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A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes

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Penny

“Penelope Bunce.”

I close my textbook when I hear Ms Posibelf call my name. It’s time to present my final project to her and I’m seconds away from just booking it out the door. The only thing stopping me is the fear of losing my reputation as second-best in our year (one of these days I will surpass Pitch) (there’s no way his spell even comes close to exceeding mine). I just have to get through this project.

Yippee. [Insert sarcastic jazz hands here]

Since we’re in our eighth year, we're expected to create our own spell and test it in class. Fortunately, everyone else is busy working out the final kinks in their own projects so if something goes wrong it shouldn’t be glaringly obvious to anyone not paying attention. Unless you were to, like, summon fifty blood-thirsty flibbertigibbets after your spell backfires.

Looking at you, Gareth.

The list is in alphabetical order so my turn comes relatively quickly but luckily for me, I’ve spent months perfecting my spell and I am nearly 70% certain it’ll be mostly fine. Simon will forgive me, surely. Maybe. Some day.

If you’re wondering why Simon would need to forgive me, well. Just keep reading. It’ll be explained shortly.

Anyways.

I take a deep breath and rise out of my seat, smoothing out my skirt before stepping forward. Ms Posibelf raises her eyebrows and smiles slightly when she makes eye contact with me. That’s probably a good sign.

Or a bad one, if the spell backfires. She obviously expects a lot from you.

I don’t have to worry about those thoughts for long because before I know it I’m standing in front of her desk, my notebook clutched in my hands. She nods to me once before looking down at a grading sheet on her desk.

“Ms Bunce. Are you ready to show me your spell?” I take a deep breath.

“I believe so.” She smiles again and I instantly feel a little more calm.

“Very well. Let’s begin, then.” The panic comes rushing back and I take a moment to shove it back down. Panic later, focus on the project now. Presentation is everything here. Ms Posibelf clears her throat lightly and takes a look at the sheet in front of her. “I’m going to start by asking a few questions, then you will demonstrate your spell to me.” I nod, biting the inside of my cheek. That doesn’t seem too bad. I glance around the room and see Basilton watching me with an intense stare. Great. No pressure. Wonderful. When he notices my eyes on him he shifts his expression to look just nearly bored or detached and turns away, saying something to his minions. That’s right. Minions. I have literally heard him call them that. God forbid the great Tyrannus Basilton Grimm-Pitch has friends.

I’m pulled out of my thoughts by Ms Posibelf’s voice. “Explain what your spell is designed to hopefully accomplish. Use as many details as possible.” I take another deep breath.

“Well, my spell is called A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes. In short, when someone casts this spell on another magical being, that being will immediately be drawn towards their soulmate in a way sorta similar to the Crucible.” Ms Posibelf raises an eyebrow and looks like she’s going to interrupt but I keep talking. “Or, if you don’t believe in soulmates, it’s the person your consciousness feels most connected to.” She nods once and I sigh with relief. Then she starts asking more questions.

“What happens when they meet?” This is the part I’m worried about. Not it working-- no, I know I’m smart enough to get it right. Hopefully. I’m more worried about her not thinking I can pull it off.

“Well, they are, in essence, pulled into an alternate universe of sorts.” I see a glint of hesitation in her eyes and backtrack quickly. “It’s not real, it won’t affect any other timelines or anything like that.” She seems to relax a bit and I take that as a sign to carry on. “The spell brings them to… Well… Have you ever seen Disney movies?” The corner of her lips twitch upwards.

“Ms Bunce I hope you aren’t insinuating that I am too old to know who Walt Disney is.” My eyes widen and I wave my hands around quickly, shaking my head.

“No, no no no. Nothing like that. I just… Well. The fairytales, the ones with the princes and princesses, the classics. Those are what the spells hook onto, since they deal specifically with love.” She nods again. “So, it will transport the two people into one of those worlds. The only requirement is for both of them to have heard of the tale. Even if it was a different variation of the story, anything will count. So, for example, if one of them saw the Disney movie Tangled and the other’s heard of even just the Brothers Grimm fable then Rapunzel is a possible outcome as to where they will land.” She looks like she’s thinking it over and furrows her eyebrows.

“So, what happens once they enter the story? Won’t they be disoriented, or even defensive?” I nod, already having expected this question. Thank Merlin.

“When they first get pulled into the spell’s hold they will show up in some sort of blank, neutral place. A hologram-type version of myself will explain the situation and tell them that they must stick to the story. Maybe threaten their mortality a bit.” Ms Posibelf breathes out what might be a laugh, but very well could also just be a small sigh. I honestly can’t tell. “So, then, they’ll get transported into a tale they both recognize. From there, they have to make their way through the story as accurately as possible. If they don’t nothing will really happen, but they won’t know that.” She nods again, pursing her lips as she thinks it over.

“Why bother putting them into this fairytale world, when their consciousness is already connected on a deep or personal level?” I snap my fingers, pointing at the ceiling like I was waiting for her to ask that question. Which I was. I’m anything if not always prepared.

“For this reason exactly. Say the two people don’t know each other yet, or worse, hate each other. They won’t think about it like being brought to their one true love, they’ll think it’s some spell gone wrong and carry on with their days as if nothing ever happened once they’re pulled together. With my spell, they’re forced to work together and understand each other on a personal level if they wish to get out of the simulation of sorts.” Ms Posibelf looks like she’s holding back a smile and she leans over her desk slightly, putting her pen down.

“What happens if the story ends and they haven’t accepted their feelings? Do they just leave the tale?” I shake my head, tapping the eraser to my pencil against my lip while I think of how to phrase it.

“Technically, no. They do leave that particular story, but they’re put into another fairy tale similar to that one. So, using my previous example, they could start with Rapunzel-- or Tangled, I guess-- and if by the end of that story they still haven’t reached the requirements for leaving the simulation then they will be ejected into, say, The Little Mermaid. This will continue until both participants understand and accept their hearts’ greatest desires.” I could be wrong, but I think I might actually see a glint of pride in Ms Posibelf’s eyes. She clears her throat again and folds her hands in front of her, resting them on her desk.

“This is very advanced. You’re certain it will work?” I nod emphatically. She raises her eyebrows. “And how will you know that the two are actually in the simulation?” I grin, reaching back to pull the small handheld mirror out of the bottomless pocket I spelled into my skirt. Magical brilliance on my part, I won’t lie. I put one pocket into all of my bottoms when I realized the female uniforms didn’t have any. It’s on the right side, right where you’d find a pocket on a pair of jeans, but it’s invisible to anyone who isn’t looking for it. Flashing the compact mirror, I explain.

“This mirror is spelled to show me everything that happens if I recite the iconic line from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I will get a live video feed of whomever’s name I say after the phrase and I can switch between the two as much as I please. It’s like watching a movie but I control who’s visible on camera at what time. They don’t know I’m watching, though. It would skew the data if they were constantly aware of my possible intrusion.” Okay, now I know there’s at least a little pride there. I beam, stuffing the mirror in my pocket again. She taps her pen against the desk a few times before marking something on her paper.

“How do you know this won’t backfire? Nearly every single spell doesn’t work for this project so students tend to keep them relatively mundane. This could have some serious repercussions should something go wrong.” I nod slowly.

“I’ve thought about that. When I was looking through past spells from this project I noticed the only ones that were successful were the big ones. The smaller spells rarely worked, and if they did they were made by incredibly advanced and powerful magicians.” Ms Posibelf looks on approvingly and puts her pen down again, clapping once.

“Wonderful answer. I think I’m ready to see this spell.” She looks around before frowning. “Wait, how are you going to test it? Do you have someone who’s consented to helping?” I don’t answer, instead turning around to face Simon, who’s resting his chin in his hand on his desk, looking seconds away from falling asleep as he stares at the opposite wall.

Perfect.

“Hey Simon, can you come here?” I call out, stifling a laugh when his hand jerks out from under his head and it falls before popping back up just as fast. He looks around wildly, looking for me, then grins brightly and hops up, bounding over to Ms Posibelf’s desk. I see Baz tracking his movements across the room with an unreadable expression and hold back the urge to roll my eyes. Their petty rivalry was (possibly literally, someday) killing everyone who had to watch. Simon reaches the desk and startles me out of my thoughts. Again.

“Hey Pen!” I smile.

“You’re still up for helping me with my spell, right?” He nods quickly and I internally sigh in relief. None of this would work if he had for some reason changed his mind. I had explained the bare minimum to him (so as not to sabotage the data) so all he knew was that it would take the person and their soulmate to some fairytale story. He thought it sounded like right fun. Not to mention that he was absolutely certain he’d be connected to Agatha. I don’t think so, but I didn’t say so to him because it’s not my business, no matter how terrible they are for each other. I just have to hope some other poor girl is dragged out of her class or something.

“Yep!” He says, bouncing in place, and I grin at his enthusiasm. Ms Posibelf speaks for the first time since Simon came over.

“Let’s start then, shall we?” I nod and adjust my ring slightly, pointing it directly at Simon’s chest. He just beams down at me, his face open and trusting. I try not to wince. It feels wrong to cast an untested spell on him and the fact that he has no doubts is going to make it so much worse if it fails-- No. Don’t think like that. It’ll be fine. I take yet another deep breath.

“A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes!”

Chapter Text

Baz

I would like to think I have an awful lot of self control. After all, it takes nearly all of it to keep myself in check nearly every day, what with being a vampire and loving my greatest enemy. I guess it’s my own fault for falling for an idiot like Simon Snow, who is convinced he hates me. Not that I don’t hate him. I just hate him for not liking me.

Aleister Crowley. I’m fucked, aren’t I? Don’t answer that.

Luckily (or unluckily, I haven’t decided yet), Snow is an oblivious idiot. I’d bet I could push him up against the wall and snog him senseless and he’d still accuse me of plotting something. Then he’d kill me. I can’t believe that numpty genuinely believes I can kill him. As if I’m the living powerhouse. Right. So yes, I’d like to believe I have gained some form of impulse control to keep myself in check over the years. Unfortunately, I do have my moments where I can’t help but stare. Like now, as he’s bumbling up to Bunce like the uncoordinated mess he is. His curls catch in the light like a goddamn film and I’m just supposed to sit here, unbothered? I may be undead but even I can only take so much.

Bunce is presenting her spell to Ms Posibelf. I know for a fact it’s going to be brilliant, I could see the pride on Posibelf’s face from my seat towards the back of the classroom. At the moment she’s pointing her ring at Simon and I really shouldn’t be so surprised she’s using him as her test dummy. He has enough magic to survive any backlash should the spell fail.

Niall turns in his seat in front of me. “How much do you wanna bet it backfires?” I smirk, resting my forearms on my desk.

“I’d--” I get cut off when some invisible force violently pulls me forward, throwing me into the edge of my desk. I curse and look around quickly, trying to find out what the fuck just happened. I make eye contact with Simon from across the room and scowl before another jolt shoves me forward. Bracing my hands into the edge of the wood, I take a few deep breaths. It could be anything. Who knows what’s happening? It’s fine. Completely fine.

“Baz, you good mate?” Dev asks from his seat behind me. Of course I am, why would you ask such a silly question? I just LOVE getting the air knocked out of my lungs by some unseen force- I try to turn around but the --something-- comes back and pulls me forward again, this time not letting up when I once again ram my stomach into the corner of the desk. Because THAT feels absolutely wonderful. I’m ripped out of my seat and the desk makes a god-awful screeching sound as it slides a few inches to the side from my impact. I wrap my arms around my waist and take a couple more steadying breaths. It's fine. It's fine, it's fine, everything is FINE-- Halfway through the third inhale the force returns, tugging me forward a few steps. It feels uncannily like the Crucible, just a little more intense, and I hate it. I hate it so much. Everyone’s staring at me now, and I try to stand up straighter (as if I could do anything straight) if only to spare some of my dignity.

I get tugged forward again and grit my teeth, trying to pull myself back to my seat, but I can’t move anywhere but forwards. A small yelp sounds from the front of the room and I look up, making eye contact with Simon, who is also holding his midsection, a few steps closer than he was before. Oh, fuck no. He cranes his head around to look desperately at Bunce and it clicks. This is her fault. I glare at her and open my mouth to accuse her of tying me into her obviously backfired spell but a rather sharp pull drags me forward a few more steps. The same happens to Simon, who whips his head around to look at me with what is quite possibly fear. I don’t blame him. Not really. I’m sure I look downright murderous and some unseen force is dragging him closer to me.

Simon turns his head again after he’s pulled another step closer.

“Penny! What’s happening?!” She just squints, like she’s trying to solve some complex equation mentally, and after a few seconds of staring at both of us it seems to click in her mind.

“Oh, bloody hell. I should have seen this coming a long time ago.” Simon and I share an incredulous look before realizing who we were sharing said look with and averting our eyes. I turn my glare back to her.

“Care to share with the cla-AH--” Once again I’m cut off by the invisible force, stronger than ever. The same seems to be happening to Simon, who looks like he’s being tugged forward on a string, losing his balance every other step. I take another step forward against my will and am terrified to realize we’re only about five feet away from each other. What happens when we meet in the middle?

“Sorry!” Bunce cries out, and something tells me she isn’t talking to me.

“Penny!” Simon screeches, and normally I’d tease him for the high pitched screaming, but he looks like he’s being dragged forward by a semi truck while attached to a rope, barreling towards me with flailing arms. I try to step back because if he doesn’t slow down he’s literally going to crash into me but I’m rooted to the spot. Fuck, fuck fuck fuckfuckFUCK--

I brace myself as he stumbles into me and I swear to Merlin my heart nearly fails. His arms almost instinctively wrap around my waist and without thinking (because I’m weak, confused, and my bloody crush is basically hugging me) my arms wind around his shoulders as we fall backwards. Both of us grow very tense as we wait to feel the hard ground and I squeeze my eyes shut but it never comes. We just keep falling, down through the floor. My eyes blink open and I nearly scream at what I see. Or rather, don’t see. It looks like a giant white void with no walls, ceiling, and most importantly at the moment, floor. I take a shaky breath, trying desperately to think of possible floating spells that will hold both of us.

Wait. Both of us. Simon. Shit.

My thoughts come to a screeching halt as I glance down at him. His face is buried in my shoulder so I can only really see his curls and he’s digging his short nails into my back through the fabric of my blazer. I allow myself approximately four seconds to live in the fantasy that is holding Simon Snow in my arms before going back to the problem at hand. I pull out my wand and cast “Float like a butterfly!” but nothing happens. Why didn’t that work? Maybe we were too heavy? I take a steadying breath and go through every single levitation or floating spell off the top of my head. None of them work.

Why aren’t any of them working?!

“Oh god, oh god--” Simon’s whispering under his breath. I start casting faster, ignoring the fact that we are free-falling for who knows how long with no way of telling when we’ll hit the ground. I tighten my hold on him and bury my nose into his curls because dammit if I’m going to die I want to indulge myself at least a little bit.

“Think, think,” I mutter, trying to find any spells that will work. I can’t think of anything. I can’t think of any spells, and we’re probably going to die, and I won’t have even been able to thank Bunce for allowing me to go out like this, with Simon semi-willingly in my arms.

Maybe I’ll visit her through the Veil.

Before I can dive into those thoughts, Simon and I jerk to a stop. The surface we land on is nothing like the actual ground and it feels sort of similar to what I would assume a solidified cloud feels like. I sit up, watching Simon flinch a few feet away from me as though he’d expect me to bite him or something and feel what could very possibly be disappointment.

Disappointed for not dying in his arms, that’s a new one.

“Hello.” We both let out small shrieks when Bunce’s voice sounds from in front of us. All of the blood from my trip to the catacombs the previous night rises to my face when I look up at her, if only to avoid meeting Simon’s stare.

“Pen- Penny?” Simon asks, his voice shaking. Bunce shakes her head with a small smile.

“No, Si. I’m a hologram. You’re in my spell, remember?” Simon nods to himself like that’s just an acceptable answer to that entire statement. Hell, being best friends with her, it might be.

“What spell?” I ask, wasting no time. Bunce-the-Hologram shifts her focus to me.

“It’s my final project. Called A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes. I have to admit, I was not expecting it to be you at first, but it makes sense.” I raise one eyebrow, then squint at her.

“What does the spell do? Where are we? Why wouldn’t what be me?” She smiles again, looking patient and serene. I feel the urge to punch her. Or set her on fire. Or bite her face off. She’s not real, so technically it wouldn’t be an actual casualty, right?

“Right now you both are in a neutral plane of existence. As for the other two questions, I can’t tell you, as it would mess with the data. The only thing you need to know is that you two absolutely cannot change the plot. You must follow the story line as accurately as possible, or else there may be lethal consequences.”

“Lethal?!” Both Simon and I scream. She nods gravely.

“This is an untested spell. Nobody knows what’s going to happen. You must follow it directly. While the real Penny can’t monitor you or know if you break character and change the tale, the spell definitely will and it could possibly kill one of you. I don’t know if it will bring you out of the spell perfectly fine since instead of just falling asleep when you crashed into each other you actually fell into the world physically. Don’t risk it, just work together to reach happily ever after.” With that she smiled and vanished. I stood up, running a hand through my hair.

“WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?! AND WHAT ‘HAPPILY EVER AFTER?’” I try to stay calm as I wait for her to come back but the more seconds go by in silence the more I start to lose it. Are we going to be stuck in this “neutral plane” forever? What story? Or tale? Breaking character? We could die?! I start to feel lightheaded as I pull on my hair, hyperventilating. For a brief moment I consider trying to calm myself down a little bit because I never freak out like this when others are around me (especially Simon) but eventually decide against it. At this point I don’t care if he sees me break down. We’re just going to die anyways! I let out a slightly manic laugh that quickly dissolves into a small sob as I turn in circles, looking for something, anything, that isn’t just blank white.

Two hands press into my shoulders and I flinch away, tripping over my feet and falling backwards a few steps. A muffled voice calls my name but I turn away, covering my ears. The silence was somehow deafening and I can't focus on anything but the emptiness surrounding me. I'm going to be stuck here forever, no escape, no last goodbyes. Mother would be so disappointed, death by a spell my enemy's best friend decided to test on me. The hands came back, turning me around and pulling my own hands away.

“-az. Baz!” I gasp and open my eyes-- when did I close my eyes?-- and blink away tears. Simon sighs a little in what looks like relief when he sees me responding to him and I take a moment to accept that he just witnessed that little breakdown. Not only witnessed it, but tried to snap me out of it multiple times. A warm feeling blooms in my chest before I quickly push it back down and back away from him, hugging myself tightly. Not now, dammit! Also who tries to stop a panic attack by grabbing the person for fucks sake?!

“Sorry. I didn’t… I just…” I huff in frustration. I never lose my words, that’s Simon’s thing. I think I teased him about it this morning. He seems to be thinking the same thing, because he grins at me.

“Use your words, Baz.” I glare halfheartedly and turn away, sniffing.

“Shut up, Snow. I can’t… I don’t… fuck.” I run a hand through my hair and growl slightly. “Is this what it feels like to be you all the time?” I think he nods, or maybe shrugs. That idiot and shrugging, I swear to Merlin one day he’s going to pop his collarbone out of place. Or maybe I’ll do it for him. It’s infuriating--

“Yeah, pretty much.” I scoff, wiping my face quickly with my sleeve. Absolutely disgusting.

“Well, that sucks.” I wince at how rude that sounded and waiting for the typical “Sod off, Baz.” or maybe a “Fuck you too, then.” but I’m surprised to hear a small laugh.

“It does.” I turn around to face him.

“You know why we’re here, don’t you?” I ask. “I mean, she’s your best friend. Surely she’s talked about her project nonstop to you?” He shrugs (go fucking figure) and drops to the "floor" crossing his legs. I curl my lip and turn away again. How is he so calm? Did he miss the whole “death” part of Bunce’s speech?

“I’m gonna be honest, I wasn’t really listening.” I exhale sharply through my nose.

“You just… weren’t listening?” I see him shrug from the corner of my eye and resist the urge to shake his shoulders until his head falls off.

“I dunno. It’s all very complicated.” He spreads his arms out wide and looks around. “Obviously.” His voice echoes and I carefully sit down as well, pulling my knees to my chest.

“So this is it.” I stare into the void with a blank face. “We’re going to die in a never ending plane of existence that doesn’t actually exist because your friend dragged me into one of your problems. Wonderful.” I drop backwards and throw my arms out, staring up at nothing. “I didn’t even get to say goodbye to anyone.” I whisper, thinking about my family. Not my father necessarily, no. He didn’t give two shits about me, not really. When he found out that not only was I a vampire (I still don’t know if vampires can have children) but also that I was hopelessly gay and therefore had no chance of passing down the Pitch name he just gave up.

I’m thinking about everyone else. My stepmother. Fiona. My siblings. Mordelia won’t take the news well, I know it. She acts like a little monster but she loves me more than any of our siblings and we both know it. To find out that I died because I was projected into an untested spell on accident, well. I don’t know what that’ll do to her. Then there’s Dev and Niall. I’d like to think they’d miss me, even just a little bit. I’m a right asshole sometimes (most of the time), but we’re close enough for them to feel some sort of sorrow.

“I’m sorry.” I turn my head to find Simon watching me, his chin resting on his knees and his arms wrapped around his shins. He looks… tired. Like he’s already accepted this entire thing. I raise an eyebrow.

“What for?” He blushes and looks down at his knees. Strange.

“It’s probably my fault you’re here.” I scrunch my nose, squinting up at him.

“What are you talking about? This was Bunce’s spell. Although the purpose of it still remains unclear.” I add bitterly, glaring up at the never ending void again.

Crowley, is this how I’m going out? Glaring at absolutely nothing?

“No, I mean--” Simon reaches up and tugs at his curls. I track the movement lazily with my eyes, watching his face pull into a scowl as he struggles to spit out the words. “Her spell. It was supposed to-- gAAH!” He breaks off into a shout as the “floor” under us vanishes, just like Bunce-the-Hologram, and we start free-falling again. I reach out blindly for something to hold onto, something I know won’t be there, and gasp once before everything goes dark. Faintly, I think I hear Bunce’s voice, echoing throughout the emptiness, without magic.

A dream is a wish your heart makes.

 

Penny

 

Everyone was silent when they fell through the solid floor and vanished, just staring for a good forty seconds. Then Ms Posibelf cleared her throat.

“Get back to work, please.” They all turn to stare at her incredulously, everyone speaking at once. I'm pretty sure Niall asks her if she's "gone completely batshit?!" which immediately earns him one of her fiercest glares. She quiets everybody else with a single look and they reluctantly settle back down, all collectively deciding to not even look in the direction of that one section on the floor. As if just by looking at it they themselves would go hurtling into the void. Ms Posibelf turns to face me with a glint of honest-to-Merlin amusement in her eyes. “Can we make sure they’re in the spell right now?” She nods towards my pocket and I pull out the mirror, walking around the desk to stand beside her. 

Mirror Mirror.”   The reflection of our faces ripples then disappears completely, fogging up before clearing out and showing the two of them, sitting about four feet apart and staring at the hologram of myself. Simon looks slightly confused and keeps glancing over at Baz, who looks both terrified and pissed. Like, seconds-away-from-going-feral-on-my-hologram pissed. Then I vanish and Baz screams something up at the abyss above them, Simon watching from the same distance as before with a worried expression. That’s the only low point in this entire spell. I couldn’t figure out a way to transfer the audio through the mirror, only the visuals. Oh well.

Ms Posibelf taps her pen against her desktop and watches the mirror closely. “So, why aren’t they in the first story now?” I let out a small sigh of relief. I was nervous she’d make me try to remove them from the spell’s hold. I don’t know what she’d say if I had to tell her that I hadn’t really figured that part out yet. (I didn’t think it would be necessary). Now that I know it’s working I think I have a chance at getting a perfect grade. 

“The spell gives them a second to process the information before dropping them into the first fairy tale. Get their bearings and such.” Just as I stop talking the floor opens up and they start falling again, vanishing from sight. I smile.

 

“It’s starting.”

Chapter Text

Simon

“Your Highness, it’s time to wake up. You have the fitting this morning.” I jerk up into a sitting position, glancing around the room.

“Hmgh, what?” I ask, rubbing a hand over my face. My eyes feel heavy, like I’ve been asleep for hours instead of just lying in this bed for a few seconds. My vision blurs in and out for a second before settling on the person who woke me up. A very familiar person.

Premal?” Premal gives me a strange look before bowing slightly and walking out the door without another word. I run a hand through my hair and tug on it lightly. Baz always makes fun of me for doing it.

I slide out of the bed and three people I don’t know walk in, carrying random fabrics. Trailing after them is a man in a really fancy outfit, looking like a king from the medieval times.

“My son,” the man starts, and I pause. Wait. Premal called me ‘Your Highness’ and now this king-looking guy is calling me his son. Maybe Penny’s spell didn’t backfire? I shake my head, and the thought, away. That’s ridiculous. If it didn’t backfire, then why is Baz here with me instead of Agatha? The king-guy from earlier speaks up again, capturing my attention. “As you know, the ball is tomorrow night.” I pause. Ball? If what I caught from Penny’s vague description is right, we’re in some sort of Disney fairytale. But which one has a ball in it? The king starts talking again. “I know you don’t want to talk about this. I actually have to believe you don’t even like thinking about this,” I nod, even though I’m completely lost. A voice in my head, sounding strangely similar to Baz, whispers “When are you not?” but luckily the man continues without prompting, distracting me from my thoughts. “But you do need to consider finding a partner tonight. The entire kingdom is invited, I’m sure someone will catch your eye. Someone suitable for marriage.” I manage to keep my jaw from dropping and internally laugh to myself. See, Baz? I can look calm and collected too. I blink up at the king.

“Marriage?” I stutter out. In my head I’m racking my mind, trying to think of which story requires a ball a few days after the tale begins. One that involves a prince looking for a partner. The king shakes his head.

“I know you don’t want to think that far into the future, but I’m not going to live forever. I would like to meet the person who will be ruling alongside you when you take over the kingdom one day.” I look down at my hands.

“Alright.” I’m not sure what else to say. The king smiles and I think I may have done the right thing. Thank god.

“I will leave the servants to fit you for the ball.” He awkwardly nods and backs out the door, like he wants to say more but doesn’t quite know what. I can relate.

“Your Highness,” one of the servants murmurs, gesturing to a raised section of the floor in the far corner of the spacious room, surrounded by three body-length mirrors. I make my way over and step onto the pedestal, letting the others get to work. Meanwhile, my mind wanders to the place it always seems to go when I have nothing else to think about.

Where’s Baz?

Baz

 

Remind me to kill Bunce when I get out of this hellhole. 

 

No, first I’m going to thank her for those few precious seconds of holding Simon in my arms, then let me kill her. Painfully. And slowly. 

 

I woke up on the floor. You read that right. The floor. Like an animal. A filthy, sooty animal. Literally. I am covered head to toe in chimney soot. Which would make sense, since I woke up on the floor freezing my arse off by the fireplace. Which leads me to wonder-- Where the bloody hell am I? The last thing I remember is dropping through the ground again (I should not be able to say again in this situation) and my vision fading out. I immediately notice the absence of my wand but before I can dwell on that worrying fact I hear a muffled shout.

“Basilton! Get over here, now!” I hurry to my feet and have to steady myself against the mantle to keep myself upright, hit with a strong dizzy spell. “ Basilton!” I wince and stumble into the next room, where the voice was coming from. Inside a dining room area stood… the Mage? He turns to face me and I scowl instinctively. It’s definitely the Mage. “Finally.” He glares at me. “You look absolutely disgusting.” I refrain from rolling my eyes. Something we can finally agree on. “Go make breakfast for your step sisters and I, you selfish brat.” I wrinkle my nose. Unprompted insulting? Who spit in his coffee this morning? And make breakfast? My sisters are most definitely NOT here right now. Wherever ‘here’ is.

I move to pass him but he grabs my wrist, digging his (disgusting) nails into my skin. “Yes?” I grit out, trying not to show how much it hurts. Because holy fucking shit it hurts a lot-- He curls his lip at me.

“You’re such a burden. I don’t know why I shouldn’t just kick you out of here, never to be seen again.” I stay silent, avoiding eye contact, and flinch when he snaps directly by my face. What the actual fuck is happening? “You look at me when I’m talking to you, got it?” I gasp softly and look up at him, nodding. His grip on my wrist tightens. Fucking. Ow.

“Yes,” I hiss. He glares harder.

“Yes?” I blink a couple times. His breath is horrid. Like if a cow ate dog shit, then shit that, then ate the shit again. 

“Yes, sir .” I force the word out, trying not to lose my temper. He smiles and lets my arm go. The sudden change in demeanor unnerves me more than I’d like to admit. 

“Carry on, then. I expect breakfast to be done in ten minutes.” I blanch. Ten minutes? For four people? I turn and rush back the way I came, somehow finding the kitchen. As I hurry through making a semi-decent meal I let my mind wander. What the hell is happening? Why am I making breakfast for two people I haven’t met yet? Why is the Mage low-key abusive? I freeze. Does he treat Simon like this? Even just the thought makes me slightly sick. And the knowledge that I clearly haven’t eaten in two days. I don’t eat during meal times and Simon seems to be reverting back to his irritating fifth year habits, refusing to leave me alone long enough to eat in private. It’s infuriating.

I don’t think my vampirism passed into this universe, if the lack of bloodlust is anything to go by. The dizziness from earlier felt purely hunger-related, not the blood craving type I got when I went too long without feeding. That’s a huge relief, because I’m positive I saw a mouse whispering to a bird earlier and I don’t think I could really bear draining a conscientious, self-aware creature. I’m not that cruel. 

“Are you done yet? I’m starved.” A whiny voice calls from the next room. It sounds vaguely familiar but I can immediately rule out my own sisters. I grab the trays I set up and carry them out to the dining room from earlier. Passing into the threshold I nearly drop the food, shocked still by who I see sitting at the table. Philippa Stainton glares at me from across the room, crossing her arms over her chest. My eyes shift over to the other girl sitting across from her. None other than Agatha Wellbelove. Of fucking course it’s her. 

I paste a tight smile onto my face and set the trays in front of them, dropping my eyes to the floor when the Mage walks in, taking a seat at the head of the table. He watches me for a second before literally shooing me out of the room with his hands. He rolls his eyes when I continue standing across the table, clueless as to what he’s asking. Or rather, why. Eventually he huffs and glares at me.

“We will call you back when we are finished and you can clean up. You may go.” I frown.

“And why wouldn’t I eat?” He stares at me, incredulous. Then Agatha starts giggling softly, setting Philippa off into an obnoxious, snorting laughter that makes even the Mage cringe. She doesn’t seem to notice, slapping the tabletop in her obvious joy. 

“Y-You? Eat with us? Oh, Basilton. You’re funny. You got me there.” She starts snickering again and I squint at her. 

“Why would that be funny?” Agatha clears her throat prettily and smiles at me, wide and shark-like. 

“Why, because you’re just a lowly servant. I mean, sure, your mother owned the estate and all before she was tragically murdered,” she says, waving her fork in the air lazily, as if the words didn’t make me want to curl up by the stupid fireplace and cry. “But it’s ours now. Once you’re of legal age, we have the right to kick you out, once and for all.” She gives me a funny look. “But you already knew that.” I shake my head and back out of the room, wandering through the halls, trying not to think about whatever the hell they’re talking about. I find a winding, dark staircase leading up to an attic space and make my way up. 

Once I reach the wooden door I pause, then push it open, coughing at the dust that flies up when it hits the wall behind it. The space is mostly empty, with a few boxes and miscellaneous furniture items left laying around the outskirts of the room. I collapse onto a dusty futon and cough again before settling down and staring at the skylight in the ceiling. It’s a stained glass portrait, oddly enough. In the picture is a clearish blue heel held in a pair of hands extending towards a foot. I sigh, staring up at it in a daze, before it clicks in my mind. 

Evil “stepsisters” and the Mage. The inheritance of the house. The death of a parent. Sleeping by the sooty fireplace. Crowley. I’m... Cinderella? No, no. That’s not possible. It makes no sense. I stand and start pacing across the room, throwing open the faded curtains covering the large window. Then again, I don’t know what Bunce’s spell was. It very well could have put Snow and I into a story. But a Disney tale? I stalk the room, opening boxes and organizing everything as much as I can. I need to keep my hands busy while I think. 

Bunce’s words come back to me while I’m folding a quilt I found in one of the boxes. 

     

“You need to know that you two absolutely cannot change the plot. You must follow the storyline as accurately as possible, or else there may be lethal consequences. Work together to reach happily ever after.” 

 

Fuck, Simon. Where’s he? Is he in this story as well? Maybe another? If he’s here, who is he taking the metaphorical role of? The prince? A selfish part of my mind whispers and I quickly dismiss the thought. There’s no way. It’s just not… it’s not possible. But what if… 

It doesn’t take long to clean the room and I spend a majority of that time denying the fact that I very well might be stuck in a fairytale with Simon bloody Snow. It’s only when I start walking down the stairs that I remember what Bunce said right before we fell. 

 

A dream is a wish your heart makes.” 

 

I freeze in my place, vehemently denying it. I know for a fact that that’s a song from Cinderella (Mordelia went through a Disney phase a few years ago and I’ve sat through nearly every single film with her) but still. It must be a coincidence. It can’t possibly be that . Anything but that. Even if it were true, Agatha is clearly the evil stepsister in this, not Cinderella. That would be me. 

 

Aleister fucking Crowley, kill me now.

 

I find myself standing at the bottom of the stairs again with no memory of walking down the steps. Agatha calls for me to clean up and I rush out, clearing the dishes and bringing them into the kitchen. At this point I know better than to act out. Bunce’s warning echoes in my head. 

 

You two absolutely cannot change the plot.

 

If what she said earlier was true, it could possibly kill one of us if we “break character,” so to speak. I hope Simon is doing as he’s told, since I’m positive he’s never seen a Disney movie due to his unfortunate childhood, and there’s a fairly small chance he’s pieced this little spell together this early. I smile bitterly to myself. Imagine his disgust and disappointment when he realizes what’s happening. Assuming I’m right, of course. Almost on cue (which wouldn’t surprise me at this point, seeing as I’m probably in a film of sorts), a knock sounds from the door. I somehow know that I have to answer for the other three and make my way towards the front door with no problems, despite having never been in this house before and not knowing the layout. 

A short, balding man is on the other side, holding a scroll. He startles when I open the front door and squints at me before shoving a letter into my hand. 

“In royal decree of the King his Majesty I am to invite your household to the royal ball tomorrow night. Any possibly eligible family members in correlation to the prince his Highness are required to attend, as well as their guardian or guardians.” He takes a huge breath and continues. “Details are in the letter, I expect to see you then.” Without waiting for a response he turns on his heel and stalks off towards a carriage at the end of the drive, huffing from the excerption. 

I frown down at the letter and carry it inside, walking to the sitting room. Philippa appears to be trying to play the grand piano while Wellbelove attempts to draw the Mage. It’s hard to tell from where I’m standing but I’m pretty sure she put a huge cartoon mustache on his face which draws a small smile to my face. (Wait. Merlin, did I just make a pun?) . I carefully walk up to the Mage and hand him the letter, retreating back into the doorway to hear him read it out loud. The beginning is a bunch of random nonsense about the prince coming of age and needing to find a partner, which just further convinces me of my Cinderella theory. 

“By royal command, every family with an eligible child is to attend,” the Mage reads, grinning at the two girls. I know I should step in here even though I’m sure to be ignored.

“What about me?” I ask, stepping back into the room. They all turn to face me again and I shrink back slightly under their scrutinizing glares. Starting to wish I was just ignored. Agatha laughs.

“You? You think the prince would ever like you?” I try to hide how much that stings. It’s not like I’ve been asking myself the same question since my first year. Assuming Simon is the prince, which hasn’t been confirmed. 

“Well-- no. But it says everyone, so I’m legally required to be there.” The Mage nods, stroking his chin like some inquisitive detective, but ten times more pervy with the Robin Hood outfit (yes he still has the goddamn costume on, it’s tragic, really). 

“You may go,” Both girls start to protest but he holds up a hand and they fall silent. “ But, you have to get all of your chores done and find something suitable to wear.” Once again both girls immediately try to argue but he silences them again and waves me out of the room. I roll my eyes as I walk out the door and make my way back to the attic. At least I know for sure I’m in some sort of alternate universe where everyone I know is a character in Cinderella. 

 

Because that’s a completely normal thing to come to terms with. 

 

If my memory serves me right I just have to do all of their chores, make their dresses, mope about not getting my own outfit made in time, act surprised when a bunch of rodents show me a perfectly sewn formal gown (Merlin please do not make me wear a dress to the ball. While I find cross-dressing perfectly lovely, I personally have no interest in wearing a ball gown). After that the girls will probably tear it to pieces, I’ll cry over what could have been, then BAM-- I get a new and improved look and I go to the ball, looking for Simon. (The more I think about it the more I’m certain he’s going to be the prince. The only part I’m stuck on is the fact that I play his love interest.) 

 

How hard can it be?

Chapter Text

May I just say, I am a damn good seamstress.

Now, before this whole in-an-alternate-universe-with-no-escape thing I was not aware of this fact. Maybe it comes with being Cinderella, but the dresses look fantastic. They fit the design in the books they picked out flawlessly. The only problem is the colours. Don’t get me wrong, Agatha looks great in any colour, it comes from being, well, Agatha. But she had to choose bright yellow. Like, bright yellow. She refused to pick another colour. It’s unbearable. It’s like staring into the sun, but more lethal. Philippa chose some horrid red-orange dress that makes her skin look almost green (much like my own face when I saw the fabric she chose. It’s horrendous).

About fifteen minutes before the coach comes to pick them up they shoo me out of the room, getting ready. I make my way back upstairs but the Mage’s voice stops me.

“Basilton, why are you not getting dressed?” I hear the smirk in his voice and grit my teeth, refusing to turn around.

“I’m not going.”

“Why not?”

“I have nothing to wear,” I say, bristling.

“Alright then. I suppose we will see you later tonight, after the ball.” I nod and start up the stairs without another word. When I reach the attic I lean against the door for a second to catch my breath. Cinderella must have been fit as hell if she could climb these everyday holy shit--

I collapse against the large window frame and frown, squinting at the castle in the distance. I wonder if Simon is there, just as confused and scared as me. I wonder if he’s expecting Agatha to come to the ball and dance with him all night. Maybe she’ll see her right away and immediately choose her before I can even get there?

Who am I kidding? Of course he’ll choose her.

I sigh, dropping onto the cushion in the window nook, and rest my back against the small stretch of wall behind me, pulling my knees into my chest. A few minutes pass while I stare at the castle, contemplating the situation. I have no outfit, no way of getting there, and even if I did he wouldn’t give me a second glance. Maybe not even a first glance. Bunce said to stick to the story but it seems nearly impossible at this point. My head falls backwards and thumps against the wall. The curtain unsettles slightly from beside me where it’s blocking the view of the inside of the attic and I frown, pull it back, and immediately shield my eyes from the blinding light on the other side. Hesitantly, I open one, then the other when they seem to adjust.

On a mannequin stood in the center of the room is a lovely pale pink suit. A little outdated, but still acceptable. I make eye contact with a mouse from across the room (which is less unnerving than I would have originally thought) and it makes a small gesture that somehow transfers to go on, then. I smile, slightly giddy, and put the suit on, grinning at my reflection in the dusty, floor length mirror across the room. It’s unlike any other suits I’ve worn before and the fabric is an odd texture but I’m sure it’ll be just fine for the ball. I just need to find Simon and get us out of this nightmare. Then everything can go back to normal.

Then he can go back to hating me.

I shake the thought away and sprint down the stairs, hearing the coach pull up outside. “Wait!” I shout, reaching the landing. “Wait for me,” I pull myself to a stop a few steps away from the steps, not even remotely out of breath, oddly enough. They turn around and stare at me in obvious disgust, which I find highly offensive, considering everything I’ve done for them in the past few days. Agatha steps forward, scowling. I sneer right back as she starts circling behind me.

“You just don’t know when to give up, do you?” I shake my head, watching her out of the corner of my eye. She steps in front of me again and I glare at her.

“I got my chores done and I have a suitable outfit. I’m going to the ball.” She smiles sweetly and reaches forward, pulling on the right sleeve. Unfortunately, it tears right off as if it were being held there by velcro. I gasp as she barks out a (admittedly, very pretty) laugh and tosses the sleeve behind her, moving on to rip apart the suit, seam by seam. I try to pull away but Philippa appears and holds me in place as Agatha completely shreds the fabric.

Eventually the Mage steps in and demands they let me go for the sake of ruining their own dresses (that I made). I watch them strut out the door before turning around and sprinting outside, trying to find the bench I remember from the films.

It takes a little while but eventually I find it sitting under a massive willow tree. Very picturesque. I collapse onto my knees in front of it and wait for the fairy godmother to inevitably show up. A dog approaches me and sits next to me, placing its head in my lap. What was its name again? Bandit? Balto? The air around me brightens considerably and I throw a hand up to my face, blocking the light. When it doesn’t feel like my eyes are going to shrivel up behind my eyelids I remove my hand and take in the figure before me. Sitting on the bench is the goatherd from Watford. Ebb, I think it was. She smiles kindly down at me and reaches forward, brushing hair out of my face in a surprisingly paternal manner.

“Hiya Basil.” I smile in spite of myself at her bubbly voice.

“Hello.” She pats my cheek and stands, already making her way towards the pumpkin patch.

“I know you just want to get this over with, so let’s get down to business, yeah?” I nod, then realize she can’t see me and hum in agreement. With the flick of her wrist a long staff appears out of thin air and she points it towards the largest pumpkin. “Bippity, Boppity, Boo!” The magic hits it a few seconds later and sends it bouncing towards us. On the last little jump it lights up with a flash and in less than a second is a stunning carriage. Ebb claps delightedly and turns around, gasping in excitement. She points a finger at the dog and smiles.

“Come here, Bruno. C’mon little pup.” Bruno, I think. That was its name. Ebb pets its head a couple of times before lightly tapping its nose with her staff. Bruno bounces similarly to the pumpkin and when it reaches the carriage it turns into a footman. This happens with a few more creatures before Ebb finally turns and faces him with a sly grin. “You ready?” I nod hesitantly.

“It’s not going to like, hurt. Right? Because I’d be fine just staying here all night. It’s not that much trouble.” I snap my mouth shut and drop my eyes to the ground, frowning. Since when do I ramble? That seems like something Snow would do. That is, if he could ever spit the words out. I shake my head. Why am I thinking of Snow? Ebb thankfully pulls me out of my thoughts.

“It’s not gonna hurt ya. It’ll feel like a little breeze and bam! You’re all decked out and ready to go to the ball.” I take a deep breath and nod. She smiles sympathetically and steps closer, putting a comforting hand on my arm. “You’ve got this. You’re every bit like your mother, ya know.” She sniffed, her eyes filling with tears. Normally I’d think some rude comment about how emotional she is but I’m frozen in place by her words.

“You-- You knew my mother?” I ask, my voice quiet. She nods emphatically.

“She gave me my job! That woman was a saint, but also absolutely ruthless when she wanted to be. You’re a spitting image. I can tell.” I turn my head and subtly wipe a tear away with the heel of my hand but she smiles knowingly. “You want to go to the ball. I know you’re trying to tell yourself you don’t.” I start to protest but she once again silences me. “Hush, let me talk.” I do. “I think you want to go but you’re scared of confronting Si.” I refuse to let my jaw drop for the sake of my pride but I’m sure the shock showed on my face. She grins. “Just trust me on this one, he’s been worried about you too.” I scoff, crossing my arms.

“Like he’d ever bother worrying about me.” I freeze when my mind catches up with my words, eyes widening, and slowly make eye contact with Ebb, holding a finger up.

“You--”

“Not a--”

“But you just--”

“No I didn’t--

“I think you just--

Not a word.” She grins and nods slowly.

“Alright, Basil. I’ll let you live in bitter denial.” She waves her hand at me in a gesture that just screams “Fiona” and it takes me by surprise for a second but Ebb doesn’t seem to notice, circling me. After a few contemplative seconds of silence she hums to herself and stretches her arms. “You ready for this? Because you’re going to run out of time if you don’t get a move on.” I nod.

“Yeah, yeah. I’m fine. I’m ready.” She grins widely and holds her staff out, pushing her sleeves up to her elbows and cracking her neck.

“Alrighty.” She clears her throat. “Bippity, Boppity, Boo!”

Just like she said, it just felt like a breeze circling me. I close my eyes and feel myself unconsciously spin in a circle like, well… like a goddamn Disney princess. My earlier hesitation has all but vanished as I stare down at the new suit. It’s a light silver color, almost pale blue (just like the movie) and fits much better than the other. I walk up to the small fountain tucked into the corner of the garden area and step onto the ledge, observing my reflection with a small smile. My hair is somehow completely clean, looking softer than ever and loosely framing my face in dark waves. The suit looks fantastic on me, accenting the perfect places and making me look nearly regal. It’s incredible.

I carefully step off of the ledge and look down at my feet in shock before staring at Ebb incredulously. “You did not give me glass slippers.” I look back down at my feet, marveling at the heels. I didn’t know I could even walk in heels, but apparently I can. At least in this fairy tale world where nothing is real and glass slippers are… surprisingly comfortable? Like, what? Ebb just laughs at me.

“I did! They look amazing, by the way.” They did. Somehow the shoes matched perfectly with my suit and I never thought I’d confidently say I genuinely loved the look. Ebb clears her throat. “Well, you know the rules. Run at midnight. Leave a shoe. Keep the other. Dance your heart out. Got it?” I nod absentmindedly, still looking down at my outfit. I honestly shouldn’t have been surprised that Ebb was supposedly the only self-aware character. She always seemed to be on some other level of awareness at Watford, just hanging out with her goats.

“I’ll be fine. I just need to find Simon, figure out how to get out of here without my wand, and murder Bunce.” Ebb snorts and shakes her head.

“As fun as all of that sounds, try to enjoy yourself tonight, yeah?” I sigh, but nod regardless.

“I suppose. Thank you.” She waves her hand dismissively.

“Agh, it’s nothing. Now go, before you officially pass ‘fashionably late’ and enter the land of ‘bad at time management.’” I stifle a laugh and turn away, trying to hide my smile, and hop into the carriage, sticking my head out the window slightly.

“But seriously. Thank you,” I say, nodding towards her. She beams.

“Don’t mention it. But don’t hurt my Simon. Try to give him a chance to come around, yeah?” I bite my lip, looking down at my hands in my lap.

“I’ll try.” We share a brief smile before she waves her staff again, setting the carriage into motion.

“And have fun!” She shouts after me before vanishing from sight.

Chapter Text

Simon

I hate this. I hate this so much.

I’ve been standing in this massive ballroom for at least three hours bowing to a bunch of girls in fancy dresses as they curtsied to me. It’s pure torture. I’m sure this is loosely based around Cinderella (if Penny’s spell worked) but I can’t be sure because I’m obviously some sort of prince here and in Cinderella you don’t really see him until the ball.

I’ve been keeping my eyes out for Baz in the growing crowd. I’m sure he’s here too and I’m determined to find him. We need to get out of here somehow and I know (especially after his little freakout in the neutral plane) that he’s probably losing his shit trying to find a way out of here. It was unnerving, seeing Baz so… out of control. He’s always infuriatingly collected, like nothing can shake him. I let my eyes roam up to the king on his balcony again, making a big show of yawning. I don’t know how many times Baz has reprimanded me for having an obnoxious yawn (whatever that means. I’ve never seen him yawn in our entire Watford careers but I’m sure it’s just as posh as the rest of him).

On the bright side, the king seems just as peeved as Baz usually does. Maybe he’ll let me leave the ball early and I can search for Baz. I’m this close to just walking away but a flash of blonde hair catches my eye. I look up and make eye contact with Agatha of all people and… Philippa? They see my eyes on them and both giggle oddly, stumbling up to me. One of the king’s advisors reads their names off of the scroll as they strut down the carpet in front of me. Maybe the spell did work. But then why did Baz get pulled to me? Is Baz here? Both girls look up at me from under their eyelashes but my eyes are on a familiar figure walking around far away from the crowd, looking at the massive castle in a secluded, slightly darkened part of the cavernous ballroom area. Baz.

I step forward and see the king’s eyes widen in excitement from all the way up on his balcony. Surely he thinks I’m choosing one of the girls in front of me. Instead I shove past both of them, much to everyone’s surprise. Baz hasn’t noticed me yet, which is odd since usually he can tell when I’m within 15 metres of him. Although, that might have something to do with his obvious vampirism. (Of course I know he’s a vampire, I’m his bloody roommate for Merlin’s sake) (Pun intended). His back is to me so I approach slowly, knowing everyone’s watching us. Penny’s voice seems to whisper in my ear, stick to the story, and I do what I do best.

I stop thinking.

I clear my throat and grin when Baz whips around to face me, obviously shocked he didn’t notice my presence.

“Snow,” he breathes, and if I’m not wrong he almost sounds… relieved?

I make eye contact with him and bow slowly, reaching out to take his hand and press my lips to it, Penny’s ominous death warning flashing through my head. Please don’t kill me, please don’t kill me, please don’t kill me. Baz looks like he’s about ready to pass out from shock (anger?) and is blushing. Like, a lot. I didn’t even think he was capable of blushing because of the whole vampire thing. Maybe that isn’t a thing here? I smile awkwardly, knowing he’s probably just as uncomfortable as I am after that, and let his hand go, standing up straight again. His suit looks bloody perfect (of course it does, that posh git) and he’s wearing glass heels. It’s absolutely ridiculous but still looks perfect somehow because he’s Baz and he could make anything seem fit for bloody royalty. He makes a couple of uncharacteristic squeaking sounds while trying to speak before taking a deep breath and visibly collecting his thoughts. Probably trying to stop himself from reaching out and killing me in front of a giant crowd.

“Simon, I-- What--” I cut my eyes to the side where everyone is watching us quickly before meeting his gaze again.

“May I have this dance?” I ask, then when he starts stuttering again (seriously, what’s up with that, though?) I add in a whisper, “Penny said keep up the act, and we should probably listen to her because she’s usually right.” He nods shakily so I hold my hands out, reaching towards him, before pulling them back a little bit, uncertain. Baz frowns.

“What are you doing?” I laugh nervously.

“I have no idea.” Baz raises an eyebrow and I rush to explain myself. “Agatha tried to teach me how to dance. It went about as well as you’d expect.” Baz exhales sharply through his nose. Was-- Was that a laugh? Now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever heard him laugh. (Does evil cackling count?) I had always just assumed he was incapable of genuine laughter. Now he’s staring at me with a strange look, like he’s trying not to smile or he has to sneeze or something. I can’t tell. It’s usually incredibly easy to read his face (then again, it’s almost always in some sort of sneer or cold smirk). He carefully takes my hands in his and places one of my hands on his waist, keeping the other in his own. Then he positions his own hand on my shoulder lightly.

“Okay,” he murmurs, looking down at our feet. My eyes drop to the floor too. “So, you’re leading.” I nod, my hair brushing against his forehead. He takes another deep breath. It’s probably extremely difficult for him, being so close to me. I know it’s killing me. (Literally, maybe. My heart is racing for some reason and I feel jittery. Maybe it’s one of his tricks, trying to throw me off or something). His voice is quiet when he speaks. “How much do you remember from your lessons with Wellbelove?” I shrug, knowing it drives him crazy.

“Not much.” Baz huffs.

“Alright, so you’re going to take a step forward with your left foot. I follow you, so don’t wait for me,” he pauses and I follow his instructions. Like he said, I didn’t even come close to stepping on his foot since he was following my movements, which means I’m already doing way better than when I was with Agatha. He directs me through a few basic steps for a while and eventually I get the hang of it enough to move at a moderate speed that could almost make it seem like I knew what I was doing.

Baz is surprisingly patient with me. It’s sort of unnerving. I don’t mess up too often under his instructions, while Agatha’s feet would have been long since sore. After a few minutes I find myself actually having fun, waltzing around the ballroom with him. Which... Is probably part of some evil plan of his, right? Right. Even then, I can’t find myself to care. He tenses as we grow closer to the crowd so without even thinking I lead us away from there, towards the door to the gardens.

By now we’ve just passed the curtain leading into the other room just like in the movie and I’m sure the grand duke is going to block us off from view of the rest of the crowd soon. Baz relaxes almost immediately as we move away from the crowd and I grin. His lips curl up too and he looks up at me, his eyes reflecting the stars in the giant windows. Something about that thought makes me pause and he stops with me, his face contorting into confusion. I frown.

“What? What is it?” I freeze when it hits me, just what was so weird about that thought, and a wide, excited smile spreads across my face.

He’s looking up at me.

Ever since we were first years he’s always been taller than me. Always. Currently, he’s tilting his head to the side and biting his lip, seemingly unaware of this fantastic new bit of news.

“What are you smiling at?” I grin, looking down at him. I can’t believe I’m taller than him here. Why am I taller, though? Is it some sort of correlation to the prince being taller than Cinderella? Baz gets that look on his face, the one where he wrinkles his nose and presses his lips together tightly, the one that tells me he’s sort of annoyed with me but is trying to hide it. He always fails.

“Oh nothing,” I draw the ‘oh’ out and he squints at me.

“Snow.” I wrinkle my nose.

“You called me Simon before.”

He shakes his head, smirking. “I haven’t a clue what you’re talking about.”

Jokes on him, I think. He’s not going to be so calm when he realizes his newfound shortness. I smile smugly, winking at him. “Bold words for someone three inches shorter than me.” The smile slides off of his face and he stares at me like I’ve grown a second head before his eyes widen and flicker up to the top of my head, then down to my chin, then back up again, distress clear in his entire face. It’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life and I laugh loudly, tipping my head back.

He smacks my chest and steps away but I tighten my grip on his waist, pulling him back in. I’m not sure why, maybe just to gloat. That seems right, right? Right. He blushes again and looks super flustered for a second and I decide right there that I’m going to make him blush as much as I possibly can before we get back to Watford and it’s physically impossible for his body to send enough blood up to his face to be noticeable. He glares at me but doesn’t move away, surprisingly.

“How the hell did this happen?” I grin.

“I think it has something to do with us being in the story of Cinderella and the height difference between Prince Charming and Cinderella.” I tilt my head to the side. “Although it is odd that you’re the princess out of the two of us.” He makes a choking sound and coughs to cover it up, angling his face away to hide another blush (I can still see it).

His eyes go wide and he steps away, clearing his throat. “Well, the curtain is closed, we can stop dancing now.” I try not to show how oddly disappointed I am to hear that. We seemed to actually be having fun for a second there. He turns and walks out to the garden and I follow him, smiling at the rather pretty scene before us. The stars are very visible, more than they are even from the window in our room at school. The gardens are about as extravagant as you would expect for a palace, looking just like the movie. I had seen a few of them in one of the better care homes. They had a small television set and a few VCR’s that we would watch on repeat.

We stop on a bridge over a small river and stare down at our reflection over the railing. Next to each other we look almost regal, like we were born into royalty (although Baz probably was raised to think so, the rich prat). We’re complete opposites and for once it doesn’t look like we’re against the other, but rather complimenting each other. He’s like the moon with his pale skin and midnight hair, me the sun with my moles and bronze curls. He looks up at me and I smile. (I am feeling way too much satisfaction at being able to say he looks up at me.) He blinks a couple of times and shakes his head quickly after a few seconds, breaking eye contact and turning to walk down the rest of the bridge, his hand trailing along the railing. I follow him, of course.

I’ll always follow him.

Baz

 

I don’t know how much longer I can take this.

Simon is taller than me. He’s taller than me, and he won’t stop smiling his stupid, happy smile and it is doing things to me. I deserve some sort of award for the amount of self control I’ve exhibited just in the past half hour or so. Eventually we stop and sit down on the wide steps in view of the giant bell tower and clock, just as it looked in the movie before Cinderella had to run away. I’m on the bottom step, turned to face Simon, who’s sitting on the next one up, facing me. The silence around us is tense and slightly awkward as we both try to find something to say. Eventually Simon sighs heavily. 

“I suppose we should probably figure out what’s happening, yeah?” I nod, frowning as I think. This is obviously Cinderella. I just have no idea why. Why are we in a fairy tale world? Why did I have to be Simon’s love interest? Why why why. Simon huffs, leaning against the step behind him and tucking one leg up. “Penny said to stick to the story, so I’m assuming we just have to stay here for a while. Or at least, until the bell chimes. Right?” I nod slowly again.

“I don’t have my wand, so I can’t spell us out of here. You?” He shakes his head.

“I didn’t have my wand. Not that that would have done much for us anyways,” he mutters, frowning at himself. I feel the need to make him smile again, then shake my head slightly, trying to shoo the thoughts out of my head. Get it together, Pitch. 

“It’s alright Simon. I had a feeling that would be the case.” I speak gently, avoiding eye contact when I feel his eyes on me. 

“You said Simon again.” I roll my eyes, still not looking at him.

“That’s your name, if I’m not mistaken.” He exhales quickly, a small laugh. 

“It is, but you never call me Simon. Always Snow.”

I give him a weird look. “I’m… sorry?” He shakes his head quickly, then blushes.

“I- Uh. I actually… I like it. Simon, I mean. Uh…” He tugs at his hair and I swat his hand away without thinking when he winces. 

“Stop, you’re hurting yourself,” I snap. He laughs sheepishly and puts his hands in his lap. 

“Sorry.”

I give him the same odd look. “Why are you apologizing?” He shrugs and immediately my mind filters through all of the ways I could tear both of his arms off in the next three seconds.

“Dunno. You seemed upset?” He shrugs again and I glare at him. He sends me a (albeit small) smug grin and I know he knows how much I hate it when he shrugs. 

“Whatever.” I cross my arms and turn away again, trying to think of anything other than Simon Snow is sitting less than two feet away from me willingly and smiling. At me. On purpose.

I’m not that successful. 

“What’s your favorite colour?” I choke out a laugh, turning to look at Simon incredulously. 

“Excuse me?” He blushes again and shrugs, ignoring my glare this time.

“We’re gonna be here for a while. I don’t want to spend it watching you brood.”

I scoff. “I do not brood. I’m trying to think of a way out of here.” 

He purses his lips and nods once. “Sure.” We fall silent again and I go back to thinking. I’m about halfway through a plan where we somehow find Ebb and beg her to use her staff to send us back when Simon pokes my shoulder. I glare up at him. Up at him. I hate this so much.

“What is it?” I snap. He just grins back. 

“You didn’t answer my question.” I roll my eyes. Is he serious?

I stay silent for a while, trying to ignore him, but I catch his slightly hurt look and can’t help but indulge him, if only to bring out his bright grin again. Pathetic. 

“Blue,” I say. Like your eyes, I don’t say. He jumps, then squints at me. I huff, rolling my eyes again. “You asked for my favorite colour, yes?” He nods, looking confused. I sigh, leaning back on my hands and tilting my head up towards the sky, a small smile growing across my face as I look at the familiar constellations. At my family’s manor during summers and breaks I would stay up late into the night, staring out my window at the stars. It was one of the only constants when I wasn’t at Watford. The stars were always blinking in the sky, no matter what. 

There were a few that matched the patterns of moles on Simon’s skin. I always seek those out first. On nights where everything seemed a little too hopeless, like everything I ever did would eventually pile up and result in never seeing him again, I would find comfort in knowing that just up there in the sky was a piece of him. One that would never leave me. As creepy as that sounded, it got me through many lonely summers.

“My favorite colour is blue.” He stares at me, looking mildly surprised. I scowl. “What, does blue not meet your standards, your Highness?” He shakes his head and looks down, blushing. 

"N-No. I just. I wasn’t expecting… uh.” I smile tightly. 

“You thought I’d say something more… evil?” I suggest, gesturing at myself with one hand. He shakes his head harder.

“No! No-- Well. Kinda. Maybe a little. But can you blame me?” I can’t. 

“What’s your favorite colour then?” I shoot back, drawing attention away from myself. Or, at least, trying to. He gives me a slightly puzzled grin, tilting his head to the side. 

“What’d’ya say?” I sigh as dramatically as possible, tipping my head back to get the full effect. 

“Must I repeat the stupid question?”

He laughs quietly. “No, no. I’m just sort of shocked you’re willingly conversing with me.” I can’t help it. I let out a small laugh and shake my head. 

“Honestly, me too.” We share a look, both genuinely smiling, before I clear my throat and force my face to go blank, hoping he didn't see what was surely a disgustingly affectionate expression. Simon immediately frowns.

“Why do you do that?” I look away. 

“Do what?” I choose to play dumb here. Not usually my first move (makes me feel like I’m sinking to Snow’s level) (although I’m pretty sure he is legitimately confused most of the time) but I’ll make do in hopes that he’ll drop it. 

“You make your face all blank and emotionless. It’s like you can’t let people know when you’re happy.” He throws his arms out during his little tirade and I bite the inside of my cheek, avoiding eye contact. 

“Maybe I can’t,” I whisper, then freeze. Oh shit. I said that out loud, didn’t I? I risk a glance at Simon and he’s staring at me with the saddest expression I’ve ever seen. Damn that empathetic bastard. He’s too perfect. Wait, no fuck-

“You should be able to be happy, Baz.” I’m not sure what does it. Maybe the way he says my name. Maybe the way he sounds like he genuinely wants to help me. I look at him and smile. It's small, yes, but still open and honest. And… wow. It feels like finally letting go of something you didn’t know you didn’t need to keep holding onto, or releasing a breath after holding it in for longer than you thought was possible. It feels freeing. I don’t remember the last time I let myself be even remotely open with someone, let alone Simon. Even if it’s just a bloody smile.

Morgana, that’s depressing.

An odd look crosses his face. His face turns red and his eyes go wide, mouth dropping open slightly (mouth breather). He raises a hand out and, almost unconsciously it seems, he tucks a strand of hair behind my ear, his touch light enough that I barely feel it. 

“Oh,” he breathes, his voice a whisper. I look down at my hands folded in my lap and flex my fingers, laughing airily to myself. His hand finds my chin and tips my head back up. I meet his eyes.

“Is that a good 'oh?'” He grins widely. 

“Definitely.” I try not to show how much that single word affects me but he frowns again. “You’re doing it again.” Damn him. At this point I should just tell him I love him and die from the rejection in peace. I force myself to relax and he smiles again. Only then do I realize that his hand is still resting against my face, holding my cheek. He doesn’t seem to notice, and if he does, he doesn’t care. I definitely notice and I’m waiting for him to call out the blood rushing to my face but he stays silent, staring at me with that strange look from earlier. 

“What is it?” I ask softly, watching him carefully. He blinks a couple of times and chuckles to himself. 

“Nothing, I… uh. Your eyes. They’re like… blue and green. Which is weird, because they’re usually grey. Like, dark grey. Most of the time at least. But they look blue and green now and-- I’m just… I am going to shut up now.” He bites his lip and turns away, leaving me to overthink that confession. He notices my eyes? Snap out of it. It doesn’t mean anything. But what if-- 

Ignoring the fluttering feeling in my chest (like I could ever ignore it), I tease him, if only to get some semblance of normality back. “You look into my eyes often, then, Snow?” He flushes scarlet and I imagine sucking all of the butterflies in my stomach into a massive, feeling-less vacuum. Conceal, don’t fucking feel Basilton. Embrace the Disney. Shove it all down. Put on the metaphorical gloves, gain control of your emotions, and for Merlin’s sake DO NOT LET IT GO. 

He splutters. “Wh- Well, uh. I- You know. We’re, um. I-” I put a hand up, silencing him.

“Don’t hurt yourself, Snow.” He huffs and leans against the stair again (and by association, removes his hand. I try not to let it get to me), tipping his head back, exposing his neck in the moonlight. In front of a vampire that supposedly hates him. Why do I love this idiot again? 

He looks at me again and smiles widely, riling up the butterflies again. Oh. That’s why. “I’m particularly keen to green myself. Or maybe red. Or yellow.” I roll my eyes. 

You can’t pick all of them, you numpty.” He wrinkles his nose and grins. 

“Says who?” 

“Says me.” He snorts and I let myself smile. Not with teeth, just a small quirk of my lips. 

“Alright.” He seems to contemplate something before perking up again. 

“How did you know we’re in Cinderella?” 

I bite my lip and answer before psyching myself out. “My sister,” I start, my voice softer than I’d usually allow around him. “She went through a Disney phase a while ago and I was forced into watching the entire collection of movies with her.” Simon is giving me a strange look. 

“How old is she?” I raise an eyebrow.

“She turns ten this year. Why?” 

He shrugs. “You don’t mention her often. I’m just curious, I guess.” I squint at him. 

“Well, we aren’t the type to talk about our lives outside of tormenting each other, are we?” As much as it pains me to say, it’s true. I barely know anything about Simon outside of Watford. 

“We could be.” His voice is so quiet I almost miss it. And what a blessing it would have been. I don’t know how long we’ll be here but knowing what it’s like to be civil with him, maybe more than civil, then going back to how everything’s supposed to be when we get out would make everything that much more painful. Yet I still indulge him. Because I’m weak. 

“What do you want to know?” I ask, my voice only slightly louder than his. He looks surprised at my answer (not that I blame him) and he reaches up to tug at those infernal curls. 

“Um. Is it just you and your sister, then?” I shake my head, looking at my hands.

“I’m the eldest. Then Mordelia, then the twins. And now the baby, as of fourteen months.” His eyebrows jump up and a small little smile creeps onto his face. 

“Wow. I didn’t see you as the big brother sort.” I scoff, though I’m also sort of smiling. (Loathe am I to admit it though).

“Well, now you know.” He nods, then looks out into the distance. 

“I don’t think I have any siblings.” I raise an eyebrow, encouraging him to go on. “I mean-- I don’t know my mum or dad. I was told they dropped me off at a care home with ‘Simon Snow’ written on my arm when I was just a baby.” He laughs sadly and tugs on his curls again, still not looking at me. Good thing, probably. I’m not sure how concealed my emotions are right now but I’m sure I don’t look the part of Disinterested Enemy

Try Pining Fool. 

How’d you end up at Watford, then?” I already know. Hell, the entire Magickal community knows. We all felt it when he lit up for the first time. He shrugs. Sigh. 

“The Mage found me after I… you know, and he brought me to the school.” He huffs out a laugh. “I was terrified. Then I wasn’t. Then the entire year went by and I thought ‘thank god, I don’t have to go back to the care home.” He smiles bitterly. “The Mage came to our room after you had gone and told me to pack my things. I don’t know what I was expecting. But it wasn’t a new, dirtier care home than before.” He lets out a slow breath and rubs the back of his neck. “Then he left me there. All summer long. For a while I thought I had imagined the entire year. Of course, he picked me up the next year and I got my hopes up again, only to be let down.” I feel a flash of anger towards the Mage (but what else is new). Simon turns his head to face me and flinches back.

“What?” I’m surprised by the venom in my voice. He furrows his eyebrows. 

“Sorry, just. You look like you’re about to murder me.” I force my face to smooth out to a blank slate again and Simon’s own face falls. 

“I’m sorry. I just realized I hate the Mage more than I thought.” Simon snorts and leans back. 

“Is that even possible?” I shrug, then immediately hate myself. I didn’t just-- 

Simon gets this glint in his eyes and I just know he’s going to say something about it but I shut him up with a look. He holds his hands up in surrender. “Alright, alright. I’ll let it slide. Just this once.” He nudges me with his foot and I shoot him a disgusted look. Which he ignores. “Besides,” he starts. “You can’t possibly hate him more than I do.” I laugh outright at that. He laughs too, albeit quieter, and nudges me again. “It’s true! You just haven’t been paying attention.” I roll my eyes, not bothering to hold back a smile at this point.

“Do enlighten me, Snow.” 

“I will!” He points in my face and I swat his hand away. “You and the Old Families are trying to get him out of his seat as Greatest Mage, yeah?” I nod slowly, not seeing where he’s going with this at all. “Honestly, I’ve been forced to trail after him and do whatever he says for years. I know firsthand how he’s corrupting the World of Mages. He’s not focusing on things that need to be focused on, like the Humdrum, but instead he’s raiding your homes for anything that can incriminate the Old Families? It makes no sense. He should take care of the common enemy and go from there. And there’s no point in fighting the Old Families!” I’m frozen in shock but Simon’s waving his arms around and dragging them through his hair animatedly. Is he-- Is he actually not completely oblivious to the Mage’s obvious ineptness? “You guys have been trying to find ways of destroying him from the outside, yeah?” I nod again and he smiles sheepishly. “I’ve been doing so from the inside.” I feel my jaw drop and quickly close my mouth. 

“You-- How?” He looks well smug right now and I surprisingly don’t feel the usual urge to smack it off his face.

“Think about it, though. I sit in on every meeting. I know every plan, I have access to all of his rooms and offices, I know passwords, names, dates. I’ve been forced to take notes since I was twelve. I have enough information to take him down, but I just need the proper audience. Most people are afraid of him.” He tilts his head to the side, as if he isn’t blowing my mind. “Well, not of him, but of the power he has in his spot in the Coven.” I bark out a shocked laugh. 

“Snow, you’re secretly a bloody genius!” I stare up at him in awe and he blushes, rubbing the back of his neck. 

“Well, Penny’s been helping a bunch. It’s not just me. Actually, it's mostly her.” I roll my eyes, then sit up abruptly. 

“Wait, what if I get the Old Families together, let them hear you out. We could take him down whenever we get out of here.” I rush through the words, already thinking about how quickly I can gather them all for a meeting. Simon reaches out and puts a hand on my arm, pulling me from my thoughts. 

“We have to get out of here first.” I pause, then groan. Somehow I’d forgotten about this ridiculous nightmare (dream?) we were stuck in. 

“Alright.” He stares at me incredulously.

“Alright?” I nod, pressing my lips together.

“I hate to admit it but you’re right. There’s nothing we can do until we get out of here.” He grins.

“We?” 

I nod slowly, giving him a look that screams you’re an idiot . “Yes, we. God, Snow. You have information, I have connections. We’re definitely a ‘we’ until this gets sorted out.” I must have imagined the disappointment on his face at the end of the sentence. I must have. My heart couldn’t take it if he actually did want a ‘we.’ It wouldn’t be in the same way as I do.

“Oh. Okay, that’s… uh, cool.” I raise an eyebrow.

“I’d hope so.” He huffs another laugh and looks just over my shoulder, squinting at something. I let my eyebrow drop and slowly look over my shoulder, trying to find what he was looking at. Upon seeing nothing I turn to him again, eyebrow back in place. “What?” He has the audacity to laugh, a bright smile on his face.

“Made ya look.” I stare at him for a second before scoffing and rolling my eyes. A literal child. You fell head over bloody glass heels for a literal child, Basilton.

“You’re an idiot.” He shrugs. 

“Maybe. But you still looked.” He nudges me with his foot and I glare at him before looking slightly above his head and letting my eyes widen considerably. Then, before he can even question what I’m doing, I jerk backwards and screech loudly, pointing above his head. He lets out a scream of his own and looks up, already jumping away from the stairs. I laugh, dropping back onto the steps, and lean back on my hands again, watching him grumble as he takes his spot as well. 

Made ya look,” I mock, watching him pout with amusement. He sniffs, turning away.

"That was uncalled for.” I scoff.

“I think it was perfectly called for, Simon.” He turns his head towards me so fast I’m surprised I don’t hear something crack and throws a finger in my face. I slap it away but he just replaces it with his other hand. “Bloody hell, Snow. What’s wrong with you?” He grins at me, scooting himself closer to me. 

“You said it!” I smack his arm away again.

“What are you on about?” He smiles wider.

“You said my name!” 

I search my memory quickly and hold back a groan. “No, I most certainly did not.” He shakes his head, still pointing at me.

“No, you called me Simon .” He emphasizes ‘Simon’ and leans forward, trying to smirk. It fails miserably, of course, but it’s still frustratingly endearing and adorable. 

“I did no such thing.” He exhales through his nose in a laugh and tips his head forward. I jump slightly and hold back a small squeak when his forehead bumps against mine. I hadn’t noticed him get so close to me. I hadn’t noticed myself get so close to him. He sucks in a small breath and turns his head just slightly, our noses brushing together. This can’t be happening. I can’t actually be this close to Simon fucking Snow. It’s unsafe for my cold, dead heart, dammit. 

I’m going to kiss him. 

If he doesn’t move away I’m going to kiss him and he’s never going to be able to look at me again with those stupid blue eyes and I’m going to die of mortification right here. Forget not sticking to the bloody script, I’ll just spontaneously combust right here on the steps. He looks into my eyes and I’m surprised by how soft they look. I’ve only ever seen him look at me like that in my dreams. (This is so much better than my dreams.)   I place my hand on the step and lean even closer, even though every cell in my body is screaming at me to run. Simon’s eyes flutter shut and he pushes closer to me, nearly sending me into cardiac arrest when his hand finds its way to my face again, a few strands of my hair curling around his fingers. I close my own eyes and reach up to close the few millimetres between us. 

Just before the distance is completely crossed a huge, booming chime goes off. I smile softly and back away a few inches, my eyes still closed. Figures.

“Suppose that’s my cue, then.” I don’t wait for an answer before turning and sprinting away from Simon, grinning when I hear his footsteps stumbling after me.

“Baz! Wait! Where’re you staying? How do I find you?” He shouts after me, even when the crowd of girls stops him with their impeccable timing. I burst through the massive castle doors and take a deep breath of night air before taking off again when I hear his footsteps again. I make it to the bottom of the grand staircase leading to my carriage when Simon shouts again. 

“Baz!” I look over my shoulder at him, still running towards the carriage. 

“What is it, Snow?” 

He points at something at the ground by my… oh. I nearly facepalm right there. The slipper. The bell chimes for the seventh? maybe? time so I just reach down, slip the shoe off, and throw it at him. Then I turn on my heel (pun intended) and hop into the carriage, risking a glance back at Simon, who’s groaning and sitting at the bottom of his stairs, rubbing his back while holding the shoe carefully. He obviously fell down the stairs trying to catch it. I let out a loud laugh and watch his head snap up to look at me from where I’m looking out the window. He shoots me a crooked grin and waves slightly, looking dazed, and I let my lips curl upwards slightly and lean back into the carriage, out of his view, before he can see the lovesick expression that I’m sure is on my face right now.

Holy shit.

Chapter Text

Penny

I sprint up to Ms Posibelf when they start to lean up towards each other on the steps through my mirror and shove the student talking to her out of the way. She looks at me sternly for a moment before I hold the mirror out in front of us and point my wand at it.

I cast "Grow Up!" and the mirror expands to about four feet wide and three feet tall, out of view of the other students. Ms Posibelf’s eyes latch onto the screen and she watches curiously.

“That didn’t take long at all.”

“Well, time moves faster there than here. You don’t know how long it’s going to take for the people to figure it out, so if they moved at a usual speed to us it could possibly take months, maybe even years.” She nods and rests her chin on her hand. Both of us watch in anticipation, not noticing the class watching us in growing confusion. They get close enough that from the view we have I can’t tell if they are or aren’t kissing yet before Baz pulls away, saying something. A quick glance at the grand clock tower in the background shows that it’s basically midnight. We watch Simon chase after Baz in silence, laughing quietly when Baz throws the shoe at Simon. Then I shrink the mirror and put it in my pocket, looking to Posibelf.

“This is… exceptional so far. Very well done.” I beam and walk back to my seat, pulling out my notebook and writing down everything I just saw. I’m so getting top marks.

Baz

It’s been a few days since the ball and I’m bored out of my mind. We got the notice about the Prince going around but so far Simon hasn’t shown up at the manor, which means I have to spend who-knows-how-long cleaning for the absolute monsters that live in the residence. I silently made a promise to myself that I would never call Simon a monster again because compared to the absolute heathens in this fucking house he’s a saint.

This was two days ago.

I can’t help but wonder how far behind I’ll fall in my classes after this. I mean, unless the spell slows time somehow in this dimension-thing that’s happening (which would be magickal brilliance on Bunce’s part, loathe am I to admit it), but still, it’s been literal days. I’m sure to be missing something.

I’m washing the window in the attic when I hear the sound of horses approaching the manor. Squinting through the glass I can confirm that way down the road is a group of men on horseback. They’re too far away to actually make out facial features but I’m positive it’s the royal cavalry leading their heir to the last house in their journey to find the Prince’s missing love.

What even is my life anymore?

I take a deep breath, allowing a small smile to creep onto my face, and turn towards the door, ready to head down and get this over with. Only, when I turn around, instead of the empty, inviting doorway I was expecting, I’m graced with the (horrendous) sight that is the Mage -shudder- grinning at me.

“Can I help you?” I ask, making sure my disdain is clear in my tone. His grin turns sharper, more dangerous.

“Oh, not at all. But, you could make things worse for me.” I frown. What’s that supposed to mean? My mind blanks as I try to remember what happens before the prince comes to the manor to test the slipper, so I have no idea why he’s here if Simon is approaching.

“Pardon?” I say more than ask, trying to hide my confusion. He drops the smile (thank god, it was starting to unnerve me) and openly glares at me. I don’t hesitate to return the look.

“You could cause a problem if left to your own devices. Therefore, I’d say there’s only one way to fix that.” My brain is still trying to catch up with what he’s saying while simultaneously scanning my memory for what the hell happens to Cinderella before the prince puts the damn shoe on her foot, so I don’t realize what’s happening until the door clicks shut, the lock echoing ominously throughout the room.

Fuck.

I sprint up to the door and try the handle, knowing it won’t budge, then I ram my arm into it a few times, trying to break it down. Even when I try to use my --ahem-- extra strength, the door stays sturdy, not moving at all. Which. Is unfortunate and very inconvenient. So, I do the only reasonable thing upon realizing you’re locked in an enclosed space and highly claustrophobic with no immediate escape.

I. Lose. My. Shit.

In my haze of respiratory failure I rip the curtains open and stick my head out of the window, sucking in massive breaths of air, but it still doesn’t feel like enough. Suddenly, I’m back in that coffin under that god-awful bridge, surrounded by the sound of grinding rock and infernal darkness.

Logically, I know I’m probably overreacting. But that rational, reasonable, conscience thought is being drowned out entirely by another, more panicky one that’s screaming “THERE’S NO FUCKING ESCAPE. I’M GOING TO BE STUCK HERE FOREVER. NOBODY’S COMING FOR ME, AND I’M GOING TO DIE IN AN ALTERNATE REALITY SHITSHITSHITSHITSHIT--” and it’s making it very difficult to focus on anything other than the pounding in my head and pressure pushing on my lungs. Why the fuck can’t I BREATHE?!

My eyes blink open slowly and sluggishly (when did I close my eyes?) and I find myself curled in a ball in the corner opposite of the door. The pressure in my lungs is getting worse by every second but instead of the screeching in my head my thoughts are… silent. Completely, utterly silent. I feel absolutely nothing emotion-wise, and I almost want the panic to come back. This void of emotions is so much worse, so much more deafening.

Through the fog creeping into my vision I hear a thump from far below the room followed by a shout, then pounding footsteps. Said footsteps get louder with every second of numbness and the pain in my chest is bringing tears to my eyes. A spark of fear jolts through me at the sound of banging on the door and I curl up tighter in my ball of nothingness. Please, don’t hurt me... I just want it all to go away.

The door actually shakes on its hinges and I cover my head with my arms, peeking at the silhouette standing in the now-open doorway through my fingers. Then I collapse in relief.

Because the silhouette is more familiar than my own shadow. With the untamed curls, broad shoulders and defensive stance, I’m immediately overwhelmed with a sense of endless and unrelenting safety.

Before I can second-guess myself I jump up to my feet and stumble forward until I reach Simon, not stopping until my arms are wrapped around his shoulders and my nose is pressed against his neck. A shudder runs through me as all of the pain in my chest dissipates and I breathe easily for the first time in minutes. A pair of hesitant, careful arms slowly raise to rest around my waist. I push closer and one of the hands that was currently resting near my hip rises to my hair, tangling in the already-messy strands.

“Hey,” he breathes. “It’s okay. You’re okay.” I nod, still feeling my entire body shaking. He must feel it too, because he starts walking forwards, making sure I don’t trip over either of our feet. I go tense, wanting desperately to get out of the room, not further into it, but Simon just holds me closer and keeps moving.

“Please, no,” I beg, shaking my head. “I want to get out, I don’t want to stay in here, please.” He turns his head and gives me a sad but reassuring smile.

“And we will, but we need to finish the story. We’ll leave right after. I won’t let anything happen to you again, I promise.” Right. The story. I feel my eyes fill with tears but can’t find it in myself to care, considering how Simon Snow is willingly promising to protect me even though he has no idea what’s freaking me out so much. It’s so definitively Simon that I’m compelled to believe him. I know he means it.

The backs of my knees hit the futon and I fall onto the stiff cushion, feeling lightheaded. He drops to a knee in front of me and it takes all of my self control not to let my thoughts run with that daydream-worthy sight. He reaches behind him and pulls a shoe out from god-knows-where on his person, the glass hitting the window’s light in a blinding array of rainbow refractions throughout the room.

“Can I..?” I let out a breath of air harshly, blowing a strand of my hair out of my eyes.

“It’s ‘may I,’ Snow.” A small smile flickers onto his face and he looks up at me, eyes twinkling.

“Glad you’re back to your usual snarky self, then.” I bite my lip and look away, trying to stop the fluttering in my chest. Calm the fuck down, Basilton. That very well could have been an insult. Although with the way he was looking at me--

I hum in response and he takes that as an invitation to slide the slipper onto my foot with surprising gentleness. Of course, it fits perfectly, which prompts everyone in the room besides Simon and I to gasp in various amounts of shock/anger.

“It fits,” Simon mumbles. I snort at the obvious statement and roll my eyes.

“Well, I’d hope so, considering it was created solely to fit my foot.” This time Simon rolls his eyes, then stands, holding a hand out towards me. I reach out and take it, still shaking more than I would like.

“Yeah, yeah. Let’s get out of here, alright?” I sigh in relief, sagging into his side a little bit.

“Please.” That earns me a small laugh and squeeze of his hand (we’re still holding hands we’re still holding hands we’re still holding ha--)

I feel a familiar tugging in my midriff, forcing me into Simon’s side, and two strong arms surround me once again, something that is sure to kill my undead heart should it happen one more time because goddamn it, I can only handle Simon holding me in his fucking arms so many times okay-

We make eye contact before the ground below us vanishes yet again, dropping us into the void of darkness.

This time, when I reach out, I find exactly what I need, right where I need him.

Chapter Text

Simon

When I wake up this time it’s not nearly as peaceful as it was when I was in the castle in Cinderella.

For starters, instead of a familiar face gently nudging me awake, I’m met with the sound of yelling and metal clinking against metal loudly. Then a small hand smacks me in the face. Like, directly in the face. Definitely intentionally. I groan, shoving the (surprisingly furry??) thing off of me and sit up, blurrily looking across the circular and drafty room. A glance out of the uncovered window shows that I’m very high up, with a view looking straight out over a small kingdom, a large palace looming far in the distance.

That’s all I get to observe before a trapdoor that assumedly leads into the place crashes open and bangs against the floor. I jump to my feet when a head pops through the hole, followed by a large torso and oh, okay that’s a sword. A very, very sharp sword. Another quick search shows that the only other exit is through the window to my left so by the time the second head appears in the trapdoor I take off, not thinking before leaping out of the window, grabbing the flag pole a few feet away from the building and sliding down and jumping on top of the roof of another, smaller building.

Another shout sounds from the room above me and I take a few deep breaths, pressing myself against the pole and squinting up at the window. Another fairy tale?

The first head peers out and two beady eyes lock onto my figure. The man points at me and barks out a guff “There!” then also jumps out of the window, making a much clumsier landing than I did. The second person follows, then a third, then fourth, then fifth, and so on until about thirteen identically dressed men are on the roof as well, all inching me closer to the edge of the building.

I peek below and behind me and force my face to relax, despite the fact that I now know if I take one step backwards I’ll be falling at least five stories. The first guy (I’m pretty sure he’s their leader or something) chuckles, holding his sword out and pointing it at my throat. I put my hands up, smiling easily, and laugh brightly.

“Fellas, come on! Can’t we talk about thi-IS OH GOD-” The leader growled and shoved the sword forward, just nearly impaling my throat (I need that, thankyouverymuch) and I jerk back, hopping onto the short ledge on the edge of the rooftop. “That’s a no, then.” The man takes another stab (HA!) at hitting me and I step off of the ledge, clenching my jaw to avoid screaming as I free fall. Please hit the awning, please hit the awning, please hit the aw--

This time I do let out a small shriek when I bounce on the stiff fabric above the entrance to the building we were standing on top of, being launched forward and onto the actual ground. I roll to a stop across the small street next to a narrow alleyway and hop to my feet, snagging a shawl off of a nearby clothesline, and rush to wrap it over my head and around my shoulders, grinning at the women near me. One steps forward, smiling knowingly.

“In trouble again, Simon?” I grin, sneaking a hand out to grab a loaf of bread on a nearby cart, then tap it against the side of my head.

“I’m only in trouble if I get caught.” A loud, deep voice barking out orders draws closer and I duck back behind the woman. “Speaking of…” The second I say that the guard points at me again and they all fan out, sprinting in my direction. I turn on my heel and drop the shawl, taking off down the alleyway. The first guard grabs my shoulder and pulls me to a stop, glaring down at me. I smile nervously at him. “I’m in trouble.”

The guard bears his teeth and opens his mouth to speak but before a single word can get out a monkey lands on his head, pulling his turban over his eyes. I grin, recognizing this as the creature that must have woken me up, and hold my arm out. The monkey jumps forward and crawls up to my shoulder, perching there easily. The guard gives up on trying to fix his turban and throws it to the side, snarling at me. I fake a look of confusion, glancing between the guard and the monkey.

“Wow, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say I couldn’t tell which one of you is the beast here.” Then I shrug, turning to face the guard head on, and stage whisper to him, holding my hand up to block my mouth from the animal on my shoulder. “But that would be insulting to the monkey.” With a growl, the guard reaches forward with both hands, looking seconds away from strangling me, and I jump back, whipping around again and hurrying down the alley. At the end is a metal scaffold that I easily climb up to the roof of yet another building. Only when I get up there, I’m met with some of the guards that must have branched out from the group to cut me off. I turn around, planning on coming the way I climbed up, but the first guard is standing right behind me. A glance to the right showed more guards climbing up the sides of the building.

Fuck.

They all start creeping closer again, cornering me against the wall of the taller building directly next to the roof we’re standing on. A small clicking makes me look up and I see a window directly above me, curtains fluttering from when the monkey surely snuck through. The guards catch on a second after me. Of course, it would be hard to miss, since I just flipped backwards through the window. A bunch of women jumped up from where they were sitting inside, staring at me in shocked silence. I laugh nervously, looking at the window directly across from me, and sprint towards it, ignoring their shrieks of fear when I leap out of it without a warning.

The guards all shout out, having missed me again, and I laugh, climbing down the wall using easy handholds in the loose bricks. After dropping to the floor I brush my shirt off, wait for the monkey to land easily on my shoulder again, and casually start walking away, blending in with the crowd of people going about their daily business as if they never noticed the army of guards running a high-speed chase throughout the kingdom. Maybe they didn’t.

It doesn’t take long for me to find a deserted alley, far from where the men lost me, and I slide down against a wall, pulling out the bread. I split it down the middle and hand the one half to the monkey, who immediately shoves half of it in its mouth. I’m about to do the same (because despite having just played a literal prince who lived in a castle with what was probably a never-ending supply of food, I didn’t eat a single thing throughout the story and I’m starving), but a small scuffling sound catches my attention before I can take a bite.

Immediately on edge, I stand and creep closer to a little side-alley, the entrance half-covered by a tattered cloth hanging above it. The alley goes silent as I approach and I frown, reaching out to pull the cloth away. Instead of another guard like I was expecting, a small girl was sitting on the floor next to a tipped-over trash can, her hands filthy as if she was digging through it before being caught. My breath catches at the fear in her eyes and I crouch down, making myself meet her at eye level.

“Are you alright?” I ask, keeping my voice gentle, and the girl relaxes a little bit. She nods meekly, then her eyes dart to the half loaf in my hand just as her stomach growls. I smile. “Hungry?” Another nod. I’m not even thinking about my own stomach as I hand her the bread, looking over my shoulder at the monkey who was hugging its half to its chest. I give it a look. “Come on, don’t be rude.” It almost huffs at me (I didn't know monkeys could make such a sound) and hands the bread over, rolling its eyes.

The little girl smiles gratefully, looking on the verge of tears, and I’m quick to walk away after nodding in what was hopefully a reassuring way. I don’t know how to deal with emotions or comfort people. Penny likes to say getting emotional support from me is like trying to get financial advice from a toddler. Harsh, but ultimately true in the end, if I’m being honest.

I take a step out onto the street and immediately rush forwards, reaching for two little kids running out in front of an oncoming horse. The horse startles, jumping up, and I roll away, releasing the kids at the side of the road, panting slightly. A growl makes me look up at the person directly behind me, who happens to be a very angry-looking woman. She glares down at me and I cringe, looking back at the horse. It was a massive horse that initially spooked me, but the rider was what really caught my attention. Once again, I found myself staring up at Agatha, but this time she was scowling down at me in disgust.

“Get out of my way, commoner.” I frown, squinting up at her.

“Agatha, what-?”

She shrieks. “How dare you address me in an informal way!”

I narrow my eyes. “Um, what?”

She scoffs and pulls at the reins of the horse, directing it towards the massive castle from earlier, and I shake my head, pulling myself to my feet. A smaller man puts a hand on my shoulder, looking up at me with a disapproving eye.

“I wouldn’t get on her bad side, kid. Rumors say she’s here to ask for the prince’s hand in marriage. If he accepts, she rules alongside him and you don’t want to have someone with that much power against you.” He stares off into the distance seemingly in a daze and shakes his head, walking away. Weird. I sigh, reaching down to pick up the monkey (who had fallen off when I dived into the road), and head back towards the tall, run down building I woke up in. Surely the guards were gone by now. As I start walking I let my mind wander, wondering who this “prince” was. Baz, maybe? It’d make sense, now that I think about it. Agatha always seemed more interested in him than me.

Still even then, I hope Baz didn’t have as much of an... eventful morning as I did.

Baz

I woke up to a fully grown tiger standing over my fucking face. Yes, you read that right. A FULLY GROWN TIGER. Standing DIRECTLY over me. Now, it didn’t look like it wanted to eat me, but looks can be deceiving, and I wasn’t about to let myself die in such an over-the-top (and, honestly, a very Simon) way. It’s below me.

So of course, I scream and roll off of the bed, falling onto the floor, and untangle my legs from my sheets, my mind racing as fast as my heart.

Is this another story? Which one has a tiger in it? Is there a Disney story with a tiger in it? Is this still Disney? What if it’s Dreamworks or something? Does Dreamworks have a movie with tigers? Oh my god, PLEASE tell me I'm not in fucking Kung Fu Panda-

The tiger slowly walks over to me as I hold my breath, shoving it’s massive head under my arm, and nuzzles into my side, seemingly perfectly content. I carefully run a hand over the bi-coloured fur, an answer to my questions feeling as if it’s just barely evading my memory. Then a knock sounds at the door and I call out, telling whoever it is to come in. A kind-looking woman steps in, smiling confusedly at me when she sees me on the ground next to the tiger, who’s watching her with a slightly intense stare.

“I see you’re both awake.” I nod, still trying to piece together minute details. What story what story what story- “The newest princess has arrived today, and before you interrupt me saying you don’t want to speak to her-” I close my mouth, despite only wanting to ask who the hell this “newest princess” was and why she was here. “-Just know that your father insists that she’s the perfect match for you.” I roll my eyes without thinking, that one sentence having brought up hundreds of memories of my father attempting to set me up with some girl or another at social events.

“I think I’m fine right here.” The woman shakes her head.

“You know that’s not an option. Please get ready to meet your father in the throne room.” Then she’s gone.

I huff, running my hands through my hair, and let my head fall back onto the mattress behind me. You figured out what was happening last time, you can do it again. Let’s see.

Tiger.

Royalty (I’m assuming).

Looking for a suitor.

Interior of the castle looks foreign, from what’s in this room.

I pause. None of the newer movies should have most of these things, since they’re all remakes now. So that rules those out. Classics, then?

Cinderella: No, for obvious reasons.

Snow White: Not matching with anything I’ve mentioned thus far, so it’s a no as well.

The Little Mermaid: Again, obviously no.

Same with Mulan, Pocahontas, Sleeping Beauty, and Beauty and the Beast.

So that leaves… Aladdin? Wait, of course. It would make the most sense, if it’s still Disney princess tales.

I turn my head, still resting against the mattress, and look at the tiger with a tired expression.

“You have got to be shitting me.” It blinks back at me with a… surprisingly apologetic look? and I wave it off. “I’m talking to a tiger. If I get out of here I’m making Bunce pay for the therapy I’ll surely need.” It huffs, shaking its head slightly, and I smile. Maybe this won’t be as bad. At least I woke up on an actual bed this time.

I slowly get up and ready, putting on the outfit laid out by the woman from earlier. A pair of pale blue pants that are loose everywhere except the ankles and waist, just like the movies, an embroidered cloth that wraps around my waist, partially covering the waistline of the pants, and what looks like a really fancy long sleeved crop top (thank Merlin I wasn’t given a bloody bra like the films) with lovely swirls and designs embroidered on the sleeves and around my shoulders. Essentially just a masculine version of Jasmine’s (that was her name, I think?) outfit.

I make a mental note to myself to do some research on traditional Arabian clothing when I get out of here, since it’s becoming clear that I know next to nothing about their culture and despite what Simon may say, I’m not a complete asshole with no respect for other human beings and I do try to avoid offending people when I can help it.

The woman is waiting outside when I open the door, smiling kindly when I make eye contact. She gestures for me to follow her, (which I’m grateful for, this place is huge), and leads me through two tall doors into what I presume is the throne room. On a… well… throne, is a short, well dressed man, smiling happily when I walk into the room. I don’t recognize him, but I’m sure he “plays” my father. At least he’s not the Mage.

The (assumed) sultan waves me forward, beckoning me closer. I follow his nonverbal instructions hesitantly and he gestures to his side with the same bright smile. I stop next to him, holding my hands behind my back, and look down at my feet. It’s silent for a few seconds before the doors I entered through open once again, and in walks someone who immediately makes me want to run back to the comfortable bed from earlier and hide in the soft blankets with the bloody tiger. Again. You have got to be shitting me. None other than Agatha Wellbelove winks at me as she curtsies in front of the king.

Wonderful.

Chapter Text

Agatha

Penny’s acting strange.

Now, normally that wouldn’t be unusual. After all, Penny is a generally strange person. It comes from being so close to Simon, I’m sure. (I’m not jealous, I swear. I just… wish they weren’t so… touchy all of the time.) But her recent behavior (read: not making eye contact despite being in the middle of a conversation with me; constantly staring at a small handheld mirror she keeps pulling out of Merlin knows where; never not scribbling in her notebook) and the fact that Simon has been missing for nearly two days now has put me slightly on edge.

When I asked her about his disappearance she just told me it didn’t involve me and that I shouldn’t worry about it (what else is new?). This is when I usually drop it, assuming he’s just on a mission with the Mage and didn’t bother telling me beforehand. (Again. What else is new?) But this time, I couldn't help but notice…

Baz is also missing.

It could be purely coincidental, I told myself at first. Maybe a sickness. I mean, I haven’t once seen Baz miss class because of an illness of any sort (Simon always insists it’s because “Vampires don’t get sick, Aggie.” and as questionable as Simon’s ridiculous theory is, I’ve just come to assume that Baz simply doesn’t get ill). But still. Anything could happen.

They could have gotten into yet another fight that landed them both in the infirmary. It wouldn’t be the first time. Although, I stopped by around lunch yesterday to see if I could catch a glimpse of either boy and was met with a very grumpy nurse asking if she could assist me in any way. No sign of the two missing students.

So. Penny has been acting strange. Simon and Baz are missing and nobody wants to tell me where they’ve gone off to. (I did overhear Gareth say something to Trixie about the two of them falling through the solid floor in Possibelf’s class but dismissed him immediately because that’s absolutely ridiculous). Penny immediately reached over and shushed him anyways, which just convinced me further of her possible loss of sanity.

“Oh! Penny!” I call out across the grounds, spotting her sitting cross-legged under a large tree surrounded by many library books, notebooks, and the small mirror she’d been practically glued to since Simon went missing. She doesn’t even so much as glance up at me as I start towards her, just pausing whatever she was writing in one of the numerous notebooks for a second before continuing as if she had never been interrupted. I huff, reaching her spot, and let my bag drop to the crook of my elbow, brushing my hair away with my free hand.

I clear my throat and her writing speeds up until I’m not entirely sure the words are remotely legible before she finishes the sentence and snaps the notebook shut, shoving it in her bag. Finally, finally, she looks up at me, squinting past the sunlight reflecting off of her glasses behind me.

“Oh, hello Agatha. Care to join me?” I roll my eyes at her weirdly formal invitation (seriously, why doesn’t she talk like a normal teenager?) but carefully drop onto the grass regardless, letting my bag fall off of my arm next to me.

“Anything from Simon?” I ask, and she immediately starts fidgeting, pursing her lips and narrowing her eyes at a spot slightly over my shoulder. I sigh, looking away from her. This has also been happening since the... disappearance. Anytime I bring up Simon or Baz (I’m careful to not mention Baz too much in front of her, she might start to think I’m growing an obsession like Simon) she gets all nervous and changes the topic as soon as there’s an opening.

“Nope. I’ve heard nothing. You?” I shake my head, giving her a blank stare that hopefully conveys the utter stupidity of that question.

“No. I didn’t know he was even gone until you said something.” She frowns and makes eye contact with me for a brief moment before directing her stare down to her lap, then to a notebook to her left, then to the mirror next to that. I follow her glance and feel my eyes widen as a familiar shade of bronze flashes against the glass before vanishing. Simon—?

“Is— Is the reflection in that mirror… moving?!” Penny laughs nervously and frantically picks it up, pulling it against her chest, out of my view. I glare at her (not too hard, my mother’s voice echoing “careful, you’ll get wrinkles making a face like that” in my mind) and cross my arms, leveling her with an unimpressed look. She shrugs, still giggling slightly in that panicked way, and holds the mirror closer.

“Pssh, whaaaaat? No, no. Images in mirrors can’t move, Agatha! Heh… Yeah. That’s ridiculous.” Again, she immediately avoids eye contact, and I tilt my head to the side, frowning. Liar.

“You’re hiding something. And that something has something to do with that mirror.” Her eyes grow wider and more panicked and I take a moment to consider letting her off the hook before mentally shaking my head at myself. You deserve answers, don’t cave.

Penny tugs a strand of curly hair roughly behind her ear and shoves the mirror into a… pocket? Female uniforms don’t have pockets, though, my mind (un)helpfully pipes in.

I sigh, making my frustration clear in the sound, and push my own hair behind my ears. “Are you seriously not going to tell me?” Penny looks guilty for a second, good, before she shakes her head, a determined glint lighting up in her eyes. Not good.

“I can’t say. It’s… not my place.” I groan, tipping my head back. She seriously could not be more vague and cryptic right now, I swear.

“Well, can you say anything?” She looks up at the branches hanging above our heads and considers my question before humming.

“It has something to do with my original spell assignment.” I squint at her because wow, that literally answers none of my questions, and nod slowly.

“So, it’s about your project, but you can’t tell me anything because it’s not your place. That makes no sense,” I argue, hoping she sees the obvious flaw in her explanation. She huffs, giving me an annoyed look, as if I was the one being absolutely ridiculous, and starts shoving her notebooks in her bag.

“It makes perfect sense, you just don’t have the proper information to make that call for me.” She glares at me (it’s actually a little intimidating) and I lean back a bit as casually as possible, watching her silently sling her now-full bag over her shoulder and stomp away, heading back to Cloisters.

I groan again, dropping back to lie on the grass, and stare up at the green leaves hanging above my head.

Penny is acting strange. And I’m going to find out why.

Chapter Text

Baz

You know, not even five days ago (have we really been stuck in this spell for five days? time is relative anyways) the most pressing of my issues was restricted solely to getting enough blood in me without Simon noticing and/or giving me up to the Mage and completing my final spell, ensuring my place as first in our class.

Now? I would give anything —and I mean anything— if it meant going back to the least of my worries being Simon exposing my vampirism to the entire school.

Because there is nothing more painful, more absolutely excruciating, than awkwardly sitting next to Agatha-fucking-Wellbelove in silence while she slowly gives up trying to partake in one-sided small talk with me.

I suppose it’s not entirely her fault. But I’ll still be bitter about it.

By now I’ve accepted that I’m stuck in yet another fairy tale. One that involves a significantly large amount of villainy, and by association, the Mage, in it.

Hooray.

I should know what to expect this time. I’ll sneak out to go to the market, nearly get my hand chopped off by an asshole with anger management issues, get saved by Simon (woe be me), have a Moment[TM] in his shabby home (again. woe be my entire fucking life), reveal my identity to the guards, scream at the Mage —assuming he’s the villain again— for arresting Simon (that’ll be fun), then everything else should play out with no additional work required by me. At least not until the very end.

This was one of my favorites to watch with Mordelia due to her constantly complaining about the inconsistencies in the plot (“seriously, why did Jafar feel the need to consult a magickal being when he could have just murdered the sultan and princess and be done with it?”) while I tried to debunk her arguments (“because someone surely would have caught on to his plot when they both suddenly were murdered; also magic genie powers, come on Mordelia.”).

(Or a morbid but favorite comment of mine by her that I still do not have an actual answer for, “what would that shopkeeper have done with her hand after severing it if Aladdin never showed up?” It still haunts me to this very day.)

Sometimes she’s a little too inquisitive for her age.

I remember the last time we watched Aladdin. It was last Christmas break, since Mordelia insisted the two of us watched it despite the film having nothing to do with the holidays and I gave in because she pulled out her bambi eyes (yes, we watched Bambi the previous summer break as well and she must have practiced the look in the mirror countless times since then; I always cave) and I haven’t had enough time nor exposure to grow immune to them quite yet. At this rate, she could give me the Look and ask for a bloody pony (or dragon, that seems much more her style) and I’d barely hesitate.

Anyways, about halfway through Friend Like Me she had paused the film and asked me what I would ask for if I were to ever find a magic lamp. At the time, I had given her a basic, silly answer like ’an endless supply of your mother’s Christmas cookies’ just to indulge her. Now that I’m actually in the story I almost want to take her question seriously, despite not ever being the master of the lamp throughout the story. (Don’t think I didn’t notice that I’m the princess again. I don’t like what this spell is implying, yet I still hear Simon’s clueless ‘although it is odd that you’re the princess out of the two of us’ echoing in my head on repeat.)

Agatha clears her throat, bringing me back to the present and out of my increasingly risqué thoughts about an idiotic fool wandering somewhere out in the kingdom. (Which is probably for the best). I scowl at her on instinct and she crosses her arms, sticking her nose up at me.

“You do realize a conversation goes both ways, right?” I roll my eyes.

“No, I’m completely stupid. Do enlighten me —and use as many details as possible. Less talking for me.”

She scoffs, turning to glare out at the large wall surrounding the garden we’re seated in. The garden itself is very calming and picturesque, despite the tension in the air, and I find myself relaxing as I stare at a rose bush not far off from where I’m sat on the edge of a grandiose fountain. She opens her mouth to speak again but cuts herself off with a squeak, encouraging me to glance at her now-pale face. I follow her line of sight to find her completely focused on the tiger from earlier (now confirmed Rajah) who’s prowling towards her slowly, it’s gaze fixed unwaveringly on her face.

I allow a smile to grace my lips and turn to her again, feigning innocence.

“Oh, do you not like cats? I assure you, he’s very sweet when you get past the bloodlust and sharp fangs.”

Oh, the irony.

Internally cackling at the way she somehow gets even paler, seriously, she’s giving me a run for my money, I lean back on my hands, watching the tiger get up in her face. He stares at her intently before she lets out another squeak and bolts, shoving past him and screeching about “not getting eaten by a bloody tiger, not to-fucking-day, nope nope nope-“ and I allow myself to laugh loudly, grinning at the now amused-looking animal.

“Good boy, Rajah.” I pet his giant head, rubbing a hand through his fur, and smile wider when he emits a pleased huff, pushing closer. After we got… *ahem* ...acquainted this morning and I’ve figured out what’s happening, I’ve immediately warmed up to the kind creature. We stay like that, basking in the warm sun in relative silence, before the sultan storms into the gardens, glaring at me in disapproval.

Jokes on him, I think. I’ve seen that look on my real father so many times I’m practically immune to its intended effects. And Malcom Grimm is much more intimidating than this five foot man with the appearance of a worn-down teddy bear.

“Basilton!” The sultan exclaims, waving his arms around in his stress. “You cannot keep doing this! At least give them a chance.” I frown, glaring at the ground next to Rajah’s tail, and blow a strand of hair out of my face.

“Father, I don’t love any of these people.” I love Simon. And he’s most definitely not here.

“Sometimes, leaders must give up some things for the greater good of their country. Agatha is a lovely girl.” I scoff, ready to argue, but he cuts me off. “I learned to grow to love your mother. We hated each other at first.” He stares at me expectantly as if waiting for me to respond and I glare back defiantly, keeping my lips pressed tightly closed. He sighs, then continues his lecture about responsibility.

I stand, making my way towards the large bird cage I noticed when I walked in (or out, I suppose), then open the latch, hesitating and looking back at the sultan instead of opening the door. Then I say something I’ve told my own father many times, fully expecting him to completely disregard the words but still feeling the need to say them:

“I refuse to give up my freedom of choice for something that can wait a few more years.” Then, “I’m in no rush to figure out my life, and that’s all that matters.”

With that, I turn back to the cage and pull the door open, watching the birds all spring into motion. They circle around each other after leaving the enclosure and fly off, leaving me squinting at the sun for a second before turning back to the exasperated man before me.

He sighs, scratching his forehead with a small hand, and shakes his head. “Fine, fine. You win, for now. I must go.” He walks away, posture slumped and defeated, and I take a moment to feel slightly bad about brushing him off before Bunce’s voice floats back to me.

Stick to the story. Don’t change the plot.

I groan, dragging my hands down my face, and give the tiger a tired look. “Any advice?” It shakes its head at me and I huff out a laugh, shaking my head. “Aaaaand I’m still talking to a tiger. You’ve officially lost it, Basilton.”

Simon

It’s the morning after I first arrived in the next story and I still have no idea which tale it is.

Which is probably an issue.

I turn to the monkey, who hasn’t left me alone since we arrived back at the rundown building I woke up in. It keeps looking at me, nudging me, sometimes even full on shoving me. Finally, after about four more minutes of this, I huff and face it head-on.

Yes?” It perks up and grabs my hand, dragging me forward with surprising strength. I hop to my feet and head towards the entrance (not the window this time) and slowly make my way down the broken foundation of the building. Only when we step out onto the street do I hear the monkey’s stomach growl, reminding me of my own hunger and our lost meal this morning.

Something tells me I don’t have enough money to buy us some more and usually I’d be against stealing because my moral code is particularly pointed towards the inherently good side (according to Penny) but I really don’t feel like starving before I get the chance to find Baz.

Which could take a while, because once again I’m stuck in a massive kingdom with no hints as to what the fuck is happening.

The monkey hops on top of what looks to be a melon cart in the street and I position myself in a place close enough to grab one yet out of sight of the man running the cart. None of it's real, so technically, it’s not a real crime, yeah? Nobody’s getting hurt from losing one melon either. Yeah. It’s fine. An odd clicking sounds from behind the man and he turns around, shouting out when he sees the monkey holding a melon.

I use that distraction as a chance to reach forward and grab one, swiftly passing the cart and peeking over my shoulder at the raging man trying to grab the monkey. He didn’t seem to notice my existence at all, let alone the fact that I tripped over the cart’s wheel and jostled it a bit as I passed.

I pretend not to notice a suspiciously Baz-sounding voice in my head hiss, “Nice going, you absolute disaster. Might as well just throw the fruit at his head and scream ‘Arrest me! I’m stealing an entire fucking watermelon from an innocent man!’”

It’s not working.

I whistle once loudly, calling the monkey to me, and it sticks its tongue out at the man, waving when it settles on my shoulder. Smug little creature, isn’t it?

I let the monkey take the fruit and do whatever with it for the time being, perfectly happy with making my way down the street casually back to the abandoned building I’m taking residence in. I’m waving off a woman holding pearls out to me when I hear a cry, up the street by an apple cart. A young man, from the looks of the back, is being held in place by a very large and intimidating man, who is obviously downright pissed at something.

At least, I’d assume so, since he’s very clearly seconds away from hacking at the younger man with what looks like a giant butcher's knife. (Why would a man at an apple cart have one of those on hand, anyways?)

Something in me tells me to step in so despite another voice screaming at me to run away from the danger or pretend I saw nothing like everyone else in the general area I rush forward and grab the large man’s wrist just before he can swing it at the younger man.

“Hey, now. Let’s not make any rash decisions! We’re all friends here, right?” The man glowers at me and I swallow nervously, turning to check on the person behind me, only to find his entire face shadowed by the scarf wrapped over his head and shoulders. I think I might be able to make out the smallest smile from under the pale blue fabric.

“This man tried to steal from my cart. He has to pay the price,” says Scary Man. Surprisingly, before I can find an answer that would get the other man out of here with no serious injuries he speaks up for himself, his voice weirdly familiar.

“I didn’t steal, the child was starving.” To prove his own point, he gestured to a small boy hiding behind a post nearby, watching fearfully with an apple clutched in his shaking hands. I raise an eyebrow.

“See? Simple misunderstanding. I’m sure…”

“I'm not telling you my name.”

“...this lovely man would be more than happy to come back and pay you later, yeah?” Scary Man shakes his head.

“Nice try. But it won’t work. Step aside, street rat.”

I scoff, putting one hand on my hip and gesturing wildly with the other. “Okay, first of all, that’s the second time I’ve been called that today and it’s really starting to get old, honestly. See how you like getting called a rodent by a homicidal stranger. Secondly,” I pause, subtly reaching back and taking the other man’s hand, then whirl around, pulling him with me, “Run!”

The man starts yelling again and I throw a grin at the young man over my shoulder, sighing with relief when I feel a small weight land on my back once again. The monkey was safe still, then.

We all jerk to a stop in front of the building I’m staying in and I carefully lead the way up to the top, much slower than I have been going since waking up for the benefit of the stranger still with me. He let go of my hand a while ago (which I’m weirdly bummed about, but I try not to think about that) and was actually making his way up with little trouble.

I push the trapdoor open and pull myself through the opening, holding a hand out again to help the man up, smiling when he seems flustered at the contact. I still can’t see his face entirely but a nagging voice in the back of my head won’t stop telling me I’m missing something, that it should be obvious who’s under the scarf.

“Um, this is it, I guess.” I scratch the back of my neck, watching the man glance around with a detached look. My hands itch to make the place tidier, nice enough to impress the stranger, despite having no idea who he is. I grin, getting an idea, and take his hand again, grinning wider when I hear a small squeak come from him that I’m sure was meant to be hidden. He follows me without protest up the crumbling stairs, although I can sense his hesitance as he pauses minutely at the bottom of the unstable structure before continuing after me.

Gesturing to a makeshift bench made of what looks like a large piece of broken concrete, I wait for him to sit before pulling the tarp covering the large hole that probably once housed a lovely window overlooking the entire kingdom. The view takes the man’s breath away and his small gasp sparks a giddy feeling in my chest. I inhale sharply and watch him stare (assumedly, I still can’t see his face) wide-eyed at the castle in the distance.

The monkey taps my foot and I flinch, frowning down at it. “What is it?” The monkey huffs, reaching a hand out, and presents an apple to me. I put a hand to my chest and smile, gasping dramatically. “Oh, you do care!” It rolls its eyes (again, didn’t know monkeys could do that) and storms off, probably in pursuit of its own food.

When I turn back to the stranger he’s watching me with an odd fondness (I don’t question how I somehow knew that despite not being able to see his face) that he quickly covers up by turning away. I frown again, being reminded of Baz at the ball, and hold the apple out, watching the man startle when he notices my offer.

“Oh, you don’t have to-“ I shake my head.

“No, I insist. Really, it’s okay.” He hesitates for a beat before caving and reaching forward to take the fruit.

“Thank you,” he says, his voice almost a whisper. I smile softly.

“No problem.” We sit in silence, staring out at the castle, and I debate internally whether or not it’s awkward. Eventually I settle on ‘not if you don’t make it awkward’ and take a small breath, still watching the palace in the distance.

“It must be nice, living in the castle. I wonder what it’s like.” The stranger sighs, picking at one of his nails, and ducks his head.

“Suffocating. Nothing like being free to roam the kingdom whenever you please.” That response was a little too certain and bitter to be a random guess.

I raise my eyebrows, dropping onto the “bench” next to him, and bump his shoulder, hoping to get some more information on this nameless stranger. “Speaking from experience?” He curled into himself and fiddled with the apple, tossing it from hand to hand absentmindedly.

“Of course not.” The answer was quick, said in a chipper voice that screamed “definitely.”

I laugh lightly, bumping shoulders again, and squint out at the very far distance behind even the palace. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of sand dunes can be seen in the deserted lands out there stretching miles away from the kingdom, nothing else visible in the barren area from our place in the building.

This time I know immediately that the silence is definitely comfortable, in a way that gives me the familiar nagging again, as if my mind is telling me ‘you’re really close! something’s off and you know what it is, you just need to remember!’ and it’s very confusing. I know for a fact I’ve never been in this situation (obviously) so I’m not sure why I keep feeling this odd sense of deja vu.

I open my mouth, turning to face the nearly-silent stranger, when the trapdoor bursts open, revealing the guard from earlier. I groan, standing and facing him as he pulls himself up again. “Seriously? You again?”

He grins creepily at me and cracks his neck, obviously thinking I’m cornered with someone else with me. By then the stranger was up on his own feet, glancing between the guard and me with apprehension. I curse when I hear more footsteps making their way up the rickety ladder to the trapdoor and rush towards the window ledge, turning towards the stranger with a hand held out.

He hesitates and I sigh exasperatedly, already itching to get away from there. “Do you trust me?” He looks shocked (or at least, I think so, I still can’t see his face. his… body language?? looked shocked??), taking a small half step back before nodding firmly.

He takes my hand and I drag him into my side right before the guard can reach out and grab him, then tip backwards, pulling us into a freefall. The stranger muffles a scream in my weird vest-thing I’m wearing and I tighten my hold around him, waiting for us to hit the massive pile of fabric I saw directly under the window earlier.

Convenient, the wonders of movie magic are.

The second we make contact I let go of him and roll forward, pulling us both to our feet and sprinting down the alley we landed in before he could gather his bearings. Only, when we reach the end of the small side street four guards block our path, forcing us to turn around, where we encounter three more. This time there’s no more windows to escape through. I’m not entirely sure where the monkey is.

All around, not the best situation to be in, not gonna lie.

Baz

Simon Snow is an idiot.

We all know this. We have for quite some time now, yet he never fails to surprise me. Sometimes, he likes to remind me exactly how stupid he is and I feel the need to express as much directly.

This absolute numpty has been talking to me for well over fifteen minutes and still has no idea it’s me he’s talking to. At first I thought it was a joke, just him messing with me. But no. I have lived with him for literal years yet he struggles to recognize the sound of my voice? One wouldn’t think our entire childhood is ample time to get acquainted with someone’s voice. He’s impossible. I will never understand him.

Then his completely reasonable approach to multiple men with swords running at us was to leap out of a ninth story window. With me. In his arms. Seriously, I wasn’t kidding earlier when I said my undead heart couldn’t take it. I’m positive it stopped beating the second I felt his arms around me. (Although that might have been the free-falling from a ninth story window).

And now we’re cornered and I’m nearly certain Simon is more worried about the goddamn monkey than the fact that we’re completely surrounded by guards with orders to capture both of us.

Why am I in love with this imbecile again?

I actually scoff out loud when I hear him mumble, “Okay yeah, this could be a little better.”

“No, really,” I drawl, watching his eyes widen in what I hope is realization. He turns to me slowly, seemingly forgetting the guards around us, and I cross my arms over my chest, rolling my eyes at him.

“B—“

“—Yeah. It’s me, dimwit.” He pouts at me, (no, it’s not adorable, I am not blushing, shut up), and I sigh, nudging my head obviously towards the men around us, reminding him of our situation.

He understands just a second too late, when the first guard pins his wrists behind him, shoving him to his knees roughly. In spite of myself, I step forward, intending on putting a hand out in front of me as if I was going to reach out and grab Simon, before stopping myself and standing up straight. Stick to the story.  

“Let him go,” I say instead. The guard holding him laughs.

“Oh yeah? And what gives you the authority to order me around?” I smirk to myself and reach up to grab the scarf, pulling it out of my face and glaring at the man.

“My title as crowned prince of Agrabah should do the trick, I presume.” The man sputters, sharing a shocked look with the guards around him, before all of them drop to their own knees and bow down to me. Simon winces as the guard’s grip gets tighter around his wrists and I demand the man lets him go free. He rubs the back of his hand with one of his hands, still holding Simon securely with the other.

“I’m sorry, your Highness, but I’m afraid I cannot do that. My orders come directly from the royal vizier.” I scowl at him, crossing my arms. Simon gives me a look, like he knows I’m being overdramatic, but I couldn’t give less of a fuck what he thinks, this is honestly sort of… fun.

Also, being able to annoy Snow so easily is always a bonus.

“I assure you, my father will be hearing about this.” The guard swallows and wipes some sweat off of his forehead and I have to hide a smile at his nervous fidgeting. Yes, be uncomfortable. I thrive on your unease.

Simon shakes his head, squinting at me with an odd look on his face, and I wink at him before turning around and storming away.

Simon

He winked at me.

That cocky bastard winked at me.

I can't believe him. He has the audacity to leave me here with them, too! It pisses me off for some reason— his confidence, I mean. At least, I’d assume anger is the emotion responsible for the burning in my chest. It would make the most sense. Anger towards Baz is familiar. Reassuring. Maybe even calming, in its own twisted way.

Although I must be very mad if it’s making my stomach feel odd as well. Almost like it’s filled with static or something, just constantly buzzing when he does something particularly Baz-like. I also felt the static at the royal ball, which is odd because I wasn’t remotely angry then. That’s never happened before we were put in the spell.

I’m sure it’s fine.

My musing is cut short when the guard growls and ties my hands together, leading me down many side alleys that avoid the main street.

We stop in a deserted alley and I turn to the guard in confusion, about to ask why we weren’t moving anymore, when a fist comes flying at my face at a speed that barely registers before everything goes dark.

Well, this just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it?