Princess Charming

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    Princess Charming had had it up to here with these princes. Always needed saving, that was their problem. Then, of course, they had to go and fall in love with her which just made things all the more complicated.

    They couldn’t be trusted to go two weeks without pricking their finger on something and falling asleep, being daft enough to fall for the old man in the house made of poisoned sweets, or chasing her around, glass slipper in hand, just to see if she had the right sized feet. Weird.

    Oh, and there was that mer-prince Ari, who thought it would be a good idea to try and walk on land. That had not gone well at all, the palace had smelled of seaweed for a month. He did have nice hair though.

    It wasn’t like the Princess was picky. She wasn’t the one demanding a prince, though the other men she had met weren’t exactly a dazzling array of suitors either. The Boy Who Cried Wolf liked to exaggerate about a great many things and not just about wildlife.

    Worse still, Pinocchio would say anything to try and get her to kiss him. She wouldn’t have been able to get near his face if she wanted to, his nose was practically a full grown oak by the time he was done.

    Jack had been a nice enough lad, but there was that time he’d traded her tiara for a pack of ‘magic’ playing cards, and it turned out he didn’t even remember how to do the trick himself.

    All the Princess really wanted was a little time to herself. Time to read, to paint, a chance to make some friends who weren’t constantly fawning over the Princes who had come to woo her. It felt like most people who tried to get close to her weren’t after friendship at all but were looking to bag themselves a prince.

    Worst of all, Princess Charming really was sick of her mother trying to arrange a marriage for her to any of the princes from the neighbouring kingdoms. She was going to find a different type of partner. An ally that would be by her side and wouldn’t constantly need rescuing from a tower by climbing his beard or mollycoddling or only approaching her because his fairy Godfather told him that she was ‘the one’.

    The Princess’ mind had been made up. She was going to kidnap a dragon.

    Technically, she was going to dragonnap it, she supposed, but now was no time for technicalities, she thought to herself as she scaled the highest tower of Mistwrought Keep. She was going to kidnap a baby dragon, take herself off to the middle of nowhere and live out her days in peace, no longer being fawned over or being asked to save this or that prince.

    She would start a rumour that she had been taken hostage by the dragon and she would finally get some peace and be able to spend some time to herself. No prince in this land was brave enough to try and rescue her from a dragon.

    Rumour had it that the dragon in Mistwrought Keep would be a good place to start. The Princess had already made one attempt to reach the castle but had gotten lost for several days along the way. The keep itself, and indeed the valley that housed it, lived up to it’s name, the fog covering here was immense and relentless.

    The area was well known for it’s low cloud levels, but in recent months it had become impassable, as even in the midday sun, the fog never lifted. The next time however, she was prepared.

    “You’re sure you want to do this?” Bayley had said to the Princess.

    The Princess slapped the wolf on the back. “You said you could do it, don’t tell me you’re backing out now.”

    The wolf grinned. “You’re absolutely mad you are. But fair enough, a promise is a promise, I owe you a favour after you rescued me from that creepy kid in the red hoodie. Here we go.” She huffed, and she puffed, and she blew the fog away. It was like a cloud had dropped from the sky, fallen asleep for an age, and now it had realised it was late for an appointment and just rushed off over the next hill in one solid mass.

    Princess Charming beamed. “Nice one Wolfie. Now, I’d better be off, the mist is already re-forming around the castle.” She took off at a jog, her armour clanking as she went.

    The wolf called after her. “Absolutely barking mad” before turning back the way she had come. It was time for breakfast. She fancied bacon; and she knew just where to get some.

    By the time the Princess had reached the top of the tower the mist had truly set in again. In fact it seemed to be coming from inside the tower itself. She steeled her nerves as she reached the doorway at the top of the stairs, noting that the door itself had been knocked down. Possibly recently. She crept into the room as quietly as her armour would allow. She could barely see through the mist now, but could hear a heavy breathing from something clearly enormous in the distance. She found herself hoping that dragons were heavy sleepers.

    The princess could not see the edges of the room in which she now stood, but given the echo of her footsteps she guessed it was enormous. She couldn’t keep herself from repeating quietly under her breath “this was a bad idea, this was a bad idea”

    Then the Princess shouted a word which shall not be repeated here. Then she repeated herself by saying it again, slower, but quieter. The first time was because she had literally walked into the giant egg. The second time was because she had taken in the size of the egg.

    It. Was. Huge. It was far too big. Bigger than her. Heavier than her. Heavier than her in her full plate armour. It was round, sure, but it was too big even to roll out of here. There was no way she was going to move it. It was tall enough for her to be able to stand behind and not be seen from the other side, which was fortunate, because just then the Princess realised the rhythmic breathing sounds had stopped.

    A jet of flame hit the ceiling ahead, followed by an ear splitting roar sent all the mist from the room through every available crack. Through the ringing in her ears, Princess Charming could hear a voice, deeper even than drunken philosophy at midnight. “WHO DARES DISTURB MY SLUMBER?”

    This, the Princess reasoned, was her only chance. There was no way she was going to outrun anything that big. She stood up from her involuntary crouching position behind the egg, made sure her armour was straightened, neat and presentable, and walked around the egg to face the dragon, she wasn’t called Charming for nothing, after all.

    She tried not to suppress a yelp of fear as she met the gaze of two ginormous glowing eyes, which looked in this light almost like they were made of flame themselves. She allowed herself to show just a hint of the fear she was feeling, vulnerable, yet confident. “I did, oh mighty one.”

    She figured the truth, even if it wasn’t the whole truth, was the best way to get herself out of this alive. “I didn’t mean to disturb you, I was merely looking for a place to rest. You see I have been trying to avoid the attentions of the princes of Far Far Away and Dreamland and I thought a misty castle would be the best place to hide from them.”

    The dragon seemed to consider this for a moment. “You’re telling me you’re hiding from princes? – hang on a minute, isn’t that the royal armour of the Kingdom of Make Believe? Are you a princess then? Aren’t dragons supposed to kidnap you for princes to come rescue?”

    “Not in my story they don’t” retorted the princess.

    A gigantic sigh of relief came from the dragon, nearly blowing Princess Charming off her feet. “I know just how you feel. I hate princes too.”

    “Oh I know, always trying to wake me with true love’s kiss. I was taking a nap! I had half a mind to have him beheaded there and then! Far too much tongue.”

    The dragon snorted a laugh as two small jets of flames shot out of it’s nostrils. It’s green scales began turning red on it’s face. “You didn’t see that.” It waved a claw dismissively.

    “Anyway, yes, they have always been a nuisance to myself as well, ever since I was a hatchling, always striding about the place thinking they’re so important, swearing to remove me from this earth, hefting great big spears at me – you see this scar?” It hefted a wing upwards for the princess to see a jagged scar along the side of the dragon. “Prince Borealis of the Mouse Kingdom did this to me as he slayed my mate.”

    The princess flinched at the sight of the scar. “Must have been a far braver prince than I have met before to tackle the might of a dragon such as yourself. Reckless and uncaring.” She found herself very glad that the Mouse Kingdom was very far away indeed.

    A sad smile came across the dragon’s face. “Exactly. Trying to make a name for himself by killing Ben and Sophia, the fearsome dragons of Mistwrought Keep. He got what he deserved after he killed Ben. I roasted him alive. Even in his armour, he was rather tasty.”

    As the dragon looked into the distance, remembering it’s mate, a thick mist began to form in it’s eyes. “I’m sorry my dear. It is very lonely here without Ben. All I would like is a little company that isn’t trying to kill me for once.”

    A smile began to form on Princess Charming’s face. “You know Sophia, I think this is going to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

    And so it came to pass that Princess Charming helped Sophia raise her hatchling, and their friendship lasted an age. Her mother, Queen Lovely, could not find a single prince brave enough to ‘rescue’ the Princess from the dragon, and after many years the Queen began to accept the Princess’ wishes, and even began to visit.

    The Queen quickly found that Mistwrought Keep now only suffered the early morning fog that the rest of the area nearby did – the magical mists seemed to have stopped and no one in her court could explain why.

    As for the Princess, she was happy she never had to rescue another prince who’d been daft enough to eat apples from complete strangers or who wandered into the woods and got themselves captured by a big hairy woman who lived in a house full of talking furniture.

    Eventually she settled down with Jack, who moved into the Keep with the princess and the two dragons, and once the people of the village nearby found out that Jack was living with two dragons, they quickly stopped trying to con him.

    And the four of them lived happily ever after.

    THE END

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