As young boys, Kris and Adam were the best of friends. It didn't matter that kris was the crowned prince and Adam was merely a woodcutter's son. Their fathers, King Neil Allen and Eber Lambert had been friends when Eber's father tutored them together. Now, the Lambert family - or what was left of it after the death of Adam's mother - lived right outside the castle gates on the edge of the forest. Eber cut down trees for the castle's wood supply. Every day, Adam and Kris would run around by the little creek flowing next to Adam's modest cottage home. They fished and swam and splashed and skipped rocks. It was a joy-filled and peaceful life.
One day, they were lying by the edge of the water, getting dry in the hot sun. Adam was seven and Kris was five. Adam looked over at Kris and said, "We're gonna be together forever, Krissifer."
Kris smiled at Adam and said, "When we're older, I wanna marry you so that nothing can take us apart."
Adam leaned over and kissed Kris on the cheek before wrapping him in a hug. "I love you Krissy."
"I love you too Adam."
Little did the boys know that their happiness was soon to come to an end. Less than a year later, Adam's father married a rich woman who had two horrid sons. They would have to move far away to live in her vast mansion. "I just want you to have a mother," Eber told his sobbing son. "Every child deserves a mother in his life."
"But I don't want a mother," Adam complained. "I want to stay with Kris forever and ever!"
"I'm sorry, son," Eber tried to comfort. "You'll make new friends. It's not the end of the world."
Adam begged to differ. On his last day at the cottage, he held Kris close and cried into his shoulder. Kris didn't hold up much better. "I'm gonna m-miss you so much," Adam lamented.
"D-don't worry Adam," the younger boy said. "We'll always l-love each other. When we're older, I'll find you and we can live happily ever after."
"Do you promise?" asked Adam in a whisper.
"Of course," Kris replied. To seal his promise, Kris leaned up and kissed Adam gently on the mouth. "I'll never forget you. I love you."
Adam sighed and hugged Kris tighter. "I love you too."
Eber came over and separated the two boys. "Time to go, Adam." Adam kissed Kris on the forehead and followed his father to their carriage. He waved to Kris out the back window until he couldn't see him or the castle anymore.
Ten years later, Adam was miserable. His dad had died two years after they moved. He had been chopping wood in the forest when he was attacked by a bear. Adam's step-mother, Lucinda, was downright evil to Adam. She had taken all of his belongings besides his rattiest clothes and the worn leather bracelet Kris had given to him on his sixth birthday. The rest of his things were either burned or given to his step-brothers, Danny and Michael. He was moved to the highest room in the tallest tower. It was big enough to hold an uncomfortable bed and a beat-up desk. Every day, he was forced to do all the household chores. Danny and Michael liked to create messes for Adam to clean up. Adam was seventeen and he had never felt worse.
He was feeding the chickens when three little bells started ringing, indicating his step-family had awoken and expected their breakfast. He hurried inside to plate the food. It took him less than five minutes due to practice, but that didn't keep his step-family from getting impatient. The bells rang frantically and he could hear the distant screams of his step-brothers prompting him to hurry up. Finally, he finished plating and set about delivering. He gave Danny his breakfast before quickly moving to Michael and finally to Lucinda. When that was done, he moved on to laundry. He hand-washed it quickly and returned the garments to their specific owners.
Lucinda exited her room and stared Adam down threateningly. "I'm expecting company in a few days time," she said icily. "You are to forgo the rest of your chores today and scrub down the Great Hall until it is spotless."
"Very well, madam," Adam said obediently. he left to get started on his task. Setting a bucket of soapy water and a brush on the floor in the hall, Adam sighed wearily. He had a long and hard task before him. The hall was barely ever cleaned because no one hardly ever visited. There was dust, mud tracks, leaves, and various other things covering the marble tile. Adam dipped the brush into the water and began to scrub.
As he was scrubbing, he began to sing. Singing was the only thing that made him happy. It transported him to a different place. A place of joy and fun and Kris. Adam had never forgot about his childhood friend. His step-brothers read the weekly castle publication, so Adam knew what Kris looked like now. He was beautiful. As a child, Adam had loved his friend. Now that he was older and understood love, he knew that Kris and him were meant to be. They had something special. Unfortunately, Adam was never allowed off the property, so he would never have the chance to reunite with his beloved. Adam began singing a song he had wrote about the pain of loss and heartache. As he sang, he daydreamed of being back with his Kristopher. The time went by quickly after that. It seemed like no time before the hall was spotless. Adam sat back to rest for a moment and examined his handiwork cheerily, feeling accomplished.
Of course that would be when Danny and Michael decided to tread through in their muddy boots. Adam had just restrained himself from yelling at them when a knock sounded on the door. Lucinda emerged from the top of the staircase and scowled disapprovingly at the floors before quickly answering the door.
A royal page seemingly from the castle handed her a letter and bowed. He turned and left the way he had come. Lucinda shut the door and hastily tore into the royal note.
Adam, Michael, and Danny gathered around, eagerly awaiting the contents of the letter.
Lucinda began to read: "My loyal subjects, There will be a royal ball held at the castle this evening. All eligible bachelors and bachelorettes are required to attend. The crown prince Kris Allen will be selecting a bride or a groom. The ball will start at 8 sharp. Signed, King Neil Allen."
Danny and Michael began tittering excitedly back and forth about potentially being chosen as the Prince's groom. Adam paid them no heed, however. Instead, he was inwardly rejoicing over the chance to see his beloved again. Kris would take one look at him and would realize they were destined. Then Kris would rescue him from his bleak prison and they'd travel into the sunset to live happily ever after. "Alright boys," Lucinda said sharply, breaking through Adam's musings. "Go upstairs and find something suitable to wear. The prince must pick one of you. There are no better choices in all the land. "All three boys turned to head up to their rooms to choose their outfits. "And just where do you think you're going, boy?" she asked as she grabbed Adam by the collar and yanked him back.
"I...um," Adam stuttered. "I w-was going to g-get dressed. The invitation s-said all eligible bachelors and I'm one, so I thought I was invited t-too." He looked at the floor, too afraid to look Lucinda in the eye.
A hand violently collided with Adam's cheek and he reared back, frightened. "You are a vile, presumptuous boy," Lucinda spat. "What makes you think a prince would choose a lowly servant as his husband?" She thought for a moment and a dangerous-looking glint arose in her eyes. "I suppose the invitation did say all eligible bachelors. You may attend, but only if you complete your chores. I said I wanted this floor spotless. It looks like you've been slacking the last few hours. If the floor sparkles by 7:30, you may accompany us. Assuming you have something decent to wear, of course."
"Thank-you so much, step-mother," Adam said eagerly. "I'll have the floor done in time, don't worry." He headed over to the bucket to finish his scrubbing. Lucinda ascended the stairs to help her sons pick suitable outfits. Adam scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed some more. Finally, with ten minutes to spare, he was finished. "Yes!" he cheered as he ran up the stairs to get dressed.
He reached his room and opened the box at the foot of his bed. Lucinda had allowed him to keep one of his father's old suits. It was the one he had married Adam's birth mother in. Adam lifted it out of the trunk and eyed it reverently. He stripped his old ratty clothes and slipped on the suit. It wasn't the fanciest or prettiest suit ever made, but it was still stunning. Adam admired his reflection in the mirror and ran his hands through his hair to make it look passable. He hummed as he skipped all the way down the stairs. His step-family stood waiting for him, decked out in their newest and finest clothes. Adam looked like a pauper next to them, but he didn't mind. Kris would recognize him and he would love him anyway.
"Hmm," Lucinda tutted disapprovingly. "Do you think I'm actually letting you go to the dance?"
"Well, yeah. I did my chores and everything," Adam said cheerfully.
"Not all of them." She raised a long list that Adam had failed to notice in her hand. "You are to complete everything I have written here. I'm afraid you won't be finished in time. Too bad. And you so wanted to go too." She gave him a pitying look and let the list fall to the ground. Then she turned and shuffled her sons out the door.
"Good riddance, freak," Danny shouted.
"Sucks to be you," Michael yelled.
The three evil members of his step-family closed the door behind them with a dramatic slam. Adam collapsed on the ground and stared blankly at the list of chores. He had hoped to finally be reunited with his childhood sweetheart. Now he was stuck in his hellish life while Kris would choose a spouse and live in bliss. Adam fell sideways and lay on the floor while he wept. It looked like his prince would be riding into the sunset with someone else.
Just then Adam heard a faint tinkling sound. He raised his head and saw a light emanating from underneath the front door. He stood up and cautiously approached the door. He grabbed the knob and turned it slowly. The door opened into a seemingly different world from the normal front yard. There was glitter in the air and little lights everywhere. A petite, brown-haired man sat on a bench in the middle of it all. He was wearing very little and held a wand. 'That's it,' thought Adam. 'I'm going crazy. Finally cracking under the pressure.'
"You're not going crazy," the little man said in a soft voice.
"What...but how can you...?" Adam spluttered.
"I'm your fairy god person, cupcake. I know all of your heart's secret desires," the fairy explained. "Name's Cheeks, by the way. But for you, it's Brad."
"Um...." Adam was at a loss for words. Since when did he have a magical fairy at his beck and call? And, more importantly, why hadn't he shown up sooner. "Why now? I've needed you for years. Why would you only appear now?"
"I'm sorry, sweetie," Brad said apologetically. "I wanted to help. But there's rules for these things. I can only help you achieve your destiny. That's why I'm here tonight. You're destined to attend the ball."
"Does Kris choose me? Does he even recognize me?" asked Adam hopefully.
"I'm sorry, I can't tell you that, hon," Brad informed gently. "I can only put you on your path. I can't reveal it to you." Brad jumped up and clapped his hands. "All right, let's get started! First off, those clothes definitely need to go. You need some glam in your life."
Before Adam could ask what Brad meant, the fairy waved his wand. Adam's clothes were transformed before his very eyes. The old, dusty suit was replaced with a brand new black one. Various necklaces hung from his neck. Fingerless gloves were on his hands along with several large rings. His fingernails were painted black and his shoes had been changed into boots. Brad formed a mirror out of thin air and showed Adam his reflection. His hair was pitch black and styled in a pompadour. His eyes were smoky and kohl-lined. His skin was flawless and he was covered head-to-toe in glitter. "Wow," he breathed. "I look amazing."
"You look hot!" Brad said excitedly. "I did real good with you, no?"
Adam nodded, still smiling widely at his reflection. "Now that I'm dressed, how will I get there?"
"Leave it to me," Brad waved his wand again and a sleek black carriage appeared headed by to brilliant white stallions. "Get on in. Your price awaits." Brad opened the carriage door and Adam climbed in. "Oh, one more thing before you go."
"Make sure you're home by midnight. That's when the spell ends. Everything will revert back to as it was."
"Why midnight?" Adam asked as Brad shut the door. He didn't seem to hear because seconds later the carriage was in motion. During the whole trip, Adam couldn't contain his excitement. He was finally going to see his beloved again. In his new attire, he was sure to draw Kris's attention. When the carriage came to a halt, Adam was buzzing with joy. The door opened and Adam bounded out. He noticed there was no one there who could have driven the carriage. He wrote it off as magic and quickly forgot all about it.
He gazed up at the castle in wonder. It had been ten years since he last saw it. It was even more magnificent than he remembered. He ran up the castle stairs, eager to join the ball. The massive front doors opened up into the Great Hall. It was empty. The sound of joy and music drew Adam to the Grand Ballroom. He walked in and paused at the top of the grand staircase, looking out over all the attendants.
A hush fell over the crowd and they all glanced up at Adam. He fidgeted uncomfortably under their gazes. He descended the stairs quickly to get out of view. The crowd parted for him at the bottom. Adam looked up and saw Kris coming towards him. His breathing stopped. Did Kris recognize him? What if he didn't? What should he say?
All of his inner turmoil was quieted as Kris extended his hand and introduced himself. "Good evening. I'm Prince Kristopher," he said. Adam took his hand and managed to squeak out, "Adam." Kris smiled and didn't let go of Adam's hand. "Would you care to dance with me, Adam?" he asked, eyes shining brightly.
"I would love to," Adam answered. Kris led him to the center of the dance floor. The crowd hung back, giving them a large space. The band began to play a slow tune. Kris wrapped his arms around Adam's neck and Adam wrapped his around Kris's petite waist. Standing this close, Adam realized that time had been very good to Kris. His skin was silky smooth and tanned a light brown. Adam could see muscles rippling under his tight white shirt. His brown eyes had lightened to a sweet, chocolate amber over the years apart. Adam pulled Kris close up against his chest. They danced slowly, oblivious to all around them as they gazed into each others eyes. Adam sighed happily, reveling in the gentle warmth radiating off his body.
The song ended and they parted. Kris bowed to Adam and extended his hand. "Will you do me the honor of accompanying me to the balcony?" Kris looked hopeful and unsure, as if he was scared Adam could ever possibly say no.
Adam smiled warmly and slipped his hand into Kris's. "I'd be delighted." Kris let out the breath he was holding and visibly relaxed. They walked to the balcony together, everyone's eyes on the two of them. Adam realized that Kris must not have yet realized who Adam was because he was treating him with such formality. Adam didn't want to tell who he was because he didn't want to face the possibility that Kris had completely forgotten about him.
"It's a beautiful evening, isn't it?" Kris asked.
"Not as beautiful as you, Kristopher," said Adam candidly, as no one else was present on the balcony.
Kris blushed and looked out over the railing. "I don't know about that," he said. "You're the beautiful one here."
"I beg to differ," replied Adam. "It took a lot of work to make me look like this. I bet you just threw on those clothes and did nothing else."
"That may be true, but you are flawless." Kris reached out a hand and caressed Adam's cheek. "I just feel so drawn to you. It's like I've known you my whole life."
Adam placed his hand over Kris's on his cheek. "I feel the same for you," he admitted quietly. He looked straight into Kris's eyes. In that moment of silent connection, everything in Adam's life clicked. He didn't care about any of his past troubles; he was content with being here, standing in front of the love of his life. They leaned towards each other, moving for a kiss. When they were close enough for their breath to intermingle but not for their lips to touch, the clock began to strike midnight. Adam panicked and wrenched away from Kris. He didn't want this perfect, beautiful boy to see him as he really was: a poor, unkempt servant. "I have to go," he said hurriedly. "I'll never forget this night, my love." He turned to run and tripped over his boots. The bracelet Kris had given him when they were younger caught on the stair railing and slipped off his wrist. He just kept running down the stairs that connected the balcony from the ground. He left the bracelet in front of Kris who shouted, "Hey wait!" before bending down to pick it up. Adam jumped into his carriage and the horses thundered away. He looked back longingly at the castle. He began to cry, realizing he was leaving the most important person in his life behind.
The carriage hadn't gotten very far before it disappeared. Adam's lavish clothes disappeared as well, and he was left in his rags with his old appearance. He had to walk the rest of the way home. The night air chilled his skin through the rips and tatters. Finally, Adam arrived home and quickly retired to his room. His step-family should be home soon, and he didn't want them to know where he had been. He fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow and had sweet dreams of his beloved.
When Adam arose the next morning, he was floating on air. The memory of the previous night pleasantly playing in his mind. He quickly did all of his morning chores and sat in the dining room to eat his breakfast. He was humming and eating when Danny and Michael appeared.
"What are you so happy about?" Danny asked smugly.
"Nothing in particular," Adam replied cheerily. "I just feel like life is good this morning." He smiled at Danny and continued humming. "Oh, by the way, how did the ball go last night?" he asked innocently.
Michael scowled. "There was some guy who arrived late and took up all the Prince's time. Very rude of him not to share if you ask me."
"Yeah, we were waiting all night to dance with the prince. The brat should have waited his turn," Danny spat disgustedly.
"Who was he?" Adam asked, feigning interest.
"That's the thing," Michael said. "No one knows who he was. He ran out on the Prince at midnight and all he ever gave was his first name. He could have been lying about that, though."
"Weird," Adam replied shortly and continued to eat.
Just then, a knock sounded at the door. "I'll get it," shouted Lucinda from the other room. A few seconds passed before she appeared in the dining room. "Boys, get in there and introduce yourselves politely. Adam, come with me."
Danny and Michael sauntered off to obey her orders. Adam arose and followed Lucinda's lead. She walked him all the way up to his room. "What's going on?" he asked, confused.
"Sit down, Adam," she said gently, indicating for him to sit on the bed. He did. "Downstairs is the Prince, traveling the kingdom for the man who fled last night." Adam's heart nearly stopped at hearing that. Kris was downstairs right now; his prince had come to save him! "I know it was you last night. You didn't think I'd be stupid enough to not recognize you, did you? There is no way I'm letting you be with the prince. One of my sons will be the one to marry him. They deserve the Prince. You're just a servant boy. The Prince would never want you." Adam sat shell-shocked as Lucinda backed out of the room and locked the door behind her.
Adam snapped out of his shock and lunged at the door. "Let me out!" he screamed as he banged on the door. "You can't do this, Lucinda!" He continued to kick and scream until he realized it was a lost cause. Adam was trapped and he would never be able to live with his Kristopher. He slumped dejectedly on the window ledge. He squeezed his eyes shut to try to prevent crying, but it didn't work. The tears began flowing freely down his face anyway. He rested his forehead against the glass and wept. He glanced down and saw Kris storm out of the house, Adam's step-family not far behind. Danny and Michael seemed to be begging Kris to choose one of them to be his husband. Upon seeing Kris's downcast expression, Adam realized he had to do something. He didn't want Kris to be unhappy, and he had obviously been happy last night. Adam worked furiously on unlocking the window so he could call down and let Kris know he was there. Finally, the window flew open. "Kris!" he shouted down. "Kristopher, my love! I'm locked in the attic."
Kris's head jerked up. He spotted Adam barely squeezing through the small attic window. "Are you Adam, the one I danced with last night?" Kris asked.
"It is I, my love," Adam replied. "Please save me from this prison. My step-mother has locked me up here."
"I'll be up there soon," Kris shouted before turning to Lucinda. Adam watched as they fought back and forth, arguing about something. Kris gave one last argument before Lucinda reluctantly handed him the key to Adam's small cage. Adam collapsed on the bed in relief. He was going to be freed by the love of his existence. He was finally going to be reunited with his childhood sweetheart, Kristopher.
A pounding sounded on the stairs. Seconds later, a key was being jangled in the lock. The door burst open and Kris came charging in. Adam jumped up. "My Prince."
Kris halted, looking startled. "You look the man I knew before, but you're just a servant." Kris didn't seem disgusted, he was more confused. Adam took it as a good sign that he wasn't about to be rejected. Kris held out the bracelet Adam had dropped at the ball. "I gave this bracelet to someone I knew a long time ago. I never thought I'd see it or him again. But the boy I gave this to did not leave me to become a servant. He left to join a rich family. You look just like him, but I don't see how he could have ended up like this." Kris's eyes became shiny with moisture. He asked, voice rough, "Tell me, what is your father's name, so that I may verify that you are indeed who I believe you to be?"
"Eber Lambert," Adam whispered, silently willing Kris to remember their childhood days.
He had, it seemed, because Kris dropped the bracelet and rushed into Adam's arms. "It is you. I knew it was. Oh Adam, I've missed you so much."
Adam clutched Kris close. Nothing he could remember compared to feeling Kris's gentle weight cradled against his chest again. "My love, my Kris, I have missed you so." He pressed his face into Kris's hair and breathed in.
"What happened? Why are you like this?"
Adam sighed and thought back to his sorry past. He decided to tell Kris the short version, opting not to subject him to the awful details. "My father passed away shortly after we moved. My step-mother never accepted me as her own child, so I was delegated to house servant instead. I've been living in Hell, waiting until I could finally reunite with you again."
"I'm so sorry," Kris sobbed into Adam's neck. "I should have found you. I should have rescued you." He gripped Adam's shirt tightly in his hands.
"You've rescued me now," Adam reassured. He pulled away and looked into Kris's eyes. "Take me away from this awful place, and you'll have down everything you will ever need to do."
"I'll take you anywhere, love," Kris said with sincerity. Adam cupped Kris's face in his hands and leaned forward. Kris met him halfway and they kissed for the first time. Adam's heart began working overtime. It was a kiss sweeter than he could have ever imagined. They pulled apart and Kris whispered, "I love you," into Adam's mouth.
"I love you too, Krissy."
Kris laughed and Adam couldn't believe how much he had missed the sound. "Krissy? Adam, we're not five anymore."
Adam laughed too and pecked Kris on the lips. "But you're cuter than a five year old."
Kris's nose wrinkled and he blushed. "Shuddup," he muttered under his breath.
Kris and Adam walked downstairs hand-in-hand. They walked past Adam's step-family, completely ignoring their cries of surprise and protest. Kris helped Adam into his carriage and climbed in behind him. Not even bothering to look back, they rode away into the sunset.
They lived Happily Ever After....