HERO TODAY, GONE TOMORROW
My parents are classic Royals: they believe that destinies must be followed, no matter what. As with every other "Charming" family in the land, our name comes with a lot of hexpectations. Many fairytales have a Prince Charming who saves the day. My brothers Daring and Dexter may have futures as heroes, but as far as I knew, there was no story for the daughter of King Charming. So how was I able to go to Ever After High, a school hexclusively for fairytales with a destiny?
Well, since my parents are THE Charmings of all the Charming families, Headmaster Grimm "just happened" to discover a nearly forgotten fairytale called Princess Charming and declared it my destiny.
I'm pretty sure he made it up. There's only one problem: the story requires me to be a damsel-in-distress. I always felt so much more than that. I've always wanted to be a hero, but worried about what it would mean for my family if I was labeled a Rebel. Then again, what if nobody ever found out?
It was the week before Spring Fairest, and Mother wanted me to wear the most glamorous ball gown in the land. While it was spellbinding, it wasn't the most appropriate attire for an outdoor festival. When I spoke up, she saod "A princess presents herself as high-class royalty at all times."
And so, wondering how I was going to able to play Fairest games in a stuffy gown, the fairy seamstress made some final adjustments. She fluttered back to admire her work, and dramatically gasped. "Have you ever seen anything more beautiful?" she asked.
Oh no! I quickly stepped between her and FLASH! Daring's smile blindingly reflected off his hand mirror. "Only every time I look in the mirror," he said. My parents told my oldest brother to escort me around town, but he spent most of his time admiring his reflection. Insulted, the fairy seamstress hurriedly packed up the gown. I thanked her and followed Daring out of the shop. Suddenly, a flier with a picture of a sad-looking ogre was put in my hands.
"Bring back Rugsy!" Rosabella Beauty, daughter of Beauty and The Beast, handed a flier to everyone who passed by. "He was unjustly kicked out of school. Being an ogre is NOT a crime!"
"Rescue an ogre?" Daring doubled over with laughter. My heart broke for Rosabella. It takes a lot of courage to stand up for what's right, especially when it's against popular opinion. And she always seems to know the truth about people. Some Charming needed to help. And it obviously wasn't going to be Daring.
Fortunately, my other brother, Dexter, can see things from different points of view. We've always understood each other. He'd join this just cause. Now if only I could find him.
After searching up and down the halls, I finally found him slumping against his locker. He had a quill and paper in one hand, and a picture of Raven Queen, rebellious daughter of the Evil Queen, in the other. He's had a crush on her for a while.
I sat down next to him. "You okay?"
He sighed. "I can't find the right words to tell Raven how I feel."
"Girls want originality, bro!" Sparrow Hood said walking by, and then he winked at me. "Right, Darling?"
Oh, no, he didn't! "Go shoot an arrow, Sparrow!"
Dexter sprung up. "Don't wink at my sister." Sigh. I always tell Dexter I can stand up for myself, but he's so overprotective.
Sparrow poked Dexter in his lapel. "What are you gonna do? Write me a poem?"
"You know what?" Dexter pointed his finger in Sparrow's face, "That's exactly what I'm going to do." He stomped away, leaving Sparrow standing in confusion. Dexter was too distracted to help. It was time for plan B. If he couldn't help me, I hoped that Raven could.
My hands shook as I knocked on Raven's door. I couldn't tell if I was scared or hexcited.
"Oh, hey, Darling," Raven answered the door with surprise. "What's up?"
Here goes nothing, I thought. I handed Raven the flier I got from Rosabella. "I want you to teleport me to the ogre. I need to see if he's innocent. If he is, I am going to make sure he comes back."
Raven gasped. "Are you going Rebel? What if your family finds out?"
"That's why I'm here," I said. "You started the whole Rebel-thing. I was hoping that you'd help and ... not tell anybody." I shut my eyes. "You understand, right?"
Raven thoughtfully tapped her chin. "Sure I do, but I've got to warn you: my magic can backfire when I use it to help people. You still want to go through with this?"
Without any hesitation, I nodded. "Let's do this!"
As Raven began casting her spell, things around me started glowing purple. I was filled with a warm, fuzzy feeling. It was working!
Suddenly the world started shaking. A loud buzzing rose to a pitched, piercing shriek. The warm purple glow turned to fragmented static. "Raven!" I gulped. "What's happenin-" POOF!
The next moment, I was in total darkness. The air was stuffy and stale. I started shivering. "HELLO?" I called out.
"HELLOHEllohello," my voice echoed back.
"HELLO?" A deeper, hoarse voice shouted. "IS SOMEBODY THERE?" A dusty cough echoed.
"Where are you?" I yelled back, when a dim light appeared in front of me. Something inside me told me to follow it. Led by the mysterious beacon, I ducked under low stone ceilings, squeezed through tight passageways, and balanced across narrow bridges. Finally the light stopped at a corner. This must be it, I thought. Turning the corner, I expected to see Rugsy.
Only instead it was a knight in white armor, stuck halfway in the wall. Slowly he lifted his head. "Please help," he wheezed.
Moments like these are when growing up roughhousing with two older brothers comes in handy. I backed up, launched myself from the wall, and threw my entire bodyweight into him. SLAM!
"My foot's unstuck," he said with hope. "Run faster!"
"I can't run faster. But..." I snapped my fingers. Every Charming has a special magic touch. When I flip my hair, everything slows down. Everything, that is, expect me.
Backing up against the wall, I flung my hair back. Time started to crawl. I pushed hard off the wall. The wind pressed against my face. I lowered my shoulder, and slammed into the knight. With a POP he fell through the other side. And I fell through with him.
And fell. And fell. And fell.
The funny thing was it didn't actually feel like falling; more like the world around me was racing upward. I was surrounded by a soft, checkered glow, and mirrors of all shapes and sizes. Curiously, each mirror seemed to reflect a memory from my life, from daydreaming in Princessology class to secretly learning to joust.
One of the mirrors suddenly stopped. A soft cushion glided underneath me, the mirror FLASHED and the memory came to life.
In the memory, we were little kids playing Knights and Dragons. My brothers wrestled in the mud. Daring tossed Dexter over his shoulder, and then jumped in victory. "You're the dragon! I'm the hero!"
Suddenly, little me leaped, sending Daring face-first into the mud. "No, I'm the hero!" I pumped my fists in the air.
"DARLING CHARMING!" Mother screamed with horror from the distance.
Let's go," Daring said with a playful laugh as we ran into the forest. "We shouldn't have let Mom see you do that, Darling."
"The mud is no place for a damsel," Dexter said in his best nasally impression of Mother.
"I'm not a damsel! I'm a hero!" little me innocently protested.
FLASH The memory disappeared and the wind picked up. I was falling... like, for-real falling this time. And the ground got closer in a hurry. There was only one thing I could do. I grabbed the White Knight, turned against the wind, ducked my head down, and flipped my hair. The world slowed down just enough to land safely on the ground.
We were surrounded by an overgrown forest like I've never seen. Trees had rainbow-colored spiral patterns. Flowers nearly thrust themselves out of their roots to grab us.
"Where the hex are we?" I asked, kicking away a thorny vine that tried to wrap around my ankle.
"Wonderland," The White Knight said as he entered the dense woods. "Though it's changed so much I almost didn't recognize it."
"This is Wonderland? Oh my Grimm!" Everyone's heard the rumours about what happened here. "So this is the Evil Queen's curse from when she tried to take over?"
"Is that what they're saying?" he asked as we pushed forward through the thickening brush. "It all started with her, but the madness got out of hand when the others from Ever After showed up. All that normalness threw Wonderland out of balance." With a swing of his sword, he cleared a wall of thorns, revealing a wooden door. "Ah, here we are," he said, pulling a key from his belt. He unlocked the door, and it swung open with a CREAK. "Well, come inside. It's only my house."
After excusing himself to change from his armor into regular clothes, the exhausted, grizzled White Knight sunk into his lounge chair, savoring the comfort. "Almost forgot what a good sit feels like."
"How did you get stuck, anyway?" I took a seat across him.
"After they captured the Evil Queen, I helped many people escape." He stared at the embers in the fire. "I was the last one through the gate. Jumped through just in time, I thought. But then it closed on top of me. I was trapped for ages." He closed his eyes. "Finally, I can rest."
"Um, before you do, can you show me the way back to Ever After?" I asked.
He opened one eye. "You're a true hero. You'll find a way."
I stared at his armor, still shining like brand new, strewn across the floor. My reflection stared back, and I knew my destiny. It was time to fight for my own Once Upon a Time.