Violeta stood up and smiled, though she was slightly by the man's knowledge of her.

She noticed that the music filling the clearing had ceased now. How queer a coincidence...

She did not mention it to the stranger though, in case he had not heard it.

"Good afternoon, sir," replied she to his greeting.

The man strode forwards, took her hand and before she could protest kissed it.

Violeta blushed a little. "Why, sir, that was really not necessary."

The man released her hand, smiling.

"Maybe so. But still, I wanted to greet you in the most pleasant manner possible."

Violeta was flattered. "Why, thank you, sir."

"There is no need to call me ‘sir', Your Highness. My name is Daniel."

"What a pleasure to meet you, Daniel," said Violeta with a curtsey.

"If it is a pleasure to meet me, I do not think I have a word to describe how I feel to meet you."

Violeta giggled a little. "Daniel, are you renowned for charming women?"

Answered Daniel "No. And I can tell you I only charm women who are charming."

Violeta giggled again. "Daniel, I am afraid you must not. A prince has asked for my hand and it is my honour to be faithful to him."

"May I not charm you in jest?" asked Daniel, his smile now wry.

Violeta shook her head. "I would rather you did not."

"Allow me to right my wrongs by brewing some tea for you then, Your Highness," said Daniel.

"I cannot go with you," replied Violeta.

"But it is not fair. Come now, when was the last time a warm liquid ran over your tongue and soothed your tired limbs?" His voice was persuasive and Violeta found herself unwittingly sighing at the thought.

"Allow me to carry you to my cottage," said Daniel. He was already lifting the princess into his arms. He was incredibly strong, holding Violeta as though she were a mere babe.

"Daniel, I must protest," said the startled Violeta.

"Why must you?" asked he, kissing the cheek farthest away from his body. He had commenced moving at this point and walked easily through the trees.

"Daniel!" cried Violeta indignantly.

"I was merely trying to soothe, Your Highness," said he, looking wounded.

Violeta did not know whether to believe him or not.

"Pray do not kiss me again," said she, knowing that condition would suit either trust or distrust.

Daniel appeared saddened. He did not respond to her instruction.

The walk through the forest was brief. In hardly any time at all, the pair arrived at a small cottage with walls of stone which were painted white and a thatched roof.

Daniel opened the wooden front door and carried Violeta inside, kicking the door shut with his foot. He did not put her down until they had entered a small kitchen, at which point he set her down on a long wooden table that seemed disproportionate to the room. Its surface was clear of any items used in the preparation of food.

"I cannot sit on your table," protested Violeta. She mad a move to slide off but Daniel halted her but placing a hand on her chest.

Smiling, said he "I would like it if you sat there, princess."

She sighed. "Daniel, you are far too kind. And this is a most improper position for a princess."

With an alarming suddenness, Daniel put his hands on the table either side of her, and looked directly into the princess's eyes. His own were burning with a curious sort of intensity that caused every one of Violeta's thoughts to escape her. She was so disoriented that she even forgot she was a princess.

Daniel smiled, leaned forwards and kissed her on the lips.

The End

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