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September 2014

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✿ Happily maybe after Part V ✿

It's that time of the year and that means: one short story dedicated to my best friend, arooza, for her birthday (◕‿◕✿)

This is the fifth part of my fairy tale parody, the other parts are found right here:
The Princess in the Tower
The big, bad Wolf
The bully and the Gingerbread House
Fur balls and rotten apples

Warning: This story makes no sense whatsoever, it's just some cracked up parody ^^
Disclaimer: I don't own Rumpelstiltskin or any other fairy tail character that might or might not show up eventually, however, I do own this particular story and all the rest of the characters including the whole wide world - oh yes, it will be mine, mine alone - MWAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! (copied it from Part I, by now you should all know to call me Master! - nyahahahaha)(⌒.−)=★

P.S. 50 points and an imaginary cookie for the one who finds the itsy-bitsy movie reference and tells me which movie it was from.

~ An exhausting task ~

A screeching, wailing, aching sound shrilled through the streets. Buttercup pressed his ears flat to his head, snorted, annoyed, and tossed his head, his whole body tense and ready for flight. Bran was torn between clamping his hands over his own ears and holding on to the reins. He hadn’t seen the old boy so agitated in years.
Next to him, Finn had thrown his arms over his head, a painful expression on his handsome face. Pax darted through the air, here and there, back and forth, the pointy ends of her ears pulled down in hope to shut off her hearing.
At last, however, the noise ebbed away. “What the hell was that?” Bran hissed.
“Our new piper,” the small, rotund man, who had come out to greet them from a tiny cottage right next to the town’s gate, replied. Apparently, he was the mayor or so the badge on his lapel claimed.
“Sorry, but did you say ‘piper’?” Bran was sure he hadn’t heard that right, no piper in the world could produce such a horrible sound, it was physically impossible.
“Yes. He’s our Rat Catcher, you know. His piping is terrible, but ever since the day we hired him, I’ve spotted not a single rat in this town.”
“Yeah, because they commit suicide to flee from the noise,” Pax snorted derisively.
“Well, the neighbouring town hired an excellent piper a few years ago,” the man said, unfazed by Pax’s comment. “But he turned out to be some sort of lunatic, charmed all the children away and not only the rats.”
“Ah,” Finn turned towards the man, “but wasn’t that because the town refused him his payment?”
“Anyway,” the mayor coughed, “we’ve learned from their mistake. No one’s ever going to be charmed away by this guy.”
Probably not, Bran thought, but they might run away from all the noise. He met Finn’s eyes. It seemed they had the same thought for his friend cocked an eyebrow at him and smiled.
“Pah! You humans. Think it’s so special to be able to charm a few people with your music,” Pax spat dismissively. “Every fairy child can do that. As a matter of fact, what you call music is mostly nothing but noise to a fairy. You simply can’t compete with us.”
“Oh really?” Bran crossed his arms in front of his chest and glared at the pixie defiantly.
“Yes, really. After all, we invented music.”
“You did not.”
“Yes, we did.”
Before the two of them could launch into their usual, extensive staring-the-other-down-battle, Finn snatched Pax right out of the air and put her into the pocket of his coat. He grinned at Bran and winked.
“So, mayor,” he said. “Do you welcome all your guests personally in this town?”
“Well, no, not personally. You’re just lucky you’ve arrived on my shift. But yes, we do welcome everyone here at the gate. Have to warn them of the piper. We had a few cases of panic attacks before. One man was even convinced there was a Banshee coming after him.” The mayor shook his head sadly, but suddenly, his face brightened again and he smiled broadly at them. “So, welcome to our humble town and enjoy your stay.”
They thanked him for the hospitality and left him to greet some newcomers.
‘Humble town’ was a clear understatement. The town was nearly as big as Snow White’s and at least as rich. The streets were wide and clean, paved with light grey stone. The houses on each side were tall and friendly looking, housing shops of all kinds: bakeries, tailors, grocers, haberdasheries, jewellers, perfumeries and many more. Potted flowers next to doors and strategically placed on street corners gave everything a cheerful and sunny atmosphere despite the grey sky and the dark clouds threatening rain. Street signs like those in Snow White’s town showed guests and inhabitants alike where what was to be found. Following one of those signs they arrived at last at what was called the ‘guest quarter’. A kind of archway, formed by a huge stone pillar sporting the statue of a girl waving in welcome on each side of the street, announced the beginning of the guest quarter.
Bran regarded the girl statues for a moment with disgust. A quiet ‘so cheesy’, out of Finn’s coat pocket, echoed his thoughts. But, Bran was glad to see, the quarter itself had nothing of its tawdry entrance. Like the rest of the town, it was friendly and neat, with potted flowers everywhere and in regular intervals, like tiny oases in the paved street, were trees, surrounded by wooden benches and flowers, inviting people to take a break, sit, chat and watch the surroundings.
The guest quarter housed restaurants, taverns and, of course, inns – from small, cheap ones to large and expensive ones. It took them a moment to calculate their budget and compare it to the inns’ prices – helpfully written down on wooden signs next to the door. At last they settled on a small but very cosy inn, tucked into a corner almost at the other end of the quarter. A cheerful, red cheeked boy took charge of Buttercup, leading the old boy to the stable and chattering happily with the horse as if it was his new best friend. Another boy, perhaps a year or two older, relieved them of their spare luggage and led them to a lovely, bright room with a huge double bed taking up most of the space.
“Um,” Bran caught the boy’s attention. “Don’t you have a room with two single beds?”
The boy blinked at him, taken aback. “But… but don’t you want to sleep together?” he asked bewildered.
“Why would we-?”
“It’s fine,” Finn interrupted. He smiled at the boy and sat down on the bed. “This bed is perfectly fine. Thank you. “ Relieved, the boy smiled back, sketched a small bow at them and left.
“It’s not fine,” Bran grumbled after the door had closed after the boy.
“Why not? It’s big and comfortable. Or are you afraid I might attack you?” Finn’s eyes sparkled mischievously.
“Actually I am.”
“Aw, don’t be like that. I promise I won’t do anything -”
“ – anything you wouldn’t enjoy.”
Instead of a retort, Finn pouted. He drew his knees up under his chin and hugged his legs tightly. “Sometimes I wonder if you really love me.”
“Aw, you know that I don’t.” Bran pointed out and was rewarded with a snarl.
Pax chose this very moment to crawl out of Finn’s pocket, saving Bran from having to continue this conversation. Her spiky hair was even more messed up than usual and the pupils of her luminous green eyes were nothing but thin slits.
“I… need… a… drink,” she croaked, dropping out of the pocket and landing on all fours on the bed. “Drink.”
“You’ll have to wait. I want to take a bath after all these days on muddy roads,” Bran replied.
“No… no wait… drink… now!”
“Bran, perhaps I should go and get her something.”
“No. Why? It’s four in the afternoon. People drink tea at this time of the day not alcohol. She can wait a few more hours.”
“But Bran, she didn’t have any in two days.”
“So what?”
Before Bran had a chance to say more and get into a rant about the overgrown fly drinking their pursed empty, thunder roared and lighting struck – not outside, but inside their room.
“Booze,” an eerie voice hissed. “Booooooooooooooooooze – give me booooooze!”
Shocked, Bran stared down at the pixie dragging herself across the bed cover. Little green electric flashes danced between the points of her spiky hair. Her ears drooped and by and large, the fairy godmother had a withered and shrunken look about her. Her huge eyes shone feverishly.
“Booze,” Pax rasped again, extending one tiny hand towards Bran.
“Bran, please,” Finn pleaded. His handsome face was drawn with worry, his mossy green eyes shone with unshed tears. “This is serious. Pixies run on alcohol. Please, Bran!”
“I…” he didn’t know what it was he wanted to say, argue against something so ridiculous probably. But one look at Finn’s worried expression and Pax’s withered look convinced him otherwise. “Hold on, I’ll be right back!” He spun on his heels and dashed from the room, a strangled ‘boooooooooze’ following him out of the door.
Certainly, the flying rat was a nuisance and drove him nuts, but he wouldn’t be able to live with himself anymore if he let her die.

“Ah! That hit the spot!” Pax threw herself down on a pillow, belched happily and patted her belly, smacking her lips. Bran glared at the five empty bottles of whiskey and felt a strong, homicidal urge. He had been fooled.
“You little…” he growled, letting the sentence hang in the air like a threat and wringing his hands like strangling someone invisible.
“Now, darling, don’t be like that,” Finn drawled lazily. The young man was lounging lasciviously on the bed, regarding Bran with hooded eyes. “Pax was really feeling terrible.”
“Yes, just like every other drunkard on withdrawal.”
“Fairies don’t get withdrawal symptoms,” Pax piped, shaking a finger at Bran in a very cautionary way. “We run out of energy, that’s a huge difference.”
Bran decided not to answer. He crossed his arms in front of his chest and sat heavily down on the only chair the room provided.
“Are you pouting?” Pax asked.
“It looks like you are.”
“I am not pouting.”
“You’re sure? From here it definitely looks –“
“Shut up, bug!”
In the silence that followed, the ticking of the clock on the wall grew louder and louder. And louder. And louder. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick.
“Argh!” Bran jumped to his feet, intent on destroying the offending device, reducing it to nothing more than dust.
“I know!” Finn suddenly cried, sitting up. “I know how to lighten your mood. A concert.”
“Concert?” Bran blinked, his right hand still reaching for the clock, which seemed to have been shocked into silence.
“Yes. I’ve heard the Town Musicians of Bremen are giving a free concert in the town hall.” Pax fluttered off her pillow, her tiny face alight, clapping her tiny hands excitedly.
“The Town Musicians of what?” Bran asked stupidly.
“Of Bremen.”
“Never heard of them. Are they any good?” How it was possible for Finn and his overgrown bug of a fairy godmother to produce the exact same facial expression, Bran couldn’t say. Right now though, they were both gawking at him as if he had suddenly sprouted feelers and announced that he was an exotic dancer from the planet Bob.
“You… you don’t know who the Town Musicians of Bremen are?” Finn stammered aghast.
“No. Why?”
“Why? They are THE music sensation since that piper in Hamel lost his marbles.”
“Uh… well, I’ve never heard of them before.”
“What planet are you from?” Pax cried. “You’d have to live behind the moon to not have heard of them before.”
The deviant clock chose that precise moment for a comeback of its own. Bran ignored it but did pout this time. It wasn’t his fault his home village was so remote, any news they ever got were already out of date and long forgotten. And they had to admit, there hadn’t been a single word of those musicians in all the time they had been travelling together.
After an eternity of awkward silence, only interrupted by the clock’s irritating ticking, Finn cleared his throat delicately.
“Well, I’d say this is the perfect opportunity to remedy this lack of general knowledge, so let’s go.” And with that, he threw his coat around his shoulders, snatched Pax right out of the air, stuffing her into his pocket, pushed Bran’s new coat into the young man’s hands, grabbed his friend’s arm and dragged him out of room and inn and guest quarter.

“We still have three hours till the concert starts, so how about we go and take a look around all those shops?” Finn wore his most charming smile and his face was slightly flushed. He had his arm hooked around Bran’s and was leaning a little too close for Bran’s comfort. Passing girls shyly looked at them then hurried past, heads together, giggling behind their hands.
Bran sighed. It was obvious that Finn regarded this as a date and no matter what Bran said or did, he wouldn’t budge from it. Resigned, he let himself be steered from one shop to the next, stopping at each to take a look at the display.
Finally, Finn decided on one shop and dragged him inside. The inside of the shop was full of mannequins wearing colourful dresses. A man, wearing and ensemble of screaming bright canary yellow, stepped out from behind a curtain to their left. It hurt just to look at him. The man stepped in front of a huge looking-glass and admired his new attire.
“Fabulous! Truly fabulous,” he exclaimed, awestruck with his own reflection.
Distracted by the man, Bran hadn’t noticed Finn drifting off; only Pax remained behind, fluttering in front of Bran’s face and being utterly mesmerized by the man in yellow. Undecided as to what to do now, Bran hovered in the doorway.
“By heavens! What terrible rags! Just what in all saint’s names made you think those were clothes, young man?” Startled, Bran stared down in front of him, where a rather small, haggard man stood, regarding Bran’s clothes with obvious distaste. He hadn’t even noticed the man till now, which in itself seemed impossible. The man in yellow was distracting, no question, but this one – this one was simply breathtaking in a very bad way. It was like looking at a horrible accident, unable to look away, held in terrible fascination. Bran had never seen so many colours at once.
“Excuse me?” Bran said.
“This… coat – even making cleaning rags out of it would be too good for it, but to actually wear it…” The haggard man shook his head and wrinkled his nose a bit more in disgust. The canary man turned towards them and so did Pax, regarding Bran as if she had never seen him before in all her life.
“Um… what’s so wrong with my coat? It’s brand new.”
“Being new doesn’t make it something a human should wear.”
“Well, I happen to like it,” Bran snapped, starting to feel very irritated.
“Then you obviously have no taste at all.”
“Oh, but you do?”
“My good fellow, don’t you know who this is?” the man in bright yellow butted in.
“No. Should I?”
The shocked expression on both men’s faces told him, that once again, it seemed he should have.
“This,” the yellow man said, indignation thick in his voice, “is the world renowned star designer Bertolli.” The walking colour palette tossed his hair back and drew himself to his full, inconsiderable height. The blankness on Bran’s face deflated him rather quickly, however, and red, hectic spots appeared on his face and neck. “You don’t know Bertolli?” The designer’s customer gasped. Bran only shrugged. “He is the most brilliant, innovative and spectacular designer the world has ever seen!”
“Pah!” Pax snorted. She was lounging in mid-air, studying his fingernails. “You call yourself a designer? Every fairy toddler with a kitchen knife and a potato sack can produce better clothing.”
Bran could swear, in exactly that moment Bertolli developed an aneurysm. He flushed furiously red, his lips were pressed together to a thin white line and his hands kneaded convulsively the fabric of his long waistcoat.
“What?” the canary man screeched. “How dare you? You’re talking to the great Bertolli, the man who gained fame with his magnificent, most innovative and spectacular outfit he designed for the Emperor of-“
“Hold on! I’ve heard about that,” Bran cried, he had in fact heard the name Bertolli before. “Didn’t he simply let the emperor go out stark naked?”
“As I’ve said, very innovative.”
Bertolli turned towards Pax, who was snickering hard. His hands convulsed one last time, then he let them drop to his side with effort, threw his head back and demanded, with sheer impossible self-control and dignity: “ And what, pray tell, do fairies know about fashion?”
Pax’s snickering died. Her fox like face took on a serious expression, her eyes fixed on the designer. “We,” Pax said in a clear and ringing voice, “invented it.”
And with that she threw her own head back and stared down her nose at Bertolli and his customer, daring them to argue. But both men only gaped at her, open-mouthed, and not a sound came from either of them.
Pax whirled around, lit on Bran’s shoulder, sat down and crossed her legs, for all the world looking like a queen on her throne. “Well then, let us leave this sorry house… um… Ben,” she commanded royally.
“Bran,” Bran muttered under his breath but did as he was told – and happily so.

Over two hours later, the concert was finally about to begin and thanks to Finn flirting shamelessly with one of the guards at the entrance, they had been allowed in earlier and had now premium seats. Bran was happy about the seats but not about Finn’s flirting. By now, he was so used to having the young, handsome man fawn over him, he felt a pang of jealousy every time Finn paid attention to someone else – male or female. And every time that happened, he could hit himself in the face for it. Wasn’t this just exactly what Finn wanted? That wicked creature. Oh no, no matter what this parody of a damsel in distress would try, Bran would not fall for it. Never!
The town hall was full to bursting, excited chatter and laughter filled the slightly stale air. At last, the curtains rustled, the voices around them became more excited and finally burst into cheering and screaming the moment the curtains lifted and the band on stage was revealed.
Bran blinked, rubbed his eyes, blinked again and then discarded the idea that the light was playing tricks on his eyes. He leaned towards Finn, who was positively glowing.
“Say,” Bran said into his friend’s ear, “is that a donkey?”
“Hmm, yes.”
“And a chicken?”
“I believe it’s a rooster.”
“I see.”
Bran nodded slowly, for his own benefit. The first song came to an end and he had to admit they were damned good. For a moment longer he watched the band contentedly. The cat. The dog. – He just couldn’t take it anymore.
“They’re a bunch of guys in animal costumes!” he exclaimed.
“Ah… yes, yes they are,” Finn replied as if he had only noticed it now.
“So what? Guess they are related to Puss or just random loons?”
“Hmmm, you know, that cat does look a lot like him.”
Whatever, Bran thought. It was obvious he was the only one here disturbed by the band wearing animal costumes. And for what it was worth, at least they were good, so what did it matter really? He might as well just relax and enjoy the show.

He lifted his cup to his lips and eagerly downed half of the cool cider. He was parched. Who’d have thought that a concert would leave him famished, thirsty and tired but too excited to go to bed.
“Did you enjoy the concert?” Finn asked. Bran nodded enthusiastically, making his friend beam. His lousy mood of the afternoon was finally gone and he not only enjoyed himself but was even able to laugh about Pax’s drunken antics. And it certainly had something comical, the way the tiny pixie slurped down pints of ale and glasses of whiskey that were taller than herself through her magical drinking straw.
The next morning Bran woke to find Finn draped around him, sleeping with a contented smile upon his lips. The panic and urge to strangle the young man vanished as quickly as it had appeared when he noticed they were both still fully dressed, even still wearing their coats. They must have been terribly wasted but strangely enough, Bran didn’t feel at all hungover. Perhaps Finn and Pax’s drinking ability was slowly rubbing off on him.
He delicately extracted himself from Finn’s embrace, changed his clothes and washed his face. Then he went to find some breakfast for all of them.

“And? What do we do now?” Bran asked. The sky was still overcast but it didn’t seem to start raining any time soon and the temperature had slightly risen. After a lazy stroll through the guest quarter, they had bought crêpes from a street vendor and found a nice place in one of the little oases in the middle of the street.
“What do you mean?” Finn asked back, licking sugar from his fingertips. A group of young men stopped to stare at him, but seeing Bran glaring back at them sent them quickly on their way, blushing. Damn him, Bran thought, although he wasn’t sure he was really angry with Finn for radiating pheromones no matter what he was doing or if he was angry with those blokes, having their intentions plainly written across their faces. And why should he be angry anyway? That alone ticked him off so badly.
“What I mean is,” he said slowly, swallowing his unjustified anger, “what are we doing in this town? Shall we move on? Or take a rest here? What?”
“Oh that. Well, we are in a large town, there might be something interesting here for us.”
“Perhaps, but there doesn’t seem to be any need for us at all – unless someone decides to hire an assassin to get rid of that piper.”
“Ah, that might just happen, but I’d reckon you’d have to get in line for that and you’re not an assassin anyway.”
Just then, the screeching, wailing, tortured sound of a pipe shrilled through the air. Reflexively, they put their hands over their ears. The noise was followed by the howling of dogs and the wailing of babies and the angry chatter of birds, who seemed to regard the pipe as a personal affront to them.
Out of the corner of his eyes, Bran saw a girl run past, dressed all in black. Following on her heels were two more girls, calling for her to stop and wait for them. Bran nudged Finn in the side and pointed in the direction of the girls, just as the two following had caught up with the first and dragged her into a tiny side street. In unspoken consent they stood up, Finn plucked his fairy godmother off a hydrangea bush, and they carefully and curiously approached the alley.
“I’m telling you, Liz, it’s not your fault,” one of the girls said. “Those tasks are too difficult.”
“Excuse me,” Finn said quietly. The girls looked around. Only now did Bran see, that the girl he had thought to be clad in black, wasn’t in fact black haired and wearing black clothes, but she was covered from head to toe in tar. “Do you need any help?”
“Thanks,” one of the girls replied. “But we’ve figured out by now how to get rid of the tar.”
“This has happened before?” Bran asked, aghast.
“Yes, to all of us. Oh, and there were two more girls.”
“What? And nobody helps you? That’s horrible. Tell me who it is that’s bullying you, I’ll have a serious word or two with them,” Bran growled, cracking his knuckles. He had no patience with bullies.
“Bullying?” the girl covered with tar – Liz – sniffled. Her friends shook their heads.
“No,” the one who had spoken before said. “We are not bullied.”
“Not… but…” Perhaps they were too afraid to admit it? It happened often enough. But on the other hand, they didn’t seem to be easily intimidated at all.
“No, you got it all wrong. We are not bullied. We were trying out for an apprenticeship, but the trial is too difficult. If you pass, you’re awarded with a year apprenticeship and are given enough gold to start your own business with and have a comfortable life besides. But if you fail, it’s the tar and a kick out the door. No one has passed in years.”
“I’ve never heard of anything like that. What kind of apprenticeship is that anyway?”
“At Mother Hulda’s.”
“HULDA!” Pax’s voice suddenly roared through the empty alleyway. The pixie came darting out of Finn’s pocket and according to the terrible expression on her face, with murder on her mind. “Where?” she screeched. “Where is that old hag?”
The girls, startled by the berserk fairy godmother, huddled together closely.
“You, Mighty Mouse! Calm down,” Bran hissed. He reached for Pax, intending to stuff her back into Finn’s pocket, but when she suddenly snarled at him like a feral dog, he snatched his hand back as if he’d burnt it. Angry pixies are creepy, he made a mental note to himself. Better to remember that.
“Pax,” Finn said in an inappropriately bored voice. “I take it you know this Hulda person? Why don’t you just tell us what’s wrong?”
“I hate that hag!” Pax snarled.
“Okay. But why?”
“Why?” That made the pixie pause. She became very still and her luminous eyes glazed over. “Because!” she stated at last. Bran rolled his eyes. Of course she didn’t remember why she hated that Hulda, it was enough of a miracle the name triggered any reaction in her at all. As it was, Bran called himself lucky the overgrown bug finally remembered who he was, if not his name – after all, they were together all the time.
“Well,” Finn sighed, “I guess we could just pay this Hulda a visit. Would you ladies be so kind as to show us the way?” The smile he gave them made all three of them blush so hard, one could see Liz’s cheeks glow red even beneath all that tar. Bran only shook his head but dutifully followed the girls to the house of Mother Hulda.

“YOU!” Mother Hulda spat in disgust.
“YOU!” Pax spat, equally disgusted. “Are you still pretending to be some sort of kindred spirit?”
“Are you still pretending to be a fairy godmother?”
“Ohohoho, but I AM a fairy godmother. This,” Pax lit on Finn’s shoulder, all haughtiness and pride, “is my charge.”
Hulda squinted at the beautiful, young man and fought hard to keep her expression blank. “Oh,” she said, trying too hard to sound indifferent. “And he is?”
“Sleeping Beauty’s youngest son.”
Bran’s mouth dropped open. He had not known who Finn’s mother was, but who would have believed it to be famous Sleeping Beauty? No wonder that drag queen was so cursedly handsome. Hulda, for her part, seemed to be choking on pure air, yet to her credit she was quick in overcoming her shock and was ready for a come-back.
“Ha! And with all the fairies she has at her disposal, she picks you to take care of her son? She must be even more of a crackpot than people say.”
“Oi!” Bran snapped. It was rather funny watching Pax and Hulda throwing insults into each other’s face, but to insult Finn’s mother was going too far.
“No, it’s fine, Bran,” Finn, however, said calmly, putting a hand on Bran’s shoulder and smiled. “It’s true, you know, my mother’s completely bonkers. Comes from that magically induced sleep, you see.”
Bran blinked stupidly. Finn didn’t at all seem bothered about his mother being crazy nor about other people knowing about it. There were a thousand things Bran had wanted to tell his friend, yet now, they seemed all so inappropriate and invalid.
“So,” Hulda said gruffly, “what are you doing here?”
“Seeing why there’s a bunch of girls covered in tar in town,” Bran said.
“Well, that’s because not one of them is able to do their work properly. That lazy pack, complaining are they?”
“We heard it’s because the tasks you give them are too difficult if not sheer impossible.”
“Pah. What do they expect? Every single one of them comes here convinced to be the next Gold Marie. Did you know they even practice at home? Oh yes. Every task the two Maries were given, they practice before coming here – for months. Think that shows they enthusiasm and their motivation, do you? Yes, that’s what I thought at first.” Hulda shook her head sadly. “But no, that was basically all they were able to do. And worse, most of them had the audacity to think that as soon as they had passed the trial they wouldn’t have to do any work ever again – and should be rewarded. So yes, I changed the trial, came up with something a bit more… challenging.”
Although Hulda certainly seemed to have a point, in Bran’s opinion it didn’t justify treating decent girls, who were really trying to get an apprenticeship, like this. (Not that he knew anything about the girls, but still…)
“Yeah, but what you consider a bit more challenging is not necessarily even possible for a human being to accomplish,” Pax said.
“Do you think I’m stupid? Of course it’s possible.”
“Oh? So, what are those tasks?”
Hulda crossed her arms in front of her chest, cleared her throat and began reciting: “ First: clean the dragon’s lair.”
“A dragon?” Bran cried.
“Oh please, it’s only a baby, he’s not going to eat anyone. Second: harvest the beans – “
“That doesn’t sound difficult.”
“- from Jack’s giant bean stalk.” Bran led his head hang and groaned. Was that woman serious? No wonder none of the girls had passed. “Actually, it’s only a sapling. Jack cut his bean stalk down long ago. This one’s merely six stories high and really, it’s not like you have to climb all the way to the top to get the beans. And third: get rid of the goblin infestation in my shed.” Hulda regarded them expectantly. It was clear she didn’t see any fault whatsoever with her trial.
“Sounds like a task for our Billy here,” Pax announced suddenly.
“Bran, my name is Bran,” Bran grumbled before his brain registered just what the pixie had said. “What?” he cried. “Why? Why me?” Hulda looked appraisingly at him, pushing her half-moon spectacles higher up her nose.
“Yes, Bran, why not?” Finn interjected. “Everyone knows you’re a goblin slayer.”
“A goblin slayer?” Hulda looked suddenly highly interested. Bran laughed weakly and waved his hand dismissively. Then he turned to Finn and gave the young man a withering look.
“So it is,” Pax exclaimed. “Our Balthasar here will rock your stupid trial. And when he’s done, you will take a taste of your own medicine and take a bath in tar.”
“Oi, bug, don’t you have this mixed up? Weren’t we supposed to prove her trial was too difficult to pass?”
“Ah, now, don’t sweat the details, just go and kick ass!”
“Fine, it’s a deal,” Hulda agreed. “But if he fails – and I know he will – you’re the one bathing in tar.”
“I’m telling you, this is – “
Bran groaned and pulled his hair. Not only had the giant bug and that old hag got their agendas completely messed up, why was he the one who had to suffer through this? Why?
“Look, Bran, this is good, isn’t it?” Finn said and laid his arm around Bran’s shoulder. “You want to become a hero, right? So this is good, regard it as training.”
Pax fluttered in front of Bran’s face and squinted at him, a dead serious expression on her fox like face. “You can become a harlot any other time,” she said.
“Hero, damn it, not harlot!”
“This,” she continued, with a sudden taste of unexpected pathos in her voice, “ this is personal.” Behind her Hulda nodded her head gravely. Bran sighed again. He knew he couldn’t win an argument here and he might just as well get it over with voluntarily, before they thought of simply tossing him into the dragon’s lair. Yet there was one last thing he just had to know.
“Hey, why do you two hate each other anyway?”
Pax and Hulda looked at each other and their expressions changed from serious to pondering. After a moment both of them shrugged. “Can’t remember,” they chorused.
Of course, Bran thought, why did he even ask?

Bran carefully peered around the edge of the boulder he was hiding behind. Just in front of him was the dragon’s lair. Everything was quiet and there was no dragon in sight, only a pile of blankets and broken toys strewn everywhere. Bran backed away from the edge and leaned with his back against the huge boulder. He took a deep breath and slapped his cheeks to get himself to focus. His cheeks were still burning anyway. Finn that lousy false princess! Kissing him so passionately all of a sudden, he had completely frozen and become even unable to push the young man away. Good luck kiss, my arse! Focus, focus, there will be enough time to strangle Finn later – I hope.
Pulling himself to his full height, Bran gathered all his courage and strut right into the dragon’s lair. The pile of blankets moved, grew larger. Very slowly, the blankets fell away and revealed a dragon the size of a tall pony – blinking sleepily at Bran and yawning. Bran froze.
Suddenly, the dragon’s eyes cleared and focused on Bran and his mouth spread open in what appeared to be a grin. “PLAY!” the dragon bellowed, making Bran jump. “Play, play, play!” The dragon’s tail wagged like a dog’s and he bounced up and down where he stood, making the ground shake slightly. “Play!”
“Um…” Bran said uncertainly “Actually I’m here to – WAIT!” The baby dragon came bouncing straight towards him and before he had a chance to get out of the way, he bowled him over. “Uff.”
“Play!” the dragon cried again. He threw himself sideways and rolled onto his back and – giggled?
“I can’t play with you,” Bran said breathlessly. “I have to clean up this mess.” The dragon regarded him motionlessly for one moment, then bounced back onto his feet.
“Play!” he demanded.
Certain that any discussion with the infantile dragon was absolutely useless, Bran simply ignored him. He stood up and began picking up the broken toys. He looked around the lair and found a huge box which seemed to be the toy box, so he dumped his load unceremoniously in it. He was acutely aware of the dragon watching his every step intently.
In a corner near the toy box, he found a broom and began sweeping the floor. Heavy, pounding steps behind him warned him of the dragon. Hot breath ruffled his hair on the back of his head. Bran swallowed hard and continued sweeping as if nothing was wrong.
“Play!” the dragon rumbled behind him. And without so much as a warning, he put his front paws over Bran’s shoulders and leaned heavily on him, giggling playfully. Bran staggered beneath the weight. A moment later his knees buckled under even more strain when the dragon decided to rest his chin on Bran’s head.
With his muscles straining and burning, Bran clenched his teeth and continued heroically sweeping the floor, dragging the dragon along. For the baby dragon, this seemed to be enormous fun, for he giggled and squeaked and hung on to Bran.
After what must have been years of torture, the floor was finally clean, the toys stowed away, the broom back in its corner and Bran collapsed on the discarded blankets, the dragon still clinging to him.
“Could you please just get off me?” Bran whimpered. For once, the dragon listened. But Bran’s relief was short-lived. In the next moment, he found himself bundled up in the blankets and dragged across the floor in a velocity far too high for a space as small as this – in dragon standards. Only shy of the wall, the dragon skittered around and raced in the opposite direction, but unfortunately not early enough and Bran, though muffled in the blankets, hit the wall painfully. And on it went. Every inch of Bran’s body hurt and he felt sick. He lost track of time.
Eventually, the dragon mercifully stopped and Bran rolled out of the blankets, groaning and moaning. He staggered to his feet and stood shaking, warily looking for the dragon and waiting for his head to stop spinning.
He could feel the hot breath of the dragon on the side of his face and braced himself for the next attack, but instead, the baby dragon nuzzled his cheek and purred softly. Then he took a step back, yawned widely, revealing rows of wickedly sharp teeth, rolled itself into a purring ball and was fast asleep before Bran’s beaten head had figured out what he was doing.
Bran let his shoulders slump and released a shuddering breath. He gingerly bent and picked up the blankets to throw them over the sleeping dragon. Admittedly, he was rather cute, but Bran happily resigned from being a dragon’s toy – forever. As quietly as he could, Bran limped out of the lair.
Task number one: accomplished!

Bruised, exhausted, thirsty and with a splitting headache, Bran looked up the bean stalk and cursed loudly and very creatively. He grabbed the basket that leaned against the stalk, threw the long knife that lay beside it into the basket and put it on his back, securing it with straps across his chest and belly. There was a ladder leading to the first branch of the bean stalk, after that it meant climbing.
Carefully, Bran climbed up the ladder and pulled himself onto the first branch. There, he took a break and a closer look at the stalk itself. Its ‘bark’ wasn’t smooth but riddled with irregularities that made good hand and foot holds. And many of the huge leaves were strong enough to use as ropes. By and large, it was an easy climb – if he hadn’t been hurting all over and dead tired. The climb down would be even worse with the weight of the beans on his back – at least he only had to get one basket full (considering the size of the beans, it was full with only three beans in it).
Resigned, Bran began the climb before he fell asleep. Of course, he could just give up, but when Pax lost and had to take a dive into tar, Bran wouldn’t live to hear the end of it. The pixie would make hell seem like a peaceful sanctuary. And so, he’d rather succeed or die trying.
The nausea he had felt earlier came back with a vengeance as the bean stalk gently swayed in the wind. Finally he reached the first pods. He took the knife out of the basket and began cutting the pods off – which afforded a lot of sawing.
The sun already began to sink when Bran, at last and with a lot of swearing and grumbling, arrived back on the ground. He put the basket down and stretched his sore muscles.
Task number two: accomplished!

He felt terrible, more terrible than he could remember ever having felt. He was used to hard labour but this? No wonder the girls had failed one after the other, he couldn’t imagine even one of them outlasting that baby dragon. That one left you feeling like having been run over by a whole caravan.
It was twilight and Hulda’s shed loomed up out of the shadows, dark and foreboding. How many goblins exactly made an infestation? And how was he supposed to get rid of them? Goblin slayer Finn and Pax might call him, but honestly? This was just ridiculous. Sheer luck, nothing else. He hadn’t even meant for any of them to go pushing daisies. It wasn’t his fault Rumpelstiltskin’s family ran around with the most common names available – after all, weren’t they supposed to be hard to guess?
His legs felt weak. He stumbled forward, pushed the door open and went inside, squinting into the darkness of the shed.
“Who are you?” a raspy voice demanded.
“Bran,” he replied.
“Ha! Stupid human, giving us his name so easily,” another voice sneered.
“It’s not like he’d go up in smoke because of it,” the first one snapped. “And? What do you want?”
“What do I want?” Bran sighed and sat down heavily. “Peace, quietness – there are so many things I want and none of them I will ever get, so what’s the point?”
“O-oi,” a third voice interjected, sounding strangely nervous. “Was… wasn’t Bran the name o-of… the one who… who send Jack to the down below?”
Bran couldn’t see any of them but he heard a nervous shuffling and urgent whisper and decided to play on it. “Oh, yes, Jack. And John and their uncle Bob.”
A screech came out of the darkness and was quickly muffled.
“Ah… er… Great Bran… we’re… we’re just a harmless group of peaceful goblins,” the first one – obviously their leader – stammered. “We don’t want any trouble.”
“In that case, do me a favour and leave, please. This is Hulda’s shed and she seems to have something against a group of goblins occupying it.”
“O-of course, at once, Great Bran. We’ll leave immediately.”
The shuffling grew more hectic and urgent and within minutes five goblins hurried past Bran, each sketching a quick and sloppy bow at him and fleeing from the shed. Bran took a deep breath. This had been easier than he had thought. Perhaps having a reputation as goblin slayer wasn’t that bad after all. He lay down, arms behind his head and closed his eyes, quickly drifting off to sleep.
Task number three: accomplished!

When he opened his eyes again, he was lying on something soft, the moon above him was enormous and bright. He turned his head to the side and found Finn stretched out beside him, propped on his elbow, smiling gently down at him and playing lazily with one of Bran’s shirt buttons.
“Where are we?” Bran asked.
“In Hulda’s garden. You’ve been fast asleep, I guess you must have really been exhausted. How are you feeling now?”
Bran carefully sat up, expecting his head to hurt like hell. But not only didn’t his head hurt, he felt refreshed with not a single aching spot on his body. “I’m feeling great,” he said, astonished. Finn smiled broadly.
“Pax worked some of her magic on you – as a reward. I haven’t seen her so smug and happy since the day she had got into the friars beer brewery.”
“Oh?” Bran was more surprised about the pixie actually being able to do anything else but drink like a fish. “And, where is the overgrown bug?”
“At the well with Hulda. They actually found something they both enjoy so much they even buried the hatchet – of course only after Hulda took a shower of tar.”
“Let me guess, a bottle of whiskey.”
“A barrel to be precise, for each of them,” Finn laughed and Bran joined him. So, at least something good had come out of this whole ordeal, even though he was still miles away from becoming a hero.
“You still think this is not enough to be called a hero, don’t you?” Finn asked as if he had read Bran’s thoughts. Bran nodded. “But look at all the things you’ve accomplished. You’ve freed a princess from her tower.”
“Though you’re not a princess.”
“Defeated a horde of goblins.”
“Well, the last ones actually went voluntarily.”
“Fought with a terrible wolf.”
“That little, annoying terrier or his owner? None of them were ‘terrible’”
“Solved crimes.”
“In both cases I didn’t really do anything at all.”
“Fought a dragon.”
“I didn’t fight him, I was his toy.”
“Don’t belittle yourself, Bran. What is a hero anyway? Most of them are nothing but foolhardy idiots who were damn lucky. But helping people in need, no matter how insignificant their need may seem to others, that’s what makes you a hero.”
Bran couldn’t help but smile. He looked at his friend gratefully. Finn was probably right, when people needed help, they helped them even if it seemed to be the most trivial thing they needed help with. But wasn’t that the important part, helping out people? And one more thing: if he was really honest with himself, he enjoyed himself more than he ever had in his life ever since he had met Finn and his drunkard of a fairy godmother. Life was good to him, so what more did he want.
Too late, however, he realised how close Finn suddenly was, and the false princess leaned forward and pressed his lips to Bran’s. Bran pushed the young man away and held him at arm’s length.
“Finn! You really have to stop this,” he said seriously.
“Do I really have to tell you why?”
“You did notice you’re the only one making a drama out of the two of us being men, didn’t you?”
Bran didn’t answer. Arguing with Finn was as useless as having a discussion with the baby dragon. Instead he gave him a stern, no-nonsense glare, but his heart wasn’t really in it and his lips twitched slightly. Finn chuckled and shrugged.
After a while, which they spent in comfortable silence, watching the moon and the stars, they went to join Hulda and Pax. Despite having lost and being covered in tar, Hulda seemed to enjoy herself greatly, laughing and joking with the pixie.
Yes, Bran thought, he was a lucky with what he had, he really couldn’t ask for more.
A growling, hyper-active “Play?!” from behind him let his insides grow cold. He whirled around. The dragon stared at him with huge eyes, crouched low like a hunting cat. When Bran met his eyes, the dragon began bouncing up and down, causing tiny earthquakes.
“Play!” the dragon bellowed.
“No! Oh no! No, no, no.” Bran slowly backed away. “No! Somebody do something against this thing!”
“Aw, but he likes you,” Pax drawled and Hulda nodded.
“I don’t care!” Bran cried and ran.
“Play!” he heard behind him, followed by grass-muffled, pounding footsteps.
“Looks like you found a new friend,” Finn laughed.
“Not funny!” were the last words Bran was able to say before the baby dragon collided into him, sending them both head over heels.

~ End of Part V~

Continue to There are two kinds of dwarves


BOB! - Titan A.E. ? 50 points to Slytherin yes/yes? :D


I love this story so much! ♥
Dingdingding! We have a winner! And here is your imaginary cookie ;D


That makes me very happy - and Pax, too :D
I hereby declare I printed it out which made a total of 18 pages. I also declare you nuts but look forward to reading it :D
Really? 18 pages? Hm, more than I thought, I didn't really check the number of pages ^^

Yup, that's fine, declare me nuts, I can live with it - and quite comfortably so ;D
Hope you at least enjoy the read then :)
OK I've to say that I printed it right from your journal (no copy and paste) and that means 1. the separators were there and I chose to print it horizontally or crosswise (whatever) ;) And that makes 18 pages OK 17 actually

Is this entry and the others public? I want to send the link to someone. Can't promise if they read but they may like it :)

Loved it :D But why did Bran regard the statues with disgust?
I suppose some would totally like the excuse of 'running on alcohol' lol And that's really a huge difference to withdrawal symptoms ;)

Hmm, could it be that there's Gilderoy in it too? At least that one guy beaming at his own reflection did remind me of him - in bright canary yellow. Otherwise I have no idea to which movie you're referring to.

And Frau Holle really is Mother Hulda? Come off it o.O

And that baby draogon...aww - WANT ♥

Great, I would buy it if it was a book!!! And not because it's by you
I see. I checked my word file and it's about 23 pages there o.0 (but the 'separators' are taller there)

Umm... yeah, all the stories are public. Oh, really? Well then... :)

Yay!!! :33333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333 ♥
Ah, he regarded them with disgust because they were so terribly tacky ;)
Yup, the symptoms are completely different ;)

Gilderoy? Hmm... now that you mention it... but perhaps rather his long lost brother ;)
Hehe, the movie was Titan A.E. and the tiny reference was 'Planet Bob' ^^

Yeah, I know... o.0

Who doesn't? Though I wouldn't want him to pounce on me all day and drag me around like a rag doll ^^'

D'awwwwwwww - you.... nyahhh *huggles* :3
See, it's damn much stuff but thankfully easy to read.

I told them, one answered and said she looks forward to it but doesn't know when she will find time nevertheless she's always into a good read. No reply from the other one yet. Now I'm curious :D

Ah OK, I wasn't really sure and since I have the author by hand :D

Can't say I know that movie :D It rings a bell in the dephts of my brain but not loud enoug.

Hmm that might be tricky and strenuous but you have to educate even baby dragons :D

That's good then :)

Oh *bibber*, that actually makes me a bit nervous, though let's first see if she finds the time to actually read it, right? Still... *fidget*

Tehe ;D

Well, it's quite a few years old already ;) I'm sure you know it and just might have forgotten about it, it's not the most popular one but it was basically the last Don Bluth movie (the guy who was more or less Disney's rival?). Animated....Space... Destroyed Earth? Nope??

You should probably get yourself one of those super stuffed suites - whatever their name might be - to educate that baby ;)

Indeed :)

Really?! If I had known that I wouldn't have asked :/ Oohm!

I guess I heard about the movie but have never seen it. I also just have watched Wall-E a few weeks ago ;)

You mean those they train dogs to bite ;) Or the go and steal the one from the Michelin guy ;)

Darn it, I'm not supposed to post this, hope it works now :/
Oh no, that's fine, that's fine - and thanks btw :3
Nope, I've even promoted my stuff on my tumblr a few times already - though of course coincidentally no one hasever seen that particular post - yeah, right - tsk. It's all fine and great when you're an artist who draws or you're great with photoshop edits or photography, but unless you write fancfic no one is interested :/


Really, you've watched Wal-E only recently? And, did you like it? It's such a cute movie.

That Michelin guy's would be good ;)

Ahaha, and now it's here twice - lol ^^
OK then I don't need to look for my paper bag ;)

Hmm you don't think some came over but forgot to comment or something like that? I mean curiosity is given by nature, at least for the important people.
Well it's easier to watch or look at a picture than to read a lot of stuff. Many don't have enough time or don't want to spend time or don't read at all.

Yeah, I wanted to see it for ages but every time it was on TV I forgot to watch it or thought too late of it. So I got it for my birthday last May :D And it's really cute!

Indeed :D So let's put it on our 'to get' list when we get hold of a dragon egg!

Hmpf, deleted one tho. It kept loading and loading and after 10 Minutes I decided to quit and post it again

Hmm, nope, I really rather think no one's reading it or else there would be at least one who'd tell me. *shrugs*

Oh we should definitely put that on our list, right next to all the fire extinguishers ;D

Very strange -_-
You need to think that ALL are reading but too shy to post or so -hugs- Otherwise they really do not get what they're missing.

lol or a fireproof armour and such.

Well it would be too perfect if everything would work properly -shrugs-
I try, I try, but then I start thinking, well, if it was you and you didn't like it at all, you wouldn't comment because you wouldn't want to say anything bad to them - ergo: they hate it - NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO ;_; - yeah, I'm that confident -_-

But I'm glad about everyone who does enjoy it :333333

lol - yes, that would be an idea ;D

Seems so o.0
Stupid little girl :p They also can be too stunned to write something or think English is needed but they are too shy writing in a foreign language. This or that way I can't believe someone dislikes it :)

Indeed! We have taste!

We need a huge list then :D

Yeah, right, that's got to be it ;)
Actually I think perhaps it's even because it's posted on Lj, you know, I did the promo on my tumblr and a lot of people there don't have Lj and seem to think it's too complicated or something, yo they don't even try it, although they could just as well give me a little feedback on my tumblr then... but oh well, whatever. Or it's perhaps because it's no fanfiction, 'cause that usually seems to get at least some of them interested o.0


We do ;)
So fixed it is :D

Hmm people are weird at times :/ It's a pity and if it's just because of the fanfiction bit I really can't understand that. But then again I always thought FF is one creepy thing, even if there's a few nice stories out there.

Indeed :)
Yup, sometimes they are weird o.0
There is some really great FF out there and some really talented people and then there are people who write 'Fifty Shades of Gray' and even break HP's selling record o.0 - the world is so not fair *sigh*

Crazy huh that we kept most of our sanity muhaha

Well probably their love life is so boring that they flee in such novels.
But honestly at times Harry Potter does not make much sense and a few times she's contradictory lol I guess it depends how you are reading ;)
Yeah... sanity... mwuahahahahahahahahaha ;D

But... but it's Harry Potter! ;) Things that seem to make no sense are easily explained by: 'work of an evil sorcerer' ;)
(I've learned that from Lucy Lawless aka Xena in an old Simpsons episode, so it must be legit ;D)
I got a bag for Christmas with your icon text (just with crazy) on it :D

Well perhaps ;) BUT well at times not even the evil sorcerer can do it lol Still great read yay :)
You watch The Simpsons o.O Now, that explains a lot :p
Nice :D

Oi, what's that supposed to mean? And I DID watch the Simpsons, gave up eventually, there are some earlier seasons that were really excellent and those episodes one can watch again and again, but well, as it so often happens, they simply aren't that good any more. All time favourite: X-files / Simpsons crossover ;)
*lol* Aaaaw, wie süß! Der Drache erinnert mich ein bisschen an Dino von den Feuersteins... ;)
Echt lustig mal wieder! :D
Ich bin übrigens keine von den 2en... ich bin eine Dritte... *lol*

o.O hab ich echt vor "so langer Zeit" angefangen, deine Geschichten zu lesen? Wow...
Ich fand sie alle echt super!! ... und vielleicht kommt ja noch was nach?
@ Flummy du hast den Auftrag, mir das dann zu sagen, du bist öfter hier im LJ... ;)

Vielen Dank für meine Montagsunterhaltung!

PS: Also der Film sagt mir gar nichts...
Oder an den Hund bei 'Ab durch die Hecke' falls du den gesehen hast ;)
Das stimmt :333333333333333

Tja, so schnell vergeht die Zeit, ne?!
Ganz doll vielen lieben Dank - für's Lesen und für's toll finden und überhaupt so *bear hug*
Es kommt auf jeden Fall noch mehr, so lang mir irgendein Blödsinn einfällt um irgendein Märchen zu verunglimpfen, so lang gibt's auch was. Den Anfang für eine neue hab ich sogar schon, vielleicht schaff ich's ja auf Weihnachten ;)

Hmm, ja ich seh schon, der Film scheint doch eher nicht so bekannt zu sein. Hmm.... o.0