Disclaimer: I don't own anything except Sam.

The group moved silently toward the gates of the city. Two trees were guarding the entrance. The women and Donkey and Puss hid behind the low walls along the road to the gate. Fiona motioned them forward, then lifted up her head to look around. She let out a bird whistle as signal, and Snow stepped out into the road.

And she started singing. All kinds of animals came out of the woods and sang along with her. The trees looked at her, completely confused.

All of a sudden, she changed her tune, looking directly at the trees. All the animals ran forward and attacked the trees. They had caught them completely off guard.

"Move it! Go! Go! Go!" Fiona yelled. They jumped over the wall and ran through the gate. Sam went with Fiona and the princesses, while Donkey and Puss went off to free their friends. Sam had an urge to go look for Artie, but she knew she couldn't. He's probably long gone by now, Sam thought sadly. She pulled her attention back to the matter at hand.

The group ran, fighting guards as they went. Who knew princesses could be so resourceful? Cinderella took off her shoe and threw it, taking out a few guards. Beauty fell down on purpose and tripped the last few. They ran again, hoisting each other over walls, taking out the guards as they went. Before they knew it, they were at the theatre where the show was being put on.

On another side of the city, an odd group ran through the forest. It consisted of a donkey, a cat, three pigs, a wolf, a gingerbread cookie, and a puppet. They stopped on the edge of the road and looked out. "O to the K. The coast is clear," Puss said.

"Alright, let's do this. Go, Team Dynamite!" Donkey said.

"I thought we agreed we'd go by the name Team Super Cool," the puppet protested.

The cookie, Gingy, jumped in. "As I recall, it was Team Awesome."

They continued to bicker about their name. "I voted for Team Alpha Wolf Squadron," the wolf put in.

"Alright, alright, alright," Donkey said, interrupting the fighting. "From henceforth, we will be known as Team Alpha Super Awesome Cool Dynamite Wolf Squadron."

One of the pigs noticed a blond haired boy looking at them. "There is some strange little girl over there staring at us!" he said

Puss and Donkey looked over, and recognized him. Artie stopped for a second then turned away and kept walking. "Artie!" Donkey yelled.

"Wait, wait, wait, wait," Puss said, running to block his way. "Where is the fire, señor?"

"Oh, please. Don't act so innocent," Artie said, moving past him. "You both knew what was going on the whole time, and you kept it to yourselves."

"Artie, it's not like it seems," Donkey said.

"It's not?" Artie asked sarcastically. "I think it seems pretty clear. He was using be. Both of them were. That's all there is to it." He turned and started walking away

"Using you? You really don't get it," Donkey said.

"Shrek only said those things to protect you," Puss jumped in.

"Then what about Sam? Huh?" Artie asked. "She only stayed because she thought I was going to be king. She was supposed to be my friend!"

"Do you really think Sam would do that?" Donkey asked. "After all you two have been through, do you really believe she'd be that shallow?"

"She stayed with you even before she knew you were going to be king!" Puss put in. Artie kept walking away.

"Charming was going to kill you, Artie!" Donkey yelled. "They saved your life." Artie stopped and glanced back at them.

Back at the theatre, Sam was perched on one of the rafters above the stage, with a rope attaching her to the beam under her. Charming was singing to a princess in a tower. Sam had thought her opinion of her couldn't get any worse. His voice didn't help any.

All of sudden, Shrek and a cutout of what Sam guessed was his home in his swamp came up out of the floor. Charming continued singing. "Who is this terribly ugly fiend who so rudely intervened?"

"Will Charming fight of will he flee?" sang the pirates.

"Oh, please rescue me!" sang the princess

"From this monstrosity!" the pirates sang.

"Fear thee not, honey lamb! I will slice this thing up like a ham!" Charming turned to Shrek. "You are about to enter a world of pain with which you are not familiar!" Charming sang the last word so high, Sam winced and had an urge to cover her ears. She was sure she heard some glass bursting somewhere in the audience.

"It can't be any more painful than the lousy performance you're giving," Shrek said. The crowd burst out in laughter. Sam smiled, and fought to keep from laughing.

Charming had stopped, looking at the crowd. He cleared his throat. Prepare, foul beast, your time is done!" Charming sang, waving his sword in front of him.

"Ooh, if you don't mind, could you kill me, and then sing?" Shrek joked. This time Sam had to cover her mouth to keep from laughing. The audience was laughing again.

"Be quiet!" Charming yelled at them.

"Ah, come on. I'm just having fun with you," Shrek said. "That's actually a very nice leotard."

"Oh. Thank you." Charming smiled.

"Do they come in men's sizes?" By now even the villains were laughing. Sam couldn't even stop the quiet laugh that came out of her mouth.

"Enough!" Charming yelled. The audience quieted quickly. He looked back at Shrek. "Now you'll finally know what it's like to have everything you worked for, everything that's precious to you, taken away." Sam was tense with anticipation. "Now you'll know how I felt." Charming raised his sword. All of a sudden a burst of fire came and melted Charming's sword.

At that signal, Sam swung down from the rafter on the rope, jumping off as she neared the ground. She landed on the stage just as Snow and the other princesses appeared on the stage. They were joined by the pigs and Pinocchio, as well as the wolf. Gingy swung down from the princess in the tower's braid, which fell to the ground along with the rest of her hair.

Dragon landed on the stage, and Donkey and Puss ran off her head. "Pray for mercy from Puss!"

"And Donkey!"

Fiona kicked down the door on the cutout of Shrek's house. The crowd cheered. "Hi, honey. Sorry we're late," she said to Shrek. He smiled, looking at her. "You okay?"

"Much better, now that you're here," he said. The crowd "Ahhh"-ed and Sam smiled. "So, Charming, you want to let me out of these chains so we can settle this ogre-to-man?"

"Ooh, that sounds fun. But I have a better idea." Charming clapped his hands together. All the villains came out and grabbed them, pointing their weapons at them. They grabbed a hold of Sam's arms, and she stopped struggling as one held his sword to her neck. Sam glanced around. They were severely outnumbered.

The villains wrapped rope around Fiona and dragged her away from Shrek. "No! Let go of me!" Shrek strained against his chains unsuccessfully.

Charming grabbed a sword from one of his guards. "You will not ruin things this time, ogre. Kill it," he ordered the guards. They started moving toward him.

"Everybody, stop!" someone yelled. Everyone stopped, surprised. Sam's eyes widened as she looked up. She knew that voice!

"Oh, what is it now?" Charming yelled in a whiny voice.

"Artie?" Shrek said.

From in front of the spotlight, Artie jumped onto one of the clouds that hung from the rope, which had been in front of the stage before the play started. He swung down and landed in the middle of the group. "Who really thinks we need to settle things this way?"

The villains glanced at each other and raised their hands. "You're telling me you just want to be villains your whole lives?" Artie asked.

"But we are villains!" said one of them. It was the pirate captain with the hook. Sam recognized him from Mr. Merlin's house. "It's the only thing we know."

"Didn't you ever wish you could be something else?" Artie asked him.

"Easy for you to say," one of the trees said. "You're not some evil enchanted tree."

"You morons!" Charming burst in. "Don't listen to him! Attack!"

They ignored him. One of the trees grabbed Charming and put its hand over his mouth. "What Steve is trying to say here is that it's hard to come by honest work when the whole world's against you," said the tree.

"Right. Thanks, Ed," said the other tree.

"Ok, fair enough. You're right. I'm not a talking tree," Artie said. He glanced around and caught Sam's eye. She smiled apologetically at him. He smiled back. "But you know, a good friend of mine once told me that just because people treat you like a villain, or an ogre, or just some loser, it doesn't mean you are one," he said, turning around to look at Shrek. "The thing that matters most is what you think of yourself." Artie looked around at the people surrounding them.

"If there's something you really want, or someone you really want to be, then the only person standing in your way is you." He pointed at someone in the crowd.

"Me?" the person asked. The people around him grabbed him.

"No! No, no, no," Artie said. "What I mean is, each of you is standing in your own way," he explained.

"Oh…" they all said. They released the man.

One of the villains, one without a head sniffed. "I've always wanted to play the flute."

The woman who was holding a knife to the queen's throat took the knife away. "I'd like to open up a spa...in France!"

The pirate captain stepped forward. "I grow daffodils," he said. "And they're beautiful." The pirate threw down his sword. The villains looked at each other. One by one they threw down their weapons. They released Fiona and all the rest of the group. The guards holding Sam let go of her and threw down their weapons.

All around her people were throwing down their axes, crossbows, swords, and broomsticks. The good guys and villains were hugging each other and shaking hands. The audience was cheering. Sam caught Artie's eye and smiled. Her heart swelled with pride. If only the people at school could see him now, she thought.

A movement in her peripheral vision caught her eye. Charming was struggling against the tree. He got out of the trees grasp and ran toward one of the piles of weapons. Sam's eyes widened. Charming grabbed a sword from the pile and lunged toward Artie. Sam was frozen on the spot. She tried to yell, but her voice caught in her throat

Shrek saw Charming as he was lunging toward Artie. Pulling against his chains, he pulled them out of the floor and swung them through the air, wrapping them around Charming's sword. Charming kept a hold of the sword. Shrek swung him around. They continued pulling on the sword.

All of a sudden, Charming lunged forward towards Shrek with the sword.

Shrek's face was a mask of pain. He closed his eyes and sunk to his knees. Charming let go of the sword and stepped away. "A new era finally begins!" Charming yelled, facing the audience.

Sam's eyes wouldn't leave Shrek. Artie and Fiona were looking at him, too. Sam saw Shrek's head move, and she let out her breath. He looked up at Artie and Fiona, and their faces relaxed in relief, and the smiled.

"Now, everyone," Charming was saying, "bow before your King!" Charming's back was to Shrek.

Shrek came up behind him. And cleared his throat. Charming jumped and gasped, his eyes wide with fear. "You need to work on your aim," Shrek said, removing the sword from under his arm. He grabbed Charming by the shirt and pulled him off the ground.

"This was supposed to be my happily ever after!" Charming yelled.

"Well, I guess you need to keep looking…" Shrek looked over at Fiona, "because I'm not giving up mine." He swung Charming around. Behind him, Dragon hit the tower with her tail. It came down on top of Charming.

The crown that was on Charming's head rolled across the stage. It was stopped by a foot. Sam looked up. Artie. He picked up the crown and looked over at Shrek. "It's yours if you want it, you know," Shrek told him. "But this time it's your choice."

Artie looked down at the crown, then over at Sam. He smiled slightly, then looked back out at the crowd. Walking forward, he held up the crown. He put it on his head, and the crowd went crazy. Sam didn't even bother to fight the urge to jump up and down clapping. "Yeah, Artie!" she yelled.

A chant started up, and Sam didn't hesitate to join in. "Artie! Artie! Artie!" A few of the former villains lifted Artie up on their shoulders.

There was a small flash of light in the crowd. Sam glanced over. Mr. Merlin! "Puss! Donkey!" They looked over at her. She motioned towards Mr. Merlin.

Donkey and Puss looked at Mr. Merlin, then back at Sam. "Thanks," Donkey said. They headed off toward Mr. Merlin.

Sam looked around her. Pirates were having conversations with the fairy tale creatures, witches were talking to the princesses. Artie made all this possible, Sam thought. The people back at Worcestershire didn't have a clue how wrong they were.

Sam stood in the background, unable to keep the smile off her face. She was in awe from what Artie had just done. There was absolutely no doubt by anyone now. He would be an amazing ruler. She felt a surge of pride. That's my best friend, she thought.

She saw Artie break away from the crowd and come toward her. She smiled at him. They stood there for a minute, and an awkward silence stretched between them. "I'm sorry—" they started at the same time. They laughed. "You go first," Artie said.

Sam took a deep breath. "I'm sorry for what I said. And for keeping the truth from you. I shouldn't have done that, especially to my best friend. I hope you can forgive me," Sam said. She held her breath.

"Absolutely," Artie said, and she let out her breath. "And I'm sorry for thinking you would do that. For thinking the only reason you came was so you could be friends with a king."

Sam smiled at that. Her best friend was a king. "It's alright. In fact, it's more than alright. The whole point was so you would believe me and hate me. If you hadn't left, Charming would have killed you."

Artie looked away for a moment. "Then thank you," he said, looking back at her, "for saving my life."

Sam smiled at him. "Any time."

The End