“Emma honey, it’s time for you to go to sleep now.” Her mother cooed at her as the girl bounced up and down on her bed, giggling innocently.
“But I’m not sleepy!” The little blonde reasoned enthusiastically.
“Well, how about a story instead?” Snow White tried, desperately wishing her daughter would go to sleep so she herself could get some much needed rest. It had been a long day in the Kingdom as her and the King got word of whispers in the east stirring about the Evil Queen rising in power. The whole court had been in a fright, bustling around the corridors with gossip spewing from their lips that they were on the verge of another war. She and the King had spent most of the day calming their people, assuring them they wouldn’t declare war on the wicked sorceress unless it was absolutely necessary.
“Okay.” Emma agreed, bouncing once more on the bed before landing Indian-style in the middle.
Snow smiled softly and sat down on the side of the bed where the furs were turned up. “Into bed you go then, you can’t listen to a bedtime story sitting up.”
“Why not?” Emma asked as she scooted over to the spot the maids had turned down for her.
“It’s unlady-like.” Snow replied matter-of-factly.
“Oh.” The six year old said simply as she allowed the Queen to tuck her into bed. “What if I don’t want to be a lady?”
Snow laughed softly at her daughter's innocence. “I am afraid you don’t have much of a choice. You’re our princess. You were born a lady.”
Emma furrowed her brow at that, not liking the thought one bit. She liked playing outside, getting dirty and running through the woods with her best friend Graham. She didn’t like to be forced to sit and eat properly at the dinner table, or stand still for hours as the maids fixed her hair and dressed her in poofy dresses.
Sensing a pending argument about being a princess, Snow quickly changed the subject. “Now, let me tell you a story, darling. A story about an evil and wicked sorceress named Regina…”
-15 YEARS LATER-
Emma’s fangs dripped with saliva as she snarled at the wolf in front of her. The large tawny brute snarled back before lunging for her shoulder. Emma quickly dodged it, snapping her jaws at the wolf’s flank as it dived next to her, biting at the air where she’d been standing. The two wolves circled each other, both snarling as barks of encouragement could be heard from around them. Over the opposing wolf’s head she could see her parents, King and Queen of the White Kingdom, looking back at her expectantly.
This was her final test. A graduation of sorts. She had spent the last ten years of her life training and preparing for this very moment. To fight for her place in the Royal Guard. Her opponent is rippling with muscle, with more skill and years of experience than Emma has been alive. Still, Emma pressed on.
She went on the offense and charged the other wolf, nearly losing her footing as the lithe animal dodged out of the way. The tawny wolf immediately counter-attacks while Emma is still recovering, slamming into her shoulder and sending them rolling in the sand of the arena. Teeth slash while claws strain against each other, one trying to throw the other off as the other tries to pin their opponent to the ground.
Emma thinks it’s over, she can’t possibly push this huge beast off of her. Gasps from the crowd ensure as everyone in their human form stands up to get a better look at the battle. She catches a glimpse of her parents, her mother hiding behind a gloved hand as if she couldn’t bare to watch the ending as her father sat straight and rigid at the end of his seat. The way he was staring at her purposefully sparked something inside of her and she felt her hope return. She could do this.
She pushes with all of her might as the large male tried closing in on her neck. The added distraction of having to hold her down distracted him long enough that she was able to clamp her jaws along the side of his face, biting down just enough to draw blood and force his head away from her dangerously exposed neck. Spotting an opening, she used her rear leg to kick his groin in his most sensitive region. The yip of pain that sounded from him renewed her confidence and she kicked him again, this time releasing her hold on his face and sending him stumbling off her.
Without missing a beat, she was on her feet again. The crowd cheered and the wolves that made up the other recruits barked and jumped excitedly while wagging their tails. Lunging forward, she took the advantage she had earned and slammed into his side with all of her weight, sending him tumbling to the ground. She followed, her white pelt shimmering in the warm afternoon sun as she pinned him to the earth and tried going for his throat. She was slow close to victory she could taste it.
But the experienced wolf isn’t going to give up so easily. With every snap to his throat she is met with his teeth, every vigilant of his vulnerable position. His claws rake up and down her tender belly, but she ignores it, too engrossed in the battle of teeth to register the pain. She tries to the left and then to the right, then to the right again but is met with his teeth each time. Emma decides to turn it into somewhat of a game, creating a pattern of attempts at his throat until he caught on. Engrossed in their dance of teeth and claws, the large wolf fails to register when Emma switches her routine and attacks from the left instead of right. He’s too slow to react to the sudden change and she closes her teeth around his exposed windpipe. Victory is hers.
The large wolf instantly stills, while cheers and howls break out all around them. Emma releases her hold on her opponent and shifts back into her human form. Turning to look towards the throne, she sees her parents watching on with immense pride. The air shifts beside her and she chances a glance at the man that had been her opponent. Phillip gives her a reassuring wink as his own way of congratulating her and she smiles back at him before turns back to look at her father, waiting for him to speak.
“Ladies and gentleman.” The crowd quiets down to barely a mutter as the King asks for their attention. All eyes are on him as he looks down at his daughter. “It would seem we have a new member to our forces. A brave, skillful warrior who has successfully completed all areas of her training at the top of her class. The Queen and myself would like to welcome to you all, Princess Emma of the White Kingdom.” The crowd cheered for a moment, showing their support. When David held his hand up, they immediately quieted. David’s kind blue eyes found his daughters green and he smiled warmly at her as he spoke, “Welcome to the Royal Guard.”