AN: I've come to discover, almost loosing my docs on the site, that it has been 55+ days since I've last updated any story on FF again and I've come to fix that. Though to be honest, this isn't an update, but rather a new story. As for people who read these ans and follow my other stories, don't worry, I know I say this often, but I am trying to work on the ones you want me to update, it's just been... slow, and I've been really busy. So consider this your Christmas/New Years' gift until I can give you the present you've all been waiting on!


Under The Rags

08/18/04 (1st draft)

7/19/09 (Somewhat Edit)

01/04/12 (Complete Overhaul)

By Rakusa

Summary: Charles D'arte has died leaving his daughter Serena in the hands of his wife and her two children. Years after his death, the kingdom he loved so well has lost its King and the fate of the young Prince remains uncertain.

AN: As the dates above could probably tell you, this is not the original idea. It is strongly based on it, and every time I listen to Impossible I am reminded of it, and encouraged to start anew. This story is not based on that movie, but based on every version of Cinderella out there, or at least that I've seen. I have an idea to work on a story that is a mix of all of the Grimm stories, or at least a few of them, but I will refrain myself from it. There has been too much of that in recent years between the TV and some of my favorite authors of FF. So I shall contain it to just the one fairytale. I hope in your mind, this story isn't too much of a cliché. Now, let me introduce you to Serena D'arte.


Prologue

Serena took a large breath and stepped out from behind the pillar. To most she was just another girl in the long line of girls streaming out in fancy ballgowns and their hair done-up and wearing uncomfortable shoes. To most, that would be the truth. In fact, she wasn't the only girl to come out with the same last name. There were three. She was exactly the same to all eyes, except one male pair.

It was those eyes that looked upon her proudly and expectantly and it was those eyes she locked onto. She wanted to make the owner of those eyes exceptionally proud and so she straightened and did the best she could under the circumstances. A smile graced his lips as she curtsied and straightened without falling flat onto her face, not even a wobble.

She was proud of herself and the smile made her light up more than she usually did. It was then though, that she got a 'mistake' thrown into her side. She grunted lightly and glared up at her older 'sister' but the girl was looking away and smiling pleasantly into the crowd.

The royal family was making their way down the line and you could virtually see every girl just before they reached, stand up straighter, and try to make themselves seem taller and skinnier. Serena ducked her head out slightly so she could get a better look at the family. The man was tall and broad, he had graying hair that had once been auburn and a full beard. His eyes were a wonderful blue, if you could peer close enough to see them with all the hair that was on his face. The woman was dark skinned and haired, she had come from Spain and it was obvious in even her dress, if you'd discard her physical appearance altogether. Her hair was the darkest thing Serena had ever seen before and her eyes were almost just as dark.

There was only one child, and Serena could attest to how it felt, but the reasons keeping her alone were not the same as this child's. He was older than her, she could tell that without having a history lesson every day, but he wasn't too much so. His parents were both still alive and healthy, why was it that they'd leave such a delicate thing such as ruler-ship to only one heir? God-forbid it, but an entire arsenal of issues could befall the boy, making him unfit to become king. The most forgiving of which, would be death.

She was pondering the effects of the future were something to happen him, not even giving the boy himself much of her notice, when they arrived upon her and her siblings. "Baronessa de Inverno's two daughters, now under Count D'arte's protection-." Luckily she was last in this introduction and so she copied all that she saw before her, or at least the standing straight bit. The words so close had surprised her, and she caught a slight laughter stifled by the boy. He was looking passed her though, and she couldn't be sure if he was laughing at her or something further down the way. He also looked incredibly bored and she was trying to catch his eye, not because she wanted him fawning over her like all the other girls, but because she was curious to see if there was intelligence there or if he was too pampered to think. "Then this is also the daughter of Count D'arte and his late wife, Serenity D'arte."

Serena's attention swung back to the Royal couple and she curtsied again, bowing her head as she did so, but she missed the second of appraisal that the boy cast upon her as well before returning his attention elsewhere. The Queen bowed her head in acceptance, and the King leaned forward, his mouth by Serena's ear, it was unprecedented, or at least so far in the line of girls that had greeted the family. He whispered something that Serena would always cherish. "Your family has always been there for me, I not only want to thank them for their services, but if you shall ever need anything, I am yours to fulfill it." Then he walked off, onto the next girl and Serena stared after the family in wonder.

Altogether too much time later, the music started up and young men started streaming through the crowd, to sweep the girls off into a dance. They had their own rituals and presentation to court, this was the girls'. A song later, and Serena's escort was being parted from her and she smiled at her old friend as he disappeared into the wings for when his service was necessary again.

The one that replaced him was the one that Serena had been hoping would all night. She smiled up into laughing blue eyes and held close. "You did wonderful." He was saying down to her and she turned slightly red. He lifted her up and her feet were upon his and he was guiding her across the dance floor. "I couldn't be prouder. Just so you know, right now, in my eyes, you are perfect. Alas, that is untrue, you are always perfect."

The slightly turned into full blown but she looked directly into his eyes and let him know how that pleased her. "Thanks papa!" She threw caution to the wind and hugged him tightly, it caused a slight misstep and some of the other dancers fumbled, but they were all trained well enough that it was only a slight snag to the evening's dance.

Two dances later, he set her back on her feet, gestured for the boy to come back, dropped a kiss onto her head and whirled her 'sisters' into one dance each before returning to his wife. They danced only a few together, before she decided to sit out the rest. The prince was making his rounds and doing his duty of dancing with each girl, not in regards of searching out a future wife, but rather this dance was to ensure loyalty and favor, for one day he would be King. However, Serena and her friend kept slipping by him and only a few short dances into the night, scandal ensured as the prince had disappeared with one of the girls.

"Too bad it wasn't me." Ann complained, rubbing at her ankles on the ride home.

"Antonia!" Serena's stepmother, Esmeraude Inverno-D'arte, scolded for her daughter's outburst.

"Esme." Charles tried to soothe, it hadn't been that big of a deal to him what his youngest step-child had said.

"No, Charles, Antonia and Beryl need to know this." Serena ignored the fact that she didn't need to know this, but it was so rare that Esme taught the girls anything, that Serena couldn't help but listen. "It is one thing to win the prince's favor, it is quite another to allow yourself to be embedded in scandal. That girl's prospects for the future have vastly diminished now. The prince wont marry her, she came to him too easily and everyone else will always wonder how far they truly went while they were out of the public's eye. You shall always have someone nearby that can attest to your chastity while you are with a male. When one of you manages to snag the prince as your husband, that will unfortunately not change."

"She's saying its better not to marry a prince, for then you can have some private time with your husband." Serena couldn't help but laugh at the notion. "I for one, will not be marrying a prince."

Charles laughed and gathered his daughter to his side. "I'd prefer that just the same."

Esme's eyes darkened at the sight and words. "One of my daughters shall." She promised and her daughters nodded their agreement.

"Give it a rest, my dear, there is plenty of time for that. These girls are barely 15." Beryl was 15, Ann was 13 and Serena was just reaching the age of 13 within the month. Her father promised a grand birthday as she was finally entering her teens. Serena's arms loop around her father's waist and she rested her head against his chest, listening to his strong heartbeat and falling into a doze for the rest of the ride home. The remaining four talked still, but most of it was idle chatter between the females.

Little did she know, or could she know, that this was one of the last nights she'd be able to do this, that her peaceful little accord would be over.


EAN: In case any of you are wondering, my original version didn't start out with a prologue. In fact the beginning was quite different and I think I like this better.