Cinders and Ash
Story by Jenny North
Artwork by Dov Sherman
Leigh leaned heavily on his broom to catch his breath and paused for a moment to wipe the sweat from his brow. He looked down in disgust at his hand, which came back filthy with the soot that still covered him from head to toe from when he'd cleaned out his aunt's fireplace earlier that afternoon. Mercifully for Leigh, the wicked old woman had left the house earlier that day to go berate the seamstress who was preparing her gown for the ball that evening, but not before beating her "lazy affliction of a nephew" over her displeasure at his lackadaisical efforts. After Leigh's parents died she'd reluctantly taken the young man in, but only on the condition that he work to earn his keep...and she'd seen to it that she squeezed every penny's worth out of him. He sighed heavily as he considered the impossible list of chores she'd once again saddled him with and cursed his fate.
Just then, the musical trilling of songbirds came drifting through the open window.
"God, not this again," he swore to himself.
The pretty warbling of the birds soon gave way to the lilting refrain of a young woman's melodious singing. "A dream is a wish your heart maaaaakes..."
"Ella, for fuck's sake, will you just shut up?!?" he yelled.
However—as every day—his cries went unanswered as the songbirds merely drowned him out as they increased the volume of their warbling and harmonized to the sound of her lovely voice.
Leigh slammed the window shut.
When Ella had moved in next door with her stepmother and stepsisters, at first he'd been delighted. He'd even harbored a little fantasy that he and the pretty blonde girl might share a romantic dalliance that would take his mind off of his miserable circumstances, but after only a few minutes of talking to her he realized that she was clearly deranged. Her relentlessly optimistic and cheerful attitude in the face of her own wretched situation had been annoying enough, but then when he watched her flit about as she talked and sang to the mice and vermin that infested her stepmother's house, Leigh knew that she was either soft in the head or beset by spirits. He didn't need that grief in his life.
Worse yet, when the insane girl's stepsisters had come up with their teasing nickname for their new charge—"Cinder Ella"—it had soon found its way to his aunt's ears, prompting her to christen Leigh with a hateful nickname of his own: Ash Leigh.
"Blasted fruitcake," Leigh muttered to himself as Ella's muffled singing carried from across the alley. His life had been bad enough before she'd showed up, but nowadays he found himself in constant competition with the servant girl next door as his aunt belittled his efforts by comparing them unfavorably to the mad loon who talked to rodents and sang her cares away.
He shook his head in disgust and began to return to his work, but he was startled as something suddenly slammed against the window hard enough to knock it open. From out of the corner of his eye Leigh saw something ricochet off of the glass and plummet into a pile of soiled rags in the corner of the room, no doubt one of the songbirds from next door who had gotten disoriented while navigating the narrow alley.
"Maybe if I'm lucky it broke its fool neck," he said to himself as he went to retrieve the dead bird. But as he yanked back the soiled linens, what he saw stopped him in his tracks.
It wasn't a bird, it was a woman! But a miniature woman, not much larger than a bird herself. She was plump with a round face and a matronly look to her and she wore a thick set of reading glasses. She was clad in a pouffy little dress, but what immediately caught Leigh's attention were the elaborate sparkly wings that stuck out behind her which fluttered erratically as she rolled her head in stupefaction.
"Gad, my melon," she said as she held her hand to her head. "Did anybody get the number of that flying monkey?"
"You can talk?" Leigh said in wonder. "Who—what—are you?"
The diminutive woman shook her head and then scrunched up her face as she looked up at the bedraggled-looking Leigh who stood before her dressed in his raggy clothes. His long filthy and unkempt hair swept into his face and he was covered in soot from head to toe.
"Titania's teats, they don't assign me the easy ones, do they?" she muttered to herself. Then she cleared her throat and addressed him directly. "Dear, I am your fairy godmoth—whoof," she said as she tried to stand up and collapsed in a heap, still disoriented.
"I have a fairy godmoth?" Leigh wondered.
"Godmother, dear," the fairy corrected as she clambered to her feet. She blinked slowly and paused to get her bearings, then patted her dress for something and seemed to come up empty as she looked around on the ground around her. "Well, I'm somebody's fairy godmother. Where's my scroll? I'm not even sure this is the right place..."
"Ashleigh!" a woman's harsh voice shrieked from the floor below. They heard the front door slam forcefully shut followed by the sounds of angry steps stomping up the stairs.
"Ack! Hide!" Leigh cried as he dumped a pile of rags on top of the small fairy, who gave a muffled yelp of displeasure.
The door burst open and an agitated woman forced herself into the room, clearly having trouble navigating through the narrow doorway in the preposterously elaborate ball gown she was wearing. But she stopped short when she saw the scene in front of her.
"Ashleigh! You lazy, spoiled brat! Look at you, you're filthy and the room is a mess!"
"I'm sorry, Aunt Millicent..."
"Ugh, you're just as useless as that seamstress. Just look at this travesty that I'm forced to wear to the ball!"
Leigh shrugged slightly. "I think you look beautiful, Auntie," he offered. It was a complete lie, of course. He thought she looked like a ridiculously overstuffed confection of organza and tulle, but he knew better than to say as much and invite her wrath. In truth, he thought that she looked even more of a horror than usual. Her heavily made up face did nothing to hide her craggy features, and her small sagging bosom was practically bursting out of the low-cut bodice of her gaudy dress.
From behind him Leigh heard the shifting of linens as the small fairy's voice said, "Ugh, what a monstrosity."
"What did you say?" Millicent roared.
"I—I said, uh, such...grandiosity!" Leigh hurriedly stammered. "You're so lucky to be able to go to the ball in such...magnificence. All eyes will surely be on you, Auntie. You're certain to catch the eye of the royals."
"Mmm," she grumbled. "You really are a stupid creature, aren't you, child? That I could just flaunt my bosom and wear the biggest dress and hairdo and that would be enough to find a man who would lift me from this squalor? But I suppose I shouldn't be surprised...after all, that was how your own mother captured your father's attentions, flaunting her enormous chest like a wanton strumpet. You're just like her with your false words and pretense."
Leigh grit his teeth and forced a tight smile. "Are you on your way to the ball now, Auntie?"
"No, dear Ashleigh, I thought I would stay home like this," she said sarcastically. "Of course I'm going to the ball, dimwit. My coach is waiting outside, I just stopped to get my antique earrings. You had better have cleaned them like I told you to!"
"Of course, auntie," he lied. He'd considered pawning them but had thought better of it since the miserly old woman didn't have any other servants for him to pin it on. "They're in your jewelry box. Shall I fetch them for you?"
His aunt looked appalled at the very suggestion. "No! You'll cover both them and me in ash and soot, you worthless wretched thing. I'll get them myself. You remain here in your filth where you belong!"
With that, she spun around heavily as she grappled with her voluminous dress and made for the door. However, her grand dramatic exit was quickly undercut when she found herself unable to get her dress and petticoats through the doorway, and fought with the copious fabric of her gown for several interminable seconds.
"Perhaps I could...?" Leigh offered, his arms outstretched. The thought of sending her off to the royal ball with two big sooty handprints on her backside definitely appealed to him.
"Don't touch me!" she shrieked.
He backed away quietly as she continued her struggles against the fabric of the elaborate gown while he pretended not to notice. Finally she managed to fight her way across the threshold and dragged her voluminous skirts out into the hallway.
"And finish your chores!" she commanded before stalking downstairs.
Silence filled the room as Leigh stood there and stared at the empty doorway.
"Wow, she's a charmer, and I know from charms," the fairy godmother said as she extricated herself from the pile of soiled linens. "This must be the place, all right."
"Why are you here?" Leigh said.
"Oh, my dear, dear Ashleigh. I'm here to make your fondest wish come true!"
Leigh sighed heavily. "Well, I'd appreciate if you'd start by not calling me Ash—"
He was cut off by the sound of the front door roughly slamming shut downstairs, which practically caused the whole house to shake.
"Right, let's get to work, then," the little fairy said as she stood up and looked around at her feet. "Now, where's my wand? I'm useless without my wand. Oh, here we go," she said as she retrieved the twinkling item. Then with an incandescent sparkle she fluttered into the air and hovered in front of him. "Usually the girls like me to do this part with a little musical number. Any requests?"
"No singing!" he said emphatically.
"Oh, thank goodness," she said, relieved. "Truth to tell, that's my least favorite part of the job. Though I could play a little New Age music if you'd prefer."
"Let's just get on with it," Leigh said. His eyes flashed as he got a big smile on his face. "Okay, for my first wish—"
"Tut tut tut," the fairy interrupted. "You've already made your wish, I'm just here to make it happen."
She peered down at her scroll and adjusted her glasses. "Yes, it's all right here. Miserable wretched conditions, tormented by wicked relatives, worked to death. One night off for good behavior."
"One lousy night? That's all I get?"
"Hey! I'm a fairy godmother, not the genie of the lamp. This is what you get, kiddo. But I see you've got a 'happily ever after' clause if you play your cards right."
"I guess that part sounds all right."
She scoffed. "Wow. You're welcome. I swear your whole generation has a serious problem with gratitude."
Before Leigh could respond, she started flitting around the room from corner to corner, obviously looking for something.
"Did you lose something?" he asked.
"Just looking for helpers. Usually there's birds or something to help out. Weird. Oh, well, we'll just have to make do. First, we need to get you cleaned up!"
Leigh stood there apprehensively for a moment and turned to see as a golden standing bathtub magically appeared in the corner that was filled with water and soapy suds. However, he felt uncomfortable disrobing in front of the diminutive woman and wasn't sure what to do.
"Should I get in...?" he asked uncertainly.
"Honey, it's your special day, you're getting the full-on luxury spa treatment. You just let me take care of everything."
Leigh nodded slowly and waited for something to happen. Then from outside the door he heard the sound of an insistent squeaking and the flurry of small footsteps. He was about to ask the fairy godmother about the sound when a tidal wave of rats burst in through the door.
"AAAH!" he screamed in terror as the torrent of rodents came barreling right at him. He tried to run but only managed to stumble backwards before he accidentally caught his leg on the edge of the tub and fell into the sudsy water and banged his head on the edge. He was disoriented and had a mouth full of soapy water when dozens of rats jumped into the tub with him.
"Oh, my God!" he screamed as he flailed about in the tub, covered in rats. Before he knew it they'd gnawed off his clothes and he was naked in the tub with the feisty rodents which energetically scoured every inch of his body. He got another mouthful of water and nearly choked on it as he struggled to escape.
Finally the rats ceased their assault and Leigh was able to grab the edges of the bathtub and leapt out onto the cold floor, nearly slipping on the wet stone. Naked and terrified, he covered his manhood with both hands and looked in panic at the fairy who flittered nearby with a satisfied look on her face. He was about to yell at her, but he was taken aback by the sight of the dozens of rats all obediently sitting there, staring at him.
"What—what—" he sputtered, out of breath.
The little fairy briskly clapped her hands together twice. "Next wave!"
A sudden and loud fluttering from above caught his attention and as he peered into the dim recesses of the rafters he could see a great deal of movement as dozens of dark glittering eyes looked down at him.
A veritable cloud of bats descended from above and fluttered around the room in a whirlwind of flapping leathery wings. Meanwhile the fairy had magically created what appeared to be a giant powder puff in the middle of the room, and one by one each of the bats plowed into it and took off again, covered in the dusty powder. Leigh barely had a chance to process this bizarre picture before he realized they were all swooping right at him.
"No, please!" he yelled as the bats landed all over his body and slapped their wings against him, covering him with the perfumed powder and sending him into a paroxysm of hacking coughs.
"You sure you don't want some music to relax you?"
"Get them off! Get them off!" he cried as he struggled vainly against the predatory swarm and gasped for breath before falling to his knees. By the time they finished their assault he was totally out of breath and his eyes darted around the room in fear and confusion.
The little fairy had a concerned look on her face. "Now, I'll warn you in advance, this next part you may not care for very much..."
That's when Leigh saw the spiders.
"AAAAH!" he yelled as he scrambled backwards, retreating from the dark swarm of arachnids that chased after him. As he slammed his back against the cold stone wall he could only watch helplessly as they frantically advanced and covered his entire body.
"It's quite wonderful, isn't it?" the fairy godmother said over the sounds of his screams. "They really do excellent work. Though, Ashleigh dear, it might be better if you didn't move around quite so much. You're making their job a lot harder with all that squirming."
As raw hysteria overtook him, Leigh slowly became aware of a heaviness that began to envelop him, something soft and constraining that felt like a silken fabric. However he barely had time to process that before his stomach was suddenly crushed in a vice-like grip that knocked the wind out of him. As he struggled and gasped for air he recoiled at the feeling of countless little legs across his face, quickly followed by painful stings on his lips, a tugging at his eyelashes, and the feelings of hairs being painfully yanked out of his eyebrows. By the time that was over and the feeling receded, the little creatures had moved upwards to concentrate their work on his hair, which grew heavier and heavier until he felt like he might have trouble keeping his head up. Soon, however, the assault was finished and he was left standing there huddled in the corner, trembling and gasping for breath.
"Oh, isn't that just perfect," the little fairy sighed.
Leigh's mouth opened and closed mutely in shock as he tried to process what was going on. By inches he became aware of the insistent pressure of a soft but heavy fabric that squeezed against him from all sides and weighed him down and constrained his movements, and even his face felt bizarre and oddly puffy. The ungainly weight that was balanced on his head prevented him from turning his head very quickly, but he started to realize what it might be when a single lock of long scarlet red hair fell across his face. He crossed his eyes and blinked at it uncertainly as he felt a heaviness on his eyes and huge eyelashes framed his vision. Slowly he raised his hand to his face but paused when he saw that his arm was encased in a long elegant ladies' silk glove.
Numbly, he looked to the grinning fairy godmother who flitted in the air next to a large and very elaborate full-length mirror she'd obviously conjured up. Slowly and awkwardly Leigh stumbled forward on unfamiliar footwear and fought against the heavy weight and constriction of his clothes as he moved to see his reflection. His midsection was still in the merciless and implacable grip of some constricting garment, but his faintness and shortness of breath only worsened as reason began to return to his addled mind and he worried what had been done to him.
And then, with a final step forward, he saw his reflection.
The ridiculously elaborate and overly feminine outfit that his aunt had worn earlier was absolutely nothing compared to the preposterously ostentatious and extravagant outfit that he now found himself wearing. The glittering ball gown had a gigantic and voluminous skirt that spread for several feet in every direction and hung huge and heavy off his hips, and was offset by a slender feminine waist that was no doubt formed by the crushing corset that was hidden beneath. His bare and hairless chest was framed by a feminine plunging neckline that was trimmed with the finest lace, and the shoulders of the dress had two gigantic puffs that were each much bigger than his head and served as a sharp contrast to the tight silken opera gloves he was wearing.
As he stared at his face in his reflection he blinked in amazement at the heavily made up woman who gaped back at him in utter shock and disbelief. "She" was an overdone caricature of femininity and as he blinked she fluttered her gigantic eyelashes back at him and he beheld her tumescent and pouting lips and puffy cheeks that were as made up and rouged as any lady he had ever seen—or wanton trollop who walked the stroll downtown, for that matter. His chin quivered in anguish and he watched as the strumpet in the mirror performed a bawdy pantomime with her inviting and overinflated crimson lips, a scandalous come-on whose invitation would be obvious to any red-blooded man who looked upon her.
But as the curl of scarlet red hair once again fell across his eyes, he slowly cast his gaze upwards.
He'd assumed that the weight on his head was an elaborate hat or complicated headgear, but it was instead revealed as the most gargantuan and elaborate feminine hairdo he had ever laid eyes on. His normal dishwater hair was now practically luminescent in a stunningly vibrant shade of red that had been styled into a humongous pile of twists and curls, and it was piled huge and high on his head, so towering that he didn't think he could even touch the top of it with his hands, even if the huge puffy shoulders of his dress would have let him make the attempt. The elaborate hairdo weighed on him heavily and he could only turn his head slowly from side to side, but as he did so he was rewarded with a twinkling sparkle that flashed in front of his bright feminine tresses to reveal the two huge chandelier earrings that tugged gaily on his earlobes.
"What...what..." he gasped in disbelief.
"There really is nothing like getting your hair done by spiders, is there? Such nimble little things," the fairy godmother said as she girlishly patted her own upswept hairdo. "And isn't their silk just divine? Soft as gossamer and nigh unbreakable, too! That corset will keep your waist trim and girlish through a whirlwind of dancing! Or any other...vigorous...evening activities," she added with a sly wink.
Leigh felt himself starting to hyperventilate even as the corset limited his breath and the immensity of the ponderous dress weighed him down. Absently his hands came up to his chest as he thought he was going to pass out.
"Oh no. Oh, no..." he said.
"Hmm?" the fairy asked as she hovered next to him and looked at his reflection in the mirror. "Oh. Oh, I see, you poor dear. I guess your aunt was wrong, you didn't really take after your mother much after all, did you, Ashleigh? Well, we can do a little something about that."
Still in shock, Leigh looked at her for a moment before his attention was drawn back to his chest and a growing weight he felt there. In horror his hands darted to grab at the two soft, fleshy protuberances that were growing there, bigger and bigger. He pressed his hands against the swollen orbs and tried in vain to make them stop, but to his horror they only continued to grow. By the time they finished they were huge and round and formed a deep valley of cleavage that was on shameless display in the low-cut gown. But as he looked up at his new endowments in the mirror, he could just make out a seam that indicated that the breasts weren't his own, but were merely realistic falsies that were somehow attached to his chest. He pulled at them frantically to get them off, but they were stuck fast and his exertions only pulled painfully at his own skin hidden underneath. In defeat he finally released his false breasts and his face burned in mortification as he felt them jiggle and wobble softly back into place as they tugged heavily on his chest.
The fairy looked at him apologetically. "I'm sorry they're not the real thing but they don't like us doing physical transformations anymore. A bunch of kids got turned into donkeys and there was a big to-do. But it's all right, this outfit is just a rental anyway."
Flabbergasted at what was done to him, Leigh finally found his voice.
"What the bloody hell have you done to me? You damnable flying cockroach, why would you even inflict this horror on me?!? I look preposterous!"
The fairy godmother was taken aback and primly pushed her glasses further up her nose. "Well, it's not my wish, you ungrateful girl. If it were my choice I'd have gone with a sleek little off-the-shoulder gown to show off your legs, but there's no accounting for taste. Besides, this is what the prince likes in his women, all frou-frou and ruffles. You're sure to be the belle of the ball."
"The ball?!? I'm not going to the ball! I'm not taking one step out the door looking like this!" he cried, not even certain that he could so much as get through the doorway in his monstrous dress.
"Well not acting like that, certainly. You must comport yourself like a lady of means if you wish to woo the prince."
"I'm not wooing anybody! I'm not a lady! Do I look like a lady to—" Leigh's voice trailed off as he spied his reflection in the mirror and realized the unfortunate answer to his own question. Then, determined to assert his gender he grabbed roughly at his skirts, intending to lift them up to expose his privates to the fairy. But after a few seconds he realized that given the yards of skirts and petticoats it would probably take a team of coachmen to be equal to the task. Exasperated, he threw his hands down in disgust and said, "Do I even sound like a lady to you?"
"You can dress them up but you can't take the country out of the girl...or words to that effect," the fairy muttered as she consulted her scroll and her fingers danced along and words rippled magically across the page. "Still, I see your point."
"Good! Now, get me out of this outlandish...whatever this is!" Leigh demanded as he pawed at himself and searched in vain for buttons or lacing to release himself from his silken prison, but the gown seemed magically stuck to his body and refused to budge. He then tugged at his long opera gloves, but they proved to be equally immovable. In a rising panic, Leigh set to pulling off his gigantic wig or whatever it was that now graced his head but it, too, was stuck fast. In fact, his frantic exertions seemed unable to so much as muss the sensual waves of girlish tresses, apart from the single lock of hair that continued to fall girlishly across his face.
"What...what is this sorcery? What's wrong with my hair?" Leigh demanded.
The fairy had busied herself reading her magical scroll but she paused to peer at him over the rim of her glasses. "Ah, the 'errant tress.' Pay it no mind, it's meant to do that. It's a charming little tease that invites your man to brush it back into place for you so you can entrap him with your womanly charms into a kiss."
"I don't have womanly charms! And I'm not kissing anybody, you fat little bug-winged gobshite!"
"Not with that mouth, you're not. You poor thing with that manly rasp...'chimney sweep's lung' is what they call it. But this should help," she said primly. Then she looked back down at the scroll. "Ah! Here we are. The standard magical voice contract. Bibbidi—bobbidi—boo—well, boobs, in your case, tee-hee!" she tittered as she waved her twinkling wand and smirked at his capacious cleavage.
She flicked her wand and Leigh stumbled back as he felt a strange tingling sensation over his entire body, not quite sure what had been done to him. He opened his mouth to hurl a string of obscenities at the fairy, but when he did so, no noise came out of his mouth at all. Again he tried to talk, but he found that he had been struck mute.
"That's odd," the fairy said, ignoring his silent attempts at cursing her out as she adjusted her reading glasses and read the contents of the scroll. "One standard voice contract...party of the first part...oh. Whoops."
Leigh, unable to say anything, glared at her impatiently.
"This is the standard mermaid contract," she explained. "Oopsies! This contract trades your voice in exchange for having a human woman's physique from the waist down. See, this is why they don't want us doing physical transformations, they so often go awry. Still, that's lucky since that part shouldn't have any effect on you. No harm done!"
Leigh's eyes grew as wide as saucers as he looked down at himself in alarm but was merely treated to the view of the canyon of cleavage between his huge fake breasts that obscured his view. He tried to lean over to see past them as he clawed helplessly at the endless yards of fabric of his gown, desperate to see or feel if he was still a man. Finally he gave up and rubbed his silken legs against each other under his skirts to feel the changes. He noted that his legs did feel more slender and feminine and it felt like his hips and buttocks were larger as they brushed up against his elaborate underskirts. He did a frenetic little dance as he tried to feel for his manhood but as he squirmed and twirled around as he rubbed his thighs together he began to realize that what was hidden under his skirts was nothing like what a man would have. Now he truly was a maiden!
"Now you're getting into the spirit!" the fairy godmother said brightly as she watched him sway and pirouette around the room as he frantically pawed at himself and his skirts.
Furious, Leigh spun on her with dire intent. Or rather he tried to, as he found himself hardly able to navigate in his dress, especially wearing whatever ridiculous feminine footwear she seemed to have cursed him with, which was no doubt as girlish and impractical as the rest of his outfit. He tried to scream at her, to tell her that he was really a man, to beg her to remove this ridiculous outfit, but no words came out.
The little fairy's brow knitted in concern as she nodded along and then smiled. "Oh, you're very welcome, my dear!" she said, misreading his intent. "Your happy face is all the repayment I need. Now, I'm sure you're eager to be on your way to the ball..."
Leigh frantically tried to shake his head but the heavy weight of his hairdo prevented it, causing him to instead seem to be tilting his head like a coy and flirtatious ingenue. He energetically waved his arms to capture the fairy's attention, but by then she had turned around, distracted by her work.
"You, aaaand...you," she said as she selected two of the rats from the crowd of rodents. She then waved her wand and in a shower of sparkles and fairy dust the pair were magically transformed into well-dressed coachmen.
"Boys, would you help Ashleigh downstairs? I need to see to transportation. I think I saw a pumpkin patch nearby..." she muttered to herself as she flew out the open window.
Leigh looked desperately to the two men and tried to communicate his distress, but the coachmen either didn't seem to understand or didn't care. However, when the pair exchanged wicked smiles and ogled Leigh lasciviously, he stopped short and started to feel a rising sense of anxiety regarding his flashy and fetching feminine presentation.
As the pair of muscular and leering coachmen moved closer, Leigh stumbled backwards but was hampered by his weighty dress. They took him by the arms and he tried to push them away but they were much bigger and stronger than he was, and he could only squirm girlishly as their hands lewdly traced over his body, lingering over his nipped-in waist and faux bosom. One of them was even bold enough to lean in and steal a kiss, which caused Leigh to recoil in shock and revulsion at the intrusion. Soon, however, the two men apparently decided to get things moving and pulled the struggling Leigh towards the doorway.
Leigh had been right about one thing, however...it had indeed taken the efforts of a team of coachmen to get his gargantuan gown through the doorway and down the stairs, and to his consternation the licentious men had enjoyed using the excuse to further manhandle his feminine body the entire time. Worst of all, during the escapade the men had discovered access underneath Leigh's skirts and one of their hands had managed to snake up his silken leg all the way to his newly feminized crotch. The man's indecent fingering of Leigh's new womanhood brought the transformed lad to tears of shame and arousal, even as his mute cries of protest manifested themselves only as labored pants of feminine delight.
When they finally emerged into the cool evening air, Leigh's growing sense of alarm exploded as people on the street stopped to admire him in his extravagant and ostentatious gown, and he found himself lowering his eyes demurely to avoid their gaze. He felt a wave of shame at being dressed as he was in public, seemingly a young lady of means who was desperately flaunting her womanly charms in the hopes of attracting a well-heeled man who was in search of a willing and fertile wife.
It was only then that he beheld the equally gaudy and elaborate coach that awaited him, which evidently the fairy had transformed from one of the pumpkins from the nearby pumpkin patch. Leigh struggled against the two burly coachmen as they stuffed him into the coach, which was soon filled to bursting with his oversized gown. Between his voluminous skirts, petticoats, and elaborate hairdo he soon found himself wedged helplessly inside, practically unable to move for all of his feminine finery.
The fairy godmother flew up beside the coach to send him off. "Well, dear, I have good news and I have bad news," she said, heedless of Leigh's frantic attempts to get her attention. "My instructions were to have this enchantment only last until midnight, just long enough to have some fun and enjoy the ball. And if you're lucky, perhaps catch the prince's eye," she said with a wink.
Leigh paused as he considered that, feeling mixed emotions. The thought of being seen by everyone looking like a garishly flamboyant and overendowed burlesque of a debutante was the most humiliating thing he could possibly imagine, but at least it would be over in a few hours. It would doubtless be the worst night of his life, but he was relieved to hear that he would be a man again soon!
"Buuuut, I feel bad about that mistake with your voice, so I'm going to give you an extension. So how's about we make it indefinite?" she offered brightly.
Stunned, Leigh tried to shake his head in vehement denial, but wedged in the coach as he was, his shocked expression came across more as being overcome with emotion at her gesture. But as he remembered his difficulty trying to remove the outfit, he quickly realized that her foolish act of "generosity" might leave him imprisoned in his feminine garments! He tugged energetically at his gloves and dress in an effort to remind her that he wasn't able to remove the gown.
She cleared her throat uncertainly. "But I'm afraid that there's also some bad news," she said as Leigh froze and stared at her with incredulity. "You see, that mermaid spell has this clause where—and I know this is unfortunate—if you don't get the prince to give you True Love's Kiss within three days, you get turned into sea foam."
Leigh's jaw dropped as he gaped at her in shock. He pointed at his lips in bewilderment.
"But don't worry! Don't worry! I'm totally confident you can pull this off. Really. Truly. Solid 95 percent," she assured him. "Though, ah, I should warn you that these spells are kind of old-fashioned the way they write them? So when they say 'True Love's Kiss'...that's really just a polite euphemism. Because...those aren't the lips you need to 'kiss' him with," she said significantly as her eyes tracked downwards.
"What?" Leigh silently mouthed in a panic.
Suddenly the coach started to move and he lurched backwards, enveloped by the seemingly endless folds of his gown. One of the wheels hit a jarring bump on the cobblestone streets and as he struggled to right himself Leigh's stomach tied in knots as he felt his big fake breasts bounce heavily along in response to the motion. As the coach began to pull away, Leigh managed to right himself and waved frantically at the fairy godmother.
The fairy fluttered alongside the coach. "So, dearie, just remember, in the next three days you need to have carnal relations with the prince, or...you know, sea foam. Oh! And if the prince marries anybody but you, you also get turned into sea foam. I forgot to mention that part. So sex with the prince, marry a prince...I guess that'll make you a princess! You'll have to get used to be being called Princess Ashleigh, you lucky girl!"
She then looked at him seriously. "Oh, and most important of all, really just, you know...have fun! After all, this is your big night!" she called after Leigh as the coach pulled away.
Leigh, now in a raw panic, mutely cried after the little fairy and felt his eyes tear up as he waved at her in distress, feeling sick with anguish when she blithely smiled and waved and blew him a big kiss goodbye. Desperate, he searched around for anyone who could help him and up in one of the high windows next door he spotted that lunatic Ella gazing dreamily up towards the castle which was all lit up for the royal ball. He soundlessly tried to call out her name and waved wildly to get her attention and she turned her head to look down at him and gave him a distracted little wave back. She then sighed wistfully and smiled at the panic-stricken transformed lad as the fancy coach drove him off into the night to his amorous rendezvous at the castle.
The little fairy godmother alighted on a nearby rooftop and made a crisp nod at a job well done. Then as she pulled out her scroll she heard the lilting refrain of Ella's dulcet voice.
"A dream is a wish your heart maaaaakes..." she sang earnestly.
"Isn't that sweet," the fairy godmother said to herself as she looked towards the window with the heartsick girl. "Still, can't help everyone, I suppose," she said as she adjusted her glasses and peered down at the scroll. "Now then, what other despondent and disheveled youngsters will we be turning into glamorous young ladies tonight?"
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