A little girl cried, running into the private chambers of her parents. She wore her long, white night-gown, and it was obvious she was about to be put to sleep; her hair was brushed back and no slippers donned her small feet. Tiny black wings flapped nervously on her back.
The outer of the room was rounded, the outside of the tree they lived in that lead to a private branch balcony. A huge bed was against the wall opposite the door, a canopy of red tapestries let down every night by servants. A fireplace was roaring, the cold Winter Solstice night biting.
The mother, in a long purple dress with an open back, sat in front of a vanity, taking jewelry off, giant blue butterfly wings giving the sporadic flutter. On one wing, a scar ripped horizontally into the blue design, the wing bent a bit near the top. Around the black edging, the skin of the wing was enlarged, puffy around the old scar. It marred her otherwise perfect design, giving an ugly look to her beautiful wings.
The mother turned at her daughter's cry, face questioning. The little girl's father was in the bathroom, getting out of the tub. Fat tears ran down the little girl's chubby cheeks, and her mother immediately fretted over her.
"Kindle, darling, what is it?" the mother asked, pulling her daughter into her lap and brushing away the tears.
"Queen Rose," a woman barged in, breathing heavily. "I must apologize for her…rude and undisciplined behavior. I was putting her to bed, turned my back, and when I turned back around she was gone." The nanny sputtered.
Nanny Cinder was an older woman, mother of five and grandmother of thirteen. She had raised many a noble children, and knew how to discipline them with the Fire Kingdom fashion—nothing less than perfection would be accepted. Her hair had long since turned gray, but her bird wings and eyes were as red as tomatoes.
"Nanny Cinder," the Queen smiled, pulling her daughter closer to her chest, "I must be the one to apologize for her behavior. Kindle, darling, what do you say to Nanny Cinder?"
Kindle turned her teary face to her nanny, frowning. "I'm so sorry, Nanny Cinder." She apologized, turning her head back to her mother's stomach.
"'I am', child; how many times have I told you to not use contractions?" The nanny snapped, her face heating up as her fire-red eyes met the queen's cold blue ones. "Sorry, madam. Princess Kindle's studies aren't going as well as I hoped."
"I suppose we could always get a private tutor, like I had," Queen Rose mused.
"Yes, Queen Rose." The nanny curtsied. "Princess Kindle, let's go back to bed and not bother Queen Rose for the rest of the night," she stressed, not wanting to pull the princess out of her mother's arms, but feeling the need to punish her for the disobedience.
"No, no, it's all right, Nanny." Queen Rose soothed. "I'll put my daughter to bed."
The nanny's face turned as red as her wings. Queen Rose had a way of making people regret things without even a scolding. She had reminded the nanny that Kindle was her daughter, and it was not up to Nanny Cinder to punish her.
"Yes, Queen Rose," Nanny Cinder straightened, wings twitching, and left the room on her heels.
"Thank you, Mummy." Princess Kindle rubbed her cheek against her mother. "I wanted a bed time story and Nanny Cinder said I would just be a bother."
Queen Rose frowned and placed a gentle kiss against her daughter's forehead.
"You aren't a bother, darling." She ran her hand through her daughter's dark curly hair. "You do need to listen to Nanny Cinder, though."
The bathroom door opened, and both women turned to look at the man exiting. He wore a loose black shirt over dark pants that ended mid-calf. Raven-like wings protruded from his back, curled tightly against his sides, taller than he was. His face looked pained, the king's eyebrows tight and lips pursed.
"Kindle, what have I told you about listening to Nanny Cinder?" King Ash growled at his young daughter.
His harsh tone brought on a new set of tears. He stubbornly stuck to his resolve of not spoiling his daughter, but it was a hard thing to do when tears were streaming down her face.
"Ash, don't be so harsh." Queen Rose scolded her husband. "She's still just a baby."
Ash resisted the urge to roll his eyes at his lovely wife. "Rose, she's not a baby anymore." He crossed his arms and glared at his wife, daring her to defy him.
Queen Rose ignored her husband's egging, wiping away the tears on her daughter's face.
"What story did you want Mummy to tell you, darling?" she cooed, not able to resist her child's tears like her husband was. Queen Rose didn't see the point of punishing a child for not doing anything wrong, unlike the Fire Kingdom fashion; her radical ideas were from the Plant Kingdom, her family, and were seen just as bad as an act of treason.
Kindle stopped sniffling, face brightening. "Really, Mummy? Any story?"
"Of course, Darling. Just promise Mummy you'll stay in bed and listen to Nanny Cinder." Queen Rose touched her daughter's nose.
"I promise, I promise!" The little girl swore.
King Ash smiled, not able to help it. Of course his wife would do what the nanny couldn't. She didn't even want a nanny in the first place. But Ash had argued that every royal child of the Fire Kingdom had grown up with a nanny, and it would outcast his daughter if she didn't have one as well. He went ahead and hired one, much to his wife's cold anger, and was now slightly regretting it. His daughter nearly hated her and his wife got snippy on any implication that the nanny was mothering Kindle.
"Go get into bed, Kindle. Mummy will be there in a minute to tuck you in." Queen Rose slid Kindle off her lap and on the wooden floor.
Kindle raced to the door, stopped, and turned around. "You promise you're going to tell me how you met Daddy?"
The queen smiled, her eyes meeting her husbands, both filled with love and adoration and passion.
"Of course, darling. It's Mummy's favorite story." Queen Rose told her daughter, deep blue eyes not leaving her king's black ones.
The door shut behind the scampering little girl, and King Ash swept in upon his wife and placed a gentle but needy kiss against her mouth.
"It's Daddy's favorite story, too." he whispered into her ear.
"It had better be," his wife warned jokingly. "Care to join me?"
King Ash took Queen Rose's outstretched hand.
"My Lady, it would be my honor."
The queen smiled, and dropped her husband's hand. She pulled out a long silk night-gown from her wardrobe and quickly changed. When she was ready, she took her husband's hand once again, intertwining his fingers with hers. They exited the room together. The first door on the left led to their daughter's chambers, her playroom first, two doors leading to the bathroom and her bedroom.
A guard stood outside the door. He wore goggles over his eyes and the Fire Kingdom symbol covered his heart.
"King Ash, Queen Rose," he bowed.
"Guard Coal," the queen responded, knowing her husband would not.
He opened the door for them, which led right to the messy playroom. Small toys littered the floor, and the desk in the corner had papers strewn all about. A few candles lit the room, and a maid was tidying up. She stopped and curtsied when the couple came in.
"King Ash, Queen Rose," she murmured.
"Good evening, Maid Cairo."
The door to Princess Kindle's bedroom was open, and they saw through dim candle light that she was waiting eagerly for her parents to come tell their story.
Queen Rose let go of King Ash's hand, and walked into the room. Kindle snuggled deeper into her bed, eyes bright but drooping from sleepiness. Rose tucked the little girl in, pulling the dark blankets up to her shoulders and smoothing them out. She sat on the bed, near her daughter's head. Her hand started combing absentmindedly at her daughter's dark locks. Ash stood behind his wife, hands gently massaging her shoulders.
So the queen started, "Once upon a time, in the fairy kingdoms, a princess met a prince…"
Tell me what you think of my new story:) As you could tell, it's a bit different from my other one, and I hope much better. For other readers, I'm sorry to say that Wolfy Instincts has not been going very well. I decided that I couldn't write a sequel without it being rewritten first. I want to thank each and every person for reviews! They make my day.