Disclaimer: I own nothing of the Final Fantasy franchise.

Hello, this is my third attempt at a fan fiction, and thank you for taking the time to read it.

As you may have guessed from the summery and title, this story deals with fairytales, specifically, Cinderella. Just like my other fictions, this is an experiment in the making so I would be honored to know what you think and expect from this fiction.

Unlike most of my work, this chapter is written in first person perspective (I seem to have a habit of doing that on first chapters). I usually work in third person limited.

Please enjoy and please review!

Shattered Fairytale

Chapter One: Stories

I used to love the stories Father told me.

Night after night I would ask for them, and he would always oblige. I would sit for hours just to hear the sound of his voice and through it, I think I finally started to understand what love really was. The love for a parent as well as the love for my prince.

He called me princess and told me everyday that there was prince that would one day sweep me off my feet. Father told me that we would live happily ever after and I'd never have to worry about anything anymore because my true love was at my side. I fell in love with the idea.

True love, how I wanted it.

Father would smile when I said that I would find my prince instead of waiting around for him, then he would kiss my forehead and walk out of the room to where my mother waited for him. My parents were always so in love, they were living the happy ending that I so wanted.

But one day, half of my happily ever after left us forever. The villagers called it an unfortunate accident, the official report called it a tragedy, but I had a different name for it. The beginning of the end.

Happy, carefree days faded into the background and all I could seem to concentrate on was the despair of my father. The memory of my mother consumed him until I thought he might be swallowed.

He locked himself in his room, refusing to come out for days. The only time he left was for his work, the life of a merchant. The stories I so adored all but disappeared from my life, he never called me princess and I spent most of my time with the in-house servants we employed.

But, still, I believed that one day my prince would come for me, just like in the fairytales.

The servants around me worried for their master and so did I, but one day, it seemed like all our problems would be solved.

On the way back from one of his trading trips, Father had met the woman that would become my new mother. I wasn't altogether comfortable with the idea at first, no one in my mind could ever replace my real mother, but when I learned that this woman had lost her husband and had two daughters of her own, I began to accept it. I had always wanted a sister and having a mother figure around the house would be nice.

My first impression of my stepmother was that she was beautiful. Her face was heavily made up and her frame adorned with jewels and expensive cloth. She looked to be a grand lady, perhaps of the cities far away in strange countries, and I was immediately drawn to her. I remember one of the servants whispering to me as she stepped daintily from her seat in the carriage.

"That is Lady Ultimecia of the far north …"

I paid the rest of what they said no heed, my eyes were locked upon the beauty that emerged. She was exotic, the likes of which I had never seen. Her gown was blood red, the cloth dyed with the best money could buy, and she was adorned with many glittering jewels. The woman's hair was prematurely gray, but not the dull color of those old from working, but a silver that put the setting of her rings to shame.

She spoke with a thick accent that sounded like bells to my young ears, "Caraway … your home?"

My father rode close and dismounted, handing the reins to the servant that came to receive them, "Yes, my lady, this is our home."

The woman would have said more had it not been for the shuffling in the carriage.

"Move, Adel! I want to see!" the voice was clear and curious.

If I had been paying attention to the carriage, I would have rushed to see my new sisters, but as it was, I still could not bring myself to look away from the lady. The noise, though, seemed to wake Ultimecia from a trance.

She approached the assembled servants, looking upon them with shrewd eyes, "They will do." With an elegant arm, she gestured to the cart behind the carriage. "Do not just stare. Get to work."

At once, the men and women about me scrambled to obey, and left me all alone in front of the magnificent lady. All I remember is that I wanted to touch her, even feel the gown, just to make sure that she was really there, really existed. To me, Lady Ultimecia was a fairy princess that would bless my father with happiness. How wrong I was.

She looked at me with distaste, "Child. Are you daft? Do you not understand that I just gave you an order?"

Fortunately, I was too young to really comprehend that she thought me an insignificant stain in her path, and so I stared as if she had just given me the greatest gift in the world. Moments passed, and finally my father seemed to notice me and crossed to his new wife's side in two strides.

"Forgive her, Ultimecia, she does not know her manners."

"Servants do not need manners, Caraway. They only need to know when to obey."

My father shifted a bit, "My apologies for my daughter, she is young."

"No excuse," Ultimecia sniffed as if something unpleasant was beneath her nose. "Remove her."

Two more shadows fell and I was finally able to look away from the woman to my new sisters. They were dressed in fine gowns, like their mother. One was tall, a half head taller than I was, her red hair and piercing eyes trained on me, the other was my height, probably my age.

The redhead seemed completely at home in the stiff gown, her back perfectly straight and her head held high, but, in contrast, her sister, a brunette, shifted constantly, slouching to try to stay comfortable.

"Mother," the redhead spoke, "does she sleep with the pigs?"

Ultimecia chuckled a bit, "Maybe. But that is for another time. Adel, Selphie, mind your manners."

Adel sniffed, but fell into a graceful curtsey, her sister following in a wobbling imitation of her elder sister.

My father turned to me, a smile on his face, "Daughter."

I grinned stupidly back at him, not knowing that he was asking for me to do something I had never been asked to do until this moment.

Gradually, he got impatient, "Girl."

Ultimecia raised a heavily painted eyebrow, "Do not waste your time, Caraway. Some cannot be taught."

"Of course, my dear," he agreed readily, casting off his own daughter to one of the returning servants. "Clean her up, and start dinner."

As I was led away, I still didn't quite understand what was going on, but one thing I did take away from that meeting was that I was less important than she was. My own father had acted coldly to me, given me confusing commands instead of the warm embrace I had become accustomed to.

At that time, I did not fault Ultimecia, when my father was with her, he was happy, something that had been missing for quite a while. She gave me small tasks while father was away, and I always did them, the one thing I didn't understand was that she was humiliating me. Ultimecia was deliberately making me a servant in my own home.

Barely two years into the marriage, my father died on a trading trip, leaving me at the mercy of my step-mother. By then I, unfortunately, was starting to realize what was really going on, and it made me angry that I could do nothing. I now knew that she had only married my father because of his money. Her things were grand, but beside them, she brought nothing to the house.

For a time I entertained the idea that she was exiled from her home and had to take refuge here to avoid being burned as a witch, but that only served to make me feel wicked and ashamed of myself. But still, it would make more sense if she had put a love spell on my father than her natural charm. I wished it were so, I wished my father hadn't been lost, I wished my mother was still alive. I longed for many things, but none could be granted.

It wasn't long after my father's death that she banished me to the servants quarters, and, in later years, I knew my father to be the only one holding her back from having complete control over the household.

In my father's lifetime, he had gathered quite a fortune together, meant to be my dowry, but that was before Ultimecia. She spent every last bit of the gil. Now my chances for a successful marriage were gone as well.

Slowly, the state of my father's house degraded. Servants were sold off until only one family of two remained.

And I became a slave.

I have been told many times that life is what you make of it, that perception is everything, and thus, this is also true: Realists live in reality, romantics live in dreams, and fools live in fairy tales. Even after all the heartache and pain that I had to endure, I still thought that my happy ending was out there waiting for me. It will now be known that I, Rinoa Heartilly, am a hopeless fool because of one crucial flaw in myself.

I still believe in fairy tales.

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Author's Notes: Please tell me what you think, and if you think I should continue. This is, as I've probably said before, an experiment, so please let me know what you think and if you think there is anything I can do to improve. Thank you very much for reading. Please review.

I'll be looking forward to hearing from you.

Rose Northe