Disclaimer: I own nothing except the plot and the lovely morning. :P
Ella's Letters by bays1
"When Hattie told me that this earl or that duke loved her, I laughed over the absurdity of it to him. When Olive made me count her money again, he was informed.
'Everyday she invents new hiding places for her wealth. There are coins in the hem of her gown, coins sewn into her sash, and coins buried in the stuffing of her waist roll. With all the metal concealed about her person, she had best not set foot on a boat.'
When Mum Olga had me clean out the root cellar, and I found a tabby with her litter of kittens, Char learned of my delight. And when Mandy taught me cooking secrets, I shared them with him.
I also described my future without the curse.
'My first act,' I wrote 'will be to confess that I love you. I'll beg pardon a thousand times for causing you unhappiness and make reparation by making you laugh a thousand times.'"
- Excerpt from Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
The first morning I awoke in my new home, it was to joyous feeling of Char curled next to me. Our wedding had been filled with all the pompous of any state ceremony. However, enduring yet another speech by High Chancellor Thomas had been completely and utterly worth it, even if only to reach this moment. After all that I had faced since my mother had died and even the struggles the curse had posed me before then, I finally felt content. This moment was surely created measure of perfection that all others would struggle against. I was certain though, that as long as I had Char, there would be more moments just as equal to come.
"Good morning, my wife." Char whispered into my ear before tracing a path of kisses down my neck, naming each one: "Wondrous, flawless, magnificent, breathtaking, brilliant..."
He would have surely continued if I haven't twisted around to face him, interrupting his travels. "You seem to think very highly of this day when you haven't even gotten out of bed to see it."
Char gave an impish grin. "Whenever did I say I describing the day?"
I buried my head into his perfectly bare chest to hide my blush. His heart beat against my ear in a whirring thrum and I was glad to know that I wasn't the only one still feeling the glow of our love.
"As much as it pains me, I believe it may be time to get dressed." My husband said just as softly as before as if speaking any louder would break the magic of our time together. "The rest of your belongings are being brought over for you to sort through and I have to make the formal announcements of our marriage."
My groan was only slightly muffled by his chest. "I think you're confused. Today was declared a day of nothing but rest and staying hidden from everyone."
"As gorgeous as you look right now, you can't fool me." Char lifted my chin so I would have no choice but to get hypnotised by his eyes. A terribly girlish grin forced its way onto my lips. However the triumph that lit Char's face in turn returned my senses.
"I'm not getting up. You can't make me." I pouted defiantly. My elation with the morning multiplied with the very knowledge that he would not be able to order me out, that my free will meant I could choose to ignore the growing pile of mine and mother's belongings that had been rescued from Madame Olga, Hattie and Olive.
"What about a compromise then?" Somehow Char sensed my curiosity and continued without any reply. "We'll both get up, I'll call someone to bring writing desk and your first few boxes and we'll work in here for most of the day without disturbance."
The temptation was great. "Fine. But we sleep for more first."
"I don't think so." My shrieks at being unceremoniously lifted from the warm bed were almost overtaken by Char's laughter. This changed as soon as I realised where he intended to take me. I battered him the best I could as we verged closer and closer to our bathroom, which, no doubt, we would find a bath prepared. First day as my husband and he was going to drop me into water; what would the Manners Mistress say?
Char had been true to his word and when I returned to the bedroom, his writing desk and my worldly possessions were in it. He had already begun signing letters that were to be sent all over the kingdom and outside of it. I couldn't help but lean in the doorway, admiring the strict concentration on his face. He was constantly finding new ways to be handsome. My damp hair however, could not forgive him just yet.
I began to stoically march passed his desk and would have succeeded if my gown wasn't slightly too long. All it took was a toe to get caught and I tumbled. My arms flew out and my eyes closed, bracing for an impact that didn't come. Instead, Char's arm was firmly caught around waist.
"Thank-you." I said curtly. As he made his way back to his work, I could have sworn I glimpsed a smirk at the corner of his mouth; in a second it was gone. I do not know how much time passed as I toiled through the boxes but it was marked by covert glances at my prince and I was certain he was returning them. While I could have easily asked a servant to do my chore for me, there was a finality that I needed to gain from discarding unnecessary reminders of my life under Madame Olga but keeping those that had value to me; all mother's belongings, for instance, were always in the 'keep' pile. Having Char in the room proved a great distraction. Though, I was not willing to admit that to him yet.
I had just tossed away a soiled handkerchief Hattie had bestowed upon me, when I uncovered some darkened and creased papers. At first I thought that they had been slipped in, in some odd revenge attempt until I recognised my own writing upon them.
My gasp was hardly stifled. Char dared to look up at me. I waved his eyes away from the letters in my hand and stuffed the papers under me. But it was too late.
"What was that?" He asked.
"Nothing." I replied a little too quickly. Char stood from his seat again. "Nothing. Nothing at all!"
It did no use. He strode to me without hesitation. I had expected him to try to seize them from me but he did not. He knelt on the floor beside me. The letters seem to burn up under me with the reddening of my face.
"Letter from another prince?" He questioned, his brow raised in a manner I couldn't help but find endearing. I shook my head. "Your rich and very old husband?"
A very unladylike snort left me. That lie had caused us both such pain but now it seemed so futile and ridiculous. Keeping the truth from him now seemed almost the same.
I tentatively lifted the letters into the open. "They were for you actually."
Char looked at them with an unfathomable expression but took the pile when I offered it to him. My fingers picked at the filigree on my gown. Then he laughed.
"Every day she invents new hiding places for her wealth. There are coins in the hem of her gown, coins sewn into her sash, and coins buried in the stuffing of her waist roll. With all the metal concealed about her person, she had best not set foot on a boat." His deep voice gave extra colour to the events I had transcribed but grew into more laughter.
"It's true." I said indignantly; this only exacerbated things. Unable to continue reading, he returned the letters and I read them aloud instead. The letters I had never sent recalled the best and the worst of my time with the terrible three. Mandy shone through many of the darker moments. She had done well in her role of Fairy Godmother. Who knows how things would have ended if I had not had her?
When I finally reached one of my last letters, Char had seated himself beside me once more and stroked my hair tenderly. I read to him of my curse and he listened solemnly, intent.
"My first act," I read, "will be to confess that I love you. I'll beg pardon a thousand times for causing you unhappiness and make reparation by making you laugh a thousand times."
A droplet of water fell onto the page smearing the ink and it was only when Char traced his thumb on my cheek that I realised it was a tear, my tear.
"Never." He hushed. "I could never be angry with you. As long as you're my wife, that is all the reparation I need. And besides..."
I lifted my eyes up to his and he placed a soft kiss on my forehead. "...You've already made me laugh a thousand times."
A/N: This plot bunny jumped into my head after re-reading Ella Enchanted and I couldn't let it run away again until I had written it. I just couldn't stop wondering what would have become of those letters Ella wrote but never sent and what it would be like to rediscover them :D Besides, who can resist some Ella and Char fluff? Thanks for reading and please review!.