A/N: This is a new story I've been working on for awhile. I had intended to finish it and then post it all at once. It's not done yet but I decided, what the heck, I'll post it anyway. The chapters are all different lengths cause I'm breaking it up after I write it. Did that make sense? I hope so.

Constructive criticism is always welcome, though I don't promise to follow it! Replies to reviews will start in the sixth chapter. Enjoy!

)O(

Ella was an odd child.

The loss of both her parents at a young age may have had something to do with it. First her mother had passed away, at which point her father had remarried and she had gained two stepsisters - one older, and one younger. Then her father had died as well. Of course, Ella didn't remember any of this. She had been very small. Her only memories were of her stepmother and stepsisters.

The older stepsister was named Adriana, and the younger Marissa. The stepmother was called "Mother", and that was all. No one knew her by any other name, not even the villagers. Ella didn't mind calling her "Mother", since she had no memory of her birth mother, and Mother was the best mother Ella could want, anyway.

Ella's family did not completely understand her. She might have been happier living on a farm, but as it turned out she grew up in a village, with roads and shops and no animals besides cats, so she made do. She was the kind of girl who loved work. She woke up early to make breakfast, then cleaned up the house and made up all the beds just in time to leave for school.

At first her sisters offered to help, but she always said no, though she was appreciative. After a time they learned to let her be. They made her things, and brought her presents, to show their thanks, and all in all were very loving sisters. Mother was a bit surprised to find all the housework taken out of her hands, but grew accustomed to it fairly fast. She always kept an eye on Ella, to make sure she didn't hurt herself working too hard.

Whenever Ella wasn't working she read, or wrote, or occupied herself with some other quiet activity. Marissa and Adriana often invited her to come play hopscotch, or spy on the boys with them, but she always replied "No, thank you, I'd rather stay here and read" or whatever it was she was doing. They continued inviting her, though they knew she would refuse, so that she wouldn't feel left out.

This sets the background for our story