Heyy all... this is my first one-shot, and I like to say it's pretty good.I wrote it a little while ago, and it's the first in three one-shots that are twists on classic fairy tales. They're all rather depressing... but, anyway, it'd mean a lot if you could just review, because my friends say they love it, but I'm not sure if that's because they don't want to hurt my feelings or what. Anyway, read and review! -Twist

I had taken so many risks to come, to see him, but he wasn't here. Three nights. Three nights of risk, just to see him. Three nights the possibility of being found out, of being whipped, of being turned out… and he hadn't turned up for one of them.

The first night, I had been more nervous than ever before in my life. My step-sisters and step-mother had just left, leaving me to do as I would, as long as I didn't leave the house. Tough luck for them- I had other plans. He was going to be there. We had arranged it all, so that I would come, he would meet me, and we could have some time together. Which we barely ever got anymore; he had stopped coming to our meeting place, except a few times for a little bit, only to tell me that as he was as busy as ever, he couldn't come anymore, but would I join him at the ball?

Of course, I would meet him there. Though, then, I didn't know how hard it would be. Five minutes after they left, I slipped into my step-sister's room. The smaller one, who was more my size. I had just ran my hands through the beautiful fabrics when I heard a carriage pull up. Oh, please, no… my mind groaned. But yes. There she was, pounding up the stairs, yelling that she just wanted one little thing, and would be back in one minute. I only had time to jump in the wardrobe; the door clicked shut the second she entered the room. Please, don't open the wardrobe. Please! I prayed. Lady Luck had been on my side. When I heard them go again, I hardly dared to go on with the plan. But I did. I had to. It was a chance to defy my step-family. It was a chance to see him. I began to believe that I loved him… no, I knew I loved him.

And I was convinced he loved me, too. Why else would he have walked me through the market all those times? Met with me in the forest?

But then he missed the first ball. He's sick, I assured myself. He wouldn't blow me off… he asked me to come! He's sick. I left the ball at twelve, seeing no reason to stay if he wasn't there. Of course, he would come to the next one.

But he didn't. Instead, a handsome yet repulsive stranger asked me to dance numerous times, and each time he held me too close for comfort. It was all I could do to tell him I was expected back by twelve and leave his nauseating grip around my waist.

The third ball. He had to come to this one… he had to. I told myself that with such ferocity that I actually believed it, and banished the thought that had been creeping into my mind, that he wasn't coming, that he never was.

I was a fool. I should've stayed home. I should've, I should've. I should've done so many things. So many things other than what I did.

There he was, the handsome, repulsive stranger. On one knee. Holding my hand. I knew what was coming. He asked me to marry him. I was disgusted. 'No, no!' I began to say. But the words never got out of my mouth, because at that moment, I looked up.

And there he was. Right there. Watching. He did come!! I began to think. But… no. attached to his arm was a woman. A petite, beautiful, blond woman. My eyes were drawn up to his. Was there any feeling there? Love? There had to be! He loved me! But… no. Only indifference met my searching gaze. My heart wrenched, was ripped in two, then tiny pieces. It was all a game. He never loved me, never liked me. It was all a ploy to toy with my feelings, to make me hurt. All the escorts through town, swimming in the spring, everything was fake, not real. And in the balls? He was avoiding me, maybe even sent this repulsive man- the prince on me. He had just told me, to brag: 'I am the prince,' he had whispered in my ear. I had gone stiff, and then he… proposed. Finally, my throat unclogged, but was still filled with a huge lump of tears. I opened my mouth to say 'No! Never!' but nothing came out. The clock struck three, and boomed out three loud notes, ringing out my doom.

And the absence of a no was taken as a yes. And when you are engaged to the prince, you can't get out of it, however hard you try.

Another tear slips out from underneath my defenses. I shouldn't be crying, I remind myself. He's the one who betrayed you. A traitor. But my treacherous feelings don't care, and another tear comes down. There was his - now old but still beautiful- wife. She was weeping. She loves him. As I had… as I still do. He died two days ago. Today is the third… the third day of the third month. Three certainly is my lucky number, I think wryly as another tear slips down. I look over my shoulder, and see the king… my husband (and I still shudder whenever people put us together) coming. To find me. I wipe a tear from my withered cheeks with a gnarled old hand, and hurry through a group of courtiers. Away from him.

Once gone from the bustle, I strike out for my tree. In the heart of the gardens, about fifteen minutes in, lay a weeping willow. I had discovered this tree many years before, hiding from the prince, back when we were still engaged.

Pushing aside draping leaves and branches, I slip inside. This is my sanctuary, my place of peace. Here I wish for what I once had. Here, I am free to hate my husband. Here, I am as close to free as I can be. I sit on the cushions that I left out when I first found this place, and changed every so often. The shelter I am in had a mottled green color from the sunlight filtering through the branches. It reminded me of my childhood, the good old days… yes, even under my step-family's rule. Then, at least, I could go where I would… but now, I am confined to the palace and grounds. I am in a prison. I lay back in the cushions, and remember running through the forests… carrying pots of water… swimming in the secluded pool, diving off rocks.

I wish for the servitude under my step-family, I wish for the days before that, when my father hadn't left me, when my life was not… this. I wish for freedom.

I close my eyes, and breathe my last breath. At last, I was free.