Sweeter Tongue, Sharpest Tooth
Magnus was angry at himself. So, so angry. He couldn’t believe his bride was still alive. It made him mad but he just couldn’t force himself to kill Alec before he finished his story. It wasn’t his fault he wanted to hear more. Magnus swore to himself he would let Alec finish his story about the little girl and execute him in the morning. Yet Magnus’s mood stayed sour as a lemon because just the thought of killing his husband sent a pang through Magnus’s heart. He never felt that so much in pain, except for the time where he ordered his first husband executed. He watched his brides die with cold eyes, his carelessness scaring him. He was changing into a monster, his heart was freezing over, and he was throwing lives away by the handful.
Magnus decided to test Alec. If he didn’t pass, he’d die. If he did…Magnus didn’t know. Maybe he’d die anyway.
Alec was already waiting for him in the room when Magnus entered that evening. Instead of lying down though Magnus sat cross-legged on the floor. Being close to the blue eyed boy made him feel strange. Alec gave the king one questioning look before Magnus asked him to continue the story.
That same night Magnus, Catarina and Ragnor took the princess away, to a place that not even the king and queen knew about, to hide her from any needle in reach. And so sixteen years passed and Clary grew into a beautiful woman. She was innocent and happy. She never left the forest she lived in with the three warlocks. She didn’t know she was a princess with a terrible curse. She was a happy carefree spirit. Ignorance is bliss.
‘Magnus you idiot, where’d Clary go?’ Catarina called from outside their little cottage, while pulling the washing down from the trees where they were drying in the summer sun.
‘Hmmm?’ Magnus had dozed off by the window. ‘She went to play with Ragnor. If she gets lost blame the damn lizard.’
Meanwhile Ragnor and Clary were playing hide and seek deeper in the woods. Clary had just spotted a great hiding place in the hollow of a tree, farther away than she usually went, when an arrow shot past her and lodged into the bark of the oak next to her. Clary didn’t know what an arrow was so she grabbed it and ran in the direction where it came from, inspecting the thin, sharp object as her feet pounded on the forest floor. From behind a tree she spotted a person. Her only friends ever were the three warlocks and the boy took her breath away. He had golden hair and matching eyes, a straight posture and a triumphant smile. Clary found herself smiling back at him even though he couldn’t see her. Until she stepped on a twig and it broke with a snap. The boy aimed his arrow at the place where Clary hid.
‘Come out!’ The boy called, ready to shoot whatever wild animal had snuck up on him. Clary, unaware how dangerous the weapon was, stepped from behind the tree with a curious glint in her eye. The boy lowered his bow in a daze.
‘W-who are you?’ He stammered.
‘Me? I’m Clary. Who are you?’ Clary made her way to the boy carelessly and snatched the bow from his hands, inspecting it carefully, turning the wood in her small, skilful hands and squinting at strange markings carved along it.
‘I’m Prince Jace.’
‘I’ve never seen one’ Clary said in awe. ‘What’s a prince?’
‘A successor to the throne.’ Jace said, trying to get his bow back. Clary laughed and handed it to its rightful owner.
‘You’re funny’ she said with a smile. Then she turned on her heel and started making her way back to her cottage. The prince caught up with her and grabbed her wrist.
‘Wait!’ She looked at him, blinking her big innocent eyes. ‘Are you…um…living in the woods?’
‘And remember, if you ever meet anyone, don’t talk to them. And don’t tell anyone you live here’ Magnus had warned her once.
Clary was confused as to what to do, so instead of speaking again she ran away. She was fast, way faster than the prince thanks to sixteen years spent living in the forest she roamed every day. She came back to the cottage a little breathless. The three warlocks were already panicking and when they found her Catarina gave her a long lecture on not going so far away by herself.
‘You could have bumped into someone!’ Catarina finished.
‘Sorry’ Clary mumbled before walking into the cottage, as casually as she could, and placing the arrow she didn’t return to the prince underneath her bed. The prince might have been a good friend to her, under different circumstances, but she would never see him again so it didn’t matter.
That night Clary dreamt that she travelled around a strange world with a boy of golden hair and golden eyes.
Months flew past and finally it was the day of Clary’s seventeenth birthday. For some reason Clary didn’t understand Catarina, Ragnor and Magnus seemed on edge that day. They wished her happy birthday; they baked a cake; they placed a flower crown atop her head and spun her and danced with her while Magnus (quite terribly) played his charango. But when they thought Clary couldn’t see the warlocks exchanged nervous glances and their smiles weren’t fully real.
When it was time to sleep they seemed to relax and Clary went to sleep in the room she shared with Catarina while the warlocks played poker in the kitchen. Clary rolled over in her bed but she couldn’t fall asleep. Finally, with a soft groan, she reached underneath her bed to retrieve her arrow. But she realised with a jolt it was an arrow no more; it was a long, thin needle like object, much larger than what Catarina used to sew clothes. Clary twirled it in her hands absently, her eyes finally falling shut. Suddenly there was a sharp, short pain in her finger and she looked up to see that she had pricked her finger.
Her head hurt. She blinked, her vision going fuzzy. Shadows seemed to gather at the edges of the room. A woman’s laughter carried on the wind, quiet and evil. Clary gasped for breath and tried to call for the warlocks, but her voice was gone. She fell on the floor in an attempt to crawl to the doors. With one final gasp her eyes fell shut and her breathing slowed – Clary was asleep.
Catarina wept over Clary’s sleeping body, now placed on her bed. She looked so peaceful. She looked dead. Ragnor hugged Catarina close. Magnus paced the room angrily, racking his brain for someone – anyone – to break the curse. But Magnus had been stupid – by hiding Clary away they had limited her contact with people. There was no ‘true love’ for Clary. The love she had for the warlocks could not break the curse. With heads hung low the warlocks brought the princess back to the castle and let her parents cry over her body. There was no prince to save her – the only one Clary ever met, Prince Jace, was far, far away. He sometimes wondered who that lady from the forest was, but he married and had children and ruled his kingdom and he never searched for Clary, because it was not a fairytale. It was reality.
After years and years, the queen and king died, unhappily. The three warlocks left, not being able to bear the guilt even though it wasn’t really their fault. A new king got chosen and out of respect he put the forever seventeen year old princess in a beautiful coffin and buried her underneath a beautiful chapel.
But Clary was not unhappy for she was forever to stay in a dream in which she was free and in love with a golden haired boy – a dream in which she went to many places and hid a secret in her suitcase. A dream where she lived a life she never got a chance to live.
‘That’s it’ Alec shrugged sadly. Magnus stared at him in disbelief.
‘But how come the first girl got to live happily ever after, and this one didn’t!? It’s not fair!’
‘Sometimes life isn’t fair.’ Alec smiled at Magnus. ‘Besides, this girl had a much better life in her dream state. She got to live her life. She was a sleeping beauty forever. Think about it – if a prince had woke her up she would have lived confined in a palace, quietly and humbly, have children and die, probably never really knowing what happiness was…kind of like us, right?’
Magnus ran his hands through his hair in frustration and gave Alec an annoyed look.
‘Tell me another story’ he snapped. ‘Not a princess story. I feel sorry for that poor girl. Make up someone else.’
‘Where’s the please?’ Alec laughed. Magnus sighed and shifted a bit on the carpet.
Once upon a time in a kingdom far, far away, in a land of danger and love there lived a girl. The girl lived in a small cottage at the edge of the town, next to the woods, with her mother. The girl was a bit of a wild spirit.
‘You know, Cleophas, that girl of yours is sure to bring trouble one day’ people used to say. When her daughter was starting to get particularly rebellious Cleophas would send her into the woods saying ‘Maia, go to your grandmother’s house and take her some of our fresh bread and juice.’ Maia would grumble because she didn’t like her grandmother – she was a mean, strict woman with wrinkled hands and tufts of grey hair. When Maia was eleven she stole some of her grandmother’s best red material and made herself a cape. At first people called her ‘Little red riding hood’ but later on it was just ‘that bloody Maia. Can someone please keep her in check?’. If Maia had any money she would have left that pesky little town long ago.
The same day that Maia slapped the son of the mare for trying to get his hands on her (which no one believed), her mother sent her to her grandmother. Maia grabbed her red cape, flung it over her clothes, grabbed the basket her mother prepared and was off. As soon as the trees grew larger and the sun shone less through the canopies Maia knew she was in the darker part of the woods, which meant…
‘Hi, Maia! What did you do now?’ came a voice from behind the tree and a boy peered out. Well, he wasn’t all boy. From his sandy hair popped up a pair of ears and a tail brushed the leaves at the boy’s feet. He wore a black cape over a white shirt and dark trousers.
‘Hi Jordan’ Maia smiled at the wolf.
‘So what did you do?’ Jordan asked, falling in step with her. Jordan was wanted for his father’s crimes – killing and injuring many people and aiding The Last Witch, who hid so far away in the forest no one could find her. It was believed he captured innocent children for her but Jordan’s father was long gone and so his crimes fell onto the young wolf’s shoulders.
‘I slapped the mare’s son. Could you believe that idiot wanted to kiss me?’
‘I wonder what would happen to me if I tried to kiss you’ Jordan winked at Maia. She rolled her eyes and readjusted her cape.
‘Since we’re on the topic when are you going to say yes to my marriage proposal?’ Jordan asked.
‘Um, never. I’m not marrying you’ Maia said casually. Jordan pouted.
‘How can you reject all this?’ He gestured to himself.
‘It takes a ridiculous amount of self control’ Maia said sarcastically. ‘C’mon. Gotta get to the old hag.’
‘You don’t like your family much, do you?’
‘Nah. Do you like yours?’
They walked for a while in silence. Jordan took Maia’s basket and carried it for her and after a while, he held her hand. It was normal for Maia – she had known Jordan since he was a little wolf. He was a cry baby back then. He wasn’t a cry baby anymore.
‘Ah, look, there’s the hag’s cottage!’ Maia sa…
‘Alec! C’mon, don’t fall asleep!’ Magnus pleaded but Alec was already snoring. Magnus groaned and extinguished his candle. He changed into his bed clothes. He was determined to be mad at Alec so he moved him to the other side of the bed and slept with his back to him. Somewhere in the night his will power broke and he hugged Alec, thinking it would be nice if he could retain himself from cheating on him for a little while.