“Hello, and welcome to the Lifestyles of the Rich and Magical. That’s right we are taking you to the wedding of the millennium!” reported Genie in a red coat and orange shirt underneath. “It’s not gonna be one but two weddings happening today, ladies and gentlemen! Our heroic and fun-loving Aladdin is to wed the lovely Princess Jasmine of Agrabah. Our host today, the sailor of the seas himself, Prince Eric, is marrying the beautiful and talented mermaid-princess-turned-human-yesterday, Ariel. So many guests have been invited on this wonderful day, including Jasmine’s father, the Sultan!
“And who is this coming on the lovely, stretch camel? Oh, it’s Cleopatra and Caesar and they’re bringing a salad. How wonderful!
“Oh, look there’s Osiris. Oh, Osiris! Osiris could we have a word with you?”
“Oh, no. The crowd is parting. Who’s coming? It’s Moses!
“And your name is?”
“Well, it hurth.”
“Once again, this whole broadcast is brought to you by water. It’s everywhere. Get used it!”
Eric leaned over to Rumpelstiltskin while watching the Genie. “Is he always like this?”
Rumpel chuckled. “No. In fact he can be a bit more than this. I’m sure you’ll see later in the day.”
“Oh boy,” groaned Grimsby. “Your highness, your suit is ready.”
After Eric left, Rumpelstiltskin decided to walk around the palace and admire the preparations. There was a mixture of themes from both Agrabah and the ocean. Almost every inch of the walls was covered in decorations. Ribbons in all manner of shapes and colors adorned with fancy bows. Bouquets of flowers hung from corners and balloons saying, “Wedding,” “Woo-hoo,” “Congratulations,” “Big Day,” and “A <3 E/ A <3 J.” There were also pictures of each of their faces set up. All and all it was very impressive in what the Genie and Rumpelstiltskin had accomplished in such a short time.
Suddenly, he stopped, his body stiffening, his nose twitching at the staggering aroma that seemed to dominate the air. His eyes fluttered as he took a deep breath, wanting, needing to get as much of the fragrance of spices, sauces, and baking that was coming from around the corner. Following it, he turned to see Chef Louis in the kitchen with various entrées, side dishes, soups, and deserts prepared. The cook himself was prancing around with joyful energy, adding little bits here and there that would expand the flavor of the cuisines.
“Enjoying yourself, Master Chef?” grinned Rumpelstiltskin from the doorway.
Louis beamed at him. “But of course, monsieur. It is not everyday dat I get to make such cuisine magnifique and from another part of de world.”
“It does smell magnifique,” complimented the warlock, licking his lips. “I hope that I can last until dinner time.”
He then continued down the corridor while the chef broke out in song “Les Poissons.” He had only gone six paces before there was a shout coming from behind him.
Rumpelstiltskin turned around to hear the cook give a war cry from the kitchen, followed by several crashes and the sound of metal scraping against metal. Something scuttled out of there only stopping before him. He could see that it was a small red crab, and its eyes went wide with fear at seeing its path blocked by the warlock. Acting quickly, Rumpel cupped his hands low to the ground, encouraging it to jump on them. Another shout from the kitchen motivated the crustacean and the two of them sprinted down the corridor. Turning another corner, they spotted a door cracked open and slipped inside right before the infuriated cook also came around the corner.
“Come back here, you little pipsqueak, and fight like a man!”
Rumpel suddenly had an idea and slipped the crab into the folds of his clothing. Cupping his hands around his mouth he spoke in a near perfect imitation of the maid, Carlotta.
“Louis! What on earth are you doing?”
Louis’ expression immediately changed from seething rage to bumbling apologetic. “I-I-I was, uh, uh, I was, uh-“
“You had better not be making a mess on this day, Louis! We need to make sure all of the food is prepared for the wedding dinner. And I hope that you have completed the wedding cakes!”
“I’m-I’m sorry, Madam. I will get right back to it,” apologized Louis as he sulked back to his kitchen.
Rumpel stifled his chuckles as he watched the chef leave.
“That was a pretty good imitation,” giggled a voice behind him.
He turned to see a sight that nearly froze him in place. He hadn’t realized when he had slipped inside that he was in a large room with open windows. He stood on a balcony with two sloping staircases that led to a large bath in the center of the room. In the middle of the bubbles was Ariel, her wet hair plastered to her shoulders and neck.
She made to stand up but he held up his hand.
“Uh, please, stay where you are.”
She smiled as she sank back down. “You look really nice.”
Rumpelstiltskin looked down at himself. “Yes, it is a lot better than the rags you found me in.”
Her smile widened. “I’ve never been to a human wedding before. Carlottta said that I would be wearing a wedding dress. I’m not sure if it's like the one when I first became human but I’m sure that she is bringing it soon. If you want to stick around and watch me…”
His eyes widened. “Uh, um, no. I think I’ll better go before she comes.”
Quickly, he exited the room, shutting the door softly behind him. As he did so he thought for sure that he heard her giggle again.
The double wedding went off without another hitch before sunset later that day. While Aladdin and Jasmine were married in the courtyard of the castle, Eric and Ariel were married out on the wedding barge at sea. There a crowd of merpeople and other ocean friends of Ariel, such as Flounder as well as Sebastian, joined them above the waves. King Triton also gave his blessing over them complete with a rainbow.
During both events Rumpelstitlskin had been chosen to be best man and stood apart from the couple. Despite his timid and introverted nature, he looked on both couples with both pride and happiness, and even posed with them when the Genie took their pictures. There was no chance that any of them would have been able to find their true loves without him. There was certainly no telling at how long Jafar, Captain Hook, and Ursula would’ve kept them apart, perhaps forever.
Everyone gathered out in the courtyard later that evening for the double wedding feast. Torches surrounded the guests and candles glowed out on the tables. Genie, dressed in black robes, a red and gold scarf, and round glasses, even positioned a few up in the air. Wine barrels were set up and soon the sound of talking and laughter floated like leaves in the fall.
At some point during the festivities, Prince Eric stood up and lightly tapped his wine glass with a spoon. The talking and laughter quieted almost immediately and everyone turned toward him.
“Thank you,” he looked around, almost too nervous to continue. “Ahem. It’s not everyday that I marry my true love,” he smiled at Ariel and she smiled back. “And take up a speech to a crowd on the same day. But I suppose that in the near future it will probably become a regular thing, right?” There were a few scattered chuckles. “So, I would like to begin by saying a few things. Firstly, to our new friends, Aladdin, sorry, Prince Aladdin and Princess Jasmine, who we have the honor and privilege of sharing this day with their wedding.” There was applause and Aladdin and Jasmine nodded to him. “Secondly, to the end of the sea witch, Ursula, and her control of the seas. Our land, and most importantly the sea, is now free from her destructive rule, which we couldn’t have done without help.” There was more applause but he held his hand to silence them. “Which brings me to my third point…”
Suddenly, he was interrupted as dark clouds rolled across the sky and shadowed the castle. The torches and candles were extinguished, plunging the courtyard into darkness. A few screams pierced the air (one coming from the Genie). Without warning a strong wind rushed into the courtyard, ripping the decorations, and even blowing some people onto their backs.
As suddenly as it started, it stopped and a large bonfire appeared in the center of the courtyard. People quickly retreated from inferno and from within the blaze, a form appeared, and as the flames lessened, the person could be seen more clearly. She wore large robes of black with purple hems, her face was as green as ivy, two yellow orbs were where her eyes were, a black, horned headdress topped her skull, and in her hand she held a golden staff almost as tall as her. A raven flew down and landed on her left shoulder.
“Well, well,” she smiled sinisterly. “All this celebration and I didn’t even get an invitation. To what festivities do I interrupt?”
Her smile played on her lips as she looked around the crowd. Her eyes met the couples’ and she approached them slowly.
“My, my, it’s a wedding. It seems that this is a day of love and happiness. Perhaps I should ask Ursula to partake in the celebration?” Her eyes burrowed into Eric’s. “But she isn’t coming, now is she?”
“No, she’s dead,” growled Rumpelstitlskin as he stood up, his eyes equally intense as hers.
She turned to him as if she had never noticed nor recognized him. Her hand stroked the head of her pet.
“And who are you?” she asked.
Rumpelstitltskin shuddered as chills traveled up and down his spine at the sound of her voice.
“Someone you should probably fear, my dear,” he answered, his lips barely moving.
She chuckled and the sound made him fill uneasy but he kept his posture.
“That’s quite a statement,” her eyes looked him over, resting again with his. “But you do seem to back it up, now don’t you? There’s a lot of magic within you but don’t think that you are anywhere near my equal.”
She turned back to Eric. “Don’t worry, young prince, I’ve not come to ruin your little celebration. As a matter of fact I think I’ll impart a gift of my own.” With a strike from her staff that echoed throughout the crowd, she spoke loud enough to be heard throughout the courtyard. “Listen well, all of you. Within ten days I will enact a curse that will blanket all the lands. Everything and everyone will be frozen forever. Unless,” she paused, her wicked smile playing with her eyes. “Unless you surrender him.” She pointed at Rumpelstiltskin. “I hope that you make a wise and just decision for the good of all. I hope to expect your answer in ten days time.”
She cackled, and as she did so, she vanished into a green ball of light that soon disappeared. The raven flew away past the parapets.
Ariel rolled over onto her side for the third time that night. She had tried everything that she could think of to fall asleep. She tried to think of how soft the bed, pillow, and blankets were. She tried to close her eyes and fall into the blackness. She tried to move closer to her new husband, to feel his warm body pressed against hers, and keep time with his breathing. She even tried an old method from her childhood of county guppies. At fifty she decided to give up. Groaning she rolled onto her back, her eyes open to stare at the ceiling.
“Can’t sleep either?” yawned Eric.
She gave him a small smile and stroked his face like she had done when she saved him the first time.
“I thought you were,” she answered. “Asleep, I mean.”
“I worry when my new wife can’t get her beauty rest,” he responded in a lighter tone.
Her smile lessened. “I just can’t help but think about what Maleficent said. I don’t want to lose you so soon after finally finding you.”
He became fully awake and took her hand in his. “And you won’t. I promise you. We will find a way.”
Her face was still full of worry so he leaned closer to her with a mischievous look. “You know, since this is our first night together, I can think of a way to make you forget all your worries.”
She cocked her head as she gave a puzzled look but at seeing his smile she smiled back.
“Perhaps in a little bit. I think I’ll take a short walk on the shore.”
His face fell in disappointment but he nodded. “As you wish.”
She slipped out of bed and walked silently out of the room. Passing a window she looked out onto the sea, the moon reflecting its light on the waves. After Rumpelstiltskin had granted her legs, and they made their way back to the castle, he used his magic to make the sea wall vanish into thin air. She marveled at how he had managed to do such a thing with little effort.
“The more that I use them the easier it becomes to do so,” he had said in a casual manner. He would smile charmingly at her that would make her blush intensely.
As she turned the corner to the main hall, she froze. She thought…she shook her head, dismissing whatever it was as a trick of the shadows. Within a few steps she saw it again. This time she hid behind a pillar. Peeking around the corner she watched the hallway. There it was! A shadow had peeled itself from the windowpane and had crossed the hall. Looking up she could see the figure hunched in the darkness. Whoever it was, he was tall and slim.
Slowly and silently, her eyes constantly watching the figure, she began to move from pillar to pillar until she came to the top of the stairs. She gulped, as the figure didn’t move. It seemed to be fiddling with something at its waist.
Without warning he dashed across the hallway to the other side. Ariel had to bite her bottom lip hard to keep her from screaming. She heard a creak of a door being opened and he was gone. Trying to walk as quickly and quietly as the prowler, she slipped down the stairs and walked to the wall.
As she stepped closer and closer, something made her pause. Her nose began to pick up the traces of spicy aromas and baking from the dinner earlier. Then, in the shadows, she could see the dark shape of the door in front of her. She pressed her ear against the wood but there was nothing. Then a light tapping could be heard and she knew that it was footsteps. They grew fainter and then louder as the prowler crossed the room. As soon as they started, they stopped. All of a sudden the door opened, and Ariel stumbled and fell. A hand pressed against her mouth to keep her from screaming, and she froze in place, her eyes wide in shock.
“Why on earth are you walking around the castle at this hour?” whispered Rumpelstiltskin as he released his hand from her mouth and held it out for her.
Taking it she stood up. “I couldn’t sleep. So I thought about going for a walk.”
Now in the moonlight she could see that he was wearing a blue cloak over a black shirt and grey pants along with black boots. A brown satchel that was quite full hung around his shoulder but he quickly pulled his cloak to cover it.
“Why are you out here?” she asked.
“I, uh, guess I was sleep walking,” he answered hesitantly.
“So, what were you doing in the kitchen?”
“I…came to see if the larder was full. We did eat a lot today. Now if you would excuse me, I would like to get back to my room.”
He stepped around her and began to move down the hall but she quickly stepped in front of him.
“You’re leaving aren’t you?” she demanded.
“What is this? Ask Rumpelstitlskin Twenty Questions Day?” he asked sarcastically.
He sighed impatiently. “Yes, I am.”
He looked intently at the tips of his boots then took a deep breath and faced her. “Why? You heard Maleficent. She’s going to unleash an eternal winter over everywhere unless you surrender me to her. And I’m not gonna sit around and wait for that to happen.”
Her face scrunched up in a puzzled look. “We would never give you up. You saved Eric and granted me legs. Why would you even think that we would do that?”
“Well, for one, to keep your lands safe. And even if you didn’t fall under the pressure for the safety of your kingdom, then I’m willing to bet that you will under the pressure from your subjects. I don’t think that they will take it well when they hear that you would allow your kingdom to suffer instead of giving me up.
“And for another, I’m the only one in this land that has the means to find a way to stop her. Almost all of the lands are subjected by villains of the most despicable nature so I’m the only hope that the people have. I now know what my mission is in this world: to bring back the happy ever afters.”
She stared at him as if she only just met him. His statements were profound but also had a ring of truth to them.
“Then I’m coming with you,” she spoke as he turned to leave.
He whirled around to face her. “Oh no, you’re not.”
“Oh, yes I am!” she argued. “You need help.”
He glared at her. “One: how would it look like to your true love leaving with me at night without a note on your wedding night? Two: I’m better off alone. I can worry about one person’s safety and that is my own.”
She matched his glare with her own. “I can’t believe that after everything, you are abandoning us.”
The tension on his face lessened as he stepped closer to her. “I’m sorry but it’s for your safety as well as everyone’s. I’m the only one that can find a way stop Maleficent. As I said before I’m the only hope that the free people have in this world.”
She gulped as she tried to match his gaze but finally hung her head in defeat. Gently, he took her chin with his hand and lifted her head up again to meet his eyes.
“It’s the only way that I can keep you safe,” he smiled lovingly. “You see…I’ve grown to care about you.”
“…I care about you too.”
Slowly, he leaned in and kissed her. She closed her eyes in bliss as she felt his lips press against hers gently. It was so relieving, so comforting, so soothing that she just fell into the moment. Time seemed to slow down as they continued to kiss.
Then just as sudden as it started, Rumpelstiltskin broke away. They exchanged sad smiles and he left through the doors.
He didn’t look back.
On a hill a short distance away from the castle a figure stood in the shadow of a forest. His coat swirled in the breeze behind him. His dark eyes watched as one after another the lights of the keep and the surrounding town was extinguished. Once the castle was shrouded in darkness his ears picked up the sound of a bird approaching. He looked up to see a raven fly down and perch on a dead branch above him. A cold wind blew from behind, and he turned to see Maleficent standing behind him.
“So, do you think they will surrender him?” asked Hook.
“It’s possible but doubtful,” answered the Mistress of All Evil. “They are heroes after all. But perhaps the pressure from their subjects will change their minds.”
“And the curse?”
She gave a small laugh. “Oh, I will enact it but only on them unless don’t give him up. In which case, I will cast the curse over the whole world.”
Hook frowned. “That sounds a bit more extreme than that sleeping curse you enacted on that princess.”
She smiled thinly. “Perhaps, but this curse will keep Him in place.”
He smiled as well as he held up his hook and stroked. “Then I will get my revenge.”
“Yes,” she said and added. “And the Overtaking will be complete. No one will be able to stop us.”