The Swans

Fayre stared in the mirror and adjusted the delicate silver band holding the purple stone in the middle of her forehead. It was the only thing she owned that had belonged to her mother. That evil woman had taken the rest of the jewelry and sold the gowns. And her father had just allowed it to happen. That had hurt more than anything: her father’s powerlessness, a king who had no control even inside his own palace. And then he had sent them away, her brothers and her, made them live in that tiny cottage in the woods, only two servants to look after their needs. It had been so lonely and boring. She had missed the glamour of the court, the dances and dinners, the young courtiers flattering her, the knight who had given her the rose. She was strong enough to keep her eye on her step-mother, to keep her contained, if her father had only trusted her.

But he hadn’t, and then, without warning, that woman had walked down the path to the cottage, had called out, her voice full of saccharine, begging them to come home, their father missed them, needed them. The stupid boys had rushed out, the need to believe her over-whelming their caution. In the blink of an eye, the woman, a witch as surely as any Fayre had heard of, had held out her hand and blown across her palm, bringing a fog down into the trees. When it cleared, she had been gone and in the boys’ place were six white swans. The birds had flown off, in search of water no doubt, and Fayre had been left alone, the servants cowering in the cottage.

Fayre had left the cottage, walked straight into the woods in search of the swans, her brothers, her companions and the only people she loved. She found them that evening, sitting beside a pond at the feet of an old woman. “My dear.” The hag spoke with a thin, scratchy voice. “I see you are devoted to your brothers. This is what you must do if you ever hope to reverse the spell.”

Now, she pulled the lacy veil up over her light blonde hair. She was marrying a King, a man who believed he loved her despite her silence, or maybe because of it. For that was part of her obligation, six years of silence, and sewing six shirts of thistles whose thorns pierced her hands, leaving specks of blood on the garments. Three shirts were done, three years had passed since the hag had told her how to break the spell.

She bit her lip as a tear spilled down her cheek, willing herself not to cry, to smile and keep her eyes downcast, meek. She would marry this man, even though he loved her solely for her beauty. He could protect her, keep her safe while she finished her duty.

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Okay, so I know it’s only the beginning of the story. Not even the begnning really, more the middle section. I guess I still had the Six Swans in my head from yesterday, but I don’t think Fayre will be as submissive at the end of the day.

Dottie at Tink’s Place has a Monday Morning Flash Fiction challenge that I’m enjoying. Each Monday a new picture prompt will be posted and if you choose to participate you post your story on Friday – 350 words, give or take.