Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time, there was a prince with an ice-cold heart who was in love with his own reflection.

He spent day in and day out, studying his face in the many mirrors inside his castle, which was deep in the mountains and barricaded like a fortress.

He stayed locked up in his room, browsing the ‘goth ninja’ tag on Tumblr for fashion inspiration, styling his long, luxurious locks of hair, and practicing his smirk. He used up his kingdom’s resources to have his tailors sew him fashionable black clothes that he could parade around in and take selfies with.

Princes, as tradition states, are supposed to venture out to save princesses from dire situations. But our prince isn’t a regular prince, and this isn’t a regular fairy tale. And our distressing damsel…er, I mean, damsel in distress…is quite distressing indeed.

In the same kingdom, there lived an ancient witch who had a reputation for being the most evil and adorable of all the witches in the land.

She was beautiful, with raven hair and eyes like a sunset, and skin as pale as a fresh snowfall. Her smile was as bright and devastating as a lightning bolt, and her intoxicating voice could lure vipers to sleep. Her hands were like flame, crumbling lives of unsuspecting young men mesmerized by her charm. She had smiling lips with a poisoned kiss and honeyed lies, and nothing made her happier than seeing someone turned to stone beneath her gaze.

This witch was destructive, but her attention span was too short to wreak any real havoc, so people usually left her alone. She was only called in when the country was in crisis because her storm-broiling magic came in handy.

For example, when wars were threatening to brew, she would just unleash torrential rainfall, blizzards, and whirlwinds on advancing troops. After a while, other countries left the kingdom alone because there was no policy in the United Nations that specified witchcraft and magic as being illegal.

Plus hello, it’s 2016. Magic is not ‘in’ anymore.

But I digress.

Let’s get back to the prince.

One day the prince woke up to discover that his hair would simply not be styled in any way that made it look decent. He panicked, calling in his many hair dressers and style consultants, but nobody else could tame his hair either. In his rage and sorrow he sunk into depression, refusing to leave his tower room and sulking in his bed.

His father, the King, was informed of the situation. After hearing the staff report, the King facepalmed. But since he was a parent and all good royal parents are supposed to spoil their children (or so he thought), he sent out word via a text blast to everyone in the kingdom. Whoever could cure his son’s hair-induced depression AND tame his hair would be rewarded a vast sum of money.

The witch was playing Dota2 when she received the text blast. She heard her phone beeping from somewhere in the kitchen, so she disconnected from the game without warning (to her glee and to her teammates’ rage), and wandered to the kitchen to look for it. It was in the freezer, ice crystals beginning to form on its surface.

She wiped the screen on her dress, then squinted at the text.

She smirked.

She needed money to have a particularly rare species of carnivorous plant shipped over from Cambodia, and Fate had dropped money right on her lap.

The very next morning, the prince was woken up by a shaft of bright sunlight hitting him across the face. He hissed, scrambling to the wall and covering his face with the pillow. “What the fuck? Who are you? What are you doing here?”

There was a small girl standing across him, haloed by the burning daylight. She gave him an angelic smile. “I’m the answer to all your hair troubles, young mortal,” she announced, stepping closer. There was a huge pair of scissors glimmering on her hand. 

“Don’t come near me,” he said, glaring at her. “What’s up with that outfit anyway? Is that blood on your fingernails? You…you gore-loving creature!”

She looked down on him derisively. “Evil child,” she muttered. “I should curse your hair to fall off and never grow back again.”

The prince covered his hair protectively with a pillow.

She sighed. “Look, I’m not here to insult you. I’m actually here to help. See?” She brandished the phone and showed him the text message.

Reluctantly, he put the pillow down. “All right,” he said, smoothing one hand through his long hair self-consciously. “Knock yourself out.”

She hit him on the head, and he fell over like a ton of bricks.

“Oh,” she said in a mild tone. “I thought you told me to knock you out.”

The prince blinked himself awake 20 minutes later. He was in bed, and he felt suspiciously cold and lightheaded. “What’s going on?” he moaned, rubbing a hand over his forehead.

The witch was sitting at the edge of the bed, playing a game on her phone. “Oh, I fixed your hair,” she said, tossing him a hand mirror. The prince picked up the mirror and brought it to his face.

He screamed.

The witch looked at him in annoyance, her lip curling in distaste. “What are you screaming about now?” She asked crossly. “Didn’t I fix your hair?”

He knocked her down and glared at her, pinning her shoulders to the bed. “You….you cut my hair, you blithering idiot!”

Her eyes flamed. “Watch your words, you spoiled child,” she hissed. “You’re lucky I only cut your hair and not your neck.”

The door opened, and they both fell off the bed in surprise.

“Oh, I’m so glad to see that the two of you are getting along!” The King walked in, beaming at both of them. “Hair’s fixed, kingdom’s safe, it’s time for a marriage to kick things into high gear, don’t you think?”

The next day, the prince and the witch were sitting on the dinner table glaring at each other. After a while, the witch got bored of glaring and started playing with her food. The prince took it as a hint to start eating, and they spent the rest of the meal in silence.

“You have nice eyebrows,” the witch offered.

The prince’s cheeks turned red. He looked at her. “Really?”

“Yeah. They’re very strong and…and attractive.”

He smirked at her. “I like your cheeks,” he decided. “They make you look like a chipmunk.”

“I bet we’d look nice in selfies.”

“I know, right? And we both wear black all the time.”

“Let’s take pics!”

At the end of the day, they became best friends. And Tumblr-famous, but no one’s asking, right?

This fairy tale is really really long, so I’ll spare you all the parts you don’t need to know. The witch and the prince became closer as the days went by. She offered him her friendship in exchange for his soul, and her loyalty in exchange for his blood. His kiss silenced her poisoned words and freed her lips, and her hands melted his ice-cold heart.

“We should get married,” he mused one day, standing on the terrace with her. His arms were wrapped around her waist, resting his chin on the top of her head. “We’ll rule the kingdom and have many pets and have good-looking children.”

“Before we get married, will you agree to do a blood compact with me?” She asked.

“What?” He looked at her in confusion.

“I want to know what your blood tastes like,” she answered sweetly. “Don’t worry, it’ll be a one-time thing.”

It wasn’t a one-time thing.

She turned him into a vampire so he would be immortal like her (what, haven’t you ever heard of a vampiric witch before?) and she teased him by calling him a baby vampire. “Drink your blood and sleep a lot during the daytime so you’ll grow big and strong!” She told him.

“You didn’t grow at all,” he’d retort, and she’d kiss and bite him til they were both covered in bites and bruises.

“This just keeps getting better and better,” he said, sighing happily.

One summer evening, he held her hand and smiled at her, and he knew it was time. “I love you, and you love me,” he said. “I don’t see any reason why we should’t spend eternity together. Will you give me your heart?”

The witch looked sad, and she put his hand on her chest so he could feel that she had no heartbeat. “I don’t have one,” she said quietly. “I gave it to someone centuries ago but he got hungry and ate it.”

The prince sighed, then tilted her chin up and smiled at her. “Hey, that’s not a problem. We’ll share my heart instead.”

So the witch and the prince got married, and lived happily ever after.

The twin boy and girl on the bed looked up at their mother, who closed the book (it was actually a cookbook, but it had a mysterious-looking black cover and they couldn’t read yet anyway) with satisfying snap. “There. Story time’s done, so you two should go to sleep already.”

The girl pouted. “That’s not a real story,” she complained.

“There isn’t even a moral lesson!” her twin brother interjected.

“Stories don’t always need morals,” sighed their mother. “I was just making things up as I went, in hopes that you’d fall asleep in the middle of the tale.”

“Hey, what are you guys up to?” A tall man dressed in black stepped inside the room.

“Daddy!” The twins jumped off the bed and ran to him, hugging him tightly. “We missed you!”

Their mother smiled and got up, standing on her tiptoes and kissing him on the lips. “Welcome home, darling,” she told him affectionately. “We all missed you.”

“Let’s get the kids to bed,” he whispered, kissing her back.

After the twins were tucked in, the couple switched off the lights and exited the room.

“Mommy? Daddy?”

They turned back questioningly to their children, who were huddled in bed.

“Vampires and witches aren’t real, right?”

Their parents smiled angelically, their pointed teeth glinting in the darkness. “Of course not, sweethearts. Go to sleep now, okay?”

“Okay.”

“Good night.”

The parents closed the door and looked at each other. “Did you hide the blades from last time?” whispered the man, sliding his arms around his wife’s waist and nuzzling her nape.

“Of course,” she whispered back. “None of your bruises and bitemarks were visible today, right?”

“Don’t worry,” he laughed in a hushed voice, leaning down and skimming his teeth on her shoulder.

“What will we tell the children when they notice that we don’t age?” fretted his wife, pulling on his hair slightly.

He pinned her to the wall and smiled at her before tilting her chin up and kissing her lips. “Don’t worry about that yet,” he answered.

“I just remembered that I never did get that cash reward from your dad,” she whispered laughingly.

“I’ll get you that carnivorous plant for our anniversary,” he reassured her.

In the darkness, the twins watched their parents kiss, their eyes peeking through a sliver in the doorway. “Told you vampires were real,” the boy said smugly.

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