So for this week’s prompt, we Marauders decided to write about a topic very succinctly narrowed to “something fairy tale-ish.” This was the fruit of my effort, and — though, as Sara would say, it’s still in the “shit phase” — it was super fun to write.
Sparks and Slippers
By M.G. Knight
Far atop a mountain, in the highest recesses of the forest, a slipper was made. It was a most beautiful creation with glass that shimmered like a night sky full of dazzling stars. Its creator was a fairy godmother, a woman of short stature and high ambition who fashioned together only the best and newest dreams for herself and sewed everyone else’s from scratch. The slipper she made that day was, indeed, the embodiment of a dream. If any person—be she a fairy, goblin, or human—were to place that slipper upon her foot, the fairy godmother’s wish would find its way to the wearer. But, alas, the godmother forgot one simple rule in creating her glass slipper: that all items imbued with magic become living things.
Irked at the godmother’s selfishness, the slipper refused to allow the fairy godmother to put it upon her foot, and it was thus banished to a pedestal atop a mantelpiece, where it was admired day after day by the godmother’s crooning female visitors, for not one man had ever paid a visit to the godmother.
The slipper sat alone on its pedestal as the cold harshness of winter gave way to the soft, smiling days of spring, and it became lonely; its dazzling glimmer dimmed to a dull sheen as gloom spread within its glass innards, and—abhorred that she should have such a piece on display—the fairy godmother prepared to discard it.
I offer you a deal, twinkled the slipper as the godmother held it above the open chute, her nose wrinkled in distaste. If you will but spare me and create my twin, you could have everything you always dreamed of.
“How?” asked the fairy godmother suspiciously.
I already have the power to grant you your first wish. If you fashion a second slipper, it will bring you true love.
The fairy godmother was skeptical. “Ah, but I would have to put you upon my feet, and your twin would be just as bothersome as you about it.”
Nay, shimmered the slipper. You need not put us upon your feet, but you must keep us together always and allow us to roam freely. If you do so, your dreams will come to fruition. But if we are ever to separate, only the one who fits us perfectly shall benefit.
After some deliberation, the fairy godmother decided to fashion the slipper’s twin. After a day and night of spell casting the twin slipper came to be, and there was no pair like it in all the kingdom.
The twin was almost as beautiful as the original, but it was much more sarcastic.
I didn’t realize the bird and bees was code for spellcasting and sewing, he breathed as he came from the whirl of elements, color, and wind surrounding the godmother’s wand.
The godmother was smug. “I agreed you may roam,” she said. “But you can never leave the castle unless it is on a pair of feet.”
I sincerely hope it’s not yours, the twin sparkled as it made off with its sister.
The magic of the slippers took effect almost immediately. Kings and queens from across the sea traveled to see the great fairy godmother, and she was laden with gifts of silk and gold and trinkets from far-off countries—for the dream that had fashioned the first shoe had been that of wealth and stature.
It wasn’t long before the king himself presented the fairy godmother with an offer: to host a ball in the royal family’s honor, inviting all the women across the kingdom so that his son may find a bride. It was to take place at the palace, of course, and the fairy godmother was welcome to visit for as long as she wished afterward.
Recalling her slipper’s second wish of true love, the fairy godmother accepted without hesitation, sure she would win the prince’s heart. She spent an entire week in her dressing room, fashioning the newest styles and enchanting herself with the strongest beauty spells.
But the fairy godmother still had work to do (as all fairy godmothers do), and that required helping the less fortunate.
“Such squabble,” she growled as she opened her closet door after seven days of primping. The slippers peeked around the corner. Inside the closet, they could make out a girl in servant’s clothing. She was scrubbing a very dirty floor, humming with a lyrical, soft voice that reminded one of petals and warm rain and sun rays. So stunning was she that even the fairy godmother paused before giving a very unladylike snort.
“Well. I’m sure she will be easily dealt with. A servant’s dream should be simple to provide.” A bubble from the servant’s cleaning bucket floated into the air before soaring through the portal through which the godmother and slippers watched; the fairy godmother popped it with one of her manicured fingers.
And, indeed, as the slippers and godmother continued to spy on the girl throughout the rest of the day, they discovered her dream quickly enough: to attend the very ball the godmother would be hosting that eve. The girl toiled all day long at creating the perfect dress within her chamber, and as the sun set she finally finished.
“Simple enough. My invitation did ask all females within the household to attend. After all, a godmother must treat all as equals,” the godmother chirruped, sure her job was done. “And, look, she’s even made herself a rag of a gown.” But the twin slipper nudged her.
Look, stupid, it said. The sparks in its shoe—so much fierier than in the original’s—darted forward to point at the portal.
They watched as two girls about the same age as the maid circled her, their silky gowns contrasting with the stark room.
“You honestly believe that invitation was meant for you?” sneered the taller one, the jewels at her neck glinting. She tilted her rather large nose toward the chandelier-less ceiling.
“And do you truly think we would let you go to a royal ball? You’re filthy. You’d be an embarrassment to the family,” the short, plump one cooed, lifting her skirts for fear of getting them dirty.
The fairy godmother gave a nod. “Good head on those two shoulders,” she said.
The eldest glass slipper glowed ember.
“Mother said I’m welcome to join you,” said the maid, squaring her shoulders. Something in her eyes was reminiscent of the slippers’ sparks. “If it would embarrass you, I am more than happy to enter unescorted.”
“Unescorted?” said a new voice beyond the portal’s view. A tall, thin woman stepped into the room, the high brow and muddy eyes clear indications she was the siblings’ mother. “I think not. Imagine the gossip. No, my dear. I gave you cloth and ribbon to make your own gown, but I’m afraid if it isn’t acceptable for a royal ball you will not be permitted to join us.”
The maid reluctantly drew from underneath her cot a small parcel, which she opened to reveal the simple, but elegant gown she had finished not an hour before.
“It doesn’t have any bows,” crowed the taller sister, leaning forward for a better look.
“It doesn’t have any lace,” purred the second, forcing her mouth into a fake pout.
“It’s made of cotton,” growled the fairy godmother. “I cannot have anyone wear cotton to my ball.”
The mother strode forward to lift one of the blue sleeves. “It shall do perfectly, Elle,” said the mother.
“Stepmother!” Elle’s eyes brimmed with joy.
“Unless,” the stepmother continued. The slippers shuddered. “something awful were to happen to it before the ball tonight. However, a responsible girl would never allow such a work of art to be ruined, now would she?” With a wicked smile, the stepmother swept out of the room.
It took almost a full minute for the step-sisters to understand what they were supposed to do. When comprehension finally dawned, they ripped the dress from Elle’s fingers, pulling it apart and ripping at its seams.
“Oh, Cinderella,” said the tall sister as the last shred of fabric fell to the floor. “It seems as though you ruined your dress.”
“Yes,” said the second. “A pity. There’s no way you can go to the ball now.”
The sisters would have been pretty had it not been for the selfishness that disfigured their faces. Smiling and laughing, they exited the room, leaving Elle alone in the center of the chamber, surrounded by the tattered remnants of her dress.
You must help her, said the eldest glass slipper as Elle slowly crumpled to the floor.
“Don’t you dare tell me what to do,” the fairy godmother snapped. She tapped her wand against the closet door. “But I suppose you’re right. Drat it all. That means less time for me to get ready for the ball. So be it: I shall make her the simplest, ugliest gown I can and hurry back here to prepare.”
But won’t the other fairies know? It was the twin slipper who spoke.
“Know what?” asked the godmother, already waving her wand. A sack of cloth similar to a burlap sack with a few ruffles appeared out of thin air. “Ah, yes, that should do for her.”
That you were the creator of such a simple, ugly gown, said the eldest. Every fairy can sense whose magic made an item; they will know as soon as they see it that you were the creator of such a horrendous masterpiece. It would stain your reputation.
The fairy stopped halfway to the portal. “Oh, bother. I suppose you’re right. I believe I can craft something beautiful enough if I hurry.” And she jumped wholly through the portal.
Unable to exit the castle without the aid of feet, the two slippers watched as the fairy godmother set to work.
You know, said the twin slipper as Elle was clothed in a resplendent gown of blue and white, she may be a selfish hag, but she does have talent.
The first slipper could only twinkle in agreement.
“There, my dear,” said the fairy godmother in the portal, her voice falsely sweet. “you look ravishing, and you are ready for the ball. Just remember: the spell wears off at midnight. Go, have a good time, and may all your dreams come true!” No sooner had she stepped through the portal than her sickly sweet voice disappeared. “Martha!” she screeched, running out of the chamber and into the adjoining room. “Get in here now. And get my dress, and my slippers, and don’t forget the jewels. And my hair better not have one curl out of place when we’re done!”
Off she stomped, too harried to notice that Elle was dashing for the portal before it closed. “Fairy godmother, you forgot my shoes!” she cried. But the fairy godmother, distracted with more important things in a different chamber, didn’t hear her—or see the maid as she stepped tentatively out of the portal and into the closet.
And there, as if they had been waiting for her, as if the fairy godmother had been sure to leave them just for her, were the glass slippers, twinkling side by side in the dark closet.
“Beautiful,” Elle whispered as she picked them up. They were warm to the touch. “Thank you, fairy godmother,” she said, slipping her feet into them. They were a perfect fit. Then she hopped through the portal to make her way to the ball.
Still in the castle getting ready, the fairy godmother cast one last look into the mirror. “It is passable, although not perfect,” she said to poor Martha, who bowed her head. The fairy flicked her wrist and sparks flew from her wand. “I shall catch myself a prince tonight, Martha,” the godmother said smugly. “With those two slippers in my possession, nothing can go wrong.”
A short way across the kingdom, a very different face cast one last look into the cracked mirror in her chamber. “I can’t believe it’s me,” she breathed. The glass slippers upon her feet twinkled mischievously but remained quiet.
And so it was that the slippers made their first escape from their master’s castle upon the feet of one called Cinderella. And they glimmered and glowed all through the carriage ride, barely able to contain their glee, for they did not wish to startle Elle. And when Elle found her way through the palace gates and down the carpeted stairs, it was as if they were having an adventure themselves.
They slid among the other shoes on the dance floor, joyful and free, until—
“May I have this dance?” The voice was light and warm, like a welcome fire in a cold night. And the shoes! Tall, black boots, polished to gleaming perfection.
“I would be honored,” said Cinderella, giving a curtsy.
Alas, had she not curtsied! For as the hem of her skirt slid ever so slightly upward, the fairy godmother—lurking some distance away—caught a glimpse of familiar sparks upon the maiden’s foot.
“Martha,” she said to the waiting servant, her narrowed eyes following the prince. “Go check on my slippers.” For the prince had yet to cast one glance her way.
“Of course, my lady.” Off Martha went, disappearing behind the crowd of dancing couples. When she came back, her face was pale.
“Where are they?” the godmother snapped.
“Th-they are gone, my lady.”
The godmother’s eyes followed Elle across the dance floor, where she was being led out into the night by the handsome prince.
Rage overcame her. Creeping stealthily along, she followed them out into the night.
“May I have the honor of your name?” the prince was saying.
The fairy godmother was in quite a pickle, and both slippers watched her in apprehension from beneath Elle’s dress. She couldn’t dare risk interrupting the prince or calling a guest a thief, but she also could not allow Elle to leave with the godmother’s precious dreams upon her feet.
“Elle,” Cinderella tried to answer, but the tolling of the clock tower chiming midnight drowned her voice. The slippers could feel it rumbling through their glass. “I apologize my prince,” Elle shouted over the noise, pulling her hands from his. “But I must go.”
“Wait!” Although the prince tried to stop her, Elle ran back through the castle and past the palace gate just as the last bell cried out across the land.
But the fairy godmother had followed her. She cast one well-aimed spell at the maiden’s feet just as Elle’s gown disappeared to be replaced with her serving dress.
She careened forward, and the twin glass slipper fell off.
Wait! it cried as Elle stumbled back to her feet. But the prince was steadily catching up, and the voice of the slipper had startled Elle beyond compare. She turned tail and ran into the night, ignoring the pleas of the remaining shoe on her foot.
“You thought you could escape me?” said the godmother as the prince neared. She scooped to pick it up and quickly hid the slipper behind her skirts.
“Fairy godmother,” breathed the prince as he skidded to a halt beside her. “Did you spy the maiden who just left?”
“I’m afraid not, my prince,” said the fairy godmother, batting her lashes.
“It looked as though she dropped something,” the prince said, peering at the grass. The glass slipper in the godmother’s skirts took the opportunity to glow and sparkle frantically.
“That! In your hand,” cried the prince. “It is one of the very shoes she was wearing. Please hand it here so that I may find this maiden.”
The fairy godmother had no choice but to comply. She reluctantly handed the slipper over, glowering as it twinkled at her.
And so the fairy godmother lost her only remaining slipper, and the prince spent the entire month asking the maidens of the kingdom to try it on, searching in vain for Cinderella.
Elle, meanwhile, was back to her usual chores. She scrubbed and cleaned, cooked and polished, all the while listening to her step sisters prattle on about the prince’s impending visit. The twin slipper was kept beneath her pillow, where it would whisper incessantly at her every night until she would put it away in a drawer for fear she would never get a wink of sleep. She tried to explain that the prince couldn’t possibly believe his mystery maiden to be her and that she was more likely to be hanged as a thief for possessing the slipper, but the twin refused to believe her.
Luckily for Elle, the portal through which the fairy godmother had found her had closed the night of the ball, and—although the fairy godmother, too, searched the entire month long—she searched in vain. Instead, she began accompanying the prince on his outings in the hope that if he did come across Elle, the fairy godmother could get to the twin slipper first.
So the day came when the prince made his way to Elle’s house.
“I’m quite positive the maiden you described was one of my two daughters,” Elle’s stepmother said with a smile as she led the prince into the sitting chamber.
“If one of them was,” countered the prince, pulling out the eldest glass slipper. “Her foot shall fit into this slipper, and she shall have possession of the second one.” The slipper had grown rather fond of Prince Charming in their time together, although it was too afraid to speak for fear it would be coveted or destroyed. As he held it up to the light, it couldn’t help twinkling a little boastfully—especially when the two stepsisters emerged out of the hallway.
“I think, my prince,” simpered the shorter of the two. “that it was I who left you at the ball. Please forgive me.” The prince smiled and helped the sister into a seat.
“Then perhaps you could try this on for me?” he asked, holding up the glass slipper. It immediately stopped twinkling when it saw the fairy godmother hovering in a corner of the room—and when it realized just whose foot it had to endure within its beautiful recesses. It shuddered as the shorter sibling stuffed her fat foot into its innards, the extra meat spilling out the sides. It smelled horrible, like month-old laundry.
“Thank you for your time, my dear, but I’m afraid this shoe does not fit you,” said the prince, removing the slipper from the oversized foot. The eldest shoe barely withheld its moan of disgust as it was finally freed. “Perhaps your sister, then.” He didn’t sound at all hopeful.
The slipper glowered as the taller sister’s foot came within inches of its beautiful glass.
It wasn’t her! it finally cried in a voice high enough to crack itself.
Everyone in the room halted, and the fairy godmother narrowed her eyes.
“I beg your pardon,” said the prince, rubbing his ear. “I think my lack of sleep has turned me silly. I thought I just heard this slipper speak.”
You did, you dolt, said the eldest slipper, picking a word she had heard her twin use many times.
“Not silly, my lord,” said the fairy godmother, stepping forward. “It is possible if the item had been imbued with strong magic for it to have a voice—or even a personality.” A dark sheen crept through the slipper’s heel as the fairy godmother glared at it. “It would be best if you destroyed the item, for it could be a plot to extinguish the kingdom. Please allow me to dispose of it.”
It was just then when Elle passed through the room on her way to the orchard, hardly daring a glance at the handsome prince she had danced with several weeks before.
Her! shimmered the eldest slipper. There is your mystery maiden, prince.
Elle turned in astonishment as the prince’s guards blocked the doors.
“Her?” said the tall sister in disbelief.
“Her?” shouted the shorter.
“Her?” echoed the fairy godmother. Only the stepmother remained quiet. “I think not. She is but a lowly servant.”
The stepmother stood up. “The fairy godmother is quite right, prince. She was home cleaning as maids do the evening of the ball.”
But the prince was staring at Elle intently, his eyes seeing past the dirty dress and grime across her face. “Then it will do no harm if she tries on the slipper,” said he, pulling it out of the reach of the stepsister.
“I must insist you do not allow such a thing.” The fairy godmother stepped forward, but was barred by a guard. “It could be a cursed shoe, and it could harm the girl.”
“But, fairy godmother, you are the one who made the shoe for me, remember?” Elle finally found her voice.
“Why, my dear, such an outrageous lie!”
It is the truth, insisted the shoe.
“All shall be solved if the maid but tries on the slipper,” said Prince Charming. So Elle slowly made her way across the parlor and into a chair, and she slipped her foot into the glass slipper.
And it was a perfect fit.
You see? sparkled the slipper triumphantly.
Throughout this ordeal, the fairy godmother surreptitiously passed the guards and found her way into Elle’s room, using a spell that would slow time so she could hunt for the twin glass slipper. But she failed miserably; although she searched high and low, there was no sign of the twin. She slipped back into the room just as Elle held her foot out for all to see.
“It is a maid’s word against mine,” said the fairy godmother through gritted teeth.
“And mine,” added the stepmother. “There is no way I would allow this filthy girl to join us at the ball. She was simply not there. It must have been my eldest daughter.” The taller of the two straightened her back.
“I have proof,” Elle said, and from her skirts she pulled out the twin slipper. It was sparking magnificently today, joyous at its reunion with its sibling.
How was your month? I spent most of mine locked up in a drawer, it glimmered to its elder.
“She simply must have stolen them from my daughter,” insisted the stepmother as the fairy godmother gaped.
She most certainly did, and a good thing, too, said the twin slipper.
The prince’s face fell. “She stole you, you say?” he asked.
Oh, yes. There we were, imprisoned in that crone’s castle—
She did not steal us, your majesty, interrupted the elder. And it went on to describe how Elle came about the glass slippers. So you see, it finished, the girl freed us.
The prince was silent for a moment as he surveyed the godmother, who was quaking from head to foot. “So you have not only been caging living creatures within your castle against their will, but you have also lied to the royal family about Elle’s whereabouts.” The godmother seemed to shrink with every passing word. “Furthermore, you clearly tried to sabotage this maiden in your efforts to keep her from me. Guards.” He waved his hand, and in an instant the fairy godmother’s wand was taken away as shackles were bound to her wrists.
“You conniving, worthless slippers!” she screeched as the guards led her to the door. “You should have brought me fame and fortune and love. Instead you have brought me ruin!”
We did bring you fame and fortune—until we escaped. And we did bring you love; it just wasn’t a love meant for you.
“You still belong to me!” she screamed at the top of her lungs. “You’re still my dreams!”
Wrong, sang the younger twin. As soon as we were torn apart, we belonged to whoever was a perfect fit. And that’s definitely not your nasty old feet.
And so the fairy godmother was taken away, and Elle followed her prince back to the palace—glass slippers in tow, of course.
As for Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters—they were shunned by the royal family, and without the hard work of Elle, they were forced to do the sweeping and dusting and polishing themselves for the remainder of their lives.
The slippers went to live in the palace, where they did bring Cinderella fame and fortune and love. And they got to see the prince’s high, polished boots every day—and even dance with them across the ballroom. They never again had to see or smell or be near a smelly foot for as long as they lived.