"Well, well, well, don't you look sharp today, master?"
Chad turned from his mirror to see Zeke standing almost directly behind him. "Zeke for the fifth time, no more 'master' business," he chuckled.
"It's a force of habit," Zeke shrugged. 'At least it will be easier to convince most of us not to call you 'master' than had to follow you around the castle everywhere he went."
"And then Boi would follow right behind him. I remember that," Chad said. He turned back to the mirror and raised an eyebrow. "Hey Zeke...what should I do with my hair?"
Zeke rubbed his chin. "I say tie it back. Much easier to handle that way."
"Good call," Chad agreed as he picked up a rubber band. Since everything had mostly returned to normal, everyone has had a major turn-around. Well, except for Jason. Let's face it, the castle would never be the same if he stopped clowning around. It hadn't even been that long since the curse had been lifted. Chad wasn't even the only person that changed around there. Tiara had some new competition around the castle, mainly Sharpay. Sharpay claimed that since she had lived in such a fancy place in the village and had plenty of maids, she knew how Tiara's job was done better than Tiara did. And let's face it, Sharpay was nowhere near a pack rat. If she wouldn't be so insulted being hired as a maid, she would probably take the job. Then again, she had already cleaned around the castle plenty without consent - or arguments, for that matter. The girl was very persuasive. That Kelsi girl had really come out of her shell. Working with Martha and befriending a number of workers around there, she had practically gotten a whole new look. Much more sophisticated and...well, kind of girlie. In a good way, of course. Kelsi and Martha were now like a perfect music team, where Kelsi would play on the piano and Martha would do the dance moves. And then of course, leave it to Ryan to jump in or come up with some snazzy attire for no apparent reason. People like them around actually made the castle feel more lively. Much better than it had in years. It especially lifted Chad's spirits and made him look at everything in a whole new light. Call it a bonus, if you will.
Still, he couldn't help but ask, "Remind me again why Taylor and I are dancing in the ballroom in front of everyone today?"
"Because it wouldn't be a fairy tale happy ending without the prince and princess dancing in front of everyone while the screen fades to back and there's big background music that just sings 'happily ever after'," Zeke said with a goofy grin, probably because everyone knew it was true. But Chad just smiled and rolled his eyes.
Jason then entered the room and cleared his throat. "The castle awaits."
"I'll meet everyone in the ballroom," Chad answered. "Except for Taylor. I'll meet her in the main room."
"I'll let the party know," Jason said. "Do you think I can get them to bring maracas, too? It's not really a party without maracas."
"And don't forget the balloons, too. And the funny clown with a big red nose," Zeke added jokingly, which got both him and Chad laughing.
Jason raised an eyebrow and looked at them. "Hey...are you guys mocking me?"
"Never," Chad shook his head quickly. "Absolutely not."
"Oh," Jason said. "Well ok then." he shrugged rather cheerfully. He was about to head out when he turned back to Chad. "Oh, and master? One more thing?"
Chad tried his best not to let out a sigh. "Does it involve calling me something other than 'master'?" Really, after going by that for three years when looking like a hideous beast, it got really old. Besides that was the old Chad. He didn't even want to be called something like 'your majesty' anymore. Alright, maybe 'your highness' but only because that sounded less fancy.
"Well...no. But we could call you something like..." Jason paused to think for a minute, "...retsam."
Chad stared blankly at Jason and scrunched his nose. "Jay... That's master spelled backwards."
"No it isn't," Jason lied.
"Yes it is," Chad nodded.
"No it isn't," Jason replied.
"Martha and Kelsi are having a cat fight over you." Chad responded.
"Oh, that would be exciting to watch!" Jason exclaimed. He started running out and Zeke looked at Chad, but before either of them could say anything, Jason ran right back in. "Hey, wait a minute...there aren't any catfights are there?"
And they were so close to losing Jason, too. Too bad, and they were going to be late now too.
"You know, you're right," Chad sighed. "It was just Boi and Jimmie playing tug of war with your favorite shirt."
"Not my ducky shirt!" Jason gasped before rushing out.
The boys waited until Jason was completely out of earshot before bursting out laughing. It was just so hard to resist. But there was no need to worry. Jason would soon figure it out and be on his way to the ballroom with the others before they even knew it. And Chad had to admit, playing harmless jokes was much more fun than ordering everyone around. Hey, at least no one had stolen anyone's clothes and made them run around the castle looking for them wearing nothing but a towel.
"That was a good one, mast-um, Chad," Zeke said as his chuckles died down. "Do you mind if I used that one on him?"
"By all means," Chad answered. "I'm gonna finish getting ready."
"I'll let your mademoiselle know," Zeke said before walking out.
Chad turned back to his mirror and attempted to finish getting ready. It wasn't too long after that there was a knock on the door. Chad turned to see Troy standing in the doorway.
"Um...do I just come in or do I have to do something first?" Troy asked, scratching his head. "I don't really know how it works here yet."
"Just come on in," Chad offered. He stood up and straightened his jacket a little. "What's up man?"
"Just thought I'd drop by," Troy replied as he walked in.
"Great, great," Chad said. "Hey uh...you're not still mad about the whole me throwing you into the carriage thing are you?"
"Nah," he shook his head. "All in the past."
"Or taking you prisoner for sitting in my chair?" Chad asked.
"Water under the bridge," he answered.
"Or taking your sister hostage instead of you?" Chad asked almost nervously.
"Did you do anything to her?" Troy replied suspiciously.
"No," he shook his head, which was pretty much true.
"Then I'm over it," Troy shrugged his shoulders.
"Or-" Chad started again, but Troy interrupted him.
"Dude, I get it," he laughed, "you're sorry."
"Ok, that's a good way to sum it all up," Chad said.
"Just remember, that's my little sister you'll be walking around with. You better treat her right. And I'll be living under the same roof so I'll know," Troy replied.
"No worries," he shook his head. "I know I've got a great girl and I'm not gonna go and mess it up. I'll make sure to treat her right."
"That's all I want," Troy said simply.
"So does that mean we're cool?" Chad wondered.
"About as cool as a royal guy and a farm guy can get," Troy joked.
Chad laughed along with him and they hit high fives. It was amazing how after everything was said and done, the boys could get along so well. They had really hit it off, actually.
"So is Taylor ready down there?" Chad asked.
"As far as I know," Troy said. "When I left, she and Gabriella were talking girl stuff. Not my thing."
"Tell me about it," Chad agreed. "Zeke, Jason, and Gabriella are like the three musketeers and I wonder how they dealt with Gabs' girl problems all these years."
"Speaking of Gabriella..." he started.
Chad folded his arms and raised an eyebrow, looking at Troy expectantly.
"Is she single?" Troy finished, almost with a squeak in his voice.
Chad just stared at him for a moment. Then a few seconds later he just laughed and shook his head. "Dream on, Troy. You want the girl, you gotta get through her brother first." He continued laughing as he headed out of the room. "You and Gabriella. C'mon man, it'll never work."
Troy folded his arms. "I tell him to go for it with my own sister, and when I ask him about one of the girls in here he laughs at me. What's so funny about me?" he gasped. "When have I even done or said one funny thing this entire story?"
Chad made his way down the main staircase. Almost the entire area was deserted, probably because everyone else was already in the ballroom. So it was even easier for him to catch sight of Taylor, who had looked like she was actually waiting patiently at the foot of the steps for him. And even Chad was able to tell that she was an impatient person. But what better way to make it up to her than to show her even more of his charm than she had already seen?
Smiling and adjusting his jacket a tad more, he walked over to Taylor. "Excuse me, miss, but you look much too pretty to be my girlfriend."
Taylor rolled her eyes as she turned to him. "It's always about looks with you."
"Oh, you've got jokes now," he teased playfully.
"Actually, I do," Taylor nodded. "I think Jason's rubbing off on me."
Chad pretended to sound insulted as he linked arms with Taylor and they headed towards the ballroom.
"You think Jason's funnier than me?"
"Jealous?" she giggled.
"Who, me? Nah," Chad lied shaking his head.
She shook her head and playfully nudged him.
"Hey, you're talking to the guy who told Jason my dog and your horse were playing tug of war with his shirt full of ducks," Chad told her.
"Tug of war with Jason's shirt? Really now, is that the best you could come up with?" she replied.
"Hey it got him out of the room," Chad shrugged. "By the way, I didn't keep you waiting too long did I?"
"Not at all. I had Gabriella to keep me company for a bit," Taylor answered. "I think she wants me to set her up with Troy."
"I got the same thing," Chad said. "It's not gonna happen."
"Well, they might look cute together," Taylor stated, emphasizing the word 'might'.
"Well, might or no might there's not gonna be any matchmaking today," he said. They stopped near the ballroom and Chad turned to her. "Cause it's not gonna be Troy and Gabriella in there dancing. It's gonna be us. Today's all about me and you."
"I could get into that," Taylor said with a smile.
"Good, because I think I need some more reading lessons," Chad smiled as he moved a strand of hair out of her face.
"Is the library still technically mine?" Taylor inquired.
"It's so yours, I'm considering putting a plaque on the door with your name on it," Chad replied resting his forehead against hers.
"I think we can arrange a little lesson there tonight," Taylor grinned wrapping her arms around his neck.
"Wouldn't have it any other way," Chad smiled as he kissed her, which she easily returned.
"So is it just a reading lesson you want, or...?" Taylor asked once they pulled apart.
"Maybe a few kissing lessons, too," Chad admitted.
"I'll see what we can arrange, but I think I'll have to get back to you on that," Taylor teased.
"You're such a sneak," Chad chuckled as he lifted her up and spun her around.
The next thing both of them knew, they were in the middle of the ballroom. Their arms were around each other and everyone was just watching them. After a brief yet passionate kiss, the music started and the couple started happily waltzing around the room.
Zeke sighed contently as he watched the two of them. "Ah, l'amour."
Seconds later, Tiara walked slowly by him with a feather duster in her hand wearing what is a typical maid's outfit, though with her own touch of Britain to it. She smirked towards Zeke, which almost had him chasing after her. Just a typical guy reaction, in most cases. But Zeke hadn't gotten too far, because just as quickly as Tiara appeared by him, Sharpay appeared right nearby. Sharpay tapped Zeke on the shoulder, causing him to turn towards her.
"I don't believe I ever got to thank you for catching me before," was the best Sharpay could think of to say to him. It was a bit ironic, actually. Sharpay spent all her time catching guys' eyes and always knew what to say to them. Now she had even more of a reason to talk to a guy and it felt awkward. Was that supposed to happen?
But Zeke was all the more happy to talk to her. "It was my pleasure, mademoiselle," he almost blurt out as though he were trying to impress her.
"Wow, polite, gentlemanly, and you know how to work a French accent," Sharpay stated, clearly impressed with him. Not to mention strong, obviously, or else he wouldn't have been able to catch her or hold her easily. And he looked like the kind of guy to give a lot of compliments. What was next to make him perfect? Baking her favorite foods whenever she desires?
"Well, it is what I do," Zeke chuckled, almost nervously. It was working, he was winning her over! "By the way, we were never properly introduced. Monsieur Baylor, at your service." He gently took her hand and placed a kiss on it.
Sharpay nodded and smiled. Was it getting hot in there or was it her imagination?
"Call me Sharpay," she responded.
"Lovely name, mademoiselle." Zeke complimented. "Perhaps maybe later I can bake you some cookies. How do you feel about chocolate chip with a pinch of cinnamon?"
Somebody pinch her, this guy was perfect! "I love cookies."
But of course, with Sharpay and Tiara already having started on a bad foot, Tiara couldn't have Sharpay muffling in on Zeke now could she? Scoffing, she made her way over.
"I like cookies too, Zeke," she said.
Now Sharpay was the one to scoff. "Excuse me Miss Britain's Got No Cleaning Talent, but I believe he was talking to me."
"You couldn't even tell a feather duster from an ink pen," Tiara retorted. "Find your own man, this one's taken."
"And you wouldn't know dust from mud," Sharpay folded her arms.
"Well, you only want Zeke because I have him," Tiara replied.
"Oh, likely story," Sharpay rolled her eyes.
"Guys, guys," Martha sighed as she got between the two girls, "there is no need to fight over a guy. Besides I'm sure there's a much calmer way to settle this."
"Like an all out cat fight?" Jason joked.
"Actually I was thinking Rock Paper Scissors. A lot less violent," Kelsi stated as she tilted her head, having her uptight hairdo leave a few bangs in her face.
"Well, I was going to say a dance off, but Rock Paper Scissors sounds a lot better," Martha said.
"Or you could let Zeke decide," Ryan offered as he walked over with Boi in his arms.
"Wait a minute, you want me to choose between two blond, pretty, fiesty, musically gifted girls?" Zeke's eyes widened. How was he supposed to do that?
"Well you know," Donny chuckled as he walked by on his way towards finding Gabriella, "I'm always available. You know where my room is." He smiled at the girls, then spun around and went off to find his sister.
Sharpay giggled. "Have fun with him, little dusty girl. I'm sure someone your own age is much more in your league anyway," she told Tiara before standing beside Zeke.
Tiara scoffed and rolled her eyes. "I'd rather date the dog than that boy."
Boi panted happily and wagged his tail eagerly. Tiara noticed this and shook her head.
"I was being sarcastic," she added, which had the dog sighing and just resting in Ryan's arms.
"So, about those cookies later..." Sharpay started to Zeke.
"Wait, there's cookies?" Ryan gasped. "I want some, too."
"Well you can't. Zeke said he's baking cookies for me," Sharpay told him.
"But I love cookies," Ryan said.
"Well I love them more," Sharpay replied.
Ok no way was Zeke going to get in the middle of a cookie debate. He cooked treats, not trouble.
"If you guys will excuse me," he said before trying to walk away while the twins had their cookie disagreement. Not that he got very far with Jason around, of course.
"Well now that this is all settled..." Jason said as he eagerly shook hands with Zeke, having the poor guy even more confused now, "...how about everything that happened to us all this time, we just let bygones be bygones?"
Zeke chuckled. Now that, he understood. "But of course, mon ami," he grinned playfully patting Jason on the back. "After all, I did tell you that our girl would break the spell."
"Yes, you did tell me that-" Jason nodded, but then cut himself off quickly. "Hey wait a minute, no you didn't. I told you that Taylor would break the spell!"
"You've got it all backwards, Jay. I distinctly remember telling you she would break the spell," Zeke replied.
"You didn't tell me anything like that, you crazy burnt candle thingy!" Jason gasped. He pulled out a white glove and whacked Zeke with it.
"Oh so it's going down like that is it you skinny excuse for a clock?" Zeke retorted as he pulled out a white glove of his own and used it on Jason.
The two then began going back and forth with their minor little slap fight.
Donny made his way over to Gabriella as Chad and Taylor danced by her and Troy. Gabriella turned to her brother and raised an eyebrow.
"Donny where have you been?"
"Hitting on Tiara and watching Jason and Zeke beat each other up with gloves," he answered.
Troy raised an eyebrow. "Do they do that a lot?" he asked Gabriella.
Gabriella shrugged. "You get used to it." She then turned back to her brother, "Now why were you hitting on Tiara?"
"Cause she's cute and I'm not allowed to hit on Taylor anymore," Donny answered. He tilted his head towards Troy, "By the way, you got anymore sisters?"
Gabriella gasped. "Donny don't bother Troy!"
"Um...just the one. Sorry, bro," Troy told Donny trying to keep his cool. Wow this was a weird castle. Why Taylor liked it here, he'll never know.
"Oh man." Donny sighed, clearly disappointed.
As far as Troy was considered, most of the castle was kind of goofy. And while he was generally goofy in nature, he wanted to prove otherwise. So naturally it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make his move. "So, Gabriella..." he said as casually as possible even though it sounded nowhere near casual, "…you got a boyfriend?"
Gabriella blushed and tried not to giggle. But before she could answer, Donny had to step in.
"Hey back off the sis, one gets to her without going through me."
"Donny!" Gabriella gasped again. She turned to Troy, trying to act as sweet and innocent as possible. Besides, if she didn't then combined with Donny, Troy would so be scared off. "No, I don't have a boyfriend," she said quickly.
"Yes she does," Donny lied.
Gabriella tried her best to keep a straight face. "Donny, don't you have a script to stick to? You have lines that aren't these." she said through her best smile yet with gritted teeth.
"I can't say my lines when some dude's hitting on me sis. So not cool," Donny folded his arms.
There was silence between the three of them for a minute before Gabriella's head snapped back to Troy.
"So you got a girlfriend?" she asked quickly.
Troy shook his head and just as he said 'no', Donny let out a loud, "Oh c'mon!"
Well then if Donny wouldn't say his lines, Troy could improvise. "So...does this mean we're gonna live happily ever after like our best friends out there?"
"I think so," Gabriella nodded with a smile.
Donny raised an eyebrow and looked at them confused. "Wait...does that mean I still have to sleep in the cupboard?"
Troy and Gabriella shared a laugh and the ballroom looked completely calm, everyone's eyes then going on Chad and Taylor dancing together in the middle of the room. And as they all shared their typical fairy tale happily ever after just like every other story did, a harmonious chorus could be heard in the closing on the scene.
Certain as the sun
Rising in the East
Tale as old as time
Song as old as rhyme
Beauty and the Beast
Tale as old as time
Song as old as rhyme
Beauty and the Beast
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