Disclaimer: I do not own the Six Swans (a little-known fairy tale) and the brilliant novel Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier (the inspiration for my story).
A/N: Please be nice – I did not know whether to post this or not. Please review and tell me what you think!
Most fairy tales begin with "Once Upon A Time." This fairy tale is unlike most.
There really is no "time" as such that this fairy tale begins. One could say that it was when our heroine first decided to run away. You could go back further and say that it was the day Clarissa arrived at the palace.
I, as the author given the exhilarating yet lengthy task of narrating the events of this particular tale, have decided to start the story in the majestic Kingdom of Kendala during the 17th century, approximately seventeen years before the revolution.
The day that little Leia was born...
The woman lying on the bed was sweating profusely. Her eyes were clenched in pain as her mouth opened and she let out another fear-inspiring scream. The cotton sheets on the bed were damp with a mixture of blood, sweat and who-knows-what.
The man kneeling beside her, clutching her hand tightly, grew pale with terror.
"W-will she be all right?" he stammered.
A midwife bent over the man's wife and started pummelling at her stomach. She made no reply. She was too bent on the work at hand, and did not have the time to answer petty men who could not stand the sight of a little blood. None of the other midwives present could bear to face the man – if they did not save his wife, who knew the dire consequences that they would face. For the King of Kendala was not well known for his sweet temper.
The baby was still wailing. It (for the father and midwife had been too concerned with the mother to check the baby to see if it was a boy or girl) had been left neglected in its cot. It was a pretty thing. If one looked past the blood that at the moment covered it. A tuft of black hair covered its small head and its eyes were a brilliant blue – whether they would remain that colour when it became older was uncertain.
Another hurl of rage came from the Queen. There was still another baby left to come. The woman gave a gigantic push with all the strength that she could muster. She continued straining and a few minutes later another baby was born. The Queen leant back onto the bed in relief, glad that it was over.
Only then did she notice that something was wrong. The baby was not crying. In fact, it was making no noise at all.
"The baby," she gasped. "Give it to me."
She was passed the baby in the cot, but the Queen was not fooled.
"No, the other one. The one that I just gave birth to now."
A midwife, one of the younger ones, had the other baby in her arms and quickly turned away from the Queen so that she could not see it. But it was too late.
The Queen saw the stillness of the baby and new in an instant that it was dead.
"Give it to me."
The midwife nervously handed her the baby and the Queen hastily checked its sex. It was a male.
The Queen tried not to show her anger. They needed sons!
She called for the other baby again.
It too was passed over to her and the Queen again checked the sex – it was a girl.
The Queen almost choked in disbelief. A girl. She tried not to show her disappointment. She could not simply tell the King the situation but by the look on his face he had seen what she had.
"I'm sorry-" She began. The King cut her off.
"It's fine. We can try again." He said, but his face was murderous.
The Queen wanted to comfort her husband, but she her body suddenly convulsed.
Vomit started to rise in her throat and she turned to her side as it exited her mouth.
The midwives rushed once more to her side, trying to understand what was wrong. The births had both been extremely painful and difficult but the Queen had seemed to be able to cope all right.
The Queen started panting furiously. Something was wrong. Very wrong.
She felt something trickle between her legs and onto the already dirty sheets. Something warm.
Blood started seeping out as the King pushed past the midwives to get through to his wife.
"Leia!" he cried his wife's name, but she could not hear him. She would never hear him ever again.
At eleven o'clock that night, if you were close to the King's headquarters you would have heard the violent wail of a grown man (a sound that is not often heard) – the kind of wail that can only be caused be something disastrous – like the loss of a loved one...
Most people though, ignored the noise, thinking that it was part of the festivities that were taking place that night. For the Kingdom of Kendala was in desperate need of an heir, and the people of the Kingdom were certain that tonight was the night that their wishes were going to be granted…
Eight years later:
The little girl running around without a care in the world had shiny cascading black hair and mischievous green eyes (unlike their original blue).
She was playing with another young boy, a few years older than her.
She wildly brandished her wooden sword and dangled it around.
"Come on! Fight me young scallywag." She taunted the other boy.
He lunged at her with his own sword but she easily out stepped him and brought her sword down over his so that he was blocked. Yet again.
The boy was losing patience. He had never encountered a girl so young that could fight like she could.
He was about to strike at her again when an elderly woman wearing a black tunic with a messy apron called the little girl.
"Come in, Leia. Your father wants you."
Leia, who was named after her mother, anxiously walked inside the palace. Her father's palace. It was not often that the great man himself called, and now that he had she was nervous. What could he possibly want with her? He was anything but loving. She had once heard a servant while she was chattering to a stable boy say, "The King used to be such a friendly man. He had a frightful temper but as long as you did not cross him you were able to get along with him well enough. When his wife died and he was left with just the little miss, he's completely changed."
Leia could not imagine her father as being friendly. It took too much of a stretch of the imagination for her. But she was saddened to find once again proof that it was she that made her father act the way he was.
She knew that he did not love her. And she knew that it was because she had caused her mother's death. Her older sisters often taunted her about it.
"You killed our mother and our brother. Now Kendala has no heir and it is all because of you." Jasminda, the eldest, had once said to her.
Leia would often run away in tears, only to be comforted by the Royal Cook, Janet, a matronly old woman who was the only person who had ever shown any signs of affection towards the youngest princess.
Leia was brought back to the present by her father's voice.
"You have finally decided to show up, I see. Next time I expect you to come straight away." He scolded.
Leia almost opened her mouth to protest and say that she had come straight away but knew that it was no use. No matter what she did she could never please him.
"Look at you," he continued. "You are all dirty. How is anybody going to believe that you are a Princess of Kendala when you run around like a little street urchin."
Leia bit her lip. Don't cry. She told herself. Please don't cry.
"I have some news to tell you that I have already told your sisters."
A bubble of hope started to well in Leia's heart. Maybe she was finally going to be allowed to see Grandmother Mera (her mother's mother).
But all of Leia's hopes were dashed when the King uttered these next few words.
"I would like you to meet your new mother."
From the shadows rose a statuesque cold looking, yet beautiful woman that Leia had not noticed was there.
She had flaming red her and pale porcelain skin. She was wearing a velvety black dress that caressed her shapely curves. Leia looked away from the fascinating creature and back to her father, who looked like he was almost salivating.
Leia turned back to the woman in horror. She did not need a new mother! Why did he have to get a new one? Where did you get mother's from anyway – some sort of shop?
Leia stood confused as these thoughts whirled through her head.
"My mother?" she whispered.
The woman stepped closer to the young girl and bent down so that her mouth was millimetres away from Leia's ear. The woman's eyes glistened with menace. Leia seemed to understand that this strange female was not meaning to be welcoming but threatening.
The woman then spoke, or rather, hissed. Her voice was soft and silky like a cat's. "Yesss. I am going to be your new mother, and we are going to get along just fine."
A/N: Hopefully there will be more action in the next chapter. The plot will soon move to when Leia is older (as in around seventeen).