The Princess' Secret

"She looks so poise and perfect in the moonlight that it makes me almost believe that she's innocent. Until I remember what I saw her do."

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1. SHADE

She looks so poise and perfect in the moonlight that it makes me almost believe that she's innocent. Until I remember what I saw her do. 

I wish I could forget what she did. But I just can't.

•••

The burly man smiled at me, his orange teeth grimily shining in the candlelight. His breath was disgusting, but nothing that I couldn't deal with after literally living with horses for half of my life.

"What are you doing here-ah?" said the man, adding an extra syllable to the last word. 

I rubbed my small beard with the back of my leather-gloved hand and shifted my gaze from his teeth to his green eyes. "I don't want me here any more than you do, Darius. I just need to retrieve a package for--"
"Does it look like I care-uh?" he said. He rolled his eyes and grunted.

He stepped further back from the crack in the door and opened it up. It let out a protesting creak as it revealed the inside of a crowded, dirty tavern.

"Go in. Before I change my mind," he said, glaring me up and down with squinty eyes.

I nodded. He didn't scare me. He was all bark, no bite. And with looks like his, you had to be threatening to not constantly laughed at.

Darius was as ugly as the opposite end of a horse. He had the palest skin under all of the dirt and mud and who-knows-what that he never felt bothered to wash off. His hair-- probably blonde, but I honestly can't tell-- was completely gone in places, and the few parts that were left were frayed, scraggly, and looked as if they'd never been washed. He had one ear that was almost completely gone and the other that was whole except for an almost-heart-shaped cut in the lobe. He was probably handsome when he was clean, and he could be clean if he made an effort, but he didn't, so he only got worse.

I didn't feel the least bit sorry for him. He'd brought it upon himself.

I slunk inside, avoiding eye contact with those that looked over towards me. I walked in a straight line to exactly who I needed to talk to.

I looked at the person next to me, and there she was, exactly where she said she'd be, exactly the way she said she'd be.

I clicked my tongue, and she looked over at me. 

"The package?" I muttered, and she understood, bending over slowly and slipping off her black boot. She felt around in it, still bent over.

I decided to take the opportunity to admire the view of her from the back.

Her red hair, tightly curled, fell in center of her back, and a black xwas branded into the leather that held her hair back. She had a black cloak draped around her shoulders, and the hood hung on the back of it. 

I was only allowed to observe this before she stood abruptly, making me jump slightly.

"Here," she said quietly. Her voice was smooth and low-pitched. It reminded me slightly of butter.

I suppressed a smile as she sat it in my hands and nodded. "I'll be seeing you next month?"

She shook her head. "No."

I tried not to frown and opened my mouth to speak, but she beat me to it.

"Next week. I'll be seeing you next week. The Feast, remember?"

I'd completely forgotten, but I wouldn't let her realize this.

I nodded. "Yes, of course."

I resisted the temptation to thank her for the package and walked away without another word.

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