Disclaimer: Complete AU, everything is owned by me, Abarraine, except for Lily and James.

What I've gotta say: This story was created for my -- nonfiction class, tho it is NOT nonfiction. somehow, i managed to write fiction. go me! Anyways... the background is basic.

1. I had to write an 'abusive' story for a book report... yadda yadda yadda. no worries tho, nothing grim and disgusting is represented in the words. I wanted to keep it clean... and it is.

2. This takes a historical setting - the British Isles in the... time of the Saxons and Normans. Serfs, Knights, battles... king arthur perhaps? I don't have the exact time

3. I realize that Lily, in this story, is made out to be Scandinavian... with red hair? inconcievable! My original story the young girl's name is LIV - which is Scandinavian for LIVE, FREEDOM, etc. To post this story on i had to change LIV to Lily... so some of that just does't work... ethics-wise and I'm sorry.

alright. now on with the story. I do hope you enjoy it cuz I LOVE this story. i really do. So please, just don't look at it, but review and tell me what you think.

thank you so very much.
Abarraine. 22 October.2005.

The Scapegoat

'Once upon a time' never existed. The words, themselves, held meaning for their own animus use, however never had they been placed in a sentence together enforcing a momentary warmth of safety and wellbeing. Delicately hidden from view, they may have been, but it's a skeptical theory. Not only had 'once upon a time' lingered in the realm of submissive nonexistence, so had other positive connotations in his life.

Perhaps he was adding too much emotion to his thoughts. Perhaps the world wasn't really that apathetic and dark. Perhaps the trees really did hold green, effervescent foliage. Perhaps there was a phrase in this eternity that held the words 'once upon a time' in that exact sequence.

Dwelling on it, he withdrew his thoughts and scolded himself for reveling in such, could it be— a sanguine viewpoint. How could he have been so daft as to entertain such malarkey? It was ridiculous. Even recalling the phrase 'once upon a time' had severed his pessimistic synapses from firing, allowing a ray of sunshine to lighten his dim, hopeless world.

Wiping the perspiration from his brow, his eyes downcast, he set his hands firmly on the ground and heaved his lithe body off the floor, having finished the dull task of gathering the many horseshoe nails off the dirt ground. He screwed his eyes shut as the blood poured away from his brain, leaving his world blurred and dizzy.

The stable seemed of its usual excrement and flees. Nothing was out of place, nothing ever was. It couldn't possibly be— imagine the consequences. He shivered at the thought, mentally recounting the punishments he'd already had the liberty of receiving. He ran his worn hand over the hard, splintery wood of the stables, validating to his tired mind once more that he had indeed completed his task with exemplary success, however grueling it had been. And, for the most part, he had no other fears that tonight would end in excruciating pain.

Out of conditioned habit he swiped the stable with his eyes, taking in every nook and cranny. His eyes scanned along a memorized route, entering each stall and reassuring himself that everything was in order. With a swift turn of his heel, he grabbed a delicate candle off the hook near the barn door and blew it out before replacing it. The darkness encased the stable, his stable, as he called it. He alone cleaned and cared for the horses. He hayed and dirted the barn each and every day, all year round, and was constantly weeding out the moldy hay for the new.

He was a diligent worker. As diligent as one could be under forced labor. He grinned in the soft moonlight as he walked to the kitchen of his master's manor. The thought of forced labor was absolute hilarity to him. Forced labor was the civilized term, but everyone knew better than to believe it as simple as that. They might as well have just said slave or scapegoat and gotten on with it. Chuckling over the idiocy of his life, he listened to the crunch of his leather shoes on the rocky path.

He had an ironic situation, one that may, in the most ridiculous of ways, have even started with 'once upon a time' in children's books. His name was James. Plain and simple, yet full of a hidden sophistication. A name that rolled off your tongue leisurely, but somehow still held an honorable quality.

He was James and he was sixteen. Sixteen times had he been blessed with the winter's creamy snow. Sixteen warm, glorious summers where the sun shown in it's full magnificence. James was one of ironic coincidences. His humor was dry, his eyes bronze, and his head proud.

Once upon a time does not start heroically in this story with dragons and noble wandering knights keen on ridding the world of supernatural evil. Nor does it begin with a splendid ceremony of true love; a prince and his radiant pauper bride. We can even discount the tantalizing theory of a baby born of immense magical powers, henceforth here to save the world. This tale begins as many of our own lives have begun. A simple birth on an ordinary, harsh winter's day. The sun weakly spreading it's warmth on a small cottage in the middle of Lancaster.

The green earth was still hidden in the depths of the soil, pleading for just some warmth before the day it must begin to appear. The trees were frail and wind burned from the winter's harsh blow. The buds trickling throughout the slender branches like a simple cataract of melting snow. All showing signs of the impending spring. Within the Saxon land of Lancaster and surrounded by the pale ground lay the cottage of Oeric and Æva.

An unprecedented occurrence had taken place, the two were now parents. A moment when one should be glorifying the Lord for the healthy birth of both baby and mother, where shouts and laughter were common and unending. Where warmth wasn't just an outer feeling, but which now lies deep within the heart. However, on the day of James' birth, a ghastly event arose, one of such importance that the world stopping turning.

Big, soft doe eyes greeted James as he stepped inside the warm kitchen. He smiled heartedly at Lily and took in her slender figure as she handed him a wooden bowl of cabbage stew. The contents weren't much, but the heat it produced seemed to reach his very core. Lily roved her emerald eyes over his face, absorbing all the bruises and scrapes adorning his strong features. He sat hunched over the table; his full attention was on his bit of stew. Such a sad state James had been reduced to. Day in, day out it was all the same. He'd slave himself over insane chores thought up by the Master, chores that sometimes held no point to them at all, and some that could not possibly be completed.

It was a game to the Master. A game of cat and mouse, except that this mouse couldn't ever get away and the cat always won. The details of the game aren't important; they would only increase your pity for James, and James, being a man of honor in his own right would never allow such a thing. Pity was as bad as the beatings themselves. Pity was like a razor, always cutting deeper into his soul. The sorrowful looks kept him remembering all that was occurring. The eyes that followed his every move, waiting for him to break kept his body stiff with anxiety. He couldn't have that; pity.

Rising above the game, the pity, the fear he held throughout every day darkened his heart. He only had feelings of submissiveness. His words were hardly grunts, as he never took the time to respond. Responding meant you honored the speaker with your respect of listening and intelligent conversation. And albeit the whippings he took for being disrespectful were harsh, they still felt better than giving the Master, the cat, a sense of victory.

James' only possible chance of keeping his sanity and pride was withholding his emotions from the Master. The floggings held no emotion, and with no display of agony the Master soon lost interest. In James' mind the Master lost his victory. He could tell his strategy held some effect on the Master for his pudgy face would flame to a dull, radish red. The vein above his left eye would bulge and pump with blood. His lips would rear like a dog's when he's about to attack. His eyes would glaze over as a madman's would. And then, he would give up. Save more for the next intolerable day. To James, that was a double-bladed sword. One more day of slow, painful dying and one more day to defy his master with his stoic way of life.

The only person James honored was Lily. The only person James spoke to was Lily. She was the only confidant he had in this gray world. Without having the sense of cliché, Lily was his only light. She took care of his battered body; she fed him, and supplied him with meaningful words and hugs to get him through the day.

James had a plan. A plan to run away from his infernal way of life, away from the daily beatings and slavish work. Freedom was the only hope he held aloft in his mind as he continued day after day. And with that dream came a future with Lily. Her beautiful emerald eyes lifted from their depressed state to the bright, fullness of a euphoric freedom. She'd be given a life that was no longer donned with the responsibilities and restrictions of her status. He'd escape with Lily by his side. He'd care for her.

The flames raged, bright orange and vibrant red flickered freely into the night sky. Coils of black, choking smoke engulfed the air. Gagging onlookers and preventing the remaining populous from ending the abundant flames. You needn't be shocked when I tell you that the small, Saxon cottage engulfed in the firey mass was that of Oeric and Æva of Lancaster.

The event, though somewhat predictable, was yet another unprecedented occurrence in their lives. After the birth of their handsome son James, the village was ravaged brutally by Normans intent on bringing glory to all of Scandinavia by conquering England bit by bit. The few survivors were taken captive by the fair-haired intruders, their lives now only pons in the hands of Scandinavian kings whose life goal was the conquering of other empires and expansion of their own realm. Surely only death was the survivor's ultimate option.

Many Saxon survivors took their own lives after witnessing the brutality and inhuman treatment of their captors. Others perished on the march to Scandinavia that bitter February. Pneumonia, frostbite, and hypothermia were close friends to the captives. The number of Saxons dwindled hour by hour, however, in the remaining few strong survivors there was a woman, not Æva, holding a baby dearly to her chest. Its small body wrapped tightly in cloth and held close to her pounding heart. Her arms encircled her front and held the newborn in place, in a small cocoon of warmth; life preserving warmth.

The march ended abruptly on a brisk day on the last day of February as angry, wild Saxon warriors encompassed them. Metal clashed and horses reared kicking and screaming. The frozen ground was impenetrable to the pools of scarlet blood. The world was overturned as men made it their life to fight and die for their empire. The woman's eyes burned with tears as she watched the devastation and her throat closed as she found herself almost retching from the graphicness of battle.

Finally numbing her brain from the scene, she turned away and suddenly her breath stopped. There it was, ahead of her was open ground. Completely clear of any satanic Normans and their heavy, steel swords and bludgeons. Her feet were frozen to the ground. Did she dare? Suddenly from within her shawl a gurgle was heard, the baby was still alive. Incentive was all she needed and the baby boy had given her the nudge. She took off slowly slithering against the rocky terrain before broke into a dead sprint. Her relief came slowly as the battle sounds became farther and farther away. She and the baby were safe, now all she had to do was find a village and warm up before they became yet another death statistic.

The time had come. James lay bloody on the floor, his ribs crushed and body bruised to an almost complete purple color. Lily leaned over him, dabbing at his cuts with her apron. She whispered reassuring words in his ear and trained her eyes on his face. He lay freezing on the ground, but couldn't seem to fall into the darkness he wished for. Instead he strained his green eyes through cracks in his eyelids and gazed at Lily. Her rose colored tresses fell into her eyes as she cared for him.

He slipped back into himself and breathed heavily knowing that it was now or never; death looked all too close from his angle. He wasn't sure how much longer he could hold on with floggings such as these. They were increasing in intensity and frequency. Lily knew this, he knew this and tonight, no matter what, was the night they would escape. Triumph over evil.

It was bitterly ironic that the woman came across a path sprinkled with winter daisies. The hunger was plaguing her body and surely the baby's as she ventured on unaware of her destination. Soon enough she came across a curious village, buried deep in a valley near a rushing stream full of salmon. Sheep and their herders marked the horizon as the sun began it's descent.

She kept her pace, not for herself, but for the numb baby against her chest. Each step brought her closer to a safe haven. The ironicalness of the situation now presents itself as the woman entered the village. The homes were ordinary, children hung out from windows waving to her, mothers baking scents wafted out the partially open windows and the men glanced up before returning to their work. However, they were not occupied by their work for long, as they began to recognize her appearance.

The sense of animosity filled her soul as noise came to a sudden quiet. Children no longer waved at the dark headed Saxon woman, instead they pointed with sinister looks on their youthful, innocent faces. Mothers could be heard ushering their children away from the window as the men climbed through the doors bearing strong shoulders hard faces, and fair complexions. Their blue eyes, the windows to their souls, showed no remorse. The woman cringed in fear and hugged herself.

Suddenly she understood. The enemy's territory had never been so horrifying. They barked insults at her, making her skin flush white, sharply contrasting with her night black hair. With little time to process, the woman held her life in her hands. Abruptly the woman gathered her hands around her human bundle and shoved it forward, away from her. Whimpering softly, James cried as the frozen air touched his newborn skin.

"Taketh the babe, please, I beg of you. It is a lad, what can a lad not do for you?" She pleaded between broken sobs. The baby grew cold, yet did not utter a sound then. Perhaps he was sensing the direness of the situation at such a small age. The woman cast her eyes to the stiff ground, down towards her scuffed leather shoes then back up into the blue eyes of the male closest her. His breathing was shallow as he watched her movements. His eyes flipped between her dark head and the small bundle in her white hands.

A murmur arose throughout the men. Their bludgeons set idly in their rough hands. A boy, no matter his origin, was a distinct need in this climate. But was the baby boy payment enough for traipsing into their Scandinavian village and dirtying the air with their Saxon breath? The consensus was no. And the woman died.

And so forth on that last day in February, James became a scapegoat for the Norman civilization. Nothing but a human mule, his only purpose was to work. Severe punishment was his way of life, his guide between right and wrong. He'd grown from the wee age to a lad of fourteen in this nefarious state. Beaten and bloody he lived until that fateful night.

Lily helped James into a sitting position then gathered his bruised arm around her neck and heaved him off the floor. She could feel his body stiffen in pain and whispered soft consoling words in Scandinavian. His breathing returned to normal as he laid his head on her shoulder, absorbing her warmth. Lily was ready. She'd packed the horse's burlap saddlebags full of food and strapped blankets and a few needed cooking utensils securely to the workhorse.

Without a hint of noise, Lily untied the horse and then began the task of opening the barn doors. The wind whipped at her firey hair, creating a sense of angelic beauty lingering in the realm of a powerful spirit. Her soft green eyes lingered in the shadows near the Master's manor and towards the servant's quarters.

Satisfied with the solemn night, she turned back to James and found him seated on the horse, bravely showing no signs of pain. She grinned softly in the moonlight, catching James' caramel eyes, she nodded her head. How angry would the Scandinavians would be come morning when they noticed Lily, the Master's niece, was missing, as was the scapegoat.

The tale ends softly, radiating a sense of peacefulness after a lifetime of anxiety and pain. The good has overcome the evil with a sly trick of the hand. The ironic has been justly served and the children relish in a new life of freedom and a simple opulent life of love.

Happily Ever After.

I may go back and revise... adding more later. Hopefully you understood it. I love words.

If you have any ideas... anything, please tell me.