Disclaimer: I do not own Shrek or any of its affiliations, products, or so on. Just a couple copies of the movies. Meow.
"Not fair!" a tiny green ogre girl yelled at her two brothers. "Mommy said you're not allowed to leave me behind!"
Her bald brother turned around and stuck his tongue out. "Daddy said if you can't keep up, that's your fault!"
"No he didn't!" she yelled back, indignant. "And Mommy said that if you keep leaving me behind, I get to use my fists to keep up!"
"She wouldn't say that," the red-haired brother stated, standing on a rock overlooking the swamp and tree stump where they all lived. His hair was short and fluffy, and he crossed his arms at his brother and sister's arguing. "And Daddy said no more arguing!"
"Go play with Donkey," the bald boy said to his sister, perhaps a little too harshly.
She began to tear. "I can play with you two if I want!"
"Randy, Sarah," the elder brother chided. "Stop arguing. Sarah, we never said you couldn't play with us," he tried to reason.
"I never wanted her to come!" Randy, the bald boy, stated.
Ignoring Randy, Sarah looked up at her other brother. "Really, Dustin?"
"Really really," he replied, grinning. "Puss should already be there waiting for us."
Randy made a face. "We're too old for babysitters," he grumbled.
"Puss is fun," Sarah argued back. "I like him." She posed the way Puss tended to, imaginary sword drawn, and giggled. "He's always making us laugh."
"And we're not too old," Dustin told them both. "We're five; Mommy says we have to be careful anyway. Humans don't like ogres too much."
At that, Sarah pouted. "How come humans don't like us?"
"They're stupid," Randy answered her, making another face.
"Daddy says it's cause they're scared of us," Dustin replied while giving Randy a "be quiet" kind of look. "He says as long as we don't judge them without knowing them, they won't judge us."
"What's 'judge' mean?" Sarah asked, and the three of them began walking out into the forest, side by side.
"I think it means to make others less important," Randy tried to answer.
"That's not it," Dustin told him. "It means, um. . . To. . . To be afraid of. . ?"
Sarah shook her head, her longish auburn locks swishing back and forth. "That doesn't sound right."
"We could ask Mommy," he suggested.
"Mommy knows everything, right?" Randy said.
"I think so," Sarah agreed.
The three children jumped back and looked up at the voice that spoke to them. They saw what appeared to be a centaur, with the body of a horse but the top half more of a human's shape -- but with the sun behind it, they couldn't tell for sure. Sarah latched onto both her brothers and the three of them took steps back. Dustin particularly tried not to be scared, as the voice had been a soft one, and walked to the side a little so the sun moved out of the way.
There was a human on a horse's back, he realized, but the human looked spooky. It was wearing a long cloak, draping over the horse's rump, and a hood that covered half the person's face. Their eyes were barely visible.
"Wh-who are you?" he asked, trying to keep his voice steady.
"Is alright," a Spanish voice told them. Puss hopped from behind the human to onto the horse's head. "I found this beauty coming this way and asked her about her being here. She is looking for your parents," he told the triplets.
Sarah met Randy's gaze before the both of them looked over at Dustin questioningly.
"Um, why?" he asked the figure.
Hands lifted and the human pushed the hood off its head, showing a gorgeous woman's face and shining blonde hair. She smiled reassuringly at the kids. "Because I want to ask your mother's help," she answered.
Dustin looked back at his siblings and nodded. "But if you try anything," he warned the woman, "Mommy and Daddy are both real good fighters!"
She just smiled wider and nodded. "Would you like a ride there?" she asked them, sweeping a graceful arm back to gesture how large the horse she rode was. "Smithy is very strong."
All three of them shook their heads. "No thank you," they answered in unison. Still acting as one, they spun around and started a run back towards their home.
The woman kicked Smithy into a quick walk as Puss hopped off his head and settled in the woman's lap with a grateful purr. "Senorita," he said, "you are very much comfortable."
"Am I?" she asked, blushing a little. She scratched him under his chin and looked up in time to see the path ended into a sloping grassy bank which led to a swamp. She looked down at the swamp and makeshift house with interest as two adult ogres came outside.
The three children had been calling for their parents and now ran behind them.
"What is this?" Fiona laughed. Dustin pointed up to the woman on her horse.
"A human?" Shrek asked and pointedly put his fists on his sides. "Well, well."
"Be courteous," Fiona told him under her breath. "There's no reason to scare the woman."
"Senor," Puss called, bounding off the horse and down to the ogre family as Smithy took steps down to the dirt front yard. "This is the Princess Aurora," he said, his accent making her name sound long.
"Salutations," the princess told them, bowing her head graciously.
Fiona smiled. "It's not often we have visitors," she started. "Pardon my asking, but does your horse speak?"
"Smithy?" Aurora answered, and giggled. "I'm afraid not."
"Well, why don't you come down from there and come inside?" Fiona asked her, opening the door.
Aurora smiled sheepishly. She looked over at Shrek. "Would you help me down, please, sir?"
Shrek gave her a funny look and Fiona prodded him in the side. "She asked you nicely," she told him.
He sighed. "Alright, alright." Walking over to Smithy's side, he helped Aurora down, his strength making it like lifting a paper woman instead of a real one.
Once her feet were on the ground, Aurora took a step back and curtsied gracefully, thanking him for his assistance. He gave her another funny look before gesturing her towards his home with a sigh.
She patted Smithy on the neck before following Fiona's lead into the small house, the triplets sitting on the stairs and looking down on them. Fiona and Aurora both took a seat as soon as Aurora had taken off her cloak. She folded it into a small parcel and placed it on her lap.
"So," Fiona began, "what brings you here?"
"Are you the princess of Far, Far Away?" Aurora asked. "Fiona?"
"Yes, I am," Fiona replied with a nod. "Why do you ask?"
"The story of you went around my kingdom," she explained. "I heard you changed your fairy tale and made your own happily ever after."
Fiona gave a sheepish smile. "I wouldn't say it was all that," she laughed. "I just. . . fell in love."
"That simple?" Aurora began, somewhat dumbfounded. "Could you explain it better?"
Fiona shook her head. "I'm afraid that's it. I fell in love with Shrek and -- well, my fairy tale was said to end with the kiss of my True Love. Shrek is him."
Aurora looked away and thought.
"What's the matter?" Fiona asked her. "Do you have a fairy tale, too?"
"Yes," Aurora answered her. "Mine is. . . very dangerous. Already I've been attacked more than once by a witch."
"I see," Fiona replied. "How does yours go?"
"I don't know all that much," Aurora admitted. She touched a heart pendant on a choker around her neck. "This pendant holds the key to my happily ever after. It's supposed to be a locket, but only my True Love would know how to open it."
"So you need to find your True Love."
"Yes, but it's so much more complicated."
From outside, they heard Shrek groan and then Puss gave a battle cry.
"What. . ?" Fiona stood up.
"Oh, I forgot about Rosa!" Aurora said, standing and hurrying out the door.
The scene was of Shrek getting ready to attack and Puss sword fighting with a human woman. The woman was dressed in a vest, pants, poofy-sleeved shirt, knee-high boots and wristbands. Her black, wavy hair was loose, and there was a single red rose above her left ear.
"Rosa!" Aurora cried. "Please, don't fight!"
Rosa stopped instantly and sheathed her sword. She knelt in front of Aurora with a, "Yes, milady," and both Shrek and Puss glared at her.
"I'm so sorry," Aurora apologized. "Rosa is my guardian, and I'm ashamed to say I'd forgotten about her."
"She jumped out of a tree!" Shrek snapped.
"Si," Puss agreed. "If I did not know better, I'd say she too were a cat."
Aurora looked thoughtful and then giggled behind her hand. "She tries to be." Eyes on Rosa, she asked, "Why did you attack?"
"I did not," Rosa denied, standing again. "I suppose I surprised these two, but the cat went on the offensive."
Fiona gave Puss a sharp look. In turn, Puss looked down and toed the ground in a sheepish way. "Apologies," he mumbled.
Aurora sighed behind her hand and then looked over at Fiona again. "As we were saying," she began, "my fairy tale is more complicated than finding my True Love. He. . .won't be looking for me; I need to find him, and before the witch finds me."
"I see," Fiona replied. "And you're trying to find another way out of this story?"
Aurora nodded. "As I said, the witch has attacked me twice already, and what's worse, she has my storybook. Since I haven't read it, I don't know what's going to happen, so she has me at a disadvantage. And she seems to want to be me. . ." She shook her head. "I think she's fixing to steal my body."
"And if she does so," Rosa added, "it's game over for her kingdom. Right now, Aurora is still a princess, but leader as the last of her royal bloodline. She has absolute power of her guards and people, which means if the witch manages to take over her body and end her fairy tale, there's no way for her to fix things."
Fiona gave Aurora a worried look. "I-I'm sorry, that sounds so horrible. . ." She paused to think, looking off to the side, before looking back with a determined expression.
"Oh, no," Shrek moaned, rubbing his forehead.
"Aha!" Puss cried, drawing his sword and slicing through the air.
And then Fiona said, "I'll help you all I can, I promise."
"This can't end well," Shrek sighed, looking defeated.
Less than an hour later found Fiona and Shrek climbing inside their trademark onion carriage, a dwarf at the reigns, their three children riding in the back with Puss. Aurora and Rosa both sat upon the horse Smithy, and they set off, riding side-by-side.
"So," Puss began, sizing up Rosa with a cat grin, "you seem to be a-speaking my language."
In reply, Rosa pointedly told him that he "wasn't her type" in Spanish.
He looked hurt, but not defeated.
At the same time, Fiona looked at Aurora from out of the window. "Do you have a destination in mind?" she asked.
Aurora shook her head. "I have a magic paper which tells me hints in rhyme, and so far it has warned me about danger, and told me that if I keep searching, I will find my True Love." She looked down at Fiona with a smile. "I think I have more of a chance now at finding him, but it seems my journey is the point of my story -- not the destination."
"Then let's head to Far Far Away," Fiona suggested. "I'm sure King Arthur has ways of helping us."
"Great, Artie," Shrek said with false enthusiasm.
"Uncle Artie?" the triplets cried. They hadn't seem him in a great while, and were looking forward to it. They began talking to each other about what they were going to talk to him about.
"I haven't met him," Aurora admitted, "though I've wanted to."
"He's very nice," Fiona assured her. "These days he's always wanting to help."
"And last year he found a sword," Shrek replied sarcastically, "that made him king of England too."
"Hmm." Aurora looked down at her hands for a few moments before saying, "It would sound as though he has a lot to do. I do not think it a good idea to bother him."
"Oh, don't worry about that," Fiona laughed. "He has a round table of Knights to help him rule."
"Something like a council?" Rosa asked.
"Except that they're all swordsmen, yes," Fiona agreed.
"Indeed," Puss agreed, drawing his sword, "and I have taught them all a thing or two." He slashed and posed, laughing all the while.
Rosa rolled her eyes, unimpressed. "I imagine they were very. . .thankful for your help."
"Please, Rosa," Aurora said quietly, "do not be rude. I know Puss has something of a. . .large ego, but we mustn't anger anyone."
Rosa nodded. "Si, princess."
"I also have something of a. . ." Puss started, "excellent hearing." He tapped Shrek on the shoulder. "Do you think that I have a large ego?" he asked.
"Bigger than me," Shrek replied, a little too harshly.
"But I make up for it in being cute, no?" Puss went on, standing up straight.
Puss frowned and jumped from the carriage to the horse, climbing up and onto Aurora's lap. He gave her his large-eyed look, and Aurora melted instantly. Rosa resisted admirably, but gave a smile despite herself.
"Hey, mother," Randy said, poking his head inside the back window, "watch this!"
Fiona watched, laughing as the triplets pulled a stunt that put Randy on Dustin's shoulders and Sarah up top, then all three clapped their hands and rolled off each other and into the carriage through the window. They tumbled onto the floor with squeals of laughter, and Fiona and Shrek smiled as they pulled their children apart and sat them right-side up.
"How do you think Donkey and Dragon are doing?" Fiona asked her husband, thinking of them.
Shrek gave a shrug. "I imagine having some trouble with their little fireballs."
"I meant on their vacation," she replied firmly. "Do you suppose they've had enough of seaside views and trees yet?"
"Look, we left them a note," he tried to reason. "If they come back and we haven't returned, they'll know why."
"But you know how Donkey is; he's going to hate that we went on another adventure without him."
"With any luck, he'll be having enough trouble with his kids that he won't care."
"What?" he asked, exasperated. "Hasn't he proven that we can't get away from him?"
"That's not a nice way to talk about him, and you know it."
Aurora intervened before the argument could get out of hand. "Donkey, Dragon, and their kids?"
"Oh," Fiona started, surprised. "I'm sorry, I should explain."
Though it took more than a few hours, Fiona told the story of her fairy tale, going on to mention Prince Charming and the Happily Ever After potion, and finally to finding King Arthur. By the end, the triplets -- who had been sitting aptly and listening -- were now asleep on their parents, and even Shrek was dozing off.
"That. . .is a very large, very complicated fairy tale," Aurora said at the end, stunned. "I cannot imagine how skilled you all must be to have survived and won."
Fiona shrugged. "I never thought about it like that, but I guess it is kind of unbelievable."
"It is getting dark, mistress," Rosa stated, watching as the sky darkened behind them and stars began to show.
Aurora's hands tightened on the reigns. "Night," she said, "is when I am in the most danger. I tend to hide; I cannot escape the witch's familiar at night, only during the day."
"Then maybe we should stop for the night," Fiona suggested, worried.
Aurora shook her head. "No, we cannot this time. Not yet. There is no town nearby."
"You stay at towns?"
"I must; neither witch nor familiar can enter towns or villages."
"Do you know why?"
Aurora shook her head. "I believe she fears being judged by townsfolk, or ran out of town. From what I know, she is very ugly, and hates it enough that she does not enter dwelling places."
"I see. Should we ride faster?"
"At this pace, how long would it take to enter a town?"
Aurora shivered and put her hood over her head. "I will not cause the horses harm. We will continue at this pace."
"But doesn't it put you in danger?"
"I am here to protect her," Rosa answered. She reached around Aurora and grasped the reigns, a secure hold that promised -- if weakly -- that Aurora wouldn't simply disappear. "Vaminos, si?"
"No," Aurora argued.
"I will aid you," Puss announced, standing at attention on Aurora's lap. "With senorita Rosa and senor Puss, no one shall touch you, Princess!"
Aurora smiled and scratched under Puss' chin, making him purr lovingly. "Gracias," she answered.
"Do you know Spanish too?" Fiona asked, curious.
Aurora shook her head. "I pick up a few words and things from Rosa, but I do not know the entire language."
Behind them, the sun disappeared completely, and then a loud bird of prey's shriek rang out. Aurora jumped in fright and in response Rosa scooted an inch closer.
"What was that?" Fiona wondered aloud. Shrek gave a snore, fully asleep by now.
"The witch's familiar is a hawk," Rosa answered. "It will chase us throughout the night."
"A hawk is a bird," Puss said, nodding to himself. "I could easily feast upon it."
"It is a red hawk," Rosa argued, "larger than an eagle, with one gray eye and one green one. Its feathers are tattered and it's constantly molting, yet it refuses to die. I have deterred it many times, I have broken its wing, and I have run it through, but still it comes back every night."
Puss didn't seem so sure of himself all of a sudden, and he sat back down. "I think. . .I shall stay vigilant from here, yes?"
Nobody answered him, senses alert for that particular hawk.