Glasses Half Full
Every guy in my family has the same destiny — to rescue a damsel in distress. It's the same for all Prince Charmings, even the ones we're not related to. What can I say? We do go to a school where almost every single princess has a Happily Ever After. That's a lot of destinies needing a Prince Charming.
That's why I go to Ever After High. Same for my older brother, Daring. We have to live up to our family traditions. That's no problem for Daring and his blindingly charming smile. Everyone knows he's going to be Apple White's Prince Charming unless of course he's hit with a family curse. But what about me? Hex, I don't even know who I'm destined to rescue. I believe the heart can't follow a prewritten script, but I can't disappoint my family. As the second son of King Charming, there are a lot of hexpectations.
Lately, I've been wondering if it even matters and I couldn't be happier. Ever since Legacy Day, destiny has been called into question. It's kind of hexcellent, 'cause I have a, um, crush on this certain girl at school. If only I could be brave enough to let her know.
When I heard dad was the guest lecturer in Hero Training for the day, you think I'd be nervous, but I wasn't. I looked forward to showing him that I can step it up.
The assignment was simple — rescue our lab damsel from the tower. My partner was Cupid, who recently flew in from another school. Daring says she likes me. Well, duh! She's my friend. Don't friends always like each other?
I put my fists on my hips in Classic Hero Pose #11. Invisible trumpets blared and we raced to the towers. Daring's fast, but I managed to keep up with him. When we swung over a moat of giant crocodiles, I actually gained the lead. But as I climbed the tower, my glasses fell down to the ground.
Everything went blurry. A pink Cupid-sized blur cried out, "Oh, Dexter...," and fainted with a loud thud! When I finally rescued her, dad shouted, "Dexter, you just set a new record for slowest rescue in the history of Ever After High."
Daring slapped me on the back, "It's okay, little brother. If your glasses didn't fall, you might have come in second place."
Dad towered over me, "Dexter, I know it's hard being Daring's brother, but you are a Charming. I expect more from you in Advanced Wooing."
I loudly gulped. Dad was guest lecturer for Advanced Wooing too? Now I was nervous.
I may wear glasses, but I'm not blind... I'm not Daring. Ever since we were kids, it's been the same story. Sure he's older than me (by barely a year) and heir to the family throne, but why did Daring always have to be better at everything?
Dad always saw a lot of himself in Daring. I guess that's why they spent all their time together. Whenever I pulled on dad's cuff to get his attention, his response was always, "Go watch your sister." While I love my sister, Darling, all I could think was, "Why can't I be Daring?" I wanted to learn to be the best. Instead my job was to be my brother's practice partner. If Daring made a mistake (which he rarely did), dad calmly corrected him with words of encouragement. If I made a mistake (which seemed to happen all the time), dad would yell, "Dexter, stop messing up your brother!" Whenever I did something right, he glowed about how much Daring made me look good.
So while Daring learned to be a hero, and went to parties to socialize with princesses, I stayed home to babysit Darling. It wasn't all bad. She at least let me win sometimes at 'Charmings & Dragons'. I decided I would learn by reading. I memorized every book in the castle. When I got to Ever After High, however, I found out that learning something from a book and practicing something are two royally different thing. Take, for example... Advanced Wooing.
I always felt awkward in Advanced Wooing. Pouring my heart out to some random princess in front of everyone... what a fairy-fail! Still, I couldn't let my dad down. Plus I didn't want to be embarrassed in front of everyone again. I read every book by Prince Passion Charming, but his books kind of made me uncomfortable.
I was about to call it a chapter when the spellbinding scent of cinnamon clove filled the room. Raven always smells like cinnamon clove from the potion lab, "Hey Dex, what's up?"
My heart pounded in my chest, "Oh, um, hey Raven Nothing! I mean nothing much, Raven. Heh."
She glanced at the book cover, "The Art of Wooing? Dexter Charming! Are you trying to sweep some girl off her feet?" She blinked and smiled at the same time. I can never decide what's more beautiful... her violet eyes or her berry lips.
"I wish," I slumped in my chair, "I'm studying for Advanced Wooing, but it's hopeless. I wish I was as good as my brother."
"As good as your brother?" Raven slammed the table, turning it to ice, "You're so much better than Daring! He should wish he could be as good as you."
That's the magic of Raven. She's inspired so many people. Now she's inspired me. Hex, she's the most spellbinding girl at Ever After High. I wanted to let her know how I felt. Instead I embarrassingly said, "Thanks Raven. You're swell."
Now that I was charmed with inspiration, I took a stroll over the troll bridge to the village of Book End. While on the way to pick up all the latest chapters of books on Wooing, I smelled a bouquet of charm blossoms as I passed the Enchanted Flower Shop.
I thought of Raven, and the flowers went from royal blue to soft purple. "Each bouquet changes into the color and fragrance most desirable to you," the florist explained. Wouldn't flowers be a spellbinding gift for a spellbinding girl? I thought, but then remembered that flowers always turn to ash whenever Raven's nearby. She's still getting her dark magic under control.
"Dexter? What are you doing here?" a gentle voice said. It was Ashlynn Ella, the daughter of Cinderella and my roommate Hunter Huntsman's girlfriend. Some people wonder why she's dating the son of the Huntsman instead of a prince. I admire their happiness.
"Hey, Ashlynn. I'm thinking about getting a gift for my girlfriend. I mean, a gift for my friend. She's a girl." Even thinking about Raven had me stumbling over my words.
"Sounds complicated," Ashlynn observed, "What does she like? Is she a shoe girl, too?"
"Shoes?" Seemed like kind of an odd gift, "Actually I have no idea what to get her."
"Well think hard about who she is," Ashlynn encouraged, "Pay attention, and I know you'll pick out the perfect gift." She thanked the florist for her flowers, "Well, see you in Advanced Wooing."
Oh no! I lost all hocus focus on my class project. Dad was going to flip his crown.
In the Charmitorium, Daring began wooing his lab damsel, Duchess Swan, "Princess of the lake, you are royally stunning. Even standing next to me, which is saying something. For my smile shines like the sun, my golden hair glitters, my eyes sparkle like..."
"Is your brother trying to woo himself?" Cupid giggled. She and I waited backstage for our turns. I couldn't stop biting my nails. Dad sat in the first row, clapping with pride as Daring's Ode to Daring ended. Cupid climbed to the balcony, "You're going to be fableous! Good luck!" I'm lucky to have a friend like her.
"NEXT UP, DEXTER CHARMING," dad bellowed, "and I hope you were paying attention to your brother."
I didn't need to. I remembered what Raven said, You're so much better than Daring. He should wish he was as good as you. She believed in me. Suddenly wooing words started flowing as easily as if I'd studied them, "I always knew you were someone special. You're smart and caring; beautiful and brave. You're strong, and more than that, you give people strength. You give me strength. You're my inspiration. You make me want to be a better hero."
Cupid curiously fainted again with a THUD as everyone in the Charmitorium thunderously applauded, including my dad, "Now that's how a Prince Charming woos!"
Not only did I pass Advanced Wooing, but I finally got dad's approval. On top of that, I knew exactly what was in my heart; I finally knew where my story was going. I had to find Raven.
I couldn't wait to give Raven the gift of my true heart. Maybe we could write our own story together. Maybe we could have our own Happily Ever After. Maybe... wait, is someone crying?
I opened the door to the west balcony. It's the best place in the whole school to watch the sunset. Raven sat alone, wiping tears from her eyes, "Raven, are you okay?"
"I'm fine," she softly sniffled and turned to smile at me, "Don't just stand there, grab a seat." I sat down next to her, not knowing what to say, when she sighed, "Dexter, did you ever worry about the choices you make?" I realized why she was crying. On Legacy Day, Raven declared to write her own destiny. Some people got really scared. Apple worried what would happen to her story now that Raven didn't want to be the next Evil Queen. Of course, this was the last thing Raven needed to hear.
Instead I softly chuckled, "All the time. With an older brother like 'the great' Daring Charming, I'm always second guessing myself. Or at least I was," I looked into her beautiful violet eyes, "You shouldn't worry, Raven. Never doubt yourself. I never do."
"You truly are a Prince Charming, Dex," Raven sweetly laughed, "Hopefully soon, I'll be able to discover my story."
Right then I realized I couldn't tell Raven what was in my true heart. Not yet. She's going through so much, and I couldn't make things more complicated for her. She needs a friend, not a boyfriend. Besides, I could wait, because girls like Raven are worth waiting for.