I will rule for a thousand years, and none shall defy my
I am the sole queen of these lands. Sole heir to the winter
and the forests and the streams, sole arbiter of the echoing city streets of
stone. So many would keep me from my throne, my true calling. But I have earned
my place. I have shown them all what it means to rule.
It started with my sister. From my first hazy memories I
remember her shadow weighing down on me, stifling my every move. “One day one
of you must rule,” our father said to us, night after night when we gathered at
his feet. “If it must be one of you, then I will be the one to choose.”
How could we learn to be sisters with such a decree? All I
wanted was a friend, someone to look up to, someone to whisper to at night to
keep the darkness away. But I learned quickly that that was only the surest
path to her scorn. She saw me as weak, as foolish, as younger. I would reach
out to her to pull me up and she would shove me right back down. I would show
her my weakness and she would pry it open wide, ragged and bloody.
I didn’t realize the significance, at first, of what our
father wanted us to become. Didn’t know what it meant to be queen, or why it
was something worth fighting for. But as I learned from my sister, I learned to
covet it, to hunger for it so fiercely that everything else tasted dried out
and dull. She wanted to rule so that all would obey her. I wanted to rule so
she could not.
The first time she tried to kill me, it was my nurse who
gave it away. She woke me up in the dead of night and bundled me into a closet,
told me not to make a noise no matter what followed. Then the guards came,
swords drawn, visors lowered. They were only boys infatuated with my sister,
but at the time everyone seemed impossibly old to me, unstoppably strong. I
feared them, but I believed my nurse invincible too.
They taught me, quickly, how wrong I was.
After that, my father sent me to the country for a spell.
Armed guards, a fleet of tutors, and an ailing count who watched over me with a
gaze like sharpened knives. Sometimes the threats came in letters that the
count would burn before he thought I could read them. Sometimes, It was
assassins in the night.
Worst of all, though, were the long silences. The heaviness
of her inaction dragging me to the bottom, drowning me. I never knew when the
next assault would come for me.
Slowly, finally, I could wait no longer.
I found the woman in the country market, slender fingers
grazing over her wares of pewter charms and crystals and bundled flowers. Her
skin was smooth, her hair like silk, and when she looked my way, I saw the kiss
of winter in her eyes.
“You look troubled,” she said, and the words wrapped around
me like a soft breeze. “You look far too troubled for someone your age.”
I looked away then, ashamed to be so young. If I was older,
if I was cleverer, I wouldn’t have to be sent away. I could prove myself worthy
of the crown. I could beat my sister for good, beat her just enough that she’d
never need attack me again. How foolish, that I thought winning once would be
“Come closer.” She swept her hand over her goods. “Perhaps I
might ease some of your pain.”
I started to meet with her every time I could sneak away
from the count’s estate. It wasn’t often, but her lessons in the ways of magic
filled me up with a sustenance I didn’t know I craved. I wanted to be her, to
share her easy confidence and capability, to bend the world toward me with a
subtle call the way she did. Her poultices cleared away blemishes and made
water drinkable, but they also could boil blood, shatter bones, freeze a pond.
She let me practice these skills as though they were interchangeable. She let
me build on them, stringing them together like beads on a necklace, as I
practiced on the woods beyond her hut.
The more power I gained, the more I sought. At long last, I
understood the hunger in my sister’s belly. For now, I hungered too.
“You have a keen mind for magic,” she told me, when I worked
something particularly cruel on a sparrow we found feasting on her garden. “A
cruel mind. But I think a girl like you has to be cruel.”
“My sister is cruel. I just wish to survive.”
“Then I hope I’ve equipped you well,” she said. “Be like the wintervine. Feast on cold, on nothingness. For they have given you nothing. Use it to sprout your ice, your thorns.”
I looked at the wintervine where it flourished in the ice, and I felt its loneliness, its stubbornness, its scorn.
At long last I was of age, and my father sent for me once
more. The time to choose was drawing near, but, he confided, in some ways he
feared us both. His kingdom needed a decisive leader, yes, a sturdy leader, but
compassion, too, he said, was called for. He did not see that he’d been the one
to rob us of that. He didn’t see the dark seeds he’d planted in both our minds take
My sister began her attempts anew, but this time, I was
The first men she sent to kill me simply disappeared. They
became nothing more than char burned into the cobbles of my bedroom floor. The
next, though, I made sure she saw, their flayed corpses piled at the palace
gates. Cruelty was my reflex, now, and each test made it stronger still.
“You cannot beat me,” she hissed, over a banquet table while
our father entertained. “I deserve this. I will earn this.”
She cut her steak with a furious scrape of knife and fork.
The noise grated at my soul. When was the last time she had shown kindness? It
had been carved out of her, if it had ever been there at all.
Father wanted to make one of us a queen. He wanted someone
compassionate. Maybe compassion was still in me; maybe not.
But it would never be in her.
As she swallowed, the lump of meat grew thorns. I could
almost feel it myself as I directed it, as it swelled inside her throat, tore
its way through her flesh. She gagged and choked, and I imagined she gagged and
choked on all the hatred she’d let fester for years and years.
I wanted the coldness, the loneliness I felt to be visible
to everyone. I wanted those thorns.
Frost sprouted from my fingertips and webbed across the
banquet table. She scrabbled for a goblet of wine to try to wash the meat down,
but everything turned cold. A guard stepped forward—but she deserved no
kindness, no comfort. I never felt her embrace, so why should she feel the
same? He withered, cold and empty, before he could reach her.
“What is the meaning of this?” my father cried. “Stop this
But the cold was radiant, alive now, warming me even as it
drew warmth away from everything. The dark thorns in my sister’s throat
flourished, drinking up the cold, and twined their way across the table to wrap
around everyone’s limbs. My breath hung in the air before me as I stood,
untouched, unsnared by the darkness and frost.
I had to beat her. I could not let her win.
And if I could feel no warmth, no freedom without her
darkness over me, then neither could anyone.
I do not remember what came next, but it did not come for a
long time. Icicles hung from the chandeliers; black thorns sprouted from the
walls. All was still and glistening and cold. I walked through the hall like a
phantom, soundless, for it was how I felt. But I was all that remained of my
sister’s hatred. I was her greed given form.
And I will rule for a thousand years. With this cruelty
beating inside me, my sister’s words, her greed, her anger—with the coldness
she left inside me—I will rule for a thousand more.
Dean wiped the table with a scowl,
nearly knocking over a glass with his elbow before catching it and
plunking it down loudly. His cheeks turned red as he spied a few
women in sundresses giggling in a corner booth.
“Be right there,” he said, picking
up the last of the plates and taking them back to the kitchen. The
bus boy hadn’t shown up and since Dean was the manager at the
seashell grill, the task fell to him along with his job as a server.
In fact, tonight had been all around pretty bad if you included the
fender bender he’d gotten into on his way to work and the three
missed phone calls from his ex, Lisa, trying to get back together
with him. Again.
Dean sighed, wishing he were anywhere
but at work. It took a moment, but finally, flustered and flushed
from the heat of the kitchen—even with the lazy ceiling fans that
swirled above in quiet circles, he made it to the table.
“Sorry about that, ladies,” he said
with a wink, turning up the side of his lip in typical beach-boy
charm for the customers, even if he didn’t feel it.
A tall brunette leaned forward,
ordering a pineapple drink right off the bat, a pink sparkly crown on
her head. Dean smirked, noticing the glaze in her eyes.
“Bachelorette party?” he guessed,
watching the blonde across from her, discreetly play footsie with a
redhead—Charlie, he heard the blonde say.
“Yes!” yelled Charlie
enthusiastically, throwing her arms in the air. “Anna is getting
married next week,” she said, wiggling her eyebrows.
All three girls seemed incredibly tipsy
and Dean couldn’t help but smile because as shitty as this night had
started out, at least he would probably be tipped fairly well at the
end of it.
Anna leaned forward, eyes roaming
Dean’s fit form. He resisted the urge to roll his eyes when barely,
under her breath, she muttered something about still needing a
stripper for the night.
“Alright,” he said too loudly,
cutting her off. “Three Blue Hawaii’s coming up.”
“Wait,” said Charlie, her voice
almost humorously serious. “We should probably wait for the maid of
honor, don’t you think?”
Anna smiled and got out her phone,
holding up a hand for Dean to wait, then dialed a number, scowling as
one of the other girls kicked her accidentally under the table.
Dean resisted the urge to sigh, wishing
tonight weren’t so empty in the restaurant, then maybe he could
excuse himself from the haze of pink giggles to help another
“Cassie!” Anna practically yelled
into the phone at her friend. “Where are you?”
Wow! I was NOT expecting the reaction I got to part 1 so here is part 2, I am not sure how long this will be but I still have plenty more ideas in my head for this little AU so we will see where it goes. PLEASE leave reviews, validation from internet strangers (and friends!) makes my heart absolutely explode!!!!!!!!
You can blame @thelinsteads for this one because she gives me these crazy fic ideas and leads me to believe I can totally pull them off with my writing. So; I give you a Linstead AU no one really asked for but; maybe at least somebody needs?
Another Life synopsis: Jay Halstead is a former Army Ranger turned high school history teacher and coach. He meets Erin Lindsay under the most terrible of circumstances; a shooting at his school. How will tragedy bring them together and will their bond be strong enough to survive the stresses of her job?