A/N: ...I just...this is so fluffy and happy and adorable and I just can't...I don't have words...just feelings...just...just read and you'll have feelings too, I swear...
I do not own Ella Enchanted.
The library had become her sanctuary. A haven away from noise and orders and bleeding knuckles in the hallway. Speaking of bleeding knuckles...
Ella licked a speck of blood that dripped from them, catching it on her tongue before the crimson drop could land on the page of the book in her lap. The words of the Brothers Grimm were far too precious to stain, she thought, balling her hand in her dress. Mandy really needed to tend to it, but her time alone in Mum Olga's library was just too much to pass up.
Not even a bloodied hand could coerce her to give it up.
Smiling to herself, Ella listened around her for any sign of sound.
There was no Mum Olga criticizing the way she cleaned the floors.
There was no Olive asking her, for the twelfth time, to recite King Midas (Ella pondered the benefits of Olive being turned into gold...at least then she would shut up).
And there was no Hattie.
That was most important.
She did however, wonder how long she had before someone came looking for her. There was to be a cotillion that night, and dinner would have to be cooked, and the dining room and parlor would have to be cleaned. The mere thought of more work made Ella's hand ache.
She turned another page, and the second the story of Aschenputtel was revealed, the library door swung open.
"There you are, I've been looking all over!"
Hattie came 'round the room, peering over the back of the couch.
"What have you been up to?"
Ella had to hold her tongue—she didn't want her snark getting the better of her.
Ella cautiously turned another page (even if she merely glanced the page she was on) and tried to focus on the paragraphs detailing the death of the poor girl's mother...
Perhaps that wasn't the best thing to be reading...
Hattie had moved around the couch, and was sitting beside her, almost too close for comfort. Ella shifted uncomfortably on the lavish couch, the wave of emotions washing over her were greatly unwanted, especially in Hattie's presence.
"Cinderella, isn't it?"
Hattie raised an eyebrow as the word left her mouth. Ella could only nod, skimming ahead to enter: the stepfamily.
As if it couldn't get any more awkward...
Ella wondered why she hadn't settled on something in the stack of towering Plato, Anderson, and religion.
"Yes. My...mother used to read it to me when I was a child," The words were sticking painfully in her throat, and she had to clear it just to continue, "I haven't read it since..."
Hattie, surprisingly, nodded. Ella wondered what she was thinking. She was becoming harder and harder to read, ever since the wedding. Ever since Ella pushed her away when she had embraced her...and, if Ella was being honest, being held by someone other than Mandy felt...good. And Hattie was always exceptionally warm, and she always smelled wonderfully like lavender and vanilla, and the lavender made her sleepy, and it was all around a comfortable, cozy, at-home feeling that she both loved and loathed simultaneously.
"The part with the birds..." Hattie began, gently taking the book out of Ella's hands, "was loathsome."
Hattie spared a look at Ella's wounded knuckles, and sat the book in her lap, only to take Ella's hand from its makeshift bandage.
"Lye," Ella mumbled, feeling embarrassed. Nothing ever made her feel so...funny. Slipping on ice and breaking an entire set of dishes made her blush like she was now, but she had just felt embarrassed, not funny.
"I don't want anything for it...Mandy can mend it."
Hattie looked up, gray eyes eager with something Ella wasn't quite sure of.
"What else did your mother read to you?"
Ella hadn't expected such a question. The last thing Hattie had ever said about her mother was that she was known for her ill-breeding.
"Rapunzel..." Ella shrugged, and Hattie ran her thumb over Ella's hand.
"That's in this book—it was my favorite. Mama used to read it to me every night. Olive never liked it, she always had nightmares about being kidnapped by the witch."
"Who would take her..." Ella mumbled, feeling immediately guilty afterward, and wary of the fact that her stepsister had a grip on her fragile hand.
"Ha! Not anyone I know of, dear." A smirk, and Hattie released Ella's hand, leaning back against the couch and opening the book. She flipped ahead several pages, coming to a stop at Rapunzel.
Ella looked around the room, and Hattie patted her lap and smiled, "Come on."
Hesitantly, Ella crossed the couch, sliding into Hattie's lap. Again, the warmth, the scents, the oh. Ella smiled in spite of herself, arms wrapping around Hattie's waist.
"Good girl." and before she could say anything to protest being called such a thing, Hattie's lips were on her's—soft and passionate, teeth nipping her bottom lip—and before she could question that, Hattie started reading;
Once upon a time...