Hello, I’ve returned.
Please enjoy the next part to my fairy tale fusion story. It combines The Little Match Girl, The Seven Ravens, and The Emperor’s New Clothes.
🙂 Thank you!
The Emperor stared at the Seamstress in disbelief. He didn’t want to tell her he couldn’t see the clothing, but the way she was smirking told him she already knew.
“Do you like the clothing?” she gestured with a sweeping arm toward the three seemingly bare mannequins.
The Emperor took a moment before responding, trying to decide whether the truth. Eventually he lied in refusal to admit defeat, “Your work is remarkable.” His eyebrows scrunched together while he analyzed the witch’s facial cues at his words. Smug … surprised … she wasn’t focusing her eyes on where the fabric would hang; she was looking at the mannequins themselves.
“Why don’t you wear them back to the castle?” the Seamstress suggested, “That way all the citizens can see how wise you are.”
“No, that’s okay,” the Emperor said politely, realizing slowly that she was trying to make a fool out of him. “I’ll show my advisors the fabric first.”
Her mouth twitched upwards, “Alright.”
Though the Emperor was enraged by the trick she was trying to pull, he played along. He gathered the “fabric” into his arms.
“I’ll send some of the royal advisors your way,” the Emperor promised, “Maybe even a few kings.”
The Seamstress’s eyes widened, realizing he hadn’t fallen for her trick.
The Emperor laughed, pulling the door shut behind him as he left. He let his arms fall to his sides, no longer pretending to carry the non-existent fabric. He pulled the hood of his cloak back over his head to return to the castle, feeling better and wiser than he ever had in years.
* * * * *
The Little Match Girl kicked at her raven brothers once more in retaliation for their third attempted match theft in the past hour. She then darted out from the alley to grab ahold of the arm of a man passing by.
“Hellowouldyouliketobuysomematches?” the words rushed from her mouth quickly. She was too used to saying them.
“Matches?” the Emperor bent down on one knee to be eye level with the girl.
“What’s a little girl like you doing, darting out of alleys, asking strangers to buy matches?” the Emperor asked with concern. The street urchin before him looked like she had been attacked by birds and slept in a stable. She had feathers and straw in her greasy hair, talon marks on the backs of her dirt-caked hands, and her wrinkled clothes were torn and burned in some places.
“I can’t go home until I sell matches,” the Little Match Girl informed him.
The Emperor paused. He knew this trick that some peasant families played on the children they couldn’t afford ….
Seven ravens swooping down from the sky at the little girl interrupted the Emperor’s thoughts. They stole the bag she carried on her skeletal shoulder, only to fly away as if laughing.
“No!” the Little Match girl yelled. She picked up a rock and tried to hit one of the ravens, but she missed … by a long shot.
She fell to the ground on her knees and began to cry.
The Emperor was horrified. He had never seen a bird specifically target someone. Especially not seven ravens at once.
“Hey,” the Emperor said, “It’s going to be okay ….” He tried to reach out to the girl so he could comfort her.
“No it won’t!” she wailed, taking a step back, “Now I can’t go home!”
The Emperor had never had any children. His wife died in labor with his stillborn first child. He never remarried, still grieving for his lost family, though he had considered adoption a few times.
He found himself saying to the little girl, “Why … why don’t you come back to the Emperor’s castle with me?”
Though she was crying, she started laughing, “The castle? No way, I’m not a princess.”
“I heard the Emperor was looking to adopt,” he smiled, trying to be encouraging.
The Little Match Girl sniffed, “I mean … I guess I am an orphan now.” She thought for a moment, then nodded, reaching for the Emperor’s hand. “I guess if he wants to adopt me … it’s worth going.”
When they reached the castle, the little girl found herself wondering why the guards were saluting the man she was with. She eventually decided he must have been a noble of some sort.
“Sire!” the advisor that had suggested the new clothing ran towards the Emperor. “Where’s the clothing?”
“Oh,” the Emperor smirked. “It wasn’t real. But nice try.”
The advisor’s eyes widened as he paled. He quickly searched for a new topic. “Uh-um, why do you have a little girl with you?”
“I’m adopting her,” the Emperor explained with a small smile, “This is the princes.”
“Wait …,” the Little Match Girl let go of the Emperor’s hand to cover her mouth in disbelief, “You’re the Emperor.”
The Emperor laughed, “Yes, child.”
“I’m a princess,” the Little Match Girl, now Princess, whispered in complete shocked.
“Yes,” the Emperor smiled at her. He turned to his advisor, “Please inform the other two advisors that you’re all out of a job. Your replacement is the Princess.”
The Princess laughed at the look on the sputtering advisor’s face. “You can come back if you sell enough matches.”
The Emperor shook his head fondly. “Come along, Princess. I must inform the kings and nobles of the new wisdom in the empire.” The two disappeared behind the castle doors, turning their backs on the people that tried to trick them.
**To be Continued**