"It's unfortunate that when we feel a storm
We can roll ourselves over 'cause we're uncomfortable
Oh well, the devil makes us sin
But we like it when we're spinning in his grip

Love is like a sin, my love,
For the ones that feel it the most
Look at her with her eyes like a flame
She will love you like a fly will never love you again."

Massive Attack||Paradise Circus

Carnival of Obedience

A/N: The problem with titles is that...well, they're irritating. I was originally going to name this story Circus of Obedience, but it just didn't sit well with me. I felt like I was almost pushing the circus theme a bit too much. I mean, granted a carnival and a circus are two completely different things, but whatever. Don't argue. (I do not own Ella Enchanted.)

One:

The Fall of the Ring Leader

1.

Come one, come all, to the most marvelous of balls!

Ella flinched; those were the words she always heard in her nightmares. Her father's booming voice was met with an uproarious response from the crowd, and she could feel her body tingling with the impending pain it would be put through. Sometimes, Ella wondered if her mother ever really loved her. After all, if she did, why would she leave her alone in...this? She whimpered when the Man With Two Heads passed her, and again when the elf with one ear much larger than the other; one was shrunken, the other somehow warped to twice its size. They were the opening act, the ones who prepared the crowd for whatever Sir Peter wanted to throw at them.

Then it would be Ella's turn.

The Obedient Girl. A lackluster name, indeed, but the crowd took great enjoyment in making Ella do whatever they wanted. Why, just the other day, she had been commanded to slice at her skin with a blade. It was sickening, what they made her do, and what her father accepted for paper and coins. On more than one occasion, Ella wished her father would just marry her off to some wealthy old man who would die and leave her with a fortune.

Her father walked past the blood red curtain shielding the stage, and directed his gaze towards his daughter. He always regarded Ella's curse as the greatest thing since the Coming of Christ. Because of it, she was particularity easy child to raise, and that alone was enough to make him somewhat fond of her.

"It's almost your turn, daughter."

He barely ever said her name, calling her by her ridiculous stage title, or simply "daughter." It was horribly insulting, but Ella couldn't force herself to care about it. She never called him father, so she supposed it was even.

"I don't want to."

Ella stated, crossing her arms and glaring at him.

"Don't argue."

The command shut her down quickly, an unusual occurrence. Ella always argued, always fought against the tug of her obedience until her stomach heaved and her heart ached. She did so onstage, but soon felt ill when the crowd barraged her with enough commands to make her head explode. Sir Peter patted her shoulder, smiling sickeningly sweet at her.

"We're losing money, and you're my biggest profit."

Ella felt like she was a whore sometimes.

"If you don't get your ass out there and deliver, I'll lose the circus. And then you'll be alone."

The thought of being alone made Ella feel warm. It always sounded so much better than this life, walking onto a stage and harming herself for others sick, sadistic enjoyment.

The crowd cheered loudly, and the little deformed elf walked past them. Sir Peter grabbed Ella's arm, pulling her onto the stage with him. She took a deep breath, hoping to whatever god would be kind enough to hear her that it wouldn't be so bad today.

"And now, ladies and gentlemen, I bring you our finest attraction."

Booming applause, and as Ella stood on the stage, she noticed someone giving her a generous amount of attention. Standing in the very front row was a girl—a young girl, looking to be older than Ella's fifteen years. A smirk was present on her face, a face that was framed by elegant honey-blonde curls. She gave Ella goosebumps.

"My own daughter, cursed by a mad fairy at birth—forced to do anything she is commanded to!"

Ella braced herself, watching the smirking girl in the front warily. She balled her hands into fists, wondering what would come first. Would she choke herself until she turned blue? Slice open her skin and drink the blood? Contort herself on the floor until she was sure her bones would break? The list of possibilities was endless. So mind-numbingly endless that her heart ached. Permanently broken-hearted, she was, stuck in her father's circus, stuck with the clowns and acrobats and god's abominations.

For someone so young, Ella understood that god hated people.

"Hop on one foot!"

Someone yelled, a man, from all the way in the back. This was harmless. It was humor, and Ella did it several times a day. Without delay, she hoisted one leg up, shifting all of her weight to the other. She hopped, up and down, up and down, a steady rhythm and it wasn't long until her leg began to ache. She hoped she would be allowed to stop soon. Her pulse hammered in her chest, so hard she feared it would burst out of her chest. Oh, what if it did? She thought, imagining the sight of her heart falling from her cracked ribs. Blood and entrails would ooze out slowly—agonizingly slow and it would be so beautiful. She would die, and death would bring freedom. Her soul would fly off to some unknown land, away from this hell.

Or would she go to hell?

Would Satan be nice? Would he throw her into a pit of flames and leave her to burn, to rot among the sinners? Surely the audience was full of sinners? Surely the girl in the front row, who was grinning now, was a sinner?

Suddenly, that girl spoke up, leaning towards the stage and leering at Ella like the men usually did.

"Hike up your dress."

Oh.

Her father usually put a stop to such orders, something about King Jerrold and his policies against such actions in a "family place." Ella found it funny how she was allowed to harm herself, but the second skin was exposed, the law stepped in.

"I I..."

Ella stammered, her hands coming to grip them of her dress by her own volition. Her father gave the girl a funny look, but he didn't stop the order. No, he stood back, eyes averted from his daughter.

Taking a deep breath, Ella hiked up her dress, exposing herself to the audience. The wind whipped around her, caressing her skin as the audience cheered, delighted by her humiliation.

"Get down on your knees."

Ella's knees bent; her eyes locked on the girl, who looked very pleased by the commands she had chosen.

"Good girl."

Ella found herself inching towards the edge of the stage, getting closer to the girl. She was staring at Ella so lecherously, so intensely. Her gray eyes glimmered with something, a kind of idea that seemed to fill her with great pride.

"I want you."

The crowd seemed to fall silent, and Ella shrunk away, alarmed and exceptionally terrified. What did she want with her...? Surely it was nothing good, what with the way she was staring at her. Nothing good could ever come from a stare like that.