"Finally," Princess Sabrina said; "I thought that ball announcement would never end... Dancing? Hm!" Kicking off her painfully high heeled shoes, she yanked a yellow silk scarf off her nearby canopy bed and, lashing it overhead, yelled out: "Transform!"
In an instant, she entered a realm of spiraling, sky-blue energy– and her ornate but burdensome pink princess gown transformed into a pair of gray breeches, suspenders, and a white poet shirt. The crown on her head was replaced with a gray newsboy cap and her hair was pinned up even shorter. As for the yellow silk scarf– it was now wrapped loosely around her thin, feminine neck– effectively hiding it and giving her a boyish air. Phasing out of her magical transformation zone, she yanked a bulky pair of men's black boots out from under her bed and, impatiently, thrust her feet into them.
"Pr-princess," Kipp, her animal assistant stammered, hovering over her as she laced up her boots. "You can't go out and play– not right now– didn't you listen to King Crown's announcement just awhile ago? He won't put up with your reluctance anymore. Dancing is an important part of our culture, and fundamental for maintaining the peace between the kingdoms... He wants you to begin dancing lessons so that you may go to the ball with a neighboring kingdom's prince!"
Princess Sabrina yanked her boot laces tighter and tied them firmly. "Do you seriously believe that twaddle? Dancing has NOTHING to do with maintaining the peace. That's all just a fairy tale," she explained; "The only thing that 'maintains the peace' between kingdoms is the act of marrying off princesses and paying huge-butt dowries. You're smart, Kip. You know that it's true too, right? That a princess is just a peace offering wrapped up in very pretty gift paper– soullessly awaiting to be bequeathed to some war-mongering prince– just so that he can tear it ALL OFF and ENJOY himself."
Shocked by Sabrina's shrewd and coarse language, Kip nearly chocked on his own saliva. "You're wrong, Princess! You're more than a peace offering, and the neighboring princes are much more sensitive and refined than you seem to believe! They're of good breeding... they're gentlemen!"
"Well of course! Breeding is the royals' specialty." Sabrina laughed crudely, pushing open her bedroom window and mounting the windowsill.
"But... but... even if all of what you have said is true, it's YOUR responsibility to maintain peace through ROYAL self-sacrifice," Kip exclaimed; "Don't you care about your people?"
"I do, but I also care to serve them in more efficient ways. I should be a surgeon-general, the peace treasurer, or an charity adviser! But would father allow that? Never. I'm to be sent away to a far-off land for disposal, like a piece of frilly garbage."
By now, Kip was already quite weary and depressed by the Princess' logical yet pessimistic outlook. If only there was a way to reform her into a proper princess... and while making her happy at the same time. As the princess jumped from her window and ran stealthily out across the garden, he relayed these thoughts to her.
Sabrina, who listened to him reflectively, answered him in a surprising way. "Kip, though you are a drone commissioned by my father, I am always profoundly impressed by your love and loyalty," she arrogantly proclaimed (though this attitude was understandable for a princess); "–Loyalty, both to me and to the throne. I feel guilty for forcing you into being a sort of mediator between the two. Sometimes, even– I feel that I am not worthy of your respect. Earnestly, I wish I could become the sort of lady who would never give you any troubles, but I was born wrong. Perhaps, I was meant to be a prince, but mother's womb dictated otherwise."
Kip's fuzzy cheeks flushed crimson at her words; full of bashful awkwardness, and he quickly scratched the back of his head. "Princess, don't say such things... you are so young and are already a stunning lady, and I am honored to always care for and respect you. For you, I would do anything."
"Anything?" she asked, the shadow of a plot scheming on her brow.
Kip's promise would become one of regret, for as soon as they reached the royal stable, Sabrina grabbed him, mounted an old horse, and, stirring the horse, began to divulge an unwholesomely wicked plan to him– a plan that involved him stealing the royal heirloom.
"You want ME to take the Key of Blooming?" Kip squealed, hanging onto her by the back of her shirt– for Sabrina had stirred the old horse into a mad gallop. "Do you realize where that is? It's in the Crown Room!"
"Exactly. Today, I will be jousting with the local farmers' children– as I had promised to teach them this art a week ago. While I am doing this, you are to alert the castle."
"But I'll get PUNISHED for even allowing you to do such a thing!"
"Not if I give you a valid excuse." And at this, the princess took off her suspenders and lassoed them around poor Kip– tying him up like a hostage. She then took out a vial of blood-red paint and rubbed the substance into his fur. "Fly back to the castle immediately. Since you appear injured, father will have you inducted under the care of the clergy. Once there, you will be untied and examined– then left to wander about the second story cathedral hall. Float down and enter the downstairs' Crown Room through a small window (you are the only one who will fit), steal the key, and replace it with a duplicate that I had left under the edge of the throne's red carpet this morning (as I had bent down and placed it there when pretending to tidy my skirt hem). Take the REAL key and hide it under a chair cushion in the dance hall just next door. I will be there to meet you."
"Princess, your plan will not work– you will be imprisoned in your room for your outlandish behavior!"
"My plan WILL work, for I will fall off my horse and require immediate medical attention. Kip! Believe in me as I believe in you! You have my complete trust." At this, the princess threw Kip into a nearby patch of tall, cushiony grass and whipped the old horse's reins– audaciously speeding onward.
Shuddering, and baffled into great panic, Kip flew back to the castle as fast as he could. Plot or not, he just had to alert everyone. Thinking that the princess' gambit would fail from the start, he was horrified when he was instead thanked and placed under the clergy's care as the princess had predicted.
Examining Kip and finding nothing wrong, the clergymen left to go search the market for a potion which would remove the strong red paint from his fur. This left him alone, indefinitely, to wander through the cathedral's halls.
"Oh, what have I gotten myself into," Kip lamented, doing exactly as the princess had told him to do. Floating down into the empty Crown Room below (through a small pointed window), he found the fake gold and white enamel key under the carpet, switched it with the real one on its tall marble pedestal and lifted the real one back outside.
Wondering just how to princess would appear, he entered the empty expanse of the dance hall and hid the key under a chair cushion, as instructed, and waited. After nervously expecting the lone princess for some time, he fell over in distress when she finally entered, but with a gentleman rabbit by her side. Terrified beyond all reckoning, Kip floated back a distance. "Princess!" he gasped, surprised by her unharmed appearance. "You are well!"
"Of course," Princess Sabrina declared; "I only threatened you, Kip. I didn't really intend to hurt myself. But as expected– instead of locking me up in my room, father sicked this DANCE instructor on me and sent me here as punishment." The princess then winked at Kip, instantly making his blood run cold.
Oh, what kind of princess is this demon? poor Kip wondered in terror.
"Though the king asked me to tutor you in the art of dancing, he did not 'sick' me on you," the gentleman rabbit proclaimed, thumping his feet energetically. "My name is Tony. I will turn you into a skilled and DISCIPLINED dancer."
The princess arrogantly threw back her head and laughed. "You can discipline me all you want for today, Tony. I leave myself in your paws. But be prepared. I will romp you to exhaustion."
Tony bulked slightly at her unlady-like but still enticing challenge. "Very well, then," he said maturely; "I will take you up on your offer." Magically transforming into a taller, manlier rabbit, he dutifully led her into dancing her first song– which she powerfully thrashed about to.
Kip knew, that for whatever the princess lacked in grace or ladylikeness, she more than made up for in her monsterous strength. To demonstrate this fact, the princess often crushed, bent, and rolled up steel and iron frying pans with her bare hands.
"Oh my, she inherited the King's terrible strength," Kip whimpered to himself, terrorized by the way in which she was leading and swinging Tony around on the dance floor. In the way she was doing it, it seemed that Tony was more like a stuffed toy than a dance partner. It quickly became apparent that he was desperately running out of stamina.
As soon as the song was over, Tony released the princess' hands and stepped back. "I am happy that you are giving this lesson your all," the rabbit scolded, "but you are FAR from dancing with me. In fact, you are assaulting me! Do not swing me around like that– you must have poise and rhythm!"
"Yes Sir," the princess exclaimed obediently; "I will try harder!"
"You will not try harder, you will try SOFTER." He took her hand and waist. "And let the man lead."
Kip gulped when he saw the dark and unruly glare which flashed across Sabrina's neon green eyes. It was more than apparent that she was outraged and offended by his suggestion to abide by the rules provided by this frivolous and vain lifestyle– a lifestyle that most girls her age would actually be quite enthralled with.
Finally, Kip understood the princess; she was like a barbaric force of nature– thunder, fire, the quaking earth, or violent wind– which was senselessly being forced in fluffy skirts. It was demeaning and unnatural. Instead, this girl belonged in a sort of wilderness– a world in which this one could never be. She needed to be freed.
As promised, Sabrina played with Tony until he could stand no more. Telling her– or perhaps threatening her– that he would take her intense passion and use it to make her into a graceful dancer SOON, Tony left– his hankie pressed to his soft white rabbit whiskers. As soon as the door closed behind him, the princess turned to Kip and smiled impishly.
"Kip, retrieve the key," she said; "with it, we're going to another world; to a world where a girl just like me is an equal among her peers... to a place where she can choose her own future... to a world where she gets to play rough sports EVERY SINGLE DAY. I will switch places with the me there, and we will both win!"
Knowing that he could no longer go back, Kip dutifully obeyed. "Yes, Princess," he said, bowing his troubled head.
Taking the royal heirloom, the Key of Blooming back to her room, Princess Sabrina jabbed it into the lock on her fancy oak armoire and twisted it once, then back again, unlocking it. Slinging the doors open, she laughed delightfully at the magical blue, starlit vortex swirling inside the closet before her. "Take us," she blasted exuberantly, crawling up into the armoire. "Take us to the place of my blooming heart's desire!"
"I... I hope you know what you're doing!" Kip yelled. Jumping into the closet, they both screamed, and then laughed until they cried– for falling down the vortex was like riding on a wildly exhilarating roller coaster.
Popping in through the closet belonging to her non-princess, schoolgirl-self, Sabrina introduced herself and was surprised by her doppelganger's similarities. For it was not only in name, but also in appearance and personality that the two girls were alike. However, the schoolgirl did not possess the same neon green eyes as the princess, nor her shrewd crudeness. Instead, this schoolgirl had hazel eyes and a natural, bubbly– if not dimwitted– cuteness. According to the slyer girl, she was the PERFECT princess-replacement material.
After hearing the duties that she would be allowed to perform: dancing, dating, and attending the upcoming ball, the schoolgirl easily agreed to switch places with the princess for a 30 day trial period. Likewise, the princess was delighted to hear that the schoolgirl was relieved to have the opportunity to escape from the upcoming school SPORTS festival.
In her throes of happiness and satisfaction, however, the princess realized too late that she had left her most valuable treasure behind; an emerald necklace received long ago from her first love... a mysterious boy. She quickly warned the schoolgirl to NOT touch it, as it was very precious to her. However, as soon as she made this warning clear, the princess understood that it was useless; if the schoolgirl was to permanently switch places with her, that sort of possessiveness would no longer have a place. At last, she decided that the schoolgirl could be allowed to touch the emerald necklace if she agreed to become the princess forever... Only if and only then.
Princess Sabrina waved a wistful goodbye and sent the schoolgirl and Kip back through the vortex to the Flower Kingdom. Despite this sadness on face, a fiery excitement was burning and growing in her heart. From this moment on, and for at least 30 days– she would no longer be a princess but a schoolgirl. She couldn't even begin to imagine the possibilities.
Laughing gleefully to herself, Sabrina set forth in eagerly completing the easy homework that the schoolgirl had left her.