Once upon a time there was a princess
named Poi who put out a decree that some should try and write
a story with a happy ending. And the Queen of Angst, alone
in her dark citadel, declared that she was (temporarily) sated
of blood and gore and she remembered the decree of Princess
Poi and wrote she a fairy-tale that ended, of course, in happily
And here it is...
This is a most unusual story for me. It is part What If?,
part Elseworld, part allegory, part wish-fulfilment and ALL
fairytale. I am sure that you will be able to work out who
the couple are <g>.
Disclaimer: Sort of Marvel's, mostly mine. No harm,
Once upon a time, there was a princess who lived at
the top of a tall tower made of stone with one wide window
that looked over a barren, wasted land that stretched as far
as the eye could see. There were no stairs in the tower and
no doors, for the princess lived under a strange doom -- she
was cursed to live locked away in her tall tower until someone
came who knew the secret of the tower, and when they spoke
the secret, the tower would melt away and she would be free.
Many princes came, riding their destriers across the barren
land, caparisoned and proud of their strength-at-arms and
their glory. She would watch them riding towards her for days
and her heart would fill with hope that this one, this one,
would be the one who knew the secret. Then they would ride
to the foot of the tower and they would decry what they thought
the secret was -- and they would ride away empty-handed and
her tears would fall from the tower-top like rain behind them
and her heart would grow again as stony in despair as the
land that stretched as far as her eyes could see.
Many princes came because there was a rumour that the tower
contained treasures beyond imagining, that when it melted
dragon hoards of gold and jewels would spill across the land,
that magic spells of infinite power would be theirs, that
something precious was held within the tower.
Many princes came because the princess was more than passing
fair and they wished her for their trophy bride.
Many princes rode away with nothing more than they came with
and they soon forgot the princess whose eyes bled tears like
She was very lonely.
She sat one day in her tower, her sighs stirring small breezes
in the near-empty room and she tried to remember when she
had not been a prisoner. She knew there had been such a time,
that she had run through fields of flowers when she was little
and that someone once had loved her and kissed her, but she
could remember nothing else. Nothing but the loneliness. It
had been a long time since a prince had ridden across the
land to her tower.
'M'lady,' said a voice from below her window and she was
so affrighted she nearly fell from her chair. She had seen
no-one crossing the plain.
But when she looked down out of her window a man stood there,
clad all in dusty brown and black so he seemed almost to melt
into the barren land and his worn boots showed that he had
walked all the way to her tower.
'You are a prince?' asked the princess, her heart still racing
from her fright.
He bowed, a deep and graceful bow. 'No prince, m'lady,' he
replied, and a half-smile touched his face.
'No prince,' she repeated. 'Then what are you?'
'A thief, m'lady,' he responded and his broad smile suddenly
glowed like the sun.
'What do you come to steal here?' asked the princess. 'The
land is barren and there is nothing here but this tall tower
that has no doors.'
The thief leaned gently against the staff he carried. 'I
had heard that there were precious things to be had within
this tower, m'lady,' he replied.
She sighed. 'There may be precious things,' she said. 'But
this tower cannot be breached until someone names the secret
of the tower and releases me from the curse that holds me
'So it is true,' the thief said, looking up at the princess,
whose face was wan but still as fair as morning. 'The man
who talked of precious things told me that a princess waited
in a tall tower without doors in a barren land for someone
to come and tell her the secret of her imprisonment and set
her free. I have travelled far to find you, m'lady, and I
wish to set you free.'
She looked down upon the handsome thief and allowed a small
glimmer of hope to grow in her heart. 'Do you know the secret,
thief?' she asked.
His smile slipped from his face and his mien was grave as
he asked, 'Do you know the secret, m'lady?'
Her tears were silent but fell about him like rain from the
tall tower-top as she wailed, 'I don't know the secret, I
don't remember it, no-one knows the secret and I shall never
be free. I long to be free, thief, to escape my tower and
my barren land and see the flowers again.'
He felt her tears strike him, slide runnels through the dust
that coated him. Softly, he said, 'M'lady, I am a thief. But
more than just a thief, m'lady, I am the best thief in all
the world. I can steal anything from anywhere. I have stolen
the light from the moon, the eyes from a dragon, a kiss from
a mermaid. And I have stolen your secret.'
Her tears stopped and she smiled, and it was like the sun
breaking free of the clouds. 'You know the secret of the tower?'
she asked, and hope ached in her voice.
'I do,' he replied, his voice gravely courteous. 'The secret
of the tower, m'lady, is that you built it.'
Her eyes were wide and startled as a fawn's as she looked
down on him and breathed, 'I built the tower that has trapped
me in my loneliness?'
'You did, m'lady,' confirmed the thief. 'You were young and
you were hurt by love, your magic burning the life from the
one you loved and kissed, and you thought that you must never
hurt another. Such is the magic in your bones, m'lady, that
you built this tower and this barren land and took yourself
into utter aloneness until one could come and remember this
Memory and wonder dawned in her eyes as she looked at the
thief. 'I remember,' she breathed, 'I remember,' and the tower
melted around her like the walls of dreams until she stood
before the thief and around their feet, where her unnumbered
tears had fallen, flowers sprang from the soil and furled
outwards until the barren land was blanketed in blooms.
'I was hurt in love,' she said. 'I loved a boy and kissed
him and he died because the magic in my bones burned him away.
And so I built myself a tower in a barren land and made myself
alone and made myself forget until one came who knew my secret
and could release me. You have set me free, thief,' she said,
and her eyes shone like the stars.
'Free forever, m'lady,' replied the thief. 'For you built
the tower with your magic and have learned to shape it and
control it thus. You are free to live and love again, m'lady.'
She smiled at him, the thief who set her free. 'Do you still
seek precious things, thief?' she asked. 'I built my tower
with precious things and magic spells of great power. Do you
still desire such treasures?'
The thief bowed low. 'The joy is in the taking, not the having,
m'lady,' he replied. 'I need no treasure from the tower.'
She smiled at him, a smile that dazzled, and reached out
her hand and cupped his cheek and saw that he was not burned
by her touch.
The thief, who was the best thief in the world and thus knew
the value of all things, smiled back at the princess and knew
that he needed no precious things from the tower, for he had
already stolen the greatest treasure that had been within
-- for he knew he had stolen her heart.
Once there was a princess in a tall tower with no doors that
she built to contain her magic, but that trapped her in her
aloneness. She was set free by a thief who stole her heart
and knew it was the most precious thing he had ever held and
treated it accordingly.
And, as is the way in such things, they lived happily ever
So there you have it -- another story
in which no-one died and Remy and Rogue ended up together
(I hate this pairing -- why is this happening?). I am going
back to blood, death and gore now (how did I not manage to
fit even one blood-stained, murder-crazed troll in this story?).
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