A/N: Hello! A quick warning before the story begins. I woke a couple of nights ago at about 2am with this story in my head. I sat up all night writing it and then typed it up after I woke again. Because of this I must warn you it is the product of a sleep deprived brain...and also nothing like my usual stories (Although I'm thinking of writing a series of fairy tale based stories, so let me know if you would like to see more!)
I must say a special thank you to Pheonix1855 who was kind enough to read this story whilst I was still typing it up (She reasured me enough so I didn't give up typing, hence the finished product is here today!) and of course to Miss Taloolah P who is the greatest friend a girl could ever have, and kindly beta'd this for me.
Once upon a time there lived a beautiful young girl called Bella. Her father had sadly died whilst Bella was only a baby, forcing her mother to work long hours to support her family. Despite the long working hours and the meagre way they were forced to live, her mother doted on Bella and devoted all of her free time to ensuring her only child grew up happy and loved.
As Bella grew, she became loved by everyone who lived in the small village. She was kind hearted and gentle, selflessly devoting her time to help others and never once worrying about herself. For although she was poor, she was happy.
When Bella was seven, a wealthy widower came to the village in search of a new wife and mother for his two beloved daughters. He very quickly chose Bella's mother as the ideal woman to fill those roles and although Bella's mother knew nothing about the man, she accepted his offer of marriage, happy at the security her new husband would offer both her and her daughter and the type of life Bella could now lead.
Within a month of the man's arrival the marriage had happened and Bella and her mother moved away from their small village, which had always been their home, to the great city of Forks where the man's house was located. It was so different from the world Bella had always known but she was determined to be happy in her new life so as not to upset her mother.
For a couple of years, their life seemed perfect. Bella loved to explore the city and surrounding countryside. The locals all fell in love with Bella and her kind, giving nature. The only people who did not adore Bella were her stepfather and his two daughters. Bella's two stepsisters were jealous of Bella's beauty and how popular she was with everyone she met, whilst her stepfather hated her for upsetting his daughters and for being the centre of her mother's love and attention. Despite his hatred of his stepdaughter, the widower never allowed it to show in front of Bella's mother, knowing how much the woman loved her child.
It was in the winter, when Bella was only 9 that everything changed. Her mother, after being out walking, came down with a terrible fever and despite everything which was tried, she passed away. With Bella's mother no longer an influence over the step-father, he no longer hid his feelings towards Bella, even going as far as to forbid her from attending her own mother's funeral.
From the day of her mother's death, Bella's life became one of isolation and misery. All her stepfather's kind words and loving gifts were directed at his own daughters. In his eyes nothing was too good for them. He gave them all they could desire: fine dresses, shoes, delicious foods, soft beds and everything else they could think to ask for. But for poor Bella there was nothing at all. If she received clothes it would be her stepsister's cast offs, and the only food she was allowed to eat were the scraps and left overs. Her stepfather ordered that she live the life of a servant, working long hard hours and sleeping in the kitchen, beside the open fire, close to where the cinders lay. As a final act of cruelty, he and his precious daughters all started calling her Cinderbella, if they ever needed to use her name, reminding her of her lowly position.
Despite the cruelty she suffered, and isolation she felt, Bella's kind heart never faltered and not for one second did she ever have a thought of hatred or unkindness towards those who thought of nothing else when she was involved. Every night before falling asleep, she would pull out a book of poetry her mother had given her, from her sewing basket, and read a verse or two, remembering her mothers voice, and thanking God for every blessing in her life.
As Bella grew older, she became more and more beautiful, causing her stepfather and stepsisters to hate her even more. For although Bella was forced to wear soot stained rags, and the skin on her hands was blistered and hard from years of work, she was still a lovely girl. Whilst although her sisters were fair, they were mean hearted and cruel, and no matter how much finery they wore, they could not hide this fact.
One morning, as Bella was walking down the stairs after putting her step sisters' clothes away, she heard a commotion coming from the main hall. Picking up her mop and bucket, she entered the main hall and began to clean, hoping to discover what all the commotion was about.
"Balls!" Jessica, the younger of her two stepsisters were squealing clapping her hands in delight, "The Prince is sure to fall in love with me when he see me dance". Her elder sister was far from pleased of this idea.
"He will fall in love with me" she stated abruptly, "I am the eldest, and far more beautiful than you, so it is only right he should marry me!". As they squabbled their father chuckled proudly, gazing at his daughters in a loving manner.
"Read it again father" Jessica finally sighed, turning back to her father and giving him a pleading look which made her look rather like a constipated pig.
"Very well" he chuckled, before opening the letter he had been holding, and clearing his voice in a pompous manner, "Three balls will be held at the palace in celebration of Prince Jasper's 21st birthday. It is the wish of King Carlisle and Queen Esme, as well as their children, that all their subjects shall attend, no matter of their class or heritage. These balls will take place on the three nights prior to the Prince's birthday, and shall be masquerade balls. On the third night, at midnight, as the Prince turns 21, we shall invite all maidens to remove their masks, and reveal their true identity. The first ball shall be held in exactly a fortnights time. We look forward to your households attendance".
Hearing her stepfathers words, Bella could not help but gasp. The letter clearly stated there was to be a ball, and everyone must attend, not just the rich and upper classes. Surely this would mean poor Bella would be allowed three nights away from working, so that she may attend.
"You don't think you're going do you!" sneered Lauren, the elder stepsister, glaring at Bella who was gazing up from her cleaning and watching her stepfather in a hopeful manner, "You'll be staying at home to wash the dishes and scrub the floors, after all that's all you're good for anyway".
"Anyway do you think they would allow someone dressed in rags to enter the palace?" Jessica laughed, "The servants would turn you away without a seconds thought". Bella's heart was aching at their words, knowing that she would not be attending.
"Girls" her stepfather chided, "The letter does say everyone is invited, so I think it is only fair that IF Cinderbella completes her chores in time for the balls, that she should be allowed to attend. She can wear one of her mother's old gowns. They are nothing much, but I'm sure they will do for a creature like her". Smiling brightly, Bella squealed in delight.
"Oh thank you stepfather, you are truly kind" she gushed, picking up her mop and bucket quickly so she could thank him by doing her chores quickly and quietly, without him seeing her. Bella knew how much her stepfather despised seeing her.
"I said IF Cinderbella" he warned coldly, "Don't forget with the balls approaching, you will have more to do around the house." Nodding quickly, Bella couldn't stop her joy despite his warning, to just have the chance was enough for her.
"Yeah, IF" Lauren giggled gleefully as Bella left the hall and skipped back to the kitchen.
The following week was hellish for Bella, as her stepsisters found more and more jobs for her to do everyday, working her into exhaustion before yelling and screaming abuse at her for things that weren't her fault. By the time the day of the first ball arrived Bella was once again miserable, thanks to her sisters' actions, but was determined to complete her chores so she could attend the ball.
She cooked, cleaned, sewed, mended, and took a lot of verbal abuse all day, until there was only two hours left before the ball. Rushing upstairs to the attic, where her mothers old belongings were stored, so opened the trunks, desperately searching for a dress to wear to the ball. As she continued the search, her stepfather entered the room, watching her coldly.
"Cinderbella" he cooed in a fake sickly voice, "Have you cleaned the chimneys yet this week?" Pausing, she looked over at her stepfather in shock, every ounce of hope she had had for attending the ball fading into nothing. "The fireplace in Lauren's room is smoking terribly" he continued in a voice which sounded almost kind, "Unblock it for her, and then you can clean the rest tomorrow. If you hurry you may still have enough time to join us at the ball". Turning on his heal, he strode out, chuckling evilly to himself.
Sighing deeply, Bella gave up her search for a dress, resigned to the fact that she would never attend the balls, not whilst her stepfather was in charge. Entering Lauren's room, Bella began to clean the fireplace and chimney, discovering partly burnt papers and clothes blocking the flume. Once she had finished, she was almost completely black with soot, and only had 20 minutes before her family left. Sighing deeply, she slunk off to her small bathroom by the kitchen, washing herself over so she was no longer sooty. She didn't bother rushing, she knew she would never manage to look presentable in time. Sitting by the fire to dry her hair, she listened to her sisters excited laughter as they walked to the front door. Her stepfather poked his head into the kitchen, staring at her coldly.
"Not coming Cinderbella?" he asked coldly, "I must say it's for the best, nobody really wants your type at such functions as this". With that said, he swept out of the kitchen and the house, escorting his beloved daughters to the ball, whilst Bella sat alone by the fire and cried.
"Oh, I'm so unhappy" she sobbed, pulling out her mothers book of poetry, "How I wish I was a small child, living in the village with you mama". As she cried, a tear landed on the cover of the old book, soaking it with Bella's despair.
"Don't cry" soothed a soft voice from beside her, as a large, russet hand was placed over her hand. Looking up, she gasped at the handsome stranger who was knelt beside her. She knew all the doors and windows were locked, so had no idea how this man had managed to enter the house.
"Who?" she managed to gasp, unable to tear her eyes away from the man.
"I'm Jacob" he told her kindly, "I'm your Fairy Godbrother". Looking at him with a puzzled expression, she tried not to laugh at his words, for there was no such thing as magic and fairies. "I know you doubt me Cinderbella" he soothed, "But I have watched you all my life, desperate to help but unable to, until tonight". Standing up, Jacob pulled her to her feet, examining her appearance with a critical eye.
"Why do you want to help me?" Bella asked softly, looking down at her feet as she felt his critical eyes scan over her, "I am nothing but a poor serving girl. I don't deserve help from anyone".
"Nonsense sweet girl" Jacob chided, an indulgent smile on his face, "No one is supposed to serve another. Least of all you. Your heart is kind Cinderbella, and you never think badly of those who hurt you. There is no one more deserving or worthy of the help I am going to give you". Touching her shoulder lightly, he cast a spell, transforming the pitiful rags she was wearing into a beautiful red ball gown, with black and gold rose detailing. As the spell progressed, Bella's long hair, began to twist and curl into a beautiful braid, with roses threaded within it.
"Oh my" she gasped softly, taking in her beautiful appearance in an awed silence. She could not remember ever wearing something so beautiful before, and didn't know what to say in thanks.
"You shall go to the ball Cinderbella" Jacob chuckled, watching her awed expression with a smile, "But there are some rules. Firstly you must not remove your mask or gloves until the end of each night, don't ask me why, just understand that it is important they remain in place throughout the balls. Secondly, you must be home before the last stroke of midnight. That is when my spell will end, I can not make my magic last any longer."
Nodding happily, she accepted the red, elbow length gloves and black and red mask, putting them on and completing her look. "Thank you" she sighed softly, once again looking at her appearance and feeling like a beautiful lady for the first time in her short life.
"Do not thank me" Jacob told her softly, "It is your kindness and love for others which has enabled my magic. I shall return tomorrow evening, once your stepfather and sisters have left. My carriage is waiting for you outside Cinderbella, just remember the rules. I will see you tomorrow, my beautiful girl!" With a slight push, Jacob sent Bella on her way to the first ball.
The carriage moved quickly through the dark, carrying Bella swiftly to the palace which was within the woods on the outskirts of the town. As the carriage pulled up outside the main entrance, Bella was enthralled by the beautiful lights and the sound of music emanating from within. Accepting the hand a footman offered her, she climbed out of the carriage, and ascended the stairs into the palace. Stepping into the ballroom, she moved slowly through the crowds, not noticing the eyes of the other guests following her as she passed them.
As Bella reached a doorway, leading out into the garden, a silence fell over the crowd. Following the gazes of those around her, she saw the royal family entering the room. At the front was King Carlisle and his beautiful wife, Queen Esme. Behind them was the Crowned Prince, Edward and his princess, Alice. Then came Prince Emmett and his heavily pregnant wife, Lady Rosalie. Finally their was a breathtakingly handsome young man, who could only be Prince Jasper.
Bella felt her breath catch at how stunningly beautiful they were. Turning swiftly she stepped out into the garden, unable to bare looking at their perfection any longer. A pain took over her as she thought about the young prince. She had no right to be here, no matter what the letter and Jacob said. She was just a serving girl, destined to serve all her life, how dare she even look upon the Royal family as if she were some equal.
"Why are you alone fair maid?" a soft voice asked from the doorway, pulling Bella out of her self hatred just as it was beginning. Gently the speaker took Bella's gloved hand and turning her slowly to meet his gaze.
"My prince" she gasped, curtsying neatly when she realized it was in fact prince Jasper who had spoken to her, "I needed some air my lord". Lowering her gaze, she remained shy and subservient, her stepfather and stepsisters' words ringing in her ears.
"Then I shall join you" he replied softly, placing a hand under her chin and raising her face until their eyes met once more.
"But won't your subjects question your absence my lord" she murmured, feeling as if she was sinking within his crystal blue eyes.
"I am the Prince, I can please myself. Let them worry" he told her with a chuckle, leading her slowly over to a small bench and sitting beside her. Once again Bella drew her gaze away from him, feeling unworthy by his attention. "May I have a name and a face to place with your beautiful voice?" he asked softly, reaching out and tilting her face back to meet his eyes.
"My lord" she began softly, trying to form an answer in her mind, "I have many names, and my face is a mystery left for you to wonder". Once again she shied away from his touch, standing and walking away from the bench.
"Don't tease me" he cried, jumping up and cutting off her retreat swiftly, "I see you are shy, and will honour your wish to keep your name hidden from me, for now. But I must see your face. Show me it or I will force your mask!" Backing away from him slowly, she found herself smiling softly at his words.
"I beg you my lord not to" she responded softly, "For it is tradition that my face should remain hidden until midnight on the third night. Please, My prince, wait". The prince took her hand, trying to stop her from shying away from him.
"I will not force you tonight sweet mystery, but tomorrow" he told her softly, "You must show me tomorrow, and then your secret will be mine alone to keep".
"Please my lord" she begged, meeting his eyes in a silent plea, "If you can wait till tomorrow, then surely you can wait till the third night". Sighing deeply, the Prince knew he could not deny her. Her eyes had bewitched him too deeply.
"I shall heed your pleas" he agreed, "On the third night we shall meet out here again and I shall finally see you. But until then, please give me something so I know you are real. Your name? Your family name? Where you come from? Anything to give me peace until the night you remove your mask". Smiling softly up at him, she contemplated his pleas. He had honoured hers, so Bella knew she had to give him something. Reaching back, she pulled a rose out of her braid and handed it to him.
Smiling once more at him, Bella slipped from him without a single goodbye, and ran out of the palace and back into her carriage. The Prince did not follow her, as he knew that he would see her once again tomorrow. Smiling down at the flower she had given him, he placed it within his button hole before turning back to the ball. In the doorway stood his mother, a loving smile on her face.
Once Bella reached the house, she rushed inside, noticing her fabulous dress melting away and returning to the foul rags it had previously been. As she entered the kitchen, everything from her outfit vanished, except from the beautiful mask, and a single rose which had been beside the one she had given the prince. Removing them carefully, she placed them beside her mothers poetry book within her sewing box, and sat beside the fire to wait her stepsisters and stepfather's return.
The following day, Bella once again worked hard, cleaning the chimneys, scrubbing the floors, cooking meals, and altering her sisters ball gowns. As she worked, she listened to her sisters complaining about the beautiful girl who had monopolised Prince Jasper's attention for the majority of the night, and the mystery surrounding this girl.
"Are you not attending the ball this evening Cinderbella?" her stepfather asked her an hour before they were due to leave, "You have completed all your chores today, so it is only fair you are given the chance to join us...not that you could ever look as beautiful as my daughters".
"No, stepfather" Bella responded softly, smiling up at him "I think it would be wiser for me to remain here again tonight, after all I didn't attend last night so would not be expected to attend tonight". Her stepfather paused in his reply, seeming surprised that she was not pushing her right to attend.
"Very good thinking" he finally agreed, "It is right you don't attend, after all the royals would never want to look at a nothing like you". With that said, he swept out of the room, leaving Bella to smile at how wrong her father was.
Taking a shower, she waited for the time when they would leave, and Jacob would arrive to give her another magical evening at the ball. Once more she sat beside the fire, drying her hair and humming softly to herself.
"You seem happier" chuckled the familiar voice of Jacob, mere seconds after the carriage carrying Bella's Step family had left. Looking up, she smiled gently at him, thankful he was once again here. "Prince Jasper has done wonders for you" he commented, looking her over critically once more, "Now what should you wear today". Beckoning her to stand, he once more cast a spell over her appearance. This time her dress was green, with white and black leaf detailing.
Her hair moved up, turning into tight ringlets, pinned around her crown with silver leaf pins.
"Thank you Jacob" she said softly, as she accepted a long pair of forest green gloves and a black mask shaped as a leaf, from him, "You have made me so happy, and my simple life seem so much more special". Without thinking, she reached out and hugged Jacob in thanks, before pulling away and pulling her gloves on.
"You're welcome pretty girl" he chuckled, blushing slightly at her hug, "Now go. And remember the rules!". With a gentle push, she left the house and once again jumped into his carriage. As she approached the palace, she placed her mask firmly upon her face wondering whether the Prince would once again talk to her.
Ascending the palace steps, she once again entered the ballroom, suddenly aware of the whispered comments and slight silence her entrance had caused. Feeling her cheeks heat up, she paused in her movements trying to decide whether to continue into the ballroom or to turn and leave. Looking over the crowd, she suddenly saw the sneering faces of her stepsisters and stepfather, staring at her with pure hatred. Making her mind up, she turned to flee, only to find Queen Esme before her.
"Walk with me?" she cooed softly, although Bella felt it to be more of an order than request seeing as who uttered it.
"Of course my Queen" Bella responded, curtsying quickly before the queen linked arms with her and led her down the stairs and through the crowds to the buffet table. She felt all eyes on her as she walked with the queen, but was acutely aware of one set, belonging to Prince Jasper.
"You look very pretty this evening" Esme commented softly, smiling down at her in an almost motherly fashion, "Even more stunning than last night, and I fear last night you out shone every other young lady with your beauty". Blushing crimson, Bella looked down at her feet unsure of how to react to such praise. "He said you were shy" Esme chuckled softly, "I can see exactly why he has...Oh, Jasper darling". Looking up quickly, Bella was met by the smiling face of the young prince as he joined his mother by her side.
"Mother" he greeted with a slight bow, before turning to look at Bella with a smile.
"Oh what a lovely tune" Esme exclaimed happily, "If only I was younger, I would be on the dance floor, although maybe I may still get a dance". With an almost child like giggle, she gazed around the ballroom until her eyes fell on her husband. "It was a pleasure to meet you" she said softly, turning back to Bella with a smile, "I shall let you youngsters enjoy your evening, whilst I go and enjoy mine". With that she turned and made her way back to her husbands side and began whispering to him.
"I do hope my mother behaved herself" Jasper murmured softly, moving closer to Bella's side as he spoke, "She can be very curious where my brothers, sisters-in-law, and I am involved". Smiling shyly Bella dropped her gaze, feeling once more over whelmed and unworthy of the prince's attention. "May we dance shy girl?" he asked her softly, placing a finger below her chin so he could look into her eyes once again.
"Of course my prince" she responded instantly in an airy voice. At her words, Jasper pulled her closer to him, escorting her to the dance floor before placing his arms around her and beginning to lead her gracefully around the floor. They danced in silence for a while, enjoying each others company and not noticing the curious and jealous looks they were receiving.
As the music tapered off, and the musicians began to prepare to play another tune, Jasper took Bella's hand, and led her over to the doors leading to the garden. As they were about to step out, Bella felt a foot flick out of the crowd, tripping her, before vanishing back into the crowd. As she fell, Bella put her hands out to break the fall, landing hard on the right wrist and twisting it.
"Are you hurt?" Jasper instantly asked, leaning down to help her back up, his eyes flicking between her face and scanning the crowd for the offending individual.
"No my Prince, I am fine" Bella lied, looking at the ground and shrinking into herself a little, like a timid animal. Prince Jasper kept his eyes on Bella, certain she was lying, but unsure how to aid her without her shying away from him. Wrapping an arm protectively around her, he continued to lead her out into the gardens, hoping being away from the crowds would in some way help her.
"You don't seem fine" he finally said, leading her to the bench they had sat on the previous night, "Let me look at your wrist". As he spoke he caught her injured hand, and reached to take off the glove. Pulling away from him quickly, Bella held her arm protectively against her chest.
"Please don't my lord" she begged softly, "I am fine, honestly". Looking up she met his worried eyes, and for a brief second she was tempted to go against Jacob's rule and allow him to remove her gloves just to dispel any worry he was feeling for her.
"Yet another request" he sighed softly, "I will obey as ever, until midnight tomorrow. Then I will discover all your secrets, My Angel". Blushing at his endearment, she looked away, trying to find something to look at that wasn't the handsome prince beside her. Suddenly her eyes landed on the clock tower. She couldn't help but gasp as she realized she had allowed time to get away from her.
"I'm sorry!" she gasped softly, jumping up from the bench, "But I must return home now". Prince Jasper jumped up after her, catching her good wrist before she could escape from him.
"Please don't go" he begged, "Just ten more minutes outside with me, and then I will escort you personally home". Shaking her head, Bella resisted his words, despite how tempting they were.
"I cannot my Prince" she replied sadly, "Although I wish I could, I must leave now". Breaking free of his grip she ran through the ballroom and outside to the waiting carriage. Just as she was climbing in, he grabbed her hand once more.
"At least give me some promise that I will see you tomorrow" he begged, his eyes filling with tears as he tried to prevent her from leaving his side, "A name, or something so I can think of you until we meet once more". Turning to look at him, she pulled one of the silver leaf pins from her hair, allowing a brunette ringlet to fall before her face.
"Until tomorrow my Prince" she whispered, handing him the pin and closing the carriage door. As the carriage tore off towards her home, she could hear the palace clock chiming midnight. By the time the carriage reached her home, she was in rags once more, a lone hair pin and the pair of forest green gloves, the only reminder of her fine outfit. Entering the kitchen, she hid them beside the mask and flower from the previous night, before taking her seat beside the fire to await her step family's return.
The following morning, when Bella awoke her wrist was throbbing and bruised. Sighing deeply, Bella climbed out of bed and wrapped a scrap of fabric tightly around her injured wrist before beginning her chores for the day. Despite the constant pain from her wrist, Bella couldn't help but hum and sing as she cleaned and cooked. She didn't even listen to her stepsisters jealous discussion about the mysterious girl from the ball. Not even the constantly growing work load could destroy her good mood, although none of the inhabitants of the house saw her smile, far to concerned with their own problems.
Finally the evening came and Bella bid her stepsisters and stepfather off to the ball with eager anticipation. Tonight would be the night she could remove her mask and Prince Jasper could finally see her true identity, although she was rather nervous about revealing who she was, or more exactly what she was.
"Stop worrying" Jacob chuckled, casting a spell over her appearance once more, "Just remember, you are Bella Marie Swan, the kindest girl I have ever met. Nothing else matters".
"How is it you always know what to say?" Bella sighed, smiling over at the man who had quickly become her best friend. He just winked at her before handing her a powder pink mask and fine lace gloves, and indicating she should regard her appearance. Turning towards the mirror, Bella gasped. She had felt that her last two dress had been beautiful, but they were nothing compared to this dress. It was powder pink, the same shade as the mask, and had small diamante crystals sown all over the bodice, and a large sash around the waist a shade darker than the rest of the dress. Bella had never been a huge fan of pink, but this dress was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. Jacob had left her hair down this evening, placing powder pink combs in on the sides to hold it back a little.
"Elven made" Jacob murmured softly, brushing away a tear which had fallen from Bella's eyes, "This dress represents the beauty of your soul, remember that little one. Beauty is a treasure, but graciousness and a kind heart are priceless." Smiling lovingly at her, he Lent over and kissed her lightly on the cheek, before shoeing her to the carriage. "Remember" he called as she climbed in, "you must leave before midnight, no matter what".
Smiling softly, Bella looked out of the window as the palace grew closer. Situating the mask properly on her face just as the carriage pulled up to the step to let her off, she checked her appearance, before stepping carefully from the carriage, a gloved hand taking her own as she was helped out. Looking up, she was surprised to be met by the smiling face of Prince Emmett.
"We meet at last" he chuckled, linking his arm with her own, and leading her into the palace and straight onto the dance floor. Slowly they began to move to the music, Bella completely thrown by the speed and determination Prince Emmett had used to get her onto the dance floor with him. "Tell me a little about yourself" he whispered beside her ear as he moved her over the dance floor, with a little less grace than Jasper had the previous day.
"What would you like to know my Prince?" she asked softly, unsure on what to share with Jasper's brother, especially seeing as she had shared so little with Jasper.
"Do you have a family?" he asked instantly, gazing down into her eyes curiously, "And please call me Emmett". Looking at her feet, she tried to concentrate on dancing instead of wondering if he would tell her to call him by his first name if he knew who and what she was.
"I live with my stepfather and his two daughters" she informed him softly, her mouth working on automatic.
"No parents?" he asked curiously, ducking down so he could catch her eyes.
"They both died" she murmured softly, tears welling in her eyes as she thought of them and how different her life would be if they were still alive.
"Oh" Emmett murmured softly, seemingly to be unsure of how to handle the situation. Taking a few deep, calming breaths, Bella tried to push the sad memories away.
"Emmett, what have you done you big lug" giggled a feminine voice, and a second later both Princess Alice and Lady Rosalie were by their side. Alice placed a reassuring hand upon her arm, whilst Rosalie just stared coldly at her husband.
"I told you to behave" she stated calmly, keeping her eyes locked on her husband. Beside her, Bella heard Alice giggle again, obviously enjoying the discomfort of her brother-in-law.
"I'm sorry" he murmured softly, looking up and meeting his wife's eyes before turning to gaze into Bella's, "I didn't mean to upset you mam, I was just curious about the girl who has stolen Jasper's ..." He didn't get a chance to finish his sentence as Rosalie smacked him around the head, before pulling him away to dance with her.
"He's a big lug" Princess Alice laughed happily, "But he means no harm. He's probably really upset now because he thinks he's upset you". Turning slightly, she looked at Bella critically, seeming to be assessing her. Unlike most of the royals, Alice was petite, about the same height as Bella, making it easy for her to meet Bella's shy gaze.
"Princess" Bella greeted softly, curtseying politely, trying to ease the tension she felt at being assessed so deeply by Jasper's siblings.
"So you're the mystery girl who has got Jasper so worked up" Alice finally said, breaking into an award winningly bright smile, "He is desperate to sweep in and rescue you, you know. It is taking every trick Edward knows to stop him". Giggling again, she gazed adoringly over at her husband before looking back at Bella. "I know we are going to be great friends" she stated suddenly, "I just know we are destined to be best friends". Just as Bella was about to question how Alice could be so certain, she felt a familiar hand take her own, pulling her away from Princess Alice, and into Jasper's embrace.
"I couldn't wait any longer" he told her softly, swaying slowly as he lead her towards the doors which led to the garden, "I must know who you are, know who it is I adore so". Smiling up at him, Bella nodded slowly, knowing she could finally reveal her face to him. As they reached the doorway though, they were stopped by King Carlisle.
"May I have a chance to meet this enchanting young lady?" he asked, raising an eyebrow at his son, before offering Bella his arm.
"Your Majesty" Bella greeted with a curtsy, taking his arm and allowing him to lead her onto the dance floor. As they began dancing, she couldn't help but gaze over at Jasper who was still stood beside the door, looking rather annoyed that he was once again being delayed in discovering his loves true identity.
"You have been intriguing all of us" Carlisle said softly, drawing her gaze away from Jasper once again, "The entire family are eager to discover who you are my dear, for we know you are not one of the local noble girls". Bella's breath caught at this. She hadn't thought that the royal family may already know that she was not of a high class, she had just assumed that none of them would want to associate with her if they knew she was not a noble. "You are local though" Carlisle chuckled, regarding her expression, "And from the guilt in your eyes, I would guess that you still question whether you belong at this ball, despite the entire kingdom being invited. So, for some reason you think you are not good enough to be here. Interesting". They continued to dance in silence for some time whilst Carlisle thought over his latest discovery and Bella wondered if her Stepfather was wrong when he said that the royals would hate her if they knew who she really was. Finally the song came to an end and Carlisle released her. "I think I have tortured him enough" he chuckled, "Go to him so he can smile again".
Carlisle moved away from Bella, leaving her alone in the middle of the dance floor. Turning back towards the doors, she saw Jasper making his way swiftly towards her, a relieved smile on his face as he reached her.
"I don't think my family are going to leave you alone this evening" he chuckled, once again pulling her into his arms, "Some would think they don't want me to discover your identity, although I know they are all as curious as I am".
"Shall we step outside then?" Bella asked softly, looking up at him under her eyelashes, "So I can keep my promise and you may see the girl behind the mystery?" Grinning widely, Jasper took her arm, and once again led her out of the crowds.
"May I at least ask your name?" he breathed softly, as they reached the edge of the crowd, close to the entrance to the ballroom, "So I have something to call you until we get outside". Smiling shyly, Bella bit her lip, before nodding, and looking up at him.
"My name is" she began, only to be interrupted by Emmett and Edward calling Jasper's name, the rest of his family close behind them.
"I'm sorry" he sighed, letting her arm go and turning towards his family. Smiling softly to herself, Bella couldn't help but watch Jasper with a loving gaze as he spoke with his family a few paces from where she stood. Nothing could destroy how happy she currently felt, nothing except...The first chime of the palace clock pulled Bella from her euphoria. Looking at a large clock close to the door, she realized her mistake. Turning quickly, she sprinted out of the ballroom, thankful she was so close to the doors. Pushing through them she ran down the steps, feeling one of her glass slippers slip off her feet as Jasper's voice called for her to wait. She didn't even pause to collect the lost slipper, too desperate to escape before the final chime of midnight. Diving into the carriage, it moved away just as Jasper reached it. His hand knocked against the window, but she was away before he could stop her.
Looking out of the carriage window, she found herself crying as she thought of how close to happiness she had come. She didn't even notice her dress return to rags, too deep was her distress. Once she reached the house, she jumped out of the carriage, knowing this was the last time she would travel in it, and discovered that her single glass slipper remained to remind her of the lovely final ball. Slinking into the kitchen, she placed the slipper with the other mementos of the balls, within her sewing basket, before sitting by the fire, crying into the cinders until she eventually fell asleep.
Back at the palace, prince Jasper was inconsolable. He had been so close to finally discovering who the woman he had planned to marry was and it had been snatched away from him by the stupid chimes of the clock. The only things to prove she had been real were the rose and hair pin she had given him, and the dainty glass slipper which had slipped from her foot as she fled. He had lost her and knew he could not rest until she had been found again.
"We can search for her" Edward stated softly, sat by Jasper's side as he gazed brokenheartedly at the beautiful shoe he was holding, "There can't be many single girls of her age within the kingdom, we will just look until we find her". Shaking his head, Jasper sighed, knowing it would be almost impossible. The kingdom was large and although he doubted she had travelled to far for the ball, he knew there would be too many girls to check.
"It is too wide a search parameter" Jasper murmured sadly, there would be hundreds of ladies to check.
"We could narrow the search" Emmett suggested quietly, seeming reluctant to add anything in case he upset his brother more, "We know her parents are dead and she lives with her stepfather and two stepsisters". Looking up slowly, Jasper couldn't help but feel a spark of hope at Emmett's words. "And you know the party invites were only sent out to members of the kingdom who live within an hours travel" Emmett continued, feeling confidence as he saw his brothers reaction, "There aren't many towns and villages that close, I'm sure."
"We could check the census" he murmured quietly, "and maybe the records of second marriages, cross reference them or something." His two brothers both agreed eagerly, glad to see a little hope within their brother's eyes once more. "Now?" he asked quietly, his eyes flicking between his brothers expecting them to deny him due to the late hour.
"Sure" Edward chuckled, smiling at his brother.
When Bella woke the following morning, it was to acute misery. What a difference twenty four hours could make. She did her morning chores in an almost trance like state, not wanting to think lest she remember the reason for her emotional pain. By mid-afternoon she had finished all her chores for the day, leaving her with nothing to do but sit by the fire and think.
"It's not fair" she murmured softly, tears once again beginning to roll down her face, "Surely I deserve happiness". Scrubbing her eyes, she tried to scold herself for thinking so badly of her life, but no matter what she tried, she could not think of any blessings any longer. "At least I have the memories" she finally sighed softly, opening her sewing basket and pulling out the glass slipper she had worn the previous night, "I'm sure the pain will fade eventually and then I can remember all that happened with a smile". Running a finger over the delegate glass, she sighed once more before a commotion from the entrance hall could be heard. Unlike most commotions Bella had heard throughout her sad life, this one was angry and didn't sound like it included her stepsisters. If she wasn't mistaken, she could hear at least three male voices raised in anger, one meeker than the other two, but still angry. Slipping the glass slipper into the pocket of her apron, she pulled her hair back into a loose braid before going to investigate the ongoing argument.
As she reached the door leading to the entrance hall, she felt her heart flutter and a gasp leave her lips. In the hall stood her stepfather and the three princes, Prince Jasper in the middle of his brothers, and they were all shouting at each other. The only one who seemed to have managed to keep a hold on his anger, even slightly, was Prince Edward, the future king. Although seeming as furious as his brothers, he was containing himself in a more regal manner, gazing around the entrance hall and restraining his brothers. Bella was about to return to the kitchen, when the argument reached her ears.
"She was left in your care because her mother trusted you to love and care for her" Emmett growled, looking like a furious bear as he towered over Bella's stepfather, "Yet you abused your power, advancing your daughters in the world, whilst denying the girl who should have been like another daughter to you".
"It was not my responsibility to give something which doesn't even share my blood a home" her stepfather replied in a meeker tone, "She is lucky I didn't just turn her out on the street when her mother died, it's more than the ungrateful creature deserved".
"She is your stepdaughter" Jasper spat, "It doesn't matter if she shares your blood, she deserved your love and protection if not for her own sake, then for her mothers".
"I didn't agree to love her when I married her mother" her stepfather defended, "She was just an unwanted addition". From where she was stood Bella could hear Emmett's growl of anger.
"Enough" ordered Prince Edward firmly, preventing any more argument, "Please call the girl so we may determine if she is the maid we are searching for". Bella's stepfather faltered a little, unsure of what to do. Although he was honour bound by his status to obey the orders of the crowned prince, he did not want the child he despised so much to have the advantages of meeting three members of the royal family. Finally he turned towards the door where Bella was stood and moved to fetch her.
Seeing his approach towards her, Bella slipped back down the stairs, returning to her usual seat by the fire as he stepped into the kitchen. Looking up at him as if surprised by his arrival, Bella was terrified by the look of pure rage mixed with hatred which marred his face.
"Come girl" he spat angrily at her, sneering as he spoke, "We have royal guests who insist on meeting you". Grabbing her injured wrist strongly, he pulled her out of the seat, dragging her up the staircase, to the entrance hall. Upon reaching the hall he released her arm, before turning back to the princes. "I have brought her as you requested my lords" he simpered, bowing slightly, before shoving her towards them. Looking at her feet, she curtsied to the princes in greeting, ensuring she did not raise her gaze.
"Are you Bella Swan?" Prince Edward asked her kindly, moving to stand before her as he spoke.
"I am my Lord" she responded softly, trying to avoid looking up at Jasper as he too moved closer to her. As she spoke she heard him gasp, recognizing her voice from the three evenings they had spent together. If she had looked up, she would of seen Edward silencing his brother with a look, before turning back to her.
"And did you attend the balls at the palace these last three nights?" he asked softly, a smile beginning to lace his voice as he spoke.
"She did not" her stepfather spat out, "She remained in the kitchen whilst my daughters and I attended". Once again Emmett growled at him, silencing her stepfather's outburst.
"I was not talking to you Lord Dyer" Edward barked, before he turned back to Bella and speaking in a kinder voice to her, "Were you at the balls?"
"I was my lord" she responded, feeling like giggling as she revealed she had fooled her stepfather. From beside her, she could hear Emmett chuckling quietly to himself, seeming very pleased by her answer.
"Good" Edward breathed, his smile reaching his voice fully now, "Now, would you be so kind as to try a shoe for us so we may ensure your identity completely?" Glancing up slightly, she saw her missing glass slipper being held out for her to try.
"I will my lord" she responded softly. Moving to a nearby chair, she sat down, surprised to see Jasper fall to his knees before her and take her foot into his hands. Watching silently, she fought a battle with herself whether to watch Jasper's handsome face or his actions as he slipped the slipper slowly onto her foot. The slipper very easily slipped onto her foot, fitting as if it was made of wax especially for her foot.
"That shoe could ha fit anyone" her stepfather cried sounding furious, "Why I am sure it would fit both of my daughters better than it could ever fit that little kitchen slave". The next second, Emmett had signalled the guards who had travelled with them to arrest Bella's stepfather and take him away so none of them would have to endure his cruel words any longer.
"Is it really you?" Jasper asked softly, cupping her face in his hands and smiling adoringly at her.
"Does this answer your question" she responded quietly, pulling the glass slipper from her apron pocket and slipping it on her foot. Smiling even brighter at her, Jasper scooped her up into his arm, spinning her around before lowering her slowly and catching her lips in their first kiss. As they kissed, her rags melted away, transforming into a beautiful day dress, her glass slippers glittering on her feet for all to see.
Bella was taken to the palace with the princes, and a few days later was married to Prince Jasper. Her stepfather was humbled, all his riches and properties taken from him, forcing him to live as a peasant and understand the simpler joys of the world, like kindness. Bella's two stepsisters begged her for forgiveness, and being a kind, loving girl, Bella forgave them completely, finding them properties close to the palace and ensuring they live a comfortable life. A few years later they met some Lords and were married. As for Prince Jasper and Bella, well, they lived happily ever after.
Thank you all for reading, I hope you enjoyed it. If you have the time, I would love a review. Also, let me know if you think I should do a few more Twilight stories based on Fairy Tales?