: A Proper EndingFandom
: Cinderella/Sleeping BeautyRating
: 1,739 wordsTimeline/Spoilers
: Modern AUWarnings
: Implications of violenceSummary
: The concept of 'happily ever after' can be open to interpretationAuthor’s Notes
: Written for smallfandomfest
, prompt: 'Fairy Tales, Writer's Choice/Writer's Choice, our happy ending.' Unbeta'd, all comments & crit welcomed.
And then they lived happily ever after.
Great. Fantastic. Close the book, bring down the curtain, turn up the lights. Wipe an emotionally fulfilled tear from your eye.
Except it's not, is it? The end, I mean.
Nobody ever gives a thought to just how much ever after
there really is.
The clue's right there, really.
There's a lot of ever after. Seriously. An awful lot.
It's not the end. There is no The End.
I first bumped into her in a Starbucks in New York. Literally bumped -- I was wearing ill-advisedly high heels, and ended up losing first my balance, then my dignity and finally my grande hazelnut cappuccino. I used to have grace, but I've become a bit of a klutz over the years. An example of the anti-evolutionary impact of invulnerability, right there.
Most of my coffee ended up in her lap. She was wearing black jeans, so things could have been worse stain-wise, but the coffee was fresh-brewed and hot. If nothing else, it would have hurt.
She gave this little shriek and jumped up, nearly tipping over the table. Nobody paid any particular attention -- it was New York, after all -- just an old guy in the corner, who didn't have a newspaper with him, looking up with the mildly hopeful expression of someone who thinks there might be a show in the offing. Probably a tourist.
And he was right; there should have been at least a bit of a show. Physical assault was a definite option -- it was still New York, after all -- but even if matters didn't go that far, a choice selection of insults was clearly called for.
But she didn't insult me. She didn't yell or scream at me, she didn't rant or hurl abuse. She didn't even threaten to sue me.
She did look angry. For a second, there was a whole world of fuck me, I am so sick of this shit on her face
. For a second, she looked like she wanted to tear me apart with her bare hands.
Then all that vanished and she just looked scared.
She closed her eyes, clearly counting to ten -- you could just about see the numbers flipping over in her head -- and when she'd finished she opened those clear blue eyes, gave me a big smile and told me it didn't matter, not to worry, accidents happen. No harm done. No harm at all.
And with that, I knew her. Maybe it's some mystical connection, or maybe I just recognised that attitude because it's what I do myself, all the time. No harm done, I'm absolutely fine, I'm not hurt, upset or offended in any way whatsoever. Nothing to see, here. Nothing to worry about. Definitely nothing to avenge.
'I know who you are,' I said, but she was already gone.
The word 'princess' is used as an insult these days, have you noticed that?
Indulged. Spoiled. Pampered.
Not something the modern young woman aspires to.
Today's girls are resourceful, independent, capable. They don't expect to be protected, or to have everything handed to them on a plate. They live their own lives. Fight their own battles. Choose their own lovers.
If they want to go to the ball, they order a dress online from ASOS and phone for a taxi.
No pumpkins. No glass slippers. No Prince Charming. Every time a child says, 'I don't believe in fairies,' there is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead.
I wish you were right about that, Peter. I really, really wish you were right.
I found her again a year later, in Edinburgh. I knew I would, at some point. I get what I want: it's a narrative requirement.
She was working in the Castle, which I thought was adorably amusing, and renting a room in a big old Georgian house in the New Town, just like something out of those Alexander McCall Smith books. Literary tradition, you know? It's in the blood.
As luck would have it, the young fella next door suddenly decided to leave the country in a bit of a hurry, so there was a vacancy just waiting for a new tenant to fill. I travel light, since my needs tend to get catered for, so I was soon settled in.
She wasn't sure about me at first, but I've learned how to be be patient. It's not something that comes naturally when instant gratification is your birthright, but I have had a long time to practice. I helped clean her flat and took her shopping (for shoes, mostly. Old habits die hard) and woke her up whenever she slept through her alarm (which was most days, to tell the truth. Old habits...). I usually settled for a cheerful thump on the thin-as-paper wall between us rather than going for the traditional kiss, but I was certainly keeping that idea in reserve.
I felt like I was making slow but steady progress, when things really started to swing in my favour. That was the day she told me to fuck off.
That's not the kind of thing that happens to us often. Part of that -- a sadly large part -- is simply because we're pretty. It's depressing, just how many doors beauty will open -- how impressed people continue to be by nothing but physical attractiveness. You'd think they would have learned better, by now. Humanity's curse, to value that which means nothing. Mirror, mirror, on the wall...
Sorry, bad joke.
Another part of it is due to a certain inherent sweetness of disposition (on her side, at least -- I've fought harder against it, I don't know if you can tell) and then the final part is simply that we avoid confrontation at all costs. Just like she did in that Starbucks, we breathe, smile, count to ten and walk away. We don't let it escalate, we don't make enemies, we don't allow anyone to get within five miles of causing us any harm.
It gets messy, otherwise. Metaphorically and literally.
So when I finally managed to goad her into yelling at me, into honest-to-goodness losing her temper with me, I grabbed her by the shoulders before that automatic reaction could kick in and I said, 'It's okay, it doesn't matter, don't you get it? You can't hurt me. She
can't hurt me.'
And when it sank in, when it finally sank in, she unloaded who knows how many years' worth of frustration and suppressed anger with inventive cursing in at least fifteen different dead languages and a right hook that broke my cheekbone in two places.
Not the most conventional of romantic overtures, but what the hell. I heal easy, and sometimes you have to make the effort to break free of genre limitations, you know?
*May the child be blessed with a charmed life.
Sweet sentiment, isn't it? A nice thing to wish on your baby girl.
Clue: Sure. But not when it's fairies doing the blessing, and their arts providing the Charm.
Fairy, fae, sidhe, old ones, earth spirits, demons.
Which is the odd one out?
Clue: There isn't one.
The 'godmother' part is hilarious, too. Pure PR. You can't help -- like my well-meaning but misguided mother -- thinking in human terms: a golden-haired beauty hand-in-hand with a plump, rosy-cheeked old woman who steers her gracefully around life's pitfalls and gently admonishes anyone who might try to get in her way.
How close to the truth do you think that picture is?
Clue: Replace the kindly old woman with Hannibal Lecter and the gentle admonishing with breathtakingly vicious ritual slaughter, and you're getting warmer.
And that's with still keeping the imagery in human terms. To get near objective reality, your imagination would have to go places that would put Lovecraft to shame.
So, taking all that into consideration, how blessed with my charmed life do think I feel?
Clue: ... Oh, come on. You don't really need any more clues, do you?
In so many ways, we are hopelessly mismatched. I'm a sun worshipper, she burns in five minutes flat. She likes haute cuisine, I'm a pizza and chips girl. She adores scuba diving, I'm terrified of deep water. I'm a cat lover, she's allergic. And on, and on, and on.
So we argue over holidays, dinner, housework, money, you name it. We fight over the remote control (she hates soaps, I hate football) like you wouldn't believe.
We sulk, yell, slam doors, throw things at each other, break up, get back together -- and then do it all over again.
And it's wonderful
When she disagrees with me, or doesn't want to do what I want, she doesn't suddenly go glassy-eyed and then explain, with grovelling apologies, how right I was all along. If she does something to upset me, she doesn't mysteriously disappear. Well, sometimes she does, but that's because she's packed her bags and gone to a hotel for a couple of days. I come home to find a note on the kitchen table, not bloodstains on the walls.
Apart from one misunderstanding about noise levels, I haven't had a visit from the police in all the time we've been together. I can't begin to tell you how relaxing it's been.
For us, anyway. I doubt out our not-so-plump godmothers would agree. Each time we fight, they have to fight. Except I don't think they get to make up in bed afterwards.
They still follow our gingerbread trail, but it's taking longer each time.
Our house has gained a reputation for being haunted; too much malevolence in the atmosphere, too many things bumping (and shrieking, growling, wailing etc...) in the night.
We don't mind. It might seem a bit like a genre mix-up on the surface, but fairytales have always been horror stories dressed up in cute clothes.
What happens if they end up killing each other? We don't know. No more magic, presumably. No more charmed life.
So then the last paragraph of the story will become, 'And then some things worked out and some didn't, and sometimes they were blissfully happy and others they were completely fucking miserable, until they got sick, or run over by a bus, and died.'
Now that's what I call a proper ending.