The Rose

Long, long ago, before all flowers were created, there was a Queen who ruled over a vast kingdom. This Queen was a jealous queen, demanding that nothing in the kingdom be more beautiful or powerful than she. Although she had a King, he was fearful of his wife, for she had an evil power that she used without remorse on those who displeased her. Her king was no exception.

The only thing the Queen truly loved in her entire kingdom was her son. She doted on him from birth, spoiling him and protecting him from any dangers that he might come to. Though the Prince grew up with everything he ever wanted at his fingertips, he had a good heart unlike his mother's, and he was kind and gentle to the people of the kingdom.

There was also in this kingdom a young woman who possessed no great beauty or talent but that of her voice. When she sang, everything around her seemed to grow a little bit brighter. Her parents kept her hidden for much of her life, fearful of what the Queen would do if she ever heard of their daughter's beautiful voice. But soon the girl was too old to hide, and she left her parents to protect them from the Queen's awful power, for she could not bear to stop singing.

Now the Prince had been sent out to survey his mother's kingdom and report to her all that was not according to the Queen's law. But with his soft heart, the Prince always told his mother that all was well, for he knew his mother was jealous and unjust. And though he knew this, the Prince still loved his mother, believing that one day she would change.

As he was riding through his mother's kingdom, the Prince heard a beautiful voice singing. He was riding through the lowest part of the kingdom, where beggars lived in the gutters and robbers were around every corner. Curiously, the Prince stopped his horse, mesmerized by the beautiful singing. He slowly dismounted, peering through the door of a particularly dirty house, and what he saw amazed him.

The girl stood inside, slaving over a hot tub full of dirty clothes, and yet she sang. Her face was flushed from her work, and her hands were calloused and red. Yet she joyfully sang as she scrubbed the stains from the clothes and hung them up to dry. The Prince only stared at her, listening to her lovely voice and falling in love with the servant girl.

As he stood staring, she suddenly looked up and saw him. Immediately, she smiled, and the Prince thought that her smile was more lovely than any he had seen before. Though she was not stunningly beautiful, the Prince saw her lively brown eyes and thought she was charming. He looked at her wide, full lips and thought she was lovely. And then she began to sing again, and he knew his heart was hers forever.

Then and there, the Prince vowed to make her his wife. But the girl gently bowed and protested that the Queen would disgrace him for marrying her, and she disappeared into another room. With determination in his heart, the Prince called to the girl that he would return, and set out to win his mother's approval.

The Queen, however, heard her son's loving description of the servant girl and began to grow jealous. She listened as her son described the girl's beautiful voice, and she began to hate the girl. As her son sang his praises of the servant girl, his mother seethed that the girl was taking her son's love.

With an angry command, the Queen forbade her son to ever see the girl again.

The Prince was saddened by his mother's jealousy, but still he hoped for her to change. He left his mother with no intention of following her commands, seeking to ask the servant girl again to marry him. He did not go back to the royal palace, for he knew his mother would detain him there. Instead, he lived among the poor as a pauper in disguise.

But the servant girl knew who he was, and though she was pleased to see him, she again refused his proposal. She feared for his life, knowing of the Queen's great wrath and power, and sought to protect him by turning him away. But he came back the next day and asked again. And then the next, and the next. For a week, he saw the servant girl every day, and every day he asked her to marry him.

Finally, the girl said yes. She was in love with the Prince, and had been from the day she first saw him. She knew that the jealous Queen would punish them both, and might even put them to death. But the Prince's persistence and obvious love for her won over her fear of the Queen's retribution.

They decided to wed immediately. The Queen was searching furiously for her son, and they planned to marry and then flee the country. So they quietly found a priest, and requested that he marry them the next day. The servant girl wanted just a day to prepare, to send word to her parents of her happiness, and to find a wedding gown instead of her old work dress.

That day went by quickly and without trouble. The Prince and the servant girl were elated that the Queen seemed to know nothing of their wedding, and slept that night without fear. But the Queen had her spies everywhere, and she intercepted the messenger who went to tell the girl's parents of her wedding. When she read the note, she immediately saddled her horse and set off to find her son and the girl.

It took her the entire night to ride across her kingdom, for it was vast. She reached the church in the morning, just as the wedding was about to end. As she rode into the church, she caught them in an embrace, and with a cry of triumph, changed them into a hard, ugly stick full of thorns. Her magic did its work swiftly.

But the Prince and the girl's love was strong, and even in death, the Queen could not quench it. For as she watched, the stick began to bud and grow, furling out beautiful green leaves and climbing up the wall beside it. And when it reached an open window, as the sunlight kissed its greenery, it bloomed a beautiful red flower, unlike anything the Queen had ever seen before. Its petals were velvety soft, and its fragrance was gentle and sweet.

This was the first rose.

The rose did not stop growing at the window. It spread its vines through the open shutters and down the other side, and began to wind its way over trees and houses, blooming its red flowers wherever it went. And no matter how hard the Queen tried, she could not stop the flower from spreading. For every vine she chopped off, another grew somewhere else, and every time she snapped off a flower, two bloomed in its place. The rose spread, and soon bloomed all throughout her kingdom, and whomever saw it was blessed by its presence.

The story of the Prince and the servant girl spread as quickly as the roses, and soon the people of the kingdom began to rebel. Beauty was found everywhere, and songs could be heard in every home. The Queen tried to stop them, but like the rose, where one song was quenched, two more sprang up. Before the week was over, the kingdom was set free, and the Queen was exiled. Her King came to his senses and began to rule the kingdom with a just hand, and the people loved him.

As for the roses, they continued to bloom throughout the kingdom, and spread to neighboring lands. Their beauty never falters. And they bloom throughout the world to this day.

A/N: Wrote this in about an hour because I was bored. I think it's a little dry, but tell me what you think.