A/N: I do not own any of these characters, the plot, the setting, etc. They all belong to the wonderful mind of Gail Carson Levine. I simply took one of the characters and wrote what I thought he would be feeling. Hopefully it all flows smoothly enough. =)
A/N update: It has been YEARS since I wrote this story, and I just recently re-discovered it. Ella Enchanted still remains, after all of this time (and a rather disappointing movie) one of my favorite books. I first read it when I was 12, wrote this fic when I was 17, and am now in my twenties. Gail Carson Levine's novel truly brought a fairy tale to life for me, fleshing out the characters in a way that completely captured my heart. (I might still have a little crush on Char.)
Anyway, this fic was the first story of length I had ever written, and it definitely reflects that, as well as the whims of my teenaged self. (Read: there's a lot of fluff and not much plot.) Consider this my official disclaimer. :)
-ELLA ENCHANTS CHAR-
Prince Charmont stood beside his father, King Jerrold, trying very hard to stay alert while the High Chancellor droned on and on about paying allegiance to the rulers of Kyrria, and lots of other pointless dribble that had absolutely nothing to do with the funeral for Lady Eleanor. Char barely was able to stifle a yawn. He shifted his gaze to the people around the room. Lords and ladies and almost all of Frell had attended the funeral. He observed a man absentmindedly sticking his finger up his nose, and quickly looked away when the man noticed someone watching him. Char's eyes searched wildly for something else to rest upon, and finally settled on a beautiful girl. She was standing beside Sir Peter, the widower of Lady Eleanor. Char looked from the Lady Eleanor in her coffin to the girl, and realized that it must be her daughter. It was Ella. She was wearing a black silk mourning gown, and her long, dark, flowing hair was pulled back from her face. She had the brightest green eyes he had ever seen. She looked as though she was going to burst into tears at any moment.
He watched her as she stepped forward to close her mother's coffin. She closed it slowly, and it clicked shut. She stood there for a moment, looking as if she was going to faint. Suddenly, she burst into tears. Her father approached her and held her, trying to quiet her, but she pushed him away and ran for the door. She pulled it open and slipped through the opening, still sobbing. Char immediately felt his heart go out to her, and he decided that maybe he could go after her and offer some words of comfort.
After a short while of searching, Char found Ella. She was underneath a willow tree, crying her heart out. It was a wrenching sight. She was crouched over on her knees underneath the leaves of the tree, her hands over her face. Her soft crying noises could be heard from where Char was standing, just outside the curtain of the leaves of the great willow. He decided to wait until she was under better control of her emotions, until she was a little more pulled together, before he tried approaching her. If he spoke to her, he did not want to startle her or make her feel uncomfortable. He walked slowly towards the gravestones, looking at names and birth dates of relatives lost long ago.
After a few minutes or so, he noticed Ella pushing her way through the canopy of leaves towards where he was standing. She approached very hesitantly, and distanced herself from him with a bit of caution upon her face. He wanted so much to say something just right, something that would bring a smile to her face and wipe away her sad expression, but he found that he couldn't think, not with her standing so near and looking at him like she was. He found himself feeling strangely self-conscious. She was very pretty. . .
Char racked his brain, but failed to think of anything interesting. He had to say something. He gestured toward the tombstone he was standing in front of.
"Cousin of mine. Never liked him. I liked your mother."
Ella remained silent. Char started walking back toward Lady Eleanor's tomb. Ella started walking beside him, but still kept the hesitant distance between them. Char gathered his courage and closed the space a little.
"You can call me Char," he said. "Everyone else does."
Silence. Char stole a side-long glance at her. She was very intent on keeping her eyes upon the ground. Maybe she was shy. He tried again.
"My father calls me Char, too."
A slight pause.
"Thank you." Her voice trembled a little, after so much crying. He liked the way it sounded. He thought maybe if she was in a joyful mood, her voice could almost sound like singing. He wanted very badly to cheer her up. He found himself longing to see what she looked like when she smiled.
"Your mother used to make me laugh. Once, at a banquet, Chancellor Thomas was making a speech. While he talked, your mother moved her napkin around. I saw it before your father crumpled it up. She had arranged the edge in the shape of the Chancellor's profile, with the mouth stuck open and the chin stuck out. It would have looked exactly like him if he were the color of a blue napkin. I had to leave without dinner so I could go outside and laugh."
Ella was no longer staring at the ground. She was looking up at him, and her eyes were sad with the remembrance of her mother. Char cursed himself. He shouldn't have brought up her mother again! He had wanted to bring joy to those eyes, not pain. There was another long pause.
"Where did everyone go?" she asked.
"They all left before I came to find you. Did you want them to wait?" Maybe he should have asked them to while he went to find her. He had thought that she would want to be alone and escape all of their prying eyes. But maybe she didn't like his company and was hoping that there were others still at the tomb, paying their last respects. All of a sudden he felt very stupid. Of course. How rude of him to think that she would maybe want to be friends.
"No, I didn't want any of them to wait."
"I know all about you," he said.
"You do? How could you?"
"Your cook and our cook meet at the market. She talks about you." He gave her another side-long glance. "Do you know much about me?"
"What do you know?" she asked.
"I know you can imitate people just as Lady Eleanor could. Once you imitated your manservant to his face, and he wasn't sure if he was the servant or you were. You make up your own fairy tales and you drop things and trip over things. I know you once broke a whole set of dishes."
"I slipped on ice!" she replied indignantly.
"Ice chips you spilled before you slipped on them." He laughed, remembering the funny way Cook had pantomimed Ella falling and landing on her behind like a sack of potatoes.
"An accident," she protested, and she smiled.
She smiled. It was the most wonderful thing; it made her whole face light up, and brought warmth and laugher to her eyes. He wanted to etch it on his memory forever, for it would surely bring light whenever darkness came.
They reached her father, waiting by their carriage. He bowed.
"Thank you, Highness, for accompanying my daughter."
Char returned the bow, thinking he would be glad to do it as often as Ella would let him.
"Come, Eleanor," said Sir Peter.
"Ella. I'm Ella."
Sir Peter's eyebrows gave a slight twitch of annoyance.
"Ella then. Come, Ella." He bowed again, and stepping into the waiting carriage.
Char stepped forward, to assist Ella. He was expecting to grasp her hand and help her in, but instead he wound up with the middle of her arm and she had to grasp the other side of the carriage before she lost her balance. He closed the door after her. There was a ripping sound, and Char looked down to see a piece of Ella's gown stuck in the crack in the door. He started laughing when he saw Ella's face. He was still laughing as the carriage pulled away and disappeared under the trees.
Later that evening, Char realized that he couldn't stop thinking about her.
Ella. Ella of Frell.
He repeated her name over and over to himself, thinking about her sweet voice that was almost like singing. He imagined her saying his name, and how it would sound. Like a song, or a whispering breeze, if she said it softly. Char would give anything to hear her do that.
Ella and Char. The names fit well together, like two pieces of a puzzle. It had a nice ring to it. Ella and Char. Char and Ella. Perfect.
When would he see her again? Would she think it strange if he just happened to stop by her manor for a visit? Or maybe he could conveniently run into her if she went to the market, or visited the menagerie. Or maybe she didn't like him and didn't want to see him again.
No, that wasn't possible. She had smiled at him in that special way. He was certain she wouldn't have given him the gift of that smile if she didn't at least like him a little bit.
All that Char knew was that he liked her, very, very much, and he definitely wanted to see her again. She had barely spoken two words to him, but he felt. . . oddly drawn to her, and not just by her appearance. He was intrigued and interested by the enigma of her personality, too. He wanted to learn more about her.
Who knows?, Char thought. Maybe I will see her again, very soon.
And he smiled to himself, reflecting on the day he met Ella of Frell.