I based this story off a poem I wrote a while ago. It was supposed to be for a project where an artist was going to draw images for me and it would be set on a background. The artist sort of flaked out on me and I couldn't find someone else interested in doing pictures for it, so I thought I'd just post it and let people somewhere read it. I hope it's enjoyable. It morphed quite a bit from the original poem.
Come one, come all!
The annual Witches’ Ball will be held upon the final Friday of Fall
Please wear your best finery
And join us with your company
Gertrude sighed as she read the invitation that had arrived by spider post and sat down in her favorite chair. Just the thought of the annual ball was depressing enough. Remembering the ball of the previous year was enough to make her cringe in embarrassment. If that weren’t bad enough, the scrying glass that sat upon the table beside her reflected the entire mortifying events right before her eyes.
She’d arrived, dressed in her finest gown. Her friend Minerva had been with her and they’d been commenting on the usual things one noticed at the ball – what the others were wearing, the stuck up fairy godmothers in attendance, the handsome warlocks who stood on the sidelines drinking newt punch, and who might dance with whom. Things had been off to a wickedly delightful start.
Unfortunately, things began to take a turn for the worse when Phineas of Rothskill arrived. Every female eye turned to admire the handsome warlock. It made no difference if the female was a witch, fairy godmother, siren or sorceress. One and all set up a soft sigh as he strode past. He stopped at the table for some eye of newt juice and asked Gertrude, who just happened to be standing near the table, if it was any good. She’d smiled at him most winningly, and the other female eyes in the room turned green as they gazed upon her.
When Phineas asked her to dance, a group of fairy godmothers concocted a plan. While Gertrude was whirling about the dance floor, the fairy godmothers hastily hatched a plot to get the handsome warlock to themselves. They mixed a little potion and waited for their chance. As Gertrude was led from the dance floor by Phineas, one of them slid the drink into her hand. After the heated whirl and crush of the dance floor, Gertrude was only too happy to take the frothy drink. She took a long draught and began to feel a bit light-headed, but she thought it was only the heat and excitement.
She saw her friend Minerva from the sidelines. Minerva was probably the only one there at the ball that was happy for Gertrude. She had her eye on someone else, a shy wizard, so there was no competition from her. Phineas had led her outside and the cool air had helped a bit, but that was a brief respite.
As they’d reentered the festivities, someone had “accidentally” stepped on the hem of her gown. The black silk had ripped all the way up to her waist. Gertrude’s face had been mix of horror and embarrassment. Minerva had swooped in to assist her and they’d swept off to a private room. After several attempts, the dress had been magically mended and they went back down to the ball.
The next thing she knew, someone had tripped her and Gertie had not only broken the heel off her shoe, she’d also spilled a drink on another handsome warlock as well as a sultry siren. She mumbled an embarrassed apology and looked for the source of her humiliation, but there was nobody to be found. Minerva led her off to a corner where they spent another half hour trying to fix her shoe.
Twelve chimes sounded from a large clock, and Gertrude began to feel unwell. She found Phineas, surrounded by a bevy of fairy godmothers, and offered her apologies for leaving early. He smiled at her and promised to call on her soon. After that, she left with Minerva.
The next morning, she’d awoken to find that she’d been turned into a hag overnight. No longer did her raven tresses gleam. A giant wart had popped up on her nose. Hairy warts covered her hands and her skin had taken on a green tint.
Gertrude was horrified when she saw what she’d become. Even worse, Phineas came to call before he departed for home and she had to tell him she was indisposed. She wept bitter tears as she hid behind the curtains of her room and watched him depart. He lived far away and she knew it would be some time before she saw him again. As soon as he was gone, she sent for Minerva.
When Minerva arrived, she clucked and tutted over her friend. She inspected Gertie’s maladies and consulted her magical books. Finally, late that afternoon, she declared that Gertrude was the victim of fairy godmother magic. However, with time and careful spells, she believed it could be reversed.
Minerva mixed potions and creams and her instructions were followed to the letter. Gertrude’s recovery was slow, but it continued. Still, word of her malady soon traveled across the land. It was certainly helped to that end by the group of fairy godmothers who had given her the curse.
When word reached Phineas’ ear that Gertrude had fallen ill, he wrote her a letter and sent it to her, tied to the leg of his favorite hawk. Gertie’s heart soared when she read his words of concern. She penned a reply and sent it back.
Soon Gertrude was enjoying weekly correspondence with the warlock. The arrival of his letter was always the bright spot of her week. Slowly, Minerva’s potions and creams were doing their magic as well, although Gertie worried that they wouldn’t give her a full recovery. She worried that when Phineas saw her again, he would be disappointed.
Still, as the winter months drug by, a small kernel of hope sprouted in her heart and wouldn’t die. Phineas’ letters were constant and he seemed convinced of her beauty. Gertie was uncertain of her charm, but his letters were very ardent and persistent. He sent gifts and never mentioned the dastardly acts of the godmothers.
As spring solstice grew near, Phineas sent her a letter with a question. Would she be attending the sirens’ Spring Cotillion? He was hoping to make his way near the sea at that time and he had hopes of dancing with her if she was attending. Gertie’s stomach felt full of butterflies and bats. She desperately wanted to see him, but she was unsure about whether she’d be cured in a month.
Minerva waved a hand at her. She promised to do her best to make the potions do their work. Still, she reminded Gertrude that anyone who only cared about her looks was not worth so much fuss over. Gertie sighed and agreed. After brewing some potions, the two witches began plotting the dresses they would wear. Later that eve, Gertrude penned a reply to Phineas and told him that she’d be there.
A month later, Gertrude fretted the night before the dance. She paced her room and stared at her gown, made of violet silk and covered with gossamer spider webs. Her shoes were black with diamond buckles and pointy heels. Without a doubt, it was a dress finer than anything a fairy godmother had ever dreamed up. The dress alone would catch every wizard and warlock’s eye and still she worried that she wouldn’t be as fetching as Phineas of Rothskill remembered.
Still, the next day, she donned her gown and slipped on her shoes. She pulled out her broom and when Minerva arrived they set off to the festivities by the sea shore. The sirens were known for putting on a fête that rivaled the witches’ ball and most of the young people who practiced any sort of magic attended. As they arrived, it was easy to see that the soiree would prove to be memorable.
When they walked into the glittering cave of the siren’s dance hall a group of fairy godmothers gasped. They hadn’t expected to see Gertrude there and certainly not looking as rosy as she did instead of having a greenish tint. Many of the guests turned and gazed at her, surprised to see her looking so beautiful when they’d heard rumors that she’d been transformed for the worse.
Before she knew what was happening, Phineas appeared at her elbow, smiling a devilish smile and handing her a black rose. He offered his hand and led her to the dance floor. Minerva sighed and drifted off to find a dance partner of her own. The fairy godmothers began to whisper amongst themselves heatedly. Many turned and watched the couple glide across the floor.
As the party ended, Gertrude finally reluctantly went home, feeling as if the soles of her shoes might have worn off. She’d danced and laughed and feasted to her heart’s content. Phineas had spent most of his time with her and she felt giddy with relief. She felt silly that she’d worried at all, truth be told. As they parted, he promised that she’d hear from him very soon.
The spring bloomed into summer and Phineas continued to send her letters and come to visit her. Romance quickly blossomed between them and at Beltane he asked her to be his bride. Wedding plans were soon underway and they planned to have the nuptials on the day of the Witches’ Ball, to make the celebration more special.
Of course, when the fairy godmothers heard of the upcoming union, they became a bit green themselves and they began to plot. If they couldn’t have Phineas, they weren’t going to make it easy on Gertrude. However, Gertie and Minerva were on to them. They enchanted the punch and hors d’oeuvres so that anyone who spoke ill of the new bride would suffer a nasty surprise.
The day of the wedding and ball finally arrived and Gertrude was a radiant sight. She donned a white silk gown trimmed with white owl feathers and a veil spun from pixie dust. Their union was blessed and then the ball started. Magical folk from near and far had all arrived to attend the wedding and ball and no one wanted to miss it.
As the ball began, the godmothers gathered together, whispering to themselves and casting dark looks about. They began to spread gossip and soon many began to gaze at them in surprise. With every lie they told, their skin grew greener and hairy warts began to pop up on their arms. Wizards and warlocks began to give them a wide berth. Their tongues wagged for hours before they began to realize that something was amiss.
Gertrude and Phineas left at the witching hour, happy to share their lives together. Just as they departed, fairy godmothers began to gasp in shock. The Witches’ Ball had been fun for almost one and all, but those who tried to make trouble paid the price. It was spoken of for years to come as Gertrude and Phineas went on to live happily ever after.