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A New Princess Chapter Three: Sidekick Garden
blanket, Linus
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All Princesses seem to have sidekicks. In this chapter of A New Princess Red meets the other Princesses sidekicks and is reunited with her own. Read on after the cut for the fun.

Red picked up her basket and was about to follow the other three, when Anna asked, “You said that has goodies in it. Edible goodies?”

Red nodded, but cocked her head quizzically.

“Leave it here,” the Princess of Arendelle advised.

“Why?” Red asked, she always felt wrong when she didn’t have her basket with her.

“If Meeko works out that it has something, anything to eat in it he’ll never leave us alone.”

“Meeko?”

“Princess Pocahontas’ raccoon.”

“Maybe he won’t work it out.”

Anna burst into peals of delighted laughter. “Won’t work it out?” she repeated. “He will. I don’t know how he does it, but he always does.”

“It’s locked,” Red said, pointing to the latch. She never used to actually lock the basket, but Lilbee had a tendency to try and get at things if she didn’t.

“Meeko’s got very clever fingers, especially where food is concerned,” Anna insisted.

Red let out a sigh, but placed her basket carefully in the middle of her bed, and kept casting anxious looks at it as Anna took her hand and led her behind Rapunzel and Merida to Sidekick Garden.

                                                                  ****

The Garden was bathed in brilliant sunshine and it seemed to be divided into sections that were specifically tailored to suit certain sidekicks. Two horses cropped grass side by side in a paddock.  One was a sturdy brown horse with a straw coloured mane and shaggy hair of the same shade covering its broad hooves. It was bigger than a pony and a little more barrel chested than a normal horse, it was probably a Clydesdale, but to Red’s eye seemed to be a little on the small side, they used the same breed to haul logs back in the Dark Wood, and this one would have been smaller than them. Towering over the smallish Clydesdale was a huge black horse with an ivory muzzle and fetlocks. “That’s Angus,” Merida told the red-cloaked girl, pointing at the black horse. “He’s mine.”

“Who is the other one?” Red asked.

“Phillipe,” Rapunzel answered. “He’s Princess Belle’s. When Merida rides Angus one of us can ride Phillipe if Belle doesn’t want to ride him at the time.”

“Th’ only gel I’ve ever seen who can ride a horse while reading a book an’ not lookin’ where she’s goin’,” Merida muttered.

“She never falls off either,” Anna commented.

“That’s because she’s got a sensible wee horse,” Merida said.

“Come on!” Rapunzel urged, picking up her hair, so that it didn’t get snagged by any stray tree branches and forged deeper into the garden.

Seeing the girl with her masses of hair reminded Red of a question she had been wanting to ask ever since it had exploded from under the girl’s wig and hugged her. “How long is your hair, Rapunzel?”

“You can call me ‘Punzel,” the blonde offered. “Everyone else does. It’s kind of hard to measure it, because every time we cut it, it seems to grow back longer than before, but I once had it measured at seventy feet.”

If Anna hadn’t been watching and making sure, Red was so stunned by the answer that she would have walked straight into a tree. “Seventy feet?”

“Yep!”

“Doesn’t it get in your way? Isn’t it inconvenient?”

Rapunzel shrugged. “It can be, but it can also be useful. One time when Eugene and I were escaping from…”

“Now ye’ve gone an’ done it!” Merida shouted. “Ye got her to mention Eugene. Once they start on about Eugene and Kristoff they nivver stop. Ye don’t have a boyfriend, do ye?” she asked Red, her green eyes promising a terrible fate if Red answered in the affirmative.

“Ummmm…no,” Red answered hesitantly. “Do I need one? The brochure they sent me didn’t mention it.”

“No, ye most definitely do not need one!” Merida told the girl firmly.

“Most Princesses have a Prince,” Anna said with the air of someone who was reciting information by rote.

“Not all,” Merida countered. “Yer sister doesn’t.”

“Technically Elsa is a Queen, not a Princess,” Anna argued.

“Technically shmechnically,” Merida shot back, but got no further before the air suddenly became rather chilly and a snowflake struck Red on the cheek.

“Olaf!” Anna squealed and knelt to embrace a short snowman. The girl took the winter creature by one of his twig arms and led him to Red. “This is our new Princess, Olaf. Olaf meet Red.”

“Hi, I’m Olaf and I like warm hugs,” the snowman said and gave the girl in the red cape a shy smile.

Rapunzel nudged Red forward with her shoulder. “That means he wants you to hug him.”

“But…I…he’s a snowman, and the sun is out. How…I don’t…”

“Just go with it,” Rapunzel advised. “We’ll explain it after.”

Still trying to come to grips with the surrealness of the entire appearance of a snowman in spring conditions where it was far too hot for him to exist and there was no snow in sight, Red bent down and put her arms around Olaf.

“So why are you called Red?” Olaf asked, adjusting the carrot that was his nose.

Red looked at the other girls.

“He’s a snowman,” Anna explained. “He’s not very old. He doesn’t pick up on things very quickly. He thought Kristoff was called Sven for ages when they first met.”

“Who’s Sven?”

“Kristoff’s reindeer.”

“And Kristoff is your boyfriend?”

Anna nodded, her eyes shining.

“He looks like a reindeer?”

“Not at all, that’s just Olaf,” Anna said as if that explained everything.

Red addressed the patiently waiting snowman. “My name is Little Red Riding Hood, Olaf. Because of my cloak,” and she picked up a corner of it and held it out so that Olaf could see it clearly. “My hair is also red.”

“It’s an easy name to remember,” Olaf said. “I have a hard time with longer names.”

As she conversed with the snowman Red noticed that he had a small storm cloud over his head, which rained snowflakes continually down over him, that was what prevented him from turning into a puddle under the bright sunlight over the garden.

“I’m off to visit the horses,” Olaf said. “Nice to meet you Red.”

“Try not to get too close,” Anna cautioned. “Remember Phillipe ate your nose last time.”

“Will do,” Olaf waved cheerily to the girls and toddled away.

                                                                  ****

Up until that point Red had thought she was rather odd for having a wolf pup as a companion, but nothing could top Olaf. The other three, especially Anna, were used to the affectionate little snowman, but Red just stood and stared at him in slack jawed amazement as he wandered away over the grassed hill to the paddock shared by Phillipe and Angus.

“Look!” Anna told Red, tugging her sleeve and pointing at a small structure made of weathered stone. “Mushu’s shrine. You’ll like Mushu, he’s fun.”

“Aye, if ye can get over th’ whole breathing fire thing,” Merida said.

“Breathing fire?” a wide-eyed Red asked.

“Mushu is a dragon,” Rapunzel explained to the new girl, then seeing fear entering her eyes elaborated. “It’s okay, he’s a little dragon. He’s Princess Mulan’s sidekick. He’s their family dragon.”

“And the only sidekick to have his own sidekick,” Anna said.

“Cri-Kee isn’t really his sidekick,” Rapunzel argued. “Mushu just says that to make himself sound important.”

“Would that have anythin’ to do with Pascal tryin’ to eat Cri-Kee?” Merida asked.

“He couldn’t help that, it was a reflex,” Rapunzel defended a rather embarrassed looking chameleon.

“Cri-Kee’s a cricket,” Anna advised a confused Red.

The Princesses did have a habit of simply assuming everyone else knew their stories as far as Red could see at this point.

Pascal jumped off Rapunzel’s shoulder and entered the shrine, he ran around in it, appeared at the entrance and shook his head. “Mushu isn’t here, guys,” the blonde girl called back to her disappointed companions, and Red had been looking forward to seeing an actual dragon, even if it was a small one.

That was when the girls improbably heard trumpet music coming from over a small hill. “Of course!” Rapunzel exclaimed. “We’re near the river. Louis must be playing.”

“Louis?” Red asked helplessly as Anna tugged on her hand and they ran after the other two girls, following Rapunzel’s waves of golden hair and the fiery flash that was Merida’s untamed flaming mane.

“Princess Tiana’s alligator,” Anna shouted.

A trumpet playing alligator? Was what went through Red’s head, and I thought the walking talking snowman was odd.

Sure enough Anna had been telling the truth. On a rock by a river sat a large green alligator and he was blowing a trumpet. Red didn’t know anything about the music the reptile was playing, but she recognized that it was good.

Standing near the alligator was a small red dragon. He sat on his two back legs, and his barbed tail moved in time with the music that Louis was playing. In his hands he held a polished gong and a striker. He banged loudly on the gong and the alligator removed the trumpet from his lips and demanded, “What?”

“I told you, I don’t do jazz. Why can’t you play something hip?”

“Oh like Smashmouth?” Louis asked sarcastically.

“Well…yeah,” the dragon answered.

A blue cricket buzzed around Mushu’s head, he waved at it with his striker and snapped, “You want to be a fried cricket?”

Red assumed that must have been the aforementioned Cri-Kee. The girl didn’t know much about cricket behaviour, she had never really studied them before, but she was convinced that Cri-Kee reacted to Mushu’s threat by blowing a raspberry at him, although he did keep a respectful distance.

“I liked it,” said a childish voice from the water. Red squinted and could see a small blue and yellow fish poking its head out of the water.

“Thank you Flounder,” Louis said politely.

“What would you know?” Mushu said rudely. “You got water in your ears!”

“We thought it was very good, Louis,” Rapunzel said, announcing that they were in the audience for the impromptu concert.

“Miss Rapunzel, Anna and Merida,” Louis said and he sounded kind of embarrassed. He covered it up by casually twirling his trumpet around in one thick claw.

“Who you got with you?” Mushu asked, eyeing Red off.

“This is our new Princess, Little Red Riding Hood,” Anna introduced her new roommate, who blushed gently and curtseyed.

“I like your taste in colour, kid,” Mushu said approvingly.

“That’s quite a mouthful,” Louis commented on the full name.

“Most people call me Red.”

“I wonder if I can get a song around your name,” Louis muttered to himself.

“Sebastian could probably help with the composition,” Flounder offered.

“Yes!” Louis agreed. He dived into the water and said to the fish, “Let’s go see him now.”

“Race you!” Flounder said and took off.

“That’s not fair!” Louis shouted as he waved his powerful tail.

“You’re bigger,” Flounder called back.

“And you’re quicker,” was Louis’ rejoinder, before the two were out of hearing distance.

                                                                           ****

“You got a sidekick?” Mushu asked Red.

“Yes,” Red answered. “We were looking for him.”

“Ain’t seen no new sidekick,” the dragon drawled and Cri-Kee chirped his assent.

“Dopey took him,” Red elaborated.

Both the dragon and the cricket face palmed themselves, and Mushu said, “He could be anywhere if Dopey took him. The lights are on, but no one’s at home, you know what I mean?”

“We’ll keep looking. We haven’t introduced Red to everyone,” Anna said as they moved off.

“I wish the big green yin hadn’t swum off before I asked him to consider the pipe again,” Merida muttered.

“The reason he doesn’t play those is because they sound like a cat being strangled,” Rapunzel gave her opinion.

“Three cats,” Anna added with a giggle.

Almost as if the girls talk of cats had summoned the creature they heard a deep growl behind them. Red turned and then jumped, she hid behind Anna and whispered, “Anna, there’s a tiger behind us.”

“Oh this is just Rajah,” Merida said, going to the enormous striped creature and scratching it fondly behind the ears, it let out a loud purring rumble of pleasure.

“Rajah is just a big old pussy cat,” Rapunzel agreed, stroking the tiger.

“He’s Princess Jasmine’s sidekick. He looks fearsome, but he really wouldn’t hurt anyone,” Anna told Red to calm her. ‘He’s even a vegetarian.”

Red had been worried about telling the girls that Lilbee was a wolf, but if they accepted a giant tiger like Rajah without any problems then they should love Lilbee, who was really only a puppy.

The girl’s head snapped to one side as a buzzing sounded by her head and she felt something whip past it.

“It’s Flit!” Rapunzel cried.

“Princess Pocahontas’ hummingbird,” Anna explained.

“An’ if th’ flutterby is around then that masked thievin’ rat can’t be far behind,” Merida deduced.

“The raccoon you mentioned earlier?” Red guessed.

Anna nodded. “Meeko.”

A grey and black striped blur fell out of a nearby tree and landed on a startled Rajah’s back. The tiger growled and whirled quickly, but wasn’t fast enough for the raccoon, who bounced off the broad striped back and bounded away across the grass after the hummingbird.

“What were they up to?” Red asked.

“Who knows?” Merida answered, pointing a finger at the side of her head and making a twirling motion to indicate that she didn’t think Meeko and Flit thought about anything very carefully before doing it.

A tall, slender girl with long straight dark hair, wearing buckskins appeared at the edge of the forest that Flit and Meeko had exited. In one had she held a broken bow. “You can run, but you can’t hide!” she bellowed and in front of the startled girls she went running past them and after the raccoon and the hummingbird.

“Might be raccoon gumbo on th’ menu tonight,” Merida remarked mildly watching Pocahontas chase after her sidekicks, waving her broken bow over her head.

“I hope Lilbee didn’t have anything to do with that,” Red said rather worriedly, knowing how mischievous her wolf pup could be when left to his own devices.

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