Chapter 1

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King Markson stood outside the bedroom chamber, waiting anxiously on any news of the Queen. She was in labor, and it had been six hours, now. Midwifes and maidservants ran out every now and then, but he hadn't seen anyone come out for the past hour. 

King Markson was debating on taking a seat on the stone bench when a maid servant cracked open the massive door. King Markson awaited any good news, but upon looking at her nervous face, his heart was gripped by a sudden fear. She didn't want to be the one who approached the King with such grievous news. How was she going to tell him?

"What's the news? How is the child?" King Markson inquired, hands gripping her shoulders.

"The child is fine, your highness, but-" her breathe stammered.

"What is it...?" He asked quietly. 

"My King, the Queen is not doing well. She has lost alot of blood..."

She barely got the words out as the King flew past her, nearly mowing her over. Her knees gave away from fright, collapsing from fear. She sat on the ground crying, tears streaming from her eyes. She thought she would be punished for delivering such news.

He burst through the door, and suddenly, time seemed to still. There lay the Queen on the bed, sweaty and pale-faced. 

"My Dear," Markson came to her side. The Queen faintly looked at him and smiled.

"Markson..." she managed, her smile undaunted. "It's a girl."

"Clarice, are you alright...?"

"...I want to see her."

The blood drained from his face. His fears seemed to be unfolding right before him: his wife was not going to survive the child birth.

He motioned quickly for them to bring the child, placing her in Clarice's arms.

"Oh, so beautiful," she smiled faintly, her breath washing over the baby's face. Even though most children were born a splotchy red color, this child was pure white, with a patch of fine, white hair.

The King took the child in his arms, taking in her beauty.

"What's her name to be...?" King Markson asked his Queen.

"Snow. Her name is Snow." And the Queen took her last breath. The King shut her eyes.

Markson held the child close, sobbing for his Clarice, his beloved Queen. She had passed.

A royal announcement came from the palace. Townsfolk below awaited news of the child. They were ready for a celebration, only to be greeted with the most devastating news.

"The beloved Queen Clarice has passed during childbirth. She has given birth to a girl. God bless the royal family. Long live the Queen, forever in our hearts!"

"Long live the Queen!" The crowd echoed with a mighty roar, then met with mutterings among them. 

Their Queen had died. Many could not believe it, for such a compassionate Queen she was. She had a girl...a girl!  The first girl among three sons. Their beloved Queen would be remembered. However, how possibly could the King continue without a her at his side...he needed her.

The crowd dispersed after a long evening, returning to their homes. Everyone lit torches to light up the night, in honor of Queen Clarice.

A year had passed since her death. Life began to carry on as normal as the excitement of the Queen and child began to die down. Talk was circulating, however, when the King would marry, again. Most figured it would be years before he decided to. They didn't want to demand a Queen, but they really wanted one. She had been so caring, and went above and beyond to meet the needs of the people. 

Just as the townspeople were settling back into their routine, a proclamation came from the palace early one morning. Everyone gathered around the messenger as he read the King's decree. He was looking for a new wife. A wave of gasps, giggles, and excitement went through the crowd. 

The women suspected the King couldn't live without a Queen for long, and they were right! What they didn't expect was for him to look among them, the commoners. A surge of hope went through each woman, that they could actually be chosen to be royalty, and rule alongside the King. 

"It's a dream!" A woman said. Her face brightened. Only a few minutes before was she mindlessly kneading dough, like she had always done. The redundancy of life was met with the most wonderful news.

"Oh, I hope he picks me!" A woman chimed among the crowd. No more had it left her mouth when her husband seized her by the arm.

"You're already married!" He reminded her growily.

Not every woman was taken by this news. Maybe reality was more apparent to others. or perhaps bitterness, but they knew they would never stand a chance. They listened to the proclamation quietly, not saying much of anything. 

"Hmmph, he will never pick us," Marian said among her family. She was a middle-aged widow, with looks very plain. Her hair pulled back in a tight bun, and a dress so ill-fitting it could be compared to a potato sack. Most of her family scowled at the news, knowing that this was more than likely true. They were poor, even among the townsfolk, and very common. The only one who showed any type of potential in looks was Selina, Marian's niece. 

Marian glimpsed at Selina and caught her taking in every word of the decree, her smile widening. Marian quickly diminished any hope she had of being Queen. "Selina, don't listen to such nonsense. You are the least among most of these women, dear. You don't have the nice things or refinement as they do."

Selina's expression would have been more wounded if she didn't hear these things so often. She heard them all the time. She quickly sunk back into her reality: it was nearly impossible. She continued to listen, but her expression was more like a needy child's.

What Selina lacked in fortune, though, she made up for in beauty. If you watched her more than in passing, her slim figure and poise couldn't be missed. She was also a bit taller than the other women. Being tall and slender seemed to suit her, as she seemed very graceful when she moved.

To no surprise, the women rushed towards the messenger, as if this could strengthen their chances. The guards surrounding pushed back the crowd, allowing the messenger a chance to board the carriage safely.

"Let's go." Marian left, and the family followed her stride.

"Selina," Marian called, "will you go fetch a pitcher and get us some water from the well? Do it before darkness sets in."

Selina exhaled, not really wanting to do anything her aunt asked. She would love to run her own home. She didn't seem to have any prospects of a man calling on her, though. If any man had found interest in her, he did a good job at keeping it to himself. 

"Alright, Auntie."

It's not that Marian was a bad woman, she was just hardened, as life had made her bitter. She had very little growing up, and didn't have any hopes of going beyond where she had always been. Marian had grown up in the house she was living in now. She figured she would be buried there, too.

"Auntie is so bitter, and a kill joy," Selina muttered as she made her way up the path. Her sandals were taking in dirt with each stride, making her feet grimy. Her dirty feet...the common gray color of her dress hanging off her frail frame...

Selina grimaced at her appearance. Still, she walked on, ignoring any thought of how others might perceive her

Pitcher...I need the pitcher.

She continued walking up the path, her feet kicking up dust. She determined long ago that she wasn't going to let her family- or even herself- ruin her good mood. She tucked that small ounce of hope safely away within her heart. She protected it always.



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