Disclaimer: World belongs to Gail Carson Levine. Characters belong to me.
(A/N): This is a side along story to my other story Beauty and the Squirrel, but it is not necessary for you to read that one to enjoy this one, although it might help. It is the story of Sleeping Beauty in Ella Enchanted's world. I hope you enjoy it, she isn't the traditional Sleeping Beauty and her tale isn't very traditional either. And Lucinda isn't very typical in this tale either, instead of hindering, she helps (even though she still liked throwing her magic around!) I hope you like the story, and please review.
Being a princess is not as enchanting as young girls are taught to believe through their stories and fairy tales.
It's rather boring and mind-numbing. I would know. I'm Princess Arianna Anne Georgiana Elizabeth Seraphina, the Golden Dove of Bezidel. Yes, I know, it's a long, stupid name. That's what being a princess does to you, it gives you long, stupid names. That is just one of the miseries I encounter in my daily life.
Take, for instance, my schedule for every day of my dreary life. At exactly 7:35 in the morning, I am to be woken up. By 8:00, sharp, I should have taken a bath, and be drying off. By 8:35, I should be dressed and ready for breakfast and tea with Mother and Father. At 8:40, breakfast begins, and if I am not there by then, I am not allowed to eat (this has happened more often than you would think). At 9:20 breakfast ends, and I am to begin my lessons. From 9:25 to 11:35 I am to learn etiquette and sewing (the most boring topics in the entire world, and they are my "most important" lessons according to my mother. She's not very intelligent, unfortunately). From 11:35 until noon, I am to eat lunch with my governess, and only my governess. If I eat it with anyone else, I receive lines and I get in horrible trouble with everyone. From noon until two I am to learn the history (the altered history, so it won't offend my womanly ears) of Bezidel. From 2 until three I will either learn math, dance, languages, literature, magic, or horsemanship. I always pray that today will be the horsemanship day, or as I like to call it horsewomanship day (which drives my governess crazy. I don't tell her the reason I call it that is to drive her nuts) because I love to ride horses. It gives me a thrill of adventure. From three to five I run off to the royal woods, to avoid singing lessons (something I despise thoroughly). Most of the time I am caught before I can truly get away, but sometimes, I gain freedom! And freedom never tastes sweet unless it is a stolen good. Of course, I've never had freedom in any other form, so I wouldn't actually know.
I love the woods near the palace. They are dark and magical with thousands of different species inside of it. It is the only place I actually like in the capital, as it is the only place without idiotic human beings. I am much more of an animal person, to be honest. Of course, that might be due to the gift the fairy Lucinda gave me as a baby. For reasons that are unclear, Lucinda actually gave me a gift, not a curse (it is also unclear why she came to see me at all). She gave me the ability to talk to animals, and that they would understand. They can't talk back to me, but they can understand me and most people aren't that lucky, so I am thankful for this ability.
My first memory of this gift is when I was a little girl. I must have been around age three, as my curly, blonde hair was still tied up in ribbons, and not hanging uselessly by my side as it has done for the past ten years. Like the little nuisance I was, I was running away from my nanny searching for my mother. I suppose I should have realized, even then, how much my mother did not care about me. Sure, I can tell she loves me, but she did not (and does not) want any part of my life (other than arranging a schedule that kills my spirit, of course). But, overall, she doesn't want to raise me. But as a three year old girl, I did not realize this, and I wanted her because I loved her.
I was being chased by my nanny, who was a scary person (just thinking of her causes shivers to run up and down my spine) and so I ran into a dark, scary forest to avoid her. A dark, scary looking forest was less scary than my nanny to me, which I suppose says a lot about her character.
Unsurprisingly, she couldn't find me, and I suppose she expected that I headed back to the castle because she left. I, however, had been hiding behind a large bush the entire time, and was very grateful that she had finally left, until I realized I was lost.
Even when I was a child, I didn't cry much, so the fact that I wailed at the moment I realized I was lost is a curiosity. I never wail or cry as none of the Bezidel royalty has ever exhibited that type of behavior, even when they were children. Except my mother when she can't get the latest dress, but that is a different matter entirely.
I probably sat down in the middle of this meadow in the forest for an hour or so, hopelessly confused, tired, and bored. I had stopped crying at this point and decided to explore my surroundings as I was a curious child. Imagine my surprise when I discovered hundreds of different types of birds in a giant, old tree one hundred feet away from where I had sat for the past hour. Even at three years old, I knew that seeing this many birds was an astonishing thing to behold. They looked at me inquisitively, unafraid of my childish presence.
I hesitated for a moment, before asking them (at this point, I believed animals understood all humans), "Do you know where my mommy is?" I asked in the kindest voice I could manage.
The birds all looked at one another, whistling and cuckooing and singing songs to communicate. I waited for a moment, looking at them worriedly, not sure what to expect of them. A little, white bird seemed to be commanding the discussion and looked at me peculiarly. I pouted, hoping that this would convince them. I knew that it worked on my human nanny, so it should work on birds, I reasoned. Fortunately, my plan worked.
The white bird began to cluck and whistle at me all while it moved, flying to one branch than to another. I followed it curiously and cautiously, not realizing it was leading me back to my castle. In ten minutes, I was able to see the white turrets of my castle. My eyes blinking back tears of joy, I turned and thanked the bird profusely, and it whistled back at me, clearly pleased at my thanks.
One reason I remember this event so well is that no one except my nanny knew I was gone for an hour or so in the first place. So when I rushed into mother's lap in front of the entire court screaming "Mother, I'm back!" in a jubilant voice, my mother didn't understand that I was trying to alert to her that I was safe and sound. She thought I was just being a bad child, so she had me punished by the nanny, who gave me a spanking that hurt me terribly.
Mother and I haven't had a very good relationship since then.
Fortunately, my gift helps me to cope with my turbulent relationship with my mother, as I have an interesting connection with nature due to the gift. I can't stand to be inside stone walls, I always have this need to be within nature and earth and dirt and leaves and trees. When I am in the presence of nature I feel at peace with the world and with myself. If I were to be stuck inside the capital city, instead of the palace walls, like many girls my age, trapped by marriage and/or circumstance, I would not know what to do with myself. For that reason, and that reason alone, I am glad to be a princess trapped in a castle that is near the most beautiful forest in the world.
Of course, that is the only thing I enjoy about being a princess. Everything else about being a Princess in Bezidel is terrible. I have to hang around boring courtiers at terrible balls where I have to dance continuously. I have to be restrictive in my behavior and who I can talk to. I can't go exploring the city or the woods as much as I would if I were a normal girl who didn't have to worry about propriety.
My governess Dorothea, who is a mean, bad-tempered older woman from Granat, tells me that I would have to worry about propriety no matter what social class I was in. Personally, I don't believe a word she says. She always changes her mind and she always says she didn't say something when she most clearly did, so I don't trust any words that come out of her mouth.
One example of her fickle behavior is when I asked about her country. She told me the crown prince died a few years before. But just yesterday, she announced to me the crown prince had just been married to a peasant, of all things! This matrimonial event caused Mother to sneer in disgust at Prince Alaric. Well, I say, good for him!
Anyways, Governess Dorothea can never decide whether people are alive or dead! It is maddening I tell you, absolutely maddening.
However, I am glad to hear that Prince Alaric is alive. I have known him since I was a child, as his parents sent their children over here to Bezidel during the summers, since I was five, to establish diplomatic relations. I suppose it would be the intelligent thing to do, if we all got along, but we didn't.
I didn't like the girls, they were too girly, especially the eldest, who was very focused on achieving a proper marriage (even when she was only fourteen! Can you believe it?). The other girl, who is about two years younger than me, was too much of a romantic who chased around boys her age (servant or noble, it didn't matter to her) trying to kiss them, even when she was only three.
I only really liked Alaric, to tell you the truth, because even though he was spoiled and a tad vain, he treated me as an equal. He was about six years older than me too, so I felt quite important and flattered. Plus, he was the only one who wasn't shocked that I liked going into the woods a lot. He even believed that I could talk to animals and that they would understand! No one else did! That was why he was my first crush, at age five. I even told everyone we would get married someday. Which is why, when I heard that he had died, I was crushed and I cried to no end.
And when I found out he was actually alive and married some peasant girl, I felt happy for him. You see, my feelings for him were childish feelings of admiration, so I held no ill will towards him or his wife. I am just glad he is alive and well.
Of course, I haven't even mentioned the other prince of Granat, have I? Well, Prince Orlando is a pain in my bum, a very, very large pain. He is two years older than me, and has always treated me as if I was an ant he wanted to squish. This was just because I was a girl and two years younger than him! If I wanted to play with him, he would inform me that girls are gross, and don't play with boys, which I knew was utter nonsense. I had played with boys tons of time, and I knew I wasn't gross. He was the one who was gross, and I told him so, before kicking him in the shins.
That is how our mutual hatred of each other began and it continued for the next six years, until the King and Queen of Granat decided that the summers were just harming diplomatic ties, instead of helping, and they stopped sending their children over.
I wish they had realized that earlier! Then I wouldn't have had to deal with that boy for so long. Ugh.
To be honest, even though we hated each other, we had fun hating each other. Summers were never the same without the harmless and harmful pranks we did on one another. We always got into a lot of trouble, and that always made sure that I had mother's attention, which I never really get any more, due to the fact I am now a "proper princess" according to my mother. Yeah right, what a load of horse dung, I am not a proper princess. I just know how to avoid being caught. Well, most of the time.
I do not want attention from my mother anymore, I have finally realized how vain and flighty she is, and I wish she wasn't my mother. I wish Father didn't marry her, and I can sense that Father sometimes wishes the same whenever she begins a rant about shopping. His face always droops, and his white hair always flattens, as if his spirit was rotting away. As I look at his face this morning, his spirit probably is rotting away. He is older, a lot older than my mother, as he delayed marriage as long as possible after his first wife died. But he knew he needed an heir, so he picked the most beautiful woman out of the bunch and married her. I suppose he was hoping he would die in the next five years or so, but unfortunately for him, he has been alive all eighteen years of their marriage.
Even at this moment, he looks like he wishes his adviser, Sir Montague, would cut out his heart and serve it for breakfast, just so he wouldn't have to listen to mother's speeches about the stupidity of peasants. I wouldn't be surprised if Sir Montague conceded to such a plan, considering his love of power. He would probably convince everyone with his oily, snake tongue that he should be the next monarch, instead of me.
I frowned at my oatmeal. Maybe I shouldn't listen to the maids' gossip. It always made me think crazy things.
Sir Montague's oily voice interrupted my thoughts, "Princess Arianna, you are not eating your oatmeal. Are you unwell?"
I couldn't help but wonder if there was a double meaning to his words, "Um, no Sir Montague, I was just thinking how beautifully put together this oatmeal was," I grimaced in my head as I looked down at the gooey oatmeal mess that definitely was not beautiful or put-together.
Of course, Sir Montague smirked at my comment, "I never knew oatmeal could be well put-together, your highness," he said in his slippery voice that made his meaning hard to pin down.
He must be related to ogres, I thought to myself as my ears turned bright red, "Neither did I until this morning," I commented casually. Internally I was cursing my stupidity, and just wishing I could go out in the woods for a nice, long walk instead of being trapped in the lions' den.
Mother, thankfully, did something right for once and intervened before I could embarrass myself further, "Princess Arianna, don't compliment the food. It makes the servants think they are doing something right, and we can't have that," she declared with a superior look on her pale face.
Aw, mother's ignorance strikes again, I smirked to myself, avoiding the stricken looks on Father's and Sir Montague's faces. I can't believe they still don't realize how ill-mannered she is.
Well, then again, Father does go away for long trips across the country to check up on his people, and Sir Montague usually follows. Father started doing those trips as soon as he and Mother were married. I believe it is not a coincidence.
I finished eating as mother continued to explain why it wasn't good for servants to know they were doing a good job. I excused myself with a polite smile on my face, while inside I was cheering at being able to leave, until I remembered that I had to learn etiquette and how to sew now.
I groaned before being dragged away to the classroom by my governess where a nightmare awaited me.
Oh, how I abhor being a princess.
(A/N to readers of Beauty and the Squirrel) Please review, so I know how you feel about this heroine, as she isn't as err, sweet as Beauty, I want to know how you feel about this type of girl. Personally, I love her as a character, and even though I identified with Beauty more, Arianna just makes me laugh and she's just so overwhelming that she's fun to write.
(A/N to everyone) I hope everyone liked this beginning chapter, it was difficult for me to write, due to the explanation of her gift. I wasn't sure how to explain it to everyone, so tell me if I did a good job or if I should rewrite it. And just a side note, no one believes her about her gift except a few select individuals. Not saying who believes her, though, as one is integral to the plot of the story.