I decided to write a dark fic about Ella. I know, I'm terrible. This is how she would realistically end up, anyway...

Warnings: Language and mild violence/gore.

When she wakes, she feels empty, a horrible crick in her neck due to the weird angle she'd had it. Her hand feels like it's being crushed, probably because she'd been using it as her pillow. Did she really fall asleep at the window again?

With a slow motion, she rolls back her shoulders, arching her back to get her body used to moving again. How long had she been sleeping?

According to her clock, it's 4:08 PM. Unaffected by the horrible waste of time, she smiles at the clock, like she always does. It looks like a pink cupcake, the numbers taking the shape of little sprinkles. It had been a gift to her from a fan after she'd left-

The island. Every memory comes rushing back to her, every painful detail as she remembers just who she is and where she lives and why she's here. It's been ten years since she first competed for the sixth season of Total Drama. Ten years since she had completely ruined her life.

Ella looks down at the clothing she's wearing. A black tank top and ripped up skinny jeans, certainly not her style, but the only kind of clothing she can afford anymore. She wouldn't particularly mind it, if it weren't for the fact that it makes the burns and bruises on her biceps easier to see. She used to sew her own dresses, but she hasn't had the time to. Besides, Scott thinks that making your own clothes is a waste of time...

Jesus Christ, she didn't remember Scott until just now. Whatever joy there might have been in her heart quickly pops like a kid's balloon, leaving the lone child to cry. Ella puts a hand on her heart, as if that will calm its ferocious beating, as if such a simple motion can make her forget all the sorrowful details that brought her to this moment. This life. This life that isn't hers, but at the same time, is completely hers. A tear comes to her eye as she laments, for the millionth time, how badly she's messed up.

Ten Years Ago...

Ella is exploring the woods just behind the Playa des Losers building. The entire island was once nothing but forest, but parts of it had been cut down to make way for the resort. She strongly prefers the woodsy, natural areas. Hearing the songs of the birds melting in with her own voice, creating something new, is just so much better than the obnoxious yelling of her fellow-man.

"Fuck! Son of a bitch!"

Ella gasps, her cheeks heating at the foul language. She can deal with swearing when she expects it (in the city, on the bus, those places), but it feels so out of place to have such ugly words among nature.

Still, she finds herself directed towards the clearly male, clearly distressed voice.

"Fucking typical!" He swears, "Shit. Why does the world fucking hate me?"

Ella finally finds him laying by the pond, groaning in pain. The birds that follow her everywhere are cowering at her back. Later, she'd regret not listening to their instincts.

"Hello there!" Ella calls out to the red-headed boy, who opens his eyes to glare up at her.

"Aren't you that Disney chick? Ugh, what do you want?"

"My name is Ella," she corrects, but she's still smiling sweetly, not at all bothered. After all, she's been called "that Disney chick" a million times. It's actually one of the tamer nicknames she's been subjected to from other teens.

"Lemme guess, short for Cinderella?" Scott coughs, then sorely regrets it when it feels like his lungs are on fire. "God damn it..."

"My goodness," she breathes, both at the language and the many thorns sticking out from his chest and shoulders. "What happened here?"

"Nature kicked my ass," he says. "I wasn't lookin' where I was walkin', and some weird thorny branch- or a tall bush or something like that, I don't fuckin' know- just jumped out and smacked the shit out of me."

Ella kneels by his side, carefully smoothing the skirt of her dress. "You make it sound like it was done on purpose. Nature does have a mind of its own, but it wouldn't hurt a soul, not on purpose."

"Jesus, you sound like Dawn." He rolls his eyes.

"Well, why would it attempt to hurt you on purpose?"

"Because of course it did. Because my life runs on bad luck. 'Luck of the Irish' my ass..." He attempts to sit up, but it just moves the thorns around, making him yelp in pain.

"Sssshhhh, sssshhhh," whispers Ella, putting a hand behind Scott's head. "Let me assist you."

The moment she reaches out to pick a thorn, her birds start cheeping wildly, flying between the two of them as though they can physically cause them to separate.

"You see? Trees, animals, everything hates me!"

"Bad birds!" Ella scolds, shooing them away. They give her pleading looks with their intelligent little eyes. Naively, she assumes they're just begging to stay near her. In fact, they're begging her to head their warnings...

And she'll listen, ten years too late.

But for now she ignores it, and she sends them all away, and they comply as they always comply to Ella's every wish. She looks back at the poor, injured boy with her caring eyes. "I'm ever-so sorry that they hurt you. They don't usually react like that... Unless they sense some kind of predator coming for them."

Carefully, she begins to pull the thorns from Scott's shoulder and chest. Some are longer than others, some stuck in deeper, but she treats them all with the most gentle care that she can. She can't stand to see pain.

"Fuck!" he swears when she removes a nasty one.

"My apologies. How about a nice song to get your spirits up?"

"Um, I'm not exactly-"

"When things may hurt, and the world seems dark," she begins to sing. "Just find the light, there's always a spark!"

"Are you making this up as you go along?"

He's ignored. "Thorns may hurt and poisons may sting, but you can fix it if you just sing!"

"You're totally making this up as you go along."

"And when everything seems scary, and you've got such pain to carry..." She throws aside the final thorn. "Don't be down, look around! Look above, and you'll see lov-"

She gets caught in his gaze.

"You'll see what?" he asks, raising an eyebrow.

"My, what eyes you have," she comments, totally forgetting her song for a moment. "I've never seen such a beautiful color. Not even in the petals of my flower garden."

"Um... Thanks." He pauses, realizing that his skin is thorn-free. "Damn. Your song actually did distract me. Good work, Snow White."

"Do you really think I resemble Snow White?" She asks, her fair skin burning red with a blush. "Thank you. Thank you so much... I'm sorry, I never got your name."

He realizes just what that look she's giving him is... And he breaks into a wide smile. "It's Scott," he says.

And upon seeing his smile, Ella can do nothing but absolutely melt. "Thank you, Scott."

"No, Snow, thank you. You're the fuckin' miracle worker here."

"Can you not swear?" she asks politely. "It's such a shock to hear those hideous words coming from a handsome face..." Realizing what she said, she blushes harder.

"Compliment noted," he says with a sheepish shrug, looking down at the floor as though embarrassed. "You're... You're real pretty when you blush, Snow."

And that was the beginning of the end.

The Present...

They had warned her! How they had warned her! Not just the animals, but the other humans, too! Sitting here, staring around the room, she remembers every single warning with a little shot to the heart, thorns in her chest more personal than anything she's every felt. And, God, what an idiot she must have sounded like to them when she would defend her "prince"!

He's nothing but a moron. "Courtney, your relationship with him ended badly," Ella had reasoned. "Of course you don't see his many positive traits!"

Scott is a sociopath. I see it in his aura. "But do you see it in his heart? I see his heart, and it only beats for me, I swear it!"

Scott's using you, you know. His relationships never work out right. "Not to be offensive, Duncan, but you aren't the most trustworthy source in the world."

Scott tried doing the same thing to me. Please, don't fall for it like I did. "Oh, Zoey, please don't let jealousy of our true love cloud your own worldview!"

Yes. What an idiot, indeed.

Ella looks around the trailer that she shares with her husband, hunched forward with her arms on her knees (she gave up on perfect princess posture years ago). It's nothing like the castle she had imagined herself living in as a "grown-up". There's weird stains on the walls: blood, coffee, urine, and things she doesn't even want to identify. The dingy wallpaper that she once used to make the place seem presentable is peeling at the corners, a faded, ugly mess of what was once a happy, beautiful sight. There's a carton of cigarettes on the windowsill she'd used as a pillow. She takes the lighter out of her pocket, lights one up, and puffs away on the horrible thing.

A rat scurries by her foot. She expects it to just keep going, like they always do... But it stops instead. It stops and it looks up at her, its beady eyes seeming to recognize something within her that it likes. It climbs onto her foot- stops. She could swear its eyes are asking for permission to climb up and see her face-to-face. Why it wants a better look, she has no idea.

"Hello there, little mouse," she half-heartedly whispers, taking another drag of her cigarette. Any other woman might be terrified- they certainly wouldn't call the disease-ridden thing a "little mouse"- but Ella has never feared any sort of animal.

It smiles. God help her, it smiles at her. Her heart seems to jump at the sight of a genuine smile; who knows how long its been since she's seen one?

An instinct kicks in. Still hunched, blowing smoke into the air, Ella feels her lips moving like they've got a mind of her own. "Would you like to hear a song?"

The rat adjusts its feet, as if getting comfortable, curling up on her toes like a kitten and grinning in anticipation.

"Everything hurts, the world looks so dark... The light is extinguished, there will be no spark..." The rat doesn't care about the somber words, it just loves hearing her voice. "Thorns become knives, and breathing in stings... Seems there's no reason to let yourself sing."

The rat begins to understand the words. Its face turns grave, as if it can feel the pain Ella's feeling now. She hasn't sung in so long, her voice isn't as good as it once was, definitely not since she took up smoking. "Of course I'm down, look around! There's a myth to be found!" She sings louder, more clearly, sitting up straighter. "I've learned by trying to look up above, that there's no such thing as true fucking lov-"

Something squashes the rat, scattering it to bloody, gory pieces and shocking her silent. It takes her a moment to recognize the beige thing that killed her only friend as a baseball bat.

She looks up; she's not surprised. "Hello, Scott."

"Why the fuck were you singing?"

"I wasn't," she assures, taking another drag.

"Sounded like it."

Smoke comes out of her mouth as she points out, "I haven't had something to sing about in years."

He raises an eyebrow. She has no idea if he'll believe it, or if he'll start taking that bat to her instead...

Thankfully, he just swats the cigarette out of her hand, placing it to his own lips. He blows smoke right in her face, completely on purpose. "You look sad. You sad, Princess Ella?"

"I'm not a princess." The actual question has an obvious answer.

"Damn right. A princess would clean herself up before her husband got home."

"That's because princesses marry to men who make them happy."

"I don't fucking make you happy?" He blows more smoke right in her face.

She tries to diffuse the fight. "No, no, that's not at all what I meant. I'm sorry, Sco- Ow!" She looks down to see him putting out his cigarette on her arm.

"You bet you're sorry." He grabs her by the wrist, forcing her to stand up. "Now, come on. I need some relaxin' after a hard day tryin' to get money for your ugly ass."

"Yes, Scott," she mutters, looking down at her feet. There's still a bloody chunk of the rat on her toes. Ignoring it, she takes a deep breath, seeing no choice but to follow him into the back of the trailer. "Whatever you say, love."