This month's prompt: Write a retelling of your favorite fairytale, myth, or legend.
I could never pick one favorite from those categories. Anytime I try to do a retelling of a story, it ends up too long. So I'm bending the prompt while sticking to the word-limit rule by using this post to start a fanfiction miniseries, a first for this blog, with hopes that John doesn't banish me from this blog chain forever.
Can you guess what this is a fanfiction of? It should be instantly recognizable to anyone at all familiar with it. Since I haven't had a giveaway in far too long, let's make this into one, shall we? First person to correctly guess both what this is a fanfiction of (easy part) and how this fanfiction ends (i.e, what sets this apart from simply a novelization of the movie) will receive an ecopy of Saving Mars, Cidney Swanson's new book, as well as autographed bookmarks - all provided by Cidney herself.* The winner will be announced on August 23. Open to all readers, all ages, all countries. If no one person guesses both correctly before the fifth and final installment of this series is posted, then the first person to correctly guess either one will be declared winner.
Once upon a time, a girl and her father lived happily on their manor in France. They were neither poor nor rich; they were simply content. The girl's mother died in childbirth, and the girl grew up to look the part of her mother and act a younger, more mischievous version of her father. The girl's name was Danielle, and she was as happy as she could be.
Or so she thought. Her father, Auguste, knew better. Danielle believed she could not be happier in life, because she did not know of anything that could make her happier. Auguste knew the girl needed a mother to soften and nurture and train her - to guide her as she grew too quickly from a girl to a lady.
The day came when Auguste found the woman he felt would make him the ideal wife and his little Danielle the ideal mother. After all, Rodmilla had two girls close to Danielle's age. He would give his daughter a mother and two sisters - what more could he ask? On the day they returned from their honeymoon to introduce the new family, the manor house itself seemed to be breathing and shuddering from all the excitement.
"I get a mother and sisters, all in one day! It's just like Christmas!" Danielle was in a celebrating mood.
Finally, the watchman called out and the carriage could be heard rolling down the long gravel lane. Servants lined up along the front of the house, the men dusting off their shirts and the women anxiously tucking in stray hairs. Danielle was nowhere to be found, and there was no time to fetch her. More than likely she was slinging mud with the servant boy Gustave.
The carriage pulled up, and Auguste climbed down from his driving seat. Auguste's head servant commented, "You've brought us a mistress, finally?"
"Maurice, I have brought you an entire household."
A delicate, gloved hand slipped between the curtains of the carriage, and Maurice eagerly helped the lady out of the carriage. The new mistress of the manor was expensively dressed, as were her two daughters, Marguerite and Jacqueline. Auguste proudly introduced the trio to the servants just as his own daughter came running to him, covered in mud. He hoisted her up, filth and all.
"Oh ho ho! I suppose Gustave is around here somewhere?"
Danielle eagerly shook her head. "No, Papa! I whipped him!"
It was at that moment that a small, brown, dripping figure stumbled around the corner where Danielle had come a few moments ago.
"So you did!" Auguste glanced back at his new wife, who was viewing the two with poorly veiled disgust. He brushed it from his mind and turned back to his little girl. "I had hoped to present a little lady. Well, I suppose you'll have to do." He set her on her feet and placed his hands on her shoulders, beaming. "Danielle, I present Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent, and her daughters, Marguerite and Jacqueline." The two girls curtsied, and the Baroness acknowledged Danielle with a nod. Her attention immediately went back to her groom.
"Auguste, you must show me around."
"Of course." He took her arm and turned to Danielle a final time. "Danielle, you'll have to show your new stepsisters the ropes around here. They're not used to getting their hands dirty."
He led his bride to the door, and Danielle smiled. Jacqueline smiled shyly back before glancing at Marguerite, who was beginning to look like she'd been born with a scowl.
The family began to settle in, but Auguste had to leave on matters of business after only a week. He promised his family to return within a fortnight. When his horse pulled away from the manor door, the Baroness wore the pout Danielle was already familiar with. Danielle herself could not muster a smile.
Before Auguste had even passed the gates at the end of the gravel lane, the Baroness's pout vanished beneath her natural sternness. "Come along now, girls. We mustn't neglect your lessons."
"Wait!" Danielle protested. "It's tradition. He always waves at the gate."
The Baroness glanced at the gate before continuing inside. Marguerite imitated her mother's stance and facial expression, while Jacqueline shrugged sympathetically at Danielle before following inside. Danielle ran to the lane and watched her father's horse continue plodding slowly toward the gate.
Before he reached it, his back hunched and he slipped sideways, falling onto the gravel and pulling the saddle askew. Danielle shrieked. "Papa!"
She pulled her thin skirt to her waist and streaked down the lane to her father. Her call brought Maurice and his wife and sister running, as well; the Baroness followed, her skirts billowing and her frail hand stopping her own cry. Soon the weak, coughing Auguste held his wife's hand on one side and his daughter's face on the other. Fighting to breath, he glanced from one to the other. Then, stroking Danielle's cheek, he choked out, "I love... you."
They were the last words he would ever speak.
Ten years later, Danielle awoke to yet another dawn on the manor. All the servants but Maurice and his family had been sold to pay off Marguerite and the Baroness's debts, so Danielle did the work of several men each day now. She rose from her place on the floor by the fireplace in an abandoned shack at the edge of their property. A quick glance outside told her she had slept in yet again - her own fault for reading late last night. Her last gift from her father had been a book that she could now cite by memory if she wanted. Still she cut into the few hours of sleep she had to read it again.
Danielle hurried through feeding and watering the few animals left on the manor before running to the orchard to harvest apples. She was nearly finished when she heard horses protesting in the stable. Movement from that direction caught her eye; a thief was attempting to ride away, but her father's horse was not cooperating.
To Be Continued...
Want to follow our blog chain? Here are the participating parties, day by day:
August 4 – Musings From Neville’s Navel
August 5 – Crazy Red Pen
August 6 – Lily’s Notes in the Margins
August 7 - Olivia’s Opinions
August 8 - Snippets, Slices, and Scenes
August 9 – Mark O’BrienWrites
August 10 - One Life Glory
August 11 - A Story of a Dreamer
August 12 - Life, Among Other Things
August 13 – Here!
August 14 – The Teenage Writer
August 15 - Scribbling Beyond the Margins
August 16 – Dragons, Unicorns, and Other Random Things
August 17 - Kirsten Writes!
August 18 - The Zebra Clan
August 19 – Miriam Joy Writes
August 20 – All I Need Is A Keyboard
August 21 – The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer
August 22 – Teens Can Write, Too! (Next month's topic announced)
*My review of Saving Mars will be posted on August 30.