Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Cinderella, Gus' Descendent
Warning(s): Character Death
Word Count: 1,282
Date Written: 17 September 2017
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters within belong to Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.
She sighs. The whole world is watching, but the whole world is always watching. This isn’t the life she wanted, not as a child who loved her father wholly and only yearned for more time with him or a teenager looking desperately to escape the wicked clutches of her stepmother. This isn’t even the life she pictured when she gave up nearly everything she knew to come to live at this palace with her husband, the Prince who since became the King and has long since been buried in the cold, hard ground.
This isn’t the life she asked for, not exactly. She begged and pleaded to every animal who would listen and every star in the night sky to free her of her stepmother’s clutches, but now she’s controlled by an entirely different tyranny and has been for well over two centuries. She exchanged one prison for another, but it was only after her beloved Charming’s death, when an entire kingdom looked to her for answers, that Cinderella began to realize just what kind of a prison she now struggled to prevail within.
She hasn’t known freedom in such a very, very long time. She hasn’t known freedom since she was a child, her biggest concern when her father would return home. She hasn’t known freedom since his death. She’s known love. She’s known love from her husband and from her many, many friends -- not the humans who are always demanding so much from her but the animals, the mice, dogs, and horses, even the cats. As long as their bellies are full, they have no further complaints, but the humans are always crying out about something.
They say their taxes aren’t fair. Cinderella tried to stop all taxation, but she found out, in only shortly over a month, how badly the kingdom needs their people to chip in. They say they aren’t being paid fairly for their products. The baker claims that he’s barely making enough profit on the bread to bother with making it while the farmer proclaims he’s losing money in his sales of wheat and rye. Cinderella tried placing a margin cap on the percentages of profit that every worker can make from their creations, but soon thereafter, the entire kingdom was in an uproar, screaming they weren’t making enough money until she lifted the cap.
She’s tried time and again over the years to make her subjects happy, but even their rare, peaceful times when she does manage to win them never last for long. They always want more or if she gives them more, they’re not happy with the way she gives it. There is no winning with these people. There never has been, and there never will be.
And yet they want no other to rule above them. She’s been childless her entire life, an effect the doctors suspect from the abuse she suffered early in her life, but she’s still tried to pass the crown on. More than once, she has sought out people, both men and women, she believed would be worthy to wear the crown and perhaps better at giving their subjects what they want, but the kingdom has turned away every single one of them. She suspects they drowned the last girl she chose, but neither her body nor any proof was ever found.
Cinderella sighs again. A fat, little mouse jumps onto her wrinkled hand and climbs swiftly up it. Of all the generations that have followed after Gus, Jacques, and the others who first accompanied her to this palace, this little fellow looks the most like his ancestor.
He scurries quickly all the way to her padded shoulder, then looks at her in deep concern. “Cinderelly not happy,” he says, his whiskers trembling. “Why Cinderelly not happy?”
Cinderella sighs. “It’s been two hundred and fifty years, Gus.”
“Yeah! Yeah! Two hundred and fifty years of Cindyrella’s great ruling!”
She shakes her head, stopping as soon as she begins for the simple motion sends pain arching throughout her old spine. “I am not so certain of that, my friend.”
“Gus Gus certain!” he says, sounding so much like the rodent before him. “No animals starve in Cinderelly’s kingdom! Cats and mice play together!”
“Yes,” she agrees, “but the humans do not.” She looks out again over the crowd, wondering who is plotting what this time, wishing they would plot to dethrone her, but fearful in her knowledge that they have her exactly where they want her.
The little mouse follows her regal gaze out to the crowd. “Humans never happy, are they?” he asks. “I remember my Grandpappy saying humans never be happy no matter what they given, no matter what Cinderelly does -- “
Cinderella starts to nod again but stops herself before she can create the motion and send another rush of pain sweeping throughout her ancient body. “That is correct, Gus Gus,” she says very quietly, very tiredly.
Gus tilts his head to one side as he looks up at his Queen. “Cinderelly not be happy in a long time.”
“Yes,” she whispers. She will never lie to her animal friends. Besides, why should she bother to try to hide the truth? She is not happy. She has not known true happiness in this life since Charming left her. Why should she try to lie to the few beings who still genuinely care for her?
“What make Cinderelly happy again? Gus Gus do anything make Cinderelly happy again.”
“I only wish,” she whispers tiredly, “to be free.”
“Yes. Free of the burdens these people place upon me. Free of this life for which I never asked. Free to be finally be happy and at peace.”
Gus Gus looks deep into Cinderella’s sorrowful, blue eyes. Finally, he asks only one word, “How?”
“There is only one way,” she whispers. “I must be freed.”
“This ribbon around my neck. It is what keeps me alive, or in this state that passes for life at least. They did some kind of dark magic, Gus Gus, many years ago. They were angry at me shortly after the King’s death. They threw over the castle and beheaded me. I wish they had let me stay dead. I wish they had kept the castle.”
Gus Gus’ eyes are as big as dinner saucers. “Cinderelly dead?!” he squeaks.
“I was, and I had peace during that time. But their kingdom was falling apart without Charming and myself here to rule, so the people placed me back together. The disease that claimed my dear husband kept his body from being able to be so easily repaired, I suppose. At any rate, they tied my lifeline in with this blue ribbon around my neck. As long as it is there, I am here. I am theirs.”
Gus Gus’ whiskers twitch as he peers at the blue, satin ribbon. “Why Cinderelly not just remove it?”
“I can not,” she answers truthfully. “Part of their spell, I suppose.”
“Cinderelly sure she wanna be free?”
“Oh, yes, Gus, more than anything!” she cries out. He sees the tears in her eyes, and without another thought, he scampers up to her neck and chews through the ribbon. Everyone in the castle screams as their cherished Queen’s head rolls off of her neck and shoulders, but her head is smiling when it hits the palace floor.
They scream. Gus runs as the nearest subjects grab brooms and swords and thrust them at them. He and others of his kind have been running ever since, and to this day, humans are still not happy. But, as for as Cinderella, since that Samhain feast, she has been free and happy ever since.