"Ahem." The green-skinned sprite sticks his head through the doorway. "Ms. Fata?"
"I asked not to be disturbed this morning." Her quill keeps scrawling notes across the paper, seemingly of its own accord.
"Ma'am, please?" The assistant's timid voice drifts across the room.
Finally, she looks up at the sprite's wide purple eyes and lets out a sigh. "What is it, Makezzy?"
He gives her a strained smile. "Lord Tremaine asked to speak with you. Says it's urgent."
She raises an eyebrow at the boy. "Lord Tremaine did not want my help in life. Why would he come to me now?" Turning her gaze back toward the desk, she continues, "Fine. Send him in." The assistant scurries away and the door closes behind him with a soft thud. The quill continues its magic-powered notetaking as she stares off into the distance.
A moment later, a ghost floats through the solid oak door. With its translucent coattails fluttering in the air, he stops in front of the desk and bows to the fairy. She leans back, steepling her hands. "Well, Lord Tremaine? Why have you demanded to meet with me?"
"Well, ma'am, I need a favor." The ghost stares at the floor as he speaks. "My wife -- my daughter's step-mother, that is -- has been abusing my daughter ever since I died. My wife's spoiled daughters have begun to join in the abuse as well, calling her 'Cinderella' and forcing her to do their bidding. And, as you can see," His eyes meet the fairy's as he floats backwards, gesturing to his own ethereal form, "I'm not in a state to do much about it. Please, Donna Fata, help my dear Eleanor find a new life."
"I see." The fairy's eyes bore into Lord Tremaine's. "You had no need of me while you were still alive, so you refused my offer of friendship. Now, you hover before me, saying, 'Donna Fata, give me justice.'" She pushes herself up out of the chair and rises to her full height. Blue wings tower over the ghost's head, casting her silhouette across the room. "Above all," She leans over the desk and growls out the words, "You don't even show me the respect of calling me Godmother."
"My deepest apologies, Donna F..." His eyes go wide at the look she throws him. "Er, I mean, Godmother."
The room is filled only with the sound of the quill scratching across the paper as the fairy glares at the ghost. At last, she huffs her displeasure. Folding her wings behind herself, she sinks back into her chair. "I will do this for your daughter."
"Do not interrupt me!" With the wave of her wand, the quill ceases its writing and bounces its way back into a quilholder at the corner of the desk. She straightens her ruffled sleeves and schools her features. "Now, does your daughter have friends who can aid in this task?"
Lord Tremaine bows his head. "No, I'm afraid not."
"Oh?" Donna cocks an eyebrow. "If she does not have friends, perhaps she is not worthy of being helped."
Squaring his shoulders and raising his chin, the ghost defends the girl. "That's not what I meant. She is not allowed to leave the house or socialize, so she cannot make friends with other humans. But, she is very kind and gentle. She has made friends with many mice and birds and other small critters. They would all gladly help her if they could."
"Ah. Excellent." A smile tugs at the corners of the fairy's lips. "Bring them to me. They will need to attend the royal ball."
"Yes, Godmother. Thank you!" Lord Tremaine glides through a wall and vanishes.
The sprite opens the door. "Yes, Ms. Fata?"
"Go to the market and buy the largest pumpkin you can find." She starts to look away from the door when another idea strikes her. "Wait. I can work with whatever dress the girl has. But I think we should do something a bit more permanent for the shoes. Place a call to the shoemaker before you go."
With a nod, Makezzy turns and hurries away.
A few minutes later, something beeps near the fairy's elbow. She presses a small button and a mirror rises up from a hidden panel in the desk. With another button press, the image changes to show the visage of a smiling, old man.
"Ah, Donna, my dear. What can I do for you?"
"Ja, hallo, Herr Schmidt!" The Godmother beams at him. "I have a client who is in need of some shoes to wear to a ball. Something fit for a princess."
"Ahh." Herr Schmidt's eyes light up. "I believe I have just the thing." The shoemaker ducks away from the mirror for a moment. When he returns, he holds aloft a pair of shoes that glint and sparkle in the light.
The fairy gapes at the sight. "Are they made of diamond?"
"No, no." The old man chuckles at the reaction. "They're glass. But they do look quite like diamond, I suppose."
"Perfect." Movement at the window catches the fairy's eye. "Have them delivered right away. I'll send Makezzy over to pay for them tomorrow. Auf wiedersehen."
With the press of a button, the call ends and the mirror transforms back into her own reflection. As the mirror slides back into the desk, Donna turns toward the window. A horde of small critters makes their way through the opening and forms a circle around the fairy's desk.
Lord Tremaine floats back through the doorway. "Here they are, Godmother. What are you going to do? Will you transform the animals into attendants to take my daughter to the ball?"
The fairy bursts into a fit of raucous laughter that causes several of the small creatures to run for cover. At last, the fairy sighs and wipes the tears from her cheeks. "Oh, Lord Tremaine, I've never heard such an absurd idea." She waves her wand at the desk and all the clutter obediently clears itself away. "Let's get to work."
Donna Fata, Makezzy, and Lord Tremaine sit huddled around a large orb made of crystal. With a wave of the fairy's wand, the crystal lights up, displaying a large, pumpkin-shaped carriage as it pulls up to the castle. It stops and a footman climbs down to open the carriage door.
Lord Tremaine's brow wrinkles as he turns toward the fairy. "Who are the drivers and footmen? I don't recognize them."
"They are people I hired for tonight's royal ball, you ignorant buffoon."
"But I thought you'd use magic to--"
"Sometimes money is the simpler route. Now shut up and watch."
They turn back toward the crystal just in time to see the prince as he notices Eleanor Tremaine for the first time. Her golden hair is piled high atop her head, except for a dozen or so locks that gracefully curl their way to her shoulders. Her silk gown is blue or pink or purple, depending on how the light hits. Her delicate glass shoes sparkle like diamonds as they peek out with each step she takes.
The dark-haired prince strides across the room, eyes fixed on the resplendent newcomer. He offers her his hand and together they start their first dance. At first, the crowd simply watches or finds their own dance partners. But after two songs together, the onlookers begin to grow restless. The women in the room complain loudly. As a group, they surge forward, each seeking their turn at the prince.
"No!" Lord Tremaine leans forward. "She has to keep dancing w--"
"Would you shut up? I have this well in hand."
The ghost and fairy turn back toward the crystal, just as Cinderella's friends arrive and the room erupts into chaos. Attendees squeal and scream as mice nip at their heels and birds land in their hair. The orchestra plays louder as the enamored couple continues twirling about the room.
Something bumps the prince's leg and he looks down. His eyes go wide as he notices the madness around him. He pulls Cinderella close and stops to look around. "I'm so sorry, I had no idea what was happening around us. I'll have someone clear out all these pests immediately."
"No, please. They're..." She hesitates, staring at the floor. "They're my friends."
The prince steps back to look at her. "Really?" He smiles as he resumes their dance. "You must be quite special to be so loved by all these animals. And I just noticed that you smell like pumpkin. Did you know it's one of my favorite scents? And, I must say, you are quite beautiful. I'm especially intrigued by your shoes. I've never seen anything like them before."
A blush colors her cheeks. "Thank you, Your Majesty." She smiles up at him. "The shoes are unusual, but they aren't very comfortable. Could we find somewhere to sit down for a bit, please?"
Scooping her up into his arms, the prince carries Cinderella to the balcony and places her on a bench. He sits down beside her and takes her hand in his. "What is your name?"
"A name as lovely as its owner." He slides off the bench to kneel in front of her. "I must choose a bride tonight. I feel that I would be lucky to have one as wonderful as you. Eleanor Tremaine, will you marry me?"
She beams at him, blushing harder than ever. "Yes!"
The prince smiles back. He leans forward and closes his eyes. Just as their lips are about to meet, the crystal's image goes blank.
"What happened? Why did--"
"Lord Tremaine." The fairy glares at him as she stands to move back toward her desk. "I think that your daughter and her betrothed might prefer a bit of privacy at this time."
"Oh. You're probably right." Lord Tremaine smiles. "Thank you, Godmother. I don't fully understand how you pulled that all off, but thank you."
"Oh, it's not so complicated, really. I simply turned your daughter into an offer the prince couldn't refuse."