This is a Challenge Response for the SKoW Awards... still not sure whether I'm going to submit it, but this is the first part, I wanted to see whether it would get any reaction from readers... below is the challenge that was set forward, it was #20 - Moodily Ever After


General Idea: So Mr. and Mrs. Prince Charming are all done with the wedding and the honeymoon, but now, Mrs. Prince Charming is discovered to be expecting! Oh goodness. Prince Charming discovers the moody side of his beautiful Princess for Far, Far Away as they go through the trials and tribulations of pregnancy.

Requirements:
1) Mrs. Prince Charming must be one of the three following Disney Princesses:
- Cinderella
- SnoW White
- Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)
- Jasmine (Aladdin)
- Belle (Beauty and the Beast)
2) A guest appearance by at least two other princesses on the above list, both of which have already had their first children and come to give advice (or raise hell, whichever if your preference).
3) Must be at least 3,000 words.
4) Prince Charming reading an ancient book about "changing the diaper" -- except they didn't call it diaper in said ancient book, didn't they?
5) Must go all the way up until the actual birth itself.

Optional:
- Fairies coming to bless the child, but miscalculate the date and instead come at the 7th month.
- Twittering brother-in-law Prince Dashing raising hell for all those involved.
- A sarcastic narrator introducing and closing the story.

No:
- use of the word "pregnant", "pregnancy", and any other variations of that word. You may use "expecting" and other synonyms, but "preggers" is out!
- deaths -- this story is about birth, not death!


Fairy Tales and Happily Ever Afters, or not!

Part 1 - The Expecting

Every young girl, at some point in her life, lies in bed at night; staring up at her ceiling after hearing another infamous fairy tale from the lips of her parents, and wishes that she could have one of her own. She lies there, wishing for her own prince to come along and sweep her off her feet, for her own magical creatures to laugh and dance around her feet, for her own song to sing, so that her one true love could come along to finish the song with her. But what she doesn't know is that, after putting their little girl to bed and telling her another fantastical tale, her parents then storm downstairs to finish the argument they had been having before their daughter called for them. What she doesn't know is that two years later, her parents will be working through a divorce, unable to come to an agreement over anything. What she doesn't know is that she will then have to live through every new boyfriend of her mother's – the alcoholic ones, the drugged up ones, the obsessively possessive ones.

Of course, for every normal little girl, these things might apply. But Princess Aurora was no normal little girl. She had everything needed for a fairy tale setup, really – she had the status of a princess, and what little girl didn't want to be a princess? Her parents were the King and Queen of her kingdom, which basically meant that she could order anyone around and get away with it. But of course, she didn't order anyone around – she was the perfect little princess, excited about getting dressed up and showing herself off to the people of the kingdom. She even had the gift of beauty – her hair was described as being as golden as the sun itself and her eyes the colour of precious sapphires. Really, she had the perfect set up for a fairy tale, and she knew it.

But what her parents didn't tell her was that her fairy tale had already begun, at her christening, and the villain had been introduced far before Aurora even knew what a fairy tale was. And so came the infamous story of how Aurora managed to find a spinning wheel in her kingdom, despite the fact that her father had banned them across the land, and Aurora predictable pricked her finger on the spinning wheel, but was saved from death.

Then again, is sleeping for a hundred years really any better than death?

But she got her prince, in the end.

And they lived happily ever after.

Or so the story told.


Aurora awoke with a soft sigh, blinking her eyes until they became adjusted to the light of the new sun. Surrounded by a puddle of blankets (she'd obviously started moving in her sleep again), she found herself waking up to a luxurious room, and if she hadn't woken up in the same room for the past two months, she would probably have appreciated every extravagant piece held within the space of the four walls. But, to be quite honest, there was only so much regal red one woman could take. She threw the blankets away from her body, and almost regretted the action as a draft of cold air shuffled around her bare legs. Really, would it hurt her darling husband to at least set a fire going before he left her in the morning?

The young woman glanced behind her, to the enormously empty bed, and was surprised to find that no sorrow infiltrated her mind. She was pretty much used to it. Ever since they had come back from their honeymoon (three days to the Islands of Paradise was all it seemed the Prince could afford to give her. Whether it was the time or the money that was most limited, she wasn't sure, but could probably make an educated guess), it seemed as though the Prince went to bed as late as possible, and woke up before the sun even rose, off gallivanting on his noble steed, and doing who knew what else. She didn't care to imagine anymore.

With a rather graceful stretch, she found herself thinking about the day ahead. What would she rather do, sit and do embroidery for a few hours? Or go and spend the day smelling the flowers? Really - that was all she could do around here.

She was being a little harsh, she knew, but when her darling Prince wouldn't even spend one minute of the day with her, it was hard to remain optimistically enthusiastic. It appeared as though using his sword to cut through the malicious thorny branches and giving her a quick peck on the lips were all he needed to do. He'd done the whole 'sweep her off her feet' thing, and that was it. Now he could live happily ever after.

But what did happily ever after entail, exactly?

As Aurora made a move to go to the bathroom, she felt an odd twitch that made her come to a stop. She waited, wondering if she were perhaps succumbing an illness, but when her stomach remained perfectly calm for the next few moments, she continued on her way, getting ready for the tiresome day ahead. She really wasn't sure whether to spend her day embroidering or walking – she had done each so many times over the past month or so, she wanted something new. As she was deliberating what exactly a genteel princess could do in a castle, she wasn't quite aware that she was going to do something very new, very soon.


"Yer majesty," came the drunken slur of a man nearby. "What are ya doing ere?"

The drunken man was promptly ignored as the devilishly handsome Prince Charming finished off his ale. His ninth ale, actually. Not that he had been counting, or anything, of course. His companion gave him a glance, before taking a drink of his own ale. He was already on his eleventh – Prince Charming was slow today.

"So, my dearest brother," The companion said, surprised to find that his own voice had a slight slur to it, something beyond his control. "Why are you here, in a common tavern, and not back at home in bed with your beautiful wife?"

Prince Charming shot him a cold look and glanced around for a barmaid who could bring him another drink. He'd found this particular tavern a few days ago, in a quiet corner of the city, where not many people came. And those who did frequent here, seemed to be drunk at every hour of the day, and soon forgot his presence. He did attempt to wear a cloak to help disguise him, but it was often neglected as the warm, crowded air became too much for him. As the barmaid spotted him and attempted to make her way through the tavern brawls and gambling games, Charming turned to look at his brother, the coldness in his expression now dissipating. Prince Dashing (as he was named by many a woman) was a lot younger than he, not yet having found his own damsel in distress to save and live happily ever after with. He wouldn't know the sheer boredom of married life, not quite yet. To be honest, Charming didn't want to bother him with it – let him find out in his own time.

The Prince glanced down at his empty jug of ale forlornly, wanting to bypass the question his brother had asked him, but not wanting him to make a huge deal out of the situation. He knew what sort of guy his brother was – the centre of all attention, male and female alike, ready to do anything to entertain.

"She's busy." He replied, absently. "Have you seen Alluring recently?"

Dashing shook his head and gave him a small grin. "Nope. He's been imprisoned in his own home ever since Cinders gave birth. Poor guy, I feel slightly sorry for him."

It really was ridiculous. The Princes had begun as a group of six, having all finished their fairy tales at around the same time (apart from Dashing, who just went along for entertainment), and now they were down to two. Prince Alluring had been the last to go, when Cinderella had found out about his tavern antics while she had been expecting their first baby. He hadn't dared step out of his castle since that fateful night.

Really, they had all been so brave and valiant in the face of evil step-mothers, wicked witches and conniving sorcerers, but when it came to their women, all of the princes really were gutless.

"I wonder why Alluring chose such a stupid adjective for his name," Dashing was rambling drunkenly. "It makes him sound like an utter pansy. I mean Dashing… now that sounds heroic, but Alluring?"

When the Princes came of the right age, they usually chose a name for themselves, a more fairy tale name than their birth name. Often they already had a reputation and a name that circled around the women of their various kingdoms – that was how Charming had received his name. Anything had been better than Steve Philips. Really, what sort of a fairy tale name was Steve? Even Alluring was better than that!

"So, four out of six Princes are married with children, or with wives expecting children. Then there's me, no wife as of yet… no maiden's that need saving. And there's you, with a beautiful wife at home, who has no way of keeping you locked indoors… yet."

Dashing glanced up at Charming and cocked his head slightly. "Have you two even… y'know… yet?"

Charming suddenly found his face feeling very warm, and stood up a little too quickly, knocking his chair to the floor. Thankfully, the tavern brawls were as loud as usual, and a little chair falling didn't bring any attention. "Of course we have!" Charming hissed in Dashing's general direction, though his eyes were going crazily from side to side, trying to figure out whether anyone had heard Dashing's completely inappropriate question. "Of course we have… consummated our marriage, thank you very much."

"No need to throw a hissy fit." Dashing waved his hands around absently, as though the question had been something that a Prince asked everyday. "I was only asking. Just curious, y'know."

The ale was getting to him now, he let out a long yawn, and then blinked as though surprised his body had done something without his say. Charming lifted his lips slightly at the young man, deciding to abruptly change the subject. "Been asking around for any potential princesses locked in towers and guarded by dragons?" He set his chair right and sat on it, ready to watch for the expression he knew would come.

His companion's face blanched slightly, but he hid his horrified reaction as soon as it appeared. He didn't hide it before Charming noticed, however. "Well, um… yes, of course… no one seems to have heard of anyone… yet."

Charming just smirked and, when the barmaid approached, shook his head to signal that they wouldn't be having anymore drinks. "Come on brother, we'll have to get back to the castle soon. Father will have our heads if we spend another night out again."


"Have you been eating anymore recently, Aurora?"

The innocent question came from the woman, who sat in front of the princess with a little girl on her knee, who, in an attempt to imitate her mother, was sat perfectly still with her eyes on the woman before her.

"Yeah, actually, you do look a little loose around the edges." Came the comment of a second woman, who sat to Aurora's left. This woman had no child on her lap, but was frequently glancing to a basket that sat on the floor beside her, in which a small child slept peacefully. Aurora knew full well that this was the children at their best – Jasmine's little girl could often be seen climbing trees and insulting the boys of the city, and Belle's little boy was a complete beast during the night… - no pun intended, of course. Aurora smiled at them, though the smile was strained.

"I do? Perhaps I am not taking as many walks as I should be." Though she knew full well that half her time was spent walking – whenever she was unable to bear the four walls of her bedroom, which was often. She stood gracefully and glanced at the mirror which was against the opposite wall, turning slightly and frowning when she saw that her dress did look tighter than normal. Belle shook her head and gave her a reassuring smile.

"It looks good on you, Beast says-"

"I can't believe you still call him that!" Jasmine cried, much to the surprise of her little girl who glanced up at her mother in complete awe. They could have been twins, if not for the age and size difference. Both had the same jet black hair – Jasmine's daughter's quickly reaching the length of her mother's, and the same exotic skin. "What an unsuitable name for a prince."

Belle gave a coy smile, lifting her eyes and looking to the ceiling. "Well he says that princesses shouldn't be thin enough to waste away. There should be at least some sort of substance to hold."

Jasmine made a noise of indignation, clearly not agreeing with Belle, but it was obvious they had had this disagreement before. Aurora still stood in front of the mirror, turning this way and that, trying to figure out the cause of her weight gain. She hadn't exactly been eating unhealthily – not more so than usual, anyway.

"You know, your figure reminds me of what I had… before Maurice was born… but a couple of months after I discovered that I was expecting him." Belle said, thoughtfully, her previous comments about weight seemingly forgotten for now. Jasmine took on a new expression and she too, seemed to be looking at Aurora in a thoughtful manner.

"Aurora… are you… could you be?" Jasmine suddenly asked, looking up to her face. Aurora paled slightly, knowing full well what she meant by the unfinished sentence.

"No… I couldn't be. I mean…" Well, she couldn't exactly tell the princesses that she and Charming hadn't done anything since the night they consummated their marriage, and that had been, what? Two months ago? Then again, Belle had said a couple of months… "There's no way. Is there?"

Belle gave her a small smile. "Have you been feeling an urge to eat strange foods? Or… have you been unusually sick in the morning?"

Aurora bit her lip, thinking to that very morning, when a wave of sickness had come over her – she'd thought she had been coming down with something. And the day before… but she had attributed that to the meal before, the King had mentioned that the meat hadn't tasted quite right… and when she had been bedridden for that week, unable to eat anything because she couldn't keep it down, the healer had promised her it was a stomach bug, and nothing more! How could she be…?

Well of course she knew how, but this wasn't what she needed! She couldn't look after a baby while her Prince ran off for days at a time! She doubted she could even look after a baby anyway, whenever she held Belle's son, Maurice, it just felt plain wrong, and whenever Jasmine's daughter came for a visit, she always seemed to end up just causing trouble, with Aurora unable to discipline her in her mother's absence. She'd already resigned herself to the fact that she wasn't due to be a mother… Dashing could provide an heir for the royal family, she just couldn't.

Well, it seemed she could.

"What am I going to do?" Aurora hissed at the two princesses, who just shrugged with small smiles. After all, they had already gone through the process of doubting themselves as mothers, and then finding that it came naturally to them. Aurora would no doubt be just the same, right?


Charming pushed open the door to their bedchamber as slowly and as quietly as he could, not wanting to wake the sleeping princess inside. He'd come home a few hours earlier, but had spent that time with his Father, going over disputes within the Kingdom, and deciding on new improvements for the future. The future… his father had mentioned his rule as King. He'd be King one day… really; the responsibility didn't suit him very well.

He'd have to stop his tavern visits, for a start. He couldn't spend his time drinking ale when the Kingdom had so many matters that needed sorting out. And then there were the actual problems, which he would have to sort out. How on earth did his father do it?

He glanced over at the bed, finding Aurora on the farthest side, with her back to him. He ran his eyes over her body, not disguised at all by the thin blankets. Her hair was spread along the pillows in all its golden glory, her tiny waist, not too tiny, just the right size for a princess, he thought, and her long legs, extending from her body and bent slightly underneath the blankets. There was no doubt about it – he had found himself a beautiful wife. But why didn't he want to spend more time with her?

She shifted slightly, and then rolled over, and Charming found her eyes wide open, a little fear swimming about in them. He frowned slightly, full of concern. She'd never stayed up this late for him before; usually she was sound asleep by the time he got to bed. Had something happened? Was something wrong?

"I need to talk to you." She whispered, in a barely audible voice. He just sat on the edge of the bed, turning to look at her, concern etched into his features. She sat up, holding the blankets up to her chest modestly, though he knew exactly what lay under them.

"Jasmine and Belle were here earlier…"

He frowned, was she just going to tell him of the gossip filtering through the princesses? If she was, he'd much rather go to sleep, he was rather tired… He'd drank far too much ale, and then had had to sober up rather quickly when his father had seen him, and now he just wanted to sleep…

"I think we're going to have a baby."

And Dashing had asked so many appropriate questions today, he really needed something to keep him busy, preferably a beautiful princess or something. He couldn't be seen gallivanting around as the King's brother… where on earth could Charming put him? He'd have to have some sort of important position within the castle, mainly so Charming could keep a close eye on him, and…

Wait a moment.

"What?" Charming cried, his eyes flying wide open. Aurora winced slightly, it had been obvious that he hadn't being paying attention to his words, and then, when they had finally sunk in, his reaction was not what she had wanted.

She sighed quietly. This was going to be one long night.