(1 of 1. Originally posted May 5, 2023 for the prompt “Fan Fiction”)
Celia flitted between tables, radiating cheer. “Good morning, Maybell, you look younger every time I see you. Hi Marvin, good to see you again. You’ll have to tell me about your travels later. Hello, Stanley, how’s your Self Steam today?”
“Been pretty low, lately.” The young man at the corner table slumped over his hot chocolate. “Barely enough to dampen my socks.”
Celia put a hand on his arm. “I’m glad you stopped in, anyway. Seeing you always makes my day better.”
Stanley blushed. A puff of vapor escaped his ears. “Thanks, Celia. Good to see you, too.”
The couple at the next table never acknowledged her presence. Even when she set their chocolate shake down and it made the whole table vibrate, they just kept staring into each other’s eyes.
Celia didn’t mind. She’d long since gotten used to couples ignoring her to ogle each other, and most everyone else ignoring her to stare into the mirrors that lined the patisserie. People didn’t come to this tiny village on the border of Ogre-Fen-Ogre for the natural chocolate fountain, rare as it might be. They came for the influence of Celia’s Talent, which made everyone in her visual radius more physically attractive. Her natural charm made everyone she spoke to feel more attractive. She loved nothing more than to make other people smile. She hated nothing more than to see other people upset.
Which is why, when the screaming started, Celia ran toward it rather than away.
A terrifying roar cut through the screams. “New spouse, crush house!”
That sound made Celia pause. The only thing worse than an ogre is two ogres. The only thing worse than two ogres is a newlywed ogre couple, looking to celebrate their nuptials by destroying property. Two things stopped her from joining the masses in hasty exodus. She couldn’t abandon the patisserie her mother had built. But even more, she could never abandon the opportunity to take something ugly and make it better.
The ogre couple stomped into view, shattering trees with every step, and withering the vegetation with their breath. His face looked like a boil on a zombie’s posterior, and hers looked like a bowl of mush made from the zombie’s brains. At least, they had looked that way a moment before they stepped into Celia’s view. Now they both looked more like the face of a cheap rag doll that has been playing in mud puddles and left outside for a week. Still ugly, but in an almost cute kind of way. Celia’s Talent had its limits.
The male ogre looked at his new bride. “You face, disgrace!”
“Who you?” She snarled back.
Celia held up the hand mirror she always carried with her. Each of the ogres looked into it and screamed in horror at their own beautified faces before fleeing back home. To this day, the ogre clans still keep their children in line by threatening to send them to the woman who can make an ogre cute.