Once Upon A Time

June 3, 2008
Chapter 1

“You don’t have to stay if you don’t want to.”

“Let’s face the facts.”

“What facts?”

“Giselle! The facts that you and Prissy and Madame can’t work the household all alone; it’s my duty-“
“Come on Cindy! It’s a one-in-a-lifetime chance. Go marry the Prince.” Giselle sighed dreamily. “It’s so romantic, meeting at the Grand Ball, and falling in love.”

“…I’m not in love with him. He’s in love with me. There’s a difference. I’m in love with Will. You know that.”

“Why won’t you marry the Prince? He is so handsome, with his deep voice and broad shoulders, and strong arms-”

“You’re all so silly! Like I said; I’m already in love, but not with him.”

“But he’s coming to our neighborhood tomorrow! He’ll find you, and you’ll marry him.”

“I wish that he’d marry you,” sighed Cindy wistfully.

“Ha! That won’t work. I’m too plain. I have brown eyes, brown hair, an average nose, and okay lips. I’m not like you or Priscilla. You two are extraordinary. You two are the beautiful ones of this family.”

“But you’re the one with the beautiful voice,” protested Cindy. “And anyway, I don’t know him that well. I’d never marry someone I don’t know, not in a thousand years.”

“Ooh, but his face is so handsome! It looks like it’s been sculpted by angels!”

“But Giselle, you’ve only seen him from far away. Up close, you can tell that his mom got his face done by the Three Fairies Co. when he was born. It’s way too perfect to be real.”

“Okay, whatever. Tons of people do that. Besides, he probably didn’t have a choice. I just wish he’d love me, that’s all.”

They sat and thought for a moment.

“Wait!” exclaimed Cindy, causing Giselle to jump. “I have an idea! One sec.” Cindy put up a finger. “Oh Fairy Godmother!” She called. With a POOF, a rather plump fairy named Linda burst into the room.

“Is there anything that you need, dear?” she asked Cinderella.

“Well,” started Cindy, “you see, I don’t want to marry the Prince.” Linda nodded sympathetically. “I’d like to marry Will. The only reason I went to the ball was to dance with Will. I figured he’d be there, being the Duke’s son, after all. But when I got there, the Prince started dancing with me! Servants were crowding everyone else out, so we were in a little circle. They wouldn’t let poor Will get a single dance in, which was the only reason that I went!” Cindy sighed. “Anyways, I don’t want the Prince to marry me. My idea is that we make Giselle a potion that makes her beautiful. She has feet like mine, which is good, but we need to make her more… less…” Cindy fumbled for the right word.

“Plain. Less plain,” injected Giselle.

“Thank you,” smiled Cindy. “However, we don’t need to touch her voice. I remember Papa–“ Her voice caught for a moment, and then she went on. “–Papa used to joke that her voice could make an ogre cry, it was that beautiful.”

“Now you know, dear, that any potion that I make only works till midnight. Then they’ll need to take another dose.”

“But will you be able to make enough for say, a year?”

“Yes. In fact, I have a bottle of it, enough for a week that you may use. I also can make a batch weekly and give it to Giselle. Would that be good?”

“That would be great!” cried Giselle and ran and gave the surprised-looking fairy a hug.

“I’ll make you a dress, sweetheart,” said the kind fairy, “for after you take the potion, your other dresses won’t fit. But first you must let go of me.”

“Oh. Sorry,” blushed Giselle. With a wave of her wand and a “Bibbity-Bobbity-BOO!” the godmother conjured up a dress. The dress was pale blue, with a bodice that was laced up with a darker satin ribbon. The skirt was sweeping and was dotted with tiny pearls.

“Thank you so much, Fairy Godmother. You make everything perfect!” cried Cindy.

Linda smiled as she gave Cindy the bottle and with a wave of her wand, vanished.

Chapter 2:

The next morning, the mansion was all in a flurry, preparing for the arrival of Prince Corman. Giselle remained locked into her room, only admitting Cindy with her breakfast. She had eaten and was ready to take the potion. She looked at Cindy, who grinned and nodded encouragingly. Giselle took a deep breath, and then took a swallow of the stuff. Nothing happened. Well, at least at first. Slowly, then more rapidly, a change came over Giselle.

Her hair lengthened, growing thicker and more luxurious. Her eyelashes grew super long, so if she looked up, they touched her eyebrows, which had thinned, and evened out, becoming perfectly shaped. Her cheekbones became more pronounced, her face becoming more streamlined. Her waist got reformed until it was skinnier than Cindy’s, which is saying a lot.

“I look–” started Giselle as she stared into her full length mirror

“Gorgeous!” cried Cindy, running up to give Giselle a hug.

“All I can say is that your Fairy Godmother was right! It is a good thing she made me a new dress,” replied Giselle, giggling, “I wouldn’t be able to wear any of my own! They’d fall right off!”

Jus t then, trumpets sounded from outside. It was about noon, and Prince Corman was at the house!

“Hurry. Hurry!” exclaimed Cindy, grabbing the dress.
Downstairs, Madame Semera was answering the door.

“Hello! You must be Prince Corman! My daughter, Priscilla, and I, were expecting you! Do come in! Do come–”

“Hello,” the Prince said in a tired voice.

“Come sit down, Your Royal Highness. You must be exhausted.”

They walked into the house and Mme. led them into the sitting room, where Priscilla was perched daintily on a comfy chair. She had blonde ringlets that brushed her shoulders, and long lashes framed her blue eyes. She was covering her pert nose and red, full smile behind a fan that matched her dress (which coved her big feet). The Prince sighed. In his mind he knew that the kingdom expected him to marry a beautiful lady. This one looked like she did nothing but sit around all day, ordering servants to do what she wanted. She stood up and curtsied. He was walking over to her when he saw the lady floating elegantly down the stairs. This one also looked boring, but he was sure that if he left, without having her try on the shoe, he’d never find anyone else. He walked slowly towards her as she descended. Every one looked toward the stairs. Giselle was coming down, but nobody recognized her. The Prince sighed and asked the squire holding a fantastically crafted, tiny shoe on a pillow, to bring it over to him.

When Giselle reached him, the company noticed she was barefoot. They didn’t see the heel of the twin of the shoe on the pillow, poking out from some hidden pocket of the dress, or the small lump indicating her bottle of potion.

Prince Corman knelt, and, taking the shoe, he offered it to Giselle. Gingerly, holding her breath, she placed her foot into it. It was a perfect fit. The Prince gazed adoringly up at Giselle, but inwardly he was groaning. He would be forced to marry this one. He then stood and turned to face their stunned audience, saying tiredly, “This lady I will marry, and no other.”

The consultant, squire and trumpeter nodded approvingly, while Mme. and Prissy frowned. Giselle smiled broadly. At least she has a pretty smile, thought the Prince grudgingly. Giselle looked back up the stairs, where Cindy was standing. She gave Giselle a wave, then disappeared.

“Now,” asked the Prince, “what is your name?”

“Oh,” Giselle blushed. “Sorry, Your Highness. My name is Giselle.”

At this statement, both Mme. and Priscilla’s mouths dropped, and for once they were silent. They hadn’t given much thought to the identity of the mysterious lady.

“Well Giselle, just call me Charming. Shall we be going then?” inquired the Prince.

“I guess so,” said Giselle. “But we’ll be riding, won’t we?”

“Of course,” said the Prince, dreading what she would say next.

“In that case, may I go and get some riding clothes on? I wouldn’t want to rip this dress. And these shoes truly kill my feet.”

Corman sighed with relief. “Of course. Take your time.”

Giselle smiled. “I’ll be right back.”

Giselle ran up the stairs and burst into her room.

“Cindy! Help me! I need to get my riding clothes on!”

After about ten minutes, Giselle came back down the stairs. She had only a small suitcase, which held her shoes and her dress, which could fold up until you could hold it in the palm of your hand, and also some things that she didn’t want to part with.

“Are you ready to go?” asked the Prince.

“Yes. Finally,” said Giselle.

Chapter 3:

The Prince led Giselle outside and placed her on his horse. Giselle remembered from the elective she took in her years in “Gallea’s Great School For Ladies” (more commonly known as GGSL) that his horse’s name was Vanquisher. She was glad that Mme. made her go to that school. Now that she was going to be a princess, or even queen, that training could come in handy.

As we trotted through the countryside, they talked about their lives. Surprisingly, the Prince was an interesting character. Giselle was impressed. He also listened to her a lot. The Prince thought that she wasn’t as boring as he thought she would be. This might have been a successful endeavor, he mused. They were in the middle of debating the best technique to use when you jump a horse when they came up to the castle.

She had visited the castle before, of course. Every girl who went through GGSNL visited the palace every year. But this was the first time she had been through the front gate, with the Prince himself.

The party was greeted with lots of out of tune trumpet blasts, and a herald announcing the arrival of the Prince and his bride-to-be. They trotted right up to the great front doors that served as the main entrance to the castle. As they were approaching, Giselle noticed a tall, proud figure in a splendid (but kind of scary) black and green dress. She was talking to one of the guards. Then she looked at her. Giselle fought back a scream as she saw the woman’s eyes flash red. A great cold washed over her. She felt like she was falling into a well of despair. Her body stiffened, and she shivered uncontrollably.

“Is everything alright, Giselle?” asked the Prince.

“Oh. Yes,” answered Giselle, a little shakily.

“Are you sure?” the Prince inquired with sincere concern. Giselle nodded.

There was something about that woman that made Giselle want to turn the horse around and flee. But she had to go on. She made sure to sit up straight and tall.

Prince Charming groaned when he spotted the woman.
“Now I’ll have to explain to mother why I didn’t let you ride in the carriage and made you ride.”
Giselle laughed. Her laugh is so beautiful, thought the Prince.
“You didn’t make me ride. If I remember correctly, I begged you to let me ride!” giggled Giselle.
The Prince jumped off the horse and offered his hand to her. She copied his movement, smiling and ignoring his hand. He looked at her with astonishment in his eyes, and something else Giselle couldn’t identify. Admiration? Relief? A mix?
“That was quite impressive, my lady,” said the Prince in a mock serious low voice. “What next? Am I going to be surprised by your amazing talents with a lance or sword?”
“I can use a sword, but don’t worry. I wouldn’t embarrass you that much. Yet.”

She was really quite a superb swordswoman, having begged her stepfather to teach her and Cindy in secret when he was alive. Giselle missed her stepfather. He would come home from attending one business or another, then pick Giselle and Cindy up and swing them around and around, until they collapsed with giggles. He wasn’t afraid of Mme. When he died, all the laughter was gone from their house. It took almost no time for Mme. to get rid of almost all the servants and move Cindy into the attic, and register Prissy and Giselle in GGSL.

Giselle sighed. She wished that Cindy’s father were still alive. The Prince gently took her hand, drawing her to his mother. This woman was freakishly scary. She made the hair on the back of Giselle’s neck to stand up straight. But she’d promised Cindy. That thought made her smile at her mother-in-law-to-be, despite the fact that the woman sent shivers riding up and down her spine. She was a person who kept her promises. After all, Giselle meant “pledge”.

“So this is your bride-to-be,” she said. Her voice was slick as if she had just swallowed a barrel of oil and honey. Thick, syrupy, and greasy. Giselle barely managed to repress a shudder. “She’s okay, I guess.”

“Okay?” asked the Prince incredulously. “That’s no way to address Giselle.”

“Of course, of course. Well, dearie,” she practically spat at Giselle, “If you haven’t figured it out, I’m Queen Maleficent. I rule over all of Gallea.” She held out her hand to Giselle, who looked at it for a moment, then timidly took it and shook it.

Just then, a bell sounded. Corman grinned broadly. “Dinnertime.” He led Giselle through the doors of the castle and to a great dining hall.

There were lords and ladies galore, waiting for their Queen and Prince. And also for a glimpse of the Prince’s bride-to-be. Giselle felt she curtsied a million times before she got to her place next to the Prince’s.

“They are quite bothersome, but you’ll get used to it,” informed Corman out of the corner of his mouth.

The only word that Giselle could use to describe the feast after was fantastic. There were 7 courses. Corman and Giselle talked a lot through the whole thing, which took no less than 2 hours. Giselle’s favorite course was the last. The cooks brought in great sculptures of sugar. There were giant flower bouquets, horses, fountains, and more. Last of all the Head Cook brought a special little one just for Giselle and Corman to share. It was of a miniature man and woman standing underneath a heart shaped wreath of flowers.

“The trick with this is you have to feed it to one another or it won’t taste right,” the he said with a wink. “It also has a special ingredient in it that I won’t mention, but makes it taste good. So be careful of how much you take.” The Prince grinned and Giselle blushed.
“Well, what are you waiting for?” the cook asked mischievously.
“It just seems to beautiful to break,” explained Giselle.
“It was made to be eaten,” he said with a hint of exasperation.
“Would you two quit arguing already!” exclaimed the Prince. He broke off a piece and popped it into Giselle’s mouth.
The taste was spontaneous. It was a blend of the chocolate chip cookies that Cindy’s father used to make with them when they were little, it tasted of the sweetness of the nectar she and Cindy drank from the little flowers in the meadow. It tasted of caramel and sugar and all the different things that Giselle loved to eat, but still wasn’t bad. It was the best thing she had ever eaten.
She opened her eyes and pulled off another piece, which she gave to Corman. He smiled as he chewed. He has a nice smile, and he himself is very nice, thought Giselle. She asked him what it tasted like.

“It tastes like fresh apples and chocolate and so many other good things that I can’t remember. But it’s the most wonderful taste in the world.”
Giselle’s stomach was full, but her dress still fit her perfectly. The potion probably keeps my waist the same size no matter what, she mused. The Prince showed her to her rooms, which were next to his his. Then he took her face in his hands.
“I love you.”
Those were the only three words he said before he lowered his head to place his lips softly over hers. His lips had a slightly minty taste, and were extremely sensitive. Giselle thought that she would faint. She couldn’t believe that Cindy hadn’t fallen in love. Giselle was beginning to think that even if she weren’t taking the potion, he’d love her. By the time he let her go, she was faint. She floated into her room. It was some sort of living room. It was quite cozy and was lit by a fire and several candles. She noticed that there was a clock on a desk below the arched window on the northern side. The clock read 11:59. She hurriedly fished the potion out of her pocket and just as she started feeling a change, she drank another swallow of the liquid. She opened the drawer in the desk, set the potion inside, and slid it closed. She sighed with relief and locked the drawer with the elaborate key she found on the desktop and slid the red ribbon over her head and tucked it into her shirt.
As Giselle looked around, she noticed several wooden doors leading off the room. She also noticed a set of French doors next to the desk. Opening them, she saw that they led to a white marble balcony. She walked out onto the balcony and saw another pair of French doors leading to what must be Corman’s room. She wryly noted that there were curtains by the balcony to keep things private. Not that she would need them! At least not yet, anyways…
Giselle went back into her room and opened a door on the wall that was left of the desk and the French doors. It led to a bedroom. Deciding that her curiosity could wait until morning, she slipped off her dress, took off her shoes, shook her hair loose of her hair band, slipped on the nightgown laid at the foot of the bed, and fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.

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