She approached the castle, all white turrets and curly bits that performed no function that she could tell. In her experience castles were like swans. They looked as they were drifting majestically down the River of Time, but in fact were paddling like mad underneath. Royalty may think they ruled the kingdom, but Gramma Grimes knew the true power lay beneath the stairs; in the kitchen, the scullery and the butler’s pantry. She made a beeline for the rear of the castle — she knew her place.
“Wotcha,” she said as the butler opened the door after the first knock. “Blessings be on this house.” The butler looked Gramma Grimes up and down, although there wasn’t much ‘up’. Gramma had been at the back of the queue when heights were handed out, but had come back for doubles in the girth department.
“May I help you?” Eaton asked regally.
“Oh. I’m ‘ere to 'elp you.” Gramma said cheerfully, readjusting her hat. Inflicting that sight on someone so early in the morning before they were fully awake would no doubt cause nightmares later on. Cherries, pineapples, peaches and apples all jostled for space on a small black square that looked strangely like a basket. The hat was determinedly cheerful, just like Gramma.
Before Eaton could draw another breath, Gramma bustled in. No one could bustle like Gramma, keeping up an endless stream of chit-chat as she led the way. Eaton was perplexed — he was the butler for goodness sakes, and here was this…this old biddy behaving as though she not only belonged here, but had built the castle. He dashed after her, only to see her ample rear disappear into the kitchen. By the time he entered she stood over the stove, teapot in hand. The cook looked at him helplessly, shrugging her shoulders in defeat. Gramma was a force, inviolable, and once on the move, unstoppable.
“Madam, I must insist…” he trailed off as Gramma Grimes flashed a cheery smile at him, revealing her remaining teeth and giving new meaning to the term, ‘decadent’. “I bet you’re wondering why I am ’ere, then eh?” She placed the teapot on the bleached wood table. “I’m ’ere to change the story.”
“Er. What?” Eaton glanced at the cook and then at Gramma Grimes.
“Yeah. You are all preparing for the royal ball tonight because the prince is going to choose some ridiculous girl named Sootella, Embers, Cinderella, something like that, and I’m ’ere to make sure it doesn’t ’appen.”
“But,” the cook wailed, “you can’t do that! The king has decreed it already! He’s got the clock and everything. He’s even sent the glass slippers and the dress ’cos he wanted to be sure there’d be no trouble.”
“Ah, so you want some little upstart coming ’ere and tellin’ youse wot to do then, right?” Gramma glared at the cook and butler who’d huddled together against the onslaught.
“Um, no. Not exactly.” Eaton managed.
“Well then, I’m your alternative. I’m ’ere to change history.”
“Change history?” Eaton stammered.
“Yeah. His story. Get it?” Gramma smiled.
“But it’s a fairy story, with a fairy tale ending, it’s how stories are meant to go.” Eaton protested.
“Let’s change the ending then shall we? Call me the non-fairy godmother if you will, but let’s make sure the prince gets to live a real life, not a fairy tale, all right? Now, are you goin’ to ’elp me or not? Fairy magic is strong, but it’s not met the likes of me.” Eaton could believe that.
It wasn’t fair, really it wasn’t. No one should ever meet a Gramma Grimes, but especially under these circumstances. But he also wanted to help the prince, who had confided to Eaton earlier that he didn’t want to marry and in fact wanted to go out and see the world, perhaps kissing a few slumbering princesses on the way. He also worriedly told Eaton that for some unaccountable reason he was drawn to women with really long blonde hair, Well, even if it all sounded a bit odd to Eaton, the prince deserved a fair shake at love, didn’t he?
“Righto then.” Eaton removed his jacket. “Let’s get started.”
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