Mother Knows Best

Gladstone sent a suspicious look around the street before he ducked into a small garden set between two upscale businesses.  He wasn't sure himself if he should be doing this, but something about the whole dragon and princes debacle had disturbed his sensitive sense of self.  He wasn't Prince material? 'MAYBE MARQUIS'?  He needed to get to the bottom of this, and he.... well honestly he had no idea how to get in contact with Mother Goose.  So he improvised.

From his jacket pockets he drew out a small bottle of milk, a few gingerbread cookies (was she Santa?), a sheet of shiny unicorn stickers, a small tiara adorned with actual gems that he'd found in a taco (don't ask), a bag of pastel colored marshmallows, and the latest issue of Gossip Gosling ("Hot and Hunky the men of TV and Film talk Feelings and Flirting!") and arranged them in a circle  on the ornate bench in the center of the flowery space.  He sighed and pulled out a small bag of pink glitter, poured it in his hand and threw it in the air.

"Mother Goose, Mother Goose, Mother Goose!"

 

He waited.

He felt really stupid.

He waited some more.

    • Mother Goose
      Mother Goose

      It was lucky Mother Goose had been passing by when Gladstone shouted her name, otherwise she would have missed this fabulous fairytale shrine Gladstone was building so secretly in the alley. And really, it was adorable that he thought this little summoning circle would actually work. He didn't even try wishing on a star or a using magic mirror- she giggled, setting down her groceries. He really didn't know anything about witchcraft! But it would be rude to ruin his dreams, so Mother Goose crept up behind him...

      Creep...

      Creep...

      "WHAT-HO, GLADDY!" she shrieked in his ear. His resulting heartattack was delightful.

      "Ooo~ are those for me? You shouldn't have," Mother Goose giggled, reaching over his shoulder to snag a marshmallow. Mmm. Glittery. "Really, you could have just called, darling~"

      • Gladstone Gander
        Gladstone Gander

        OH DEAR GOD-he whipped around to stare at her clutching at his chest. How... did that work? 

        "Don't-" wheeze "I mean yes they are but-" gasp "-don't DO that." 

        "Call?" he said seeming disappointed. "...but aren't you magic?  Do you really have something as boring as a cellphone?" He held up his hands shaking his head lightly. "Don't tell me, don't tell me... I don't want to know." Let me just pretend this worked and I won't feel so foolish. 

        But now he had to talk to her about... what he... called... her... for... this was a bad idea.

        "So~" he sung lightly watching her eat glittery marshmallows. "-I asked Lilly to be my girlfriend. She said yes. So that's official now." In case you were wondering. "I mean I figured if she wasn't put off by me being a dragon there's a  pretty solid chance she can handle anything else I chuck her way. So~" the word sung again... clearly buying time, buying uncomfortable... uncomfortable time.

        "I was wondering... since you and her seem to be pretty close-" WERE THEY?? Were they REALLY Gladstone? "-what do you think uh... I could do to... er... be a bit more... Prince material?" He winced as he said it.  As if admitting any fault in his character was physically painful.

        • Mother Goose
          Mother Goose

          "Cell, crystal ball," She made a so-so gesture. "The roaming charges are still outrageous. I like your method much better~"

          If his head was ringing before, it was nothing compared to the squeal of pure delight at the word 'girlfriend' and especially at the word 'official'. "YOU DID!!? eEEEEEEEE!" Mother Goose cheered, taking Gladstone's hands and spinning with him. "Oh, frabjous day!!!"

          Why of course they were close, they'd been friends nearly a whole month, Gladdy! Quite obviously, she was the perfect person to ask for relationship advice. "Such a lot to do, ooh- let's start with a makeover!" the goose suggested. "Not that your look if terrible, I mean, I'm sure parades are always happy to have you nearby on St Patrick's Day," she hastily amended, to save his feelings. "But we could do something more princely~"

          • Gladstone Gander
            Gladstone Gander

            At such a joyous outburst he couldn't help but smile along with her as they spun.  Well, yes it had felt a lot like that when she agreed.

            Then his pleasure slid down a notch or two, as well as his eyebrows.

            "What's wrong with green?  It looks good on me. Although most colors do. And I am going to lay down a hard 'pass' on any pantaloons right now." 

            • Mother Goose
              Mother Goose

              "Nothing's wrong with green, but you look like you're smuggling a pot of gold under that jacket. Honestly, Gladdy, just because you're a tiny bit lucky doesn't mean you have to dress like shamrock."

              "Aww," the goose pouted. "You know," she said, with a calculating look. "Skirts are very 'in' this year." Gladstone would look fabulous in a ballgown...

              • Gladstone Gander
                Gladstone Gander

                "PASS." He made a wide sweeping motion with his hands. "HARD, HARD PASS."

                "Look, just... put a pin the wardrobe thing.  We'll come back to that.  Like... what, in your professional opinion, does a Prince do that makes him one? Is it all bucked teeth and inbreeding?  What is it with you girls and Princes? Is it the money? Or the alleged power, because let me tell you those dudes in Britain ain't calling the show, and those crown jewels are probably plastic." He tapped his temple knowingly.  "But that's all real world stuff, tell me Little Miss Sunshine, what does your classic Prince Charming have that I don't have?"

                 

                'Nothing' was a valid response.

                • Mother Goose
                  Mother Goose

                  "Don't get your petticoats in a twist, Gladdy."

                  Did Gladstone Gander really ask someone to point out all his flaws? Where the stars out of alignment, was some cosmic evil hurtling towards them as we speak? No? Just ordinary insecurity?  Ok, he asked for it.

                  "Well, for a start..." She tapped her beak in thought, and launched into a suspiciously through list. "You slouch, you drag your heels when you walk, you wear too much cologne, your nails are a wreck, you laugh at your own jokes, you fluff your hair too much, you think your clothes are still in style, you flirt too much, you're egotistical-" It was amazing how Mother Goose was doing this in all one breath. "-you're arrogant, you're selfish, you're lazy, need I go on?" She paused, letting the criticisms sink in.

                  "You need to be more like... She flipped through the gossip rag, searching for the Hometown Hunks page. "Quiverwing Duck~!" the goose sighed dreamily, staring lovingly at the flattering if-not-blurry photo. "He's the total package. Dashing, daring, total dreamboat~ that's a prince~"

                  • Gladstone Gander
                    Gladstone Gander

                    Horror washed over him as the list of offenses, COMPLETELY UNTRUE OFFENSES HE DEMANDED PROOF, went on and on.  When he was given a goal to strive toward he passed the precipice of the mounting disbelief and started his descent into... well...

                    "Well who asked you?!" You... literally just did Gladstone.  He snatched the magazine out of her hands and frowned at the picture. His eyes darted from her to the photo and back again before he rolled up the publication and gave her a completely humorless smile. His mouth opened and closed a few times as if trying to figure out exactly what to say first but suddenly just... walked away.  Without any care to check for oncoming traffic he stormed into the street causing a driver to slam on his brakes narrowly missing him.  In a huff he shoved open the door to the business across from where he'd left Mother Goose approached the counter and slapped the magazine down in front of the clerk.

                    Luckily Lilly had just handed her customer their change and purchase so Gladstone wasn't really interrupting.  He just appeared to be an irate shopper.  So... he had done an unholy ritual across the street from her shop... sure why not?

                    The action of slapping the magazine down made the lingering glitter on him kick up in the air like dazzling dandruff.  Completely unable to form words through his indignation he smoothed out the photo of Quiverwing Duck then motioned to it then himself, his eyebrows lowering and raising as if engaged in a heated debate all on their own. His hands were pointing out key features and "Dream Boat" bullet points and miming to himself and a very insistent charade of him not wearing a cape, a point of pride it would seem. His case made he stared at her. Awaiting confirmation.

                    To what? She may never know.

                    • Lilly Teal
                      Lilly Teal

                      Looking startled, she just stared at the silent pantomime being enacted in front of her, as glitter gently settled on her hair and the counter, and magazine between them.

                      The picture of Quiverwing Duck was now, on top of everything else, gently sparkling.

                      "Honey, I have no idea what you're asking me. Or telling me," she said carefully, looking between him and the picture. "... did someone make fun of your clothes?"

                      Dream Boat bullet points? Confused, she picked up the magazine to actually read it. Was she... supposed to comment on the article?

                      "Oh, he has quite a fan club. Most of the heroes seem to, don't they? But if you're going to admire someone, why someone dark and gritty who stalks the rooftops at night? Why not someone bright and sweet and earnest? Like Gizm- wait. Why do you even have this?"

                      What is going on?

                      • Mother Goose
                        Mother Goose

                        "And you're so over-dramatic! Add that to the list!" Mother Goose shouted, appearing in a haze of glitter and lights, on the countertop, to better glare down at the man so rudely walked out on their conversation. "Honestly," she rolled her eyes, dramatically sitting down in a floof of skirts.

                        "Oh, hullo Lily, how are you?" she said cheerfully, as if Lilly was the one who just arrived. "Gladdy is just upset that he isn't as charming as Quiverwing~" the goose stage-whispered.

                        • Gladstone Gander
                          Gladstone Gander

                          As Lilly looked at the magazine he slowly started sliding his hand over the picture printed on the page to hide it from view. Don't look at it too long. Are you admiring that blurry-

                          Still deep in "silent rage" he just fanned a hand in front of his eyes to negate the glitter blizzard from getting in them when the witch was apparently so undramatic that she didn't just walk across the street.  He drew an angry breath, but knew it wouldn't be enough. So he marched over to where he'd left his hat when he'd first checked in with Lilly pre-fell summoning, snatched it off it's hook, came back over and smacked it down on the counter kicking up more glitter.  There, that was better.

                          The customers in the store were all watching curiously.  A little street theater? How lovely!

                          "Lilly dear-" He finally managed through gritted teeth. "-would you tell this WOMAN how charming I am? And how well groomed and fashionable I am?  And that I have a perfect handle on my temper and have been nothing but a gentleman to you?!" 

                          I mean... he hadn't exploded yet? So... the temper thing was a valid point? Probably?

                          • Lilly Teal
                            Lilly Teal

                            Setting down the magazine, Lilly gave a very, very small sigh, feeling a headache building.

                            "Yes," she said soothingly. "You always look very well groomed and stylish. Briar, have you been making fun of his cl- ... Briar, get off the counter."

                            The interested customers were given a slightly embarrassed look. Make that a very embarrassed look. She was very rapidly starting to go red as she hooked her arms around one of Briar's and tugged at her.

                            "Please, dear."

                            And what are you both having an argument about now?

                            "Gladstone is perfectly charming. And a gentleman? I... don't understand why this conversation is happening, could someone please explain?"

                            • Mother Goose
                              Mother Goose

                              "What? Oh, yes, sorry Lily," the witch apologized, sliding off the counter.

                              "And I wasn't, I was just pointing out that-" Briar cut off. Oh no, she wasn't getting in trouble for spilling secrets again. Lilly was so upset the last time. "...Ask Gladdy." There! Now it wasn't her fault that Gladstone was so insecure that he was asking for lessons in princely behaviour.

                              "Tsk, Gladdy you covered up the best picture," she said, knocking his hat off the magazine. Silly goose. "And you're grinding your teeth, dear, that's a nasty habit," she added, skimming the article on Quiverwing. 

                              • Gladstone Gander
                                Gladstone Gander

                                Ah.

                                Yes.

                                Well.

                                His fury seemed to ebb.

                                "I-just got to thinking about that whole stupid Prince thing again." He admitted slowly.  "And why she thought I wasn't worthy of you. So I figured I'd get some answers? But-" He scooped up his abused hat and crammed it on his head for safe keeping, "-I'm beginning to wonder if she even really cares or if she just likes to press my buttons."

                                He cleared his throat lightly, trying to scrape some of the glitter off the counter into his hands to deposit in to the garbage.

                                "I realize now that that was a mistake and I'm sorry for causing her to glitter bomb your shop."

                                • Lilly Teal
                                  Lilly Teal

                                  Now her head was definitely hurting.

                                  "Wait. Wait..." Pinching the bridge of her bill briefly, she suddenly looked up at the rest of the shop with a bright smile.

                                  "I'm very sorry! This is... we need to have a conversation so-" could I ask you all to just leave?

                                  Except she couldn't do that. Instead she came out from behind the counter and ushered both goose and gander into the little kitchenette for some privacy.

                                  "Right," she said, hands on hips, but the motherly scolding she was building up to suddenly collapsed like someone had knocked out the base of a tower of wooden blocks. Face changing into one of concern, her hands came up towards her mouth instead. "Oooh... oh this is my fault..."

                                  Apologetic look to Gladstone. "I just... this was from before, when I said I was worried I liked you more than you liked me. But I didn't mean-"

                                  Apologetic look to Briar. "I wasn't trying to say he wasn't worthy of-

                                  Gladstone. "You don't have to-"

                                  Briar. "You didn't need to-"

                                  Gladstone. "I am so sorry!"

                                  Now look what you've both done, she looks so worried that she's upset both of you!

                                  • Mother Goose
                                    Mother Goose

                                    Awhoogh! Awhoogh! We're taking on water, Captain!

                                    The witch pulled Lily pulled into a tight hug, then grabbed Gladstone by the elbow to force him into maximum duck snuggle coverage. Emergency group hug, engage!  

                                    "Nononononooo, don't be upset Lily! It's not your fault! I like him- you- Gladstone, he's- you're- perfectly adequate, as long as he makes you happy," Briar babbled, frantically turning from one face to the other in the smoosh. "He just wanted advice-" Help me out, lucky boy. 

                                     

                                    • Gladstone Gander
                                      Gladstone Gander

                                      Duck sandwich ENGAGE!  

                                      He hugged her around the waist having to force the puffy dress and hoop skirt of the other goose aside trying to hold her gaze as she tried to apologize to them both.

                                      "Lilly she's right I was just-" He shifted an arm to put Briar in maximum hugagge too. Look Lilly? See? Everyone's friends! "-I was just curious so I called her. This isn't your fault.  If I'm-" he shot a slightly withering look to Mother Goose. "-perfectly adequate-" he looked back up to Lilly all annoyance gone. "Then that's fine. I just get a feeling that I can do better, AMAZING as that sounds. moi? Be more irresistible? It shouldn't be allowed right?" He smiled, only half joking. Okay, one-eight joking. One... sixteenth? 

                                      • Lilly Teal
                                        Lilly Teal

                                        "Oh Briar, don't say he's perfectly adequate." You're giving my boyfriend a complex, stop it!

                                        ... this is strange, I had no idea that ego was so fragile.

                                        "He's... you're more than adequate! Briar, he's been nothing but kind and loving to me, I feel valued, isn't that the princely thing to do? And-"

                                        Wait, she didn't want to say this in front of him, so she craned her head to whisper to Briar, not that it would make any difference, they were squished up so close that he'd hear most of it anyway.

                                        "And he's handsome and charming and his kisses definitely wake me up." Don't tell him I said that.

                                        So that's all the qualities of a Prince, right?

                                        "I mean as long as you don't get bored with me we're all good! So... so Gladstone there's nothing to better about yourself, please don't feel like that."

                                        So we're all good! We can leave this conversation far beh-

                                        "What advice?"

                                        • Mother Goose
                                          Mother Goose

                                          "Now that's a step in the right direction~" Briar giggled at that kind of happily-ever-after (morning after) talk. "I guess he is pretty good at the prince stuff for you."

                                          "Oh, nothing important, general dancing and dining and romantic tips," Mother Goose said, kicking Gladstone in the shin. Don't blow the nice mood, Gladdy. "Just girl talk~" Congratulations, Gladstone, you've been promoted(?) to girl-friend. 

                                          • Gladstone Gander
                                            Gladstone Gander

                                            Well, was that a Princely grin on his face at the whispered admission made in close proximit-er confidence?  Well no. It was pretty unPrincely but very pleased.   He lifted an eyebrow and slid his eyes to Mother Goose with a clear 'ha see?' broadcast across his features until the kick came. That smile became a little wooden as he tried not to hop on the spot. 

                                            "Ah-yes-" He said pleasantly through grit teeth. "-etiquette and all that. She's a WEALTH-" He stealthy stomped on Briar's foot. "-of information. A real valuable resource for the stuff. I just thought I could use a bit of brushing up before Valentine's day." He gave Lilly a small wink.

                                            • Lilly Teal
                                              Lilly Teal

                                              Oh you~ Aren't you both just darling?

                                              "Aw!" she chirped happily, seeming not to notice all the kicking and food stomping going on. "You're both so sweet." Wriggling her arms out of the sandwich, she put her arms around their shoulders and gave them both a squeeze. "I'm sorry I doubted you."

                                              How SILLY.

                                              "But Gladstone, whatever Briar says, while trying to be helpful," a comforting little squeeze for Briar, yes I know you're just... trying to be helpful. "I don't want to change anything about you, okay?" she added sincerely. "Not into a prince, or in a cape, and definitely not into another dragon. I love you just like you are."

                                              She smiled sunnily at the two of them, and then tightened her hug ever so slightly.

                                              "So don't you two cause any trouble, yes?"

                                              • Mother Goose
                                                Mother Goose

                                                Mother Goose's eyes watered.

                                                Gladstone was a lot heavier than he looked. "Aww, Lily," Briar smiled, trying not to show the pain. "Of course we won't~" Hugging was good way to get close enough for- Revenge pinch! Haha, take that, you goose. And there's no way Lily saw that stealthy belly-pinch.

                                                "We didn't scare away your customers, did we?" They had seemed pretty happy to watch the group bicker, so their fight probably counted as some form of free advertising, right? Come see the bookstore with pyrotechnics?

                                                • Gladstone Gander
                                                  Gladstone Gander

                                                  “Trouble? Us? Per-AH-ish th-the thought dearest.” Lilly was still paying too close attention to retaliate, but the moment she blinked he’d shoot his glitter coated hand up and push the goose’s bonnet down into her eyes. 

                                                  He let out a little gasp of concern.

                                                  ”Oh I’m so sorry I didn’t mean to do that I just had a muscle spasm. Here let me fix that for you.”  The bonnet slid down further until it bopped her beak. “Oh how silly of me, that was the wrong way,” he slid the hat back on properly disrupting some ringlets as he went. “Ah there you go. Pretty as a picture book.”

                                                  • Lilly Teal
                                                    Lilly Teal

                                                    "No, no, you definitely didn't scare them away," she said, just a tad sardonically. "In fact I think I saw a few more come in to watch you two argue and glitter all over the place. Now as much as I love this I am getting jolted about awfully-" that would be the residual motion of their subtle fighting, no doubt. "- and I should get back to the counter so why don't you both come with me, and I'll make you both some tea, get you some cake?"

                                                    That'll be nice, right?

                                                    "And if we could. Stop spreading glitter... maybe going to the front again isn't the best idea, how about we just have tea, coffee and cake here?"

                                                    • Mother Goose
                                                      Mother Goose

                                                      Oh no, he did not mess with her hair. It was on.

                                                      "You're right Lily, there is too much glitter in here," Briar said, with deliberate innocence. "Let me help you clean it up... " The witch snapped her fingers and the broom snapped to attention. "There, that takes care of the floor~"

                                                      "But, oh dear, Gladdy, you're absolutely covered in glitter!" She hit Gladstone's shoulder, in the guise of helping dust off his jacket. "Oh no, there's just-" Smack. "So much-" Smack. "-better get get you changed~" Poof.

                                                      "There, back to your old foppish self," Mother Goose grinned at Gladstone's new look. Gone were his fashionable clothes and hat, replaced instead by a frilly frock-coat and powdered wig.

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