Years passed and the prince grew from an arrogant boy to a confidant man. Around his forearm he wore ribbon, spotted with blood as a reminder of his youthful folly. The wound from his brush with death so well healed that it could barely be seen. But now he lay in the Abby close to where his previous wound had been mended. This time it was war that gave him the wound. A war he knew they could win, but a country they could not. True victory would only come by wedding their Princess. A Princess long lost, her family all slaughtered by the tyrant he sought to defeat. He sighed as he let sleep overcome him, hoping that for a while he could forget the pain.
A soft touch brushed the ribbon about his forearm bringing the prince to gentle consciousness. Through mostly closed eyes he watched the girl who knelt by his bed. Her finger lightly traced his scar.
“Child” he head a harsh whisper at the door, and the girl’s head bobbed up as she faced the speaker.
“How many times do I have to tell you, you are not to be in this wing.” He heard the girl sigh as she stood up, head hanging down.
“It’s alright,” he heard himself say wondering how the girl had traced his scar when it was barely visible.
“Your Highness,” the woman at the door bobbed. It was the Abbess, “I’m truly sorry. She isn’t supposed to be here, if she’d disturbed you in any way…”
“Not at all, waking up to a pretty face is a pleasant thing indeed.” He smiled at the woman then the girl. Still looking at the girl he spoke slowly, “Perhaps I could borrow some of her time, surrounded as I am by battle hardened men and talk of war, I could use a reminder of what we are fighting for.” Her head was stilled bowed, but he though he saw a faint smile and wondered if she was really as young as she looked.
The Abbess took a breath as if she was about to protest. The prince gave her his most winning smile. “I suppose it won’t hurt,’ she sighed, “Go get your busy work.” The girl bobbed and walked quickly out the door. The Abbess looked over at the prince as she sat down on the chair by his bed. The prince sat up.
“Don’t think I don’t know of your reputation, Your Highness.” She looked at him with all seriousness. “That girl is not one of your tavern wenches, she is…” The Abbess stared out the window as if groping for the right word.
“Meant for the convent?” he asked helpfully, but the Abbess shook her head.
“She came to us on a horrible night. We know very little about her and she either doesn’t know herself, or she won’t tell us.” The Abbess turned back to the prince. “You may have her company, if her silence doesn’t frustrate you, but you must promise me that you will not touch her” The Abbess looked at the prince sternly, and he knew that she was serious.
“I promise,” he said looking earnestly at the Abbess, “I will treat her as if she was one of my mother’s ladies in waiting.” Everyone knew that his mother kept those women under tight control, and woe to anyone who advanced upon them without her permission.
“Good.” she said, just as the girl appeared in the door holding a basket of work. The Abbess stood and looked at the girl. Then she nodded to them both and left. The girl stood shyly at the door.
“Come on in,” he said, “I won’t bite.” He smiled at her, and got a shy smile back. She stepped into the room and looked about. “Pick a seat, make yourself comfortable.” She gestured at the window seat opposite the bed, near the table. “Go ahead.” She moved around the table giving it a cursory glance then set her basket down. She looked around her for a moment as if trying to figure something out. The prince tossed her a pillow from his bed. She caught it and smiled. The prince smiled back at her as he watched her settle herself on the pillow. She was a beautiful creature, he thought, almost to precious to touch. Just in the short time she had been there he could feel why she was considered special. He watched her as she worked, trying to figure out what made her special. After a while he gave up.
“When I woke,” he said thinking carefully, “you were tracing a line on my arm.” She looked up at him and blushed. “Do you know what line you were tracing?” She nodded. “Show me,” he said. She set down her work neatly and came over to the bed. She hesitated, and he gestured for her to sit on the bed. She sat down gingerly and turned towards him. He held up his arm for her. “Show me,” he whispered. Again she touched the ribbon first before tracing the thin scar down his arm. Then she put both hands on his arm and leaned forward to give him a kiss on the cheek before running back to the window seat where she immediately arranged herself and started her work as if nothing had happened. He smiled.
“So you are my angel.” She blushed, more deeply than before and slowly nodded.
“I owe you my life.” She looked up at him startled, and shook her head.
“No?” the prince chuckled, “If you had not stopped the bleeding and closed the wound, I would have died. Because you gave me a second chance at life I have been able to mend my horrible ways and become what I am now.” She looked at him and sighed. It seemed a large sigh for such a little thing. She stared down at her work and the Prince again wondered how old she really was.
[author's note: This is the begining to a story that is just over 9,000 words, but has been put on the shelf, for now. I have not gone through it with a fine tooth comb and I know there are some grammar mistakes and potential typos.]