Yet another Fairy Godfather story, this one dedicated especially to my girls, with all my love.
The Princess Who Thought She Was a Monster
Once upon a time, there was a princess who thought she was a monster.
She looked like an ordinary princess, with long wavy red hair and a complexion to match. No, not a wavy red complexion; the clear pale skin of a natural redhead. But whenever she looked in a mirror, what she saw was something hideous and evil.
The princess's name was Rosebud, but most people called her Rose. Only her evil step-mother, the queen, called her Rosebug, or "milady Bug". The king was a busy man, and rarely had time to hug his daughter, much less defend her from the queen. So, gradually, over time, thanks to the queen's continuous degradation, Rose was convinced that she was, in fact, a monster.
At night, she would spend hours on her balcony, staring into the starlit darkness. For one thing, the queen was an early sleeper, so this was the only time Rose had to herself. Out of loneliness, she would talk to the night, to the stars who shared their beauty with her.
She had one star that was her favorite. It was tiny, and off by itself in a darker patch of sky, but it shone with a crisp twinkling. She liked its color; sometimes it almost looked to be a royal purple. It cheered Rose up every time she talked to the little star. She almost felt as if it listened to her.
She had never wished on a star, before. It seemed to her that stars must be very busy, shining, and granting wishes to other people who weren't monsters. She was afraid that if she made a wish, she would find out that she wasn't worthy enough for it to be granted.
But one night, when she was feeling especially lonely and afraid, she couldn't help herself. "Oh, little star, I'm so lonely! I really wish I had a friend like you."
Well, something about the princess's wish must have melted the star's heart, because suddenly there was a bright light on the balcony next to her. As the blinding radiance gradually subsided, Rose could see that there was a tall girl in a long flowing purple robe at the center of it. Rose stood with her mouth open, amazed. Silently the girl took Rose's hand, and they flew effortlessly together over the railing towards the Enchanted Forest.
Now, many people think an Enchanted Forest is a scary thing, but that's because they don't understand the way places get named. A scary forest would have been called the Scary Forest, or FearWood, or the Forest of Doom, or something like that. This was the Enchanted Forest, and it was, just as the name suggests, enchanted. The trees grew thick and happy, the starlight danced among the leaves, and the squirrels raced each other up the trunks.
"Where are you taking me?" asked Rose, though she was unafraid. The star-girl seemed gentle, but not very talkative. "Well, you need a name. I know! I'll call you 'Star'." the girl nodded and smiled, but said nothing.
The girls flew together over the forest in the night. Star seemed to know where she was going, perhaps from having looked down on this countryside from a great height, all her life. Soon, they came to a clearing in the woods, with a small comfortable cabin in it. The cabin was dark, but Star must have known something of the habits of its occupant, because the girls had only just landed on the front steps, when a man flew into view over the trees, trailing glittering dust. They turned to watch him land on the path, twist his ankle and fall on his face. Grumbling, he stood up carefully and removed a pair of bright ruby pumps. Carrying these, he approached the girls in some surprise.
"Never will get the trick of walking in these things ... Well, this is quite a surprise! I don't get many visitors, especially not human size, and this late. I was out late myself, on an urgent call, but you know, 'No rest for the wanded.'" He was a short balding man, but he had a twinkle in his sharp blue eyes.
The princess stepped forward. "Good evening, sir. My name is Princess Rosebud, and this is my friend Star." The man gave no sign of recognition at either name, but simply bowed low and invited the girls inside.
"Please, your highness, come sit in whatever comfort I may offer you, and tell me what brings you here. You may call me the Fairy Godfather, if you like. My given name would mean nothing to you."
Tossing the shoes into the corner and a long wand of gold tipped with a star into the umbrella stand, the man closed the door behind him. Beckoning his guests to comfortable chairs, he bustled about making some tea. He finally sagged into an old leather armchair which had itself sagged some decades earlier. He looked at the princess expectantly.
"Well, er, Sir Godfather, my friend Star brought me to your door, so she must know what she's doing. I don't know what you might able to do about it, but, I'm afraid I'm a monster and not a princess."
"Ah." The godfather didn't laugh at this, like most people did when Rose told them her fears. Instead, he sprang lightly from his chair and examined the princess from various angles. He asked her to stick out her tongue, said "Hmm", and looked into her eyes, one at a time. Then he sat back down and sighed.
"I think I can state categorically that you're not a monster. What you are, isn't clear, but you're definitely not a monster."
"Yes, sir, that is what everybody tells me. I'm afraid I don't believe what they say, though," Rose said somewhat defiantly.
Unexpectedly, the godfather sat back in his chair with a smile. "What do you know about what is called 'innate nature', my child?" Seeing Rose's look of confusion, he continued. "Each thing has an innate nature, qualities that make it what it is, and that make it different from what it isn't. That nature comes from the Universe when that thing, or person, comes into being, and it changes as they interact with the Universe. Now, it is possible for a monster to appear to be a princess, but the strain of holding such a different form would be clearly visible to someone like me; to most people, in fact."
"Would you help me discover my innate nature, then, sir? I beg of you!" Rose sobbed.
"Of course, of course. Let me see here ..." The godfather got up again, and extracted his wand from the tangle of umbrellas in the stand. One of them fell on the floor, but he ignored it. He concentrated for a moment, then passed the wand back and forth over the princess a few times, finally tapping her gently on the head with the star tip. Everybody held their breath for a moment.
"Nothing, eh? Perhaps it needs your help: concentrate, for me, on what your innate nature would be ... Ooh, that's worse; now you're trying to become a monster instead of whatever you really are. Okay, okay, maybe it's the wand." He swished it around the room for a second, but the giggling of the furniture convinced him the wand still worked. "No? Okay, then. Perhaps it's just not time yet. I'm sorry; your true nature may not reveal itself until it's needed. It sometimes happens that way."
Disappointed, Rose thanked him as graciously as she could.
"One thing, though," the godfather added, suddenly. "This is the Enchanted Forest, and any midnight quest such as yours could hardly be denied by the spirits of the wood. I suggest you travel back to the castle on foot, and see what adventures the Forest might bring you."
Not entirely sure she liked the idea of nighttime adventure in a forest, even the Enchanted one, but trusting the godfather implicitly, the princess agreed. She and her friend took their leave of the godfather and walked down the path across the clearing. As they entered the forest, they turned to wave farewell to the godfather standing in the light from his open doorway. Then they set off down the path back to the castle.