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Margaret stood at the front door of Red’s home with the cursed prince by her side. They had everything with them packed and and loaded onto the horses. The boys had somehow managed to find the prince’s horse that ran off during his fight. Margaret stood waiting for the witch to make her way out. She had told them to wait for her and went into a room Margaret knew not about.
As she awkwardly shifted from one leg to another, the prince stood relaxed staring at the nothingness in the darkness. It was nothingness for her. The night was barely illuminated by the lights coming from the house and the moonlight hid behind the gigantic trees. For the prince however, he was more of a creature of the night. Covered by his hood, Margaret couldn’t even see if what he was thinking was troubling or just another random fleeting thought one has when the sun has set. Night. It was the perfect home for deep thoughts. Thoughts that you never would imagine yourself having during the day. Things that stay deep within your mind that you can not ignore during the night. Darkest fears and greatest realizations tend to have a discussion with the person as the dark continues.
As Margaret twirled a lock of her hair that had come lose the tired hinges of the door creaked opened. Out came Red with a bottle of vile in one hand and something that looked like a long carved wooden wand in another. From the way the wood looked Margaret was reminded of the various fairy tales she had heard of women with magic wands.
“All ready to go?” Red asked one final time. Margaret nodded and with some little help from the prince sat up on the horse. The prince soon after sat on his and they looked at the witch. Red confidentially came up to Margaret’s horse and with the wand tapped on his nose. Margaret watched curious as she moved on and did the same with the prince’s horse. The horses neighed but didn’t move around much and soon Red was chatting something Margaret couldn’t hope to pick up. Words flew out of her lips like beautiful melody but lasted less than a minute. It made Margaret sad. It ended a little too quickly for her to enjoy it like a song.
As if a finishing touch, Red spread the contents of the bottle in front of the horses the clear liquid, instead of going all over the ground went forward in a thin line and soon vanished out of sight. For a moment nothing happened. Margaret wondered what was going on and looked at Red and the line of liquid that shined a little under the dim light from the house. As the moments passed Red chanted again. Like before Margaret couldn’t make out anything but this time she could see the results. The clear liquid turned silver and spread to both sides. The liquid had become a pathway.
“All you need to do to escape dangers of this forest is to remain on the path. No creature of the forest shall harm you two.” Red said with a last swing of the wand. Margaret couldn’t be more gracious. She had no intentions of running into blood thirsty wolves again. She had just opened her mouth to say some words of gratitude when a loud screech tore through the silence of the deep woods.
Red’s back straightened instantly and her eyes darted across. Footsteps echoed through the forest heading towards them.
“Step on the path!” Red shouted out and the prince’s reacted first by moving his horse and snapping Margaret from her confused state by calling out for her.
“Hurry Meg!” Red shouted and Margaret’s horse stepped on to the path. Margaret couldn’t help but look behind we seeing what made Red so edgy all of a sudden. The answer was in front of her a second later. As the horse moved forward a creature nothing like she had seen before descended from the sky and landed on the ground with a thud. Followed closely behind were the wolves that had attacked them before. As the creature looked towards the path way, directly in Margaret’s eyes, Margaret knew whom and what she feared the most at the moment. With quick kick to tell the horse to quicken his pace, Margaret soon went on ahead on the path behind the prince. The screeches of the creature whose image was now burnt on her head rang through out the forest along with growls of the wolves.
Standing on two feet, the creature was a mixture between a cat, bear and a bird. It was huge like a bear with limbs and eyes like a cat. Its body was covered in black and red feather and pointed red wings protruded out of his back. He was a monster. A kind Margaret hadn’t seen before. The kind that made the beastly prince look charming.
Although the voices grew distant and Margaret could know longer see the place where she once took shelter, she knew that a battle was going on and the creature was not on from the forest. What scared her more was that if the wolves were protecting the forest by defeating the creature, they could do nothing were the creature to step inside the path. With that thought Margaret urged her horse to go forward even quicker and said a silent prayer to the stars above.
Margaret and the prince rode their horses for what seems like hours but was barely a few minutes. Margaret’s heart slammed against her rib cage like the flapping wings of a hummingbird. The silent night was filled with the voices of hooves against the ground and Margaret was sure that even though the sound of hooves people could hear how fast Her heart was beating. Her hands had turned white the moment her eyes had met the creature and her throat ran dry. Her nails, which needed a trim, dug into the skin making micro tears across them. The cold air went unnoticed as the fear kept her from thinking about anything else.
Margaret knew red was strong but the fact was lost and the feared state continued until they came out of the forest in a few minutes.
“It’s defeated.” Was the first thing the prince said when they came out of the forest and the magical path ended leading to a normal dusty one. From the finality of his words one could easily know what defeated meant. The creature was dead. A fact that Margaret could only slightly register in her mind.
“You can relax now.” He calmed down the horse to a slow moving state coming besides Margaret who was a little behind at all times. Margaret tried unclenching her hands but they didn’t seem to want to move. Her hands were tightly stuck to the reigns of the horse and the tip of her finger nails were covered in blood. A fact that the beast could not ignore no matter how hard he would try. Margaret’s horse too was on a faster pace than the beast’s sensing his Mistress’s discomfort via his sixth sense and slight tugs on the reigns. For the first time that night the beast was the one moving slightly behind Margaret. The worried expression on his face was hidden to all.
“Margaret,” the prince called out calmly hoping that his companion would hear. However no response was given and nothing in her showed that his words has reached to him.
“Margaret,” The prince called out again. Margaret however, was still lost in her thoughts. Her head was bent as she tried to let go of the reigns, the imagine of the creature with the murderer’s intent still in the back of her mind. She had been through many ups and downs in her life. Heck, because of some rotten or good luck, she was still undecided which, she met a cursed Prince. Never through it all had she ever felt like this. Like any moment now could be her death in the most horrid way. Like someone wound rip her apart alive and eat her. Stars! Not even the wolves had scared her so much. The creature was much worse. Like all the hate the world had for her was concentrated to make that creature so that it could kill her in the most torturous way possible. Did Elena hate her so much? There was no way on earth that creature was anything but magical. Black magic, something that showed how much hate there was for her in the creator’s heart.
“Margaret!” The Prince shouted snapping the scared girl out of her thoughts. Without her noticing the prince had come besides her, walking close but still far enough so that the horses didn’t collide.
“Snap out of it. Are you alright?” For the first time Margaret thought that the prince’s voice sounded soft. Margaret blinked a couple of times trying to come out of her fear and realize that they were far away. As the horse walked a little more, Margaret’s heartbeat went back to the normal rate.
“My hands,.. ” Margaret said barely above a whisper. To the prince’s sharp ears they were loud enough. Although not many knew something similar had happened to the prince as a child too. It was a tale lost through the years revived by seeing the girl besides him facing something similar.
“Stop.” He commanded. Like his own, Margaret’s horse stopped listening to the clear command. Margaret too stopped fiddling letting the horse ease a little.
With a quick leap, the prince was off his horse and walking towards Margaret’s with reigns of his horse slightly on his hands. He did not want the horse running away in the middle of the night. He had no plans of sharing the horse and making more stops in their journey than required so that the horse could rest.
The Prince’s hands reached Margaret’s and blood became more hard to ignore when he could feel it cursing through the warm blooded and bleeding companion.
“You once told me you have siblings?” The Prince tried to converse recalling anything and everything he could about Meg.
“Yes, I have three.”Margaret answered, a sad smile forming on her face. What would Her family’s reaction be if she were to end up dead?
“How is it like growing up with siblings? I am a single child.” The Prince said part curious and partly trying to distract Margaret as he moved his hand to hers. Margaret felt his cold rough skin but said nothing as she thought about all the good days she has had.
“It’s definitely not bad. I can not imagine living without even a single of them. May it be the oldest of us, Giselle, who mom would always compare me for my knitting skills or the youngest, Ash who was always my partner in crime. Even Gilbert was always protective but kind. We had her days of tease and pranks. Did I mention about the time when they put a mouse in Giselle’s room? They tried it with me too but I am not really scared of mouses thankfully. Giselle however freaked out because the mouse ate bits of embroidery she had been working on.”
Margaret’s hands started to feel warm. How she didn’t know. The prince’s hand was cold and hers were an awkward sweaty cool but still a weird warm sensation filled them too. Telling her to talk on, the prince took a finger and slowly opened it. Without much resistance, Margaret’s hand was defrosting from its clenched position.
“R..right. Ash and I had this inbuilt interest in business. I guess it inevitable when there was always so much going around the house. Father would often let Gilbert sit through the meetings but not us. So Asher and I would grab some stools and go out to the garden. We put the stools just outside the office window and listen in. We never could make out much but it was fun. Sometimes our giggles would get to father and he would act like he didn’t hear and open the window slightly so that we could listen in. At times he would just tell us to shoo. There were also times when he would give us work. We would take a small amount of money and happily walk down the streets of the city saying we were on a work from our father and grab the random collection of things he wanted. With whatever was left we would treat ourselves with candy.” Like a kid seeing a candy, Margaret smiled. Childhood had so many beautiful memories, none of which she would ever trade. They were things that she hoped she would never forget.
When Margaret looked down on her hands again, bother her fists were open. They were a bleeding mess but they were open and no longer pale. Margaret tried to move her hands and although it hurt a little, moving the hand was no problem.
“Thank you,” Margaret said realizing how kind the prince had been to help. She had rarely seen him act with such a tenderness. She tried to recall the last time but failed to. The journey had surely forced him to open up more to her. As the seconds passed, Margaret waited for the prince to move away but he did not. His gaze was still at her hands and his hands still held hers. She tried to tug them away a little but it was futile against his strong grip.
In the next second, his mouth was on her hands devouring the blood slowly. A little too slowly for her comfort. The feel of his skin against her was not something she was used to. She did not know if she wanted to get used to it or not.
“Lord Wellington,” Margaret called out as she tried to free Her hand from his grasp has his mouth moved to each finger on her hand not wanting to lose a drop.
“Lord Wellington,” Margaret said a little out of breath because of what she realized was happening.
“Adam!” Margaret exclaimed uncomfortably pulling her hands back again. This time the words had reached the prince and he stepped back dazed. A daze that slightly met Margaret’s whose face turned a shade of red that was just on her hand but vanished into the mouth of the prince next to her.
The prince’s eyes went wide as he realized what he had just done. Quickly sitting on his horse he trotted ahead of Margaret letting the daze girl catch up to him silently. No more was said for the rest of the night as the two traveled tho their destination.