Cinderella a la Aquarius Clan
Summary: A retelling of the classic story, with the twists only the Aquarius Clan would be crazy enough to provide. Please leave your sanity at the gates as you come, and leave a review as you go. Oh, and I'm sorry, but I couldn't resist starting it the traditional way.
Once upon a time, in a land some called Hitara and everybody else called a place with really good food, there was a royal family that had a slight set of problems. Well, that's what they would tell everybody else, anyways. In fact, they only had one problem that was truly worth mentioning, and this problem was so critical that the king's doctors were amazed he hadn't had a stroke yet from all the stress caused by it.
The problem was about five feet six inches high, had sparkling bronze eyes, and long hair of the same color that never ceased to amaze the courtiers in how unusually colored it was. Its name was Princess Arianna.
"No! No, no, no, no, no! For the last time, I'm not doing it!" the girl yelled. "Nothing you can say or do will ever make me!"
"But Princess, it's Hitaran Policy!" one of her ladies in waiting, a girl named Fiona, said quietly. "Your parents did so much to set this up for you…"
"I hate him!" the princess replied viciously. "That cooking instructor is an absolutely wretched man! I never learn a thing from him anyways, so why should I even bother going to the lessons!?"
Conversations such as the one currently going on were not at all unusual. In this case, the princess was right because her cooking instructor really was a wretched man and a horrible teacher, but just as often her instructors were excellent and she simply didn't like listening to them.
One of the biggest parts of the problem was the fact that Arianna was unusually good-looking and actually quite smart. It had been proven fairly concretely that whenever she actually bothered to put her mind to a task, she could accomplish it with remarkable efficiency. However, she just didn't care enough to do so.
This may have been what prompted her exhausted parents to send out a call to every place they could reach, begging for people to find the best instructors and send them to Hitara Castle for their daughter. Precisely one week after this call went out, one last teacher entered the castle to speak with the King and Queen.
"You truly believe you can help our daughter?" the King of Hitara asked, gazing at the forty-something man on the floor below him. The man laughed.
"Your Highness, I have solved cases far worse then this one with children far more unruly and dangerous. Rest assured that with my help, she will be asking for more lessons."
"Um… Sir, you may have to wait a bit to start teaching her." Fiona said quietly, looking into the room.
"What do you mean!?" the King roared.
"She's… ah… gone missing." Fiona whispered, wincing in expectation of a blow. She had only recently arrived at Hitara Castle from a lesser noble's house where she had been beaten regularly, and still expected to feel a harsh blow if anything went wrong. She still winced because she was the princess' whipping girl as well.
Fiona nodded meekly.
"That blasted girl… It's trouble, trouble, and more trouble with her." The King groaned. His wife pat his arm gently.
"It's all part of raising a daughter. She'll grow up to be quite strong, I'm sure." The Queen said gently.
Several miles away, Princess Arianna was dressed in riding leathers that she had conned a number of courtiers into getting made for her so she wouldn't be as obvious if she ever snuck out. She was smart, but Arianna did overlook the obvious sometimes, especially seeing as her hair was more then distinctive enough to give her away.
Unless, of course, the person looking at her had never actually seen her before.
"Oy, thief!" a voice yelled. Arianna looked around quickly, trying to see where the thief was. A moment later, an apple flew out of nowhere and hit her so hard that she fell off the horse she had borrowed. As the girl lay on the ground wincing, a frowning boy's face appeared above her. "Just what were you trying to accomplish by stealing Indigo?"
"Do you know who I am!?" Arianna shrieked, scrambling to her feet. The boy shook his head. "I am Princess Arianna Silia Rok Hitara, you dirty peasant! How dare you throw something at me!"
"I don't care who you are." The boy replied coolly. "Indigo is the master's personal horse, and is to be used only with his permission. Even the King himself must ask before taking a person's personal steed, and you should be more aware of that then I am if you really are who you claim to be."
Arianna stared at the boy for almost ten seconds.
"What, noblemen got your tongue?" the boy asked. He took the reins of the horse and began leading it back towards the stables of the estate the two were on.
"Y… GET BACK HERE!" Arianna yelled. "And bring that horse with you!" she ran forward after the boy, determined to get the horse away from him so she could continue riding. Of course, she wasn't used at all to grappling, and the boy practiced every day with the other boys his age, so the fight was over almost before it began and ended with Arianna on the ground again. "I could have you hanged for this, you know!" the girl shrieked.
"But you won't." the boy replied. "If you told the whole story, you'd be punished as well."
"My whipping girl would take the blows, not me." Arianna replied. The boy's eyes narrowed dangerously, not that Arianna saw any of that. "And you'd still be hung properly for daring to touch royalty."
There was no response.
"Fine. I'll tell them you threw me to the ground and were groping me." Arianna said, checking to see if she could artfully tear her clothing. She looked up again, and found that the boy had gone off with the horse while she had been talking. "Hey! I didn't give you permission to leave!"
Hours later, when dinner finally rolled around, all Arianna could do was pick at her food.
"Is something the matter, Lady Arianna?" Fiona asked, holding up a tray of fruit. Arianna took an apple and bit into it.
"I met a peasant today while I was out…" Arianna muttered. "First he knocked me from a horse with an apple, and then he just walked off. He didn't care at all about who I am." Fiona blinked, thinking. She suddenly began giggling. "What's so funny?"
"I-I think I know who you're talking about." The girl said, covering her mouth. "He's a very unruly boy, who pays absolutely no attention at all to rules. He gets jobs done his own way, in his own time, but he does do an excellent job. He also believes that nobody is better or worse then him, which is why he'd treat you the same way he treats everybody else."
"But I am better then him!" Arianna protested. "I'm royalty!" Fiona just shrugged, wincing slightly as she felt the marks from the lashes become fiery with pain once again. Arianna slowly shook her head and went back to eating, a slight scowl on her face. "I'll get that boy if it's the last thing I ever do."
The next day, Arianna returned to the estate where she had met the boy she now considered to be her personal enemy and the bane of her existence. Intending to take the horse again, the girl moved to the stables and found that somebody had padlocked the door to the horse's stall.
"Oh, gimmie a break…" the girl muttered.
"Looking for the key?" a voice asked. Arianna whirled around and saw the same boy standing there, holding a key in his right hand. "Did you honestly think I would just let you steal Indigo again?"
"I'm the Princess! I can have that horse if I want that horse!" Arianna replied indignantly. The boy rolled his eyes, slipped the key into his pocket, and began walking off again. "Give me that key! Or I'll have you drawn and quartered!" he kept walking. Wondering what about him irritated her so much, Arianna ran forward and tackled him to the ground, and began wrestling to get the key from him. In about five seconds, the boy had professionally pinned Arianna to the ground.
"Please. You have no training at all; there's no way you could ever beat me." The boy said. Then, to Arianna's shock and embarrassment, the boy lifted the neckline of her gown slightly, slipped the key into it, and let the gown snap back so the key was held firmly next to her chest. The boy released the crimson-faced princess a moment later. "Indigo's yours, so be happy about it. When the master heard you had borrowed him, he said that next time you came around the horse was to be given to you."
"Y… Y…" Arianna croaked out, pulling out the key. The boy began walking towards the house. "Why didn't you just give me the key in the first place!?"
"Because I didn't feel like it!" the boy replied, not turning back to look at her. Arianna could only stare as he walked off.
"…What kind of crazy peasant boy is he?" the girl wondered. "Wait a second… Argh! I still didn't get his name so I could check with Fiona!" she ran after the boy again, tripping over her skirts right before she reached him. "Waugh!" the girl yelled instinctively. Her fall was stopped by an arm.
"When my mother said girls would fall all over themselves for me, I didn't think she was being literal…" the boy muttered. Arianna stood up straight and looked him squarely in the eye.
"I have told you my name, but I still do not know yours." The girl said, falling back on the royal speech she had bothered to actually learn. "So please, good sir, tell me your name so that I need not inquire further."
"My name is one that I would prefer to keep hidden, my lady." The boy replied in the exact same form of speech, shocking Arianna so badly that some might have thought she had been hit by invisible lightning. "You see, I find it most amusing to watch you squirm in irritation because I am such an annoying person. If that is all, please depart, for I have much to do."
"When did you learn how to talk like that!?" Arianna shrieked. The boy shrugged.
"I spend all day around one of the higher-ranked courtiers from your castle, and other buffoons dressed up ridiculously visit all the time. I picked up a few things by eavesdropping, like any sane person would." The boy said, entering the house. "Now please take Indigo and leave." He paused. "Oh, and I wouldn't treat him badly if I were you. He's nice enough if you're kind to him, but as vicious as they come to those who teat him badly."
Arianna glared at the boys back, sighed, and whirled around.
"Fine." She said, tramping off through the plush grass that littered the ground. "I will take the horse. And then I'm going to go get the royal guard and have them arrest you for touching me." She looked over her shoulder, and found that the boy had shut the door and was out of earshot. "Gah! Why can't he stay and listen to me like a good peasant is supposed to!? One of these days I'm going to see him dead, if I have to kill him myself!"
Late that night, the girl sighed and stared out of her window.
"Is something wrong, Lady Arianna?" Fiona asked, looking up from the gown she was mending for one of the lesser courtiers.
"Fiona… That boy you were talking about yesterday… Why is he like that? So annoying, carefree, and such a rule breaker" Arianna asked, looking over to the girl. Fiona smiled sadly.
"Well, he's probably not who you think he is." The girl said gently. "He lives with his step brother and step sister. They're both nice enough, and they do treat him like family. His stepfather, though, is a wretched man, and abuses him quite a bit."
"But what's his name?" Arianna asked.
"I can't tell you." Fiona replied, smiling.
"He sent me a letter telling me not to tell you when you asked." Fiona replied promptly, holding up a letter that said exactly what the girl claimed.
"He what!? That stupid, evil little brat…" Arianna hissed. "Go on with your story."
"Mmm. Well, like I said, his stepfather is wretched and abuses him a lot, even over the smallest things. But the more he's hit, the more he secretly resists. He's a very good person at heart, and I know because he once saved me from a pack of wolves with only a torch. He's going to have scars on his back forever because of that act. Anyways, did you hear about your new teacher?"
"Another one?" Arianna groaned, flopping onto her gargantuan bed. "Oh, great…" the girl thought for a moment, then sat up and tossed a quill to Fiona. "I want you to send a message to that boy. Tell him to meet me in the palace gardens at midnight." Fiona blinked, but nodded and quickly wrote out a message. It was sent off a moment later. "Good."
"What are you planning on doing down there?" Fiona asked curiously.
"I'm going to choke his name out of him." Arianna said, laughing evilly. "And then I'm going to chain him to the wall and make him answer all of my questions. And then I'm gonna make him lick my feet for what he did to me earlier! Heh heh heh heh heh!" Fiona raised an eyebrow and hid a grin. Her friend was the sort of person who drove the princess mad, and it was one of the funniest things the girl had ever seen.
As the sun peeked over the horizon, however, a grumpy Arianna returned to her room.
"HE STOOD ME UP!" the girl shrieked, grabbing a pillow and throwing it at the wall. "I can't believe him! I lowered myself so much to tell him to meet me at midnight, and he stood me up!"
"Ah, princess…" Fiona said quietly. Arianna snarled and turned to her, holding another large pillow to throw if needed. Fiona held up the letter that had been sent late the day before, with a message scrawled on the back. "He wrote back."
"Gimme that!" Arianna said, snatching it. "Fiona, I'm not going because first of all, it's eleven at night right now, and second of all, I think she would first try to choke my name out of me, then chain me to the wall, and then lick her feet. As interesting as that would be, I don't think I want to do something like that until I have proof that her feet are actually clean. Arianna, I think you are a pompous oaf. Don't ever wake me at such an unreasonable hour again or I will chain you inside of our well in your undergarments and gag you so you can't scream for help. There are rats down there. Sincerely…" the girl paused. "Hey! He didn't write his name!" Fiona finally broke out laughing. "What's so freaking funny!? He just threatened me!"
"I-it's just that's so like him!" the girl blurted out. "The more you try to pull rank on him, the more he'll treat you normally, and the madder he'll make you!" she set aside the garment she was holding so she wouldn't accidentally rip it as she continued laughing.
Arianna just scowled.
"I'm going to get him for this, and for pulling up part of my dress. I thought he was trying to grope me then!" the girl said, snarling. "That ill-mannered foolish brat is going to get what's coming to him, one way or another." Fiona smiled. "Come on, saddle my new horse! I'm going to go get his name if I have to question every servant for ten miles!