The Fairy Godmother
by J. Falconer
Disclaimer: Xena, Gabrielle etc belong to MCA/Universal and Ren Pics, and anyone else who has an interest in Xena Warrior Princess, not me.
Copyright ã 2000: The characters in here belong to me. All rights reserved. No part or whole of this work may be copied or used in any shape, form, or manner whatsoever without the author's express written consent. If you want to use them, all you have to do is ask Ö nicely.
Violence disclaimer: This story depicts scenes of violence and/or their aftermath. Bit more graphic than usual (enter, stranger, at your riske Ė here there be icky bits), but readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of depiction may wish to read something other than this story.
Love/Sex warning: This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live - move along, move along, nothing for you here ...
Major vote of thanks to my ever patient beta readers ForevaXena and Diamonddog for taking valuable time out to read this. This was a shocking ordeal, and I would never have made it without either one of you <G>
Once upon a time there was a poor young woman living deep in the forest just within the borders of a prosperous Kingdom. Her parents were old, her father a simple woodcutter having given his lifetime to the forest, culling it for wood for the kingdom. As the young woman grew to womanhood, her parents urged her to get married, as they were in the twilight of their years, and longed only to see their daughter settled and happy. The young blonde girl with sparkling green eyes, Jadon, was not of a mind to settle down however, resisting the idea of marriage before she was good and ready. As this caused some friction with her parents and Jadon loved them both very much, she decided to leave her simple home and go out to seek her fortune in the world. Her parents initially resisted, but when they saw how determined she was, they packed a knapsack for her, kissed her and tearfully bid her farewell.
Jadon set off through the thick forest with her dog Frog (so named for some reason none of them ever fully understood) out into the wide, wild world. She traveled for several years, steadily becoming wiser and more beautiful, able to defend herself against any unscrupulous people. She was seeking something she could not name, Frog constantly by her side. Finally, one day, her feet took her to a large Kingdom, covered in brightly covered, festive decorations, citizens hurrying about their business excitedly. She looked all around herself in confusion, attempting to stop several people to find out the cause of all the apparent gaiety. All shook their heads, mumbling "too busy," or simply waving her away, until finally she managed to stop an old woman carrying a large load of kindling.
"Good mother," said Jadon courteously. "Can you please tell me the cause of all the celebration?"
"Why yes," said the kind old woman with vague eyes. Her face was heavily seamed, back bent from carrying her heavy load. "But you must first help me. This load of wood is quite heavy."
"Of course," said Jadon immediately, kicking herself for not offering first. "Where are we going?"
"We are going to my cottage," sighed the old woman, setting down her load and rubbing the small of her back. "Please, follow me."
So Jadon hefted the basket up, and slung it over a shoulder. It was not too heavy, and she followed the old woman through the busy township, taking countless turns down dim side streets. Finally Jadon was completely and irrevocably lost as she found herself standing outside an old hovel in the poor section of the city. The load had started off light, but now was so heavy that her muscles were bulging mightily, her entire frame struggling not to collapse under the tremendous weight. Beside her sat Frog, tongue lolling, as they waited for the old crone to open the door. It took much fumbling and muttered black curses, but eventually it got opened.
Jadon staggered inside, eyeing the ancient, clean sitting room nervously, then followed the old woman into the dark interior of the kitchen, also clean and well kept, at the back of the house. She dropped the wood, as carefully as she could, onto the floor near to the large pile at the back of the room.
"Can you please just stack that wood for me?" asked the old woman, smiling slightly, childlike eyes gleaming. "Iíll make us both a nice cup of tea."
Jadon readily agreed and set to work.
The pile of wood in the sack seemed never ending. She mechanically stacked the wood, noting with dismay that it never seemed to end. After several hours of stacking wood, she was sweating freely and her muscles were aching. Still, she did not stop as Frog slept by the cheerily burning fire, accepting the odd pat from the old woman who had seated herself comfortably and watched with seeming interest. Finally, she called a halt to the activity, bag still looking as full as it had several hours earlier.
"Thatís enough, dear Jadon," said the old woman. "We will call it quits, task discharged."
"Thank you, old mother," said Jadon, wiping the sweat from her brow. Her clothes, already in tatters from her long time on the road, were dirty and ruined, torn in several places.
"Now, then, dear Jadon," said the old woman, as Jadon settled herself in the comfortable old chair across from the woman, accepting the tea with a sigh. "What are you doing here?"
"I asked you what the celebrations in the town were for," said Jadon patiently, reminding herself she was talking to a very old woman. She wondered with a start how the old woman had known her name, as she hadnít properly introduced herself.
"Oh, yes," said the old woman, looking as happy and vacant as ever. "The celebrations."
There was a pause, and Jadon was about to say something, but shut her mouth with a snap when the woman continued on.
"Our King has decided to marry off his eldest daughter, Princess Faith. There is a procession in the town today and a ball tonight for her to find a beau."
"Oh," said Jadon, eyes lighting up. "This is very exciting! How I would like to see the procession!"
"Would you?" asked the old woman, childlike eyes gleaming. Abruptly the expression vanished. "Would you what?"
"Like to see the procession," said Jadon patiently, too excited to notice the lapse.
"Oh, good heavens, yes! Letís go," said the old woman, abruptly putting her mug down, rushing to the door to put her patched shawl back on. Frog ran behind her, woofing excitedly.
Jadon quickly raced behind her, out the door Ö into full night. They had missed the procession by several hours. The woman stopped, and Jadon crashed into her back, overbalancing and tripping so she landed on her behind out in the street. She grimaced when she felt the wet ground start to seep through her clothes. Frog stared at her as though she had gone insane, then padded over and gave her a lick of sympathy.
"Thanks, Frog," she said, stroking the dog behind the ears. "We missed it." She was quite upset. The old woman, in the meantime, had not noticed the altercation at her rear, and stared up at the night sky, annoyed.
"We missed it," she said. "Well, thereís no help for it now. Youíll have to go to the ball tonight."
Jadon gaped at her, glancing down at her clothes. "But Ö what Ö how Ö I Ö Look, this must be some kind of a joke, right? How on earth can I go looking like this?"
"Oh, thatís no problem," said the old woman airily. "Iím your fairy godmother, Jadon. Esmerelda is my name. I can give you a new dress. Come on, no time like the present!"
Jadon still gaped, unable to keep up with the rapid series of events. Unresisting, she allowed the old woman to haul her to her feet (she was a lot stronger than she looked), and pull her back into the house. Frog leapt and licked Jadon the whole way. When they reentered the hovel, Jadon found herself standing in the middle of the sitting room, dazed, while the old woman circled her speculatively.
"Good heavens," exclaimed the old woman when she spied Jadonís dirty rump. "What have you been doing?"
"Err, nothing," said Jadon, deciding not to mention their collision as she twisted to look at the offending area.
The old woman eyed her dubiously. "Alright then," she said. "Letís get started. First, you will need a new suit of clothes."
She rushed into the kitchen, and Jadon heard a ferocious clattering and banging for several minutes, and had decided to go and find out if Esmerelda was still in one piece. Just as she began to move, Esmerelda flew from the kitchen, waving the sack that had just held a pile of wood, all splintery and filthy.
"Change into this," she commanded.
Jadon did not want to appear unappreciative, but could not see how a sack could possibly be any better than the rags she was already dressed in, so all she said was, "Where am I going to put my head and arms?"
"Oh, right," said the old woman, tearing the sack in all the right places. "Well, go on, strip," she continued when Jadon hesitated.
Jadon unwillingly peeled off her ruined clothing, standing there shivering in the cold air, underwear almost torn to nothing. The sack was a little short and stopped mid thigh. Jadon struggled not to tug on it to satisfy her offended sense of decency.
"My, my, you do look good," said the old woman with a wink.
"Err, yes, thank you," said Jadon, struggling with the sack, wincing as it rubbed in all the wrong places. When she was done, the fairy godmother began dancing around the young girl, kicking and panting and howling. Jadon struggled not to giggle, then gradually began to notice that the cloth was no longer sticking into her and rubbing in all the wrong places. She looked down at herself and saw that it had been transformed into a gorgeous, shimmering white dress, revealing her ample cleavage to good effect. Her eyebrows shot upwards in wonder.
"Next," said the old woman, tapping her chin. "We shall need some form of transportation." She looked around the room, and Jadon caught her muttering something about mice and pumpkins. Jadon tried hard to ignore it; by that stage, she simply didnít want to know.
"Well, looks like you have a horse and no carriage," said Esmerelda finally. "Frog, come here."
The dog obediently went to her, and licked her hand. The happy look changed to one of alarm as she circled the dog and chanted the same way she had done for Jadon. He howled when suddenly he began to stretch and transform, shimmering in an incandescent ball of light. Suddenly, the glow vanished, and a huge black horse stood in the sitting room.
"Wow," said Jadon, then paused for a moment. "How are we going to get him outside?"
Esmerelda stared at her as though she had grown horns. "Heís going to have to go through the door, how else?"
Jadon looked at the small, person sized door doubtfully and said nothing. Esmerelda grabbed the fancy reins of the black horse, and led him to the door. "Go through the door," she said, and Frog obligingly walked forward, getting stuck half way.
With frantic heaving and straining, Esmerelda got a firm grip on his rump and began to push, horse whinnying and protesting, straining and stamping feet. Jadon tried to rush in and help.
"No, no," said the old woman crossly, waving her away. "What are you thinking? Youíre going to get yourself all dirty again."
She pushed and shoved, panted and both strained mightily as the horse suddenly shot through the door, doorframe scraping his gut as he worked his way through, covered with a thin sheen of sweat. The old woman wiped her sweating brow, looked at the bemused Jadon, and then waved at her. "What are you still doing in here?" she asked. "Get out there and go to the ball!"
Jadon dutifully made her way out of the horse, and smoothly mounted, untroubled by her skirts. She had been riding since she was a small child, and knew her way around horses. As she collected the reins in her hands, Esmerelda rushed out of the house and up to her with some last minute instructions. "This enchantment will last until midnight," she said. "After that time, all will return to what it was. That should give you enough time to get your look at the Princess. Good Luck!"
With that parting comment, the fairy godmother slapped the horseís rump, and Frog took off at a trot, Jadon hanging on the back. She did not steer the horse, as Frog appeared to know exactly where to go. On they trotted through the brightly lit town streets, mixing in well with the other guests in their ornate and brightly painted carriages heading towards the castle. The castle was lit up like the sun on a summerís day, torches lining the road giving off thin, fragrant smoke. At the gates of the palace, richly dressed footmen greeted every guest by name. When Jadon arrived the nearest footman stepped up to her horse and quietly asked who she was.
"Jadon," she replied softly, shy.
He waited expectantly for a moment or two, cleared his throat and asked "Of - ?"
"Err, Forest Deep," said Jadon lamely, the best thing she could think of under the circumstances. The footman appeared to accept this, and nodded, allowing her through. When she reached the open door, more servants rushed towards her to assist her down from her horse and usher her into the castle ballroom.
When she stepped through the door, slightly dazed with all the finery and splendor she had been subjected to, a deep manís voice announced from the side, "Lady Jadon of Forest Deep."
It sounded silly to Jadonís ears, so she rushed into the milling guests, some eating and drinking, most on the dance floor engaged in a lively waltz. Hoping no one noticed her, she quietly slipped through the guests to the overloaded buffet table and got herself something to eat. As she quietly stood to the side munching contentedly on her feast, she watched the people in the room. All were richly dressed, decked out in the finest silks and rare perfumes, all looking every inch the Lords and Ladies. Her gaze wandered to the front of the room, to the seated royals. There were five people seated on the dais. On the two largest and most ornate thrones, a simply dressed man and woman sat, hands clasped across the arms of their chairs, sipping champagne and watching the crowd with hawk like eyes, clearly the King and Queen. To the Kingís left sat a very ornately dressed woman, very beautiful, in her mid twenties, with shining blonde hair and a bored, sulky expression on her face. To the right of the Queen sat another girl with long, shining red hair, eyeing the crowd excitedly, dressed almost as richly as her sister. Next to her sat the most beautiful woman Jadon had ever laid eyes on. She was very, very tall, with long, shining black hair and the most arresting pair of blue eyes Jadon had ever seen, easily discernable from Jadonís vantage point against the wall halfway up the ballroom. Unlike her sisters, she was dressed in simple, finely made leather armour, and had an alert, interested expression on her face.
Jadon had emptied her plate, and began to move through the animated crowd towards the buffet to help herself to another portion, when suddenly a heavily perfumed man appeared and stopped her.
"May I have this dance?" he gestured elegantly towards the dance floor.
A waiter appeared silently at her side, and gracefully rescued her empty plate from her. She took his outstretched hand and allowed him to guide her gracefully towards the dance floor. In short order, they were whirling away with the other guests, silently enjoying themselves. As the festivities continued, Jadon found herself dancing with a wide array of suitors, each more handsome and noble born than the last. Finally, after a brief partner change she was barely aware of, she found herself dancing with the gorgeous blonde from the dais, none other than Princess Faith.
"I noticed you out here and couldnít resist," said the aforementioned Princess to the flabbergasted Jadon. She almost stumbled and the Princess caught her as they continued to whirl across the dance floor.
"Thank you, your Highness," Jadon said, uncertain of exactly how one would curtsey while engaged in a lively waltz. Faith dipped her elegant head, gray eyes flashing, and began chatting to her partner.
Jadon found herself entranced by the Princess. She was intelligent, witty and very good-natured, if a little stuck up and shallow. The dance continued as she chatted on, Jadon barely able to get a word in edgewise. She contented herself with quiet murmurs, nods and smiles as the talk continued. When the dance finished, Jadon felt slightly disappointed. She had been enjoying the feel of the lush young woman in her arms. Suddenly, Jadon found herself being dragged to the front of the room, directly to the King and Queen.
"Mother, Father," said Faith excitedly. "Iíve found the one I want to marry!"
The King and Queen looked up and down at Jadon, eyes kind. "How sweet," said the King.
"Arenít you adorable," said the Queen. "What is your name, child?"
"Jadon," said Jadon, shy and blushing.
"We must make an announcement," said the King, and suddenly stood up.
As he rose, servants signaled to the orchestra for silence, which was quickly given, the orchestra wrapping up the music fluidly, as the assembled crowd eyed their standing monarch with interest.
"My good subjects and friends," began the King. "Her Highness, our daughter Princess Faith, has found her suitor. It is to be the good Lady Jadon!"
The crowd began cheering at the flummoxed Jadon, struggling to speak. Abruptly all around her hands reached out to touch the new beloved of the Princess. The Princess laughed and grabbed her hand, caressing it. She pilled Jadon out to the dance floor, where the orchestra struck up a lively tune, and they whirled away again, lost in the music and each otherís eyes, Jadon slightly dazed from her sudden betrothal, uncertain, but content with her fate to be married to a beautiful young Princess.
Suddenly, Jadon found herself with a new partner as a dozen laughing and cheering well-wishers converged on the Princess and carried her away on a river of champagne and good spirits. Jadon stared after them feet moving in time with the music mechanically. Slowly she became aware of the body she was holding onto. It was hard, strong and very luscious, clearly very feminine by the gorgeous scent caressing her senses. The arms held her firmly and gently, Jadon seeing a sea of black chest, eyes rising up a smooth, silky neck to feast on the perfect features above it. A pair of sapphire eyes sparkled back at her and she found herself drowning in them as the smooth contralto teased her hearing.
"So youíre the woman who has snared my sisterís heart," said the Princess. "Iím Taylor, the youngest and least likely to snare a beau."
"Jadon," said Jadon breathlessly, laughing, carried away by the sheer beauty of the woman in front of her.
They danced quietly away for a moment or two, until Taylor spoke again. "You donít say much, do you? Well it doesnít really matter, I suppose, since youíre unlikely to get a word in edgewise around my sister."
"No," said Jadon, lost in Taylor. "Err, I mean, Yes, I mean ... Oh dear, I donít think I mean anything at all." She gave up trying to speak as the youngest Princess chuckled softly, revealing her even, white teeth.
"Itís okay," said Taylor in her velvety voice. "We all know what Faith is like."
Jadon smiled, and they whirled around the dance floor, lost in the music and one another. Dimly, Jadon became aware that the clock was striking the half hour, and that her clothing began to feel ...odd, rough almost Ö Then Jadon realized what was happening, and with a cry of dismay, disentangled herself from the close embrace of the Princess, and ran out the door. Taylor looked alarmed when the gorgeous little blonde tore herself away. It took her several seconds to recover, then she was in hot pursuit, music fumbling to a halt, dancers milling in confusion, as she tore out the door after Jadon. Almost there, she was intercepted by Faith.
"What did you say to her, you savage?" she demanded, while Taylor gaped, backlash of emotion washing over her leaving her dazed and confused.
"Nothing," she said simply. "The clock struck and she ran."
Suddenly, all revelry ceased as a gigantic ball of ethereal flame washed over the front of the room, and Faith began to dematerialize. She stared down at her hands in pure shock as they became translucent and faded out of existence, Taylor frantically trying to grab her, arms passing through thin air. She whirled to stare at the ball that began to coalesce into a gleaming, snow white dragon, shimmering richly in the torchlight, guests exclaiming and gasping with shock and dragon fear. On the back of the mighty dragon, seated comfortably, was a fully plate armored figure, metal gleaming like the sun in the brightly lit room. Behind him, the figure of the Princess was clearly visible, struggling to get off the dragon, appearing totally unable to do so. The figure did nothing to attempt to stop her struggles.
"I HAVE YOUR PRINCESS," the figure boomed needlessly. "I WILL KILL HER UNLESS YOU AGREE TO GIVE ME A MEASURE OF EMERALDS, DIAMONDS AND RUBIES, WITH A THOUSAND PIECES OF GOLD. IF MY DEMANDS ARE MET, THE PRINCESS WILL BE RETURNED TO YOU UNHARMED."
With those final words, the Dragon swung his mighty tail, scattering the assembled crowd, sending people rushing to the exits, swamping Taylor in a living sea of flesh. She struggled to remain on her feet and make her way to the King as the Dragon trumpeted, reared its neck, and began to fade out of existence. Taylor struggled through the panicked people, assaulted with the rare perfumes and sweat of pure fear. She trippingly made it to the dragon, and launched itself at the struggling princess on the back of the dragon. Arms again encircling thin air, she crashed heavily to the flagstones of the ballroom floor, groaning mightily.
Outside, Jadon ran for her life, Frog swiftly joining her, panting and woofing when he saw his mistress. It was not easy to hide in the midst of all the servants and guests, she soon found out to her dismay. No sooner had she slipped from behind a large pillar, seeking to escape the palace, than she was converged on by an army of horrified footmen, and thrown out into the street as a vagrant. At that moment, the dragon landed in the palace, and she heard all.
Frog dragged her back to her fairy godmotherís house, as she moaned, sobbed and clutched her head, wondering how she had gotten herself into such a mess. When she arrived, she was still moaning, and Esmerelda flew out of her hovel to eye her with considerable alarm.
"Child," she said, "Whatever could the matter be?"
"Iím in trouble," sobbed Jadon.
"Come in, dear, and weíll talk about it."
Putting a friendly arm around the sackcloth encased shoulders, Esmerelda gently steered the distraught young woman inside the house. She seated her by the fire in the sitting room, Frog leaping up to commiserate with his young mistress, then settled himself down by the fire with a sigh. Esmerelda fluttered around the kitchen for a moment, then reappeared with two mugs of steaming tea. Handing one to Jadon, she seated herself next to the young woman and put an arm around her shoulders as Jadon cried her heart out.
When she had finally cried herself out, she sniffled, "This is just awful."
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"I went to the ball, and was having a great time. I ended up dancing with Princess Faith, and she announced that she was going to marry me. Then I ended up dancing with Princess Taylor, and I felt the enchantment begin to undo itself Ė before midnight I might add. I had to leave and when I did, something big and loud kidnapped Princess Faith." All of this came out amid more tears and sniffling.
"Now then dear," said Esmerelda. "Do you love the girl?"
Jadon considered for a moment. She knew the Princess was very good-looking, definitely quite a catch. She thought she was amazingly lucky to have snared a Princess, and definitely wanted to get to know her a little better. But love? Sheíd only just met the girl.
"I donít know," she said simply, confusion and misery the only emotions she was capable of feeling at the moment.
"What are you going to do?"
"I have to find her, rescue her. I have to tell her the truth, but I donít think Iím up to it," said Jadon sadly.
"Yes you are," said Esmerelda firmly. "I will help you, all you need to do is call me if you run into trouble."
"But I donít know where Iím going or what to do."
"Donít worry about that, help will be along shortly," said Esmerelda, giving a sunny smile. "You can spend the night here, and set off in the morning."
Jadon did not argue. She knew she had to leave and find the Princess. So she didnít argue when the old woman hustled her off to bed. Even though it was the last thing on her mind, sleep came easily to the young girl, and she woke up feeling refreshed, looking for the tattered dress she had arrived in.
"Good morning," said Esmerelda brightly, though the sun was not quite yet in the sky. "Ready to go?"
"Yes," said Jadon absently, scanning the floor and staring at her hostess. "I donít suppose you know what happened to my clothes, do you?"
"I burnt them," said Esmerelda absently, rooting through a tidy cupboard. Jadon gaped at her.
"You canít travel in those, theyíre filthy."
"What do you suggest I wear?" asked Jadon, looking down at her sackcloth and bare feet.
"Oh dear," said Esmerelda, "I donít have anything else for you."
"Canít you just Ö sort of Ö magic some up for me?" asked Jadon, vaguely waving her hands around. Esmerelda stared at her with something akin to shock.
"No," she responded with some asperity. "It doesnít work like that."
Jadon sighed, resigned to her grubby fate. Esmerelda returned to her task of making more tea for breakfast. Without really knowing what happened, Jadon found herself sitting at the kitchen table, squirming uncomfortably as stray splinters poked at her in unmentionable places. The meal was good and hearty, and she gratefully accepted the knapsack that Esmerelda packed for her.
Esmerelda stood at the front door of the hovel and waved as Jadon and Frog set off. They quietly made their way through the quiet town streets, avoiding all the early morning travelers, and snuck through the gate while the gatekeeper and his men searched a farm cart on its way in to the markets.
Sighing with relief, Jadon walked down the road and into the forest, pondering where she was going to start looking for the dragon. The lush forest gradually lightened as the early morning sun rose and lit her way. She had gone on for about half a day, and stopped to rest by a stream, hungry and thirsty, feet bleeding and sore from numerous cuts and scrapes, heart heavy. Sighing, she opened her knapsack and began to unpack the feast her fairy godmother had packed for her. The sack was seemingly endless, Jadon finding enough food to feed an army, even finding a few tasty tidbits for the hungry Frog.
As she and her faithful dog feasted, she noticed that the knapsack still looked crammed, and gave a silent thanks to Esmerelda for giving her at least one magical treat. When she had finished her meal, she lay back on the bank of the bubbling stream and sighed, full to bursting point.
"I thought Iíd find you here," said a deep womanís voice from just behind her. She sat up with a start and Frog began barking. When she whirled around, she saw the grinning face of Taylor, seated comfortably on her horse.
"What are you doing here?" she asked the dark haired woman. "Some watchdog you are Frog," she muttered to her unrepentant, grinning hound.
"Actually, itís more along the lines of what are you doing here," said the Princess. "Iíve been sent to look for you and bring you back." Taylor stared at Jadonís sackcloth, trying not to stare at her curves. "Whatís a noble lady like yourself doing sitting around in sackcloth?"
"Itís a long story," sighed Jadon.
"I have time," said Taylor, gracefully dismounting her horse and sitting comfortably next to Jadon, each unconsciously reveling in the otherís proximity.
Jadon sighed again and said, "Have you eaten? This is going to take a while."
Taylor shook her head, and Jadon unpacked a feast for the royal, who stared at her with one raised eyebrow. She ignored the look, and told her of her arrival in the town, her fairy godmother, the ball and her quest to find her betrothed. When she had finished, Taylor was silent.
"Well," Taylor said thoughtfully. "I canít just let you go, and I canít let you go on by yourself. The King has sent out a proclamation for dragon slayers to come to the Kingdom. You are to be brought back for safe keeping until Faith is found and rescued. Actually, I can stretch my orders a little and I suppose I can Ďfindí you again after you have rescued your Princess."
"Hold on a moment, what do you mean Ďdragon slayersí?"
"Didnít you know? No, I donít suppose you would. A dragon kidnapped Faith. Not to worry," Taylor held up her hand to forestall Jadonís protests. "I can help you with that. I know my way around a sword and can help you dispose of the Dragon."
Jadon gazed up into the sky blue eyes, very kind, and found herself lost in them. Hurriedly she cleared her throat to cover the unfortunate stare. She was, after all, to be married to Taylorís sister.
"Why are you doing this for me?" she asked softly, more than a little attracted to Taylor, confused by her reaction, knowing it was completely inappropriate.
"Youíre almost part of the family now," said Taylor. "Anything for my sisterís betrothed." She wasnít about to tell Jadon sheíd been dying to get her alone since she had first spotted her leaning against the wall of the ballroom, contentedly finishing her supper.
"Thank you," said Jadon gratefully, feeling guilty about being so strongly attracted to Taylor. She paused for a second to look down at herself in disgust. "Err, I donít suppose you have a spare set of clothes in there do you? This sackcloth is giving me fits with all those blasted splinters."
Taylor burst out laughing and didnít stop until tears began to flow from her eyes. "I think I can manage that," she said, wiping the tears from her eyes. "But I think youíd better have a bath first."
"I canít do that!" said Jadon, shocked, not trusting herself to behave around the Princess.
"You have to, youíre filthy," said the smiling Princess.
"I suppose so," said Jadon, looking down at herself again and sighing. "But donít you dare look."
Taylor bit off a retort that she had seen many lush bodies and even enjoyed a few of them. "Okay," she said simply. "Iíll turn around and get the clothes. You just give me a yell when youíre decent again."
Jadon nodded, and waited until the amused Princess had stood up and gone back to her horse. Jadon quickly stripped and dived into the water, sighing as the dirt came off her in streams, moaning with relief now that the splinters were no longer digging into her. Taylor took a quiet sneak peek at her as she was frolicking in the water, instantly wishing she hadnít as the image of the lush young girl was now irrevocably burned into her mind. Inwardly she cursed her luck and offered up a prayer that Faith would be good to her new young friend.
"Okay, Iím decent now," a voice floated up from behind her. Taylor turned to find the young Jadon safely covered by the huge shirt and breeches that Taylor had dug up for her.
"You look terrific," she said, smiling and leaning forward to help her sisterís betrothed off the banks of the river. "Look at your feet, though. Ouch! Donít worry, I have just the thing for that too."
She helped Jadon sit down again, and rushed back to her patient horse and began rummaging through the saddlebags for a small jar of ointment. She applied it to Jadonís feet, trying not to touch her more than necessary, taking the burning sting and throbbing pain of bruises and cuts away. Jadon gasped when Taylor touched the more sensitive scrapes.
"Thank you again," said Jadon. "Iím sure I donít know what Iíd do without you." Taylor chuckled quietly again, and crisply snapped the lid of the jar back onto the ointment.
"Letís get going. You canít walk like that, you can ride with me," said Taylor.
"Okay," said Jadon. She allowed herself to be led to the patient horse, Frog dancing all over them. Taylor smoothly mounted, and held out an arm, drawing Jadon up into the saddle behind her. Jadon was thankful that Taylor could not see her blush as she held onto the solid body in front of her.
Taylor quietly spurred her horse on, and they wandered back up to the road and began walking, enjoying the sunshine filtering golden through the trees. Frog trotted next to the horse peacefully, tongue lolling, enjoying all the exciting smells of the forest path. They silently enjoyed each otherís company for a moment, and then Jadon broke the silence.
"Do you mind playing word games?" she asked shyly.
"No," said Taylor. "I donít mind at all."
"Okay then. I spy with my little eye Ö"
Taylorís rich laughter followed them as they continued on to nowhere.
Several days later, they encountered the borders of the neighboring Kingdom. It was a large city, but much to the surprise of both adventurers, there was not a sign of movement. All around them, streets lay deserted, doors sensibly shut against the outside world. Shops were open, yet abandoned, as though their owners had suddenly left what they were doing and disappeared.
Taylor brought her horse to a stop, looking all around herself, puzzled, clear blue eyes eventually meeting Jadonís.
"What is going on around here?" she asked of no one in particular.
"I have no idea," said Jadon. "Where are all the people?"
"Didnít I just ask that?"
"Not exactly, you asked what was going on around here."
"Oh, ha, ha," said Taylor, mock glaring at her companion. "Well, I suppose we better have a look around to see if we can find anyone."
"Right as always, brave warrior," responded Jadon, giving a crooked smile, not liking the abandoned air all around them. Quite frankly, it made her very uneasy.
Taylor easily threw a leg over the neck of her patient horse, then helped Jadon down.
"Where do you want to start?" asked Jadon.
Taylor looked all around at the tidy desolation, then settled on a tavern a small distance down the wide, deserted street. "How about there?" she asked. "If there are any people around, then theyíre likely to be getting drunk."
"Why would they be getting drunk?" asked Jadon, inwardly sighing, knowing she was asking for trouble from the playful princess.
"If you lived in a town like this, what else would you be doing?" asked the Princess, trying to keep a straight face, raising an eyebrow.
"Why do I get the feeling I asked for that," muttered Jadon, shaking her head.
The Princess merely grinned at her, and held out a hand. Jadon took it, and Taylor gave it a quick squeeze before releasing it, leading her off down the street to the tavern.
It was a neat structure, well kept and had just been freshly painted; a neat sign hung over the door proclaiming it to be "The Bloody Deer."
Taylor saw this and raised a black eyebrow. Immediately Jadon leapt in front of her.
"Oh, no you donít," she said, wagging a finger, eyes dancing, despite herself. "Donít even think it."
"Oh I wouldnít dare, my Lady of ĎForest Deepí," responded Taylor with a wicked grin.
"Youíre never going to let go of that, are you?" asked Jadon with a sigh, corners of her mouth twitching, trying to suppress a smile.
"Nope," responded the Princess with a smirk.
"Okay," said Jadon crisply. "Then just lead the way ĎPrincessí."
Taylor flashed a white smile, then pushed the door open. They were both totally unprepared for the sight that met their eyes. All throughout the common room, bodies lay slumped, loud snores emanating from the midst of the fallen bodies. Every now and again, there would be a hiccup, a snort, and the sleeper would settle themselves more comfortably, but none woke up at the entrance of the two women.
"Hey!" cried Taylor, nudging a particularly large and florid man senseless on the floor by the door. "Wake up!"
The sleeping man paid no attention to her cries.
"I donít think thatís going to work," said Jadon helpfully, after watching the Princess nudge, then shake, then slap the man.
"You donít say," said Taylor disgustedly.
"Theyíre all asleep," came a frail voice from the side, nestled firmly in the most shadowed part of the room.
"Who said that?" asked Taylor, looking to the side, trying to make out any figures in the dimness.
"Over by the fire," murmured Jadon, eyes having adjusted to the relative dimness in the Tavern. Taylor followed her eyes and nodded.
"I did," said the old man.
"What do you know about this?" asked Taylor, carefully stepping through the prostrate bodies, Jadon following close behind.
"And how come youíre still awake?" chimed in Jadon.
"Oh dear," said the old man. "Looks like Iíve been sprung."
Without a hint of warning, and in direct defiance of his apparently advanced years, he abruptly leapt up out of his seat and began waving his hands in the air in front of him, muttering under his breath.
Jadon stared at him in shock, quickly sneaking a look at Taylor and noting her eyes widening in considerable alarm. Despite the adrenalin running through her system, a bone-cracking yawn stretched her jawbones to their limit, and she felt lead weights attached to her eyelids. She struggled to stay upright, but it was in vain, as her treacherous legs gave out on her, and she slumped to the dirty floorboards, deeply asleep.
Taylor was no better off, and as she came to, some immeasurable amount of time later, she became aware of a solid object being hammered into her stomach, blood rushing to her ears, doing nothing to ease the pounding of the headache hammering away at her.
Opening her eyes, pain from sunlight knifing right into her agonized head, she saw the ground not very far from her face, and the unmistakable smell of a horse.
"What happened?" she asked softly, not expecting an answer. Jadon was still slumped next to her, to all intents and purposes deeply asleep.
"Youíre being taken to the Wizardís cave," came an outside voice, clearly male.
"Who said that?" she demanded, looking around sharply and wincing when the pain in her head sternly admonished her for her hasty actions.
"I did," the voice replied patiently.
"Thatís nice," she said. "But who are you?"
"Iím Rudolpho," said the horse. "Iím the Wizardís unicorn."
"A unicorn?" demanded the Princess in shock. "I canít be riding a unicorn. Iím not a - "
"Well," cut in the unicorn, Rudolpho, smoothly. "Technically speaking, youíre strapped across my back, so youíre not riding at all."
"Well, thank you," said Taylor sarcastically. "That certainly settles my mind. Now, why are we being carried to the Wizardís cave?"
Rudolpho huffed, apparently offended that the princess was offended by the Wizardís choice of mounts. "Iím not permitted to tell you that," he said stiffly. "Thatís for the Wizard to do."
There was a pause for a few moments, as the Princess cursed herself for not judging her mountís mood in a more timely fashion. Unicorns these days were becoming more sensitive about only carrying virgins, given the large number of more Ö active Princes and Princesses.
"I still donít quite understand," said Taylor, trying to change the subject away from less sensitive matters. "If all unicorns are a symbol of good, why are you helping an evil wizard?"
"Who said he was evil?" asked the unicorn coldly. "Judge for yourself. As for why Iím helping him, Iím not going to tell you."
"Tell you what?" piped up Jadonís soft voice, as she groggily stared at the ground, nausea playing havoc with her well-being.
"Itís a long story, apparently," said Taylor, grinning at her friend. "Weíre being taken to the Wizardís cave. On a unicorn."
"A unicorn?" Jadon asked in shock. "But Iím not - "
"No," said Taylor hurriedly, before Rudolpho could get angry again. "Neither am I. Well, I guess weíre just going to have to wait until we hit the cave."
"But canít you get us out of this?" asked Jadon plaintively.
"What do you suggest I do ĎForest Deepí? Bite Rudolpho here into submission?"
Jadon craned her neck to take in her companionís state. Taylor was trussed up like a chicken on the back of the frostily silent unicorn. She sighed.
"I suppose so," she said. "Ahh - "
"Rudolpho," supplied Taylor helpfully.
"Rudolpho. How long is it going to take to get us to the cave?"
"What on earth makes you think Iím going to tell you anything?" demanded the temperamental unicorn coldly. He began muttering acid comments about ungrateful passengers under his breath.
Taylor sighed; Jadon shook her head beside the Princess.
After a number of hours of bumpy riding, Jadon and Taylor both loudly speculating that Rudolpho was taking them over the bumpiest territory he could find, they finally arrived at a dense stand of trees.
Though they could not see his face, Jadon swore the unicorn was enjoying himself immensely as he dragged them through the undergrowth. It whipped and hit them wildly, Taylor taking most of the brunt of the stinging branches and leaves.
"Hey," she complained loudly, after a particularly ferocious smack by a thick passing branch. "Do you have to do that?"
"Canít hear you," replied Rudolpho placidly, as he swept up against another tree trunk, Jadon wincing at the impact of the rough bark against her soft behind.
"Good grief," she exclaimed.
Both girls were complaining loudly and vociferously, unicornís replies becoming more and more heated by the time they entered the huge, black cave. The squabble had reached such dramatic heights, that instead of wait in dignified, scholarly silence for the prisoners to be brought to his noble person, the Wizard came flying out to stop the angry girls from flipping the unicorn and tearing out his horn to stuff it in a highly inappropriate and quite painful place.
"What is going on out here?!" the Wizard thundered, desperately trying to make himself heard over the taunts and shouts of the various people and animals.
"They started it!" yelled Rudolpho.
"Did not!" denied Taylor hotly.
"Did not!" yelled back both Taylor and Jadon together.
"If you hadnít picked on me incessantly - "
"No one said ONE WORD to you," shot back Jadon. "If you hadnít been - "
"ENOUGH!" stormed the Wizard, struggling to make himself heard over the bickering voices.
"I donít care who did what to whom," he said when they had quieted. "Youíre here now, thatís what matters." He strode to Rudolpho and began to untie Jadon.
"Why does it matter?" asked Jadon, falling into the Wizardís arms, gingerly stretching and anxiously looking around for Frog.
"Because - " began the Wizard.
"Wizard? Wizard where are you?" came an impatient demand from the confines of the cavern. Taylor and Jadon exchanged glances and winces at the tone emanating from within Ė petulant and sulky.
"Thatís why," sighed the Wizard, shoulders slumping in defeat.
"What EXACTLY is going on here?" asked Taylor, crossing her arms and raising a midnight eyebrow at him.
"Well," the wizard began, looking sheepish. "I kidnapped a Princess about a week ago, intending to ransom her to her people. Her people laughed at me when I delivered my demands, and said I could keep her. They wonít take her back."
"Err, well, Iíve been trying to find someone to rescue her, but she doesnít want to be rescued. She says she likes it here."
"And the problem is?"
"I canít stand her either. Sheís a selfish, immature brat," mumbled the Wizard, while Rudolpho sidled up to him and nudged him in support.
"Whatís the deal with the horned horse?" asked Taylor, glaring at the unicorn, who glared back at her.
"Heís her mount. I kidnapped them both together."
"Rudolpho, why are you helping the Wizard?" asked Jadon hurriedly, seeing Taylor was struggling not to burst out laughing.
"I donít like her either," said the unicorn. "I was made to carry her when her father caught me with one of his mares."
Taylor rolled her eyes, while Jadon shook her head.
"How are we supposed to help out here?" she asked.
"We want you to take her off our hands," replied the wizard, some hope entering his eyes.
"And how do you expect us to do that if sheís expressed a liking for staying here?"
The wizard drew in breath to answer, but was saved by the arrival of the princess herself. Not at all what Jadon or Taylor was expecting, an ugly girl with large ears and a wart on the end of her crooked nose appeared in the gloom right behind the wizard. Her brown eyes glittered with ratty intelligence, pasty, blemished skin immediately catching the eye.
She took one look at Taylor, and immediately crooned, "Oooooh honey, come here!"
With that, she immediately launched herself forward, and latched onto the Princessís neck. The startled Taylor barely had time to flinch at her rancid breath before the Princess had latched onto her mouth.
"Mmmmfm," she began as she staggered back and reached around the back of her neck to separate the annoying hands.
Jadon felt an instant of supreme irritation, then quashed it Ė she was engaged to Taylorís older sister, and knew that Taylor only treated her as a playmate and nothing more.
For her part, Taylor was irrationally annoyed that the Princess could do something which might mistakenly make Jadon believe that she was willing to participate in doing something with the ugly youngster.
Finally she managed to pry the Princess off and cast her back.
"What on earth díyou think youíre doing?" demanded Taylor, leaning forward, hands on knees as she turned her ice blue glare on the ugly potential suitor.
"But I love you," cried the Princess and launched herself forward to latch onto Taylor again.
"You donít even know me," responded Taylor lamely, only barely managing to leap back in time to avoid the girlís tentacle like hands.
"You could get to know me," sulked the Princess, seeing she was going to be unsuccessful in snaring the gorgeous Taylor.
"No, I couldnít," said Taylor coldly. "Besides, Iím not the marrying kind. I like having my fun too much."
At these words, Jadon felt an unexpected stab of pain go through her heart.
The ugly Princess, seeing Taylor was serious, burst into great, braying sobs, that left Jadon glaring at her beautiful companion. Taylorís eyes rolled heavenward, as the unicorn and Wizard looked on in disgust.
"Now, now," said Jadon hurriedly, "She didnít mean it quite like that."
"Yes, she did," said the ugly Princess. "Sheís mean."
"Yes, she is," said Jadon in whole-hearted agreement, Taylor looking chagrined and cursing herself for making Jadon lower her opinion of her. Sometimes, she admitted to herself, she could be a little tempestuous.
"Err, no," said Taylor, kneeling on the other side of the Princess. "Sheís right. Iím mean, and I didnít mean it quite like that. You just Ö took me by surprise, thatís all. How old are you?"
"What does that have to do with it?" asked the princess. "Iím sixteen."
"Well, Iím a fair bit older than you are," lied Taylor. She was only eighteen, a tad younger than Jadon. "Youíll find someone your own age to love you. You donít need me."
"But youíre gorgeous," sobbed the princess.
Taylor flushed in embarrassment, not really knowing how to answer that one. Luckily Jadon had been thinking the same thing and rushed in with a response.
"Taylorís right," she said. "Youíll find someone your own age. Look, why donít we take you home?"
Abruptly the princess was sick of her adventure with her unicorn and the now seemingly wicked Wizard. "Okay," she sniffled.
Before they had a chance to collect themselves off the floor, the Wizard had her things packed and slung onto the back of the disgruntled unicorn. Taylorís horse was waiting for them outside as they steered the teen out of the cave to the joyful Frog and horse.
Taylor slung herself onto the back of her horse, and without thought held an arm down to assist Jadon into the saddle behind her. There was a cough from the princess, and a beady glare directed at the unicorn. "Canít I ride with you?" she asked in a nasal whine that set both Taylorís and Jadonís teeth on edge.
"Uh," said Taylor. "Okay, I suppose so. Why donít you and Jadon take turns riding with me? Jadon, you can take the first turn on Rudolpho."
Muttering, "Jadon, you can take the first turn on Rudolpho," Jadon crossly stomped to Rudolpho and pulled herself into the saddle, Rudolpho grunting at her graceless drop into the saddle.
"You alright there?" he asked.
"Shut up Rudolpho," said Jadon coldly, and Rudolpho closed his mouth, seeing the woman was furious and not willing to deal with yet another female in that condition. With a solid air of wounded dignity, he lifted his horn high and trotted behind the chatting Taylor and princess on the horse.
They traveled for another week to reach the princessís kingdom. Jadon rode the unicorn the entire way, the princess always finding one excuse or another to ride behind Taylor. By the end of it, Taylor, by nature an easy going woman, was almost friends with her would be suitor, while Jadon was more and more irritated by the camaraderie that had sprung up between them.
Rudolpho for his part found that Jadon was quite a horsewoman, and not prey to the annoying habits and temperament of his normal rider. Though they barely spoke, they declared a truce, and Rudolpho did not go out of his way to knock her out of the saddle as he had always done with the ugly princess.
When they reached the borders of the princessís kingdom, there were gasps and groans of denial when the people saw who was with Taylor and Jadon. However, the King and Queen of the Kingdom were not of the glum disposition shared by their subjects, so welcomed their daughter with open arms.
"Rebecca!" they cried as they ran down the drawbridge when they saw the horse and unicorn approaching. "Are you harmed? Are you well? We have missed you so!"
As the ugly princess promptly forgot her two new found friends, the queen pulled her precious daughter into her arms, hugged her and rained kisses down onto her hideous daughterís head.
"We must have a celebration!" cried the King. "We must welcome home our beloved daughter!"
Jadon watched with some alarm as the ugly princess began whispering into her equally ugly motherís ear.
"One moment!" cried the queen. "Rebecca tells me that this woman - " she pointed to Taylor " Ė has taken wicked advantage of her. What should we do husband?"
The King looked outraged. "We must have her hanged tomorrow at dawn!"
The queen leant down to listen to Rebecca, who was again whispering into her motherís ear. "No," said the Queen slowly. "Our precious insists that the cur who violated her chastity be made to marry her!"
Taylorís eyes widened in shock, as Jadon looked at her askance. Jadon knew Taylor hadnít done anything, but the outrage and weeping was so genuine.
"Quick!" yelled Taylor. "Jadon! RUN!"
Alas, it was too late. Before either one had a chance to move, the castle guard was upon them, and they found their arms pinned as they were unceremoniously dragged down to the castle dungeons. Both girls were cast onto the dirty straw of the prison cell, moaning and groaning over various bruises, as the lock to the cell door slid home with a decisive click.
"Whoa," Taylor muttered, sitting up and brushing the straw of her clothes with a look of disgust. "This is a shocking nuisance, isnít it?"
Angry for no reason she could fathom, Jadon said, "Why? Has that happened to you before?" She swiped angrily at her clothes, trying to remove the dirt from the cell floor.
Taylor had already recovered her good spirits. "Not lately," she grinned.
For some reason, that made Jadon angrier. "So that has happened to you before?"
Taylor could see that Jadon was truly angry now. "No, it hasnít," she said quietly. "What is the matter with you?"
At the sight of the sky blue eyes, mischief erased by her words, Jadonís heart melted. "I donít know," she sighed. "I guess itís being stuck on the back of that sulky unicorn for days on end thatís put me out of sorts. Truce?"
"Truce," replied Taylor, and pulled her in for a hug, instinctively knowing Jadon needed to be held, not questioning why.
At the contact, Jadonís heart sank even further. She knew she had a crush on the Princess Ė that had been true, after all, from the first time they had met Ė but she could not find a way to work around it and get on with her life. She had decided that marriage to Taylorís older sister would be the best thing for her, settle her down, and in a life of luxury with a bride that was not an evil, despicable sort, and quite easy on the eyes.
"Okay," sighed the miserable Jadon. "Do you have any suggestions on how weíre going to get out of this?"
Taylor looked around at the spartan cell, which held no furniture of any sort. Sighing, she leant back, propped her head up on one hand, and stared at the woodcutterís daughter with a slight grin.
"How about that fairy godmother person of yours?" Deep down, Taylor hadnít really believed Jadon when sheíd said sheíd had a Fairy Godmother.
"Esmerelda - " began Jadon.
Suddenly, another voice sounded from outside the cell.
"Yoohoo, Jadon," said the Fairy Godmother, smile appearing outside the cell first, old eyes childlike and vacant. "I just popped in to see how you were doing in the search for your beloved."
Jadon grinned as she felt Taylor gape beside her. The princess sat up to take stock of the old woman outside the cell.
"Esmerelda," said Jadon brightly. "Iím pleased to see you. Weíve gotten ourselves into a spot of bother."
"Good heavens girl!" responded the fairy godmother with a trace of impatience in her tone, brow furrowed. "What on earth are you doing in a dungeon?"
"Itís a long story," said Jadon, embarrassed, not really wanting to go into specifics.
"Well, try me," said the old woman. "Oooh, ahh, thatís better," she continued with a soft sigh as she forced her body into a cross-legged position outside the cell. "Whatís happened?"
Jadon poked Taylor in the ribs, when she felt her playful companion begin to giggle.
"We got kidnapped," began Jadon. "We were taken to a Wizardís cave - "
"Cornelius," interrupted the old woman, frowning.
" - On the back of a unicorn - "
"Ahh, Rudolpho. But youíre not - "
" Ė No, Iím not, but thatís what happened. When we got there, the wizard handed us the Princess. We agreed to bring her home. When we got here, she told her parents dreadful stories about Taylor here, and now sheís to be executed at dawn. But we think they may try to make Taylor marry the girl."
"Oh dear, thatís terrible," sighed the Fairy Godmother. She paused for a moment, and then began speaking again. "Well, Taylorís going to have to be executed or get married, but I can help you get out of here if you like."
"What?" exploded Taylor, shocked.
"Huh?" said Jadon at the same moment. "What do you mean you canít help Taylor?"
"Well," responded Esmerelda, "Iím your fairy godmother, not Taylorís. So I can help you but not her."
"Oh," said Jadon, desperately trying to think of a way around the problem.
"Go for goodnessí sake," cut in Taylor, gentle smile at Jadon a distinct contrast to her exasperated tone. "Iíll be fine. Iím a royal princess they canít kill me. When my father finds out whatís happened, thatís the end of Rebecca."
"Fine," shot back Jadon, very angry with Taylor. "So they canít kill you. But do you really want to spend the rest of your life married to that thing out there?"
"Err, no," responded Taylor. "But who says I have to be faithful to her? This might not be all bad you know."
Jadon had to struggle against the urge to smack the Princess upside the head. Taylor was without a doubt the most beautiful woman Jadon had ever laid eyes on, and she couldnít bear the thought of not having her friend around to play with while married to Faith. Life without Taylor was something she could not contemplate.
"Iím getting you out of here if it kills me," said Jadon, glaring at her friend. "Esmerelda, either we both go or you leave me here."
The fairy godmother sighed at her truculent and disobedient charge. "Fine," she said. "Youíre both out of here."
Taylor and Jadon grinned broadly at each other.
"Stand up," ordered Esmerelda, moaning and groaning about her old knees as she tried to do the same. After several attempts, the now standing Taylor sighed, and reached a strong arm through the bars to gently assist the old woman to her feet.
"Thank you dear," said Esmerelda, smiling beatifically at the Princess. "Now you, Princess, squat, and you Jadon, sit on her shoulders."
Jadon and Taylor exchanged a surprised glance, Taylor desperately trying not to giggle.
"Pardon?" asked Jadon, staring at Esmerelda with an upraised eyebrow.
"You heard me," replied Esmerelda severely. "Do it! Iím going to put you back on Taylorís horse."
"Oh!" responded Jadon brightly, smacking her forehead in mock understanding. "Of course, I should have known." She glared at her fairy godmother.
"Iím going to break my hips," complained the Princess.
"Fine, have it your way," shot back the fairy godmother with a glare, and waved her arms over her head furiously. There was a puff of bright pink, rose-smelling smoke, and the cold cell floor disappeared out from under them. They found themselves sailing through the air.
"AAAAAAH!" they both yelled in unison, then Jadon found herself lying on a semi-soft surface, face down, eyes not an inch from the startling sky blue gaze of the Princess.
"Where are we?" she asked, dazed.
The princess did not break eye contact with the woodcutterís daughter. "I think weíre out in the field we passed on our way to the castle."
"Oh," said Jadon, barely able to speak, transfixed by the blue eyes and intriguing body she was lying square on top of. Taylorís arms were loosely around her body. The princess held her gaze for a moment, and then gently cleared her throat; a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.
"Unless you want to spend all day like this, I suggest you get off me," she said softly.
Jadon blushed. "Err, yes," she stammered. "I can do that."
She cleared her throat and rolled off the grinning royal. Taylor stood up languidly and stretched.
"Thatís better," Taylor teased. "Youíre quite heavy."
"Why you - " began the standing Jadon, then was suddenly nudged hard from behind by Taylorís horse. She staggered forward, accidentally stood on Frog, drawing a startled yelp, stumbled away and crashed directly into the chest of the giggling Princess.
She breathed deeply, drawing the wild scent of Taylor into her lungs, privately wishing she never had to let go.
"Oh good God," she sighed. "I give up."
Taylor burst out laughing, and gently set the woman of her very private dreams back onto her feet.
"Letís get out of here," she said, and climbed into the saddle of her horse. She offered a strong arm to the once again blushing Jadon. Jadon gratefully accepted it, hoisted herself into the saddle, and they were on their way once again.
CONTINUED IN PART 2
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