lb_lee: A pencil sketch of me drawing/writing in my sketchpad. (art)
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This story was prompted by [livejournal.com profile] nevacaruso, who wanted a continuation of Ordinary Ever After; you should read that before you read this.  It was sponsored by Suzanne McGladdery!  Happy Shadowthon!

The Other Princess

Margaret has been living in the fictional town of Homescross with Aunt Edna and Uncle Ron for two months when it happens.  She’s been working with James at his writer’s coffeeshop as a background character.  She’s called Marge now, she’s gained fifteen pounds and blue hair, and nobody knows she’s the Moon Princess.

And then the other Moon Princess shows up.

It shouldn’t shock her, but it does.  She knows that the only reason Homescross exists is because it’s the site of a popular crossover role-playing fanfiction.  There are hundreds of people, fictional and otherwise, contributing to its existence; there’s an honest-to-god Slashers Anonymous meeting in the coffeeshop every other Wednesday!

But still, despite everyone and everything she’s encountered, Marge didn’t expect to see herself.

The face is different—it must be the movie actress—but still, the resemblance is unsettling, like looking through a funhouse mirror.  And she’s wearing the dress.  That wretched luminous contraption of taffeta and ruffles that that horrid unicorn delivered the night of her sixteenth birthday.  That dress she burned, her first night in Homescross.

The glass she was holding shatters on the tile floor and James looks at her with alarm.  She mumbles hasty apologies and rushes to sweep it up, ducking her head to hide behind her dyed hair.

Not that it matters.  The other Moon Princess obviously doesn’t recognize her.  She just smiles luminously at James and says, “Whiskey.  Neat.  And make it snappy, beanpole.”

James’s eyebrows go up and Marge freezes in the middle of sweeping.

“Um,” he says. “But this is a coffee shop.”

The Moon Princess pulls a katana from her pink sash and giggles like tinkling bells. “Haven’t you heard the customer is always right?”

James freezes.  He’s ordinary—no powers, no weapons at hand but the tip jar.

The narrative eye is off them, for the moment, but Marge sees its glow approaching.  Marge takes advantage of the moment’s reprieve and blasts the princess with magical moonbeams, sending her staggering out the door.  In her best bored-customer-service voice, she drones, “The management reserves the right to deny service, ma’am, have a nice day.”

The Moon Princess sputters and raises her sword, but the narrative beam swings down, fixing her in its glow, and she’s forced to leave for a school dance, glaring daggers at Marge the whole time.

Marge spins to James, who’s collapsed in a chair and shaking. “Are you all right?”

He nods faintly. “Must be a new player.  They’re not supposed to have dupes, but no one knows you’re here…”

Marge nods and takes a deep breath.  That’s not her, she reminds herself.  She never has to dress like that or save the world ever again.  She’s ordinary now.  It’s all over.

But the Moon Princess comes back.

Marge is in the back scrubbing mugs when it happens, but she hears that voice, so like hers but not.

“Where’s that blue-haired bitch with the moonbeams?”

Marge’s shoulders jolt up around her ears.  In the frantic rush to Homescross, she had to leave her armor and Rainbow Katana behind.  All she has are her moonbeams, and she won’t be able to surprise the Moon Princess with them again.  She hears James’s voice, placating and gentle and claiming that she’s not working today, but she remembers that James’s writer ships him with her.  If he gets stuck with the Moon Princess in a romance fic…

Marge comes out, drying her hands. “May I help you?”

The Moon Princess turns.  Things have obviously gotten a little heated; her Rainbow Katana is in her hand, and her pale features are flushed.  She levels the blade at Marge.

“Who are you?  Who gave you moonbeams?”

Marge stares her down. “I got them from a pedo unicorn when I was sixteen.”

A panoply of expressions flash across the Moon Princess’s delicate face—shock, incredulity, quick thought—then settles on hollow grief.

“Oh god,” she says, the sword dropping to her side. “You got away.  Didn’t you?”

Marge doesn’t answer.  She doesn’t need to.  Freckled, with a bad haircut and half-healed scalds from the coffee, she is a picture of dull normalcy.

The Moon Princess ducks her head behind her bangs.  The sword falls from her fingers with a clatter.  She begins to cry.

It takes a croissant and two chai lattes to calm her down, but eventually James and Marge get the story out of her.  This Moon Princess is twenty-one.  She’s engaged to the Sun King and due to get married in a few weeks.

“He’s awful,” she sobs. “You were lucky to get out while he was still just annoying.”

“Can you run?” James asks. “I mean, we’re already harboring one Moon Princess…”

“I can’t.  Where would I live?  What would I put on my goddamn résumé? ‘Margaret, revirginized saver of worlds’?”

“I live with Aunt Edna and Uncle Ron,” Marge says. “It—”

“Them?  You brought them?  But they—”

Marge glares at her, daring her to finish.  The Moon Princess’s eyes drop.

“I can’t,” she says. “I couldn’t.  Not with them.  I can save the world, but I can’t—”

Outside, there’s a warning glow.  James and Margaret look up, but the Moon Princess only sighs.  For a moment, Marge can see the circles under her eyes, the exhaustion and the resignation, but then she puts on an incandescent smile, sweeps up her sword and declares, in the heroine voice Marge hasn’t used in months, “Duty calls!”

And then the narrative beam transfixes her, and she’s gone, dragged into her next story.  James and Marge stand there, staring where she was.

“Are you all right?” James asks Marge.

Marge loosens her shoulders, takes a deep breath, and nods. “Yeah.  Yeah, I’m okay.” Pause. “I’m so lucky.  And I’m so glad.”

James hugs her and she hugs him back until the Good Witch of the North comes in for her daily espresso.  Then they get back to work.

Date: 2014-02-19 07:20 am (UTC)
ext_12246: (it figures)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
OH, hell, you've gone and bent the fourth wall into a friggin' Klein bottle.

Date: 2017-04-18 01:21 pm (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
It's amazing.
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