Chapter 4 A girl, or a queen?

Margaret lived with her step-father and step-sister; her mother had been murdered by a nurse many years ago, when she was only a year old. I suppose that's really when the prison of theworld had started for Margaret. She was trapped in the castle. She hated it. I mean what was the point in being a princess if you never had the power to become a queen?

She was the most beautiful in the country, and the fact that she was the last person to notice it (I don't think she ever really did) made her all the more pretty. From the time she was7 years old, men were noticing her, and not without purpose, some girls in court were married at twelve.

The world didn't seem to exist in court. Everything was outside and Margaret was stuck inside. It didn't seem to stop her though; she knew there was more out there than pretty dresses, perfect pose and good manners. She needed more.

The only escape from the world of perfection was the world of fiction. The world of princes in shining armor with white horses, damsels in distress and happy endings. She promised herself that that world would some day be more than pure pretend. She promised herself that one day, she would be the knight in shining armor. I mean all she wanted was a happy ending, was that so much to ask?

Her Step-father hated the books she indulged herself in. He took every opportunity to ban all the fairytales and story-books out of her hands. Soon, she was forced to write her own stories. Her pile of writings grew every week as her ideas came steadily.

She was the smartest one in her class (probably from her steady reading), although this wasn't that much of a goal to achieve. The only other one in her class was her step-sister, Sarah.

Sarah was the exact opposite of her younger sister. Her long black hair and brown eyes were only the start of their differences. She was the snobbiest, rudest and least pretty one in court. Probably one of the many reasons why King John loved her so much, they had so much in common.

Her best friend was her mirror and it was the only thing that ever told her she was beautiful. She took everything she had for granted, the servants were only there to help her with everything she did. They didn't deserve a second glance and obviously didn't get one.

She refused to learn math, reading, writing, horseback or anything of the sort, for her, that was solely men's work.

Men were the one thing in Sarah's life that deserved to be looked at. At twelve, she was courting a man a week and even if they were obviously only there to see more of her sister, she refused to believe anything other than they loved her.

She never paid any attention to Margaret, the little girl in the family. In her mind, Margaret's long blonde, beautiful hair had nothing to her long black hair.

Margaret and Sarah had different fantasies to live in. Margaret's was filled with books, magic and dreams. Sarah's was filled with thoughts like "I'm the best, prettiest and smartest", "Everyone loves me" and "No one can do anything to stop me".

I suppose neither of them was truly sane, but at least Margaret knew her fantasy was only a dream.

Then there was King John. He was what brought everything together. He loved the power in his hands. He used everyone around him, and was never afraid to dump someone into the dungeon. He always carried a fake smile with him everywhere, in case he had to fool someone. The world to him was no fantasy, it was real life, and everyday was another opportunity to conquer the world, or to try.

He would stay in his tower for hours on end, with no one allowed to bother him. Everyone thought he was reading up on world domination, but no one could say for sure.

At age seven, Margaret saw all her friends at court (all boys, of course) becoming pages. She was enraged that she couldn't do the same.

"Why can't I become a page and someday a knight?" Margaret asked her maid the day she turned seven, "I can do anything they can and I'm stronger than most!"

The servant laughed, "You are a girl, my dear, and girls have not been permitted to pick up a sword since King Arthur became king so many years ago."

That was the beginning of Margaret's lust for knighthood; she promised herself that one day, she would be one.

She hated her life at the castle and found it more and more unbearable as the years went by.

At this point in time, she had no friends, and the "friends" she did have were only her friends because of her looks, money and stature. All of the servant girls she tried to befriend were jealous of her and all of the boys she tried to befriend really wanted to court her.

She went to all the parties, of course and wore all the dresses her step-father bought her. She did it all. And hated it all.

Her favourite thing to do was to ride her pony, Cupcake. She had named it because it was the fattest pony in all of Hammorrow. For that reason, the pony was to be killed when it was young but Margaret saved her and made her her own.

The pony was as much of a miracle as anything in Margaret's life. Though she was the fattest, she was also the fastest. Any race Margaret had against any horse, Cupcake and Margaret won.

Despite her love of escape, Margaret had never left the castle grounds. She had never been in the village and never met one of her people. She found no reason to enjoy life, but found a tiny hope here and there that her fantasies could come true. Of course, this was all before she met Nicholas.