This story was written for imadoodlenoodle's prompt in The DG Forum Fic Exchange – Winter 2010. The prompt details are listed below.
The Woes of a Narrator
Once upon a time, in a land not entirely far away, there lived a young girl named Ginevra Molly Weasley. Miss Weasley, I regret to inform, did not have any nasty enchantments placed on her at birth by an evil fairy (though she did think her freckles and long nose were curses enough). There weren't even any good fairies attending her christening (but there were three fat Great Aunts, who were good enough in their own way, when they weren't trying to give her slobbery kisses).
It must also be stated that while it is true our heroine is the youngest of seven children, her family were all very respectful towards her and loved her dearly, neither treating her like a servant nor cherishing any ambitions to sell her off to an evil witch for the sake of gaining riches. I know, it is quite disappointing. I think it would have been much more exciting if she had been sold as a slave; then I could have told you a moving tale about a poor girl, unwanted by her family, who is sent off to live with an old woman boasting one eye and a dark appetite for collecting the heads of all the men she ensnares with her pretty slave-girl . . .
Alas, it cannot be, even if our heroine's family did decide to sell her to a woman with one eye. You see, Ginevra (or Ginny, as most call her) is not beautiful. Her red hair, brown eyes and freckled skin are as common as they come, and her figure is neither fairy-like nor remarkable. Personally, I think her lack-lustre appearance is the most disappointing thing of all. I so wanted to describe a beautiful heroine – you know the ones: long, glossy dark hair, starry blue – no, violet eyes – and flawless features. But instead I get this – this thing. And, yes, it is a thing. Have you seen her when she eats? It is quite unattractive.
But I digress. We were discussing Ginny's family, which I stated did not want to sell her into slavery. Her family, admittedly, are poor, but they're so disgustingly happy at being poor simply because they have – and I quote – 'each other' that it wouldn't even occur to them to sell the only female child they have for money. As I said, they were a rather tame bunch.
Our heroine can't even boast to having an evil stepmother, as her biological one is still alive. Quite inconsiderate of Molly Weasley, if you ask me. If she'd just died in childbirth like she was supposed to, we might yet be able to scrape together some semblance of an exciting plot. But no, she just had to live through that last birth just as she had all six others. And little Ginny was properly spoiled by said biological mother, so if you were hoping for that one to be evil, you'd best dispel such delusions now (although I do have it on good authority that the Weasley matriarch's Mystery Stew is indeed evil, and should be left exactly as described: a mystery).
I can imagine by now that you might be wondering why such an unremarkable girl from an equally unremarkable family should be the heroine of our story. Well, I'll tell you. It's because the Big Man – or should that be Big Woman? – said so. I'm just doing my job – fairy tale narrators like me don't get a say, you know. We just tell the story, so here I am, telling the story.
And what a tedious one it is. I'm staring at the notes, reading about Ginny Weasley's happy life as a child, which is filled with good-natured bickering with her brothers, broom rides and food. So much food. I wonder she hasn't turned into a big freckled ball yet.
Oooh, now here is something exciting:
Ginny Weasley, age eleven, is possessed by a magical diary and almost dies while giving her life force to Tom Riddle – also known as Lord Voldemort.
Ahh, I see some promise here. Yes, there's even a hero who comes charging in to save the day. But wait! There is no kiss, not even a little declaration of love. Flobberworms and Gargoyles, there's not even a happily ever after! The poor dear just gets pushed to the background while everyone goes parading on about this Harry Potter creature, who, it seems, had the audacity to save her without actually fulfilling his role as a hero.
I should have known! This is what happens when you have a hero who wears round glasses and has an ugly scar on his forehead. If he had wavy blond hair and sparkling blue eyes, and – and a charming smile, I'm certain he would have done the proper thing and kissed her before declaring his undying love for her, thus fulfilling the happily ever after quota.
Oh, the tragedy. I can't believe what they're making me work with! There is nothing here for a good fairy tale. Nothing at all! Just look at this girl's life! She spends most of her time mooning after that runt with the glasses or trying to best everyone on the Quidditch pitch. How intolerably boring.
You know, this really won't work. I see there is nothing for it: I'm just going to have to take measures into my own hands. For one thing, I refuse to work with a hero who wears glasses and has an ugly scar. I don't care how much his green eyes shine like emeralds, he is not being the hero of this story. Besides, that hair of his is really quite atrocious. I refuse to look at it. It's bad enough I get stuck with a plain heroine, but why on earth must they give me a runty hero as well?
No, I won't stomach it. Something must be done. All I have to do is find a new hero, figure out a way to get Ginny's life progressing to more suitable paths, and we've got us a proper fairy tale.
Hrm, now let's see, where are we up to. Ah, yes:
Ginny Weasley, age sixteen, is bemoaning the fact that she has a Muggle Studies essay on folklore due.
Perfect. Now if I just add a bit here, put in a little of this there . . . and voila! I am genius.
Well, now that I've got that sorted, I can focus on more important matters, like finding a good hero. I wonder if there are any handsome blonds in this vulgarly named castle of theirs . . .
What? You want to know what is going to happen to Ginny? Oh, all right then. I'll start us off. Ahem.
Once upon a time, in a castle (vulgarly) named Hogwarts, there was a plain and freckled girl named Ginny Weasley, who was currently bemoaning the fact that she had a Muggle Studies essay on folklore due.
"Essays, essays, essays," Ginny grumbled under her breath, stomping down the hallway. "It's always bloody essays."
She had thought that Muggle Studies was supposed to be mostly practical work: like learning how to use a toe-star to make crispy bread, or something like that. She did not think it was going to involve two-page long essays about Muggle folklore and how the stories relate to the magical world.
"Like I really give a rat's arse about any of it," Ginny ranted, now storming through the doors to the library.
Before we go any further, it must be explained that Ginny Weasley detested fairy tales. The heroines, in her opinion, were always doe-eyed and beautiful beyond imagination. The heroes had the personality of a cardboard box and were inevitably handsome, if not clichéd. And the plots themselves were ridiculous and, so it seemed to her, were simply a ploy to get children to behave – for every fairy tale had a moral.
"Moralistic rubbish," Ginny muttered, then smiled in satisfaction, pleased at her assessment.
Her smile quickly faded, however, as she reached the section on Muggle folklore and saw the sheer amount of books on the subject. She had no idea where to start or even what she was looking for. Really, she had only taken Muggle Studies because everyone said it was easy; she had never known she would actually have to pay attention.
Ginny sighed exasperatedly and pulled a book at random from the shelf. It had a brown cover, made of leather, and was embossed with little vines and flowers, shaped around the words, The Book of Fairy Tales. Underneath the title was a picture of a maiden sleeping, no doubt awaiting her handsome prince who would come and wake her with his kiss.
"This seems promising," Ginny murmured, opening the book and flicking through the pages.
She had barely got four pages into the book before it began to glow with a pink hue. Surprised, and more than a little disturbed, Ginny decided it would be best to put the glowing piece of literature back on the shelf when a tornado of pink light burst forth from the open pages. She screamed, throwing The Book of Fairy Tales into the air, but it was too late. The pink tornado swirled around her, drawing her closer, and then—
Well, the fact of the matter is, she simply disappeared.
Now, before you get your knickers into a twist, I will state now that she did not die. In fact, at this moment, she was simply swirling through pink tornadoes and swearing her undying loathing for the book that had caught her so off guard. You see, she had not thought to consider that the book might be magical – it was in the Muggle section, after all – but as soon as she had got sucked inside it, she had quickly realised that it was.
When the pink mists finally died, placing Ginny on her feet, she found herself standing in a room of fluffy clouds, which seemed to go on for a miles. At the centre of this room was an extremely tall tower, which was neither pretty nor ugly, but it was intimidating. There seemed to be nothing else she could do in this room except enter the tower, so Ginny did just that – she was a Gryffindor, after all.
"I see you finally made it," a voice cackled from her left.
Ginny swung around in fright, already grasping for her wand – except, as she soon realised, her wand was gone.
"Bugger," Ginny swore, and then faced the old man floating in front of her with a scowl. "Alright," she demanded, pointing an accusing finger at the wrinkled creature, "what the hell is going on? Where the hell am I? And who the—" she scrunched her face up at the toothless, prune-like man, who she had finally realised was wearing a vibrantly yellow cloak with a large sugarloaf hat on his head. "You know, never mind. I don't even want to know what you are."
"Ho ho ho," he chuckled, "there's no need to get upset, my dear. You should be happy; you're in for a rare treat, you know."
"A rare treat?" Ginny repeated dully. "And why is that?"
"Why, because you're in the Book of Fairy Tales, of course," the shrivelled prune declared, kicking his floating little legs with delight. "And I am its grand, all-knowing narrator, but you can call me Sir Gustafius Gordon Gullumpadink." He grinned at her dazed expression. "Most people just call me Gus for short."
"Well, Gus," Ginny began, pulling herself together, "why don't you make yourself useful, instead of waffling to me about yourself, and tell me how I can get out of this horrid place! I have a Muggle Studies essay due tomorrow morning, you know. I need to get back to the castle."
Gus shook his head solemnly. "I'm afraid I can't help you, my dear. The only way to get out of the Book of Fairy Tales is to complete the stories and win a happily ever after."
"What?" Ginny cried in dismay.
"Oh, I'm being perfectly honest. I can't lie, you see. That's for evil hags and gnomes."
"Are you saying I'm stuck in this place?"
"That's exactly what I'm saying," Gus agreed affably. "I must say, though, if you plan on being a princess, I do hope you'll fix up your appearance a bit. You look awfully un-princess-like at the moment. No prince will want to be saving you."
"Why you little—" Ginny growled, lunging at the floating creature with the intention of wringing his skinny neck until he coughed up an alternative solution to her predicament – or died.
He swooped away from her, cackling and reminding her very much of Peeves as he twirled upside down and looked at her with his head between his legs. "Hitting me won't change the rules," he taunted, spinning back into his 'meditating' position. "You'd best accept your fate and be done with it or else you'll be stuck in here forever."
Ginny swore. And then, when this didn't soothe her ruffled temper, decided to swear some more. Gus frowned at her, clearly thinking her choice of vocabulary was not suitable for his fairy tale world.
"I really must ask that you stop that," he ordered. "You're in a fairy tale now; you need to be meek and – and quiet."
"Excuse me?" Ginny exclaimed, affronted. "I'll talk however I damn like."
Gus threw his hands up into the air with an exasperated sigh. "After two centuries of waiting for a new heroine, and all I get is this – this swearing sailor!"
Ginny snorted. "Speak for yourself. You're not exactly my idea of an ideal narrator."
Gus straightened to his full height, a dignified expression on his wizened face. "I'll have you know that I'm a very esteemed narrator in these parts."
He glared at her. "You are a horrible little girl. I hope all the princes ignore you and let you die."
And with that, he threw his yellow cloak around him and vanished in a puff of pink smoke.
Ginny stared, her smug expression slowly turning to horror. He had left her – he had just left her, and now she was surely stuck in this blasted world!
"Bugger and hell," she moaned.
Realising there was no point standing in the lobby of the tower, she took a step forward, fully intending to go through the door at the other end – except something quite different happened: the floor opened up from under her feet, revealing a gaping hole.
There was a moment where Ginny was simply standing over a mass of pink clouds with her mouth ajar in silent horror. Then gravity decided to start working again, and she plummeted through the clouds, screaming her head off and calling bloody murder for the narrator named Gus.
Down she fell, arms flapping uselessly, until, finally, she landed with a hard thump on the grass. She groaned and looked around the clearing where she had fallen, but there were no markings to say where she was.
Groaning again, and feeling very ill-used, Ginny hauled herself to her feet and began walking in no direction in particular. It started to rain after a while, and she cursed under her breath – a curse that was to be repeated several times as the rain got heavier and heavier.
Finally, when it was getting dark and Ginny's stomach began to rumble unpleasantly, she saw a great castle looming in the distance.
"Oh, thank Merlin!" Ginny cried.
She made her tired way to the castle and knocked at the door, shivering from the cold in her drenched state. The great oak doors were thrown open, and a man and a woman, regally dressed, stared at her in surprise.
"Who are you?" the woman asked politely.
"I'm a princess who needs shelter for the night," Ginny said, tossing out the first thing that came to her head.
"Are you sure you're a princess?" the woman asked again, taking in Ginny's bedraggled appearance and plain black cloak.
"Yes!" Ginny snapped. "Now, please, it's freezing out here!"
"Very well, then," the woman replied, opening the door further so Ginny could enter, "follow me."
Ginny walked inside gratefully, following the woman down a set of corridors to a room where a bed made of what looked like twenty mattresses and very thick blankets had been set up.
"What the hell?" Ginny exclaimed, staring at the monstrous creation in some suspicion.
"Your bed," the woman, who Ginny assumed must be the queen, stated with a half-smile. "I hope you enjoy your sleep."
Ginny watched the woman leave and then turned back to confront the massive bed. A ladder had been placed for her use, and, since she was too tired to complain anyway, she decided to just climb up the ladder and sleep in the bed.
"Merlin, but I hope I don't fall off," Ginny mumbled, settling down between the covers.
Ahem. And that is where I'll have to leave you. I still need to find a new hero, and I have just the one in mind . . .
Until next time, my friends.
Sarah's Prompt #1
Basic premise: Ginny opens a book in the library (explain why she's there and looking in a random section) which sucks her into the world of fairy tales. There she meets The Narrator (s/he can be what you want, old, young, wizened, comedic) where she is told the only way to escape is to enact all the stories. Draco also gets sucked into the world (maybe halfway through, maybe he noticed the discarded book and picked it up – up to you.) I don't mind so much the 'real world' stuff, but I want the funny action-y adventures of Ginny and Draco.
Must haves: A play on Snow White and the seven dwarves for sure. Draco having to re-enact an unexpected role or two (so Ugly Sister #2 for instance). At least four stories to be worked through, choice is yours on stories.
No-no's: Angst (no duh), I don't think smut will work in this, but kisses are fine.
Rating range: Whatever
Bonus points: If some of the characters in the fairytales are like people in Ginny's real life. Example, Evil Witch in Snow White = reminds Ginny of Bellatrix.