Hi there and welcome to Once Upon a Time! If you like the pairing, you should love this. If you don't like the pairing, I think you should have fun as well, there's het romance and more comedy than anything. ;) Plus, I will hereby claim that characters will be IC (well...with one exception) throughout the story, and I challenge you to prove me wrong! :D Also, please note that there will be no Amy bashing, I like her. Please have fun and tell me what you thought!
Side note: Yes, much explanatory stuff at the beginning. Action starts midway through chapter. Please enjoy!
Once Upon a Time
The first chapter, telling of the horrible life of a stepson, strange siblings, and leeches.
Chapter 1: Not Your Average Princess
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away - or rather, a few clicks on fanfictionnet, but let´s keep this traditional – once upon a time, there was a very unhappy hedgehog.
"Shadow! Heat the water for the tub! And where´s my dinner?!"
"Shadow! If you haven´t heated the water for your sister in five minutes I´ll skin you alive!"
"And my dinner!"
"And her dinner!"
"I´m coming! I´m coming! I hope she drowns in her bath!"
Shadow, indeed, was treated like a slave by both his stepsister and stepfather…but of course, it hadn´t always been this way. Late at night, when he had a few precious hours to himself before he had to rise again in the darkness to prepare breakfast for his 'family', he wistfully remembered how his life had been long ago…
He had been living together with his adopted sister Maria and his creator. Gerald, who had been a very skillful alchemist, had actually created the black hedgehog as a pet for his beloved granddaughter, before he grew so fond of him that Shadow had been accepted into the family. Those years had been bliss. But then, when Shadow was still quite young, tragedy struck and Maria succumbed to a deadly disease…and Gerald´s demise followed soon thereafter as the old man was overcome by grief.
He had arranged for a caretaker and stepfather for Shadow as he felt his end coming, but unfortunately, the only one he knew was a fellow alchemist and noble of the higher court called Black Doom.
Sadly, drawing clues from names had never been Gerald´s specialty.
Black Doom, who had always acted friendly and cordially around the old man, accepted the responsibility without hesitation. He promised to take care of the young hedgehog and took him away as soon as the dying alchemist had breathed his last.
It was only then that Black Doom began to show his true colours.
"Shadow! You´re late with the cooking!"
"Yes, he is! Dad, why do I have such a horrible stepbrother!"
They made him perform all the lowliest duties and never let him have a moment´s peace. And Shadow couldn´t even run away – his stepfather had made it known to him, that in this case, he would be hunted down as an illegal experiment if Black Doom informed the local authorities. Shadow didn´t doubt that. Everyone knew that the sinister figure of the strange creature that governed his life was quite close to the royal family and had lots of influence.
So the young black hedgehog had suffered all those years in silence…
"I know I´m late, uncle! Look, it´s not my fault that your goddamn offspring wanted freakin strawberries in the middle of January -"
"Cease this insolence at once!"
"OW! You didn´t have to hit me again, you sick jerk-!"
Well, not quite in silence.
A swipe of energy knocked the hedgehog off his feet and he was smashed against the wall where he lay motionless, until his stepfather´s claw-like hand grabbed him by his chest fur and raised him again. Shadow leveled a somewhat dizzy glare at his tormentor.
"I hate you."
"I don't care. You will be working tonight until you collapse from exhaustion. Now go and fix dinner already, if you want to see your bed at all."
Which was a nice way to phrase it. Shadow´s 'bed' was actually the fireplace, since he wasn´t even deemed worthy of a room. All his clothes, such as fine gloves and shoes, had been taken away and been replaced with rags, so that everyone thought him a street urchin or slave at first sight. He was also continually dirty, since he slept in the ashes and cinders, which had earned him the name 'Shadow' in the first place – Black Doom had suggested 'Cinderello' at first, but luckily Shadow´s stepsister had declared that name insane. ('Where did you get this idea?!')
Despite that, the female was the meanest person the hedgehog knew. She was incredibly vain, (but ugly at the same time) and arrogant to everyone apart from her father, ridiculing Shadow for his undignified appearance every time she could.
The hedgehog sighed and started boiling the leeches for his two horrible relatives. With any luck, their favourite food would work as a pacifier. He looked at himself in the reflection of a shiny pan and wondered whether his stepsister might be right. Apart from being dusty all over, Shadow was too thin and lean for his age because of the scarce food he got. He had managed to acquire some muscles due to the hard work he did each day, but they weren´t adding much to his slender frame. His fur was unkempt and the red stripes on his limbs and quills hadn´t been shining for a long time…Shadow idly wondered if they would maybe look good if he could ever get himself clean.
Testing with a stick whether the leeches were now the right stage of slimy, he sighed again and took the kettle off the fire, carrying two portions out to his 'family'.
"Very well. It seems as if you could get at least something right," Black Doom grumbled and inclined his horned head to suck up some more of the dish. Shadow, munching listlessly on some old potato, screwed his face up in disgust while his stepsister crooned in delight and had already eaten half of her plate.
"Yes, that´s right, darling, eat it all up. You want to look nice and well-fed for the Prince."
Shadow groaned. That goddamn ball again.
"What was that, Shadow?" his stepfather growled.
"Face it, uncle. The Prince is not going to marry her. Ever." Shadow knew he was probably digging his own grave at the moment but he simply couldn´t stand the nonsense much longer.
"Oh yes? And why, pray tell would anyone think so?! Your sister is the most gorgeous girl in the entire kingdom and she-"
"She´s a friggin floating starfish, for heaven´s sake! The Prince would scream if he saw her!"
"Daddy!" The reddish eye-orb in the middle of the starfish now looked slightly wobbly and close to tears.
"How dare you speak like that to your sister Eyeleen!"
"It´s not my fault this is a freak family! It´s your goddamn alchemy that did it! And your puns make it worse!"
"Enough! The ramifications of your disobedience will be severe!"
"You say that like three times a day!"
"No dinner for you this evening! No sleep for you tonight! I will make your life hell until that day of the ball comes and you will help your sister with her dress!"
Shadow grit his teeth but didn't say anything more to make it worse. That goddamn ball. The Queen was trying to get the Prince to choose someone to wed during the event and that floating eyeball hadn´t been able think of anything else since she, like all girls in the kingdom, had received the invitation.
Not that they'd allow him to go as well to see something else than this dump for once. No. There was no one at all that had the slightest shred of sympathy for him, he knew that.
In short, Shadow felt like the loneliest hedgehog on Earth.
To be continued...
Liked it? :D The next chapter will introduce our other protagonists and get the plot moving. (gasp!) Please stay tuned for:
The second part, telling of Shadow trying to sort not-quite-lenthills, questionable orientations, and one supersonic hedgehog taking a rushed trip into the forest.
Chapter 2: Not Your Average Prince...