for the next chapter.
Ok, warnings over. If you're okay with it being implied explicitly, read on. I'm not saying enjoy that part, but I hope you enjoy every bit AFTER THAT. I'll try to post things every weekend. Like I said, SKIP IF YOU SUSPECT THIS WILL BE TRIGGERING. IT MAY ONLY BE IMPLIED, BUT ITS STILL THERE.
Ruby's head throbbed. She was cold, and something was itching her. Something rough was wrapped tightly around her wrists, bruising them as they were held over her head. Something similar was around her ankles, keeping them apart.
She opened her eyes slowly, feeling as though they were made of marble. Sunlight cut through a gap in thick, dingy curtains. Dust floated throughout the grimy room. There was nothing on the walls. Only a wooden door and chest graced the room, besides the metal bed, formed to almost look like a jail cell.
The fabric of the blankets scratched against her. Ruby turned her head as best she could to see that it was a glorified potato sack, covered in so many multi-colored stains it could be mistaken for a patterned blanket.
She felt a cold breeze brush against her stomach and looked down at herself in horror. Her flesh was bare, save for the flimsy fabrics covering the most intimate parts of her.
The memories of… the previous day?
How long had she been here?
Who had attacked her?
Why did they?
Where was she?
Thoughts swirled through her throbbing head as the last memory she had replayed in her mind's eye. She had been walking. She had been alone. She turned down an alley…
And someone had come up behind her, put something over her mouth and nose, knocking her over the head as she slipped into blackness.
Her head started throbbing more, and she put her head back down on the bed, closing her eyes. Then, she heard a soft click run through the room.
Ruby looked up.
A man was walking into the room. He was bathed in shadow, so she could see no discernable features.
His voice was hoarse, grating on her ears, driving her headache up, "So… you woke up."
"Who are you? Why did you kidnap me? Where am I? Where are my clothes? What do you want from me?"
"Too many questions…" he sidled closer to her, "What I want… is you."
Fear made her stiff for a second as he crawled closer to her, the smell of his body filling her nose. She screamed, thrashing against her bonds. The ropes burned her, and her head throbbed every time it hit the metal.
She sobbed, begging mindlessly to any god that would listen.
But none heard her pleas as the man inched closer and closer and closer.
Two weeks later
Ruby's head no longer throbbed.
Or maybe it did.
She couldn't tell anymore.
Everything was agony. She didn't know how long she had been there. The man did what he would with her, beat her, then leave.
She couldn't sleep.
He never fed her or gave her water.
He would only show up, beat her until she felt blood running down her skin, and then he would…
Had she only been here for three days?
Was it a week?
She couldn't tell anymore. The light from the window never ceased.
She was dizzy.
Where was Thorn?
Where was her family?
Where was anyone?
Why hadn't someone come for her?
Her head spun as she lay limp in the dark on that scratchy sack stained with her blood.
She had lost too much blood.
She had nothing to drink.
Nothing to eat.
Her muscles were limp, screaming in pain from the constant beatings and lack of movement.
He would visit several time in what felt like a day.
How many days has it been?
Her legs throbbed.
Her arms throbbed.
When she looked down, she could see her ribs beneath the patchwork of bruises and cuts.
She couldn't sleep. Anytime she would pass out, he would be there.
Using anything and everything at his disposal to hurt her as much as he could. To draw as much blood as possible before he violated her.
Where was everyone?
Why hadn't they come for her?
How long had it been?
Her head swirled, and she felt herself slipping into the darkness again.
She was awoken with a start as rough hands grabbed her hair and yanked her head up with an agonized groan. Ruby's eyes sat at half-mast. She didn't need to open them fully to know who it was.
She heard him growl like a deranged dog and saw something glint before feeling her flesh rip open beneath the dagger. She lay quiet, too tired and in pain to struggle or make any more noise.
It wouldn't be worth it anyways.
She was too tired.
It had been too long.
She was dying.
That's what it had to be.
The limpness. The tiredness. The blackness.
There was no hope left.
This was how she would die.
She felt the cold metal press against her throat, and prayed it would cut her and cut her deep. She didn't want to be here anymore.
Maybe death would hold some peace.
She was ready to sink back into the darkness before things got worse when a banging sounded through the house. Ruby felt the man stiffen, the dagger still at her throat.
The banging started up again. She heard a voice calling out.
Why did it sound so familiar?
The man cursed, shifting off her. He turned to the door, but not before punching her, stalking out. She heard through her delirium the sound of a faraway door opening.
She shifted her head to the door.
It was open.
Not much, but just a crack. Ruby's body went stiff as she examined all she could. She focused on the back of the man who kept her here. He was talking to someone.
He obviously wasn't happy.
Could they be here to help?
Then the man backed up and someone else walked in.
HE WAS HERE.
Ruby tried to scream, but she had no energy left. She could hear their voices, but not their words as they stood in the room outside the door.
He was so close.
If only he would look over, he would find me.
She struggled against her bonds as best she could. Then, she felt it.
The ropes were giving.
She renewed her struggles, desperate to escape, finding strength she thought she didn't have. Blood trickled down her body, mingling with sweat as she panted, thrashing on the bed, until the ropes came undone around her.
Ruby struggled to the edge of the bed, trying to stand, but falling.
She didn't hear the thump as she landed, looking out on his feet, the blackness claiming her too fast for her to see that he had heard it.
As she slipped almost fully into the blackness, she registered a few things.
Gentle hands holding her face.
An angry yell, followed by horrified screaming.
A soothing voice against her ear.
Ruby let go and fell into the blackness.
One month later
Ruby's face was gaunt and pale in the sunlight streaming through the window of her room. Her nightgown was falling off her frame, hands limp on the velvet blankets.
It had been a month since Thorn and the guards found her and brought her back from that place. A month since her capture, and a month since that man's death.
Everything seemed the same around the palace, but nothing was.
The sunlight hurt her eyes after so long in the dark. A doctor would come in every day with Aiyana to make sure she was healing. That her muscles were getting better.
They tried to give her herbs to help her recover. To give her hair and skin its luster.
But the food they were giving her choked her. She feared the darkness. She couldn't bear being alone, but wanted none near her. She couldn't sleep, jerking awake with phantom pains every time she tried. She saw what that man did to her every time she closed her eyes, hearing his voice in her ears.
But it was no use to keep them open. There was nothing to look at anyway.
The doctors eventually had to put her in a medicated coma so she could sleep.
Two weeks after her return, Thorn had gone to her side to find her in a bloody heap on the ground, a mirror shattered around her.
Aiyana brought her back from the brink of death yet again, and it was a frantic hustle for the maids to find every dangerous item in the rooms and remove it.
Staff walked carefully around her, painfully, acutely aware that something went wrong, even if the full truth of the matter was hidden.
Flowers and cards adorned the room, sent from the people who cared.
Ruby spent her time, staring at them, distracted, only speaking when Thorn would come in.
The kingdom watched silently, praying the princess they loved would get better.
One month later
"I'm sorry your highness."
Ruby sighed, sitting, shaking on the edge of the bed, "Aiyana, are you sure?"
The girl nodded sorrowfully, "Yes ma'am. Magic doesn't lie. I'm afraid it's positive."
Thorn stared out the window at the storm, brooding.
"Thorn…" she reached a shaking hand for her husband.
He immediately turned to her, sitting and taking her hand, "Its ok love."
"How is any of this ok? I'm, I'm-"
"It's ok. I promise. Everything will be ok."
"It's not your fault honey."
"You're not mad?"
"I'm mad at him for hurting you. But not you. Never you. And not the outcome of It." he placed a gentle hand on her stomach.
Ruby rested her head on his shoulder and cried as he held her.
One month later
Ruby and Thorn knelt before the priest in their traditional garb. He spoke for several minutes in Latin holding the crown of the king high while the kingdom watched.
Finally, he set the crown on Thorn's head, and handed him a smaller, more delicate crown. Thorn turned, placing it on Ruby's head.
The two stood and faced their kingdom as the people cheered.
"LONG LIVE THE KING!"
"LONG LIVE THE QUEEN!"