In the Heart of Misericordia
Summary: Into a forest he is never been to, a prince discovers how it is to be more than just royalty.
Rating/Genre: G/AU, Fantasy
The concept of rain in that forest was not anything he knew and grew up with. While there was water and drops and the cool feeling that came with it when it rained, this hidden forest had falling glitters down the garden. Beautiful, sparkling and it showered the soil bed like tiny confetti to the flowers. It was beautiful but also so mysterious; felt feathery against his hand. Like magic only it was real, it was there. Right in front of him.
It fell directly on a bed of roses, pretty ones with thorn. He knew that, of course. Roses had thorns and they stung when mishandled. He didn’t want mishandled them. Especially that blue rose that stood singular amongst the reds. Very different, yet mesmerizing all the same. Blue roses were rare, he once read in an old book in their library. It grew to only soft soil, warm sunlight, fresh spring water and the purest love.
He wondered at that. Purest of love, what did it mean? But he filed it away as backed away and thought to retrace his step. He nearly forgot he was lost and should find his way back to town or he might worry the king and queen. He was a prince, he could do this.
What he couldn’t do was stay away from the forest he once got lost. Now memorized the paths and roads and even the narrowest one between trees like the back of his hand, the prince came back to watch the glitter rain and quiet roses. He thought of watering them, bringing himself a pail to carry water from a nearby river.
Now it came as a routine to sneak out from the kingdom to water the hidden garden. It soothed him to do so. And if the blue rose stood taller, even more beautiful than the red ones told any implication, he must be doing something good.
He returned to the rock spot he always sat on not to watch the garden grow or to water as he usually did but to talk. He spoke to the roses. He told his sentiments of the pressures being a prince. How the expectations on him was far greater than he could take. How felt like he needed to be perfect in the eyes of the castle and to the townspeople. He was no perfect being; he was still just a boy who made mistakes and bad choices.
Despite fears, he wanted to be the one who could lead the kingdom with pride and honor.
He didn’t expect any responses, he would feel foolish to anyway. He spoke his heart out still, to the roses and the glitters that somewhat cradled him.
And he felt lighter in what seemed like hours of talking and talking. The blue rose, along with the red ones finally facing one direction – to where the prince sat.
It thundered outside his window, a vein of light that streaked the sky. It came with rumbling sounds and harsh patters of rain. The prince sat worried for the garden he left hours ago, if the roses were alright.
He couldn’t sleep, couldn’t keep himself laid on his back and eyes shut. He needed to know.
With haste, he took the fastest horse he owned and braved the storm that pounded him. Anything didn’t matter anymore.
He didn’t count the days he began visiting the garden, or the time he spent nursing the roses until they were bright in color and seemingly happy. Time flew, he knew that. He got used to this wonderful routine of seeing glitter rain and the bed of roses. What he wasn’t prepared for was their decrease in number.
“How…” The prince reached for one red rose, held it and eyed the space that surrounded it. Bare. That wasn’t there before. He suddenly grew alarm.
“Young man, you’re not from around here, are you?” An old man, with his wife passed by and considered the prince for a moment. “No bother. Do you happen to know where the river is?”
The prince pointed the direction, politely told the safest road down to it.
The old lady next to the man smiled as they walked away. “See? I told you he was as kind.”
“A shame that I didn’t see everything. The boulder in front of me was a blimey wall.”
The couple disappeared, left the prince in wonder. That conversation was rather ominous and his mind filled with worry for the upcoming days. He felt dread at the thought of the roses.
The roses were afew by the third day and it ached the prince, straight to his heart, to watch it every time he visited. What only stayed were couple of reds and the blue one, still in the middle and blossoming. He fetched more water, spent more time until the last minute of dusk in hope that the gone-roses would be replaced by another. But it didn’t. The bare soil expanded and expanded with no flower on it. Why was that?
The flowers were disappearing and more people he never saw before kept appearing instead. Asking him things, this and that, of the kingdom he belonged and how things worked. They were folks of the farthest town, the prince supposed because they inquire the simplest of things. Transportation, festival, his townspeople. Each and every time he shared something, these people’s eyes twinkle in delight before leaving him be.
They whispered words of, “Yes, he’s amazing even in person.” and, “The one, he’s the one.”
The prince wasn’t sure what that meant. He was too preoccupied to fuss about the magical garden that was ceasing to exist. Vanishing slowly like it never was. The prince knew he needed to do something, anything. This beautiful thing, the roses, they were too precious to be gone.
When he came back, the reds weren’t there anymore. Only the blue one under the glitter rain, in full bloom and full color. So beautiful that it hurt to look. Without the other roses, it wasn’t the same.
“Don’t go,” the Prince’s fingers touched the blue petals gently, caressing. “What’s left to take care if there’s no more of you? You are magnificent, this garden is. Without you, lovely, I would be sad. You are so strong, standing here so proud. You are…”
He left, knowing that tomorrow won’t really be the same anymore.
“Sir? Are you with me?” Fingers snapped at his sides to make him look, see the blinking eyes of his tutor at him. Oh yes, right now was academic time. He was once again staring off to space.
“Are you alright?” the teacher asked, taken aback at the prince’s slight inattention. “You seem off. Do you want to continue the lecture after a while?”
“No, no,” the prince breathed, willing his mind to stay where it supposed to be – inside the castle. “Please, carry on.”
“Alright,” with the book at hand, the professor resumed. “As it states here, based on legends and passed-on talks, of about a little village disappearing over night. No one knows what became of the people in it but some said a witch had passed a cursed to them. They became roses.”
The prince had almost knocked the vase that sat on his table, staring agape. “Roses?”
“Yes, according to resources. But it could just as any fantastical stories as our fairy tales. Clearly there could never be such a thing,” a waved of dismissive hand. “But it gets interesting when a girl – a princess, if I remembered correctly – tried to resist the curse, tried to fight off the witch and she was put down with the saddest curse.”
“She became the rare blue rose. You do know about blue roses right?”
It grew to only soft soil, warm sunlight, fresh spring water and the purest love. The prince nodded stiffly, feeling cold all of a sudden.
Could this be coincidental or…?
“Sir! What are yo—where are you going?”
The prince was already by the door, almost ready to rip it open before calling back to his tutor. “Sorry, I forgot I needed to tend to urgent matters right now.”
“Does the king know– prince! Wait!”
He was already gone, towards the garden place to see and fit the puzzle of the mysterious bed of roses and its legendary story. He wanted to know. This was no fairytale. This was real and happening.
But to see an empty space when he arrived was like a drop of weight inside his chest. Painful. Suffocating. Where the flowers were, gone for good. Only the glitter rain that remained. He didn’t know what to make of this.
Did… did the flowers die?
He reached for a dried petal on the ground, felt its rough texture that squeezed him inside. This garden meant so much, told him of wondrous thing without words. He cared for it, grew with it. Loved everything of it. But now, it was…
“There you are.”
He froze to where he stood, throat gone dry. His thought sufficed castle guards that came after him because of his abrupt leave, causing turmoil to this teacher who probably told the king and queen of his juvenile behavior. He was in a lot of trouble now.
He saw a lady instead, in a blue dress and she smiled at him enough to make him breathless. A beautiful lady…
“All these years of waiting, the centuries we endure in hopes of finding that one who would care, you are the one who uplift the curse.” The lady began with voice so soft like rose.
“You are that…” the prince stuttered, growing speechless.
The lady chuckled, coming closer and smiling. “We have soil, light, water but anyone who passed by never looked twice at the bed of roses next to his foot. You are different. For that, I am thankful.”
Blue eyes stared at his, words as strong as the lady’s resolve. “You are truly a prince. We all know that you are.”
He jumped in surprise at the crowd that came out from the bushes, the same people he met when he stayed by the garden. The same people asking him curious things. Now he understood why.
“A heart like yours, such a rare gift indeed.” The lady had said, very pleased as she reached for the prince’s hand and held it, under the glitter rain that finally turned to cool water drops against their skins.
There, a sign as gentle as rain, the awful curse was now finally lifted.
(originally written on May 2011)