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❚❙❙ {Project 01} The Devil and The Princess (ENDED)
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Posted 3/23/14 , edited 4/12/14

Victor returned to the Queen's side like a faithful dog.

"Were there problems apprehending her?" the Queen asked in a low whisper.

Victor explained the situation in detail but he left out the part on the Princess' disagreement with her escort. He knew he could only protect her to this extent from the Queen's wrath.

"What a liar," was the Queen's reply.

Victor was startled. Was he so easily seen through? He tried to keep a blank stare.

"I could tell when a girl is in love. She has her heart stolen. So cruel this Helusen family. What do they have against us?" the Queen continued with a sniff.

Victor let out a sigh inwardly. The Queen crossed the gardens gracefully with VIctor in the toll. With the Princess under her 'house' arrest, the Queen could concentrate on crushing the Helusen family. She ordered the guards to not let any news of the outside world to spread, especially in the presence of the Princess. The maids were already hard at work putting the Princess to various chores to prepare for the ball such as dance classes and guest listing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The plaintiff were fiery in their accusations and forceful probing of the Queen's advisor. However, when the Royal advisor took the offense, he made use of their lack of knowledge of state laws and the power of a Queen's degree. The argument became childishly unproductive to the point the judges agreed on a lunch break early to prevent violence from the plaintiff. The Royal Advisor had other plans. He approached the judges boldly and requested discreetly for the plaintiff's guarantor to take the witness stand. Shu's face hardened as he overheard their discussion.

After a rowdy lunch break, every civilian and noble returned to their seats, excited for a new turn in the case. The high judge cleared his throat again.

"Now, as requested, the plaintiff is to take the witness stand."

Rejuvenated by a sumptuous meal, the dusty brown haired man took the oath confidently and glared haughtily around the room like a fighter.

"Please do tell the court who signed your case proposal with authority," the royal advisor asked silkily, twirling his trimmed moustache.

"That would be Sir Raizier Helusen," the plaintiff replied plainly.

"Sir Helusen, would you please stand?"

Shu buttoned his suit as he stood up with a straight back.

"Is this the man who authorised your case?"

"Yes," the plaintiff replied absentmindedly.

Shu scowled slightly. It seemed his instructions to remain anonymous drew a blank on the plaintiff.

"Your honor, this is an unusual request but I think it is still legal for the advisor of the plaintiff to take the stand," the Royal advisor addressed the High judge carefully.

The High Judge nodded and Shu voluntarily entered the witness stand.

"Sir Raizier Helusen. Can you confirm it is your name?" the royal advisor emphasised.

"I am sure everyone in court can recognize this face given the majority are civilians under my authority and you are actually the royal advisor," Shu leaned in on the shorter man.

There was a murmur of laughter rippling through the silent room and the High Judge had to call for order. The Royal Advisor flushed with anger, continued in a rapid tone.

"Do address the question directly!" he bellowed.

Satisfied, Shu stood up again and nodded to the judges.

"Yes, I am Sir Raizier Helusen. And by the Queen's name do I swear I will tell nothing but the truth," and Shu made the oath proactively.

The Royal Advisor was seething with rage. Shu was obviously not giving him enough respect and control over his victim. A few more rhetorical questions and the High Judge shouted at advisor for wasting everyone's time. Mustering the last of his strength, the Royal Advisor tip-toed and looked at Shu in the eyes.

"If you knew you are going against the royal household, do you think this is a case a noble should authorise? Is this a form of rebellion from the Helusen household?"

It was a million-dollar question. Everyone held their breath at the direct attack. Shu smiled as if he expected this question.

"I had my doubts, do you not question that. I am still a noble and a subject of the Queen. However, as Mr Brown had presented earlier," he gave an acknowledgement nod to the dusty brown haired man (who in turn glowed in pride). "This case was quite irregular. He was very persuasive with many facts I have checked out myself. The purpose of a noble status is to protect the human rights of the civilians. Is it not? If a man was executed for requesting the happiness from attending a forbidden circus, do we stamp out such simple request for better mental health? Should taxes be levied heavily only on the lowest positions of the country's hierarchy? Must all single women be converted to nuns to prevent the ire of our God? In the end, I could only conclude that what this kingdom really needs is the voices of the people. We, nobles, are not God dictating law after all. We must practice fairness for better productivity. That is all."

Shu looked at the stony-faced High judge. He narrowed his eyes. Suddenly, the entire courtroom burst into applause. Even a few of the junior judges lauded his speech only to be hit at the back of their head by the High Judge. There were catcalls and whistling. The courtroom was beyond control. The High Judge had to holler that the court will adjourned to tomorrow for a final hearing and decision making. The registrar and messengers were hard at work to spread the first hearing in their own words throughout the kingdom. Shu left the witness stand and disappeared into the cheering crowd before the Royal Advisor could throw him a dirty look. The butler stayed in his seat to savor the moment before tailing his master to the carriage. That night, a huge feast was held in Shu's honor at Backwards Alley. The royal guards were blocked by the Helusen's personal guards from crossing the borders of the rundown town. However, Shu only appeared momentarily to announce that the feast was his treat. he had more work to do as a noble now.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Queen fumed at the latest reports. She threw her utensils at the Royal advisor who fled when a knife came whizzing his way. Victor simply stood behind her with another tray of utensils to throw at the portraits on the wall like a dartboard. Soon, he would be on his way again out of the castle to settle a certain Raizier Helusen.
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Snow swirled around in her grand bedroom. It was even bigger than the Helusen's manor. She had changed into her favourite silk nightgown - which was smooth and cold to her skin. Tying her hair into a ponytail, Snow deliberately walked around the room . She was worried about the young Helusen. For him to appear in the court was out of her expectation. Nothing was informed to her.

Sitting down on her couch, Snow tried to calm herself. She kept reminding herself that the engagement was off, that Shu was not her priority anymore. Snow bit her lips, as she rest herself on the couch's arm. Still thinking of the magical nights spent at the Helusens' , Snow drifted off into her beauty sleep.

*****


Snow was in a dream. She was standing in the middle of a hallway. Snow glanced around the long, hallway that lead to infinity. There were portraits hanging on the grim wall. She walked to one of the portraits. Snow's eyes widened as she found Shu - in his childhood years in every portraits. Snow walked down the hallway, looking through each portrait.

None of them smiled. None of them showed any expressions. Snow suddenly recalled a maid telling her that it had been years since Shu last showed some emotions - thinking back now, Snow started to believe it was true. Snow walked on and stopped before the biggest portrait - this one had a moving image. It was a flashback of Shu's past.

Snow looked into the portrait, at the 12 year -old Shu who was annoyed and disgusted by his proud mother's actions. There was hatred in his aura, but it all faded into a mask he'd been wearing until now. Snow's heart reached out for Shu. She wanted to tell him it was okay, that she'll be by his side but the words never come out. She wished she'd met him long before. She wished they could meet much earlier where none of these would happen to them.

A door suddenly swung open behind her. Snow turned around, her ponytail released in the progress- her hair down again, part of them covering her shoulders. Snow took a slow entrance into the world behind the door. She glanced around the small room and found a man she recognised very much sitting on a heavily blood red tainted chair. He was leaning forward - fingers curled up before his face as he was deep in thought.

"Shu....", Snow called as she walked towards him - smiling to see him again, even if it's just a dream. Shu did not hear her, he was deep in thought - and it was as if she was transparent.

Snow saw the frowning brows of Shu. Standing right in front of Shu now, she was very much confirmed that she was transparent to Shu in this odd dream. She poked Shu's frowning brows - it's turning into a V now, and giggled. She could never get so near to Shu in reality, what else touching his face. Looking at Shu, Snow felt the urge to hug him. He never leave his mask since forever.

Snow hugged him - it was the only thing she could do. She cuddled him tight, wanting so much to ease and share his painful past as she strokes the messy hair of Shu.

"I love you. Whatever you're to do, please don't hurt yourself. You won't be alone, I'll be with you spiritually"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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"Young master?" a soft, kindly voice echoed in Shu's world.

The young man pulled himself up and straight in his armchair to face his head butler.

"Uncle..." he responded in a slight dazed mood. "Did I fall asleep here again?"

The head butler nodded with a sad smile. "Did last night's event affected you that much?"

Shu looked away. Changing the topic, he described a strange dream of being watched and touched.

"It's creepy," he shivered.

The head butler helped Shu to the bathroom. He had watched a friendless, timid young child grow up to a strong leader of tomorrow but each time he finds his master in the drawing room in deep thoughts, he felt a pang of guilt.

I could not stop those terrifying childhood memories from plaguing him and now, I must repent with more dedication to my job.

Shu lowered himself in the warm tub as the first light of morning shone in. He waited for his young butler to enter punctually to read out his daily schedule. Shu knew his plans at the back of his hand but out of precaution, he had his butler do some note taking every night.

Few hours later, Shu was escorted to his carriage for the last hearing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Well, aren't you indulging yourself too much? Princess?" the strangely familiar voice was sharply hurting her ears.

A Shu lookalike appeared before Snow but there was certain modifications attached to it. On a closer inspection, the body was transforming into something else! It was a humanoid snake! However, a fragment of Shu's facial features maintained on the pearly white snake.

"Since you have turned down my proposal, I assume you want to leave onsss~" the snake-man hissed. "I dislike rejections, princessy. And I was going to make you pay for it. You better thank your godless stars Raizier stepped in to save your useless puny life. With only two of us here now..."

The snake's tail waved at the milky surroundings which trapped Snow in limbo.

"I wonder what I should torture you with now that Raizier is out of the picture..."

The snake's tail rattled in glee.
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Snow stared at the snake - horror formed in her eyes as she slowly came to realisation as something outside her expectations came back to haunt her, as that unlikely creature turned into a snake. Something in her told her to run. Something in her told her to get away from the creature. But before she could react, the snake twirled its body around Snow.

"I-I didn't turn down your proposal.....I-I....", Snow's voice was trembling. "Let me go!!!"

Snow struggled to set herself free but it was a useless effort. The harder she struggled, the tighter the snake held onto her fragile body. She was almost out of breath then when the snake let go of her, and hissed a sinister laughter at her. Snow stumbled to the ground - grasping for some fresh air.

"Who are you? What do you want from me?" Snow found the courage to shout at the snake as she sit still on the ground. She was determined to use whatever she has to fight it. "If all you want from me is to accept your proposal, then I'll tell you what I think. Both options are equally stupid and ridiculous.......but I'll choose the first option then - to die in a month's time, relieving my pain and ....lending you my body"

Snow put her arms around herself. That was the only option that sounds good to her. If she does have a next life - she wouldn't want Shu to fall for her just because of the elf's power and she definitely doesn't want to die now. There is no time to die.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Meanwhile, the first ray of sunlight shone shyly into a room with blood-red curtains down - covering whatever sins the room held inside. Victor rose from the bed as he sat on the side. It had been months since he was last summoned to the Queen's room at night. The Queen was clearly up set by all the incidents that took place for the past few days.

A woman moved beside him, as she crawled up to him - pressing her smooth bosom against his naked back. The woman was well-known for her position in the monarch. She was a lustful person. Ever since her husband, the late King died - she'd been doing this all over with her favourite loyal dog. Only few of her trusted maids knew of this.

She turned his face towards hers and slowly licked against his lips - slowly and seductively. Victor couldn't hold the temptress down. She was indeed old enough to be his mother, and in fact is the person who adopted him into the kingdom. She was his savior, his mother, his Queen and his lover. No matter how much he loves Princess Snowaphina - his first crush, no matter how much he wants to make her his - he couldn't resist the Queen.

The Queen is beautiful with gorgeous seductive body. She was irresistible and he was very proud that her body only belonged to him - other than the late king. As she's Snow's mother's twin sister, the Queen also shares some resemblance to Snow - which makes it even more erotic to him as he could imagine doing it sexually with Snow.

"Make sure that commoner is to be punished", she whispered into his ears. Victor winced as she licked the corner of his lips - it was bleeding. "Tell the judge to refer to Magna Carta - what the commoner think does not matter. The Queen will punish whoever that disobeys the law"

She kicked him off the bed and looked down at him. Victor got onto his knees and bowed . "Yes, My Queen"

With that, he dressed up and left the Queen's room - heading to the courts.

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The white snake's body quivered in anticipation.

"Does that mean that you accept my offer? Will you die and leave Shu behind? I mean, you are too noisy and unnecessary for Shu. You think you love him but you finally understand it's just attraction," the snake commented importantly.

The flashes of Shu's peerless face was unstoppable in her mind. His occasional grin, his moodiness and his faraway glances were captured deep in her memories. Can she let him go for her desire of death?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The High Judge frowned as his assistant ushered in a royal knight. Or the Queen's dog, he thought with an inward snigger. At the age of 73, the High Judge often joked to his junior judge that even the law could not protect him from the side effects of old age. And one of the side effect is acting up this morning - the Hugh Judge grumpiness at being disturbed slightly. The assistant quickly left - Victor Chandler was known to be vicious in his attacks, both verbal and physical.

"What do you want now? I have a top priority court case this morning and I would like to leave soon," the old man asked tiredly. Lately, people of various backgrounds had been approaching him for the slightest matter.

"The Queen requested that the commoner be executed without a case. Magna Carta," Victor replied stoically, ignoring the old man's rudeness.

The old man almost dropped the magnifying glass he was holding. That can't be right...

"Are you sure she said Magna Carta?" the old man asked in disbelief.

Victor nodded smartly.

"Do you even know what Magna Carta means?" the judge asked with a hint of shrilling.

Victor opened and closed his mouth. A look of astonishment passed the old man's face and suddenly, he fell back on his chair, laughing hysterically.

"The Queen," he began tearing. "...asking for Magna Carta......where has the world been moving towards? The Queen!"

The high judge had not laughed this hard in ages. He could not even remember when he was hit with such foolishness. Victor drew his sword and pointed it dangerously at the old man's broken nose.

"Do not," he spoke in a low, dangerous tone. "...slander the Queen."

"Oh heavens, young man. Put the sword away before you hurt yourself," the old judge advised, occasionally hiccuping.

Wiping his tears, the judge continued in a smug tone, "Tell your mistress, if she wants Magna Carta, she can have it. She will now have absolutely no say in the court matters. I will inform your royal advisor as well. My dear boy, the Queen has just announced she will never interfere in the case with Magna Carta."

With a final fit of giggles, the old man toddled his way out of the room for court.

Victor stood blankly in the room. He reached out for a dusty old law bible on the table and flipped to the page of Category 'M'. He searched for the word and lost feelings in his legs.

"Magna Carta - A clause that specifies a King is below the law and his decisions shall be overruled."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"The court shall now convene for the hearing of the Queen's administrative decision," the courthouse guard bellowed above the crowd. "Please rise for thy honor."

There were noises of chairs scraping the polished woods as silent judges solemnly filed in to the courtroom. Shu was not allowed on the witness stand again after the previous court incident and settled quite comfortably in his noble seat on the second floor. The common folks sat back down after the guard gave his signal.

"We shall now hear the defense side. Do you have anymore facts to present?" the High Judge peered down at the Royal Advisor.

His lips were clamped tight. An earlier private discussion with the high judge, surprisingly initiated by the Judge himself, had left the Royal Advisor speechless. The same question was repeated to the plaintiff. As the dusty-brown man stood up to answer, a young boy came busting through the court door. Behind, him, a parade of angry guards followed him and tried to catch the jumpy little boy. Everyone's attention were drawn towards the abrupt interruption. The leader of the guards bowed and apologized profusely as his guardsmen tried to drag the little boy out.

"IT'S A MURDER! THE HELUSEN FAMILY MURDERED!" the boy managed to scream.

There was a sharp draw of breath from everyone in the courtroom. Eyes fell on the noble son of Helusen. He had stood up for a better look at the boy but the fear on his face was apparent. His hands gripped so tightly on the reeling that the knuckles turned white.
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Snow swallowed her saliva in - the same moment as she swallowed her doubt in. She stared at the snake - a little angry at it calling her noisy and unnecessary for Shu. Shu's faces came flushing into her mind - it was uncontrollable. Tears started to form in her eyes.

Snow shook her head and tried to take him off her thoughts to no avail. True, if the creature appeared to her before she met Shu, she would want to die without a doubt. For her whole life she'd been knowing nothing but to die. Yet, she didn't have the courage to do so. Her life had been nothing but a monochrome world.

Memories spent with Shu came in like a flow of river. Snow remembered Shu's cold demeanor the day she crashed into his manor uninvited. She was annoyed with his attitude back then but was taken aback when he invite her for dinner. His unpredictable actions was what makes it to her heart. His abrupt touches against her body in the woods, his cool voice calling her 'my wife' made her heart jumped so fast that for that period of time, every moment spent with him beside her - she could think of nothing else but Shu. For her real first kiss to be taken away by Shu made her heart locked to him. Shu brought her a new colour to her dull 18 years of life - the colour of love. She finally sees the world as colourful and above all - blood red. It was his favourite colour as well as the colour that captured her heart - telling her to live on.

Snow's heart pounded faster with each scene coming into view. She'd never felt so different before this. Although Shu did treated her rather harshly - he threw a basin of water over her, he stripped her off her dress, he dirtied her precious hair causing her to cut it off, he pushed her to the ground hard as well as dropping her to the ground - she couldn't come to disliking him. Even if he hate her, even if he end up treating her like a doll - she wouldn't care. She wanted to stay by his side. She wanted to be his. She wanted to be his mistress. His and only his. Even if she hated to be used, if it was Shu she wouldn't mind anymore. Shu's voices started to fill up her mind. The way he called her 'my wife' ... the way he called her 'Snow' .... the way he called her 'My princess' had made herself devoted to him without noticing.

How hurt was she when he cancelled off the engagement ... how hurt was she to lie against her will to him - calling it a disgraced to be his fiancee when she really didn't want any of those to happen.

She finally realised Shu was really what she want. Shu had made it to her heart - he is now the King of her heart, overruled her desire to die. Even if the engagement is off, even if she's separated from Shu - she still wants him. Tears rolled down her cheeks.

"Sorry", she said. "I can't.....my heart changed. I won't leave Shu no matter how much you taunt me"

The snake hissed - clearly it was furious that Snow was to turn its offer down again. But with her not giving a satisfying answer - she can never escape from this dimension.

Snow ran away from the snake. She knew she can't win against that creature. She was trapped in this space. No matter how much she ran, she can't find the way out. She slapped herself - hard, in hope it will slap her out of this place. But it didn't help. She continue to search for an exit.

She knew the snake was waiting for her to give in. She stopped running.

"Good girl should accept my offer. You're useless to Shu anyway. Disappear from his life is a way of loving him", the voice echoed around. Snow ignored the voice and thought of a way. She didn't know if it'll work but she had to force herself out.

"I won't leave Shu. I love him", she declared. "What about you? What do you know about love? You won't be able to love him the way I do!"

Snow took out her favourite knife from beneath her dress - the same one she used to kill the wolf in the forest, and stabbed into her thigh. She was taking a bet, she would do anything to get back to Shu's side - safely.

******


Snow screamt in pain the moment she fell off the couch. She looked up and glanced around her room. She was back. She escaped the place on her own effort. Her attention diverted to her dress. It was stained with blood but she wasn't bleeding. In fact there was no wound ー although she had stab herself back then.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Queen was enjoying her cup of tea. She didn't want to waste any more of the effort on the courts - she had wasted too much. No matter what will the courts' verdict be, it doesn't matter anymore. She had other plan to go against the Helusen, and it will put an end to their snobbish pride. After, she will proceed to execute a certain frail princess. Once the both of them gone from the surface of the earth, the commoners will bind to whatever the kingdom have in store for them - whether they like it or not.

Magna Carta - was the 'permission' she threw to the judge. The judge can choose to take it, which she believed he will - but can the young man of Helusen allowed it? This will be a war of pride. She was starting to enjoy the game,

She looked up at the sky. "Our princess is in love with that man.....now what does that man feel for her?"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Whispers spread across the court as the noble Helusen stood up. Everyone stared at one another, some not believing in what the little boy said. Victor who had been hiding away was shocked to hear of such news. It didn't mean any good news to the Royal family, nor to the princess. He was worried what will the Queen do to her.

Victor appeared of all sudden behind Shu - stopping for a split seconds to whisper into his ears without looking at him.

"Your princess is in the Queen's hand", he said so ever softly but Shu could hear it despite the growing voices surrounding them. "Her safety is in your hand"

Victor smirked forcefully - he disliked the Queen's upcoming plan (which he thinks she'll be doing for the numbers of years he'd served her), even less when the only person that could save the princess would be this disgraced young man of Helusen. With that, he retreated into the shadow - as quick as possible to the Queen's side.

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Posted 3/28/14 , edited 4/12/14


The Queen burst into Snow's room.

"I heard from the maids you have not been pulling your own weight in getting the ball invitations prepared. A princess and a heir-to-be cannot show this lazy side of her," the Queen spoke sarcastically. "Now, do something about that unnecessary trait of yours. Oh, I should add that you can ignore any invitation for the Helusen Family. It seems great tragedy struck them. Not that you should care about them anymore."

She gracefully exited the room, smirking.

"Your highness, was that necessary?" a whisper greeted her as the door closed behind her.

The Queen simply looked ahead, signalling Victor to trail behind her. "Don't tell me you find her pitiable now, Victor? She is a plague in my line. And I love that crumpling look on her. She should be a fragile doll sitting in my playroom. Don't you agree?"

It was a rhetorical question and Victor fell silent. A few more strict orders from the Queen to tighten security in the palace and she was on her way to her daily banquet.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When his butler gave the all-clear sign discreetly, Shu relaxed and faced the judges determinedly. Looks of sympathy crossed everyone's (but the Royal Advisor who was gleefully packing up) face.

The High Judge cleared his throat significantly to break the silence. "Sir Helusen, you are allowed to leave the court on account of -"

"No! The case shall continue," Shu spoke gravely. "My parents are below the law too."

A few judges beamed while others shook their head at his refusal at filial piety duties.

"Very well, the plaintiff shall continue to present their evidences," the High Judge calmly continued. He was impressed by Shu's behavior and quietly complimented his apt response to the abrupt change.

The plaintiff representative stood up uncertainly and spoke with a stammer, much to the court's disappointment.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A speck of light shaped like a snowflake floated outside the Princess room's window. The maids seemed impervious to it but it kept bouncing around to get Snow's attention - it was locked outside. The adorable little squeaking was barely audible behind the two paned window.

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Posted 3/28/14 , edited 3/30/14



Snow was getting her measurements done for her ball gown. The Royal Taylor - after measuring the princess' body, showed her to a few gowns tailored especially for the princess. One design was to be chosen from the luxurious amount available. Th princess walked around and set her eyes on two beautifully design pieces. One was a red gown with black laces and the other one a white satin gown with gold trimmings. Both were equally attractive. The red gown would match the princess and brings out the beautiful ruby-fire eyes of hers whereas the white gown would match the princess and brings out her silky silver hair. The princess was stuck in between choosing only one piece - one would make her devilish and one would make her angelic . The princess made a choice after a long consideration.

Just then, the Queen barged into her room. Snow jumped a little but maintained her composure as the Queen ordered her around. Nothing really changed about the queen. The queen came in in a rush and left the way she came in. Snow wasn't given a time to speak out - but she was used to it. She dismissed the Royal Taylor, and got up to her working table and started to get through with the guest list.

Don't say as if you will pass me the throne.... what an heir-to-be? Joker..... Didn't she sent a ball invitation to Shu herself? What exactly happened outside?, Snow thought as she went through the list. A great tragedy struck the Helusen...

Snow stopped writing. She couldn't concentrate. She was worried about Shu and his household - the butler, Harry as well as Marion. Convincing herself that she need not worry about him - since he is a man of his own proud principles, Snow continued with the listing. No matter what the Queen had ordered, Snow still went on to writing an invitation to Raizier Shusuke Helusen - personally under her name (Snowaphina Francesca Montgomery) instead of the Royal Family. She misses him - hoping very much to see him in the ball, though she doubted Shu would attend since she thought that she would be the last person he wanted to see again. From strangers to engaged, and back to strangers again, how she wished the engagement is still valid. How she wished she could tell him that she fell in love with him.

The princess sealed the invitation with her Princess' seal - where the guards are bound to deliver it to the Helusen no matter what. As Snow sent the maids off with all the guest lists checked, she was left alone in her grand bedroom. She was thinking to take a nap since her sleep last night was interrupted again by the unlikely creature. She stood up and something cute outside the window caught her attention. It was white and it was bouncing around. Snow blinked for a few seconds, thinking she could be hallucinating and started seeing things - proof that she needed a good night sleep badly. However, it was still outside the window - still cute to the princess. Curious, Snow walked towards it and opened the window.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Victor looked after the Queen as he walked after her. Victor was borne to a family of carpenters - he was a cheerful and bright boy. He had five younger sisters, but they all died with their parents in an arson ten years back. On that very fateful day, he was with a noble girl he liked (who happened to be the daughter of the noble family his father was working for) - it was her 8th birthday and he had promised her he'll carve her a wood before her eyes. Although it was a selfish request from the girl - that selfish request saved Victor from the cruel fire.

When he was home and found his house burned to ashes, he met the Queen by chance as she passed by the place and heard his cry. Out of sympathy, the Queen decided to bring him into the the kingdom and trained him to be a knight - to be her knight. She often mentioned to him that they were similar in many aspects - that without her, Victor can't live and that he must protect her from harm. He was the only person she shared her sadness, anger and hatred with. She would often tell him she knew the late King's secret - that he was hiding his precious daughter with his lover. She would often tell him how hurt was her heart, although she was always grinning happily when she said that. Victor eventually promised to kill that illegitimate daughter of the late King when he becomes knight one day.

Even though Victor started living with the servants in the rural part of the palace, he would always find his way out secretly to pay the girl he liked a visit. Albeit short, their friendship grew and deepened. Victor swore to marry her one day - to which the girl dismissed off as a joke, saying that they were too young to decide on love and marriage as well that she never liked him more than just a brother in her eyes. It hurt him badly. At the very same day, the girl he liked was revealed to be the late King's biological daughter - that she was the princess of the country. She, whom he called as Francesca (Snow) was the illegitimate daughter of the late King that the Queen had always talked about - the person the Queen hated the most.

He eventually stopped visiting Snow and made a vow that he will do anything to be a noble himself. He decided to help the Queen in disqualifying Snow as an heir - so that the Queen could take on the throne to herself, and when Snow is no longer in line to the throne, he would finally make her his woman, his property.

Victor clenched his teeth as he thought of all he had went through till today. He had never expected for another man to appear in Snow's life. For the past ten years, he had been secretly praying on her - and was glad that Snow disliked most men who only come after her for her status in the monarch. Although she was a doll of the Scarboroughs, Victor never felt threatened by any men that approaches Snow. He was confident that Snow's heart and body would becomes his only - that he will be the only one that could capture her attention. However, Raizier Shusuke Helusen's appearance before Snow disrupted his perfectly planned cycle. Snow eventually fell in love with the disgraced son of a dethroned royal family.

Victor retreated to his position as the Queen dismissed him. The Helusen family's murder case cannot be taken lightly, the Queen told him earlier. Since the Helusen had gotten Snow's heart - he can only hoped that that man is worth Snow's love. Victor knew as of now, the only person that could possibly protect Snow from any harm imposed by the Queen would be the Helusen. Victor was torn in between the Queen and the Princess. They are both his saviours - the Princess saved his humble life and the Queen gave him a new life. He can't resist the princess but he can't leave the Queen. If he had to choose between one of them, he would choose to obey the only one he sees as the Queen before his eyes.

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The plaintiff representative, Mr Goodwin, sighed heavily with relief as the judges released him from the witness stand. He fell on his chair and slumped as the judges did a summary of the case so far. He was completely drained of energy. It was only in the face of justice and values he proudly shared with Sir Helusen which kept him sane throughout this ordeal.

The judges convened in the back room of the courtroom for a few hours. The final sentence would be delivered later that afternoon. The audience filed out solemnly, some expressing their condolences for the Helusen Family. Shu admitted he was a little shaken and his faraway look convinced his well wishers he was hanging on the last thread of hope that the horrible turn of events was all but a dream. She dismissed his butler half-heartedly. His butler was grief-stricken but his years of expertise allowed him to keep a calm stance in finding out the development of the murder case. The old butler need not worry about his master's well-being. He knew the true namture of his young master and a matter like this will not break him as badly as the last time. The young man has gone through too much...

On the other side of town, a pair of royal guards were guarding the royal police headquarters. Most of their colleagues and supervisors had gone out to handle the death of a noble family while these two drew the short straws to stay as watchers. One of them yawned. Suddenly, he was rudely shaken awake by a small but firm grip.

"Please arrest me, officer!" a young maiden with clothes in disarray shouted hysterically. Her eyes were full of madness.

The other guard looked on in surprise, unsure of how to react.

"It is I who killed the Lord and Lady Helusen!"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The speck of light floated unsteadily into the room and with a soft "pop", a daisy with a bright face appeared. Her eyes opened slowly to reveal ruby like eyes. Her tiny mouth positioned in pistil parted slightly.

"Hello Princess. I hope I did not surprise you too much. Do you remember me?" a familiar voice resounded in her head.

"You may probably remember this form-"

With a loud "pop" the daisy transformed into a white snake. However, the form did not stay as it reverted to the tiny flower face. There was dismay on the little flower.

"It seems I am still quite weak in this world," the flower spoke in a tragic female voice. "NO! WAIT! I DID NOT COME TO HARM YOU!"

It seems Snow had gone for the hardest object in the room she can lift to hit the despicable being. Snow halted in her tracks with a bronze table lamp.

The flower petals flipped forward, as if the flower was grovelling in Snow's presence.

"Please. I came in peace now. You have made clear your love for Shu. You passed."
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A royal guard approached the Queen as she examined some jewelry from the land opposite. The royal guard delivered her the updates on the Helusen murder case - something she'd expected would arise sooner or later. Here in the kingdom, major news spread really fast to the ears of the Queen, and this news was half expected by the Queen herself.

"The murderer admitted to the murder?" her voice did not hint any surprises. "She will frame the royalties as the one manipulating her, I supposed...What was her name again?"

The guard whispered in low tone. A grin formed on her face. Victor overheard the conversation. The queen trusted him well enough to let him hear her plans. She dismissed the guard and motioned Victor to move to her side.

"Marion.....Isn't she the Helusen household that served our princess not long ago?" the Queen asked, barely looking at Victor.

Victor nodded. He smelt that things were going to get sour.

"Well good. If that commoner of useless value frame the kingdom, we must let the people know the truth that the princess was the one that manipulated her to kill the two poor nobles ", she told Victor. There was an excitement in her tone. "Go as far as you need to make the princess liable".

Victor nodded, not a sign of hesitation was shown. Marion was now one major key in the Helusen murder case. If she frame the royalty, the Queen will sacrifice the princess - making it less troublesome for the Queen to execute her. But if she doesn't, the young Helusen himself would be suspected of plotting this up to accuse the royalties and bring upon rebellion against the kingdom.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The daisy's eyes opened - surprising the princess much. She had never seen anything so magical and pretty in this world. She blushed a little at the little creature. However, a familiar voice rang a bell in her mind and the moment it 'pop' into that white snake, Snow was taken aback. It was not cute. Very not cute. She grabbed for whatever she seemed hardest to smack that creature away. It had tormented her more than enough.

When the daisy declared that it came in peace, Snow stared at it in disbelief. Raising an eyebrow, she stepped forward to the daisy - her hands still holding onto the bronze table lamp.

"What do you want now?" she asked. She didn't think she can trust the creature that had been chasing after her life, not to mention breaking her away from Shu. "What do you mean by I passed? Who are you to Shu - to judge me, to judge my feelings?"

Out of nowhere the question popped into her mind.She had been wondering about the creature's relationship with Shu. From the first time she met this creature, it had been closely related to Shu - first it disguised as Shu, next it commented on her feelings for Shu. After a long consideration, she decided to trust it for once then - and put down the table lamp. Snow was a forgiving person and she decided that even if it was a magical being, it deserved a second chance.

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The daisy's petals swayed in the light breeze from the open window. Unlike its gentle appearance, the facial feature did not match. Its haughty turned-up nose seemed to get in the wrong with their apparently new relationship as Snow predicted.

"Don't be mistaken, girl. Shu is mine. I am only here in accordance to his plans," it spoke with a slight sniff. "I see you are doing well. I hope you stay that way for Shu. We don't want to be trouble him with your wee woes, do we?"

The flower glanced around the gilded cage of the Princess.

"This are tumultuous times for the kingdom despite its peaceful facade. You should be cautious with your actions here on. I hate guiding people like you," it spoke without reservation. "I should explain at least my actions. You are one of the many ladies in line for Shu's wifey position. I had to make sure you will not be a hindrance. It seems you barely passed...Why are you staring at me like that? Do you want something from me?"

At the moment, the room's door flung open and the royal guards marched in with chains, a Chief inspector toiling behind.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A noblewoman dutifully passed her condolences to the new Lord Helusen and moved quickly to her circle of gossiping courtiers.

"Such a pitiful state he is in."

"He still looks so elegant even in that state," a young girl squeaked.

"Nay child. He lost a fiancee and now, a family. No longer a spirited young man."

The courtiers carried on without taking note of their excited voices being carried across the crowded hall. Shu closed his eyes and listened intently. Among the idle chatters were his sources of information. He calmly sat in a corner while groups of lesser noble ladies tried vainly to get his attention through their body contacts. A lost nobleman is more liable to seek comfort in the opposite sex.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Chief Inspector was full of himself. Lady Luck was finally smiling at him the moment the hysterical young maiden turned up at his doorstep. He pompously bounced around the police headquarters before entering the interrogation room.

"Now, young lady. Let's get straight to the point. Why did you kill the Helusens?" he asked confidently. A guilty person who confessed to his crime cannot lie.

The maiden eyes swerved quickly around the room, as if to avoid the question. Or she was just crazy.

Losing his patience, the Chief Inspector bellowed, "Who is your master?"

Her reply was astonishing. He felt as if he had stepped into a gold mine of scandals. "Can you repeat yourself?"

There were soft murmurs from her chapped lips as her eyes slowly examined the plum inspector. "Princess...Snowaphina Francesca Montgomer..."

And he left abruptly. The guilty was left in the charge of a royal guard. But young as he was, the junior guard was suspicious. He knew those eyes. They were not of madness of guilt or sadistic nature. They were like those his wife would show him in the heated moments of their passionate nights. The young maiden was in deep love with someone.

Marion shuddered in the dark room and crossed her arms close to her chest. She closed her eyes and remembered the touch of her master the night she was hired. Like the other maids of the house, his private hideout was only open to them on the first night they offered themselves to him. He was cold and distant but they persevered to get into his good favor. She had wronged him in her mission but she felt free when she entered the police headquarters.

Outside the station, the Chief Inspector barked orders for the quickest assemble to the palace to deliver good news. News spread fast in the vicinity of the police findings and the Head Butler of the Helusen household caught wind of it. He gave a grim smile. His master was not in danger of any slander.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The High Court was in session and Shu entered the noble seating area alone. The elder Judge delivered the conclusion without much hassle and the audience cheered as the plaintiff won the case. The defendants had slipped out of court before being ambushed by jeering commoners and everyone congratulated everyone else. Losing all dignity, Mr Goodwin hugged Shu (sho failed to escape) and there were many pats on Shu's back. Mr Goodwin called for cheers for their hero. Shu was saved in the nick of time by his butler. The young noble was escorted to his carriage by the royal guards and flagged by his butler. In the carriage, the butler filled him in.

"It was unfortunate. I beg your forgiveness, young Master. I have not screened our staff more shrewdly. Your plans...Master...it seems man proposes but God disposes," the head butler hung his head in shame as he knelt in the moving carriage.

Shu gently lifted the head butler from his groveling position and held the old man firmly in his place.

"This was no fault of yours. Misfortune tell us what fortune is. I have an inkling what had been unfolding while in court. You have work to do if you still feel guilty. The court rules in our favor there must be a celebration. You will represent me. I have a funeral to prepare for."

Shu pushed a letter in the butler's trembling hands. "Pull yourself together, Are you not my head butler? I do not want to see you in this state tomorrow. Also, send this for me. I will not be expecting you until tomorrow night. Harry will assist me in house matters."

The old butler nodded and ordered the carriage to stop as he got off alone. Shu continued on to his manor. Outside the gloomy interior of the carriage, the old butler found himself pushed around by jostling crowds of happy commoners celebrating the day they triumphed over royalty in the arms of justice. An old smile founds its way back on the head butler's face. Shu was not beaten yet. He had been foolish.

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Snow sighed inwardly. She didn't know if her actions to forgive it was right - she was caught in a series of odd events now. Snobbish as always, it reminded her of Shu. However, she listened intently to each words the daisy said. She was cautious.

You are one of the many ladies in line for Shu's wifey position. I had to make sure you will not be a hindrance. It seems you barely passed....

The words repeated itself in her mind. So it was true that Shu, albeit being a misogynist - he had the side of him that still goes for woman's body. She wrapped her arms around herself. She couldn't believe herself that he had touched her - in her naked state once. She was a noble, a princess - even if they were engaged back then....why did she acted so recklessly in stabbing the wolf back then?

Snow didn't think she'll ever have the answer to that. Shu was in danger - and she just acted in a reflex. That was all she could say for herself.

Snow looked at the daisy - and was about to ask another question when the door flung opened. The royal guards marched in with chains, and a Chief inspector toiling behind them. Snow quickly stood in front of the daisy - shielding it from being seen by the guards. She doubted the need for that but she acted in a reflex once again.

"What is all this about?" she asked as Victor came in.

"Princess Snowaphina Francesca Montgomery", the Chief inspector said aloud. "You are suspected in the murder of the Helusen nobles".

Snow's eyes widened in disbelief as she looked at Victor - who looked at her without any expression.

"I didn't....I wouldn't.....", she said. Her voice trembling a little. She felt wrongly accused for something she didn't do, nor even think of doing.

"I saw your royal highness whispering into Marion the day I apprehend you", Victor added - his voice cold. "You ordered her to kill the old Helusen nobles. She said so herself. She had confessed."

Snow shook her head. "Marion...killed Shu's parents? I- I ordered her to?"

She couldn't believe what she'd heard. For her, who didn't even have the courage to commit suicide, to order a maid to kill her master's parents was unreasonable. Snow stumbled to her table - she held onto the table as her leg weakened from the shock she was feeling. Why would Marion framed her? Was it Shu's order? Or was it the Queen's plot?

No matter who did it, Snow felt shattered. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she bravely put on a tough look - comforting herself and telling herself to embrace it. Embrace her fate. She came back to the palace to save Marion from Victor, but instead Marion betrayed her. Who else could have ordered Marion to kill the Helusens if not Shu?

Snow secretly stared up at the daisy which was hiding behind the table lamp now. Her heart ached in so much pain that it was as if Shu stabbed her with his dagger. You tricked me.....you and Shu tricked me? And I thought I could trust you...and I thought I wouldn't mind Shu to use me.....

Victor clenched his fist tight as he looked at the fragile princess struggling to not cry. Was that young Helusen even worth your love?

The guard approached the princess and try to put the cuffs on her wrists. The princess pretended to comply with them, but as she saw a slight chance - she kicked the guard hard on the crotch and threw whatever she could at the other guards. Victor watched in surprised, but he didn't react to her actions. As the guards were distracted, she climbed out of the window and jumped off the window. Since the room was on ground floor, she didn't suffer any injuries like the other time.

Judging from her good sense of direction in the palace, she ran off to a hidden loop hole behind a deserted forest in the palace. She knew her way well enough to know that there was a hole in that part of the palace wall. Without thinking much, she crawled through - out of the palace. She then ran for her life - ran as far as she could, away from the palace, away from everyone, away from reality. No matter much she was hurt, she couldn't bring herself to hate Shu. She didn't know how much more Shu was thinking to use of her, she didn't know if it was the Queen's plot - all she knew was she is innocent. Why would she want to kill the parents of the man she loves?

All that was in her mind was that if Shu was the one that ordered Marion to frame Snow, then Shu won. He had successfully made her fell in love with him hopelessly and used to the point her heart broke. But if it wasn't Shu that ordered so, she didn't think she had the face to see him again - she was his parents' murderer, he will hate her more now. Soon enough the news that princess killed the Helusens would spread everywhere. The Queen won. The princess lost. Shu won. Snow lost. Snow ran as quick as she can, and hid herself safe from the world.
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"Snow, snow!" the daisy floated in toll. It was desperately trying to catch up. The daisy may not understand how to love a human but it can read humans like a book.

"Is this doubt you have for Shu?" it asked sarcastically, a little peeved at the easy wavering of a human girl heart.

The royal guards shouts came in all directions. They were closing in on the fugitive.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Master, a strong cup of tea?" Harry inquired tentatively that night.

Shu nodded and slumped back in his favorite armchair, rubbing his temple. 3 more days..

And the old clock strike twelve in the hallway.

"Make it two, Harry," he spoke wearily. "And leave me alone."

A pretty Victorian tea tray was brought in, following the strong scent of Midnight Jasmine tea. And the study room door closed tightly. Shu closed his eyes as the shadows lengthened over the carpeted flooring, There were fresh muddy footprints. He was not alone.

"A fine reception you have for me, darling Raizier," a female voice spoke harshly. "Surely you jest. Calling your ex-fiancee at this time of the night."

Shu got up and pushed another armchair over. It was a little moldy from the lack of sun it has seen. 

"Sit."

His visitor was dressed in bright colored clown suit. It was a miracle she went unspotted by the Helusen guards. However, they both knew the extent of her stealth ability. As well as the storm raging within Shu. The female visitor meekly sat down upon hearing his tone. She knew she had to come clean.

"I-" she tried to break the awkward atmosphere but Shu held up his hand.

"I already know you set Marion up for it. No doubt your sweet words could persuade a maiden at her weakest. But why?"

She smiled. "For you, my dear. It was all for you."

Shu picked up his tea cup and drained it in a long draught. Then, he picked up her cup and poured over her head. She stopped smiling.

"The Queen was onto me," she spoke in a different tone. It was the voice he was used to when they were engaged - serious and cool. The scheming fiancee who knew what made him tick. Despite that, this was the voice he could learn the truth from.

A few hours ago...

"Your majesty, Lady Matsuo is here to see you."

The Queen nodded her approval and the noble lady was escorted in shortly.

"My dear, is one day without my presence insufficient for you?" the Queen teased.

Rin smiled graciously and kneeled before the Queen. "Your beauty is untouchable yet so appealing to even the same gender."

"That is some flattery I have not heard from you," the Queen mused. "What is your purpose here?"

RIn looked at the guards intently for a few minutes. The Queen got the hint and dismissed them. the latetr stepped down from her royal throne, eager to share the secret,

"Your highness, I apologize for the uproar downtown. The death of Helusen and the coming accusation of the Princess...I instigated it," Rin spoke slowly and meaningfully. 

The Queen considered the instigator before her. Lady Matsuo was not one to dirty her hands. This cunning fox knew exactly what to do to save her own skin. Yet, Rin came before her, as her servant, showing clear eyes and hiding no schemes. Then, the Queen hugged Rin.

"thank you, Rin," the Queen spoke kindly. "You have proven yourself worthy of your royal upbringing. You will be rewarded."

Rin closed her eyes and enjoyed the moment.

"I did not expect any less from you," a sharp voice cut across her flashback. 

Rin looked at the commoner's hero calmly. She enjoyed manipulating people and she knew Shu would not punish her. Or he could not.

"You just added a bundle of cumbersome task for me to complete," he continued, his rage now apparent.

"Like saving your Princess? I did you a favor here and I am doing it again. Her royal cell is below grounds. It does not have a number. Take a left turn after the unlit torch and tap on the false rock wall on your right. That is the door. She cannot escape with the whole kingdom searching for her. Especially after your stunning performance as the common folks' hero in court today," she said in a laidback stance while she poured her own cup of tea.

"Does anything ever escape your ears?"
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The princess was still on her run as the daisy desperately tried to catches up on her. Seeing a helpless weak creature it is now, Snow stopped and cupped the daisy in her hand. She placed it on her shoulder and continued her run.

"I love Shu", she told the daisy once more. "But I don't know if he feels the same for me.... he was too perfect to have feelings for me anyway. I am nothing but a pawn, wouldn't you agree? Didn't you say so yourself that he was just using me?"

Snow made an abrupt turning into an alley. "Besides, you said I'm one of the many ladies in line for his wife position. For you to see so many of them, it would mean each and everyone of them are for manipulating purposes, me included - right? And ....... don't take me for my look. I was born to a family with no real love. You knew me, don't you? As much as I wanted to be loved, I never know how it was like to be loved. Those feelings are so strange to me...".

Snow stopped and grasped for some air as she reached a deserted dark alley. She barely recognised the place. She didn't know where to head to now, all she knew  was she was a suspect now.

"Now.... where should I go?" The princess was never in such a miserable state. She looked at the daisy with a smile. "What a life I have... one moment I am the future ruler of the kingdom, and the next I'm a suspect wanted by the same kingdom. Do you think Shu will believe me if I tell him I didn't kill his parents?"

Voices of the royal guards were closing in. Snow was afraid. She didn't expect herself to end up beaten up so badly. She quickly put the daisy down on the ground. She knew she had no room to escape now.

"I don't know if they can see you or not... but thank you", she told the daisy with a small but sincere smile. "I don't think you like me, neither do I like you but I'm glad you made me realised how much Shu meant to me, how much I love him. I don't think I can escape no more, I don't think I can see him again since I am accused for the murder, but he'll always be in my heart"

Snow gave the daisy a little kiss - a little manner to show her appreciation. The guards found her as she pushed the daisy out of sight. Victor arrived just in time to hit the princess on the back of her shoulder hard - the princess fainted and fell into his arms.

I'm sorry, Francesca....
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The daisy watched the girl being carried away like a doll. It floated in the faces of many guards and was swept side to side by their movements. None of them paid any heed to the strange flower. In fact, it seemed invisible in their lines of sight.

"You certainly talk a lot to someone you dislike. The feeling is mutual."

And the daisy vanished with a soft "poof". Its duty was far from done.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Where are we headed for, Sir Chandler?" the Chief Inspector asked politely.

"The princess has a royal cell in the dungeons. You need not follow." And the royal guards blocked the Chief Inspector's path.

Mumbling soft curses, the Chief Inspector was turned away. He felt as if he had just let a big fish free. Feeling unjust, he was reminded of his position in the hierarchy. His power did not reach far into the royal family. Next on his to-do list, he was to settle a certain hanging of a murderous woman at his headquarters and grinned. His promotion was not far. The princess should be forced to watch the hanging in return for making the Chief Inspector feel inferior.

Victor placed Snow carefully on a soft mattress of wool. He reached out to a lock of hair on her face but stopped in time when a few guards peered over his shoulders. He marched out of the cell with the guards without a backward glance.

When all was quiet again, a white snake slithered under the door. It coiled on the cold stone floor and waited patiently. After all, it had all the time in the world.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


"Now you know everything, can I leave?" Matsuo Rin asked as she pranced around the room. "Your so-called heroic act against the royal family had us entertainers in high demand for songs of praises in your name."

Shu let out a snort of laughter and dismissed her. She smiled, bowed and disappeared into the swaying pine trees. Gales of tremendous power was hitting the glass windows like fists. He was beyond exhaustion when he reached his bedroom. Closing his eyes heavily, he distantly remembered a task he should have done. Oh, forget it. And he fell asleep on the bed with his dinner suit.

The next day, Harry had the entire household in tight control as he administered his first funeral preparations for the infamous Helusens.


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