HEAD OVER HEELS
Ever since I was little, no taller than my mother's knee-high suede boots, I heard, "Everyone at Ever After High wishes they had your Happily Ever After."
Still, I never felt special. I'm not like the other princesses at school. I learned from my mom to always imagine my life as if the shoe was on the other foot. At the end of the story, it's all about
the shoes my destiny.
But, honestly, I was never thrilled about being swept away by some random "Prince Charming". True love should happen naturally. My soul mate doesn't have to live in a fancy gated-castle community.
But can I have a fairytale romance that was never meant to be? I'm so torn. Maybe if I tell the story from the beginning it will help me see the big story.
Everyone arrived to Orientation a week before classes started, just like every year. Headmaster Grimm spoke about the importance of tradition, like he always does. Briar Beauty slept through his entire speech, like she usually does. Yet something felt different.
Maybe it was because this year we spellebrated our Legacy Day. We would magically bind ourselves to our storybook destinies. It's a lot of pressure. Once I declare to be the next Cinderella, I have to live the tale for the entire generation.
During our tour, the White Queen announced our lab heroes for Damsel-In-Distressing class, "Ashlynn Ella," she looked down at her list, "and Daring Charming." Wait... Daring is supposed to be the Prince Charming in Apple White's story, not mine! Plus, he's way too into himself! What a fairy-fail! I just wanted to be left alone.
Unfortunately, Duchess Swan didn't feel the same, "The daughter of Cinderella, already taking the best Prince Charming from her step-friends-"
"LADIES, HOCUS FOCUS!" The White Queen... to the rescue. Ugh! Curse me now.
I needed to clear my head. There's only one place I ever felt centered...
The Enchanted Forest is where magic blossoms, and royally adorable woodland creatures live, play and are oh-so-cute-and-cuddly! Every fairytale princess has a special connection to woodland creatures. But only I can actually understand what they're saying. Sometimes the animals make more sense than people.
I breathed in the spellbinding scent of the charm blossom petals. Their perfume filled my head, which must have been in the clouds, because I didn't hear anyone come up behind me, "Well abracadabra."
I jumped and toppled into the bushes. This day was not turning out to be my best chapter. When I popped up to see who scared the strappy floral glass slippers off me, I was greeted with a smirk from the rebel rocker too wicked for school, "Sparrow Hood! What are you doing?"
"Admiring the beauty of the great outdoors." He kissed my hand, winked, and vanished through the trees. That's Sparrow for you. He charms you, then he leaves you.
Suddenly, an animal shouted, "HELP!" Branches lifted themselves out of my way as I hurried through the clearing. I couldn't believe my eyes! A helpless squirrel stuck to a tree, and Hunter Huntsman lifting his axe.
"NO!" With all my strength, I pushed him face-first into the mud. I couldn't let him hurt that poor squirrel.
"Hey, what's the big idea?" the squirrel chittered. An arrow pinned him to the tree by the satchel around his little squirrel waist.
I scratched my head, "I just saved you from the scary huntsman!"
"Hunter? Scary?" I've never seen a squirrel laugh so hard.
"Pesky! Don't touch him!" a voice behind me boomed. Before I could blink, Hunter ripped the arrow from the tree. He caught Pesky and bandaged him head-to-tail. He was trying to save the squirrel, not hurt him. I was so embarrassed, "Sorry I pushed you."
He turned and our eyes met. Time stood still. His hazel eyes were gentle and warm. His mouth poetically pursed. My heart thumped in my throat. My face felt flush. Was I sick? My feet felt really weird in my heels. Why wasn't he saying anything?
As if he was reading my mind, he held out his strong hand, "Hunter."
As he walked me back to Orientation, we discovered how much we have in common! We love nature, caring for animals, we're both vegans... I was totally throne for a loop! Hunter wasn't some big ogre. He was totally charming!
We got back to school way too soon. I could have talked with Hunter forever after! He put his hands in his pockets. I twirled my hair, when I realized, "Oh no! My ring! My family ring! It must have fallen off!"
Hunter inhaled deeply, "Maybe we could... I mean, I know it's against school rules, but... if it's in the forest, a picnic is fun... Maybe we could find it... the ring, not the forest. I didn't—" Was he asking me out on a picnic?! My heart raced, and my throat went dry, "Hunter, I'd love to."
His eyes widened, "Really?! I mean... cool." He put his finger to his mouth, bit his bottom lip, then finally said, "Hext you later," and sped away in the other direction.
I couldn't believe it! The day totally flipped the script! Hunter's a fairytale dream come true. I spun and skipped back to my dorm. I was head over heels for Hunter Huntsman!
...Oh Grimm, what was I going to wear?
The next morning, the bright sun warmed me more than ever. I don't remember getting fairest, or even walking to the Legacy Day podium. I was on Cloud 9 when a stern voice yelled, "Ms. Ella...? Ms. Ella...? MS. ASHLYNN ELLA!"
Briar elbowed me, "That's me! I mean, yes?" Everyone giggled.
Headmaster Grimm looked quite cross, "Please stop humming. You're attracting every creature from miles around." The poor headmaster was covered in birds, bunnies, and butterflies.
Satisfied, he continued, "It is here, on Legacy Day, where your Once Upon a Time begins, creating an unbreakable magical binding—"
Duchess raised her hand, "Since all our destinies have a Prince Charming, what if someone fell in love with... not a Charming?" Was she looking right at me? Did she know? My breath stopped in my throat.
"Then the Storybook of Legends closes both their chapters," Headmaster Grimm explained to my horror, "Their stories vanish. FOREVER." Gasping for air, my eyes fell shut and the world went white.
When I finally awoke, Duchess — the one person I didn't want to see — sat at the edge of the bed, "Oh Ashlynn, we were all so worried."
My head hurt, "What happened?"
"You fainted, and nobody knew why," she leaned in to whisper, "Except me. I saw you with that huntsman. You're into him!"
My heart harshly pounded, "Duchess—"
"You heard the headmaster," she was right, "You can't date him. You're the daughter of Cinderella, for Grimm's sake. Your chapter would close... and his too. Not that I care."
Tears burned my eyes, "Please don't tell anyone."
"Oh I might not," she relaxed, "if you switch lab heroes with me. YOUR destiny has a Happily Ever After. You don't need Daring Charming to make it happen. Me, on the other wing..."
So that was it. I was chosen as Daring's partner, and she wanted him, "He's all yours."
She stood up to leave, "Get better, 'kay?" Get better? I knew what I had to do... I had to never see Hunter again, and it broke my heart.
I will never forget that day. The sun hung low in the sky. The air — still and cold. The trees looked lonely, outside of branches reach from each other. The seconds passed like hours. Finally I heard a rustling, and Hunter walked into sight...
...Looking so adorably silly. He wore a prince's jacket way too small for him. Through a massive bouquet of charm blossoms, I saw his face - purple because of the tiny tie around his neck. He choked out a "M'Lady." As he bent to kiss my hand, his jacket ripped.
I lifted his sweet, grape-coloured face, "Oh Hunter, what are you wearing?"
"I borrowed Dexter's jacket and tie," he wheezed, "Every princess needs a prince."
I never laughed and cried at the same time before, "You don't need to be a prince for me..." my heart fell as I stepped back, "You can't be anything to me... Duchess... if she tells anyone... I-I can't let you vanish."
His body started trembling. Was he sobbing? No, wait... "Are you laughing?" He was! The tears stopped as I stomped as hard as I could, "Why are you laughing?"
He reached into his pocket for his MirrorPhone, "Just watch this." He hit play, and I couldn't believe it! He caught Duchess admitting to Sparrow Hood that she plotted against me! "I don't think she's going to be telling anyone. Not unless she wants Daring seeing her for her true feathers."
He took my hand, and it felt like a bolt of lightning ran up my arm, "Also, I found your ring." My heart raced again. The world brightened. My true hero saved the day! As I threw my arms around him, something still bothered me, "Hunter, if anyone finds out—"
His lips curved into that smile that I will cherish forever after, "It will just have to stay our little secret." He held me with those strong arms — the safest place in the world — and the stars started sparkling again.