The land in which both the Mushroom Kingdom and Bowser's Kingdom resided had some curious properties. Plants could often be a bit more animate than you'd find elsewhere. Clouds could be surprisingly solid. Everyone seemed able to breathe underwater just fine (most of the time). Pipes were a valid means of transportation. And then there were the magic items.
There were a number of items that had curious properties upon those who touched them, consumed them, or equipped them. Most of them had little to no effect on Bowser. The red mushrooms were edible, if a bit bland, but he was already big, so nothing changed. He could already breathe fire, so the fire flowers were pointless. The stars worked, but not for long, and they felt like cheating anyway. At least the green mushrooms were good for your digestion.
There were also new items that appeared every so often. Like the leaves and the feathers, neither of which did anything for him. The various suits only ever seemed to fit someone around Mario's size. The cloud mushroom just gave him gas. Though he knew better than to ever touch one of those cat bells again. The worst part had been the relentless urge to dance.
These items were typically found inside blocks, and question-mark blocks in particular. The question-marks were because you never knew what you were going to get. In all honesty it was mostly coins, but the magic items popped out frequently enough. The annoying part was how these blocks seemed to appear out of nowhere. And always when and where no one was looking. It was possible to create your own blocks for a specific use, but most of the time they just showed up. And Bowser's own castle was no exception. Not to mention how exceedingly annoying it could be to get rid of them. The inert blocks left behind after a question-mark block had been emptied could even resist a direct hit from a Thwomp.
Bowser himself was practically the only person in the castle strong enough to destroy them on his own. So when he was bored he would tour his own castle, and destroy any blocks he found. He knew it was futile to rid the whole castle of them, at least for long, but it was a decent way of getting some exercise, and blowing off some steam.
Then one day while he was passing time crushing blocks, something he had never seen before popped out of one of them. It looked like a crown. While he was tempted to incinerate it on the spot rather than take any chances, it was a very nice-looking crown. So he commanded one of the nearby koopas to pick it up. He wasn't so foolish as to risk any ill effects touching it might bring upon himself. When nothing happened, he felt a mix of relief and disappointment, and took the crown off of his underling.
After taking it back to his room, he examined it carefully. It seemed to be just a crown, and a very pretty crown at that, but it had come out of one of those blocks. That probably meant it did something. Yet what ultimately mattered was that it was a crown, and he was a monarch. So it was only fitting that he should wear it. It had been a while since he'd gotten a new crown, so it was probably about time.
As soon as he put it on, he could feel it. The slight disorientation that came with changing form. The blocks had produced an item that worked on him.
Oh no, he thought, and rushed to the mirror. Would it be as bad as the cat bell? What he saw in the mirror was not the koopa king, but a woman. A tall woman with red hair, red eyes, dark skin, and wearing a black dress. She reminded him of someone, but then panic set in as he realised what he was seeing. Quickly he tore the crown off of his head, and saw that he reverted to his old self. He let out a sigh of relief, and looked at the crown, wondering what to do with it.
A thought struck him. If it was reversible, then maybe there was no harm in putting it back on? Maybe it granted him some new power? He took a deep breath, and a bit more carefully than before placed the crown back on his head. He closed his eyes as the disorientation set in, and when he opened them, he could see the woman in the mirror again. She still reminded him of someone, but he couldn't put his finger on it.
He had to admit it was a nice look. The horns were a slightly different shape, but he recognised them as his. The hair remained the same colour, though there was a lot more of it. Maybe if he tied it up... he'd get Kammy to do it. He still recognised the eyes as his own. Nice ears, and they came with some shiny earrings too. Very pretty. The shell was still there, if a bit smaller. Didn't look any less strong though, which pleased him. His spike bands were still there too, though they had been resized to fit his new body. He'd have to test whether he was still as strong as before. There were definitely muscles there, though he wasn't used to evaluating this kind of body, and couldn't really say whether it was a lot or a little. The bust was... fitting for a ruler of his calibre. Any less would be an insult. It certainly seemed heftier than Peach's. Very impressive. He... no, she could get used to this.
And she knew just what to do next. A wide grin that showed two rows of sharp teeth, and notable fangs, spread across her face as a plan formed in her mind. This was going to be great.
* * *
At Toadstool castle court was being held. Princess Peach was hearing the thoughts and concerns of her subjects. Perhaps not the most exciting part of being a ruler, but she thought of it as a welcome diversion. When no one had any big issues to report, it felt like she was doing her job right. So while it might all sound like minor troubles, that was a good sign. If there were any big problems brought to her attention, that meant something had gone horribly wrong.
When there were only a few people left, she could hear a commotion outside. Before she could even speculate what it might be, something burst into the throne room. It was a very familiar-looking flying machine, a round shape with a clown's face on it.
"Bowser?!" she exclaimed. The remaining people in the room fled with impressive speed.
"Indeed!" said a voice that didn't quite sound like Bowser. While the shape of the vehicle was unmistakable, the person inside was an unfamiliar sight.
Peach paused. "Bowser?" she hesitantly asked.
"Check it out, Peach!" the figure exclaimed, and leapt out of the vehicle to land on the floor with a thud. It was a woman, who looked strangely familiar somehow, and she straightened up with a wide grin on her face. "It's Queen Bowser now! Don't I look great? Wahaha!"
Even with the boastful tone and laughter, it was strange to imagine that this was really Bowser. How? As she was looking her over, Peach finally noticed the crown on top of Bowser's head. I see, she thought. Bowser was standing there, hands on her hips, beaming with pride, as if she felt on top of the world.
"Are you here to kidnap me?" Peach asked, getting up from the throne.
"What? No," Bowser said. "I just came to show off how awesome I am. I would stick around, but I have places to be, and... um... cool things to do. Yeah." She snapped her fingers, and the clown car descended towards her.
"W-wait!" Peach said, heading down the steps as Bowser started to turn away. "Are you sure you don't want to kidnap me?" she asked.
Bowser gave her an odd look. "Huh?"
"I mean... there are no guards around. It's pretty much a perfect opportunity. Would be a shame to waste it, don't you think?" Peach said as she walked closer.
Bowser blinked. "Uh... yeah. Yeah, of course. That's right. That was my brilliant plan all along," she said, her voice gradually growing more confident. "I was just waiting for you to lower your guard!" Peach was now close enough for Bowser to quickly grab her around the waist, and leap into the clown car. "Wahahaha!"
"Oh my!" Peach said as they flew away at high speed, exiting through a thankfully glassless window.
She felt a little bad about this, but the kingdom was peaceful enough that her going away for a little bit would probably be fine. She'd send a note to Toadsworth, telling him not to worry.
* * *
The trip back home went without incident, but now Bowser had some things to think about. Which she was not a huge fan of, but sometimes it was necessary. First off, hadn't she decided that she was going to stop kidnapping Peach? It never seemed to end well, so it might be best to avoid unless absolutely necessary. Yet she just done so anyway. It had seemed like a good idea at the time.
Second, she had no followup plan here. While she had put on a convincing bluff, there was really no reason for her to kidnap Peach at this time. She had just wanted to show off. Be impressive. There was nothing she needed Peach to accomplish, and she had no setup in place to stop Mario when he was inevitably going to show up. Like he always did. Typically Bowser would take the time to plan something before doing the kidnapping. Doing it afterwards just added a lot of pressure.
Third, and this might just be her imagination, but Peach seemed to be acting differently than usual. Bowser might not be the greatest person at reading people, that was what you had competent underlings for, but she and Peach had spent a considerable amount of time together over the years. And something definitely seemed to be different this time. Like, she hadn't noticed Peach struggling at all on the ride over. There had been no complaining. No questioning. No 'just you wait till Mario gets here'. Not even any pouting or angry looks. In fact the way Peach was looking at her made her feel a little funny. Maybe it was simply that their history had moved them beyond such things by now, but something felt different. Perhaps it was just her imagination. Perhaps.
Bowser set down on top of the roof of the castle, grabbed Peach around the waist again, and leapt out of the clown car. A flying broom with a familiar figure on top came to greet them.
"Welcome back, your Horribleness!" Kammy Koopa said while waving with her wand. "Did everything go-" She froze. "P-princess?!" she sputtered as she saw Bowser put Peach down.
"Hello, Kammy," Peach said politely, and curtsied.
"Uh..." Kammy's glasses had nearly fallen off, so she pushed them back into place. "Hello, I... I-I wasn't aware- I mean, well done, your Evilness!" Having spent so many years in Bowser's employ, Kammy was good at recovering from, and not unnecessarily questioning, any of Bowser's plans or actions. Her role was to guide and aid, not contradict or doubt. She had barely batted an eye at seeing the new Queen Bowser, and being asked to tie her hair up into a ponytail. Stranger things had happened.
Bowser stood up straight, and flexed her arms. "Thank you! It was a flawless execution!" she said confidently. "Wahahaha!" Then she noticed Peach was excitedly applauding in a surprisingly soft manner, and suddenly felt rather self-conscious.
"What is the next step, your Wickedness?" Kammy asked. Some questions were unfortunately necessary.
"Uh..." Bowser really hadn't thought that far ahead. There hadn't been time for that yet.
"Do you have somewhere for me to stay?" Peach asked, still sounding very polite. "Are you going to throw me in a cell, perhaps?" The way she was smiling was definitely unusual, but it didn't seem... bad.
"N-no, that won't be necessary," Bowser hurriedly said. "Kammy!" She gave her underling a look that partly a plea for help, and partly a command to just do something.
"Understood, your Frightfulness! I shall show you to the guest quarters, Princess. Follow me!" Kammy turned her broom around, and started floating off slowly.
"Very good!" Bowser declared, as Peach followed without protest.
Kammy looked over her shoulder. "And don't even think about running away," she said, waving her wand in what might have been meant to be a menacing manner.
"Oh no, I wouldn't dream of it," Peach said. She glanced back at Bowser. "I do hope you come check up on me soon," she said, still smiling.
Once Peach and Kammy were gone, Bowser let out a sigh that came out as a gout of flame. She didn't feel entirely sure what was going on, or what to do. Maybe ask the kids to shore up the defences. Get the magikoopas to create some illusions. The tried and tested methods. Granted, they had all failed their tests in the end, but she wasn't able to come up with anything new on the spot.
And then... going to check up on Peach was probably a good idea. Who knew what the Princess might do if left unattended for too long, after all.
* * *
There was a knock on the door.
"Come in~," Peach said, wondering if it was who she thought it was.
The door opened, and the new Bowser came into the room. Peach smiled.
"I... uh... I just came to make sure you're not causing trouble, Peach," Bowser said. It almost sounded like she had practised the line.
"Me? Cause trouble? Why I never," Peach said innocently.
Bowser's new look was certainly something. Peach was aware of the crowns, of course. She made sure to keep track of any new magic items that appeared in the Mushroom Kingdom, and she had seen Toadette use one, among others. It had been a little disturbing at first, in part because she recognised the magic involved, but it didn't seem to be dangerous. Yet she hadn't expected it would work on Bowser. And with such an... interesting result.
"Have a seat," Peach said. She had set up a table, and had made sure to get an extra chair. She knew several people in this castle by now, so they were willing to help her out to an extent. One of the lakitus had even been willing to deliver her note for Toadsworth. "I've made us tea." It was pretty much a perfect temperature by now, as well.
"Huh? Tea?" Bowser looked confused.
"Oh dear, maybe you prefer coffee?" Peach asked.
"Uh, n-no, tea is fine!"
"Well then!" Peach clapped her hands together, and put on a beaming smile. "Please sit."
Bowser came over, and took a seat in the chair. She was clearly not used to sitting on something so small, but Peach had made sure it was going to be strong enough. Even with the changes, Bowser was still larger than Peach. Taller, and certainly more muscular. Peach had to wonder how much she'd need to work out to become like that. It was not a displeasing look.
She poured them both cups of tea, and gently set the kettle back down. As she picked up her cup, Bowser went to do the same, but it was clear she was not used to that either. It was a charming scene, honestly.
"So how are you liking your new form?" Peach asked. That was the important question.
Bowser had finally managed to take a sip. As expected, it didn't seem like the heat of the drink bothered her at all. When you could breathe fire, that probably made your mouth pretty resistant to such things.
"Huh? Oh!" Bowser put the cup down so fast that some of it spilled onto the table. "It's great! It... uh... I dunno, it feels right, somehow. And I'm still awesome!" A pleased snort sent tiny wisps of flame out of her nose.
Peach had hoped to hear something like that. She put her own cup down with practised precision. "I see." She smiled, and got up. "I agree, you definitely look great." Bowser gave her a curious look as she walked around the table. Which turned to shock as Peach took a seat in Bowser's lap.
"P-Peach?" Bowser seemed lost.
"You see, we're not really so different, Bowser," Peach said, a slight uncharacteristic smirk on her lips. "We're both monarchs, with big responsibilities. We both take care of our subjects." Whatever else you might say about Bowser, her underlings didn't follow her just out of fear. There was genuine loyalty there. Maybe also a little bit of fear.
"Uh, sure," Bowser said, clearly having no idea where this was going.
"Do you like me~, Bowser?" Peach asked playfully, running a finger along Bowser's jawline.
Bowser's face was growing pink. "W-well, of course!" she said.
"Fufu~." Maybe she was being cruel, but Peach couldn't remember the last time she had this much fun. "See, another thing we have in common..." She took hold of Bowser's chin. "Is that I also know how to take what I want~," she declared before helping herself to a kiss. It was warm, quite warm indeed. Bowser's mouth almost felt like a furnace, but it was still not unpleasant. Quite the contrary.
"W-w-wha-" Bowser was obviously, and understandably, very flustered.
"Do you mind if I sleep in your chambers tonight?" Peach asked, bold as brass.
"Huh, then where would I sleep?" Bowser asked, bewildered.
Peach would have sighed, if this wasn't so cute. "Why, in the same bed, of course!" Her tone was cheerful, but she was completely serious.
"E-eh?" Bowser gave her a blank look. Probably wondering if she had heard that right or not.
"Oh dear, perhaps I'm being too forward," Peach said, though she didn't feel terribly sorry about it. After everything she'd been through over the years, surely no one could blame her for enjoying this, just a little.
Bowser quickly tried to compose herself. "N-no, that's okay!"
"So, you'll let me?" Peach asked sweetly.
"Uh, yeah, okay," Bowser said, still a little confused.
"Excellent!" Peach beamed. "I'll be looking forward to it, ufufu~." She would be nice. Perhaps she would be allowed to teach Bowser some things about her new body, but first and foremost, she would be nice. They said that good things came to those who waited, and she had waited a long time, even if she hadn't been sure what for. Would be a terrible shame to ruin it now.