chapter 1Once upon a time far far away there was a small, but wealthy kingdom. To get there you would have to climb through difficult mountainous terrain and so even though it was a small and rich kingdom, no larger one tried to conquer it.
The king who ruled there, King Charles, was a wise one and ruled well. His wife, Queen Isabella, a renowned for her beauty in her youth, proved to be more than just a pretty face and was king’s best advisor. Despite giving birth to four now adult children, she kept her beauty and made the king one lucky man. But this isn’t a story about the king or the queen. This is a story about their youngest child, Princess Bethany. These were quiet times in the kingdom, but it was about to change…
Today was the day, my eighteenth birthday. The day I’d finally asked my father for his approval. The day I was longing for, the day I was dreading more than anything else… It wasn’t unheard of that the youngest daughter would be allowed to marry below her stature, to marry a commoner. And Thomas certainly was a commoner, but he was well known and respected by my parents, for I often heard their approval of the hard work our chief gardener, a rank he earned despite being only twenty years of age, did. The thought filled me with optimism and so I jumped out of my bed and called for a maid. I had to look perfect on my big day.
“Do you think I’m too thin?” I asked Stella, my personal maid who was tying my dress.
“I wish I had your figure, m’lady.”
“But next to my sisters I look so… flat! Unimpressive! They both look so soft and inviting… so curvy!”
“Indeed, m’lady, your sisters are very beautiful, but neither can compete with your beauty. You’ll have to pardon me for saying, but Lady Sophia is getting rather… eh… robust. I’ve heard she needs three maids to get her into her dresses these days. And Lady Cassandra while truly has splendid curves, at times she looks… almost vulgar. Please forgive my words. You on the other hand look so… dignified.”
I cannot deny hearing this filled my heart with joy. I still wish I’d had an actual cleavage though…
I couldn’t help but stare at my reflection, while the maid brushed my copper waves falling below my wasp waist. A pair of large turquoise eyes shaped like almonds stared back at me from an objectively gorgeous oval face. Why do I feel lacking?
The maid left. I still stood in front of the mirror, staring at my reflection, trying to figure out what was missing, why I felt so inadequate. Loud bang behind my back startled me, interrupting my thoughts and I quickly turned around. Thomas was standing on the ledge with a bouquet of roses in one hand and a box of chocolates in the other. I rushed to the window and let him inside. „Are you crazy?! How did you even get up here?!“ I barely managed not to shout.
“A magician never reveals his secrets.” He said with a cocky smile on his youthful face.
“You could have fallen! You know I want to ask my father today… You couldn’t have waited?!”
“I had to see you! You’re all I can think of every second of my life! I love you Beth!” He said color rising to his cheeks. “Here. This is for you. Happy birthday!” Thomas said, handing me a huge bouquet of roses and the chocolates. I placed the box of chocolates on the table and inhaled deeply, getting lost in the smell of roses.
There was a knock on the door. “Princess?” An unsure voice of a page sounded.
“Quickly hide! No one can see you here!” I hissed quietly. “Yes? What is it?” I opened the door and asked once Thomas was safely hidden underneath my bed.
“His royal majesty wants to see you immediately.” The nervous looking page said.
Father never calls without a reason. What is going on? “Tell my father I’ll be there in a minute.”
“I uh… I was told to bring you with me at once, highness. Sorry”
I let out a sigh. “Alright… let’s go.”
“I am going to be frank, daughter of mine. We have decided you are going to be wed for the good of the realm.”
I was stunned, left there gaping at my father. “But I-”
“I have decided. Your suitors should start coming in a month. I will allow you to have a choice within those who will pass my own judgment.” The King stated. At the moment I could not see him as my father.
Fiery anger started to burn deep inside of me. Then the shouting started.
I buried my face into a tear soaked pillow. This day could not have been worse. In my outrage I foolishly confessed my affection towards Thomas. I’ve never seen my father so angry. Poor Thomas! The king had him whipped before banishing him from our kingdom. No, not our, his kingdom I corrected myself. I did not want to be part of this kingdom any longer. I thought about running away, but I knew I could never manage to slip past my father’s guards. Then I recalled a story about a witch who lived somewhere in the forest. It was said she sometimes helped the desperate. I certainly was desperate.
Wrapped in a large cloak I stumbled through the forest. I cursed myself. I spent most of the day weeping over the outcome of the day that by the time I got to the forest, the sun was already setting. My stomach let out a sound and I cursed myself for the second time. The darkness fell, the only light was coming from the nearly full moon, but barely any squeezed through the dense trees. I didn’t know where I was and I was scared out of my mind.
In all of my life I barely ever entered the forest on foot. I didn’t know how to move in there and it didn’t take long before I took a bad step and twisted my ankle. My leg gave up underneath me and I fell to the ground, my head hitting a root. Dizzy I pulled myself to my feet only by the sheer strength of will. My head was bleeding and the world spun around me. Terrified, starving, lost and hurt I stumbled in the darkness favoring my uninjured foot. The trees seemed to crowd together and the branches were reaching for me, pulling at my hair and tearing at my clothes. Suddenly I spotted a little light in front of me. It worked as magic, breaking apart the despair I was slipping into, filling my heart with hope and determination. The light was coming from a window of a small hut as I have found out when I got closer. Perhaps it might be the witch’s hut I am looking for? It didn’t matter really, I was just glad I found a shelter. I finally dragged myself to the entrance of the hut, but before I could knock on the door, it opened on its own, revealing a small room with a table and two chairs. Sitting there was an ancient looking lady. Our eyes have met.
“Come inside, Bethany.” She croaked.
“How do you know my name?” I asked, suddenly filled with indescribable dread.
“I thought you were smarter than that.” She said mockingly.
“You are the witch.” I stated dumbly.
“People call me that, yes. Are you gonna stand there all night or are you gonna come inside?”
I hesitated for a few seconds before stepping inside and closing the door behind me. I had an ominous feeling that I had just sealed my fate.
The witch listened to what I had to say and then sat in silence for a few minutes.
“I’m afraid there is nothing in my powers I can do to reunite you with your loved one.”
My heart sank and tears formed in my eyes.
“There is however one thing I could do, to help you to keep your suitors off your neck so to speak.” The hag croaked. Her voice suddenly changed and boomed as a summer storm. “I foresee the gardener will be back in a year and one day. If you remain unwed until then and only if he truly loves you, only then you can be together!” The witch let out a sigh. Deflated, she looked as if she aged another decade.
“Yes! Please, do whatever you can. I’ll forever be in your debt!” I exclaimed.
“Be careful what you promise, highness. Someone else in my position could take advantage of your words. Luckily for you I am not that type of witch and I require no payment. I think the solution will be price in itself. You might want to consider other possibilities first for what I offer you is a curse.”
“There are ancient rules that bind even a king of the kingdom. You have a right to put your suitors through a challenge. Three quests you may order them to accomplish.”
“But that’s great! I could give them an impossible task!” I exclaimed.
“You can do no such thing, I’m afraid. It is your father’s right to judge whether the task at hand is possible.”
“Oh.” I sighed disheartened once again.
“Do not be afraid for that is when the curse will help you.”
“What does the curse do?” I implored.
The witch grinned humorlessly. “How attached are you to that figure of yours?”
“Hunger? That’s it?! That hardly sounds like a curse…”
“Endless hunger! It won’t be quick, but with every passing day you will feel it more and more. It might be just a mere inconvenience at first, but it will get worse.”
“I have a strong will, I am sure I can resist.”
The witch shook her head. “That is not possible. Sooner or later you will feel the consequences. The only way to break the curse is a kiss of true love. Are you sure he loves you and not your body?”
I breathed in and out before nodding. “I am sure. Let’s proceed.”
The crone nodded. “So be it. May fate be kind to you, girl.”
“Forgive me if I sound foolish, but… can’t you see into the future?” I asked.
The witch laughed. “It’s not as easy as that, highness. I see three possible outcomes, I cannot tell which one will come to be, for I cannot see into human hearts.”
I woke up in my own bed. If I wasn’t still wrapped in the torn cloak and did not have a slightly swollen ankle I would have thought it was all a dream. Knowing it all really happened, it was time to confront my father.
Magical Realism Princess/Prince Romantic Female Straight Fit to Fat Wife/Husband/Girlfriend First person
4 chapters, created 2 years , updated 2 years
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