Disclaimer: Gosho Aoyama and Walt Disney make 'em. I torture 'em (translation: I own nothing, absolutely nothing).
A Sort of Fairy Tale
Chapter 1: In which a house is blown up
This story is different, and I don't mean 'different' as in, oh-my-goodness, it will absolutely blow you away much like the 'different' story of a certain wizard with a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead, or even like the 'different' story of an exceedingly intelligent young seventeen-year-old who stuck his nose in where it didn't belong and ended up in the body of a seven-year-old. This story is different in that it is refreshingly simple.
This story, like many others I'm sure you are all very familiar with, is a fairy tale.
What are the necessary ingredients of a fairy tale? Well, of course, there has to be a prince – a dashing, handsome Prince Charming. Then there has to be a damsel in distress. Preferably a beautiful young Princess of some sort. And after that, some kind of mythical creature, like, say… the Seven Dwarves.
Something's missing. What is it?
Ah, of course.
For what is a fairy tale without magic? It would certainly be a very lacking one, wouldn't it? No no, that would not do at all. This fairy tale must include magic.
So let's backtrack. We have the prince, the damsel in distress, mythical creatures, and magic.
Well, it looks to me as though we have everything. And so, let us begin.
When Kazuha was little, her parents died. She was barely over four years old. After their deaths, there had been a lot of arguments on who would end up taking her in.
In the end, her seven uncles, septuplets, had ended up with the job.
Happy cheerfully watched her, nibbling on apple slices. "Oh, but she's so cute," he gushed, making faces at her.
"She smells," Sleepy complained, rubbing his eyes.
"I think she needs a bath," Doc observed.
All seven men stared at each other.
"Can she bathe herself, do you think?" asked Sneezy in between sneezes.
Kazuha smiled at them. "Of course I can!" And trotted off to the bathroom.
Dopey tilted his head. "Well, this is going to be interesting!" he declared.
When Heiji was little, his parents died. Having been the sole son of his parents, who conveniently happened to be the King and Queen of a faraway and very well-to-do kingdom, there had been almost total pandemonium when the news of his parents' deaths spread.
"Well, little Heiji is the heir, of course," the Royal Advisor had put his two cents in. "But he's barely older than four. What are we to do?"
"He could be a figurehead," someone had supplied, "and we could put him on the throne while we pull the strings from behind."
Heiji had frowned, clutching his teddy bear.
"Or," a deep feminine voice, wearing billowing cloaks of black, had suggested, "we could just kill him."
The teddy bear fell.
After this point, Heiji's memory would fail him, and he would only be able to recall the slightest bits and pieces. What he did remember, however, was that he had been sent into the forest with a tall, imposing man with an axe in his hand.
"Are you going to kill me?" Heiji asked, calmly, much like a boy his age would say, 'Are you going to give me candy?'
"I'm supposed to," the man admitted.
"Oh. Well, all right then. Let's get it over with."
The man hefted his big, heavy axe onto his shoulder and raised it, preparing to swing it down on the small boy's neck. But at the very last second, he paused, uncertain.
"Are you sure you're okay with this?"
"Well, I'd much rather you let me live," Heiji answered, conversationally, "but you're not going to let me live, are you?"
The man scrutinized him. "Well…I might," he conceded.
"Really? Wouldn't that creepy lady get mad?"
"She wouldn't have to know," the man said dismissively. "By the way, you have a very impressive vocabulary for a four year old."
"Oh. Right." An awkward silence hung in the air. "Well, you know, I guess I'll be going. Promised to be back before sundown and all."
"Okay." Heiji turned around and prepared to venture deeper into the forest. "Goodbye, then."
"Oh. Ah, goodbye."
The only memento Kazuha had of her parents was a small picture, slightly crinkled at the edges, of a handsome man in his early thirties, a pretty woman in her mid-twenties, and a toddler with pigtails. That was her, that much she knew. She kept this picture underneath her pillow and kissed it before she went to sleep, every night.
Years had passed, and she was now fifteen, still living with her seven uncles. It had been a strange living arrangement at first, but she had grown accustomed to it and could honestly say that she had no complaints.
"Uncle Doc," she began, pleasantly, "I can't find any bacon."
Uncle Doc peered at her over the tip of his newspaper. "Really? I could have sworn I'd asked Grumpy to pick some up…"
Said uncle glared from the sink, where he was doing the dishes. "I refuse to pick up any pig meat, I tell you! Absolutely disgusting, eating a dead animal. What's wrong with broccoli and carrots? Vegetarianism is the way to go."
"But Uncle Grumpy," Kazuha interjected, "I like meat."
Grumpy shot her a glare. "You wouldn't, if you'd been raised the way I'd wanted. Bossy, controlling, the lot of you. One day, I'll move out…" His complaints subsided into angry mutters. Doc offered Kazuha an apologetic smile, and the young girl decided to settle for toast that morning, instead.It was a good life. A little boring, perhaps, and one could argue that she deserved better than to be cooped up in a modestly sized house in the middle of the forest with seven uncles. But she was happy, so what else could you do?
"We should let him rest."
"But he's a growing boy, for crying out loud, he needs all the sleep he can get. Otherwise he'll remain short for the rest of his life."
"He's only fifteen, you little nincompoop, he'll have plenty of time to grow."
"But he was up way past midnight yesterday –"
"Plotting his revenge, which as we all agree is a very worthy thing to stay up for."
"Revenge, revenge, revenge! Is that all you think about? At this rate, he's going to have wrinkles by eighteen and be bald by twenty-one."
"I resent that." Heiji sat up, rubbing his eyes blearily. "Good god, my head hurts."
"You slept on a rock," a tiny, glasses-donning, bowtie-wearing Fairy said. "We tried to move you, but then we found that there was no place to move you to, and…"
"I don't feel good," Heiji said, turning green.
"Well, whatever you do, don't get it on the suit," a tiny Fairy reprimanded him, wearing an impeccable white suit, hat, and monocle.
"I want a bucket," Heiji whined.
The two Fairies looked at each other, and then the fairy with glasses smacked the fairy with the monocle soundly on the head.
"Did you spike the punch again?" he demanded.
The one with the monocle rubbed at his head, where a lump was rapidly growing. "That hurt, damn you."
They both ceased their arguments when the sounds of Heiji retching on the green grass caught their ears.
The Fairy with glasses turned his nose up. "You clean up," he said to the one with the monocle, disappearing in a cloud of sprinkles.
Kazuha had a feeling that something wasn't quite right. If asked, she really wouldn't know how to describe it… except that it was, quite simply, a 'feeling'.
From her position on the couch, she checked off various items in her head. Uncle Doc was reading. Uncle Grumpy was grumbling. Uncle Happy was cheerfully whistling as he vacuumed the living room. Uncle Sneezy was taking his pills. Uncle Sleepy was snoring. Uncle Dopey was also taking his pills. Uncle Bashful was in his corner, talking to the mice. Perfect.
So what was wrong?
She reached over, absentmindedly snatching an orange from the table. Uncle Doc walked past just as she finished peeling and popped a slice into her mouth. Funny, she thought hazily, everything seemed to be spinning around now.
"Kazuha? KAZUHA?" She had the vague feeling of being shaken, violently, before she lapsed into the depths of unconsciousness.
After she fainted, her seven uncles stood around her, each looking pensive.
Grumpy stared at Sleepy. "Didn't we tell you not to mess with the orange? We told you to screw with the apple, you idiot. Did we not have a Family Meeting about this?"
"S – S – Sorry," Sleepy managed, between yawns.
"So what now?" Bashful asked, uncertain.
"Well, the only way to wake her up is with a sign of True Love," Doc said, wisely.
All seven men stared at each other.
"Where did we put that glass coffin again?"
"I'm going to press this button," Heiji said, matter-of-factly, "and then the Castle will blow up."
The two Fairies looked skeptical, although the one with the monocle looked fairly amused. "I thought you only wanted to kill the Queen," he pointed out.
"I don't want to live in a Castle that's been inhabited by such an evil person," Heiji reasoned, "her evil germs and all. I'd much rather build an entirely new Castle, just for me."
"Right, then. So, Conan –" He pointed to the Fairy with glasses and a bowtie, "just fly up to that branch over there – to the left – no, my left, your right – okay, good, and just stare at the Castle in the distance. Let me know when it falls."
"And then you, Kid –" He pointed to the Fairy with the white suit and monocle, "hold this wire down. Just – just sit on it."
"You guys ready?" At their nods of assent, Heiji closed his eyes and pressed the button, waiting anxiously.
There was a pause while clouds of black smoke billowed around them. "So," Heiji said, clearing his throat, "what happened?"
"The Castle's still standing," Conan reported.
"It's still standing," Conan repeated, pointing in the distance. "Come on, you can see it from down there. It's as healthy as it ever was."
"But it should have worked!" Heiji was close to wailing now, if he did that sort of thing.
"Well," Kid said, clearing his throat through the smoke, "something did blow up."
At this, both Heiji and Conan whirled around. Kid was pointing in the opposite direction, where a modest-sized house in the middle of the forest had just fallen to pieces.
Heiji felt like banging his head against the nearest tree. "Oh, crap."
Kid shook his head reproachfully. "You can say that again."
Grumpy was never really a very happy person, when he stopped to think about it, because that was more of Happy's thing, anyway. He wasn't a very calm person either, who sat down and thought things through, because that was more of Doc's thing.
Grumpy was the sort of person who, "frankly, my dear, didn't give a damn" and, when things didn't go his way, was prone to swearing down the heavens (one could argue that little Kazuha had inherited this trait from him).
Therefore, his temper had already been at an alarming high when his charge had fainted from eating an accidentally cursed orange. His temper simply rose when there was a loud, echoing BOOM and the house he had lived in for years came crashing down around his ankles.
But still, his anger management classes in mind, he tried to stay calm.
"Dopey," he began, "the house has fallen to pieces around us."
He turned and found that Dopey was dead.
His forehead twitched. He'd have to bury him later. He walked on through the debris. "Happy?" Also six feet under, right underneath the glass table. "Bashful?" He'd passed on, too. "Sleepy?" For a moment, he'd thought he was simply sleeping…but no, no, he was – well, he was quite gone. "Sneezy?" Who was he kidding. It was dead silent, and even when he was asleep Sneezy still sneezed the roof off. "Doc? Come on, Doc!" But he was dead as a doornail.
Grumpy could admit that he did feel a slight pang somewhere in his left chest area. After all, he'd grown up with his other six brothers. They'd always been together, as far back as he could remember. And now – well, it just seemed so odd, for lack of a better word, to suddenly have to face the world without them, all alone.
But he still had the girl, he thought, his niece –
He stopped, practically running into what was left of their wall.
"Kazuha?" he asked, furrowing his brown. The glass coffin they'd encased her in was gone. Simply, truly gone. Which was suspicious. Because if the coffin had been broken into a million shards, that would have been one thing. But the coffin and the girl were both gone.
This, then, meant that the impact of the blow had caused her to fly off into the distance. Which, then, meant that he had the responsibility of looking for her.
"I don't want to apologize!"
"You could have killed them, for all you know," Conan reprimanded him severely. "At least check the place out."
Heiji huffed but went in the direction of the now-fallen house. Okay, so he did feel a little guilty, and he still wasn't entirely sure why the Castle hadn't blown up, because he had planned this out so, so carefully, and everything was supposed to be absolutely perfect and the Queen was supposed to be dead right now and then he could finally take back the Castle that was rightfully his and –
"What was that?" he tried to ask, but his mouth was filled with dirt.
"You tripped," Kid informed him, somewhat of a gleeful smile on his face.
"On a person," Conan added, wide-eyed.
At those words, Heiji sprang up. Sure enough, there was a person, lying on the dirt, face-down. There was some sort of glass box-like contraption nearby, but he didn't pay it any mind. He knelt down beside her, gingerly.
"Is she dead, do you think?" he whispered.
"No, she's not," Conan said, "but she's pretty passed out."
"Hm." Heiji poked her and then rolled her over so that she was face-up. Dark brown hair in a messy ponytail. Pale skin. "Wake up," he called.
"Wake up," he repeated.
"Wake her up the way we wake you up," Kid suggested.
Heiji looked properly horrified. "You want me to slap her?"
Kid shrugged. "Well, just, you know, lightly."
Heiji lightly tapped her cheek.
"We could throw a bucket of water on her," Kid went on. "Or we could lift her skirt up. I hear that that works pretty well."
"We just want to wake her up, not molest her, thank you," Conan said, dryly.
It was at this point that a certain dwarf named Grumpy who had just survived a near-death encounter stumbled onto the scene. He caught the eye of a certain glasses-wearing Fairy, who flew to his side to talk to him.
"Hello," Conan said, pleasantly.
"Back at 'cha," Grumpy said. "Were you the idiots who blew up my house?"
Conan's pleasant smile fell, replaced with a more contrite one. "Sorry…"
Grumpy waved him off. "That girl right there is my niece. She's under a spell, of sorts."
"Oh." Conan looked over at where Kid and Heiji were still hovering over the comatose girl. "I – we feel bad about what we did to your house. Say, maybe we could help you break the spell on your niece?"
"I doubt it," Grumpy snorted. "The only way to break that spell is with a sign of True Love. I swear, if Sleepy weren't dead, I'd kill him."
Conan looked mildly alarmed.
"But you're wasting precious time," Kid was telling Heiji, "don't you have a little deadline to meet?" He gestured towards the Castle.
At this, Heiji's expression changed and he grabbed the unconscious girl by the shoulders and started screaming. "YOU IDIOT! WAKE UP! WAKE UP! WAKE UP!" He shook her quite violently, paying no heed to the fact that her head was lolling rather unhealthily on her shoulders.
"Hardly an expression of True Love," Grumpy muttered.
And that was when Kazuha woke up.
- To be continued -