Her parents, her birth parents, had passed her from kingdom to kingdom, hoping to get her away, hoping to get her to safety. Away from the curse that was doomed to follow her for life. They though if they could get her far enough away, then it wouldn’t be valid anymore.
It pained her mother as her daughter, her daughter only six months, was taken away on horseback, not by her father, that was too dangerous, but by the stable boy, the one who had the knowledge of the kingdom, and all those that surrounded it.
“Keep her safe, please,” her mother sobbed, placing a gentle kiss on her daughter’s head. The stable boy nodded, taking the bundle from the woman’s arms.
Her husband wrapped an arm around her. This was his fault. He shouldn’t have upset her. Doomed his child.
They watched as their daughter was taken off, hopefully to safety.
She had been adopted into royalty, her family had had a lot of contacts. They all knew of the curse, and this was the best opportunity for her. The best chance.
She was taken in when the king and queen had just celebrated the third birthday of their son, Grant.
The king, Philip Coulson, was cautious about taking her in. She was doomed to bring bad luck, and Coulson had been scared to risk that.
His wife, on the other hand had been all for taking her in. “We promised her family, Phil!” she had argued, cradling the young child. “She needs to be protected”
“I don’t know May,” Coulson had replied, referring to his wife but her surname, which she had still kept and used, even after her marriage. “It’s dangerous.”
At this point, the young girl had started to cry. “She’s staying.” May had said, before walking off and comforting the child.
And Coulson knew better than to argue with May.
Jemma Simmons was the child’s name; Jemma being the most common name from the kingdom where she was born, and Simmons coming from the kingdom she now classed as her home, the name given to those who knew nothing, or little about their bloodlines.
She grew up happy and loved, but sickly, especially as a child.
It was sometime after her sixth birthday that Jemma came down with a violent flu, one the rest of her family shook off easily, but she didn’t.
She had spent days in bed, and May had been with her that whole time, placing a damp cloth on her forehead in an attempt to cool the girl down.
It pained May, watching her daughter twist and turn in the sheets as fevered dreams filler her head. Jemma cried out, and May soothed her.
Grant, now nine, watched from the door. “Is she okay?”
May stood up, leaving her spot beside the bed for the first time in days, and shooed him from the door. “Grant, it’s too dangerous. Please, she’s ill. You’ve not had this yet, you’re at risk.”
“But…” he tried to argue, but May had already closed the door and was back with Jemma.
It was then, a week after she recovered, and was sitting up in bed, that Jemma decided what to do with life.
“I want to help people,” she said to Grant, who was sitting, cross-legged, on the bed, facing her. They had parchment and ink with them, and were doodling together.
“Like a knight?” Grant asked, wondering why his younger sister wanted to be a knight. “Girls can’t be knights. Plus you won’t be allowed to, they wouldn’t allow you.”
Jemma shook her head. “No. Like a physician.”
Grant raised an eyebrow. “Girls can’t do that either.”
“We’ll see Jemma,” came a voice from the door. Coulson. “We’ll see.”
Later that night, May and Coulson broke into another argument regarding Jemma.
“It’s unlady like!”
May rolled her eyes. “Unlady like, did you seriously say that to someone, a lady, who has fought in more battles than you.”
Coulson sighed heavily before making his way to sit on the bed next to May, his weight making the bed sink.
“You’re just worried about Grant.”
“No… I care about…” Coulson stuttered. He wasn’t going to argue with May about this again. “We shouldn’t have taken her in.”
May looked at him, steely determination on her face. “We took her in to protect her. You know what was doomed to happen to her. We’re her best hope that that doesn’t happen to her. Would you really want that to happen to her?”
Coulson shook his head. “I just can’t seem to…”
“Spend time with her. Ask her what she likes.”
Coulson, after one day, had learned more about Jemma, than he had in those five and a half years. He learnt that she wanted to go home one day. He leant that May had never told her about the curse, fearing for her safety. He learnt that May had told her she was found abandoned, that they had taken her in, a lie.
He learnt that she was smart. Extremely intelligent. That she snuck into the lesson’s for Grant and had been doing work. Word made for those who were ten year olds, and when she found that too easy, her work had been bumped up. She was now working at the intellectual capabilities of a twelve year old.
“How did I not know all this?” he asked May when he returned home that night, carrying a sleeping Jemma to her room.
“Because you didn’t listen,” May replied.
Coulson shook his head. “She’s amazing.”
Coulson got to know Jemma over the next years, taking her horse-riding at least once a month, the day that Jemma looked forward to the most.
Grant, meanwhile, was starting to get envious of all the attention Jemma was getting. It had been happening for years now, his father spending more and more time with her, someone wasn’t even related to them, someone who wasn’t even of royal blood.
He was walking down the corridor, he needed to get out the castle, he couldn’t stand to listen to Jemma go on and on and on about horse riding. She was sixteen, she shouldn’t care about this anymore.
And then, out of everyone that he could bump into in the corridor, he bumped into her.
“Oh,” she exclaimed. “Sorry Grant. How are you?”
He plastered a fake smile on his face. “I’m fine Jemma, another horse riding day?”
She nodded. “Yeah.”
“Is father not getting too old?”
Jemma thought for a moment, wondering. She had considered this, she had actually asked this. But every time she asked him about this, he waved her off, dismissed her worries.
“He says he’s fine,” Jemma replied before starting to leave. “I’ll see you tonight.”
Grant looked confused. “What’s happening tonight”?
Jemma couldn’t help but feel hurt at this. “The feast.” Grant still looked confused, so she continued. “For my birthday.”
Grant nodded in understanding. “Happy birthday,” he said before walking off.
‘Crap,’ he thought. He’d forgotten it was her birthday, her sixteenth birthday, and he hadn’t brought her anything.
Making his way through town was a nightmare, people always wanted to talk to him, ask him what life was like in the castle. Ask him how he was. How she was.
He hated all the attention that she got, how everyone treated her like she was different, like she was special, just because of her background, just because of who she was. He hated that.
He was destined to be king next, she wasn’t destined for the throne. They only took her in as no one else would. No one else would take in such a sickly child.
He was so lost in his thoughts, so lost in his burning hatred that he didn’t hear the female voice ask him a question.
“Sorry,” he said looking up, annoyed.
The woman looked at him, realisation sweeping across her face at just who she was talking to. “I’m the one who should be sorry, I was simply looking for directions and didn’t realise it was you, Sire.”
‘Sire,’ Grant though. A term that was rarely used to describe him. “No need.” He took the girl in for the first time. She was beautiful. “Are you new to town?”
She nodded nervously. “First day, no idea where I’m going.”
He nodded. “Where is it you’re going?”
She shrugged. “I just wanted to have a look around.”
“Grant, though you probably already knew that.” He extended his hand.
She nodded, extending her own hand. “Kara.”
The feast for her sixteenth was just smaller than the one for his nineteenth, and he gave a wicked smile that night. He was still the most important one when it came to the feasts.
He’d given her a Royal Blue dress as a gift (picked out by Kara) and she had loved it. Of course she had; she was a girl. She truly loved all things related to that.
Coulson and May had managed to get her an apprenticeship working for the physician, on the terms that she only treated the physical injuries, not the diseases and illnesses; her immune system still wasn’t the strongest, and she spend every winter locked in her room, buried in her blankets, with a roaring fire and a good book.
He shook his head at that thought, thinking back to what he said to her when she was six. That she was a girl, that she shouldn’t be doing stuff like that.
He laughed, even though he was alone in his room. That was ten years ago now. Nine year old Grant was, well he was oblivious to the world.
There was a knock on his door. “Come in.”
It was Jemma. She looked, pale, tired. Ill.
“I just wanted to thank you for the dress.”
He knew he should ask her how she was. There was a wicked chill occupying the castle, and Grant knew that this meant that she would soon be hiding away.
But all he did was nod.
Jemma Simmons did really enjoy her apprenticeship with the castle’s physician. And after five years, she was able to help out by herself. She helped out with the injuries, and she couldn’t have been happier (she did seem some pretty nasty injuries, swords had a tendency to do that to a person).
Kara and Grant, meanwhile had been dating happily for five years and he was happier than he had ever been. And it was due to her. She had made Grant happy and Jemma couldn’t be more thankful. In her early teen years, she had noticed that there was something wrong with him, something that she hadn’t told anyone else.
But now that Kara was making him happy, that didn’t matter.
Jemma was in her room, throwing another log on the fire, hoping for more warmth in her room.
“Jemma,” a voice called from the door way. She turned to find Kara standing there, her eyes twinkling. “Grant proposed!”
Jemma dropped the log that she was holding and pulled the woman in to a hug. “Oh my God! Wow congratulations!”
Kara pulled out of the hug and looked at Jemma. “You knew.”
Jemma bit her lip, looking down before finally nodding.
Kara just laughed, “You can’t lie, Jemma. Never have been able to.”
Jemma just gave a smile.
As Kara walked down the corridor, she gave a wicked smile. She had been planning this for twenty years one now. Twenty one years she had been waiting for this. And finally she was now sure that Jemma was the girl who she had been looking for. The girl who had been cursed for birth. She had finally found her.
“Is it her?” Grant asked, as Kara walked into their room, that wicked smile still on her face.
His fiancée nodded. “It’s her.”
Grant exhaled. He’d finally be able to get his revenge on her. Finally, after so many years of her being the favourite.
“You did it baby,” he whispered as his lips met Kara’s. “You did it baby.”
Kara pulled away nervously, and looked up at him, her eyebrows raised as though she were nervous to tell him something. “We can’t do it. Not now.”
Grant looked down at her, and raised his eyebrow. “Why?”
Kara took a deep breath. “We can’t do it yet, Grant. Your parents,”
“Her parents,” he interrupted. “Once they adopted her, they were never mine.”
Kara continued, “They’ll suspect something. Me being welcomed into the family. They’ll know it’s me.”
Grant consider this before nodding. She was right. They couldn’t.
Not yet anyway.
She dreamed of fire. Of pain. Of her childhood. Of people that she didn’t know.
She woke up in a cold sweat, shivering, the blankets tossed on the floor beside her. She picked them up and wrapped them around her, making her way to the window.
She looked out it, at the rain that was falling against the stained glass.
She couldn’t shake the sinister feeling that was creeping through her.
She sighed heavily before creeping out of her room and making her way through the dark corridors. The only other people who were awake were the guards and they all nodded at her as she made her way through the castle.
One thing that was on her mind, one thing that she hadn’t ever consider, hadn’t ever asked about until know.
Her birth, and why she was here.
She knew very little, only what May had told her. That she had been found abandoned in the courtyard, hidden away in a dark corner.
May had found her, taken her in and raised her as her own. And Jemma didn’t question, not even once.
But after that dream (could it really be a dream? It felt so real), she wasn’t sure, not anymore.
She and Coulson went out riding the next day. They were going to have a picnic, as usual. Once they were a top the hill, Jemma decided it was now or never.
“Who were my parents? My birth parents, I mean.”
Coulson looked up and there was a look of guilt (was it guilt?) swept across his face.
“Jemma, we kept this from you…”
“Kept what from me?” she asked, that same sinister feeling.
“We did this to protect you.”
“Protect me from what?” That sinister feeling had now turned to one of panic. “What aren’t you telling me?”
“May told you that she found you in the courtyard, right?”
Jemma nodded, not wanting to speak. Her head was hurting. As much as she loved these days, all she really wanted right now was to go home and sleep.
“Your parents didn’t abandon you, they sent you to us, this kingdom here to protect you.”
“Protect me from what?” Her voice was starting to break. Out of all the scenarios that she imagined, out of everything that she had imagined, this was low down on the list.
Jemma gave a sharp laugh, not one meant to mock but one that had been born of nerves. “A curse?”
Coulson nodded slowly. “You father, your birth father, he was in the black market money business, no one really knows the details. And he didn’t pay a witch…”
“A witch?” Jemma interrupted. She knew magic still existed but she thought it to be a dying art.
“Instead of hurting him, she cursed… She cursed you. You were only a number of months, five I think it was, old at the time. And your parents, made the necessary arrangements. We took you in, being the furthest kingdom, gave you two common names, even for royalty and hoped you were hidden.”
This was too much for Jemma. Everything. The more she had been told, the more the headache had built up. It was hurting her, worse than any headache ever had done before, splitting her skull.
“Jemma?” It was Coulson’s voice, full of concern and worry but it sounded faraway, distant. Her head was throbbing and the world was spinning. All she wanted to do was go home and sleep.
The last thing she heard before the darkness took over was Coulson shouting her name.
“We’ve to do this now,” a voice outside her door hissed. “Kara, we have to! She knows!” A male voice. Jemma groaned as she opened her eyes before rubbing them. She didn’t know what happened. She was on the grassy hill and now she was in her room, the curtains drawn and the fire smouldering, providing heat but no light. For that she was thankful, any light would just make her headache worse than it already was.
“That doesn’t matter,” a second voice whispered. “No one knows it’s me.”
Jemma sat up and instantly regretted it. She sat there for a number of minutes and waited until the room stopped spinning before standing up.
She recognised those voices, their names were buried some deep in her mind, she just couldn’t access them.
She stumbled across the room, listening to the arguing outside her door, trying to place the voices. She bumped into the small table that sat in her room, knocking it to the ground.
She froze when she the voices outside her door suddenly stop talking. That’s when she finally placed the voices.
Her door flung open, hitting the wall and flying back. Grant and Kara stormed in, anger evident on their faces.
“You ruined everything,” Grant said but his tone of voice was the complete opposite of what Jemma was expecting. She was expecting anger. But his voice was quiet, reserved but laced and dripping with venom.
And that scared her more than if he had been shouting.
She backed up, stumbling as she did so until she was against the cold stone wall.
Grant grabbed her dress and dragged her to the window, ignoring her whimpers.
“Please,” she said, finally finding her voice. “Please Grant, don’t do this.”
He gave a wicked laugh. “Grant? Seriously.”
He bunched the fabric up in one hand, and leaned towards the window with the other.
Jemma was begging, screaming at him to stop now. He remained impassive. He knew her fear of heights, she had since a child. A windy day on the battlements is enough to scare any three year old for life.
“Grant!” Kara. Kara was going to stop this she was going to make everything better. Make him see sense.
Grant released the front of her dress and her weight caused her to fall backwards.
“Twenty one year,” Kara said, walking forwards and stepping in front of him. “Twenty one years I’ve waited for this moment and now… Now.”
Jemma looked up at her. It was Kara. It was Kara.
But why had it take her these five years to realise.
Kara waved her hand, and from the wood that was piled beside her fireplace, came a spinning wheel. “This here,” Kara gestured with her head. “This here will be your undoing.”
Jemma looked at her, fear and confusion coursing through her veins.
“Or,” Another flick of Kara’s hand and screams coming from somewhere. Somewhere nearby. Jemma got to her feet, swaying slightly. She turned around, looking out the window. A tower of smoke was starting to form.
The old market town was on fire.
“Why?” she asked, tears making their way down her face. She knew so many people there, loved so many people down there.
Kara shrugged, unseen to Jemma. “It’s… What do you call it? Motivation.”
“Motivation!” Jemma cried, turning around to face them. “Killing innocent people.”
Kara shrugged again. “Your father hurt me.”
“All he did was not pay you money?”
Kara’s face remained steely but her voice went to a low whisper. “Is that what Coulson told you? That your father hadn’t paid me some money and I cursed you.” She shook her head, laughing. “He had my kind killed. Burned at the stake. I vowed my revenge. Not when you were young, but when you were older, much more impact. But they took and hid you. Used a protection spell. But I found you.”
“Is that what you’re going to do to me?” Jemma’s voice was small.
Kara shook her head. “No that’s not lasting.”
Kara gave a wicked smile. “Why should I say?”
“I want to know what happens to me, my death.”
“Who says you die? The town will, however, if you don’t fulfil you part.”
Jemma didn’t even need to think about it, one life for many. In the long run, it didn’t matter. “Just stop, please.” She wasn’t begging, she sounded tired, as if she wanted it to be over.
Kara nodded, clicking her fingers. “Now, sit.”
Jemma nodded, and sat before the spinning wheel.
Kara knelt down, placing her hands on Jemma’s shoulder. “All you need to do is prick your finger.”
Jemma nodded, and prayed a silent prayer to the Old Gods before doing what she had to. People had tried to protect her, but that was the thing with curses.
You can never run from them, never protect someone from them.
They catch up eventually.
There was only a speck of blood on her finger, and the last thing she thought before the darkness took over was how she had disappointed everyone.
They found her, curled up on the floor, asleep later that night. Coulson feared the worst, that it had caught up with her before even stepping foot across the threshold. May, meanwhile, knelt down next to the young woman, her daughter, tears streaming down her face.
Coulson just waked in and placed a hand on his wife’s shoulder.
There were on words that needed to be said. It had happened.
The curse had caught up with her. There was nothing that anyone could do.
She was doomed to sleep forever.
The place that was safest for her was the tombs beneath the castle, as much as her parents hated to admit that.
One of the local craftsmen were constructing an elegant coffin of glass for her. May didn’t want that. Her daughter wasn’t dead. But she agreed.
And that was the last time she spoke, and argued with Coulson. After that she locked herself away. Not wanting to do anything. Mourning, grieving for a life that was going to be unlived.
Grant and Kara, meanwhile, had fled the kingdom, never to be heard of again.
Centuries past and times changed. And Jemma Simmons faded from reality, becoming a myth. A fairy tale of a girl doomed to sleep forever.
Or that’s what everyone though until she was found in 1983.
Leopold Fitz was one of the first people to find her display in the local museum (he didn’t think it at the time, but years later he would come to terms with just how morbid this was. She was alive and was put on display). He went with his class.
“She’s pretty,” the girl he was partnered with, Skye, said. “I wanna be a princess one day.”
Fitz just nodded. There was something about her; she wasn’t juts pretty. She was beautiful. Radiant.
There was something about her that seemed to invite him in, draw him to her. Skye had joked about it being ‘True Luv’.
But they were only six, what did they know about True Love (quite a lot, as it turns out)?
And every time he visited the museum, either with family or on school trips, the sensation that he was drawn to her got more noticeable, stronger, a tugging in his gut.
When they were sixteen, Skye joked that they would break in when he was twenty one, the same age as she was rumoured to be (give or take a few centuries) and see if True Love’s Kiss did indeed exist.
Fitz thought Skye was joking, she has a personality like that but on his twenty first birthday, when he was expecting Skye, Hunter, Bobbi and Trip to take him out drinking, a traditional, American twenty first birthday (if you believe all the stereotypes) but Skye appeared in his bedroom at midnight, and whispered for him to get dressed and meet her outside in ten minutes.
“I’m not doing anything illegal!” he hissed but by then she had disappeared.
He shook his head, deciding to get dressed anyway. Whatever Skye had planned (hopefully it didn’t involve breaking into a museum) would be fun.
Unfortunately, it did involve breaking into a museum, and Fitz hated her for it.
He didn’t know how she had managed to hack the system (he didn’t know how she hacked anything, to be honest) but he knew Hunter probably had a part. Working for the museum had its benefits (though, breaking into said museum couldn’t really be classed as a benefit).
He had told them that the hall in which the coffin rested would have no guards patrolling it from 2:34 am to 3:03 am but they had to be silent and stealthy. The alarm systems may be down, but the guards carried Tasers that they weren’t afraid to use.
Fitz shook his head. They were going to get arrested and it wasn’t even going to be for disturbing the peace. He shouldn’t have made that joke with Skye all those years ago if he knew she were going to keep it.
They arrived at 12:59am.
“Right,” Skye whispered, leaning over her seat. “We’ve an hour and a half to kill. Let’s get food.”
Trip, in the seat next to her, rolled his eyes. He only came as he was the only one of them who actually owned a car. And he was going to regret this. He could just tell.
Skye turned around to face her boyfriend and batted her eyelashes, knowing that he wouldn’t be able to resist.
Trip laughed and turned the car on again. “Damn, girl.”
They did manage to find a place that sold burgers at one on the morning, which was to no one’s surprise and they sat in the car, talking and joking until the time finally came.
Nerves crept into Fitz with every minute that passed. He felt hot (too hot) stuck in the middle between Hunter and Bobbi who had yet to argue.
Maybe it was due to nerves at what they were about to do or maybe it was just due to the fact it was after one in the morning and they had been roped into an extremely ludicrous, and highly illegal scheme of Skye’s (which was worse than the time with the dog and the ice cream).
“It’s time,” Skye whispered at 2:25. “She’s in the main hall, past reception. Hunter have the keys?”
Hunter shook his head. “No one said anything about keys.”
Relief momentarily flooded through Fitz before Bobbi produced the keys from her jeans, passing them to Skye. “Great. Now, do we all go or just me and Leopold?”
Fitz cringed at her use of his first name, he hated that name. Why his mother would ever call him that he didn’t know.
“You two,” Hunter whispered. “Kinda don’t want to get fired from my job.”
Bobbi rolled her eyes. “It’s too late for that.”
In the end, just Fitz and Skye broke in. Somehow they managed to walk straight in and through reception. It was 2:32 and there was a single guard in the main hall, doing his final sweep.
He then left, and Skye gestured for Fitz to follow. He cursed under his breath. Completely regretting this. Wondering why he did this.
Skye was over by the coffin before him, trying to figure out how the lid opened. “Fitz,” she hissed causing him to quicken his pace. He felt physically ill. This was the most illegal thing he’d ever done (if the dog and ice cream thing could be called illegal).
“Skye, we’ve no idea how to even begin to open…”
“Too late,” Skye replied, not bothering to whisper anymore. Once she had opened the coffin, the alarms started to blare. “Do it now!”
Fitz knew he had two, maybe three options if he were lucky.
1). Stay still and let whatever happens, happen.
2). Give into Skye and kiss her (what’s the worst that could possibly happen?)
3). Run. Just run.
Skye was screaming at him, as were the alarms and he decided on steps 2 and 3. He bend down into the coffin, and placed a gentle kiss on her lips, the tugging sensation in his gut stronger than ever. Then…
He turned around and ran as fast as he could…
Straight into a guard. He went sliding across the floor and didn’t even bother to get up. He didn’t want to be Tasered. Being Tasered once in your life is more times than enough.
Another guard had reached Skye and was putting her in handcuffs and she gave him a casual shrug of her shoulders as if to say ‘Whoops, my fault. Never considered this.’
Fitz felt himself being dragged to his feet and handcuffs clicking around his wrists.
At least this was a story to tell years later down the line (if his mother didn’t kill him first).
He was just about to be led out when there was a coughing.
A look of confusion swept across both guards’ faces. No one had coughed in the room. It couldn’t be.
Another cough. The guard holding Skye nudged the one holding Fitz with his elbow. “Go on.”
The guard shook his head, clearly not wanting to look in the coffin. “I watch horror films. I know how this ends.”
Fitz gave a heavy sigh and pulled himself out of the grip of the guard and made his way back across the room, towards the coffin.
His hands still cuffed behind his back, he leant over into the coffin again. He was finally able to take her full beauty in, for the first time in the 15 years he had been visiting here.
He was finally able to see just how pale he skin was, almost blending with the white dress she wore, how her auburn hair lay around her head like a mane.
How brown her eyes were.
It took him a moment to realise that her eyes were open. Her eyes were open when they shouldn’t be.
She smiled up at him. “Hello.”
Fitz meanwhile, stared back down at her, confused as to what was happening. “Hi.”
“What do you mean?” Fitz honestly had no idea what was happening.
“You saved me.”
The world went black.
When he awoke, it was in hospital and his hands were not restrained or cuffed in any way.
Which was a (pleasant) surprise.
“You’re awake then sleeping beauty,” came a voice from beside him. That voice. Her voice.
He rolled over and found her sitting there.
“You’re the one who’s a sleeping beauty,” he replied, sitting up in the bed. She shrugged, pulling the blanket closer around her.
“Seven centuries and people still haven’t changed.”
He stared at her, eyes wide. “Seven hundred years.”
“Seven. Hundred. Years.” He repeated again, causing her to nod once more.
He sank back down onto the bed. “Should you even be here? In this room I mean?”
“I wanted to see you. Thank you.”
He waved her off. He wasn’t any Prince Charming.
“Oh.” A pause. “Fitz.”
She raised an eyebrow.
“Technically Leopold Fitz… But…
“Fitz,” she said, testing the word out. “I like it.” ‘I also like you,’ she thought but deemed that a though she kept to herself.
She was pretty, he admitted to himself, and she seemed to like him. Why else was she still there. “Do you…” he began, not sure how exactly you ask out a princess who had been asleep for seven hundred years. “Do you wanna go out for coffee?”
Her face took on a look of confusion. “Coffee?”
Fitz smiled at her. “You’ll love it. If not, there’s always tea.”