Commission for a little canadian fabric shop. The whole composition is based on the original tales. This work really exausted me, the worst part was balance colors and composition, but at least i’m satisfied. Some zoom on the single character may help you see better all the details :)
for the first few trembling years of her life, she is a
princess. she is the daughter to the king, born of his beloved wife and of her
visage. her dark eyes have the appearance of a smoky quarts and her mother
carefully twists her mass of black hair into a hundred small braids down her
back. she is a beautiful, quiet child, and for a while all is well. they call
her princess maleen.
then her mother dies. it seems as if the king is determined
to bury his love for his daughter along with his queen. he moves her to a
different wing of the castle, and refuses to see her. her tutors are let go,
and the nobles’ children are no longer allowed to play with her. only the maids
look after her now.
the king remarries. the new queen gives birth to a son, and
maleen is forgotten completely, banished from a home she still resides in and a
life she can now only watch unfold.
the maids take care of her, braid her hair and kiss the
blisters on her fingers, teach her to scrub at porcelain and polish silver, to
clean a fireplace and mop polished marble floors.
they call her maid maleen.
the king has a son by his new wife, and then a daughter.
they are pale and fair-haired like their mother, with only their dark eyes to
show they are the king’s children. but they inherit none of their parents’ beauty, have faces that don’t look quite right
and bodies that get stuck between gangly and chubby and never settle into one
or the other. princess gisella and prince jan are privately regarded as
unfortunate products of a lovely union.
maid maleen spends long hours working, and has neither the
time nor funds for creams to soften her skin or oils to care for her hair, has
never used face powder or lip color.
maid maleen is twenty three years old, and the most
beautiful woman in the kingdom.
her braids are wrapped carefully atop her head, but when she
lets them loose they hang past her hips. her dark skin is made even darker thanks
to long hours working in the palace garden, and her eyes have never lost that
same curious light. she walks straight and strong, years of hard labor giving
her muscles and definition to her body that she never would have had as a
princess. boys and girls give her long, considering looks and flirtatious
smiles, and nobles have to double-take when she passes them by.
no one speaks of it anymore. but maid maleen looks ever more
like her beautiful late mother, has the same eyes as her father, and dressing in
ill-fitting cast offs and running her ragged can’t hide the truth.
maid maleen is the king’s daughter.
she has accepted her life as a maid in the palace she was
one day set to inherit, and tries to see it as a gift. she sleeps with who she
likes, may marry whichever of the charming boys from the city who’s smile she
likes best. in the maids who raised her she has more mothers than she has
fingers, and perhaps she longs for the days when she was a small princess, when
she was the apple of her parents’ eye, when the whole of their nation was to be
hers to inherit.
but then the blacksmith’s daughter lets her hands linger a
little too long on her wrists, and maleen knows that she won’t be sleeping
alone tonight. there are some things that worth more to her than a throne she
was born to. she doesn’t miss the little girl she used to be.
tensions have always run high between their kingdom and the
neighboring one – too many squabbles over borders, over trade agreements, over
patrols, over anything and everything the kings can find a reason to be upset
about, it seems like. so when prince wolfgang is sent over, the whole palace is
abuzz. the prince seems determined to inherit a peaceful land, and is coming
over to talk with the king to do it.
maleen does not care for princes. nor for nobles of any
rank, in fact. she remembers how they turned on her, she sees the small acts of
pettiness and cruelty they thoughtlessly inflict on their servants, and she
wants nothing to do with it. commoners may not be as educated as nobles, may
not have as many objects to call their own, but maleen finds she prefers their
company to that of lords. she’s uninterested in this prince, which is perhaps
why she’s the one that gets sent to his rooms. her moms can trust that she at
least won’t fawn over him.
“sir wolfgang,” she murmurs, pushing open his door and
giving a low curtsy, keeping her eyes trained on his mud covered boots. “is
there anything you require?”
silence. she can only stay bent in a curtsey so long before
she loses patience. she’s almost given up on him, is about to cut her losses
and call it a night when he says, hesitant, “queen sabine?”
her mother’s name is punch to her gut, and her head snaps up
at the sound of it, the rolling fire of her temper bubbling just below her
skin. “i am maid maleen,” she snaps, then tacks on “your highness,” after a
his cloak is half unbuttoned as he stares at her with a
slack mouth. she supposes he would not look unhandsome if he were not currently
doing his best to imitate a frog. he appears to be only a handful of years
older than she is, and if she were not furious she would be impressed that he
remembers her mother well enough to see sabine in her.
“maleen,” he repeats, and for a moment she wonders if he
will recognize her as well, but he only says, “my apologies. if you would help
me with my cloak, i would be much obliged.”
she’s instantly suspicious. she’s met nice nobles before,
ones that were considerate and remembered her name and thanked her when she
brought them wine. but she’s never met a nice prince before – they’re always of
the worst sort. “yes, your highness,” she says, and the cloak is soaked through
and clinging, it’s no wonder he’s struggling with it. once she’s gotten it off
she hangs it to dry, then goes back to him. she slaps away his numb, struggling
fingers and undoes the rest of the buckles and loops of his overly complicated clothing.
she’s gotten down him down to an undershirt and pants when his hands grab hers.
she blinks and looks up. he has freckles dusting across his nose.
“this is inappropriate,” he says, but honestly she’s
stripped a lot of nobles, it wasn’t weird until he took her hands and looked at
her like no one’s ever looked at her before.
“yes, your highness,” she agrees, and takes a step back. she
places his clothes in front of a fire, curtsies, and leaves. she can feel the
weight of his gaze on her all the way back to her room.
wolfgang continues his diplomatic agenda, having long
meetings with the royal family. after, maleen goes and tends to him, setting
out his food and taking care of his clothes, straightening up any mess that he’s
made. at first he’s quiet, and he just watches her, but he quickly discovers
that maleen has opinions and thoughts and isn’t afraid to share them. soon they’re
debating the finer points of trade routes and arguing the effectiveness of a
sliding tax scale, and maleen comes to cherish the evenings she spends with the
prince, likes the way he speaks to her and looks at her, likes the shape of his
weeks in she enters his room, dinner steaming in her hands
and eager to continue their conversation about state funded orphanages versus a
state funded foster system. he’s pacing and tense, shoulder stiff. “wolfgang,”
she sets down the food and wipes her hands on her apron, “is something wrong?”
“is it true?” he asks, and he’s not looking at her. he’s
always looked at her before.
“is what true?” she flinches away from his coldness, is
already preparing to retreat and hide and beg someone else to watch over him.
he turns to her, and she’s baffled by the mixture of hope
and anger on his face. “are you the king’s daughter? are you princess maleen?”
she takes a step back, “i am maid maleen.”
“please,” he follows her as she steps away from him, and her
back hits the wall. he stops when he’s almost close enough to touch. “my father
sent me here with the goal to seal our new treaty with a marriage. he expects
me to marry princess gisella. but if you are the daughter of the king – then he
will allow me to marry you instead!”
“who says i want to marry you?” she retorts, but he gets on
bended knee and she freezes.
he holds a hand for her own, and against every bit of logic,
she gives it to him. “maleen, i’ve never felt this way about anyone. i was
willing enough to enter a loveless marriage before i knew what true love is,
but now i do, and i can’t go back. marry me.”
she wants to. she thinks she loves him. she hadn’t been
planning to fall in love with anyone. “i am the king’s daughter,” she tells
him, “but i am no princess. i haven’t been a princess in a long time.”
he brings her hand to his mouth so he can kiss each one of
her knuckles, “then we’ll have to change that.”
wolfgang goes to the king to make his case, to return maleen
to her birthright and allow her to marry him.
it goes even worse than maleen had feared.
her father is furious. he’s so angry at the audacity of this
request that prince wolfgang is thrown from the kingdom. so incensed is he,
that guards drag maleen from her bed in the middle of the night and throw her
into a tower. the door closes shut behind them, and she bangs on it and screams
but no one comes for her.
there are no windows, and only one door with a sliding metal
grate in the bottom. she’s high in the tower, she thinks, from the number of
steps she’d been forced to climb, but she stands on a dirt floor. the room
contains only the bare minimum needed for survival, and nothing more.
once a week food is slid through the slot in the door. she
has to be careful, because if she eats it too fast they will not provide more,
she will just starve. days turn to weeks turn to months, and she despairs of
ever being let out of this tower. months turn to years, and she gives up hope
entirely of leaving this tower. she considers refusing to eat, killing herself
slowly through starvation, because death is preferable to life locked in this
one night there’s a scuffle, and shouting, and for the first
time since she was shoved inside the door opens. there’s a guard standing
there, and princess gisella tentatively steps inside. “maid ma – i mean,
maleen stares. this is the first time she’s seen another
person in years, and suddenly for all the screaming she’d done she can’t find
her voice. gisella takes another cautious step forward, “maleen, please – we don’t
have much time.” she holds out her hand, “come with me.”
gisella is sixteen now. although she’ll never be a great
beauty, she’s grown into many of the features that she was once mocked for. “where?”
she asks, but takes gisella’s hand and lets her lead them down the twisting
staircase. anyplace is better than the tower.
“i’m to be married in a week’s time to prince wolfgang.”
maleen feels a sharp pain go through her chest. had wolfgang forgotten her?
their farce of a romance was such a quick, shallow thing. she was a fool to
fall for it in the first place. “i’m not going to show up. you are.”
she stares, “what?”
“wolfgang started a war over father locking you in the
tower,” she explains, “but eventually it got to a point where neither could
justify it, so our father and wolfgang’s decided our union would mean peace between
our countries, as intended. but i don’t want to marry prince wolfgang, and he
does not want to marry me.”
“i don’t understand,” she hadn’t paid much attention to the
girl when they were in the palace together, and she’s regretting that now.
they finally reach the end of the tower. it’s the first time
she’s breathed fresh air in years. she tries not to get distracted by it, and
instead focuses on the carriage to her left, and the pure black mare laden like
a pack mule on her right. “i’m leaving,” gisella says, “i don’t want to be
wolfgang’s bride because i want to be klaus’s,” the guard smiles, and he must
be klaus, the princess is rejecting a prince to run away with a commoner. “there’s
a map and everything you need in the saddlebags. the wedding dress is waiting
for you at the castle. no one will know you’re not me until wolfgang unveils
you, and by then it will be too late. he will marry you, and i will be gone.”
“why are you doing this?” she asks.
gisella shrugs, “you’re my sister, and father is an idiot. i
want you to be happy, and i want wolfgang to be happy, and i want to be happy
too. this way we all get what we want. our brother will be waiting for you in
wolfgang’s castle. he’ll help you.”
maleen is speechless. gisella grabs her in a quick hug – the
only one they’ve ever shared – and then goes to the carriage with klaus
trailing behind her. “i’ll see you again, princess maleen!”
she doesn’t have time for tears. she gets on the mare, and
rides for the palace of the neighboring land.
she makes it just in time. she sneaks into the castle the
night before the wedding, ducking around servants until she find her way to jan’s
door. she knocks, tentative, wondering if this was a mistake and all one elaborate
trap. but the door opens and his face slackens in relief, “finally!” he pulls her inside, and sits her down. there’s lukewarm water
waiting for her so she can clean herself, and jan stands with his back to her
the whole time, outlining the wedding and how it will go so she knows what to
expect the next day. “father isn’t here,” he assures her, “he didn’t want to
leave the kingdom, so i’m here in his stead.”
“won’t you miss your sister?” maleen finishes washing
and wraps herself in a soft blanket.
“when i am king, gisella will return,” he says confidently, “she
will come home and bring klaus, and you will rule here with wolfgang, and all
will be well. our countries shall be great allies when it is me and wolfgang on
he’s only a year older than gisella, just seventeen, and
maleen feels oddly old next to them, feels old next to these children who know
what they want and take it and don’t let anything stand in their way.
“we need to get your hair rebraided,” he says, “you should
look perfect tomorrow. it’s your wedding day.”
she stares, aghast. “that will take all night!”
“i’ve brought help,” he says, and sends a servant down the
hall. the servant returns with a half dozen of the maids who raised her, and
who crowd forward and hug her and kiss her cheeks and say how much they’ve
missed her. princess or not, bride or not, to them she will always be their
little maid maleen.
it’s clear gisella picked her wedding dress with maleen in
mind. it fits her for one thing, and is clinging and heavy, and it must have
looked awful on gisella, but on her it’s perfect. her dress is accompanied by
white silk gloves and a thick veil so that no one can see her, so that no one
will know she’s not the daughter of the king they’re expecting to be there.
wolfgang is at the end of the aisle, looking like he’s going
to an execution, and it takes more self control than maleen was anticipating not
to go running to him. she turns to him, and he lifts her veil. he sees her and
freezes, mouth sliding open. she winks at him, because they just need to keep
it together until they’re married, he just has to keep his cool for a few
minutes and they’ll have won it all. wolfgang closes his mouth and says nothing
about how this is clearly not the bride he was supposed to marry. they turn so
none of the guests can see them, and the priest gives maleen a confused look,
but with a glare from wolfgang he continues on with the ceremony as if nothing is
out of place.
“you may now kiss the bride,” the priest says, after what
seems like an eternity.
wolfgang grabs her about the waist, dips her, and kisses her
soundly on the mouth. her veil falls off and she can hear the horrified and
shocked gasps of the guests, and under that jan’s laughter. when they break
apart, foreheads still pressed together, she whispers, “hello, prince wolfgang.”
he kisses her again, quick and sweet, and does nothing at
all to disguise the joy in his face. “hello, princess maleen.”
Requested by anonymous! Here are some popular tropes from fairy tales that can have a dark or malicious spin. As always, the Muse A/Muse B placement is up to the muns!
😇- Muse A meets Muse B, an otherworldly being, who is trying to win their trust. 💀- Muse A finds a tome full of spells and uses one to bring back a deceased loved one, Muse B, from the dead. 🌲- Muse A is lost in an eerie forest, but stumbles upon the enigmatic Muse B, who promises to show them the way out. 🏠- Muse A sneaks into a seemingly abandoned house/castle/etc seeking shelter for the night, not realizing it is already occupied. 🦌- Muse A is following after a beautiful animal which leads them far from their path, but soon realizes the animal is Muse B in disguise. 🍎- Muse A accepts food/drink from Muse B, a fae. (Note: fairy folklore states that consuming food from the fairy realm will trap you there forever) 🍷 - Muse A offers a glass of wine to Muse B without telling them it has been laced with a powerful spell/curse. 🔮- Muse A searches for Muse B, a rumored witch, to hear their fortune or receive a warning. 👤- Muse A meets a doppelganger of themselves, Muse B, who may or may not be up to mischief. ☠ - Muse A has been cursed and asks Muse B for help breaking it. 💍- Muse A finds a piece of magic jewelry, which gives them an ability of the mun’s choosing and is widely coveted by all. 👥- Muse A meets a mysterious stranger, Muse B, at a masquerade ball, and feels unnaturally drawn to them. 🎩- Muse A is approached by a traveling magician, Muse B, who offers to teach them magic in exchange for something precious. 🎎 - Muse A crafts a beautiful doll, Muse B, which comes to life with a personality of its own. 🍄 - Muse A steps into the center of a ring of mushrooms and is spirited away to a strange world with Muse B as their guide. 🌊 - Muse A is on a ship at sea and hears the call of a siren. The siren, Muse B, attempts to lure them off their path. 😾 - Muse A has accidentally disturbed the home of Muse B, a woodland spirit, who does not take kindly to trespassers. 👶 - One Muse A’s 18th birthday, a trickster (Muse B) appears and claims their parents offered to give them their newborn child as part of a deal …18 years ago. 🐲 - Muse A bravely vows to save Muse B from the dragon guarding the outside of their tower, not realizing Muse B is what the dragon is trying to protect everyone from. 💄 - Muse A makes a deal with a fae, Muse B, for eternal youth and beauty. However, the price is steep.
There was a king who had twelve beautiful daughters. They slept in
twelve beds all in one room and when they went to bed, the doors were
shut and locked up. However, every morning their shoes were found to be
quite worn through as if they had been danced in all night. Nobody could
find out how it happened, or where the princesses had been.
So, yesterday Pieter and I went to @waterstonesamsterdam and of course I couldn’t leave without buying a book 🙌🏼 So after admiring a lot of clothbound hardbacks we decided that we’d take this baby into our loving home 🙊 Hurray for book vouchers and sweet boyfriends ❤💸
Last week, I went to the Salon des métiers d'art de Montréal (arts and crafts show). On our way there, we stumbled upon this wooden objects boutique called Bertolucci. The aesthetic fitted the print on my skirt, so we took pictures inside the boutique. Dress: Jane Marple Cardigan and hairclip: Axes Femme Bag: Innocent World Tights: Heattech by Uniqlo Boots: Sperry top-sider Necklace: Lief