So, I’ve done a lot of theorizing about various Disney character’s families, either the missing parents (Aladdin and Ariel’s moms) or extrapolating younger versions of known characters (Triton, for one), but now I will be focusing on a different branch of the family tree: children. What would the kids of famous Disney couples look like? Here’s my first attempt with the hypothetical offspring of Jasmine and Aladdin:
[[Author’s note: I decided to make Aladdin’s child a girl because, for one, it’s a Disney movie and princesses sell. Look at the sequels… Little Mermaid sequel: daughter. Lion King sequel: daughter. One of the few exceptions is Lady & the Tramp, which has a bunch of female puppies that look like Lady, and one Tramp-like mutt that hates his well-to-do life and goes out on the streets. Hence, another reason I made Aladdin’s kid a girl, because I would be tempted to do something similar with her story. Son of a street rat wanting to reject his posh life to become a street rat? I wanted to step out of the Disney trap of the recurring return-to-the-origin kind of story, as was done in Little Mermaid II, Lady & the Tramp II, and possibly some other ones I’m forgetting.
Artistic note: Layla is truly an amalgam of both Jasmine and Aladdin. If you look carefully, you can see Aladdin’s nose, Jasmine’s body, Aladdin’s hair, Jasmine’s eyes (reshaped to more closely match Aladdin’s), Aladdin’s mouth but Jasmine’s lips, plus Aladdin’s altered hair and eyebrows. I gave her Jasmine’s necklace as well, because I like the idea of mother passing jewelry to daughter, but the rest is hers.]]
Layla had an interesting childhood, growing up in the palace of Agrabah as the daughter of the Sultan. It took her many years to realize how extraordinary her life was, and she was nearly ten years old before she even began to suspect that being entertained by a wise-cracking genie and flying around on a magic carpet were anything but normal.
But despite the very real magic that surrounded her life, Layla was more enchanted by the magic of books and stories. She spent hours in the palace library, reading books and scrolls recounting wondrous tales of far-off places and evil sorcerers. Her father, though often busy with his duties as sultan, would spend his spare hours indulging her love of stories with a few of his own. When Aladdin had tried to tell her of a young street rat who married a princess and later became sultan, Layla hadn’t believed him.
Though Layla shared her father’s thirst for adventure, she had also inherited her mother’s fiery spirit. Like Jasmine before her, Layla soon found herself chafing behind the palace walls. By the time she entered her teenage years, she was longing to finally see the places in her books, not just read about them. Her first escape over the walls on her father’s flying carpet went poorly; Genie had spotted her and, after a failed attempt to convince her to return home, had transformed into a World War II dogfighter and shot her down before she had even flown beyond the palace walls. But she had seen the palace from above, the city streets of Agrabah below, and there was nothing that could stop her from attempting to see that whole new world awaiting her beyond. After Layla’s second attempt–Carpet was no longer an option, but Abu was always open to bribes of bananas–landed her with a scolding from her father. “The streets are not safe for a princess,” Aladdin warned. “Trust me, I know.” Still, her father promised to take her on a tour of Agrabah soon enough. Days turned into weeks, however, and weeks into years, and her father’s duties as sultan always delayed the trip.
For Layla’s sixteenth birthday, there was a great festival in Agrabah with royal and noble visitors from all across the land to celebrate. Many sultans from other lands approached Aladdin and Jasmine with offers to arrange a marriage with Layla with their own sons. They politely refused all offers, explaining that in Agrabah, a princess is allowed to marry whomever she wishes–although the offer from Sultan Achmed, who as a prince had wooed Jasmine and found himself attacked by her pet tiger instead, was less than politely refused. Achmed’s mere presence had reminded Jasmine of the succession of suitors forced upon her by her own father and she resolved to not allow her own daughter to suffer the same.
Nonetheless, Layla found herself besieged with suitors, princes of neighboring lands all hoping for a dance or even a short conversation with the sultan’s daughter. She was eager for their company, not because thoughts of romance had entered her mind but because of the stories they brought with them. They told her of intrigue in their courts, of folktales and adventure stories, romances and mysteries. One young man in particular, Malik, captured her imagination with flowery descriptions of his own palace by the sea, for Layla had never seen a body of water bigger than an oasis and longed for this new experience. When Malik offered to take her with him, she jumped at the chance.
It was the first escape Layla ever made that had succeeded. The palace was so full of visitors that not only Aladdin and Jasmine were distracted, but also the palace guards. No one noticed Layla and Malik leaving–that is, except Carpet. After some difficulty trying to get across his meaning through pantomime (and Genie trying to guess a la an elaborate game of Charades), Aladdin was off to find his daughter and bring her back. With Carpet’s aid, Aladdin caught up with them quickly enough, finding them in the middle of the searing desert. Aladdin’s heartfelt plea for her return and the promise of a long-awaited journey–as a family–began to work it’s magic on Layla. However, when she told Malik that she had changed her mind, his true form was revealed.
The handsome Malik’s disguise fell away, and he revealed himself to be a creature made of fire and shadow, possessed of magic the likes of which Aladdin had not seen since the return of the sorcerer Jafar. With a scimitar of flame, Malik was able to defeat Aladdin and kidnap Layla, taking her away upon wings of fire.
[[Side note: if this were a Disney movie, I imagine we would get to see Aladdin and Jasmine’s point of view as a side plot: Aladdin returning home defeated, explaining what he had seen in the desert. Genie would undoubtedly do some schtick, like going through his rolodex and trying to remember why he recognized Malik’s name, with people popping out of the rolodex as he named them. “Let’s see…M, M, M…Mark Twain…Maleficent…Mork & Mindy…” Cartoon Mork (i.e. Robin Williams): “Na-nu, na-nu.” Genie: “Ugh, I hate that guy… Oh, here it is… Malik.” Genie reveals that Malik is an ifrit, a creature of fire and shadow with magic as powerful (or more so) than a genie. Malik and Genie have history from thousands of years ago before he ended up in the Cave of Wonders. Genie is terrified of him, but reluctantly agrees to help Aladdin rescue Layla. But this is Layla’s story, so we’ll be sticking to her from now on.]]
Malik took Layla far away from Agrabah to his palace by the sea. However, it was far from the paradise he had described to her, its towers and domes fallen into near ruin. Upon arrival, Malik revealed that he stole Layla away in order to marry her. He has a palace and has made himself a sultan…and now he needs a bride. They are to be married that very night.
Thinking quickly, Layla protested, “You can’t marry someone the same day you’ve met them!” “Why not?” retorted Malik. “It’s bad luck! Don’t you know the story of the Fisherman and his Bride?” Malik: “No, and do not try to distract me with idle tales!” Layla offered him a coy shrug. “I guess if you’re willing to suffer the same fate, then that’s fine with me…” Just as Layla hoped, Malik demanded that she tell him the story so that he could avoid the same calamity. When her story had ended, Malik agreed to stall the wedding until the next evening.
Layla was still a prisoner, but at least she was free enough within this ruined palace. She combed the grounds, searching for points of weakness or any hint of an escape route. Unfortunately, though the palace was in shambles–crumbled towers, whole rooms without roofs–the walls were tall and intact, and this time, she didn’t have a flying carpet. Besides, if she escaped, where would she go? She had no idea where she was, and there was nothing but desert to one side and an endless sea to the other. She might have been the only person in hundreds of miles.
During her exploration of the palace, Layla discovered a menagerie filled with exotic animals–parrots, monkeys, goats and even an elephant. She realized after just a few moments that the elephant’s size might be just enough to give her the boost she needs over the palace walls. However, that hope is quickly dashed as she spied the chains around the elephant’s ankles, preventing it from leaving its pen. “Oh, you poor thing!” she exclaimed, entering the pen and tending to the animal. “I’m not a thing!” replied the elephant.
Layla: “You can talk!”
Elephant: “Of course I can.”
Layla: “But you’re an elephant. Elephant’s can’t talk.”
Elephant (confused): “They can’t?”
Layla: “Not as far as I know, though I do know a talking parrot…”
Elephant: “Don’t be ridiculous. Parrots can’t talk. At least, I don’t think they can. My memory’s a little spotty.”
Layla grins. “I thought an elephant never forgets…”
Elephant: “Wait, I’m an elephant?”
It turns out that the elephant’s memory was indeed not very good, and he often forgot crucial parts about his past, even the most obvious fact that he had a trunk, which tended to have a mind of its own. The only thing he could say with confidence was that his name was Bashir and that he had been Malik’s prisoner for over a year. From her extensive knowledge of stories and folklore, Layla has identified Malik as an ifrit, a cunning and wicked magical being, and she explained to Bashir that she’s trying to escape and promises to take him with her when she does. “You’ll be welcome in Agrabah.”
When night fell the next day, that fateful evening when Layla was fated to wed Malik, she tried to stall with another story, this time one so long that it lasted late into the night, and Malik struggled to keep his eyes open during it. That’s when Layla discovered Malik’s weakness: she could put him to sleep with her stories. All of those hours in the library had paid off! She implemented her plan right away, continuing her winding, unending tale until Malik couldn’t help but fall into a deep sleep, delaying her marriage for yet another night.
That’s how her stay at the ruined palace progressed for several weeks: Layla delaying her inevitable marriage to the ifrit with stories at night and plotting her escape during the day. She prayed for a rescue, but she never gave up hope that she could find a way out on her own. If only Bashir had been a camel and not an elephant, she would have braved the desert with him the instant she found an escape route.
Yet there was a light in this endless darkness: Layla had Bashir, not just a fellow prisoner trapped by Malik, but a true friend. One day when visiting him in the menagerie, she broke down and confessed her regret at the rashness of the actions that led her here. She has realized what wonderful, supportive parents she has always had and how foolish she had been to think she had been a prisoner under their care. The world was such a cruel place, she realized, and they were only trying to protect her from it as long as they could. This was the real prison.
Bashir, in turn, looked forward to Layla’s daily visits, asking her about everything imaginable in the hopes that something would spur his memories to return. She told him stories as well, not the long, boring ones meant to trick Malik to sleep but her favorites, ones of daring swordfights, magical spells and faraway lands.
Then, the moment Layla had been waiting for arrived: Layla discovered where Malik hid his keys. She put Malik to sleep as she always did, then stole the keys and unshackled Bashir. As she did so, Layla explained, “I have Malik’s keys. Tonight, we’re going to escape.” “I can’t leave,” replied Bashir. “Why not?” “I don’t remember. I just know I can’t leave.” “Did Malik put an enchantment on you to prevent you from leaving?” However, Bashir doesn’t know. Either way, Bashir decided to help Layla escape, even if he couldn’t leave himself.
As Layla opened the front gate of the palace, she found that what Bashir said was true: neither one of them would be able to leave, for Malik had created a magical barrier around the palace that alerted him to their escape. Back in his true form of smoke and fire, Malik flew down into the main courtyard to stop them. With his magic, Malik turned Bashir into a beetle with the intention of squashing him once and for all, but Layla flung herself between Bashir and the fiery ifrit foot, begging him not to hurt Bashir. “I’m the one who set him free,” she explained, “and I’m the one who wanted to escape. But I promise that if you change him back and let him go, I’ll marry you. No tricks, no stories.”
Before Malik could agree, there was a knock at the palace door, which then swung wide to reveal Genie in a loud sportscoat and a mustache, doing a fast-talking door-to-door salesman schtick. He managed to distract Malik for a while until at last the ifrit became suspicious, ripping off Genie’s fake mustache. “It’s you!” Malik exclaimed, recognizing Genie from their past dealings some ten thousand years ago. In a Ricky Ricardo impersonation, Genie shouted, “Lucy, I’m ho-ome!” just as Aladdin flew in on Carpet and Jasmine rode in upon Rajah, proud parents willing to risk their lives to rescue their daughter.
Scooping up Bashir and clutching the beetle to her chest, she decides to help her parents fight off Malik by freeing all the animals from the menagerie for a distraction. Malik is powerful, however, and soon has bested both Aladdin and Jasmine, who must duck out of the action or risk mortal injury. Their family is reunited though not yet safe as Malik unleashes his full power. However, the ifrit and the genie have a face-to-face, full-on magical confrontation, Genie emerging from the fray victorious.
“Genie!” cried Layla when it was all over, laying the beetle-Bashir on the ground. One of his frail legs looked broken from the scuffle and he was barely moving at all. “Can you help him? Can you change him back?”
Genie offered to try his best, doing his hand-waving with his usual flair and using his magic to reverse Malik’s spell. A warm, red glow surrounded Bashir as he began to transform, growing larger and larger. Two of his beetle legs began to disappear as the others began enlarging, a head growing up out of the black beetle shell. When the magic faded away and the transformation is over, Bashir is barely a quarter of his elephant’s size, with two legs instead of four and no trunk to be seen. He is human.
“Did I pick up the wrong beetle?” Layla asks, astounded. She studies him for a moment, then asks, “Bashir?”
The man, who had been looking at his arms, legs, and other body parts, touched his nose and suddenly shouted in alarm, “Ack! What happened to my trunk?”
“It’s is you!” she exclaimed, throwing her arms around him in a tender embrace. “But how?”
Bashir, whose memory slowly began to return now that Malik’s magic spell had been reversed, explained how he found Malik and was tricked into bringing him back to his palace. “Your palace?” asks Layla. “Then you’re a prince?” Bashir smiles. “I am–well, I was–the sultan. I was young and foolish, and Malik promised to serve me and use his magic to help me rule. Instead, he took over my palace, turned me into an elephant and proclaimed himself sultan. And now look at it. It’s ruined…”
“Nothing a little spitshine won’t fix,” Genie offers, using his magic to return the palace to its former glorious state, complete with a banner that says, “Welcome Home, Bashir!”
Aladdin, Jasmine and Genie gave Layla and Bashir a moment alone. “Thank you for saving me, Layla. Without you, I might have been an elephant forever.” He took her hands in his. “I guess you’ll be going back to Agrabah now…”
“I guess I will,” she replied, “but what I said was true: you will be welcome in Agrabah.” She gave him a gentle kiss on the cheek. “Come and visit any time and I’ll visit you as often as I can. Oh, and don’t forget to write.”
Bashir smiled. “An elephant never forgets.”
Obligatory copyright notice: All characters belong to Disney, with the exception of Layla, Malik and Bashir, who are my creations. This is a work of fan art. No copyright infringement is intended.