The Girl, the Prince and the Fey
A/N: I originally published this story as "A Slightly Different Cinderella Story", but even I was confused at the direction I'd taken, so I have retooled the chapters, particularly 13 through 18, and redone the story as this with new material. Hopefully, it won't take too long to update all of the chapters.
For the record, CHAPTERS ONE THROUGH TWELVE ARE EXACTLY THE SAME. I felt those actually were OK; it was just the additional characters that have been deleted so that I can focus more on, well, the focus of the original plot I had concocted, which is the relationship between Cinderella, Trillion and the Prince.
No flames, please, and a BIG thank you to all of the original reviewers! I appreciate your kind words, and I hope you'll give this story a try.
This work is copyrighted © 2007 by mat528, marsha twitty, and any subsidiaries. Any original characters are the property of mat528 and any partners or subsidiaries, and must be used by permission.
Any similarity of publicly recognizable characters is unintentional, and no infringement is intended. I do not own any publicly recognizable characters exclusively, only this story.
I am making no profit off of this work.
Cinderella trudged through the forest, the heat of the day finally reaching its peak. She wiped the sweat off of her brow as she went about her daily task of gathering fruit for a pie she would make. She sighed, remembering a happier time when she walked with her father. Her hand rested in his as he taught her about the different types of plants and trees.
"Remember, Cinda," he said, using his nickname for her, "every tree has a name, and therefore, a purpose. You must always respect nature in all of its forms."
Cinderella nodded, her seven-year-old ears focused on his every word. "What about people, Papa?" she asked, "and what about animals, too?"
"You should never be mean to them, Cinda, no matter what they may do to you," her father answered. "Although people cannot change, and animals will act as they will, we can change how we respond to them. You can rise above them, and find the good in everything, if you look hard enough," her father instructed her. He grabbed her hand, saying, "now, my little cherub, let us race home!" Cinderella smiled, her hand in his, hearing his laughing all the way as they ran home.
Her mind returned to the present as she thought, oh, Papa, if only you knew how they felt about you.
She thought about her life in the ten years since he'd died. It had been harsh, as one by one, her freedoms were taken away by her Stepmother and her stepsisters, but she'd never complained in memory of what her father had told her. She tried to rise above every situation, and tried to find the good values in everyone.
It was with this attitude that she sang, rather than grumbled in anger, as she worked. She made sure that the berries she gathered were the freshest, plumpest ones she could find. As she bent to pick some red ones that were at the peak of ripeness, she saw a small, red Cardinal on the ground.
"Oh!" She cried, picking it up gently. She could tell by the way it struggled to move that its wing was slightly damaged. "You are hurt!" Cinderella exclaimed. "I think, though, that it isn't too bad. I should be able to set your wing in the right position so that you can fly."
She brightened as she saw the bird raise its head and slowly flap its injured wing.
"Here you go," she said merrily, gently placing the bird in a nest on a nearby tree branch. "Now, don't go flying just yet. Rest in your nest awhile longer, and then, you will be able to fly in a day or two."
The bird lay down as if it understood every word she said. Cinderella gathered her berries and whistled on the way home. Had she turned in the bird's nest's direction, she would have seen a shimmering light which grew brighter and brighter, then disappeared.
"Cinderella, you wretched girl!" Cinderella's stepmother called the next day.
"Yes, Stepmother?" Cinderella's cheerful voice asked. She stood in front of her Stepmother, attempting to courtsey.
"When will you ever learn to courtsey properly in the presence of your betters?" The old woman snapped. "I suppose, though," She said dryly, "that is what one should expect from a country girl. Straighten up!"
Cinderella did as she was told.
"Go back out and get some apples for an apple pie for me and my daughters, and don't be late getting back!" She yelled.
Cinderella did a perfect bow, and left. Once she reached the grove on the meager part of land her family now had, she picked several red apples. She eyed them longingly, then snatched one from the basket she had put them in.
"Pardon me, those look awfully good, and I'm starving something awful…" a voice said behind her. Cinderella turned around, and saw an old beggar, his haggard black cloak tattered and torn.
"Where did you come from?" She cried, astonished. "I could have sworn I was alone."
"I am not surprised," the old man said, chuckling. "I am very quiet generally. The old man repeated his request: "if it is not too much trouble, I would love to have an apple."
Cinderella handed one to him, smiling. "It is not too much to ask. I am grateful for the company."
She sat in front of a large oak tree. After a moment, the old man joined her. Both shared a companionable silence, then the old man spoke. "Live here on your own, do you?" he said.
Cinderella giggled. "In the forest?" she teased. "No. Alone, hardly, though sometimes I wish…" She grew wistful.
"What?" the old beggar asked. He seemed to be very interested in her response.
"Well, it doesn't matter," the girl replied, waving him off. "I am with my family: my Stepmother and Stepsisters. I am in a room below the main house."
"More likely a dungeon, I'll wager," the old man whispered.
"What?" Cinderella asked, straining to hear him.
He shook his head, saying, "I ramble too much." He tried again. "So, you are with your family, eh? Seems like you are old enough to be on your own…"
Cinderella considered that statement before responding. "Well, I could get some employment, I suppose, but who would take care of my family?"
The old man snorted. "It seems to me that they could probably take care of themselves. It would serve them right to have some hard labor. Gives character, you know."
Cinderella looked at him fully. Although he had a tanned and weathered face, the eyes still had a youth in their deep blue depths which defied his age.
"I don't know where you came from, or how you know about my family—if, in fact, you really do—but I think you should leave," Cinderella ordered him. She indicated the basket beside her. "Take as many apples as you want."
"I'm sorry," the old man apologized, removing his hood to reveal white hair. "I spoke out of turn, and made you angry. That was not my intention. You are right, they should be taken care of, if they really need it." With a strength that belied his age, he helped her up, then got up in such a way that they faced each other. "But have you ever stopped to consider that maybe they are just using you for their own selfish purpose? Maybe if you did something that would benefit you in a non-selfish way, like, oh, finding your heart's desire, maybe it would actually galvanize them to do something better for themselves?"
Cinderella thought about the old man's words. "You may have a point," she conceded. Picking up the basket, she told him, "I will think on what you have said." She turned to wave goodbye to the man, but as quickly as he had been there, he was gone. She frowned, wondering how he could have left so fast, but hearing one of her stepsisters in the distance calling for her, she ran back to the manor.
Some distance away from Cinderella's goings on, a finely dressed man on a white stallion was looking forward to being home. He could hardly wait to taste the roast pheasant that would be prepared in honor of his arrival. His personal chef, whom everyone called "Lady Rachel", was capable of tossing together even the most innocuous and bland spices, and making something truly wonderful. The finely dressed man dismounted and handed the reins to a young stable boy, whom he did not know the name of.