lifesmarvels said: Natasha/Bucky- Arranged Marriage AU (I challenge you to make this angsty too)
((WHY lifesmarvels >:[ ))
She wears red to his execution. A blazing, brazen scarlet that makes the auburn of her hair glow under the midday sun. When she walks out, the rowdy crowd quiets. All eyes land on her husband, King Alexander, whose expression betrays pure fury before he quickly smooths it away.
It makes Bucky grin, even as he’s roughly dragged out of the cart, landing on his knees in the dirt.
Once, the King could have had Natasha thrown into the East Tower for her impudence. When she was his Ward, she had been all but chained up there for years, the last remnant of the illustrative Romanov royal family.
But now she is Queen, and he no longer has the right.
Bucky keeps his eyes on Natasha as he’s roughly escorted up the steps to the gallows. A common pauper’s death, though he is titled, was formerly the Captain of the Guard and deserves nothing less than the noble axe.
He shrugs free of his handlers and stands tall and unashamed as the court official reads the list of his crimes: treason, debauchery, murder … all lies, of course. The only sin he is guilty of is loving Natasha, and saying yes, when she unlaced her bodice for him on the eve of her wedding night, commanding him to take her maidenhood in the stead of her loathsome to-be husband.
Well, Bucky thinks, maybe debauchery …
"May God have mercy on his soul." the official declares, rolling up the scroll with a perfunctory snap of his wrist. "Do you-"
"If it may please the Court," a clear female voice cuts through the rabble. It is Lady Carter, holding up her execution-appropriate, dark grey skirts as she approaches the foot of the gallows. "The Queen would send her regards."
The official sputters but Bucky grins, watching Sharon as she fearlessly ascends the stairs.
"Tell Nat- her Highness I send my regards as well," Bucky murmurs, as Sharon steps closer and pins a forget-me-not on his lapel. "Tell her I …" he swallows.
"She knows." Sharon whispers, glancing up at him with luminous blue eyes. How Bucky wished they were green. "She says to remember the cottage on the Isle."
The smile slips slowly from Bucky’s face. All of it - the red dress, the flower, Sharon’s interruption - was for show. A big, glaring fuck you to King Alexander’s attempt to punish Natasha for her affair. But the message? That was for Bucky alone.
He swallows, heart thudding in his chest as Sharon brushes a kiss to his cheek, allowing him to breathe in Natasha’s perfume oils, which she has dabbed behind her ear. When she pulls away, Bucky’s eyes are stinging.
"Be strong." She says sternly, then walks away with a flip of her skirt.
Bucky’s eyes seek Natasha once again as the executioner asks for his last words. Through the roar of the crowd there is nothing but quiet, and peace as he looks at her. She’s holding her chin high, regal and proud on her seat. Her red dress blazes among the sea of somber grey.
He remembers her younger, her face held in concentration as he instructed her how to hold a sword. He remembers her bundled up in furs as he escorted her to the winter fortress, her nose nipped red from the chill but her lips warm and sweet.
He remembers her debauched, lying next to him in a bed in some abandoned guest chambers, a hitch in her breath as she whispered, do you ever think of what we could be, if we were different people?
If you were the innkeeper’s daughter and I was the sheepherder’s son and we crossed paths in a Harvest Festival when you jumped over the bonfire and I chased you into the woods?
She’d laughed, and you’d spill your seed in me under the moonlight and wed me as I grew fat with your child and we’d settle in a cottage on the Isle?
Bucky closes his eyes, trying to hold the image as the noose tightens around his neck.