Everyone said the wedding was fairytale perfect. The entire kingdom showed up, except for Ella’s Step-Mother and Step-Sisters, of course. They were now aboard the HMS Enquirer bound for the Big City, where Step-Mother planned to found a magazine devoted entirely to sharing the minute details of royal life with the common people.
Since the entire Kingdom consisted of Charming’s friends, the Bride’s side of the church was completely empty. Not even Fairy G. Mother came, though at the reception Ella found her benefactor had sent an enormous pumpkin and a very nice card. The pumpkin was misshapen and blue; it stood out next to gifts of crystal and fine china. Ella didn’t think she was imagining the cool looks shot her way by her new Mother-in-law, the Queen. She wished she was imagining the King sipping champagne out of her glass slippers, and the way he slurred his words through fruity punch-infused breath. When the King started to bellow instructions on the proper way to bump and grind to the harp music, she managed to lose him in miles of ballroom draperies.
Ella’s wedding dress was spectacular. It took a dozen bridesmaids to help her carry the diamond and silver encrusted fabric through the reception; sadly it was too wide to fit through the door of the Ladies Room. Charming was barely able to reach her waist, through miles of silk and satin, for their big dance together. He seemed out of sorts, and when pressed, admitted that he was missing the first day of dragon hunting season for the big to-do; that he wasn’t much for princely occasions, nor did he care a whit for dancing. As soon as the sensational, flowery frosting-infused, twenty-layer wedding cake was cut, and their picture taken, Charming slipped away to sharpen his sword and pack for his interrupted dragon hunt.
With the help of several chambermaids, and the properly placed boot of a royal footman, Ella managed to force her gown through the chamber door. All she found of her Prince was a trail of his dirty clothes, from socks to unmentionables, lining the floor of their castle tower. Handmaidens adorned Ella in bedclothes of itchy gossamer, and clouds of scented powder wafted through the apartment. Exhausted and scratching, Ella collapsed on her bed, to spend her wedding night sneezing.
Early the next morning, the court’s wild-eyed physician trailed Ella’s low-fat breakfast into the apartment, waving a newspaper in one hand and a syringe in the other. “A wedding photo with a frown between your brows! It won’t do! The kingdom does not need to worry about what their Princess might be worried about!” Ella frowned her last frown while Dr. Artifice injected Abracadabra Botox into her face. The scowling doctor assured her that serenity was her duty.
Expression-free, Ella used a half bottle of Windex to clean her glass slippers. She wrapped her sparkling shoes in tissue and put them in the back of the closet. Leaning out the tower window, she saw Charming and his friends racing their trusty stallions over a distant hillside, in pursuit of dragons. A footman informed her The Prince wouldn’t be back until the entire land had been rid of the scourge of dragons. While she scrubbed her good scissors clean, certain that Charming hadn’t meant to use them to trim his toenails, Ella pondered the fact that she'd never seen a dragon in her life.
The first day of Princess Life was an interesting one. Her royal duties included dressing like a Princess, smiling demurely, waving to the commoners, and – most importantly – a dainty feminine sound of amusement, not as ribald as a laugh, that she was to emit only upon a secret signal given to her by the Queen. That was it. The Queen told her brusquely, her duties did not include discussing her dodgy past as a chimney sweep, aging, nor public opinions beyond championing stray kittens and puppies. Ella excelled at her obligations for two solid hours, until the changing of the guard, whereupon she escaped.
On a balcony overlooking the courtyard, Ella sat perched on a satin cushion. The masses had endured her professional waves out of the corners of their eyes, as they speculated hotly on the odds of Charming procuring a dragon. Ella simply slid down and out the bottom of her gown, leaving her tiara perched on the top of the high collar. In her petticoats she managed to secure a pair of Charming’s trousers, and made her way through the back stairwells of the castle. She had to duck into the ballroom to dodge the King. He was in the main corridor, pleading with the scullery maids to teach him freak dancing.
Darting through the ballroom, still sparkling with wedding décor and piles of gifts, Ella paused to nab the gnarly blue pumpkin her Godmother had sent her. She slipped out an archway into the gardens. A Guard was engaged in a heated argument with a Steward. He doubted the existence of dragons and estimated the intelligence of their Prince quite low. Ella stole his horse.
Stopping at a brook on the outskirts of the kingdom, Ella dismounted. Cold and tired, she built a fire. Resting on her pumpkin she contemplated her future. Ella bellowed a most unladylike protest when she was suddenly tossed into the air. She landed wrong side-up, and from inside her pumpkin, a blue dragon snaked towards her. The creature roared angrily. Nabbing a tree branch from the forest floor, Ella rolled to her feet and pointed it at the beast.
Suddenly Charming was there. He raced gallantly to her side and hugged her. “Ella! You found a blue one! Will you teach me how to find them?”
Using her branch to shovel hot coals into the dragon’s hungry mouth, Ella began to teach her Prince about how to train a dragon. And they lived happily ever after, though you couldn’t tell that until the Abracadabra-Botox wore off.
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