SUMMARY: My version of Cinderella, kind of.
POSTED: 8 Nov 2003
CATEGORY: Challenge Fic / Fluff / AU
FICPIC CREDIT: N/A
AUTHOR NOTES: A challenge at AO by Scorchy, and an inspiring challenge it was too. I just love fairytales. Thanks to Julie for her wonderful input.
Angel made his way slowly up to his room. After fighting the demon in Cordelia’s latest vision, all he wanted to do was have a shower and sleep forever.
Walking in through the door, Angel caught sight of Cordelia lying on the bed next to Connor. Connor had a bottle in his mouth and appeared to be listening enthralled as Cordelia read to him. She had recently decided that she would read to Connor every night. Angel pulled back to the shadows to listen.
“Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there was a tiny kingdom – peaceful, prosperous, and rich in romance and tradition. Here in a stately chateau there lived a widowed gentleman and his little daughter, Cinderella. Although he was a kind and devoted father and gave his beloved daughter every luxury and comfort, still he felt she needed a mothers care. And so he married again, choosing for his second wife a woman of good family with two children of just Cinderella’s age.”
Angel let the soft tones of Cordelia lull him and soothe his weariness, her voice as she read to Connor was melodic and loving. He couldn’t believe the luck that had brought such a wonderful friend into his life, and that she had accepted his son with such unconditional love was yet another reason that he would never let her go; he just had to find the courage to tell her this.
Eventually, Angel realised that Cordelia and Connor had fallen asleep. Walking over to the bed, Angel pulled a blanket over the two of them, placing the fallen bottle and book on the side table. He then made his way to the bathroom for a shower.
Cordelia wasn’t quite fully asleep when she sensed Angel pull the covers over her, she was in that wonderful drowsy state where speech and movement are virtually impossible. Relieved that Angel was home safely, she put her arm around Connor and let herself go, sleep rapidly overcoming her.
“Buffy, are you sure that you’ve eaten enough.” Cordelia could hear the anxious tones of Joyce as she cajoled her beloved daughter to eat more breakfast.
“Wouldn’t want the precious Buffy to fade away now would we?” Cordelia muttered as she tended the fire in the kitchen.
The old hand me down dress that she wore had originally been Buffy’s but had definitely seen better days. Although kept scrupulously clean the dress was ragged and too short and whilst the colour, a soft blue, looked good on Buffy, it washed out Cordelia’s complexion and she looked pale and tired.
When the fire had been tended to, Cordelia turned to washing the dishes. She was already behind on her chores for the day, as Buffy had made a huge mess when dressing and Cordelia had been forced to clean it up before she could make the beds. Whilst she worked, Cordelia tried to remember what her life had been like when her Father had been alive, but it was too hard, remembering happier times only made her current misery so much more painful.
Finishing the dishes in the kitchen, Cordelia made her way into the dining room to clear the table. Buffy had not, as usual, eaten most of her food, the girl was simply too fussy, it was no wonder she was so skinny. Xander, her step brother and the kindest person in the house to Cordelia, was eating away quietly whilst Joyce fussed over Buffy’s hair.
Cordelia carefully stacked the plates and began to make her way back to the kitchen, when a knock sounded at the front door. Joyce looked up at Cordelia who was standing with her arms full near the kitchen entrance.
“Get the door would you Cordelia, don’t let them knock again, Buffy didn’t sleep well and has a dreadful headache.”
Cordelia placed the dishes on the sideboard and made her way to the front door. Opening it, she was surprised to find the King’s messenger standing there, holding a royal scroll which he presented to Cordelia.
“By command of his Royal Highness.” The messenger handed the scroll to Cordelia and bowed.
“Thank you.” Cordelia curtseyed in response and took the scroll to Joyce.
“This came from the palace.” Cordelia handed the scroll to Joyce and slowly began to restack the dishes. She wanted to be present when it was opened; Cordelia had a very healthy curiosity.
“Let me see, ‘By command of King Giles there will be a royal ball held at the palace on the 10th day of the eleventh month to celebrate the return of Prince Angel from abroad. All eligible maidens are commanded to be in attendance.’ Why the 10th is just 5 days away.” Joyce read out the scroll then turned to the calendar.
“Buffy, Xander, come we must get changed, we will need to get some new clothes for the ball. Buffy, you must have a gorgeous new gown; you will make such an impression on Prince Angel. I can just see you as a Princess now.” Joyce was so caught up in her vision of Buffy marrying the prince that she hadn’t noticed Cordelia was still standing in the room.
“All eligible maidens? Why that means me.” Cordelia muttered. “I’m going to the ball.”
“You?” Buffy looked Cordelia up and down disdainfully. “What would you wear? You can’t go; it would be an embarrassment to me. Mum, tell her.” Buffy whined.
“Look Buffy, I’m all over eligible and I am so going. And as for embarrassing you, I’m not planning on seeing you all night. Where you are, fun isn’t and I’m planning on having lots of fun.” Cordelia was excited, it had been years since she had been to a ball, and she loved nothing more than dancing to beautiful music; letting it wash over her, taking her pain and sorrow away. Dancing in the kitchen with the mop just didn’t cut it anymore.
“Mu-um.” Buffy whined, her eyes tearing up pathetically as she gazed at Joyce.
“Buffy, baby, don’t cry, it will be ok. Now Cordelia, you’re right, the invitation does include you. If you do all your chores all week and have an appropriate dress then you can certainly accompany us.”
Cordelia was delighted, she picked up the dishes and floated back to the kitchen. She was determined to keep on top of everything all week so that she could go to the ball.
Buffy turned sulky eyes on Joyce the minute Cordelia left.
“Buffy, don’t look at me like that baby. I said if, remember, and a week is a long time. Besides, with you in the room, no one would even notice Cordelia. Now, let’s go shopping.”
It was late, even for Cordelia, the clock struck one as she was just finishing the last chore for the day, the rest of the family were long gone to bed. Setting the breakfast table, ready for the morning, Cordelia turned off the downstairs lights and made her way up to her tiny room nestled in the eaves of the château. Looking longingly at her bed, Cordelia turned resolutely away. She had to plan a dress for the ball and then she would have to make it herself.
Opening her wardrobe, Cordelia rifled through her few dresses to the back of the cupboard where she had kept an old gown of her Mothers. It was out of style, but cared for impeccably. Cordelia thought she could modify it enough to go to the ball. Hanging the gown carefully to the front of the wardrobe so she could assess it more thoroughly, Cordelia sat down and started to draw her ideas on paper. After many versions, she finally had one she was happy with. Putting the drawing aside, Cordelia decided she would start the alterations the next day when she wasn’t so tired; she couldn’t bear the thought of accidentally damaging the gown. Looking at the clock on the wall, Cordelia realised it was 3.00 a.m. She hurriedly prepared for bed; she had to be up and working by 6.00 a.m. the next day and wanted to get as much rest as she could.
The next day was a flurry of activity. Joyce was certain that Buffy would take the Prince’s eye and had given Cordelia a list of jobs to do so that the château would look its best when royalty came calling.
Cordelia scrubbed floors, washed windows, beat rugs, dusted every piece of furniture in the house, cooked three meals (a considerable task in itself where Xander was concerned) and did all the dishes and household washing.
It was 1.00 a.m. before Cordelia was able to drag her tired, aching body up the stairs to her room. She immediately got to work on her gown, she had found some ribbons Buffy had discarded and she wanted to incorporate them into the bodice.
The rest of the week continued in the same pattern for Cordelia. She was managing on no more than 2 hours sleep a night, but she knew it would all be worth it to go to the ball.
Joyce wasn’t intentionally cruel to Cordelia; she just was oblivious to everything that wasn’t Buffy and to a lesser extent Xander. Joyce wanted everything for Buffy that she had never had and was determined to see her ambitions realised. She drove Cordelia almost to the point of exhaustion with her preparations for the ball and the wedding she was sure would eventuate once the Prince met Buffy.
Finally, the day of the ball arrived. Buffy rested in bed most of the day, requiring her meals on trays. Joyce wanted her looking rested and refreshed at the ball.
Cordelia managed to finish her chores a little bit early and made her way up to her tiny room to get ready. Her dress was finished and she was really happy with it. She had no jewellery but didn’t think that it would matter.
Quickly showering and doing her hair, Cordelia stepped into her dress and looked in the mirror. She felt like a princess. The dress was a soft green in colour with a fitted bodice and flared skirt. The design was simple but elegant and there were ribbons of the same soft green emphasising the bodice. Cordelia was so excited, she had finished all her chores, she had made a dress and now she was going to the ball.
Hearing the carriage arrive, Cordelia rushed downstairs to the lobby where Joyce was adjusting the train of Buffy’s gown.
“Wait for me, I’m coming too.” Cordelia cried as she ran the last few steps.
Buffy looked up in shock, she had forgotten that Joyce had given Cordelia permission to attend the ball.
“Where did you get that dress?” Buffy asked.
“I made it, pretty gorgeous huh?” Cordelia responded, twirling so Buffy could admire the dress more fully.
“Is that my ribbon you’ve used?” Buffy asked narrowing her eyes as she caught sight of the ribbons.
“You didn’t want them anymore, so I used them. Such a perfect match don’t you think?”
Buffy was furious, Cordelia looked gorgeous. The dress’s simplicity suited her and with her hair tied up in curls she looked elegant and refined. Cordelia’s skin was glowing with excitement and her eyes were sparkling. None of this pleased Buffy at all.
Buffy walked over to Cordelia and reaching out one tiny hand, grabbed at the ribbon on the neckline and ripped it from the dress, tearing a hole in the fabric at the same time.
“I didn’t say you could use my ribbon.” Buffy glared at Cordelia.
“Buffy.” Xander spoke up in shock as she saw the hole in Cordelia’s dress. “You’ve ripped Cordy’s dress, apologise.”
Buffy’s eyes began to tear up at the harsh words of her brother, she turned pathetically towards Joyce.
“Buffy, baby, don’t cry, I’m sure you didn’t mean it and I don’t want you to have red eyes when you meet the Prince.” Joyce consoled Buffy as she ushered her out the front door and into the waiting carriage.
Xander turned to Cordelia in sympathy. Cordelia looked in horror at her dress, it was ruined, she couldn’t go to the ball, there was nothing else she could wear. Bursting into tired sobs, Cordelia ran into the kitchen and out the back door. Xander looked after her for a minute before joining his family in the carriage.
Cordelia ran out into the orchard, sobbing as if her heart was broken. A ball might not be that big a deal to you or I, but Cordelia was exhausted and bitterly disappointed; she had been looking forward to the ball so very much, and there was really so very little in her life that she had to look forward to.
Throwing herself underneath an old apple tree, Cordelia cried until all her tears were spent. Turning on her back she looked up at the stars shining down on her.
“I wish I could go to the ball.” She whispered softly.
Suddenly there a flash of light and sitting up, Cordelia saw a petite red head with a wand standing in front of her.
“Hey, I’m Willow. I heard your wish and I am here to fairy Godmother you up.” Willow cheerfully spoke to Cordelia.
“You don’t look like a fairy godmother.” Cordelia responded, she didn’t want to get her hopes up needlessly.
“I do so, look I have a wand.” Willow waved her wand and sparks shot out. “So you want to go to the ball huh? OK this is do-able, just let me think.”
Willow paced back and forth for a minute before waving her wand and producing a gorgeous, glittering carriage with driver, horses and footman.
“Ooooh this is so exciting, look how great that is. You’ll have the best time.” Willow clapped her hands and turned back to Cordelia who was now standing and staring at her in disbelief.
“Ok, in you get, off you go, have fun, but be home by midnight.” Willow pointed towards the carriage.
“My dress is ripped, I can’t go like this.” Cordelia wailed.
“Oh, so it is. Hmm ok let me see.” Willow waved her wand and Cordelia’s dress was replaced by a brand new outfit.
Looking down, Cordelia was completely dismayed to find herself wearing stripe-y tights, a purple skirt and a fuzzy yellow jumper.
“How long have you been a fairy godmother for?” Cordelia frowned at Willow. “I’m going to a ball and it’s not a fancy dress one, I look like a high school geek, and I mean that in a non judgemental way.”
“Ok well yes that probably isn’t the best ensemble. OK, I can do this, I just have to picture the dress and then it will all be fine. I’m picturing it now.” Willow waved her wand again and the nerd ensemble disappeared.
Cordelia looked down to find herself wearing the same ripped dress as before, only now coloured pink, not her favourite colour.
“Willow, we seem to be back where we started. Why don’t you give me the wand and I’ll magic up my own dress?” Cordelia asked.
“No, no, I can do it. Ok resolve face on.” Willow set her face in a look of determination and waved her wand a third time.
Cordelia looked down to find she was wearing a dress of burgundy shot through with gold. It was absolutely perfect for her. Holding out her feet, she found herself wearing sparkling slippers, so dainty they almost weren’t even there.
“Oh thank you Willow. I’m going to have the best time ever, are you coming?” Cordy jumped into the carriage and held the door open.
“No, I’m not allowed, a little bit of punch and I start magicking all over the place. Just remember to be home by midnight cos that’s when the magic wears off.” Willow waved as Cordelia drove off.
King Giles was sitting on a chair, high on a balcony over looking the ball room. He was watching as Prince Angel yawned between greeting eligible maidens. King Giles was very vexed, he was determined to have grandchildren and Angel was in no way whatsoever co-operating. Turning to Grand Duke Snyder, King Giles ordered him to make sure that Prince Angel picked a wife by the end of the evening and then King Giles took himself off to bed, to dream of the pitter patter of little tiny feet.
Angel was bored, he had met hundreds of eligible maidens in the last hour and they were all the same. Insipid and boring, their pastel gowns blending together until they looked like a big boring flower garden.
“Introducing Ms Buffy Summers.” The voice of the announcer came clearly over the soft murmur of the crowd. Joyce looked proudly on as Prince Angel took Buffy’s hand and bowed.
Looking up from the hand of the last maiden he had been introduced to, Bunny something or other, Angel caught sight of a goddess, standing at the top of the stairs.
She was wearing a deep burgundy dress which hugged her perfect body gently before softly flaring out at the hips. Her soft auburn tresses were curled and piled on top of her head and Angel wondered how they would look spread over his pillow whilst she writhed underneath him in passion. Dropping the hand of Buddy something or other, Prince Angel made a beeline towards his goddess.
Grand Duke Snyder caught sight of Prince Angel making his way towards a maiden on the stairs and he rubbed his hands together in glee, things were coming together perfectly, the King would be pleased. Spotting Bucky something or other shooting glares at the mystery woman, Grand Duke Snyder rushed downstairs to run interference for Prince Angel, nothing must go wrong.
Cordelia looked around the ballroom in exhilaration; it was beautiful, just like a fairy tale. Suddenly, the most handsome man she had ever set eyes upon appeared, walking towards her, his deep, soulful, chocolate eyes focussed on her. A shiver of excitement ran up her spine as he held out his hand and asked her to dance. Placing her small delicate hand in his, Cordelia felt a jolt of electricity shoot through her; she looked into his eyes and knew he felt it too.
Angel took the hand of his goddess in his and felt a jolt of electricity shoot through him. Her hand was small and delicate and Angel vowed to himself that he would never let her go. They began to dance. His goddess moved with grace, she floated in his arms, their movements were perfectly synchronised.
A sigh rippled through the crowd at the vision before them. Two people so lost in each others eyes. Clearly, Prince Angel had found his princess.
Buffy looked on in fury. She didn’t know who the mystery trollop was but there was no way that she was letting Prince Angel go without a fight. She began to march towards them when she found her way blocked. Looking up she found Grand Duke Snyder standing in front of her.
“I’m watching you missy.” Grand Duke Snyder informed Buffy. “You play nice or else.”
Angel and Cordelia danced their way towards the veranda of the castle. Reaching the veranda, they stopped dancing and hand in hand walked under the stars, talking of their dreams. Suddenly, Cordelia heard the clock began to strike, looking up she realised it was midnight.
“I’m sorry, I must go now.” Cordelia dragged her hand from that of her handsome partner and ran down the steps towards her carriage.
“Wait, I don’t know your name.” Prince Angel realised that in all the time he had been with his Goddess he had not learnt her name.
Prince Angel ran after his Goddess but he was too late, she had already left. Prince Angel was devastated, hanging his head; he began to walk back up the stairs towards the palace. Suddenly, he spotted a delicate, sparkling slipper. Recognising it as the slipper that his Goddess had been wearing all night Angel picked it up.
Returning to the ballroom, Prince Angel sought out Grand Duke Snyder and gave him the slipper.
“Find the maiden to whom this slipper belongs, I wish to marry her.” He instructed the Grand Duke before he retired to his room.
The Grand Duke signalled to the palace staff that the ball was over and then he asked for his carriage to be made ready, he must find the owner of the slipper, or face the wrath of King Giles.
Grand Duke Snyder had been searching for the owner of the delicate slipper all night. He had seen hundreds of maidens, yet none of them were the owner of the slipper.
Knocking on the door of a large Château the Grand Duke was ushered into the sitting room. After explaining his purpose the lady of the house rushed upstairs to fetch her daughter. As the daughter came downstairs, the Grand Duke recognised her as the jealous girl of the night before; he hoped desperately that the slipper would not fit her, he knew a trouble maker when he saw one.
Buffy sat down and held out her small foot. The Grand Duke took the slipper and placed it on her foot, the slipper was a little too large. The Grand Duke smiled and removed the slipper.
“Sorry, it doesn’t fit.” The Grand Duke looked not at all sorry.
“The slipper is mine I tell you. I always have them made too large in case my feet swell, you know from dancing? So now that I’ve explained, take me to the Prince.” Buffy demanded.
“Are there any other maidens in the house?” The Grand Duke asked.
“No.” Buffy answered. “And you don’t need to look any further the slipper is mine.”
“It’s not yours, I saw you last night and you weren’t dancing with the Prince, you can’t fool me missy, I’ve been around young people and I know trouble when I see it, and I’m looking at it right now.” The Grand Duke was tired and annoyed, he felt as though he would never find the owner of the slipper.
Suddenly, a voice was heard from upstairs as Cordelia came running down.
“Please wait, may I try the slipper?” She asked coming to halt near the Grand Duke.
Cordelia was once again wearing a second hand dress of Buffy’s and she looked quite different from the vision from the night before, but the Grand Duke had his orders, so he indicated that Cordelia should be seated.
The Grand Duke began to make his way over to Cordelia, holding the slipper in front of him, when all of a sudden Buffy turned way, tripped and fell into the Grand Duke’s arms. The Grand Duke automatically caught Buffy, dropping the slipper. As if in slow motion all present watched the slipper fall towards the marble floor, shattering upon impact with the marble.
The Grand Duke immediately dropped to his knees, letting a smirking Buffy fall, and he began to try to piece the slipper together again.
“Oh no, oh no, this cannot be happening. King Giles will have my head.” Grand Duke Snyder muttered to himself.
“I’m so sorry.” Cordelia offered helping Grand Duke Snyder into a chair where he sat staring to the fragments of slipper in his hand. “Would this make you feel better?”
And from her pocket, Cordelia pulled the matching slipper. Grand Duke Snyder looked up in glee, before grabbing the slipper and cradling it like a child.
“Sit, sit.” He urged Cordelia and when she took a seat, he slid the slipper onto her foot. It was a perfect fit.
Grand Duke Snyder was so ecstatic he grabbed Cordelia and waltzed her around the room. Buffy and Joyce looked on in disappointment and fury, whilst Xander stood indifferently in the corner munching a cold chicken leg.
When the Grand Duke was exhausted, which didn’t take long since he was very unfit, he escorted Cordelia from her home into the waiting carriage, where he bore her off to the palace.
Prince Angel was inconsolable. He had held a perfect goddess in his arms for the briefest moment in time and now he knew that he could never be happy again until she was by his side for all eternity.
Wandering from room to room in the palace Prince Angel felt empty and unsettled. The constant wandering was beginning to annoy King Giles who was if truth be told, already quite irate at the delay he was undergoing in his quest for grandchildren.
Suddenly, the trumpeters heralded the return of Grand Duke Snyder. Prince Angel and King Giles ran for the door, royal dignity forgotten. At the foot of the steps they halted.
Grand Duke Synder stepped from the carriage and reached back inside. A delicate hand was seen extending and then Prince Angel’s goddess emerged. Prince Angel sighed as a feeling of pure happiness and contentment swept through him. King Giles began to giggle in delight at the prospect of many grand children. Grand Duke Snyder smiled in relief; he had avoided the wrath of King Giles.
Cordelia looked around in doubt and apprehension, she was wearing Buffy’s hand me downs, she felt out of place and uncomfortable. She had not realised that her handsome partner from the night before was the Prince. Cordelia tried to smooth her dress down, wipe away the stains, but they would not go, blushing deeply, she dropped into a deep curtsey.
Prince Angel realised that his goddess was feeling uncomfortable, to him what she wore was not important, he could see the goodness in her soul when he looked into her eyes and to him she would always be perfect. Extending his hand, he took her small hand in his and raised her to her feet.
Cordelia kept her eyes respectfully down turned. Prince Angel gently cupped her chin with his hand and raised her eyes to his. He smiled at her with love shining from his soulful chocolate eyes and Cordelia knew that she was truly, deeply loved and that she was finally home.
When Cordelia smiled back at Prince Angel with love shining from her hazel eyes, Prince Angel knew that they would never again be parted. Stepping forward he took her lips in a gentle, tender caress. The kiss was soft, warm and loving and all around people turned away, such a beautiful display of love was given the respect and privacy it deserved.
Breaking the kiss, Prince Angel took the hand of his goddess and escorted her up the stairs into her new home, where they lived happily ever after, providing many grandchildren to the delight of King Giles.
Angel was watching Cordelia as she slept. He thought she must be dreaming as she was smiling in her sleep. Waking up suddenly, Cordelia caught Angel staring at her. Angel smiled at her and Cordelia was dazed as she recognised the look of love from her dream Prince shining out of Angel’s smile. She couldn’t believe she had been blind all this time to the love that shone so purely from Angel’s eyes, love for her.
Cordelia smiled back before gently drifting back to sleep. Angel lay awake for hours pondering the warmth, love and acceptance he had seen in his best friends smile. He realised that sometimes you don’t need words, and that Cordelia would stay with him and Connor for the rest of their lives.