Yes, finally here it is! Chapter Seven of A New Start!

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Chapter Seven

The next day

Danielle sat in her new wheelchair by the window, looking down on the snowy gardens. Winter had arrived. Christmas was only a few weeks away. Danielle was looking forward to the holiday, since the doctor had approved of her taking the trip to Paris with the royal family for the holiday.

Henry wasn't there at the moment. His father had called him to the palace, insisting on planning out the perfect punishment for Rodmilla. Danielle had told him to tell his father to allow Rodmilla one last Christmas before she was punished. She felt her stepmother deserved that. Marguerite was being punished at the moment by working as a servant for a nearby duke & duchess. Marguerite had accepted her punishment, especially after she had helped with Danielle's recovery.

A knock sounded on the door & she turned her eyes away from the window to see Queen Marie herself with a smile on her face. "Hello, your highness. What do I owe this honor?"

"Oh, Danielle, you need not be so formal with me. You shall be my daughter after Christmas. I would be honored if you would call me mother," Marie said as she approached the young woman.

Tears filled Danielle's eyes at those words. Marie approached her. "What is it, dear?"

"I've wanted a mother for so long. My mother died giving birth to me & Rodmilla had been the only other mother figure in my life. I would be honored to have a mother," Danielle said.

Marie embraced her as she cried. They had been told about the death of Danielle's mother Nicole after giving birth to her. Nicole had been a good friend of the queen before Danielle's birth, but the two women had lost touch with each other. Marie wished that they hadn't. Maybe Danielle wouldn't have been made a servant in her own home.

"I understand, Danielle. But you have a mother who loves & cares for you now. I promise that I will always be here for you & Henry. Always," Marie said as she comforted Danielle.

"Thank you. I've missed having a mother, even though I have never shown it. Thank you so much," Danielle said as they parted. Danielle began to wipe her eyes with her hankerchief. She smiled at Marie a moment later.

Marie smiled back. "I believe that your mother would be honored to have you consider me as your mother. She would be so proud of you."

"And she would hate Rodmilla for how she treated me," Danielle said.

Marie sat in a nearby chair & both women sat & told stories to each other for the rest of the day.

That night, once the servants had helped her back into bed, she turned toward the window. She thought about the afternoon she had spent with Marie, telling tales about their childhoods. Danielle treasured each story Marie had told her from when she & Danielle's mother Nicole were young. She realized that she & her lost mother were very much alike. Both grew up as rebellious tomboys until their fathers remarried. Marie told her that Nicole & her sister Anna loved their stepmother Marina dearly. How unlike she felt toward Rodmilla. Now that she was finally getting justice, she was finally able to show what she really felt toward her stepmother. And it wasnt feelings of love, it was feelings of loathing & hatred. She now realized just how much she hated her stepmother, a hatred she had hidden for over ten years. She realized just how much of her feelings for her stepsisters were also hatred, especially Marguerite. But any hatred she felt toward Jacqueline had faded a long time ago. Jacqueline had made Rodmilla & Marguerite bearable. The strongest amount of hatred she felt was for Rodmilla. Rodmilla had been the one who hadn't even tried to be a mother to her. Marguerite was trying now & was learning her lesson.

Danielle decided to put her thoughts away for a while. She sank down lower among her blankets & fell asleep.

After hours of planning with his father, Henry stepped out of his father's conference room & down the hall to his chamber. He walked to the window & stared towards the Chateau de Valle & noticed that the light was already out in Danielle's room. He looked at a clock in his room & noticed it was quite late. He hadn't realized he & his father had been planning Rodmilla's punishment practically all day.

He sighed. He had wanted to spend part of the day with Danielle, but he understood that Rodmilla needed to be punished for how she treated Danielle. He was glad though that Marguerite was learning her lesson & was taking her own punishment very well. Marguerite had also been among the servants that attended to Danielle while she was comatose.

On the other hand, Jacqueline & Laurent were spending almost every waking moment together. The couple were so in love with each other. They couldn't wait to get married. Jacqueline & Laurent were already living at the Manoir de Barbarac while Rodmilla was still there, confined to only a few rooms as part of what they considered house arrest.

Henry sighed again before turning away & readying himself for bed. He crawled into bed & blew out the candle. He fell asleep to dreams of his & Danielle's life.