The day that Madalena wakes up with wings is a good day. She stirs as the sun filters into her chambers and discovers her face is pressed unflatteringly into the pillow. God, she'd better not have creases from her pillow. As she goes to lever herself out of bed, her balance is off, and she stumbles toward the mirror.
"Oh my god," she says out loud. "I've got wings!"
Her laughter sounds more like bells than a menacing cackle, but the Dark Dark Evil Lord isn't there to chide her. She turns, looking at the wings, which sprout from her bare shoulders.
"Glad I gave up on nightgowns," she says to herself approvingly. The wings are black, glossy and gleaming, the feathers glowing almost iridescent where the sun hits them. She runs her fingers over them and shivers. It's a pleasurable feeling, like having her hair tended to. That's a thought to file away for later, when she has the leisure to hunt down some kind of handsome servant boy who's willing to stroke her wings for hours. She suspects that will be an enjoyable experience, one worth repeating.
The sliver of her that's still a naive farmgirl wonders if she's finally done something truly, truly evil to make this happen, but Madalena grinds that sliver back into the dirt she came from. If these wings are a marker of how wicked she's become, all the better. She's a practitioner of the Dark Dark Evil Way and now she's got Dark Dark Evil Wings to go with them.
She flexes experimentally. Squeezing her shoulders forward has the added bonus of enhancing her cleavage. It takes a moment to figure out how to control the wings, to discern exactly how they're attached to her, but after a moment, she feels the rightness in the way that the muscles tense and the tendons catch. The wings spread slowly, luxuriously. She has to strain a little bit to get them fully extended. They certainly use muscles she isn't used to working. Hopefully as she gets stronger, she won't get too much unsightly swelling or definition. She doesn't want to look like she works for a living.
It does take some time to find something in her wardrobe that scoops low enough in the back to accommodate the wings, and then the girl who dresses her is all flustered by them, and Madalena has to be extra icy with her.
"I'm sorry, ma'am," the girl - her name is Lily or Daisy or some kind of flowery nonsense - "I just haven't ever seen anything like this."
"Well, get used to them," Madalena says, tossing her hair, which catches fetchingly on the wings before sliding back into place. "And pull those laces tighter - you're not doing my waist any favors."
"Yes, maam," the girl says, and tugs and smooths until Madalena is satisfied. She sails out of the room, extending the wings just slightly to catch the air. It feels good, the way the trailing edges of the feathers make their own breeze. She can sense the way the air swirls behind her. She'll need some new gowns, something light that will move in the currents of air. Chiffon, maybe. Something dark and glittery, deliciously decadent. A fitting gown for a queen who practices the Dark Dark Evil Way as a Dark Dark Evil Witch.
She lets the wings extend fully as she sweeps down the stairs. She's got quite the wingspan - they brush the banisters on either side. Wormwood looks up and jumps.
"What...what in heaven's name are those?" he demands. As if he's got room to interrogate her - he's only here because the Dark Dark Evil Lord didn't want to lose a minion. Now Wormwood is a Dark Dark Evil Wight. He gets less transparent and more corporeal every day, but as His Darkness says, the DDEW takes a Dark Dark Evil While. What matters is that she's more important around the castle than Wormwood is, since she can actually touch things. She's DDEWing well for herself.
"Oh, my Dark Dark Evil Wings?" Madalena says airily. "I'm accessorizing."
"Are those real?" Wormwood screeches.
Madalena flaps them at him in response. He blinks and recoils. His hair blows lankly around his face. He has to spit a lock out of his mouth. "But where did they come from?"
Madalena blinks at him, all innocent. "Are these not part of the DDEW?"
"Absolutely not," he says, his voice rough with outrage. "If these are part of the DDEW, I'm a monkey's uncle."
"How sweet," Madalena coos. "I didn't know you had any siblings. Perhaps you haven't been studying the DDEW as diligently as I have?"
"You had better believe I'll be asking the Dark Dark Evil Lord about this," Wormwood said. "If I was supposed to get wings, I want them."
"Do what you like," Madalena says. "I'm going to have a light breakfast and then, who knows." She shrugs prettily. "Take them for a spin."
"Take them for a spin?" Wormwood repeats incredulously. "Without even speaking to His Darkness about it?"
"If he'd meant to include instructions, I'm sure he would have," Madalena tells him. "Clearly he trusts my instincts. A little soar off the castle will be a perfect way to break them in."
"You don't even know if they'll support your weight!" Wormwood says. Madalena rolls her eyes and sweeps the wings down with a mighty whoosh. Wormwood stumbles back as she rises off the ground a few feet.
"If I didn't know better," she says, hovering and grinning to hide the strain of the new work her muscles are doing, "I'd think your faith in His Darkness was lacking. I personally can't imagine any gift from the DDEL not functioning exactly as it was intended to function." The wings are marvelous, really; after the initial surprise, she can use them almost instinctively. She doesn't have to think about how to move them to keep herself in the air.
"I hope it's intended to lure you into a false sense of security so you fall on your head," Wormwood mutters.
Madalena swoops closer and caresses his face with one hand. "And to think, so recently you were trying your best to recruit me to the DDEW." She lets the edges of her nails rasp dangerously across his permanent stubble. "Didn't His Darkness ever tell you that jealousy gives you wrinkles?"
"More wrinkles," she amends.
"I should have known you were a truly Dark Dark Evil Witch when you thought I was going to make you kill a baby and you were still into it," he says.
"Jealously is unbecoming," she croons. "Just acknowledge your inferiority and go back to planning your Dark Dark Evil Weddings." She laughs as he sputters and glides down the stairs to the dining room, hoping he doesn't see her wobble as she lands. Flying is exhausting. Madalena has done so much so that she'd never have to do physical labor ever again, and now she has wings, and only her own strength will make them work. It's some kind of cosmic Dark Dark Evil Whimsy.
There are crumpets and tea for breakfast. Her wings won't fit in any of the high-backed chairs made of Dark Dark Evil Wood, so she snaps at a servant to find her a stool and a cushion. They scurry away to do her bidding and Madalena smiles, reaching for the butter. She has jam on her crumpets to celebrate both her wings and her wickedness. The jam is some kind of dark red concoction that oozes like blood. Madalena nibbles, feeling deliciously malicious. When she's had her fill, she climbs up to the castle ramparts - more work, but perhaps the effort will pay off.
There's more wind than she expected on the ramparts. Her hair whips into her eyes. She glances around to make sure no one's looking and then braids it quickly, tying it off with a ribbon that she tugs from her bodice. She's cultivated a certain highbrown helplessness, but her hands remember how to do all those boring peasant tasks, like fixing her own hair and chopping an onion. She could probably still milk a cow. She doesn't want to, but she could. Some of her old skills are more useful than others, of course. It is helpful to have her hair out of her face. She peers down the rough stone wall, her view unobstructed. It's a long way down.
This is dangerous. It's stupid. But she's ruthlessly hacked away her own roots, lost her kingdom, given up Gareth, grown weary of Galavant, and Richard seems to have his own dragon now, and what's she gotten out of all of that? A basic magic education and pair of wings anchored into her bones. Where there's a Dark Dark Evil Will, there's a Dark Dark Evil Way, as His Darkness always says, and her way seems to be the sky. Maybe she'll be able to conjure up some kind of Dark Dark Evil Wind so she won't have to flap so much. Maybe she'll fall straight out of the sky like a lost piece of jewelry, glinting in the light as she tumbles. Either way she'll know her true potential at last.
She climbs up into the crenellations, steadying herself. The coarse grain of the rock bites into her tender palm. She smiles to herself. She's soft now, in ways she never imagined she could be soft, and so hard in others. She is worthy of her fate, literally and metaphorically above the little people milling about below her in the villages that dot the landscape. She had a kingdom, once. Now, maybe, she'll be Queen of the Air.
Madalena leans forward over the edge of the ramparts. She leaps. She soars.