the First


The sunlight rouses me, Rose is pulling back the curtains of the suite.

"Good morning. How did you sleep?"

I stretch, "Fine, thank you."

It's the truth. This bed is incredibly comfortable. She has laid out a nice powder blue dress the flows to the floor, with some matching woven flats. Rose indicates for me to follow her to the bathroom, carrying the dress with her. She hands it to me.

"Change, please."

She exits the room, leaving me alone. I slide the silky nightgown over my head. The dress feels like satin but looks like cotton, it fits me just right. Rose enters the room again with the flats. I put them on and she sits me down in a chair in front of the mirror. She begins to brush my hair, which has grown down to my waist in soft curls. She sets on my head a small silvery tiara that shimmers with magic. I gaze into the mirror. I look like a princess.

"Today, you get to do whatever you want. But, some people are coming to see you. I think your mother is here already."

"Thanks, Rose."

She smiles at me, leading me out of the suite and down a hall, into a large sitting room. There are several couches around a table laden with fruits, cheeses, and pastries. Dad is there, but Rhiannon and Terence are no where to be seen. Mom is occupying the other couch, and she has legs. She rises when she sees me, a warm smile on her face.

"How are you?"

"I'm doing all right."

I flop down next to her, resisting the urge to tuck my legs into my chest. Don't princesses have to sit up straight? Dad hands me a plate for me to load up on my own, but I find that I'm not really hungry. I grab a croissant and some strawberries, but I don't really touch them.

"So?" Mom prods.

"So, what?" I ask.

"What do you want to know?"

"Maybe why you lied about Dad being alive?"

"I'm sorry, Relia. I just didn't want to add another thing to your plate. It was easier to just pretend that he was dead."

"Oh, thanks." Dad says sarcastically, his eyes twinkling.

Seeing them together is enough for me to forgive her. Our family is back together.

"And what about Kai?"

Mom's face darkens, "He was discovered last night. Marina and Ava were devastated. Marina of course wants Hook's head, but I told her to wait until after you... transitioned. We didn't need another thing on our plate."

"Did Ava say anything about..."

"You and Kai?"

She smiles knowingly at me. Dad tilts his head, "What about you and Kai? Who is this Kai person?"

I manage a small laugh, "Relax, Dad. He's kinda dead. Nothing to worry about."

"I'm so sorry, honey. He was an amazing man, he'll be missed."

"I know."

Mom pulls me in for a hug. When she lets go, I wipe away the few tears that have fallen. I had a chance at love, and look how that turned out.

"I guess I'd like to know what's going to happen to me?"

"That's not really something we know a lot about." Dad replies, rubbing his temples.

"Tell me what you do know, then."

"Well, we know that you are going to choose what form you like best, pixie or mermaid. We haven't quite figured out what affects that decision, but you'll pick. There is a very slight chance that your body will not be able to choose. We don't really know what happens if that is the route you decide to take, but again, we haven't determined how you can control it." Dad musters up a very unconvincing smile.

"So basically, whatever happens happens? It's out of my hands?"

Mom pats my shoulder, "That's pretty much it. I'm sorry we don't know more."

"That's, uh, that's okay."

I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this. It's just going to happen? Out of the blue? There has to be a way to control it, or at least affect it a little bit. There is silence in the room for a moment.

"How do you have legs?"

"A little bit of magic goes a long way." Dad grins at me.

"How does pixie dust work?"

"That reminds me! We have to go through a quick crash course in dust at some point. There are hundreds of talents for a pixie to have, and once you are placed, you live out the rest of your days serving your talent and helping Pixie Hollow. Luckily for us, we're royals. We get to possess all talents instead of having to choose just one. Pixie dust bends to your will. You think of what you want the dust to do, and it does it. But, it does have its limits, and only works if your intentions are good and noble."

"Sounds easy enough. What about wings?"

"Since you weren't born a pixie, your wings won't come until your body comes in contact with pixie dust. Which is going to happen today."

"So, I had a tail because of the water from Mermaid Lagoon?"

"Exactly." Mom smiles at me.

"Is it going to hurt?" I ask, thinking of the excruciating pain from the first transformation to my tail.

"I'm not sure. It might. But I don't think it will hurt as badly as your tail did," Dad says, as if reading my mind, "because your transformation was prolonged. We're about to find out."

He stands, offering me and my mom his hands. He pulls us up and into his arms.

"I missed you, my girls."

"We missed you, too." Mom replies.

We pull away, I can't help but notice that they glance at each other a little too long. Do they still love each other? I don't see why they wouldn't.

"Could you excuse me for just a second? I'm going to go take a walk. I just need to get some air."

I'll leave them alone for a little while. Maybe they need to do some talking, too. They smile at me, Dad hasn't unwound his arm from around her waist. I smile to myself as I walk out the door of the parlor. The hallway is deserted, but I find my way to the garden as best I can. I sit down on a stone bench and gaze into the colorful flowers. The day is beautiful and sunny. What do I do? In two days my body is going to choose which way of life it likes best. That's fine. But what if it can't choose? Will I really die? Dad said that there is only a slight chance, but that's still a chance. Chills run over me. I'm not ready to die. I think of Kai. If we're being technical, we were married for at least a few days. But I loved it. Maybe if I did die, I'd get to see him again? How does that work? I've never really thought about what happens after death before. But if I got to be with Kai… Maybe it would be okay.

Peter jumps into my head. What about Peter? I love him too. I've figured out over these past few weeks that it is most definitely possible to love two people. But I don't know if I can get past the fact that he killed someone. The same someone that has been posing as my pet for my whole life? When is he going to cash in on that favor? And what will it be?

A loud, long sound pierces the air, shaking me from my thoughts. What was that? I look around, but the garden is empty. It starts again, louder than before, accompanied by several more. It's a howl. Butterflies rush through my stomach. Is it Aleksander? It has to be. I stand, slowly backing towards the palace. I smack right into someone, startling me forward.

"Hello again, princess."

Aleksander's sharp teeth are bared in a scary smile, his eyes golden and cat-like. He is dressed in his trademark black clothing. He takes a step forward.

"Enjoying the nice day?"

I'm trying as hard as I can not to tremble. What did Dad say about Aleksander wanting to harness my power? Where's Luca when I need him?

"What do you want?"

He rolls his eyes, "Part of being a princess, darling, is learning how to act like one. You must allow your suitors to kiss your hand."

Aleksander holds out his hand, grabbing mine and bringing it to his lips. In the swiftest motion, he turns my arm and sinks his teeth into my wrist. He pulls away and smiles at me, my blood staining his teeth.

"Our next lesson is respect. You must bow to your master."

He grabs my shoulder and throws me to the gravel. My wrist is numb. I can't feel it. A perfect half moon shape has been ingrained into my skin, I can see where each of his teeth have punctured my flesh. A growl rumbles in his throat. I move to stand, but I can't. I can't feel my whole right arm now. Panic rises in my chest. What is he going to do to me? He pounces. But just as he is about to land, he stops. He's frozen in the air, inches from my face, his features twisted into a terrifying snarl.

"Relia! Run! Stand up and run! It won't hold him for long. Go!"

I blink, slowly regaining control over my body. I scramble out from underneath him, standing up and running in the direction of the man's voice. It's Terence. His face is concentrated, he is holding Aleksander in some sort of spell. I run to him. He barely even glances at me.

"Go inside. Now. Close the door behind you."

"What about you?"

"I have wings. You don't. Go."

I run to the nearest door, flinging it open and darting inside. I hear a lock click behind me, but I don't know who locked it. I can't seem to catch my breath. If anything, my breathing becomes heavier. A pounding headache comes on, I sink to the floor and put my head between my knees. I'm starting to lose feeling in my legs as well. It's the bite. A werewolf bite is poisonous. Oh my God. I raise my head from my knees, but I feel like I'm moving through molasses. I have to get help. Peter was saved by the cure. But didn't we use it all? I try to call for help, but no sound is made. I feel like I'm under water. I crawl towards the end of the hallway, but suddenly it's miles away. I feel like I'm falling through a tunnel. The floor tilts beneath me. I fall to the ground painfully. That tunnel of light above me grows smaller and smaller, before it fades to black. The last thing I can hear are someone's footsteps running towards me. A roaring sound whistles through my ears. I think I'm crying. Or screaming. Or both. I can't move. I can't breathe. I can't see. I'm hot, then I'm cold. Finally, almost in relief, it goes away, and I slip into unconsciousness.

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