“I am ready to be married.” She cooed to her Love.
They had only known each other for two months, but were already so deeply and irrevocably in love that God himself could not tear them apart. They were perfect for one another. The Princess, soon to be Queen, had grown up dreaming of a man such as her fiancé. The same could be said of him. The moment they saw each other they knew. It was that sort of love.
The date was set and all the preparations were made; the whole land had been invited to participate in the ceremony one way or another, for the prince loved his people only second to his bride. A week was left to slowly tickle away, teasing the lovers worse than they did themselves.
The princess, with nothing much to do until after the wedding, had taken to walking through the grounds in the early afternoon just after lunch. On one such afternoon she walked along the border gazing off dreamily into shadows the tops of the trees threw below their branches. She blinked once and saw nothing. She blinked twice and a man appeared, standing just within the reach of the shade.
Startled, the Princess asked his name. He told her, and then bid her never to repeat it. “Come into the forest with me,” The man said, holding out a hand. “Walk with me for a time.”
The Princess had never encountered anything but kind-heartedness in her time, and being the young girl she was, took the man’s hand and walked with him through the forest without a second thought. There they talked of many things. The Princess told the man of her Love, and of her eagerness for marriage. The man smiled and told her of his loveless life, for he lived in the forest and led a cold existence. The Princess listened to the man’s story, emotions, thoughts and words, she felt her heart moved in a way it never had.
As time wore on the Princess returned to the castle, welcomed back by her Love with open arms and a pure smile. She embraced him warmly, but a thought or two still stayed with the dark man in the forest.
She walked the next day by the forest and the man appeared again. It soon fell into habit that the Princess spent her afternoons with the man. It gradually came to pass that the Princess packed up her lunch and shared it with the Forest Man before their walks. Every evening, when he escorted her out of the forest, the man would remind her to never mention him. She promised, and never broke it.
A change occurred, and it was so drastic of a change that the Princess could not ignore it. She looked forward not to her afternoon walks, but of spending time with her Forest Man. She regretted every night when she left him and returned to her Love. Her Love; he did not fascinate her as he once had.
The afternoon before the wedding the Princess confessed this to the mysterious man. He kissed her shortly after, rough with desire. In that moment the Princess’s heart shifted. She no longer loved the Prince, but a mysterious man who lived in the forest. She fell so deeply she swore, why, he must have cast a magic spell over her with that kiss.
As time wore on, she did not return to the castle. The man took her back to his home where they lived quite happily together for a time. But as day’s passed the Princess could not bar her residual emotions.
She did love the Prince, but she also loved the Forest Man. Her conflicting emotions sent shivers down her spin. She loved both, but the magic man enveloped her in ways her charming prince never could. She hated herself for that, leaving the pure good behind for isolation.
“What do you think of me? What do you think of your life now?” The man asked one day, holding her so closely she felt the very warmth of his heart against her cheek.
She bit back a tear as she spoke the truth. “I wish I’d never met you. In fact, I curse the day I first laid eyes on you.” She looked up into his eyes. “I hate that I love you more than anything. So much so that I left my life and future behind for you alone.”
“I’m sorry,” He breathed into her ear.
“I know.” The Princess whispered, yielding completely to the man she now lived for. Her Prince of the Forest.