Disclaimer: Did you know the ancient Egyptians had their own version of Cinderella? Seeing as they have a few thousand years on me what chance do I have of owning anything? None, none at all, hence my lack of ownership here.
Author's Note: Shhh. You did not see me. I am not here. My exams aren't over; this is just a study break. Now I must hide before my Otherside Encounter readers catch me. Though if you do see them, let them know that they might want to check out a certain poll currently to be found on my profile. Hiding now.
PS This was supposed to be written weeks ago, I had the idea within 24 hours of writing 'Sleeping Beauty', but for some reason it never happened. I wonder why. Thoughts are so dangerous in my brain.
"I never said I wanted to be Cinderella," DG groused looking at herself in the mirror.
"Cinderella?" Wyatt Cain queried from his place by the door.
"What? Don't you guys have fairytales in the O.Z.?" she asked in surprise, peeping around the dressing screen.
"Not as far as I know, if the fairies do have tails they're hiding them," the Tin Man replied, meeting her eyes briefly before looking away.
DG blinked a few times as she worked out his response then she giggled, "Not tails, tales as in stories. In this case, stories for children. You know, grand adventures of daring deeds, gallant knights and damsels in distress, princes rescuing princesses and that sort of thing."
"History lessons?" supplied Cain, smirking slightly.
DG rolled her eyes. "Not history lessons," she asserted emphatically, "at least not on the Otherside anyhow. Make believe stories to entertain children, often at bedtime. Cinderella is the story of a girl forced into drudgery by her wicked step-mother and two evil step-sisters. With the help of her fairy godmother she attends a royal ball, dances with the prince, and has to leave in a hurry causing her to lose one of her glass slippers. The prince tries the slipper on every girl in the kingdom until he finds Cinderella, the shoe fits and they get married. Voila, she's a princess."
The Tin Man pondered this for a minute. "And you think this 'fairytale' applies to you somehow?" he asked.
"Well yeah," DG said as if it were obvious, "Up until a few months ago I was a farm girl, a waitress and a part-time student – drudge, drudge, drudge – now all of a sudden I am a princess, dressed up in a ridiculous poofy gown and headed off to the royal ball."
"Hmm," Cain mused, "the problem with that theory is that you always were a princess, Princess."
"But I didn't know that," the princess countered.
"Your shoes aren't made of glass and there are no princes planning to propose to you with them," her Tin Man pointed out. At least there better not be, he added silently.
"Dress and ball," DG insisted stubbornly as she finally stepped out from behind the screen.
Swallowing hard, Cain persisted in his argument, "Your mother is not wicked and your sister has gotten over her evil sorceress phase, neither of them would let you wear a ridiculous gown to the ball." And you look beautiful, he thought, but most certainly did not say out loud.
Scowling now, DG contemplated this a minute before casting the debate aside. "Fine, whatever, I still think the comparison holds merit," she reasserted, "Doesn't matter, though, apparently we have a ball to attend."
The Tin Man grimaced slightly.
"Oh no you don't!" exclaimed the princess, catching sight of the fleeting look, "If I have to go to a ball so do you. It's a royal decree, seeing as I am a princess and all."
Sighing in resignation, Cain asked, "And what would I be this evening?"
It was a valid question. As the royal family was still struggling to reorganize after the defeat of the sorceress several months previously, a great many things – like the official placement of a certain former Tin Man – had been left up in the air. Since no one had any better ideas at the moment, and as the royal court was filled with what Cain considered to be nosy gossiping busybodies, the Tin Man was whatever DG declared him to be at any given place and time. This was an effective yet somewhat hazardous solution given DG's spontaneity and general ignorance of O.Z. custom. So far he'd been her bodyguard, her groom, her tutor, her companion, her footman, and even her cook. She didn't make that last mistake twice; both of them still wondered how he'd managed to turn a simple omelette green. Once, in a moment of levity, the princess had declared him to be her knight gallant. This led to an interesting incident as what she jokingly meant and what the noble involved understood were two very different things. There might have been consequential rumours and a scandal if not for Cain's well timed pre-emptive strike; it's hard for a man to talk with his jaw wired shut after all.
This all being so, the Tin Man thought it fair that he be forewarned of his 'official' title this evening.
"You are my escort, of course," DG informed him.
Well that seemed straight forward enough. Cain did wonder for a minute if the noble gossip mongers would make an issue of his escorting the crown princess to the first official royal ball since the fall of the sorceress. If he recalled correctly, however, Glitch was escorting Azkadellia so there shouldn't be a problem. He hoped.
"In that case," the Tin Man said, striking a gentlemanly pose and holding out his arm, "shall we?"
DG beamed at him. "We shall," she said, taking his arm.
The evening started out well enough. No one made of fuss about the commoner escorting the princess. Perhaps this was because that commoner was also a Hero of the Eclipse, or maybe it was that Cain was wearing his gun. Whatever the reason, the princess and her Tin Man were left alone to dance in peace. Yes dance, DG insisted and Cain eventually complied. Though he'd never admit it, the displaced Tin Man was enjoying himself. His princess was in his arms and as no one seemed to be getting any ideas regarding her shoes Cain managed to unbend enough to twirl DG about the dance floor, much to her delight. It was such a shame someone had to go ruin it all.
Wyatt Cain was spinning a laughing DG past the Great Hall doors when he heard it: a familiar, snide voice and the words 'knight gallant'. Apparently someone had unwired and healed Lord Stepville's jaw, more's the pity. At first DG had no idea what had happened, one moment her Tin Man had been almost smiling, the next he'd been standing stiff as a board. Cain's knuckles popped as his right hand formed a tight fist then something cracked as he slammed said fist into the noble's face. Lord Stepville replied in kind, it seemed that this had been exactly what he'd intended. Neither of the combatants backed down and within minutes the royal ball had its own sideshow brawl with a variety of shocked and entertained spectators.
Cain, mindful of his surroundings and upbringing, decided to move the fight outside. With a few quick jabs and a kick to the gut, the Tin Man managed to thrust the lordly scum out the Great Hall doors. Unfortunately, his follow up move was spoilt when Lord Stepville proved adept at grappling, causing both men to go tumbling down the Great Stairs. Exasperated, Cain was distantly aware of the sound of the hall clock striking the hour as he endeavoured to ensure the poisonous lord landed on the bottom. The battle raged on.
DG, meanwhile, sat on the steps, leaning against the balustrade, laughing hysterically.
Early the next morning, Cain awoke with a pained groan. He felt like he'd been put through a cement mixer. After a moment's laboured reflection, the Tin Man comforted himself with the notion that his erstwhile opponent must be feeling a great deal worse.
"You'll be happy to know that they had to rewire Lord Stepville's jaw shut," stated DG as if in answer to his thoughts, "He also has enough broken bones and contusions to be strung up like he's been in a major traffic accident. You, on the other hand, merely broke one hand, a nose, and potentially fractured a cheek bone. Raw will be by later to fix you up."
Stifling another groan as he shifted his head slightly to glance at the princess, he noticed she was looking oddly cheerful, jubilant even. Somewhere behind this thought was the concern that it would not look good if she were to be seen in or near his room this early in the morning. It was having trouble making its way through to the surface at the moment, however.
"Why are you so perky this morning?" he muttered.
DG grinned. "You were right," she said.
After a dragging his brain further into wakefulness, the Tin Man found himself unable to recall just what he might have been right about recently. He shot a questioning gaze at the princess.
DG's grin widened. "About Cinderella," she clarified, "you were right, I'm not Cinderella," she paused dramatically and lifted something into view, "you are."
She was holding what Cain finally recognized as one of his dress shoes.
"You left this on the Great Stairs," DG continued gleefully, flipping the blankets back from his feet. Cain grunted in protest – morning air is cold dammit – but she ignored him. Fitting the shoe gently over the corresponding foot she declared, "The shoe fits! That means you have to marry me."
For a whimsical minute the Tin Man wondered who the princess had cast as his wicked step-mother, evil step-sisters and fairy godmother. After further contemplation he decided he didn't want to know and more pressing concerns made themselves known. He was quite certain he should object to the princess' sudden declaration. There were valid reasons for why this couldn't happen, he knew this, in fact he had gone over them with himself on more than one occasion, but for some reason he was having trouble calling them to mind at present. DG was practically beaming at him, her eyes dancing and the morning light shining in her hair just so; it was as if she was glowing. His conscience gave up the struggle, who was he to fight a royal decree?