Cinder Elli

Written By Princess Kay

Edited by her friend, Eve

Content Warning: This story involves an initially unwilling/accidental TG, as well as humiliation,

Elliot bent down at the fireplace, scrubbing the dirtied bricks with his brush as he tried to clear the worst of the soot off the stone. The only visible effects were dirtying his own skin with ash and cinders, staining the blue fabric of the dress his step brothers had forced him into, and dirtying the maid headband they’d mockingly placed on his head to a dark black.

“Cinder Elli,” called Jonathan from behind him. “You’re dirtying your pretty dress, Cinder Elli. How ever will you go to the princess’s ball?”

There was a meaty thwack, what Elliot assumed was a fist meeting a shoulder. That would be Rufus, who let out a low chuckle to confirm the blond boy’s thoughts. “Like we’d let him go to the princess’s ball. Right bro? He doesn’t even have a tuxedo to wear.”

“That’s not the point,” Jonathan sighed. Elliot knew without turning that Jonathan would be rubbing his shoulder, after a greeting like that. The young man was strong, but slender – while Rufus was bulky, with thick muscles from all the time he spent apprenticing in the blacksmith’s shop. Even a playful punch would have hurt.

Still, Jonathan had a certain patience in his voice, that he always lacked when talking to Elliot. Or Elli, as they referred to him. Cinder Elli now, he supposed, and he sighed as he looked down at the soot-stained dress. He hadn’t chosen to wear his mother’s outfits, they’d forced it on him… but those outfits were all he had to wear, all he had left of his mother, and he hated to see one destroyed.

Jonathan was still talking behind him, but Elliot tuned out the words. He let the soft, somewhat patronizing tone wash over him. He pretended that it was him being spoken to, and that he actually still had a family that cared for him… and he returned his attention to washing the stones, quietly running the stiff white brush back and forth, back and forth. The motions were soothing, and soon his thoughts began to slowly drift. Back to the dress he wore.

It had been two years ago, shortly after his eighteenth birthday, that the blond had been first forced into lace garments. “You can thank your father for not leaving a proper will,” his stepmother Ellanore had informed him, her cold blue eyes staring into his own sky-colored ones. “He specified that you had to be taken care of; but didn’t specify anything beyond that… And I think you’ll be working for your room and board… As a maid.”

Firm hands had gripped his arms, while calloused fingers grabbed hold of his legs. Between them, Jonathan and Rufus had lifted him, Rufus lifting his legs a little upward to give easier access to their mother, who had pulled out a kitchen knife.

“Y-You… don’t touch me!” He’d tried to squirm, but their grips had been like iron, and there was no give as she advanced toward him with the blade. She’d gripped hold of his pants, and begun to cut along the seam of his left pant leg.

“Relax.” She’d faked a yawn, lifting a hand to her red-painted lips. “Your father was very clear that if any harm came to you, his wealth would revert to charity. Just as he was clear that each of his sons were to receive an equal share of his wealth upon your twenty first birthday, until which time I’m to be given a…. Stipend.” She’d spat the last word, apparently with some distaste left in her mouth.

She’d finished cutting her way up his leg, the flat of the blade resting slightly against his more private areas for a moment before she slowly withdrew the knife and began on the other leg. Elliot had let out a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding, as she began to cut. The way she’d emphasized sons….

“I don’t intend for you to count as male by any legal definition, when your twenty first birthday comes along.” Elliot’s heart started to beat faster, and his breath caught again as she quickly sawed through his pants and then sliced through the waistband. She’d begun to move onto his underwear. “But of course I can’t physically force the issue on you. So it’s my job to break you by the time the executor of the will comes to divide the wealth. Make sure that you’re a perfect, unqualified sissy.” She’d moved onto his shirt, ignoring the buttons to slice straight through the material, followed by the sleeves. She let it fall away, and then put the knife down.

“I won’t give in,” Eliot remembered telling her, as she’d tugged a pair of white lace panties up over his thighs. 

“You will…” She’d insisted, smiling. It had made her cold eyes sparkle, and it hadn’t been a good look. “I’ve burned all your other clothing, and your father’s, and both yours and your parents possessions. Everything you could have laid claim to was cremated, along with your father. The only thing you have left to your entire name is your mother’s clothing – and her makeup. The only thing you have to wear, the only thing you have to remember her by. You’ll learn to love it. In time.”

They’d drawn a bra over his chest, though they thankfully didn’t stuff it, and then placed a red dress over his head. Eliot remembered clearly that it had been a sleeveless number that hung loosely around his completely flat chest, showing off the pink bra, and his slender arms. The same outfit he was wearing now, actually, though he’d done little to grow into it. She’d applied makeup to his features, lipstick and blush, and eyeliner.

In the years since, his hard work around the house had let him build a little muscle, but the lack of food or proper nutrition had stunted his growth at five foot three, and had kept him from developing much visual bulk. He was lanky, waist thin enough that Rufus could cup him around it with his hands and make thumbs and fingers touch.  

He was also stunted in… other ways, below the belt. Though he wasn’t sure if that was a result of malnutrition or just how his body was designed. He really looked like a girl, in lipstick and blush, with the right contouring. His narrow face could be made rounded and sweet, with any angles clearly the result of starvation over manhood. Jonathan had joked that the only way he was ever going to the ball was as some boy’s date, if he could find someone who enjoyed a sissy like him. Because certainly no girls would.

Sometimes he worried they were right. Not about going with a guy, but about his really being a girl; being Elli. He sometimes thought that he did belong in dresses and makeup. It seemed to suit him so well, and as the years had gone by, he’d grown so used to it… At twenty, he dressed without thought, pulled his shoulder length hair into a casual ponytail each morning, shaved his face so close that no hairs could be viewed, and applied the blush and lipstick without any prompting. Yet saying that this form suited him would be like letting his brothers win.

Which brought Elliot’s thoughts back to the present. To the princess’s ball. His stepmother thought one of her handsome sons could scoop up the princess herself, but Elliot didn’t have any delusions of grandeur. He just needed to woo any wealthy lady at the ball, any at all, and he would be able to escape this place.

Behind him, he was aware of his brothers’ presence, watching him as he scrubbed, and he worked the smile off his face as he scrubbed the fireplace, finally seeing a few flecks of red. That was probably the cleanest he would get it, and he pulled slowly back.

A foot pressed into Elliot’s back, right above his rear end, and the boy froze in place as Jonathan leaned down. “And where do you think you’re going?”

“Not to the ball, right bro?” chortled Rufus. Elliot and his eldest stepbrother both frowned at that. Neither responded, though Jonathan rolled his eyes and Elliot flicked his back to the ground.

“You’re going to stay here until it shines bright red,” Jonathan continued. “Then maybe we’ll even let you sit by the fire, while we all attend the ball… While you clean the rest of this house spotless.” He smiled down at Elliot, and Elliot fought to keep his voice clear of any emotions, any hint of his plans.

“Uh-hmmmm….” The noise came from his stepmother, walking into the room before Elliot could respond. She had always seemed tall, and time seemed to have made her loom even larger than before. The rounded, happy cheeks she’d had when his father was alive had devolved into more angular features as the family had tightened its collective belt and she’d been forced to lose weight. High cheekbones and cold blue eyes gave her a harsh look…. Red touched the blond’s cheeks as Eliot thought, not for the first time, that he was prettier than her.

“Leave your sister alone, dears.” Elliot couldn’t help but notice the gentle emphasis put on sister, but the foot did lift itself off his backside and he let out a breath of relief that he wouldn’t be shoved uselessly into the further muck. At the same time, though, Elliot felt his muscles tense. Despite the sister comment, Ellanore was being uncharacteristically nice by telling her sons to back off. “She has some shopping to do.”

 Elliot’s eyes widened, and his stepmother let out a small smile in response. “And yes, you can keep the change; buy yourself a little trinket with the pennies left over… I know how you young women love your shopping.”

The blond’s cheeks flushed, but Cinder Elli didn’t correct her. He’d been forced to beg in the past, to keep a few coins to himself. He’d even resorted to stealing, skimming money off the change when he thought she wouldn’t notice – whatever it took to gather a few precious pennies. 

It had taken two years to save forty dollars, penny by penny. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to buy a nice male outfit for himself, and hire a coach for the ball. The poor boy only had enough for a one way trip, but he wasn’t relishing the idea of coming home again. Elliot doubted he’d ever be allowed out of the basement. Only Elli would.

Elliot forced those thoughts away. He smiled at his stepmother, and took the leather pouch she gave him, and the shopping list. He dipped into a small curtsey, bending his knees, bowing his head and even pulling out the hem of his skirt to either side. “Thank you, Mistress,” he told her, playing the proper maid. Then he scurried out the door before she could give him any more orders.

He regretted the decision the moment his feet hit the wooden porch, and the door closed behind him. He was outside, now – but in a dirty, ash-covered dress, with a soot-stained headband. Wearing girl’s clothing was nothing new, of course, but dirty? The public would talk about the dear maid Elli, whose mistress couldn’t even provide her with clean clothing. Or shoes, for that matter – he had only been given thick black socks, that covered his ungainly feet. It would all get back to his stepmother, eventually, and there would be hell to pay. But only if poor Elli was still around to pay it. Let Ellanore deal with the fallback, the blond decided. She apparently couldn’t even be bothered to come through the door after him; assuming she even recognized her mistake.

Elliot took a deep breath, glancing at the door again to make sure that its handle wasn’t jiggling and that it wouldn’t open up when he was least expecting it. He took a look, too, at the forest that surrounded his childhood home, making sure no one was wandering up the path or hiding in the trees. His isolated house didn’t have many visitors, and he always hid himself away in the attic when they appeared, but right now he couldn’t do that.

Elliot had deep doubts that the townsfolk would understand anything of his situation, beyond the fact that he dressed as a girl. His stepmother had painted a very clear and believable portrait of them pointing, laughing, and violently throwing things when he was forced to go into town. If they didn’t lynch him on the spot, it would only be because they didn’t want to interfere in family affairs. He would certainly never be able to live a normal life when this was over with. The story might even follow him to other towns.

His stepmother had carefully convinced him to not only hide his crisis from the townsfolk, but to maintain it. If Elliot was the son of a rich merchant, who never left his house – then Elli was the bastard daughter, who’d come looking for her long-gone father and found only work as a maid instead. To pull that off, to not get recognized the moment he left the household, he’d had to do more than simply pretend. He’d had to make Elli real, imagining what his life would have been like if he’d been born a girl. A girl without any of the societal pressures of a lord, but also without any of the rewards. A girl who could be herself, even if she would never be much. He had to make Elliot disappear, and Elli reign supreme – and he had to keep his family from spotting it, or else they’d realize how much better he could do at home.

The face was first, but it was easy. The day was still early enough that the fine, blonde facial hairs had yet to regrow. That would probably change by the time she got home, but the makeup usually took care of things. Better, there was the soot that lightly covered her face; it would hide any sign of the lighter strands, with luck. That just left her needing Smile Number One – a happy and innocent smile, meant to draw people in – with just a hint of Elli’s true feelings behind it. The bone-deep weariness and wariness that any maid would have. That little glimpse, caught against her apparent will, was the weapon that made most people sympathetic and kind.

The next thing was body language. Walking style. Elli didn’t have much of a bottom to show off, and while she waxed and tweezed her legs on a regular basis, the sticks that held her up were still thin and knobbly, without much butt or thigh to show when she sashayed. So she skipped most of the mile through the forest, traveling the well-worn trail. In the curves, when she was convinced no one would see her, she would try to weave her hips back and forth with every step, and practice a more seductive step. There were times she couldn’t skip in the crowded streets, and it was normal for Elli to at least try and look sexual. Without much in the way of breasts, at twenty, she wasn’t likely to have any assets at all to show and catch herself a partner.

The blonde girl picked up a brown wicker basket from besides the door, carefully bending down with her legs closed so as not to show anything improper. She grasped the woven handle,  and gave it a quick shake to make sure nothing frightful had slipped inside the basket or under the soft cloth that would cover her shopping from prying eyes until she got home. Nothing came out, so she picked up the basket with a big smile and began to make her way down the dirt path through the forest. With a mixture of skipping, sashaying and even half dancing, in practice for the ball, the blonde eventually made it through the half mile that separated her home from the town. Just a silly girl, following her dirt path to where it fed into a larger dirt road. A silly girl whose sharp eyes could see the town up ahead. If she squinted, Elli could even make out distinct buildings, mostly houses this far out. The one exception was a prosperous inn, whose swinging sign showed a duck, dressed in a suit and cravat. Though the maid couldn’t make out words at this distance, she knew that it was called The Rich Duckling, and that it marked the entrance to the town proper. Once she was past that building, she would start seeing people. She already had to assume people could see her.

Being watched didn’t matter to Elli, though, and she stuffed down any feelings Elliot might have on the matter. If she had any secret admirers, they were free to regard her form as she merrily skipped into town, basket swinging back and forth as she moved in a display of careless excitement. She skipped past the inn, onto cobblestones that bit into her poor feet and threatened to stub her toes. She kept skipping, anyway, ignoring each little jolt of pain that came through. Her feet had been hardened and calloused through the work she’d done, and she could take a little more of a beating as she moved through the town. 

As the maiden neared the center market, the crowd began to thicken, leaving no room for skipping. She moved instead into her sexier walk, making her bottom and butt sway as much as possible in the limited space – and given the limited attributes she had to work with. Even trying her best, Elli felt more and more like Cinder Elli as the black soot on her dress marked every person she bumped into. It got her more than a few glares, and she was certain that the new name would stick with her for whatever was left of Cinder Elli’s life. Possibly forever, if she couldn’t end it at the next night’s ball.

Elli took a deep breath, and reminded herself that the feedback would go only to her mistress, the Lady Ellanore. Keeping that in mind, she started to press and jostle her way through the crowd, bumping her dirtied dress against fine white cloth and blue-patterned dresses. She ignored a muffled curse as a lady in a particularly fine pink dress pulled the cloth aside before the sooty Cinder Elli could bump into it. She slid around the lady, instead taking advantage of the skittish behavior to move herself a few feet closer to the butcher’s shop. 

Three pork chops, three steaks, three pounds of hamburger. Never enough for poor Cinder Elli, who would eat what little leftovers Ellanore decided to spare her. Next up was the baker’s, where she’d buy three loaves of bread, and the tailor’s where she’d pick up two black suits, with mirroring blue ties. It was nicer than anything she could afford, but she tried to put that out of her mind. Their attention would be entirely on the princess, and Elliot’s on… Whatever lady would take him, really.

Cinder Elli forcefully pushed that persona out of her mind, and realized she’d been scowling at the ground for a solid minute. She pushed her smile back into place, tucking the suits into her basket and under the soft cloth. The sun was already starting to set overhead, when she began to push her way back through the crowds. She swung her hips side to side, making room among people scared to get soot stained, until there was finally room to start skipping on the cobblestones.

It was a relief when she hit the dirt road, and then the dirt path back home. Rather than the constant pain of the dull rock, there was just the occasional poke of brambles into her feet. She paused occasionally to pull out little thorns that had pushed through her socks, but tried to only do it when necessary. The sun had begun to dip behind the hills, and the shadows of the trees were starting to fall across the small path. The longer she waited, the darker it would be when she returned home and the angrier her mistress would be at having to open the door. 

Worry didn’t make the path any shorter, though. The travel was hard, and her feet hurt, and complete darkness had fallen by the time she arrived on the porch. She sat for a moment, plucking each thorn out of her socks so that it wouldn’t stab her during the long night of punishment that probably awaited her. Him. Time for Elliot to take control, again, and face his punishment.

When he knocked on the door, he was not expecting i tto open immediately. He certainly wasn’t expecting the happy smile on his stepmother’s face as she greeted him with a look that neared a warm welcome. The clink of copper on copper drew his attention downward, to the reason for that smile. There was something in his stepmother’s hands; a small bag of brown cloth, which Elliot instantly recognized. It was filled with forty dollars, and twenty three cents. “That’s…”

“Mine.” His stepmother finished, smile widening as she looked out at him. “You seem to have taken a little extra, for yourself; but thankfully, you have exactly enough to cover the interest on my unwitting loans, so I won’t be calling the police on you. In fact, as promised, I’ll even let you keep the change from tonight’s trip out. Like I promised.”

Ellanore hefted the small purse, letting the coins jingle a little as she bounced it in her hand. He stared at it with despair, thinking of the outfit he’d planned to buy. That he couldn’t afford with the fifteen cents left over from today’s shopping. 

“Please….” The word slipped out of his mouth without his realizing, coming more from Cinder Elli than Elliot. The role she’d be trapped in for the rest of her life, if he couldn’t escape.

“Perhaps you’ll have better luck next time,” his stepmother continued. “I’ll even donate a nice dress to the cause, once your fortune has been split among my sons. Cinder Elli.” 

“Please… You can have my father’s wealth; I don’t care, just let me go to the ball, just… Please-”

“Please what?.” His stepmother’s lips turned upward into a broader grin, showing off her teeth. “Please give you a chance to woo the princess? Please let you ruin all my plans? I think not. Though I will give you tomorrow night off – if you care to arrive in that ragged thing, like you did at the market. I think you’ll have plenty of cleaning to do in your own room, though. Cinder Elli.”

The name felt like a physical punch to the blond boy’s stomach. He crouched in on himself, trying to find that spark of anger and defiance that had kept him going for so long. Allowed him to keep separate from that name, and these dresses, no matter how deep he went into the disguise.

It was useless. The spark had gone out. All that remained was a tiny reserve of stubbornness, not a spark or a flame but a stagnant pool that would soon be drained away. He would become Cinder Elli, for good, at his stepmother’s next convenience – he knew that, now. It wouldn’t even be so bad; he knew she would still be mistreated, but a simple maid like Cinder Elli expected no better. Wanted nothing more than food and lodging, however shabby.

“Cinder Elli?” his mistress asked, and he could hear the smile in her words. “Did you have anything to add?”

“…No. Miss.” Elliot bowed his head, trying not to see the smile on her face, as he walked across the floorboards, past the warm fire, and toward the stairs to the attic. He moved silently, making sure the floors wouldn’t creak and wake his stepbrothers, the young masters of the house. He made his way upward at a near crawl, the staircase only becoming squeakier, the steps a little looser as he crawled up them toward the trap door that marked entrance to the attic. He put his shoulder under it, and heaved upward. Then grasped at the edge so that he could slowly lower it to the ground. Climbing up afterward, he focused all of his attention on shutting the attic door, and then pulling out a small lantern and some matches he could light.

It took three attempts to find a match that didn’t simply break when he struck it. Then another four attempts to actually light the tiny candle stub inside, and close the lantern’s glass door before the drafty winds could burn it out. When he was finally finished, he shined the dim light across his room. Peering at the damage.

It was bad. A few of the floorboards had been pulled up, no doubt by overeager stepsiblings who didn’t realize there was nothing underneath except for the cross beams. He carefully put those in place, grimacing a little as the already rotted and warped wood squeaked into place, leaving behind bulges in the floor that he could trip on.

A stone from the chimney had also been removed, but he left that on the ground, for now. It was a tunnel that ran all the way from the ground floor to the outside world, and he sometimes liked to hear the noises that came through. His brothers liked to discuss their plans for him, around the fire, and he’d always found it useful to mentally prepare. Or he had. Now he didn’t care.

Elliot peered around the rest of the room. The closet had been ransacked, and his mother’s dresses turned inside out and upside down before being strewn across the floor. There was hay all over the ground, from what had formerly been a makeshift pillow. The worst thing, though, was the bedding. 

The ragged white blanket they used had been tossed to the side, among the more rotten planks of wood.  The thin material of the mattress had been viciously attacked, deep slashes running through the length of the material, with more hay leaking out. The place he slept, the one respite he had from the world, had been destroyed. Looking for a bag of money that would never have been able to fit inside. A bag that had actually simply rested on the shelf, a little above eye sight, the entire time.

Elliot expected himself to be angry. He expected himself to scream. Instead he simply leaned down next to the bed, flipping it over. Then he gathered up the hay into a new pillow, blew out the lamp, and flopped down on the thin material of his mattress. It was over. He had lost. Elliot would die, and Cinder Elli would live a life of happy denial in his stead.

That thought echoed in his mind as he fell asleep. He dreamed of what it would have been like, if he was born female. Born Elli, happy and sincere. His father might have written her into his will; if a queen could rule a country, and a wife could rule a household, there was certainly no reason a daughter couldn’t inherit money. Enough for a dowry, at least – even if she didn’t possess any better assets in that reality than she did now.

She dreamed of a world where her dowry was set in stone. Where her stepmother didn’t see her as a threat to her sons, and where they might have even gotten along. They were both intelligent women, after all. She could have learned how to wrap a man about her finger. Avoiding spending too much on her dowry and save some extra for her siblings. Who would dote on her, and glare at any potential… husband.

Husband. That word sent little shivers of distaste through her, sending a fracture through the otherwise perfect dreamscape. If she was a girl, she should marry a man. She was a girl, so she should marry a man. She frowned, within the dream, and stood. The tableau of happy brothers and a loving mother faded away, everything losing its distinctive shape until she was just a single woman in a field of colors. Husband… Perhaps if she tried to imagine him, attribute by attribute?

She tried to imagine it. Slender build, strong arms. Soft lips that would kiss her gently on the ear, while a delicate hand pressed itself against her chest, pulling her back into the soft pressure of twin bulges against her spine. Another hand, nails painted pink, reaching under her dress. Gently touching her where no man had ever touched before. A soft feminine purr, and then a sudden plunge of fingers into flesh.

Elliot woke up with a startled cry, the still-dirty gown now drenched with sweat. He… He’d been dreaming. About something. He tried to remember what, but all that came to him were colors, and a feeling of lips, and. A woman. A beautiful woman.  The blond’s cheeks flushed red, and he turned aside to the small round window that was set in the wall. The glass was poorly made, thick with bubbles so that you couldn’t even see through it. It did allow a distorted sort of light into the room, though, and he gauged it to be about noon. He could hear voices through the chimney, though he’d have to get closer to make it out.

He didn’t bother. It was the same sounds he’d heard at last year’s ball, only louder. The princess hadn’t picked a husband last year, and everyone knew her family was putting on pressure. If she wanted to marry for love, this might be the last year she could do so. Not that it would matter to Elliot if the balls stopped. Elli wouldn’t care about anything but how pretty the princess’s brown hair looked.

The all-but-broken maid rolled onto his back. He stared at the ceiling. He didn’t plot anything; he just stared. He stared as his mistress screamed on below, and the young masters grumbled about having to dress themselves in such stiff clothing, and his mistress yelled some more. He stared at the wall until the light in the room began to dim, and there was the slamming of a door and the sound of something large moving out front. Horses, and a carriage. 

Then everyone else was gone; it was just Elliot, staring at the wall, the time clicking quietly closer to the ball’s end at midnight. In the morning, he would be yelled at for not cleaning, even though he’d supposedly been given the night off. His stepmother would use that as an excuse to finally break him, making him not just Elli but Cinder Elli. He could just imagine it: a maid who couldn’t care for her own appearance, allowed to keep her job by the grace of a wonderful mistress. Her charitable mistress. Elliot would disappear, for good.

The maid rolled onto his back, staring up at the ceiling. There was no hope, no chance, no conceivable way he was escaping this. There was nothing to do but stare at the ceiling, and hope it would be over quickly. Stare as the time quietly ticked away, until he judged it was about nine. That was when he heard a crash through the opening in the chimney. Someone, he knew, had just broken into his home.

His mistress’s home, the blond reminded himself, frowning. He had no reason to care if anyone broke in downstairs. So long as they didn’t come to the attic, he had no reason to care. He stood up, anyway. He moved toward the stairs. He was being ridiculous. He had no real reason to go downstairs, he had no stake in whether or not this place was robbed. He knew that. He also knew that this was, originally, his mother’s home; and that someone had just broken the window.

His brothers’ fists had helped Elliot memorize each stair. Where it was most squeaky, which ones to skip. He was able to creep his way down each stair in silence, giving no warning to whoever had broken in through the window. Down to the second floor, then to the first, and finally he was stepping off the staircase. He held his breath as he moved across the floors, putting weight on the tips of his toes so as to not make a sound. There was no one in the parlor or the dining room. He made his way into the kitchen, thinking maybe they had slipped their way out the back door, but they hadn’t. They were lying on the floor, beneath a shattered window.

The intruder was a woman. A small woman, maybe four feet tall, with a narrow build, and a waist so tiny Elliot could have wrapped his hands entirely around it. Long silver hair cascaded down her back, weaving around two translucent wings and ending at a perky butt. Her dress had been pulled up in the crash, revealing a pair of white panties. He stared at them for a moment, licking his lips as he felt the slight flush of arousal. He felt like a creep, staring, but the alternative was to look at her wings.

She had wings. Dragonfly wings, but… bigger. They were completely clear, with pink veins running through the membranes, and peering through them didn’t even tint the blue dress she was wearing. It was a cute dress, actually, with a low scooping neckline that showed off a pair of small breasts and a bare hint of cleavage. He had to bend down and peer sideways to see under them, since she was mostly on her back, and just slightly tilted to her side. Also, he was ignoring the wings again. She had wings. People didn’t just have wings.

The tiny woman, with her impossible wings and white panties and small breasts and wings, began to stir. She blinked slowly upward, her gaze starting at Elliot’s socks and moving up the ash stained blue fabric of his dress. She settled on his face, blinking again, and he realized he’d never taken off the makeup from before. It was probably smeared, the black charcoal he used on his eyelashes smudged, and the red paint on his lips running. “…Elli?” she whispered, slowly starting to push herself up and onto her feet. “Cinder Elli?”

“Y-Yeah…” Cinder Elli whispered, her voice soft. Her voice was a little husky, but so long as she kept her voice down she could escape with only light teasing from the merchants. She knew she was dealing with an intruder, a common thief, but that thief could still talk; and people might listen to a girl with wings talking about a man who wore women’s clothing. “That’s. Me.”

The intruder stood up, shaking a few shards of glass from her silver hair. She smiled brightly at the woman in front of her, and offered a hand. Elli reluctantly took it, and the small creature wrapped warm fingers about the blond’s. “I’m Galindi! The fairy godmother assigned to your case. I understand you wish to go to the ball? But your stepmother won’t allow it… Really terrible! I was so sad when I heard it, I rushed right over! Only…” She blushed, pale skin turning a bright red. “I was crying so hard for you, I didn’t notice the window was closed. Fairies have trouble with glass, you know.”

“…Right…” Cinder Elli whispered. She wasn’t really listening. Her heart was in her throat, her mind reeling with possibilities. A fairy godmother; someone whose only job was to finally get her into the princess’s ball. “You can… you can really help me?”

“Of course.” The fairy beamed up at her charge, looking the blonde over again. Her smile slowly slipped, lips turning down into a frown. “Well, first, we’ll need to get you out of this… mess” She gestured at him, circling her hand to encompass. Everything. “It’s completely wrong for you…”

Cinder Elli nodded, eagerly. It was time to shed the raggedy dress. With a proper suit, she would have a much easier time finding a woman at the party. Or. Elliot would. It was Elliot that needed a change – and the fairy had been talking specifically to Cinder Elli. Combined with how easily she’d slipped into being Elli – what if this ditzy fairy actually thought she was a real girl?

“Wait!” Elliot cried out, using his normal voice now. “I’m-” he was cut off by a finger to his lips. A finger that glowed with a slight silver light, and caused a warm tingling in his lips. It spread down, enveloping his throat. He decided to talk around it, not caring if it was rude – but only a choked sound emerged. The warmth suddenly disappeared; he couldn’t feel his throat. He couldn’t move his neck. He lifted his hands, resting them on her narrow shoulder and trying to push against her. She stepped back, willingly, grinning as she held up a small bronze orb.  Again, he tried to talk, but this time absolutely nothing came out. 

“It’s your voice!” Galindi explained. “Or. The essence of it? I never really listened when the teachers explained it, but basically I’m going to tweak it a little and return it. After it fits you a little better… Oh! And after I take care of your body…”

Elliot lifted his hands, thinking maybe he could wave them in protest, make her listen to him. His godmother – Cinder Elli’s godmother – grasped his hands as he held them out. She interlaced her fingers with his, and squeezed softly. As before, the blond felt warm tingles spreading through his hands and down his arms. It crashed against his body like twin waves, colliding into each other mid-chest, causing his nipples to stand rigid as the warm sensation cascaded through his body. He felt it in his legs, in his neck, his head, dulling his senses. He watched with only dim awareness as his hands glowed a soft pink, slowly starting to dissolve from between Galindi’s fingers. 

The fairy reached out her newly freed right hand, pressing into Elliot’s chest. He felt her fingers closing around his heart, squeezing the pumping organ until it stopped, then gently pulling it out of what had been his chest, what was now just pink light. He watched his own body dissolve, from within her hand. He watched his mother’s blue dress fall to the floor, with nothing inside it but black socks. It was like he was entirely contained within the heart, except that he knew instinctively that he wasn’t a heart. He was another orb, a pink orb lightly pulsating in Galindi’s hand. She wrapped her hand around it, and there was suddenly nothing but soft pink light and pale flesh all around him.

There was a small squeeze around his orb, a whole new level of warmth and energy that made his essence glow so much brighter. The hands parted from around him, letting him suddenly expand outward in an explosion of light. Elliot suddenly had form again – but it was still made of light, a simple silhouette, still waiting to be given its final shape. The hand that had been holding him lifted upward, and the essence of Elliot felt the light beginning to contract inwards as a new body was defined.

His feet were formed first, smaller than they had been. From tiny toes, to the graceful arch of his petite feet, and the small smooth heels, there was not a single callus or mark of use. He wasn’t sure how something that small and perfect could even support his frame.

Slender ankles slid smoothly into existence followed by the gentle flow of legs. Long legs, with barely a hint of muscular tone, soon sliding into soft and tender thighs. He eyed the creamy skin that had never once been damaged by the sun, or scarred by a fall. There had been a small scar under Elliot’s left knee, but now there was nothing but smooth, hairless skin with invisibly tiny pores. There were veins and tendons forming, and weak muscles that had never once been used. He knew already that they would be strong enough to support his weight, but not much more.

The legs began to shake as a simple thread of flesh weaved its way from both of them, connecting in the middle and slowly weaving itself into something, the beginnings of a groin and torso. There were hips, wider than his old ones, with a little extra fat. Just enough that one could grasp them without being jabbed by bone. Where the thighs met, there was also a new warmth. A tiny little button, set deep within the groin. At first, Elliot assumed it would grow into his manhood; it didn’t. Instead, the pattern of the weave began to change; there was a hole, right there in his groin, and over it flowed pink folds, closing together as soft and tender lips were brought into place.

Elliot had a vagina. He should have been reacting to that. Except, he didn’t really have a brain yet. He couldn’t feel terror, or worry; there was no anger. There was just a quiet fascination, as he felt his bottom begin to form. It was small, in keeping with the rest of his body, but it was pert. There was a gentle lift to it, a cleft one could slide their fingers beneath and lift. Though her cheeks were small, they were warm and firm and more than enough to fill someone’s hands. It was a woman’s bottom.

Above it formed a slender waist. It wasn’t quite so tiny as the fairy’s, but still small enough that a large pair of hands could encompass the curve of her waist and the flatness of her stomach, meeting in the center without strain. From there, the body curved upward. There was flesh, and a ribcage, and organs – everything familiar, yet somehow new. Pure, unstrained by time – and with new additions: a uterus, fallopian tubes, and fully-stocked ovaries. He could feel them all inside him, and something more: he was growing breasts.

Smooth hills of flesh, swelling into something more like mountains. They were soft, gentle things that would spill out of almost any hand. As Elliot’s shoulders, arms and hands formed, he actually lifted the breasts up to feel their weight. His fingers pressed into the soft skin, finding a firm core beneath. The maid – was he still a maid? – traced fingers around the flesh of his breasts. He circled slowly around the smooth skin, until he finally found the wide pink disks of his areola. They were wide enough to encompass both his thumbs, and still leave room for the thick nipples between them. Elliot pinched and kneaded the skin, until the nipples stiffened into hard knots between his fingertips. 

Elliot lifted his hands. As his neck began to form, and his head, his sky blue eyes slowly took in his hands. The digits were small and thin, the nails neatly clipped and filed into neat little ovals. The hands were attached to fragile wrists, and hairless arms. Arms with even less muscle than his legs. He slid the left hand back up to his breast, and pressed the right hand lightly between his thighs. Blond hair was beginning to grow out of his scalp and cascade down his back, ending with a little upward curl at his pert bottom. He wanted to push his fingers inside, but a hand gently took his arm, and pulled it away. That was when Elliot finally remembered the fairy.

Galindi gently took his right hand, and spread Elliot’s fingers out, placing a golden orb in the palm. She pressed his hand upward, toward his throat, until the warm light slid inside. He gasped. “What…” He paused. His voice was high pitched, and breathy. It made his words sound plaintive, like a damsel in distress.

“Shh,” the fairy whispered, pressing a finger to his lips. Again, there was a warm tingling – but it didn’t spread. “This is a very delicate process…”

“!” His lips wouldn’t separate. His tongue was like a dead weight inside his mouth. He had no way to speak. He could only stare helplessly as Galindi gestured to his clothes on the floor. The blue dress dissolved into thread and cloth, shifting to a slightly lighter color. Elliot recognized the sky blue of his own eyes, and those eyes widened.  

The cloth wrapped itself around his waist, thinning to a simple strip of cloth and settling right above the hips. It was softer than it had been, softer than the finest cloth he’d ever felt. He ran his fingers over it in shock, until Galindi batted his hands aside. The fairy was frowning at what little outfit she’d created. She pulled a silver strand of hair from her head, letting it glow and expand into a shining ribbon. She tied that around his waist, ignoring Elliot’s weak attempts to push her away as she made a small bow above his ass.

The soft fabric began to drip, blue rivulettes sliding down his hips, flowing off his body in an arc and descending toward the floor. The streamlets of cloth stopped, as if they’d hit some invisible wall, right above Elliot’s ankles. Blue threads began to move among the fabric, and Elliot stared down in shock as he watched the cloth pulling itself into existence, just like his own body had done a few moments before. The skirts of a ball gown dress were being formed right on his body, flowing in a beautiful arc that slowly settled into static, pleated cloth.

Elliot felt the cloth as it began to climb, creeping upward with new tendrils. They stayed close to the skin, climbing their way up his stomach and to his breasts. The blond’s breathing grew heavier as the delectable fabric caressed them, flowing around the areola, pinching the nipples for a few moments until the fabric could begin forming around his breasts. It lightly squeezed his mammaries toward each other, forming cleavage as it lifted and supported the flesh. The cloth was no longer moving higher, having stopped right at the curve of his chest. It was only stretching itself around his small frame, curving around the underside of his breasts to perfectly encapsulate the flesh, closing around his back. 

There was no movement for a moment, and Elliot thought it was over. Then the fairy kneeled down to take his right foot and casually lift it. He wiggled the toes, still getting used to the feel of having such a tiny thing attached to him. He wasn’t sure what she was planning, though, until one of the black socks lifted into the air. It slid onto his foot, stopping just at the curve of his ankle. The fabric hardened in place, forcing his toes into their resting position. It thickened, and he watched the color fade entirely from the cloth, until he was wearing nothing but thick glass slippers, with just a touch of heel. Galindi placed the foot down, and repeated the process with Elliot’s left foot, while he tried to comprehend what was going on. He was wearing perfectly formed. Glass. Slippers. Magical shoes! A fantastic dress. And he was going to the ball… As Cinder Elli.

Still not speaking, Galindi reached out to touch her charge’s face. He felt a warm flush as his cheeks reddened, creating the effect of blush. She traced her fingers around his lips, and gently touched each eyelash. “There!” His godmother smiled, finally satisfied. She reached between her breasts, and pulled out a tiny silver mirror; he could only assume she’d fit it in with magic. He stared at his own reflection, in shock.

His face was different. There were similarities; his eyes were still the same and his cheeks were still round. Yet the contours he’d always tried to create with makeup were now just part of his features – his cheeks were flushed permanently pink. His soft lips were plump and full and a deep blood red. His eyelashes were long, dark and thick, and left no smudges no matter how many times he blinked. Because it wasn’t makeup. It was him.

Far too soon, the mirror disappeared back into Galinda’s cleavage. “Come on!” Galindi was grinning. “Even with a fairy coach, you’ll be dreadfully late even if we hurry. Which we can’t afford, because all this magic only lasts until midnight – which is really dumb, but the point is we only have until midnight to set you up with someone who will love you when all this disappears! So get in the carriage!”

Elliot pointed stubbornly at his lips. He needed to talk. If he could explain things, there was still time for her to fix everything. Galinda didn’t seem like she was in the mood to listen, though. She pointed at his shoes, and twitched her index finger. The shoes began to move on their own, lifting his feet, one after the other, and setting them down again. 

“No time to talk!” the fairy warned. You can do that at the ball, the spell was only set for a few minutes.”

A few minutes. He tried to grab at the counter, but his legs wouldn’t stop moving, as weak as his muscles were. There was no way he could resist the power of magical shoes. With the fairy holding the door open, his feet forced him to walk out the back door, and circle back around to the front. There really was a carriage there. A riderless carriage, pulled by two silver horses. One glanced at Elliot and snorted, tossing its head back and forth, and stomping its hoof. It was almost like a “hello.”

The carriage was also silver, matching Galindi’s hair color. It had pink trimming around its wide oval doors. Elliot realized, in the back of his mind, that the color matched the veins in the fairy’s wings. He wondered if Galindi had picked the coloring herself, but then the doors spread apart and she was being forced into the cabin, above the white seats.

The carriage started to move, and the first curve in the road caused Elliot to fall back into the seating. It was soft, made of the same material as his clothing. He leaned back into it, not knowing what else to do as the carriage raced toward the castle and the princess’s ball. Even if his legs could move, a quick check of the doors told him that they were locked, somehow. Even if he could get them open, they were racing past the trees at a breakneck pace. There was no escape. He could only stay in the carriage as it raced down the dirt road and turned sharply away from the town, toward the actual paved streets.

At the unnatural pace these horses were moving, it couldn’t have taken more than five minutes before they were pulling up in front of the castle. More than enough time for Elliot’s lips to finally separate, but with no one to talk to there wasn’t much point. He poked his head out the window instead, once the horses slowed, just taking in the large gray rock and spires of the castle. The iron-wrought gates opened eagerly for such a fancy carriage, but he knew he could have arrived in anything he wanted. Every man and woman of marrying age was invited to the princess’s ball, so long as they could afford nice clothes and didn’t interfere with the princess’s right to choose her own husband.

The doors opened by themselves, startling the valet and shaking Elliot from his thoughts. He willingly stood up when the shoes began to move, and discovered they allowed him to move under his own power so long as he wasn’t resisting the path they chose. He was walking into the castle, past the portcullis and onto the red carpet that had been rolled out for every guest. It was startlingly pristine for something so many people had been walking on, but then again, who was going to walk on the princess’s carpet with dirty shoes? His own heels left only the barest indentations in the carpet, and they quickly faded from the red material as Elliot began the long walk. He had to travel down several hallways and up a pair of steps to reach the ball. The blond wasn’t worried, though. He knew that he just needed to follow the red carpet. He would give a perfunctory hello to whoever was guarding the door, and then he would spend the rest of the night avoiding any men who might get ideas.

Elliot took a deep breath when he reached the end of the path. Two solid oak doors stood in front of him, and he wanted to pause for a moment. With the shoes threatening to ram him into the door if he didn’t move, the former maid had no choice but to simply throw open the doors. 

He was standing at the top of a staircase. He was staring down at a mass of dancing couples, men in black suits and women in ballroom gowns and sleek dresses, short skirts and long skirts, gold and red and blue and green. He was struck by how much variety there was among them. Yet not a single one of them had a dress that came from a fairy, or a body crafted for this ball. He felt like the prettiest girl at the ball… for a moment. Until he remembered that he wasn’t a girl, that this form would only last until midnight, and that everyone else was there of their own merit.

The glass shoes were already descending down the stairs, and Elliot hurriedly grabbed at the bannister, trying to appear graceful as he took control back from the shoes. He was aware of people staring at him, eyes turning to the girl who’d entered the ball late, and it made Elliot’s cheeks flush even pinker than their natural shade. From his vantage point, he could notice a brunette woman making her way through the crowded ballroom floor. It should have been difficult for anyone to make their way through the dancers, but the people seemed to suddenly part wherever the figure walked. It was like she had her own little air bubble in the sea of revelers, that no one dared penetrate. The woman reached the surface of the crowd before Elliot could finish walking down the stairs, and he paused in shock at her clothing. At her suit. 

He had never seen a woman in pants before. They fit her differently than they did the men. The cloth clung lightly to her legs, showing off the shapely muscles beneath.  It supported her bottom, instead of hiding it, and whenever she turned to greet someone, Elliot caught sight of that perfect ass so clearly that he wanted to blush. 

The woman’s white shirt was all of one piece, with no buttons that he could see. It hugged her stomach, and her breasts. Small, compared to Elliot’s, but definitely there. A sky blue tie hung from her neck, resting between the slight hills of her breasts. The only concession to femininity was a silver ribbon, holding back her hair in a simple bow.

Over it all laid a black jacket. She was wearing the same clothes as all the men, but somehow it felt like the men were copying her. The confidence with which she walked toward him, the slight smile on her lips, the way she placed one hand on the swell of her hips. Above her sheathed sword, with its golden hilt and silver scabbard. He swallowed, uncertainly, but his shoes were taking him right toward her.

There was a small smile on her lips, and a twinkle in her eye. When the shoes finally stopped, a few feet away from her, the woman removed the hand from her hip and held it out toward Elliot. He automatically dropped into a curtsy, and then took the fingers uncertainly in his own. “Most of the nobility know to get here on time.  I usually frown at lateness from my guests.” Her lips stayed in that smile, and her voice was soft. She didn’t seem angry.

“I’m…” He paused, still unused to his new voice. He took a moment to replay his words, and swallowed hard. Her party. She was the princess. No wonder she was allowed to dress like that. “I’m not nobility. Princess.”

The smile faded from her lips. Of course, she had no reason to smile at a peasant. “Princess.” She spoke, flatly, squeezing his hand tightly until his eyes flicked to hers in surprise. “My name is Kallina. Not princess. I’d appreciate you using my name, while we dance.”

“Dance…? With the prin… With you?” Elliot had practiced dancing before. As a man. As the theoretical lead. Could this frail body even dance?

The princess smiled again. Still holding the blond’s hand, she lifted it up into the air and placed her other hand around his waist. She stared at him until he shifted his own free hand to her hip, lightly brushing aside the long brown strands of her hair. “It is my ball,” Kallina whispered, leading him into the dance. The glass slippers moved automatically, sliding into a perfect waltz. “I’m legally allowed to dance with whoever I choose. Whenever I choose. For however long I choose. You should consider it punishment for being late, miss…?”

“E-Ellie,” he whispered, staring at her. The princess’s features were more harshly angled than he would have expected; but it was softened by the constant smile on her face and the warmth in her moss green eyes. It made her look beautiful. “Cinder Elli.”

“Something tells me there’s a story behind that.” Kallina’s hand drifted down, touching Elliot’s bottom. He thought it was a mistake, until he felt her squeeze, and the blond’s blush made him feel like he’d been set on fire. “Perhaps you can tell me over dinner, sometime?”

Was she. Was the princess flirting with him? Did she somehow know he was a man? Or was she really interested in… women. That was impossible; everyone knew women longed for the touch of men. Except her hand wasn’t leaving his ass.

“I’m… just a maid. I have to go back to work after this – I couldn’t possibly intrude on a princess’s dinner…”

The princess leaned down to press her lips against Elliot’s, and the man felt an electric shock as Kallina’s tongue ran over his lips. “Tell me about it now, then.”

“Princess…”

“Kallina,” the brunette corrected, frowning again. “And that was an order. Tell me how you got the name Cinder Elli.”

He stared into her eyes. The warmth was still in her eyes, but there was also a certain hardness beneath it. She was taking in every detail of him, and he blushed yet again, from being exposed to something so intense. “I… My stepfamily. They make me clean, as a maid. In my mother’s house.” Elliot was surprised by how bitter his voice had turned. “When I clean the chimney, I get covered in ash. So they call me Cinder Elli.”

“…I see.” The princess continued to move through the dance in silence, seemingly lost in thought. Then she smiled, beginning to speed up her dance, holding Elliot so close that he could feel the swell of her breasts against his, Time ticked by, the two of them just staring into each other’s eyes. The princess had really beautiful eyes.

“Don’t…. Don’t you have to dance with other people?” Elliot asked for a moment. “It might look weird. Dancing with a woman all night…” How long had they been dancing? With no clock, or natural light, it was difficult to tell. For that matter, what time had he actually left the house?

“It’s a little late in the party for that, love.” She raised her voice when she spoke that last word, ignoring the look of uncertainty on Elliot’s face. “And I think the people will understand if I want to dance with my betrothed.”

“B-Betrothed?” Elliot stiffened. Only the magic slippers kept his feet moving across the ground.

“You don’t think I go around kissing just anyone? Especially in front of every citizen of my country…” He started to look around, but the princess had stopped dancing. He caught sight of the eyes that were on him, the utter stares of shock as rumor rippled down the ranks about what had happened. He’d been so caught up in Kallina. Of course people would have noticed the kiss!

The princess wasn’t worried, though. She smiled, releasing his hand for a moment so that she could wrap both of hers around his waist, and casually lifted him up until their lips were level. She pulled him into another kiss, knowing that every eye was upon her, and slipped her tongue into his mouth. Elliot was too shocked to resist.

The princess. Wanted to marry him? The princess wanted to marry Cinder Elli? A maid. A woman. Women didn’t marry women. It wasn’t done. Unless this was the real reason eligible women were allowed to come to the ball. No. Women married men. Everyone knew that. Except, perhaps, for the princess.

“…What would your mother say?” Elliot asked after a moment. His voice sounded frail to his own ears. It was a shallow deflection.

“She’ll say that it’s a princess’s right to pick her own spouse. I’ll use a spell to get you pregnant, she’ll complain about me not staying home enough with the grandchild, and I’ll take care of the country while you organize the household and help me listen to complaints from the common folk. You’ll live in comfort and happiness, and never have to go back to your stepfamily. That’s why you’re here in so much finery, isn’t it?”

“I…” He had intended that; but he hadn’t wanted to be the woman in the scenario. He never even imagined children, or being the one who got pregnant. 

“Tell me about yourself,” the princess demanded, shifting her right hand back to his. She started to dance again, and his own feet picked the steps back up. He heard feet begin to move, and conversation resume, but he could feel eyes on him. “What do you eat? I like fresh venison, myself, but not everyone can hunt.”

“…Scraps,” Elliot admitted. “I eat table scraps, alright!?” He was yelling. He was yelling at the princess, angry at the princess. His new voice made him sound like it was a petulant tantrum, but the rising blood pressure within was very real. “I eat whatever food the family leaves me. And I sleep in the attic, and I clean my mother’s house, and I wear her old dresses and I won’t inherit any of my father’s will because he only left money to his sons!” He was panting, his feet still moving in the dance but his back utterly rigid, and moving as little as possible. “Is that what you want to hear? That I’m a charity case?”

The princess removed her hands from his. Her eyes had shifted again, the deep green now looking him over intently over. The anger vanished under her gaze, leaving him with just an acute awareness of who he had been screaming at, and what she could do to him with the sword at her hip. He tried to step backward, only to slam against one of the ballroom’s walls. He’d been maneuvered; trapped. His chest began to heave as his breath quickened.

The princess placed one arm against the wall, lightly grazing his breasts with it. She leaned in, until her lips were just a few centimeters away from Elliot’s. Ignoring the people around them, she whispered “I want you to realize that we’re in this together. I need a beautiful wife I can trust, with no political ties. You need a place to escape. We both need to escape the embarrassment of a lover’s spat, in front of the entire country. Plus, you’re obviously attracted to girls and this is the only precedent that could possibly make it legal. So shut up, think about it, and let me kiss you.”

Kallina leaned down. Elliot stood in place, closing his eyes as her lips closed the distance between them. He didn’t dare dodge, and somehow he found his lips gently pursing to accept her’s.  It felt like another electric shock through his body, arcing down his spine.

Was the princess right? It didn’t matter, he reminded himself. The entire situation was insane… She was the princess, he was a peasant – and he wasn’t a he. He’d be reverting back, soon. In front of all these people. Then, not even the princess would want, or be able, to protect him.

Elliot had to get out of there. “I have to get out of here…”

“What?” The princess blinked at him, mouth opening in a little “o” of surprise. “…You’re my betrothed. You can’t just disappear.”

“Pick another girl,” he whispered, ducking beneath her arms. “Tell them I wasn’t pretty enough. Tell them I’m under a horrible curse. Tell them I’m a witch. I’m sorry, but I have to go…” The brunette reached out to grab his hand again, but Elliot pulled away before she could latch on. “I’m sorry.”

The blond ran from her, ducking around dancers as she forcefully pulled people apart. He ran back up the stairs, pulling open the doors. His slippers didn’t want to move past the doorframe, and he tugged fiercely at them. The princess was catching up, but all Elliot could do was focus his attention on the feet. There was a faint vibration spreading through his body, and then his feet popped free from the glass and he was stumbling through the door and down the hallway. He followed the red carpet, bare feet thudding on the plush fabric. He ran down stairs, and hallways, and past the portcullis. The princess wasn’t far behind,  and Eliot didn’t wait for the valet. He ran across the flagstones for the carriage, as another vibration ran through his body. The doors didn’t open on their own this time, so he wrenched them apart, throwing himself inside. Slapping the front of the carriage was enough to set the horses running, leaving the screaming princess behind. 

The scenery rushed by. The tingles were coming faster, stronger, spreading throughout his entire body. The carriage buckled beneath him, and he felt himself sinking through the white seats. The wood around him started to fade, and another final tingle caused his entire body to shake, skin crawling. His dress dissolved into a tangle of threads, leaving only a silver hair tied around his waist. Before Elliot could even grab at the cloth, it fell through the carriage floor, and an ash covered blue dress was left on the road. 

The carriage slowed. His bottom sank down another foot, bare skin hitting the air. He tried to put his hands on the seating, on the wood, but his fingers pressed through it like thick pudding. His bare ass hit the ground, scraping across dirt. With a loud yelp, he fell through entirely; the carriage kept running without him, taking off into the trees. Leaving him on the floor of a dirt road, a few feet from his house, in a naked female body.

Elliot waited for another vibration. For his body to revert, for his breasts to shrink or his penis to grow. Nothing happened. The tingling sensation was gone, and he was still in this form.

He heard hoofbeats. Too many for just one horse – a carriage? Had the princess followed him? Or was it his family? The blond swallowed; either would be bad, and he didn’t stop to think before running for the house. If he could get up to the attic, dress as a girl, pretend nothing had changed, maybe he could buy a little time. Delay things until the outrage died. He could toughen this new body to maid work, and even Ellanore would have to admit he wasn’t a threat to her children anymore, so maybe he could make this work. Except, without proof of his identity, with Cinder Elli already established in the town, there was no real reason Elliot couldn’t just be kicked to the curb.

He needed to think. He needed time, alone. Pulling the door to the house open, her raced up the staircase. Past the second floor, to the attic, throwing himself onto the half rotten floorboards of his room and closing the trap door behind him. He only afterward realized how lucky he was that none of the stairs had broken.

There were voices coming up through the chimney. Elliot hesitated, then walked carefully across the unsafe wood, avoiding the more warped boards as he pressed his ear into the hole. It was his stepmother talking. Yelling.

“A woman! She ignored you two idiots, for a woman! If I’d known she wanted attention of that sort, I would have swallowed my pride and gone in myself!”

Elliot blanched at that suggestion, trying not to imagine his stepmother in a tight ball gown. Dancing with his princess. The princess. Everyone’s princess, he reminded himself firmly, surprised by how fast his heart had begun to beat.

“And you two didn’t even think of cutting in… Where’s your sister? I need a stiff drink, and a chance to humiliate someone.”

Elliot started to lean back, glancing at the closet. He’d put on some clothes, cover his face in a little soot, and survive the night. He was safe. Until a loud knock came booming through the house, and he heard the door smashing into a wall.

“Where is she?” He recognized that voice as the Princess’s. A small electric shock, similar to when they had kissed, shot through Elliot’s body. The princess had come looking for him, after all? No. If the princess caught him, he’d. He’d be stuck like this forever, Elliot realized. She’d never let him hunt for the fairy who’d done this to him.

“Where is who?” his stepmother asked, confusion in her voice. He could imagine her downstairs, deep in a curtsy. The Princess moving past her.

“Your stepdaughter. Cinder Elli. I know she’s here.”

How? There must have been countless horses on the road to and from the palace, on a day like this. How had she possibly have tracked him?

“…I don’t have a stepdaughter.” Elliot could imagine his stepmother’s false smile. The gears turning in her head. “I have a stepson. He’s always been a little feminine – and we do sometimes call him Elli, to accommodate his delusions, but. I assure you, he is a man. Though if your interests lie in that direction, surely I could interest you in –  Your highness?” There was a creaking noise. Someone coming up the stairs. Silence for a moment, and then the voices again – not through the chimney but the thin floorboards. “-ly be disappointed. I don’t think he’s even capable of fathering children, anymore.”

 “Cinder Elli!” The princess was calling to him. “I’m coming for you.” The princess was coming for him. He was sitting, naked except for a single silver ribbon, in the attic and she was coming for him. He hadn’t had time to think. He hadn’t had time to turn back.

The ribbon. It was the only connection Elliot had left to his fairy godmother, and he desperately latched onto it. Pulling it taut between his hands, he yanked it off his body and held it in front of him. “Please!” he begged. “Please, please, please. Help me, Galindi.” He felt a faint vibration through the cloth, and sudden warmth. He didn’t change back. The floorboards beneath him suddenly cracked open, dropping him to the second floor. 

 The world seemed to slow as Elliot fell. He saw his stepmother, staring in open mouth shock at the busty woman falling through her ceiling. His stepbrothers, blinking in awe at his breasts.  There was the princess, dropping the glass shoes to the floor and casually lifting her arm, as if she’d expected him to be there. She slid her arms beneath Elliot’s, holding him the air in front of her. Smiling at him as his legs kicked uselessly at her. “Let me go! I can’t! I won’t… I…” 

The princess leaned in to kiss him. Elliot felt another little tingle, a shock of warmth in his stomach. Kallina lowered her betrothed slowly into the glass slippers, each foot popping perfectly into place. Then he was being lifted again, arms wrapped beneath his legs and around his waist. “You. Are coming with me.”

“Y-Your highness… “” His stepmother stammered. “I swear. My stepson is a man. That is a man. That was…:” She gestured, flustered by the princess’s cool gaze, flicking between Elliot’s breasts and Ellanore’s face. “A man.”

“I’m sure…” The princess whispered, dryly. She pushed past Ellanore, moving down the stairs. She went out the door and toward the gold and silver painted carriage. The driver opened the door for them and Elliot was deposited carefully onto the brown leather of the seats. The princess settled besides him, placing Elliot’s feet on top of her lap. 

“…It’s true,” the blond whispered. He had to say it. He had to tell someone, had to get out of this still. It was a mistake. “I’m a-”

The princess placed her finger on his lips, sending a warm tingle through him. It wasn’t like when the fairy did it – he could still move. He just didn’t want to.

“You’re not the only one who made a wish to her fairy godmother,” the princess whispered, pulling the silver ribbon from her hair, letting it cascade around her shoulders and gently touching the silver ribbon that Elliot was still clutching in his hands. She began to tie each of their ribbons to the other’s wrists. “I wished to find someone I could be with. For the rest of my life. I know you don’t love me, and I don’t love you, but. When you’re a princess, potential is all you can ask for. I think we have that.”

Elliot shook his head. “It’s not that. I’m really a m-” The finger touched his lips again, gently parting them. He felt his tongue lightly against her finger, and was surprised to find it somewhat sweet.

“Fairies see things differently than we do. They see our true essence, our true selves. They’re the ones who dressed me this way; and whatever you were before – this is who you are. You’re a woman, Cinder Elli. And you can’t run from it.” She removed her finger, leaning down and gently pressing a kiss against her betrothed’s inner thigh.  “Besides, fairy mounts are ridiculously easy to track…”

Elliot wanted to respond, but the words died in his throat as Kallina placed another kiss on his inner thigh, climbing up the naked flesh. Her tongue darted across the creamy skin, teasing its way up the thigh. She drew her tongue back in every other inch, kissing and sucking the flesh, letting her teeth ever-so-lightly bite down on the skin. She stopped just short of his groin, and he felt a strange heat rising within him, beginning at his freshly-formed mound. The heat rose through his body, building across his stomach and chest until it finally reached his cheeks. His entire body felt flush with excitement. “Wh…What are you doing to me?” he whispered, and she smiled. Her teeth nipped the hairless skin again. She didn’t respond, but simply splayed her fingers across his other thigh and slowly pushed it out until his legs were spread parallel.

“Tell me you’re a woman,” she whispered, placing a soft kiss right on the tip of his mound. Her tongue darted between the lips, and left again, leaving a trail of saliva that intermingled with Elliot’s own moisture, just starting to flow from within his delicate sex. 

“I’m not-Ah!” Another kiss interrupted him, sending shivers through his body. He’d been so focused on her mouth, he hadn’t noticed the hand creeping across the leather until Kallina’s fingers gripped hold of his left nipple and gently tweaked it between her thumb and forefinger..  

“You are,” she whispered. “Now say it.” She released the nipple, grasping the pillowy breast in her hand, kneading it, becoming more forceful as her own arousal grew stronger. Her mouth began to kiss its way up the stomach, but her left hand stayed in place down at the groin. Splayed across his mound, the thumb lightly touching his stomach, but slowly pulling down. She spread the lips apart, her thumb gently caressing the sensitive button, as she slowly slipped a finger inside of his dripping sex, setting off a spark inside that made the warm feelings explode through his body in a cascade of gentle tingles. Then, suddenly her hand was gone. The warmth, the electricity, began to fade. “Say it, and I’ll make you feel that way a thousand times over.”

“Look, I don’t mind you touching me but I’m not a-aahhh!” She licked his belly button, slipped her way up his stomach and nuzzled between his breasts. Nipping both sides of his breasts with her teeth, and leaving red marks on each side. Her finger pushed into his slit again, sending another wave of that new, exciting pleasure throughout his body. It was stronger this time, and it left a lingering warmth in his limbs, a strange new pressure in his pussy. 

He had to hold on, he told himself. Hold on, as she kissed the taut skin that stretched between his breasts, her eager mouth sending new jolts of pleasure through him.  Hold onto himself as she pressed the palm of her hand against his mound, sending warmth out as she fingered the tiny nub protruding from his sex, and kissed his breasts to send waves of desire through him. He needed to hold on, so that he could go back to his old life. Cleaning, being dirty, mistreated and abused. In his old body, ungainly and out of place, stuffed in clothes that didn’t belong on it but somehow felt right to be wearing.

He. She. Needed to hold on. He needed to go back to the misery of how things used to be, instead of the wonderous feeling filling her now? No. She needed to hold onto this new feeling, the warmth of honest affection for her and her body as the hungry mouth licked over her breasts and the thumb began to press itself harder across her clit.

“I’m a woman…” whispered Elli. Growing pleasure slid through her, lightning lancing down from everywhere Kallina kissed, and fire sparking wherever the princess touched her body. Squeezing her breast, kissing her nipple, and rubbing her button, the princess was absolutely merciless in making her betrothed cry out. Making her back arch and her new body sing, while the carriage slowly made its way toward Cinder Elli’s fresh beginning. Neither of them could have been more happy.

***

EPILOGUE: Six Months Later

***

Elli walked down the forest path, arms lightly wrapped around her belly, cradling the slight bulge. Her first daughter; their princess and heir. 

A step behind her walked two guardsmen, following her on orders from the queen; the blonde’s wife. They were making sure she’d stay safe during this trip, while the queen herself was away on early business. Which was code for having been kidnapped, or some other adventure, no doubt. But Elli knew her love would be back in no time. 

She was more concerned with setting up a surprise for her wife. A place they could all escape to, when they needed to be alone. When they grew older, most likely, and left the castle in the hands of their own daughter and her future spouse. It was a long way off, she knew, but she wanted this place to be waiting for them. To be theirs.

Elli walked a few more steps, and stopped at the edge of the clearing, choosing to just stare at her mother’s old house for a moment. It had become run down. Tiles were missing from the roof. White paint had peeled from the door and surrounding walls. Its current owner hadn’t fared much better, sporting gray hairs among her blond tresses and glaring from her position on the rotted porch. Having to deal with her children’s messes, on her own, hadn’t been working well for her. 

“Your highness,” the lady whispered, through gritted teeth. She even made a mocking little bow, not quite shallow enough that she could be called out on it.

“Stepmother.” Elli smiled at her. This place, this woman, held a lot of bitter memories. But it was also the birthplace of Cinder Elli. The home of her mother and father, before things went bad. This place meant a lot to her, and it was where she thought she’d one day want to retire. In the woods, where her wife could hunt for them and their family could come visit.

She tossed a pouch of gold to her stepmother, who fumbled with the brown leather bag for a moment as if it were made of hot coals. Perhaps that was what she expected from her stepdaughter, after all this time.

“It’s gold, stepmother. All you’ve ever wanted. Take it, and go live the life you tried to steal with it; and get out of my mother’s house. I’m buying it back.”

Elli smiled as she spoke. “And take my father’s sons with you.”

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