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Generated: Jul 17, 2021 5:46 AM
Post last updated: Apr 23, 2019 1:57 PM
to be happy, and forever
Turquoises in the woods.
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There is a hidden meadow.

It stands beside a brackish stream, which overflows and adds a fine layer of salt to the surrounding earth with the coming of great storms. Given the salinity of the soil, no trees may grow here, only delicate flowers and fine grasses and the occasional hardened bush. 

The flowers are lovely, right now, as they often are; this is not a meadow, or a forest, or a world, with much regard for the concept of ‘seasons’. If it pleases a meadow to be in eternal spring - well, why shouldn’t it? Violets do not respect the sun; lavender does not respect the earth; goldenrod does not respect the moon. They do not respect the salinity of their soil, the dimness of their light, the position of the stars; they will bloom, and they will live, and they will die, and nothing will delay them.

Hidden meadows have their powers. They attract a certain kind of spirit, shy and dainty and delicate as a flower, and those spirits attract meadows in turn.

There is a spirit, in the meadow, at this very moment. She is a woman, wearing a pale veil of mourning, translucent and fine rolls of fabric, a dress that follows its own rules of lighting and shadow and color, dotted with dried and bleached flowers. There is blood, dried and faint, on her gown. Some things cannot help but linger. 

The grass is green, behind her; it looks like emerald. The sun is bright, above her; it looks like the eye of a foreign god.

She had a name, once. She’s lost it.

She speaks; her voice is faint and high, but it rumbles with the earth below her, and it hisses in great bursts, wind rolling down the meadow, distant trees shuddering and holding their breath in anticipation.

Once upon a time.

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In a far off corner of the woods, there is a tower.

Pale white, and untouched by rain. Solid stone, uncarved by ordinary hand, without a door in sight. A boy with perfectly ordinary hair, at the very top, singing softly and fluttering between his seven dozen little occupations. 

The tower streches high above all surrounding trees, but it cannot quite be seen, ordinarily. It is a witch’s tower, see, and towers that belong to magical folk tend to be magical themselves, and very, very shy. It is visible today, for obscure reasons. Perhaps it’s in an exhibitionist mood. Perhaps there is something stranger afoot.

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A bird is flying by.

He isn’t an ordinary bird, any more than the tower is made of ordinary earth, and he’s pretty surprised to see a tower here, when he remembers flying by here so many times before without seeing anything of the kind.

He perches on the edge of the tower’s balcony, at the very top, and peers inside.

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He can see a fair-haired boy inside - twenty years old, at a glance, intensely pale and pretty, wearing a black shirt and silken jeans and stunning sapphire earrings - and a room, with stone floors and wooden bookshelves and miscellaneous craft projects cluttering every available surface.

 

“... um. Hello?”

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!!!!!

The bird doesn’t seem equipped to respond to this coherently. He hops a little bit forward and coos, adoringly.

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“- um, I’m not really sure how to ask this - are you intelligent? I’m not really supposed to have intelligent visitors, even if they’re birds...”

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The bird blinks, and stops cooing. 

And turns into a man.

He’s tall enough that he could reach up and touch the ceiling - he has to be approaching seven feet - and he’s broad and handsome enough that comparisons to tree trunks and marble statues come to mind. He isn’t wearing a shirt, and the leather pants that he’s wearing look simultaneously classy and like they should be illegal.

He spends a few seconds staring.

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Rapunzel has literally never met anyone that he was attracted to before, outside of tawdry illustrated novels. He stares right back.

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The man-who-was-previously-a-bird takes three steps forward, scoops him up into his arms, and kisses him.

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This is not even slightly where he thought his day was going but he’s all in favor.

He makes a high pitched squeaking noise, squirms a bit, and kisses him back, a bit clumsily.

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Kissing! Kissing is great.

He eventually stops, and settles for squeezing the love of his life to his chest and bouncing up and down.

”I think that was love at first sight,” he says, dreamily. “My dad was all ‘son, you’ll know it when you see it’, and stuff, but it’s totally more intense than he implied, I wanna cuddle you and kiss you and make you happy and save you from dragons and stuff and I don’t even, like, know your name. What’s your name?”

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Oh.

So that’s why this random stranger spontaneously kissed him - he’d read about the phenomenon but he’d never really expected it to actually happen in his direction -

“Rapunzel. It’s, um, a strange name -“

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Rapunzel,” he says, rapturously. “I love it. I love you. You’re gonna be mine and we’re gonna get married and have awesome sex and awesome adventures and rule a kingdom, and stuff - I’m Crown Prince of the Forest, it’s kickass - do you wanna get your stuff so we can go?”

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“Yes.”

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The Crown Prince of the Forest sets him down, and bounces, and beams, and stares at him, and thinks about exclamation points, and bounces.

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Rapunzel starts scampering around and packing miscellaneous sentimental items into a bag, only occasionally distracted by staring back.

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Prince Ezekiel continues being really excited and bouncy and happy and mostly not super talkative, until, during one of these moments of mutual visual appreciation -

”Uh, I should probably ask - why are you in a tower? Is there, like, a basilisk, or something, that I should slay before we go?”

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“My mother is a really overprotective witch. I can leave her a note.”

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How do you make smalltalk with someone you barely know and love intensely and want to hold forever - 

“Cool. Got any awesome powers?”

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“I only inherited a little - I’m adopted - but I can heal people, I think, and I probably won’t age?”

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“Sweet... you about ready to go?”

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“Yup! Just need to pack these three things and to write a note -“

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“ - ‘kay.”

Staring. Anxious fidgeting. Staaaaaaring.

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He finishes putting away his childhood sculpture of a unicorn, a seemingly ordinary pebble, and what looks like an empty potion vial.

”... would you like to hold my hand, or something similar, while I write the note?”

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“Yeah!”

He bounces over - the floorboards are grumbling something about cruel and unusual treatment, but they seem inclined to hold - pulls up a chair, scoops Rapunzel unceremoniously up into his lap, and snuggles up.

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This position is not really ideal for note writing, honestly - both in terms of his range of motion and in terms of his concentration - but they’re within range of paper and ink and he can deal. 

He valiantly attempts to refrain from melting into an intensely snuggly and aroused and mildly overwhelmed puddle, only partially succeeds, and starts writing.

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Tick, tick, tick, tick.

 

There is a manor, in a village at the very edge of the woods. Within that manor, there is a beautiful young maiden, and her wicked stepmother, and her moderately wicked stepbrother. She is wearing a nice, informal little white dress; her stepmother is wearing an elaborately poofy and spiky black gown with truly excessive cleavage; her stepbrother is out of the room.

”So you spilled paint all over my ballgown,” she says.

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She nods, solemnly.

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“And accidentally threw the backup ballgown that I had sewn and hidden in my closet, into the pond.”

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“I did, your honor, I can’t deny it.”

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Her hand clenches and unclenches; a bird outside the window makes a distressed sound and falls over, dead. Wings strain against the confines of nonexistence, itching to appear; talons do the same.

“I am not a judge, or jury. I may be an executioner.”

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“Oh, my poor little Cindy-poo-poo, did somebody think that they were actually going to go to the ball? Silly Cindy! Festivals are for people who have anything to wear.”

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“Would you prefer to die by sword, or by poison. I am flexible.”

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“I’m a major character, pumpkin, I can’t die until act three. But I do have a spare gown in just your size! - just wait one moment while I go and fetch it, would you?”

She strides out of the room, and returns, in short order, with a dress.

 

It is... poofy. And an outrageously tacky shade of bright green. And extremely frilly. There are little attached bells and ribbons in wildly mismatched colors, and seven tiny little stuffed animals sewn onto seemingly random patches of fabric.

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“I see that you have chosen ‘torture’. Please hold while I fetch the scalpel.”

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“Pumpkin, has anyone ever told you that you have no sense of fiscal responsibility? You’ve already gone through two perfectly decent gowns, and the costuming department can barely afford to fund this ‘festival’ at all - you should feel lucky that you don’t have to go to the ball in a little paper bag labeled ‘dress’. Kids these days - back when I was a darling little child who had never done anything wrong and definitely hadn’t stolen large amounts of money from my parents, I wore tacky dresses with stuffed animals attached and I liked it.”

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“Wear this one, then. I will not.”

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She grabs a cane from a nearby stand, puts her hand over her eyes, hunches over, and starts waving the cane around, blindly.

”Get off my lawn, youngster!”

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“Stop.”

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“Never!”

She raises herself up from previous stance with a flourish, and takes on a fencer’s pose. She starts making quick, probing little jabs with her cane and practicing elaborate footwork, as if wielding an unusually wooden sword.

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Cinderella sighs, and backs away steadily, grabbing a pot of lentils of a nearby desk to block the strikes of the cane.

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The cane smacks the pot from the side, instead of jabbing at it from the front -

- and it goes flying into the fireplace, lentils pouring out in a sweeping motion and plopping delicately into the ashes.

“Now look what you’ve done!”

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“I believe you just confused first person and second person pronouns.”

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“Pumpkin, I’ve never seen a first person in my life. I don’t exist.”

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“That would make many things more sensible. The universe, for instance, and my sanity. Will you let me go to the ball in an ordinary dress.”

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“I will - if you help your stepbrother with his abominable outfit, and place each and every lentil that was in that fireplace back into the pot, within two hours time. Have at it!”

She sweeps dramatically out of the room.

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Her stepbrother awkwardly sidles into the room.

”I’m sorry about her.”

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“I am not surprised.”

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“I really do need help with my hair and outfit, though - if you want compensation I’m prepared to give it -“

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“Is this yet another one of your attempts at flirtation.”

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“... yes?” he tries. “Look, you’re hot, I’m hot, we’re not actually related, I don’t see why we can’t -“

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Tick, tick, tick, tick.

 

There’s a little house, in the woods; a teenage girl, no older than fifteen, is standing next to it, with her mother and her cow. Her mother is older than she seems, but not wiser; the teenage girl is precisely the age she appears, and wiser than most; her cow, though in possession of hooves and a tail and cow-ears and an udder, appears mostly human.

They don’t look much alike, those three, and the trees around them bear little resemblance to the rest of the forest - they seem to be in a more autumnal mood. Dried leaves crunch underneath their feet (and hooves, in one case); red leaves splatter trees like blood on wooden knives; golden leaves sparkle like false promises and hollow dreams.

“I’d be more willing to listen to your ridiculously unworkable plan if you’d stop misgendering Milky White,” says the teenage girl.

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“Moo.”

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“She isn’t a bull, Jackie.”

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“Is this really the hill you intend to die on?”

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“Fine. You’re going to meet up with one of my agents; that agent, who’s a double-agent with one of our competitors, is going to take him and go back to that competitor’s headquarters. Milky White spies on them, has a nonfunctional fit, and the double agent sells him back to us.”

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“You know what they do to cows in organized crime rings.”

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“Moo!”

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“You’re going to ‘sell’ Milky White to my double agent, or I’m going to sell him at the animal market tomorrow.”

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“No, you aren’t.”

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“Jackie, don’t be a fool.”

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“I’m leaving with Milky White, and you can’t, actually, stop me.”

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“I poisoned your wine, with breakfast.”

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“No, you didn’t.”

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“I do it regularly. You’ll need the antidote in three days time, unless you want to start crying blood. If you don’t do as I say, you’re going to die, painfully, and I’ll recapture Milky White for my own purposes anyways.”

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“That’s the most conspicuous and desperate bluff that I’ve ever heard.”

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“I’m also planning on making you my successor, in six months time, and I’m going to have trouble doing that if you run off because of squeamishness.”

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“Bullshit.”

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Her mother takes a deep breath, and closes her eyes: her arms widen in a broad gesture, and her eyes open.

The wine starts picking up.

”I swear, on my mother, and my mother’s mother, and my mother’s mother’s mother -“ the wind hisses, sprays, the trees bend and dance, dried leaves pick themselves up and writhe like venomous snakes - “that I poisoned your drink this morning, and will give you the antidote if you obey me. I swear, on my mother, and my mother’s mother -“ a faint scream, off in the distance, something agonized and pained - “that you are my child, and that, as my child, you will inherit my business, upon my death, if you obey me for the next six months. I swear, on my mother - “ a crack of thunder, dramatic and booming and powerful, off in the distance, although there’s hardly a cloud in the sky - “that I will not give you the antidote by force or coercion, but only by my own will. Thus it is.”

The wind dies down, and the autumnal leaves sink to the ground. A tree falls, in the distance, having been struck by lightning.

She coughs, and spits out a glob of blood. It makes a wet sound as it lands on a patch of grass.

She lowers her hands, and raises an eyebrow.

A bird chirps.

The world is silent.

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“Probably not bullshit.”

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“Moo.”

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“Milky White, you are under absolutely no obligation to -“

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“Moo.”

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“Fair.”

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“Is it a deal, then, daughter? Your life, and control of one of the most prominent criminal operations in the kingdom, in return for one little task and a little risk to a cow?”

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“Fuck you. Yes.”

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Tick, tick, tick, tick.

 

There is a village, as previously mentioned, at the edge of the woods. In that village, there are paths; rolling down one of those paths, in a sort of primitive wheelchair, there is a young girl - thirteen years old, at the most.

That girl - who’s wearing a vividly blood red cloak - is! so! excited!

She’s wanted to take over granny’s crime ring since forever, but it’s really hard to do that when you can’t have contact with anyone involved in criminal activity! Her mother had been very strict about how she was absolutely never to go near anyone involved in the family business, and it had taken absolute ages to maneuver her mother into letting her ‘be a dirty criminal, like the rest of our bloody fucking bloodline [cue swig of liquor]’ without irretrievably comprimising their relationship. But now she can totally be a dirty criminal! She’s always wanted to be a dirty criminal, it’s all really very exciting.

Basket in her lap, thankful for the doorstop in place - fiddling with knobs and handles can get pretty annoying - she wheels into the bakery.

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There’s a different woman behind the counter, today. She’s dressed a bit too well, for a baker, and she doesn’t quite have the physique, but she certainly seems happy to be here.

“Salutations, my dear!”

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Ooh, new friend opportunity, score.

“Hello! I’m here to get some bread to -“ disguise the fact that she’s making a drug run “- bring my granny, because she’s sick.”

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“We have bread, dear, don’t worry. Are you interested in endeavoring to try our experimental sampler platter in return for individually rating each piece on a five part scale, in case your grandmother would prefer something more exotic than the harmless yet ultimately staid fare that we ordinarily serve?”

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“I can’t get sick. Are they going to make me sick?”

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“Absolutely not.”

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“I’ll try the platter, then!”

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That means it’s time for her to eat an absolutely ridiculous amount of weird bread! The woman manning this store is so excited about feeding her weird experimental bread and writing down her reaction to it! Bread made with ground blueberries! Bread made with citrus! Bread using two different kinds of dough in a swirl pattern! Bread shaped like a bird! Strangely spongey bread! Bizarre quickbreads! Bizarre yeast breads! Bizarre breads of every shape and color and variety and -

 

They can kill thirty minutes, easy, with the baker’s wife periodically bouncing around that store helping customers and mostly just beaming at her intensely and scribbling down notes.

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She produces detailed and interesting opinions about every kind of weird bread presented to her! And then she is eventually full. 

“I liked the regular bread and the citrus bread the most. Could I have a loaf of both?”

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“Certainly! - and free of charge, I insist.”

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This has been a successful friend acquisition mission. She is pleased.

”Thank you so much!”

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The baker’s wife acquires two loaves of bread and deposits them in the the basket. 

“You’re - welcome. Come by - any time, dear, that you would like.”

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There’s a story there. Prying is really tempting but it might cost her friendship points and she doesn’t want to lose friendship points, losing friendship points is the worst thing ever. Maybe she can ease into the topic.

“Thank you. What do you mostly do, when you aren’t being a baker?”

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“I also assortedly dabble in being a baker’s wife, an inventor, and an heiress. They are all extraordinarily pleasant occupations!”

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“But I don’t know what you invent! What do you invent?”

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“I may or may not have invented the process of pasteurization.”

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“I don’t know what that is, either.”

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“Wetnurses are expensive, dear, you can’t just hire one, if you’re impoverished, and you can’t always breastfeed if you need to work. So impoverished people sometimes resort to using cow’s milk, and then their babies die more often. I heard anectodal evidence about milk increasing infant mortality, and decided that it was important to try verifying that, so I ran an experiment, and I cried, and it did. So then I thought about why milk might make babies sick, and I thought that the problem might be that there were impure humors that could be burned off by mild heating - like how water has impure humors that you can burn off by boiling, except subtler - so I tried that, and it worked, and I called it pasteurization, and I had my results verified by the royal guild, and now babies won’t die from drinking cow’s milk.”

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“Wow.”

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This person’s estimated friend-value has just shot through the roof and onto the moon and they are totally becoming part of her burgeoning network.

“That’s really good. You aren’t here most of the time, and you seem really neat; is there some place I could visit you?”

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“My residence is the vividly green one, underneath an oak tree, at the end of this block; you can come by any time. I have an exhorbitant number of books!”

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“Thank you! - I should get going, I guess.”

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“Don’t be a stranger!”

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“I won’t!”

She puts her basket back in her lap, and rolls out of the store.

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Tick, tick, tick, tick.

 

He finishes the letter.

It feels... floaty. Like he just untethered himself from ordinary reality.

He’d - always, always, always assumed that he’d just stay in the tower forever. There’d been an implicit ‘well, maybe I’ll venture out when I’m a hundred’ woven into it, but - him being a hundred is and was a long, long ways away, and this is happening in the present tense.

His mother is going to be so upset. He can imagine it now - she appears, doesn’t see him, looks downstairs and upstairs, looks at the note, sets it on fire, does something other people are going to regret -

But it’s fine. She doesn’t exist right now. He doesn’t exist right now. Nobody but his prince exists right now. He’s in the lap of his prince and he has strong arms holding him and everything is going to be fine and he’ll be warm and safe and loved and he doesn’t have to do anything, doesn’t have to make any decisions, he just has to go along for the ride.

He sets down the little quill he was using. 

“Ready,” he hears himself say, softly.

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“Awesome.”

 

And then they disappear in a flurry of gold and steel and silver feathers, and then they’re somewhere else.

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They’ve landed next to a small little pond, a path, and several trees. The ground is wet; it must’ve rained here, recently. The grass is dotted with flowers; the sky is dotted with clouds. They’re still in a similar position; Prince Ezekiel sitting crosslegged on the ground, Rapunzel in his lap.

It.

It isn’t even slightly a tower.

Rapunzel stares.

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Prince Ezekiel holds him.

”Man, this has been, like, the best day, and we haven’t even done anything yet - you’re so soft and small and pretty and stuff, and you’re gonna be mine forever, and I won’t have to hear any more bitchy comments about how I should really find someone to settle down with - though I kinda still wanna sleep around, are you gonna mind if I sleep around?”

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“I don’t believe I will.”

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“Cool. I love you. I’d be all ‘maybe I should rescue gentlemen in distress more often’ but you’re the best one ever and everyone else would be, like, super disappointing.”

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“Is that so, brother,” says a voice from behind them.

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- it takes about half a second for Ezekiel to deposit Rapunzel on the ground, rise to his feet, and draw his sword.

“... hey.”

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(Rapunzel peeks at the scene from between his legs.)

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The other man - or the other prince, rather, there being some distinction - seems about as tall as his brother, a little less ridiculously broad, a touch more handsome, and similarly disinclined to wear shirts. He also has a sword.

”What are you doing in the forest seducing a new conquest? Very pretty catch, by the way, I might want a sample.”

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“I found him in a tower and fell in love at first sight. You can totally fuck him - if he’s, like, okay with it - but, like, not right now? What are you doing here.”

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“Hunting three pigs who thought they could get away with architectural sabotage.”

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“Are you doing that whole ‘rawr, I’m a royal vigilante’ thing again?”

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“Rest assured that if I do anything to them before turning them over, they’ll never tell a soul. Are you and your new consort-to-be going to be presentable by tonight? I’m surprised you aren’t already fucking his brains out.”

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“Some people like to wait five minutes after meeting people before fucking them, Damien, it’s totally a thing. I was leading up to it and you’re not invited.”

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“Fine. Have fun, then, big brother, and do make sure to keep track of the hour.”

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“I totally will.”

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And so Prince Damien -

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- turns into a terrifyingly large and vicious-looking wolf, and runs off into the distance so quickly he seems like nothing more than a blur of tooth and fur and claw.

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“His magic kinda sucks, but his alternate form is way cooler than mine,” opines Ezekiel. 

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He should probably be concerned about what Damien is going to do to those pigs, but...

 

“And, um. Apparently you were leading up to having sex with me?”

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“I mean, like. If you wanna?”

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“I think that I do. You can do whatever you want to me, you’re my prince.”

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That seems like an invitation to teleport them over to one his rooms in the palace - in a small flurry of feathers - and pin Rapunzel to the bed, and kiss him, and start tearing them both out of their clothes!

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Rapunzel approves of this sequence of actions so much! He demonstrates this by being squirmy and squeaky and appreciative.

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Tick, tick, tick, tick.

 

“Okay, I think the basic suit is good, and my hair is fine - could you help me adjust my belt?”

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“I would touch anything on your waist or lower only on pain of death. Goodbye.”

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He leaves the room.

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And she sings.

It isn’t the sort of song that humans can hear, but the birds can listen just fine - a soaring, piercing note, held for what seems like eternity, calling them to action, sinking down into anxious vibratos and up into crisp perfection.

The birds come - the robin, the cardinal, the bluebird and sparrow, the dove and the thrasher and the jay and crow. They know their place. 

“Pick through the ashes,” she tells them, in that single piercing note. “Take the good into the pot, and the bad into the crop.

They do, within a few minutes, and leave. 

She picks up the pot, shuts the window, and glides gracefully out of the room.

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“What are you doing with a pot of lentils in the kitchen, pumpkin?”

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“Is this the part where you pretend that you didn’t ask me to pick up the lentils and are baffled by it.”

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“Oh, no, I definitely asked you to pick up the lentils, I just didn’t expect you to put them back in the pot. I was expecting something, you know, original.”

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“But of course you can still go to the ball with us, pumpkin. If you’re willing to do it in the dress you’re wearing.”

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“That was not what you implied.”

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“I don’t have time to keep track of implications, pumpkin, I have to constantly battle with the shadow of my inner child, shattered by the horrors of capitalism, and my yoga class meets every weekday. I’m lucky enough to have time to read tawdry novels and conduct pirate raids, if I started tracking implications I wouldn’t have any free time at all.”

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“You are insane.”

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“Bwa ha ha!”

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“I will assume that I must find my own way of going to the ball, then.”

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“But wait, folks, there’s more! Behind curtain three: if you marry my son, I’ll make you both the primary inheritors of my will, instead of donating all of my money to charity, and I’ll find this perfect little dress for you to go to the ball in. No tricks or fancy wordplay.”

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“Mooooom, I can seduce my own beautiful maiden.”

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She pinches his cheek.

”You’ll always be mommy’s itty bitty boy in your mommy’s eyes. And you’re not doing very well at it on your own, are you?”

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“Someone please stab me. It would be a quick death.”

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“Would a piercing count? I have an engagement earring in just your size, pumpkin. And I would be your wicked mother, instead of your wicked stepmother, so more of my total wickedness would be inflicted on innocent bystanders instead of on you!”

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“No.”

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“I could throw in a cupcake, two pieces of string, and a knockoff sliver bullet that only kills weresquirrels?”

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“No.”

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“You drive a hard bargain, little missy, but I’ll find the crack in your cracker if it’s the last thing I do. Would you like a few extra lines? Special choreography? A solo number jarringly inserted into the middle of the show? An existential crisis revealed via monologue?”

Permalink Mark Unread

 

She walks to the door, opens it, and walks out, one sharply poised step after another, without saying a word.

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He walks out after her, with a few seconds later, and -

She’s gone without a trace.

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Tick, tick, tick, tick.

 

Milky White is, at this point, pretty firmly convinced that the world is just going to be invariably terrible forever.

He’s stewing over this fact, underneath a tree.

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Jackie walks out of their little house, holding a satchel, and walks towards him.

 “I managed to pin her down to a more tightly worded agreement.”

 

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“Moo.”

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“I know that doesn’t help with your existential despair, I just figured you’d still want to know.”

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“Moo?”

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“Of course.”

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There’s a brief, uncomfortable silence, in which Milky White continues to look supremely unhappy and Jackie continues to be completely incapable of giving emotional comfort.

- and then there’s a frightened series of loud squeals, off in the distance, continuing on and getting closer to them.

Milky White backs away from the tree and towards the house.

Permalink Mark Unread

- Jackie gets out her knife in a flash and shifts to a more combat ready sort of posture - 

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- and three pigs wearing dirt-streaked pink dresses run past them, between trees, squealing and oinking and completely failing to notice them in their hurry - 

- and a wolf which looks like it could kill an elephant - and pause to check its nails in the middle of the fight - gallops leisurely behind the pigs, and.. fails to fail to notice them. 

He stops. He turns. He -

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- shifts.

He isn’t really any less intimidating when presenting as a man.

Moreso, if anything. People expect wolves to be on four legs, and they are uncommon, and they are known; wolves on two legs are far more common, and far more unexpected, and far less known than their canid kindred, and so they are far more feared.

The fact that he’s a seven foot tall hulk of a man, holding a frighteningly large sword, also helps.

”Put down the knife.”

Permalink Mark Unread

 

She does, after a moment’s hesitation.

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“I could have you executed for that. And it is customary to kneel, when one has the privilege to speak to royalty.”

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- oh, that’s where she recognized this person from - there aren’t that many wolf shifters in the kingdom who are that impressive, she supposes -

She kneels.

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It would be really ironic if he went to all that trouble of deliberation only to be randomly killed in a drive by prince-ing.

He kneels, too.

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“Better. You have to be careful here, you know, there are all kinds of criminals going around. A little girl like you shouldn’t be out here without protection. Is that your house?”

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She nods.

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“Good. Tell me your name.”

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“Jackie.”

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“Pretty. I don’t have time for you now, Jackie, but I will later. Come to the festival and the ball, tonight.”

Permalink Mark Unread

What the fuck is this supposed to be. 

She nods.

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“Good girl. I’ll be expecting you. Wear something nice.”

And then he -

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- turns back into that terrifying looking wolf, and resumes running after the three pigs, now at a slightly brisker - if still effortless - pace.

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“We don’t need to tell my mother about that.”

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“Moo!”

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“I know. Let’s go.”

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Tick, tick, tick, tick.

 

A sturdy woman wearing a sleek looking leather jacket walks into the bakery, hauling several bags of flour in a little cart.

”I discern that my storefront has failed to become as ashen and fiery as the deadened embers of my heart,” she says. 

Permalink Mark Unread

“I hardly had a fire going, dear, if you wanted everything to be consumed in a fiery explosion you should have instructed me to produce a cake.”

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“Psh, better luck next time - did any of your suggested recipes generate any sales? I must mournfully admit that they’re all as bizarre as a pollywog dog with seven mouths and three molten earlobes, although they’re growing on me.”

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“I gave away five loaves without requiring any form of recompense or purchase!”

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The baker seems to think that, in this moment as in all moments of exceptional delight, a kiss is warranted.

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Her wife agrees! 

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And they do need to eventually de-kiss, unfortunately.

”Sometimes I suspect that you’re like a -“

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The area at the very back of the shop is completely empty.

Then it isn’t.

“Boo.”

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They decline to startle.

 

"Neighbor, darling, have you ever considered being a dear and using the door."

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"One of these days you're going to pop in on us making love and it's going to be as awkward as a four-headed catfish trying to play the trombone in a wedding band - how can we help you?"

Permalink Mark Unread

(The woman who suddenly appeared in their store is approaching six feet, and she's wearing glittering stiletto heels on top of that; she rather towers over them. A tattered black dress compliments her excessively dark lipstick and bleached blonde hair.)

"If I was gonna walk in on you two humping each other I'd do it on purpose, sounds like a fun time. Lucky for you I have other hobbies. Anything new with the bread?"

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"I'm excitedly experimenting out several new varieties of yeast bread at the moment, with my wife's assistance! Would you like to try any of the superbly delectable kumquat bread, the enticingly sour blueberry bread, the visually interesting twist bread, the -"

Permalink Mark Unread

"I'm not actually interested in any of your fucked up bread, I was just making small talk. Stick to the milk gig, the milk gig was working for you and it didn't make me wanna gouge out the eyes of the concept of yeast and then hit it over the head with a shovel."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Aren't you just as charming as a deep sea monster with a side gig as a killer clown. What do you want?"

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"I'm here with a favor to ask and a favor to give."

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"This isn't one of your sex things, dear, is it, because we've already informed you as to our -"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Babe, if I wanted to tap that, I would've already. Think bigger. Less with the whips and handcuffs, more with the mystic fuckery."

Permalink Mark Unread

"... ancient prophecy? Celestial alignment? Timmy fell down a well again?"

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"Bingo with the second one. In three days time, a blue moon appears - the real shit, not the crappy knockoffs that happen whenever a calendar farts. Your mother stole from me, when you were playing peekaboo and soiling diapers, and I liked her moxie enough that I gave her three gifts - no more periods for her, no grandchildren from you, and a dead husband. She thanked me. But, see, giving someone a gift when they've stolen from you, when you're the daughter of the devil? He'll let it slide, if it's just a couple plants. Different thing entirely, when they've swindled you of daddy dearest's favorite beans. Old man was pissed. So he turned me into a woman. And if you wanna have the gift retracted so you can keep children without turning them into stone, you'll listen to me, capiche?"

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"You used to be - not important. Why didn't you tell us on some earlier date, instead of leaving us dangling in dangerous ignorance like spiders in the scope of some insectoid archer?"

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"Because I like fucking with people, and it would be fucking hilarious if you adopted someone and then they turned into a statue and you were all sad and shit? Anyway. You willing to help me to get a kid. I've done lots of fucked up stuff to get kids, your mother was pregnant when I gave her her the three gifts and I ended up transferring the pregnancy."

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“You gave birth to a biological sibling of mine?”

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“Half-sibling. Your mother was kind of a slut. And he’s mine, and you aren’t going to ask any more questions about him unless you want me to carve off your face and turn it into a fucked up sockpuppet.”

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“Would you be at all willing to get to the point, then, dear.”

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“Yes. In order to retract the gift and all the mumbo jumbo that came with it, I need four symbolically appropriate ingredients: first, the hair as yellow as -“