This is written as a parallel universe to Shannon Hale's Goose Girl. Please understand that the original basis for Lakeside Princess was based off the novel by Shannon Hale as a continuation of an alternate ending. This follows nothing whatsoever with Enna Burning and River Secrets, also by Shannon Hale. (This is my first disclaimer so sorry if I'm rambling :D) Anways, enjoy my twist on the novel and leave comments so I can know how to improve myself in the future! Okee-dokey, have fun!
Chapter One: A Crown Of Feathers
Isi watched with ice in her heart as the king led Geric from the room. Selia's catlike smile made Isi feel as though she might already be inside that barrel of nails, dragged through the streets in disgrace. What would the Queen think of her daughter now, squandering in poverty and about to be publicly executed for telling the truth. Even Geric wouldn't believe her! It was over; Isi was but a lying goose girl. Swallowing back the lump that had risen all too quickly in her throat, she barely listened as Enna and the others tried to console her. The Princess of the Geese, a Lakeside Princess, and her crown? Isi saw herself with a crown of feathers, like a swan's, and was suddenly reminded of a folktale her aunt had spoken of from the very north of the globe.
"And, uh, Goose Girl," said Geric tonelesly, "forget that barrel of nails. Just go back to the ponds and never return to the palace. Bring your friends with you as well." His lethargic tone made Isi cringe back more from worry than fear. It was as though something just died inside him. How did he know that she was thinking about the nails? Relax, Isi, its obvious... He's not meant for you or anything. He's going to marry Selia and they'll have a beautiiful family together and I will stand on the sidelines and watch him fall in love with someone else. It's okay... Conrad at least likes my hair. Ew, no, never mind, he's creepy about it. Walk away...
It was then that Isi realized that Geric was just staring at her as she ranted to herself under her breath. Turning away, she let Razo take her arm. It was little comfort, but at least Talone was there to call her Princess. But, as she turned, Isi could swear she saw something like sympathy flash in Geric's eyes.
The smell of fragrant hair oil warned Isi and Talone of Selia's approach before they heard her heels clicking closer to them. Gritting her teeth, the true princess turned slowly, practically able to sense the protectiveness emanating from her companions. At least, Isi thought to herself, I have my friends.
"Just stay away like the prince said, alright, Goose Girl? After all, you don't really have a name anymore, do you? Poor, ungainly Ani, who never knew what it was to be a true lady. There's a reason they believe me over you."
Geric lay awake in bed, unable to sleep. Images of Isi's face flashed through his mind. He knew he should believe Anidori, but. That was just it! There was always something unnerving about Anidori, something that made you hesitate with that one little word: but. No, she was about to be his wife, he should trust her. Of course she was the Princess, why wouldn't she be? She was poised and perfect and... everything he was glad that Isi wasn't.
Oh, God. I've fallen in love with a woman other than my fiance. That's just great. These were the extent of Geric's thoughts that night, for his mind kept moving in pointless circles. Obviously this was going to be hard to hide from the Princess, and she wasn't exactly as lovely when she was unhappy. Yes, she was still beautiful, but there was something almost feral about her, like a cat on the search for prey.
The next morning, Geric was exhausted. The prince barely managed to deal with half of that day, let alone Anidori's ministrations for the postponed wedding. It made her horribly livid that Isi had interrrupted their plans to be married. The wedding would now take place next Saturday. He had eight days to be in love with Isi.
After lunch, Geric was so tired of everyone that he retreated to the gardens behind the summer home where he hoped none would find him. Cradling his head in his hands, he let the wind blow his hair. If he listened, he could almost imagine that there were words in the broken howling.
All it seemed to really remind him of was Isi, who used to stop and listen to the wind as though they were having quite the interesting conversation. And Conrad, the Goose Boy, would look on, orange cap held to his head. He remembered that one glance of the Goose Girl's bruised leg, how long and pale it had been. The thought made his heart clench with longing for his lovely goosekeeper. Well, after how he had treated her for Anidori, he'd be lucky if he even was thought of by her to be spit upon. Oh, but Geric knew he deserved worse than that. For somewhere, deep in his heart, he knew who the true yellow-haired princess was.
Isi walked out to the lakes in the early morning, loving the familiar feel of the wind on her shoulders. They greeted each other as old friends might, and the face of Falada stared down at her as she crossed under his gate. As usual, the word Princess whispered in her ears as she remembered his voice again.
Quickly wiping away the tears brought to her eyes at the though of her beloved steed, Isi straightened her hat and set out to meet her mischievous geese once again. Jok bit her ankle, and made a short series of noises indicating his irritation with her. Laughing, the goose girl pushed him back with her crook, and sat with her back to the tree. It always was nice to let down her hair. The long, pale strands blew in the wind carelessly, whipping around her head sharply.
Not unexpectedly, she saw Conrad standing irritably off to the side, clutching his cap and staring at her hair. But, quite unusually, he smiled as she met his gaze, instaed of his ususal boyish glower. That was nice, Isi supposed, as she watched the river make its way through the lush grass of the king's pastures. Thank god that they had not placed her in that awful barrel and dragged her through the streets of Bayern.
The thought of her lost love stung, and she had a moment of unease. Ignoring the knotting feeling that was growing in her stomach at the very notion of Selia marrying Geric, she shooed a goose away from the hem of her slightly tattered orange and yellow dress. Affectionately, she scolded her flock and leaned forward to stretch her back out. The setting sun alerted her to the late hour, and she gathered up her feathery companions to place them back in their pen until tomorrow. Jok, slow and grumpy as usual, honked at her in his coarse voice until she walked away.
It was odd for Isi to be able to let down her hair in front of the other workers. The only ones who really stared were Conrad, which she was used to, and Razo, who was promptly distracted by Bettin's conversation with Enna.
The normalcy almost hurt more than the thought of Geric, as though this whole thing had been forgotten. Isi couldn't help but tell Enna about her Lakeside Princess thoughts, for she must hear someone else tell the story for once.
And so she had. Enna was a beautiful storyteller, as Isi had found out previously from Finn on marketday in the square. She couldn't help but remember what she had said to the workers that one evening by the fire, that learning strange stories made it easier to believe when strange things happened. It may have proved true for the others, but not for her. Isi was still in shock over what had happened at the king's summer home, that Selia had won! Her name, her title, her prince...
Now was no time for wistfulness. She was still alive and back with her friends and geese again and that's all that matters. However, the matter-of-fact tone that Isi used with herself shattered at the torn memories of the time she had spent with Geric as the Goose Girl. How he had mistaken her for a lady, when he had revisited her in the goose pastures, how he had not been afraid of her ability with birds, what that note from him had done to her. It was all too dramatic for the simple-solutions-preferring princess.
"Attention, fine lords and ladies of the Court of Animal Keepers, a hand," said Enna, winking impishly at Isi, "Please show your gratitude to the Lakeside Princess of Bayern, who taught us all to be just a little braver!" The thumping sound of forks and fists on the rickety table made Isi smile and brought tears to her eyes all at the same time. Enna came around the back of her chair and produced from her voluminous pockets a crown of goose feathers. Placing it in her long, tangled hair, Isi hugged each of them until her ribs were sore and tears rolled all the way to the hem of her dress.
"O, what a lovely Yella' Lady she is; pummeling evil with her pale fist; Feather's for crown; none will bring her down; the Yella' Lady's never to frown!" Razo sang off-key and loudly, and Conrad joined in for the second chorus. And so it came to be that Princess Anidori Kiladra, the true Yellow Lady, came to be the Lakeside Princess.