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[personal profile] kristyjnh in [community profile] witchy_writers
As per my usual habit, this is unedited. A little piece of my take on Cinderella.
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Cinders often ventured out onto the manor grounds, sometimes to look for mushrooms, sometimes for firewood, sometimes just to get away from the calls of her mother and sisters. The old stone building was perched by the road, and backed into a forest once owned by her stepfather. Some had been sold to neighbors since his death, but there was still plenty of wildland to satisfy the girl. Her usual walk started at the front gate and took her along a well-worn path ringing the property. Once in the forest there were a few variations to keep the walk interesting but the path always let out back by the road. 
 
Today was bright, warm sunshine beaming down with little breeze. Cinders' favorite sort of day. She had already cooked breakfast and lunch, swept the floors, and hung the laundry on the line when she picked up her little mushroom basket and headed out. 
 
The air cooled as she entered the shaded woods, passing the grove of weeping beech trees, careful not to tread on the forget-me-nots growing along the edge of the little dirt path. Birds chirped happily coaxing Cinders' to join them, singing the song her stepfather used to sing to her and her sisters. It was a song to protect travelers, he had told them. Cinders had never had the occasion to learn many songs so even though she wasn't a traveler, and in fact had no intention of ever leaving Hallwell manor, it was just about the only thing she could sing. "And as the sun sets~ The light breaks across the sea, leaving its trace on my dearest memories…" There were not mushrooms today, but some wild onions caught her eye and she deftly snipped what she would use for dinner tonight using her fingernails and placed them in her basket, continuing her song. "The wheels turn and turn, taking me someplace new each night, as the sun sets, as the sun sets~" 
 
As she neared the front gate once more, following the edge of the property, a voice startled her. "Dear child, you have a lovely voice." Cinders jumped, startled, and looked behind her through the spaces in the fence at what appeared to be a small, withered beggar woman, walking along the road. "Oh I'm sorry child, I didn't mean to frighten you," she smiled gently, showing her rotted teeth.
 
"No, I didn't mean to start, I didn't realize there was someone on the other side of the fence is all." Cinders replied. The beggar woman chuckled, which turned into a coughing fit. Obviously she wasn't well. "Madam, wait right here, I'll get you some water."
 
She put her basket down and ran across the weedy lawn to the kitchen's back door, retrieving a tin of water and grabbing one of the dinner rolls as well. She could go without tonight, she knew her mother and sisters would not. 
 
The beggar was still there when she returned, passing the tin of water first, then trading it for the loaf of bread. "Sweet child, I can see this manor has fallen into disrepair. Surely you haven't bread to spare."
 
"We do just fine. Please take it, it was baked fresh this morning." This woman had likely gone some time without a meal, and Cinders knew what it felt like to go to bed hungry. 
 
"Do you know how many homes I passed on this road, looking for a kindhearted soul? You fetched me water without me asking for it, and even brought me a meal which will likely cost you yours." As she spoke, her skin, wizened and cracked with age, began firming as wrinkles vanished. Her hair lengthened and turned from white to thick honey, and her back straightened, making her taller. "As you can see, I am a faerie, and I have searched for someone deserving to grant a gift to. You are the first to show me kindness. What do you wish for?"
 
Cinders stared. Before her stood a beautiful, fair-haired maiden, adorned with a golden circlet and gossamer, ethereal wings where a filthy, half-dead beggar woman had stood. She knew magic existed, she had seen it only once before in her life when her stepfather brought a crystal that could show you things happening far away home before selling it -- but to see real faerie magic happen right in front of her was beyond anything she had ever expected. "Well child? Whatever you wish I can give you. Freedom from the slave girl's life you live? Wealth? Love?"
 
Cinders didn't know what she wanted. She had dreamed of escaping her mother and sisters, but had always laughed it off. Was that what she really wanted? What would happen to them without her? What about the animals? What did she want?
 
Her mouth moved before her mind had settled, voicing her deepest desire. "I wish for a friend."
 
The faerie tilted her head, surprised by the wish. "You are too kind for your own good. You could get away from here. But a wish is a wish. I will grant it in three parts. First," she reached out and dropped a seed into Cinders' palm. "The flower which grows from this seed will give you what you want. Second," She waved her hand and a beautiful golden locket appeared at Cinders' neck. "It will open when you need it to. Third, because you give so much of yourself for others, I am placing a shard of magic inside you," she pointed her index finger at Cinders' chest and a strange sensation struck her for a moment. "Magic works for different people in different ways. For some it withers and vanishes, for others it grows, making them stronger. Every person has some magical affinity. I look forward to seeing how yours manifests." And between blinks, the faerie vanished. 
 
Cinders spent some time staring at the fence before reaching down to pick her basket back up. Inside was the sprigs of wild onion, a tin cup, and a small loaf of bread. Her hand went to her neck, where a sparkling golden locket hung.

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