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Disclaimer: Once upon a time there were two men called Craig & Steve and they created the kingdom and characters of the Pretender. But then there was a period of darkness in the land of fandom when they said that there would be no more episodes. But the brave knights of the order of fanfic writers came to save them, loving them more than their creators did.

Blah blah blah…I don't own them (alas) & I'm not making any profit & no infringement is intended. Oh, and this is a response to Tiff's fairytale challenge.

A Pretender Fairytale
By Melanie-Anne

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away lived the most beautiful princess in the known world. Yet for all the beauty and riches that came with being a princess, she was desperately unhappy. When Princess Parker had been a child, she had played happily in the castle gardens with her friends, two boys who lived in the castle. Her father, the evil king, had forbidden her to see them but aided by the major domo, a kindly old man called Sydney who came from a land across the sea and over the mountains, she would sneak down to the castle dungeons to meet her friends. Queen Catherine, the princess' mother, approved of the friendship and in her heart of hearts held the secret hope that her daughter would one day marry the boy Jarod, who was a prince in his own right.

He and the other boy, Timmy, possessed such remarkable talent that the evil wizard, Raines, had persuaded the King to steal them from their families so that they could be used to extend the Empire of the Centre. The power-hungry king grew so greedy for control that he began kidnapping more and more children. When the lady Catherine had protested and threatened to leave him, he ordered that she be killed. But the evil Raines locked her away in one of the castle's many towers. Raines then took the bot Timmy and put a spell on him, transforming him into a half-man/half-boy who he called Angelo.

The young princess had been told that her mother had died and she grew sadder and sadder as each day passed. Her friend Jarod was the only person she found comfort in and one day she was brave enough to confide in him the secret of her name.

"Miranda," he'd said, "that means 'beautiful'." For of course he possessed the gift of genius and knew all things.

When the princess grew older her father sent her away. Without the love she received from Jarod her heart grew cold and she built a wall around her soul. Many years later she returned the castle; the woman her father had always wanted her to be. Raines and the king were pleased by the changes they saw in her and offered her a position of power in the kingdom.

The boy Jarod had grown into a man, and a handsome man at that. He still adored her as much as when they had been children but she was too afraid to let him into her heart.

One day Jarod decided that he could no longer remain a prisoner. He wanted to take the princess with him but when he approached her to ask, she looked at him coldly and walked away before he could find the courage to open his mouth. That night there was no moon and in the cover of darkness, Jarod ran away.

The next morning the king was furious when he found out what had happened. The foul-tempered Raines was in an even worse mood and threw lightning bolts at whoever displeased him. The king decided that to prove her worth, his daughter would have to bring the prisoner back. She agreed on condition that she be allowed to leave when the job was done. Her father assigned Sydney and another man, Broots, to help her with the search.

But the princess remembered the boy who had been so kind to her as a child and she was never able to catch him. Often, she came close to capturing him, but whether he was allowed to escape on purpose or by accident not even she would allow herself to wonder.

Then one day a man arrived at the castle and announced that he was the king's long-lost son, and thus the princess' long-lost twin brother. The king was pleased as he had always wanted a son, and now favored his daughter with even less attention than before. The princess instinctively disliked her new sibling, who called himself Lyle, and later discovered that he was just as evil as her father was.

The king decided it was time for him to remarry and he picked the woman he thought would be the most likely to bear him a child. He had no desire to marry anyone like his first wife and so the woman he chose was a blonde troll. The princess, whose mother was sacred in her memory, did not like her new stepmother. Lonelier than ever, her eye fell upon the castle's carpenter. But her father did not approve of their blossoming relationship and ordered the new queen to dispose of him, and one morning the princess woke up to find that the troll had eaten him.

Broken-hearted, the princess' heart grew even colder and the wall around her soul grew higher and thicker. No one could reach her; even he new baby brother could not make her smile.

One day Jarod snuck back into the castle to see her. He had discovered that her mother was still alive and was locked away in the tallest tower. Together, they climbed the tower walls until they reached the window at the very top. The princess entered first, followed by Jarod. The former queen was not there. But the room was not unoccupied. An ethereal-looking girl sat in the centre of the room, surrounded by a faint light. She told them that her name was Faith. She was a fairy and she had been waiting for them for the longest time. The princess demanded to know what was going on and what had really happened to her mother. Faith smiled mysteriously and took their hands. "Come," she said, "I'll show you."

The three of them magically left the room and went to another part of the castle. It had been the queen's private chamber and she was waiting for them there. The princess was overjoyed at seeing her mother after so many years. Catherine explained that great evil was afoot and that it was up to the two of them to destroy it. The princess learned that she had another brother and that as a result of Raines' evil magic, he was Jarod's brother too. The queen then told Jarod of another brother he had, but that the man posing as the prince had murdered him in a fit of jealous rage. Jarod's heart was filled with a desire for vengeance but the true queen placed a calming hand on his shoulder and proceeded to tell him more. The wizard Raines had again delved into dark magic and had created a perfect copy of Jarod.

Jarod and the princess agreed to destroy the evil that was the kingdom of the Centre. Catherine told them that there were still innocent souls worth saving within the castle walls: the princess' baby brother, the clone, their shared brother Ethan, Sydney, Broots and his daughter, and the half-man/half-boy Angelo.

Knowing what he needed to do, Jarod kissed the princess, whispered her name and declared his love for her. With those simple words he melted the ice around her heart and, very slowly, the walls around her soul began to crumble. Her mother told her to listen to the voice of her conscience. Although still afraid, the princess agreed to try, her heart still singing at the simple fact that he had remembered her name even after all these years.

Days passed.

Weeks turned into months.

Still Jarod did not return. The princess began to lose hope that they would ever triumph over the evil three: Raines, Lyle and the king.

Then one joyous night Jarod returned, again sneaking into the princess' room. The princess was delighted to see him, she had secretly feared that he would never return. He told her to make sure the people they were rescuing were in the castle's gardens the following morning. Kissing him, she extracted his promise to be careful, and knowing the danger that they were all in, she confessed her love to him.

The following morning the princess arranged a picnic in the garden, choosing a spot that was the furthest away from the building. Ethan and the baby were the first to arrive, followed shortly by Broots and young Debbie. The half-man/half-boy Angelo brought the clone. But Sydney had not arrived and the princess was worried. Telling the others to stay where they were, she ran back inside to look for him.

Alas, he was nowhere to be found.

As a last resort the princess searched her mother's secret refuge. There she found her mother and Sydney. Shocked, she demanded an explanation and was told something that had never before been uttered aloud. Sydney was her real father!

Now the princess had always had a soft spot for Sydney, and while the news was surprising it was certainly not unwelcome. The three of them hurried to join the others and made it outside just in time to see Jarod riding on the back of a great dragon. It was the fiercest dragon in the known world, of the species called the FBI, and it took the castle down with one breath of fire.

Just then a carriage drew up and a red-haired woman alighted. Queen Catherine stared at her for a moment before she ran towards her, calling, "Margaret?"

Lady Margaret recognized her old friend and embraced her. She explained that she and her husband, Lord Charles, had spent the last thirty years searching for their lost son.

Jarod stepped forward, reunited with his family at last. As Lady Emily stepped from the carriage to greet her brother, she caught the eye of Broots who immediately fell head-over-heels in love with her.

A month later there was a double wedding and such celebration as had never before been seen in the kingdom. Nine months after that Jarod and Princess Miranda were blessed with a beautiful daughter and Broots and Lady Emily were blessed with a handsome son. Jarod and Miranda reigned with wisdom and justice and as long as they lived the evil that was the Centre was not allowed to rise again.

*~*The End*~*

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