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Bowsette Syndrome

Chapter Text

The moment Princess Peach woke up, she recognized that her envoy mission had gone very, very poorly.

Part of that realization came from the familiar feeling of chains upon her ankle, the freezing stone of a castle floor, the markings of becoming a prisoner once more. She didn’t think that it would happen again. At this point, it was frustrating, how little agency she felt every time she got into situations like this. Adopting her usual routine, she sighed, crossed her arms, and waited for her captors to return and monologue at her.

 

Time and time again, Bowser and his Koopa Troop had conspired to capture her in a desperate bid to take over the Mushroom Kingdom. Time and time again, they were thwarted by the brave efforts of the Mario Bros. The two brave plumbers had done more than their fair share of rescuing over the course of Princess Peach’s reign. Princess Peach had even considered hiring them for good, believing that the attacks would never end, and that a permanent security detachment was needed wherever she went.

But for a moment, it seemed like the antagonisms were finally at an end. News of the mysterious disappearance of Bowser had begun trickling in through the land. These reports were corroborated by various Toad squads who had been running reconnaissance in enemy territory. It was clear, then. Something had gone awry within Bowser’s Kingdom, something that had led to their eponymous leader vanishing from the face of the Earth.

Peach and her advisors had considered a number of possibilities. Perhaps his progeny had decided his reign had lasted a little too long? Maybe a coup had formed within his inner rank. Or maybe he had grown tired of his own villainous actions. Who was to say?

After a short period of unknowns, the leader of the Goomba detachment of the Koopa Troop, Captain Goomba, had sent a letter proclaiming that their service with Bowser had been terminated due to his disappearance, and that they wished to negotiate an end to hostilities with the Mushroom Kingdom. Such overtures were rare and hard to come by after decades of effective war, and with no indication that these invitations had been made in bad faith, Princess Peach decided to acknowledge their messages by making a trip to the Goomba Village, a neutral ground for them to further discuss the situation.

It was at this village, then, that Peach had been likely captured, although her awful hysteria prevented her from remembering much of the event. She recalled airships, explosions, and spellcasters (the usual fare) but surprisingly, no arrival of Bowser himself, who would usually show his face immediately in the first assault.

Peach always wondered why he did that; perhaps it was some form of intimidation method, or a way to make clear what his demands were from the bat. It really was uncharacteristic of him to launch a raid without him, his child, or one of his lieutenants around, and the lack of his appearance actually unnerved her for a second. Was her kidnapping part of his machinations, or someone else’s? She wasn’t sure which one was worse, the possibility that someone even meaner than Bowser had appeared, or that Bowser himself had begun strategizing more cunningly.

 

There wasn’t time to think more about it, though. A metal door swung wide open, and the stomping of Koopa feet echoed into the chamber. Peach felt almost a sense of relief. Maybe Bowser was going to show his face finally.

The lighting of the prison wasn’t very effective, but Peach could make out the usual Koopa team that surrounded a massive figure in the middle, someone who could only be The Koopa King himself.

So he hadn’t vanished, after all.

Bowser appeared to be shrouded in a veil, his closest advisors beside him, whispering in his ear. Maybe it’s a new costume idea he’s trying, Peach reasoned.

“...mhm… ok… fine...” for some reason, Bowser’s voice sounded strained, almost like he was sick. The Princess furrowed her brow. Perhaps he was just taking time to recover from an illness? She couldn’t remember a time where Bowser had ever gotten sick before… it just wasn’t like him.

Bowser growled one final order. “Leave me alone with her. For now…”

The troops obeyed his command, leaving the prison and shutting the metal door behind them as they left. As the echoing of feet trailed away, Peach’s eyes started adjusting a little more.

“Bowser…” she uttered. “So the rumors were false. You weren’t gone, after all.”

“Don’t be foolish, Princess. You know I’m stronger than that,” Bowser retorted, and Peach could tell his voice had drastically changed to be much higher in pitch, although his characteristic gravelly tone was still present. What kind of disease could cause this? “I brought you here for a reason.”

Peach’s curiosity was now elevated much higher than usual. “Why? Other than your usual reason to capture and rule my kingdom?”

She heard the turtle king sigh, and his intimidating speech dissipated for a second. “I… I hate saying this, but… I… I need your help.”

With that, he dropped the cloak covering his body, and Princess Peach gasped.

 

This wasn’t Bowser.

This was some human dressing to look like Bowser.

And more than that, a human woman.

Despite standing at about the same height, this doppelganger looked hardly the same, draped in a long, dark ball gown, sporting human-like arms and legs, fingers tipped with claws. Her musculature looked quite hefty for a human, but nothing like the Turtle King, even if this woman adorned the same spiked bracers on her wrists and biceps. The only physiological similarities included a long, thick tail, two horns which protruded from her skull, and a sharp, turtle shell that looked more like a backpack than a protective evolution.

The pieces fell into place in Peach’s mind immediately.

This woman was some twisted human trying to take over Bowser’s throne!

“What did you do with Bowser?” she cried out. “Where is he?”

“That’s not funny, Princess!” the woman snarled in a low alto tone.

Peach’s hysteria kicked in again, words spilling from her mouth before she could control them. “Is he dead? Did you kidnap him? Why are you doing this? What are you going to do with me? Where am I? How did-”

“SHUT UP!” With a bellow, the woman silenced Peach with a massive breath of fire which swirled above their heads. Terrified, Peach screamed, scrambling back with her hands and feet until the chain connected to her ankle snapped taut, preventing her from moving further. With a wail, she pulled at the chain, trying to break loose. She was about to be roasted alive by this strange woman, and there were no plumbers around to save her this time.

“...I said, stop! Stop, please! This isn’t helping anyone!”

Peach stopped.

None of her captors had ever said the word “please” before.

Not that the command itself wasn’t any less aggressive, but… just the barest hint of kindness was strange enough to calm Peach, just a little.

“I’m not going to hurt you, Princess. Just… please listen to me… this is going to be hard to explain…” the woman groaned. Her words convinced Peach that struggling against the chain was mostly useless anyhow. She closed her eyes, took a couple deep breaths, and finally opened her eyes again.

The fire the woman breathed had lit up several lamps around the room that she hadn’t noticed before. With this elevated light source, Peach could see that the woman possessed a similar dark yellow-orange skin to Bowser’s. The gown gained definition in the fiery glow, a mix-mash of greys that flattered the woman’s large frame, embellished with a single round ruby which sat right above her bust. She could study the woman’s face with much more clarity, noting fang-like teeth exposed from her gnarled lips, a short and cute nose, and beautiful crimson eyes accompanied with thick eyelashes and eyebrows. Fiery hair, slightly brighter than Bowser’s original color, extended from her scalp down to her koopa shell, in a messy cut that strangely resembled that of Peach herself. Most interestingly, a mushroom crown sat atop her head, looking rather out of place with the rest of her ensemble.

The whole arrangement was rather aesthetically pleasing to Peach; she was always fond of darker palettes, but they never suited her personally. The woman was remarkably attractive, too, which certainly helped. Every part of this muscular Koopa-wannabe looked quite organic and well put together, almost as though she had been born a hybrid…

...wait a second… Peach collected her thoughts. She just breathed fire. Which meant that either she was a powerful mage, or...

A spark entered Princess Peach’s head.

“B-bowser?” she blurted. “Is that r-really you?”

“You finally figured it out, Princess...” the woman bit her lip, studying her fingers idly. “As you can see, I’m in a bit of a predicament right now.”

She stepped forth until she towered over Peach, and for a second the princess wondered if this new Bowser was still releasing heat from his body, because her chest suddenly felt very, very warm.

“My men stumbled upon a strange crown with unusual magical properties,” Bowser explained. “When I put the crown on my head, I believed it would grant me more powerful magic. Instead, it’s…” she sighed. “Transformed me into this.”

“You put a random crown on your head not knowing what it would do?” Peach asked, confused.

Bowser sighed. “I’m not the smartest turtle around, Princess. You know what I’ve tried to do for power.” With that, she began to pace about the cell.

“I’ve kidnapped you, multiple times over. I’ve captured power stars, created worlds in portraits, harnessed black holes. I’ve done so much, and all of it’s been in vain. Every single time! So I got a little desperate.”

The feminine koopa slumped against a stone wall, paces away from Peach, hanging her head in shame. “And look where it got me. I look… hideous…”

Peach considered telling Bowser, that no, she… he… she didn’t look hideous at all. But it felt strange offering compliments to her arch nemesis, so instead, she moved on to her next train of thought.

“I don’t understand,” Peach surmised. “Can’t you just take the crown off and turn back?”

“Even when I take it off, the curse won’t lift…” Bowser waved dismissively.

She then gave a sheepish look. “It… it makes me feel better about myself when I wear it. Don’t question it.”

Peach nodded slowly. “I… I kind of get that part….”

The two sat in silence for a moment. Bowser sighed again.

“Only a few trusted members of my troop know the truth of what happened to me…” she explained. “I can’t find a cure, so… I could only think of the next best thing…”

“What’s that?” Peach asked.

Bowser stared at Peach with bright fiery eyes.

“…I need someone to teach me how to be a Princess.”

-----

“Teach you? How to be a princess?” Peach scratched her head. “Why me?”

“You’re the only princess I know,” Bowser rolled her eyes. “I don’t know, this really isn’t my forte. I’ve never been a woman before, let alone human. I’ve always led my troops with brute force and fear, but…” she motioned to her body. “I can’t scare my troops with this!

Peach chewed on her lip. This was a fascinating situation to be sure. For once, it seemed like Bowser actually needed her help, and wasn’t just kidnapping her for the usual reasons. She wasn’t used to having this kind of leverage in these situations before, and it could be an entertaining request to take.

Then again, capitulating to Bowser’s demands meant strengthening his… her cause, which would only bring trouble down the line. Peach could be ditzy, but she wasn’t an idiot.

“Even if you’re different on the outside,” she finally spoke. “How do I know you’re not just the same malicious monster on the inside?”

Bowser stood up from the wall, shrugging simply, her voice slipping into something devious for the first time since she got here. “You know, you’re right, Peach. At the end of the day, I am Bowser. I could keep you locked in here forever. Without anyone in the kingdom knowing where either of us are, I doubt Mario or his green friend could find you. We could just rot here until both our Kingdoms collapse.”

Bowser circled Peach as she spoke, finally grasping her chin with a clawed finger as she husked. “Is that what you want, hmm?”

Peach shivered at the touch. “N-no…”

Bowser chuckled as she pulled away, a cute sound that emanated from her throat. “I didn’t think so, Princess.”

Princess Peach recovered from the interaction, pushing herself up onto her knees. If she was going to be stuck here, she might as well use what power she had.

“Very well,” Peach finally spoke, fluffing her dress and dusting it off. “I can do my best to teach you, but before we get started… we’re going to want to do something about your name.”

Bowser looked puzzled. “Why? What’s wrong with Bowser?”

“I don’t think your followers will respond to ‘King of the Koopas’ if you’re toting around a dress like that,” the Princess giggled.

“Fair enough,” Bowser huffed. “What would you call me?”

Princess Peach ran through several names in her head, but only one truly rolled off the tongue properly.

“How about…” she suggested, “Queen Bowsette?”

The turtle-woman scratched her own cheek, contemplating the name.

“Passable,” she finally grinned. “I’ll take it. From now on, I am Queen Bowsette, ruler of the Koopa Kingdom!”

The newly christened Queen of the Koopas turned back to Peach with a smirk, pulling the Princess up to her feet with a rough handshake. Peach gasped as she felt Bowsette’s strength surge through her. Turning into a woman certainly hadn’t changed her physical prowess.

“We’re going to have some fun, you and me,” Bowsette murmured, looking dead into Peach’s eyes.

The Princess felt her breath hitch.

Before she could process what had happened, the Queen Koopa let out a fierce cackle, exiting the cell and letting the door slam shut behind her.

Peach struggled to follow the villain, but her chained ankle locked her firmly to the cell. There was no escape for now.

She sighed. Maybe things weren’t so different after all.

Chapter Text

Princess Peach found Queen Bowsette’s cell to be rather inadequate for proper princess training.

For the first few days, Peach tried “princessing lessons” from the stony cold interior of her small prison, but that felt ineffective. The space did not lend itself well to teaching physicality, dances, voice lessons, or even proper eating, and it was clear from the outset that she would be struggling to get anything through to the Queen Koopa’s presumably thick skull.

Bowsette had a nasty temper, even in her feminine state, and her anger at messing up or failing a particular gesture or behavior often led to her punching the walls or shooting flames until stones began turning molten. Peach was starting to understand why all Koopa castles were made out of hard, inflammable material.

“This is all… infuriating!” Bowsette shrieked, after trying and failing again to properly curtsy in her ballgown. “I can’t do it no matter how hard I try!”

“No no no,” Peach tried assuaging her. “Please don’t worry. You’re getting the hang of it. You just have to-”

“Break my legs? Is that the solution?” the Koopa lady snarled. “I would tear this dress into ribbons if I didn’t know it was the only one I had!”

Peach hovered her hands in front of the Queen. “Bowsette… just listen to me. Even if you look the part, you can’t just become a princess in a few days. Princessing is hard.”

“Princessing shouldn’t be HARD!” she howled, stamping her heels into the ground. “All you women do is sit on pretty cushions and order your servants around!”

“But,” Peach appended, “it’s how you sit and how you order your people around that’s the important part. No one’s going to listen to you if you scare them the way you do.”

Bowsette simply simmered and attempted another curtsy, slipping and falling onto her shelled back, with an audible *SHINK* as spikes stabbed into the ground.

It was clear that she wasn’t really getting through to the Koopa Queen. She needed to try a different strategy.

“Hmm…” Peach hummed. “How about this? Why don’t you just watch what I do with my legs, and you do your best to imitate me?”

Bowsette sighed. “Sure, I guess…” She slumped to the floor, legs spread wide, in a rather unladylike manner. She’s like a child that doesn’t know her own body… Peach thought. Maybe I should approach teaching in that way. Peach hiked her skirt up so that her knees were exposed.

“The secret is keeping one leg behind the other, and bending the knees while keeping the back straight,” Peach lectured, while doing the action. “You see? The whole purpose is to show respect to both your subjects and your superiors.”

“But…” The koopa interrupted, from her floor position, “I am superior. I am the ultimate Koopa! It should be the others who curtsy before me!”

Peach frowned. “So there’s no one that you’ve ever needed to show any respect for?”

“Never,” Bowsette rumbled confidently, as she stood up. “My subordinates have always known to follow my command. I don’t need to show each and every one of them any kind of special treatment! They’re not Toads!”

The koopa’s words rubbed Peach the wrong way. “What’s wrong with Toads?”

“Oh, nothing,” the Queen laughed as she spoke, “except for the fact they’re entirely useless in battle! If I recall correctly, every time I show up to your front door to kidnap you, your precious bodyguards scatter like flies in the wind!”

Peach, while not known for temper, erupted in frustration over Bowsette’s implications. “My people live peaceful and fulfilled lives. They spend most of their days content, until someone like you comes along to ruin all of their hard work! Can you say the same of your subjects?”

Bowsette sniffed. “Don’t be absurd. Koopas delight in combat. We’re always trying to prove who has the toughest shell. That’s where we get our satisfaction.”

The feminine koopa jabbed a proud thumb towards herself. “And I’ve always been the toughest! It’s why I’ve always been on top!”

“Well, how tough is your shell now?” Peach said in a borderline mocking manner, pointing at Bowsette’s almost vestigial piece. “I don’t even think it fits you anymore.”

“Silence! I’ve clearly just… outgrown it!” The queen barked, straining her gravelly voice. “It’s not the point! I can still fight! I can still prove my strength!”

“I’m sure you can,” Princess Peach facepalmed, “but you asked me to teach you how to be a princess, right? Princesses don’t start fights.”

Now it was Bowsette’s turn to look shocked. “What?! Are you serious?”

“That’s not our jobs,” Peach confirmed. “We are in charge of taking care of our people, not initiating combat on behalf of them.”

“You’re telling me you’ve never thrown the first punch before.” Bowsette stepped backwards, mouth wide open, aghast.

Peach thought for a second, then shook her head. “Never on purpose. I may have slapped someone once or twice, but only in extreme circumstances.”

Bowsette looked at her claws, then back at Peach. “You slap someone when you’re angry at them?”

“Not if I can help it,” Peach warned. “Being a princess is about having self-restraint.”

The villain cocked her head. “Self-restraint, huh. That sounds like a strategic choice or something.”

Peach contemplated the word choice. “In a way, yes. After all, if you command enough respect, why would you need to punch people when you could have your subjects do that for you?”

Bowsette smirked. “...I’m starting to understand.”

The Princess sighed in mild content. Maybe some of her teachings were getting through.

“Still, it’s pathetic that you can’t defend yourself,” the queen dismissed.

...or, maybe not.

Just as Peach was about to protest, the turtle lady added, “I guess I’ll have to teach you sometime.”

With that, Bowsette exited the cell, leaving Peach more confused than before.

-----

The Koopa Queen strolled the halls of her secret cavern castle, trying her best not to trip on her dress as she reflected on Princess Peach’s words.

So there’s no one that you’ve ever needed to show any respect for?

Truthfully speaking, there were more than a few people that she had respected over the years. Despite leading with a ruthless and callous demeanor, some of her troops had indeed performed above and beyond in times past. The difference was that she had never had to give them any concessions for their efforts. It was just part of their jobs.

And she respected her closest minions, her Koopalings, who always went out of their way to make their master’s life easier and happier. It wasn’t always smooth flying, and they had all made mistakes at one point or another, but they never had to question the way they operated together, and in conjunction with the Koopa King himself.

She most definitely respected her son, Bowser Jr.  who had made her father- well, mother, proud when he almost successfully captured Princess Peach for them at Isle Delfino. That vacation experience was a bonding moment for the pair, and if there was anyone in the world that Bowsette could say that she loved, it was Bowser Jr.

However, even in her transformed state, Bowsette couldn’t imagine bowing to any of these people. In any case, none of them were made aware that Bowser had transformed. It was too much of a risk. One of them would have blabbed to the others, and then the whole world would know about Bowsette’s embarrassing secret. If there was one surefire way for her own kingdom to fall apart, it would be the news that Bowser had become some weak, human-like woman, incapable of leading an army.

The only person Bowsette could possibly curtsy for would be Kamek, the elder Magikoopa who had raised her since birth. But the mage had already entirely disapproved of Bowsette’s actions, or more specifically, of Bowser’s decision to put on the crown before anyone could fully understand its applications.

“You shouldn’t have done that! Now you’ll just have to stay put while we find a way to transform you back,” Kamek had advised. “This curse is unbelievably strong…”

Bowsette had responded rather impatiently in the moment. “Kamek, I can’t wait for months on end while the Kingdom shatters with no ruler to unify them! I must do something!”

“It’s too risky!” Kamek hissed in reply. “You could jeopardize everything by showing your form!”

Upon Bowsette’s transformation, Kamek teleported them both to this subterranean lair, dedicated to finding a cure to the curse. Even now, he and his team were working nonstop to figure out a proper antidote to reverse the magic that had turned Bowser into the turtle-woman hybrid form she now inhabited.

Yeah, right, Bowsette scoffed at her own thought. As if he’d appreciate me bowing for him.

It didn’t help that, truthfully, Bowsette did not mind the transformation as much as she had initially thought. There was a shock, yes, to feel her strength wane and her shell recede, becoming replaced with feminine hips, breasts, lips and hair… even getting used to walking again was a challenge in and of itself, since her weight distribution had been drastically altered. But at the same time, there was a whole world, a whole form of existence that she had never experienced before. She had been a skeleton, a giant, even a boulder, but never partly human. She had never worn clothing like this, had skin so soft and sensitive to the environment, felt so in tune with her emotions as they flowed through her mind… This was all new, and she figured, as long as the form still existed, she had a wonderful opportunity to experience something different. And she was going to take advantage of this form as much as could.

It was fortunate enough that she had an adequate teacher to assist her in this regard. Peach, her ever present goal, mission, and conquest, in only a few days had become more to her than simple eye candy and power. She was functional, a guide to understanding Bowsette’s new self better than she could. Perhaps that’s what suddenly made her infinitely more valuable in the Koopa Queen’s eyes, indeed, someone worthy of…

Bowsette growled and shook her head. Don’t be ridiculous, she told herself.

It’s just Princess Peach… right?

She continued pacing, considering the prospect further.

-----

Peach waited patiently for Bowsette to return. The only company she had in the meantime were Goombas shuffling food trays to her. The drab prison food wasn’t much, but at the very least it could sustain her between lessons. She wondered if she would be able to request anything higher-class, but she reminded herself that Bowsette was still a megalomaniac, just a more beautiful and seductive looking one…

She shook her head. Strange, alien thoughts about the newly transformed Koopa kept entering her head, and she felt the need to push them away. Yes, objectively, Bowsette was gorgeous. It simply was a matter of fact. There was a rugged charm to the Koopa Queen’s appearance. She already acknowledged this. So why was that becoming such a persistent theme in her mind?

It wasn’t that she necessarily admired the Koopa; just a few hours ago she had just been acting little more than a child, throwing furious tantrums whenever she messed something up. But then again, maybe there was something there. Especially in the moment where she offered to train Peach in combat…

It wasn’t as though Peach had never had to defend herself before, but Bowsette certainly outclassed her in combat experience. The princess’s moral nature would force her to naturally refuse such training, but the offer still intrigued her. The Bowser before would have never even considered giving Peach such an upper hand. In all fairness, Bowser hadn’t ever asked for Peach’s help in the past, and there was a chance that behind all of the hostilities, the Koopa was honor bound in some way to reciprocate. Or perhaps transforming into Bowsette had thawed her cold heart up a little...

Once again, the squeaky swinging of the metal door ended her contemplations, and she stood to face her captor.

Bowsette simply stood before her this time. Before the Princess could ask what was going on, the villain uncurled her fingers to reveal a shiny golden key tucked away in her hands. In a swift motion, she curtsied, depositing the key on the floor within the Princess’s reach.

Peach blinked.

The Koopa Queen had picked that motion up quicker than she had expected.

“Take it.”

Peach, astonished, barely stuttered out a response. “Y-you’re… letting me go?”

“Oh, don’t be ridiculous,” Bowsette flashed her sharp teeth in a grin. “My guards will stop you if you try to escape the castle. But you’re free to roam.”

“Free to... roam?” Peach questioned, raising an eyebrow.

Bowsette waved her arm. “You heard me correctly.” She then leaned against the wall, rubbing her chin with a claw.

“I’ve been thinking. You’re having trouble teaching me things in this cramped space, aren’t you? It simply isn’t fit for any kind of royalty. So… if I give you free reign of the space, it’ll be easier for you to educate me.”

Her voice suddenly softened dramatically. “So long as you don’t try to run away, ok?”

Peach blinked again.

That almost sounded like a plea… like the Koopa wanted her to stick around. Like, not just as a prisoner, but as another person.

That was new.

The princess tried her best to conceal her thoughts with a bright smile. “Oh, don’t worry about that! I still have a lot to teach you before I could even consider leaving, Bowsette.”

A look of relief spread through the Queen’s eyes, and steam escaped from her mouth as she exhaled. “Ok, great, because…” She cleared her throat, fist to her mouth.

“I’m… uh… not letting you out anytime soon, Princess.”

The line didn’t have the intended effect, and Peach found the attempt at intimidation quite humorous, breaking into giggles in response. She could see the golden skin on Bowsette’s face redden slightly.

“That wasn’t supposed to be funny…” the Queen grumbled. “I mean it.”

“Oooh… ok…” Peach said playfully. Plucking the key into her hands, she slid it into the slot below her. Twisting, the chain connected to her ankle finally released, allowing her to stretch her whole body out once again.

Just as she pushed herself onto her feet, Bowsette reached an arm out, putting a firm hand on Peach’s shoulder. Feeling the raw power behind the gesture, she unconsciously shivered. She instinctively glanced up at the queen, noting that her intense face towered a good foot or two above the Princess, and chills ran through her skin as she realized how diminutive she felt in comparison to the Koopa before her.

“If don’t mind, I’d like to show you around the castle,” Bowsette growled, drawing her maw close, before appending, “Princess...”

The heat behind Koopa’s gravelly voice tingled Peach’s spine, and she felt her heart skip a beat.

What the…

Bowsette’s hand slid down to grasp Peach’s, and suddenly the Princess was swept alongside the Koopa Queen as she marched down the long, tall hallway connecting the cell to the rest of the castle. Each step she took was wide and quick, forcing Peach to almost jog to keep up. Clearly the turtle-lady had adjusted to her new physiology, moving faster than in her original form, bright red hair practically flowing behind her as she bounded.

“S-slow down!” Peach pleaded, and Bowsette did so, shooting a miffed look back.

“You’re too slow,” she gruffed with a frown.

The Princess panted. “I have short legs! I can’t keep up with you.”

“Well,” The villain hummed, “in that case… get onto my shell.”

A blush overtook Peach’s face as she considered it. “Y-you sure?”

“Absolutely,” Bowsette scoffed. “I do it with my son all the time.”

Peach delicately reached out for two random spikes.

The Koopa rolled her shoulders back in preparation. “You’ll have to adjust… my shell clearly isn’t the same.”

While the Princess expected to take longer to find a comfortable position on a back full of spines, she eventually found a comfortable arrangement holding onto Bowsette’s horns, using two lower spikes as footrests. “R-ready…” she squeaked, a little embarrassed by the position she was taking.

Without another word, Bowsette charged down the hallway, forcing an airy gasp out of the Princess. After being stuck in a cell for so long, the wind felt exhilarating. Fiery hair whipped into Peach’s face, and she could catch a very strong scent of ash and sweet roses from Bowsette’s scalp. She found herself enjoying the combination.

“Hopefully this won’t take too long,” Bowsette muttered as she ran. “It’s just a formality, after all.”

Secretly, Peach hoped it might last a little longer.

Chapter Text

Queen Bowsette was honestly surprised and a little insulted that Princess Peach expressed shock at how well stocked the castle was.

“I didn’t know your forts were so…”

“What?” Bowsette gruffed. “Busy? Well of course they are. How do you think we maintain our garrisons?”

Peach sighed. “You should understand; from my perspective, all I’ve seen are your dungeons and crawl spaces; none of the richer parts of your castles.”

“...ah.” The villain bit her lip. That made a lot of sense, actually.

Spending time running through the halls with the Princess had been amusing, to say the least. She had managed to hang on tight as they traveled from the prison system back up to the living quarters. It shouldn’t have felt so exciting, but Bowsette hadn’t carried anyone in a long time. Almost three weeks had gone by since Bowser’s disappearance, she was honestly beginning to miss her son. Perhaps she was using Peach as a surrogate for her growing affections. It was as if, the weeks following her transformation, she wanted more and more to show tender care for something, anything. It didn’t help that there was a nagging feeling pulling at her heart whenever she stared down at the monarch of the Mushroom Kingdom. She wanted to strangle Peach, but like, in a good way.

She shook her head as she considered her thoughts. Did that even make any sense? Perhaps her altered form was giving her new urges. Or maybe they were impulses she had always felt, but never were in tune with before. Either way, Bowsette wasn’t about to sit around trying to understand those feelings. That wasn’t her style.

At this point, the Queen of the Koopas had exhausted herself running through the fortress, so after helping the Princess disengage from her back, she decided to lead her prisoner slowly around the more recreational areas of the structure. “As you can see, we’ve got hot tubs, pantries, libraries, training rooms, gaming areas…” she gestured to each room as they passed. “You know, the usual.”

“How did you get all of this?” Peach asked, in awe of the enormous spaces within each room.

“You know, you’d be surprised how much gold you can find lying around if you just search hard enough,” Bowsette shrugged. “We use the money to finance building operations, and trade with other kingdoms. Doesn’t the Mushroom Kingdom do the same?”

“We usually don’t gather up the gold; it just seems so redundant,” Peach explained. “We’ve only needed to really maintain a single castle; toads are rather content with their lives as is. It just seems so extravagant to build so much in each fortress.”

“We have many people in our kingdom,” Bowsette pointed out, “with many different tastes. We do our best to appease them all.”

“Huh.” Peach seemed to be deep in thought. “And here I thought you were just a warlord.”

Bowsette chuckled again. “I am! Well, I was. Either way, I’m not the one in charge of the amenities. That responsibility falls to Kamek and other subordinates. I don’t use them frequently anyway.”

“That’s a shame…” Peach let out another pensive sigh. “You really should.”

The Feminine Koopa stared down at her guest with a confused look. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of. I’m perfectly happy existing without them.”

“It’s just that you’re missing out on a lot, is all.” Peach absently wandered into the library, and as the Queen wondered if she should follow the Princess, Lakitu swooped in from above, riding on his signature cloud.

“Sir! You’re needed in the laboratories! Kamek wants to talk!” the koopa announced.

Bowsette obliged. She wondered how long she would be kept. She hoped it wouldn’t be long; she still had to show Peach the rest of the fortress.

-----

Kamek hovered high above, in the middle of checking valves and casting minor incants when Bowsette entered. Stepping into the laboratory, she could smell the familiar scent of putrid gas and smoke consistent with the kind of science the Magikoopa always cooked up. The lab was built in one of the towers of the fortress, allowing the mage to fly about unhindered while he was involved in his work. And clearly, he was hard at work. Bowsette couldn’t even see the ceiling over all of the contraptions that Kamek had kept floating in mid air.

The Magikoopa muttered as he continued conducting his business, not even glancing down at his boss as he spoke. “Tsk tsk tsk, young master Bowser. I know what you’re trying to do with Peach, and it is simply useless. Useless!”

“What do you know of our conversations?” Bowsette spoke, a little annoyed that the Koopa had learned of her alternate plan so quickly.

“Don’t be absurd.” Kamek sniffed another vial. “Do you think I wouldn’t have thought of the idea to train you as a Princess the moment you got yourself into this mess?”

His train of thought pulled him away briefly, as it was wont to do. “Ah, this one should work...”

Bowsette crossed her muscular arms. “Do you have something against my idea, Kamek?”

The Magikoopa swooped down, handing Bowsette an experimental drink. “Try this.”

“You didn’t answer my question,” Bowsette said pointedly, holding onto the flask with a clawed fist.

Kamek sighed, flying his broomstick until he reached eye level with the Queen. “Listen, Bowser. I’ve raised you since you were born. If I thought you could become a Princess, I would have taught you myself! But I know you. You’re not womanly. You’re not supposed to be a human. You’re not meant to be some eye-catching ambassador to be kidnapped by your political opponents! What you are is the King of the Koopas! And that’s what the Kingdom needs!”

Each statement stung Bowsette slightly, but she knew there was some element of truth in Kamek’s words.

Still, she couldn’t help but push back, pacing about the laboratory in frustration. “Kamek, it’s been three weeks. The kingdom, my legacy is surely falling apart. I must be out there faster than the cure can provide!”

“I know how you feel,” Kamek soared above, grabbing a clipboard. “I’ve been your caretaker and right-hand man for many many years. But do not fret. The Koopalings are keeping things in check for now, and are holding off the Mario Bros as we speak-”

“Wait, what?” Bowsette growled, noting the new piece of information that had slipped Kamek’s mouth. “Mario’s on the move already?”

Kamek paused, cringing slightly. It seemed that he hadn’t intended to tell Bowsette anything about Mario’s exploits. He explained in a little more apologetic tone. “But of course! You know he’s quite the persistent type. Never one to give up, despite everything we throw at him.”

The idea of his nemesis fighting through the kingdom to find her infuriated the Koopa Queen.

“I must battle him!” Bowsette punched the wall of the tower, causing the foundation to shake briefly. Glass broke somewhere in the laboratory.

“No!” Kamek raised his voice. “You will stay here, Bowser. If you leave, your enemies will see you in this form. You’ll never be seen as threatening again! Is that what you want?”

Bowsette hesitated. She knew that Kamek was being rational and level-headed, but the only thing she wanted to do was smash something, anything. Part of her wanted to scream at Kamek that she didn’t care how people saw her, but she knew that wasn’t entirely true. She forced herself to calm down again, taking deeper breaths. Being a princess is about having self-restraint, Peach’s words echoed in her head.

The Magikoopa appeared to appreciate the silence, even if he was unaware of the cause.

“Hmph! I’m glad you understand! I won’t judge what you and Peach are doing together, but my primary goal is to transform you back. I won’t let you out of the castle until that happens. Understood?” Kamek snipped.

Bowsette breathed heavily out her nostrils. “Yes, Kamek…”

“Now try the potion, my master!” Kamek suggested gleefully. “It’s grape flavored!”

The Queen of the Koopas uncorked the drink, sniffing it to confirm its taste, and then swallowed it down. For a second, it felt like nothing was going to happen. Then…

*BURP!* A violent jet of green flames shot out from her mouth. Bowsette gasped, and covered her mouth with her hands, but the blaze simply built up in her cheeks until she let loose again, searing the walls and experiments with emerald fire. It felt like uncontrollable vomiting, turning a good quarter of the laboratory into a raging inferno before she could stop. Finally, Bowsette hacked her throat, ashes escaping from her mouth.

“Hmm. Unexpected…” The Magikoopa stroked his chin, scratching notes on his clipboard. “But look! Your shell looks shinier, just like it used to when you were a child!”

Bowsette turned to observe her shell. She didn’t notice any change. She couldn’t tell if she was disappointed or not to find out that the drink had failed.

“Now let me return to my studies, King Bowser…” Kamek muttered. “Clearly the mixture requires more work… perhaps a higher dosage?... no… that simply wouldn’t…”

Bowsette almost wanted to curtsy at him out to spite, but decided against it, and simply walked out, wrestling with her emotions in private.

-----

Princess Peach gaped in awe at the enormity of the Grand Dining Hall. It really shouldn’t have come as a surprise, but the size of the eating venue dwarfed even those in Peach’s castle. And for a single secluded fortress as well… Bowser and his troops required lots of food, and the designers of the fortresses probably took account of their numbers when building these larger facilities. Behind all of the evil monologues and crazed ambitions of The Koopa King was a cunning and strategic individual after all.

Speaking of, where was that Bowsette? Peach had become so wrapped up in exploring the castle that she had neglected her tour guide.

“Heya Princess!” As if on cue, a small goggled Koopa swooped into the grand hall on a small cloud.

Peach recognized him as Lakitu, the sometimes friendly, always flighty Koopa aviator. “The boss says no more lessons for today! Do whatever you want, except jump out a window, cuz then I’ll have to catch you and bring you back!”

With that, the eccentric turtle departed. The Princess considered Bowsette’s order. No more lessons? But the last few days, teaching had taken up most of her time. Now suddenly the Koopa Queen was giving her leisure opportunities?

Well, I shouldn’t look a gift Yoshi in the mouth… she thought to herself, and wandered back down the hall, in search of that library that she had lost herself in just half an hour prior.

As she passed the training room, she could hear loud thuds erupting from inside. Curiosity got the better of her, and she entered to see who was making the racket.

 

The gym consisted of several different workout machines, various pieces of weight and aerobic equipment, and a simple sparring ring in the middle. Even though she couldn’t see The Queen immediately, she could hear the heaving in her lungs, and the *thump* of something large and dense getting clobbered.

“Bowsette?” Peach asked timidly. “Is that you?”

“RRRAAGHHH!!”

She heard a furious bashing sound, and a punching bag flew past her before slamming into the wall on the opposite end of the room with a loud crash. Turning in the direction of the bash, she finally spotted Bowsette, her back pressed up against a weight lift, clearly exhausted. She toyed limply with the mushroom crown in her hands as she puffed indiscriminately. Peach could tell that she was pissed off, and…upset? Her charcoal dress practically looked deflated, and her head hung in a way that part of her bright hair covered her face.

Bowsette turned her head up, noticing Peach.

“Did you see that rubbish?” she chuckled weakly between breaths.

Peach, confused, answered the best she could as she approached. “I saw you smash the punching bag right into the wall…”

Bowsette rasped wistfully. “When I was Bowser, I could launch the bag all the way into the sky with no problem...”

The Koopa patted a spot on the floor beside her with an open hand. The Princess took that as some kind of order to sit beside the Queen, and moved to do so, kneeling in the spot the Koopa had indicated. As she drew close, the distinct musk of ash and roses returned, likely exacerbated from the Koopa’s intense training.

After her panting had slowed, Bowsette opened her mouth to speak, but hesitated. Finally…

“...what do princesses do when they get angry?”

Peach was unsure how to answer in a way to satisfy the Koopa Queen.

The silence allowed Bowsette to elaborate. “I mean, so angry and mad that you can feel it all building up in your stomach and your lungs but you can’t let it out because you have to restrain yourself in front of someone?” She gesticulated as if to demonstrate.

Peach bit her tongue, and decided honesty was the best strategy for now.

“I tend to let my emotions out through less... dangerous outlets,” she slowly said. “I... I cry. A lot.”

“Of course you do,” Bowsette sniffed, forming a fist in her hand. “No surprises there.”

Peach simply ruffled her dress and looked down. “You know… crying isn’t a sign of weakness.”

“Maybe for you it isn’t,” the Koopa retorted, clenching her fist tighter. “I’m the Koopa Queen! Or King! Whatever. I refuse. I’ve never done it before, and I won’t do it now.”

Even as she spoke, Peach heard a tremble in the villain’s voice, and she glanced up, concerned.

“Is everything alright?” She asked.

Bowsette shrugged, but her face was betraying her. “Everything’s fine. It was a hypothetical question. I’m totally fine. I’m not a crier. I don’t cry… I won’t cry…”

The Koopa’s eyes were now clearly watering up, and Peach could see her throat bob.

The Princess leapt into action, rubbing her captor’s shoulder in as comforting of a manner as she could. “It’s ok, you don’t have to worry about being judged by me-”

“You don’t get it! None of you get it!” Bowsette furiously tossed the mushroom crown, and Peach heard the item skitter across the ground as it landed somewhere nearby.

The Koopa raised her gravelly volume into a roar to mask the pain in her voice, slamming her fist down to punctuate the ends of her sentences. “I’m supposed to be Bowser! I’m supposed to be strong! I have a reputation to uphold! I’m supposed to be the one thing the Mushroom Kingdom is most terrified of! So I’m not crying!”

Bowsette groaned, wincing as she repeated her mantra, even as the first tears leaked down her cheek. “I can’t cry! I won’t cry. I w-won’t cry. I won’t c-cr…”

Peach wrapped her arms around the Koopa lady. A choked gasp left the villain, and torrents of tears rained from her face as she sobbed into Peach’s shoulder. The powerful Koopa’s arms went limp as she leaned into the Princess’s touch, and even though Peach felt her shoulder getting quite wet, the tender warmth being shared between them counteracted most of the discomfort.

“Oh… oh no… No no no no no…” Bowsette uttered between sobs.

Peach couldn’t help but shed empathetic tears, and held on tighter. “Yes. Yes you are. And it’s ok. It’s ok... shhh...”

Bowsette didn’t sound like she believed her. Anger spiked in her voice even as she shed tears. “W-what is wrong with m-me…?? I can’t h-help myself…”

Peach sighed, rubbing slow circles against the Koopa’s shell. “You can’t control your emotions, Bowsette. All you can do is decide what to do with them.”

“I didn’t d-d-decide to st-start this…” the Koopa moaned, wiping her eyes against Peach’s dress. “I didn’t decide to become th-this!”

Peach’s eyes widened. Bowsette was having an identity crisis.

“How long have you been like this now?” Peach asked, releasing her hug.

Bowsette swallowed. “T-twenty days? I don’t know...”

Peach pondered for a moment, holding Bowsette’s hand to give her comfort. None of the curses or powerful spells she had ever encountered failed to dissipate at least a little bit over such a long time span. And it wasn’t just that; Bowsette didn’t seem affected by some generic power, but rather a unique form entirely tailored to her body. She was no expert in hexes, but this seemed more like a full on 1-to-1 transformation, not just a power up like the tanooki suit.

“I can’t be B-bowser anymore…” The Koopa Queen wept. “No m-matter how I try. All I am left is a s-scared… little g-girl…”

“You’re right,” Peach murmured, in awe of how self-reflective the villain had become; since when did the leader of the Koopa Troops get so honest with herself…? “You’re certainly not Bowser anymore.”

She tightened her grip on Bowsette’s hand. “But you don’t have to be like him if you don’t want. Right?”

“W-what do you mean?” Bowsette whimpered, clutching at Peach’s hand like a lifeline.

Peach offered a faint smile. “Nobody knows what happened to Bowser, and that’s bad for him. For all intents and purposes, he’s gone. But you? When I first saw you, I thought you were someone entirely different! We already have a name for you; we just have to work on making you, but new again. You might not be Bowser anymore, but you can be Bowsette.”

“D-do you really think…” Bowsette sniveled softly. “... think you would teach me to be new again?”

Peach nodded, beaming at her student. “Absolutely! Are you ok with that?”

The Koopa lady frowned. “...what if I can’t? What if I don’t have it in me to be a princess?”

Peach shook her head, wiping Bowsette’s tears away with the arm of her glove. “Nonsense. You’re already doing it. You’ve already gotten so much farther than I could have ever anticipated.”

The Queen did not look very convinced, so Princess Peach let go of her hand briefly. She retrieved the mushroom crown, and without much fanfare, brought the hat back onto the Koopa’s head, right between her pointed horns.

“My lady.” Princess Peach gracefully bowed before her student. “I’m ready when you are.”

Bowsette looked up at Peach from the ground, and Peach’s heart burned. There was suddenly so much affection coming from the Koopa Queen’s crimson eyes, as though she absolutely needed Peach in the moment. There was a quality of vulnerability that she had never seen from the villain before. The Princess must have done a good job comforting her.

“Th-thanks, Princess…” Bowsette giggled slightly, looking away as she adjusted the position of the crown.

Peach waved her hand. “Call me Peach. Between royalty, formalities are hardly necessary.”

“You’re special,” Bowsette sighed, sweeping her tail absently. “Princess suits you.”

Peach raised an eyebrow. Did she actually say that?

Bowsette looked like she wanted to eat her words, fingers to her mouth, red blush exposed in her yellow skin.

“Uh, I mean… n-not like th-that…” she stammered. “S-sorry… Princess… I mean P-Peach…”

Peach let out a sparkling laugh.

“Don’t worry, Bowsette,” she smirked. “I’m glad you think so. I’ve been princessing for most of my life. It had better suit me.”

Internally, the princess felt her feelings ignite. She wanted to protect the fledgling Queen. She wanted to keep her safe. But she also felt a warm stirring in her chest, something she had been dismissing for a bit now. She had become rather fond of the woman before her, rather quickly. Boswette was maturing, growing just as rapidly. And Peach saw inside Bowsette a loving soul, just waiting for the right moment to sprout.

She was starting to wonder if her feelings were guiding her more than they should, but hurriedly forced herself to think of Bowsette’s safety. She brought the Koopa into another tight hug, and she reciprocated, her tough muscles feeling quite safe around Peach’s back. Right now, what Bowsette needed most right now was to be okay again.

And Peach could certainly deliver in that regard.

Chapter Text

Every day, Peach taught a new lesson, and each day, Bowsette learned something new about herself.

Monday was courtroom etiquette, finding ways to navigate a verbal dispute within summons. As an example, Lakitu was asked to find some conflict that needed to be resolved within the castle grounds. As it turned out, the Goomba and Koopa detachments garrisoned there had been quarreling for some time, and their tensions had recently hit an all time high.

“We know where our loyalties lie,” the Goomba spokesperson, sporting a monocle, snarled. “And we cannot continue this charade!”

“Don’t be absurd,” the Koopa negotiator, a bearded Magikoopa, pushed. “You goombas are weakening yourselves politically with this maneuver.”

The Goomba scoffed. “You talk of weakening, but everyone can see the writing on the wall. Captain Goomba’s ploy to capture the Princess was successful, yes, but it also showed that the Mushroom Kingdom had been willing to let us return! With Bowser weakened as he is, we may as well leave while we can!”

The Magikoopa rolled his eyes. “Oh, please. As if Mario wouldn’t just flatten the whole lot of you the moment you show your faces. I should’ve expected such disloyalty from insolent weaklings like you.”

As they continued to bicker, a Hammer Bro knocked his gavel against a table, to little effect. “Order in the courtroom, gentlemen, order-”

“Enough!” Bowsette barked from the throne of the makeshift courtroom where she had been watching the proceedings, frightening both sides of the quarrel into submission. They had chosen to turn the Great Hall into a space to hash out the conflict, and the size of the room caused her shout to echo slightly.

“Goombas, you have served me loyally over the years. Do not forget the original reason why you seceded from the Mushroom Kingdom,” the Koopa Queen growled.

“Uh… why exactly did we do that?” A goomba sitting in the audience queried out loud.

Bowsette raised a fist into the air. “You were impressed by the might of the Koopa Troops! You saw an opportunity to make a name for yourselves, the lowliest of peasants, in military conflict!”

“You’ve sacrificed your puny wretched lives for so long-” Bowsette felt a hand on her shoulder. Peach, who was sitting beside her, shot a look . The Koopa Queen coughed, cleared her throat, and recalled her training.

“...Goombas… the Koopa Kingdom is… grateful,” she grunted, the word alien on her tongue, “for your continued loyalty. Have faith that I have not weakened. One curse is not enough to falter the might of the Koopa Kingdom. Once I return to power, the Kingdom will find that a stronger, better leader has taken charge.”

The Goomba spokesperson and the Koopa ambassador turned to each other, seeming quite astounded by how conciliatory Bowsette had just sounded.

The Queen turned to her mentor for a nervous glance. Peach gave her a thumbs up and a wink.

-----

On Tuesday, Bowsette learned about the importance of maintaining her appearance.

“Public appearances for things like sports events is not as big a deal, but when on official business, you have to at least comb once,” The Princess explained.

Bowsette gritted her teeth as Peach ran a white brush through her red hair, feeling spots of pain as the Princess yanked on knots.

“This is irritating,” The Koopa growled.

Peach sighed. “That’s because you don’t have any conditioner in your bathrooms. You have to figure out that one soon.”

Bowsette looked bewildered.

“What’s conditioner?” she asked.

Peach blinked. “You know, conditioner? The stuff you put in your hair after shampoo?”

The sentence served to baffle the Koopa Queen even more.

“What’s shampoo?” she asked.

Peach facepalmed.

-----

Wednesday’s lesson focused on magic and magical powers.

“I know you can breathe fire, but I’m curious to know if you’ve got any other tricks up your sleeve,” Peach mused, as they stood in the middle of the gym’s sparring ring. “Just because you shouldn’t start fights doesn’t mean you can’t protect yourself if the opportunity arises.”

Bowsette rubbed her chin. “Getting the jump on an opponent usually means they never strike first. I can do a lot of things with my fire, but it’s always been best to target my enemy directly with my attacks. What do you suggest?”

Peach walked to the middle of the sparring ring before turning around to address the Queen. “Flip your way of thinking. Instead of attacking, have you ever tried defense?”

The Koopa sniffed. “As if. My shell does all the protection for me.”

“Right,” Peach said flatly. “Your shell.”

Bowsette glanced back at her shrunken carapace, and blushed. “R-right… Good point.”

Peach hummed. “Perhaps you could try… making a shield out of flames?”

The Koopa Queen contemplated this challenge for a beat. Finally, she inhaled deeply. Releasing her breath in short bursts, she fired several bright blue fireballs out of her maw, the projectiles soaring into the air before settling into orbit around her.

“Does this count?” Bowsette asked.

The Princess studied the effect with a shrewd eye.

“Impressive,” she remarked.

-----

Thursday’s training was an expansion on the lessons learned on Monday. Bowsette finally was going to expose her new form in much greater depth to the troops garrisoned in her hidden fortress during a regular afternoon. All she had to do was stop by, maybe grab some food in the cafeteria, and make small talk. And yet, this lesson was proving to be the most daunting to the Koopa Queen.

“I don’t think… I don’t think I’m ready for this,” Bowsette muttered.

Peach gave her a reassuring smile, holding her hand. “Sure you are. Just remember what we talked about; composure, confidence, and commitment.”

Bowsette groaned. “Are you sure you want me to go in alone?”

Peach nodded. “You need to meet with your people on your own terms. If I came along, I might just distract them from you.”

Bowsette still looked quite apprehensive, so Peach squeezed her hand softly before letting go, adding, “I’ll be right here. Come right back and let me know how it goes, ok?”

Bowsette grunted and nodded, rolling her shoulders back. With a deep breath, she entered the Great Hall.

The room looked rather packed, since it was roughly lunch time. The garrison only held about a hundred troops, but it was enough to make an impression on the Koopa Queen. Various goombas, koopa troopas, and boos sat (or floated) around rectangular tables consuming their meals. Despite her usual bravado in front of her soldiers, Bowsette almost turned pale-faced at seeing so many of her men at once.

As her presence began to be noticed, the din of the Great Hall fell to a dull buzz. Fortunately for her, the garrison troops appeared relatively loyal, saluting (or in Goombas’ case, bowing) as she passed them by. She was rather appreciative that her old reputation still preceded her. Still, there were moments she thought she could hear small murmurs and whisperings amongst different troops on her way down, but she restrained herself from glancing back to check. It was starting to unnerve her when a familiar voice broke through the quiet.

“Bowser!” The Magikoopa negotiator from earlier, sitting with Lakitu and a few other Koopa, waved from a table in the corner of the room. Glad to have a specific direction to move towards, Bowsette strolled her way over, settling at the end of the table.

The Koopa Ambassador smiled. “It is excellent to see you out and about. We understand the need to take time to break the curse. Sadly, the last few weeks of your absence has clearly stirred a negative mood in our garrison of late, as you may have noticed. How is the recovery?”

Bowsette cleared her throat, trying to recall the lines she had rehearsed with Peach in her private bedroom.

“Despite my original, uh, plans... it seems as though this form has persisted,” she spoke.

“That sucks,” a Hammer Bro at the table remarked. “But you always have a plan, right, sir?”

Bowsette’s boastful reputation was helpful in this particular moment. She nodded quickly. “Of course I do. I’ve decided I will do what is necessary to keep the Kingdom together, even if it means I must adopt a new persona.”

“That’s awfully charitable of you, boss,” Lakitu noted. “We’re not looking for you to make any drastic choices, though. As long as it takes for you to get better.”

“I simply don’t want to keep my Kingdom waiting. People are counting on me to return,” Bowsette responded rather stoically. “So I must.”

The Hammer Bro looked rather satisfied, sitting back with a grin. “That’s the Bowser we know! We’ve been hoping you would say something like that. Some of us are hoping to be transferred out of here once you’re better!”

“Then I trust you will be ready for when that happens, hm?” Bowsette quipped. The Hammer Bro blushed in response, and Bowsette barely stopped herself from raising her eyebrows. Did she intend to tease him in that way? She must’ve taken some of Peach’s mannerisms and accidentally let them bleed into her speech.

She shook the thoughts away for now. “Oh, and you can call me Bowsette for now. I trust that you all can keep a secret if I must reappear in the world as such?”

The Ambassador nodded. “We will do our best… uh, Bowsette.”

The Koopa Queen smiled. Hearing her new name from someone other than Princess Peach unexpectedly warmed her heart.

-----

It was only once she had left the Great Hall that Bowsette gave a sigh of relief. Peach, noticing, came up and grasped the Queen’s hand.

“How’d it go?” the Princess asked. “It looked like you did a good job!”

Bowsette hastily wiped her brow, putting her back against one of the massive doors. “I did it. I’m shaking in my shell, but I did it.”

Peach squeezed the Queen’s hand, a now familiar gesture. “You’re going through a transitional process. Of course it’s going to be scary. Don’t worry, they’ll all get your name right eventually.”

“I don’t really mind that as much,” Bowsette clarified. “I’m a little more concerned that they still think Bowser will return. I hope they don’t see me as a weakling if I don’t change back.”

“They shouldn’t,” Peach pointed out. “You’ve proven how strong you are by how well you’ve been taking this in stride. If anything, you-”

“Bowsette!”

The two women turned in surprise. The Hammer Bro from earlier had followed them out into the hallway.

“I apologize for interrupting your conversation,” he stammered, but Bowsette waved her hand in a dismissive fashion.

“No worries, Mister…”

“DeWalt, sir!... Or, ma’am… whatever you prefer...” The soldier looked quite embarrassed, kicking his shoes a bit.

Bowsette grinned, flashing her teeth in amusement. “Ma’am is alright. What is it that you need?”

DeWalt fiddled with his helmet. “Oh, it’s not a big convenience, it’s just… it’s my brother, Decker, ma’am…”

Peach and the Koopa Queen exchanged a glance. “Is he alright?” Bowsette asked.

“I’m just worried about him,” the Hammer Bro explained. “He’s stationed outside in a different fortress and we haven’t been able to communicate since you were brought here by Kamek, since he had ordered the post office shut down for the time being. Decker’s a bit of a worrywart. I just want to send him a letter to let him know that I’m doing alright. I know you don’t want the secret about your transformation to get out, but I promise that I won’t mention you at all.”

Bowsette considered the request. She understood why Kamek had isolated the castle from the rest of the kingdom, but a month was a long time for some of her men. After all this time, it couldn’t hurt to grant the soldier just one request.

“Do you have his address?” The Koopa Queen asked.

DeWalt nodded. “I’ve got the letter ready to go. It’s just sitting in the barracks. You can authorize a single parcel to go through, right?”

Bowsette nodded. She hadn’t really interacted much with the post office before, but this soldier really seemed like he needed the help. “I’ll see what I can do, DeWalt.”

The Hammer Bro looked like he had stars in his eyes. “W-wow, thank you so much, s-sir! Uh, ma’am. S-sorry... I’ll… I’ll get the letter and bring it to the mail room right away! Gosh, Decker’s gonna be so glad to hear from me again!”

With that, DeWalt rushed back into the Great Hall.

Bowsette smirked, and looked back at Peach, ready to return to their conversation. She was surprised to see a kind of admiration in the Princess’s eyes.

“You handled that interaction particularly well,” she observed.

Bowsette sniffed. “I was too tired to get angry about him barging into our conversation.”

“He called you ma’am,” the Princess giggled.

A glimmer dawned in Bowsette’s eyes. “Ma’am. I like that.”

-----

On Friday, Bowsette found herself quite flustered, cowering in the bathroom stall for a good while before Peach knocked to ask what was wrong.

“N-nothing!” Bowsette lied. “I’m just… having bladder issues!”

The Princess put her hands on her hips. “Now listen, Bowsette. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Ballroom dancing is easier to learn than you think. And who knows, perhaps one day, if you go to an important diplomatic function, or get married to some faraway prince, you might have to dance or something!”

Bowsette whimpered, and shrunk further into her stall. Even if she was going to be a princess, the last thing she wanted was to be involved in tedious politics, or worse, be married off to some other royalty.

Unfortunately for her, she couldn’t stay locked in forever. Immediately upon opening the stall door, Princess Peach had her by the wrist and was tugging her to the Great Hall again.

“Ha! I knew you’d give in eventually,” Peach said smugly. Bowsette simply groaned.

The multipurpose space had been cleared once again, most tables folded and pushed to the side. An old record player sat near the far side of the room.

“I asked Lakitu if you had any music playing systems,” the Princess explained, as she brought her pupil into the hall. “He had to get that old thing from the Boos. I appreciate them for having the courtesy to let us borrow it.”

“This just seems… so unnecessary,” Bowsette lamented. “Why dancing?”

Peach put a finger to her lips. “Dancing is what makes us human, or Koopa… I guess? It’s the way we interact with each other on a physical level. If you know how to exist around someone in a social setting, you can work with them on a diplomatic level as well. Plus, this might help you get to know your body a lot better.”

Bowsette grumbled. “Sounds like a lot of excuses for you to do something you enjoy.”

Peach giggled. “You’re not entirely wrong. But let’s get started already!”

She adjusted the needle, and a slow-moving waltz began playing. Bowsette’s stomach lurched as the Princess pulled her into the middle of the floor, throwing her arms into a dancing position.

“Just follow my lead,” the Princess instructed, and Bowsette felt her stomach tickle. Peach was right, the dance was rather intuitive. Despite this, the Koopa looked down, watching her feet as she tried to follow exactly where Peach was going. Only a few steps in, Bowsette tripped on her own legs, falling back onto her shell with a loud crash.

“S-sorry,” she grumbled, berating herself internally for her clumsiness. “I told you I’d be awful…”

But as she glanced back up, the Princess offered her a gloved hand and a warm smile. “Let’s try it again.”

Bowsette accepted the help, and after being pulling onto her feet, Peach tiptoed so she could whisper into the Koopa Lady’s ears. “Just close your eyes.”

Bowsette squinted her eyes shut and allowed Peach’s movements to tug her around the floor of the Great Hall. She could feel herself pulling and pushing awkwardly and uncomfortably around with the Princess, but every time she tried to open her eyes, Peach would reassure her by squeezing her hips with her hands, and murmuring, “it’s ok,” or “you’re doing great”.

When she was Bowser, keeping her eyes closed for too long made her uncomfortable. Part of it was the importance of keeping visuals during combat situations, but on top of that, Bowsette associated closed eyes with deep thinking. And while planning and strategy was absolutely essential, overthinking bore the risk of inaction, and Bowser was most definitely a Koopa of action. But spending so much time away from an active military campaign, and after a week of lessons, and after her mentor had instructed her repeatedly to let go, the Queen couldn’t help but reflect on everything.

Peach had every reason to refuse to help Bowsette for the last two weeks. It confused her why she did it anyway. Was she just such a good person that she would stoop to assist even someone as cruel as Bowsette herself? Did she really see something special in the Koopa? The motivation was unclear.

At least, it was until the Peach dragged her out to the Great Hall to dance with her, and Bowsette realized that someone more profound might have developed in the fortnight they had spent teaching and learning.

As she put the pieces together, Bowsette started to lose herself in the dance, smiling, and then giggling at how awful she was, and just how little it mattered. She risked opening one eye, and then two, and her gaze locked with Peach’s. A warm, honey-like sensation spread through her lungs, and she left her jaw hanging. Suddenly, the Koopa Queen didn’t care how silly she looked. She was too busy getting lost in the oceans of the Princess’s eyes.

They spun in a final circle as the music soared into its climax, and Bowsette suddenly found herself dipping her dance partner, caressing her neck and back as Peach arched herself into the Queen's arms.

The Koopa lady’s breath turned quick and shallow as she stared down at the Princess.

“Why did you really want to dance with me, Princess?” she husked, too emotionally stirred to say anything else.

Peach, gazing back from below, answered with passionate eyes.

“To give you your confidence back,” she breathed.

The Koopa Queen refused to break her gaze with the Princess. Slowly, without much thinking, she brought the Princess up from her position. She could see Peach’s eyes dilate as their heads drew closer and closer, and-

 

*CRASH*

 

An explosion rocked the castle, knocking both women out of their stupor. Pieces of rubble fell down from the ceiling, falling and smashing into the record player, causing it to belch out a few sour notes before collapsing. Bowsette tensed up her muscles, and let Peach down carefully. What is going on?

Lakitu arrived to answer the question, sweat dripping from his skull as he hastily flew into the Great Hall.

“Bowsette! It’s Mario. He’s found us!”

Chapter Text

Princess Peach felt herself being put down carefully, the moment shattered by several inopportune explosions.

A million questions went through her mind as she tried to keep herself stable, as earthquake-like force rumbled the castle walls. However, as the room stabilized, so did she. There was only one person in the world who would make such an forceful entry into Koopa territory.

Mario.

The man isn’t known for his subtlety, that’s for sure.

“Stay here, princess…” she heard her dance partner growl. “...I’ll take care of this.”

For a moment the Princess felt inclined to acquiesce, but then she took a fuller stock of the situation, and put her foot down. The clack of her heel echoed throughout the Great Hall.

“But Bowsette-”

“Don’t question my orders!” Bowsette barked back at her. “You’ll be safer here.”

Peach frowned. “Safer? Surely you don’t intend to fight him?”

Bowsette turned, and Peach could see that she was deadly serious. Only smoke blew out of her nostrils in reply.

“Let me talk to him,” Peach pleaded. “Maybe I can stop him-”

Bowsette turned back to the great doors, and Peach almost thought she heard some kind of remorse from the koopa Queen. “I doubt it. If he’s destroying the castle, attacking my men… I have to put him down.”

With a dash, Bowsette bolted down the hallway, leaving Peach in a cloud of soot and dust. Peach coughed and waited for the cloud to dissipate, before running after Bowsette.

“Hey, wait up!”

-----

Bowsette dashed madly, barely acknowledging the panicking goomba and koopa troopas she passed as she ran. She had never put herself in a combat situation with her new body before, and despite her best efforts, her doubts began to cloud her thoughts.

Can I handle this? Can I beat Mario like this? What if he’s acquired another new power?

There was no time to waste. Another explosion rocked the fortress, and debris came crumbling down from the ceiling. Bowsette swiftly dodged the larger chunks and let the smaller ones bounce off her carapace.

As she looked ahead, she noticed a rather large section of an archway crackling, threatening to give an entire structure away. Immediately below, a group of goombas aimlessly ran in circles, unable to comprehend the danger they were in.

“MOVE!” Bowsette shouted, and the group scattered, leaving a lone member of the squad confused in the middle. The archway crumbled, then fell. Bowsette felt herself speed towards the goomba. In her former body, she could have been able to toss the archway aside like a spent shell.

Instead, she opted to dive, scooping the Goomba into her arms. As she flipped over she felt herself sliding on her shell. A loud explosion sounded off behind her as she barely cleared the danger zone, a cacophony of debris filling the air as she slowed to a halt.

Letting out a loud cough, she checked to see if the Goomba in her arms was okay. The mushroom opened his eyes, and Bowsette recognized him as the Goomba spokesperson from earlier.

“Th-thank you…” the Goomba muttered, clearly too shaken to understand what had transpired.

“Think nothing of it…” Bowsette murmured, before looking back at the debris which now blocked her path to the Great Hall. Small stones continued to rain from the ceiling. She only hoped that this would spell some measure of security for Peach.

She doesn’t need to be involved in this. I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I let her get hurt by our fight.

 

“Bowser!”

Bowsette turned, a fire igniting in her eyes as she recognizing the chilling italian plumber’s high pitched voice.

“Mario.”

As she stared down at Mario, a staircase below her, she slowly took in just how shocked he looked. She grinned toothily. Hopefully that would play to her advantage.

“Now you see why I’ve been hiding these last few months. I know it may have come as a shock, but don’t worry. Princess Bowsette can still hold her own.”

As she continued her monologue, Bowsette took time to observe her surroundings in preparation for the fight. Mario certainly had done a number to her fortress. Empty koopa shells littered the foyer below, and many statues of Bowser had been damaged, if not destroyed entirely.

The jolly hero of the Mushroom Kingdom sure has a mean streak.

“What I’m curious about is how you found this secret facility in the first place…” The Koopa growled. “Since it’s not marked on any of our official maps.”

Mario simply responded by pulling a letter out from his pocket, and tossing it to the floor. Bowsette’s heart sank as she recognized the signature.

DeWalt’s letter to Decker.

“Princess Peach!” Mario simply spoke in reply, curling a white glove into a fist.

Bowsette felt something move against her legs, and she realized the Goomba spokesperson was hiding behind her, appearing very frightened at the situation unfolding.

Bowsette let out a cackle, trying to reassure her ally. “Peach is quite fine, actually. I’ve been taking good care of her, and she’s been treating me well too. But I appreciate that you decided to check in. Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to leave here knowing about this form.”

Bowsette took time to articulate her next sentence. “Especially not after breaking into my territory and harrassing my troops without good cause.”

She blew fire out of her mouth to add to the intimidation factor. She knew it would take more than that to scare Mario away, but it was an action of habit more than anything else.

“Letsa go…” Mario’s face curled into a determined expression, the same kind that he always made before their encounters.

Bowsette dropped into a fighting stance, pushing the Goomba back with her leg. “Bring it, boy…”

Mario’s hands reached behind him to pull out a hammer. Letting out a cry, he charged up the stairs with reckless abandon.

Bowsette was always wary of Mario’s agility, but now she had a similar speed to match. She was able to leap away just as Mario swung his first attack, scoring a hit into the landing and leaving cracks.

Dodging backwards, Bowsette charged her claws with her fire breath. Moving into the offensive, she waited for Mario to bring the hammer down again. Feinting away from his smash, she landed a fiery punch into his midsection, knocking him away from his oversized weapon.

She was remarkably pleased to catch Mario’s reaction of surprise as he flew backward, bouncing several times off the staircase before coming to a halt against the stone surface of the foyer. Bowsette rode a bannister down to ground floor, not wanting to put her Goomba in any more danger.

“I’m not the same koopa you’ve fought before…” Bowsette smirked as she reached the ground. Mario’s face lit up in anger, and he kipped up, looking not much worse for wear.

Hmm… my punches are weaker. He’s getting up faster.

Picking up a green shell, he hurled it at Bowsette with a spin, forcing her to block. Her shrunken carapace wasn’t enough to counter the attack, so she resisted her instinct to retract into it and instead conjured up a fireball. With barely enough time to launch it, the fire smashed against the offending shell and sent it spinning in an adjacent angle.

Mario ran from shell to shell, jumping, punching and throwing with malicious intent. Bowsette did her best to maintain a field of protective fireballs while pounding his feet with more. Normally Mario would slip a successful attack through; he always was a tactical fighter. But it seemed that with Bowsette’s increased speed, he just wasn’t getting his way…

Mario approached for an aerial attack, bringing a supercharged fist down towards Bowsette. The Koopa heaved, then shot up towards her nemesis, striking with an uppercut.

The resulting clash flung both of them back, leaving a loud shock that rattled the battlefield.

-----

Peach raced down the hallway, trying her best to follow Bowsette. Unfortunately, she had lost sight of the princess-in-training, the koopa running ahead much faster. It didn’t help that the entire fortress appeared to be in chaos, troops scattered in fear.

Perhaps it was her own princess instincts kicking in, but as she passed Bowsette’s troops, she began noting the similarities of their behavior to that of her own Toads. The troops suddenly appeared so frail and inept in the disarray that Mario’s appearance had left.

Maybe Bowser’s transformation has rattled them more than I had initially thought.

Peach tried ignoring the cries for help around her. If she couldn’t get to Mario, they’d all be in a lot more trouble.

*RUMBLE*

The hallway shook, and Peach watched in horror as a section of the building collapsed in front of her.

“BOWSETTE!”

The dust clearing, the Princess ran over to where the damage was done. It seemed like an entire arch had given way. Several Goomba lay scattered, but unhurt by the damage.

Peach glanced around, horrified. The entire corridor was now closed off by debris. And she could hear fighting on the other side, which could only mean…

“Peach!” She turned to see Lakitu, speeding along to her. “Princess… I’m glad that you’re safe. But you should stay back. It’s dangerous out here.”

Peach whirled defiantly. “Lakitu, take me around this mess!”

“You know Bowsette wouldn’t want you there…” Lakitu frowned, adjusting his glasses.

Peach let out a huff and began attempting to scramble up the mountain of fallen rock.

Lakitu yelped. “D-don’t do that! You’ll injure yourself!”

“I’ve been in fights before,” Peach growled in response. “I’m not entirely helpless.”

The floating koopa sighed.

“Princess, there’s an easier way around. Here, let me show you.”

Peach turned to see Lakitu offering a hand. Peach accepted the invitation, and slowly the cloud underneath the flying Koopa expanded. She stepped aboard the cloud, Lakitu’s face taking on a kind of demoralized determination.

“Bowsette’s gonna eat me for this one… hold tight, Princess.”

With that, they zoomed into a small side hallway.

Please be safe… Peach’s thoughts echoed in her head as they hurtled along.

-----

*BAM!*

Another explosion rocked the stage, knocking the two away from each other. Bowsette was starting to grow frustrated.

Before, if I tested my fist against his, I would win every time. But this is becoming annoying. I can keep up but can’t finish him...

Just as she started to fall into the rhythm of combat, she noticed the plumber suddenly disengaging from the fight, racing up the staircase. A second later, Bowsette made the connection.

He’s going for his hammer!

Bowsette turned to follow him, but he was already several paces ahead. As he ran he launched several fireballs down at Bowsette, to which she replied by swatting them away. Mario deftly jumped, flipped and bounded each time the Koopa got close enough to swipe with her claws.

“GET BACK HERE!” she screamed.

Bowsette reached the landing just in time to see Mario speeding for the hammer, still embedded into the ground. The Goomba Spokesperson stood defiantly in front, looking rather frightened.

“Um… s-stay back!”

Mario didn’t break a sweat before stomping the Goomba, flattening the being in one swift motion.

Bowsette roared, launching a fireball right at Mario’s head. He simply dodged, using the momentum from his stomp to reach the hammer. Picking up the massive item, Mario quickly wound up before entering a whirlwind, swinging the hammer wildly around himself while stepping towards Bowsette.

The koopa tried dodging back, but Mario was starting to swing fast enough to generate suction, slowly pulling the Queen in. Bowsette snarled and dug her claws into the ground, but it wasn’t enough. Pulled into the whirlwind, she did her best to protect her face and belly by curling into a ball, closing her eyes in the process. Her skin and shell took impact after impact, battered by Mario’s vicious attack.

Finally, Bowsette received a smash to the chest, knocking the air out of her. Rolling and crumpling down the stairs, she hit the bottom with a crash, leaving cracks in the stone tiles below.

Bowsette let out a weakened groan as she tried to right herself, but her muscles wouldn’t obey.

...already? I’m all out? Then I’ve failed.

As she came to, she noted Mario standing a few stairs above her menacingly, hammer in his arms. The plumber was never particularly tall, but Bowsette felt a pang of fear shoot through her nevertheless.

“So long… Bowser…”

Mario primed his hammer by pulling it back.

Bowsette covered her face.

 

*boom*

A distant explosion sounded off from her left, and Bowsette heard a projectile zooming towards her. Both her and Mario turned just in time to see a Bullet Bill burning towards them at mach speeds.

Mario hardly dodged away in time, and the Bullet Bill whooshed aimlessly into the other side of the foyer before disappearing in a great explosion, shaking crumbs from the ceiling.

“Bowsette!”

The Koopa’s eyes widened. That was Peach’s voice!

Sure enough, as she went to take a look, she saw Princess Peach racing in from the side, Lakitu tailing her. The flying koopa looked very worried.

“Bowsette, I tried telling her to stop but she wouldn’t-”

“Peach!” Mario and Bowsette exclaimed simultaneously.

Mario swiftly moved towards Peach, ready to scoop her up. Peach deftly dodged him and ran straight for the Koopa, heels clacking against the battleground floor.

Bowsette’s expression softened as she approached.

“Damn it,” she coughed.

-----

Princess Peach had made it just in time. Bowsette looked to be in great pain.

“Are you okay?” Peach asked, worried.

Bowsette replied with a wave of a bruised hand. “I’m… I’m fine. You shouldn’t be here.”

“Nonsense,” Peach replied, extending her arm. “It’s my duty to look out for my friends.”

Bowsette took her grasp, and she was rather surprised to feel how weakened the Koopa Queen was. She wouldn’t be able to keep fighting like this.  

I’ve got to try something.

“Th-thank you…” Bowsette growled after landing on her feet.

Peach simply nodded, then turned to Mario with a stern look. “Mario, please! Stop this fight! We don’t have to keep doing this!”

“Princess Peach!” Mario uttered in disbelief, looking rather confused. Peach was sure Mario didn’t take her rejection of him very lightly, but she had to make it clear that they could not continue the battle.

“I understand this may seem confusing, but Bowsette is a changed woman. She’s not the tyrant we used to know. I promise! Things are different now. I’m not in any danger.”

“She’s right!” Bowsette barked raggedly from behind her. “I’m not Bowser anymore. I’m a different Koopa.”

“Peach…” Mario’s face of determination returned as he gripped his hammer.

Peach, exasperated, shook her head. “No! I’m not under a spell. I’m not a clone either. This is me. The real Peach.”

She stepped closer to the hero, trying to reason with him. She heard Bowsette let out a growl, clearly preparing for fighting to break out again.

“No, Bowsette. Don’t,” the Princess put up a finger. To her surprise, the Princess-in-training stood down begrudgingly.

Mario raised an eyebrow, but continued to look rather unmoved.

Peach stepped until she was right in front of him.

“Bowsette is my friend, Mario.”

Mario shook his head, before softly uttering, “I don’t think so.”

“She can do good. She can be better,” Peach implored.

“No.”

Now it was Peach’s turn to look worried.

“What do you mean, no?”

Mario slowly raised his hammer.

“Princess Peach... is in another castle.”

Peach’s gut churned as she saw Mario pull the weapon back.

 

*SMACK*

 

The Princess’s glove backhanded Mario’s face with such speed that she didn’t even realize it had occurred until she felt the pain in her hands. To her credit, it was enough to stun Mario into dropping his item.

“OUCH!” He cried out, stumbling back.

A blur of motion appeared from behind her, her dress fluttering from the speed, and for a split second she saw Bowsette’s fist thrust into Mario’s chest. Then a fiery explosion went off, throwing her back onto the floor, obscuring her vision and hearing.

*KABOOM!*

Dust and ash covering her vision, she coughed and groaned, struggling away from the epicenter of the attack. She heard the dull thud of something striking and smashing through the ceiling, followed by a faint “Mamma mia!” before fading out entirely.

----

Finally, the battlefield cleared, allowing Peach to observe the aftermath of what had just happened.

To her dismay, the body of a fallen Koopa Queen lay on the floor, collapsed right where the explosion had taken place.

No, Bowsette!

Running over to her body, Peach tried her best to rouse the Koopa Queen, to no avail.

“Bowsette! Peach! Are you two okay?” Lakitu asked, flying in from behind. “I couldn’t see what happened from back here!”

“Lakitu!” Peach turned to the cloud koopa. “Get Bowsette to her room, right away!”

“You got it!” The Koopa saluted, placing Bowsette onto his cloud and giving the ride a rough pat, the cloud nodding before flying off diligently.

Peach felt herself growing faint, head full of the day’s events. She shook herself out of her stupor.

Now is not the time. I can worry more after I make sure Bowsette is okay.

Taking a deep breath, she tried her best to remember how her healing magic worked.