“Must we see him?” Cora fidgeted. Her icy blue eyes were filled with fear. I could sense her reluctance. I couldn’t blame her for I felt the same way.

My father wasn’t the most cheerful person. A strict king he was, one that ruled with an iron fist. I shuddered in fear at the thought of him. Even I, the crown prince, his third-born son feared him greatly.

“I am his favourite. He loves me dearly.” I cupped Cora’s face, tilting her head upward. I willed all my love through my eyes at her. I whispered. “I love you, Cora. Father will never separate us.”

“He won’t accept us either,” Cora groaned.

I shushed her. “We will be fine.”

“Will we?”

Her response sent shivers down my spine again. “Yes.” Deep down, I knew that was far from the truth.

King Ferdinand, my father, will never accept us. Never.

“He is ready, Your Highness.” Father’s personal guard stopped before us. He gave a small bow. “His Majesty will see you now.”

“He will see us now,” I corrected. I could easily read his disapproval. I hooked my hand with Cora’s sweaty one. I threw her an assuring smile, then marched towards the throne room. Every step was by sheer will and in utter fear, but I took them nonetheless.

“Not her!” Father boomed immediately we enter the throne room. His baritone voice resonated through the large room. I could have sworn I saw the heavily built palace guards shiver. Cora stepped back in fear but I held her hand tightly. I stood my ground.

“I won’t have an enemy’s offspring in my kingdom and certainly not as my daughter-to-be.”

“Cora will be my bride,” I replied in a calm voice.

He straightened in his seat. Father bared his teeth. He gripped the arm of his throne. “As long as I have life in me, I will not allow you to marry her.”

His words pricked me. Anger bubbled in me. I stared straight into his eyes. “Guess it is high time you stopped living, Father.” Not only did I shock myself, I saw the surprised look on my father. “Cora will be my wife and there is nothing you can do to change it!” Courage rose in me. Defiance raged in me like a wildfire. “Nothing!

“Is that a threat?” He rose from his obsidian throne.

“Ferdinand…” My mother, the Queen rose with him. She held him tightly, fear etched on her face too.

“It is to you whatever you see it be, Father.”

“That is no way to talk to your King.” He shrugged mother’s hands off him.

“You are my father first before my King.”

He ignored me. “You are my subject and I know what is best for you. That foul seed beside you will never be your bride!” He pointed at Cora with a glare. His words were the last straw that broke the camel’s back.

“And that foul seed behind you should have never been your bride too!” I pointed to my mother. The look on everyone present in the room was priceless. I wondered if it was my choice of words or the fact that it was the first time I’d ever raised my voice at my father. To them, I was the meekest of the Princes.

“What?” For the first time in my life, I heard my father speak in a small voice.

“History does repeat itself, Father,” I said. “I am my father’s son. You defied your father just as I am doing now. Mother is an enemy’s daughter, yet you made her yours without a second thought. Why? Because you love her.”

“That is different—” he replied.

“I have sacrificed everything to be the son you wanted,” I cut in, “I let go of my dreams and aspirations to take up a position that is not rightfully mine.” My emotions seeped into my voice. “I have followed every one of your commands without complaints, obeyed you like a son should to his father and like a subject should to his King. I fought my older brothers for you. I ignored their warnings and stuck to you all the way.” Tears pooled in my eyes. “I am done, Father. I can’t sacrifice any longer.” I took a deep breath. “I will do what I want this time.”

“Don’t force my hand, Liam,” he croaked. I wondered if I was the only one that noticed the tone of his voice. It was filled with emotions.

“The one we love the most hurts us the most,” I muttered. I could see tears gather in his eyes. “If you can’t stand her presence, it is high time I left your kingdom as my brothers did.”

“Liam…” Mother shook. She buried her face in her hands.

I held my father’s gaze for the longest time. I could see the turmoil in his eyes. He was conflicted. Even before he said it, I knew.

“So be it.” He gritted his teeth.

Cora gasped beside me. I smiled then bowed. “Your Majesty.”

“No… Liam… No…” Mother cried. She hurriedly moved in my direction but I turned away. I couldn’t bear the sight of her in tears.

“We should leave.” I dragged Cora with me. I took one last look at them. Father held Mother back as she wailed. His face as stoic as ever yet a tear slid down his face. My heart shattered at the sight.

Indeed he loved me but his ego wouldn’t allow him to do the right thing.

“Goodbye, Father,” I whispered into the air.

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