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“Please turn me into a woman!”

“You- what!?”

Gran was usually not the kind of person to throw sudden requests at people, let alone by loudly inviting themselves into Cagliostro’s little palace. Gran’s honest and forward behaviour was well known amongst the crew of the Grancypher, but this was definitely beyond the usual. They very definitely were not the type to roughly barge into one of their crewmate’s rooms like this, and was even less the type to throw such intense requests at anyone- especially out of the blue! In fact, Gran was usually the one that had these intense requests thrown at them! So this was particularly curious.

Especially to Cagliostro, who had just been enjoying her morning’s brew. Had, because all of it, along with the entire cup itself, had made its way down to the floor. With a crack, it shattered into tons of tiny pieces. Tiny pieces that were soon drawn back to one-another and returned to the table in front of Cagliostro without even a single hint of the previous damage.

Cagliostro was a- the legendary alchemist. Capable of miracles beyond the comprehension of ordinary folk. Even her current body was something hand-made rather than what she was born with. Her clothes, that cup, the table, everything in the room was of Cagliostro’s creation. So, Gran hoped that their request would be some sort of simple- at all, in the slightest.

Cagliostro’s shocked expression soon told them the obvious. 

“Er…! Sorry!”

“Tee hee~!” Cagliostro rose to her feet and happily posed with her fingers aimed at her shining smile. “Why, I guess even a skyfarer Captain like Gran would love the honour of being as cute as the great, adorable, perfect Cagliostro!” the alchemist soon flashed over to her normal attitude, sparkling with a cuteness Gran realized they wanted to achieve.

But, it wasn’t just for the sake of being cute! Gran shook their head, responding with a firm “Well, I’ve always wondered how it would feel to be- you know, a girl like you!” A response that earned them no ire, but definitely forced a return to the previous awkward expression that had just crept away from Cagliostro’s face. Along with a blank stare that was a little more forceful than what she had given them before. No matter how long they waited, that stern expression wouldn’t fade from Cagliostro’s lips. Eventually, she just sighed, flapping her skirt to rid herself of the stains that had made their way into her clothes.  “So” Cagliostro stood herself back up, scraping her throat free of the cutesy tone she was usually stuck in. “Why?”

“I’m curious! I’ve always been curious! I just kinda never thought it was possible.”

Cagliostro blankly stared at her Captain, Leaving them in an awkward moment of silence.

“I-I mean, when you told me your story-”

“The story you’ve known for years?”

Gran diverted their eyes away from Cagliostro’s intense glare. 

“I shouldn’t have asked! I’m sorry!”

“No, Captain, slow down. First, what exactly do you mean by ‘forever’?”

 A response that sounded a lot more positive and accepting, but it still made them feel just a little guilty. Hearing Cagliostro speak in that stern voice always filled them with the worries of having wronged her. It took a moment for the Captain to gather their response, but they managed to awkwardly force out a quick squeak. “Literally? I mean, as long as I can recall. Isn’t that a really normal thing to be curious about?” Their response earned a very slow nod from the obviously exasperated alchemist, leaving the silence even more awkward than it had been cursed to be before.

“Yeah, yeah. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just…” Cagliostro trailed off, before shaking her head and just returning her gaze to the increasingly confused Captain. “So why are you asking me now? Why not when we met? Or a year ago? Or, any time that isn’t the instant i woke up?”

Was Gran’s question really that frustrating?

“I, uh…” This time, Gran was the one awkwardly trailing off. “My lifelink to Lyria has been getting tighter, recently. I’m feeling more and more of her feelings, and, uh, she mentioned something about wanting to be cute, so…” While they weren’t lying per se, it did feel wrong even just coming out of their mouth. That definitely wasn’t it. But, that was the only recent thing that really stood out in their mind.

“So, what if I tell you it’s completely impossible?”

“You- what?”

“Well, it isn’t quite impossible, but there’s a chance you wouldn’t be able to return to your original body. Do you think taking that risk would be worth it?”

“Um…” A chance? That meant a small chance, right? Plus, wouldn’t Cagliostro just be able to build them a new body if it didn’t work out? That doesn’t really sound like much of a risk. It’s not like there’s any particular reason to be attached to their current self, anyway! “I guess?”

“Gran- Captain.” Cagliostro sighed, her head shaking before returning to look at Gran after the quickest shrug. “So, is this for illicit purposes? Is my dear Captain perverted enough to be interested in something like that?” Cagliostro moved her fingers to pinch onto her Captain’s side, which left them again squeaking.. For some reason, her teasing always felt infinitely more intense when she was doing it in her regular voice, rather than her played up, cutesy one.

“O-Of course not!” Okay, the thought had definitely crossed their mind, but that wasn’t it! They’ve always been curious about this! Even when they were little, even in memories as old as those with their father. “I’m really just curious! I’ve been spending a lot more time with Lyria lately, and, well, maybe it’d make me better understand her! If I knew what it meant to be a girl, maybe just…”

“Alright, alright. You can stop making excuses now.” Cagliostro shifted about and grabbed onto the chair she had just been sitting on. “Sit, now- no, not backwards, face away from me, you dumbass!”

“Sorry!” Gran kind of assumed Cagliostro would want them facing her, but… well, sure. Why not. “I’m really not making excuses, though! I really am just curious…”

“I should’ve seen this one coming. Thinking back, you’ve had a lot of particular behaviour that… Hmm, it’d be rude to assume, but it’s really not that surprising.” Cagliostro mused out loud about a conclusion Gran hadn’t even reached yet. They were about to ask for clarification, but Cagliostro beat them to it. “It was pretty clear that you were uncomfortable regarding your gender. Like how Lyria stopped using any masculine pronouns to refer to you, I caught her and interrogated her, and she said it felt like that made you more comfortable.”

Wait, that happened? And what did she mean by interrogating Lyria and-

“There’s a lot of people that prefer that. Wanting to be seen as non-binary isn’t the oddest thing, and-”

“Okay, wait, what are you talking about?” Cagliostro was basically just spouting nonsense that did nothing but leave Gran more confused. They were even about to jump to their feet, but Cagliostro’s sudden firm grip shoved them right back down.”Cagliostro, I really don’t understand what you’re talking about!”

“Huh? Oh, don’t worry, my precious Captain!” Cagliostro slid back into her usual tone, at least slightly relieving the tension that had quickly started to build up. “Your precious and delightful Cagliostro was just musing out loud! Tee hee, were you getting a little confused by the musings of a genius?” Gran nodded their head. REALLY confused, but this Cagliostro was always more calming in these sort of situations! “Your lovely little Cagliostro is just feeling a little bad! How could my beautiful genius miss something so simple that’s been so evilly tearing at my cute Captain’s heart!”

That really wasn’t helpful! Cagliostro had a very nasty habit of explaining things in a way that only she could understand, but this didn’t even qualify as that! 

“How could I miss that my cutielicious Captain is so obviously a girl at heart! I’m so ashamed that I’ve left my sweetest wittle cutie without the guidance she needed!”

“What?” And wait, she? Being referred to like that felt a little weird, but definitely not ‘bad’.

“See, it isn’t that you wanted to become a girl! You’ve always been one.”

Nope, not making any sense. Cagliostro sighed and gripped down on their shoulders again. Gently. It felt oddly comforting, especially for something coming from that little alchemist. “What… do you mean? I just wanted to try out being a girl for a little…”

“Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard that one before.” Gran was about to open their mouth for another line of questioning, but Cagliostro seemed to have no intention of letting them talk. “Quiet, you. I can feel your heart beat faster. I can feel you get happier every single time I call you a girl. It’s so intense, you must be fighting really hard to not feel this~”

“Wait, ho-”

“Alchemy.”

“Oh.”

Um.

Cagliostro was just teasing them, right? Just look at them! Gran was definitely not a girl. They couldn’t be. Not if they looked like this. There’s no way she could be a girl! Even if she wanted to be! Did she? Well, maybe, but…

“Quiet!”

“I wasn’t even ta-”

“I can feel you shaking, moron. I don’t even need alchemy to tell what you’re thinking. Bad thoughts. Bad.”

But. Wasn’t it all true?

“Do you think I wasn’t a girl before I developed a new body?” Well, that’s different, so- “Ladiva? Even though she looks like that, you know she’s a woman.” While that left Gran quiet, Cagliostro just had to be wrong! She was just being her usual self and tossing her Captain into a pit of flustered confusion! There was no way she could be serious! It was completely impossible!

“But, I can’t…”

“You’re annoyingly dense. Just say ‘I am a woman.’ and think about how that feels.”

“But-” The Captain was about to spout another volley of denial, but Cagliostro’s fingers digging into their shoulders changed her mind.

“I am a woman.” It felt a little weird to say that, but definitely not unpleasant. “I’m a woman. I’m a woman. I’m a woman…”

“Good start. Now tell yourself you’re a girl.”

“I’m a girl. I’m a girl. I’m a girl. I’m a girl.” With every time she said that, it felt more… right. “I’m a girl. I’m a girl.” This somehow felt much easier to say than claiming she was a woman. It somehow felt a little less wrong. “I’m a girl. I’m a girl. I’m a girl.”

“Louder.”

“I’m a girl!”

“Be proud and yell it.”

Yell? Um, that sounded like a bad idea, but… it wasn’t like she could stop here! It felt a little wonderful, so maybe if she yelled it at the top of her lungs, even she would start believing it!

“I’M A GIRL!”

She even pulled herself out of her chair, standing up and throwing it out with all the force she could possibly muster. Screaming it so loud that it hurt her throat. With so much force that her lungs stung. And it was wonderful. So extremely wonderful. She wanted to yell it again, at the top of her voice, so everyone could hear, and-

“Not THAT loud, dammit!”

Um, wait, yeah. She had just shouted that at the very top of her lungs! It wasn’t like she was just yelling to herself, there was a good chance everyone on the Grancypher could hear her exclaim it! Not like she didn’t want everyone to know, but… it was still just a little weird! Like, if she looked like this, and then called herself a girl… wouldn’t everyone… you know, laugh at her? Couldn’t she just look a little more like… a girl? At all? She turned around and looked at Cagliostro- like a scared chick that had just broken out of her shell! Wait, right, Cagliostro can help her! Cagliostro can make her look like a girl- look like what she felt in her heart! The flustered Captain needed a moment to gather her words, before finally stuttering something out.

“Um, so… the body thing?” It took a lot of courage to say, but… wouldn’t it be for the better?

“Huh? Oh, yeah, sure, whenever.”

Wait, wait, wait. Was it really going to be that simple? She had barely even stumbled upon her feelings, the supposed identity that was hidden inside of her! Sure, Cagliostro was a great alchemist, but she could really do something. Just like that? She could walk away from Cagliostro’s room looking completely different? Like, like, like…

“So...”

“So?” After an awkward beat of silence, the genius put two and two together. “Oh. I’ll need a week to make something permanent.”

Wait, a week? But she said whenever! You can’t just get her hopes up like that and have her wait a week! Okay, okay, no, slow down. What was a week to the rest of your life? She could wait! It’s just a week! Just a week. Just a week…

But. That’d be a week of looking like this! Like this! Something she never thought bothered her- something she never thought would bother her! It shouldn’t bother her. It’d just be her going back to her normal life, for just a little longer! A week! A little longer! She had been like this for eighteen years now! It shouldn’t just start bothering her now, out of nowhere, when it never bothered her before…

Who was she kidding? It felt as if years upon years of stress was pouring out onto her, all at once.

How had she never realized this before? How had the Captain not noticed these desires? Felt these feelings? No- this wasn’t a new feeling. None of this was new. This weird little feeling had always been locked deep within her heart. The Captain simply just didn’t know what it meant until Cagliostro had told her. She was just too, dumb? To understand that it had always been pain. This really wasn’t fair! Not fair, not fair at all! Why would all those memories suddenly start hurting!? Why, just…

“But… I really want to…”

Because if the Captain had to have even one more person see her like this, she felt like she was going to scream. She wanted to- needed to fix it now! Please! Cagliostro was supposed to be the world’s greatest alchemist, there’s no way she wasn’t able to do anything, even if it was just a stupid little stopgap. Even if it was just the quickest, makeshift, temporary solution ever… she didn’t want to show this face she was forced to wear again!

“Don’t worry, my cutest little Captain! The great Cagliostro is so cute that she can bestow you with the tiniest part of her perfection! I can bring the most adorable girl inside of you to the surface! With just a hint of my wondrous talents, I can make you draw the smile you’ve always wanted!” While speaking, Cagliostro darted off into her bathroom, slowly coming back pushing in a dressing table taller than she was. Wooden, with a mirror, and a bunch of drawers… it looked pretty heavytoo, considering Cagliostro seemed to struggle moving it. The Captain would offer to help, but… well, by the time she realized she should, it was already in front of her. She averted her eyes away from her reflection, prompting Cagliostro to quickly turn it about so it would face away from her. 

Cagliostro dove her fingers into the many drawers of the vanity table, quickly building up a gigantic stack of makeup in front of her, accompanied by an overly ornate comb. It glttered as if forged from silver, but it seemed more thin and frail than even porcelain. It seemed like even lifting it could shatter it into tiny pieces, let alone having it brush through her hair! But Cagliostro wasn’t treating it any different from a plaything, simply spinning and twirling it between her fingers.

“Close your eyes, my lovely Captain!! Our combined cuteness might blind you if you gaze onto it unprepared!” Cagliostro navigated herself to behind her Captain, ruffling her hair around, before putting that brush to her scalp. “Why don’t you tell me a little about yourself, Captain? Tell me everything about the cutest you that’s locked within your heart! Tell me what you see- starting with, hmm, what kind of hair you imagine!”

The ‘her’ in her heart? The Captain’s eyes closed as she let herself sink deep into her thoughts. “Um… blonde hair?” The first one was easy, blonde was really pretty! Cagliostro was a shining example, but all the other girls in her crew with that hair also looked really wonderful. So maybe, just maybe, it’d look just as pretty on her own head. “That’s not it, Captain! Look deeper. Think about what you’re saying!” But that wasn’t all. Look deeper. What was it that you saw? What was the deepest dream locked so firmly in her heart? How did she imagine herself whenever she was playfully thinking about how she look as a girl? How she saw herself when she imagined it as a child, how she saw herself in her dreams.. The Captain started moving her hands around, gesturing at her shoulders and drawing the outline of a princess cut, not too long as to get in the way, but long enough to definitely register as somewhat feminine! 

“Blonde? Tee hee, of course you would be inspired by the great and wonderful me! If you want to look as absolutely perfect as you can be, all you can do is mimic me!” No, it wasn’t like that. Cagliostro was really cute, sure. But the image burned into her mind felt so familiar. Felt so safe, felt so right! “Don’t worry, Captain. I’ll happily fulfill your self-indulgent dream! By the time the day is over, you’ll be a beauty second only to me!” Cagliostro started slowly pulling that comb down her hair, cutting through any knots on the way as she dragged down. Down past where her hair was supposed to stop. She could feel it drag down past her cheeks,  across her neck. Neatly touching down against her shoulder, before repeating the same motion inches over to the side. Repeatedly. Slowly, carefully. And every time Cagliostro pulled further down, she could feel it brush up against her body. Not just the comb itself, but soft and newly grown hair caught within its teeth. Were it not for the fact that it was Cagliostro tending to her, she would’ve been sure she must’ve been going crazy. Was that… really hair? She reached one of her hands up to touch at her newly-grown locks before her stylist quickly smacked her hand away. “No touching until I’m done! You don’t want to ruin my work, do you?”

She wanted to respond by shaking her head, but quickly realized thatwouldn’t be the best of ideas while Cagliostro was so carefully tending to her hair. Instead, after a moment of hesitation, she let out a weak little “No…” Had her voice always sounded this awful? This grating?

“...Ta da! Cagliostro’s first miracle has been successfully performed!” Wait, hadn’t Cagliostro just started? Um, wait, was she really done? Again, she moved to touch at her own hair, but, yet again, she was smacked away by that youthful alchemist! “Nope. You don’t get to feel it before everything’s done!”

“But-”

“Quiet! Didn’t your moth- err, didn’t Lyria ever teach you that opening your Christmas presents early ruins the magic? This is like that, except the present is the real you!”

That.. could’ve been a really awkward discussion, but thankfully, Cagliostro ended it before it happened. She hoped that her silence was enough of a response for Cagliostro, because she felt like any response would just lead to her being teased again in one way or another.

“Hmm, it already looks wonderful, but it’s missing just a little something! I know, sit still!” Cagliostro paced around the flustered Captain, assumedly returning to the dresser and noisily rummaging around it again. Soon after, she felt something roughly snap around her head, whining out a little ‘ow’ as she struggled to not launch her hands up again. “A wonderful little headband- to draw focus to your wonderful hair!”  The pain wasn’t over, though, because Cagliostro’s hands quickly started to shift through her hair, leaving the headband shuffling across her head. 

“I’m going to help pretty-pretty you up, and then I’ll teach you how to take care of your hair, Captain! I’m going to be rea~lly~ upset if you don’t take good care of this gift I’m generously granting you!” Even though Cagliostro was in her usual, cutesy tone, the Captain was pretty sure that she wasn’t kidding. “Now, Cagliostro is going to have to touch you all over, okaaay~?” Wait, what!? “So please, Captain, just trust me with your body, because I don’t want to turn you into a mess!”

“O-okay…” The now-blonde responded hesitantly, leaving Cagliostro to work her magic. And by ‘magic’, she meant ‘whatever the hell she decided her skin needed smeared all over it.’, because rather than actually being welcomed by just Cagliostro’s hands, they were covered in something extremely cold and uncomfortable. It even stung a little! And when she thought it was over, she could just feel those cold hands press against her cheeks again seconds later. And again. And then something against her lips, and something at her eyes and… every time she got used to what was going on, the alchemist started on something new. Nothing was worse than whatever she was doing around her eyes, though. It felt like the slightest movement could end in an unimaginable disaster… maybe it was just because she had no idea what magic Cagliostro was working on her face, but her excitement was slowly starting to drop. It was still Cagliostro! With her dreadly evil sense of humour! Maybe, she, just…

“Aaand~ Done! I just gotta tap tap tap your shoulder, like this!” Her clothes… kind of shrunk. Changed. Her pants very definitely disappeared and turned into something way poofier, something that left her a lot more bare… um, that had to be a skirt, right? It felt really windy and kind of… weird, honestly. But not unpleasant.

“Now, Captain! Open your eyes at the count of three! One, two… three!”

Please don’t be awful please don’t be awful please don’t be awful. The startled Captain slowly, very slowly, started to open her eyes. Further and further. The faintest shimmer of a reflection slowly started to form in her eyes, and, well, she didn’t know who she saw, but it very definitely wasn’t herself. Beautiful blonde hair, a pink headband rested on her hand. A pink dress, with slight hints of white and armour. Puffy, feminine cheeks.

Um.

That couldn’t be her. Even as she stood up and moved closer to the mirror in front of her, there was no way -that- could be her. That was the girl of her dreams. The self of her dreams. There was absolutely no way that this could be real. It had to be some sort of trick mirror! Yeah, that’s why Cagliostro didn’t want her to touch her hair! But as the blonde moved her fingers up to grab at her hair, as she squished her cheeks and slowly realized the reflection in the mirror could be none other than her own, well…

“Tee hee! You don’t have to thank me, Captain! All you have to do is praise me, love me, and adore me!”

That hair was definitely her own. That face was definitely her own. As she looked down, she saw that those clothes were very definitely on her own body, too. Um, um. Um. This was all too much for her. This had happened in the span of a single day- a single hour! How could all of this have happened so fast, how could she go from her old self to such a cute looking girl?

“It’s not perfect, but it should last you at least a week! And by then, my Captain’s wonderfully perfect new body will no-doubt be hand-crafted to perfection!”

Wait, this -wasn’t- perfect? But, her face…

“So, what do you think? Of the wonderful miracle brought to you by the power of my alchemy and the slightest hint of makeup? Don’t be shy, just tell me how pretty you think I made you!”

Before today, she never consciously realized what she wanted. And until right now, she never realized how -badly- she wanted it. How fulfilling it was to gaze into a mirror, and see such a wonderfully pretty girl! She never really thought, she never really thought…

“Thank you Caaag!” The Captain turned around to lunge at the tiny beauty that had given her this chance, that had made her not only realize, but also work to fulfill some of her most repressed wishes! She grabbed her, tackled her into the ground, and snuggled her as hard as she possibly could. Blurting out ‘thank you’ time after time after time, before lifting that alchemist right up, snuggling her into bed, and giving her the most intense, aggressive, and heartfelt nuzzles she could muster. Things she had seen Lyria do to people. Things Lyria had done to her. Ahh, how much she wanted to do all the cute little things Lyria did!

“You can let me go now. I get it.” Cagliostro’s fingers momentarily shifted through her newly grown hair, before starting to actually very aggressively pull on it to break herself away from her Captain’s embrace. “Bed. Corner. Now.” Without any hesitation, she obeyed, drawing a respectable distance away from the alchemist who had just changed her entire self. Mumbling out a few apologies, before quickly getting her worries waved away by an unbothered Cagliostro. 

An unbothered Cagliostro that soon got right back into scolding her.

“Don’t get too ahead of yourself, idiot! I told you! I need to teach you how to take care of yourself! And that’s not all, we need to adjust your mannerisms, your body language… your voice, too! Don’t think you can get away with just looking adorable! If you want the cutest cutie you can be,” Partway through that sentence, the seriously Cagliostro faded into the more usual, cutesy one“You need to listen to the beautiful Cagliostro’s perfect cuteness class!” The Captain eagerly nodded in response, opening herself up to another volley of demands.

“First- you need to learn how to take care of your hair! I can’t just use my alchemy to fix you up every single day! You need to brush it, constantly- at least twice every day! When you wake up, and before you go to bed!” Cagliostro’s quick lessons were responded to by a quick nod. “If you want to be as wonderful as my great self, you need to work on your voice, too! Pick a tone, and stick to it! Never let yourself talk in your old voice again! Just talk with Lyria, try to mimic how she says everything- absolutely everything! Not just her tone and wording, either! Have you ever noticed that Lyria moves completely different than you when you talk to her? How much more expressive she is!? You two are together constantly, so just practice, practice, practice!”

Yeah, those were definitely a lot of instructions. It wasn’t like the Captain wasn’t thrilled at doing everything that Cagliostro was suggesting! It was just… a lot to take in. A lot! And with how Cagliostro was talking, it felt like she wouldn’t even be able to start being a real girl until she’s done with learning all of that!

No, bad thoughts. Set those out of your mind. You’re already a girl, Cagliostro just wants to help you be more feminine in her own, very forceful way! “But before you can even consider any of those things, Captain. There’s one very important thing you need to sort out first.” She firmly nodded in response. Something more important than all of that? Right, she could definitely do that! “Find yourself a new name. You’re your real you now- you don’t have to stick to a name that doesn’t even represent you!”

A new name?

A new name…

The Captain didn’t remember much of her father, but there was one thing locked firmly within her memories. Something that stuck with her, even if so many memories had faded to the long years since he had disappeared, this never faded. A memory she never quite understood why it was so important to her. Not only because it was one of the few stories stories she could recall that even mentioned her mom. But…

‘I wanted a son, your mother wanted a daughter. If you had been born a girl, Gran, your name would’ve been-’

That’s right. It was a name she’d never forget. One picked by her parents, just like the one she had borne onto this point. She stood up, off the bed, before twirling right to meet Cagliostro. She leaned herself forward just a small bit, flashing the biggest smile she could possibly muster.

“It’s nice to meet you, Ms Cagliostro! My name is Djeeta.”