Once upon a time, there lived a family. This family did not live in a small house or a cottage near a river, but rather a large castle, with spires that twisted toward the sky, turrets solid and strong, and a drawbridge that set them safely behind a moat. According to the folk lore, the moat was filled with crocodiles that were fed only once a week, to keep them hungry for trespassers. The royal family of Marcel lived in the heart of this castle, a tiny family of three who loved each other dearly. The King was a wise man named William, who had the best intentions of his people at heart. He kept good relationships with his royal guard, and considered them all to be his closest confidants. However, he once discovered one of his best, a man by the name of Russell Fabray, attempting to steal from the royal treasury. It hurt him to let one of his best men go, but William knew what was best for the kingdom. Russell was angry, and vowed revenge as he was dragged out of the palace. Keep him in mind. He'll return later, I promise. William was often led by his heart, and tried his best to go out as often as possible to see his people and discover their needs. His emotional approach would have often gotten him in trouble, if it wasn't for his wife, Queen Shelby. Shelby was a very practical woman, who, although kind, was stern, and knew that sometimes the mind had to take precedence over the heart. It was by her advice that William let Russell go, and although she knew it hurt her husband to let go of a good knight and a dear friend, she also knew it had to be done. That was the queen's nature: tough and strong-willed. Her soft spot, however, was their daughter Lucy. She was a beautiful child, with golden hair as soft as silk, and eyes as bright as stars. She was their shining beauty, their pride and joy, and the king and queen doted on her as often as they could.

When word got out that the queen was having a baby, celebration rang out through the kingdom. The people of the land were almost as excited as the King and Queen themselves, and many peasants and royals alike came to visit the kingdom, bearing gifts and goodwill towards the queen and the future child. Even King and Queen Hummel of Mila, the rulers of the next kingdom over, came to visit, paying their respects and giving their best wishes that the child would be a healthy one. Along with them was their oldest son, Prince Finn, and their newest child, Prince Kurt, and Queen Shelby and King William were ecstatic to see their old friends again.

The night of the princess's birth, all of the kingdom's doctors were in the birthing room, and at the queen's request, William wasn't. He paced outside anxiously, his only companion his nerves. Hours later, a midwife came out, motioning for the king to come inside. He walked in quickly, moving to the side of his wife, his face softening when he laid eyes on their beautiful baby girl. As she stared up at him, the queen whispered, "Lucy." And so it was. As celebration, the king and queen lit a floating lantern, lifting it up to the sky as a signal to all that everything was well.

Now, in a kingdom such as this one, word spreads quickly. And often, it reaches the outskirts, where a certain man and his wife were living. Now, this man and his wife wanted a child badly. But, his wife was unable to carry children, and it was heartbreaking news for both of them. The man began to get ideas. He plotted. He waited, he bided his time. He bought his wife a house in the kingdom of Mila, and told his wife to wait, for he would be back in seven days. It took three days to reach the kingdom of Marcel, and that was the man's destination. His wife nodded, and the man left, returning to Marcel in the dead of night. He stood in front of the castle and stared up at it, cold blood running through his veins. Now, this man knew his way around this castle. He had spent most of his life inside of it, and he knew its weak points. He had a single goal: revenge.

He knew he had to be silent, and silent he was. He crept through corridors, he snuck down hallways and he slipped through doors until he reached the bedroom he had been searching for. He tiptoed across the room and stood over the crib of the princess.

"Revenge, William, is a delicious thing," he whispered, picking up the child and cradling her close to his chest. Yes, Russell Fabray knew how revenge worked. Told you he'd come back.

Quickly, he ran from the castle, stifling the child's cries with his coat. He ran out of the palace, leapt onto his faithful horse, and rode as quickly as he could back to his wife. He would tell her the child was for her, but it was a lie. He only wanted the child because he knew it was the one thing that would destroy William the most.

And he was right. As morning rose on the castle, the Queen rose from her bed, gentle so as not to wake William, and moved into their daughter's room. It was said her screams could be heard across the kingdom. For days after, all knights and royal guard members scoured the land, searching every inch for the princess. But it was to no avail. She was gone. The Queen fell sick, and try as they might, not a single doctor could find a cure. It was the first record of a human dying of heartbreak.

The king was distraught. He had lost his daughter and his wife, and without them, he was unable to see the beauty in the world. His heart grew hard, and from that day forward, King William was no longer the joyful king, but one with an iron fist and an unhappy heart. Every year, King William released a floating lantern in hopes his child would be returned, but every year, as the lanterns from all over the kingdom consumed the sky with their glow, he lost a little more hope.

However, back at the Fabray estate, Judy was ecstatic. She, like her husband, saw no problem in stealing a child to replace the one they couldn't have. She doted on the child almost as much, if not more, as the princess's true parents did. Russell suggested they change the child's name, so no one would be suspicious. Judy agreed wholeheartedly, and after discovering their daughter reading at the young age of three, they decided on Quinn. It meant wise, and they found it fitting. They kept her in their house, forbidding her departure. Her parents placed her in a back room, so she could never see the lanterns that were lit in her honor, taking careful precautions to erase every bit of her old life from her new one. They hired a private tutor for her to learn, and she became verse in several different subjects. Social skills, however, was not one of them.

Her first interaction with someone other than her tutor or her parents was with a stable boy named Samuel. Quinn was seven, and she sat in her room, re-reading one of the three books located in the large house, her window open to let in the warm spring breeze, when he leapt through said window and landed in front of her with a loud clump. She looked up, took one look at him, and let out a large shriek. His eyes widened and he threw himself at her, clamping his hand over her mouth.

"Will you be quiet? You're going to get me in trouble!" He hissed, and she looked up at him with indignant eyes, conveying her message easily: get off of me. He rolled off of her, watching her warily in case she made another move to shout.

"What do you think you're doing?" She hissed, moving off of the bed and standing by the window. She adjusted her dress before glaring at him. He moved off her bed, standing at the other end, looking back at her.

"One of the stable hands said that they kept a girl locked up here. I came to see if it was true."

"I am not locked up here-" Quinn started, folding her arms across her chest, and he stared at her, raising his eyebrows.

"How come I've never seen you around before, then?" He asked, and she glared at him with pursed lips before rolling her eyes.

"Alright. I'm locked up here. Now go away."

"No way! I just got up here! I'm not leaving, even if you are a dumb girl."

"I'm not dumb! And this is my room, and my house, and I'm telling you to leave, so you have to leave. Hey, what are you doing?" Quinn said, about to stomp her foot when she saw him lean forward and grab the book that had been abandoned when he tackled her to the bed.

"What's this?"

"A book." Quinn replied, watching him carefully. She had never met another person before, and with the way this boy was acting, she wasn't sure she wanted to.

"What do you do with it?"

"You read it." Quinn replied, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

"Oh." Sam said, his face dropping slightly as he stared at the pages. Suddenly, Quinn felt a surge of…something towards the boy, not quite pity but something close. She moved around the bed, taking the book from him and turning it around.

"You were holding it upside down." She told him, a smile tugging at her lips. He frowned, throwing the book on the bed and moving away from her.

"Books are stupid." He muttered.

"You can't read…can you?" Quinn said slowly, realization dawning on her.

"I don't need to read! I'm a stable boy. Reading's for pansies." Sam said, staring out the window angrily. Quinn moved to stand by him again.

"I can teach you." She said quietly. "I'll teach you if you tell me what it's like out there." She said, her gaze moving to the window. She stared out it dreamily for a second, while Sam examined her face.

"You can't tell anyone I'm learning how to read. They'll make fun of me." He said, almost pouting. Quinn smiled.

"I won't tell. I promise."

And so their friendship began. It was slightly dysfunctional, true, seeing as he was all about people and she had no idea how to interact with them, but it worked. They grew up together and learned things about each other, confided in each other, worked with each other. He stole her books and she taught him how to read them. She even tried to kiss him once, after reading countless tales of romance, and he had pushed her away. They were twelve at the time, although his birthday was only a fortnight away, and she stared at him with questions in her eyes. It was then he confessed he wasn't sure he could ever like a girl in the way he was supposed to, and he admitted that he was afraid something was wrong with him. It was the first time he cried in front of a person, and she was quiet for such a long time that he was afraid she would hate him. But she looked at him, and smiled graciously, wiping away his tears. She gave him a hug, and he slowly returned it, and she smiled, pulling back.

"Steal me a new book, please. I've read all of these a thousand times." Quinn said, and he couldn't help but laugh as she smiled sideways at him. It was her way of letting him know that no matter what he did, he was her best friend, and she was his. Her parents weren't fond of the friendship – they often told her that he was beneath her – but Quinn wanted it, and more often than not, Quinn got what she wanted.

Except, of course, an experience in the outside world. That was strictly forbidden. Russell had made it clear that Quinn was never to leave the house. Sam, however, had other plans. And this, my friends, is where our story begins.