I do not own Ella Enchanted. It belongs to Gail Carson Levine.
chapter one: wasted perfection, (Hattie's P.O.V.)
Truly, I was divine. There was not another girl in the kingdom that could surpass my beauty, and honestly, staring at my reflection in my vanity mirror, there was just no contest. I was the picture of pure perfection.
And Ella wasn't.
I was elegant and privileged and fabulous.
And Ella wasn't.
I was everything that she ever wanted, and the very thought of Ella's inferiority made me chuckle, and the sight of me smiling and looking positively joyous made a jolt of pleasure shoot through me. I sighed, and closed my eyes, imagining the sight of Ella attempting to make herself look as amazing as I do. Honestly! The thought of her attempting to make herself acceptable was laughable! It was like dressing up an alley cat! She was deluding herself into thinking that she could win back Prince Charmont; how silly, as he was mine. This…wench who he's supposedly "marrying" is only a cover-up; it's me he wants, he just doesn't know it yet!
With a final, gratuitous look at my reflection, I smirked at myself, and turned away; I could be improved upon no longer. I grabbed my handbag from my bed, and sauntered out the door, feeling like the queen that I was destined to be. I felt wonderfully powerful; invincible, even, and that feeling only increased when I opened my bedroom door and saw Ella, loitering outside it, looking just as shabby as I knew she would.
"Why are you standing outside my door, Ella dear?"
She glared, shrugged, and set off down the hall, towards the stairs. Vague and rude, I though venomously, scoffing at her retreating back, and going after her. Why Prince Charmont felt the need to invite her to his wedding, I cannot understand. She's a lowly scullery maid! Really, what business does she have in the royal courts? No business at all, that's what!
Sighing in frustration, I descended the spiral staircase, following closely behind Ella, and together (together, oh, no) we walked towards Mama and Olive, who were waiting by the front door, looks of feigned happiness at someone else's good fortune on their faces. Well, it can't be helped, after all, it should be me walking down the aisle with Prince Charmont, not this--this Edith girl he's courting. Ridiculous…
"Oh, Hattie, you look wonderful," Mama gushed, smiling brightly at me. Olive merely glanced at me, and shrugged, as if she were being asked her opinion on a gown that she did not particularly like, and she had decided to neglect answering. How rude…
I turned to Mama, "Are we ready to go?" My voice sounded anxious; oh, no that tone will never do…confidence, Hattie! Head held high!
"Just about; Sir Peter has come back for the wedding. His coach should be arriving soon." At this, I noticed Ella look uncomfterble. I suppose her and her father had always had their differences…from what I could tell, anyway. She shifted on the spot, casting glowers in my direction.
And I didn't blame her; many a girl has wished to be me; to have my looks, to have my money…
The front door to the manor opened, and Sir Peter entered, looking travel-worn, but albeit, happier; I supposed his travels had yielded greatly in the way of riches.
Mama rushed at him, throwing her arms around his neck. I glanced over at Ella, and she gagged. Honestly!
"Ah, Ella! I've missed you!" Sir Peter said, breaking away from Mama, and wrapping an arm around her waist. He smiled at Ella, who grimaced at him in response. Really! She was so insufferably obnoxious!
Sir Peter merely grinned at her, and turned back to Mama; "Shall we go, sweetness?" Mama nodded, smiling, and Ella, Olive and I followed her and Sir Peter outside.
It was a windy, rainy evening; not at all encouraging weather for a wedding. But of course, royal weddings couldn't be called of just because of rain. We ambled towards the coach, Ella beside me, looking up at the sky, an expression of pity and amusement on her face. She had been acting so odd lately, but then again, I suppose I couldn't blame her; Prince Charmont had rejected her, and quite forcibly, I might add. I had gathered as much as the fact that he had been in love with her (and really, I can't understand why), despite the falsehoods that she spread at his three balls. But really, he knew that it was I who was meant for him, but he realized too late, and accepted that--that--Edith girl's hand in marriage. But once I arrive at his castle, he'll see the error of his ways.
I had to sit next to Ella in the coach, and I looked upon this fate with such palpable fury that my presence was surely enough to burn her. She didn't flinch, she didn't even move, she only stared out the window, absent-mindedly twirling a strand of her hair. And in spite of myself, I stared at her, as I had nothing better to look at, and that was quite the shame. I wondered if she was mourning the loss of Prince Charmont, after all, it would be me who he would fall back in love with, not her. Of course, at this thought, I had to smile. I was superior, and I always would be.
The coach came to a sudden halt in front of the castle; I couldn't help but admire its magnificence, and at the same time, I reveled in the fact that I would someday call it "home."
Excitement mounted inside me, and Mama cast me a glance that reflected pride and approval. Ella, on the other hand rolled her eyes, and slid out of the coach before anyone else could move an inch. I watched her march into towards the castle, looking like she was just as welcome as the prince himself. I scoffed, and followed after her, grimacing when I realized that I had been following her around half the day. No matter, in a few hours time, it will be Ella who was following after me.
Inside, the castle was just as lovely as I remembered it, only this time; it was adorned with shivering orange flamed candles that hung from sconces on nearly every wall. The ballroom was fashioned with a red velvet carpet that extended in a straight line from door to the thrones, which were occupied by the current King and Queen.
And there he was!
Prince Charmont and….Edith were standing in the corner of the room, apparently attempting to have a moment alone together before the wedding. How cute! Except, very soon, it would be me whom he would be walking down the aisle.
Pews had been placed in the room, lined together, and they were already filled with Kyrria's finest nobility, and therefore we took our seats close to the front; Ella sat next to me. Honestly, was she doing this on purpose? Nevermind, Hattie, you'll be her queen in a few moments time!
And in a rush of hushed, excited whispers, the wedding started. Prince Charmont, handsome and dressed in the finest fabrics, sauntered down the aisle, Edith on his arm. She was pretty, I supposed; blonde and oval-faced, with bright blue eyes. Sure, she was pretty, but not as lovely as I. It was ludicrous for her to even think that she could make Prince Charmont happier than I could. I was smug, and prepared to see Prince Charmont grimace as he walked past me…
…but he didn't?
No, no, no, no! He was…smiling! And looking at Edith like she was…like he was…he couldn't be! Could he? NO! He was mine! He wanted me! Not her!
They passed our pew, looking like children on Christmas morning; alight with glee that they shouldn't feel! Beside me, Ella was grinning, staring right at Prince Charmont and Edith, looking happy for him; happy that she wasn't marrying her…happy that he wasn't marrying me…
And then Chancellor Thomas (who I honestly hadn't noticed before) had started droning on about Kyrria and its rulers and the marriage of the Prince and what that would mean for us as citizens…but I couldn't concentrate on any of it. How could he be happy! He should be going through this grudgingly, as if it were torture! Not smiling, and kissing HER, and--and--saying "I do" to HER!--
"Do you, Prince Charmont, take Edith, as your wife?"
No, you don't!
"Then I pronounce you husband and wife."
The entire room erupted into applause, including Ella, who continued to grin like a Cheshire cat, exulted by her loss…and my loss! The applause had apparently died down; I wasn't sure, I had tuned it out. Things seemed to go white--had I seen things properly? Am I honestly supposed to believe that he's happy with her?
Certainly not. It's a farce. A lie. A fabrication to please his parents…it's me he wants…me…
"Ella!" I looked up, shocked, to see Prince Charmont rushing towards our pew, Edith in following behind him, looking agitated. Why did he want to see Ella? Had he not rejected her! I glanced at Mama--she was looking just as shocked as I was, though she was more…contained. I was aghast, and it probably showed.
"Hello, your Highness," Ella said, smiling, and Prince Charmont smiled back.
"It's…nice to see you again, Ella."
"Same here; congratulations Char, Edith." Edith grimaced at Ella; well, we might get along, after all; well, I suppose her husband falling madly in love with me might put a damper on things, but--
"Oh, and Sir Peter! I'm glad to see you're doing well." Prince Charmont had turned his attentions to Sir Peter, who was grinning broadly at him.
"Thank you for your concern, your Highness. And congratulations on your marriage!" Prince Charmont grinned--wider than ever--as if that were possible.
"Ah, yes; Edith will make a fine queen, I think. Sir Peter, it's nice to see that your marriage is going well." Sir Peter grinned at Mama.
Queen? Edith? Queen? QUEEN!
Prince Charmont bowed to us briefly, took Edith's hand, and set off towards his parents.