January 24th, 2019

fox

fic: The King's Daughter's Wedding [original]

Follows from The Princess and the Fox; part two of three. Originally published in book 35 of imaginarybeasts back in 2012.


Every night the fox told the princess a story, and every night the princess promised him one in return, and every night she fell asleep before she could do so.

“You owe me one hundred and forty-seven,” the fox told her one evening, as she picked the last bits of meat off the pheasant the fox had killed and she had burned instead of cooked. “And that’s without interest. I expect a down-payment before I’ll tell you any more.”

“Fair enough,” the princess said, and didn’t admit to him that she couldn’t remember any, had lost them all with her name and frippery and the skin off the bottom of her feet. Instead she gave the pheasant carcass to the fox and watched him strip it so clean it might have been scrubbed and held her tongue.

The fox told her no story that night, nor the next, nor for a week or more. Those nights were long and cold and bone-dragging weary, and the princess found each morning a steeper hill to climb, until she could hardly bear to open her eyes when the sun appeared. Her feet lost what dexterity they had, until her life seemed to be nothing more than a string of narrowly-avoided turned ankles, punctuated by endless nights. She spoke when the fox did, and not before, and she began to forget why she’d run in the first place, why she continued on at all.

At last she gave up.Collapse )