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The daughter of the Good King

Chapter Text

The daughter of the Good King.

Chapter one:

Winter had come to Ever After High, but this time it was a natural winter rather than one caused by out of control magic. The students where enjoying the seasonal weather with a variety of activities, such as slay riding and building snow men to name but a few. Even the school’s teacher where taking some time to enjoy the snow and ice, while watching over their student’s at the same time of course.

Of course, Crystal Winter was in her element in this weather, she was more than happy to throw herself into helping the other students get ready for the winter celebrations which would take place before they all returned home for the winter break. Crystal could hardly believe that the students planned to somehow fit in the traditional winter joust, as well as the exchanging of gifts between friends and staff, a ball and a feast after which the students would give food, toys and clothing to the poor all before the end of term.

 

Raven was enjoying lunch in the castletearia with her friends when Darling came walking in, she couldn’t help the fact that her gaze was drawn to Darling whenever she was in a room with her. Darling was after all a beautiful so it was understandable that she turned heads, Raven however had not expected her to capture her heart.

Darling walked over to where Apple was seated with the other royals, she bowed formally to Apple to show that she was here to talk to her as the one to have saved Apple from her cursed state. “Princess Apple, I have come as is the right of your prince to ask you for your favour for the winter joust.”

It was as if these words had sucked all of the air out of the castleteria as an utter silence fell over the whole room and all eyes where now on the couple, as everyone waited with baited breath to see what would happen next.

Apple went red, then so white Raven was convinced for a moment that the every perfect princess was going to faint and then from somewhere deep down Apple found enough strength to speak. “No Darling I can’t…I just don’t see you as my prince. I’m glad your kiss of life worked on me, I really am, but you my prince, no I’m sorry I refuse to acknowledge that.”

“But I am the one to save you from the poisoned apple. I am your prince.” Darling insisted in a calm and reasonable voice, as other royals nodded in agreement to these words.

“NO! NEVER!” Apple yelled springing to her feet at the same time, and started jabbing a finger at Darling. “I don’t care what you say! What anyone else says! You will NEVER BE MY PRINCE!”

This outburst of less than perfect princess behaviour from Apple, caused a wild babbling to rise from all the students in the room. For Raven this was too much, she could hardly believe that Apple was acting like this and Raven felt she had to do something to try and help Darling. This decided she came to her feat, as soon as this happened another silence spread out over the room. Raven glided soundlessly over to Darling and Apple, both of who where watching her with wide eyes and expressions of concern on their faces. “Apple you must know that Darling is right! In fact I know that you know Darling is right! You say you want to live your life guided by fairy tale tradition, then you must accept the consequences of that desire. Darling is your prince!”

Apple glared Raven, she knew that the she was right, but Apple didn’t like what she had to say and so she went back to the old argument with Raven. “She wouldn’t be if you had poisoned me as you should have! Now Daring who should have been my prince is Rosabella’s beast!”

Raven hated having this argument with Apple over and over again, so she refused to enter into it, and instead turned to look at Daring and Rodabella. “They don’t look at all unhappy about that. Besides which when Daring kissed you nothing and I mean nothing happened, you didn’t even flicker according to what I hear and I know what I have heard is the truth. If you don’t want Darling to be your prince, then you are rebelling, because you are throwing away your true love and prince. Is that really what you want just because Darling isn’t a man or what you expected?”

“Yes! No! I don’t want to rebel, but I can’t love Darling and I can’t embrace her as my prince. I just can’t!” Apple exclaimed her horror at the situation clear in her face and voice.

Raven looked from one to the other and then turned her full attention to Darling. “Well Darling if Apple does not wish you to be her prince. I will state now and here, with all those here to witness it that I would be more than willing to have you as my prince if there were a story we could tell together.”

Darling could hardly believe what Raven was telling her, she was implying that she would be willing to become part of a fairy tail to be with her and so Darling asked her with clear shock. “You’d do that for me Raven…You’d really become part of a fairy tail to have me as your prince?”

Raven had been surprised by this sudden decision, but in her heart she knew somehow it was the right one to make. “Yes, I think you are worth that and as a rebel it is my choice to make as to what I do. The question is can you ever see me as your princess?”

Darling looked at Raven hardly believe she was willing to do this for her. “Why…Why would you do this Raven.”

“Because, somehow, somewhere along the line I lost my heart to you without even realising it at first. Now though I know you are the one with all my heart I am willing to become part of a story to be able to share the love I feel with you and have your love in return.” Raven told her blushing slightly as she confessed this long hidden truth.

This confession caused a collective gasp to come from all of those in the castleteria. Darling simply didn’t know what to say at this point and so Raven spoke to her again. “I know I’m no Apple…I’m not beautiful like her or as fair, but I do love you. I will not force you to choose me, because your heart is yours to give and no one should make you choose. I want you to know though I would be honoured to have you as my prince and I would never hesitate to give you my favour for a joust as Apple has.” After saying this to Darling Raven turns and silently leaves the room.

A few seconds after she left the casleteria, Maddie and Cerise quickly came to their feet and went after Raven wanting to make sure that their friend was alright.

Darling and Apple both stood their staring at the now empty door way shocked to the core, neither of them knew what to do with the situation they found themselves in.

Darling was the first of the two to move, she hastily left the castleteria, but didn’t go after Raven at this time, instead Darling quickly strode through the school heading for the garden. Darling just needed to get outside to think and in that moment Darling didn’t care how she appeared to other’s by walking in the way she was. All Darling knew was that she desperately needed to escape the confines of the school and all of its stifling expectations of her. As soon as she was outside, Darling started to walk around the castle circling it over and over, turning all everything which had just happened over in her mind looking at it from all angles.

Apple was sat back down at her table, she looked around at the other royals waiting for them to approve of her actions, but none of them did and instead they all looked back at her as if Apple where some sort of creature they had never seen before now. The royals where just beginning to realise that their appointed leader was acting like a spoilt and selfish child and had been doing so for some time. They knew now that Apple clearly has no respect for Raven, who has shown that she is a good kind person and could never be evil or to Darling her prince, who had been the epitome of the perfect prince to Apple ever since saving her.

The royals also couldn’t help but think Raven’s words where true, if you wanted the fairy tale life and a happy ending then you had to accept how that ending came into your life to. Seeing what had happened to Apple by trying so hard to make her life resemble the perfect Snow White story had started to make many of them think and question their parts in their tales. Some of the royals began to see that maybe, just may be the rebels had a point, forcing people to live a certain story wasn’t right and could still bring unforeseen consequences into your life.

As the silence at the royal table grew Apple became extremely uncomfortable, she got up from the table and dashed out of the castleteria leaving behind her half eaten meal. Apple didn’t stop running, neither did she great any student she met in the halls of the school until she made her way to the safety and privacy if her dorm room.

Apple was furious as well as upset that the other royals had not supported her and as far as Apple was concerned all of this was Darling and Raven’s fault. She felt it was mostly Raven’s fault, if only Raven had stuck to the story then none of this would have happened and she would be having her happily ever after, with her perfect prince. Her poisoning by Raven’s mum and waking by Darling just couldn’t count as her story, it couldn’t! Apple wouldn’t let what had happened to her at the hands of the evil Queen be her story no matter what! She would find some way to make Rave poison her, then a handsome prince would come and save her and they would live happily ever after together just like her mum and dad.

Apple couldn’t wait for Raven to come back, she was going to give her room mate a piece of her mind about the way she had behaved in the castleteria today and she would insist that Raven do her duty. Apple was determined that she would show all of them, even her fellow royals that her true story had not yet been told and she would be the most perfect Snow White to ever be seen in ever after! As she thought about this an expression of determination settled on Apples face and she started to pace around the room working out her argument for when Raven returned.

 

Raven was well aware that it was most likely that Apple would want to blame her for what had happened, rather than except that she had been the one in the wrong and this knowledge meant that she didn’t want to go back to her dorm room. So instead of returning to the room she shared with Apple Raven had made her way into one of the lesser used common rooms so she could be away from the other students as well as Apple.

Raven was surprised to discover that Maddie and Cerise had followed her from the castleteria to the common room, but at the same time she was very glad they had decided to come after her as she could really use their comfort and advice at this time.

They both hugged Raven and when they released her Raven spoke to them in a soft scared voice. “Apple is probably as mad as a dragon who lost some of it’s hoard right now.”

“Yeah more than likely.” Cerise said in agreement.

Maddie looked at her friend and asked with concern. “Raven be at peace in a feathered nest?”

“Yes it would be lovely to share your room with you and Kitty tonight thank you Maddie.” Raven felt utterly relived that she wouldn’t have to go back to her room with Apple tonight, she hopped that maybe a night alone would allow Apple time to cool her temper before she returned to her room and got involved in yet another argument about destiny with her roommate. “I’ll have to borrow some pyjamas from you Maddie is that alright?”

Maddie smiled at her before saying reassuringly to her friend. “It will be my pleasure!”

“Thank you so much Maddie.” Raven said to her gratefully.

Cerise was struck by a sudden idea she felt would be a great way to lift Raven’s spirits. “Hey, how about Cedar and I join you and we turn it into a sleep over?!”

Raven’s eyes filled with delight and she felt this was just what she needed at this time. “That would be wonderful! Would Kitty be alright with us doing that Maddie?”

“Yes I will sweeten her up with a little nip.” Maddie told Raven and Cerise as she gave them a conspiratorial wink.

Cerise and Raven both giggled, Maddie pointed at Raven before declaring with delight. “Ah there is the sunshine I longed to see!”

Cerise for once understanding what Maddie was saying, blurted out with excitement. “Even I can tell what that means! It means Maddie is glad to see you smiling again and she is not alone I am happy to see it to. I have to ask Raven and you don’t have to answer me, are you really in love with Darling?”

“Yes…Yes I love her with all my heart.” Raven told her seriously.

“Why didn’t you tell any of us?” Cerise asked her with pain and confusion in her voice.

Raven was quiet for a few moments before answering this question. “Love was never going to be an easy thing for me…I worried I might end up like my father you see, falling in love with someone didn’t love me in return, one who would shatter my heart and make it impossible for me to ever love again. I never expected to love Darling, I expected to find a prince to love, I even tried with Dexter, but as much as I liked him, he didn’t make me feel as Darling does. It took me a long time to come to terms with what I felt for her, it became impossible for me to deny that I loved Darling with all of my heart when I saw how beautiful she was in her dragon games armour. I never had a chance to say anything, because well…You both know what happened then. I am sure that Darling will never want to choose me over Apple…She loves Apple and I will not stand in the way of that I guess I’m going to end up like my father after all. Though my heartbreak looks like it will come from one who won’t love me as I wish she would rather than from one I have married.”

Instantly both Maddie and Cerise hugged Raven again. “Hey don’t talk like that. You never know Darling might come to see just how wonderful you are. You are so much more than Apple will ever be.” Cerise told her friend meaning her words.

“Shiny gem not picked up by one becomes treasure to another.” Maddie said to Raven in her own turn.

These words from Maddie caused Raven to chuckle, they broke the hug, then walked back to the dorms together, when they reached the doors Cerise went to fetch Cedar, while Maddie took Raven to her room with Kitty. A few moments after they entered Kitty appeared in the room, she looked at Maddie and Raven. “I am unsurprised to find you here. I assume you have come to escape Apple Raven?”

Raven nodded. “Yes, but just for tonight. I think it is better to let her temper cool before I see her again.”

“That I think is wise, it is better to know when to fight and when not to.” Kitty told her with a toothy smile.

Raven smiled at Kitty glad to hear that she agreed with what she wanted to do tonight. “Agreed. I hope you won’t mind but Cerise and Cedar will be joining us as for a sleep over.”

Kitty gave them a pout, but before she could say anything to them Maddie pulled out a bag and held it out to Kitty. “I have your nip. Will that help sway you?”

Kitty let out a purr and batted the bag. “Yessss Nip! I will be good. You may have your sleeping thing, I will have nip and sleep in Cedar and Cerise’s room. I promise to keep my claws to myself like a good Kitty.” She promised her eyes fixed on the bag.

“Good.” Maddie said handing over the bag, which Kitty quickly took and vanished from sight.

Raven looked at her friend. “Well that was easier than I expected. You have to get me some of that nip for when I need convince Kitty to be good.”

“I will.” Maddie assured her. “Now let’s get ready!” Maddie said with eyes glowing with excitement.

Her enthusiasm and joy was so infectious that Raven could feel it rubbing off on her already and the cares she had felt weighing her down until this moment became just that little bit easier to bare.

Chapter Text

Chapter two:

Together Cerise, Cedar, Maddie and Raven sat on pillows scattered around the room, Raven was snuggled up in one of Maddie’s set of warm pyjamas. “So you love Darling?” Cedar asked Raven in surprise needing to make sure she had heard what her room mate had told her correctly.

Raven blushed becomingly, but nodded. “Yes, I do very much…Is every one in this place going to be surprised I fell for Darling?”

“Yes!” Cerise and Cedar answered together.

This universal answer caused Raven to look at them with surprise of her own. “But why? Darling is a Charming? Students fall for Charmings all the time.”

They both shared looks of concern, they were not quite sure how to tell Raven why they were both so shocked about this situation. Eventually Cedar said to her in the only way she did honestly. “It’s not that I am are saying people don’t fall for Charmings, it’s just I didn’t think you’d be one of them.”

Cerise nodded before adding in a none judgemental voice. “I didn’t even know you liked girls.”

“I didn’t either. Not until…Well it is complicated…” Raven confessed looking down at her hands.

“Does this have to do with Dexter and the date?” Cerise asked.

Raven gave her a nod saying. “A little…I just…Ugh why do emotions have to be so annoying.” Cedar instantly looked sad when Rave said this and instantly noticing this Raven placed a hand on her knee. “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to upset you.”

Cedar shook herself, she smiled across at Raven. “It’s okay…I can’t really be upset, but I know what you are trying to say and I know you didn’t mean to hurt me. I didn’t know feelings could be confusing though are they really?”

“Oh worse than caterpillar smoke!” Maddie told Cedar confidently.

Cedar looked across at the others two. “Is that a yes?”

“It is!” They confirmed with a giggle, Maddie joined in the giggling and so too did Cedar.

When they stopped laughing, Cedar said softly. “I have so much to learn, but that’s what school is for right?”

They nodded at her and Raven said gently. “If you ever want to learn more about feelings and what to expect, we are more than happy to talk to you about it all so you are as prepared as you can be for when you get to become a real girl.”

“You really don’t mind, even if I ask stupid questions?” Cedar asked unable to believe they where willing to be so kind to her.

Raven knowing what I was like to find it hard to accept kindness when offered gently ran her hands over Cedar’s wooden hands. “No question you will ask will ever be considered stupid by ask right girls?”

“Never!” Maddie declared thrusting out her teacup and almost falling over while Cerise shook her head.

This time Cedar giggled and Raven smiled at her then asked gently. “Is it okay to talk about what you have in the way of feelings?”

“Well it’s like you said a bit complicated, I don’t really feel things, but I feel like the echoes I guess you could call it of what a real feeling might be like. I know what I’m supposed to feel, but that is only from what I’ve been told.” Cedar told Raven honestly.

Raven nodded to her and said to Cedar gently. “Thank you, Cedar that explains a lot.”

Maddie clapper her hands together. “Let us speak of what Raven is to do with the white’s child! She will be as a Bandersnatch protecting it’s young!”

“Maddie is right I need a plan of attack when I go back to my room tomorrow.” Raven said with a nod.

There was a silence which was followed by Cedar saying thoughtfully. “Well knowing Apple she will want to go on about destiny. So why not throw her own argument against her?”

The other’s look at Cedar confused and so she explained her words to them. “The evil Queen poisoned Apple, no matter what any one says. Raven is not the Evil Queen she didn’t sign her mother is still the one…Right?”

“That’s true.” Raven confessed.

“What would that actually mean by fairy tale law?” Cedar asked them.

They were all thoughtful and quiet for a few moments and then Cerise spoke. “Well if I remember correctly it would mean that Apple’s story is over and she has rejected and dishonoured her prince. That would make Darling free to choose a new story and it would also mean Raven is free to become part of another story and if she has a second fairy tale parent then the head master actually can’t stop you taking up that parent’s story if she wishes.”

Raven stared at Cerise with complete surprise. “Is that really possible?”

“Yes…Yes it is. I remember that from the history of tall tales class.” Cerise said her excitement growing. “It’s a very old law but still in effect.”

“This is amazing! Thank you Cedar!” Raven said getting up, she came over to Cedar and hugged her gently.

Cedar returned the hug and said at the same time. “I think I have a shadow of a feeling. Fluttery, warm and good.”

“That’s being glad or happy for someone else, you are glad to have helped a friend.” Cerise told her being careful to pick just the right words.

“I like spending time like this.” Cedar told her.

Raven smiled at her widely. “Good you should.”

Maddie got up and declared. “More tea!” She grabbed her hat, produced a steaming cup of tea for each of her guests and then one for herself. Each of them accepted the cup which was presented to them by Maddie giggling in delight and after this for a few moments the room fell into silence as the four sat around the room peacefully sipping on their tea.

“Hey Raven…I get you might not be comfortable with this, but you mentioned your dad before…Would you tell us who he is…?” Cerise asked her friend gently, not wanting to push Raven to say more than she wanted after all ready having a rough day.

Raven was quiet for a few moments thinking this question over before answering it. “My father…I love him very much and I’ve never wanted to cause him trouble…I’ve always been afraid that if others knew he was they might harm him in some way just to make me act like the proper evil Queen…He and Maddie are the only family I have left.”

Cerise reached out and comfortingly squeezed Raven’s hand in hers. “It’s okay Raven. You don’t have to tell us, right Cedar?”

“Right!” She agreed with perhaps more enthusiasm than was necessary, before saying with a smile for Raven. “You are trying to understand me and I will try to understand all of you more.

Raven sagged in relief, glad to know her friends where not upset that she didn’t want to talk about her father. “I hope you can feel safe enough to tell us all someday.” Cerise told Raven without hesitation.

These words caused Raven to smile widely “So do I…I’d love to talk all about dad with you both, but until I can be sure I can be free I just don’t want to risk my father.”

Cedar hugs Raven gently aware of how she can hug to tightly because she is wooden. “It’s okay, really Raven. I know thinking about hurting my dad to become a real girl makes me think I feel sad…I get a sort of coldness inside.”

“That is sadness and fear.” Raven told her gently returning the hug from Cedar. “You don’t want to hurt your father, which is understandable.”

“Thanks Raven.” Cedar told her grateful that she understood her concerns.

“Let’s get some sleep!” Cerise said to the others.

They shared nods, the four girls settled down to sleep, before they went to sleep Raven said to Cerise in a soft and sleepy voice. “I am glad you remembered those old laws, do you think we could check they still apply tomorrow?”

Cerise smiled softly as she said in answer to this question. “Of course we could.”

Shortly after this they were all asleep, for the first time in a long time Raven was sleeping peacefully and she had hope in her heart that she would have a much brighter future to look forward to after everything settled and the laws where looked into by herself and Cerise.

 

Apple was completely still furious at Raven, Darling and the royals, however the majority of her anger however was directed at Raven. All that she could think about was the fact that if only Raven had done what she was supposed to then none of this would have happened. She stomped around the room, Apple was muttering to herself and gesturing wildly clearly very upset and livid over how everything had worked out for her. “Ugh! This is so annoying! I can’t believe things have worked out like this! It can’t be right it just can’t!”

Apple wanted to do so many things which would be less than flattering for her perfect princess persona, but still she let herself picture what it would be like to indulge in such actions. Ah to be able to scream, and use bad words, then pick things up and throw them, perhaps even break them. Apple smiled slightly to herself as she then imagined throwing things at both Raven and Darling while yelling at them with all of her might.

Apple shook herself out of these thoughts and turned to new ones which added to the slights she felt where being perpetrated against her by other. Her next grievance was that she was totally unable to believe that her best friends had not even come by her dorm room to check if she was alright after how clearly upset she had been in the castleteria. As far as Apple was concerned Briar and Ashlynn should be here at her side supporting her, letting Apple vent about her feelings, and talk over ideas of how to make things better for herself, but instead they seemed to be hiding from her and Apple couldn’t understand why Briar and Ashlynn would be doing something like that. After all Apple had already apologised to them all for everything she had done by trusting the evil queen, but yet they where not offering her their support.

Eventually Apple realised that not only where her friends not coming to offer her their support, or sympathies on her less that perfect fairy tale, but that Raven wasn’t coming back for the night and was also clearly trying to avoid her bad mood. Apple was determined that she would remain angry for Raven, Darling, Briar and Ashlynn, she was determined that she would show them all they where wrong to treat her like this.

Apple knew she could be a little obsessive about her story, but she was Apple White the daughter of Snow White, she had been promised by her mother the perfect fairy tale and life after it and she was determined to have it no matter what. “I am the daughter of Snow White, I must have the perfect fairy tale so that I can be the fairest of them all and the most perfect princess unparalleled by any other princess! I will have that perfection!”

Finally Apple stopped pacing she was determined that she the next day she would get the headmaster to help her make Raven retell her story properly this time. She felt sure that the headmaster would be more than willing to help her achieve her goal, after all he was a traditionalist and had always been on her side before now.

Apple wasn’t going to rely on the evil Queen again this time, but at the same time she was determined this wasn’t the end of her story, she wouldn’t let it be. She got ready, for bed and climbed in, Apple’s mind was racing with all the different ideas for what she could do in order to achieve her goal and it was because of this, that sleep took some time to settle on the princess.

 

Apple was not the only one to be deep in thought that night, Darling however was much more tranquil as she thought. This tranquillity came from years of experience and practice in waiting quietly for a destiny which was no longer hers any more. Darling sat staring out at the night sky, she hardly knew what to make of the day she had experienced, it was all so confusing for her.

Darling guessed that she really shouldn’t have expected Apple to have reacted in any other way than the one she had. Still though there had been a part of her which had thought that Apple would have been willing to accept the way things stood between them after she had saved her from the Evil Queen’s poison.

It hurt her heart more than a little to realise that Apple didn’t want her in anyway, and at the same time it had also been extremally shocking for Darling to discover that instead of behaving like a true princess should have in such a situation, Apple had reacted like a spoilt child of two who had been denied something. Darling was of course aware that Apple had expected her fairy tale, that was after all was what made her a part of the royal faction at school.

What Darling had not understood until today was that Apple not only expected her story, but she envisaged it to be utterly perfect and that anything which did not match up what Apple believed should be in her story would be violently rejected.

Where as in comparison, Raven had been elegant, gentle and compassionate a true princess…No somehow to Darling the word princess felt wrong when applied to Raven, she was more than that Raven…Was a Queen and there was no doubt about it.

Darling had to admit that after experiencing Apple’s childish meltdown first hand she was left wondering how Raven ever coped living with her. She found herself feeling concerned for Raven when she returned to her dorm room and wondering exactly what Raven would have to deal with.

Quickly Darling pulled her mind away from thinking about this and turned it back to the problem at hand, did she want to continue to try and pursue the troubling Apple or did she want to turn her attention to the accepting Raven. It was a conundrum to her as to which to choose, however Darling knew one thing for sure, she loved Apple, but she was unsure it was true love, Darling felt that this left her to see if she could find another to love truly or is all of her heart belonged to Apple.

Darling was determined that as Apple seemed unwilling to accept her, that she would not jump into anything right now and would instead take her time to decide what she was going to do. Darling was a firm belief in the idea of not acting in haste so that she would not come to regret any decision she made at leisure. With somethings now settled in her mind about this strange situation she now found herself in Darling got ready for bed and then went to sleep.

Chapter Text

Chapter three:

When morning came to Ever After High, Raven woke up feeling much better than she had the night before, the hope Cerise had given her the night before warmed her on the inside and she was looking forwards to seeing if she might finally be able to be free of the title of Evil Queen forever. Up until now Raven had never dared to indulge in the hope that she might be able to step in to the future as her father’s daughter, as Raven Good King.

Raven couldn’t help but wonder what it might be like to never have to be evil again and have a different future, to maybe have a destiny she could embrace and would fit her as she was. Rather than the looming shadow of one which she felt didn’t fit her at all and which Raven wanted to run away from as fast as possible. Just thinking about the idea of a bright future made her smile widely.

Maddie who was now also awake noticed that Raven was smiling widely. “Ah the sun beams most brightly at midday.”

“Yes Maddie I feel very happy and hopeful today.” Raven confirmed to her.

“That is tip top tea to hear.” She announced before throwing her arms around Raven in a hug. Smiling even more widely than before Raven hugged her back.

Slowly Cerise woke up, she blinked her eyes and groaned she hated mornings. “Morning.” Mumbled Cerise tiredly while rubbing sleep out of her eyes.

Maddie and Raven broke the hug they smiled at her trying not to giggle at her for being so cranky in the morning. “Morning Cerise.”

“Is Cedar up yet?” She asked them her voice still sleepy.

Maddie shook her head. “No.”

“Honestly that girl could sleep through a dragon attack.” Cerise murmured, before she carefully shook the other girl awake.

A few moments after Cerise shook her Cedar opened her eyes, she smiled at Cerise and said in chirpy cheerfulness. “Good morning!”

“Ugh, how can you be so cheery in the morning?” Cerise groused still feeling tired.

Cedar chuckled at her friend’s reaction to her being so cheerful in the morning. “I sleep like a log, of course I am cheerful in the morning.”

Cerise peered closely at her roommate before asking with incredulous curiosity. “Did you just make a pun?”

She gave her a nod and then said in a small voice which contained some worry. “Yeah, I thought I’d try it out, did I get it wrong?”

Quickly the other’s shook their head and Raven spoke to her trying to reassure her. “No, no you didn’t get it wrong, we were just surprised that you made a pun that’s all. I think however it’s good to see you becoming more comfortable with your current state and if you want to make more puns then we are willing to help you with it.”

“Thanks Raven!” Cedar exclaimed before hugging her carefully well aware of the fact she often hugged people to tightly without meaning to.

“Are you still going to go to the library and look for that law today Raven?” Cerise asked her curiously wanting to know how determined she was to be free.

Raven nodded and said emphatically. “Of course I am! After all this could be the key to my freedom!”

The other’s where all very glad to see Raven so full of enthusiasm and happiness after the disaster which had been the dragon games. “Good you should look for it! You of all people don’t deserve to be evil, your heart is too good.” Cedar told her releasing Raven from the hug, before then started look around the room for her night bag. At the same time as Cedar said this to Raven both Maddie and Cerise had given clear nods of agreement to her words wanting to make sure that she knew that they were on her side in this.

“Thanks for saying that Cedar.” Raven told her with a smile, she was very happy to know that she had support in her decision.

It was at this point that Raven Maddie and Cerise also started to get ready for the day ahead and then made their way down to the castleteria for breakfast. Once they had picked up their food the friends walked over to a free table, they sat down and started to talk and laugh together while they were eating their breakfast.

 

When Apple entered the castleteria for breakfast the whole room fell into silence, and every pair of eyes came to settle on her. Apple didn’t like being the centre of such close suspicious scrutiny or the fact that Ashlyn and Briar where not inviting her over to their table to join them. Refusing to be seen to be weak or at fault in any way by the other fairy tale characters Apple drew herself up to her full height and then went over to pick out her breakfast, before going over to a table, sitting down and eating her own breakfast.

Raven could tell that Apple wasn’t happy with what was happening to her and she felt sure that though she seemed tranquil on the surface Apple was seething under her perfect mask. Knowing this made Raven even more determined to find out if the law Cerise had told her about was still around and also if it had not been repealed. As soon as she was done eating Raven smiled around at the others and said to them. “I’m going to go to the library, to look up the laws.”

They all nodded and Cerise spoke to her. “We will come and help look as soon as we have finished breakfast.”

“Thanks. I’m going to head off now so Apple doesn’t have a chance to try to corner me or somehow try to make this situation my fault.” Raven told them in a whisper before she slipped from the castleteria on silent feet and made her way quickly to the school library.

When Apple finished eating she looked around for Raven, she had been sure that she had caught a glimpse of her earlier, but now Raven was now no where to be seen and this avoidance by her only made Apple more angry than she had been the night before and even more determined that she would have her story the way it was meant to be.

After looking around the castleteria for Raven Apple spotted Cedar, Cerise and Maddie sitting together having breakfast and talking quietly. Apple felt sure that Raven had been with them over night and that they would know where Raven was now. At the same time though Apple knew they would not tell her where Raven was and so she decided that she would watch them and follow them to where Raven was hiding.

So Apple watched them closely, so the moment Cerise, Maddie and Cedar finished eating, put their trays and plates onto the trolley for cleaning and then headed out of the castleteria together she quickly spotted it.

Apple felt sure that they where going to find Raven now, so she quickly finished her mouthful of food, then placed her tray onto the trolley and went after them while at the same time she held a distance from the friends so they didn’t see her following them.

Maddie, Cedar and Cerise went into the library, after a short search they found Raven sitting at a table looking through a book. They quickly noticed there were lots of other books on the table with her, without saying anything they picked up other books on the table and started to read them.

Apple watched them from the shadows of the nearby book cases, she wondered what they where reading, while at the same time part of her wanted to stalk over to Raven and discuss their destiny with her until Raven relented to do things her way. Apple controlled her desire to do this, she knew now and here was a bad place to have an argument with Raven and so Apple left the library and made her way to the headmaster’s office to talk to him about what to do about her story.

Apple came into the office outside the headmaster’s office and spoke to Mrs Trollsworth in a serious voice. “I would like to see the headmaster about my story.”

“I will see if he is available one moment.” She told Apple before using the phone to call through to the office and speak to the head master. “Yes, headmaster Grim, Apple White the new Snow White is here to see you sir.” After a few moments of conversation she placed the phone down and said. “You can go in.”

Apple entered the office to find the headmaster waiting for her, he looked at her and asked formally. “Miss White how can I help you?”

“I do not think my story has been told as it was meant to.” Apple told him without wasting a moment.

Milton let out a deep sigh he had been expecting her to say something like this to him. “I can understand your confusion, but the story book has accepted your story. I checked myself the ending however troubles me…It says you reject the prince to save you…Have you done so?”

“Yes…Darling is not my prince I refuse to recognise her!” Apple said in an explosion of utter rage. “This whole story is wrong! You must see that!”

“I am sorry you feel this way Miss White, but the story book has accepted your story, there is nothing which can be done to change it now. You need to accept your prince and your story.” Milton told her seriously.

“But I don’t love Darling! I don’t care if she truly loves me! I don’t want her!” Apple said stamping her foot on the floor and clutching her hands into fists.

Seeing her right now Apple very much reminded Milton of a small child having a tantrum, he had never seen Apple act like this before now and for the first time he began to regret encouraging her to push Raven towards carrying out her story. He was also deeply shocked and troubled that Apple would be denying her true love in this way, Milton knew well enough that such denials never ended in a good way. “Miss White you are behaving in a most unseemly way. Must I remind you that true love is one of the most important and special things to happen within fairy tale tradition?”

“No you don’t need to remind me, but I don’t love Darling in any way, there has to be some kind of mistake! This isn’t the perfect fairy tale I was promised!” Apple insisted glaring at the head master and radiating furry as she spoke.

Milton sighed deeply, it appeared that Apple had been to indulged by himself and others and had also been taught to expect a story so perfect that nothing in reality could ever measure up to it. “There is nothing I can do. Nothing any one can do Miss White, if you choose to deny the true love of your prince, even I cannot say what will happen to you or Darling.”

Apple fled the office of the head master, she ran through the corridors of the castle crying, Apple turned many heads by acting in this less than perfect princess way. After Ashlyn and Briar heard about Apple’s behaviour from the others they decided it was time that they tried talking to Apple, even though both of them very much doubted that they would have much luck in calming their friend down or making her see reason over her perfect fairy tale obsession.

They found Apple in the rose garden sitting on a bench and crying, Briar and Ashlynn shared a look of concern and walked over to her. They sat on the bench either side of their friend, she looked at them with tears still streaming down her cheeks. “How can this have happened?! I don’t love Darling at all! How can her kiss have worked?”

Ashlynn shook her head, she had no idea that kind of thing was not her speciality and she looked across at Briar for help, while handing Apple a handkerchief. Catching her look Briar thought about this question for a few moments before answering it as best as she could. “Well it is well known that the waking kiss of any prince is powerful, but one of a prince truly in love is even more powerful. It is possible that it was just the force of the love which Darling feels for you that woke you, this would make the true love she carries for you one of the most powerful in generations.”

“But why did Darling never say anything to me?” Apple asked miserably, while dabbing at her face with the handkerchief.

Briar sighed softly before saying gently to Apple. “More than likely Darling knew you would reject her feelings and hoped that you would never have to find out about her love for you.”

Apple nodded. “That makes a lot of sense for Darling, still I wish Darling had said something to me, at least then I would have at least had the chance to let her down gently and help her find a princess who could accept her feelings.”

“Apple true love is very complicated at best, it’s not a simple matter of just changing the direction of her heart.” Ashlynn said softly trying to explain to her friend that despite her good intentions the world couldn’t always be ordered to her expectations of it.

Apple looked at her, she had never really thought about true love as being so complicated, after considering this Apple said to Ashlynn. “I never would have thought about true love like that, I just assumed it simply happened, I guess I never considered it would problematic in any way. This is all such a complicated mess…”

Briar and Ashlynn couldn’t help but agree with this last statement, but they decided it wouldn’t be wise at this moment to voice their agreement and instead said nothing. Instead Briar gently lay a hand on Apples arm and said to her in a soft compassionate voice. “Look I know you aren’t going to like this Apple, but your story is over and nothing can be done about this, but maybe you can still help Darling. Raven loves her and I can’t help but think maybe helping them come together could bring a new chapter to your story a good one.”

Briar was right she didn’t like hearing this, but Apple knew that Briar was telling her nothing but the truth right now. “I need to think about all of this…So much has changed in such a short space of time…Loosing my flawless story like this it hurts a lot…I know what you are saying is right, Darling couldn’t help who she fell in love with…Thank you for talking to me…I was beginning to think that you both hated me and hadn’t really forgiven me for the stupid things I did at the dragon games.”

The two princesses looked at each other, they really where both still hurt over what Apple had done and they where doing their best to forgive her. Briar and Ashlynn found that it was hard to forgive someone who kept on doing the same things over and over just to get the story they felt they deserved. “We are doing our best to forgive and forget Apple, but you need to stop trying to get what you feel you deserve as a story by any means, you just hurt other’s when you do that Apple.”

Apple blushed she felt ashamed that she had been acting this way and hurting her friends. “I tend not to think strait when it comes to my story…But now I know it’s really over and I can do nothing about that I need to learn to let it go…I also need to stop hurting others to get what I feel I deserve…Besides which it looks like that insane urge has netted me what I really deserved…Nothing.” Before either her friends could say anything more, Apple got to her feet and walks away heading back to the school her eyes lost in thought.

Briar looked to Ashlyn before saying. “Well at least Apple is now thinking about what she has done and what she is going to do. Hopefully this time Apple will do the right thing.”

“I hope so.” Ashlynn said still looking in the direction in which Apple had left.

Briar sighed deeply, she followed Ashlynn’s gaze then said to her. “At least Apple had calmed down, that should mean that when she next encounters Raven, she will be much less likely to fight with her over what has happened.”

“I hope you are right.” Ashlynn murmured, she then turned and looked at Briar. She decided it was time to voice something to her friend which had been on her mind for the longest time now. “Raven doesn’t deserve to be blamed for all of this. I have to admit sometimes when I see the way Apple treats Raven, it reminds me of the way the wicked step sisters are supposed to treat me…Have you ever thought that Raven was like…Like a princess or maiden?”

Briar didn’t even hesitate to answer this, but eventually said. “Yes…A lot of times. I don’t think we are the only ones to have noticed that fact either.”

Ashlynn nodded, she too had noticed the way that the other fairy tales had been looking at Raven lately, she suspected a lot of the Royals knew that Raven was now a maiden or princess and where just reluctant to say anything because of the way that Apple might react to this knowledge. Ashlynn was also sure that the Rebels where well aware that their leader could be classed in this way to but she had seen the way they looked at Raven it was different from that of the Royals, they treated her more like a King or Queen. Ashlynn could only wonder what all of this conflicting fairy tale energy would mean for Raven and her desire to be able to write her own story.

Chapter Text

Chapter four:

Darling was walking through the castle she was still deeply confused and hurt, this pain was increased by the fact that Apple was openly avoiding and ignoring her at all costs. Her princess wouldn’t even talk to her, as soon as Apple noticed her coming to talk to her, she would either quickly walk away or find someone else to talk to.

Her heart and body hurt so much, all this pain was terrible, Darling knew that characters in fairy tales often suffered before they reached their happy ending, but this shouldn’t be the case for her now. She should be experiencing the heady euphotic happy ending with her princess, they should be betrothed to marry, but instead she had nothing but hurt and humiliation heaped on her.

Apple didn’t seem to realise she was not the only one to suffer pain in her story, there was no thought given to her pain at seeing Apple poisoned or her suffering when Daring kissed her and nothing happened. No instead Apple was only focused on her own wants and needs to the detriment and even pain or harm of others. It was such actions which made Darling wonder why or how she had ever fallen in love with the princess, but then Apple would do something good and kind which reminded Darling of the reasons why she loved her.

Darling moved her thoughts away from Apple to Raven, she was nothing like Apple, she had actually always been very kind towards her and supportive of her desire to change her destiny and these had been the reasons she had made friends with her. Darling was very glad of have her as a friend, she had never realised that Raven had romantic feelings towards her and she wondered when and how long Raven had been in love with her.

Darling knew that right now, in the state she was in it would be so easy for her to use Raven as a rebound relationship, but Darling felt that she deserved a whole lot better than that. Raven deserved a prince, or princess as the case was, who would treat her like the Queen she clearly was and would love her with all of their heart.

Darling came to a halt by a window, she let out a deep sigh and looked out of the window without really seeing the view beyond. After a few moments she shook herself out of her reverie, Darling then looked at the room around her she was high up in one of the towers, it appeared she had found an area seldom visited by anyone judging by the vast cobwebs here.

Her eyes came to settle on a statue in one wall of the tower, she was an angel holding a sword, the point of which was settled onto the pedestal in which was an open space contacting two books. Driven by the same curiosity which had made her investigate Wonderland and become the white knight Darling moved towards the statue and carefully picked up the two books from the nook. She quickly brought out a handkerchief, carefully Darling used it to cleaned them of the dust and read the titles of the books to herself. “The good King’s daughter and the laws of stories and fairy tales.”

After reading this Darling then looked up at the figure who had been guarding these books her eyes where closed, but there was something about this angelic figure which commanded respect from Darling and made her feel as though she was watching her. “I can see you have been watching over these books for a long time, I promise I will take good care of them. I wonder who you are meant to be or what…? There aren’t many angelic being’s in fairy tales…I wonder if you had something to do with this story. The Good King’s daughter I’ve never heard that story before. I wonder why you were guarding such an old law book…?”

Darling walked away with the books, with her back to the statue she was unaware that it now had a smile on it’s face which had not been there a moment ago. Darling secreted the books into her purse, which like many of those belonging to princesses was a lot bigger on the inside than it looked on the outside.

Quickly she went back to her room, it at times like this that Darling was glad her roommate was Rosabella was such a bookworm, two more books would go unnoticed in a room full of books. Darling made sure that the other princess wasn’t there, then brought the books out of her bag, she settled herself on the bed and started to read the story of the Good King’s daughter.

 

In the school library Raven put aside the last of the books she had brought down from the shelves which might help her in her search and sighed deeply. Despite her best efforts and those of her friends they hadn’t found anything about the law Cerise had mentioned. “Well, at least we tried.” Raven said to them in a soft sad voice as she looked at the others.

Cerise looked back at her and said to her apologetically. “I’m so sorry Raven…I was sure we’d be able to find the old law and you’d be able to be free of your mother’s destiny.”

Raven didn’t want Cerise to feel unhappy that she had been wrong so she hugged her friend. “It’s okay, finding it was a long shot. I’m sure even if we had found the law it would have been repealed by now, you know how people are about traditional path being carried on by each generation.”

“I know.” Cerise said with a sigh hugging Raven back.

Raven released Cerise, before saying to them. “Well I should head back to my dorm room and face Apple.” After she said this Raven stood up and left the library heading back to the dorm rooms.

Cedar was the one to break the silence between them as she said to them determinedly. “We need to find that law! Raven doesn’t deserve to be hounded by Apple into performing a role which she doesn’t want.”

The other two nodded together they put back the books Raven had been looking at, before going through the library catalogue to see if there where any other books they could try looking in for information to help Raven and when they found some Cerise, Cedar and Maddie found those books on the shelves and looked in them too.

 

Raven came into her dorm room, she walked over to her side of the room, well aware of Apple watching her with piercing blue eyes from where she was sitting on her bed. “So, your back at last.” Apple said in a sulky sniping tone.

“Yes I am.” Raven answered simply.

Apple got off of the bed and walked over to Raven. “I’m not surprised you ran away from your destiny again.”

“Apple it’s not my destiny any more. You were poisoned by my mother and saved by Darling. Your story is over weather you like it or not.” Raven said in a reasonable voice.

Apple glared at Rave before saying with exasperation. “I know my story is over. What I don’t understand is how it can be considered to be so when I don’t love Darling?”

“True love is a very powerful force, I don’t think any of us know just how strong.” After she said this Raven looked at Apple with a piercing gaze as if she where inspecting some rare being or interesting artefact. “If you really don’t love Darling then speaking from a magical stand point Darling’s love for you must be both true and very powerful for you to be awake. It’s rare that happens, but it does happen, Madam Yaga told Faybelle and myself about such occurrences because our stories revolved around true loves kiss. It would have been interesting for me to see that kiss, I would like to have seen how much true loves light was put out by it. This would allow me to judge with taking into account your feelings how strong Darlings love for you is.”

Apple backed away from Raven slightly, she’s never seen her look at her so intensely before, it made her feel strange inside like someone released a thousand butterflies in her tummy. Apple had never felt like this before in her whole life and Apple couldn’t help but wonder what this feeling meant.

As Raven continued to stair at her Apple felt herself starting to blush. “Stop…looking at me…like…like that!” Apple stuttered out completely flustered.

Raven quickly responds to these words, she moves back from Apple and then turns her gaze away from her. As soon as Raven isn’t looking at her Apple feels strangely bereft and wonders what in the name of fairy tales is happening to her. “Sorry I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable. It’s just a rare occurrence that one sided true love manages to save someone, I as a student of magic find this happening between yourself and Darling extremely interesting. You are sure you don’t love Darling in some way?”

“YES!” Apple yells at her emphatically.

Raven held up both hands in a gesture of surrender as she said. “Sorry I just wanted to be sure of your feelings towards Darling.”

“Look all I want is to help Darling move on and find a princess who is happy to be rescued by her. Then maybe I can find a prince of my own, the prince I always should have had.” Apple explained to Raven in a sure and steady voice.

For her part Raven could hardly believe the words coming out of Apple’s mouth. It was clear that she was only willing to help Darling in order to get something for herself, in this case her perfect prince. The extent of Apple’s selfishness and short sightedness had always surprised Raven, but right now it sickened her to the very core, if this was an example of Apple being the fairest of them all then Raven was seriously worried for the other fairy tales and their kingdoms. “Apple, you can’t just make Darling fall in love with someone else!”

“I know that!” Apple said stomping her foot with anger. “You sound just like Ashlynn and Briar. I don’t intend to make Darling do anything, I simply wish to help her find another true love, so I can do the same and since you love her maybe you could help me move her affections away from me and onto you.”

Raven shook her head and said in a fierce voice. “No Apple! I refuse to be part of one of your hair brain plans. If Darling comes to love me as much as I do her then that is one thing, but plotting to gain her heart is another…That is underhanded…It’s more like something my mother would do and if you aren’t careful you will end up all alone as she has.”

“How can you say that to me?” Apple demanded of her unable to believe what she is hearing from her roommate.

“Because someone has to warn you of the likely result of your actions! I’m probably the only one brave enough to say such things to you.” Raven told her with exasperation.

Apple glared at her as she said with contempt. “I will not end up like your mother, that is not my destiny because I’m not evil.”

Raven glared right back at the princess. “Right now you sound just like her! Everything is about you and the only reason your considering helping Darling is because you hope it will benefit you in some way.”

Apple’s furry grew, how dare Raven say such things to her. “Your unbelievable! I am the perfect fair princess!”

“Fair! Fair! You call this fair?! If you where being fair you would have let Darling down gently, you would have told her you would be honoured to help her find a new princess. Not plot behind her back like some villain!” Raven told her with anger and pain clear in her voice.

This made Apple even more angry than before. “Don’t call me a villain! The only one here who should be villain is you.”

“I’m hardly that, I’m more like the long suffering captive of yours!” Raven yelled at her without thinking.

Both of them fell silent as the truth of those words hit them both hard. Apple had never considered Raven in the light of a poor princess being held captive by a princess who was selfish beyond compare, but now she did Apple didn’t like the light such words cast her in at all. Apple eyed Raven with open disbelief, hurt and disgust before racing out of the room and leaving Raven there alone.

Raven let out a deep sigh and said softly to herself. “If only I were some princess or Queen being held by a selfish princess, then I’d have a prince to rescue me.” Raven instantly pictured Darling climbing up here to rescue her dressed in her princely way. This made her sigh all over again, but this time the sigh was a lot more wistful and heartfelt.

Raven hated to argue with Apple, and they had been arguing a lot less lately, but there where occasions where it was unavoidable. Raven was sad that Apple appeared to have learned nothing by freeing her mother and seeing what she was trying to avoid becoming. Why did Apple refuse to see what was right in front of her? How much more had to happen before she learned her lesson and stopped trying to pretend these things hadn’t happened and life could go back to normal or at least what was normal for her.

Raven had to admit she hated this seemingly never-ending cycle of events which always went on between herself and Apple. Since however she knew how things went between them, Raven was aware that Apple would not come back to their room tonight, she would more than likely go bemoan her fate to Briar and Ashlynn. Raven pitted them for having to deal with her in the mood Apple was in, but at the same time she was grateful to know that she would have a night of peace.

 

Apple found Briar in one of the school corridors and walked over to her, before whispering to her friend. “I need to talk to you about Raven, she said some horrible things to me.”

Briar took her friends arm and led her to a quiet part of the school. “Raven said something unkind to you, why what happened?”

Apple told her everything which had happened and as she same to the end of her retelling Briar shook her head at her friend. “Oh Apple! No wonder Raven reacted the way she did. She loves Darling and wants to protect her from harm. I don’t think she meant to hurt you, in fact from what you say Raven is worried about you, she doesn’t want to see you end up like her mother. I’m not saying you would Apple, I am just saying that Raven knows the signs better than anyone and if you look at the way you have been behaving from her perspective then it is easy to see why she would be concerned about you. You never seem to learn from what happens when you try to force others to conform to your idea of the perfect fairy tale and always go back to your old habit of trying to get your way. Raven is her own person, you can’t control her like a puppet and before you yell that I should be on her side I want you to stop and think, you’re a smart woman use your brain for a moment.”

Apple took a deep calming breath before she then did as Briar suggested and thought about everything from Raven’s point of view and she had to concede that there was something to what her friend way saying to her. Raven knew what her mother was like, she wouldn’t want her friends and family to lose her in the same way she had lost her own mother.

Apple had never before stopped to think what it might be like for Raven to grow up without her mother and to know everyone expected her to grow up to be just like her it had to be painful and lonely. Trying to imagine her own life without her mother was agonizing, Apple wondered who had actually raised Raven, she never spoke about her family and shamefully she had never thought to ask about it.

She also began to think about what it must be like to live with someone who caused endless trouble to get their way and when their plans failed went right back to the start to try all over again. It must be annoying to say the least, it was no wonder Raven said she felt like she was being held captive by her. Apple felt a huge wave of guilt and shame hit her, it was no wonder that Raven had been distancing herself from her lately.

After a few more moments Apple started to think about Raven being in love with Darling, again pain reared its head inside her and she couldn’t understand why she should feel such pain thinking about them being together. It must be hard to be in love with someone who was truly in love with someone else and it would have taken a lot of bravery on Raven’s part to put her heart out there in front of the whole school. Apple couldn’t help but wonder what might happen to Raven if Darling was unable to return her feelings, she felt sure it would be nothing good and a sudden shudder went through the princess. “I owe Raven as well as Darling an apology. In fact I think I need to tell Raven I plan to learn from what happened this time…I really don’t want to end up like the evil Queen…I can only imagine what it must be like to have to grow up without your mother and know your child will have to do the same if you take up the title of Evil Queen.”

Briar gave her a wide smile and said with relief and joy. “There is the smart compassionate best friend ever after I know.”

Apple gave her oldest friend a very sheepish look. “I’ve been a bit troll like lately haven’t I?”

Briar took Apple by the shoulder, she looked into her eyes and said in an intense emotional voice. “Lately doesn’t cover it Apple. I am going to say this one last time, your story is over, the best thing you can do is help Darling for no other reason than she deserves the help after your rejection and make peace with Raven so that the two of you at least have some chance to be friends again. I don’t ever and I mean ever, want to go through anything like the dragon games disaster again! People have forgiven you this time, but lots of us are getting fed up with your need to have your perfect fairy tale. The fact you will do anything to get that fairy tale is more than a little scary to us and if you carry on it won’t be long before you are classified as a villain, not some silly princess who is easily tempted with her story.”

Apple nodded and looked well and truly ashamed of everything she had done, it was finally dawning on her that her story really was over and if she wanted any good to come out of this then she should help to bring Darling and Raven together. For some reason Apple couldn’t understand every time she thought about them becoming a couple she felt pain and an akerid feeling filling her on the inside. Right now Apple decided not to stuffy these feelings it could wait until after she had done something about all the trouble and hurt she had caused Raven and Darling. “I think I need to get both Darling and Raven something as part of my apology, would you help me find something?”

“Sure!” Briar enthused, she was always happy to go shopping, but at the same time Briar was also glad to see Apple wanting to make things up to Raven and Darling. Briar was also relived to see that at long last Apple seemed to have finally realised that she had been behaving in a less than princess like manor lately. Together the friends set off together towards book end in order to go shopping for gifts for Darling and Raven

Chapter Text

Chapter five:

As she finished reading Darling put the story of the Good King’s Daughter down, her eyes where wide and her mind was awash with millions of questions. There where lots of Good King’s, so why had this story been lost? It wasn’t in the book of legends which made no sense, this would make the perfect story to stand alongside the other’s it’s moral and the true love involved where all just as strong as those of the main stories. Had the brother’s Grim for some reason tries to destroy this story or let it be forgotten? And If so why? Who was the winged being protecting the story?

As an idea of how to answer her last question came to Darling, she quickly hid the book in her bedside draws, Darling hastily located some blank paper, a pencil and an eraser and started to draw the statue she had seen. When Darling was happy with the picture she folded it up and went in search of Cupid to see if the cherub might know who it was or if not where she might be able to look to discover who this angel was.

She located Cupid tending to her roses and approached her saying cheerfully as she approached Cupid. “Hey Cupid! I was wondering if you can help me with something.”

Cupid turned to her with eyes which glowed with anticipation, she clapped her hands together and said with excitement. “I was hoping you would come to me with help over your current romantic issues!”

“Actually it’s not about that…Then again maybe it kind of is. Any way…I was walking through the castle trying to sort out all of my confused thoughts and feelings and when I finally stopped thinking I found myself in a tower room…I turned around to leave and found a statue there…One which struck me as odd because it was of an angel…No offence meant…And I hope you won’t take any but, angels don’t appear in many fairy tales. I’ve never seen this one before any were, I was wondering if you knew which angel it was and maybe why it was there.” Darling explained to her before she held out her drawing to Cupid.

She carefully accepted the paper, Cupid unfolded the picture, she took one look at it and her mouth and eyes opened wide. When at last Cupid spoke to her it was in a voice which was serious in a way which Darling had never heard it before. “You are sure this is the figure you saw?”

“Yes, very…Why is this bad?” Darling asked with sudden concern.

Cupid quickly shook her head at her and set out to reassure Darling. “No, she isn’t bad…But Father said she was lost a long time ago…Could she have been hiding here all this time? Meraki…”

Now very confused Darling couldn’t help but ask her. “Who or what is Meraki?”

Cupid took a deep breath and then explained to Darling as best as she could. “She is or was discovered by the gods long ago, before you ask why you’ve never heard of her we have always kept Meraki secret…Meraki was too precious to lose…We’ve been searching for such a long time, through worlds and realties for where Meraki went. She is the goddess, guide and protector of those carrying true love, Meraki is an expert at hiding herself and it would make a lot of sense why she would hide here, in a place where true love is still sought and respected. Meraki will have left where she was by now, I wonder what she has chosen to hide herself as this time?”

“So wait…I found her because I’m truly in love…Do you think Meraki was trying to help me?” Darling asked in a voice which was no more than a whisper.

Cupid nodded at her. “The true love I sense from you is very strong and pure, it would have called her out of hiding no doubt about it. Now she had been summoned Meraki will try to help you in any way she can, think of her as a bit like a fairy godmother, but a whole lot more powerful. I need to warn Raven too…” As she said this Cupid slammed her hand over her mouth realising what she had inadvertently just told Darling.

Darling stared at her for a few timeless moments, she trampled down on the urge to exclaim in shock that Cupid had just intimated Raven was truly in love and since she was in love with her that would mean she truly loved her. “Oh…Oh this isn’t good.” Darling said eventually.

Cupid said nothing, she just reached out and gently squeezed one of her shoulders, then set off to find Raven and talk to her.

Darling watched her go unable to say a word, she sat down on a small bench in the rose garden and placed her head in her hands and muttered to herself. “What a mess…Still I have hope…The story of the Good King’s daughter…I fit the prince who arrives with the broken heart looking for aid…Could I bring a whole story back to life by myself? No, no that wouldn’t be possible, but maybe…If I spoke to the current Good King, maybe he has a daughter…And maybe he and she would be willing to help me. King Stephan is a family friend, so getting in touch with him shouldn’t look to strange, I have to try I can’t let what’s happened to me defeat me.” Darling stood up and set off to make contact with the Good King.

 

Cupid knocked on the door to Raven and Apples room, this knock was opened a few moments later by Raven, who looked at her with confusion and asked with concern. “Can I help you Cupid?”

“Can I come in I need to talk to you, it’s very important.” She said in a serious voice.

At the sound of her voice Raven quickly opened up the door and gestured her inside. “Of course please come in.”

Cupid came inside, she sat down on the end of Raven’s bed, she patted the space next to her. “Come sit with me Raven.” She did just this, while at the same time Raven wondered what was bothering the usually peppy angel. “I have something to tell you. It’s just well…Darling discovered another angel of love. Meraki is a little like me an assistant to love, but she only aids those who hold true love. I wanted you to know that Meraki has already made an appearance to Darling and I do not think it will be long before she makes an appearance to you too.”

Raven gulped and looked down at her hands, which shook in her lap. “I knew I loved Darling strongly, and I suspected that it was true love but having that confirmed frightens me…I was always fearful about the idea, because of how much loving my mother hurt my father.” Gently Cupid put an arm around Raven, she leant against Cupid and said in a soft voice. “Maybe I should just go home and forget about the foolish idea of anyone ever being able to love me…All they ever see is my mother, no one ever sees me.”

Quickly Cupid shook her head and gave her a reassuring squeeze. “I know that lately more people here are starting to no longer see you as your mother’s daughter. You’ve proven time and time again you are a good and kind person. I know for sure that you have a pure and good heart, I think that you of all the people at this school are deserving of a happy ending.”

“But while I love Darling, who is truly in love with Apple I have no chance of that.” She said in a soft, sad voice as tears started to silently fall.

“Oh Raven.” Cupid said with compassion, hugging her a little closer and trying to offer her what comfort she could.

Apple entered the room a few moments later, the instant she noticed Raven sitting on the bed with Cupid hugging her concern filled Apple. She dropped her shopping bags on the ground, quickly Apple came over to the bed, looked at Cupid and asked her in a soft voice. “What happened?”

Cupid bit her lip, unsure if she should tell Apple or not. Cupid looked to Raven, she was so upset and clearly someone needed to keep an eye on Raven so that she didn’t do something foolish while she was suffering in the way she was. “If I tell you this Apple, I need you to promise me you won’t say anything to anyone else unless it’s necessary and that you won’t judge Raven in a bad way or use the knowledge against her in any way.” Apple nodded and Cupid spoke to her again. “No Apple promise me, out loud and on your honour.”

Apple took a deep breath, as she knew with her asking her something like this, that whatever Cupid had to tell her was very serious. “I promise you Cupid on my honour. I will keep this secret, I shall not tell it to anyone unless it’s necessary, I will not judge Raven in a negative way or use the information against her.”

Now satisfied that Apple will keep her word to her Cupid spoke to Apple again. “Raven is truly in love with Darling, a fact she finds extremely painful for obvious reasons.”

“Oh Raven.” Apple said compassionately, as she pulled out a white handkerchief, with a bright green apple pattern on it and handed it to Raven.

Raven accepted the handkerchief from her and asked between the tears. “This hurts so much.”

“I know.” Cupid said gently to her. “You cry as much as you need to. I think you’ve held all this in far too long.”

With this gentle encouragement Raven properly erupted into full on tears. Apple had never seen Raven like this before now, she felt terrible for her, so Apple climbed on the bed and joined Cupid in hugging her. They both held onto Raven tightly supporting her as much as they could, eventually Raven stopped crying, and was clearly utterly bone tired, but managed to blow her nose into Apple’s handkerchief.

Apple released Raven from the hug, quickly she went to the bathroom, she brought back to Raven a warm wet flannel to wash her face with, as she handed it over to her Raven smiled at her gratefully and washed off her face before handing the flannel back to her. Apple returned it to the bathroom, while she was in the bathroom Apple filled a glass there with some water, and brought this over to Raven saying to her firmly as she did so. “Here drink this, when you’ve done that you’re going to get changed into pyjamas and get some rest understand?”

Unused to Apple acting in the commanding fashion of the Queen she would become Raven gave her a startled look, but she was to tired to argue and Raven felt at the same time she shouldn’t. “Okay.”

Raven drank all of the water, then she stood up slowly and made her way into the bathroom to clean her teeth. Once the door to the bathroom was closed Apple looked to Cupid, she said to her in a gentle voice. “I’ll take care of Raven. Don’t worry I won’t be causing Raven any kind of trouble tonight, she doesn’t deserve that.”

“I’ll go once she is in bed.” Cupid said firmly, as she felt despite these reassurances there was a high possibility that Apple might say or do something to upset Raven further.

Apple was stung by Cupid’s lack of trust in her, but at the same of time she understood why Cupid didn’t trust her with Raven, she had done little lately to be worthy of any ones trust.

When Raven returned to the room, she quietly stepped behind a screen, where she changed into simple purple set of pyjamas and made her way over to her bed. Raven climbed into the bed, she drew her bed sheets over her, snuggled down, she pulled a toy black dragon under the covers close to her and soon Raven was fast asleep.

Once Cupid was happy Raven was asleep she looked across at Apple, before saying to her in a firm steely voice. “If you do anything to hurt Raven while she is in this much pain, I will make you regret it do you understand?”

Dumbly Apple nodded her answer to this question, she had never seen Cupid look so much like a vengeful goddess as she did in this one moment. With a satisfied that Apple would behave Cupid gave a nod, she cast a hidden protection charm on Raven and then left the room.

Apple looked down on the sleeping Raven, she looked very beautiful, like a pale princess who was suffering heart ache over her prince and how Apple wanted to help her. At the same time though she was hit with an inability to stop watching Raven as she slept, a warm feeling was sweeping over her and Apple smiled down at her.

Eventually she somehow managed to wrench her eyes away from her, Apple quietly made her way across the room being careful not to make a noise which might wake up Raven. Carefully Apple picked up her phone she hexted the headmaster to tell him that Raven and herself would not be at class for the rest of the day due to recent events and that she would appreciate him not calling either of them and she would let him know if they would be back at classes tomorrow.

White she waited for a response from the headmaster Apple turned her phone onto silent, then picked up a book from the bedside table, she climbed onto her own bed, then Apple set up the pillows so she was comfortable and settled down to read. When her phone vibrate a few moments later, she read the return hext from the headmaster who agreed to leave them alone. Milton told her Cupid had come to see him and that after a long talk with her he had no intention of pestering them to come back to class until they felt they were ready. Milton sent a second hext a few moments later saying he would have class mates send them both notes to their mirror pads from their classes for the day.

 

Raven was dreaming, she was walking through the garden of her home which was in full bloom. Raven was surprised to find herself not dressed in black or deep purple, but a lose maidenly shimmering silver dress, with purple decoration. Raven walked over to the lake and looked down at herself, she was still pale, her hair was still drawn back in its normal style, but the spiked head band was gone replaced with simple elegant arches or silver.

There was a sudden rustle from the nearby bushes, Raven quickly came to her feet, she turned to find Darling falling through the bushes battered and bruised. Hastily Raven went over to her, Darling’s once long lovely hair was in ragged remains and she was also covered in dirt. Quickly Raven caught her against her, she helped to steady Darling, who looked up at her with painfilled eyes and murmured in a rasping voice. “Please help me.”

Raven nodded, see her do this Darling slumped against her falling into oblivion. Then a shining figure appeared behind Darling in the forest, her hair was long and brown, she had wings and carried a sword. “Meraki…” Raven whispered in awe.

The light glowing from her faded slightly, she wore simple white robe like dress, Meraki smiled at her and said softly. “Do not give up. Hope always, because this is something which can happen for you. I will try to help guide Darling into your arms where she always belonged. When the time is right you will know.”
Raven gave her a nod, as darkness started to fall over the dream she focused on Darling’s face burning it into her mind before it to was gone and she drifted off into a dreamless, but healing sleep.

 

Apple’s attention was draw from her book when Raven started to glow with a bright gold light, she may not have seen this light when she had been woken up, but Apple knew what it was the light of true love. Apple wondered what was happening, but she didn’t dare move, whatever this was it wasn’t for her to interfere with as true love was far too important to be impeded in anyway. Apple felt that all she could do was watch over Raven in this moment and hope that nothing bad was happening to her.

When the light eventually went out, Apple placed her book to one side, she made her way quietly across the room in order to check on Raven, she appeared to be sleeping peacefully Apple was glad to see this and happy she hadn’t been hurt by whatever had happened and made her way back to where she had been.

A few hours later Raven woke up, she felt a lot better now, slowly Raven sat up in bed, yawned, stretched and then addressed Apple. “How long was I asleep?”

Apple put her book to one side and answered this question. “Three hours. How are you feeling?”

“I feel a little better…I had a dream…I think I met Meraki the deity Cupid told me about.” Raven told Apple her voice thoughtful.

When she said this Apple felt she should tell Raven about the glowing which had occurred during her sleep and so said to her in a very soft voice. “You started glowing with the golden light of true love while you were sleeping. Can I ask you what your dream was about? Please be assured that you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”

Raven shook her head at Apple. “I don’t feel ready to talk to you about my dream…I’m sorry Apple, I just don’t feel I can trust you with something like this.”

It really didn’t surprise Apple when Raven said this to her. “It’s alright I understand, I haven’t proven myself trust worthy to anyone recently. I know it doesn’t make up for all of my past behaviour, but I apologise for what I’ve been doing and I brought you a couple of gifts to say sorry for everything.”

Raven was shocked that not only was Apple apologising and had got her something. “You didn’t have to get me anything.”

“I know but I wanted to.” Apple assured her handing three bags over to Raven.

“Apple this is far too much!” Raven exclaimed in shock.

Apple shook her head. “No it’s not enough, but I hope it will help you to start to forgive me. Go ahead open them.”

Raven opened the first bag out of which a book about great Queens, this title pleasantly surprised her and this was clear in her voice when she said to Apple. “Oh, thank you Apple this look interesting.”

“Yes I thought it might be something which would interest you,” Apple told her glad to see that Raven really seemed to be interested in the book.

Raven placed the book to one side, she then opened up the next bag and smiled as the scent of her favourite bubble bath, soap and shampoo wafted out. “Umm. I love this dewberry bath collection.”

Apple smiled at the sight of the blissful expression on Raven’s face. “Yes I know you do. I hope I brought you all the things you like to use…I wen on what I remembered seeing in our bathroom.”

“Yes you chose wonderfully.” Raven assured her before opening the third bag, out of this she pulled a pad covered in silver fabric, it came with a silver quill and a set of colourful pencils.

“I though you might like to use it for your notes on herbs and their magical properties. I know working with them interests you a great deal.” Apple said feeling rather proud she had managed to think of this idea on her own.

Raven smiled at her brilliantly, sending Apple’s heart into a flutter. “That is a wonderful idea, thank you Apple.”

“Your welcome.” Apple told her in a soft voice, trying to control her blushing.

“I should get up, we need to get to class.” Raven said feeling both tired and regretful.

Apple shook her head at Raven. “No, we don’t need to go to class. I hexted the headmaster and told him we needed at least the rest of the day to ourselves. He agreed with me and said that we should take as much time as we need before returning to class. The headmaster also told me that he would get our class mates to send us over notes from our classes on our mirror pads.”

As Apple told her all of this Raven relaxed. “Well that’s good of him. I’m surprised he let me have time off too.”

“Cupid went to talk to him and I think she might have scared him a little.” Apple told her with a giggle.

Raven couldn’t help but giggle too, as she did so Apple felt that wonderful warm feeling running through her again and Apple as she so often did around Raven lately wondered what this strange new feeling was. Apple thought that maybe it was a deeper form of friendship she was starting to feel for Raven now she knew that Raven could never be her villain. At the same time though this idea didn’t strike Apple as quiet right and she made a note to herself to talk to Ashlynn and Briar about this when she next had time.

Apple turned her full attention back to Raven and said to her. “How does it sound to you that I join you on your bed with my pillows and we spend the rest of the day in pyjamas, eat some chocolates and watch some sappy romantic moves on our mirror pads?”

“That sounds blissful.” Raven told her gratefully, before grabbing her pillows and settling them behind her.

Apple quickly changed into her own pyjamas, she picked up a bag of sweets she had brought while in town placing it on her arm, then Apple grabbed her pillows and mirror pad before joining Raven on her bed. After getting herself settled on the bed, Apple pulled up a list of films she had on her mirror pad and said to Raven. “Go ahead and pick a movie.” Raven did just that while Apple got them out some of the chocolate to eat as they watched.

Chapter Text

Chapter six:

Meanwhile Darling was alone in her room as Rosabella was out helping Ashlynn with some of the animals and she was taking full advantage of her temporary privacy to make a mirror call to the good King. When the he answered the call it was clear that the good King was surprised to find that she was calling him and asked her curiously. “Darling Charming, goodness why are you calling me?”

Darling understood his shook and so she quickly answered the question. “Hello King Stephan, I have called you because I wanted to talk to you about the story of the good King’s daughter.”

“How would you even know about that story?” He asked her his shock growing and worry stating to set in, he hoped that she had not worked out Raven was his daughter, because if she had it could cause all sorts of trouble for them both.

“I found a copy of the story in the school. Why have I never heard of it before?” Darling asked him wanting to understand how it had become lost.

Stephan let out a deep breath, he was extremely relived that Darling didn’t know Raven was his daughter and so he felt it was safe to answered this question. “It was always a story which was local to my home Kingdom and of that neighbouring mine, because of this the story of the good King’s daughter was never as well known as the other fairy tales…It’s actually still very popular here. What I don’t understand is your interest in the story.”

Darling took a moment to work out how to explain her interest in the story to him. “Apple doesn’t want me for her prince and there is something about this story which made me wonder if perhaps I could become part of this story…After all the prince in this story…”

King Stephan cut her off quickly saying with some pain in his voice. “Yes I know…After all I was that prince once…My first wife was the one to save me…You have my sympathies for the pain you must be suffering at this time. As you know my daughter was Snow White…”

She gave him a nod. “Yes I know she is your first daughter, but I wondered if perhaps you might have another daughter who might be willing to join me in the story. I think if we where to play that story out together, then the story of the good King’s daughter could join the ranks of the powerful fairy tales, making your family even more powerful than it is now.”

“I don’t care about power.” Stephan told her simply and there was a silence for a few moments before he spoke to Darling again. “I do have a second daughter, but I am unsure if she would wish to belong to any fairy tale and the story of the good King’s daughter is full of pain and darkness for the princess, before the light is found.”

“I know…And I am aware I am asking a lot of any princess to take up that tale, but I think it might be the only way I can find a happy ending and someone to truly love me.” Darling told him truthfully, the pain she felt for her rejection by Apple was clear and so was her desperation to find a new story and princess to belong to.

Stephan sighed deeply, he was unsure what Raven would make of Darling wanting to become the prince in the good King’s daughter. “Your sure Apple wants nothing to do with you?”

Darling gave him a nod. “Yes, she has made her negative opinion of me and of my being her prince very clear.”

“I’m afraid that I can’t say yes or no to your request before I talk to my daughter about it.” Stephan told her seriously.

Darling smiled at him, she was glad to hear that he wasn’t saying no right out to what she was asking of him. “I wouldn’t expect you too. As it is only right that you should ask your daughter if she is willing to enter into the story with me.”

Stephan smiled back at her. “I am glad you understand the situation. I will talk to my daughter tomorrow at some point and then I will get back to you with our decision. Have you spoken to your own parents about everything that has happened and your desire to become the prince in another story because of it all?”

Darling shook her head sadly. “I know they won’t react well to me out shining Daring or the fact that I did something which is less than the perfect princess image which is expected of a Charming daughter…After all you know what my story was supposed to be.”

Stephan nodded and said. “Yes I do, I never really approved of it…Hopefully my daughter and myself can help you become a prince of a story which will prevent you parents from forcing you to become the princess you clearly do not want to be.”

“Thank you.” Darling whispered gratefully to him.

“You are welcome.” Stephan said to her before signing off of their chat.

Darling let out a deep sigh, she flopped back on the bed and looked up at the canopy of her bed without really seeing it. She hopped with all of her heart that Stephan would be able to convince his daughter to help her by becoming her princess. Darling really didn’t want to stay rejected or to be forced to play out the story she had been born to retell.

 

When Raven woke up the next morning she felt so much better than she had the night before, it appeared that crying over all the pain she felt and then getting some rest had done her the world of good. She had to admit that there had also been something about spending last night with Apple as just two friends watching movies and chatting, which had been soothing to her soul.

Raven slowly sat up in bed, she was happy that she didn’t need to go to classes today, it both gave her time to recuperate from all the chaos of the last few days and to wrap her midwinter gifts for all her friends. There was one person though who Raven had found hard getting a gift for and that person was Darling, nothing she ever found seemed right for her and this fact was starting to get Raven down now.

Raven decided to consider all of the ideas which she had for gifts for Darling and try to choose the best one out of these choices. So she reached out and grabbed a pad of note paper and a pen which she kept beside her bed in case inspiration for new herbal mixtures struck in the night and started to write her ideas for gifts for Darling down on it.

Apple woke to find Raven sitting in bed staring intently at one of her pads, she had seen this expression of deep contemplation on her face before, it usually meant that Raven had thought up some new combination of herbs and was trying to work out if it would be as useful and effective as she felt it would be. Apple smiled to herself, it was in moments like this that Raven’s witch heritage was very clear to see and for some reasons she didn’t understand Apple found it adorable.

“You look very serious over there, what are you concentrating on so hard?” Apple asked her in a light tone of voice.

Raven looked up from the pad at Apple, she smiled at her roommate and then answered this question. “Morning. Yeah I’m trying to work out a good midwinter gift for Darling and failing, none of these choices feel right to me.”

Apple felt a sudden pain in her chest as Raven told her what the centre of her concentration was, but she couldn’t help but ask Raven. “Is it really that hard to choose something for her?”

“Yes it is, I want this gift to be absolutely perfect. It needs to be beautiful, but useful, something which shows both her prince and princess side and demonstrates to Darling just how much I love her.” Raven told Apple her eyes falling back to her page again.

A burning feeling went through Apple, as this happened she realised that she was envious of Darling for having all of Ravens attention. This feeling of envy towards Darling was an emotion which Apple couldn’t understand, after all she had no reason to feel this way, in fact if anything she should be glad that Raven loved Darling so much.

Apple quickly pushed this feeling to one side, she was determined to help Raven and Darling become closer, so she took a deep breath and then asked her. “So what do you have on the list?”

In answer to this question Raven said to Apple in depressed tone of voice. “Honestly nothing inspiring, a book I have no idea what kind though, jewellery that may be to feminine however, a scarf, or stationary an idea which to be honest feels like I couldn’t be bothered to find her something more personal.”

“I have to agree with you, that list does sound uninspiring.” Apple said in agreement, before she suddenly found herself asking Raven. “Why not make Daring something?”

Raven turned this idea over in her mind, she felt that this idea did have some merit and so she smiled across the room at Apple and said to her gratefully. “That’s not a bad suggestion at all, but what to make? Hm clothes are out as I don’t have measurements to work to and asking for them would be a little off and give away what I was going to make. Darling isn’t one for jewellery…I could make some of my oils, herb magical mixtures or teas, maybe some creams…Oh! Perhaps a combination of the three would be even better. Thank you, Apple that was a very good idea!”

Now full of inspiration she jumped out of bed in her pyjamas, quickly Raven went over to where she kept her note pads and started pulling various ones, muttering to herself as she did so. “Let me see the best ones for Darling…An oil for a relaxing before bed, a herbal tea to help with studying, a healing balm, a refreshing herbal tea for mornings, an oil for protection and a cleanser which can also be used to clean up wounds. How does that selection sound Apple?” Raven asked looking up from the list she had made and over to her roommate, her eyes alight and full of expectation.

“Those sound really good and I can see Darling loving them all as well as finding them useful.” Apple answered with that jealous feeling eating at her again.

“Great!” Raven enthused glad that Apple felt her selection was correct.

Now with a clear plan before her, Raven went into action gathering all the things she would need to make her gift and setting to work on the first one. A warm feeling swept over Apple as the familiar scent of Raven’s herbs filled the air and she watched with a fond smile on her lips as Raven worked.

Knowing that she wouldn’t easily be able to get Raven’s attention until she was finished, Apple slipped out of bed, she got ready for the day ahead. Once she was dressed Apple brought over to Raven’s work table some water to drink and carefully put it on her work desk in easy reach, but at the same time out of the witches way. Apple quietly left the room to go and get some breakfast, she would make sure to get some for Raven too and bring it back to their room for her.

As Apple stood in line for breakfast she looked around the room, Apple noticed Briar, she also noticed her, Briar waved at her and she waved back. As soon as Apple collected her breakfast and also one in an enchanted warm box for Raven, she made her way over to where Briar was sitting and joined her at the table.
Briar gave her a wide friendly smile and asked conversationally. “Morning Apple. How is Raven doing today?”

“Better I think, she seems to be doing her best to cope with everything, but Raven has a lot to think about…Well in honesty we both do. I’m doing my best to try to accept Raven as she is and not try to talk about destiny…Raven is currently hard at work, making Darling’s midwinter gift and I have to say I feel a little envious of her for getting such a personal gift.” Apple admitted to Briar with a deep sigh.

This admission from Apple made her almost drop her toast, but Briar caught herself. “I can well understand your envy, I know that Raven doesn’t often give the things she makes away like that. I have heard rumours that what she makes is of superb quality and sought after by those with knowledge of the makers of such magical herbal products. Any way you look at it Darling is a lucky girl to have won Raven’s heart.”

Apple nodded in agreement and said to Briar thoughtfully. “Yes Darling is extremely lucky in my opinion…I hope she comes to realise that sooner rather than later…I think that if Darling doesn’t then Raven might leave the school…I don’t want her to leave Briar and before you say anything, let me assure you that is not because I want Raven to be my villain…I don’t really know what I want our relationship to be like going forwards…My feelings are just really confused at the moment…All I know is the idea of Raven leaving and never coming back is painful for me”

“A lot has happened, so it makes sense that you are confused right now. Just don’t, I beg you go back to trying to make Raven do what you feel is right, you can’t keep trying to control and restrict Raven, it’s not healthy.” Briar told Apple in a serious voice.

Apple nodded in acknowledgement, before saying to her. “I’m trying, I really am…It’s just hard…I’ve lost so much all at once and it’s so difficult to change the way I behave and react. I have to keep stopping myself, from saying and doing things I would usually do in such situations, but I am trying really hard change for the better.”

“Well as long as you are trying to behave better.” Briar was happy to hear that her friend was trying not to go back to her old ways.

Apple was quiet for a few moments, she wondered if this was the time to talk to Briar about her new warm feelings towards Raven, but as she thought about what Briar had said to her Apple reasoned that this feeling might not be lasting and was probably just part of the confusion she was experiencing at the moment.
Her thoughts where interrupted when Briar spoke to her again. “Now are you going to stop avoiding Darling? I know you don’t want to be with her, but you shouldn’t be ignoring Darling and avoiding her all of the time.”

Apple sighed deeply, she knew that her behaviour hadn’t been the best lately, but facing her prince was very difficult for her, as Darling was a visible reminder to Apple that her story was over and had not ended the way she had wanted to. “It’s just hard. I know that Darling’s feelings are not her fault, but it’s just a bad reminder for me…I don’t want to encourage her to think that I might somehow return her feelings…It would be very wrong to give Darling hope when there isn’t any.”

“I know there isn’t any.” Darling said softly from behind her.

Apple gave a start of surprise and turned to look at Darling. “I’m sorry Darling. I really am…I don’t wish for you to be unhappy but…”

“But you can’t make yourself feel what you don’t. I do understand Apple, it gives me pain that you don’t return my love, and if I had known my true love was so powerful I wouldn’t have done what I did. I hope you believe me about that.” Darling said earnestly to Apple.

Slowly Apple stood, she turned to face her, then gently placed a hand onto one of Darlings, saying softly to her. “I do believe you. I’m only sorry that I couldn’t love you as you wish. I hope in time you can move on from your feelings for me, and before you say it, I know it won’t be easy as true love is involved, after all true love is meant to last a life time, it is meant to be shared by two hearts who love together equally. The true love you carry is very strong and I may not know much, but I think that in time when you are ready it will guide you to the right princess.”

“Thank you Apple.” Darling whispered gratefully, before laying her head onto her shoulder and asked in a small uncertain voice which was nothing like it usually was. “Is everything going to be alright?”

Apple didn’t really know what the answer was to this question, but the words came from no ware. “In time I believe it will be, for both of us.”

“I hope so.” As she spoke Darling straitened, she had allowed herself to be weak, now she would be strong again as a Charming should be. “Time…Yes I think you are right Apple thank you.” Darling said to her before she walked out of the room leaving a silence in her wake.

No one perused her, they didn’t think it was their place to do so, all those there felt her pain and understood that loosing a true love was hard on her, but none of them knew how to comfort Darling.

Quietly Apple placed the handle on the box of Raven’s food on her arm, then she picked up her tray with her empty plate and used cutlery on it, Apple carried it to where it needed to be stacked, with this done she left and made her way back to her dorm room and Raven. Apple was surprised by how much joy she was filled with by this simple notion, Apple tried not to think about what this meant at this time.

When she came back into their room Raven was still hard at work. “You don’t have to stop right now, but I brought you up something to eat.”

Raven looked up from what she was making to look at Apple, there was a smudge on her cheek which made Apple giggle. “You have a smudge on your cheek.” She told her pointing at it’s location on her own face.

Raven chuckled herself. “Well that doesn’t surprise me, well there is no point me cleaning one off, by the time I am finished I will probably need a bath. Thank you for getting me something to eat, knowing me I’d have forgotten to eat otherwise.”

Apple gave her a nod of understanding and held out the charmed box of food towards Raven. “Yes, I know you would have forgotten, when you brew you tend to get lost in your own world.” The truth of these words made Raven blush brightly, she accepted the food from Apple, she sat down on the edge of her bed and started to eat. Apple looked at the jars and bottles on the scattered over table with clear curiosity before turning to Raven and asking her. “How are things going?”

“I’m getting there, but it will be a while until they are ready…It’s a good thing I don’t have to go to class today, it gives me plenty of time to get the mixtures just right.” Raven told Apple as she ate.

Apple was glad to see Raven happy, but she still felt the burning envy that Darling was going to be the recipient of this thoughtful gift. She could see two beautiful glass bottles with feather shaped stoppers waiting for the oils, a pair of blue ceramic pots in the exact shade of Darlings hair streaks where clearly meant for the creams and a duo of small square wooden boxes where open ready to receive the herbal teas. It was clear from all the work and thought that Raven was putting into this gift that she was determined to show Darling just how much she loved her and could supply her with the most thoughtful and beautiful gifts.

“If you will forgive me Apple I need to get back to work.” Raven said to her with a soft smile.

“I understand.” She assured her, picking up a book to read, Apple settled down on her bed and started to read the book.

Raven returned to working on her gift for Darling, glad that Apple was allowing her to work in piece and wasn’t trying to make her behave in some evil way or taint her gift in some way.

Chapter Text

Chapter Seven:

Darling feared how her parent’s would react when they discovered not only had she rejected her own fairy tale role, but had smashed it to smithereens and outshone Daring. So far her mother and father hadn’t said anything to her, but their silence was a lot more frightening to Darling than their anger would have been. She couldn’t help but wonder if this silence was their way of letting her know they did know what had happened and were not pleased with her in the slightest. Darling hoped that this estrangement wouldn’t last too long and that her mother and father would speak to her again and accept what she had become.

Darling now knew from a little research she had done that now she was a fairy tale prince there was nothing her parents could do to change that fact. She was also aware of the fact that now her destiny had been changed her mother and father now could no longer force her to become just another princess charming in a long line of them and she wondered why Stephan had not told her of this…Then again maybe he felt she had needed to discover this new knowledge on her own. She wondered if her parents would think the rejection she had received at Apple’s hands would be just punishment for her daring to step out of her role and into another.

Quickly Darling shook herself, she determinedly turned her thoughts away from these depressing thoughts and onto the story of the good King’s daughter, this story gave Darling some hope that her suffering would be worth something in the end. She hoped with all of her might that the daughter of the good King would be willing to become her princess, the story was particularly hard for the princess and Darling could understand if she didn’t want to help her, but still that hope was something for her to cling to at this time.

Carefully she got out the story of the good King’s daughter, Darling settled back to read it again, she was determined that if the princess said yes to her request then she would be ready by knowing the story off by heart, just as she had known her old fate.

 

Raven had been just finishing one of her oils for Darling when her mirror phone vibrated, she picked it up and read the text. As she read the text her eyes widened, Raven looked around the room to check Apple wasn’t there and when she was happy that her roommate was not there, Raven sat on the edge of the bed and took a few moments to compose the answer to the unexpected message from her father.

Knowing how careful her father was with contacting her, Raven knew that their had to be an important reason for him to be asking to talk to her as soon as possible. Quickly she sent a text to Maddie telling her she needed to talk to her father in secrecy and could she use her room to do so at six that evening. Raven didn’t have to wait long for a positive answer from her old friend and a promise to send Kitty off for an errand to ensure her complete privacy. Raven made sure to thank her friend enthusiastically for her help in this situation. Now happy she had a safe place in which to talk to her father Raven responded to his text with the time when they could talk privately and then returned to making her gift for Darling.

When Apple came into her dorm room, she found Raven just finishing up with her latest part of the gift and was from the clothes waiting for her on the bed apparently going to be getting changed to head out shortly. “Going somewhere?” Apple asked her curiously and with a hint of suspicion to her voice.

Raven didn’t like the way Apple was asking her this question, she didn’t want her comings and goings monitored by her room mate and headmaster’s pet, so she said with a carefree shrug. “Yeah just to Maddie’s room for some tea and a chat.”

“Oh, well have a good time, don’t stay too late.” Apple said with a smile heading over to her vanity table to sit in front of the mirror and start to comb out her hair.

Raven rolled her eyes in frustration as Apple said told her not to be late back and bit back the answer she wanted to give her to these words about her not being her keeper or her parent. As Raven watched her for a few moments, right now Apple once again reminded her of her mother, she was primping herself in the mirror making sure she is the most beautiful girl out there. Raven also resisted commenting on this fact, before she made her way out of the room and to Maddie’s room.

When she entered her friend’s room, Raven quickly closed the door behind her, as she looked around the quiet room, oh how she wished and not for the first time that she had been in this room instead of with Apple, it would have been so much nicer for her as far as Raven was concerned. Raven pushed this fanciful notion to one side, in order to get on with the task at hand, she sat at the table in the room, got out the mirror phone and called her father. “Hello daughter.” Said his familiar voice made Raven smile and filled her with joy.

“Hello father. You wanted to talk to me about something?” She asked him with concern clear in her voice.

He gave her a nod. “Yes, Darling Charming has been in contact with me, I know she is in school with you, but do you know her?”

“Yes I know Darling quiet well.” Raven assured him.

“Ah good.” Stephan took a few moments to gathered his thoughts before addressing Raven again. “I know from her that she was supposed to be Apple’s prince, but was rejected. Darling approached me about possibly becoming the prince in the story of the good King’s daughter.”

Raven was so surprised by these words that she didn’t know what to say, she just stuttered in shock, causing her father to say. “I know, it was rather a shock to me too…I do think however that Darling is very serious about wanting to be the prince of that story. I know from being a good friend of her father’s that such a change in her role will not have gone down well with her family and I cannot help but thing she deserves some kind of help…However for that help to take the form of that story I am not so sure. So I decided to talk to you about it before I said yes or no to Darling.”

“But…But…The story of the good King’s daughter isn’t a well known story…How did Darling ever come to know of the story?” Raven asked her father in shock.

Stephan answered this question in a thoughtful tone of voice. “I’m afraid all I know is that Darling found a copy of the story in the school somewhere. I know what I have told you is a lot to take in. I don’t know if you even have feelings for Darling, I am aware that you didn’t want to take part in a story and that the story of the good King’s daughter has it’s dark parts…I’m not going to make you agree to take up the part of the princess.”

Raven let out a deep sigh before confessing to her father. “I actually do have romantic feelings for Darling father…But she is still in love with Apple…I always liked the story of the good King’s daughter it always gave me hope…I am unsure I want to enter into any fairy tale as you know. I don’t know if it would be wise to agree to her request at this time, after all it may be that in time that after the shook and pain of Apple not wanting her Darling wares off, that she will decide that she doesn’t want to be part of the good King’s daughter and wants to go off questing instead.”

Stephan was pleased to hear his daughter being so wise and cautious over the strange situation she now found herself in. “I have to say I agree with not rushing into a story, your both young and as you say Darling may change her mind once she feels better. Still I have to answer her request, so how about I tell Darling without telling her who you are, that you have concerns about entering into such a story with her at this time. I will also tell Darling that you will probably not be willing to do so until you have some assurance from her that Darling is serious about her request and not just blindly searching for a way to make herself feel better over her rejection by Apple?”

“Yes, I think that sounds like a very good idea.” Raven said with agreement.

There was a short silence before Stephan asked gently. “I wanted to ask you what your plans where now that the story of Snow White is finished?”

Raven let out another deep sigh, before answering this question. “To be honest I don’t know…part of me just wants to come home, another part wants to stay here and pass out of school just to prove that you don’t need to have a story to have a good future.”

“Well Raven you don’t have to graduate from ever after high to prove that, but I can see why you would want to make sure you did graduate from Ever After High. I don’t like the way that you are treated at school, but I know you have many friends there and I feel sure that you are wise enough to tell me if it was all to much for you and ask for my help should you need it. I want you to know what ever you decide to do I will stand beside you.” Stephan assured her.

“Thanks dad.” Raven said to him gratefully, joy filling her, Raven was so happy that her father trusted and loved her so very much.

Stephan said in a loving voice. “Good night my little bird, sleep safely.”

“Night dad.” Raven said ending the call and leaning back against the chair.

She had not expected this call from his father or the subjects they had discussed, but it had felt good to be able to talk to him about her feelings for Darling. Talking to her father was making Raven seriously consider what she wanted to do about her future, did she want to stay here at ever after high and continue the rebel cause? Did she want to go home or maybe to another school? There where so many options open to her now that Raven was dazzled by them…Leaving made her worry about those rebels she would be leaving behind and how Apple might react to such a thing.

There was a knock on the door, Raven got up, she opened the door to find Maddie there, Raven smiled at her and said to her. “Thank you, for letting me use your room for my call. I better head back, Apple told me not to be out to late.”

Maddie frowned at her friend with concern, she had heard Raven say things like this before and it worried her that Apple was always trying to subtly control Raven’s life. For the first time it felt to Maddie like she needed to say something to Raven about the way Apple was always attempting to control her life. “Raven, as you know I seldom am able to talk strait for long. So I want you to listen to me can you do that?”

Raven gave her a nod, Maddie was right she did know how hard it was for Maddie to speak in what she called strait language and it was strange to see her so serious too. “You should not allow Apple to control your life, I have been watching her try to do so, but you are a bird, you need to fly free not be caged. Apple is no longer your princes to guide and protect, you are no longer responsible for her. Do you understand?”

Raven had been wondering if perhaps she had just been imagining Apple’s possessive and control behaviour, but having Maddie telling her this Raven knew that she hadn’t been imagining things. “I understand Maddie. Thank you for telling me my friend I know doing so was not easy for you. I will have to start trying to find a way to be moved into one of the spare dorm room so I can get away from Apple’s influence.”

“Sounds as right as tea at any time.” Maddie told her with agreement.

“I’ll have to talk to the head master about changing room tomorrow. I need to head back to my room for tonight I’m making Darling some of my magical mixtures there and need to make sure they will be alright for the night.” Raven explained to her friend with a smile.

Maddie gave her a nod of understanding. “Then returned brave warrior! Only make a nest in a new tree soon as the weather changes.”

“Don’t worry. I will try to move rooms as soon as I can. Hopefully now the story of Snow White is over the headmaster will be willing to let me change room now.”

Raven told her trying to reassure her old friend, as she made her way out of the room. “Night Maddie.”

“Sleep tight may the caterpillar not bite.” Maddie said with a cheerful wave for her friend.

When Raven went into the dorm room she found Apple sitting up in bed reading, it struck Raven that it was clear that she was waiting up for her, whilst at the same time not trying not to appear that she was waiting for her.

“Good evening Apple, reading something interesting?” Raven asked trying to appear nonchalant.

Apple looked up from the book and said to her. “Just a romance novel. Was your tea and chat with Maddie alright?”

“Yes, my Riddlish is coming along well. I like to practice with her.” Raven told Apple to see what her reaction to this would be.

Apple was relieved that this was the only thing Raven had been doing, but then worry set in about what they might have been talking about, what if their discussion had been about her or Raven leaving the school. “So, what did the two of you talk about?”

Raven shrugged at her, she was determined not to talk to Apple about what Maddie and she had talked about. “Oh nothing to important, you know just this and that.” Raven got ready for bed, she slipped under the covers without saying anything more to Apple and closed her eyes.

Apple stared at Raven across the room, she was frustrated that Raven hadn’t told her exactly what they what they had talked about, she would have to try harder to get it out of Raven tomorrow, even if that included badgering her relentlessly.

 

Maddie was still worried about her friend, she deciding that it wasn’t late enough to go to sleep so she let sent out a hext to her companions from Wonderland which read, the little fruit which has rotten roots, wishes to clip the wings and smother the spirt of the black raven.

Soon the Wonderland residence where all gathered in Maddie and Kitty’s room sipping tea together and eating cakes. “I was worried about Apple and Raven’s relationship myself.” Lizzy confessed looking deeply into her tea as if it would supply her the answers she sought.

Bunny nodded as she said to the others. “Apple has always been possessive of Raven, but since the story ended, she seems somehow more possessive and controlling, but it’s not in the same way as before…I’ve been watching over Raven liked you asked me to Lizzy and to be honest the relationship between them is creepy…Apple’s always watching, she seems to want to know where Raven is all the time, what she is doing, who she is talking to and what she is saying…It’s like Apple is some sort of stalker or possessive girlfriend.”

Lizzy gave Bunny a serious look as she asked her. “Do you think Apple will harm Raven?”

“No…But that could change, we know how obsessive Apple can get and how that can cause her to harm others in order to get what she wants. I’ll continue to keep a close eye on Raven and Apple especially now that Maddie has suggested that Raven leave the room they share.” Bunny said looking over at Maddie.

She looked back at Bunny and said with a steely determination. “No cage should hold the bird, freely she must fly.”

Kitty gave a nod and squeezed Maddie’s shoulder before saying. “That we all agree with. Raven saved our land we owe her a great deal…Which reminds me, has your mother settled on a title for Raven yet Lizzy?”

“Oh yes, she has. I think it’s going to cause quiet the stir.” Lizzy told them with a smirk.

“What is it? Head of tea? Duchess of kettles?” Maddie asked the princess.

Lizzy shook her head at Maddie. “No none of those, one much more important.”

The other’s looked at each other and Kitty asked softly. “Surely not Duchess of Hearts?” The only answer to this question was a grin from Lizzy, Kitty let out a low whistle and said. “That really will stir some cups of tea into whirlpools.”

Lizzy’s smile grew positively feral. “Mother has longed for a way to join our house to the honourable one of the good King’s line for a long time. I will be greatly amused when the others here discover that Raven is the next good King, and that we got an alliance with her first. So you are all aware I intend to make the announcement tomorrow it will happen after I ask the head master to gather all the students together, I want everyone to know what Raven is to us and that we will protect her.”

“That sounds wise and if memory serves me the original King of Hearts hundreds of years ago was the good King of that time.” Alister said walking out of the shadows.

“Greetings Alister I wondered when you would appear.” Lizzy said to him, while raising her tea cup in a salute. “Indeed that is so. Maybe if Raven has a son and I a daughter she might consider joining our two families again.” Lizzy said thoughtfully.

Alister smiled at Lizzy. “That would be a most powerful union.”

“Indeed.” Lizzy said this idea of what might be pleased her gratefully. “I believe our meeting is now over.”

The other’s nodded in agreement, Maddie swept up the remints of their food into the table cloth and popped it all into her hat where it vanished. Alister waked back into the shadows to go back to his room. Lizzy and Bunny left by the door heading back to their rooms rather looking forwards to the chaos which was going to be made when Lizzy made her announcement tomorrow.

Maddie looked to Kitty and asked her in a worried voice. “Will the bird fly with wings unhindered?”

“Don’t worry love we are all going to make sure that Raven will be free of Apple and not get hurt in the prosses. I promise that if that princess harms your adopted sister that I will take great delight in making her life miserable.” Kitty promised Maddie, wrapping her arms around her trying to comfort Maddie as much as she could. “Come on love let’s go to bed. Raven may need us both tomorrow.”

Maddie gave Kitty a nod of agreement to these words, they both changed for bed, then together they slipped into Maddie’s bed and wrapped their arms around each other before falling asleep in this intimate embrace.

Chapter Text

Chapter eight:

When Raven got up in the morning she checked on the progress of the things she was making for Darling, they appeared to have brewed well over night, she began to bottle up the oil and then carefully package the cream into it’s pot. When this was done Raven got dressed for the day ahead, she knew that Apple was awake and watching her, but she refused to meet her gaze or start a dialog, because Raven knew that she wouldn’t be able to stand the silence for long.

She was proven right when Apple said. “Any plans today?”

Raven continued to pour the second oil into another bottle as she said in answer to this. “Other than brewing, I need to talk to the headmaster about a few things now I’m no longer going to be your villain.”

“What things?” Apple asked her in a voice which was edged in possessiveness, as her mind swirled with the possibilities all of which ended with her losing Raven.

Raven turned to look at her and said bluntly. “I don’t think any of that is any of your business.”

Apple was shocked when Raven spoke to her like this. “You can’t talk to me like this! I am going to be Queen of Ever After!”

“Firstly you are not Queen yet, secondly it is my business and if I don’t want to tell you what it is then you do not have any right to pry.” Raven told her placing her hands onto her hips.

Apple found herself feeling drawn to Raven’s fiery attitude, at the same time though she was terrified of loosing sight of Raven or of her leaving her. Apple couldn’t understand her conflicting emotions around Raven in the slightest as was becoming usual for her lately. “You’re not going to leave are you?”

Raven shrugged slightly, but answered the question with honesty. “To be honest with you, I really don’t know if I will stay here at Ever After High…I’m not needed here for your story now and every tale here knows that I do not want to be part of a fairy tale…At the same time though I have a lot of reasons to stay too. I just need some time to think Apple about what I’m going to do now…A lot has changed for me as well as you.”

Apple hung her head in shame, she’s never really thought about what would happen to Raven after the story was over, she’d just assumed that Raven would…Her thoughts came to a halt and Apple’s shame grew, Raven would have gone to prison for her crime, she would spend her life in a cage for a crime she’d made her commit. The thought of it made Apple feel utterly sick, there was so much she had taken for granted when it came to Raven, she’d been willing to throw away the amazing woman standing before her just to have her story. “I’m so sorry…” The words sounded so inadequate on her tongue, they didn’t convey half of the regret she felt.

Raven let out a small sigh before she said to her. “You know what for the first time I really believe you are sorry. This is my life now Apple and you need to understand that, I don’t belong to you, I never did and I never will…I want to show that a witch doesn’t have to be evil, I want to create a new path for those who come after me…And maybe not just for my descendants but any witch who should come here. What about princesses like Darling don’t they deserve their own path?”

“You mean a new kind of fairy tale.” Apple suggested in a soft voice.

A thoughtful expression came onto Raven’s face before she said to Apple. “Not necessarily. I also want people with fairy tale blood to have a choice not to be in stories. Now if you will excuse me, I need to go to see the headmaster.” Before Apple could say anything more to her, Raven made her way out of their room closing the door firmly behind her.

All Apple could do was watch the door close behind Raven, she sighed deeply, Apple felt that she really needed to think things and her words through more than she did, as her tendency not to was getting her into more trouble than ever before.

 

Raven made her way through the school, she went into the office outside of that of the headmaster, Raven walked up to Mrs Trollsworth’s desk and addressed her in a firm, but polite voice. “I would like to talk to the headmaster, now please.”

Seeing the serious expression on Raven’s face, she instantly called the headmaster and when Mrs Trollsworth put the phone down she gestured towards the door to one side of the room as she said to her. “You may go in.”

Raven entered the office, she closed the door behind her, she then walked the short distance to the headmaster’s desk, Raven sat down on the chair in front of Milton’s desk and then addressed him seriously. “I think we need to talk.”

Milton gave her a nod of agreement. “Yes we do…I’ve never been in this situation before, the story is over much earlier than it should have been and you are not a part of it as would have been traditional.”

Raven me his gaze with serious eyes and then said. “I had a feeling that this situation might be an unusual one…I am not sure if I should stay at this school or leave…I have a lot to think about on that score at the moment, but for now I will stay. I would like to be able to leave the room I currently share with Apple, I believe that having me so close is not doing her any good, Apple needs to grow up and realise I and her fairy tale are there not for her to fall back on any more, when things go wrong or don’t work out how she wants them too.”

Milton was surprised to see just how much thought Raven had put into what she wanted to say to him, and he had to admit her argument was a wise one. “I believe you are right about Miss White, she needs to move on from her story and she seems unwilling to do so while you are close to her. It is true we have never had this situation before, but we can learn how to deal with it from you Miss Queen. I am glad you have decided to stay here for now. Are there any other changes you wish to make?”

There was a short silence from Raven as she thought about the answer to this question and then said to the headmaster. “I would like to start taking some of the princess and good magic courses. I don’t know what my future will be, so I think it would be wise to cover as many bases as I can.”

“That sounds wise, we shall organise you a new time table starting next week and send it to you on your mirror phone. You can move into one of the spare dorm rooms today, we always have a few put aside in case of emergencies and I believe this situation counts. You may choose which ever one you like I think that is the least I can do for you after all the trouble I have caused you. There are three room you can choose from, all I ask is that you please just make sure to inform the administration which room you choose.” He told her, already starting to think about what classes it might be wise to place onto Raven’s time table and what to take off of the old one.

Raven bowed her head to him slightly. “Thank you headmaster. I have a funny feeling that my moving out of the dorm room is likely to send Apple into one of her panics, more than likely this will mean that she will come to you to try and reverse what has been done.”

“Do not worry, I will not make you go back Miss Queen.” Milton assured her with serious eyes.

“Thank you headmaster, I am glad that for once we are on the same page.” Raven said with relief clear in her voice.

Milton addressed Raven with a small smile. “Though you are I have been at odds about many things, we are in agreement over this and I will admit as a Grim I am rather interested to see where your path is going to take you now. You may have the rest of the week off to settle, in your new room, as well as get books or stationary for your new classes, I will expect to see you back in class starting next week.

“Thank you headmaster.” Raven said to him as she stood up.

Milton watched her go, it had been true that he was interested to see what was going to happen with raven now, this looked like something entirely new and Milton wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but there was a fire in his blood he had never experienced before.

 

Raven made her way through the school and to the girl’s dormitories, she opened the doors to the first of the three rooms but she didn’t want to go inside, Raven turned to the next opened this door and still didn’t feel drawn inside, but when Raven opened the door to the third room this one felt warm and inviting. “Yes perfect.”

Raven sent Maddie a hext as she stood just inside the doorway of the room asking for her help with moving what little she wanted to keep from her old room into her new one. There was a quick and positive answer to the text, and a few moments latter Maddie appeared in the corridor with help from Kitty causing Raven to jump with surprise.

“Hello Raven!” Kitty declared with a toothy grin.

Raven giggled softly. “You still love to get me don’t you?”

Kitty grinned at her again. “I love making everyone jump, it’s my thing.”

“I know…And I love you for it.” Raven told her with sparkling eyes.

Suddenly Kitty came over all serious and asked her. “Can I help you pack?”

“Sure.” Raven said happy for the extra help.

When they entered the room Apple looked at the three of them and asked with an edge of panic to her voice. “What are you doing?”

“Helping Raven to pack.” Kitty told her without a shred of hesitation.

“Pack! Your leaving?” Apple questioned in a high pitched voice of shock.

Raven shook her head, as she put her head in the cupboard and pulled out a few chests to pack her belongings into and throwing them onto the bed. “The school no.”

Apple was utterly shocked and at the same time completely furious with Raven. “How can you leave me?!”

Raven went stock still, she slowly turned to face Apple, as Raven did so her magic started appearing as a purple glow around her. “You. Do. NOT. Own. Me!” She ground out in a voice which was filled a fury Apple had not heard from Raven before.

Frightened of Raven in a way which she had never been before Apple gave her a quiet nod. “I’m glad we understand each other.” Raven told her, before going back to the work of packing.

When Apple went to come over to them, Kitty turned and hissed at her, causing Apple to stumble back and land on the bed. She didn’t get up from the bed again, instead Apple sat quietly on the bed and watched as the three of them packed the things Raven wanted to take with her.

Once Raven felt they had all the things she wanted to take with her packed, she took one last disgusted look at the Evil Queen decor of her old room and then swept out with Maddie and Kitty beside her. When they reached Raven’s new room, they put the boxes down, Maddie looked at her and said. “I am sunny side up with pleasure.”

“Thank you I was rather proud of myself too.” Raven said looking around at the blank space which was hers now. “I’m looking forwards to decorating this just the way I like.”

“I am sure you will make it spell binding.” Kitty said with a wide toothy smile.

At that moment Raven, Kittie’s and Maddie’s phones all sounded, they looked at their phones, after reading the text Raven looked at the other’s and asked them. “Lizzy and the headmaster want me in the main hall.”

“Same here.” Kitty announced.

Maddie giggled ad said. “Double snaps.”

“Well we had best go see what they want.” Raven said to them.

As the three made their way to the hall, they realised that they where not alone that everyone was gathering in the hall. Lizzy stood tall and proud on the stage by the head master, she was quickly joined by the other residents of Wonderland.

Once they where all standing with their princess, Lizzy stepped forwards and spoke to all of those present in a clear, but commanding voice. “I am sure you are all wondering why you are here, it is because I have an announcement to make on behalf of my mother the Queen of Hearts. Raven Queen please come up here.”

As soon as Lizzy said this all eyes fell on Raven, she gulped as nervousness bit at her, but bravely made her way up onto the stage. As their eyes met Lizzy gave her an encouraging smile, she gestured Raven forwards and so she walked over to her. “Raven Queen, my mother the Queen of Heart’s wishes me to thank you for freeing our lands of the curse of your mother.” Lizzy bowed to Raven when she finished saying this.

Raven gasped softly, those from wonder land did the same but bowed more deeply, Lizzy slowly stood back up and spoke to Raven again. “My mother the Queen of Hearts has declared you to be a hero of Wonderland and has bestowed upon you the title of the royal duchess of Hearts. This by the ancient laws the Wonderland this makes you part of our family, an adopted younger sister to myself, and an honorary princess of our land. To make war on you is to make war on us, to dishonour you is to dishonour us. You Raven Queen are now to us, Raven Queen-Heart. Give me your right hand Raven.”

Without questioning the command Raven held out her right hand, gentle Lizzy slipped onto the middle finger of that hand a ring which depicted the royal crest of the house of hearts. “This is the mark of your title. I hope you will let me have the honour of calling you sister.”

Raven smiled widely at Lizzy. “I am shocked and honoured by all of this…But I am happy to be part of your family and for us to be as sisters.”

Lizzy smiled brilliantly at Raven. “Thank you sister.”

Now what Lizzy had to say to them was clearly over a mass of shocked babbling broke out all around the hall. It was only then that Raven really realised that what Lizzy had done, was huge, she knew that Wonderland residents liked to cause chaos, but she also knew that having this title and the ring on her finger was a serious thing an alliance between the two kingdoms, one Raven felt sure would come to benefit both their kingdoms. Raven looked up from her ring, then at Lizzy, who smiled at her devilishly, Raven grinned back at her and said to her. “So this is a formal alliance, as well as family huh?”

“I’m glad that you understand that I wanted to be allied to you, as well as have you as part of the family, but I also want you to know I care about you to sister.” Lizzy whispered to Raven.

Raven knew she had whispered because Lizzy didn’t like anyone to know she had a soft side and so she smiled at her. “I care for you to sister.”

Together they all came down from the stage, Apple was the first to approach the group, she looked to Raven. “You…They…A Heart! You’re a Heart now?!”

“Yes Apple I am.” Raven confirmed, she then turned and smiled at Lizzy. “I am pleased to have been adopted by the Hearts family.”

“But…But…Why?” Apple asked with utter confusion.

Raven frowned at her and then rolled her eyes. “I am extremely close to those from Wonderland for many reasons…I can’t see why it would confuse you that I would be happy to be joined to a family from that land as an adopted family member?”

Apple’s mouth opened and closed but nothing came out of her mouth as she sought for an answer to this question, eventually she said. “I don’t know…I guess I’d never thought you joining a family in this way was even possible.”

Lizzy stepped towards Apple and smirked at her. “Well now you do know it is possible.” She then turned her gaze onto Raven, asking the next question in a way she knew would aggravate Apple the most. “I hear from Kitty you have changed rooms sister and are in need of both decorating help and some new clothing now you are no longer to be the evil Queen.”

“Yes, both is true.” Raven admitted with a sigh as she looked down at what she currently wore.

Lizzy looked her over thoughtfully. “I would be honoured to help you, by making you something new.”

Raven was truly surprised and flattered by this offer. “I would be honoured to have one of your designs.”

“Then I shall set to work. I look forwards to seeing how you will decorate your new room and what you will bye to replace your old wardrobe.” Lizzy told her before she set off to start working on her designs for Raven.

Raven watched her go with a smile on her face, she was already looking forwards to seeing what Lizzy would make her. “Can we give you a hand with unpacking?” Bunny asked Raven shyly.

“I’d love the help, but first I’d really like to get some lunch.” Raven told the others as her tummy rumbled loudly.

Together Raven and the residents of Wonderland made their way out of the main hall and headed towards the dining hall. Apple watched them go, she was unable to believe she had been ousted so easily out of Raven’s life, she had thought they where friends and maybe even closer than that. Furry coursed it’s way through Apple she was determined that she would win Raven back to her somehow, the first thing she planned to do was talk to the head master and convince him to have Raven move back to their dorm room.

Apple determinedly set off to find the head master, when she found Milton she stormed up to him and said. “Why did you allow Raven to change rooms?”

He met her determined gaze with his own and spoke more wisely than he had done for many years, to Milton it felt as though many generations of Grims where talking through him. “Raven is no longer part of your story Apple. She wanted some peace in order to find her way forwards Apple and I think Raven deserves that. Where she is going to go and what path she will tread I do not know, but I know one thing, I’m actually looking forwards to seeing the story Raven writes…I was afraid before, but now I am not. You shouldn’t try to clip Raven’s wings Apple, if you really want to be her friend you need to let her fly.”

It was stunning to Apple to find that now for the second time the headmaster was not on her side, she didn’t know what to say to this so Apple ran away from the main hall. Briar and Ashlyn went after Apple determined to try to comfort her and make her see sense about this new situation to the best of their abilities.

Chapter Text

Chapter nine:

It took Briar and Ashlynn a while to catch up with Apple, when they did so at last, they found Apple sitting on a bench by a lake of crystal clear water, she was staring into the water and looking both distressed and furious at the same time.

Ashlynn and Briar shared concerned looks, before they went over to the bench and sat down on the bench on each side of Apple. Silence hung over the three friends for a few moments, but eventually Ashlynn decided to try to talk to Apple about what had happened. “I know you are upset Raven has moved out of the room you share…”

“I’m not upset! I’m furious! How can Raven abandon me?! Especially after my disaster of a story!” Apple demanded with fire in her eyes.

Briar glared at her friend and showed a rare moment of furry as she said to her best friend. “Do you hear yourself right now! Raven doesn’t belong to you! You said you where going to help her, to try to understand and try accept Raven as she is! You sound like a villain right now! Raven is right to be worried about you turning out to one! Try to listen, try not to forget what we all keep telling you over and over again!”

Apple’s lower lip began to wobble as tears welled in her eyes, as she asked in a tearful voice. “But why did Raven have to leave me?!”

These words drew a deep sigh from both Briar and Ashlynn, it was always the same Apple threw everything they told her and all her good intentions out of the window and reverted to her old ways every time she faced a threat. It was Briar who after a few moments said to Apple in an aggrieved voice. “Haven’t you been listening to Raven at all since she went rebel? She wants to find her own path and now there is no way she can ever become your Evil Queen, Raven wants to see what that means for her! You need to respect the fact that Raven is now officially her own person and if you care about Raven at all then you need to let her find out what her path is without your interference.”

“You do care about Raven right?” Ashlynn asked Apple with tender concern for Raven.

Apple didn’t even hesitate as she gave her a firm nod. “Yes I do care…I think more than I knew…It’s just…Raven choosing to leave our room and me, fills me with so many conflicting feelings.”

Ashlynn gave her friend a nod of understanding. “That would make sense, you were always so focused on Raven becoming evil that you never saw any other possibility…None of us did, but Raven is a living example that you can change what you were born to be.”

Carefully Apple turned these words over in her mind, she had to admit there was wisdom to the words, but still she hurt inside. “I just don’t understand why these changes between us should hurt me so much.”

Briar felt some sympathy well up inside her for Apple and she sought to at least offer her some form of comfort in this situation. “There have been a lot of changes for you in a short time, your allowed to feel confused and hurt, but you really need to try not to take it out on Raven, she isn’t the one responsible for what has happened. Don’t go telling me that if Raven had stuck to her part then none of this would have happened, because yes I know that is a possibility, but Raven is her own person and she has a heart which is to big and full of kindness to ever make her being evil possible.”

“Your right…” Apple admitted in a small voice, before either of her friends could say anything to her, she spoke to them again. “I really need to control my temper and reactions to what happens to me better than I do…And I guess I’ve not really lost Raven, she just wants some space to get to know herself as she is now.”

Briar smiled at her, she felt proud that her friend was finally growing as a person. “You’re really starting to change Apple and I’m proud of you. I’m sure given time you can change the way you react and Ashlyn and I will always be here for you to talk to us. Maybe next time you feel like you are going to react in one of your normal ways to a threat you could just think I can talk this out with my friends?”

“I second what Briar just said and I want you to know that I am proud of you too Apple.” Ashlyn assured her with her own wide happy smile.

“Thanks…I still have a long way to go before I manage to stop myself reacting in the way I do to things which involve Raven, but I’ll take your advice Briar and try to talk to one of you if I think my reaction to something will be bad.” Apple told them with a rueful smile.

Ashlynn smiled back at her. “Well at least you admit you have a problem when it comes to all things that involve Raven.”

A chuckle left Apple as she admitted with a rueful note to her voice. “More like an obsession. I don’t know what it is about her that gets under my skin…I don’t think I’m ever going to understand why I react the way I do when it comes to Raven.”

“You do seem quiet possessive of her.” Briar said to her casting Apple a worried look as she did so.

Apple acknowledged her words with a nod of the head. “Yes I often feel possessive of Raven, part of that comes from my mother, she always told me that Raven would be my villain and that she would belong to me only for always.”

Briar gave Ashlynn a concerned look, which she returned, neither of them where quite sure what to say to Apple after this confession, but they felt that they had to say something and Briar as Apples oldest and closest friend felt she should be the one to address this issue. “Apple, I respect your mother and I know you love her, but I think in this instance you have to accept that she was wrong.” As Apple opened her mouth to say something, Briar stopped her by saying kindly but firmly to her. “Now before you get defensive or angry let me finish. Your mother didn’t know Raven, she shouldn’t have promised you anything when it came to Raven or built up your expectations in the way she did. I am sure Snow White just wanted to make you happy and meant no harm by what she said to you, but still you need to understand what Snow White told you and promised you just isn’t right or possible because Raven is her own person and inherently good.”

There was a long silence as Apple digested this argument from Briar, and eventually she started to nod her agreement to what her friend had told her. “Yes, your right…I need to apologise to Raven again…I seem to spend a lot of time doing that…Maybe she will forgive me if I explain to Raven that I’m just confused and messed up because of all the changes and she may need to grant me a little understanding until I get myself sorted out.”

After Apple said this Ashlynn made a suggestion to her friend. “Maybe you should at least give Raven peace for today and talk to her tomorrow. I think you both need the time to cool off and it would give you time to work out exactly what you want to say to Raven.”

“I think that’s a great idea.” Apple said with agreement, before she spoke to her friends again in a very sad voice. “It’s going to be so strange going back to my room and seeing Raven’s side of the room without her in it…”

Briar and Ashlynn both hugged Apple trying to comfort her, Apple returned their hug feeling really glad to have such wonderful friends as she did.

 

After getting some lunch Raven, those from Wonderland and her friends went into town with her to help Raven look for supplies to decorate her room. They returned from town several hours later chatting excitedly, their arms full of all of the supplies they needed in order to assist Raven. Together they set to work on the room, Raven used her magic to help with this process and to thank them for their help Raven had brought them all cup cakes, drinks and bags of mixed sweets.

When Apple arrived at the door to Raven’s new room the next morning, she could smell the paint coming from beyond the door and wondered what inside the room would look like since she had not decorated it for Raven this time.

Taking a deep breath Apple knocked on the door, then waited for an answer, she didn’t need to wait long as the door was opened a few moment’s later by Raven, at the sight of her Apple’s eyes went wide with shock and her mouth opened and closed without any words coming out.

Raven’s hair was braided back, she wore a deep purple poets which was shirt tied closed at the neck and a pair of black trousers, which ended in practical flat soled knee high boots. “Morning Apple…Are you okay?” Raven asked concerned as Apple continued to stair open mouthed at her, slowly she came out of the room and closed the door behind her. Gently Raven placed a hand onto her arm and asked even more concerned now than before. “Hey Apple your scaring me, snap out of it.”

Apple shook herself out of her shocked stupor and then said. “Sorry…You just look so different like this…It confused and surprised me.”

Raven looked down at her clothes for a moment and then back to Apple. “Yeah…I can understand that, this just seemed like the best option while decorating.”

“That makes sense…Look I came by to say sorry again…I think I’m going to be apologising to you a lot for a while…A lot has changed for me in rapid succession and it’s thrown me off balance. I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask for your to understanding and patients when it comes to the way I react to things for a while.” Apple explained while looking utterly ashamed of herself.

Slowly Raven smiled at her. “It’s okay, I get it…I’ll say sorry now too, because I think we are going to argue a lot more times…This is new for both of us and we are both trying to find our way forwards.”

“Can I see your room?” Apple asked looking behind Raven at the closed door.

Raven followed her gaze, before turning to look at her once more before saying shyly. “It’s not quite finished yet and my new room is very different from my old one.”

A sick feeling washed over Apple as a feeling of dread came through her. “Are you afraid to show me because I might judge you…?”

After a moment’s hesitation Raven nodded. “Yes, because this is all me…It’s the way I always wanted my room to be and how I plan to make my room when I get home…So this means a lot to me.”

“I can see that. Look I really want to see what the real you is like, I’ll try not to freak out…Please Raven, I think it might really help me with accepting that things have changed.” Apple said to her earnestly.

Raven took a few moments to think about this, before she gave Apple a nod, she opened the door, at the sight of the room beyond the doors, for the second time in one day Apple’s eyes went wide and her mouth fell open with shock. The room Apple was faced with was absolutely nothing like she had imagined it would be, it was in point of fact utterly amazing.

The bed was a silver four poster bed, the bedclothes where midnight blue, they matched the colours of the walls, painted on the wall was a silver tree it’s stylised swirling branches spread out up onto the ceiling, on another wall was a crescent moon, between its ends was a round silver framed mirror.

Scattered on the wall by the bed where pictures of all Raven’s friends in star shaped frames, there was a studying desk in silver with a matching chair, side table by the bed, a chest of draws and wardrobe. On the desks and bedside table sat lanterns, with star shaped lights hanging from wrote ironwork stands of twisting stands.

Then across the other side of the room against the other wall where two sturdy black wood work benches and two matching bookcases, currently devoid of books, this was clearly going to be Raven’s brewing area.

“Wow…” Apple whispered in awe, she slowly turned around looking at it all. “This is amazing…You designed all this?”

“Yes.” Raven admitted looking around at her room, for some strange reason hearing the awe in Apple’s voice made her very proud of her work. “This room is going to be wonderful when it’s finished at last.”

Apple turned a wide eyed stare onto Raven. “Your planning more? I thought you would just be putting books on the empty shelves.”

Her stunned expression drew a chuckle from Raven. “Oh, I’ll fill the shelves with books without any problem, but yes I have one more thing planned for this room.”

“And what is that?” Apple asked looking around the room unable to see anything that was missing from the room.

Raven shook her head at her, before saying playfully. “Oh no, I’m not telling, you’ll have to wait and see, I told the other’s the same thing.”

“That sounds intriguing.” Apple admitted looking around at the room trying to imagine what Raven was planning to add to this room to make it better than it already was.

Raven gave her a small smile. “Lizzy said that my new room reminded her of an enchanted forest.”

These words received a nod from Apple. “Yeah I can see why she would say that…This room is amazingly enchanting.”

“Why thank you, I believe that is one of the nicest things you have ever said to me.” Raven told her with a widening smile.

Those words sent shame and regret pulsed through Apple, this seemed to happen a lot around Raven lately, but she decided to take this feeling in and try to learn from it as best as she could. “Well then I’ll leave you to finish off.”

“Thanks! I’ll let you know when the room is ready…That is if you want to join the others in a first tea ceremony.” Raven told her with a sudden show of nerves.

,p>“Um what’s first tea?” Apple asked her with clear confusion.

Raven gave a nervous chuckle. “Sorry…Of course you wouldn’t know what I am talking about. It’s a Wonderland tradition to wish luck and protection upon a room and it’s occupant, would you like to join us?”

“None of the others would mind if I attended?” Apple asked Raven with a touch of variability and wonder to her voice.

“I don’t think so, especially if I tell them I asked you to come.” Raven told her.

That lovely warm feeling trickled through Apple, she held it close to her and then asked. “So, what happens at a first tea?”

Raven was happy to explain to her what happens at a first tea. “Maddie will supply me with my first tea set, I will brew the tea and my sister being future Queen will pour the tea. Everyone accept me will then toast to my luck and wish me to be protected in my room before drinking the tea. After that I will thank them all for their good wishes”

“It sounds very much like a Wonderlandiful tradition to me.” Apple said with a smile, she had to admit it sounded like an interesting experience to take part in and she found that she couldn’t wait to join in. Apple felt so happy that even after all the trouble there had been between them Raven wanted to invite her to join in.

“I will admit I am looking forwards to it. This will be my first Wonderland tradition, which is very important to me.” Raven told her with serious eyes clearly trying to convey to her that she would like nothing to go wrong.

Apple nodded as she said with determination. “I can understand that.”

“I am glad you understand. I need to go get to work on finishing my room so it’s all ready.” Raven told her with a smile.

“Okay then I’ll leave you to it! Hext me when your ready.” Apple told Raven cheerfully before heading back to her dorm room. When she got inside Apple flopped down onto the bed, her eyes lost in thought, Raven had looked utterly spell binding dressed in such a princely fashion and just thinking about her dressed in those clothes made Apple flush and a warmth spread through her.

Apple wondered if she was ever going to get used to the rollercoaster of emotions which Raven seemed to bring out in her every time they where together. She tried to remember what her friends had said about not dwelling on her tangled feelings and just let things between herself and Raven calm down after all of the madness which had been going on between them.

Chapter Text

Chapter ten:

Raven stepped back and admired her work, she felt that the room was perfect now and Raven couldn’t wait to show it to her friends. Raven changed into some of her new clothes, then she sent a hexts out to Lizzy and the others from Wonderland to let them know she was ready and that Apple would be attending the first tea in order to show she felt no hard feelings towards her for everything that happened.

When she received the positive answers from them to Apple coming Raven then hext her to invite her to the room too, she only had to wait a few moments for a cheerful response from apple to arrive. Raven was glad to see that Apple was behaving a little more like her normal cheerful self rather than the obsessive and possessive way in which she had been behaving around her lately.

Raven used her magic to make sure there was big enough table and also enough chairs for all of her guests in the middle room. When there was a knock on the door Raven answered it, she smiled at the sight of all her friends from Wonderland and Apple.

Lizzy gave Raven an openly admiring look as she took in the long knee length purple glittering dress which matched the colour of her eyes and clung to her curves, it was decorated with tea pots and cups and saucers. Raven’s hair was drawn up into a stylish bun and was topped with a lovely miniature purple top hat to complete the Wonderland style look. “You look so beautiful.”

“Thank you. I thought this would be nice to ware this for tonight.” Raven told her with a wide smile.

Raven gestured them inside, they all came in and stared open mouthed, hanging from the ceiling by impossibly slender threads, where beautiful crystals shaped like stars glistening in the light of the room.

When at last her friends shook themselves out of their shock Kitty spoke. “Wow, now that’s puurfect.”

“Why thank you Kitty.” Raven responded feeling thrilled that they all liked the way her room looked finished.

Apple took in the whole room in as she said in an awed voice. “Kitty is right, this is utterly enchanting. It looks like an enchantress’s room.”

“An enchantress…That sounds like a good new possible part for you Raven.” Bunny said to her with a soft smile.

Raven turned the idea over in her mind, she had to admit there was some appeal to the idea of becoming a good enchantress. “Hm, your right Bunny the part of a good enchantress is rather appealing to me and would be a beneficial use of my magic. I think I will have a look into what becoming one would entail for me, thank you for suggesting it.”

Bunny blushed as Raven complimented her. “Your welcome Raven.”

“Well I have the table all ready for us. So please take a seat.” Raven told them all gesturing over to the table in the centre of the room.

Together they all made their way over to the table and they all took a seat at it. Once she was sure everyone was comfortable Maddie stood up, she swept off her large top hat and produced from it a tray on which sat a tea set. The teapot and cups where all a deep rich purple, they were decorated with silver feathers on their main body and the rims of the cups, saucers and tea pot where all silver too. “Oh, Maddie it’s beautiful thank you.”

“Sweat bird you deserve to only have the most tearific of all tea sets!” Maddie told her with an enthusiastic wide smile.

Lizzy stood up and spoke next. “If we are all ready, then Raven shall begin the first tea ceremony by brewing the tea.”

No one said anything against this ceremony beginning and so Raven gave her a nod to let Lizzy know she was ready to begin. When Raven received a nod back from Lizzy she picked up the tea pot, Raven placed three tea bags into it, then accepted boiling hot water which Maddie pulled out of her hat and poured the water into the tea pot and replaced its lid. “Now, why we wait for the tea to brew is their anything we need to do?” Raven asked Lizzy nervously, she wanted to be sure that she was doing this ceremony correctly.

Seeing how anxious Raven was Lizzy smiled at her. “Well it is usual to converse at this point.”

“Well perhaps you can tell me what would be expected of me as duchess of Hearts?” Raven asked Lizzy curiously.

With a smile Lizzy started to explain what being the duchess of hearts would mean for her. “Well, you are seen as my younger sister and part of the royal family. You would be expected to be present for royal events such as birthdays and regal croquet matches and to hold a ball on the estate my mother has given to you. As the duchess you are given much respect by our people, you can rule over important cases with myself and my mother. I can lend you a book which will help”

“I see and I would love to borrow that book from you…What you have told me so far though all sounds quite reasonable really.” Raven said with a nod.

“I think you are going to make an amazing duchess.” Lizzy assured her.

Apple found herself wanting to know where all the stars came from and so she asked Raven. “Where did you get all these crystal stars?”

Raven smiled and then explained with a tinge of sadness to her voice. “They belonged to my grandmother, before you worry my father’s mother. I never got to meet her, but my father once said she was a good witch. These stars where my inheritance from her, as they were to go to my father’s second child and that is me.”

“That’s a little sad, but it is lovely to have something from your grandmother even if you didn’t know her.” Apple told her with a gentle smile.

“It is.” Raven agreed with a nod.

Carefully Lizzy checked on the tea and then announced to them all. “The tea is ready.” Lizzy then proceeded to pour out the tea, asking each drinker as she went. “Milk, sugar?”

Once she was sure that everyone had a cup of tea, Lizzy held her cup aloft and spoke seriously. “We have come together tonight to wish good luck onto duchess Raven Queen-Heart my sister.”

Together the Wonderland residents chorused “Good luck to duchess Raven Queen-Heart.”

They all turned to look at Apple when she didn’t join them in saying this and quickly Apple raised her own cup as she said. “Good luck to duchess Raven Queen-Heart.”

As those from Wonderland took a sip of the tea Apple did the same, then they held their cups out and up again, this time Apple managed to copy them more quickly and said with them all. “We wish upon Raven Queen-Heart to be protected from all harm with in this room.”

Once this was said they all sipped tea, Raven looked around at all the guests and said gratefully. “I thank you all for the wishes of good luck and protection.”

With the ceremony now complete, Raven went to pour herself a cup of tea from the pot, but Lizzy’s hand covered hers, startled by this she looked at her and Lizzy gave her a gentle smile as she asked politely. “Please allow me sister.”

Raven bowed her head and took her hand away from the tea pot. “Thank you sister.”

As she watched them interact in such a close way Apple felt a growl want to escape her, but she muzzled it, desperately wanting to show Raven that she could act like the good princess she was supposed to be.

As they drank the tea Kitty spoke to Raven. “How do you like your new room?”

“I’m very happy here so far thank you for asking Kitty.” Raven told her.

Maddie put her hand into her hat, she pulled out of it a cake stand brimming with cup cakes and placed it on the table, this was followed by plates for the cakes to go on. “What a glorious selection Maddie.” Lizzy told her as she helped herself to one of the cup cakes and placed it onto a plate.

Apple looked them over suspiciously and then said. “Since I know in Wonderland colour and taste are not always the same thing, can you tell me which one is chocolate please?”

Several different cup cakes where all offered to Apple as the residents of Wonderland all said at the same time. “This one!”

Raven couldn’t stop the chuckle which left her at the surprised and perplexed expression on Apple’s face when this happened. Apple turned a pleading gaze onto Raven, she chuckled again, before fishing out the correct cup cake and handing it to Apple. “It’s this one.”

“Aw your no fun Raven!” Kitty exclaimed with a pout as she put her cake back.

In response to this Raven rolled her eyes and said to her. “Now, now. Apple is my guest to and I have an obligation to take care of her too.”

“That is true you do.” Lizzy said bringing this subject to a close.

Apple gave Raven a smile, she was glad to see that she was taking her responsibility seriously and wasn’t allowing anything bad happen to her. As she thought about the way Raven had just protected her from harm Apple was hot back to earlier in the day when Raven had been dressed like a prince and she felt heat travel thorough her. Quickly Apple pushed the memory and the reaction it brought out in her to one side, so that she could concentrate on enjoying her time here with Raven.

When the tea and cakes where gone, they all helped Raven to clear up, this included Maddie putting the now empty cake stand and plates back into her hat. Wanting to keep her tea set safe Raven placed it into a silver embossed, black wooden chest which stood to one side of the room which was especially enchanted to keep the things inside safe from damage and thieves.

With this done Raven escorted her guests to the door of her room, where she bid each one of them good night, before turning back to her room and making the table and chairs vanish. Yawning widely Raven got ready for bed, she’d had a long tiring day and felt sure that she would sleep well tonight.

 

Darling however was not having a good night’s sleep at all, she was tossing and turning in bed and sweat covered her brow. In her dreams Darling was running through candle lit hallways of her home someone was chasing her, suddenly an evil laugh which sent ice crawling up her spine sounded from behind Darling.
Pain washed through Darling as claws raked across her back, as she screamed, she fell into darkness and kept right on falling. Slowly the darkness started to get lighter, as it did so Darling became aware that she was now in no pain from the cuts. Eventually Darling came to rest on her feet in the middle of a forest clearing, standing there before her was the winged lady and awed by her presence Darling whispered. “Meraki.”

“Yes Darling. Which path will you take?” She asked gesturing at all the paths around her which led out of the clearing.

Wide eyed Darling looked around at each of them, there where so many of them to choose from and she wondered which one was the best to take. “What are these?”

“Your choices, the paths you could take, but beware only one leads to a heart which will truly love you. The question is which way will you go?” She asked her gently.

Again Darling looked around at them all, she felt like she knew this from somewhere and found herself saying without looking behind her. “I won’t go back, that’s not where my future lays.”

Slowly Meraki smiled at her. “That is a wise start.”

Darling looked at each of the four remaining paths before her and then to Meraki. “Which way should I go?”

The smile on Meraki’s face grew as she asked her this. “Well at least you are wise enough to ask me…I am impressed. Why don’t you tell me which way you want to go?”

Darling didn’t answer the question right away and instead she took her time thinking about how she wanted to answer it before saying to Meraki in a firm voice. “I know I don’t want the destiny my parents had always imagined for me.”

As she said this one of the paths out of the clearing faded away and seeing this Darling tried to think about what else she wanted from her future and said. “I know I want a destiny where my future is full of adventure.” This time none of the paths vanished and so Darling tried saying something else. “I wish to find a princess who will truly love me just as I am.”

This time another path vanished leaving two, Darling looked down each one of them, one led into undergrowth with a light way at the end, the other led to a wide clear path and seeing them reminded her of the old saying, the path of true love never runs smoothly. As soon as she remembered this saying Darling pointed at the overgrown path and then said confidently to Meraki. “I want to go that way.”

“Are you sure you are ready to see what is at the end of that path?” Meraki asked her gently wanting to be sure that Darling truly wished to go this way.

Darling decided it was best to be honest as she spoke to Meraki and so she said to her. “I do not know, but I feel that is the right way for me to go.”

“That path won’t be easy to walk down…There will be lots of trials and you may get lost along the way.” Meraki warned her seriously.

Darling gave her a warm smile as she said to her. “I know it won’t be easy, but true love just like anything worth having is never something which is easy to achieve and sometimes the journey makes the reward all the sweeter…Will you tell me one thing?”

“If I can I will.” Meraki assured her.

“Is Raven at the end of this path?” Darling asked her nervously.

Meraki answered this question with utmost honesty. “It is too early to say for sure, but if you wish to move in that direction you need to take the first step away from your past which includes Apple and into the future…Are you brave enough to face doing that Darling?”

Darling gulped, she was scared and nervous about doing forwards that was true but she had already declared that she wouldn’t go back, so Darling drew up her bravery and nodded. “I know it won’t be easy but I feel ready to go forwards and see what I will find on my journey.”

Meraki felt proud of Darling as she said this and so she decided to give her some advice. “Good, I am glad to hear you say that. If you truly wish to move into the future then you should think about asking Raven for her favour for the joust. You never know if you don’t you might get beaten to it by your brother Dexter. Oh, and don’t forget a midwinter gift for Raven.”

“I won’t forget.” Darling promised her with a smile.

When Darling woke the next morning she remembered her dream from the night before with absolute clarity and she knew it was time to move forwards she couldn’t change Apple’s heart, but she could try to change her own, it wouldn’t be easy Meraki had made that clear to her but as long as there was hope for her future to contain true love then Darling was determined to try.

Darling decided she would find Raven today, to offer Raven her favour. Even if Raven didn’t accept her favour, then she wouldn’t take it to heart and would make sure to get Raven a midwinter gift. Darling started to wonder exactly would make a good gift for Raven, she decided that the best way to get some ideas was to take a trip into town and see what inspired her.

After she was dressed for the day Darling set off into the school to find Raven, when she found her Raven was settled in the dining hall eating breakfast and the sight of her made Darling’s eyes widen with awe. Raven was dressed in a long silver floating skirt, on the top half there was a deep purple bodice decorated with silver feathers, under which was a matching purple balloon sleeved top and where the collar fastened up there was a silver feather brooch set with purple stones.
Raven’s hair was tied up in a simple bun, she wasn’t wearing her spiked headband as she normally did, instead there was a silver and purple headband with a glittering silver crescent moon standing up from it highlighted against the dark hair.

Darling found herself utterly enchanted by Raven, she had always thought that Raven was lovely before now, but this change in clothing rally highlighted Raven’s pale beauty perfectly. Darling gathered together up all of her courage and approached her and once she was standing behind Raven Darling addressed her. “Raven can I talk to you?”

Raven turned to face Darling, she smiled at Darling. “Of course you can talk to me Darling. What can I do for you?”

Darling drew herself up tall and then bravely she asked her. “Would you do me the honour of giving me your favour for the joust?”

“Yes Darling would be more than happy to give you my favour.” Raven said, she carefully drew out of her pocket a purple handkerchief embroidered with a silver feather. “I’ve never offered one before, will this do Darling?”

Darling looked at it and gave her a nod. “It’s perfect. Please tie it at my wrist.” She instructed Raven, holding out her arm so she could do so.

Neither of them where aware of the way all those in the dining hall where watching them, Dexter and Apple where watching with envy, those from Wonderland and the rebels where watching them with pleasure and the rest of those in the room where watching in awe.

Raven carefully tied her handkerchief around Darling’s wrist, before smiling up at her and saying in formal tones. “Bring my honour in the joust my knight.”

Darling blushed, she’d longed to hear Apple say these words to her, but she had to admit there was something more satisfying and pleasurable in hearing Raven say those words to her. Darling bowed to Raven and returned her words just as formally. “I will do all that is honourable in the joust my lady I promise you.”

“Thank you for your vow my knight. Might I ask you to be my escort to the winter ball?” Raven asked her shyly blushing as she spoke these words.

Seeing such a delicate maidenly blush on Raven’s face made Darling feel warm inside and she had no intention of passing up an opportunity to try to become closer to Raven and move on from her past. “I’d love to escort you to the ball Raven.”

“I am glad to hear it.” Raven told her smiling widely.

Darling smiled back at her, there was no denying that Raven was a beautiful person both inside and out, she knew that she would be fortunate to make Raven her princess. “I look forwards to escorting you. I should go into town to find something appropriate to ware to the ball. I will see you at the joust this afternoon?”
“Yes you will.” Raven assured her.

Darling bowed to Raven again, she left the dining hall and set off into town to find something to ware for the ball and the perfect midwinter gift for Raven. Raven watched her go with a small smile on her face, she was very much looking forwards to the ball and the joust and she felt that this would be the first step towards a wonderful relationship with Darling.

 

Far away in Darling’s home kingdom a poisonous voice dripped wicked lies and into the ears of her parents. “Your daughter shames you by loving Apple white and being her prince and Darling puts more shame on you by beginning to try to woo Raven Queen. She out shines her brother’s something Darling should know better than to do that! Darling need’s punishing for her actions! You should force into her destiny by being married to an old king who will shut her away in a tower.”

“Yes…” Muttered King Charming, his eyes shining an odd shade of purple.

Queen Charming her eyes also tinted purple murmured. “Punish Darling by marrying her away and getting her husband to lock her in a tower.”

A wicked laugh rang through the castle as the voice muttered ominously. “No happy ending for you Raven Queen and Darling Charming! This will teach you both to try and tread a different path.”

Chapter Text

Chapter eleven:

Unaware of the darkness heading towards Darling’s and her life Raven made her way back to her room, Darling’s gift was now finished, it sat packaged amongst the other presents waiting for Raven to give them to their planned recipient Raven felt deep satisfaction that she had finished this gift. Raven truly hoped that everyone she had brought a gift for would be pleased with the gifts she had selected for them or in Darling’s case hand made for her.

Smiling to herself Raven drew her eyes away from the bags containing the gifts and turned her thoughts onto the joust which was to take place later in the day. Raven had only ever seen the prince’s practicing before now and she wondered what a real joust would be like in comparison to what she had witnessed before.

Raven decided that she would get changed for the joust, she wanted to be sure she wouldn’t shame Darling as her chosen lady by turning up to the joust in anything less than her finest clothing. After going through all of the new clothes she now had Raven eventually chose one of the dresses Lizzy had made for her. It was a black dress with gauzy overskirt, which was speckled with sparkles which caught the light perfectly, the sleeves where long angel sleeves which floated delicately around her arms. As she looked at herself in the long mirror in her room Raven felt the dress made it look like she was wearing part of the starry night sky.

Raven thought the dress was perfect, she just felt it was missing something which reflected the fact that Darling was her knight. After she spent some time thinking about it Raven recalled she had the perfect item in her tiara case, quickly Raven opened it up and pulled out a tiara. It matched the one Darling usually wore, but was set with purple stones, smiling to herself Raven carefully put her hair up in a half up and half down style which was more reminiscent of her old one and settled the tiara on her hair.

Raven took in her appearance, she felt that she looked just perfect for the joust and she hoped that Darling would think so too. Raven made her way through the school, to the jousting field, she was totally unaware of the way that as she walked lots of people were staring at her or following her progress through the castle with their eyes.

As she came to the seating by the jousting field Raven walked over to where Lizzy was standing and addressed her. “Hello sister. You look fairest for the joust.”

Lizzy turned to Raven and smiled at her. “Many thanks Raven, you too look fairest. I am very happy to see the dress I made for you fits you so well.”

“I love this dress Lizzy, it is just perfect for me and I cannot wait to see what you will make for me next. Have you given your favour to a knight today?” Raven asked her curiously.

Lizzy nodded. “Yes, to Chase.”

These words caused Raven to arch her eyebrows at Lizzy and whisper. “Did you just want a knight in the joust or do you have feelings for Chase?”

Smiling slightly Lizzy leant into her sister and whispered back. “He is very handsome and makes my heart flutter. Please don’t tell anyone it would ruin my wicked reputation.”

“Of course not.” Raven promised, before asking. “Though I will admit I think Chase would make you a fine King of hearts. Shall we sit together?”

“I’d like that.” Lizzy answered.

Together they went over to the stands and sat near the front so they would be seen by their knights. A short while later a quiet voice asked from behind them asked. “Can I join you?”

Raven turned to find Rosabella standing there and then said to her. “I have no objection, do you sister?”

“No none.” Lizzy assured her.

Smiling widely at them Rosabella sat down and said gratefully. “Thank you for letting me join you both!”

“Have you come as Daring’s lady?” Raven asked her with curiosity.

Blushing slightly Rosabella nodded and then murmured. “He is my beast prince after all and I well love him.”

“I hope you’ve told Daring you love him.” Raven told her.

Blushing even more deeply than before Rosabella shook her head. “Not, yet…The words get stuck every time I try.”

“I’m sure you will find the right time and place to say them.” Raven reassured her with a smile and a gentle touch to her arm.

“I hope so.” Rosabella told her meaning her words as she smiled back at Raven.

“Oh here they come!” Lizzy said excitedly gesturing in the direction of one end of the space.

Quickly they both turned their attention back to the field, the knights had all come out and where lined up ready to begin. It was very easy for Raven to spot Darling, her all white armour gleamed in the light, she cut quite the dashing figure sat upon her horse and drew a sigh of appreciation from Raven.

Lizzy smiled widely as she heard Raven sigh. “You really do love Darling don’t you?”

Raven nodded. “Yes. I hope with all of my heart that she will become my prince…And my true love.”

“Darling would have to be blind not to see that you would make her a much better princess than Apple ever would and she would also have to be extremely foolish not to wish to be your true love.” Lizzy told her with sincerity.

“Lizzy is right.” Rosabella said in agreement.

Raven blushed slightly as they said this to her. “Thanks.”

“Oh there starting the joust!” Lizzy announced to the others, all the three of them fell quiet and turned their full attention to the joust.

They applauded the knights as they showed their skills, their applause always grew louder when their knight took to the field, none of them where surprised when Darling, Chase and Darling where the ones left to joust. Chase defeated Daring, he then also lost his next bout to Darling giving him third place in the rankings, Rosabella cheered for him determined to lessen his sadness at loosing.

Then Chase and Darling went up against each other in the final round, Darling defeated Chase in their joust by the narrowest margin, this loss caused Lizzy to groan in disappointment, while Raven cheered for Darling thrilled that she had won and shown to all the fairy tale world that a woman could be just as good a prince as a male was.

As was tradition for the joust the ladies who held their favours would present the top three knights of the joust with their prizes. Rosabella was first, she gave to Daring the medal for third place and placed a kiss to his cheek, an action which caused Daring to blush and smile at her. “You did me proud my knight.” Rosabella told him sincerely.

Daring bowed to her, before straitening, meeting her eyes and saying to Rosabella. “I am glad you are proud of me my lady. Might I ask you to do me the honour of accompanying me to the winter ball?”

Rosabella’s cheeks where dusted a rosy hue when Daring asked her this question, but despite feeling very shy now she determinedly answered this question. “I would like that very much Daring.”

“Good.” Daring took her hand and kissed the back of it before he drew back to allow Chase to step forwards.

Chase came to stand in front of Lizzy, she presented him with his medal. “You did well Chase, I hope next time you will win.”

“I hope so too my lady, but Darling is a fearsome and skilled opponent.” Chase told her honestly, while casting a respectful, but admiring look in the direction of Darling. “Princess Darling is a fearsome knight.”

Darling bowed in his direction. “Thank you for recognising my skill, despite the fact I am a girl.”

Chase shook his head at her. “A female, or male knight makes no difference in Wonderland, we have been ruled by many fearsome warrior Queens and have great respect for such women.”

Darling bestowed a brilliant smile onto Chase. “And that is one of the reasons I love your country.”

Milton interrupted their conversation with a well placed cough and once he had Darling and Chases attention Milton addressed them. “If we could carry on with the presentation of the prizes please.”

Both Chase and Darling gave him a nod of agreement, seeing this Milton gestured Raven forwards and said to her. “If you would miss Queen.”

Raven moved forwards she placed the first place medal around Darling’s neck and then kissed her gently on the cheek. “You brought me great honour today my knight.”

Darling bowed to her deeply. “Thank you my lady, hearing that gives me the greatest pleasure. Might I ask a boon of you my lady?”

“You may ask me.” Raven told her wondering with excitement and trepidation, what Darling was going to ask her of her this time.

“Would you allow me to sit beside you at the winter feast?” Darling asked her with a small smile.

Raven didn’t even need even a moment to think before answering this question right away. “Yes of course you may, I shall look forwards to your company.”

The smile on Darling’s face grew. “Thank you. I will come and to pick you up from your room this evening at six. ”

With her request now made and a positive answer to it received, Darling left the field with the others, to change from the armour, take care of her mount and then have a nice long bath. After this Darling made her way back to her dorm room, she decided to get changed, then go to Raven’s room to collect her for the feast.

Before she could do this though Darling noticed there was a missed call from Stephan Good King and a message had been left by him on her mirror phone. This was not the only mirror call she had missed there where several from her parents but Darling didn’t want to return their calls right now. Darling was however curious to see what the message was from Stephan, so she picked up her mirror phone and accessed her messages. “Hello Darling, I am sorry I did not get back to you sooner than this, you know how things can be for a King. Anyway, I have spoken to my daughter, she is intrigued by the fact you wish to be the prince to the Good King’s daughter, but she is concerned that your heart may not be completely in the story because of your recent troubles with Apple. This however does not mean there is no hope for you to take up the part of the prince in the story, all my daughter wants is time to see if you can give your heart and love once more. Before you phone me to ask who she is I will not say, but I will tell you my daughter is close and watching over you. When or if she feels the time is right my daughter will let me know and then I shall tell you where you may find her.”

By the end of the message Darling’s emotions where all tangled up, but she couldn’t help the flicker of hope inside her growing brighter and she wouldn’t allow that hope to be snuffed out by the calls from her parents.

Darling quickly shook herself out of her revelry, she needed to get on, quickly Darling made her way over to her wardrobe and carefully selected from it what she wanted to ware tonight. The dress was long to the floor, it was made of silver grey velvet which shimmered when it caught the light, over the top of this was a powder blue bodice decorated with swirls of white, this was echoed by a band at the hem of the dress, the scooped neckline and the edge of the long fitted sleeves.
Swiftly Darling drew her hair up into a simple but beautiful bun and just as Raven had chosen to honour her with her tiara Darling wanted to honour Raven, so she went over to a box, she gathered some hair pins out of it, these hairpins where topped with silver feathers, Darling carefully pushed them into her hair, making it look like they where cascading through her hair.

Darling was very much looking forwards to taking Raven to the feat tonight and the ball tomorrow night, she hoped that doing all of this would help her to move on from Apple, she already found Raven beautiful in many ways and maybe if they developed feelings for each other then Darling wouldn’t need the story of the Good Kings daughter but could make one with Raven the enchantress.

Not wanting her evening to be ruined by a call from her irate and disappointed parents Darling decided to leave her mirror phone in her room. As Darling made her way to Raven’s room she noticed that Apple was already outside talking to Raven and when Darling got closer to them, she heard Raven say apologetically to Apple. “I’m sorry Apple, I already agreed for Darling to take me to the feast tonight and she is to be my escort to the ball.”

“But you where her lady for the joust today too!” Apple exclaimed with a childish pout.

Raven took a deep breath, while at the same time she pulled up all of her patients and spoke to Apple. “I know that Apple, but I want to spend this time with Darling because I love her.”

The pout on Apple’s face grew even more pronounced. “But I also want to spend some time with you before school finishes for winter break.”

“There is still the gift giving, taking donations and food to the poor and not to mention free time before the holidays. So personally I can’t see what you are complaining about, after all it is not for you to decide or dictate who I spend my time with.” Raven told her in a stern voice.

Darling was pleased to see Raven standing up for herself like this and she was very glad to hear that Raven wanted to spend time with her and still loved her. Darling decided that it would be wise if she step in now before Apple could make Raven angry in some way with her complaining. “Raven!”

Quickly Raven looked away from Apple, her eyes lit with joy as they fell on her. “Darling, you look fablelous!”

“Thank you my lady. I did not get the chance to tell you that you look exquisite in that dress.” Darling told her as she came to stand beside Apple in front of Raven.

“Are you ready to head down to the feast?”

“I am.” Raven assured her stepping out of her room and closing the door to her room behind her. “I’ll talk to you soon Apple.” She told Apple politely before walking over to Darling’s side.

Together Darling and Raven made their way down the corridor towards the dining hall. “I wonder how Crystal, Ginger, Ashlynn and Briar have decorated the castleteria.” Darling said conversationally to her.

Raven was glad that Darling hadn’t mentioned her argument with Apple and was more than willing to join in with this conversation. “I’m sure whatever the decorations are like it will look spelltacular…But if I had to guess, some sort of enchanted grove theme.”

“That sounds like a possibility, maybe it will look like an orchard or meadow.” Darling said joining in with the guessing they were partaking in.

Raven smiled at her widely as she enthused. “Those both sound beautiful too!”

Darling wanted to talk to Raven about Apple’s behaviour and ask if Raven was alright, but she didn’t want to upset her any more than she already was and instead asked her. “Would you like me to wear a dress to the ball or something more princely?”

“You know honestly I hadn’t thought about it…I think you should wear what ever your heart tells you is right Darling.” Raven told her honestly.

It was the fact that Raven could say things like this to her and mean them which made Darling like Raven so much. “I’ll take that advice to heart.” Darling promised her faithfully.

As they came to the doors of the castletearea they looked at the doors and then to each other. “Shall we go it?” Raven asked her, while Darling knew what she was really asking her if she was ready to be seen with her at her side.

“Yes lets.” Darling assured her taking hold of the doors and opening them.

Chapter Text

Chapter twelve:

As they entered the castleteria both of them let out gasps of delight, the usually bland room had been transformed into a meadow of winter flowers edged with beautiful artistically snow covered trees, there where even birds singing their sweet song in the branches of the trees. Hanging from the branches of the trees where lovely snow flake decorations, there where more of them also dangling from the ceiling.

“This is enchanting.” Raven said looking around the room in awe.

“Yes it is.” Darling said in agreement.

Raven smiled at her companion as she said to her. “I bet that Crystal had a lot of fun helping out with this decorating.”

Darling smiled back at her. “Yes I am sure she did. Where shall we sit?”

“I would like to sit with Cerise and Maddie.” Raven told her gesturing over to the table at which she sat.

The smile on Darling’s face grew and she held her arm out to Raven. “Then let’s go and join them.”

Raven put her arm through Darlings, then together they walked over to a table, when they reached the table, Cerise looked up at them, her eyes widened and said in awe. “Wow you two look utterly spell binding.”

“More gracious than a summer day.” Maddie said with a nod of approval from the left side of Cerise at the sight of their outfits.

“Oh yes, just right!” Blondie agreed from the other side of Cerise as she held up her mirror pad. “Can I get a picture for my show? I’m going to be talking about fabulous fashions based on the past and these gowns would be perfect for it!” She enthused.

“I don’t mind. What about you Raven?” Darling asked her companion.

“Sure.” Raven agrees smiling widely at Darling.

“Thanks!” Blondie says with happiness, before snapping a couple of pictures of them for her show later in the day.

At that moment Daring and Rosabella come walking over to the couple and she exclaims with a sigh of delight. “You two look fit to be part of King Arthurs court. Raven would make a very beautiful Morgan le Fay and you Darling would be a spelltacular lady of the lake!”

“Why thank you.” Raven said to her with a smile and a curtsy.

Darling smiled at her room mate. “That is an interesting comparison. I’d rather be a prince though thank you.”

“And that’s what makes you who you are.” Raven told Darling with a soft smile for her.

Rosabella turned her attention to Raven and addressed her. “There is something I, well we really want to ask you…You can say no…In fact I’m sure you will…”

Raven gently placed a hand onto Rosabella’s arm and stopped the babbling princess by saying to her gently. “It’s okay, just ask me.”

Rosabella nodded, she took a deep breath and then spoke to Raven again. “We want you to be the enchantress for my story. We both know you never wanted to be in a story…But Daring and I trust you and we feel you would take care of Daring and myself as we walked our path.”

Before Raven can say anything Daring speaks up from Roabella’s side. “We would both be honoured to have you as our enchantress.”

There was a stunned look on Raven’s face, Darling quickly took her hand and squeezed it, this jolted Raven out of her surprise and she spoke. “I’d love to help you both when the time comes.”

Rosabella smiles brilliantly at her, she was stunned but very grateful that Raven was willing to help them and she turns to Daring still smiling. “This is wonderful!”

Daring bows politely to Raven. “Thank you Raven, you have made us both so very happy.”

“I am very glad to hear that.” Raven told them with sincerity.

Together they sit down at the table greeting other’s sitting there as they did so, they all started to talk about what the food might be at the feast.

 

When Apple arrives at the feast her beautiful golden dress decorated with red ribbons tied in bows at her waist and the cuffs of the short-puffed sleeves, she sits down at the same table as Raven directly opposite her.

Raven gives Apple a friendly smile, then turns her attention back Darling. Seeing this Apple internally fumed, she wanted to pull them apart, and Apple found herself almost completely consumed by an overwhelming urge to hit Darling. Apple felt Raven looked far to beautiful today, she was a tempting fruit and it was clear from the way that Darling was looking at her that she was clearly thinking of taking a taste or even more than one.

As the food arrived at their table Apple kept trying to catch Raven’s glance and try to start a conversation with her, but Raven kept avoiding her attempts and instead involved herself in talking to Darling, Daring and Rosabella. Apple learned by listening in to their conversation that Raven had agreed to be the enchantress, for Rosabella and Daring. If Apple had been angry before she was incensed now, she couldn’t believe that Raven had so easily agreed to involve herself in their story but abandoned hers. “I thought you where against fairy tale destinies?” Apple asked her so loudly it was impossible for Raven to ignore her any more.

Quickly Raven shook her head. “No, I said I wanted to write my own story, I don’t mind being the enchantress for Daring and Rosabella when the time is right. That doesn’t have to mean I can’t do other things and become a princess or find my happily ever after in some other way. The idea of being the enchantress thrills me, it’s a small often forgotten part and doesn’t require me to actually do anything evil.”

Daring smiled at Raven as he spoke to her. “Oh Raven trust me, to us the enchantress is no small part, the enchantress watches over the story and guides both of us to our happy ending in subtle ways.”

“I won’t let you down.” Raven promised them faithfully.

“We know you won’t.” Rosabella assured her, before they all returned to their meals.

Apple was still internally fuming, she couldn’t believe that Raven was moving on from their story with such ease, but at the same time Apple could see why being the enchantress for Daring and Rosabella would tempt her. This made her wonder if there might be some way in which she could tempt Raven back to her side, but as much as she thought about what she might have to offer Raven Apple couldn’t find anything which she felt Raven would find tempting and this depressed her greatly.

Not for the first time Apple wondered why the loss of Raven from her life should bother her as much as it did. It wasn’t even like she was worried about her fairy tale any more, as at last Apple had accepted it was over, so why should she dislike Darling becoming the one that Raven loves? What was with all of these confused feelings Apple felt around Raven? As Apple looked back once more at Raven, she realised that she was in love with her and had been for a while now, this realisation caused Apple to let out a small gasp of surprise.

Made suddenly shy by her gasp Apple quickly looked around at the others at the table and she was very glad that no one had apparently noticed her gasp. Quickly Apple dug into her food, while at the same time her mind reeled, what was she supposed to do with this new information? There was no way as far as she could see that Raven would ever return her feelings, she had been so vocal in her desire for a prince and Raven was in love with Darling after all.

Remembering her promise to her friends Apple tried not to react right away, instead she decided she would let this new information settle and then she would think about what she wanted to do with her newly discovered feelings. Apple wondered if talking to Briar and Ashlynn about her realisation might be a good idea, but at the same time Apple wasn’t sure there was any point to doing so until she knew what to make of this strange new situation she now found herself in.

 

Raven hadn’t noticed the change in Apple at all, she was far too involved in eating her meal and talking to her friends and Darling. “Oh Darling I have a present for you. I was wondering if there would be a good time and place to give it to you?”

“Oh…Well what do you say to going for lunch this Saturday and swapping gifts then?” Darling asked, knowing she was heading into town tomorrow the Thursday of that week to look for her outfit for the ball and she hoped that while in town that she would find the perfect gift for Raven as so far nothing had seemed to be the perfect gift for her.

Raven gave her a nod, she was thrilled that darling had asked her to lunch, but at the same time tried desperately not to think that this was some kind of date, as Raven felt sure that Darling didn’t view their meeting in this way at all. “That sounds perfect. Maddie, what about you?”

“As the moth is common the air is fine.” Maddie told her with a smile as she poured some more tea from a three spouted teapot into a tea cup.

“If you come meet me at my room after the meal, then I can give you yours.” Raven told he with a wide smile. “And you Cerise?”

“I’ll fetch my gift for you from my dorm room and come to your room after the feast too.” Cerise told her looking forwards to what Raven might have brought her and then a thought occurred to her and she asked Raven. “Shall I bring Cedar too?”

Quickly Raven gave her a nod. “Yes please.” She then turned her gaze onto Apple. “Would you like your gift tonight too?”

Apple shook her head at Raven, she really wanted to see what Raven thought of her gift when there was no one else there to see it. “No, I was hoping we could maybe exchange gifts privately…Would tomorrow afternoon be alright?”

“Of course that’s fine by me.” Raven assured her easily, before returning to her meal.

When the feast was over, Darling stood up and offered her arm to Raven, she stood and took Darlings offered arm. “I’ll escort you to your room.” Darling told her with a friendly smile.

Raven smiled back at her as she said. “Thank you my knight.”

They left the castleteria together, as they walked neither of them where aware of the many sets of eyes following them as they left, this included a pair of eyes which were behind glass and where thinned to furious slits.

After realising she loved Raven seeing her on Darling’s arm made Apple’s insides burn with envy, while at the same time regret poured through her, if only she had been nicer to Raven, maybe just maybe then she would have stood a chance of making Raven her own true love.

Apples musings where interrupted when Blondie said with a happy sigh. “Those two look just right together.”

The envy inside Apple grew when no one disagreed with her, instead these words where met with murmurs and nods of agreements from those who had heard these words.

 

After they felt they had waited long enough for Darling and Raven to have gotten back to the dorm room and said good bye to each other, Maddie got up to follow Raven, Cerise also got up, she made her way over to Cedar and after a short discussion they to left the feast.

Maddie checked that the corridor outside Raven’s room was empty of Darling before going to the door and knocking on the door. Her knock was answered only a few moments later by a smiling Raven. “Tea cups are welcome to settle.” Raven told Maddie gesturing her into the room.

Maddie came inside, she watched as Raven went over to a bag and pulled a present out of it, before returning to her with it and holding it out towards her. “Here you go Maddie I hope you like it. Oh and this is a little something for Kitty.” Raven added handing over to her a small bag to go with Maddie’s gift.

“They are from you! It will be as perfect as tea!” Maddie assured her, she took the gift from Raven, then took off her hat, Maddie effortlessly pushed the gift into her hat and then pulled her one for Raven out of it. “And in return for you.”

“Oh thank you Maddie I will look forwards to opening it on midwinters day!” Raven told her taking the gift from Maddie, she took it across the room and carefully placed it into her chest to go home. Raven went back over to Maddie and then asked her. “Are we still on for tea Tuesday?”

“Indeed. I shall see you little bird at three.” Maddie told her with wide smile before leaving Raven’s room.

A few moments after Maddie had left her room there was on the door, Raven went to answer it and was happy to find Cerise and Cedar waiting there. “Hey come on in!” They both came inside, Raven brought them their gifts, she smiled at them as she handed them over to Cedar and Cerise.

“Thanks Raven!” Cedar said with enthusiasm, as she eyed the box, before saying out loud. “I wonder what it’s going to be.”

Raven smiled at her softly. “You only have a few weeks to wait to find out the answer to that!”

“So I do.” Cedar said putting her gift down for a moment to pull her one for Raven out of a bag at her waist. “Here for you.”

Raven accepted the gift from her. “Oh thank you Cedar.”

“Here is mine.” Cerise said to Raven holding out her own gift.

Quickly Raven put the first gift on a nearby table and accepted this one from Cerise. “Thanks you Cerise this looks big.”

Cerise smiled at her. “I think you will like it.”

“I am sure I will.” Raven agreed, she picked up Cedar’s present, then placed them both in her trunk, before crossing the room and bringing over to them their gifts. “Here we go.”

Cerise and Cedar accepted their presents from Raven. “Thank you.” They chorused together, before all three of them chuckled.

With their gifts now exchanged, Cedar and Cerise left heading for their room. Raven was left alone in her room, she was smiling to herself today had been wonderful and she was very much looking forwards to exchanging gifts with Darling as well as going to the ball with her. This reminded Raven that she needed to decide which gown she should ware to the ball, with this thought in mind Raven turned to her wardrobe and started to look through the dresses.

Chapter Text

Chapter thirteen:

The day after the feast Darling went out shopping, she needed a spell binding outfit for the ball and an amazing gift for Raven. It took some searching before Darling managed to locate the perfect outfit for the ball, it combined the look of a prince with that of a princess.

She wore a white skirt with a ruffled collar, over this was brocade blue fabric jacket, it was well fitted to her figure before flaring out at the waist in a short skirt, under this Darling had on a pair of white skin tight trousers and over them where blue boots to match the jacket. As Darling looked at herself in the shop mirror she truly hoped that Raven would like what she had chosen to ware just as much as she did.

Darling quickly changed back into her normal clothes, before purchasing them and heading out of the shop with her bags to begin looking for a gift for Raven. Darling wondered what would make Raven a good present, after walking around book end for a while she noticed a shop called the potion bottle and Darling felt sure she should be able to find Raven a gift in the establishment, she was a witch after all.

Darling made her way into the shop, she approached the young man inside and addressed him. “Excuse me I’m looking for a gift for a friend of mine who is a good witch and I have no idea what I should purchase.”

As was normal the shop assistant was bowled over by Darling’s charm and good looks. “I’d be delighted to help you. First though I will need to get an idea as to what gift might work best, so does your friend like to tell fortunes?”

“No.” Darling answered without hesitation.

“Good we can cross of any divination gifts. What about wand magic?” He asked gesturing over to a large selection of wands.

Again Darling shook her head. “I’ve never seen her use one.”

With a nod he brought Darling to a different part of the shop then said. “Well then what about some lovely potion bottles for her brews?”

Darling stared at the nine glass bottles in a fitted wooden box they were made in sapphire blue, emerald green, ruby red and amethyst purple shaded glass, each with a glass stopper. “Now this she would love.” Darling closed the box lid, then lifted the box up carefully, before turning to the assistant. “I’ll take it.”

They went over to the register, when they got there a book inside the case caught Darlings attention I was purple with a silver feather on the cover. “What’s that?” Darling asked pointing at the book.

The shop assistant removed it carefully from the display case as he said to her. “It’s a book for recording all of your magic into, this is a one of piece made by the white witch.”

“I’ll take that too.” Darling told him, she knew Raven had to have this book it practically screamed her name.

“Might I make a suggestion miss?” The shop assistant asked. Darling gave him a nod and he spoke to her again. “In magical circles three is believed to be a special number, if you are going to present both of these items to your friend as gifts it might be wise to add a third gift. A selection of our ten best selling herbs would probably go down well with your friend.”

Darling turned this idea over in her head, the shop assistant seemed to be in earnest when he told her that three was a special number for magic folk and she wanted this to be a special gift for Raven. “Very well, I will take that too.”

The young man set to weighing out a selection of herbs placing each one carefully into small cardboard boxes and then into one large box. “There we go miss, that should make them easy to wrap for you.”

“Thank you. You have been most helpful today. I’ll make sure to leave an hexilent review on the shop.” Darling told him as the shop assistant rang up her purchases and she paid for them.

With her gift now brought Darling turned her mind to the wrapping of them, she made her way to the appropriate shop and selected some ice blue paper decorate with white snow flakes and a silver gift bag. Her plan was to wrap each one of the items she had purchased individually and then place them all into one bag. Satisfied she had all she needed Darling paid for these items, she then made her way out of the shop and back to the school to begin wrapping not just Raven’s gift but those for her other friends too.

 

When Apple made her way to Raven’s room to exchange gifts with her, she could hear chuckling coming from inside and instantly she was disappointed. She had wanted to spend some time alone with Raven, not have to share her with someone else yet again. Stealing herself for what lay ahead Apple knocked on the door and waited for Raven to answer it, which she did just a few moments later. Her eyes widened at the sight of Apple. “Oh Apple it’s you! Goodness is it really that late? Come in please.”

Apple came inside, trying not to stare at Raven, she wore a long purple velvet dress with long sleeves today, over this was a silver bodice, and there was a silver choker around Raven’s neck decorated in the centre with a dangling purple crystal moon. Today Raven’s hair was in her odd style but she now wore her new crescent moon headband instead of her old spiked one.

Maddie was sitting at a table in the room, there where books covering the table as well as snacks, it was clear to Apple they had been studying before she arrived and suddenly her anger melted and guilt set in. “I didn’t mean to interrupt your studying.”

“No it’s alright, we where due a break any way.” Raven assured her.

“What where you both working on?” Apple asked curiously.

Raven was more than happy to answer this question and so said. “Oh we have a project between us for Mr Piper’s class on the history of music. We chose to look at Wonderland music, it’s been very interesting.”

“I bet it has. Any way, I just came by to give you my gift and ask if you’d be willing to come with me to the snow white orphanage to hand out the toys, clothes and food to the children there.” After she said this Apple held her breath hoping that Raven would say yes and that she had not yet again been pipped to the post by Darling.

“Yeah sure thing Apple.” Raven said with a nod of the head and then a thought occurred to her. “Oh wait…Are you sure that’s a good idea…Most people still think I’m going to go bad like my mother…And I wouldn’t want to scare the children.”

Apple was touched that Raven was thinking of the children and once again this just showed how genuinely kind and thoughtful she was. “I don’t think they will be scared of you, not when your dressed like this, it doesn’t make you look like the Evil Queen…We will just tell them you are Raven the witch or enchantress if they ask.”

“Well as long as you are sure Apple.” Raven told her an edge of worry to her voice as she spoke.

Apple gave Raven a firm nod. “I am very sure. I will be with you, and I am sure that if they see I am not scared of you then they won’t be.”

Raven felt relieved that Apple was so confident and so she agreed. “Then I’m happy to go with you. When will we be going? I have tea tomorrow with Maddie I always do every Tuesday, but I’m free after that until Saturday.”

There were a few moments of silence before Apple answered that inquiry. “How does Wednesday after class sound? After all we both have the afternoon off that day, because professor Rumpelstiltskin is leaving early to make the long trip to his home.”

“Yeah that would work for me.” Raven told her with a smile. “So I’ll see you after class Wednesday.”

“Yep see you then!” Apple said cheerfully making her way to the door of the room and back out into the castle. Her mind was working a mile a minute, she was going to be alone with Raven at last, she had to make this outing count, she had to show Raven she had changed.

 

Much latter in that day when Maddie had gone back to her room Raven was surprised out of her novel by a knocking on the door, when she went to answer it Raven was shocked but delighted to find Darling standing there.

Darling smiled at Raven, her mind had very much been on her after purchasing Raven’s present for her, so much so that she had decided to come and ask Raven to go for a walk wither, but now Darling was here with her she found herself feeling very nervous and so Darling asked her a little shyly. “Would you care to go for a stroll in the garden before bed?”

The instant Darling asked her this question, Raven felt her heart take flight in her chest and as she took Darlings arm Raven said to her. “That sounds wonderful.”
Raven and Darling made their way out of the castle and into the school garden, they quietly walked side by side through the lantern lit garden, everything was still, beyond the light of the lamps the night sky was speckled with stars and the moon was full.

“What a beautiful night.” Raven said to her in a soft voice in keeping with the night around them.

Darling looked at her. “Yes it is, but you are more beautiful than the night, I am sure the moon itself envies you.”

Raven blushed slightly, as she asked her. “You really mean that?”

Darling had been surprised by her own words, but she realised that she really did mean them. “Yes I do. You are very beautiful Raven, on the inside as well as on the outside…I’ve thought so for quite some time now.”

The blush on Raven’s face grew. “Thank you Darling. You too have a beauty all your own too.”

These words startled Darling, she had been paid compliments by many before, she was a Charming after all, but these simple and honest words touched her far more deeply than any long love poem ever could. This was the kind of expression of love which Darling had longed to hear from her princess, now at last it had happened and she felt thrilled and happy. Darling wondered that if feeling these feelings were the first sign that she was starting to move on from Apple at last.

The gazes of Raven and Darling met, suddenly for a moment they where no longer in the school garden but another formal garden, the castle was now a silver structure to one side of them. Raven was gowned in a white and silver dress, her hair was full of stars and she was crowned with arches of diamonds. Darling wore pale blue trousers, a white poet’s shirt, a silver waistcoat over which was a dress coat and she could feel a weight on her own head.

As quickly as the image was there it was gone again, making them both wonder if they had really seen what they thought they had. Neither of them said anything to the other, their gazes remained locked, then slowly Raven reached up and gently brushed one of Darling’s stray curls back over her shoulder. Darling gently placed a hand onto the side of Raven’s face, she leant into her hand closing her eyes slightly at the same time.

If Darling had found wanting to kiss Apple almost irresistible, then she didn’t have words for the strong feeling which made its way through her in this moment. Now feeling utterly enchanted by Raven Darling slowly put an arm around Raven’s waist, gently pulling her closer to her.

As their bodies met Raven’s eyes opened, she met Darling’s gaze, Raven had never seen Darling look at anyone with the intensity with which she was looking at her with before this moment. The two of them stood like this for a few moments just gazing at each other, before they pressed their mouths together in a first kiss.
Raven was thrilled and overjoyed by kissing Darling, it felt utterly perfect to her and she never wanted this kiss to end. Darling was surprised by just how much she was enjoying kissing Raven, and then when Raven started glowing with the golden light of true love Darling’s shock went to a whole new level. She was so surprised by the appearance of the light that Darling quickly broke the kiss, she looked at the golden glow still around Raven with wide eyes.

Knowing exactly what had caused the expression of shock on Darling’s face sent panic ran through Raven, who quickly looked down and stepped away from her. “I’m sorry…I didn’t think the fact I truly loved you would show up so easily…I know you love Apple and I didn’t want you to know about my feelings for you just yet. I was planning to wait until I felt you might be more open to my feelings to tell you that I was truly in love with you.”

Darling was utterly surprised to hear that Raven was truly in love with her already, it thrilled her to the core and gave Darling hope for the future. “It’s alright Raven…I may not be able to return your feelings just yet, but given time I think I will be able to do so.”

“Really?” Raven asked her with awe.

“Yes really…I only had one hope for my future up until now, but now I have the chance to be with you too.” Darling told her smiling at her.

Raven knew that the good King’s daughter was the one hope which Darling was referring to, but she didn’t want her to know this and so pretended curiosity by asking her. “What was this one hope you had before we kissed?”

“The story of the good King’s daughter.” Darling told her not expecting her to have heard of the story.

“Oh, that’s one of the more unusual fairy tales…” Raven said thoughtfully.

“Wait you’ve heard of it?” Darling asked her in shock.

Raven smiled at her and nodded. “Yes I have heard of it. I’ll admit it’s a hobby of mine to read the more unusual or localised fairy tales.”

Darling quickly stored this piece of information about Raven away, she hoped that it might help her in finding Raven the perfect gift. “It’s nice to know someone else knows the story. I want you to know I very much enjoyed kissing you and I would like to kiss you again…But I don’t want to rush things between us…I hope you can understand that.”

“I do understand Darling, you’ve been hurt and I know it’s going to take time for you to recover. I’m happy to wait for you to be ready to move forwards with me.” Raven assured her with a smile.

Darling was relieved when Raven said this to her. “Thank you Raven. It’s getting late, I’ll escort you back to your room.”

After she spoke Darling offered Raven her arm again, Raven gave her a nod of agreement, she took Darlings arm and together they made their way back though the garden, then into the school. When they reached the door to Raven’s room she let go of Darling’s arm, before turning to her and giving her a smile. “I had a wonderful time thank you.”

“Your welcome.” Darling told her with a smile, before leaning in a gently kissing Raven’s cheek. “Good night.”

“Night.” Raven whispered blushing brightly as she made her way into her room for the night. As soon as she had shut the door to her room behind her Raven leant against the door still blushing. Today had been wonderful, she had hope a hope she had never had before, at last a true love and a happy ending might be within her reach.

 

Unknown to her eyes watched Raven from the mirror, they glowed with purple power and anger seeped out of the mirror into the room, but before it could do anything the protection Raven had cast onto her room turned it back into the mirror, making the dark figure standing there even more furious than before.
The Evil Queen couldn’t understand how Raven had become so powerful so quickly, perhaps even more powerful than herself, she needed to break her daughter’s heart just as she had her husbands and soon. Then Raven would do anything she wanted, the worlds would be hers and all would tremble before the might of the Evil Queen especially Snow White.

Chuckling softly but darkly to herself the Evil Queen walked away from the mirror looking out into Raven’s room and back into mirror space, soon, soon it would all begin and she would have the victory she had longed for at long last!

Chapter Text

Chapter fourteen:

Apple was very much looking forwards to today, she would finally be getting some alone time with Raven, and she was intending to take full advantage of it while it lasted. Apple hopped that if she played her cards right then maybe, just maybe she had a chance to show Raven just how wonderful things could be between them.

Quickly Apple shook her head and tried hard to kick this thought out of her head, she has no right to try and think or winning Raven for her own. All she has done is hurt Raven, she has never let Raven be her true kind and caring self and Raven has made it very clear that she only has romantic feelings for Darling.

A deep sigh left Apple, if only she had realised sooner then maybe…Again Apple pushed this away, it was no use bemoaning what had already happened and she was well aware that there was no changing things between them now. All she could do was keep her feelings to herself, while being a good supportive friend to Raven. Apple had decided that she would even help her should Raven need it. Apple was determined that she would nurture the relationship they had as friends and try with all her might not to envy Darling for holding Raven’s heart.

Apple quickly gathered up her two large bags which held all of her donations for the orphanage and made her way to the main hall where she was to meet Raven. When she arrived there Apple was quick to notice that Raven was already there waiting for her with a large bag of her own, it was hanging in the air with the help of her magic. The instant Apple noticed Raven her heart fluttered in her chest, this was a reaction which Apple quickly fought to push down, she quickly smiled at Raven and then walked over to her saying casually to Raven. “Hey!”

“Hi Apple ready to go?” Raven asks her politely, while giving her a small smile.

“Yep!” Apple chirps in answer to the question.

Raven looks at the two large bags she is carrying before asking. “Would you like me to use my magic and levitate the bags for you?”

Apple smiled widely at her, it was just like Raven to be so considerate and she wondered not for the first time how she had ever expected her to ever become evil. “That would be lovely. I usually ask my birds but the weather is to cold for them now.”

With an understanding nod Raven carefully uses her magic to levitate the bags up, before saying to Apple. “Well let’s get going.”

Apple nods, she guides Raven through the streets of the town to the orphanage, and when they reach the door to the orphanage Apple knocks on the door. Her knock is answered a few moments later by an older lady dressed in a serviceable brown dress and large apron, she smiles widely at Apple clearly glad to see her. “Princess Apple it is good to see you again and you have a friend with you this time.”

“Yes miss Lemmon I have, this is Raven the good witch.” Apple said gesturing towards her.

Raven bowed her head. “Hello there. We come with gifts and food for the children.”

“The children will enjoy the toys you have both brought I have no doubt about that. Please come in both of you.” She said gesturing the two women inside.

As they made their way through the building Raven took everything in, the building though utilitarian on the inside had a pleasant warm feeling to it and had been painted in cheerful colours making the building a lot less depressing then it could have been. At one point Raven caught a glimpse into one of the bed rooms, there were four beds in the room, neatly made and covered over in coverings which looked to be in good condition.

Eventually they came into a large communal space which currently contained rows of benches full of children who were all talking and laughing together. Raven carefully brought the three bags to the ground in front of them, while at the same time she hoped none of these children would recognise her and run away screaming in fear.

When miss Lemmon clapped her hands, all of the children turned to face her and quickly fell into silence. “Princess Apple and her friend Raven the good witch have come to see us today to hand out gifts and food.”

The children cheered mightily in anticipation of the presents they were going to receive. Smiling widely Raven and Apple handed out toys, clothes, blankets and food to them all. Raven was enjoying herself a lot, it was wonderful to be surrounded by children who were not frightened by her magic or who her mother was.

After everything had been given out to the children, a little girl bravely came up to Raven and tugged firmly on her skirt, feeling this Raven looked down at her and then with a smile on her face she came down to her level and asked. “What is it sweetie?”

“Do you really have magic?” The brown haired little girl inquired curiously.

“I do.” Raven assured her before allowing purple light to surround her fingers. “See.”

The little girl looked at the light with her wide brown eyes and then back to Raven. “Are you part of one of the fairy tales?”

“Yes, I am the good enchantress to beauty and the beast.” Raven told her with a smile.

“I wish I had a fairy tale.” She said wistfully.

After hearing her say this Raven addressed the child in a very serious voice. “Fairy tales aren’t the easiest thing to live through, they can be dark and dangerous sometimes. Just look at Apple here, she had to run away from school and then be poisoned before she received her happy ending. Besides which I believe that what really makes a happy ending is you being happy with the life you have made for yourself. That way anyone can find a happy ending if they really try…And who knows if your good enough and kind enough maybe, just maybe a fairy godmother or a good witch will come and bring a little magic into your life.”

“If a fairy godmother or witch came into my life all I’d wish for is for all of us to find loving homes.” The little girl told Raven without hesitation.

“Really? That’s what you’d wish?” Raven asked both shocked and touched that she wasn’t thinking of herself but others.

She gave Raven a nod. “Yep! That’s what I’d wish.”

“That sounds like a good wish to me Sally.” Apple said coming over to join them.

Sally beamed at Apple and Raven spoke up in agreement. “Yes, that sounds like a very good wish to me too.”

“Maybe if you meet a really powerful witch or fairy you could ask her to grant my wish.” Sally said turning her guileless brown eyes onto Raven.

“Of course I will.” Raven assured her with a soft smile for the child. Sally pleased by this answer skipped off. Raven turned to Apple and said quietly to her. “That has to be the sweetest wish I’ve heard in a long time.”

“Yes, it is. Unfortunately it is unlikely to come true, not many children are adopted, people prefer babies and all the magic in the world isn’t likely to change that fact.” Apple told Raven sadly as she turned onto the happy playing children around them.

Raven looked around the room at the children, they where all so adorable, she couldn’t understand why people would want a baby when they could have one of these little scamps. “That’s a shame. Personally I think people have no idea what they are missing out on.”

Apple gave a nod of the head. “I have to agree. I’d give them all a home in a heart beat, but I can’t, so instead I try to give them the best time here and make sure they are ready for the future by educating them and making sure they have all the skills they need to enter into a trade.”

Raven smiled softly at Apple, it was time like this that Raven was proud of the fact that Apple would have been her princess. “You have such a compassionate heart, make sure you never lose it Apple.”

“Thank you. I’m trying to improve myself…I realise now that I did a lot of damage with the dragon games incident…A lot of people lost faith in me and I can see why they would, what I did was stupid and childish…Just because I worried about getting my fairy tale…I’m so sorry Raven for everything.” Apple said to her softly.

“It’s okay. It has changed things for the best really. Talking about it though has reminded me that I need to talk to Faybelle after all she did the poisoning and I should really formally pass the title of Evil Queen to her.” Raven told Apple her eyes taking on a far away look.

“Wait how can you do that?” Apple asked her very confused.

Raven didn’t answer this question right away, she looked around at all the children, she didn’t want to be overheard by them and have the children become scared of her. “I’ll explain on the way back to school, let’s say good bye to these little ones first.”

Apple gave her an understanding nod, she could guess that Raven didn’t want any of the children over hearing the conversation they were about to have and react negatively to it. Together they both said their farewells to all of the children and miss Lemmon, who chorused their good byes back to them. After this Apple and Raven left the orphanage, together made their way back out of the orphanage and towards the school.

After a few moments of walking side by side in silence Raven looked at Apple and then tried to explain how the title of evil Queen worked in her family. “The title of Evil Queen is a little difficult to explain, but I will do my best to explain it in a way that you will understand. Originally the title of evil Queen was actually separate from the title of the Queen of the lands I come from. It’s something known as a discretionary title, it’s a title given by the Queen to one of her younger siblings so that the story of Snow White can be told. It holds no real power in the Queendom, it comes with no lands and when the evil Queen dies the title reverts to the Queen who can then give it out all over again to a new evil Queen. However for the last two generations of the family there have been no siblings for the title to go to, my grandmother was to weak to have another child after my mum and my mum only had me before she was put into prison.”

“Oh I see, so there has been no one to give the title to and the two titles became combined. What I don’t understand is why it was given to another family member like that.” Apple said her confusion quite clear.

Raven gave her a nod. “I can see why that would be confusing for you and others. As most would think the Queen would want all the power for herself, but the evil Queen was a respected title…How to explain it…” Raven petered out for a moment trying to think of the best way to explain to Apple so she would understand how it all worked. Apple waited quietly for Raven to carry on with what she had been telling her and eventually she did so saying to her. “The Queen of the country was kept separate from the evil Queen to prevent the fairy tale from keeping the throne of the country empty and for the Queen to be able to rule and care for the country while the evil Queen did her job. The title because the fairy tale roll was respected was usually given out to a sibling who was thought best for the job.”

“That makes a lot of sense, after all the Queendom and the people of it would need a Queen to take care of them at all times…Wait if your mother is in prison and you are the only child…Are you Queen Raven already?” Apple asked with shock as she began to join the dots, like the large amounts of documents she had seen Raven with, the private phone calls she held on and off during the school year and her private lessons in kingdom management.

“No not yet, my father is currently my regent. I will be crowned formally as Queen at the end of high school.” Raven told her in an easy fashion which had Apple staring at her open mouthed.

“So wait, that time you said you where technically a princess that’s what you where referring to?” Apple asked her in utter shock.

Raven nodded as she said to Apple. “Well yes, my mother is a Queen and my father is King, so it makes me a princess.”

Apple was utterly shocked and before she could stop herself she burst out with. “Oh my fairy godmothers! You’re a princess! I never even stopped to think that was possible!”

Raven couldn’t help the chuckle which escaped her. “I always assumed you knew and just decided not to acknowledge the fact.”

“No I never worked it out…Now I feel kind of stupid. It should have been obvious.” Apple said with a blush of shame colouring her cheeks.

“It’s alright, I don’t think you’re the only one not to have worked out what I am.” Raven said to her gently trying to comfort the embraced Apple.

“Still I owe you an apology, I should have realised sooner that you are my equal in so many ways.” Apple said looking at her. “It won’t be long before you out rank me either… You’ve never really said much about your father…Though to be fair I’ve never really thought to ask about him I was far to obsessed with who your mother was.”

Raven chose her next words to Apple carefully, not wanting to give too much about her father away to her. “I don’t say much about him because I want him to have a peaceful life…Marrying my mother didn’t give him that, it was a turbulent time for him…My dad loved her you see, he truly loved my mother…When mother did all those terrible things broke his heart, my father only held things together because he had me to take care of. I never wanted to give him the kind of pain my mother had…I’ve seen the kind of pain true love can cause when it goes amiss and trust me it’s not pleasant.”

Apple gave a nod of understanding. “No wonder you decided to tell Darling you loved her, you wanted to help her not to experience the pain your father had. I to have heard of what happens when true love goes wrong…Your father has my sympathies…I won’t push you to talk to me about him, I can quite understand why you would want to keep his private life just that.”

Raven felt a huge wave of relief wash over her as she said this. “Thanks Apple, I’m glad you understand why I would want to keep my father safe. I want you to know that telling Darling I loved her wasn’t just to spare her from the pain of a true love gone wrong, it was also because I saw an opening to actually confess my love to her at long last and decided to take it.”

“It feels good to understand how things are for you at home.” Apple told her with sincerity, before turning to another subject. “I remember you saying about your mother’s father being a good witch. Did your father inherit any magic from her.”

“Yes, he inherited a little of it, that was part of the reason my mother chose him you see…His mother was a powerful good witch, but his father had no magic at all, so there was always a chance my father would have lots of magic, none or sit somewhere in the middle, which was exactly where he ended up. My mum had hoped that breading with him would produce an evil Queen even more powerful and driven to take over the worlds than herself…But instead she got me, one not as powerful as her and with a good heart.”

“Oh I see…That must have been difficult for you to know.” Apple said to her in a compassionate voice.

Raven nodded in agreement to these words. “Yes, I’ll admit that it was very hard to know I was not as my mother wanted me to be, but in some ways that is why I feel closer to you, neither of us turned out the way our parents wanted us to.”

“Boy isn’t that the truth.” Apple said to her with whole hearted agreement.

Shortly after this they reached the door to Raven’s room where they came to a halt and Raven turned to talk to Apple. “Thanks for today, I had a good time. It was lovely to have the children not screaming and running away from me for once.”

Apple felt her whole heart fill up with joy as Raven said this to her and she felt so glad she could give Raven such a meaningful experience with her. “I’m glad I could show you that not everyone is going to fear you in your new form. I want to say that I am happy to accept Faybelle as my evil Queen…I’m not going to try to pull you back into my story…It’s over and I accept that now.”

Raven felt pride towards Apple bubbling up inside her again. “I am happy that you have accept this and are willing to move forwards. I know it wasn’t the most conventional telling of the story…”

“But it is over.” Apple told her in a firm voice.

Raven gave her a nod as she said in agreement. “Yes it is.”

Apple nodded back, before saying with a teasing smile on her face. “Goodnight princess.”

These words made Raven chuckle again. “Hey there is no need to go calling me that.”

Still smiling widely Apple headed off to go back to her room. Raven went into her room, today had been a good day, so much had changed, but all of it had been good. She was glad that Apple was trying to move on from her story, that she know saw her as a princess and as a real true friend who she was no longer going to try to change to fit some imagined ideal villain. Raven felt lighter than she had for months, this she decided was good, her life was finally starting to take the shape she had always desired.

 

Far away from Raven purple magic was now fully embracing Darling’s parents, the evil Queen cackled to herself, she had complete control of them now, it had been so easy for her to work on their fears of Darling not becoming the perfect princess in order to gain control of them.

As soon as Darling came home for winter she would deal with the troublesome princess, she had the tower and its enchantments all set in place, all that as missing was it’s captive, the evil Queen was very much looking forwards to capturing her daughters true love.

Soon oh yes very soon Raven would become as broken hearted as her father and then Raven would be ready to help her control all of the worlds. It would probably take a few spells to keep her daughter under control, but as long as she held Darling captive and kept her from ever being able to get to Raven then her plan would work out perfectly.

Another evil laugh left her, people thought she had been powerful as the evil Queen, Raven’s magic was so much stronger than her own, having her at her side would make capturing the other words so very easy.

Chapter Text

Chapter fifteen:

By the time the weekend came around and Raven was to go on her date with Darling, she was full of nervous excitement. It had taken Raven all day yesterday, with the help of Maddie and Lizzy to decide what outfit to choose for her date. In the end they had chosen a long black velvet skirt which flowed around Raven as she walked, a silver bat winged top, the sleeves of which fitted the overall flowing look of her outfit.

After the perfect outfit had been settled on, Raven and Lizzy had exchanged gifts, Raven had been surprised when Lizzy said to her after the exchange. “I know it is not traditional, but my mother and I wanted you to have this gift. My mother doesn’t require anything from you in exchange, but we would both like you to open your gift now.”

Not wanting to upset Lizzy or her mother Raven nodded. “Of course, I’d be happy to open it now.” Carefully Raven undid the red bow, around the golden and heart decorated box and then gently lifted the lid off. Her eyes widened at the sight of what lay inside. As amongst the gold and red tissue paper was a coronet of silver.

Raven placed the box onto her desk, delicately she removed the coronet from the box, it was a simple silver confection of arches, from each arch hung a tear shaped amethyst stone and at the base of each arch was a silver heart. “Oh Lizzy this is beautiful.”

“You are a princess and soon to be Queen, you deserve to be able to show that to the whole fairy tale world. Would you like me to help you put it on so it doesn’t somehow damage the crescent moon you like to ware now?” Lizzy offered, more than happy to show her kinder side around her sister.

“Yes please.” Raven said gratefully, before sitting down at her desk so Lizzy could show her how to put on the coronet without causing any trouble with her moon.

Lizzy came over, she took the coronet from Raven, went behind her and carefully secured it to the centre of Raven’s head so it stood in front of the middle part of the moon. “Turn to face me so I can check how it looks.”

Raven didn’t hesitate to turn and look at Lizzy, she inspected the way the coronet looked and then gave a nod of satisfaction. “Yes, that looks perfect. Go take a look.” Lizzy encouraged her, while gesturing over at her mirror.

With a smile for Lizzy Raven got to her feet, she made her way over to the mirror and took a look at herself. “Oh my, it looks beautiful Lizzy.”

“I’m so glad you like it and I am sure my mother will be thrilled to hear you like it too.” Lizzy told her.

“I’m going to love having this on every day!” Raven enthused gently touching the coronet.

Lizzy smiled widely. “Good, now we should head off to our rooms for the night and you need to get some sleep so you are ready for tomorrow.”

“Your right.” Raven said smiling back at her sister.

After Maddie and Lizzy had left Raven had quickly gotten ready for bed, she was very much looking forwards to the next day.

When Raven woke up the next day she had quickly dressed in her normal clothes, before adding her coronet and making her way down to the castletearia. Raven received many compliments on her new headpiece, she also had to explain several times to different fairy tales that she wasn’t only entitled to the crown because she was Lizzy’s sister, but also because she was going to be a Queen one day after she left school. This had been a fact which had startled many of them, and Raven could see that they where now thinking of her in a much different light than before.

As soon as Raven had eaten her food, she made her way back to her room, Raven decided to get on with her homework in order to help the time pass until she went on her date with Darling.

Some hours later Raven changed into the clothes she had chosen for her date, she quickly swept her hair up into a bun, she settled on her head moon headband and then the coronet. As the time for Darling to arrive came closer, Raven for what had to be the millionth time checked she had the gift for her, that her hair was fine and her outfit were perfect.

When there was a knock on her door Raven’s heart leapt in her chest, she opened the door and smiled at Darling. Darling was dressed in a knee length, sky blue dress, which was patterned with unicorns and other heraldic beasts and under this was a white froth of skirts. Over the dress was a jacket of silver, her shoes where knee high silver boots, on one of her arms hung a blue bag containing Raven’s gift and Darling’s hair was in the style in which is was usually.

Darling smiled back at her, she bowed to Raven then straitened up, Darling offered her free arm to Raven as she said to her. “You look exquisite Raven.”

“Thank you Darling and you look beautiful to.” Raven told her honestly, accepting the offered arm, before speaking to her again. “Where are we going to eat?”

“I booked us a table at Enchanted.” Darling told her with a smile.

Raven’s eyes widened, she knew that this was a very expensive restaurant and she wanted to tell Darling she was happy to go somewhere less costly. Raven didn’t want to upset Darling, by suggesting she either didn’t like where they were going to eat or that Darling couldn’t afford to take her there and so Raven decided to just let herself enjoy this experience with the one she loves.

When they get to the restaurant, Darling told the Matre de her name, they were quickly ushered to their seat and supplied with menus. Raven look the offerings in slowly, there was quite a variation to choose from and Raven wanted to be sure that she chose the right meal for herself.

“Would you like to exchange gifts now or after the meal?” Darling asked her curiously.

Raven looked across at Darling as she thought about the answer to this question, before answering it by saying to her. “I think now would be nice. Do you want to open them tonight or wait until midwinter?”

“Well…I have to say I am rather tempted to open my gift tonight, I am very intrigued to see what my present from you is.” Darling admitted with a wide smile on her face.

Raven chuckled softly, before saying to her. “I feel exactly the same way about your gift.”

“Well then let’s have some fun and open them tonight!” Darling said, as she opened the blue bag she had been carrying, Darling drew out of it the silver gift bag and handed it across to Raven.

Smiling widely Raven accepted it from her, then gave to Darling her own wrapped gift in exchange. Together they unwrapped their gifts, Darling and Raven where both touched and awed by the gift’s they received from each other.

It was Raven who managed to find her voice first. “Oh Darling! These are amazing thank you so much!”

Darling was looking up from, one of the bottles within the box and smiled across at Raven. “I am glad you like them and thank you for making me these I think they will prove to be very helpful.”

“Your welcome. I’m so happy that you like my gift.” Raven told her in return.

Before they could say more the waiter came over, he took their orders and quickly headed to the kitchen to make sure it was promptly dealt with. A few moments later the waiter returned with their drinks, as they sipped on them Darling looked across the table at Raven and said to her gently. “I know you don’t exactly agree with fairy tales…But I have to admit ever since we kissed I’ve been wondering if you’d be willing to be my princess in the tale of the daughter of the Good King. I know he already has a daughter…But she was unwilling to enter a story with me when my feelings where so confused and I can’t blame her for that…Looking back I was being rather selfish at the time…My loving Apple and her not loving me…It caused me a great deal of pain. Still though I feel drawn to the story, it’s really hard to explain…”

“You feel like a voice is calling you towards where you belong and as though someone is trying to pull you forwards.” Raven said to her gently, she had been feeling it to, but hadn’t wanted to acknowledge it and so had ignored these new feeling and the pull she had been experiencing.

“Yes…Have you felt it to?” Darling asked with hope clear in her voice.

Raven gave a nod. “Yes, ever since we kissed and just to clarify something, I don’t hate fairy tales, I just believe we should be allowed to choose if we want to be part of one or not.”

Smiling softly Darling reached across the table, she took one of Raven’s hands into hers and then spoke to her in a soft, but hopeful voice. “Then I will ask you Raven, would you do me the honour of becoming my good King’s daughter?”

Slowly Raven smiled back at her. “How could I ever say no, to such a sweetly asked request from the prince I love.”

“You called me a prince…I like hearing you call me that…Would you do it again?” Darling asked blushing slightly as she made this request of the one she had come to love even more than Apple white.

With a nod Raven did as Darling requested. “My prince.”

Darling smiled at her softly as she said to Raven. “I hope the good King will be happy to let you play the part of his daughter.”

“I am sure that considering all you have gone through and the reluctance of his own daughter, that he will be more than happy to help you.” Raven assured her.

Before Darling could say anything to this their food arrived and as they started eating their meals the couple chatted moving away from this subject and on to more general ones. When Darling and Raven finished their main meal they turned their attention to what to eat for dessert and after considering the menu for a while Raven looked up at Darling. “Why don’t we order some ice cream and share it?”

“What a charming idea!” She exclaimed more than happy to share ice cream with Raven.

“What flavours would you like?” Raven asked curiously.

After a few moments consideration Darling answered this question. “Chocolate and strawberry, what about you?”

“I was thinking mint choc chip and toffee.” Raven said with a smile.

“What a concoction.” Darling said with a chuckle, before ordering their choices and informing the waiter they wanted the ice cream to share.

It wasn’t long before he returned with the ice cream and two spoons. “Thank you.” Raven said politely.

“Yes thank you.” Darling said before picking up her spoon and digging into the strawberry ice cream.

Raven took a spoonful of the mint choc chip, as soon as she tasted it Raven let out a sigh of pleasure and once the ice cream was swallowed, she said in a happy voice. “Oh, my that’s good ice cream!”

“Um, agreed.” Darling said with a blissful expression on her face.

The two enjoyed every last mouthful of the ice cream, they even fed each other spoonful’s blushing, but enjoying doing this together. When they finished Raven and Darling where both well satisfied. “That was a wonderful meal.” Raven told Darling with a wide smile.

Darling smiled back at her. “I am happy to hear you enjoyed it.”

When the waiter came to take their bowl Raven and Darling, Darling said to him. “Please send our compliments to the chef.”

“I will madam.” The waiter assured her before bustling off.

“I can’t wait for the end of year ball tomorrow!” Raven said with enthusiasm.

Darling couldn’t stop herself smiling widely at her. “I must admit I am also looking forward it. I hope you will like the outfit I have chosen.”

Raven returned her smile as she said to her reassuringly. “Oh, I am sure I will love it.” And then before Darling could say anything to her, Raven spoke to her again. “So Are you looking forwards to going home?” Raven asked Darling her joy at the idea of going home clear as she spoke.

Darling shook her head. “I’m worried…I know my parents will disappointed that I acted in a way which is unbecoming of a Charming princess…I’m conserned as to what they might try to do to correct what I have done…And if my going home might be the start of my part in the story of the daughter of the good king.”

Raven reached across the table, she gently took one of Darling’s hands into hers and gave it a gentle squeeze, before she tried to comfort Darling. “Well, one good thing amongst the start of your part of the story is that you know your brother’s and two maidens will help you to escape…Fairy tales aren’t always darkness and light…You’ll need a reason to run away to be found and helped by me.”

Darling squeezed her hand back and gave her a nod. “I know…But that doesn’t mean I can’t be worried about it.”

“I’d be concerned about you if you did feel that way.” Raven told her with seriousness.

“Are you sure you want to go through with this…I mean you have to fight your mother…” Darling said the apprehension she felt for Raven was clear on her face.

Raven let out a deep sigh, before saying sadly to Darling. “I’ve always known that one day, everything would come down to one final battle between my mother and myself…But I’ll be fighting for the one I truly love…Something I never thought I would get to do…Winning my freedom and gaining you as my prince in the process will be well worth it.”

Darling felt joy surge through her, she had hopped Raven might say this, but hadn’t quite managed to full convince herself of this fact. At the same time though Darling felt bad that Raven would have to fight her mother one final time. “I’m still sorry you will have to fight your own mother.”

“Darling…Don’t be sorry…My mother…Is as she is…Because I’ve always been such a disappointment her, I’ve been fighting her my whole life in one way or another. I will of course be sad to end her life…” Raven told her in a very downhearted voice, before her words ran out unable to explain the tangle of feelings which surrounded her relationship with her mother.

Seeing the pain on Raven’s face as she tried to talk to her about her mother all Darling wanted to do was wrap her arms around Raven and hold her tightly. “I can’t say I know how hard it is to have your mother…But I do know how hard it can be to be a disappointment to parents.”

Slowly Raven managed a small smile. “What a pair we make.”

After she said this the waiter came over with their bill and place it on the table, Darling picked up the bill and payed it as she spoke to Raven. “Indeed. Shall we head back to the school?”

Raven gave her a nod, together they came to their feet, they both gathered up their gifts put them in the gift bags, once again Darling offered Raven her arm. Raven didn’t hesitate to take Darling’s arm, they left the restaurant and slowly walked through book end back towards the castle. Neither of them where keen on their evening ending any time soon, and although they were not talking to each other Darling and Raven where very much enjoying each other’s company.

When the couple eventually reached the door to Raven’s room, Raven slipped her arm out of Darlings and then turned to face her. “I had a wonderful time tonight.”

“So did I.” Darling told her, before moving a little closer and asking in a soft voice. “Can I kiss you good night?”

“I’d love that.” Raven told her honestly, feeling thrilled that Darling was going to kiss her again.

Smiling softly Darling, gently, but firmly brought her lips to Raven’s, while at the same time she held her in her arms. Raven returned this kiss enjoying every moment of the experience. While she continued to kiss her Raven placed one of her hands onto Darling’s shoulders, while she put her other hand onto the back of Darling’s neck.

Darling hummed in pleasure she had never felt as alive as she did when kissing Raven and she slowly closed her eyes wanting to enjoy every moment of this kiss. She was not alone, as Raven also closed her eyes murmuring in delight as the kiss became slightly deeper than before. The two women began to unknowingly glow with a soft golden light, which if anyone had seen them would have let them know that Darling and Raven had the start of a true love relationship.

It was some time before the couple broke the kiss and open their eyes, they shared a loving smile, they were both full of joy and contentment after this kiss. After a few moments of comfortable silence between them Raven spoke first. “I’ll look forward to seeing you for the ball tomorrow night.”

“Yes, I will come to collect you at seven is that alright?” Darling asked her curiously.

“That would be great. Good night Darling.” Raven told her, before gently kissing her on the cheek.

Darling blushed a little when Raven kissed her on the cheek. “Good night Raven and have sweet dreams.”

Raven made her way into her room for the night, she felt as though she was floating on air and was so happy. Raven had in fact never felt so happy before and she hopped that this feeling would never end, while at the same time she looked forwards to the ball the next day with joy bubbling up inside her.

Little did Raven know though that neither she or Darling would get to see that ball, as darkness was coming for them both and the shadow which would stain their lives would mark them both for some time to come.

Chapter Text

I hope you canal forgive me I’m not very good at battles so I’ve kind of avoided it. This story is way more complicated then I thought it would be!

Chapter sixteen:

Raven was hextreamly excited about the ball tonight, she couldn’t wait to go to it with her prince escorting her. As was her habit every Sunday morning after breakfast Raven made her way into book end to shop for anything she needed and then with her shopping done she stopped for tea at the Mad Hatter’s tea shop and haberdashery. Today Raven had decided to try the rose and strawberry flavoured tea with her Queen of hearts strawberry tart.

Just as Raven was about to finish her tea and tart, she heard herd very loud screaming coming from the direction of the school, this sent fear and worry surging through her. Quickly Raven got to her feet, she rushed back towards Ever After High wondering what had happened to have caused all of this uproar.

As she drew closer to the school Raven could see low hanging dark purple and sickly green clouds, which where horribly familiar to her. “Oh no! Not my mother! How is she free?” Raven exclaimed as she ran faster than previously.

Apple came running up to her. “Raven! Thank goodness!”

“Apple what happened here?!” Raven asked her, even as her wide purple eyes taking in the fleeing students.

“Darlings parents! They were furious with Darling, they told her off for all her less than princess like behaviour in front of the whole school. After that they somehow broke into the tower, where set your mother free and then carried Daring, Dexter and Darling off home on Legend.” Apple quickly explained to her.

Raven took a deep breath, then let it out saying softly. “So, it begins.”

There was something very final in the way in which Raven said this, it sent chills of fear snaking through Apple and she couldn’t help but ask Raven. “What begins?”

“The story of the daughter of the Good King.” Raven told her bluntly.

These words where met with a frown of confusion from Apple. “I’ve never heard of such a story…And what has that story got to do with you, after all you’re the Evil Queen’s daughter.”

Raven rolled her eyes at Apple and in shear exasperation told her the truth at long last. “Apple my father is the Good King, your grandfather!”

“Wait we are related!” Apple exclaimed in shock utterly unable to believe what she was hearing from Raven.

“We don’t have time to discuss this. I need to deal with my mother.” Raven told Apple, before starting to make her way to the school with determination clear on her face.

Apple watched her go unable to believe that Raven was her…Half aunt…Step aunt…Apple wasn’t sure what to class her as right now, but she knew now that Raven was like her mother the daughter of the good King and this made her a good princess. Apple’s head was spinning, she had managed to fall in love with someone related to her and Apple couldn’t believe her mother had never told her she was related to Raven!

As far as Apple was concerned this was pivotal information it changed everything she had ever thought about Raven and the destiny she should hold. It was possible, more than possible that with her kind nature and gentle heart that Raven was meant to become the next good King. Apple knew that this though should shock her, but somehow it was very easy to picture Raven despite being female playing this important part in stories.

She also found herself wondering if the head master had known the possibility that Raven might be destined to be the good King which why he had pushed her hard to become the next evil Queen. Had he wanted Raven to give her the destiny she had wanted to keep herself and her mother from causing him any trouble? Apple didn’t know the answer to this question but she decided in that moment that when she had the chance she was going to find out the answer to her question from the head master if she had to drag it out of him.

Apple wasn’t going to leave her friend and family member try to take on the evil Queen by herself and so she went after Raven. “RAVEN!” She called out to her as she followed behind her.

Hearing Apple yelling her name Raven stopped running, she turned to look at Apple and said to her in a worried tone of voice. “Why are you following me?! It’s not safe here!”

“You’re my family, as well as my friend and you can’t go up against your mother alone.” Apple told her in an unwaveringly calm voice.

Raven sighed deeply, before addressing her in a very serious voice. “Apple you can’t come with me! I can’t risk my mother targeting you or anyone else who might come with me! You can still help me though, get everyone as far away from here as possible. Please Apple do this for me get away, get everyone away from here so my mother can’t hurt them.”

After Raven said this there was a loud bang and a flare of purple light, Apple looked in her direction and then back to Raven. She knew this situation was serious and Apple was also well aware of the fact that the evil Queen will use any leverage she can get to make people to do whatever she wanted them to do. “Alright I’ll do as you ask. Just be careful and come back to us safe okay?”

Raven nodded her answer to the question unable to say yes to it, the two of them shared a brief hug and then Raven set off towards the centre of the carnage. Apple watched her go with deep concern gripping her on the inside, she hopped with all of her heart that Raven would be alright. Drawing herself up to her full height Apple set off to gather the students and teachers together and guide them a safe distance from the school.

She was quickly joined in her efforts by Briar, Maddie, Ashlynn, Hunter, Lizzy, Kitty and Cerise, soon with their combined skills they had all everyone out of the vicinity and at the edge of the enchanted forest. The boys and some of the teachers quickly set up a camp for them all and with hunter in the led went in search of food within the forest.

Apple stood at the edge of the forest looking back at the school, she watched the flashes of purple light, the towers of smoke and crashes of things falling to the ground. Apple was joined by the grim brothers, they too watched the destruction of the school for a few moments in silence before Milton addressed Apple. “Is there nothing to be done?”

Apple took a few moments before answering this question. “I don’t think there is anything we can do to help Raven right now…She said something about his being part of the story of the daughter of the Good King.”

Giles and Milton drew in a surprised breath and Rosabella surprised them all as she spoke up from behind them. “After Darling was taken I found this book hidden in her room…I’ve not read it yet…But maybe it can help us.” As soon as she spoke Apple, Milton and Giles turned to face Rosabella with questioning looks on their faces. She was standing there holding a book close to her chest and said softly to them. “This is the story of the daughter of the Good King.”

Gently Giles placed a hand onto Rosabella’s shoulder and asked her in a kind voice. “Would you read the story to us all. I am afraid we only know the bare bones of that story as it was not in the story book of legends.”

Rosabella nodded, they made their way over to the camp fire together they settled around the fire and where joined by other students all of them wanting to help Raven because she had helped all of them many times. “Once upon a time the Good King had two daughters from two different wives who he had loved with all of his heart. His first wife was all that was good and true and the second was cold and evil witch Queen. His eldest daughter was long married happily before his second daughter was even born. The moment she was born his wicked wife cursed the child, so that she and her magic would appear evil and the curse would only be broken when she found one to truly love her as she was and they admitted this love.”

A large explosion interrupted Rosabella, she looked up from the book, everyone else turned in that direction to look at the explosions of purple power. At the same time Cupid noticed a glimmer of light in the undergrowth and suddenly felt love strongly in that direction. Quietly she stood, when Blondie shot her a concerned look, Cupid bent down and whispered to her. “I need to relive myself.”

Blondie gave her an understanding look and Cupid walked off into the woods and once she was far enough away from the other’s she spoke softly. “I know you are here Meraki. Please I’m not going to hurt you or tell the other’s you are here…Please come out.”

Slowly she appeared, Cupid smiled at her widely and then bowed to her respectfully. “Goddess of true love. I am honoured to meet you.”

“Cupid it is good to meet you.” She said in a gentle voice and with a soft smile on her face.

“We’ve all been so worried about you…Especially Hades.” Cupid told her gently.

Meraki looked away from her clearly unwilling to discuss him. “Yes, well you can tell them you found me and I am fine. I don’t want them to know where I am Cupid, this is the best place for me, here my power is needed and respected…Unlike Olympus where I was ignored by virtue of not being as beautiful as Aphrodite and because true love was found a lot more rarely.”

Cupid knew these words where true and so didn’t refute them, the other Olympians had only come to realise how important she was once Meraki had vanished. “Aren’t you going to help Raven with this battle?”

“Of course, I shall…I will know when she needs me.” She assured Cupid.

Cupid wanted to talk to her about Hades, there was a lot that she should say on the subject and Cupid really wished she knew how to say it all. “I really want to talk to you about Hades…I know I have no right to say anything and that you probably don’t want to hear any of it…But…But…He’s not the same without you. Hades misses you and I know he wished you were back with us…He loves you.”

“Hades is married to the one he always wanted. Whatever there was between us, was done that day Cupid, I will not take another Goddesses husband, I am not like that. I wish them both happy and that is an end to it.” Meraki told her with serious eyes and voice.

Cupid shook her head at her and told her with equal seriousness. “They never married, they live together yes, but that is so Persephone can get away from her over protective mother for a while…Hades loves you I’ve felt it…It is as strong as the love Raven holds for Darling.”

Meraki said nothing to this for a long moment. “This is news to me, but then I have been gone for a long time now…” Quickly she shook her head. “I will not go back, I must move forwards and so must Hades. I need to go now young one Raven requires me.”

“Can we meet again…My father taught me about true love, but I would very much like to learn all about true love from its goddess.” Cupid told her with sincerity.

Slowly Meraki smiled she was touched that Cupid should wish to learn from her instead of taking what she had been taught at face value. “I would be honoured to teach you.” A moment later she faded from sight and Cupid made her way back to the camp.

When she arrived back Rosabella was still telling the story to the other’s. “The prince held captive by his parents who where unwilling to let him be as he was. The prince feared thought he would never be free until his two older brothers set him free and spirited him away from the castle. Soon though they where followed, not wanting their younger brother to be captured again the elder two told the younger to run which he did. The prince ran and ran, the forest closing in around him, becoming a dark tangled and frightening place. Then a slither of light caught his eye, the prince pushed through the bushes with the last of his strength, with no more to give the prince went tumbling down onto his knees. He looked around the clearing and noticed a woman dressed all in purple, she was looking back at him with shock clear on her face, the only thing the prince managed to say before darkness swallowed him was help me.”

It was here that the story was interrupted again, but this time by Blondie pointing back towards the castle and saying in a shaking voice. “Um, that looks like a lot of true love being used.”

Sure enough the sky was painted golden by it and in the centre of that power was Raven, there was another large explosion of light, followed by a scream, then all at once the light went out and Raven floated downwards towards the ground, even as the school started to be repaired by the golden light.

Rosabella once more commanded their attention by saying. “Well the story said that when the battle was over between mother and daughter, that the daughter was found by her three best friends and her adopted sister. In my mind that would be Maddie, Cerise, Lizzy and Ginger, any body disagree with me?”

No one did, so together the four of them made their way back to the school alone, they eventually found Raven sleeping peacefully on the grass of the school garden. Together they checked her over for any signs of injury but much to their great relief found nothing wrong with her other than a few small cuts and bruises.

Cerise was the one to phone the others and let them know that the school and Raven where both safe, she asked if Briar would come to the school garden just to make sure that Raven’s sleep was natural and nothing magical.

Briar arrived not to long after, Apple was with her as where the Grim brothers. Though not happy that all these extra people had come with Briar Cerise didn’t say anything, she knew Apple would be worried about Raven and the Grim brothers couldn’t stay away from anything which followed the lines of a story for long.
Quickly Briar checked Raven over, before letting out a relived breath and saying to the others in a soft voice. “It’s alright, this is just a natural sleep. I’m sure using all that power must have tired her out compleatly. I suggest we get Raven back to her room and let her rest. Having some food ready for Raven when she wakes up might also be a good idea.”

“I’ll get the food.” Apple told them also keeping her voice soft so as not to wake Raven.

Carefully Cerise picked her friend up, she made her way into the school with her, while at the same time Apple walked off into Bookend to get some food for Raven.

With the students gone Milton and Giles turned to look at each other and Milton asked his brother in a concerned. “Do you think Raven really ended her mother’s life?”

Giles gave him a nod. “Yes I believe she would have done, not only as part of the story, but also because Raven knowns just as I did that her mother either needed stopping permanently or imprisoning far away from this school where she would be less likely to escape and cause more trouble for Raven and those she cares for.”

“I was a fool to keep her here.” Milton admitted begrudgingly.

Giles threw him a speaking glance. “I will not argue with that.”

Milton flushed with shame. “Do you think Raven will be alright?”

Giles gave his brother a nod. “Yes, she is strong and determined. I believe that Raven has all the strength she needs in order to see this story through.”

“I am just surprised that Raven is will to be a party to any story.” Milton told his brother honestly.

Giles was quiet for a moment before he addressed his brother. “I can understand why you would be shocked, but Raven was never against the stories, she was just against people being forced to play a part they didn’t want to. Raven has chosen her path just as she wanted to and now she will walk that path to its end.”

Chapter Text

Chapter seventeen:

Raven felt like she was floating, she could see her mother’s magic exploding around her, there where hands on her shoulders she knew that Meraki was the one helping her, this was confirmed when she spoke to her. “You can defeat her Raven.”

“I am not as strong in magic as my mother is.” Raven told her sadly.

Meraki addressed her in a kind but firm voice. “That is not true Raven, you have more magic than your mother you always did, but this is especially with the power of true love burning within you. Trust me now…Think about Darling, about how much you love her and how angry you are with your mother for what she has done to, your father, your true love and you. Focus on the love you feel, let it come forwards.”

Raven did as Meraki told her, all at once she could feel the true love burning through her, her purple magical aura expanded, she watched in awe as slowly the purple magic she had known all her life turned golden yellow at the edges and grew even larger forming a huge golden and purple fire around her shaped like a giant dragon.

Raven looked across the battlefield at her mother who was floating in the air opposite her, staring at Raven with her mouth open wide with shock. Raven smiled slowly, she swung her arm forwards, the fire followed this motion, before sweeping forwards in an arch and hitting the Evil Queen front on.

She screamed in pain and flew back wards as the force of the blow hit her. It threw her so far and so hard that the Evil Queen couldn’t prevent herself from hitting one of the towers of the school hard, the force of the impact knocked the air out of her.

Before the Evil Queen had chance to take in what had just happened Raven was in front of her, the fire of true love around her was growing. The Evil Queen was in awe, she had never seen so much power in one person before, the Evil Queen realised with a shudder that she had underestimated her daughter badly and she now very much regretted interfering in Raven’s life and causing her ire to become focused on her.

As Raven spoke to her mother her voice was full of rage and sorrow. “You have done so much to hurt my father and me. You have done nothing but brought shame onto our family. You maybe my mother, but whatever love I once felt for you has been long burnt away by your actions. I see now that the only one you are about is yourself! I will not let you have power over me or my life any more!” The power around Raven exploded outwards, the Evil Queen let out a scream, darkness then descended on Raven and she knew no more.

 

Slowly Raven opened her eyes, her whole body felt heavy, but not painful, as her eyes focused Raven became aware of the fact she was in the healers office at school and that Apple, Lizzie and Maddie sitting next to her bed watching Raven closely. “Hey, it’s good to see you awake at last.” Apple told her keeping her voice gentle, before asking her caringly. “How do you feel?”

“Nothing hurts, but my body feels really heavy.” Raven told her with honesty and a tone of worry to her voice.

Apple smiled at her, before setting out to reassure her. “Yes madam Yagga and Cupid said that might happen. Apparently you used a lot of magic and love out on that battle field to defeat your mother.”

“Is she gone?” Raven asked with a trace of concern in her voice, while her eyes filled with worry.

Apple nodded slowly as she answered this question. “We think so…No one can find any trace of her at least.”

Raven swallowed hard and whispered. “I see…Somehow that worries me more…”

Gently Maddie took one of Raven’s hands in hers and gave it a comforting squeeze. “Cupid and Madam Yagga say your magic will be sensitive to hers now and will let you know if your mother is around.”

Raven frowned at her friend with confusion and shook her head as she said to Maddie. “I don’t understand.”

“Neither do we really…” Apple admitted before explaining her words to Raven. “Madam Yagga’s explanation was very technical, but we have managed to work out from what she said that it has something to do with your true love for Darling and your desire to make sure that she is safe and happy.”

“Madam Yaga said it was like you heart being full of seeing pure water.” Maddie told Raven simply.

After hearing this Raven’s eyes lit with sudden understanding. “Oh I see. My true love makes me sensitive to my mother’s magic now because she can love no one save herself.”

Lizzy nodded to Raven, before saying in an aggrieved and annoyed voice. “That makes a lot of sense, why couldn’t madam Yagga have explained it to us so simply.”

These words and the way they where spoken drew chuckles from the others. “Because making us confused is something with delights her?” Apple suggested to them with a smile.

The laughter grew, it felt so good to Raven to laugh, she knew well enough how serious things where for her right now, so a little relief from the darkness which had seeped into her life was delightful. Their laughter was interrupted by the voice of the head master from beyond the screen which stood next to Raven’s bed asking very seriously. “May my brother and I enter?”

Raven was suddenly nervous, she could understand why they might want to see her, but Raven worried that she wouldn’t be able to answer the questions they had to ask her. At the same time though Raven knew that she couldn’t keep running away from them and should try to answer their questions now rather than later. “Yes you can.”

The headmaster and Giles came around the screen, Milton looked at Raven with very serious eyes, Giles gave her a gentle smile and asked solicitously. “How are you feeling?”

“My body feels quiet heavy and I’m quite tired.” Raven told him honestly.

The head master turned a sombre gaze onto her as he said. “Miss Queen, we need to have a serious talk about what you are doing at this moment in time.”

Giles shot his brother a disapproving look. “Remember what we talked about brother, gently.”

Milton let out a deep sigh, he knew his brother was right, but it was so hard after years of being a head master to act in a way which was anything less than commanding. “I am sorry Raven…I should not have spoken to you like that, while you are in this state. We believe you are acting the part of the Good King’s daughter?”

“I am.” Raven confirmed.

Giles addressed her this time. “My brother and I are a little concerned about this…Be assured we do not think you are personally a bad person, but your heritage is evil…This means that this fact might have a negative impact on the telling of the story. After all though the princess of the story is born from an evil mother she has a good father which is why she is able to be the princess of the story.”

Raven looked at them in silence for a few moments, before saying in a gentle but firm voice. “I have a good father.”

This drew startled looks from both men and it was Milton who asked her with surprising gentleness. “Who is your father?”

“My father is the Good King, Apple’s grandfather.” Raven told them without a trace of hesitation.

These words where met with shocked silence from the brother’s and eventually the headmaster chocked out. “Your Stephan’s daughter?!”

For some reason Raven found the headmasters surprise amusing, but didn’t let this show as she spoke to him. “Yes I am. I can show you if you wish.”

Giles gave her a nod. “We would be grateful if you would.”

Raven lifted her right hand, she focused on it for a moment, then suddenly is if it had always been there a ring shaped like a silver crown was embracing her middle finger. “This should be all the proof you need.”

The both looked at the ring for a long silent moment, and eventually Milton spoke. “Yes as you say Raven that is all the proof we need.”

Apple spoke to the brother’s next asking with curiosity. “Will Raven’s story become like those which used to be the book of legends now?”

The brother’s looked to each other before nodding and Giles said to her. “Yes Apple. At the time of its telling now the daughter of the good King has enough, true love, trial and power to count and one of the great tales.”

“Trial?” Apple asked feeling very worried for Raven.

Raven gave her a nod before saying to her. “Facing my mother by myself was one of them. Darlings escape will be another and the third…Well…I am not sure I should say what that is at this time.”

When Apple went to speak to her again, Milton lay a hand on her shoulder he shook his head and for once said kindly to Raven. “That is probably a very wise decision, the last thing you need is the story being changed in some way, even if that person means well by trying to change it.”

Suddenly Apple understood what he was saying, none of them should try to change this story, as to do so at this time might be dangerous for the story as well as those involved in the telling of the tale. “What happens now?” Apple asked Raven instead of asking her the question she had originally intended to ask.

Raven answered this question with nothing but honesty. “I will need to go home to my father. At this point as much as I hate it all I can do is wait. Daring and Dexter will free Darling and get her away, but they will pay a price…”

“Price?” Milton asked uneasily as her words faded into a sad silence.

Raven gave a short firm nod saying in a sad voice as she did so. “Their parents will come after them and they will split up to confuse them. Darling will somehow find her way to me a little like Snow white finding the cottage of the dwarves. As for her brothers, one will be caught by his parents, they will keep him at home a virtual prisoner I do not know how long for and the other brother will wander for a long time as well.”

“Are there stories about what happens to them in your home country?” Giles asks her gently.

Raven nodded at him again before she told them all. “The brother kept at home becomes our version of the beast prince so that will be Daring. The younger prince who will clearly in this situation be Dexter, he meets a kind princess who finds him in the forest and brings him home, the prince then undergoes several trials to prove he is a prince and worthy of her heart. I hate the fact that Dexter should be pushed into such a part, but who knows maybe he won’t be and Dexter will be able to get away to safety.”

“I hope you are right Raven, because Dexter and trials, really does not seem like a good combination to me.” Apple said to Raven with grave seriousness, while humour danced in the depths of her eyes.

These words caused Raven to crack a small smile. “No, poor Dexter, I can’t say I can imagine it either.”

“Well you should get some rest Raven, Giles and I will contact your father and tell him to come here to collect you.” The headmaster told her in a tone that brooked no argument.

Raven nodded, she was really too tired to argue with him anyway, so she curled up in the bed and drifted off into a thankfully this time dreamless sleep. Apple watched her resting with a fond smile on her face, she still couldn’t believe they where related, her mother had been very embraced when Apple had confronted her over this oversight and had apologised to Apple profusely. Apple still had feelings for Raven but was determinedly trying to turn them into those of ones which should exist between family members.

Maddie and Lizzy both watched her sleeping, they hoped things would become easier for Raven when she left school, but at the same time they knew from what Raven had said and the little Rosabella had reviled to them that this was not going to be the case for her for sometime to come. They decided it was best to let their friend get as much rest as she could while she could, because they knew that Raven was going to need all the strength she could get for what lay ahead.

Chapter Text

Chapter eighteen:

The headmaster kept his word to Raven, he quickly got in touch with her father and as soon as Milton had related to King Stephan everything that had happened to his daughter, he told Milton that he would be on his way to the school instantly. The way in which Stephan said these words to the headmaster left no doubt in his mind that he would be on the way to the school right away.

Sure enough when Stephan arrived at the school the day after this call, Milton and Giles where both there to meet him. They quickly guided Stephan through the school, to the school healing room and over to the bed which Raven slept in. As soon as the brothers had finished leading Stephan to his daughter, Giles and Milton withdrew from the room to allow him time alone with his daughter.

Quickly Stephan sat down on one of the chairs by Raven’s bedside, he gently took one of his daughter’s hands into his, he carefully lifted it and gently kissed the back of her Raven’s hand. “My poor little bird…You have a hard path to walk and I will do all I can to ease your way. I just hope Darling will realise how lucky she is, that she will love you with all her heart and will not leave you as your mother did me…I could not stand to see you suffer as I have suffered.”

Slowly Raven’s eyes opened, they focused on her father, she was so very glad to see him there, Raven’s heart filled with joy and she smiled at him widely. “Hey dad.”

“Hello little bird. How do you feel?” He asked with parental concern.

“Still very heavy…I know that will take some time to leave me.” Raven confessed to her father knowing better than to lie to him about the state of her health.

Stephan nodded at his daughter he understood exactly why Raven should be feeling the way that she was at this time. “Yes, after the amount of magic you worked to defeat your mother that feeling will take quite a long time to go away. I have everything ready for you at home, I also have all the preparations in place for us to go home, but I will not take you back until you are stronger.”

“Thank you father. I long to be home, but the journey is to long for me right at the moment.” Raven confessed with a smile for him, before saying in a voice which wavered with suppressed emotion and tears starting to gather in her eyes. “Now I would very much like a hug.”

Instantly Stephan hugged his daughter to him gently but firmly. He felt foolish for not realising sooner that after facing her mother and destroying her that Raven would want comfort from him and as he held his daughter to him Stephan whispered to her. “Forgive me. I should have thought of that sooner.”

Raven simply burrowed further into her father, she clung to him just wanting to soak up his strength, love and the comfort he was unquestioningly giving to her. Stephan said nothing more to his daughter, he just held Raven to him and stroked his hand over her hair until Raven fell asleep against him.

 

Apple mean while was pacing around her dorm room and thinking hard, her mind went back to what Raven had said about the brother’s to Milton and Giles why hadn’t she mentioned the two maidens who would help them on their journey? Maybe it was because Raven had forgotten or maybe and more likely in her mind was that Raven had wanted to prevent anyone she knew from taking up those parts unless they wanted to or because those roles where somehow hazardous.
Apple decided the only way to know for sure was to borrow the story from Rosabella. With a clear goal to aim for Apple quickly left her dorm room, she hastily made her way to the room of Rosabella and knocked on the door.

When she answered the door and saw who was standing there, as well as the serious expression on her face, Rosabella said. “You’re here abut the story aren’t you?”

Apple gave her a nod, Rosabella gestured her inside while asking Apple at the same time. “What part of the daughter of the good King is bothering you?”

“The two maidens who help the princes to escape their parents, what does the story say about them?” Apple asked without even a moments hesitation.

Rosabella didn’t question why she was asking her this, Rosabella felt sure there had to be a good reason for the questioning. So Rosabella sat on the side of her bed, she closed her eyes for a moment and called up that part of the story and said to Apple. “They are simply castle servants who help them to escape the castle, they could be any servant in the castle…”

“I see…Rosabella is there some part I can play in this story?” Apple asks her wanting very much to be able to help Raven with her story.

Rosabella looks at her for a long moment, Apple met her unwavering gaze and whatever Rosabella saw there made her smile and nod. “Yes, the story mentions that the princess has four close ladies in waiting, they are her friends, companions and protectors. These four ladies know her best and support her, they also play a key part in helping the prince see the princess as she truly is. If you want to become one of those four ladies then you will need to convince her father of that fact, might I suggest that you recommend to him the other at least two of three ladies be Cerise and Maddie…”

Apple nodded, these where wide words. “Yes those suggestions make a lot of sense, but who will be the fourth lady?”

She shook her head and said in answer to this question. “In honesty I don’t know, but maybe there is a lady in Raven’s father’s home that will be the fourth lady.” After a moment’s silence Rosabella decided to voice her feelings of concern about the story to Apple, Rosabella felt this might be the best way to help Raven. “Apple…I’m worried for Raven…I can’t tell you why…All I can say safely is so much could go wrong and Raven might be so deeply hurt that she…She might be lost to us all…”

Apple looked at Rosabella with wide eyed horror, of course she knew that stories could go wrong, but to think Raven might be taken away. “You mean Raven might die?”

“I am sad to say that is a distinct possibility, but she might also live broken hearted for the rest of her life or be taken to the land of magic to sleep there in safety until one worthy of Raven finds her there and mends her broken heart her with their love.” Rosabella said with great sadness.

These words caused Apple great pain, she sat down hard on the bed next to Rosabella and tried to imagine life without Raven around and failed. After a few moments of wallowing in despair the same time the stubborn determination which she had once focused on gaining her fairy tale came to life inside her once more. “I can’t let that happen! I won’t! I’ll make sure Raven is happy and since that requires winning Darlings true love as her own then I will do all I can to help them! If I fail I will go with her to the ever shining lands as my people call it. I will not leave Raven’s side…I won’t let her be alone again.”

Rosabella bit her lip, for a royal to make such a vow was rare, but she knew Apple meant her words and she could just see Apple being in the boat with Raven’s head in her lap as they were rowed across the water to the land of magic. “I hope it won’t come to that.”

“So do I…Thank you for the help.” Apple said as she came to her feet.

As she went to open the door Rosabella stopped her as she said. “What will you tell your mother and father?”

Apple closed her eyes for a moment, she knew she was her parents only child, the only heir to the kingdom, as well as this Apple was well aware of the fact that the path she was now choosing to walk could lead them to great sadness, but this was her decision to make. “I will tell them this is the destiny that I have chosen for myself and that if I do not return to choose an heir from the many Charming princesses who are related to my father.”

Rosabella had never heard Apple sound so regal or determined before, she knew then and there that nothing, absolutely nothing was going to turn Apple away from her path now she had chosen it. “Then I wish you luck, I think you are going to need it.”

“Thank you, for wishing me luck.” Apple told her before leaving the room and closing the door behind her.

When she was gone Rosabella flopped back on the bed, her eyes fell on the book which contained Raven’s story and she whispered fervently. “Oh Raven…Please be strong…There would be so many who would be pained if you decided to be carried away to the land of magic or fell into broken hearted despair.”

 

Apple came into the healing room, she put her head around the screen and said politely to Stephan. “May I enter?”

“Of course, you may Princess Apple…I mean Snow White.” Stephan told her gesturing in.

Apple smiled widely at him as she stepped into the space. “Please just Apple King Stephan…I wanted to talk to you about the story.”

Stephan looked at her warily and asked her in a sharp voice. “What about it?”

Apple wasn’t offended by this response from Stephan as she understood that he would want to protect his child from any harm and so she answered his question with serenity. “I would very much like to be one of the four ladies in waiting to your daughter.”

“But Apple you are a princess…It wouldn’t be fitting.” Stephan told her with a shake of the head.

She placed a hand on top of one of his and addressed him in a serious but honest voice. “King Stephan…Grandfather I may be royal but I am Raven’s friend and her family first and foremost. I wish to support her, I want to help, I know that Raven has a lot to go through yet and I want to be there for her. This is a path I choose to take, please grandfather let me do this…Let me help my friend and aunt.”

Stephan let out a deep sigh, he knew exactly how stubborn the women in his family where once they set their mind to it. “Very well, but I will only agree to this if your mother will.”

Apple nodded and said to him. “I understand grandfather and I’ll talk to her today…I’d like to suggest two others to you who I think will make fine ladies for Raven, they are Maddie and Cerise.”

With a nod and a smile for her Stephan addressed Apple again. “I had already been planning to ask Lizzy to have permission to have Maddie become one of Raven’s ladies in waiting she is after all a resident of Wonderland. I shall take your recommendation to ask Cerise to heart though and talk to her about becoming one of the ladies in waiting. Before you talk to your mother about this, would you be kind enough to ask all three ladies to come here so I can talk to them, I don’t wish to leave Raven alone at this time.”

“Of course I will grandfather and I am sure they will understand why you wouldn’t want to leave your daughter alone at this time.” Apple told him with a smile before she stood up and made her way back out of the room.

On her way back to her room Apple did as she had told King Stephan she would and called in on Cerise, Lizzy and Maddie relaying her grandfather’s message to each of them as she went. Each one of them assured her they would make their way strait to the healers room to talk to Stephan about Raven’s current situation.

As soon as she was back in her room Apple quickly sat down at her desk, she hurriedly lifted her mirror pad and tapped on the contact for her mother. A few moments after she did this Snow White answered her daughters call, she smiled at Apple from the screen before saying in a chipper voice. “Hello Apple.”

“Hey mum. Look there is something I need to ask you. It’s not going to be easy, but I hope you are going to say yes.” Apple told her in a very serious voice.

After hearing her say this and in the way in which her daughter said them Snow White instantly sits up straighter and asks. “What is it Apple?”

Apple took a deep breath and then addressed her mother in a calm but determined voice. “Raven has become the princess of the good King’s daughter’s story and I know that you are aware of what that means for her. I wish to become one of her for ladies in waiting, before you say anything I know I am a princess, I know I am your only child and heir, but Raven needs me and I want to be there for her just as she has been there for me. Besides which father being a Charming has many relatives from which you could choose another heir if needs be.”

Snow White could see her daughter’s determination, she could understand her desire to help her friend and Snow White knew that she would not easily be able to dissuade Apple from her path. Snow White knew she could say no to what Apple wanted and that she would accept her decision, but at the same time though she knew that if she was to deny this request from her daughter then it would more than likely damage their relationship irreparably. “You’re really sure you want to do this?”

“Yes mother I am absolutely sure, I know what my choice might lead to, but I want to do this.” Apple assured her mother.

There was silence from Snow White for a while, she turned what Apple was asking her for over in her mind and came to her decision. “If this is what you truly want to do then we will not stop you. All I ask is you keep yourself safe and stay in touch with us. I know your grandfather will take good care of you, but it will ease my worry to hear from you regularly.”

“Of course I shall make sure to keep in touch and I shall do my best to stay safe. I’d never want to make you worry.” Apple told her mother earnestly, before smiling and saying. “Thank you for agreeing to my request mother.”

“Your welcome. Take good care of yourself and of my half sister.” Snow White told her seriously.

Apple gave her a grave nod. “I will. Night mother.”

“Night Apple.” Snow White said with a friendly wave.

Apple waved back and then shut off their communication, part of her wanted to dash strait back and tell her grandfather her good news, but Apple knew that he would be talking to Maddie, Lizzy and Cerise now so she decided to wait until later to talk to him once more.

 

It was afternoon when Apple once more returned to where Raven was recovering, once more she looked around the screen. “Can I come in?”

“Yes of course granddaughter.” Stephan said with a smile for her.

Apple came in and asked. “How did your meeting with the other’s go?”

The smile on his face grew. “It went well, they have both agreed to become ladies in waiting to Raven, and Lizzy was very happy that she was consulted. Thank you for suggesting Cerise, she seems very capable and clearly cares for Raven as her friend a great deal. So how did your discussion with your mother go?”

Apple grinned widely at him. “She agreed that I could become one of the four ladies. I have to ask though I was wondering who you thought should be the fourth lady?”

“Ah well…” Stephan’s words trailed off, he looked one corner of the room.

Lizzy stepped forwards from that corner and spoke to Apple. “I have decided to be the fourth lady. Raven is after all my sister I care for her and my mother who also cares for her agrees that she deserves our protection through this ordeal.”

“Well I look forwards to working with you to help Raven.” Apple said sincerely to Lizzy.

Lizzy was pleased by these words from Apple. “As do I.”

Stephan spoke up at this point. “Ladies I would like you to gather Maddie, Cerise and pack up my daughter’s things and anything you think you may need so that we can depart as soon as Raven is strong enough.”

They both nodded their agreement to his words and left the room to do as he had requested. Stephan turned his attention back to the sleeping Raven, he smiled at her and said to her softly. “You have some very strong ladies on your side and I hope this will help your story to end happily.”

Chapter Text

Chapter nineteen:

When Raven woke up the next day, she lay in bed with her eyes closed for a few moments checking how she was feeling this morning, Raven was pleased to note that she felt a little better this morning than she had the day before. Despite this positive sign of her body beginning to recover, Raven was not foolish enough to think that she was fully recovered yet and she knew better than to push herself to hard at this time.

Slowly Raven opened her eyes, she became instantly aware of that fact that was not only her father by her bedside, but also Maddie, Lizzy, Cerise and Apple where also there. She looked around at them all feeling curious and worried as to why they where all there and watching her with such serious expressions on their faces.

As none of them said anything to her and the silence stretched out Raven felt her concern growing. Then she suddenly thought that maybe her mother had returned, this idea sent felt a bolt of fear through her and Raven asked them in a voice full of her terror. “Is something wrong? Has my mother returned?”

Instantly wanting to set his daughter at ease Stephan shook his head at her and squeezed a hand saying to her softly. “No, no Raven it is nothing like that. It is just that Lizzy, Cerise, Apple and Maddie have chosen to become the four ladies of your story.”

These words sent relief, shock and pleasure sweeping through Raven, she looked around at each of them before asking in a small uncertain voice. “Are you all really sure you want to do that?”

They all smiled at Raven and nodded. “We are sure.” Lizzy assured her speaking for them all.

“Then I thank you all for wanting to stand beside me at this time.” Raven said to them gratefully.

Apple was the one to speak to Raven this time. “We are your friends Raven, none of us wanted to let you face the story you have coming towards you without us there to try and help you in any way we can. We have everything ready and packed to leave as soon as you feel strong enough to travel, so you don’t need to worry about that.”

“I would like to leave today if possible.” Raven told them seriously. She truly wanted to be home where she could be comfortable and so that she would be there waiting for Darling when she made it to her. Raven also didn’t want to be here at the school where people could watch her story unfold and see her pain if the story went wrong somehow.

“Are you sure about that?” Stephan asked his daughter with concern.

Raven nodded at her father saying to him firmly. “Yes I am sure. I know that I’ll feel better once I am at home.”

“Since it is clear that Raven is determined to go home and it is not likely that we can change her mind about this, perhaps we could make some stops along the way just to make sure Raven doesn’t over do things.” Lizzy suggested while she eyed the far to pail Raven closely.

Stephan gave her a nod and a grateful smile, he felt this was a very good compromise. “That is a very good suggestion and there are some wonderful places to stop for the night on the way home. What do you think of this suggestion Raven?”

“I think it is perfect.” Raven said smiling widely at them, she was glad to know they would set off home today, but at the same time Raven also understood why her father and friends would want to make sure that she was alright during their trip.

They all smiled back at her glad that Raven had agreed with Lizzy’s suggestion, and then Apple spoke to the other three ladies. “Then we ladies had best get everything ready so that we can leave for home as soon as possible.”

Raven shot her a grateful look and said to her. “Thank you for all of your help.”

“You are our princess and our friend, we are happy to assist you in any way that we can.” Cerise told her in serious formal language, before the four ladies left to set about their work.

Raven turned her gaze back to her father and said to him honestly, but with a touch of concern. “I am so pleased that Lizzy, Maddie Apple and Cerise have decided to join me in my story as my ladies…It can’t have been an easy decision for them…You did tell them…Didn’t you?”

Stephan gave Raven a nod before he said to her. “Yes, my little bird I told them that three of them might need to travel with you to the land of mist if all does not go well. They have accept that this might come to pass and so you know ahead of time, Maddie, Apple and Cerise have already decided to go with you. Lizzy will remain behind in order to rule Wonderland, tell your story, she will also judge anyone who should come seeking you and if they are worthy to travel to the land of mist to try to heal you.”

These words caused Raven to let out a sigh of relief. “Good I am glad you told them what my fate might be.”

“Hopefully it will not be your fate at all.” Stephan tightened his hold on Raven’s hand as he said in a voice which shook with the concern he felt for his daughter.< /p>

Raven squeezed the hand of her father which held hers. “I hope so too, but no one can tell a heart what to do.”

He squeezed her hand back as he said to Raven. “That is very true. You should try to get some more rest before we set off.”

Raven gave her father a nod, she lay back in the bed, Raven closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep again.

Some time later Apple, Lizzy, Cerise and Maddie returned to where Raven was sleeping. “We are all ready to go.” Lizzy told Stephan in soft voice.

He turned to her and smiled gratefully at Lizzy. “Thank you.” Stephan then turned back to Raven he shook her gently calling out to her as he did so. “Raven, little bird you need to wake up now.”

Slowly her eyes opened, Raven let out a deep sigh and slowly sat up in the bed. “Is everything ready?”

“Yes.” Her father assured her, before Stephan stood up and held his hands out to her.

Without any hesitation Raven took his hands, she allowed him to help her out of the bed and then up onto her feet. She held on to her father for a few moments just to allow herself to adjust to stand up again, Raven then took his arm and walked out of the school towards the carriage. As Raven made her way to the waiting carriage, she was surprised by how many people came up to her in order to say good bye and wish her luck, this included both Milton and Giles.

Carefully Stephan helped Raven into the carriage, once she was settled safely inside, the rest of the party followed her inside and they set off on their first leg of the journey. Apple looked across at Raven, she was very pail again sending worry surging through her and so she asked Raven with concern. “Are you alright Raven you look pail.”

“I’m alright, just tired…I think that’s going to be the case for some time yet.” Raven said in a tired voice before sighing with dissatisfaction.

Apple smiled across at her, she could understand that the normally active Raven would find getting tired so easily aggravating. “Would you like a pillow and blanket, so you can get some more rest?” Apple asked her gently.

Raven shook her head, she was touched by Apple’s kindness. “Thank you, but no…I’m alright for now…I hope Darling is as well as she can be.”

Apple took hold of one of Raven’s hands in hers, she squeezed it and said. “Darling is strong, I am sure she is fine and already looking for a way to escape so she can be with you.”

Raven gave Apple a grateful smile. “Then I had best get stronger quickly so that I shall be ready for her arrival.”

“Yes you had better do so.” Cerise told her firmly, causing Raven’s smile to grow.

 

Darling looked out of her room window at the lovely view beyond, but she was to lost in thought to really appreciate it as she usually would have. Darling was rather concerned about what might be happening in her home, none of the staff would tell her anything they were to scared and her parents had locked her in here as soon as they had arrived home a week ago so Darling knew nothing much about what was going on outside of her room.

So far she had only received food and water nothing more had occurred yet, but Darling didn’t let this fool her that there wouldn’t be a telling off by her parents for her behaviour at some point soon followed by some form of punishment they deemed appropriate for actions Darling knew they felt where unbefitting a Charming.

Darling was honest enough with herself to acknowledge the fact that there was one thing which worried her about what her parents might do in reaction to her misbehaviour. This was that if her mother and father followed the story line of the story, then they would attempt to marry her to a King they felt could control her wild ways. Darling hoped though that just as it did in the story this action on her parents part would be the catalyst that made her brothers come to her rescue.
Darling truly hoped that her brothers would be able to get out of here soon, she knew it would not be at the moment. The reason Darling knew this was because she had heard it even where she was in her room, when they had been loudly lectured at by their father. After this lecture she had seen them every day for hours being trained hard in the courtyard under her window by the arms master of the castle. Darling had absolutely no doubts that their training was being done under her window in order to make her feel guilty about what she had done and to regret getting her brothers in trouble with her revolutionary ideas.

On her ninth day at home, the door to her room was unlocked, Darling’s father and mother entered the room, their gazes where cold as they looked at their daughter and their faces etched with anger. “I hope you have had plenty of time to reconsider your foolish actions.” Darlings father said to her in a voice full of cold fury.

“I can’t understand what I did wrong, I saw a friend who needed help and used the kiss of life in order to save Apple’s life.” Darling said to him in a calm voice trying her to be as reasonable as possible with her father.

This calmness seemed to only aggravate her father further. “You know it was more than that! We have heard all about the light of true love that occurred at that time! Princess Apple is a girl Darling what were you thinking to fall truly in love with her?”

Darling was determined not to be made angry by her father, she knew that if she did so she might make a mistake in this battle and give her father some kind of ammunition to use against her at some later point in this war between them. Darling took a calming breath, she let it out, then then shrugged at her father and said to him simply. “I can’t help how I feel father.”

He glared at Darling, he was upset that she had not risen to his bait, but he was determined to win something from this skirmish with his daughter. “At least Princess Apple had the sense to deny you as her prince. Now you have the change to do the right thing and become the perfect Charming princess for a King we will choose for you, just as your mother was for me.”

“But that is not what I want.” Darling said to him reasonably, while on the inside horror at this idea clawed at her and she fought to shove this feeling away from her so that her father would not realise how she really felt at his suggestion of marrying her off to someone she didn’t know and who was male.

“What you want! We don’t care what you want! You should care about our family and the Charming legacy! For ancestor’s sakes Darling, the other fairy tales are either laughing at us or are disgusted by us because we have a daughter like you!” Darling’s father yelled at her furiously, before Darling could say anything to him, he brought his temper under control and spoke to her again in a cold voice. “I am planning to offer you to King Jason as a bride.”

Darling’s eyes went wide, terror filled her, King Jason was an old letch, he had already gone through three wives and there were rumours that King Jason treated his wives with vicious cruelty and this time Darling couldn’t stop herself from reacting and the words burst out of her. “Father you can’t be serious!”

He shot her a triumphant and malicious smile, before saying to Darling in a deadly calm voice. “I am very serious young lady, I am sure King Jason will teach you how to be the perfect Queen. Being allied with him will do our country wonders and I won’t have to worry about you, your ideas or the way they might corrupt your brothers.”

Darling turned her eyes onto her mother and said to her in a frightened voice. “Please mother you can’t let him do this to me.”

She looked at her daughter with hard eyes as she said to Darling. “I am in agreement with your father in this case. This madness needs dealing with now, before it get’s out of hand and starts to affect Daring and Dexter’s chances of finding their fairy tail princesses. You’ve already stolen Daring’s original destiny and forced him a Charming to become a beast prince! A beast Darling! That’s never happened to a Charming prince before! It shouldn’t have happened to a Charming! But it did thanks to your selfish actions!”

“My selfish actions? I wasn’t selfish I stepped in the save Apple’s life after Daring’s kiss didn’t work on her! Besides which Daring is in love with Rosabella!” Darling told her parent’s desperate for at least some kind of acknowledgement of Daring’s love for Rosabella from them.

“That girl is nothing in comparison to Apple, her being Daring’s princess would have brought great power and prestige to our family. Rosabella just brings us nothing but shame and her family is no were near as important or as powerful as Apples.” Darling’s mother said dismissively and with an expression of distaste on her face.

Before Darling could say anything in response to these words from her mother, her father spoke to her again. “King Jason will be here in two weeks to visit us for a month, he wishes to see if he finds you attractive enough to marry and if Jason does so then we plan to have you quietly married to him a month after the end of his visit. You should know now from the start that if King Jason decides not to go forward with marrying you, then we shall look into other monarchs who might be willing to take on such a wayward young woman as yourself. We will keep on looking until we find a King or prince who is willing to take you off of our hands and if we have to pay someone in the end then we will do so just to be rid of you”

After her father had said this to Darling, they didn’t allow her time to respond to these words as together her father and her mother swept back out of the room and making sure to lock the door to the room behind them.

Darling had not expected such cruelty or stubborn determination from her parents to correct what they saw as her mistakes. Neither had she expected their plans for her and her dismissal of all she had done to hurt and scare her as much as it did. Darling could feel tears threatening to fall, but she was unwilling to give her parents the satisfaction of hearing her cry and so Darling fought back the tears. Darling determined turned her thoughts away from the fear she felt and onto the hope of escaping this fate.

Deciding she needed to do something to take her thoughts off of what her parents where planning for her Darling looked around her room for something to do and after a few moment’s thought Darling decided to quietly start to organise what she might need on her journey to Raven’s home county.

Darling had no idea how long she would be on the road and what danger’s she might face before she found her way to Raven so she knew she needed to pack sensibly. Quickly she found a backpack Dexter brought her for school in the bottom of her cupboard, she got it out, placed the back pack on the bed and then opened it up. Darling carefully packed into it clothes which she knew she could put on is layers in case of cold, but where at the same time easy to wash, Darling also put into the back pack a water proof hooded cloak in case of bad weather.

With clothes now in the back pack Darling turned her attention to other things she might need on her journey, Darling whisked around the room gathering up the items she felt would be useful to her. Into the back pack went three note pads, a water flask, pencils, erasers, pencil sharpener, map, compass, flint and steal, some candles and a first aid kit.

One all of this was packed or hung from the outside of the back pack, she carefully put into the backpack the copy of the fairy tale laws which Meraki had made sure she received. Darling wasn’t sure what use it was going to be to her yet, but she felt sure there had to be a reason Meraki made sure she received this book along with the story.

Just as she was about to close the back pack, Darling drew the book of laws back out again and she stood there looking down at the book contemplating it with thoughtful eyes. Darling hadn’t really read the book yet and since she had nothing else to do at the moment but wait for her brothers to come and help her escape Darling decided now might be a good time to take the time to read the book. Darling placed the book onto her bed, she closed the back pack, secured it shut, before carefully hiding the back pack in a hiding space she had made in her room many years ago, one Darling was sure her mother and father didn’t know about.

With this done, Darling settled herself on her bed, she opened up the book and started to read, she had only been reading for a little while before Darling’s eyes went wide with surprise, quickly she got up, hastily Darling unpacked one of the note books she planned to take with her, she found a pen to write with and then went back to the bed, she sat back down on the bed and starting to making notes on what she was discovering from the book of laws.

Chapter Text

Chapter twenty:

All those caring for Raven where happy to watch her slow but steady improvement as they made the journey back to the Kingdom of the good Kings. This journey had taken several days rather than the one day it would have normally taken, but none of them had begrudged the time the journey had taken and in fact they had all enjoyed many of the places they had stopped in during the trip.

Despite Raven’s good recovery from her battle with her mother, worry hovered close for those who cared for Raven, they all hoped that Darling would come soon and that all would end well for the two princesses. Apple had to admit that if there were two people in the fairy tale world who deserved their happy ending it was Raven and Darling, and she knew that the other’s felt exactly the same way as she did about that.

One night they had all discussed at length how long it might take for Darling to arrive at the castle, neither Raven or Stephan had been completely sure on the length of time it might take as the story didn’t state how long it took, but Stephan had felt sure they should at least expect a month possibly several of them before Darling arrived.

Apple hoped that it really wouldn’t take Darling long to arrive here, she didn’t want Raven to have to wait for more than a month, the reason for this was that Apple didn’t want to risk Raven somehow losing her hope that Darling would come to her eventually. She had discussed this concern one night privately with the other three ladies of the story, they too had revealed to Apple that they too had been worried by this idea.

Now knowing they all felt the same way Lizzy, Maddie, Cerise and Apple had decided between them that they would do all they could to keep Raven’s hope in Darling and the story alive until she arrived. They had also decided that if they had any kind of worries about Raven and her story in the future then they would discuss them with each other so they could take action if it was needed, rather than worry about the issue alone.

One night during their journey Apple and Raven where sitting together alone in the sitting room of an inn together talking about all sorts of different subjects and catching up on the gossip from school which they received in emails from their friends. They had chuckled over the uproar which had been caused when all the students had discovered from the headmaster that Raven was the daughter of the Good King.

When they finished talking about what had been going on at school since they had left, Apple decided to ask Raven about the crown ring she wore, the princess had been curious about it ever since the moment she had revealed it to the Milton and Giles. “Raven there is something which I’ve been really curious about.”

“Oh what is that?” Raven asked her wondering what it was Apple wanted to ask her.

Apple took a deep breath and asked her. “Raven your crown ring, why did the headmaster and Giles know what it was and what it meant just from one look?”

Raven extended her right hand she held it out towards Apple. “Take a close look at the ring Apple.”

Apple took Raven’s hand into hers and looked at the silver ring taking the time to note it’s details, the crown was decorated with swirling patterns, then the silver metal shimmered with opalescent colouring and as it did this Apple suddenly realised it was made of elf silver. “This was elf made.”

“So are the royal crowns. Father and your mother both have rings like mine because we are daughters of the Good King.” Raven old her.

Apple frowned at Raven before asking her. “Shouldn’t I have one too as his granddaughter?”

Raven shook her head as she explained to her. “No, only daughters and sons of the King do, it’s a tradition of the kingdom. Your mother won’t rule this kingdom even if she is older than me because she married and took up the name Snow White. I will inherit this kingdom one day and be it’s new Good King.”

“But then you can’t be good King firstly either because you’re a girl and secondly you are called Raven Queen.” Apple said to her with confusion.

“Actually that’s the name the headmaster made me use. I’m actually Raven Good King-Queen. It’s quiet the mouthful…Any way here in my father’s kingdom the people just refer to me as Princess Raven or Princess Raven Good King. Being female doesn’t stop me from being the Good King, there have been several instances of it before and the people know that.”

Apple was staring wide eyed at Raven and asked with surprise. “Wait so other good King’s which where mentioned in some fairy tales might have been a female King?”

“Yes, in the earlier days they would some times take up male names or some for example King Alexandra where known as King Alexander.” Raven explained to her.

Apple really wasn’t sure what to say to Raven in response to this, as this new information stunned her and had her wondering what to think. Raven could see from the expression of shocked awe on Apple’s face that what she had told her had surprised Apple and so left her to her thoughts.

 

Apple had seen a great many castles in her life time, but none of them had ever looked like that of the good King, it was a while elegant structure, with tall slender towers which pierced into the sky like the blades of a swords, the rooves of these towers seemed to be made of gold and each was crowned with a fanciful curling decoration which Apple had never seen anywhere before. “What are those decorations on the rooves?” Apple asked Raven curiously pointing one of them out to Raven.

Raven answered this question without a moment’s hesitation as the carriage rolled towards the courtyard. “Oh there the castle’s lightning rods…They are there because the kingdom experiences some very wild winter storms, as you may know your mother was born not long after one of the snow storms. The lightning rods where designed by the good witch Queen Anne wife of King Julian in the early years of the Kingdom of Kings. Each one is in the shape of an elf rune and together they make a spell protection, or they used to until my mother came along and deliberately damaged the one of the east tower so she could enter the castle and win my father’s heart for her own…However now my mother is gone, I might actually finally be able to reinstate that old protection…In fact considering my story it might be best if I do that sooner rather than later.”

These words drew nods of agreement from the other’s in the carriage, seeing this Raven carefully drew her magic forwards, the purple magic which now had hints of gold and silver in it, quickly fixed the top of the tower, Raven let out a happy sigh then said softly. “Perfect.”

Apple very much wanted to say something about the new colour of Raven’s magic, but she said nothing, after all they all knew that things had changed for Raven when she had embraced her true love for Darling and had used it to defeat her mother. Such a change and use of so much magic was bound to have some kind of side effect on her powers and the fact her magic was now streaked with the gold of true loves light was clearly such a change.

Still curious about Raven’s homes Apple asked her. “Is the Queen castle like this one?”

Quickly Raven shook her head as she answered this inquiry. “No, neither are. The evil Queens is well evil, black, gothic and there are some hideous gargoyles decorating it trust me on that one. To be honest the evil Queen’s castle is pretty much what you would expect from such a dark being. As for the castle of the Queen of the land couldn’t be more opposite from that of the evil Queen, it looks as though it was born from the mountain it sits on and is a tall slender looking structure with silver topped towers.”

“The Queen castle sounds very elegant.” Apple told her with a warm smile.

Raven smiled back at her. “I’m glad you think so from just my description.”

Apple’s smile grew as she said teasingly to Raven. “Well the, I’ll just have to make sure I see it in person one day in order to confirm your description of the castle’s beauty.”

Raven chuckled softly for a moment before saying to her. “I will be delighted to have you as a guest at my castle one day.”

As the carriage came to a halt in the courtyard Stephen opened the door and got out of the carriage, he then chivalrously helped each of the four ladies and daughter out of the carriage. “It’s nice to be home again.” Stephan said to them all with relief clear in his voice and a wide smile on his lips.

“Agreed.” Raven said with a contented sigh as she looked up at her home.

Stephan turned to his daughter and told her with a wide smile. “I thought you would like to know that I sent back to the school for Nevermore, she should already be here already as she could travel faster than we could.”

“NEVERMORE!” Raven called out, sure enough in answer to this there was what could only be described as a joyful roar and the dragon came quickly flying over one of the towers, she landed in the courtyard shrunk in size to about the size of a large dog and bounded up to Raven.

They all laughed joyfully as Nevermore bounced in a circle around Raven before rubbing up against her affectionately. “Hello girl.” Raven said in greeting before rubbing her head, Nevermore made a noise which sounded a little like a purr of enjoyment as Raven did this and she pressed against her hand.

Stephan turned to Maddie and Apple and addressed them. “I also took the liberty of having your dragons brought here. Do not worry we have a large dragon stable which is well able to cope with them being here.”

“Yay Crumpets!” Maddie exclaimed bouncing with delight at the idea of her dragon being here at the castle with her.

Apple smiled widely at Stephan, she was deeply touched by the thoughtfulness of her grandfather and for the first time Apple could see where Raven’s goodness and kindness had come from. “Thank you for bringing Braebyrn here grandfather that was very kind of you.”

“You are welcome.” He told her glad to see his act of kindness had made his granddaughter happy.

Together they all made their way into the castle, once inside the staff where waiting for them in the large entry hall. They all bowed or curtsied to the party, as they greeted them all with great respect, before some of the staff went out to get the luggage from the carriage without any request having to be given to them by either Stephan or Raven.

Stephan turned to Apple, Maddie, Lizzy and Cerise and said to them. “The castle has many rooms, feel free to choose which ever ones you would like and Maddie I had your usual rooms made ready for you.”

“Many thanks and tea cakes!” Maddie declared cheerfully to Stephan.

“Where are your rooms Raven?” Cerise asked wanting to be close to her friend in case she was needed by her just as she had been during their trip here.

“Mine are in the east tower I love the view out to the sea from there.” Raven told her with a fond smile gracing her lips.

“Wait we are close to the sea!” Apple exclaimed with a mixture of delight and disbelief.

“We are.” Raven confirmed with a nod.

“Can we go one day?” Apple asked with joy filled eyes.

Raven looked to her father who gave a nod of permission. “You may, though we will discuss that at another point.”

“Thank you!” Apple exclaimed with utter happiness.

Raven looked at her friends and said to them. “I’ll show you all around the castle so you all know where everything is and then you can choose your rooms. Oh and if you do get lost the staff will be more than happy to help you find your way, you will soon discover that for the most part we have quiet the informal household for the most part. The welcome you received earlier is one the staff use when we have important guests, father will have made sure to have told them what is happening and to be less formal with you all from now on.”

As soon as Raven finished speaking Cerise spoke up right away giving Raven a significant look. “I would like my room to be close to yours, I want to be nearby just in case you need me for any reason.”

Raven understood that Cerise was hinting about her keen lupine senses and had no intention of denying her friend her request when it would probably help keep her safe. “Of course, Cerise.”

Just as she had promised them Raven took her friends on the tour of the castle, she made sure to show them every room as well as the ways out of the castle and into its vast gardens. “We can explore the gardens after dinner if you would all like to do so.” Raven said to her friends as she stood in one of the many doorways which led to the garden.

“The gardens are teariffic!” Maddie told them with a huge smile on her face.

“They do look exquisite and I for one would love to explore them.” Lizzy told Raven with honesty.

“I to would like to see the gardens.” Apple told her.

Cerise was looking outside with eager eyes. “I can’t wait to go for a run out there.”

Raven smiled at her friends, she was glad to see they where doing their best to embrace her home as theirs and adjust to their new lives living here with her. “Then a walk…or in Cerise’s case a run through the gardens after dinner it is then.” These words drew chuckles from Maddie, Lizzy, Cerise and Apple.

After looking at several different sets of rooms Apple chose a set of rooms in the main part of the castle towards the east side, Lizzy chose those next to her. With these rooms chosen Raven turned to one of the castles members of staff and addressed him with a friendly smile. “William would you have Apple and Lizzy’s luggage brought up to the rooms they have chosen please?”

Quickly he gave Raven a small respectful bow. “Of course princess Raven.” After he had said this William quickly set off to carry out her orders.

Raven turned to the others and addressed Lizzy and Apple. “Would you like to see the rest of the castle or would you both prefer to go into your rooms now, unpack and get some rest before dinner?”

Lizzy answered this question first. “I’d like to carry on with the tour.”

“As would I. I am very curious to see more of your home and it would be good to know exactly where your rooms are in the castle.” Apple told Raven with a bright smile.

Raven smiled at them both. “Alright then let’s go on.” Together the five ladies carried on with the tour of the castle.

When they came to the east tower, Raven opened the door to the bottom rooms of the tower and spoke to Maddie. “Here you go Maddie your rooms.”

Maddie smiled at her friend as she stepped inside the room and said to her. “I will appear when the bell does strike for fooding hour!”

“Of course.” Raven told her with a smile as Maddie went into her rooms and started to unpack.

“I think you might like the rooms on the opposite side of the bottom of the tower to Maddie’s.” Raven said to Cerise, before she crossed the hall and opened the door to the suite.

Cerise looked around the room and through the doors which clearly led out of the sitting room she was currently in and into the castle garden before saying to Raven. “This looks perfect for me.”

“Good I am glad. Now I will have your luggage sent here and you can unpack. I will see you at dinner.” Raven told her before she closed the door to the rooms behind Cerise.

Raven then turned to Lizzy and Apple and pointed up the stairs as she told them. “My rooms are up here. I promise I will show them to you all later, but right now I want to unpack and get some rest before dinner and I am sure you both need to do the same.”

“Of course.” Lizzy assured Raven knowing that she would keep her word and show them her rooms later.

Apple nodded to Raven and then spoke to her in a very serious voice. “Do make sure that you get some rest Raven.” After she had said this and received a nod of understanding from Raven, Lizzy and Apple they set off back to their rooms.

Once they were gone Raven made her way up to her own rooms so she could do as she said she would and unpack and then get some rest.

Despite her intention to do both of these things Raven instead found herself walking across the room, then settling in the window seat of the tower. She looked out over the sea, Raven watched the waves break on the shore, sure enough as she always did Raven found this such a peaceful thing to watch.

Raven let her thoughts wander and sure enough they found their way to Darling, this was something they had often done during the days her trip home had taken. Raven hoped with all of her heart that Darling was safe and well and she also wished that there was some way she could check on Darling which might somehow interfere with the fairy tale. Raven knew though that there was not and that if she was tempted to make sure that Darling was alright it would probably yield a negative result for Darling or herself.

Sighing deeply Raven leant her forehead against the glass of the window and whispered softly in a voice full of love. “Please be alright, know that I love you with all of my heart Darling and I am waiting for you.” After she said this Raven sat quietly for a few moments, before eventually getting up, she unpacked her things and then climbed in bed to get some rest before dinner.

Chapter Text

Chapter twenty one:

There where now only a few days left before King Jason came to Darling’s home and she was terrified that if her brothers didn’t come to rescue her soon then she would have to spend time with King Jason. The mere thought of him being anywhere near her and being able to touch her made Darling’s skin crawl and nausea sweep over her.

With her mind so full of fear about King Jason’s visit, it was unsurprising that Darling was unable to sleep on this night. So Darling sat staring out of her window without seeing the view, she was in fact so lost in thought that she didn’t notice the door to her room quietly open and her brothers slip into her room.

When Dexter placed a hand onto his twin’s shoulder, she gasped, gave a start of surprise and quickly turned to face him. “Dexter…” Darling said in a shocked whisper, even as her eyes took in his sensible travel clothes and her mind realised this had to be the rescue that she had been hoping for.

“Hey little sis. Daring and I are here to get you out of here.” Dexter told her with a gentle smile.

Joy filled Darling’s eyes, she got to her feet, she hugged her twin and then her older brother. “Thank you! I am so glad you both came to get me out of here.”

“When we heard what our parent’s where planning we couldn’t stand by and do nothing.” Dexter told her in a very serious voice which was edged with the concern he had felt for Darling.

“We don’t have much time let’s go.” Daring said in an urgent voice, as he moved quickly across the room to the door and checked the corridor outside.

With a nod of understanding for Daring Darling quickly pulled the back pack out of its hiding place before explaining to her brothers who were regarding her with wide eyes and shocked expressions on their faces. “I’d made an escape bag just in case I got the chance to run away. There is no way I am ever marrying King Jason.”

“I can’t say I blame you for that…King Jason doesn’t have the best of reputations.” Daring said diplomatically, blushing slightly as he thought about the various horrible rumours, he had heard about King Jason over the years.

“Come on we ned to go!” Dexter said to them in a soft urgent voice.

As they stepped out into the hallway Darling recognised Anne one of the castle maids who had become her friend over the year standing in the hallway outside her room keeping watch for her brothers. She smiled at the sigh of Darling, then wordlessly gestured them away down the hallway away from Darling’s room and towards the servant’s quarters.

Quickly but quietly the siblings made their way through the castle towards the servant’s quarters, their hearts where beating heard they were all terrified that their parents would catch them before they could escape the castle. The siblings all let out sighs of relief when they made it to the servants quarters they were met there by Helen one of the kitchen maids. Hastily Helen guided them through this part of the castle to the backdoor of the castle, she handed them each a bag of food, then Helen let them out of the servants door and said softly to the siblings. “Good luck to you all.”

“Thank you.” Darling told her gratefully before heading for the stables with her brothers.

They got their horses ready, before using one of the side gates out of the castle, the siblings where careful to make sure the gate was secured behind them so that no one would guess which gate they had left from and therefore give their parents a clue as to which way they had gone.

Together with Darling leading the way towards the boarder of their kingdom they set off into the darkness of the forest which grew on that side of the castle. Dexter and Daring where both hoping they would be able to make it to the neighbouring kingdom before their parent’s caught up to them.

The three siblings travelled for most of the night, eventually though they had to stop to rest the horses and themselves. Dexter, Daring and Darling made sure that they made a camp which would be well hidden from anyone who might be searching for them. This was to be the way that the three siblings would make each of their camps during the rest of their journey.

Knowing the last thing they needed to do was give their mother and father any clues to the where they were going the siblings where carefully to avoid going into any of the settlements on their way and instead they foraged from the forest and caught their own game or fish. They also made sure to travel at night when there was less chance of them being spotted by anyone who happened to be in the forest.

 

On their third day on the road Darling addressed her brothers. “I want to cut my hair and change into more masculine looking clothing.”

Dexter to be honest was not to surprised by his sisters words, if they were seen looking like three princes traveling together wouldn’t raise much comment in a land of fairy tales and it would also help to confuse those their parents would send after them. “I think that is a wise idea.”

Daring looked at him with wide eyed shock. “Dexter how can you encourage her!”

Dexter quickly addressed Daring in a sensible voice. “Think about it Daring, if we look like three princes no one will look further than that, they will all think we are brother’s out looking for our princesses. It’s going to be easier for Darling to move around and a girl hiding in a man’s guise is something that happens in fairy tales on and off which should help our cause.”

Sure enough when Daring took the time to think about this idea he could also see how Darling looking like a prince would be advantageous to them. “Your right it is a good idea. I can cut your hair with my sword it will be a little untidy but if you tie it back it shouldn’t notice so much.”

“I brought some clothes with me which should make me look more male.” Darling told them lifting up her back pack.

Daring gestured her over, once Darling was sat in front of him, he carefully cut off her hair and then tied it back with a piece of leather. “There your done. One question what are we going to call you?”

“Good question…It has to start with a D like both of you or I would be out of place with you both.” Darling said thoughtfully.

After a moments thought Dexter spoke up. “What about Dauntless?”

Darling contemplated the name her twin had suggested, it felt right to her and so Darling gave him a nod of approval. “I like it.”

“Dauntless…Yes that suites you.” Daring said in agreement as he smiled at her.

“I’ll go get changed.” Darling said walking off into the forest.

When she returned to the clearing a short while later Darling now wore simple navy blue trousers, with a matching jacket, under this was a white shirt. She looked now like a young prince, Darling also looked enough like her brother’s that no one would think that this was a she rather than a he.

Daring gave her a nod. “Yeah looks good, you look like a younger prince and that would explain why we are all traveling together, we want to make sure we keep each other safe until we find our fairy tales”

“Agreed.” Dexter said with a smile for his sister.

Darling smiled back at them. “I am glad you both think I will pass as a prince.”

Daring spoke to Darling again. “As we ride Dexter and I shall teach you how to behave more like a prince to.”

“I think that would be a good idea.” Darling said in agreement, before adding. “It’s no good my looking like a prince if I can’t act like one too.”

So it was that as they rode along Dexter and Daring took time to give her all the information they could and showed Darling how to behave in a more male way.

 

They had been on the road for a week when Daring came hurrying into their camp and said to the other’s in a voice full of worry. “I’ve seen some of the royal trackers not far from here, which means that it will take them long to find us. We need to split up, it will hopefully give Darling enough time to make it to the boarder, we aren’t that far away from it now after all.”

Dexter and Darling nodded with agreement to his words. Together the three of them quickly broke up their camp, quickly the siblings shared a hug and Dexter addressed his twin. “Hopefully we will see you soon. I am sure I speak for both myself and Daring when I tell you that whatever happens to us, we want you to know that what ever price we pay will be worth it for you to be free. Never doubt we love you and we will be happy for you.”

Daring gave a confirming nod. These words made Darling more grateful then she could say and at the same time extremely sad. “I love you both and be safe.” Darling said softly, not knowing when she might see her brothers again Darling hugged them again before mounting her horse and riding away. Darling wished that she could tell her brothers about the story she was involved with, but Darling hadn’t wanted to burden them with what she was yet to face.

Darling urged Sir Gallopad through the forest, she could hear horses following her, which made her feel as though her heart was going to beat right out of her chest. Darling knew she couldn’t get caught by them now, after all she was so very close to her goal and she also knew that if those perusing her where to catch her then her parents would make sure that she never had another chance to escape until she was safely married to someone they approved of.

As the foliage started to press closer to her Darling had to dismount from Sir Gallopad, she looked up at faithful mount Darling was going to miss him, but she knew that for now at least she had to lose him. “Good bye boy, hopefully I’ll see you soon. I need you to go away from here as fast as you can and distract those who are chasing me.”

Sir Gallopad neighed in understanding, he dashed off into the forest, while Darling made her way into the undergrowth. Everything around Darling grew darker and closer, panic closed in on her and before she could stop herself Darling was blindly dashing forwards searching for light. As she ran branches hit Darling’s face, thorns tore at her clothes, but she paid them no heed and continued to run searching for a way out.

Darkness seemed to be closing in on every side and Darling was convinced she could still hear those her pursuers making her terror increase to a whole knew level. Darling’s breath was coming in short sharp ragged gasps now, she hunted the shadows for the way out, but could see none, desperation grasped her and Darling looked again hoping against hope that this time there would be a way out.

Then there it was a small slither of light, not even stopping to think twice about it suddenly be there Darling ran towards that tiny bit of light. She shoved the vegetation to one side, Darling stumbled out into the light and she saw a woman before her. The lady was dressed in a long silver dress, and as she looked up into her face which bore an expression of surprise and horror part of her realised this was Raven. Sudden exhaustion fell down on Darling like a wave crashing on the shore, she only just about managed to say to Raven. “Please help me.” Then her body was falling down and darkness was sweeping her consciousness away from her.

 

Raven rushed forwards as Darling started to fall downwards, she managed to catch hold of her before Darling hit the grass. The weight and momentum of Darling’s fall meant that Raven ended up on her knees with Darling pressed against her chest. Raven looked down at Darling in her arms, it was just like the dream she had experienced, it wasn’t exactly the same, but then dreams and reality didn’t always match up completely. Quickly Raven shoved these thoughts to one side, there was something far more important to focus on than this and this was Darling.

Her poor true love was covered in scratches and bruises, her clothes where cut and torn, her beautiful main of white hair was gone replaced with a short ragged hair. Raven could feel sadness building inside her, seeing Darling in this state she wanted to weep, Raven however knew this wouldn’t do Darling any good, so she held back her tears and spoke to Cerise. “Would you mind carrying him inside?”

“No of course not.” Cerise assured her, she carefully lifted Darling up, Cerise carried her inside while Raven and the other three ladies followed closely behind her.

Chapter Text

Chapter twenty two:

In the all encompassing darkness which surrounded her, Darling was only vaguely aware of being given water, soup and medicine to swallow. She could also just about hear kind female voices, though not the words they were saying, but Darling felt as though they were trying to sooth away any worries she had been carrying and she felt herself relax.

As time slowly passed the darkness around Darling lessened a little bit at a time and as this happened, she gradually became more aware of her surroundings. Darling could now feel that she was laying between the cool, clean sheets of a soft bed, Darling ached in various places and could feel some bandages against her skin.

Darling was terrified to open her eyes, she feared finding Raven in the forest had just been a dream and she would find herself back at home, imprisoned in her room once more. Still Darling just had to know for sure if she was safe with Raven, so slowly and a little hesitantly she opened her eyes and looked around.

As Darling took in her surroundings her eyes widened, she knew this was not her room at home, in fact this light airy room wasn’t like anything which Darling had ever seen before in the Charming castle, it was beautiful and very much in the style of elven decoration.

Then a female voice she heard from next to the bed broke into Darling’s thoughts and made her heart skip a beat. “Ah I see you are awake. Don’t try to move too much, you were in quiet a bad way when you found your way into the garden.”

“Where am I?” Darling asked because even though she knew the answer to this question, something in her just had to be sure she was where she was supposed to be at last.

Raven had been expecting this question, it was all part of the story and so she spoke up from where she sat on a chair by the side of the bed. “You are in the castle of the good King and I am his daughter Raven. Who may I ask you are you?”

“I’m Darling…Darling Charming.” After she said this Darling attempted to move, as soon as she did this pain lanced through her and she cried out in agony.

Instantly Raven was on her feet, she stood over Darling, Raven carefully brought her purple magic forwards and used it to sooth the pain of Darling away. “There, is that better?” Raven asked her with concern, while at the same time eyeing Darling’s now far to pale face, hoping as she did so that she had acted in time to prevent her wound from opening back up.

“Yes thank you. I’m sorry I should have listened to your warning.” Darling told her with regret.

Raven smiled at her and sat back down saying as she did so. “It’s alright, you weren’t to know how badly you where hurt. You have a very nasty gash in your side and a lot of other smaller cuts and bruises all over your body…I’m afraid that we had to undress you without your permission in order to see to your wounds and treat them. I am sorry to tell you that we also had to throw away your clothes…They were well beyond saving, between us my ladies and I managed to find some clothes we felt would fit you and be comfortable for you to wear while you were healing. We did manage to salvage your bag however and I want to assure you that none of us have looked into it as we felt that was to personal to pry into.”

Darling managed to shake her head at Raven and sought to reassure her that she had done nothing which offend her while trying to take care of her. “Don’t be sorry, I completely understand princess Raven, after all I was hurt and unable to give you any permission to help me. You needed to make sure I was going to be alright and you had to be certain that you’d treated all of my injuries. As for my garments, clothes are just clothes and in comparison to my life being saved they matter very little. I am glad to know my bag is alright though and thank you for not looking inside.”

“I’m afraid that it is going to be some time before you are fully healed.” Raven told her honestly, Darling gave her a nod of understanding, then before she could say anything to her and Raven said suddenly to her. “Oh by the way a horse arrived here a few days ago…Well more appeared in the courtyard…Is he yours by any chance?”

“Sir Gallopad made it here. I’m so glad to hear it.” Darling said in a voice full of joy and relief, she smiled widely at Raven truly happy her mount was safe.

Raven was happy to see her smiling once more and she hoped to see that smile many more times in the future. She knew she could use her magic to help Darling see her horse and so Raven decided to offer that help. “Oh good he is yours, Sir Gallopad what a nice name. I hope you will be happy to hear that he is in the stables being well taken care of. If you like when your wound have haled a little better I can levitate you down to the stables and you can visit Sir Gallopad.”

The smile on Darlings face grew as Raven told her this news. “I am very glad to know that he is being looked after for me. Thank you, it is a very kind of you to offer to help me down to the stables, I would very much like to see Sir Gallopad as soon as I can.”

Raven gave her a nod. “I can understand how you feel, I know I wouldn’t like to be parted from nevermore my dragon for very long.”

Suddenly Darlings smile faded, as her mind turned to the unknown fate of her brothers. “I hope my brothers are alright…I lost them in the forest.” Darling said to Raven in a desolate voice, carefully turning her head to look out of a nearby window and over the forest outside.

Raven shook her head and gently lay a hand onto one of Darling’s arms. “Unfortunately you are the only one to have found your way here…I wish I had better news for you.”

A large sigh came from Darling before saying to her. “I expected you to say that much…I don’t even know how I found my way here…It was like something was guiding me to this place…I just hope where ever my brothers are they are somewhere warm and safe.”

“You a good sister to wish such a thing for your brothers.” Raven told her meaning her words whole heartedly. Though she knew what destinies would likely have found Daring and Dexter Raven didn’t want to tell Darling what might have happened to them. There where two reasons for this, the first was that Raven didn’t want to make Darling distressed or feel guilty and the second was that as they where not from her land it was possible that Daring and Dexter might instead find another path to walk towards the future.

Suddenly worry about her parents finding here surged through Darling and she asked Raven with an edge of terror in her voice. “Does anyone else know I am here?”

Raven shook her head as she answered the question from Darling, wondering at the same time where this sudden fear in Darling had come from. “No one other than those here in the castle are aware of your presence here. We didn’t know where you were from or who you were so there was no one we could inform of our discovery.”

“Please…My parents can’t know where I am…” Darling told her fearfully. She couldn’t stand the idea of coming this close to being able to have the princess she had wanted for so long only for her parents to somehow come to Raven’s home and find a way to strip her of the one she now treasured most in the whole world.

“If that’s what you want, then we won’t tell anyone we found a Charming princess.” Raven assured her, before adding to her previous statement. “And if any one comes here looking for you, which I very much doubt they will, then we will turn them away.”

Darling frowned at her with confusion asking in a sleepy voice. “Why…Why would no one come here?”

“That is a discussion for another time Princess Darling, you are tired. I should not have talked to you for as long as I have. After all you need to rest so you can heal.” Raven told her in a gentle voice, carefully tucking the sheets of the bed in around her.

Slowly Darling nodded in agreement to Raven’s words, she felt safe here and Darling knew that Raven would protect her and take care of her. Darling closed her eyes and quickly drifted off to sleep once more.

Raven watched the one she loved resting with a gentle smile on her face. It had been good to see Darling awake and to be able to talk to her once more had been blissful for Raven. Even though their time together had been short, she knew that as Darling became stronger they would be able to spend more time in each other’s company.

The only cloud on the horizon of her life was the main trial of this story, for it to be over come successfully Darling would have to see through the curse of her appearing to be an evil witch when it came to the colour and use of her magic and see that Raven was in fact good and kind. Added to this was the fact that due to saving Apple Raven was sure that Darling would also need to declare she truly loved her and no longer held any true love for Apple.

 

Cerise was making her way out into the castle gardens when she noticed Apple peering around the door to the room which Darling and Raven where in, she walked over to her and said in a soft whisper to Apple. “Hey Apple…Your still worrying about them I see.”

Apple gave a start of surprise, she quickly but quietly closed the door to the room and turned to face Cerise saying to her honestly. “Of course I’m worried…We have no idea what the third trial of their story is and if Darling fails…Then Raven will…Raven will…”

Tears gathered in Apple’s eyes and she couldn’t say the words. Seeing how upset Apple was, Cerise gently hugged her and offered her a handkerchief from her skirt pocket. “I know…I know…I don’t want that either.”

Apple took the handkerchief with a look of gratitude, she dried her eyes with it and then handed the handkerchief back to Cerise who swiftly pocketed it once more. Apple lent into the comforting embrace of Cerise and asked her in a sad voice. “Thank you for the handkerchief. Why won’t Raven tell us what the trial is Cerise?”

“I think it’s because if she did so then we might do something which makes things worse rather than better all while we are just trying to help them both. Whatever is going to happen, is going to be between Raven and Darling, all we can do is support them the best we can through the trial.” Cerise told her as gently as she could reluctantly ending her hug with Apple.

Apple gave her a nod. “I understand that…It’s just so hard…I finally have family my own age I can be friends with and to have it snatched away would be horrible…It’s not just that though…It’s not just about me…Not any more. I really care about what happens to Raven, she’s my friend and I couldn’t stand to see her broken hearted.”

“Neither can I…Unfortunately as much as we might wish other wise there isn’t a lot we can do at the moment, who knows maybe when the time comes we will be able to do something to assist Darling and Raven. Come on let’s leave them alone for now, I think they need this time to themselves.” As she said this to Apple Cerise drew her away from the room, down the stairs and out into the garden.

As they walked through the garden together Apple asked Cerise curiously. “What’s the land of magic or ever shining lands like do you know?”

“Well…There are some stories about it, but all of those who have gone there have never come back to say what is true or false.” Cerise told her with a shrug of the shoulders.

“Is there nothing known about it for certain?” Apple enquired of her inquisitively.

Cerise thought about the answer to this question for a few moments before saying to Apple. “Well we know that the land is across the water and is an island. We know these facts because the ferry man told that to someone that information long ago. Other than the very few humans who have been permitted to rest there, the island is populated by entirely good and light, elves and fairies. Together they guard the island from any darkness that might try to locate it…You’ve heard of the legend of King Arthur right?”

Apple nodded of course she had, every royal knew that legend by heart he was a King all rulers admired and wanted to emulate. “Of course.”

Cerise was a little nervous about telling Apple what she was about to, but she felt sure that Apple needed to know what she knew and so said to her. “What you probably don’t know that Arthur was the King of this land…Yes that’s right you are standing in the garden of Camelot…Many have forgotten that fact thanks to the fairy tales. Raven is a decedent of Arthur, so are you but more distantly than Raven…Ever since I met Raven I felt something wasn’t quite right with her being evil, so when I found out who her father was and who her ancestor was I realised that I had been correct to feel the way I did about Raven…”

“This is Camelot?” Apple asked in disbelief looking around her with wide eyes.

“Indeed it is. I know it doesn’t look as impressive as legends would have you believe it should be, but I think Camelot being so well hidden like this is what has kept it and the descendants of Arthur safe from those who might seek to abuse the power their line contains. You see it is by being Arthurs descendent, as well as doing the many good deeds she has and being of good and pure heart is what will allow Raven and us as her attendants to enter Avalon.” Cerise told Apple seriously.

“Avalon…That name makes feel tingly all over.” Apple confessed to her as she rubbed her hands over how now goose bumped fore arms.

Cerise gave her a gentle smile. “I am not surprised, you would have that reaction you have some of Arthur’s blood in your veins after all.”

Apple stood quietly absorbing this new information about herself and Raven, she felt sure her mother had no idea she was descended from King Arthur and for some reason Apple felt her mother didn’t need to know this fact. Then a sudden thought occurred to Apple, this though sent fear galloping through her and she looked at Cerise as she said. “Being descended from Arthur is what makes this family susceptible to heart break isn’t it?”

Cerise nodded as she answered the question. “Yes. It all comes from the loss of Arthur’s Guinevere, losing the one he loved truly in the way he did left a deep scar on this family, some might even call it a curse…An old and powerful one.”

“Do you think Darling can fight such a curse?” Apple asked Cerise fearfully.

“I believe so, after all she has Meraki on her side and considering her power helped to defeat the Evil Queen, I for one think that counts for quiet a lot.” She told Apple trying to offer her friend what comfort she could.

Apple found some hope in these words. “Talking to you has helped me understand things a lot better, so thank you Cerise.”

“I’m glad I could help.” Cerise told her with sincerity as they continued to walk through the garden together both of their minds on what lay ahead for Darling and Raven.

Chapter Text

Chapter twenty three:

Darling’s recovery from her wound was slow but steady, this fact pleased Raven a great deal and she spent most of each day with her making sure to treat the wound and that Darling got all of the rest and good food she needed to continue healing well.

It was natural that spending so much time together meant that the two women slowly became closer over this time, this fact filled those around them with hope that when the test came they would come through it together.

It was clear to Raven’s ladies that Raven was falling even more in love with Darling then before, but they where less sure about Darling’s feelings and none of them wanted to ask in case it somehow affected what was yet to come.

Raven was proven correct in her assurance to Darling that her parents would not come to this kingdom to look for her as no one had ever arrived to ask after the princess. The fact that her mother and father had not come here to look for her had relived Darling on one level and hurt her on another. It was fair to say that Darling’s feelings over her parents behaviour where tangled to say the least and Darling wasn’t at all sure when or if she would ever manage to straiten them out.

 

From the gossip they received from their friends back in ever after high Raven, Cerise, Apple, Maddie and Lizzy had discovered that Darling’s parents were simply telling all those who asked after her that she had been lost to them and none of them knew what had happened to her. Some even said it seemed that her parents did not care what had happened to Darling, just that she was no longer around to shame them anymore.

It was also from these friends that they heard that Daring had been found by his parents and was now being kept as a virtual prisoner by his parents. It was also made clear that King and Queen Charming where still searching for Dexter, but where yet to have any joy in finding him.

“I’m sorry the news isn’t better Darling.” Raven told her with gentle sympathy after she had related to her all the news they had received of her family.

Darling lay back against the pillows propping her up in the bed, she was utterly pale and could hardly believe what she was hearing. “I knew my parents where unhappy, but all of this…It all seems so evil…Something I never would have thought them capable of. I feel so sorry for Daring…At least Dexter seems to have escaped so far.”

“If you’d like I can make some discreet enquiries about Dexter.” Raven offered, wanting desperately to be able to do something to ease the pain of Darling was feeling.

Darling gave her a grateful smile to Raven, but said ruefully. “Thank you, that is kind of you, but doing so might risk my parent’s finding out where I am and until I find shelter or a union with someone to powerful for them to cross then the fate of my twin is best left unknown to me, however painful I find that fact.”

“Well I’m not sure this will help, but I think you are well enough for the trip to the stables and I know Sir Gallopad has been missing you.” Raven told her smiling slightly.

These words brought a small smile onto Darlings face as a shot of joy surged through her. “I would love to see him.”

With a nod for her Raven brought her purple magic forwards, it embraced Darling and carefully lifted her from the bed. Gently Raven floated Darling through the castle making sure not to crash her into anything, when they made it to the stable Sir Gallopad put his head over a stall door and neighed with delight.

“Sir Gallopad!” Darling exclaimed with joy, she reached up and the horse pushed his nose into her hands. Now smiling widely Darling stroked her hands over the soft nose of Sir Gallopad, she found doing this extremely soothing.

“It seems he is glad to see you.” Raven said to her with a chuckle.

Hearing her voice Sir Gallopad looked at Raven, he neighed at her and this caused Raven to chuckle again. “Yes I brought you an apple.” She told him as she made an apple appear in the air next to her Raven then held an apple out to the horse and said to Sir Gallopad. “Here you go.”

Sir Gallopad eagerly took the apple and ate it, causing both princesses to chuckle with delight. Darling spent some time stroking over Sir Gallopad, she was glad to see he looked well and had clearly been well taken care of during her recovery. “When do you think I will be ready to ride again?” Darling asked Raven wistfully.

Raven thought about the answer to this question for a few moments before saying softly to Darling. “Well that all depends on how well you recover, but from the progress which you have made so far it hopefully won’t be too long.”

“I owe you a great deal Raven, thank you for taking care of me.” Darling said to her gratefully.

Raven blushed slightly from the compliment. “You are welcome.”

“Do you think I am at least well enough to start being able to walk around the garden? I could use the exercise and I hate being cooped up inside all the time.” Darling admitted to Raven looking out of the stable to the cast garden beyond with wistfulness in eyes.

She responded to this by giving Darling a nod. “I can understand why you would want to get out of your room, you have been in there for quiet a while now. I don’t see why you can’t start to walk around the garden, but just short walks to start with and please make sure you don’t go out alone. I only ask this because I wouldn’t want you to get hurt or run out of energy and not be able to return to the castle.”

“I can understand why you would want to make sure I am alright, so I have no objection to having someone with me whenever I want to go for a walk. I would very much like for you to be the one to come with me as often as you can, I will confess that I enjoy spending time in your company.” Darling admitted blushing slightly as she made this admission to Raven.

Raven’s cheeks also took on a rosy hue as Darling told her this. “I find great pleasure in your company too and I am more than happy to come with you whenever I can.”

Some time later Raven returned Darling to her room, she had made sure that the other princess was comfortable and had enough to keep her entertained until it was time for tea. As soon as Raven left the bed room she let out a long sigh, the time was getting closer, she could feel it on the horizon like a looming storm. Raven was left wondering how much time she had remaining before the storm broke and she learned what her fate would be. She couldn’t help but feel what ever time she had left with Darling was going to be to little, all Raven could do that Darling had truly changed her heart towards her and would see her for what she was and not what other’s thought she was supposed to be.

Raven kept her word to Darling she made sure that either one of her ladies or herself took Darling out every day for a walk in the castle garden. Over time these walks slowly became longer as Darling’s strength grew and eventually Raven declared to Darling during one of their walks together. “I am convinced you are healed enough and strong enough now to be able to walk in the gardens alone. I think that you are also well enough to start riding Sir Gallopad once more.”

Darling looked at Raven with eyes that shone with delight. “Truly?”

Raven nodded in answer to this question and said to her with a wide smile on her face. “Yes Darling truly. All I ask is that you continue to take things slowly. I would hate for you have come this far only to somehow become worse again.”

“Do not worry, if there is one thing having this wound has taught me it is not to rush the healing prosses or to try to do too much too soon.” Darling told Raven with a rueful expression on her face.

Satisfied with by these words from Darling Raven turned onto another subject, one she hoped would cheer Darling up. “I have some news for you.”

“Good news I hope.” Darling said to her in a voice which was edged with concern.

Raven shot Darling a comforting smile, before saying to her. “Yes it is good news…Well I think it is. Dexter was saved from a forest monster by an elf Queen…One I know well actually, her name is Rowan, she’s well a lot like you in some ways, but to be able to fight and act in a more princely nature is not to unusual for elf women.”

“So Dexter is alright.” Darling said with clear relief.

Raven nodded. “Indeed Rowan assures me he is very well. She has said that she is going to act as his fairy godmother, Rowan will keep him safe and help Dexter to find a way to a destiny or future which makes him happy.”

Darling felt as though a huge weight had been lifted off of her shoulders, she let out a long sigh, before addressing Raven. “I’m so glad Dexter has found someone willing to protect him and help him to find a future he can be happy with.”

“I had hoped this news would cheer you up. Rowan will take good care of your brother you can be assured of that.” Raven told her with sincerity.

“I wonder what future Dexter will find for himself…?” Darling pondered to herself, with her eyes lost in thought.

Knowing that Darling didn’t expect an answer to this question Raven didn’t answer the question she just sat quietly beside her in the window seat of her room allowing Darling to think about the news she had received.

 

A few days after this Darling was walking alone through the garden when she heard two of the male members of the gardening staff talking together as they tended to the flower beds. “Do you think that princess Darling knows that princess Raven is the daughter of the evil Queen?”

The other gardener shook his head as he said to his workmate. “I doubt it…I think if she knew princess Darling would have left here by now, hurt or not. Who could possibly love the daughter of the evil Queen after all? We all know her magic is dark and one day princess Raven will no doubt become as dark as her magic is thanks to the curse her mother placed on her when she was born.”

Darling felt her heart lurch painfully inside her, she stepped out and addressed the gardeners. “So you think who princess Raven’s mother is makes her who she is? You think princess Raven is evil because her mother is and because her magic is a darker? Why have you not even considered that her father having been the good King could have some effect on her nature and the curse she is under?”

Both men jumped, they scrambled to their feet and faced Darling with expressions of shame on both of their faces as they looked down at their shoes. “You should both be ashamed. How could you think such things? I have never seen the princess be unkind to a single soul in my time here. All I have seen is a good and kind princess of whom you should be nothing but proud.”

The gardeners looked even more ashamed then they had before. Darling addressed them again. “Now what is this curse you speak of?”

The two men shared a nervous look, eventually the older of the two spoke. “The curse means that princess Raven will become as evil as her magic appears to be if she cannot find one to love her truly and confess that love to her by the time she turns eighteen.”

Even though she had expected to hear this or something like it was Raven’s curse, there was still something about hearing these words which made Darling’s heart constrict painfully inside her. “But with the evil Queen gone shouldn’t that magic have gone with her?” Darling asked them both confused and worried at the same time.

They both shrugged helplessly and one said to her sadly. “We are not men of magic so we do not know the answer to your question princess.”

“Then I shall talk to Raven.” Darling said determinedly, she turned and started to make her way back to the castle, however before she could make it to the building a dark shadow loomed up behind her. It grabbed Darling, it pulled her back into the shadows binding her arms behind her as it went and covering her mouth to make sure Darling couldn’t make any noise.

As she was swallowed up by the darkness voice Darling had hopped to never hear again whispered darkly in her ear. “Did you really think I would go that easily or that I would let you free my daughter?”

Darling tried to fight the darkness but it had all the substance of a shadow, her struggles caused an evil laugh to sound all around her. “Losing you like this should be enough to at long last make Raven turn evil!”

As the darkness released her mouth Darling spoke to it. “Raven will not turn evil! I will not let that happen.”

Out of the darkness the glowing transparent ghost of the evil Queen appeared, she shot Darling a triumphant look and asked gloatingly. “And how do you plan to stop me? You have no magic and no weapon can hurt me now.”

After considering this problem for a few moments Darling could think of only one thing which might be able to defeat the evil Queen and that was true love. Darling knew she loved Raven, being able to spend so much time with her alone had helped to deepen her feelings for Raven, but she wasn’t sure if it was true love.

“Your my prisoner Darling, just like your parents and no one is going to save you. Now I’m going to make sure that Raven thinks you left after discovering her curse.” The evil Queen told Darling before fading away into the darkness.

Darling struggled against the shadows which held her but they didn’t budge, she didn’t want the evil Queen to harm Raven in any way, there had to be a way out and for her to stop the evil Queen, there just had to be.

Chapter Text

Chapter twenty four:

As soon as it was noticed by the servants in the castle that Darling had not come back from her walk in the garden they had begun searching for her. None of them had yet informed Raven that Darling was missing, none of them wanted to worry the princess unless they absolutely had to. By the time evening was setting in the head of the castle staff Mr Lock decided it was time to tell Raven that Darling was gone and all he could do was hope that this information would not overwhelm her.

Mr Lock found Raven with her ladies sitting together in the sitting room, he approached Raven bowed to her and spoke to her. “Princess Raven…I need to inform you that princess Darling did not return from her walk in the garden. The staff and myself have searched every inch of the castle and the gardens for the princess and I am afraid that we cannot find her anywhere.”

Hearing these words made Raven’s stomach drop, panic filled her and she instantly stood up. “Have you checked if anything is gone from Darling’s room?”

“Heide has just gone up to check that.” Mr Lock assured her.

They all waited in silence, the tension in the air was palpable, when the young servant girl entered the room all eyes fell on her. Heide was clearly made nervous by all of this scrutiny from those in the room, she opened her mouth to say something but all that emerged was a squeak.

Knowing they needed to know what she had found Mr Lock placed a hand gently onto Heide’s arm and asked her in a kind but firm voice. “Where princess Darling’s things still in her room?”

Heide focused on him and answered the question. “I checked the room thoroughly sir, I found that the back pack and some clothes where gone.”

Raven felt pain lance through her, but somehow she managed to ask. “Do either of you know if there is any reason why Darling might have left without saying anything to any one?”

Reluctantly Heide nodded and addressed Raven. “The gardeners mentioned that princess Darling overheard them talking about your curse and confronted them.”

On hearing these words horror and despair filled all those in the room, all eyes fell on Raven, she had gone pale and her eyes where full of disbelief. Apple stood she came over to Raven, gently she placed a hand onto her shoulder trying to offer her what comfort she could. Raven turned to Apple, her eyes where full of sadness, and when Apple saw this she knew without words that Darling had failed the final test of the story. “I’m so sorry Raven.”

Raven began to shake and tears started to form in her eyes, noticing this Apple drew her in and hugged her firmly. Raven wrapped her arms around Apple, she then berried her head in Apple’s shoulder and started to weep loudly.

They all knew there was nothing they could do for Raven at this moment. All four ladies where also well aware that now that Darling had failed her Raven would make her trip to the land of Avalon, it might be hundreds of years before she and they came back if they ever came back from there at all. Despite this knowledge the three ladies who had decided to go with her did not regret their choice, they had already informed their families of what might happen and now they would tell them that they were to accompany Raven to Avalon.

When she eventually stopped crying Apple gently, but firmly guided Raven out of the room and led Raven to her bedroom. Maddie, Lizzy and Cerise followed Raven and Apple to her room, they assisted Apple with getting Raven into bed. It didn’t surprise any of them that Raven quickly fell asleep. Quickly and quietly they left the room for a moment, as soon as they were outside Apple quickly took charge of the situation. “I don’t know how long we have before that boat arrives, so Maddie, Cerise you should let your families know what has happened. I’ll stay with Raven for now, then when you are ready, we will then take it in turns to watch over her until Raven wakes up. Lizzy something about this doesn’t feel right, would you check Darling’s room again please?”

“Of course Apple.” Lizzy assured her before setting off towards Darling’s room. While at the same time Cerise and Maddie gave nods of agreement to her suggestion and set off to their rooms.

Apple went back into Raven’s room, she found a chair at a vanity table in the room, Apple brought this over to the bed and sat down by Raven’s bedside. “Meraki if your there and something is going on which shouldn’t be or if Darling is somehow in trouble then help her please, because Raven needs her so much.”

 

Little did Apple know that Meraki was already hard at work searching for a way to help Darling escape from the space between worlds where the magic of the evil Queen was holding her captive. Despite her best efforts however it was proving very hard to find a way around the magical space which she had created in the spirit world.

Meraki wasn’t sure how long she worked on it for before a voice she recognised right away spoke from behind her. “I think I might be able to help you.”

With her heart thundering hard and dread spreading through Meraki turned around, sure enough standing behind her dressed from head to toe in black, with the black helmet which hid all of his face save his mouth was Hades. “Hello Hades…”

“Hello Meraki…Will you accept my help?” He asked her in a voice which was shaded with concern.

Meraki took a few moments to think his offer over before saying to Hades. “I think as she is clearly a spirit causing trouble and you are the god of death that is probably a good idea.”

With a nod he came closer to her and stood next to Meraki. “Will you tell me where you are so we can talk after this?”

“I told Cupid and I will tell you the same thing, we have nothing to talk about. You chose Persephone, I respect that choice and would never dream of stealing someone else love or husband, that is not who I am.” Meraki told him in a firm voice.

Hade moved closer to her and he took her hand into his. “I am not married to Persephone. Please let me just talk to you after this, I don’t mind if we have to meet somewhere else if you don’t want me to know where you really are. I just want a chance to explain everything to you, if you still don’t want anything to do with me after that then I will accept that fact.”

Meraki looked at him for a few moments, she decided that allowing Hades to explain to her could not hurt and might actually help her to fully close this painful chapter of her life. “Alright…I can give you a chance to explain things to me.”

Hades smiled at her. “Thank you. Now let’s get to work on this.”

Meraki agreed to this with a nod, together they worked on the magical space with their magic until eventually Meraki and Hades managed to break through into the space. Hades made his way inside first to check everything was safe, when he was happy it was Hades put his head back outside and held a hand out to Meraki which she took and followed him inside. It didn’t take them long to locate Darling, who was still being held captive by dark shadows and was fighting these shadows to try to get free of them.

When she became aware that she was not alone Darling stared at Hades with a mixture of horror and awe on her face. “Please don’t be frightened I am simply hear to lend my assistance to Meraki.”

Meraki came out from behind Hades and smiled at Darling. “Sorry you didn’t see me right away Hades’s cloak is enchanted to conceal things. We need to get you out of here.”

“I’m not about to disagree with that.” Darling said to them.

Hade and Meraki came over to her, they both inspected the shadows closely wanting to be sure they could remove them from Darling without hurting her and Hades spoke. “I think in order to remove these we will need to combine our power again.”

Meraki nodded at Hades while she said. “I agree. Darling it will help things a lot for me if you can focus on the love you feel for Raven while we work on getting you free.”

“Yes I can do that.” Darling said in agreement, before she closed her eyes and focused on the love she felt for Raven. As soon as Darling did this she started to glow with bright golden light.

See how bright this light was made Meraki smile widely, as it showed how strong Darling’s true love for Raven actually had become. Meraki came over to Darling, she carefully syphoned the power of her love into her, started to use it to break the hold of the shadows on her. Hades joined Meraki standing next to her at Darlings side, he brought his own grey shimmering power forwards to join the gold of Meraki’s.

After working on the shadows for a while they started to release Darling. “It’s starting to work Darling!” Meraki told her.

Hades and Meraki continued to work on the shadows until Darling was free of them all. “There we go all done.” Hades said gently to Darling.

Slowly Darling opened her eyes, she was glad to find that she was indeed free of the shadows at last. “YES!” She crowed with excitement.

This overjoyed reaction from Darling caused Hades and Meraki to share a smile. “Now we just have to get you back to Raven before she leaves her home for Avalon.” Meraki told her.

Darling quickly turned to her, there was an expression of shock on her face which morphed into one of concern. “Then I need to get back and quickly.”

Meraki gave her a nod of agreement, while Hades said. “We will be happy to help you back. I can’t help but feel partly responsible for this, after all the one who did this is a spirit.”

Gently Meraki lay a hand on his arm. “Don’t be to hard on yourself Hades, Raven’s mother is very powerful and single minded, the evil Queen would have just kept on looking for a way out until she found one.”

“I am glad you do not blame me. I still feel I should assist Darling, after all she will need my assistance in order to capture the evil Queen’s spirit.” Hades told Meraki who responded to this by giving him a nod of understanding.

Darling gave Hades a smile and said to him with honesty. “I would be grateful for your help Hades.”

Meraki moved forwards she took one of Darling’s hands into hers, Hades did the same taking the other hand and together they carefully led her out of the space she had been held in and back into the garden of the castle.

As soon as her feat touched the grass Darling turned to look at Meraki and asked her. “Where is Raven?”

Meraki closed hr eyes for a few moments to seek out Darling’s true love, when she realised where Raven was her eyes quickly snapped open and Meraki addressed Darling in a worried voice. “She is at the waters edge waiting to make her way to Avalon.”

“Go Darling! We will follow you!” Hades told her in an urgent voice.

Darling obeyed his words she ran through the garden towards the beach on the other side of the castle. She could see the boat at the shore, by it where Lizzy, Cerise and Maddie and there was litter on which a very pale Raven lay. “RAVEN!” Darling cried out her voice full of desperation.

They all turned to look at her, their eyes where wide with shock and none of them moved allowing Darling to reach them. When Darling reached them she was hardly breathless from her years of secret hero training, she grabbed Raven’s hands with hers and squeezed it. “I’m sorry Raven…I didn’t leave willingly…Your mother’s ghost took me and she is still out there.”

Hades and Meraki who where not far behind her came to a halt just behind Darling and Meraki spoke to them. “It’s true she managed to escape Hades realm somehow and is causing trouble again.”

“I humbly apologise to you Raven.” Hades said formally, before he spoke again blushing slightly as he spoke. “It is rare anyone escapes the underworld and it is shaming to me when they do manage it, especially when they cause trouble like this.”

Raven looked at the three of them for a moment, before focusing her gaze on Darling. “I am so glad you are alright and didn’t leave me of your own volition.”

“I would never leave you. I love you Raven, with all of my heart.” After Darling said these words to Raven, she gently kissed her on the lips.

The moment their lips touched a bright golden light filled the area, this light caused the spirit of the evil Queen to be visible to the others. Hades stalked towards her, he was not alone Meraki was at his side, seeing them coming the evil Queen tried to escape, but before she could a white magic embraced her trapping her. “LET ME GO!” She screamed at them struggling violently against the magic which was holding her tightly.

Hades and Meraki didn’t recognise this magic as their own. “I won’t let you escape mother.” Raven’s voice announced from behind them.

Neither Meraki and Hades turned to look at her, they would not be distracted from the task of sending Raven’s mother back to the underworld where she belonged. “I’m going to give you a good long punishment in Tartarus!” Hades swore coming closer to the evil Queen.

These words made terror fill the evil Queen for the first time in a long time, but she refused to give up on escaping and continued to fight the magic’s hold on her, but it just tightens in response to her struggles. Hades put his hands through the magic without it effecting him in the slightest, he gripped the spirit of the evil Queen in a firm grasp and started radiating a grey power. “Meraki, will you help me to seal her away. Love…More correctly true love is one of the very few powers that can even defy me and if you agree to help me to seal her into the underworld it will create a strong prison for her.”

“Of course I will help.” Meraki said coming forwards, she placed a hand onto one of his shoulders and started to glow with golden power, it ran from her along Hades arm joining his grey power.

The evil Queen howled in fear as the black and gold power chained her limbs, then her cries turned to ones of fear as the evil Queen became small and small before vanishing. Hades reached across and placed one of his hands on top of Meraki’s. “Thank you for helping me.”

“You welcome, but I didn’t do it just to help you…I also lent my power to you, to protect Darling and Raven from any further attacks by the evil Queen.” She told him honestly.

Hades smiled at her. “I am still glad you helped me.”

Meraki blushed, then turned her attention onto Darling and Raven, before assuring them. “You are both safe now.”

“Thank you.” Darling said to her gratefully.

Raven was utterly relived to know that this time her mother had been secured away in the underworld and said to them with clear happiness. “That’s wonderful to hear.”

Hades looks over at them, he bowed to them both. “Once more you have my apologies.”

Raven shook her head at him. “Please don’t…I know how determined my mother can be when she set’s her mind to something.”

“Tartarus is very well guarded Raven so she won’t escape again.” Hades assured her in a firm voice.

“Thank you.” Raven said to him gratefully, there was something about hearing him say this which made her feel more assured than ever before.

Maddie bounced up to Hades, she looked up into the shadows of the helmet and asked. “Where is your face? Is it hidden in space? Or did you lose it some place?”

Before anyone could say anything Hades started to laugh, he reached up and took the helmet off, as he did this it released long jet black hair which fell to his waist, as well as showing a pair of amazing sapphire blue eyes and he smiled down at Maddie. “Is that better?”

“Tip-a-di-top!” Maddie announced before skipping back over to Lizzy.

Hades looks at Meraki with a questioning expression on his face which causes her to start chuckling, after a few moments she manage to stop chuckling and explains to him. “Don’t let it worry you Hades, Maddie is a Wonderland resident.”

As soon she explained this to him, understanding lit Hades eyes. “Oh I see.”

Darling looked around at everyone and then asked softly. “May I have some time alone with Raven.”

Cerise instantly nodded and dashed off at full speed. “Of course.” Apple responded and walked away, with a nod to Darling Lizzy took Maddie’s arm and carefully led her away from them.

Hades looked at Meraki and held a hand out to her. “Shall we go talk?”

“Yes, I think we need to.” She agreed before taking his hand and vanished with him.

Chapter Text

Chapter twenty five:

Darling smiled down at Raven and said in a gentle, but happy voice. “I have a feeling those two are going to be just fine.”

“Agreed.” Raven said softly to her as she smiled back at Darling.

“I’m so happy I didn’t lose you Raven. I was so worried that I would.” As Darling told Raven this her voice shook with suppressed emotions while her eyes filled with unshed tears. Darling took a deep breath she pushed these emotions to one side, gathered up her calmness and focused all of her attention to Raven who was still laying down in the litter. “Can you stand up at all?”

Slowly she nodded, it took Raven a few moments but with Darling’s help she sat up in the litter and then stood up. Holding tightly onto Raven’s hands Darling slowly led her over to a nearby garden bench and together they sat on it. After a few moments of silence as the two just sat together bathing in the wonderful feeling of being together forever and safe from the evil Queen at last.

Eventually Raven spoke to Darling. “I am so glad you didn’t leave me as I had thought.”

“I would never leave you willingly.” Darling told Raven firmly meaning her words with all of her heart, as she truly had no plans to ever leave Raven again. She knew that choosing this path meant losing the adventures she had always wanted to go on, but to be honest what had happened to her over the last few months was enough adventure for Darling. At the same time though she also felt that giving up her adventures to stay with her true love was a lot more important than going on them would ever have been, and Darling was sure that ruling the kingdoms of the Good Queen and Good King with Raven would be quiet the adventure on its own.

Raven’s voice suddenly snapped Darling out of her musings. “I don’t want you to leave me ever…In fact…I…I…” Raven’s words vanished and she blushed slightly unable to finish what she had been about to say to Darling, both concerned she would say no and not want to give up adventuring to stay here with her.

Darling gently prompted her by saying to Raven softly. “What is it you want from me my love? Please do tell me.”

Raven smiled at her widely as Darling called her love and then said softly with a rosy blush to her cheeks. “I like being your love Darling. I hoped that if you came after me, that I would be able to ask you to become my wedded partner in life…But it looks like I can’t…”

“You want to marry me?” Darling asked awed and thrilled by the prospect.

Raven nodded as she spoke to Darling. “Yes, I want to marry you. I don’t want anyone else to be with you or to be able to come between us ever again. I would be the good King and you would be my good Queen…But I know you want to go on adventures…So I would be willing to take both titles and allow you to be the good Prince so you can go on as many adventures as you wish.”

Quickly Darling shook her head before saying to Raven in a firm, but kind voice. “I’ve had my adventure Raven…Well and truly…This was enough for me…More than enough…I thought I needed to prove myself and to have thrills before I settled down…I never realised adventures could be like this…No that’s wrong I knew it could be I just didn’t think I would have such a perilous quest…No, I’ve had enough truly…I just hope my brother’s and family will be alright now. I love you Raven and I would be deeply honoured to be your King.”

As Darling told her all of this Raven’s eyes went wide and she asked her in a soft awed voice. “Really you mean that?”

Darling carefully took Ravens left hand in hers, she lifted it gently, then kissed the back of it, then her wedding finger. “I am very serious Raven. I want to be married to you because I love you with all of my heart. I have a funny feeling being your King, ruling both the kingdoms and having a family with you is going to be my greatest adventure ever.”

Raven smiled widely, she gently drew her hand out of Darlings, then moved her hands around they were instantly surrounded white magic and with in the magic appeared a white gold ring topped with an icy blue round sapphire. Raven picked the ring out of the white magic and held it out to Darling, who extended her left hand, with a truly happy smile on her face Raven slipped the ring onto her finger.

Darling inspected the ring for a moment which still glowed white magic and then said to Raven. “I see your magic has changed colour.”

“Yes, my curse to appear evil is over…Your true love set me free…I can be myself fully at last and this fact shows in my now light magic.” Raven told her softly.

Darling took a moment to turn those words over and then said with wonder and understanding in her voice. “Wait…You were really cursed by your own mother this whole time?! So, you truly are the daughter of the good King…This was your real story. Is the curse why you rebelled against your supposed destiny as the evil Queen?”

Raven nodded before saying to Darling. “Yes, being the evil Queen was never the destiny I wanted, I wanted to be myself and if that meant following the story of the daughter of the good King then so be it…As long as I became free of the curse at last and found my true love along the way then I would be happy destiny or no. I was blessed with the joy of finding you, my true love and before you ask it, I feel that all I have been through in the story was well worth everything which I have gained in the process Darling.”

Darling put an arm around Raven hugging her close to her for a moment, before releasing her and saying. “I am glad to be your princess Charming. I am happy to that you feel that everything which happened to you was worth the reward you have received. I love you so much my princess.”

“Now that I know that is not completely true, you are worried about your brothers and family, I know that…Would it help if sent my magic to check on them and see if my mother put onto them any spells which have managed to linger despite her death?” Raven offered kindly not liking to see the one she loved with all of her heart hurting.

Darling gave Raven a grateful smile. “I would be very pleased if you would do so.”

Raven gave her a nod, she called up her magic, Raven shaped it into harmless looking butterflies and released them into the air. “There we go. If my mother has affected your family in any way my magic will be able to tell us now.”

“Thank you.” Darling said to her relived to know that this was taken care of. “We should go and tell everyone we are going to marry. I am sure this will bring them all much joy. I want you to know that I will look for a wonderful ring for you as soon as I can.”

“Oh Darling I am not worried about a ring…” Raven began wanting to assure her that she was the most important thing to her.

Darling cut her off, by saying in a serious voice. “I know that Raven, but showing other’s how serious I am about you is important to me. I don’t want anyone to be able to question my desire to have you at my side for the rest of our days.”

Raven let out a deep sigh, she could understand Darling’s point, but she really didn’t want her to worry that she had to find one. “I understand, but please take the time to find a ring for me you are truly happy with alright?”

Hearing the sincerity in her voice, Darling nodded. “I will promise that I will take all the time I need to find you a ring I feel is perfect for you.”

“Thank you Darling.” Raven said softly, then before she addressed her for a second time. “Oh here are my butterflies!” they landed on Raven’s upturned hand, Raven closed her eyes and the butterflies glowed on her hands for a few moments. As the butterflies she had made told her what they had discovered Raven took a deep breath, she then opened her eyes and looked over at her. “Well Dexter is happy and has fallen in love with Rowan…How unexpected, but he is yet to tell her…Daring is still being held by your parents and he is well on the way to being the beast prince he is meant to be. This is not good…I don’t even know how to tell you what my mother has done to your parents…”

Gently Darling placed a hand onto her arm, she gave it a light squeeze and spoke reassuringly to Raven. “It’s okay Raven. I’d rather know what your mother has been up to than face another nasty surprise from her at a later point.”

Raven gave her a nod of understanding and after a few moments to order her thoughts addressed Darling. “As we had suspected my mother used her magic on your parents…I’m so sorry Darling…”

“How can they still be under her influence even though your mother is no dead and in the underworld?” Darling asked Raven with confusion.

Raven shook her head and said to her apologetically. “I’m sorry I don’t know…I only caught a glimpse of what she had done with her dark magic through my butterflies…Maybe Hades and Meraki can help us find out more and how to undo what she has done.”

Darling sighed deeply before saying to Raven. “They would probably be the best ones to ask, and as much as I want to ask them right now…I think Hades and Meraki deserve some time alone to talk.”

“Are you sure you want to wait for them?” Raven asked her with concern.

Darling nodded as she spoke firmly to Raven. “They already did so much for us today and what ever magic your mother has placed onto my parents has been on them for this long, so I don’t think it will make things any worse by leaving the spells intact for a while longer.”

Raven slowly put an arm around Darling, she leant into her and said softly. “Then we will sit here and wait for a while before calling to Meraki and Hades again.” Darling smiled down at Raven, she put her own arm around her again and nestled closer to Raven.

 

Hades and Meraki stood next to each other in a space between places and after a few moments of silence she addressed him. “You wanted to talk to me about things.”

He nodded, took a deep breath, then Hades took Meraki’s hands in his and said to her in a soft but honest voice. “Yes I do. I know you find it hard to believe but I really didn’t marry Persephone…I loved her and I wanted to wed her yes, but…I began to realise that these feelings I had…They where only there because Demeter tried to keep her away from me, it was the temptation of what was forbidden I know that now. When I realised where my feelings where coming from I started to look past her, it was then I began to see you…You where like me, on the fringes of the other immortals and held great power. You never treated me as the other’s did…You where never afraid of me and I began to admire that, it wasn’t long before I began to see more to you and fall in love with you. I remember the first time you ever came to the underworld…You called my home beautiful…No one had ever called my home that before. Meraki you were never afraid there, you dealt with the spirits there with kindness and compassion and you looked at my kingdom with wonder and joy, a sight which I would love to see again and again.”

“Hades…I didn’t know you had seen me there…” Meraki told him blushing slightly.

Hades smiled at her softly and blushed a little himself as he admitted to her. “I know you did not…I admit I was hiding from you and watching you explore my world.”

“You do have a wonderful and truly beautiful home. I was surprised by what actually grows and lives there.” She said to Hades smiling at him as she did so.

“I am glad you think so and I am also happy you can see beauty when others cannot. Meraki I won’t make you choose me, but I know as Aphrodite’s twin you know I speak from the heart when I say all I desire is a chance to love you and for you to love me in return.” Hades told her earnestly.

Meraki looked at him for a long moment, holding his gaze with her own, Hades shuddered slightly as he felt an odd sensation almost like fingers going through his hair, over his back and then Hades heart filled with a warmth he had only felt around Meraki. “You are speaking the truth about your feelings, I can feel it from your heart.” She said to him in a soft voice.

Hades smiled down at her as he asked gently. “Will you give me that chance?”

Quietly Meraki looked away from Hades, he said nothing to her because Hades could see that she was thinking about what he was offering her. “I can give you that chance…I…It may take time for me to give my heart. I am afraid Hades…Afraid of being hurt.”

“I will not hurt you Meraki…At least I will never mean to I want you to know that. I have no intention of moving quickly, I think it will be the best for both of us. I will stay here in the fairy tale world with you, I can function well enough as death no matter where I am, but being apart from you again no I will not do it.” Hades told her with honesty while at the same time squeezing her hands gently.

Meraki beamed at him feeling glad that he agreed with her. “You will find living in the fairy tale world challenging but interesting I promise you that. You may have to give up the helmet Hades, though I have to admit I prefer seeing you without it. I had no idea you had such long hair, it’s glorious…I’ve always had a weakness for long hair on men…May I touch it?” Hades gave her a nod and released one of her hands, Meraki lifted it and ran it into his hair smiling in awe and joy as she stroked her fingers through his hair. “So soft.”

“I am glad you like my hair.” Hades murmured softly, enjoying the feeling of her fingers going through his hair.

“I could stay doing this all day, but we should return the fairy tale world.” Meraki told him regretfully.

Hades gave her a nod. “Yes we should, but you are welcome to do this again.”

She shot him a grateful look. “Thank you, Hades I will look forwards to it.”

Carefully he released her other hand, then Hades lifted his hair, he tied it back into to a braid and spoke to her as he did so. “You are the only one other than myself I will ever let take my hair out of its braid do you understand?”

“I understand.” Meraki assured him, before taking the end of the braid into her hands and holding it gently. She brought her gaze up from the hair and back to Hades brilliant blue eyes, they where watching her closely and he as smiling at her fondly. Meraki released his braid and held a hand out to Hades as she asked. “Shall we?”

Hades took the offered hand with a nod and together in a flash of golden and silver light they returned to the garden of Camelot. When they arrived there, it was to find Raven and Darling sitting side by side on a bench with their arms around each other. The sight of them together caused the goddess and the god to smile at each other and they approached the young couple.

Darling was the first to notice them. “Hades Meraki, you are back good. I am sorry to say we need help again.”

“Let me guess…Raven’s mother has caused yet more trouble.” Meraki said in a dry voice.

“Indeed.” Raven confirmed without moving from Darling’s side. “She put some kind of dark magic onto Darling’s parents…I do not think I can undo it alone as it lingers still despite her death. As far as I was aware magic ended with death but my mother was an unusually powerful woman and I don’t know why it should surprise me as it does.”

Hades brows rose with surprise. “Well that is unusual.”

“This is my mother, her spells still lasted when she was living and in prison…as I said I don’t know why it should have surprised me that her spells even managed to survive her death.” Raven told them in a soft and miserable voice.

Meraki looked to Hades and asked him. “Is it possible for us to help at all?”

Hades was quiet for a few moments as he contemplated the answer to this question and then slowly, he began to speak in a thoughtful voice. “You perhaps not Meraki, but me yes…I think I should be able to get rid of what she has done…Still if I need any help I will ask for it. Darling I shall need your hand as you are a link to your parents.”

Darling held a hand out to Hades, he took it into hers and a shiver went through Darling this reaction cased Hades to apologies right away. “Sorry…I should have warned you I would feel cold to you. It’s the whole being death and King of the underworld.”

Quickly Darling shook her head and sought to reassure him. “No, it’s fine, the chill just took me unawares.”

Hades closed his eyes, once more grey power flared into life around him. “Ah yes I see it…Odd purple swirls around them does that sound right?”

“Yes. That is my mother’s magic for sure.” Raven confirmed to him.

With a nod of thanks for this confirmation Hades returned to looking at the magic around Darling’s parents, what it was doing and the damage it had already caused and he was dismayed to see that a lot of harm had been done to them. “The magic seem to be exaggerating feelings and thoughts they already had to an excessive degree…The magic has all but killed their better qualities…I am sorry Darling…But I am unsure that at this point that removing the spell which has been used would do any good. I can still try to get rid of it if you wish me to…”

Darling stood quietly utterly unsure what to do, eventually she asked Hades in a soft voice. “Is it really that bad?”

“Yes it is very bad…I am afraid to tell you Darling that the magic has shortened their lives considerably. I wish my news was better for you.” Hades told her with gentle compassion still with his eyes closed.

Darling’s eyes filled with tears, despite the pain they had caused her this was still her parents and she loved them. “Is there nothing that can be done?”

Hades shook his head. “No one not even the gods can give back life which has been taken in this way. I can remove the spell but the likely hood is that doing so will make little difference.”

“Still I would like them to be free of the dark magic for what little time they have left.” Darling told him.

“Very well…Is there anything else you would like me to do while I am there?” Hades enquired of Darling.

There came a quick answer from Darling. “Yes…Is there some way you can prevent my parents from finding Dexter and myself?”

“I can do that.” Hades assured her, the grey magic around him flared for a moment, then slowly Hades opened his eyes. “It is done. They will never find you or Dexter.”

“How long…How long do they have?” Darling asked him in a voice what wobbled and tears gathering in her eyes.

Hades sighed deeply before answering her question. “I always hate knowing the answer to that question…I really do…But you have a right to know what I know. Four years Darling that is all they have left. I am sorry…However and I know it is not much comfort, when they do pass what was done to them will be undone it is a sacred rule of the underworld and before you ask even I don’t know exactly how it works, but it has something to with crossing the river Styx. I tired asking her once but she would not tell me the answer to my question and asked me to not ask her again and so I respect Styx’s wishes and I do not ask about it anymore.”

“Thank you Hades.” As she spoke it was very clear that Darling was deeply unhappy.

Hades was touched by Darlings sadness and he longed to do more for her but Hades knew that he couldn’t. “I wish I could do more for you.”

Darling shook her head. “I know you cannot, no one can…”

Raven took one of Darling’s hands in hers and squeezed it, she turned to look at Raven. “I am sorry Darling…This is all my mother’s fault.”

Quickly Darling shook her head. “Not entirely, Hades said it himself there was already something there for the magic to work on. I will be alright Raven in time. After all I have you at my side and I know my brothers are safe.”

Raven decided to say nothing more on this subject, slowly she stood up. “Thank you, both for all your help. Come on Darling let’s go inside, we can get warm and have something to eat.”

Hades and Meraki watched them go, Meraki moved forwards away from Hades, she opened up her golden wings and glowed with golden light for a moment. Hades wondered what she was doing, but he knew that whatever she was doing Meraki was using a lot of power to do it. Hades didn’t disturb her he watched Meraki instead intrigued by her work, he knew he was one of only a couple of gods to see her in her full glory like this and Hades felt fortunate and blessed to see it.

Eventually drew her wings down and behind her, the light around her slowly went out and she turned back to Hades. He smiled at her and walked over to Meraki. “That was amazing to witness.”

“Thank you.” She told him, before taking one of Hades hand into hers and fading away from sight with him.

Chapter Text

Chapter twenty six:

Raven could hardly believe that today was her wedding day at last, it felt to her as though she had been waiting for it to arrive forever. Raven was filled with so much joy and excitement that she wasn’t at all sure she was going to be able to hold it all inside.

Raven gazed at the ring embracing her wedding finger, it was white gold topped with a simple round pale blue diamond. As far as Raven was concerned it was the perfect ring for her, despite what some others had said about its lack of bling factor.

Darling and Raven had waited three years after their story had ended to be married, they had done this because Stephan had wanted to pass the throne over to Raven and it had also taken her time to become used to ruling over the Queen Kingdom as well. There had been a large coronation and a lot of celebrating in the kingdoms and Raven had settled on her full name and title being Good King Raven Good King-Queen duchess of Hearts.

Quickly she turned to the mirror in the side room in the hallway just outside from the throne room to take a look at herself in her wedding gown, Raven was looking forwards to seeing Darling’s reaction to her dress. Keeping it a surprise for her had been very difficult for Raven, but as she checked the sweet heart neckline and smoothed down the white silk skirts hand embroidered with lavender and ice blue feathers she decided it had been well worth it. She then checked her vale which ran down her back and joined the longer train was still in place and not rumpled. Raven had the tiara she was wearing today especially made it was shaped to look like two feathers one in icy blue diamonds and the other in amethysts which were end to end.

A knock on her door drew Raven out of her thoughts and she called out breathlessly. “Who is it?”

“It’s Dexter!” An excited voice declared from outside.

Raven smiled softly, she was glad for Darling’s sake that this one member of her family was able to attend her wedding. “Come in!” She called cheerfully.

Dexter entered with Rowan beside him, at the sight of them her smile grew, when Dexter had at last plucked up enough courage to tell the elf Queen how he felt for her, he had been rewarded with the discovery that she to loved him. They where yet to marry, but then elf courtship was long, which made sense considering how long they lived for and the fact they only married once.

“Oh Raven you look beautiful!” Rowan exclaimed in her lilting accented voice.

Raven smiled at them both brilliantly. “Thank you. I am glad you both made it!”

“We wouldn’t have missed this for the world. My little sister is going to be blown away when she sees you.” Dexter told Raven with honesty.

Rowan smiled softly at the clearly happy bride. “Thank you. Are you looking forwards to being Darling’s best man?”

Dexter gave a nervous chuckle and scratched the back of his head. “I’m a little anxious about it to be honest, but I have the ring!”

“Trust me he has checked a million times.” Rowan said with dry humour. “Any way for the other reason we are here, Dexter and myself just wanted to wish you luck before we joined the rest of the guests.”

“That was wonderfully kind of you.” Raven said in a touched voice, knowing full well that an elf wishing luck on a wedding was a very special kind of gift to receive all on its own and would add another layer of protection to that already around herself and Darling.

“If only Daring could be here.” Dexter said sadly and longingly.

Quickly Rowan put an arm around him and gave Dexter a comforting hug as she said to him. “He will be there in our thoughts and in spirit. Come now my love let’s leave Raven to finish getting ready.”

Raven watched as Rowan quietly, but gently moved Dexter out of the room, she felt great sympathy for him and for Darling, news of their home land this far away from it was sketchy at best. Raven had offered several times to look in on the kingdom with her magic, but both Darling and Dexter refused to let her, as they were both where afraid that any negative magic which had been drawn there by their parent’s behaviour might somehow affect Raven too.

Raven drew a deep cleansing breath, she carefully pushed these thoughts away as she knew that Darling wouldn’t want her to be thinking about this on their wedding day and to be honest Raven really didn’t want to have these thoughts either.

Another knock sounded at the door and Raven called out cheerfully. “Come in!”

A moment later Stephan entered the room, he smiled widely at the sight of his daughter and said in a soft awed voice. “Oh Raven you look beautiful.”

Raven smiled widely at him. “Thank you father.”

“I hope you don’t mind, but I picked you flowers for your bouquet for today…I’d noticed since your change in magic you can hold them without them wilting now.” Stephan said softly holding out towards his daughter a bunch of daises and lavender.

Quickly walked across the room to where her father stood and accepted the flowers from him saying with joy clear in her voice. “Thank you so much! These are wonderful!”

“You are welcome. Are you ready to go?” Stephan asked her softly holding his arm out to Raven.

“Yes I’m ready.” Raven told him accepting his arm.

Together they walked out of side room into the hallway and made their way to the two doors which stood at the entrance of the throne room. Stephan gave a nod towards the two guards standing there, at this signal they quickly pulled the doors to throne room open. As soon as they stepped over the thresh hold the wedding march started to play, there where lots of awed gasps at the sight of Raven’s dress, but Raven paid no attention to this as all of her attention was focused on Darling.

To her Darling looked absolutely wonderful today, she was wearing an ice blue military style dress coat, which hugged her figure just right, it flared out in a puffy skirt reminiscent of the one she used to ware at school. She also wore long white boots which stopped just under her knees, Darling’s hair was drawn back in its usual style and atop her head was a simple white gold coronet.

As Darling turned to look at Raven her eyes went wide, she had always known that Raven was beautiful but today she looked exquisite. The couple shared a smile, when they reached the end of the aisle Raven handed her bouquet to Maddie, then Stephan placed her hand into Darling’s and stepped away to sit down with the other guests.

They squeezed hands, smiled at each other and then turned to face Meraki. It was she who after some discussion and consultation with tradition and law who had been settled on as the one to marry the couple. Meraki smiled at the couple, then took a deep breath and then began the ceremony which they had all settled on together. “Today we come together to honour true love bonding two hearts together. Darling and Raven your trials where many but you did not fail each other, your true love was strong enough to win out in the end. Do you Princess Darling Charming take Good King Raven Good King-Queen duchess of Hearts to be your wife? Will you abandon your own family name for that of Good King? Will you love her, honour her, protect and obey her all the days of your life?”

“I will.” Darling states clearly taking her ring from Dexter and putting it onto Raven’s finger.

Meraki smiled at her then turned her attention onto Raven and addressed her. “Do you Good King Raven Good King-Queen duchess of Hearts to be your husband? Will you love her, honour her, protect and obey her all the days of your life?”

“I will.” Raven answers in a firm voice accepting her ring from Apple and putting it onto Darling’s finger.

Meraki placed her hands around their two joined ones, they began to glow with a golden light and she spoke. “I there for declare that you are true loves and a married couple, you may now share a kiss to seal your vows.” After she said this Meraki stepped back.

Smiling widely Raven and Darling shared a loving kiss, before breaking the kiss, then walking back down the aisle arm in arm they continued to smile widely as the guests cheered them.

Raven and Darling led their guests to the ball room where dining tables and dancing space was all set up. As the newly married couple went out onto the dancefloor together Melody started up the music and Meeshell began to sing the words of the ballad to the slow music which was playing as Darling and Raven dance their first dance together. “You look magnificent Raven.” Darling told her with honesty.

Raven smiled at her softly and returned the compliment. “Thank you Darling. You look wonderful today too.”

When the first song ended and more upbeat music started to play Darling and Raven left the dancefloor so they could go talk to their guests and thank them for gifts they had sent them.

As they walked and talked with all the guests, they couldn’t help but notice Hades and Meraki where standing together looking particularly close now and the love they felt for each other was also clear. Raven and Darling where glad to see that the couple where closer now, but at the same time they had to wonder what Hades had told the other gods about staying here and the location of Meraki. When they reached them Darling and Raven smiled at them and they smiled back, and Hades addresses them cheerfully. “Congratulations to you both!”

“Thank you Hades.” Darling said to him with a smile.

“I am sure the two of you will always be happy.” Meraki assured them.

Raven turned a wide smile onto her. “That is very kind of you Meraki. Are both of you not returning to Olympus?”

Meraki shook her head. “I left there long ago and never had any intention of returning unless I absolutely had to and it would have to be a massive emergency to convince me to go back to Olympus.”

When she finished what she had been saying Hades spoke to them. “As for me…I was always an outsider and often shunned by the other’s so staying here is much better for me too. I feel more at home here than I ever did on Olympus and I get to stay with Meraki which is something which makes me very happy. I contacted the other’s and told them I won’t be back, I didn’t say why despite them asking and they have no knowledge that Meraki is here. I also told them that I would come back if they really needed me too, but that being here wouldn’t affect how the underworld and death works which seems to have satisfied them.”

“I am glad you are both staying here, you have become our friends and it wouldn’t be the same here without you.” Raven told them both honestly.

“We’re glad to hear that.” Meraki assured them before saying with a soft knowing smile. “Now you two should be getting on, you have lots of guests to see after all.”

“Indeed we do.” Darling said in agreement and together Raven and Darling set off to visit the other guests at the wedding.

As they walked away Hades put an arm around Meraki, she lent into him as Hades said to her. “I can see now why you enjoy your work so much, it’s wonderful to see such a couple together.”

Meraki looked up at him and smiled widely. “It is rather rewarding and satisfying.”

“I think I am going to enjoy helping you spread true love through this word.” Hades told her honestly.

“You know there is really only one more thing that needs to be said in this story.” Meraki said to him with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes.

“Oh, what is that?” Hades inquired of her curiously.

Meraki answered this question without any hesitation. “And they all lived happily ever after.”

A chuckle left Hades, he hugged Meraki gently for just a moment before saying in agreement. “They sure did.”

The end.