Categories > Original > Fantasy > The Chores Can Wait - or, my name's not Cinderella and I don't need a prince!

Final

by MakaiKitty 0 Reviews

Cinderella has caught the prince's eye, but the belle of the ball has a few secrets... not the least of which is that his name is Phillip.

Category: Fantasy - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama,Fantasy,Romance - Characters:  - Published: 2007/08/18 - Updated: 2007/08/19 - 6670 words - Complete

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Title: The Chores Can Wait - or, my name’s not Cinderella and I don’t need a prince!
Author: MakaiKitty
Rating: PG-13
Category: Original Fantasy, Fairy Tale, "Forever After Faerie Tales" Series
Pairing: Phillip/Prince
Warnings: Slash, M/M, WAFF, slight language, sexual situations
Distribution: My website, My LJ and any LJs I choose to post at, AFF.net, and FicWad. All of my accounts are under the user name MakaiKitty. If you'd like to use it just let me know.
Disclaimer: The characters, daemon realms, and situations in this story are all original and belong solely to MakaiKitty. Please don't steal, borrow, take, or otherwise use anything from my fics. This is, however, a retelling of a classic fairy tale. I'm just borrowing it. But that doesn't mean that you can borrow this from /me/.
Updates: Just join my YahooGroup to be informed of any updates to this or any of my other fics - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/makaikittyfics
Status: Complete
Author's Notes: Cinderella. Not one of my favorite fairy tales, but I think I’m pretty happy with the way that this one turned out. Although, it’s soooo much longer than I’d planed on it being. Let me know what you think.

The Chores Can Wait - /or, my name's not Cinderella and I don't need a prince/

He expected to be met with a barrage of angry questions, perhaps a few well placed whacks from his stepmother's favorite cane, when his stepsisters got home from the ball. Phillip considered running, no matter how bad a place that would leave him in, but in the end he waited nervously at home until the women returned. But, aside from an especially heated and disapproving sneer from his stepmother and a few pointed glances from his frantically whispering sisters, not a word was spoken about what Sara had seen at the prince's ball. In fact, not only was nothing said that night, but nothing was said for the following five days either. It actually frightened Phillip more than a confrontation would have.

Ultimately, Phillip chided himself for being a coward, for acting like the child that he had once been when it came to facing his stepmother. He was a grown man, and he promised himself that when she finally decided to bring up the subject, he would not back down. He tried to tell himself that he had nothing to fear from the woman... although, he didn't believe his words any more than he had as a ten year old boy. There was just something about the woman. Even her silence was terrifying.

Then came the day of the fourth and final ball. Even without worrying over his family's plans for him, Phillip still had much on his mind. He knew that, if he chose to go to the ball, his stepsisters were sure to give away his identity. But, if he didn't go, then Prince would never hear the truth from his own lips. And, despite his fears and uncertainty, Phillip still held on to the slim hope that Prince would accept him as he was. This left Phillip with a wholly different problem. Prince was supposed to be looking for a /bride/. Presumably so that he would carry on the family line some day. Phillip didn't think that the royal family would be very pleased with either of them should Prince actually chose to stay with Phillip instead of finding a fertile young deamoness with which to mate. When he thought of it that way, Phillip felt incredibly selfish for wanting Prince as his own.

He alternated between deciding to go and wanting to stay home almost hourly for the entirety of the five days in between balls, all the way up until darkness began to fall on the night of the fourth event. But, in the end, Phillip just couldn't stand the thought of Prince hearing the truth from anyone but him. No matter the reaction, he wanted it to be him that told Prince, so that he could explain his feelings and the reasons for his deception. Even if they weren't to be, Phillip still didn't ever want Prince to hate him, and so he decided in the end that he had to go, no matter what his family did to interfere.

Christabelle still hadn't returned, but Phillip decided against calling her with the enchanted bracelet that she had given him. He was already feeling selfish enough for wanting Prince all to himself; he didn't feel right calling Christabelle away from her personal errand as well. Besides, he figured that it couldn't be that hard to get himself dressed and presentable. After all, he wasn't going to need a very convincing disguise this time.

Phillip got dressed, now familiar with the robe-like garments that Christabelle had chosen for him, and waited by the window to see his stepmother's carriage arrive at the front door. He would be taking one of the horses from the stables instead of the carriage that Christabelle would have called for him, trying to enter the palace a bit more discreetly, and he planned to be gone the moment that the women were off. At last the carriage pulled away from the front path, and Phillip hurried down from his room and towards the back of the house with lightening speed. He might not be looking forward to the conversation that he would be having with Prince, but he was still in a hurry to be there. He didn't want his stepsisters getting to Prince before he could.

Just as Phillip made his way into the kitchen, the back door and the stables beyond nearly in sight, Phillip suddenly realized that he was not alone. A lone candle flared in the growing darkness, and his stomach sank to his feet as the glowing light revealed the sneering face of his stepmother, her glittering eyes sharp and mocking as he froze on the spot.

"I thought that you would try something like this."

"I-"

"No excuses." Her voice was cold and measured, utterly calm, and Phillip knew why. She thought that she had already won. The thought hit him like a physical blow, and Phillip vowed right then that Lady Astare would be proven wrong on this occasion. He would not let his long-seeded fear of the woman stop him from seeing Prince one last time.

"You're right, no excuses." He squared his shoulders and turned to continue on towards the stables. "I've been at the three previous balls, with the prince, and I'm going to see him at this one as well. You won't stop me."

"Is that so?"

She sounded too amused, so sure, and Phillip couldn't help but turn back to face her once again. That was when he felt it, the silent tingling that signaled the coming of magick, and he knew why she was so certain. She had won. Then he saw it. The shimmering bars of a cage made of pure energy, something that his father had created as a security measure when Phillip had been younger, one of the few experiments that had ever worked. He cursed the long-dead man for having succeeded in giving his last wife the secrets to his spell. And for giving her the power to destroy what was left of his son’s hope. Because he knew, from experience where his father had used him as a test subject, that there was no way out of his cage. It would only be dispelled when the captive was dead or the caster gave the signal to release the energies. He would not be going to the ball.

"I'll give your dear prince your regards." She was laughing as she turned on her heal and walked out of the room, presumably heading to wherever she had the carriage waiting with her daughters within. "Enjoy your evening in the kitchen. It's where you belong, anyway."

Before meeting Prince, before Christabelle's interference, he probably would have agreed with her. And as he sank to the ground, utterly defeated, he cursed his traitorous heart for ever believing differently.

***
"I got a message to him, letting him know that you had no choice and that you'd wanted to be there." Alice had been trying all week to cheer Phillip up, worried over the depressed state that her stepbrother had fallen into since the night of the prince's final ball. "His manservant wouldn't let me see him, told me that the prince was feeling a bit out of sorts, but he promised to get the message to him."

"Thank you." Not that it really mattered, Phillip told himself, it was all over now. Even if Alice's message had reached Prince, his stepmother or one of her other daughters was sure to have gotten to the royal directly. That second, surely louder, message was sure to have destroyed any hope of Prince feeling anything other than hatred for him. But why worry about it after the fact? Best to get on with his life, pretend that it had never happened, to go back to believing that there was not such thing as a happy ending. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have chores to do."

Nothing that Alice said could bring cheer to Phillip's heart after that. He tried his best to forget about everything that had happened in the past month, tried to remember what it had felt like before he had let himself hope for something more. He had been miserable, had felt trapped, but at least he had accepted his lot in life. Then, for one brief, shinning, instant, he had dreamt of something better. He felt like he had only himself to blame. He should have known better. Even Christabelle's reappearance wasn't enough to change is dark mood for the better.

"I wish that I could just blast them all into the next realm!" The little pixi seemed to have more fire in her, more hatred for Phillip's so-called family, than he did. Or maybe he had just lost the will to fight. Had it forcibly stomped out of him. His soul, after all, could only take so much. "But, if I did that, then it would probably undo all of the good deeds that I've already done. In fact, that old wizard might just come after me. I don’t think that I’d like his punishments."

"I don't want you to get in trouble for me." He wouldn't admit it out loud, but he had actually become quite fond of the little winged fairy. A shame that she would abandon him too, soon. "You tried your best. It's not your fault that I failed. It runs in the family, after all."

"What's that supposed to mean?" She was indignant as she fluttered around Phillip's head, shouting at the top of her tiny lungs, trying her best to make him stop his sweeping and pay more attention to her. She was, after all, trying to make his path to true love a little easier. Not that he was helping! "It's not over yet! True love always wins out in the end!"

"True love?" He couldn't take it any more. It was over. Why couldn't the pixi see that? "It was never true love. Never meant to be. Prince was looking for a bride, and I was selfish to take him away from that search in the first place. He'll be happier once he realizes that. We both will be."

"You can't mean that." Christabelle wanted to be angry with the daemon, but when she saw the tears that streaked his cheeks as he pretended to be concentrating on his chores, it all but broke her tiny heart. It occurred to her that he might really believe what he had just said. And that was all the sadder. "Are you really going to give up so easily? Can you?"

"Yes." He heaved a sigh, straitened up, and looked the pixi directly in her golden eyes. "Look, it was fun while it lasted. I even thought, just for one fleetingly sweet moment in time, that it could work out. But then reality caught up with me and now it's over. This isn't one of your fairy tales. It's real life. And real life, after all these years, has finally won. I've lost what fight was left in me. It's done. So let me be, please. Go find someone who believes in fairy tales to play with now."

She didn't know what else to say, how to convince the obviously heartbroken daemon that he was wrong, so Christabelle fluttered over to the window and let herself out, but not before one last remark spoken over her shoulder in parting. "If you give up so easily, maybe you're right, you aren't cut out for a happy ending. Some people are just meant to be miserable."

And miserable he was. When even his fairy godmother had abandoned him to his misery Phillip was left with nothing but his chores and the pixi’s words to occupy him. And neither gave him much satisfaction. Then, when three more days had passed as such, something happened that left Phillip wondering if he was being given a second chance or if the world just enjoyed finding sport at his expense.

"Can you believe it?" Mary Sue squealed as she and her sisters filed into the kitchen for breakfast one morning. "The prince is going door to door looking for the person that fits the glass slipper. They say that, when he finds the foot to fit the shoe, he'll marry whoever it is! He'll announce his bride on the spot!"

"Yes, I heard that he swore to his mother to marry whoever the shoe fits." There was a scheming look in Sara's eyes as she and her sister talked. As though she had already decided that her feet would be the right size. As though she were already planning her life in the royal castle. "The king and queen have even sent along someone to judge the fit and declare the match. Once the judge makes a decision it will be /final/!"

"But doesn't that shoe..." Alice grew silent as she noticed Phillip, a sad sort of apology in her dark eyes.

"That shoe belongs to someone who had no business being at a prince's ball." Their mother had entered silently, and two out of the four of the room’s occupants tensed instantly. She only seemed to take notice of one of them, however. She stared straight at Phillip as she talked, her voice cold and certain. "But I shall set that right before the week is through. You can rest assured of that."

***
As the days passed Phillip was again indecisive, just as he had been when deciding whether or not to attend the final ball. A part of him did believe what he had told Christabelle. Did believe that he should give up on a future with Prince and go back to the way that his life used to be before he had been troubled by such romantic dreams. The other part of him couldn't stand the idea of his stepmother finding a way to saddle Prince with one of her daughters. And he was sure that she would find a way to accomplish that, no matter what she had to do. But, ultimately, what could he do? He knew that his stepmother was watching him, and if he tried to leave then she'd be sure to know where he was headed. And there was no way in all of the seven hells that she was going to let him interfere in her plans like that. Plus, there was the question of the royal guards. They probably wouldn't just let some strange (and titleless, at that) guy just walk into the palace and demand an audience with the prince on the pretense that he was actually the woman that the prince had been possibly intending to marry. He wondered if they'd laugh, or if they'd just execute him on the spot, his body disappearing into the palace mote before lunch. It seemed a hopeless situation no matter how he looked at it.

He was still undecided about what to do, if anything, when Lady Astare came rushing into the sitting room one afternoon looking less composed than he had ever seen her. She had a wild sort of set about her eyes, and she wore a smile that was, quite frankly, frightening. Even her daughters were slightly taken aback.

"They're coming."

Phillip's heart simultaneously sank and soared at those two simple words. He was on his knees in the kitchen, scrub brush in hand as he cleaned out the hearth, his face and clothes covered in a thick layer of soot and grime. And Prince and his men were on their way.

"Girls, go and get dressed, quickly! Your best dresses! Alice, make sure that Mary Sue looks presentable and don't let Sara put on a dirty gown!" Then, turning to Phillip with a distasteful look on her aristocratic face, she said to him, "You, get down in the cellars. We don't need you distracting from one of my daughters catching the prince's eye."

"But..."

"Tell me the truth, my dear boy," from anyone else the tone would have sounded caring. The words kind and the way that she addressed him affectionate or fond. From Lady Astare, it just sounded cold and condescending. "Is this really how you want him to see you? A filthy little man who's good for nothing but mindless chores. A man with no title, no family, and no future. Or would you rather he remembers you as the charming young lady that he must have met at the ball? Letting him know the truth now would only hurt the poor boy, anyway. Why not just let the both of you have your memories and leave it at that. Or, do you not want him to find happiness?"

Phillip had nothing to say to that. Partially because he had given himself nearly the exact same speech more than once since the night of the third ball. And, deep down, he believed both his own voice and his stepmother's. He had to do this. Had to give up. For Prince. It was the right thing to do.

He had been about to fight before, but now he felt utterly defeated, and he couldn't even raise his face to look at his stepmother as he moved silently past her and down into the cellar. Even the sound of the latch being thrown from the outside didn't draw his attention. He didn't bother with a light.

At first Phillip felt utterly drained, the last of his dreams having died a quick death when he took the first step down into the cellar, but as the seconds ticked away he became more and more anxious. Knowing that Prince would be in his home at any moment sent his heart racing in ways that he felt it had no right to do. To distract himself Phillip began to pace.

The cellars ran almost the entire length of the rather sizeable home. As a child Phillip had gotten lost down there on more than one occasion. Then, when he'd been older and his mother and brother were both gone, he had taken refuge in the shadowy depths. Now, they felt like a prison, and the long expanse of darkness seemed a tomb. He wandered aimlessly for a while, walking back and forth from one part of the house to the other, but then he heard a sound that made him freeze instantly. He wasn't sure if it was the thinness of the floorboards, or the pipes that ran though the house carrying water to the castle’s various lavatories, but Phillip could distinctly hear footsteps entering from the front of the house. And then he heard it. The one thing that he had been dreading the most... and looking forward to more than anything else.

"That is true, madam. I will indeed marry the person who fits this slipper."

Even from his hidden place deep in the cellars Phillip could hear how tired Prince sounded. How weary. It made him wonder just how long Prince had been looking for his bride.

"Well, your majesty, do come in and sit down. I have three daughters at home, all of whom were at your fetes, and I am certain that one of them is the young lady that you're looking for."

Phillip had to laugh. Lady Astare was trying to pass off a sow and a sloth as proper ladies? He knew that it would be a cold day in all of the seven hells when Prince fell for that trick. And Alice was probably too busy hiding in a corner to even try on the shoe. Prince would find no brides here.

Phillip strained his ears to hear Prince's response. He wanted to catch every word, thinking that it would likely be the last time he ever heard that voice again. He only wished that he could hear him laugh one last time. His laugh had always made Phillip's heart feel free. It would be a nice way to remember him.

It was warm in the cellar, and Phillip tried to wipe away the soot-laced sweat that was threatening to fall into his eyes as he sat down on an old crate and settled in to listen to Prince for the last time. It was only sweat, after all. He wouldn't be crying just at the sound of Prince's voice, Phillip assured himself. Really, he wouldn't.

He tried his best to tune out the feminine voices in the room, long years of ignoring his stepmother's complaints making it easier than one would have thought, and he concentrated on what Prince was saying. A part of him wanted it over. Wanted Prince gone so that he could at last prove to his traitorous heart that any dreams that it was holding on to were only making matters worse. It would be easier once he was gone. Or, at least, Phillip hoped that it would be. Although, deep down, he wasn't so sure.

"It's a surprise that I haven't developed a foot fetish with all of the feet that I've been looking at lately."

There it was, the laugh that Phillip had been waiting for. He could picture the accompanying shudder clearly. It made him chuckle too.

"You have been working very hard, my prince." He knew that Prince wouldn't fall for the false sincerity in Lady Astare's voice. No one ever did. Except, maybe, herself. "But, I can assure you, your long task is at last at an end."

"My task will be at an end when I find the one that stole away with my heart."

"The heart is a fickle thing. Although, perhaps you are too young to realize that just yet." Only his stepmother would have the gall to speak to a member of the royal family like that. Something dark and malicious in the back of his mind wished that she'd have to pay for her audacity. Prince was too kind to pay it much mind, but maybe, jut maybe, his guards would feel differently? "It is not really about a foot that fits some slipper, my prince. A good wife, one who knows her place and can be the perfect accessory for a man of your stature, is far more important than silly notions such as fate and love. Do you not agree?"

"No, I do not." His voice rang true. But then, Phillip wouldn't have expected anything else of his Prince. He'd known from the moment that they'd met, from the moment that he'd looked into the depths of those warm brown eyes, that his heart was honest to a fault. It was a part of his beauty. Phillip had to wipe more soot from his eyes, noting impatiently that it was growing moister by the minute. He cursed the heat and tried his best to ignore it. "Perhaps your heart is fickle, maybe it is incapable of love and fidelity, and if that is true then I pity you. You must be very lonely living like that. And very sad. But I know that I have met the one person in all of the realms that I am meant to be with. The one person that can love me as I deserve, and that I can love truly and completely in turn, and I will not rest until I have found them again. Even if it takes me a hundred lifetimes. I will not rest until we have both found the happiness that was meant for us."

It was so very like prince, so much the perfect answer for the hopeless romantic that the daemon was, and it made Phillip smile even through the tears that he would not acknowledge. And then a thought struck Phillip like a bolt of lightening. The hand of the goddess finally smacking some sense into him. That was his shoe that Prince was trying to match to its owner. The stupid glass slippers that Christabelle had made him wear. The one that he had lost in his haste to flee from his stepsister at the third ball. Prince had been looking for him all this time. /Him/! He had scoured the countryside looking for him, wanting to marry him, following his heart no matter how hard the journey and how hopeless the odds, and here Phillip was hiding in the cellar like a coward afraid to step into the light and claim his dreams. To claim his /love/. But no longer. He wasn’t some fairy tale heroine waiting to be rescued by her prince charming. If Phillip wanted to be rescued, then he’d have to meet Prince half way, because the time for cowardice was over, and consequences be damned, but for once in his life Phillip was going to be happy. He just hoped that Prince felt the same way once he found out just who he'd been looking for all of this time.

Phillip took the steps three at a time, but when he came to the door and tried the handle he found it secure. His stepmother had obviously thrown all of the locks, and that meant that the door was completely secure. But Phillip wasn't deterred. He'd found his reason to fight, at last, and he wasn't about to give up so easily. A locked door was nothing in the face of true love.

Grabbing a nearby board Phillip banged the wood against the door with all of his might. Predictably, it did not budge. He threw all of his weight into the strikes, again and again, until he was panting with the effort of fighting the unmoving wooden frame. But, instead of growing exhausted, Phillip felt invigorated. Now that he had something to fight for he was finally alive, maybe for the first time in his life. Then he noticed that it wasn't just a feeling of strength and energy that was filling him. The energy was practically spilling out of him! Pale green sparks were falling from his fingertips, dancing along the board-turned-battering ram, crashing against the door and making it rattle on its hinges. He could vaguely remember things like this happening when he had been very young, but his father's blunders and the life it had resulted in for their entire family, had left Phillip with a deep hatred for magick. One so strong that it locked away any budding talents that the daemon may have had, leaving him as ordinary as a mortal. Yet, now that his heart was on fire, his inborn talents seemed to be springing to life once again. With a triumphant howl Phillip redoubled his efforts, this time concentrating on the magick that he felt flowing within his veins, until at last the door was reduced to nothing but dust.

He ran as fast as his legs would carry him towards the front of the castle, not stopping until he stood in the middle of the sitting room, all eyes upon him. His stepmother looked angrier than he could ever remember seeing her. Sara and Mary Sue looked shocked. Alice gave him an approving smile from the far corner. But it was only Prince that Phillip's eyes saw. Only his reactions that Phillip waited for with baited breath and a rapidly pounding heart. And then Phillip had his answer.

"There you are." There was an easy, and familiar, smile on Prince's face. And, underneath it all, relief. "I've been looking everywhere for you."

Phillip nearly fell to his knees when he heard those words. But, as though his body were moving without need of his mind, he walked over to Prince and took him in his arms, holding him close and vowing to never let him go. He'd honestly thought that he'd never get the chance again, and a part of him still feared that it would all be snatched away if he didn't fight to keep his happiness.

Pulling back just enough so that he could see Prince's face, Phillip looked deep into Prince's warm brown eyes, his lips drawn down to the royal's mouth by need and instinct. But then his mind chose to make its presence known again, and he was forced to stop mid-motion.

"Are you sure that you were looking for /me/?" He didn't know why he was asking. He wasn't sure if his heart could take it if the answer were no. But, it had to be the truth between them now, or it would never work. Phillip knew that. Although, it didn't make it any easier to wait for the answer.

"Of course I was looking for you." A hand rose between them, wiping away some of the mess that obscured Phillip's usually pale skin. "Do you really think that a little soot would fool my eye? Or my heart?"

Phillip stepped back, rubbing at his face self-consciously, suddenly aware of just how filthy he was and how pristine Prince had been. His stepmother's words came back to haunt his mind. Was she right? Was he really just /a filthy little man who's good for nothing but mindless chores/? And, more importantly, was he a fit companion for a prince?

"My name is Phillip." It seemed the best way to start. It was better to get it all out in the open before Phillip's pounding heart beat clear out of his chest. If Prince was going to be angry with him, it was best to hear it now, before he hoped for too much. "I'm not Cinderella. I'm not a noble either. And, I'm sorry that I lied to you. I never meant for any of this to happen."

"Phillip? That does seem to suit you more than Cinderella." At least Prince seemed calm. Phillip thought that was a good sign. "As for the matter of nobility, that's no concern of mine. My mother was a commoner before my father wed her. Besides, anyone who marries me will gain a title instantly anyway, so what does that matter?"

"And the lie?" He was normally so strong, despite the treatment that he tolerated from his stepmother and the fear that had kept him from leaving for so many years, and Phillip silently wondered why this beautiful man that stood before him could make him feel so weak. How he had come to have such power over him in such a short time. "How could you ever forgive me for that?"

"The lie?" Prince actually laughed, and Phillip felt at an utter loss. "You don't honestly think that I ever believed that you were a woman, do you? I mean, you're gorgeous, but a fair young maiden you're not! Honestly, who convinced you that your disguise would work anyway? A mad genie? A crafty wolf with bad eyesight? A fox with a poor sense of humor?"

"A pixi, actually." He had the good graces to at least look embarrassed. But, that still left the question of what was going on, if Prince had never thought that he was a woman... "If you didn't believe me, then why didn't you say anything?"

"It was fun." He laughed again before becoming completely serious. Phillip knew in the depths of his heart that Prince spoke the truth. "And, because I know the hand of fate when I feel it. The sixth sense runs in the family."

"Then..."

"I knew from the moment that we met that I was meant for you. I was just waiting for you to see that too." Prince moved the few steps that now separated them and brought his lips up to meet Phillip's, doing his best to pour his heart into the gesture. When he pulled away Phillip saw moisture at the corners of his eyes. "I've loved you from the first moment I laid eyes on you. And I know that I always will."

Phillip didn't know what to say. This was more than he'd ever dreamt of.

"That leaves only one question."

Phillip held his breath and waited.

"Do you love me too?"

The answer was easy. It fell from his lips without a second thought, "Yes."

***
They set the wedding for three weeks from the day that Prince and Phillip had been reunited. Neither wanted to wait any longer once they knew that they'd found their soul mate. After all, who were they to make destiny wait?

At first the king had been less than pleased when his youngest son had dragged a soot covered peasant, and a man at that, into his throne room and presented him as the soon-to-be newest member of the royal family. But, when he had looked at the love and devotion that was echoed in both his son's and his beloved's eyes, the king had been unable to fault Prince for his choices. He could well remember what it was like to love against the odds. And against the rules. His own father hadn't wanted a commoner as the future queen either. Experience told him that this was an argument that he had no hope of winning. So, after a nudge from his beaming wife, the king had held out a hand and welcomed Phillip into the family. He had three other sons anyway; it wasn't like a childless marriage would mean the end of their line.

Phillip's brothers had followed their father's lead, and it was with great happiness that they welcomed another brother into the family. In fact, in the weeks during which Phillip settled into life at the castle, they often joked that they preferred the work-hardened Phillip to their own softer little brother. They even took to calling Prince Phillip's bride! Neither took it as a bad sign.

As for Phillip's /family/, if they could be called that after the way that they'd mistreated Phillip for so many years, they were not quite as happy with the choices that the royal family had made. Lady Astare even tried to gain an audience with the king and queen, telling them both that their son had made a terrible choice, spinning lies about Phillip until the queen was forced to laugh in outrage. Lady Astare had to be forcibly carried from the castle after that.

Mary Sue and Sara had showed up three days after their mother's disastrous appearance at the royal castle, false smiles plastered across their faces, words of adoration for Phillip falling from their lips. He thought to himself that he would have given anything for such kindness when he'd been a lonely kid who'd just lost his father, but it was too little too late, and even if they had been sincere he still wouldn't have given them what they asked for. They'd honestly thought that their stepbrother would use his connections to the royal family to gain them titles and good matches, bringing them into a noble family in time to attend his wedding to the prince. This time, it had been Prince who'd had the women thrown out.

Alice, however, had to be forcibly sought and brought to the castle. When she arrived she offered Phillip only kind words, all of which came from her shy but honest heart, and that was why she was the only member of her family that was invited to the wedding. And why she was asked to stay afterwards. She was meant to become a servant, something that she herself had asked for, but then she had caught the queen's eye. The queen had never been blessed with any daughters, and although she loved her sons with all of her heart, she still delighted in having a female to dote on. She took instantly to the shy and reserved girl, and soon Alice had been taken under the queen's wing, and it was with great pride that the matriarch of the royal family presented the newly adopted member of the royal family to the entire court the week before Prince and Phillip's wedding.

The wedding was a grand affair, something that Phillip was told that he needed to get used to, and the day passed in a blur of formal events and ancient rituals. And then, at long last, the final rite was preformed and Prince and Phillip were forever bound to one another. Neither could have been happier.

"So," Phillip knew the high pitched voice well. And he pretended to shudder at the sound of it, even though his smile was wide when he turned to face Christabelle. He wasn't sure what she was up to, although he was sure it would be something odd, but he was grateful that she had at least behaved herself until after the ceremony. "I've just got one question for you two love birds."

"And that would be?" Prince had grown very fond of the little pixi since they'd been introduced a few weeks before the wedding. Not only was she his matchmaker, for which he was very grateful, but she was the only person he had yet met that could unnerve Phillip the extent that she did. The two had shared many laughs at Phillip's expense since meeting.

"Which one of you wants to carry the baby?" At the twin looks of shock she broke into a fit of high pitched giggles and fluttered out of reach of both men. "That’s what’s supposed to happen after a royal wedding. What, you didn't think I could do it? I can help. Honest! You'd be amazed at what I can do!"

Phillip wanted to squash the pixi. The urge to crush her laughing little form, to forever put an end to her taunts and jokes, was strong. But it occurred to him that such a thing would not be very prince-like. And, thanks at least in part to her, that was what he had just become. When he thought of that the grinding of his teeth lessened, if only a little. Although, the sounds of her singing, off-key, some ridiculous song... /first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the/... and the sight of his new husband breaking into fits of laughter to match her own, made him reconsider sparing the magenta hued pixi. But princes just didn't do things like that. Even if the pixi in question might, on occasion, deserve it.

So it was that Phillip, who had been born the second son of a third rate sorcerer, became a prince, ruling beside his handsome husband in their happy little kingdom. And Phillip, the young man who had never believed in happily ever afters, found himself enjoying one of his very own. Courtesy of one very meddlesome pixi, a glass slipper, and an old children's story. It was, of course, the perfect fairy tale ending.

The End
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