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they try to feed you lines that you have to memorize

you always hide behind your wizard of oz disguise

do you even have a brain, you’re sticking to a page

you’re faking all your pain, yeah, you’re bleeding on a stage

I never signed up for your drama

I don’t wanna be an actress, living by a script

who cares about practicing, I don’t give a shit

you’re over-analyzing every word I say

there’s a whole world out there, you’re living a play

fuck your auditorium, I think it’s pretty boring and

I never signed up for your drama

 

 

 

Briar Beauty

there’s a whole world out there, you’re living a play

 

Narcolepsy .

That’s what everyone calls her mother’s disease, and honestly, it makes sense. Briar’s never seen her mother awake for longer than a few hours, and even then she’s usually got her eyes closed. After all, Sleeping Beauty’s got a reputation to uphold.

Destiny’s a crock. Briar knows this better than anyone, even better than Raven, because why should she want to sleep for a hundred years just for true love? For a prince she doesn’t even know?

He won’t be worth losing all she has. Not worth her friends, her family, Faybelle’s lips and Hopper’s hands. She’s got plenty of true love right here; she doesn’t need some old storybook telling her how to do things.

Phillip didn’t. Briar’s father is brave, and kind, and he’s done all he can to help her mother, because he loves her. And though Briar can’t understand why, because there’s hardly anything left of Aurora to love, Phillip still does all he can.

And he loves Briar. He loves Briar more than he should, more than she deserves, because she’s known long since before Legacy Day that she will never follow in her parents’ footsteps, and she’s known the consequences will be her world disappearing into thin air. This includes herself, and her father will grieve, but he won’t be alone.

He’ll be with Aurora, and she’s enough for him, Briar’s sure. Phillip doesn’t need a daughter whose eyes are wide open when he’s got a wife to dream with.

 

 

Faybelle Thorn

shooting at the angels while claiming you’re the good guy

 

Bitch .

It’s the first word Faybelle hears, and it’s the first she hates, because some nobody screams it at Faybelle’s mother and Maleficent’s eyes turn black with hurt and that’s all it takes for baby Faybelle’s untamed magic to rear its ugly head and strike the heckler dead.

Maleficent is terrified for her. Not of her, never of her, but for her, because Faybelle is powerful, powerful and young, and she kills anyone who so much as looks at her mother wrong. And Maleficent loves her, she does, but she’s so afraid of someone taking her baby away that she locks her and Faybelle far, far away from every and anyone, desperate to keep her child safe.

Faybelle, therefore, only knows two people for most of her childhood. Maleficent is a constant presence by her daughter’s side, always ready to lay down her life for Faybelle’s should the need come to pass. And Diaval, Faybelle’s father, stays with them for far longer than Maleficent sometimes says he should.

Faybelle, though, despite having only two insights into the whole wide world of seven billion, knows love early and knows it well. Maleficent and Diaval shower her in affection, in soft words and hot cocoa, and they love each other, with looks between them that suggest far more love than Faybelle has seen between any pair of so-called “true loves” since she’s arrived at Ever After High.

And then, everyone expects her to be evil. Headmaster Grimm refuses to accept Faybelle’s excuses the same way he rebuffs Raven Queen’s good intentions, and so Faybelle falls into hatred and resentment, only dragged out by Briar’s faith in her and Hopper’s unconditional optimism.

And yet, Faybelle dreams of power. She dreams of an empire in which she rules with her boyfriend and girlfriend by her side, in which she is allowed to be kind or be evil as she chooses, in which Maleficent and Diaval may have a wedding fit for a king and queen, as that is what they are in Faybelle’s eyes.

So Faybelle, desperate and lost, vows to one day, someday, murder the man by the name of Milton Grimm.

 

 

Hopper Croakington

I don’t want no lunchbox friends, I want someone who understands

 

Anxiety.

Hopper doesn’t learn of this word until his first day at Ever After High, but it’s a damn important one to him.

He doesn’t know anybody here and everyone’s looking at him and the teacher called on him and he doesn’t know the answer and he’s stuttering, mumbling, trying -

He’s on the floor. There are two boys by his side, one in green and one in blue. He clutches at the green one as the blue one says numbers softly to him, breathing in and out evenly. Hopper tries to follow, squeezing his eyes shut and focusing on the sound of oxygen and blood pumping through his veins, and after awhile, the whispers stop and the panic does too.

Anxiety, the boys explain to him, is what he has. It’s the invisible monster that’s been sneaking up on him since childhood, since before he learned how to talk, and it’s going to be there for the rest of his life. But they’ll help him get through it, the boys say. They will. And Hopper believes them.

Dexter and Hunter, he learns, are outcasts just as much as him, and they band together like allies in a war. They each find people to love, and they each find friends to trust, but first and foremost they belong to each other, and they know it.

So when Hopper has dates with Faybelle and Briar, Dexter and Hunter are there to help him get ready. To help him stay calm. To help him fight off the monster he’s never seen.

 

 

Kitty Chesire

I’m quietly observing, I’m saying nothing

 

Disappear.

It’s the only thing Kitty knows how to do, ever since they were little. Mischief is a pastime, because their mother won’t talk to them and won’t play with them and so Kitty is forced to find other things to entertain themself with.

The fairytales, Kitty doesn’t see the point in. They are a bit part, there to smile and to speak in riddles, and they do plenty of that in their real life anyway. They don’t understand why the adults seem so hellbent to set them on the right path, to call them a girl, because Kitty doesn’t follow paths and Kitty isn’t a girl.

They tell all of this to Lizzie, and to Maddie and to Alistair and to Chase and to Bunny and to Courtley, and the Wonderland kids understand, because the Wonderland kids don’t follow paths either.

Kitty pities Headmaster Grimm. His heart is empty of wonder, and Kitty’s sure his school will follow. They can’t let that happen, they swear it to themself, and they try and they try and they try in the hope that one day, maybe, finally, it will be enough.

In the meantime, they kiss Lizzie in the darkened classrooms that students have abandoned for the weekend. They draw pictures of Wonderland with their friends in the hope that it’ll help them remember home a little better. They follow the path Headmaster Grimm lays out for them, and they wear dresses and bows and grow out their hair.

In the meantime, Kitty disappears.

 

 

Lizzie Hearts

feeling unsure of my naked body, stand back, watch it taking shape

 

Worthless.

Lizzie’s long since known her mother sees her as a rose. Something to be grown and colored and killed to the red queen’s wishes, with no thought to the red heart beating beneath this rose’s chest. Lizzie doesn’t argue, or speak up or defend herself, because she knows better.

The red queen is thirsty for blood. Angry and wicked, with burn marks littering Lizzie’s wrists to prove it. The words her mother carves into Lizzie’s skin leave lasting scars, spelling out slut and ugly and worthless for all the world to see. The people don’t respect their princess, but they all pity her, as they’ve all seen Lizzie’s throat clutched in her mother’s hands.

They don’t even know the half of it. The red queen cuts Lizzie’s neck when it’s been too long since the last execution, and the guards don’t try and stop it even as Lizzie screams and cries and begs, because though their loyalty lies with their princess, their fear lies with the queen, and they know better.

Lizzie becomes cold and silent. She tells no one, not even Chase, of her torment, and from Kitty she keeps these secrets as well. She acts as her mother would at Ever After High, trying her best to keep her classmates from truly seeing her, and she is rewarded with loneliness and hatred.

She writes Chase letters, unable to send them, and spends hours by the wishing well, her hair down and crown by her side, barefoot and barenecked. Daring finds her one day, seeing the scars on her neck and in her eyes, and he pulls her close and tells her he’ll protect her, that she’s worth every kingdom, that she will heal.

Lizzie knows better.

 

 

Madeline Hatter

don’t let them fuck you, honey, don't let them try

 

Mad.

It’s all anyone uses to describe her, because that’s all they see in the girl with the miscolored hair and overflowing teacups. Maddie doesn’t refute them, doesn’t answer, and in Riddlish curses out those who call her insane.

Maddie isn’t crazy. She isn’t unstable. She isn’t mental. She’s a girl, just like any of the rest, daydreaming of loving people who she believes will one day love her back.

Because her father loved her mother. Loved her more than anything, and though Maddie’s never quite sure what kept the Mad Hatter and Alice from staying with each other, she’s determined to find her mother, just to make her father happy again. And she’s sure that along the way, she’ll find her brother, and she’ll find someone who will see her and think beautiful , not mad .

And she does. She finds Hunter, whose kisses taste like the peppermints Ashlynn’s always sucking on. And Ashlynn, who tastes like those red and white candies too, just stronger, and they both taste like the cinnamon sticks Hunter chews on instead of cigarette nubs.

And Ramona tastes like the smoked steak stuck in her teeth, and Cedar tastes like walnuts soaked in honeycrisp apple juice. And Raven, the one time Maddie’s lucky enough to kiss her, tastes like wonder, and Maddie thinks, Dexter is a lucky, lucky prince.

Maddie wishes for the world for everyone, neglecting herself, and her wishes are granted by some invisible fairy godmother (Raven, probably). Though, still, unfortunately, Maddie’s father misses her mother, and Maddie misses her brother, until one day Alistair shows up in her dorm room, pulls her into his arms, and never lets go again.

 

 

Bunny Blanc

Imma take a bow so you can kiss my ass

 

Late.

Bunny’s never on time. If you didn’t know her, you’d think it was an accident, but she’s careful about it. She isn’t like Ashlynn Ella, afraid of when the clock strikes twelve, no. She’s late, yes, but she’s late because she wants to be.

Her father’s a nervous bastard, one who can’t stomach the idea of being even a millisecond behind. He rarely remembers to check if his daughter’s following, if she’s even around, and the answer’s usually no, she’s not. Instead she’s with her friends, holding each other’s hands as they step through the portal that leads from hellish Wonderland to freedom.

There, Bunny meets Duchess. Who’s a bitch, by the way, and a fantastic kisser, if you’re wondering. Bunny hates her, and loves her just the same, and the Wonderland kids learn to keep themselves under wraps in this new world, with the girls pretending to gossip about boys and the boys pretending to look up the girls’ skirts.

In truth, Bunny and Duchess aren’t the only ones who make out in the dark of the closets. There’s Maddie and her girlfriends and boyfriend, and there’s Kitty and Lizzie, and there’s Alistair, who stays up into the early hours of the morning to write love letters to Chase back in Wonderland, letters he never sends.

Bunny is late to every class, every club, every event, and no one takes much notice until she bursts through the doors of the Legacy Day ceremony ten minutes after it’s begun, and even then, she just smiles.

Let them look. Let them stare. Let them talk. She couldn’t care less.

 

 

Duchess Swan

I  wanted to be in her shoes for one day

 

Selfish.

When she’s young, Duchess only hears that word in reference to her father. The king is selfish, the maids tell her, can you make him smile and think of us again? And Duchess tries, because even at seven years old she’s smart enough to gather that her father should’ve moved on from her mother by now.

It doesn’t help that Odette’s picture is all over the palace. She’s always smiling, always calm, looking like the queen she would’ve been had she lived, had she married Duchess’ father and raised her daughter to be a kind and selfless person.

Rather, Duchess cannot find anything to live for. The only person who cares about her is Sparrow, as all the maids are dead or dying and her father barely remembers he has a daughter, one with Odette’s eyes and face, one that Odette gave him and the world before she left them. And Duchess resents her father, resents him and the person he made her, as all anyone knows her as is the selfish one, the one who steals others’ happy endings because she can’t find her own.

In truth, Duchess is scared. Frightened of the world and how she’s destined to die, and when Raven doesn’t sign, she feels safe for the first time in her life, because if Raven is fighting for her Happily Ever After, maybe Duchess can fight for hers too.

Maybe she can find it in kisses with the shy new Wonderlandian girl, or maybe she can find it in whatever her father had with Odette. Or maybe she can find it with Sparrow, in his arms and far from his heart, or maybe she can find it in herself.

Or maybe she can’t find it at all, but then again maybe Happily Ever Afters are only supposed to last for a little while anyway.

 

 

Melody Piper

they say boys like girls with a tiny waist

 

Rat.

You’d think they’d called her a control freak. For what she can do to people, to animals and to music, but no, they call her a rat. We don’t want you here, we don’t want your help, we don’t want your filthy father and your filthy self and your filthy music mucking up our city streets, and Melody is forced to oblige.

Her father won’t speak of her mother. His eyes grow sad whenever she mentions the woman, asks her name, and so Melody tries to no longer ask. Instead she distracts herself from the million questions in her head by writing them into lyrics, playing the songs for Sparrow and Poppy, hoping that someone will understand and someone will be able to find her answers.

Sparrow, though, sees nothing in music but what it sounds like, and instead offers to kiss her until she forgets she ever had questions at all. She agrees, and keeps within herself his fire, letting it warm her on the nights she can’t fall asleep and her father’s eyes are watching her from miles away. Poppy, she finds, is a different story, a set of ears who were made to listen only to her sister and no one else, and hence her kisses are absent and hard but still better than the love Melody’s father gives her, and so Melody drinks in Poppy’s lips like the alcohol her father can’t stop sipping.

Love, Melody thinks, is not something rats get, because they are all the bad things of mice shoved into an ugly little body, and Melody stares at herself for hours on end in the mirror sometimes, imagining herself as someone with flowing locks and bright eyes, someone she’s not, someone who’s beautiful.

Melody sees her father smile only a few times in her life. When he’s with her, on occasion, but mostly when Jack B. Nimble stops by for a friendly chat and leaves by kissing Melody’s father’s lips until they’re red and swollen like rats’ tails, and Melody is happy to see her father happy.

She only wishes she could feel the same, so unpretty in Sparrow’s arms and drowning in Poppy’s lips.

 

 

Sparrow Hood

I’m not a bad guy so don’t treat me bad if I’m feeling sad, alright

 

Quiet.

Sparrow is anything but quiet. Anyone you meet will tell you that. Because Sparrow can’t keep himself quiet, can’t shut his mouth, doesn’t want to because he used to have to be silent, day in and day out with no exceptions, and he hated it.

It’s not like Robin Hood is a fantastic person. He’s an asshole, a con artist who gambled and lost money to peasants, calling it generosity. Sparrow’s father is anything but generous.

Marian’s afraid of him, Sparrow can tell. She cowers when faced with Robin, burying herself in covers beneath in the bed on the days he’s home, and she tugs Sparrow under there with her, trying desperately to protect him from the only man he should never have to be protected from. And Sparrow tries to protect her, to be the one who takes the blame, but Marian refuses to let him.

Sparrow is told to be quiet. By his father, when he’s hungover and can’t stand the sight of his wife or son even more than usual. And by his mother, when she’s standing in front of him and he’s clutching at her skirts, trying to pull her back and away from the towering man he no longer thinks of as Dad .

So when Sparrow finally convinces his mother to run away, keeping her close in the town next to Ever After High, he vows to himself that he’ll never be quiet again. He doesn’t whisper, doesn’t keep things to himself, and Poppy and Melody love him for it, even if the rest of the school is constantly telling him to fuck off.

Honestly, Sparrow doesn’t feel like a bird, meant to sing soft songs in the morning for princesses to wake up to. He is a lion, ready to roar.

Ready to rule.

 

 

Ashlynn Ella

tell me you love me, but you treat me like I’m never there

 

Whore.

No one’s ever called her that in her life, they wouldn’t dare, but Ashlynn hears how they whisper about her mother. It doesn’t matter that Ella is the queen, that Kit loves her with everything in him; all that matters is that Ella talks to people who aren’t there and married the one man in the kingdom everyone said she couldn’t have, the one man everyone wanted.

No matter the gossip, Ashlynn knows her parents love each other, and that they love her. Kit dances with her even when he should be in council meetings, letting her stand on his shoes as they sway and he tells her fantastical tales of King Arthur and his lover, Lord Merlin. Ella introduces Ashlynn to all of her imaginary friends, from Gus to Jacques, and they play dress up with the queen’s jewels and expensive heels. And in the garden, on Sundays after church, Kit and Ella walk arm in arm as Ashlynn runs ahead of them, singing with the birds as she chases them.

Alas, as the years drag on, Ella only grows sicker. And despite Kit’s best efforts, drawing in doctors and sorcerers and praying on his knees as well as sitting by her side even as she weakens, nothing is enough. Ella is confined to her bed, only occasionally rising to clean the entire room with only her bare hands and whatever she can find, forgetting that she is a queen with servants who can do it for her. She never lets the fire burn, even on cold nights, and cries violently whenever the clock strikes twelve, throwing things left and right and all over, once when Ashlynn is in the room. A few knick-knacks manage to bruise her pretty skin before Kit can reach her, gathering his daughter in his arms and carrying her out of the room even as she screams and cries for her mother.

Ella’s door remains closed, with the only two keys on chains around Kit and Ashlynn’s necks, but Ashlynn avoids the entire wing. Her mother scares her, if only because Ashlynn remembers when Ella loved her, and now the king rules queenless and falls asleep even before dinnertime, too wrought with fatigue to even try and speak to his daughter.

Ashlynn, therefore, is nothing but relieved when the time finally comes for her to attend Ever After High. There, there are no closed doors. No reminders of the mother she’s lost and the father she misses, and she still waits for word from home but not with quite the same fervor as she did when she was younger.

Though Ashlynn doesn’t believe Happily Ever After exists, she is nearly tempted to reconsider upon meeting Hunter, and Maddie and Cedar. These people give her meaning, teach her what it is to look at someone and see their imperfections as well as all their good, and they help her to draft the first letter she sends home to her father, a simple message of I miss you, I love you, how’s Mom , and though Ashlynn is still afraid of Ella, she is no longer afraid of love, and that’s really all she can ask for.

She takes Hunter’s hand, kisses Maddie’s lips and Cedar’s cheeks, and heads into the future, leaving Ella and Kit’s love story behind for her own.

 

 

Hunter Huntsman

look around the room to whoever wants me

 

Unloved.

Hunter doesn’t have any qualms regarding his father’s feelings for him. The huntsman has never loved him and never will, as Hunter is a mistake, torn from his mother’s arms moments after he was born, and he knows better than to ask who she is and what’s happened to her.

Hunter isn’t really a name, but it’s the best he can come up with at three years old when he realizes that the people asking him his name are going to expect an answer sooner or later and he has nothing to give them. All his life, Hunter doesn’t think much of the name he’s given himself, too busy trying to hide himself from his father’s fists and words by shoving himself into cupboards beneath the sink and behind any furniture he can.

When he gets to Ever After High, it’s the first time he’s seen people in years. He’d taken to never leaving the house in fear of his father’s wrath, and now he’s here in the midst of all these kids whose eyes are as tired as his, whose smiles brighten dimly lit hallways with their ingenuity. And Hunter meets people who change him, who teach him he’s not only what his story makes of him, that he’s what he makes of himself.

And Hunter is afraid of what these feelings mean, what these attachments mean, because his father always said love was a weakness, but Hunter finds otherwise. Holding Dexter’s hand makes him feel safe, and holding Ashlynn’s makes him feel brave, and holding Maddie’s makes him feel strong, and holding Cedar’s makes him feel worthy. In love, Hunter finds happiness and morality, things he hadn’t known before.

And when Sparrow’s mother comes to the school for a visit one day, Hunter finds family, because he looks so much like Marian he’s almost afraid of what it means, eyeing her cautiously over the rim of his book as Dexter holds his hand beneath the table and texts Raven, oblivious to how Hunter is looking at his mother for the first time in his life.

When she sees him, she welcomes him, and she tells him she’s sorry she couldn’t keep him. She says she regrets letting his father take him, letting his father touch her, and that if she could go back in time, she’d take him and Sparrow when they were both babes and hide them with her in the woods, raising them into unbruised men, men who’d still believe love is all there is to the world.

So Hunter has an older brother in Sparrow, and a mother in Marian, and a something-more-than-a-friend in Dexter and a lover in Ashlynn and Maddie and Cedar. And when Marian learns of Hunter’s childhood, all of it, beginning to end, she takes him into her arms and strokes his hair until he falls asleep, whispering in his ear, I will never let him touch you again, geliebte. I will never let the bad things touch you again , and Hunter believes her.

 

 

Cedar Wood

didn't learn a damn thing from you except how to lie and cheat

 

Puppet.

She is, yes. Technically. If you only look at the outside of her.

Really, Cedar is a human just like any of her classmates. With shitty parents and shitty lives and shitty destinies, that’s them. But Cedar’s different, because Cedar doesn’t have a destiny.

She’s been lying since she was born. It’s not hard, because even when she slips up, everyone just lets it slide, trusting her. Because Cedar Wood can’t lie, right?

Wrong. She lies when she speaks, every time, and waits for someone to notice. I don’t love you murmured against Hunter’s lips, and you don’t mean anything to me hissed in Ashlynn’s ear, and I want you to leave screamed at Maddie from across the room. Cedar is an exceptional liar, one who kisses her truths into the mouths of the people she lies to.

Do you really believe me? She wants to ask, because they can’t possibly, not when she calls herself their girlfriend, their true love, and sneaks around with them long after dark, licking her love into their mouths and crying her truths into their skin.

She always tells herself she’ll stop. She’ll tell the truth, she’ll be a real girl, but she’s not really sure she cares, to be perfectly honest for once in her life.

She’s got love, she’s got friends, and she’s got herself. Truth is for losers.

 

 

C.A. Cupid

you’re too busy seeking selfish wishes, don’t care how I’m feeling

 

Loveless.

Kinda, yeah. For all the love Cupid inspires, she’s never had much for herself. Her dad’s a god, too busy helping other people find love to remember to love his own daughter, and so Cupid basically raises herself. It’s not that she minds too much, her dad’s kind of an ass, but Cupid grows tired of watching the people she loves love each other and never her.

She can see the red strings between people. Everyone thinks they’re just a story, soulmates. An unrealistic fairytale, and Cupid wants to point out all the inaccuracies in the legends they’re taught in pristine clean classrooms, but keeps quiet.

Everyone thinks they’re so smart, so private. Cupid knows all their loves, all their secrets, seeing how Hunter kisses Ashlynn and Maddie and Cedar and how they all kiss each other. She’s caught the Wonderlandian kids in compromising positions, she’s seen how Dexter and Raven pull each other into closets during free period, and she knows that Hopper and Briar and Faybelle sneak into each other’s rooms every night.

There are others, she’s sure. Poppy and Sparrow and Melody she hasn’t caught yet, but their strings burn bright, and she knows their glances last a little too long. Professor Jack B. Nimble and the Pied Piper don’t notice her watching from under her desk, and she’s pretty sure Giles Grimm and Baba Yaga have something going on too.

Regardless, Cupid’s got no love for herself. Friends aren’t enough, not when she’s literally romance shoved uncomfortably into a human body, but no one’s willing to kiss her when she can tell them who their real soulmates are.

Holly and Blondie are tied to each other. Cupid doubts they’ll ever see it, with how Blondie’s so boy crazy and Holly’s pining after Daring (who belongs to Cerise, by the way, whether they’ll ever do anything about it or not). But still, there’s something in their eyes when they look at each other, like they know the other is special but aren’t sure why.

Cupid would give anything for them to look at her that way. Holly is beautiful, otherworldly, and Blondie’s not exactly ugly. Their touches set Cupid on fire, and the pink-haired girl wonders how much she could get away with before they’d notice, pressing kisses to their cheeks and foreheads and knuckles, yearning for their lips.

Loveless, my ass, Cupid thinks. I’ll make them mine. Eventually.

 

 

Dexter Charming

you say the cruelest words, they used to break my heart

 

Lesser.

Dexter isn’t good enough. He knows this, deeply, truly; it’s carved into his skin like the words manwhore and fuckboy and slut on Daring’s, but no one will ever see those scars. Whereas Dexter’s are out in the open - the younger prince, the uglier prince, the lesser prince, and everybody knows it.

There are so many things wrong with him he’s stopped keeping count.

First, it’s who he is - girls want a pretty boy, his parents always said, they don’t give a shit if you know anything. But Dexter is smart, a genius even, and he won’t hide it. Can’t.

Second, it’s who he loves - Dexter loves girls, yes, is more in love with Raven Queen than he ever thought possible, but then and there is another problem - she’s not the kind of girl his parents want him to marry. And then there’s Hunter and the tangible thing between him and Dexter, delicate and untouched for probably forever, since Hunter has three girls who love him just as much and even they’re easier to be with than Dexter would be. They haven’t held hands in years (at least not that Dexter can remember), but their eyes are still locked from across the room, kissing girls who are always tied for first and never win.

Third, well, something else. Fourth, another thing. Fifth, more imperfections. Sometimes Dexter wonders if life is really worth living when he’s who he is, but at the very least his siblings love him, and he knows their promises are ones that won’t be broken.

You are more than enough , Daring says, and Darling echoes the sentiment. They squeeze his hands and kiss his hair and borrow his clothes, and he knows that when they say we love you for exactly who you are and nothing else , they aren’t lying. But Dexter lies to them.

I’m fine. I know. I don’t need Hunter, I don’t love Raven, I don’t want to kiss them both and I’m fine, really, guys, I’m fine.

Dexter’s not fine, but he knows, deeply, truly, that it doesn’t really matter.

 

 

Raven Queen

I’m just like you, you’re like me, imperfect and human are we

 

Evil.

It’s the only word people use to define her. She’s far from it, but her last name is all anyone ever hears.

To tell the hidden truth, Raven is Snow White’s daughter, not the Evil Queen’s. She’s Apple’s illegitimate twin, and she knows her sister will never know the truth, because Raven works tirelessly to keep it that way. She doesn’t need any more accusations thrown her way, not when she’s finally gotten to taste the happiness that comes with freedom.

At school, sure, she’s an outcast, but she’s got friends. She’s got Maddie, who’s beautiful and Raven’s own particular brand of mad with love . She’s got Dexter, who’s everything Raven’s ever wanted and hers , hers and Hunter’s, but then again Raven is also Maddie’s and it’s not like she and Dexter ever really kiss anyone but each other anyway.

And Raven wants to give Dexter more than she can, wants to give him all he’s given her, because she sees how he and Hunter look at each other - like the other is something to miss . And though Dexter swears up and down and left and right to her that they’re only friends, Raven knows better.

Then again, Raven chooses to abstain from entering the impossibility of being with Maddie, so maybe she should just leave it alone and be glad that Dexter loves her too.

Happiness is still a stranger to Raven. Neither of her mothers love her, not really, not the Evil Queen and not Snow White, because they’re afraid of her. The only thing scarier than magic is magic with free will, and Raven is overflowing with it.

Raven is love and magic and good, and no one will ever see her that way.

 

 

Apple White

want a baby in the back with the man of their dreams, that isn’t the life for me

 

Helpless.

Apple can’t do anything by herself. Her mother’s done everything for her since she was little, no matter how small the deed or inconsequential the consequences, and so Apple is helpless. A hopeless case of incompetence, doomed to take credit for others’ accomplishments to build her reputation.

Apple knows she’ll be queen one day. She knows Daring will be the one who stands beside her, a good man and a good husband, even if his eyes are forever caught on the heartbroken red-hooded girl beneath them while hers wander to his sister, the white knight in the shadows. She knows she’ll never be truly happy, not when the ring on her hand was bought by a man, not when she sits on a throne of lies, not when she can’t help her people or herself.

She falls in love with Darling long before true love’s kiss. Long before her curse. When she wakes up, staring into her princess’ eyes, she knows immediately who it was that revived her. But she forces herself to play the fool, batting her eyelashes at Daring while she fantasizes about collapsing into his sister’s arms. Her mother wouldn’t accept her and Darling’s love, no matter how true, and so Apple denies herself the one thing in this world she actually wants.

And she resents Raven for ripping Apple’s destiny from her hands, because that was the one real chance Apple had for safety. For a semblance of Happily Ever After, but now she’s untethered and drifting into emptiness, lost without Darling’s hands and The End to drag her back out.

And Apple sometimes thinks the reason she’s so desperate for destiny is because she’s tired of making excuses, and sleeping is easier than trying to keep her hands by her sides when her true love’s less than a foot away, miles from Apple’s reach.

Apple’s helpless in love, helpless in life, and one day she’ll be helpless in death. And she’ll think to herself as she closes her eyes, well, this is what you wanted, right?

 

 

Darling Charming

instead of making me feel bad for the body I’ve got

 

Princess.

She is nothing more than that. At least, not in the eyes of her parents and the men who court her. She is the mistake that her parents groom for a damsel-in-distress destiny, despite knowing that she’ll no doubt end up with a destiny like Daring or Dexter’s, the destiny of a prince, because she’s a Charming, whether they like it or not.

She finds out pretty quickly that the destiny she’s meant for is Daring’s, as Apple falls asleep and Darling kisses her awake easily, under the guise of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. But in truth, she feels everything in that kiss, and she knows she’ll continue to feel like that every time she looks at Apple, because the two of them are true loves no matter what their parents say.

And Darling’s not alone, is the thing. She wants to save people, wants to be their knight and their queen, but she thinks it’s impossible in this world of heteronormativity and binary genders and destiny. There’s pain here, pain with no end, but she can’t fix it. She can’t save them.

She can’t save her own brothers, destined to love people their parents would rather execute, like werewolves and witches and boys. She can’t save her friends, struggling to climb this mountain whose peak is in the heavens, lying and cheating and stealing in the name of love and survival. She can’t save her true love, drowning in her mother’s gaze and her people’s expectations, helpless away from Darling’s arms and so, so close to just giving in and falling into them.

Everything human is banned from this world, and no matter how great the rebellion in their hearts, Darling knows that inevitably, they’ll all lose the war. Raven will try to save her friends and end up an imprisoned ghost; Dexter will marry Ashlynn at the end of their fairytale and they’ll write endless letters to the people they truly love and never send them; Daring will marry Darling’s princess and they’ll rule a blind kingdom, dying at their own hands most likely; all the others will be mixed in somewhere, starving and murdering and dragging themselves and their friends further into the void that is this world.

Darling will be a victim, in the end. A princess, waiting for the prince she’ll never love, dreaming of the knight she’ll never be, and wishing for the queen she’ll never have, because all Darling’s learned from this civil rights movement is that no one is strong enough to resist fate, and The End is never quite equal to Happily Ever After .

 

 

Daring Charming

cause they hate me, so I’m faking all of this

 

Perfect.

The first thing you have to know about Daring is he’s not. He’s messed up. Like, seriously, grade-A, fucked-up kind of messed-up. Insomnia, depression, bipolarity, anxiety, the whole she-bang. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t do something stupid, and not something stupid like walking-into-a- wall-cause-you-were-too-busy-looking-at-your-phone kind of stupid, no, like, cuts-himself-in-the-abandoned-upstairs-girls-bathroom-and-punches-his-siblings-when-he’s-angry-and-threw-up-yesterday’s-lunch-just-because-he-felt-unpretty kind of messed-up.

And he’s got nothing to show for it. People still think he’s a fool, he can’t live up to his parents’ impossible expectations, and his little brother is scared of him, cowering behind the nearest thing when Daring even looks angry. Darling just pities him, and hates him, just a tiny bit, for being destined for the girl she loves.

All Daring wants is to protect his siblings, the only people in this world he truly loves. He wants Dexter to smile, an arm around Raven’s waist as he holds Hunter’s hand, and he wants Darling to look at him, lips stained with Apple’s red lipstick as she slings an arm around the princess’ shoulders. Daring doesn’t dare want for himself, because the things he wants are hopeless, so he thinks it best that he leave them alone, locked away in the far back corners of his mind.

Because Daring wants Cerise . He wants to hold her, and he wants to kiss her, and he wants to marry her. He wants to save her from the secret she’s forced to keep, and he wants to be more than just another one of those to her. He wants to know when she’s safe, and he wants to know when she isn’t, so he can save her, whether from monsters or from herself or, god forbid, from him.

Daring has vowed to protect only a few people in his life. His siblings, who has sleepovers with, wearing Darling’s heels and jewelry while she paints Dexter’s nails and they laugh with him. His true love, unknown to Cerise, who avoids him in the hallways and only says a word to him in Maddie’s tea shop when no one’s around and she can pull her hood back, letting him kiss her ears and whisper in them. His friends, of which there are few; really only Lizzie with her scars and her gentle hands that trace his own.

And Daring vows only one thing to himself, as he cannot want and he cannot need - he will prove the unerasable words on his skin, manwhore and fuckboy and slut , wrong .

 

 

Chase Redford

please don’t be mad if I don’t smile back, alright

 

Bastard.

He’s the bastard son of the red queen, the disregarded prince, because nobody knows who is father is and nobody cares. In all honesty, Chase thinks he might’ve gotten the better end of the deal, because he’s seen Lizzie in their mother’s strong chokehold, a hand on his sword as he reached out towards her with wide eyes. And he knows he can’t save her, not really, but that doesn’t stop him from trying.

Chase practically shoves his sister through the portal without him, seeing the card guards coming over the hill fast, and though he knows she’s safe with Kitty and Maddie, he also knows that she’ll mourn for him for the rest of her days, and he doesn’t want that for her. Still, she’s not the only one who refuses to leave him.

Alistair, Chase’s beautiful something , struggles to make his own sister leave him, Maddie grasping at his wrists until Alistair finally manages to shake her off and watches her disappear with heartbroken eyes from Chase’s arms. And they’re stuck, left in the hell that Wonderland’s become with only Bunny and Courtley for company.

Courtley grows resentful and bitter, desperately searching for ways to get to the land of Ever After High. Bunny spends most days begging her father to stay home, and sleeping close to Alistair’s side when he won’t. Chase himself holds on to Alistair as tightly as possible, trying to keep him safe from the very world they live in, because Alistair chose to stay with him when he could’ve escaped all those years ago and Chase knows he sometimes regrets it.

So when the portal to Ever After High opens after the Book of Legends is thrown down the wishing well, Chase tells Alistair it’s okay. He can go. And Alistair does, taking Bunny with him, and their kiss goodbye is the saddest Chase has ever had in his life.

Chase is alone, then, for years, and that word, bastard , is all he can think, that and Alistair’s name. Sometimes Lizzie’s. But all he has now is himself and his memories.

When the kids of Ever After High accidentally come to Wonderland, it’s the first time Chase has hope in years. Lizzie is by his side again, calling him her brother proudly to anyone who asks, and she looks happy whenever she kisses Kitty in the crowded cafeteria of Wonderland High. And Maddie is smiling, her hand held in that Raven girl’s under the table.

And then, the red queen is defeated, Courtley is in a dungeon, and the students of Ever After High are spilling through the portal into Wonderland. Hundreds of kids, mingling and hugging, some kissing and some talking, and in the midst of all the chaos, there he is.

Their eyes lock from across the room and suddenly Alistair’s crashing into Chase’s arms, their lips meeting in a messy kiss as they grin and whisper I love you and I missed you into each other’s mouths, unaware of the shocked gazes surrounding them.

When they pull away, still tangled in each other’s arms and smiling, they catch sight of all the people staring at them, some with empathy and most with disgust, and it’s then that Chase realizes that no matter how close he and Alistair are, they can never be close enough, and he presses one last kiss to Alistair’s lips before letting the boy he loves go to protect him.

The very land they’ve longed for destroys them, and soon enough Chase is wondering why he ever wanted to come here, wishing for home and the days when his love was enough for his beautiful, blonde, blue-eyed, wild, mad, free prince.

In the end, though, he finds that love is never enough. Not for Alistair, not for Lizzie, and certainly not for him.

 

 

Alistair Wonderland

I wanna go home and you say now is not the time

 

Lost.

Alistair’s story starts the day he escapes to Ever After High. It doesn’t matter, suddenly, that he lost his mother and his father and his sister all those years ago; it doesn’t matter that his true love is a boy stuck back home; it doesn’t matter that Alistair is too lost in his head to be ever really there in a conversation. Alistair is free, for the first time in his life, and he’ll be damned if he wastes his chance.

He doesn’t fit in here, but then again hardly anyone does. He misses the boy he gave up to come here, misses Chase and his red kisses, the way Alistair’s magic created storms of butterflies that followed them for hours afterwards whenever their lips met. He misses using his magic, locking it away in light of seeing Raven Queen flung into lockers and shunned for her purple sparks. He misses his sister, who’s changed since she came here, with girlfriends and a boyfriend and no time for her twin, as much as Alistair tries to hold on to her.

When Alistair steps foot in Wonderland again, seeing Chase from across the room, he can’t contain himself. He knows what people will think, what they’ll say, how they’ll look at him, but he can’t help himself from running into the open arms of the boy he’s regretted leaving since the second he made that choice.

People stare. People stare, and people whisper, and Alistair can see the darkening of Chase’s eyes when he notices, pulling away from Alistair and telling him in hushed tones that he loves him, he does, and that’s why he’s doing this.

Alistair loses the boy he loves. After losing his family, and then Chase, and then home and then his sister again, Chase has left him for the second time - even if it is to protect him. And this time, Alistair has no hope of getting him back.

Maddie notices his despair, trying to help him by inviting him to tea parties and introducing him to other boys, but it only makes things worse. Because then Alistair sees how Dexter and Hunter look at each other, and he knows, suddenly, that there truly is no hope for him and another boy, because there’s never been any hope for two girls or two boys in this world at all.

So Alistair, having lost so many things already, loses hope. 

 

 

Jillian Beanstalk

don’t cut me, punch me, just let me go

 

Brave.

She’s really not. Jillian’s actually terrified of heights, can’t stand being on the third floor, but she has a reputation to uphold so she swallows it down, climbing anything anyone asks her to.

Only one person has ever seen through her facade. Humphrey is a fine choice for a secret keeper, and she’s glad he knows, even if it’s by accident. With his fear of falling and her fear of heights, they’re the perfect match, and Humphrey is the first person Jillian tells about her parents.

She tells him how her father was killed by giants, and how Jack is short for Jacqueline. She tells him how her mother is the real hero of Jack & The Beanstalk, and how proud of her Jillian is. She tells him how she wants to be a boy, and how she used to call herself Julian Jacques in her head to pretend.

Humphrey takes her on shopping dates to buy boys’ clothing, and she makes him hot cocoa with rainbow sprinkles and whip cream on movie nights, and they heal each other. Nobody knows about them, because Jack doesn’t have a love interest and neither does Humpty, but Jillian can’t say she’s all that jazzed about her destiny. She tells Humphrey this too, and he kisses her and starts calling her Jazz affectionately and she feels a little bit better.

Jillian starts introducing herself as a boy to other people a few months after she first meets Humphrey. Raven’s the first to accept her, and Dexter’s the second, and soon enough everyone’s yelling hey, Julian and yo, Jacques across campus, much to Headmaster Grimm’s chagrin.

A few days after Jillian’s birthday, she sends a letter to her mother, signing it, your son, Julian . Humphrey kisses the side of her head, whispering I love you, Jazz in her ear and she closes her eyes, breathing in the clear morning air.

Julian now, he helps his boyfriend become his girlfriend, giving Humphrey his old clothes and teaching him how to put on make-up, and much like Humphrey to Jillian all those months ago, Julian leans down to whisper in his girlfriend’s ear, I love you, hummingbird, and Humphrey laughs, tears at the corners of her twinkling eyes.

 

 

Humphrey Dumpty

everyone’s so soft, everyone’s so sensitive

 

Cowardly.

Humphrey knows he isn’t the bravest, always has. Thing is, it never seemed to matter before, since he dies at the end of his story anyway, right? It doesn’t stop people from making fun of him for it.

It’s not like he has many friends either. Dexter is his best friend, and Dexter keeps secrets from Humphrey, averting his eyes whenever he says hello. Sometimes Humphrey wonders if Dexter even likes him at all.

He meets Jillian during one of these downwards spirals of his. She’s free-spirited and warm, trying to help him be brave even when she’s not so brave herself.

I can’t do this, Jazz, he tells her, gasping against her lips as she shushes him, trying to kiss the fear away.

Shhh, shhh, she whispers. You can do anything you want, hummingbird.

When Jillian becomes Julian, Humphrey wonders for awhile how that would feel. It’s been years since he’s worn dresses, because things stopped fitting around thirteen and his father stopped tolerating it, telling him to man up already. Humphrey had never dared to defy his father, and he wouldn’t start then.

He looks up names starting with H online, but he’s always been Humphrey and he likes it that way. He asks Julian if he’d still be his hummingbird if he was a girl, and Julian just smiles that beautiful smile of his and takes Humphrey by the hand, dragging him down the street from the coffee shop to one of the many clothing stores in the area.

Humphrey cries when he sees himself in a dress for the first time in three years, and Julian kisses his tears away while telling him how beautiful he looks.

You look like an angel, hummingbird.

Humphrey starts looking in the mirror every morning. He starts moving the words around in his mouth, I’m a girl. I’m a girl. I’m a girl.

Dexter is the first one he tells, showing up to the tech room in a periwinkle dress and some of Julian’s old boots and make-up and jewelry from back when he was Jillian. And while Humphrey stands there, shifting on his feet and fidgeting with his fingers, Dexter smiles.

Lookin’ good, Humphrey, he says, it’ll be nice to have a girl around here.

And Humphrey takes a deep breath, looks up, and smiles back.

 

 

Blondie Lockes

your body is imperfectly perfect

 

Criminal.

Blondie’s never actually been arrested, but she probably should’ve been by now. After all, she’s broken into almost every house in the kingdom, including Snow White’s palace, just to prove she can. She’s taken food and jewels and letters, and she’s returned them all the same day, feeling too guilty to keep them for long.

Blondie’s been told all her life she’s not good enough. Not pretty enough, not golden enough, and she knows it’s true. She shoves her fingers down her throat every day after lunch, hurling up whatever food she’s eaten, and then she spends hours brushing her hair and dusting her skin in glitter, coloring her eyelids and lips until she’s as pretty as she can possibly be.

It still isn’t enough.

Holly tells her she is, just as she is, with no make-up and naked beneath the covers, but Blondie knows better, pretending to be asleep as Holly traces her fingers over Blondie’s prominent ribs, whispering under her breath, my god, my god, beautiful, why are you doing this to yourself?

When Cupid comes into the picture, she does all she can. She braids flowers into Blondie’s hair, coming with her to the bathroom and standing with her in the stall until Blondie stops staring longingly at the clear water in the toilet and instead turns and buries her face in Cupid’s shoulder.

They try and teach her to love herself, but Blondie’s not sure that’s possible. She’s cold all the time, and she can’t stop pressing her fingers into the spaces between her ribs, imagining how it’d feel if the skin popped and she had bleeding holes in perfect symmetry in her midsection.

She tells her girlfriends this, scared of and for herself, and Holly kisses her deep and slow while Cupid goes into the bathroom and gets rid of all their pills and medicines. She comes back out with nail polish and flower bandaids, and they sit on Holly’s bed with the curtains drawn closed around the four-poster and they paint each other’s nails and wrap flower bandaids around their fingers like rings in a rainbow array of colors.

They can’t make Blondie feel pretty, but they make her feel happy, and when she’s sleeping in between them and listening to Cupid snore next to her ear while Holly sniffles into her hair, Blondie presses her fingers through the invisible holes in her abdomen and she thinks that maybe it’s better the holes are imaginary.

She’s not just right, but she’s alright. And that’ll have to be enough, since she can’t be.

 

 

Holly O’Hair

tryna say that I've been out of line when all I ever asked was to go to the bathroom

 

Broken.

Holly can’t imagine being an only child. She hasn’t been away from Poppy once since they were born, always holding her twin’s hand as tight as she could as they explored their infinite palace home together. And Holly doesn’t want for anything else, because their mother doesn’t love them and their father’s blind to their existence anyway.

But then, suddenly, they’re adults, and they have different classes. They have different friendships, different loves, and soon enough, different lives. Because Poppy finds comfort in her freedom and revels in her time with Melody and Sparrow, and Holly is alone with her too-long hair and churning stomach.

Her ADHD starts acting up without her sister around to keep her hands from shaking, so Holly bounces her legs up and down under her desk and braids her hair with trembling fingers and rarely finishes her homework, always handing it in half-done.

With her lack of focus, Holly starts to see things beside her sister. Mainly, Cupid and Blondie, giggling and whispering by their lockers and tangling their fingers together. They’re beautiful, carefree and laughing, and Holly feels butterflies start to surface in her stomach. Scared, she clutches her abdomen, sprinting to her room to look up I like girls and I am a girl and is there something wrong with me?

Yes, every post says, yes, and here’s where you can get help, but Holly doesn’t want help. She wants to know why, wants to know why Daring is cute objectively but not really the guy for her and why the guy for her is two girls, and she breaks down crying behind her hair while she waits for her sister to come back.

Poppy holds her, and shushes her, and tells her that Melody kisses like a dream and there’s nothing wrong with feeling flutters in your belly when you look at your best friend. Holly nods, sniffling, but still doesn’t quite believe her.

It’s Cupid she believes, holding her hand across the table at the coffee shop, twinkling eyes and pink lips beckoning Holly close enough to kiss her.

Is this okay? She asks, and Cupid beams, pressing closer.

Yes, she says, more than okay, and they find Blondie and they kiss and they fight and they love, or at least that’s what Holly’s come to call it now.

She wonders how many people there are like her, and she wonders how many she can help, pulling them into her arms like her sister did all those days ago and offering, I love you even if no one else does.

It’s okay.

 

 

Poppy O’Hair

people gonna say, if you need a break, someone will take your place

 

Unwanted.

Poppy’s an accident. Fairytale characters aren’t supposed to have more than one child, ever. Dexter and Darling are accidents, triplets where there was supposed to be one son.

Further accidents are when the wrong characters fall in love. Maddie and Alistair Hatter where there was only supposed to be Maddie Hatter. Lizzie and Chase Hearts where there was only supposed to be Lizzie Hearts. And, Poppy suspects, Ramona and Cerise Badwolf where there was only supposed to be Ramona Badwolf.

Accidents, accidents, accidents, piling up until Poppy wonders why anyone even thinks it’s worth following the fairytales anymore. Nobody’s happy with them except the heroes, and even then there’s bitterness and resentment bubbling beneath the surface for those whose happy endings weren’t as happy as they seemed.

And Poppy gets wanting a destiny. She’d give anything to be the next Rapunzel, anything except Holly, and that’s what it would cost. Her sister’s safety and happiness is worth so much more than Poppy’s, and she tries to distract herself by getting lost in the overwhelming love that Melody and Sparrow bestow upon her in the dark.

But love isn’t enough. Beauty isn’t enough. Power isn’t enough. Neither is fame or safety or Holly, because Poppy is unwanted. No matter what Melody and Sparrow whisper at night, gasping love and need and want into her skin, Poppy is unwanted, because in all the ways that matter, Poppy is an accident.

A godforsaken accident, like Dexter and Darling and Maddie and Alistair and Lizzie and Chase and Ramona and Cerise. Like all the kids whose destinies are uncertain, hanging in the balance. Like all the characters who don’t get happy endings at all.

Like all the accidents that have led up to where Poppy is now, footprints in the snow behind her as she stands in front of the wishing well, throwing coins in aimlessly as she mutters meaningless wants under her breath, because in the end, what Poppy wants doesn’t matter.

Because Poppy is an accident. Because Poppy is unwanted. Because Poppy is waiting for her happy ending, but Poppy doesn’t get one.

 

 

Meeshell Mermaid

where is my time, gone in my mind, I can’t find euphoria

 

Inhuman.

Meeshell’s grown up in isolation. She was born with legs and gills, and no one wanted to look at her. It was only in recent years that she became pretty, and even now as she stares in the mirror, she pulls her hair to the side and there are her gills, open and fleshy in her skin. Nobody wants a girl with holes in her; even Meeshell knows that in all her innocent naivete.

Her parents aren’t the kind to tell her everything’s okay and she’s beautiful no matter what anyone says. Because Ariel is more enchanted with the idea of being human than she is with actually being human, and she’s the same when it comes to being a mother - she acts like the moms she sees in movies, unable to distinguish between the bad and the good, and so Ariel is “cool”, overprotective, strict, loving, and abusive somehow all at the same time, and Meeshell is afraid of her.

Eric loves his daughter, truly, but then again Meeshell sometimes wonders if he knows she’s still here. The years pass fast and slow for him, off and on and here and there as he watches the sea, wishing for adventure and the happy ending he really wanted, lost in the merman Dmitri who waits by the shore every day for just a few moments in the king’s arms. And Meeshell watches from the balcony, wondering if that’ll be her one day - wishing for a different fantasy than the one she’s living.

At school, she’s shy. She doesn’t want to talk to these kids, just as damaged and toxic as her, locking themselves in bathroom stalls and dorm rooms as they cry their sorrows into silk sleeves. Meeshell doesn’t belong here, in this mass of rage and lies, and yet she does, taking a seat next to a pink-haired girl who draws cupcakes on Meeshell’s notes without ever saying hello.

Meeshell can’t bring herself to speak, opting to stay in the shadows and keep quiet, because she knows she’ll get to go home eventually. All she has to do is wait for summer, and then she can go back to her palace by the sea, hiding from her mother in her father’s study as she watches him and Dmitri laugh by the edge of the ocean.

But life has other plans, it seems, because Meeshell walks in on the pink-haired girl kissing a dark-haired one after second period on a Wednesday. The pink-haired girl smirks, hands tangled in the dark-haired one’s as the girl giggles, eyes squinty and happy.

Sorry, Meeshell whispers, heart twisting in her chest and stomach churning because they look happy and Meeshell wants that. The pink-haired girl just shrugs.

No problem, Honey, she says, voice like fairy bells. Just don’t tell anyone ‘bout me and Clementine here, okay?

Meeshell nods, sharp and timid, and fidgets with her hands in the doorway as she shuffles awkwardly on her feet.

Someone could see you here, y’know, she finally murmurs. I’ve got a better place you can go.

She takes the pink-haired girl’s warm hand in hers, dragging the dark-haired one behind them as they head to Meeshell’s empty dorm room. The girls settle on Meeshell’s bed and Meeshell turns to leave when the pink-haired girl pulls her back, pressing her sweet chocolate lips to Meeshell’s.

I’m Ginger and this is my girlfriend, Justine, she whispers, playing with one of Meeshell’s curls as the mermaid stares into her eyes, petrified. Our girlfriend, if you want.

I want, Meeshells wants to say, but keeps her mouth shut, backing away. I can’t, she says instead, I’m sorry, to herself and to them, pulling back from true love like her father did to save her mother all those years ago.

She guesses she’ll be watching them years from now, still Honey on their lips while Clementine and Cookies kiss each other, oblivious to Meeshell alone in the background, crying salt water tears as she claws at her gills, bleeding love into the ocean blue.

Happy endings are never really happy, Meeshell knows, and yet still she wishes and hopes and prays to go back in time and kiss Ginger and Justine again and again and again, her Dmitris close to heart and never far from reach.

 

 

Ginger Breadhouse

no one’s watching us, don’t give a fuck

 

Tasty.

Ginger hasn’t eaten anything in days.

Any normal person would be worried about this, but Ginger’s not normal. She knows that a human can go approximately twenty-one days without eating, and she’s nowhere near that mark. Besides, she’s done this before.

You learn pretty quickly with a mother like Ginger’s to never eat what’s put in front of you. Ginger doesn’t have the same affinity for human flesh that her mother does, not even close, and so grows accustomed to pretending to eat rather than let any of the food touch her lips.

Ginger hasn’t eaten anything she herself didn’t make in years, and the kitchen’s closed this week for renovations. So Ginger’s just not eating.

Justine’s the first to notice, fingers slipping up under Ginger’s dress and touching ribs beneath thin skin. Why do you do this to yourself, Cookies? She murmurs mournfully, gentle. C’mon, baby, eat.

But Ginger won’t, hands shaking as she tries to focus in class, seeing white dots dance in the corners of her eyes. She draws cupcakes on that girl next to her’s paper, kissing the girl later in apology, calling her Honey .

The girl, Meeshell, doesn’t stay. And Ginger sees her in the hallways, quiet and alone, and she always wants to reach out, Justine’s hands tight in hers. Why her, she asks Justine in soft voices beneath the sheets when her girlfriend’s tracing her fingers and lips over Ginger’s sharp ribs and hipbones. Why’d we pick her, Clementine? But Justine never answers and Ginger doesn’t ask again.

Sometimes Ginger will become desperate and break into the kitchen, desperate to make something to eat, and that’s where she finds Meeshell one night, huddled in the corner by the fridge with her knees to her chest, dipping her fingers in vanilla ice cream and chocolate sprinkles.

What’re you doing here, Honey? She whispers sadly, settling down beside her, and Meeshell just shrugs, resting her head on Ginger’s shoulder.

What’re you, Cookies?

And Ginger paints Meeshell’s face in candy make-up, kissing her ice cream cheeks and cookie batter lips, and Meeshell licks M&M’s into her mouth from inside Ginger’s, falling back on the floor gasping as Ginger eats for the first time in days, pressing kisses to Meeshell’s throat as she sips in cotton candy and hot fudge from off Meeshell’s skin.

Ginger still doesn’t eat much. She revels in the taste of Meeshell’s sweet honey lips and gets drunk off Justine’s clementine juice. She’s a thin cookie, soft and chewy, spit out on the floor when she goes bad, but they love her anyway, and Ginger starts eating granola bars when she feels light-headed, closing her eyes and squeezing her girlfriends’ hands under the table.

I’m not hungry, she starts saying, and sometimes it’s even the truth.

 

 

Justine Dancer

why do I feel sad, should I give him away or feel this bad

 

Twelfth.

Justine doesn’t have anything to show for her talent. She’s the youngest of twelve sisters, the last, and nobody notices her. She’s just as good as any of them, just as bad as any of them, and has not much else to her life but dance; there’s nothing to distinguish her from the rest. So she blends into the background, becoming used to the idea that she’ll eventually marry a prince whose eyes probably landed on eleven other princesses with equal splendor first.

Ginger is what changes her mind. Because Ginger comes stumbling into Justine’s life laughing, grasping at her hands and calling her Clementine and sweets and it doesn’t take long for Justine to look at her and think, Cookies, my heart.

Ginger is too skinny. Much too skinny, and Justine is helpless to make her better. All Justine can do is love her until she loves herself, but that may take a little while longer than they’ve got.

Meeshell is the one who gets Ginger to eat. She’s the one who Ginger looks at like she hung the moon, and she’s the one who whispers that Ginger is her sun. Justine feels herself warm in the glow of their love, her very sense of self emboldened by their presence, but then she sees that they’re so caught up in each other, they forget to notice her.

It’s doesn’t matter that she’s their Clementine . It doesn’t matter that she’s been there from day one. It doesn’t matter that she loves them.

Love is no longer a game Justine gets to play.

And so Justine once again resigns herself to a future of marrying a nameless prince in love with all eleven of her sisters, her hope for happiness vanishing as she looks behind her at Ginger and Meeshell giggling in each other’s arms.

So much for Cookies and Honey.

 

 

Cerise Hood

if I’m so special, why am I secret, yeah, why the fuck is that

 

Secret.

That’s what Cerise is. Not a person, not a human, but a secret, kept by her parents and from the world. She is the only thing that truly needs to be hidden in any of the kingdoms, because she is proof that whatever destiny is, it’s not written in stone. She is proof that this war they’re fighting is pointless, because it’s already been fought and lost before.

Only a few people know her as a person, truly. Raven, who strokes Cerise’s ears on the days her father yells at her in the hallway to try and preserve their lie. Ramona, who whispers in Cerise’s ears at night that it’ll all be over soon and they’ll both be fine, be happy. Daring, who kisses Cerise like she’s worth something and buys her earrings and hoods and rings, slipping them onto her fourth finger with murmured questions that Cerise never answers.

Cerise knows this war is waiting to be won. She knows that both sides are rearing, divided by the lies told by an uncrowned king, and she knows that none of them really know what they’re fighting for, and she knows that somehow, someway,  it’ll all shatter eventually, most likely in one quick, sharp moment.

But no one expects Dexter to be the one who snaps. After all these years of shoving themselves inside, of holding it all in, nobody thinks it’ll be shy little Prince Charming who breaks, kissing Hunter hard in the middle of the cafeteria and then grasping Raven’s hand, pulling her against him too. He shouts, screams, cries, and he refuses to shut up even when Headmaster Grimm beats him to a bloody pulp in the middle of the mess hall while everyone watches, Hunter holding Raven back as she claws at him, trying to get to their prince.

Something changes, that day. Dexter’s gone, locked in his room while Daring and Darling and Raven and Hunter all wait outside, whispering through the door and sliding envelopes under the wood, and the rest of the school waits with them, knowing that they’ll lose, now, but ready to fight anyway.

Cerise stands with the masses, seething as they listen to the uncrowned king’s tyrannical speeches about the importance of destiny and true love, unaware that his students all know what those things are and have found them already.

Cerise is just one of many who vow to kill Headmaster Grimm that day, but she’s the one who will .

And she knows it.

 

 

Ramona Badwolf

you’re fixated and elated by the separation in this place that you’ve created

 

Savage.

Ramona’s an animal, or at least, that’s what most people describe her as. Who cares that she’s got a sister, a family, who cares that she’s a person underneath the furry ears and sharp teeth?

The rebels welcome her as one of their own, the royals balking at her terrifying smile as she flips off their ranks, but then again the rebels are Cerise’s friends, and they’ll take her side over Ramona’s any day. The only rebel Ramona’s found who’s more concerned with peace than conflict is Maddie Hatter.

Maddie Hatter, the bane of Ramona’s existence. The name she writes in hearts on her notebooks, the girl she lets have tea time in her dorm room, the destiny Ramona’s been grappling around in the dark for.

With Dexter locked away and his family waiting for him, the dark becomes even darker, because nobody’s paying attention to the sheer numbers on either side, just the leaders. Raven is the Queen of the rebels, and Apple of the royals, and everyone’s eyes are on them, lost to Ramona kissing Maddie in the shadows after class.

True love and destiny and bullshit; Ramona thinks that in the end it’s all the same thing. Either way, she is who she is, and she’s got Maddie by her side now. Everything’ll be alright, eventually.

When it comes down to it, the rebels will win. There will always be rebels in this world, hiding in the dark or dying in the light, but it’s for what they love. The rebels will win because there are more of them, because they have more to lose, because they know what they’re fighting for and the royals never will.

Ramona’s happy to die for the rebels, in the last battle. She’s happy to die for her sister, for Maddie, for her parents, and that can be her happy ending if she gets no other.

Choices are gold in this life, Ramona thinks, and the royals are fools, fighting for silver destinies when they could have something far more valuable.

 

 

Rosabella Beauty

I know I’m young, but my mind is well beyond my years

 

Dumb.

She’s not. Not really. She’s dyslexic, sure, but that doesn’t make her dumb. She just… it takes her longer than her mother to finish a book, that’s all.

She tells herself this every day in the mirror, because she just can’t seem to get it through her head that dumb and dyslexic are two different things.

She’s supposed to be like her mother. She’s supposed to be the most intelligent girl in the school, the most well-read girl in the school, and instead she’s reading graphic novels and manga after the library closes.

And that’s out of her comfort zone too, staying there after the lights go out and curfew’s come round, because Rosabella tries as hard she can to never break any rules. (Unlike her cousin Briar, who can never seem to break enough of them.)

Her father’s loud, and aggressive, and he’s hit her mother more than once while Rosabella’s in the room. He’s almost hit her too, on more than one occasion, but Belle always steps in front of Adam before he can truly lay a hand on their daughter.

Belle still loves Adam. That’s the most fucked-up thing about it, honestly, because Belle still stays with her beast even after five-year-old Rosabella tells her she’s scared of him, big fat tears rolling down her chubby cheeks. Belle always stays.

So when Rosabella is finally old enough to go to Ever After High, she does all she can to stay. No breaking the rules, no standing out, no talking. Keeping her eyes and ears for the animals only, meeting Rascal the cat and quickly claiming him as her own.

Through Rascal she meets Nina, the sweetest and most adventurous girl Rosabella’s ever met, and they stay up for hours asking each other questions about their stories and their classmates’ stories, and Rosabella finally falls in love with books by hearing them read aloud in Nina’s roughly hidden accent at two in the morning.

Do you think one day we’ll be stars? Rosabella asks Nina, holding her hand tight enough that Nina’s yellow nails dig into Rosabella’s palms, and Nina shrugs, smiling as she lays her head on Rosabella’s chest.

I think one day we’ll be something, Nina says, and Rosabella thinks that’s good enough for her so long as something is away from home and by Nina’s side. Something is more than good enough.

Something is everything.

 

 

Nina Thumbell

I knew this wouldn’t last, but fuck you, don’t you leave me here

 

Small.

Nina always knew she’d be short, and she always knew she’d be behind, because she’s Thumbelina’s daughter and she isn’t a princess. She isn’t important.

Rosabella says otherwise, trying her best to memorize Thumbelina’s story when everyone else has already forgotten there’s even a story at all, but Nina tells her it’s alright. No one’s story matters all that much more anyway, right?

In the end, Nina tells Rosabella, we’ve all got our own stories. And the only ones who need to know those stories are the ones who live them.

And it’s true, because Nina doesn’t need to know how Dexter’s story turns out. She doesn’t need to know how Raven’s starts, or how Apple’s ends. She doesn’t need to know if Ashlynn keeps her true loves, or if Alistair wins back his knight, or if Cerise makes friends with Ramona. She doesn’t need to know anyone’s story besides her own, and maybe Rosabella’s because their stories are intertwined, the lovers in the fairytale without a villain.

Stories are the blood of their world, and destiny and true love play carbon dioxide and oxygen, breathing out and breathing in, and Nina’s fine with that. Some of them will get happy endings, and some of them won’t, losing their loves and their lives and even their stories, and Nina’s fine with that. Either the rebels will win or the rebels will lose, and Nina’s fine with that.

The world keeps on spinning, these kids keep on living, their pages keep on turning, and they all have to learn to be fine with that, whichever way this war ends, because it will end.

And someone will win.

 

 

 

you don't know the pain that you are causing

yeah, your actions hurt, so do your words

the more you try to fuck us over

we will be there yelling at your front door