Friday morning saw the students of Ever After High excitedly talking about the ball to be held the next day. The castleteria was a buzz with whispers of who was taking who, what everyone was wearing, and for the Monsters about plans for packing up and getting ready to return home.
It had been a fun week for Frankie and her ghoulfriends, even if they still didn't understand what the big deal was about when it came to the whole following their parents' destiny thing. The new and sometimes strange classes had definitely been interesting to take.
"I am so glad we don't have Professor Rumplestilskin has a teacher at Monster High," Clawdeen said. "It would really bite having to spend four years with the threat of spinning straw into gold for a failed test."
"Damsel in Distressing wasn't nearly as much fun as I thought it would be, but the class on surviving dragon kidnapping was kind of fun. The dragon that was used for the demonstration was so sweet," Draculaura said. "I would take her home with us if she'd fit through the mirror."
"Ugh, don't remind me about that. Mirror travel is the worst. There has got to be a better way to get back to Monster High."
Frankie laughed at that, thinking the same thing. The mirror had been a disorienting ride to say the least. Just as she was about to add her own opinion on it, Deuce and Clawd ran up to their table. Both looked worried and out of breath.
"Have any of you ghouls seen Jackson or Holt this mourning?" Deuce asked. "He never came back to the dorms last night. We just checked the lie-bury and the step-lie-burians said that Headmaster Grimm released him from detention yesterday evening before dinner. We've looked everywhere."
Frankie's eyes widened in concern, "No. We haven't seen him yet. Are you sure he didn't come back last night and didn't just leave early." She really hoped that was case. Maybe he was just finishing up a class project.
"Yeah, I'm positive," Deuce said.
The table went silent as they all looked to each other for reasurance and found none.
The headmaster had left sometime ago, but hadn't released him from the restraint pinning his arms to his sides and his head down.
But whatever the retched man had hit him with that had made everything spin had worn off completely and he could think a bit more clearly. Panic was still clouding his better judgement as he tried to worm the little vial out of his pocket.
After all, if he was calm, he'd probably be able to come up with a better idea, but he didn't really have much time. He had to get out and warn Raven about the the headmaster's plan. There was no telling what that potion would do to her.
Not only was it going to be mixed with some random drink, some of which had magic in them, but it wasn't the original. It was whatever altered version ran through his own blood. Blood that wasn't entirely human. It was unstable, that was all he knew from his own experiments with it.
He needed out of these restraints and out of this room right now.
If you know what's going on, why don't you make your useful and go tell Maddie?
That's not how this works. I told you that the very first day.
Damnit, why couldn't you be a ghost or invisible person who was tangible? At least then you could get me out of here instead of annoying me.
Hey, just because you're in a tight spot, doesn't mean I can just skip to the next part. Just try to ignore me. I have to narrate this part. It's important for the readers to know what is happening so they aren't confused.
His response was to say something that the narrator could not in good conscience repeat to the reader, but suffice it to say, she was very put out by it.
He grumbled and the vial finally dropped into the palm of his hand. But now how to get it in his system. Obviously, he couldn't drink it like this.
He twisted his head as much as he could and looked at the vial. It wasn't the one he had gotten from the storage room at Monster High. No, that was safely at home with his parents. But he had sythesized a small amount for himself without telling anyone. For his own purposes.
He had put it in his pocket and forgotten it was there when everyone made their quick plans to follow Raven to Ever After High. It was a good thing the headmaster hadn't found it. It was also a good thing it hadn't broken.
Because now he was going to break it.
It was the only way to get it in his system given his current predictament.
Closing his eyes and taking a deep breath, trying not to think about how much this was going to hurt, he pressed the glass into the table with all the strength he could muster.
It shattered under the pressure, glass shards slicing into his palm, the Hyde potion spilling over the table, soaking into the leg of his pants and puddling under his hand. It mixed with his blood, seeping into him and cycling through his veins. He felt it slowly consume him, his thoughts went into overdrive, his heartbeat sped up, he could feel the slight burn like his usual transformation, but it wasn't painful.
What happened next however, was nothing like his usual transformations at all.
He knew who he was still, but also that he was someone else now. Everything that had happened up to this moment was still at the forefront of his thoughts and the panic turned to rage.
How dare that fucker do this! Holt Hyde twisted and turned sharply and so hard the table tipped from side to side. Finally crashing to the floor and damaging the restraints enough that he was able to free one hand.
That was all he needed. Once out of the straps holding him down he charged the door, slamming his shoulder into it with all he had. A magic field repelled him away, knocking him to the ground. He growled and slammed his fist into it, leaving a bloody smear behind, but otherwise not getting through.
From the fog of anger a thought came to him.
He stilled and listened, and a devious smile spread over his face. It was an idea that he wouldn't have normally had the clearheadedness to think of in this situation, but this wasn't a normal transformation.
Hey, look, I know we got off on the wrong, what is it, page? Yeah, we got off on the wrong page. But you like a happy ending right? If I don't get out of here and stop that idiot no one is going to have a happily ever after again, because once Raven takes that potions she'll destroy this world. So why don't you do me a solid and tell a certain kitty cat that I know I great way for her to cause some mayhem.
Well, I suppose I could do that. I mean, it's not like I'd be giving the ending away. Yeah, okay, but just this once.
Hmm, mayhem you say. Well now, how can I say no to that?
Kitty wasn't sure exactly how switching Raven's drink with one of the Royals was going to cause mayhem, but it wasn't like it took a lot of effort to do so. If nothing came of it except some minor grumbling, then so be it.
And she had gotten to see for herself that Headmaster Grimm had a very private lab with all kinds of stuff in it that she could play with later.
She looked around the room, trying to pick a victim. Holt was on his way, she had opened the door for him, but the room was a long way from the castleteria. She wasn't going to wait for him.
Her eyes finally fell on the perfect victim and a smile was all that was left of her as she vanished herself over to Raven. It was nothing to grab her drink and switch it out. Then she vanished herself away to the upper floor and watched from a safe distance. Holt hadn't told her what this would do, only that it wasn't a normal drink and the headmaster had something to do with it.
Curiousity was a specialty of cats and Cheshire's had it in abundance. She held her breath as Dexter Charming picked up his drink and took a long swallow.
She hoped this would be good.
Dexter frowned down at his drink. Whatever was in the cup hadn't been what he had meant to fill it with, that was for sure. There was this horrible, bitter taste and it was kind of making him really mad.
He sent the drink a disapproving glare and pushed it away. His skin felt tingling, and vision blurred slightly. Next to him Daring was prattling on and on about his usual nonsense to a gaggle of dumb broads. Dexter removed his glasses and gently put them down on the table.
"And that is how I saved what would have been a truly tragic bad hair day. It always pays to have a mirror on hand. Why if I hadn't shown that poor sod what a mess he was, we would have had to endure such a horrible sight all day long. Though he still wasn't nearly as handsome as I," Daring said. The girls oohed and aahed. "But that can't be helped. There's no way to fix a case of "not being Daring Charming" am I right, brother, or am I right?"
Daring nudged Dexter in the ribs. What a twat.
An smirk spread over Dexter's face as he lifted his head, opening his eyes he looked right at the girls surround Daring.
"Oh I don't know, a few bricks to the head should be good enough to drag anyone down to your level. Brother."
There had been so many times in the past that Dexter had thought those words, but he'd never had the courage to give them voice before. It felt good saying them, freeing.
Daring nodded at first, then did a double take. "Excuse me. I think you meant raise them up to my level. Obviously," he said. "Silly Dexter, always kidding around."
"Oh no, I meant exactly what I said. But I suppose a narcissistic baboon like you might think otherwise, isn't that right girls?"
"Oh yes, Dexter. Whatever you say," the young damsels and princess' chorused in rapt adoration and absolute obedience. Daring stared at them wide eyed, baffled by the sudden turn around and completely missing the creepy, glazed over looks in their eyes.
Dexter let his smirk spread even farther. Oh this was so much fun. Why hadn't he done this sooner. Watching his idiot of an older brother flounder was like a dream come true. The feeling of power that was steadily growing in his chest snaked through his veins, filling him with confidence.
The more it consumed him the darker his thoughts became. No, that wasn't right. It wasn't that they were becoming darker, they had always been dark. It was just that he had kept them tightly under lock and key in a desperate attempt to be the second perfect son he was expected to be.
Well, no more of that. Why should he be pushed to the side for Daring. Daring was a blowhard who couldn't see past his own reflection. He was a shit hero, but Dexter was the only one who seemed to notice.
"Dexter? Girls? What's going on? Is this some kind of dark magic?" Daring was looking worried, then suddenly his face lite up like he had just found the answer to the universe. "Oh I get it. You're all playing a joke on me. Well, ha ha, good one. You almost had me, but there's no way my adoring fans would ever turn away from me." He struck a pose and flashed his best Charming smile. His teeth glinted in the morning sun light.
Not a single girl at the table noticed, they were too busy staring dreamily into Dexter's eyes.
Dexter might have been amused by all of it, if Daring's inflated ego and careless disregard wasn't so enraging to deal with. The disdain that had bubbled to the surface of his thoughts blazed across his brain and brought with it anger and resentment.
The emotions had been building pressure and now the seal was broken.
"Sorry, what was that? I'm afraid I don't understand Jackass," Dexter said, venom dripping from the words.
Daring went red in the face, "You're taking this joke too far now, brother. It's over."
"The only joke around here is you," Dexter said, prodding Daring in the chest none too gently. "Did you honestly think anyone here wasn't going to figure out that you are a useless hack. You're no Prince Charming, just a sad little pauper with delusions of grandeur, too full of yourself to even notice if someone needed your help."
Dexter took advantage of Daring's stunned stillness to lean in close. "And here's a little secret. Darling can run circles around you in any arena, by pass you in any hero event and she does it all without expecting a reward. Our little sister is a better hero than you could ever hope to be. Maybe you should be the one locked in a tower waiting to be rescued. After all, you might be a shitty Prince Charming, but you'd make for a great Beast."
Daring's jaw dropped. In fact, the entire castleteria went so silent you could hear a pin drop.
"Dexter? What is the meaning of this, this sudden bismerchment of my person?" Daring stood, taking a step back, one hand clutching dramatically at his chest.
Dexter looked less then impressed by his brother's antics. As the brown slowly bled from his hair, turning it a striking platinum blonde, he leveled Daring with a half-lidded glare.
"Oh, that's a big word. Careful, Brother, we wouldn't want you using up your limited brain capacity for the year. But to answer your question, I've grown tired of your baseless arrogance and your inane prattle." Dexter eyes flashed a disturbing red color right as he spoke, his skin taking on a lightly tanned color.
"I'll have you know my arrogance is anything but baseless!" Daring said, drawing his sword from the bench were he had left it. He pointed the business end at Dexter, who gave a dismissive snort in acknowledgement but seemed unconcerned. "Why don't you back up your words, little brother. And we shall see which of us is truly worthy of the Charming name."
Dexter smirked at the girls surrounding him, stretching out his arms over his head as they sighed dramatically, still enthralled by his eyes.
"If that's what you want," he told Daring and in a move swifter and stronger than anything he had ever done before, he had moved from his seat, sidestepped his brother and wretched the sword from his hand. A quick kick to the backside sent Daring stumbling forward. The rest of the students gasped in surprise.
Daring regained his balance a second before his forehead collided with the table. Turning back around he found himself staring down the blade of his own sword. His eyes followed the length of the blade all the way up only to find himself looking at a twisted version of his own brother.
Dexter's lips were quirked up into a malevolent smile, his eyes burned red with maliciousness. This was not the brother Daring knew.
"Oh no," he said just as Dexter raised the blade for a killing blow.
"Dexter! No, don't!" Raven's voice rang out in the terrified silence. "This isn't you!" She ran forward, putting herself between Daring and the sword.
"Sorry, Babe, but Daring's book is about to close."
"Dexter, I don't know what's happening to you, but if you just put the sword down before you do something you'll regret, then we can fix this."
"Maybe I don't want to fix it," Dexter said. "Maybe I like being able to speak my mind for once."
Raven opened her mouth to reply when Daring shoved her out of the way and slammed himself shoulder first into Dexter's stomach, knocking him back several paces.
Dexter held his ground, slamming the hilt of the sword into the space between Daring's shoulder blades with enough force to drop him.
"Oh goody, there's still a little spark left in you. That just makes this more fun for me." Dexter brought a knee up into Daring's jaw, just as the older boy started to go down.
Daring flopped back and held the sore spot, his eyes watering as pain ran across his jawline. He barely managed to avoid the next blow, rolling to the side as the castleteria erupted into frantic cries and students running into the halls in a blind panic.
Some students ducked under tables and overturned benches as the exit clogged with bodies.
Daring barely managed to escape blow after blow, the sword just inches from flesh and getting closer to it's target with every swing. His breath came in heaves and sweat dripped from his brow as he struggled to keep Dexter from ending him. The blade took a lock of hair as it's reward when he didn't move fast enough. It sliced with expert ease through shirt and Letterman's jacket, leaving a thin line across his chest that beaded with blood, but wasn't very deep.
He found himself backed into a corner, once more Dexter raised the sword, blood-lust in his eyes. Daring saw the blade descend in slow motion, his life flashed before his closed eyes as he prepared to die.
The sound of metal striking metal rang throughout the hall. Daring opened his eyes to see his sister's back. Her sword clashing with Dexter's.
"Run! Hurry!" Darling shouted at him. Daring wasted no time in obeying her orders, scurrying to hide behind an table some other students had overturned as a blockade.
"Why did you stop me?" Dexter asked her, his faced contorted in anger. "You hate having to listen to Mom and Dad drone on about how great he is too. With him gone, they'll be forced to notice us."
"This isn't what you really want, Dexter. I know the real you, you'd never do this of your own free will."
Dexter snorted. "Is that what you think? Then I guess you don't know the real me any better than the rest of them. If you won't stay out of the way, then you're part of the problem."
Darling parried the blow just in time. The two of them danced across the room, swords clashing, leaping over and onto tables. Neither one had felt this level of exhilaration before. They kicked out bowls and plates to distract their opponents, they fought for higher ground and tried to take advantage of every weak spot.
All the while Raven and Apple tried to herd the students to safety and above Kitty watched with rapt attention. This hadn't been what she had had in mind when she switched the drinks. A bit of chaos was fun, but some of her friends were in real danger and that was no laughing matter.
Darling was starting to gain the advantage, whatever had happened had heightened her twin's reflexes and strength, but she had experience on her side, when the doors burst open and the headmaster stormed into the room.
"What is going on in here!?" His bellow stopped both in their tracks. "And who the hell are you?" He pointed at the changed Dexter. This only seemed to draw the boy's wrath to a new target.
"It figures you wouldn't recognize me. You've never paid attention to anyone you haven't hand picked to be in the Snow White tale."
Students hiding behind tables peeked over the edges and whispered conspiratorially at each other. That was quite the accusation after all. The Headmaster was suppose to protect their stories, but he wasn't suppose to decide who did what.
Headmaster Grimm turned white, then red, a vein on his forehead throbbed. "How dare you!"
"Oh stuff it, you wind bag. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that you picked and chose who you wanted in which roles. Not after we found out the Story Book of Legends was a fake. You're the only one with access to it, so you would have to have been the one to control the fake."
"I demand someone tell me what's going on right this minute! Who is this insolent boy!"
Behind Dexter, Darling made wild motions to the headmaster, desperately trying to warn him to not push things. She didn't know what was going on with her brother any more then the headmaster, but she did know attracting this version of Dexter's ire would not end well. She didn't think she could put him down, not her own twin. The thought alone made her stomach churn.
Headmaster Grimm either ignored her, a plausibility given his interest in her, or he didn't notice her. "Name yourself and cease this nonsense at once."
Dexter's grip on the sword tightened as his seemingly boundless anger ignited. So did the sword for that matter. Flames licked the edge of the blade, roaring to life from nothing.
"Dexter, he didn't mean it," Raven shouted. She was holding a magical shield around several cowering students who had managed to box themselves in a corner. "Headmaster, tell him you didn't mean it, for your own good."
Instead the headmaster turned from Raven to Dexter, the color draining rapidly from his face as the boy stepped menacingly toward him. Darling grabbed onto Dexter's arm in an attempt to slow him down.
"That can't be. You can't be Dexter. How could this have...no," Grimm said, stepping back in horror. "No, Raven was suppose to drink it, not you! How could this have happened?"
Dexter stopped. Raven stopped. Darling let go of her brother's arm, jaw dropping. Every student held their breath.
What had the headmaster done?
"What was my little song bird suppose to drink?" Dexter was very suddenly right up in Grimm's face. Fury was radiating off him, the flames on his sword raged.
"The Hyde Formula," a voice said, quite calmly given the circumstances. In the door way stood Holt, leaning casually against the frame. He was examining his hand, pulling blood soaked shards of glass from it and nonchalantly flinging them to the floor.
"You tried to drug Raven!"
The headmaster hit the floor with the force of the punch, somehow just managing to avoid being burned as well. Not that it mattered. Dexter was on him, raining blow after blow in a blind fury.
"Stop it!" Raven dropped the shield around the students and instead directed her magic to pulling Dexter off the headmaster. The boy flailed wildly, growling and swearing death to the older man. The headmaster was curled in a ball, also held by Raven's magic.
"Aw, why'd ya stop him?" Holt asked. "Clearly lover boy has some issues he needs to work out. And what better way than to beat the cause of those issues into a bloody mess? Just so long as he saves some for me. I don't appreciate being kidnapped, having my blood drained to be used against a friend and then being left to rot in a cage."
"Don't let him come near me!" Grimm cowered where he was being held to the floor. "How did you even get out?"
Holt sauntered over and squatted down to look Grimm in the eye, for the first time Grimm noticed that the boy wasn't alone. His monster friends and Giles, as well as several other faculty members, were also standing in the doorway.
Giles in particular held a look of immense disappointment. As Milton looked to him for help, the younger brother turned away. He had gone too far this time. Giles walked away.
"You see," said Holt, "As it turns out, no matter which me is in control, I'm always awesome. I had a little something to give me a boost in my pocket. And even the wimpy me has the guts to do what needs doing when push comes to shove." He held up his shredded palm and gave a mockery of a wave. "The original stuff works pretty fast when it goes directly into the blood. Comes with a fun surprise too." He leaned in and whispered. "I remember everything."
"Holt, don't do anything rash," Raven said. Her tone was all business. The headmaster had tried to do something horrible to her and Dexter was already paying the price for it. Part of her wanted to see the headmaster get immediate punishment and she'd be lying if she said she couldn't have pulled Dexter away from the man sooner.
But she also didn't want vengence. She wanted justice. Justice wouldn't be served by hurting the headmaster.
Frankie walked up to Holt and put a hand on his shoulder. She smiled to Raven to reassure she had this under control.
"Holt, why don't we get that hand looked at before you get an infection," Frankie said. "Giles Grimm has gone to get the authorities and let the rest of the staff know what's going on. They'll take care of this. You wouldn't want to make more trouble for Raven. She has her hands full with these two."
Holt let the tension in his body drain. "Yeah, you're right. Mom would be pissed if I fried a teacher, no matter if he is a scum bag. He's not worth a scolding from Mama Hyde."
He stood and looked at Dexter, still struggling to escape from Raven's magic, murder in his now red eyes.
"Hey," he said to Raven. "There's probably still time before it bonds completely to his molecular structure. If you work fast, you should be able to purge it from his system. He won't end up like my family, uncontrollably flipping back and forth. Never quite whole, only half of themselves present at any given time."
"But how do I do that?" Raven asked, looking worriedly at Dexter.
"You don't. Just let me be. I like this way better than the push over I was before," Dexter snarled. "Come on, babe. Don't you want someone who can protect you. I'm way more powerful this way."
"You're out of control this way." Raven said. Holt whispered in her ear before allowing Frankie to lead him out of the castleteria. Raven looked around at the few people remaining and blushed.
She couldn't really do that in front of everyone. Could she? What if it didn't work?
"Come on little chickadee, let me end him. Then he can never hurt you again. Isn't that what a Prince Charming is suppose to do? Save his princess from the evil trying to hurt her?" Dexter wheedled, an undercurrent of danger in his every word.
Raven wavered a bit. A heady cloud of desire, specifically desire to please Dexter, tried to take root in her mind as she looked into his eyes. With a shake of her head, she looked back at the headmaster, still stuck to the floor by her magic, his eyes pleading with her for mercy.
"You're right, if I let you go, he couldn't hurt me anymore. But then I'd have to live with knowing that I let something terrible happen to someone else. Worse, you'd have to live with it." She walked up to Dexter, setting him down but keeping him contained. "And I know the real, complete you would be devastated that you did something so cruel."
"I want the real Dexter in my story. Not just a part of him," she said. She took his face in her hands and smiled sadly. Then she leaned in and kissed him for all she was worth. If it didn't work, at least she tried.
She pulled away and watched. At first there was no change, then his face paled and he looked about to be sick. She released him just in time for him to drop to his knees and vomit up a dark liquidy mess onto the floor.
With each heave he became more and more the Dexter she knew. His hair darkened and his skin lost the dark tan, his eyes had turned back to the bright blue she was familiar with.
He was left shaking when he finished. Looking up at her, he seemed so confused at first.
"What just happened?" His questioned trailed off as a look of horror crossed his face. Raven winced as she watched. Clearly, he remembered everything that he had done.
"It's okay, it wasn't your fault." She tried to reassure him. "Everyone is going to be okay."
"Oh no, Daring! I tried to kill my own brother," he said, his hands tangling in his hair. "I'm mean, sure he can be annoying sometimes, but I've never wanted to kill him for it."
"Hey, just what is that suppose to mean? Darling, I'm not annoying! Am I?" Daring called from his hiding spot. The last part came out as a pathetic whine.
As Darling halfheartedly consoled one brother, Raven guided the other away from everyone else.
"It'll be okay, we all know it wasn't the real you doing all that," she said as they left the castleteria. "Come on. Let's get you to the infirmary. I want to make sure it's all out of your system.
Dexter stopped, bringing Raven to halt as well. "But it was the real me. Or at least a part of me. That's what Holt said, isn't it. That what ever that stuff in my, or your, drink was, it made it so that one part of you is in control at a time. That means that all that anger I felt is a part of me somewhere, buried deep in my mind."
"Everyone has a little anger in them. That doesn't mean it rules you or is who you really are. It's just a small part of what makes you, you," Raven said. "I accept that part of you, I do. But I also know it's not all that you are. The real Dexter is in control of that anger, not the other way around. This just took away that control, that's all."
She laughed nervously, "I mean, can you imagine what would have happened if I had drank it like the headmaster wanted? That could have gone badly for everyone."
Dexter placed a hand on her shoulder and looked her in the eye. "Raven, you're one of the most well put together people I know. You're open and honest to everyone about who you are. I doubt that even a messed up potion like that could have changed you. Maybe the side it would have brought out would have been an all good side." He smiled at her and something about the way he looked at her made her believe his word as gospel truth. "But, just the same, let's not find out." He added.
She shook her head to clear it, realizing his glasses where still in the castleteria. Strangely, he didn't seem to be having a problem seeing where he was going. Well, she'd bring it up later. They had enough to deal with right now.
Deuce walked back to the mess that was the castleteria. Cleo had left her mirrorphone behind when they had left to look for Jackson and in all the commotion had completely forgotten about it.
So, when she realized it was missing, Deuce had volunteered to go get it. It was that or stay and deal with the meltdown she was about to have and honestly, he didn't think he could handle it calmly after the intense mourning they just had. He needed time to decompress first.
He was somewhat surprised to see he wasn't the only one there. Everyone had been told to go to their dorms if they weren't injured and wait for further instruction after the faculty had reprimanded the headmaster to his quarters.
So it came as a bit of a shock that he found himself staring at the most rule abiding student that he had ever met.
Apple didn't look up at him as he walked over to her. She just continued to stare at something in her hand. As Deuce approached, he saw that it was cup.
"Everyone is becoming a rebel," Apple spoke up, acknowledging his presence, but still not looking at him. "Even Briar doesn't want her destiny. Maybe I am the one who is wrong, but I don't know how to be anything other than Snow White."
Finally she looked up at him, her expression desperate and pleading. "Do you think I could be a rebel too, if I drink it? Would it be better if I didn't care about destiny anymore?"
She held up the wax paper cup, with it's thin plastic lid and stripped bendy straw. It looked so innocent, so unassuming.
But Deuce knew that a nightmare waited inside.
"That won't help you," he gentle pushed her hands down, guiding her to leave the tampered drink on the table. "That will only make everything worse. Trust me. My best friend has to deal with the consequences of his ancestor's mistake everyday of his unlife. And you saw what it did to one of your own. Nothing good comes from trying to force yourself to be someone else."
"But what am I suppose to do? At least if I was turned into a villain I would still have a role to play! Or maybe I just wouldn't care so much that it hurts."
"You do you, Applepie. That's all that anyone wants and that's the only true way to be happy."
"I don't even know who I am without the Snow White story! How can I 'do me', if I don't know who me is?"
Deuce leaned against the table, pushing the tainted cup a bit further away, just to be safe. "The way I see it, that's what High School is for. Figuring out who you are or who you want to be. What are some of the things you like doing that don't require eating or drinking poison?"
"I like helping people."
"See, there's a start. That's something that is a part of you. There are lots of jobs that involve helping people that don't involve evil stepmother's trying to kill you. You could be a cop, or charity worker, or build houses." He listed off suggestions, ticking them off on his fingers one by one.
"On second thought," he said, looking at her not quite over the rim of his shades, "I think you'd make a good teacher."
"A teacher? I've never thought about that. I do like children," Apple said. She nibbled on her bottom lip as she considered it. "Or an advice columnist. I've been told I give very good advice, especially went it comes to solving disputes. A business consultant or defense lawyer."
There was shine coming back to her features that had been missing for a couple of days now. Deuce hadn't paid her much mind before, but he definitely noticed that she had been looking dull now that it was back. A smile pulled at her lips as she began to rattle off all the possibilities she had denied existing until this moment.
"Hey, how about you start your illustrious career is fairytale services by helping me find Cleo's phone, before she summons Anubis on us. I'd rather not deal with a cranky Egyptian death god. Most of them aren't too fond of those of us who are of the snake persuasion."
Apple blinked herself out of her revelry with a perky, "Of course."
As they looked behind upended tables and under spilled breakfast dishes, Apple cleared her throat and with a tone a bit brighter then somber said, "Thank you, for listening. And for helping me see things a bit differently. All the rebels talk about is what they won't do, but your the first person to give me alternatives to do."
Deuce looked over to her from across the room. It sounded to him that none of her friends had tried to approach the issue from an angle that Apple could follow.
"Hey, no problem."
"Maybe if you tried calling her phone, we could follow the ring?" Apple suggested.
"Hey, that's a good idea. You really are good at giving advice and solving problems," he said as he pulled his phone out. "One day, you'll make a great queen."
Cleo's ringtone echoed from three tipped over tables and one pile of benches. It sounded like a new beginning.
A timid knock barely managed to reach the boys' ears as Deuce and Jackson finished packing the last of their stuff. Tomorrow they headed home, but tonight they said their goodbyes to Ever After. The dance had been cancelled due to the upheaval caused by the revelations in the castleteria the other day. Classes too had been suspended, but Apple had suggested that a small going away party for the Monsters should happen.
It was the least they could do, she reasoned, considering how the former headmaster had drugged, kidnapped, and assaulted one of them.
Jackson winced as he unthinkingly grabbed the door handle with his injured hand. The nurses here had magic to fix the majority of the damage, but it was still very tender. The deeper cuts hadn't healed completely either, so a bandage was wrapped tightly around his palm that itched something awful.
"Yes?" he said as he answered the knock. Then, seeing you was on the other side, winced again. "Oh, it's you." He tried to keep his tone neutral.
Dexter looked down at his sneakers. "I wanted to apologize. You know, for being uncharming to you pretty much the entire time."
Jackson stepped back and waved the other boy in. It really was freaky how much they looked alike here; he was glad he didn't have a doppleganger waiting back home too.
Deuce shuffled towards the door, eyeing the two boys nervously. "I'm just going to leave you two to work things out." He slipped out of the room before one or the other could stop him.
"So," Dexter began awkwardly, looking around the room as though hoping to find the right words hiding somewhere among the flotsam and jetsam. With a defeated sigh, he flopped onto Deuce's bed and groaned.
"I don't even know where to begin," he said.
"Yeah, I don't either," Jackson said.
"Why couldn't you have been more, I don't know, weird looking. I think I could have dealt with you better if it didn't feel like I was looking in a fun house mirror."
"Hey," Jackson said, perking up slightly. "I feel the same way. It looks like we finally found something in common."
Dexter laughed, just a tiny chuckle then flopped over to stare up at the ceiling. "Maybe more than that. Or rather, I think I at least understand a few things better than I did before."
"What do you mean?"
"When you guys showed up for the first time, I didn't know what to expect. Raven said she was bringing her new friends with to show them around. I guess I just thought they'd all be girls. And then a copy of me comes stumbling out of the mirror and Raven was always talking about how much you helped her. I guess, I just didn't like the idea that she had a better version of me hanging around her. I'm sorry. I didn't give you a chance. And now I know what's like to really have another version of myself that is an actual threat. Maybe if I hadn't been a jerk, I might have at least known what was happening to me.
"Maybe I could have controlled myself better."
"There's no controlling it," Jackson said, sitting on his own bed. "Raven's a great friend, but I have someone else I'm interested in. And even if I was interested in her, I think she has her heart firmly set on you. If the kiss working the way it did is any indication. Did you get the all clear from the nurse?"
"Yeah," Dexter lifted himself up on his elbows and eyed Jackson, a faraway smile on his face. "Love's kiss is a pretty strong cure around here. Not much stands up to it. I remember, I have you to thank for that too. Raven is one the sweetest girls I know, but I know she wouldn't have been confident in our relationship enough to think of it on her own. I don't know that I would have either, if our positions had been reversed."
Jackson gave a grunt and looked away. "It was only sort of me. Well, I think it was me, but it also wasn't." He waved his hand in a vague circular gesture, not really sure how to vocalize the experience.
"I know, believe me. As of yesterday, I understand better then anyone else in this world."
"It's usually different for me. I don't usually exist as me at all when Holt takes over. This was the first time I've ever been hit full on by the original transformation. I understand why my Great Great Grandfather was addicted to it. It felt so," he trailed off, not sure how to finish the sentence.
"Yeah. And scary."
"I'm sorry, you had to go through that."
Silence stretched between them. Dexter sat up completely.
"There is something that wanted to ask you though. Do you hear a voice? I mean, I've never heard it before I drank that stuff, but now it kind of sounds like a woman narrating everything we do. But I don't always hear it, just in the castleteria the other day and now here."
"Yeah, just try to ignore it."
"I don't know that I can. It's kind of distracting."
"You'll get use to it. Or maybe Maddie can help you with it, if you can understand anything she says."
"So that's Maddie's narrator? I always thought it was her just being Maddie. Like, you know, a Wonderlandian thing."
"Nope, it's real and apparently now we are both mad enough to hear it."
"Oh, it's stopped."
"I'm sure it's only temporary. She can't seem to shut up for long."
I can't wait until you are gone.
Both boys' eyes widened, looking around the room suspiciously. As far as finding common ground was concerned there were better things to bond over then shared psychosis, but they'd take what they could get.
The farewell party for the Monsters was on it's way to wrapping up. Raven stepped away from the pulsing music that Melody and Holt had recently turned down to proper background noise. The gentle lull of conversation and dim lights faded as she wandered out of the charmitorium and across the grounds, lost in thought.
It was hard to believe everything that had happened in such a short amount of time. She looked up at the stars and sighed.
Her feelings on everything were a jumble. Relief that she no longer had the headmaster glaring at her, excitement about her rapidly improving magic, sadness that her new friends were leaving.
And uncertainty. She had no idea what was going to happen next. It was a little scary, but also, she found she couldn't wait to turn to the next page.
Her wandering brought her into the school proper and she found herself passing the headmasters office. She hesitated at the door, something inside her compelling her to go in.
The door was unlocked, the room dark. A mirror stood in the middle of the room, the shimmer of a magical shield surrounded it.
Raven wasn't sure what she had hexpected to find or even what made her enter, but it wasn't this. She was familiar with this particular kind of mirror. A prison cell.
A mist shifted behind the glass as she came as close as she could to it. A shadow moved toward the surface and the mist cleared.
Raven stepped back, startled. "Headmaster?"
Milton Grimm came into focus just in time for her watch the startled look on his face melt into something between resignation and aggravation.
"It's you. Come to gloat, did you?" He said, crossing his arm defensively.
"No! No, I didn't even know you were here still. I don't know why I came here."
"Technically, I'm not there. I'm in a holding cell while I wait for my sentencing. Now if you have no reason to be here, get out!" His face turned slightly red and he turned away from her.
"It's not like I wanted this to happen. You brought this on yourself when you tried to poison me. Which, by the way, was very Evil Queen of you. Dexter was right, you acted the part of the villain rather well." Raven clenched her fists and stomped her foot, a crackle of magic snapped around her fingers.
"If you had just followed the script like you were suppose to I wouldn't have had to resort to such measures."
"That also sounds like something a villain would say."
"So I suppose you believe yourself to be the damsel then?"
"No, I don't. We are all protagonist of our own stories and I hope for the opportunity to play many roles, not just one." She sighed, finding it hard to order her thoughts. "I just wanted my story to be mine, not my mother's, not Apple's, not Snow White's. There are so many new stories that aren't being written because everyone keeps retelling the same, old ones.
"And now that I think about it, I guess I got that, didn't I. But I never made any of you play any particular part. You chose the role you played."
Grimm looked down, and his shoulders sagged. "New stories. I suppose it was inevitable. The old is always replaced with the new eventually."
Raven frowned. She had never said anything about replacements. "I don't want the old stories to be replaced. I just want to be able to add to what's already there." She tried smiling, but it didn't quite reach her eyes.
She leaned against the desk, picking up a vase of wilting flowers. "I think our world is big enough to handle some more variety. Just because something new comes along, it doesn't mean we have to throw out the old."
She pulled a flower from her hair, Dexter had given it to her earlier that night when he picked her up for the party. She smiled and added it to the vase, waving her hand over the bunch of flowers, sending a rejuvenating burst of magic to the wilted ones in the process.
She held it out to the former headmaster to see. Her new rose stood out among the white daises, but still fit comfortably with the bunch.
Grimm's face went ashen and his eyes widened. "How? You shouldn't be able to do good magic. Not with the." He clamped his mouth shut in a hurry.
Raven looked at him suspiciously. It almost sounded like he knew about the curse that had been placed on her.
"Not with what?" She asked, placing the vase down and stepping in front of the mirror again.
"It's not nothing. You were going to say something and I want to hear it." Raven stood ramrod straight and stared him down.
"You shouldn't be able to use good magic because of the Good Intentions curse I placed on you as a child. Happy now? Is that what you wanted to hear? That all along you were destined to defy your role? That you were born with good magic? That the only way to try to fix it was to curse you?"
"You cursed me? And here I was thinking it was my mother." Anger warred with relief. Her mother hadn't been the one to curse her. But the man in front of her had. "I can't believe you! How many other's have you done this too?"
"Only the one's I've had to in order to protect the stories!"
A sweep of magic rippled through the room, knocking over knickknacks and cracking the windows. It sizzled across the protection barrier around the mirror.
"They don't need you to protect them! They are the foundation of this world! No one is going to forget them! The old fairytales were told long before us and they'll be told long after both of us are gone. They've never needed protection. You've just been destroying the possibly of new ones. Goodbye, Milton Grimm."
Raven turned on her heel and stormed out of the office, slamming the door shut behind her.
In another world, sitting at the bottom of a river, protected from the water by countless layers of ancient magic, the Storybook of Legends glowed brightly. A powerful magic ripped away the spell binding the book and for the first time in a long time it did what it was made to do.
The book burst open, pages flipping wildly as it slowly rose up from it wet tomb.
Just as suddenly as it started, the pages settled. The last page with writing resting down to reveal a blank page. And on that page words began to scroll across.
Once upon a time there lived a young princess. Her skin was pale as milk and her hair was as black as a raven's feather. But this girl was no ordinary child. She could do magic...
The magic of the book sparkled and new magic pored from it's pages as it recorded the first new story in hundred's of years. Slowly, as the story unfolded, the book vanished from Wonderland and reappeared once more in the land of Ever After, it's proper home.
The place where stories are born.
And the world breathed again with new life.
In another mirror, in another place, an evil woman smiled. Things may not have gone according to her plan, but the objective was achieved. Not by her, but by her beautiful, amazing daughter. She could be content in her prison knowing that.
"I'll miss you guys," Raven said as she hugged Frankie goodbye.
"Hey, we're only a mirror away, right," Frankie said, squeezing Raven back and trying not to zap her with her bolts.
"Yeah, but it's not the same."
On the other side of the room, Cupid lamented that she hadn't gotten to spend as much time with everyone as she wished she had as she too said her goodbyes to her old friends.
Her monster friends had only just gotten there it seemed, and now they were leaving again.
Next to them Dexter and Jackson shared an awkward nod with each other. Both of them were just happy at the thought of not have people confusing them for each other anymore.
Not far from there, Apple stood before Cleo and Deuce, a gift basket of apples held out to them.
"I wanted to thank you both, for helping me understand. I wish you all the best of luck and good journey."
Deuce accepted the basket with a lazy salute.
"And I wish you luck on finding your own story. I'm sure that it'll be almost as good as mine," Cleo said. Apple teared up a little and then surprised Cleo with a sudden hug.
"I really mean it. It means a lot to me," Apple said once she had backed away.
"Well, you know, if you ever want to talk I'm sure I can arrange to get one of my many mirrors back home converted. When I do, I'll see about looking you up. It is nice to have another royal to talk to on occasion."
"I'd like that very much," Apple smiled at her new friend.
Giles Grimm cleared his throat. "I believe it is time," he said. He motioned everyone over to the travel mirror. On the other side Headmistress Bloodgood's gothic office stood out in sharp contrast to the bright, cheery world the Monsters were about to leave.
"Like they say," Clawdeen began with a smirk, "there's no place like home."
"I didn't realize how much I've missed Monster High until just now," Draculaura said, practically pressing her face to the smooth surface.
"Yes, well, if you'll just stand back. I'll open the portal," Headmaster Giles Grimm said.
"Not that I didn't like it here, I mean, aside from your brother kidnapping one of us and trying to poison Raven, I had a lot of fun." Draculaura gave him a strained laugh as she backed away.
"It's quite alright. I understand the sentiment," Giles assured her. A few swiped across the mirror's surface and he nodded that it was ready.
The girls and ghouls all gave each other one last hug, the guys all a wave or pat on the back. Then the group of Monsters stepped through the mirror.
The trip was bumpier than the first and they were all relieved when the mirror spat them out. Or they were until they looked up.
They had been expecting a dark office with cobweb decor, yes, but this was not the headmistress' office. The floor was hard, cold cement instead of dark purple carpeting. The cavernous room was empty safe for random bits of debris and garbage. Everything was damp and cold, with a heavy scent of mold and dirt.
There was no furniture save for a single, metal post with a big red button on it. The only light in the room came, not from a mirror, but the giant metal ring that dominated the wall behind them. It was from this that they entered this world and as the light shut off, casting them into complete darkness, they realized something had gone very wrong.
"Uh oh," Frankie said.
(Ever After High, one minute prior)
From the space between spaces, a certain mischief maker smirked as she watched them all go. They had all been so busy with their last good byes that no one had noticed her slip out a hand an run it over the mirror's guidance controls.
"Yes, do have a safe trip home," Kitty purred. A trip to a random world would serve them right for using her like that. After all, one can't trick a trickster and not expect some kind of payback.
I know, I know. Apple will be a queen someday for a job. She and Deuce were discussing things for her to do to find her own story before that. And Kitty is just spiteful. Actually, Kitty is favorite character from Ever After High.
In the Spring Unsprung special, the characters make note that EA is all about magic, but it's magic seemed to be coming from Wonderland. That seemed odd to me, since Wonderland is it's own thing and there had to be a time the two were connected. Meaning EA has to be capable of producing its own magic at some point. I figured that's were the Storybook comes in, turning the energy of a new story into magic and its corruption/disappearance forced the word to leach off Wonderland's magic like a life support system.
And don't worry about the Monster's they'll find their way home eventually, but it might take awhile. There'll be three more stories in this series, but they'll be much shorter than OSotM or SEA and cross over with different series entirely.