A/N: It's a fairytale set in Ella's world (but with a twist) :) I can't help it! I'm addicted to fairytales and I'm absolutely nuts over Ella Enchanted. Please, please review or give some feedback! I'd like to know if you think it's good enough to be continued. Otherwise, I wouldn't be spending a lot of time for it. By the way, the story takes place when Ella and Char are already rulers of Kyrria :) Thanks!
The ceremony was mostly silent.
Six-year old Princess Ariana of Ayortha squeezed the hand of her nursemaid, Eve. Her hands were cold. It reminded Eve of snow because her skin was also as incredibly white. Her usually twinkling dark blue eyes were blank and unseeing. In fact, she looked like a lifeless porcelain doll in her black mourning gown with its several flounces.
It was shock. Ariana could hardly believe that her father was gone. Dead. She didn't know what it really was, except that he was gone forever, like her dear mother, whom she had never seen. It was a heartless prank to play on such innocent little girl, but Fate doesn't seem to mind. Not only did it steal her mother away from her at birth, but it had to take her father as well.
She doesn't cry, Eve thought to herself while observing the child beside her. Whereas younger children would have cried unceasingly now at the loss of a loved one, she appeared very much composed. Numb. Passive. Enough to make her think that the princess has lost her mind.
Ariana couldn't cry. She desperately wanted to because no one was. It didn't matter if it was customary—for her, it meant that her father didn't matter enough to anyone. She wanted to cry badly for her father. He deserved at least that much in death. But the tears wouldn't come. It was as if time stood still. There was no past, present and future for her. Nothing mattered anymore.
Her gaze shifted to an elegantly dressed woman standing in the middle of a group of some nobles in their mourning garbs. They were standing a little closer to the grave than Ariana, who wanted to stay further back. She observed them for a while as the group watched in silence at the ground that was finally being levelled.
Eve followed the princess' gaze until it rested on Lady Avila. Ariana's stepmother. Suddenly, she felt a spark of anger. She should be the one comforting the little girl, and not the other way around. It wasn't as if she even knew the king long enough. They were only married for a year. It wasn't also as if she loved him very much. Eve, like most of the other servants, had this strong gut feeling that she was as ruthless and as power-hungry on the inside as much as she was beautiful on the outside. Feeling somewhat protective over her charge, she gave the cold hand a squeeze.
Ariana felt the reply, and was grateful for it. No, she wasn't alone. There were her nursemaids, and of course, Lady Avila. She wasn't that particularly close to her stepmother, but from the way she looked, despite the lack of tears, she certainly needed some comfort. New hope surged through her. They could build a strong relationship. Certainly not like mother-and-daughter, but close. And they would both find happiness amidst the loss.
When everyone was preparing to leave, Ariana let go of her nursemaid's hands and half-ran purposely towards Lady Avila, who was still standing alone in front of the unmarked grave. She stood beside her and tried to hold her hand.
But instead of holding it back, Lady Avila recoiled from it as if it were poisonous. Ariana bit her lip, unsure of what to do, when she felt Eve's hand comfortingly upon her shoulder.
"Do not let that wench near me." Lady Avila hissed, just so that only the three of them could hear.
"But, Lady, the princess only wants to comfort you!" Eve protested.
"Don't 'Lady' me!" Lady Avila snapped back. "I am Queen. Queen Avila of Ayortha, and this girl," she gripped Ariana's arm and shook her painfully until she cried out, "is nothing more than a servant now. Do you understand that?"
Eve's eyes flashed dangerously. "I am loyal only to the King Oslo of Ayortha, his real queen, Elise, and their daughter, Princess Ariana. Nobody else."
Lady Avila looked as if she was about to laugh. "Yes, but where is he now?"
By then, the servants within earshot had already heard of the heated exchange and were looking about curiously. Everyone else—the nobles, the courtiers, the peasants—had already left.
"Listen to me." Lady Avila announced to them, no longer pretending to be distraught. "From now on, I am your queen and I require your utmost obedience. Whoever dares to raise his or her voice to me will be dealt with severe consequences. Is that understood?"
The servants, their eyes downcast, replied monotonously. "Yes, Your Highness."
Only one person didn't say anything. Lady Avila looked at her threateningly. "Well, Eve? It looks like you're the only one who is against me."
Eve scowled. She had no choice. She didn't know what she was capable of. Frankly, despite her strong convictions, she was quite afraid. Instead of speaking though, she merely gave a small bow and moved away.
The new queen seemed satisfied so she walked away with a trail of unwilling servants at her feet.
Eve suddenly remembered Ariana, and she looked at her hesitantly. The princess was staring at nothing, saying nothing, not moving.
She didn't even cry.