Once upon a time, a little princess was born.

The girl's parents were of the lower-middle class, but the little family always managed to get by, one way or another. The princess was named Eleanor, though she much preferred Nellie, the nickname her siblings had given to her.

The girl learned the basic skills that would carry her throughout her life during her childhood. How to cook, how to clean, how to not let a thing go to waste. How to be clever, how to be cunning, how to be deft. How to be quick with her feet, mind, and tongue.

She was a young twenty-two when she met her prince. Young, yes, but she had still seen quite a bit of life by that age. She'd been around the streets a few times, as it were. Though she had seen much cruelties and abuse in her life, she still held out hope for a better future. That was all there was to do at times, what with time being so rough. She may have been living somewhat low at the moment, but she never lost sight of her dreams for the future, her dreams that she would one day turn to reality.

The prince moved into the room above her pie shop, he and his wife, and set up his barbershop in there as well.

He was beautiful. There was no other way to put it. She could go on and on, could write endless lists and poems and letters about why he was so gorgeous, so perfect, so breathtaking. She tried to restrain herself from thinking on him too much though. He was unattainable. He was married. So was she, for that matter. A relationship between them would never happen, and she knew that.

But she couldn't stop looking, couldn't stop admiring this beautiful man that was just out of her reach, couldn't stop wishing he would one day belong to her and not to that silly dolt that was always attached to his arm.

Then one day, he was captured and taken away.

He was gone. She was alone. It was a dreadful feeling, to be so alone while there were so many people still around her; a cold, all-consuming feeling that kept her lying awake at night with wet tears spilling down her cheeks.

But she kept on. She kept on, because she was strong. Just because times were difficult didn't mean she should hang her head in defeat. Defeat was not a word in her vocabulary. She'd been through hard periods before. Perhaps not as hard as this one – for she had never lost something so meaningful, so precious – but even so, that was no reason for her to succumb to despair.

The prince's wife, silly nit, was not so strong. Unable to cope with her grief and pain, she swallowed poison, though that only made her situation worse, since after that she just went entirely loopy.

Though the princess felt bad for her tenant, she was also angry with her. Here was this woman who'd had everything – her castle, her prince, her heir to the throne – and yet, the instant one of them was gone, the instant she'd been violated, she completely lost all hope. Silly thing, stupid thing, not able to even try and hold out for a better tomorrow.

So when the prince returned – more broken and bitter than before, but still her beautiful prince – she didn't tell him that his wife still lived. The foolish girl hadn't been willing to live on and try to wait for him, hadn't been willing to try and get by – she didn't deserve his attention.

Whereas this princess had slaved away all her life, throughout all the hard times that had befallen her, and had never gotten any reward. Perhaps now, without that fool around, he might notice her as more than just his landlady. Perhaps now, without that ninny at his side, he would love her as she loved him.

Perhaps now, without that clod all over him, he would want her to be his princess.

Moreover, would he even want to know what had become of his wife? He was teetering on the brink as it was. To know that his wife had been reduced to a mere pile of madness might be more than he could bear. Yes, it was better this way.

She tried to let him know continually how she felt. Most of the time, though, he barely seemed to notice her. But that didn't deter her. One day, she kept telling herself, one day he would see her standing there, waiting for him. One day, they would be together, happily married. One day, they would go live by the sea, and be the happy family that she always wanted.

One day, they would live happily ever after.

And so, she waited for him. She waited. Waited. Waited. Because all good things come to those who wait, after all.

So she waited. Waited. Waited.

Somewhere deep down inside, she knew that it would never happen. Somewhere deep down inside, she knew that they were just dreams, and that they would never be reality.

But it was only her dreams that had kept her going throughout all these many hard years. Without them, she would be lost. So she buried the part of her that knew these dreams would never come true, silenced it, and kept on dreaming.

She had read fairy tales as a child, and had always dreamed of being swept off her feet by her prince one day, and living happily ever after.

She'd somehow always clung to the hope that the tales could be spun into reality. But she was proven wrong.

Her life had never been a fairy tale, and never would be either.

And so she lived neither miserably nor happily ever after, but just after, after, on and on, trying to get by.



A/N: I just wanted to give a huge shout-out to everyone who's read this fic -- within the span of less than a week, it received over 400 total hits. I'm really flattered, thanks so much. And double thank you to all who reviewed . . . those always brighten my day. As always, please let me know your thoughts, and thanks again for reading. :)