2
Unknown artist

The prince with the blonde hair and the blue eyes threw for one more time the rope into the window of the high tower. The hook, that was tied in the end of the rope, got finally stuck on the inside part of the stone wall. He pulled the rope to make sure it was safe and then started climbing up the wall so skillfully and fast that even a cat would envy him. When he reached the top, he jumped quietly inside. The room, like the rest of the castle, was completely dark so he could only distinguish few things under the light of the full moon. He carefully got out of the storage room and with swift steps he headed towards the princess’ bedroom. He grabbed the door handle and turned it slowly. The fire in the fireplace across the princess’ bed was still burning so the room was warm. He walked inside and closed the door behind him. The young girl was already sleeping. A candle and a book on the desk next to her were the only company she had. The prince came closer and woke her up with a caress. She opened her eyes and when she saw him sitting on her bedside, she got out of her covers suprised.

– What are you doing here? she asked him.

– I am here to see you, he answered and smiled. I couldn’t stand any longer staying beneath your window, talking and looking at you from afar. I had to come closer. Each single day that I was leaving you to return to my palace, I was thinking about it. Tonight I made the decision.

While saying these, the young man moved the princess’ brown hair away from her face and caressed her cheek, making her blush even more.

– And now that you are here, she continued, what do you say?

– I say I was a fool for not coming earlier. You are astonishingly beautiful.

The princess smiled and looked at the moon, outside the window.

– What you are doing is very dangerous, she said. I have no idea what they might do to you if you get caught in my room at this time. But I am certain it won’t be pleasant.

– I do not care. I would endure anything for your beauty. But you worry not. They are not going to get me, nor you. I came to see if what I desired was worth it and now I am certain.

– You are certain of what?

– That I want to make you my wife. Come with me. Let’s get out of this castle tonight and never come back.

The girl laughed and her eyes glowed with happiness.

She wanted more than anything to get away from that enormous, cold castle. There was nothing keeping here there. But it was not always like that. There was a time that the castle was full of life, love and care. Her father would make noise in the endless corridors, calling her outside to go for hunting or fly the kite when the weather was ideal to bring it high up in the sky; the kitchen would be filled with the countless smells of the food that her mother loved to cook everyday. In the late evening, they would usually stay all together, in front of the huge fireplace in the winter or on the large porch, which would be full of flowers, in the summer. Her father would read stories while her mother would be knitting or softly brushing the girl’s long hair. At night, whenever she would feel alone in her big room, she knew she could go snuggle inside her parents’ hug and they would say nothing, no matter how late it was. She used to love that castle. For it was her home. But now it was just a building. An empty building. Since her parents died, everything seemed so empty inside it. Even the glorious throne room, with the chandeliers, the expensive rugs and the myriads of jewelries, crowded with servants, citizens and entertainers, was empty. To her, no one was there, she was alone in the crowd. The princess’ face turned dark. She reached for him, held his hand in hers with tender and looked at him sad.

Why? she asked him.

– Why what? What do you mean?

– Why do you want me as your wife? Why do you wish to take me with you?

The prince laughed so loud that the girl was afraid someone would hear them.

– What a silly question! I already told you why. I would do anything for your beauty. Anything for this sweet, soft face, these mgnificent big eyes, these wonderful lips.

 My beauty? asked again sadly the girl. 

– Well, of course! What else? So come, do not hesitate. Take my hand and let’s get out of here, he said and grabbed the princess’ hand.

– I can’t leave, she said and pulled her hand away from him.

– What do you mean? he asked confused.

– The castle… is bound with magic.

– What kind of magic?

– It won’t let me go. Everything started on my 18th birthday, when a woman that once knew my father came to visit us. My father had broken her heart in some way in the past and she had returned to take her revenge. With a curse for me, his daughter. If I ever step out of these walls, someone I love will die. I know it will happen because it has already come true…twice… but I was not aware of the spell back then. Now I know and I won’t risk it again.

The princess thought of her older sister. Even though she was far away from her, she loved her and didn’t  want to lose her, in the same way she lost her parents.

– So you will stay locked up in here forever?

– Yes… unless true love comes. A true love’s kiss will break the spell and I will be able to go wherever I like.

– Perfect! The prince said excited. Then the only thing I have to do is to kiss you, he said and leaned towards the princess.

– I guess so, said the princess and leaned towards him as well.

Their leaps met and that was their first kiss. Not the first kiss for the princess though. Many more “true” loves had tried to take her away from the castle in the past but they didn’t make it. They all end up running scared in the hallway, as fast and as far from her as they could. In the same way he would end up too. When they were done kissing, he opened his eyes hoping to see her pretty face. But what he saw left him speechless. The princess’ soft skin was now withering, coming apart and falling from her face, leaving behind only the awful red flesh. Her leaps were peeling and they were all bloody and rough. Soon the prince was staring at a girl that looked nothing like the beautiful princess he had fallen in love with when he first saw her in the window of her tower. Her face was now hideous and he could barely look at her. The only thing that was the same was her sad eyes. Seeing his reaction and the repulse in his look, her big eyes flooded with tears.

– I’ll be pretty again, she said crying. In the morning, I’ll be pretty again. This is how I look when I am kissed, it is part of the curse, she explained to him. Don’t leave, please don’t leave like the others did.

– Are you completely insane? he yelled at her as he was pulling away from her. I don’t want to kiss you ever again if you are going to look like that. You are a monster! How can I live with a monster? All I ever wanted was a beautiful princess. Look at you now. I feel pity for you!

Having said these he left her and came out of the room running back to the storage room and down the rope where he came from. The girl was left alone once more, with the candle still burning on the desk, next to the book. She got up and went near the window. She watched the prince getting away on his white horse, disappearing in the forest and never coming back for her again.

– If you really loved me, I would have stayed beautiful after you kissed me, she whispered while she was drying her tears. That’s how the curse goes: “true love will never see you ugly and will get you out of this castle of loneliness”. It was not you the one then. How badly I wanted it though. How much I am tired of waiting. How much I wish for a spell to enchant a man’s soul, to feel what I feel, my emotions to flow inside him, to witness my true face. And want me for that, and only for that.

Thinking of these the princess went back to her bed, closed her sad eyes and fell asleep.

After a while the door opened again slowly. The young stable man entered quietly in the room, just like he did every night as soon as the princess was falling asleep. He came closer to her and pulled her covers up. He looked at her red, withered face in the dim light of the candle. He kneeled and kissed her on the cheek.

– You are beautiful, he whispered in her ear. No matter how you look , you will always be beautiful. I see that. One day you will see it too. And with that, you will see me too. And then your eyes won’t be sad anymore.

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