AN: Welcome to the beginning of my fantasy! This story is told in first person POV by the main character, Ava, who's best friend Vivienne transports both of them to a new world in order to save Ava's life. What is Vivienne's past on this world? What power does the old, ugly, gold ring she wears have? Ava must find a way to adjust and forge a place for herself in a strange, foriegn world.

This is my first attempt at an original fairy-tale story, so I would greatly appreciate some feedback- anything at all! Critiques, critisicms, queries, comments, and yes, I am open to flames, although I hope you'll provide some constructive feedback in there somewhere. Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I promise things get a bit more interesting in the next chapter!

The Queen's Companion

Chapter One: The Beginning

My life before the accident was unremarkable, except that I met Vivienne when I was 15 years old. I was sent to boarding school my sophmore year of high school, and that's where I met Vivienne. She was 16 but in the same grade as me, and we were roommates. The only time I asked why she had been held back a year in school, she answered vaguely that she'd missed most of the previous year due to illness. She never elaborated further.

I will always remember those first few weeks of school. I liked Vivienne immediately. She was everything I had ever wanted to be: tall, beautiful, graceful, self-confident. But, she was also quiet and a bit of a loner. I always thought she seemed sad. I hated that; I hated to see anyone sad. Naturally, I set to work at cheering her up. Being roommates, she had a tough time getting away from me, and soon I had the distinction of being the only known person in our entire school who could make her laugh.

We roomed together throughout high school; we were inseparable. Vivienne was the one who convinced me to apply to a prestigious musical college. I loved to sing, and I loved to play any number of instruments, but I would never have believed I was good enough to go to that college. Vivienne said my music was a gift. She wasn't surprised at all when I won a full scholarship. Vivienne decided she wasn't ready for college yet, and got a job at a large modeling agency. We moved into a tiny apartment together and loved our independence.

Then, shortly after my 20th birthday, Vivienne started acting strangely. She had never been an outgoing person, but now she drew back from her social life completely, except for me. She turned down several career-boosting jobs at her modeling agency. I kept finding her spacing out, twisting the old, ugly, gold ring on her finger. When I questioned her, Vivienne only replied vaguely that she was thinking about the future. When she wasn't spacing out, she'd ask me questions about what I wanted to do with my life, or whether I was happy right now. I was beginning to be concerned about her, but to be honest, I had been given a leading role in a very important musical, and I was more preoccupied with my own life than I should have been. As it was, I didn't press her too deeply about what was wrong, and she didn't volunteer the information.

That last freezing, icy February day, Vivienne and I met on the metro bus heading back towards our apartment after a long day of classes, practice, and work. Traffic was moving through the city quickly, despite the icy roads, and I stared morosely out the window at the road sliding by us. I crammed my stocking cap down further over the tumbled copper curls that hung down my back. I scowled at my reflection in the window, wishing for the millionth time I could trade my curly red-gold hair and plain baby blue eyes for Vivienne's straight, perfect, dark mahogany hair and astonishing hazel eyes. I didn't really envy her height, though. To be honest, I liked being short. But at that moment, my poor, small feet felt completely frozen.

"I hate winter," I grumbled as I huddled deeper into my seat. I glanced over at Vivienne sitting next to me, but she had once again spaced out and was turning that ring around her finger over and over again.

"Hey, Viv," I tried again, "don't you wish we could move somewhere warm?"

Vivienne looked over at me, distracted. "Huh? Oh…warm. Yeah. I think I want to move somewhere warm."

"Yeah. Like California! Hollywood, here we come!" I joked.

Vivienne shook her head and stared down at the ring she continued to twist. "No. I want to move somewhere tropical. And foreign."

"How foreign?" I asked, examining a hole in my mitten. "Hawaii's pretty foreign."

"I mean really, really foreign, Ava," Vivienne said quietly. "I want to start a new life…or go back to an old one…"

I stopped examining my well-worn mittens and turned in my seat to look seriously at Vivienne. "Okay. What's this all about? You've been acting strange for weeks now. Did something happen? Did your boss hit on you again?"

Vivienne gave a small laugh, then a deep sigh. "No- nothing like that. It's just…I guess I always knew I'd go back, one day. And I want to go back only-," Vivienne stopped and gripped my hand.

"Ava, I can't leave you behind!" she cried. "But I want to go back. I have to see him again!"

Now I was seriously worried. What was she talking about? Go back where? And see who? I stared uncomprehendingly at her, my mouth hanging open.

"Vivienne," I said slowly, "what-"

The bus jerked violently, slamming me back hard against the window. My head hit the glass with a sickening thud. Stars burst in front of my eyes; the world lurched and spun and turned to black.

I snapped back to consciousness as my lower body was immersed in stabbing, biting, unbelievable cold. Disoriented, I looked down to see rapidly rising water swirling around me. I struggled to pull myself up, gripping onto the seats above me, but I couldn't move. I was pinned. There were screams and cries for help as people clamored over each other in their attempts to get away from the rapidly rising water.

"We're in the river!" Vivienne shrieked, gripping my arms and trying vainly to pull me up. "The bus is sinking! We're going under the ice!!"

The water had already reached my chest, and I gasped for air as my body reacted violently to the freezing water. Vivienne pulled with all her strength, and I tried vainly to push with my lower body, but I was wedged firmly. The water rose rapidly and I tilted my head back to keep my mouth and nose in the air. Suddenly, Vivienne dropped and caught me in a tight hug.

"Hold on to me!" she commanded. "Whatever happens, don't let go of me!"

I gripped on tightly to the back of her coat as the water closed in over my head. I could feel her hands moving behind my back as I clung to her, my lungs already burning for air.

The water around me burst into white light, so bright it was painful even with my eyes squeezed tightly shut. I felt suddenly weightless. There was no feeling or pressure or movement from the rushing water any longer, and I let out my pent up breath in a whoosh. It felt like Vivienne and I were being lifted up, spun around, tugged and pulled at from all directions. I couldn't open my eyes, but I could feel that we were being pulled apart. I struggled to keep my grasp on Vivienne's coat, but my hands were numb with cold and my wet mittens were slippery.

I shrieked as a strong pull ripped my hands from Vivienne and I was flung away. I could hear her screaming my name for one frantic moment as I reached out blindly for her. I hit something, hard, and slipped away into the black.