Rosaria was not surprised to see Cady coming around more and more often. When Lily’s mother dropped off her handful of children to “visit Grandma,” there were often a few neighborhood kids in the van as well.
This particular day, it was Cady, Lily, her two brothers, and another friend, a shy boy with old shoes that she hadn’t met before, and yet felt she already knew.
“Gather round, children,” she said, as she did when the group was right, “it’s time for a story.” She had been asking around the neighborhood, trying to discover what Cady’s demon was. She had some clues, but nothing definite yet. Perhaps a story would tell her more.
“Once upon a time,” she began, reaching for the story as Lily whispered an explanation to her brother’s shy friend. Once upon a time, indeed. The threads were recalcitrant today, not wanting to give her a story. Rosaria coughed. “Some water for Grandma, dears?”
Chamus hurried to get her a glass of water, and Rosaria relaxed, letting the story take her where it would.
Not Cady, and not the new boy, no, today it would be Lily. Rosaria drank deeply from the plastic cup her grandson offered, and let the story take control.
“Once upon a time, there was a…”
“A knight?” they asked eagerly. “A Queen? A dragon?”
“A princess.” She smiled a bit as she said it. “There was a young princess, youngest of many princesses but no less beautiful. And this princess had come to fall in love with the huntsman’s son.”
She saw it hit home, and wondered if this tale was supposed to be cautionary. She liked those the least.
“She had fallen for the son of the huntsman, who himself would be hunstman in his turn, a skinny lad who hadn’t yet come into his full growth….”
“Is there a quest?” Cady asked eagerly.
“Hrrm, it seems there is. But we will get there when we get there, dear. The Princess’ parents didn’t disapprove of the match, because they didn’t, yet, know about the Princess’ infatuation. Thinking the Princess was too young, they were blind to the consequences.”
Interesting. Lily was squirming.
“But the young noblewoman herself was not so blind, and neither was the boy she loved, not the Hunstman, his father. They would have, she knew, many hurdles to cross before they could be anything more than distant friends. ” Oh, dear. I thought we had a few more years…
“And so, it seems, the Princess and the Huntsman agreed on a quest.” Rosaria smiled benignly, hiding the worry she felt. “To prove themselves worthy for each other, and for the world.”
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