*I didn’t forget, the holidays were just really busy!*
Part 1: HERE
Part 2 : HERE
“I can’t believe you talked me into this.” Prince James looked at his diminished reflection in the still water of a pond just outside the Sonnigeebene castle gates.
“I can’t believe you let me do this,” I replied. I had to look down at the Prince for the first time since we were ten years old. Suddenly the absurdity of what we had done struck, and we both started laughing. Panic, nerves, amusement, and excitement poured out of our throats in uproarious shouts. I just turned my best friend and master into a frog.
Once our conflicted emotions were vented, James looked up at me from the rock he was sitting on. Though he was now small and green, I could read his face any any form. The hazy reflections of the water showed the faulty logic of our harebrained scheme, but James’s steady gaze conveyed his determination to see it through. It was a risk. A risk for James, and also myself as the spell’s castor. The prince could get stuck as a frog forever. He could fail to meet any of the Sonnigeebene royals, or, if I failed to cast the spell properly, accidentally turn on of the Princesses into a frog as well. For my part, I risked being accused of evil sorcery for my part in the trick. I could be hanged, burned at the stake, or banished. The only precaution I had taken is that the Prince couldn’t die in this form. His body was tied to mine: should he die, my heart would stop to give my life for his.
“I’m told that the youngest princess comes to this pond nearly every day,” James said. “I’ll wait for her here, and somehow convince her to take me to the castle. Once she does, we will see how she and the other two princesses treat guests.”
“Are you certain you can get her to invite you to the castle?” I asked. I had assumed that I would be telling King Konig of our plan and entering the walls on his invitation. James looked doubtful, but had no time to respond. A flash of gold caught our eye: a ball.
“Quick, hide! She’s coming!” James croaked to me. I scrambled behind a tree as a young woman came chasing after her ball.
She was as beautiful as the rumors said. Her hair was as gilded as the toy she tossed in the air. Her cheeks glowed with health and sunshine. Her eyes sparkled with merriment as the ball twinkled against the blue sky. I peeked out from behind the tree to check on James. He stood dumbstruck on the rock, staring at her.
“Oh No!” The Princess cried, as she missed her catch and the ball fell into the water. The splash seemed to revive James from his stupor, as he finally started to move toward the princess. “Father will be so sad. He only just gave me that ball for my birthday, and I already lost it.” She said to herself, kneeling at the pond’s edge trying to see a golden glimmer in the murky water. “What will I do?”
“Perhaps I can help,” James replied. He stood at her knee now, looking up at her worried face. The princess startled but quickly regained her composure.
“Can you, Mr. Frog?” She asked, cautiously.
“Yes, I can go into the water for you and retrieve your ball.”
The Princess smiled at this. “Would you, please?” She asked politely, clearly trying not to sound too eager.
“Yes, but I would like something in return,” James responded. ‘This is where he’s going to get his invitation!’ I thought to myself, watching the exchange, silently applauding my friend’s quick thinking.
“Of course, Mr. Frog. If you help me, I should offer you some compensation. Please, name your wish and I will do whatever is in my power to grant it.”
“I wish for you to invite me to the castle as an honored guest.”
“You wish to come to the castle, as my guest? Is that all?” The princess replied, clearly skeptical.
“No,” James replied. “I wish to be treated like a Prince. I want to eat from your golden plate, drink from your silver goblet, and sleep on your silk pillow.” His voice sounded confident, but I could tell from his stiff form that he was nervous. ‘Too far!’ I thought as the Princess stared down at him with drawn eyebrows.
“I- I accept your terms.” The Princess’s voice faltered, but her words were clear. James immediately jumped into the pond, creating small ripples that touched the princess’s skirt hem. I could see her head bent down to watch the water, but could not see her expression for her hair curtained her face.
It took only a few seconds for James to resurface with the ball in his mouth. He swam to her and gently spit the ball into her lap.
“Th-Thank you!” She cried as she gathered up her ball and skirt and ran away.
James climbed out of the pond bewildered. “She, she left me!” He said as I walked back toward him. “Why would she do that? She agreed that I could be her guest!” When I reached him, I bent down and held out a hand for him to jump up. “I guess I didn’t specify that I meant to go with her now, but I thought that was implied” he mused. “What did I do wrong?”
“James,” I said as I started to walk him toward the castle. “You asked her to sleep on her pillow.”
The Prince groaned and covered his eyes with his webbed hands.