Author: Denigoddess2001
Date:12/12/01 12:54:49 AM
Fandom: Shrek
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: G
Title: It's Amazing What Life Brings You In A Cracker Jack Box


[Bracketed words indicate thoughts]


A little girl ran into the small cottage while Fiona stirred the possum stew simmering over the fire. She was a sweet little girl with wide blue eyes and lovely green skin. Dressed in a pink frock and covered in mud, she was every inch Shrek's granddaughter. [Yet, with my spunk and fire, she's also my granddaughter.]

"Grandma, I'm hungry!" Gretchen tugged at her Grandmother's apron. "Can I have a snack?"

"Dear, it isn't long until dinner and you know how your mother feels about you eating too many snacks." Fiona patiently chided her granddaughter.

"Please, Grandma?" Gretchen asked again in a needling voice. Fiona counted to ten in Latin to keep her patience about her.

"I have an idea." Fiona placed the iron lid atop the cauldron of possum stew. "I'll let this simmer for a while. Come over here to my rocking chair, Gretchen, and let me tell you a fairy tale."

"A fairy tale?" The little ogre's eyes widened with glee. "I just love your stories, Grandma!"

"I'll make you a deal. Listen to my story. If you're still hungry at the end of it, then you can have a snack. But you mustn't fidget or bleat about being hungry while I tell you the tale. Otherwise, no snack and no story until after dinner. Do we have a deal?"

"Oh, yes! Grandma, we have a deal." Gretchen's round little head nodded eagerly and her pigtails bobbed in time.

Fiona settled her aching bones into the comfortable rocking chair that Shrek had lovingly constructed for her a half a century before in time. She reached into her basket and withdrew a skew of yarn, two knitting needles and a half-knitted sweater meant for Gretchen the following winter. Once settled, Fiona began knitting. She smiled down at Gretchen. "In a time....."


In a time when knight battled for ladies favor and dragons graced the skies above us, there was still much magic abound in this world that touched the hearts of many. Be one either peasant or noble, each heart felt Magic's touch as it influenced our lives, hopes, dreams and fears. It was no different for Princess Fiona of Ainran. Yet, she felt the day devoid of magic as the courtiers showered her with lavish, nonsensical gifts. She wanted to escape the meaningless extravagance and the superficiality that threatened to smother her on her sixteenth birthday.

She sat at her mother's side on a wooden chair beside his throne. The High Queen of all the land watched her daughter with great scrutiny. Fiona's posture was that not suitable of a princess. She sat slumped with one arm perched on the arm of the chair. Her delicate chin rested unceremoniously in boredom upon her fist. A heavy sigh escaped her as another blithering lord presented another meaningless profligate present while singing her endless praises.

"Daughter, straighten your back and conduct yourself properly." The gentle rebuke came from the regal woman sitting beside Fiona. "While this commencement may not be to your liking, at least show the good breeding you possess, at least appear interested in what these nobles say to you. Remember, one day this realm will have you as it's sovereign. I need you to win the love of it's people to keep the kingdom united."

"Yes, Mother. I'm sorry. You're right." Fiona felt the guilt riddle her mind. Grudgingly, she straightened her back and nodded graciously to the babbling noble named Farquaad. Fiona scrutinized the babbling noble and found him truly wanting in significance or stature.

He was a stunted little man that perchance came no higher than to Fiona's chin. His wiry black hair rebelled against the pageboy style he wore. When he spoke, his words sounded as though he suffered from a bad cold and his regal bearing reminded the princess more of feigned airs. Yet, to please her mother, she smiled sweetly to the Baron. Fiona forced herself to nod to him in acknowledgement.

"Your Highness," Farquaad bowed deeply. His pointed nose almost brushing the floor he seemed ridiculously melodramatic. "I present to you this humble gift carried by my servants. I know that it's beauty pales in comparison to the splendor you radiate."

"Thank you, Lord Farquaad for your kindness and generosity." Fiona almost bit her tongue on the words. This slithering little man reminded her more of a snake than a noble. "I'm sure that it is most worthy."

Two peasants brought forth something covered in a burlap tarp. Fiona quirked her head in curiosity as she watched the two servants ascend the dais to the throne. They knelt briefly before Queen Ashanti and Princess Fiona. One carried an easel beneath his arm. He allowed the other man to support the weight of the object beneath the tarp while he snapped the easel into proper shape.

Farquaad dashed forward and twirled his mustache. "Princess Fiona, please accept this humble gift from me in commemoration of your sixteenth birthday."

He tore away the tarp from what was resting on the easel. Revealed for all to see was an ornate gilded frame. Within it's confines there was a portrait of Lord Farquaad in full field-plate armor slaying an evil dragon. "I would do this in your name had I but the chance, Princess. This is but a small token of my affection if you would only have me as your husband."

There was an audible gasp that ran through the crowd. There were mumblings and whispers stirring among the multitude of attendants. Fiona stared dumbfounded at the portrait. She was stunned mute by the unexpected declaration of affection and the proposal of marriage. She looked desperately at her mother and mouthed the words, 'Help me.'

Queen Ashanti merely shrugged and cast her daughter a nonchalant look that answered 'This is your problem. Deal with it.' Eyes wide with amazement, Princess Fiona returned her gaze to the fawning fool that practically drooled upon her silk slippers. He reminded her of a bulldog slobbering shamelessly. Yet, she sensed sincerity in Farquaad's adoration of her. A shadow of guilt chided Fiona to suppress the distaste she felt for the little man at her feet.

"Lord Farquaad...ahem. I am... taken aback by your generous gift." Fiona found herself searching frantically for truthful words. "I accept your painting in commemoration of my birthday and I humbly thank you. But, I must respectfully decline your offer of marriage. I am still young and am not to meet you on the level of maturity you would need from a wife."

"Then I shall wait." He declared gallantly and bowed again. He took her hand in his and placed a very wet kiss upon it. Fiona willed herself not to flinch.

[Oh, wonderful.]

Later that evening, most of the nobles departed for their castles. The jugglers and acrobats packed away their juggling pins and tight ropes. The castle servants cleared away the last remnants of Fiona's birthday feast. Her mother had retired for the evening to her chambers and Fiona sat alone in her wooden chair upon the throne dais. It had been a tiring day for the princess and it was rather anti-climatic as she watched the celebration fade into the annuals of time.

She spotted the court wizard, Phineas, walking amongst the servants as they attended to her duties. He was one of a select few that could bring a genuine smile to the princess' stoic features. He was a wizened old man of many years. It was said by some that he was centuries' old. He was tall and gaunt. He never stooped as many of Fiona's elders often did. He stood proud and regal amongst the nobles and peasants alike. He favored flowing robes the color of the forests and fur slippers of gray rabbit fur. Upon his brow he wore a brimmed, pointed cap that flopped errantly to one side. Upon his hawklike nose rested an antique pair of wire spectacles. A long argent beard fell to his waist and framed his aged face. He carried a walking staff made of an ancient oak and topped with a single crystal orb.

"Phineas!" Fiona called out to her old friend and mentor. "Where have you been? I haven't seen you all day."

"Your Highness." He bowed so low that his beard brushed the ground. "Please accept my humble apologies. I was unable to attend because one of my friends required my assistance in dealing with a rather surely ogre in a swamp to the South."

"Not a problem." She responded happily. "I'm glad you're here. Do you have a little time to spend with me before bedtime?"

"Aye, Your Highness, that I do." He smiled gently to the lovely child before him. He carefully eased himself down to the steps of the dais. He patted the place beside him for the Princess to join him. She nodded eagerly and she quickly joined him. "All is not as it should be, Princess. You seem unhappy. That is unlike you, especially on your sixteenth birthday."

"Oh, Phineas." Fiona lamented. "It was the most unhappy day of my life. All these strangers fawned over me and presented me with gifts, but I didn't know anyone. I just wanted a simple celebration with family and loved ones."

"You felt lost."

"I WAS lost." She riposted. She sighed and rested her face upon steepled hands. "Phineas, one of the lords, Baron Farquaad proposed to me today. I didn't know what to say. I only know that I didn't want to marry him. You know my secret don't you?"

"Aye, Princess." He gave her a wink. "I always thought green was your color."

"I'm ugly that way." She retorted. "How can I find true love if I'm ugly as ...well.... An ogre?"

" wish to know who is true love." He smiled. He reached for a black velvet pouch that hung on his side on a leather belt. "Let us see who is your true love."

He opened the pouch and dropped the contents onto the top stair of the dais. Several polished gems clattered upon the marble of the stairs. Each was a different gem engraved with a gold emblem. Fiona picked one up and examined it closely. It was the symbol of a heart. "Phineas, what are these?"

"They are runes, Your Highness." He scooped the entire lot into his large palm. "It is a meager present I offer you, Princess. I shall cast these runes and see if they shall reveal your True Love to us this night."

"Oh, yes! Please do, Phineas." Excitement filled her voice. She watched avidly as the wise conjurer waved his palm over the stones he held. He whispered an incantation in a lilting tongue that Fiona thought surely to be as ancient as the Elves of Evermeet. The stones clattered again against the stone stairs. Phineas leaned forward and carefully scrutinized them.

"Hmm...." He scratched his bearded chin. He nodded slowly several times. He readjusted this spectacles sliding down his nose. "Uh-hmm... I see.... Fascinating... Well, what do you know?"

"Oh, please tell me, Phineas." The Princess eagerly prompted the wise wizard. "What do the runes tell you?"

"The first rune is the Great Oak." He pointed a bony finger at the jade stone that bore the engraving of a strong tree. "Your true love will be tall in stature and have the strength similar of this ancient elder of the forest."

"Oh, this is wonderful." She cooed as she studied the stones. Fiona picked up a fire opal that showed a mountain. "What does this mean?"

"Ah, that's the mountain." Phineas explained. "This stone means that he shall love you with a love that endures as long as the mountain stone. It will be steadfast and loyal. He shall fortitude to see you through both blessing and tragedy."

"Wonderful!" Fiona's day improved with each revelation.

"The next stone I see is the sign of infinity." He whispered reverently.

"It looks more like a figure-eight." Fiona whispered back.

"That too." Phineas agreed. "Either he's an expert ice-skater or he shall love you eternally."

He went on to reveal that her true love would be one who would accept her because of the beauty of her heart and the magnificence of her mind and not for the attractiveness of her body. This seemed to appease the Princess' worries and she happily skipped off to bed.

Phineas watched the lass make her way to her chambers. He simply shook his head and smiled as he watched the Princess skip down the corridor of the palace. The head cook came and sat beside the grand old wizard.

"Phinny, that was bloomin' wonderful." She whispered with a thick brogue from the lower country. "How'd ye do it?"

"Well, Belica, I simply cast the runes."

"Wait a bloomin' minute, Guv'ner." The cook rebuked him. "Ye told me that no one knew true love until they fell into it.

"It's amazing what you find as the prize in a Cracker Jack box." Phineas chuckled. "I simply told her what she wanted to hear. Her heart will do the rest. Besides, Belicia, Fiona will never accept a suiter that doesn't have the same brave heart or zest for life that she has. And, saints preserve us. He'll need the fortitude of a thousand knights if he's going to withstand her temper."

"Too true."

"Grandma, is the story true?" A little ogre with russet pigtail eagerly as the silver-haired matriarch rocking contentedly in her rocking chair. "Is it true that a wizard told you that you'd fall in love with Grandpa?"

Fiona looked lovingly upon her husband, Shrek. He sat at the table whittling a hand-wrought doll for his granddaughter, Gretchen. "Yes, dear. It's true. Phineas told me that I'd find a suitor tall as an oak with love as enduring as a mountain. Your grandpa proved himself time and again when he rescued me from my prison in the tower. He proved himself again when he saved me from marrying Farquaad. He's proven himself a thousand times these past hundred years."

"Were you REALLY a princess in a faraway land?" The little ogre asked. She looked adorable with pink bows adorning her blonde pigtails.

"Yes, dear."

"Were you REALLY a human being during the day?"

"Yes, dear." Fiona answered patiently.

"Ewwww! Humans are ugly." Gretchen stuck at her tongue in disdain.

"Everyone has their own beauty. Sometimes, it takes more than eyes to see it." Fiona gently reminded her granddaughter.

"Grandma, I'm hungry. Can I have a snack?"

"Gretchen," Fiona set her knitting aside and carefully rose from the chair. She walked to the fire and checked the possum stew. She gave it a few good stirs and then tasted the broth. "It's less than an hour before dinner. I don't want you to ruin your appetite."

"Pleeeaaassse?" The little verdant granddaughter begged. "Just a little snack."

"All right, Gretchen. But only one."

"Thank you Grandma!" She squealed and followed her Grandmother to the cupboard.

Gretchen smiled as Grandma Fiona pulled out a box of Cracker Jacks.



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