“I’m wishing (I’m wishing), for the one I love to find me (to find me) today (today). I’m hoping (I’m hoping) and I’m dreaming of the nice things (the nice things) he’ll say (he’ll say).” Kris finished singing his song into the wishing well. The birds all around him chirped their applause at his performance. It was a glorious day. The sun was shining brightly, the trees were green and imposing, and the water ran clear blue and refreshingly cold from the fountain next to the well. Nothing could make the little prince’s day any better. “I’m wishing (I’m wishing), for the one I love to find me (to find me) today.”
“Today,” a gentle voice sounded. A servant appeared carrying a basket of laundry he was to clean in the fountain’s stream. Kris didn’t recognize him, so he assumed he was Sauli’s personal assistant. Sauli was Kris’s cousin and the king of the country. He had taken Kris in a few months before after Kris’s parents died from a carriage accident. Kris had been lucky to make it out alive. Sauli had made Kris second-in-line for the throne because he wouldn't be having any children of his own. He, like the young prince, preferred men to women.
“Hello!” Kris said cheerfully when the beautiful man approached. Earlier, he had assumed that his day couldn’t possibly get any better. How wrong he had been. “I’m Kris. What’s your name?”
The man looked up. Upon seeing Kris, he smiled. “I’m Adam.” He extended his hand to shake Kris’s. “Was that you singing not a moment ago?” Kris nodded happily and sat on the edge of the wishing well. “You have a great gift.” Adam set down his laundry and sat next to Kris. “My, what a beautiful day.”
“‘Tis, isn’t it?” Kris looked up into the sun and sighed. “You have a good voice too. Do you sing often?”
“Of course!” Adam exclaimed. “It’s my favorite thing to do!”
Kris sat up excitedly. “Sing me something. I would love to hear more.”
“Okay!” Adam sat up straight and began to sing. He looked into Kris's eyes the whole time and the words he sang set Kris's heart aflutter. “One song, I have but one song. One song, only for you. One heart, tenderly beating. Ever entreating, constant and true. One love that has possessed me. One love thrilling me through. One song my heart keeps singing. Of one love only for you.” Adam stopped singing. “Well, what did you think?” he asked with a sparkle in his eye.
“Wow!” Kris’s was very impressed. “You’re so great!”
“You really think so?”
“Definitely.” The boys sat smiling at each other a little longer. “Hey, we should hang out more often. This is really fun.” Kris leaned in and hugged Adam tight. Adam hugged back. They fit together perfectly. “I don’t want to keep you from your chores for too long. Can I help with the laundry?”
“Sure, let’s get started.” They began their task. Adam splashed Kris and ran around the fountain to escape retaliation. Kris splashed him back and grabbed a piece of clothing to begin washing, laughing the whole time.
***Meanwhile, at the castle...***
King Sauli opened the doors covering his magic mirror. He hadn’t had time to use it since Kris had arrived. The boy took up every second of his day. He had finally managed to convince Kris to go out on his own, leaving Sauli alone with his mirror. “Mirror, mirror, in the cupboard. Who in the kingdom is most beloved?” he asked his first question smugly, already anticipating the answer he would get.
“Kristopher Allen is the most beloved.”
“Excuse me?” Sauli asked outraged. That certainly was not the answer he had been expecting. He took a deep breath and asked again. “Mirror, mirror, in the box. Who’s got the looks that’ll knock off your socks?”
“Kristopher Allen’s looks will knock off your socks.”
Sauli huffed. He had one more question to ask. “Mirror, mirror, on the wall. Who is the fairest of them all?”
“Kristopher Allen is the fairest of them all.”
“Damn it!” Sauli screamed. “What have I done bringing that...that...pretty boy here?” he spat. He had known Kris was good looking, but he hadn’t fathomed that anyone was more attractive than him. He had always been and would always be the fairest and the best. This just would not do. “Mirror, show me Kristopher Allen.”
The mirror’s surface rippled briefly before smoothing out. Sauli gazed upon Kris and Adam doing the laundry and talking animatedly. As he watched, Adam kept reaching out to lay a hand on Kris’s shoulder or arm. Kris would then look up through his eyelashes and flutter them obscenely. Sauli was absolutely disgusted with the blatant flirting. Adam was his property. Several years ago, Adam had rejected his advances. Sauli had made it his goal since then to gain Adam for himself. His little brat of a cousin was putting a serious damper on that plan.
***At the fountain...***
“So Adam, how’d you come to be Sauli’s personal servant?” Kris asked. He wanted to know as much as he could about the beautiful, raven-haired man.
Adam stopped to think for a minute. “It’s the strangest thing,” he said. “I can’t seem to remember anything past five years ago.”
Kris thought back on his own life. “Why, neither can I!” he exclaimed. “I wonder why that is.” He had never thought about it before. The earliest memory he had was of Sauli’s coronation. Since then, the subjects of the kingdom were encouraged to think only of the future and never of the past. Maybe all of his memories had just slipped away with disuse. He didn’t have time to ponder it any further, though, as Sauli choose that moment to magically summon Adam.
“ADAM!” a disembodied voice boomed throughout the courtyard. “I REQUIRE YOUR PRESENCE IN THE MIRROR ROOM!”
“I have to go,” Adam said sadly to Kris. “I really hope I can see you again.” He pulled Kris into a tight hug.
“Of course you will, we both live in the palace. Our paths are sure to cross eventually.” Kris hugged Adam back. It was strange, but Kris felt a strong connection forging in that hug. “Good-bye,” he whispered into Adam’s shoulder.
Adam pulled away and looked at Kris one last time before gathering the cleaned laundry and turning to walk away. Kris watched him go, a smile on his face in anticipation of their next meeting.
***In the mirror room...***
“That little brat, that nobody, thinks he can just walk in here and be better than everyone else. How dare he!” Sauli finished his rant to Adam and turned with a devilish glint in his eyes. “I won’t stand for this. I have to dispose of him once and for all. Since I am the king, I shouldn’t do something that would dirty my hands. That’s why I shall send you to do my dirty work for me.”
Adam flinched away at the cruelty he could see in Sauli’s eyes. “What will you have me do, my lord?” he asked, frightened of the answer he would receive.
“Do you love Kristopher?” The question came seemingly out of the blue.
Adam chose his words carefully. He knew of Sauli’s obsession with him and didn’t want to put Kris’s life in danger. “He is a fine lad, my lord, though I hold no misconceptions as to my station. I usually try not to think of things that cannot be.”
“Do not avoid the question. I command you tell me of your feelings for the boy.”
Adam had no choice but to answer. Sauli’s magic had a hold over him that forced him to obey every order. “I do love him, my lord.”
Sauli struck Adam across the cheek. “You insolent fool!” He stormed over to a drawer of magical objects. “You belong to me and no one else. I’ll teach Kristopher to try to steal what is mine.” He took out a small box and presented it to Adam. The clasp was a gold heart with a sword running through the center of it. “You will take Kristopher into the woods and you will cut out his heart. You are to place the heart in this box and present it to me upon your return as proof you have succeeded.”
“But, my lord!” Adam begged. “He has done nothing wrong. I won’t love him anymore, I promise. Just don’t force me to do this awful deed.”
The King shoved the box into Adam’s hands. “You will do as I have commanded. Now leave me!”
Adam rose dejectedly from the floor, the box clutched tight to his chest. He walked out of the room with tears streaming down his face in search of Kris.
***In the courtyard...***
Kris was humming happily when he saw a distraught Adam appear from around the corner. He rose and rushed to Adam’s side. “What's wrong, my love?” He gazed into Adam’s eyes, hoping to convey his affection.
“Won’t you walk into the woods with me? I shall tell you there.” Adam turned and headed in the direction of the deep forest. Kris usually tried to avoid it as much as possible. He had heard the legends of the many scary creatures that supposedly made the woods their home.
Kris hurried to catch up with Adam, preferring the security another person provided. “Why are we going into the woods, Adam?”
Adam grasped Kris’s hand tightly. “You’ll see.”
They walked hand-in-hand until they reached a small clearing. Adam stopped. “Now, what is it?” Kris asked. “Can’t you tell me now so that we can be out of here sooner?”
Adam let go of Kris’s hand and reached into his cloak. “I’m so sorry for this, Kris. I don’t want to do it. He’s forcing me. Please forgive me.”
“Forgive you for what?” Kris asked as he backed away in fright. “Adam, what’s going on?”
Adam drew a dagger from his cloak pocket. “Believe me, I don’t want to do this.” He began advancing towards Kris.
Kris screamed and backed farther away, tripping over a log and falling flat on his back. “Adam, what are you doing?” he squeaked.
Taking advantage of Kris’s prone form, Adam rushed over and poised the dagger over Kris’s heart. He raised it above his head and began to plunge it downward.
“Please,” Kris whimpered. “Don’t.”
Adam stopped mid-swing. “Kris, I....” He dropped the dagger and stood up, backing away from Kris. “You need to run into the woods. I have to obey my King, his magic ensures that. As long as you’re around me, I have no choice but to try to kill you. If you escape, I won’t have to.”
Kris stood and walked to Adam. “Oh, Adam, I....”
“Stay away from me!” Adam jerked back violently. “I can only stay in control for a short time. You need to go now before I hurt you. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself then.”
“Will I ever see you again?” Kris asked tearfully.
“I don’t think it’s possible. You’d be in danger every time we saw each other.”
“So, this is goodbye then. I’ll miss you.”
“And I you,” Adam said affectionately. “Now go, quickly! And never come back.”
Kris smiled tearfully at Adam. “I have a feeling we’ll see each other again soon.” He turned and ran into the forest, weeping the whole way.
***Deep in the forest...***
Kris ran blindly in and out of the scary trees. His shirt got caught in a branch and he screamed, envisioning hands reaching out for him from the darkness. Hoots and other noises bombarded him from all sides. He saw eyes around every corner. He was absolutely sure he was going to die in the woods. He should have let Adam kill him; he would have been spared this frightful torture before his death.
Thinking about Adam had Kris sobbing again. He found he couldn’t run anymore and collapsed at the base of an old tree. He sat resigned waiting for something to emerge from the darkness to kill him. “Goodbye Adam,” he whispered as he closed his eyes and leaned back against the tree.
Something began sniffing against his leg. He screamed and recoiled in shock. When he got over the initial scare, he opened his eyes to see what had been touching him. About ten feet away, staring out from behind a tree, stood a small deer. Its eyes were wide and it was staring warily at him. He laughed at his own foolishness and the deer decided to inch out a little farther. “Hey there little guy,” he said. “Sorry for scaring you. I’m just having a really bad day.” He stretched out his hand and the deer stepped closer, nuzzling it curiously. Kris stroked the soft fur on the deer’s head.
As he was meeting his new friend, more animals emerged from the surrounding woods. Squirrels and birds descended from the trees. Rabbits and chipmunks rose from their dens in the ground. Many other fluffy creatures peeked out from behind the trees. They all approached Kris cautiously, trying to get a read on the stranger that was invading their home.
Kris’s deer, he decided to name it Bambi, began sniffing at his tear-stained face in curiosity. “Oh, that,” he said sadly. “Well, you see, today started great. I met this amazing guy. His name is Adam....” Kris continued telling of his day to the attentive forest dwellers. “...and that’s how I ended up here. You must think me incredibly foolish to have been so scared of the woods. Now that I have the chance to look around, it’s not that bad.” The clearing he had ended up in was actually quite beautiful. The sun was shining through the trees, illuminating soft green grass and multitudes of fresh flowers. “But I can’t stay here all night. Do you guys know a place where I can stay?”
He had meant it as a rhetorical question, but it was met with an excited tittering and many little heads nudging him up. “So you do know of someplace?” he asked excitedly as he rose. The nudging grew more insistent. He followed the animals through the trees, dodging branches from above and logs from below. “Where are you taking...oh.”
Kris stopped as the little group arrived at a bridge over a small creek. On the other bank sat a little cottage. The windows were dark and the yard was strewn with various toys and tools. Kris laughed in delight and rushed across the bridge, his new friends right on his heels. He might have someplace to stay tonight! It didn’t look like anyone was home at the moment, but he knocked anyway. When no one came to the door, he tried the knob and found that it was unlocked. He peered inside cautiously, expecting someone to attack him for intruding. When he saw no one, he ventured deeper into the house.
It was a small cottage. The downstairs only held a living room, a kitchen, and a dining room. There was a staircase to the second level in the corner of the living room. A single door rested at the top of the stairs. He would explore that later, however, as there was a more pressing issue he needed to address. “Why, it’s absolutely filthy!” he exclaimed. Clothes were thrown anywhere and everywhere. Dishes were stacked high in the sink. There was a cobweb in every corner and a fine sheen of dust covered every open surface. “This certainly won’t do.” He turned to the forest creatures and motioned for them to enter. “I have a great idea. If we all clean up this house and I cook dinner for the owner, then maybe he’ll let me stay. Do you guys wanna help?” Various animal noises sounded their affirmative. “All right, let’s get started then.” He delegated tasks to everyone and grabbed the broom to begin sweeping.
The animals all kept a fine tune going while they scrubbed and dusted and cleaned. Kris sang along quietly. “Just whistle while you work.” The birds whistled along with him. “And cheerfully together we can tidy up the place. So hum a merry tune.” Kris hummed with the animals. “It won’t take long when there’s a song to help you set the pace.” He twirled around. “And as you sweep the room, imagine that the broom is someone that you love, and soon you’ll find you’re dancing to the tune.” He spun around and danced while sweeping, pretending that he was at a grand ball with Adam by his side. He found that the time went by fast as he tidied up with his friends. They were done cleaning in no time. Kris rested the broom against the wall and collapsed in a rocking chair by the fireplace.
“I’m so exhausted,” Kris said before yawning. “Why don’t I put a pot of stew over the fire in the kitchen and get some sleep.” He rose and walked to the kitchen. There, he prepared the food to begin cooking. It would take several hours to make, so he had just enough time for a quick nap before dinnertime.
“Come on guys,” he said to the animals. “Let’s head upstairs. That’s where the bedrooms must be.” He ascended the staircase cautiously. He didn’t know if someone would be waiting for him at the top. He cracked open the door and peered into the room. He breathed a sigh of relief and opened the door all the way when he found no one was in the room. The entire upstairs was one room that was filled with beds. There were three beds on one wall and four beds on the other. He moved farther into the room and saw that names were painted on the foot board of each bed. “There’s Bashful, Sneezy and Sleepy. Then there’s Happy, Doc, Grumpy, and Dopey,” he read. “What weird names for people.” He walked over to the closest bed- Grumpy’s- and lay down. “Goodnight,” he said to his friends. He stretched his arms above his head and yawned before collapsing backwards. He fell asleep as soon as he head hit the pillow.
***A few hours later...***
Alli burst through the front door in a ball of energy. “Thank God that rehearsal is done!” she exclaimed right before sneezing.
“Tell me about it,” Brad twirled Alli around. “If I have to hear Gokey absolutely murder ‘Dream On’ one more time, I might have to do some murdering myself.” He said this without losing the smile that was permanently pasted on his face.
Gokey entered the room with a scowl. “You guys are just jealous that I have a god-given talent.”
“I thought is was okay,” Sarver said obliviously. He lumbered in behind Gokey.
A yawn preceded Tommy’s entry. “You know it had to be awful if you managed to keep me awake through my beauty nap.”
“Humph,” Gokey pouted. He crossed his arms and glared at Archie. “What did you think?”
Archie blushed deep red. “Well, gosh, I, um, I....” He turned and ran to hide behind Cas.
“Aw, leaf the...uh cleave the...leave the poor boy alone,” he said, keeping an authoritative air while stumbling over his words. “You’ve got to admit, Gokey, it was putty...pretty bad.”
“Whatever.” Gokey collapsed into the rocking chair with a suffering sigh. “Hey, wait a minute....” He rose in a wave of irritation as he noticed his clean surroundings.
Brad looked around the newly cleaned cottage. “Oh my, isn’t it wonderful?” He flitted over to Cas and pulled him into a kiss before moving on to hug the others. “I do love a clean house. It makes it easier to let out my fabulousness without the fear of dust dirtying up my wardrobe.”
“I wonder who, achoo, who did it?” Alli asked.
“Maybe the cottage cleaned itself?” Sarver offered as an explanation.
“Gee, guys,” Archie said. “What if the person who did this is watching us?” He clung tighter to Cas.
“I don’t stink...think that anyone is watching Archie.” Cas walked over to the kitchen, finally disentangling himself from the shy boy. “Hey! There’s some poo...shoes...stew over the tire...uh, fire.”
Tommy meandered to the cupboard to check on his favorite cup. “Hey, the dishes have been cleaned. My sugar’s gone.”
All of a sudden, a loud snore sounded from upstairs. Archie jumped and hid behind a box. “I told you someone was watching us. They’re hiding upstairs spying on our every move.”
“Relax, Archie, I’m sure there’s nothink...nothing to be astrayed of...uh, afraid of.” Cas grabbed Brad’s hand to keep him safe and close before moving to the stairs, the others on his heels. “Let’s heck...check it out.” They ascended the staircase single file. They all managed to avoid the squeaky step, except for Sarver. “Shh!” everyone exclaimed as they glared at him. Sarver, the last person in line, turned to shush the person behind him. When he saw no one was there, he turned back and shrugged in apology. The group continued on their way. When they reached the top of the stairs, Cas faced his friends. “Tall sight buys...uh, all right guys, I’ll go first.”
***In the bedroom...***
Kris was awoken by a soft muttering at the foot of the bed. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and sat up tiredly. He didn’t see anyone. “Hello,” he called. “Is anyone there?” The noise started again, accompanied by a loud sneeze. Kris jumped and hid under the covers. He had never heard of a sneezing ghost, but one seemed to be there nonetheless. “Great,” he said aloud. “I escape one murder attempt only to be killed by a ghost.” The muttering was joined by a light laugh. “Oh, now it finds me amusing,” Kris said wryly.
The blankets were suddenly pulled off of him. He blinked against the bright light streaming in from the window. At the foot of the bed, he was met with seven curious stares. The guy that kinda looked like him spoke first. “Oh my, aren’t you adorable.” He jumped in the bed beside Kris and cuddled up to him. “Cas, can we keep him?” He turned puppy eyes on the man who must be Cas.
“Of course we can’t, Brad!” a bespectacled man said. “He could be a murderer for all we know.” Brad glared at him. Kris was a little creeped out when, despite the glare, Brad’s smile stayed in place.
“No one asked you, Gokey,” a young, fire haired girl said. “He might just be a...ah...ahh....” The person standing next to her stuck his finger under her nose to stop the sneeze from coming. It was to no avail, however, as she sneezed the moment his finger moved. “...a lost traveler.”
“Well, Alli,” Gokey said nastily. “Maybe we should just ask him.” He turned to Cas. “Ask him who he is and what he’s doing here,” he demanded.
“Alright, Gokey, relax,” Cas appeased. “What are you and who are you doing? Uh, I mean, who are you and what are you doing here?”
“I, uh, I...,” he stopped as his eyes began to water at the thought of his day.
A blond guy, the one who had tried to stop the sneeze, yawned wide and said, “Hurry it up, some of us have better things to do...like sleep.”
“Let him explain himself, Tommy,” a small voice sounded from behind Tommy. “Maybe then we won’t have to worry about him spying on us.”
“He’s not here to spy on us Archie,” Gokey said with an added eye roll.
“It’s okay,” Alli said to Kris. She climbed on the bed and snuggled against him opposite of Brad. “What happened, sweetie?”
Kris smiled at her and told the seven people who he was and about his wonderful/awful/wonderful again day.
Danny’s face flushed in anger. “You mean to say that you ticked off the King, the most powerful wizard in the kingdom, and decided to hide out here? What if he finds out you’re here, huh? Then we’ll all get his wrath for protecting you. I bet he’s even watching us right now, waiting for the perfect moment to swoop in and kill us all!” Archie squeaked and dove onto another bed, hiding under the blanket.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Gokey.” Cas smiled warmly at Kris. “You can stay as long as you hike...uh, like.”
“Well, I say we put it to a vote,” Gokey said triumphantly, thinking that the vote would be in his favor.
Knowing the vote would allow Kris to stay, Cas smiled. “All right. All in fervor of...favor of Kris leaving?” Gokey alone raised his hand. “And those in favor of him stewing...spaying...staying?” The other six all raised their hands. “It’s mettled ben...uh, settled then. You can stay.”
Everyone except for Gokey cheered. “Thank-you guys so much! I really didn’t want to sleep in the woods tonight.” Brad and Alli smothered him in a big hug. “Oh! I just remembered. I made dinner! Are you guys hungry?”
A stomach growled, and all eyes turned to the big guy who hadn’t talked yet. “I’m hungry,” he offered the room.
“You’re always hungry, Sarver.” Danny rolled his eyes, “humphed”, and crossed his arms over his chest. “But if it’ll get you out of my bed, I guess I can eat a little bit.” His scowl grew deeper.
“I knew you were Grumpy! I’ve been trying to figure out what everyone’s nickname was. You’re Happy,” he said as he pointed to Brad. “And you’re Sneezy.” Alli sneezed her affirmative. “You’re Sleepy.” Tommy yawned. “You’re Bashful.” Archie poked his head out from the blankets, blushing and nodding. “You’re Dopey.” Sarver nodded jerkily. “And that makes you Doc.”
“Uh, Blatt’s height...I mean, that’s right.”
Sarver’s stomach grumbled again. Kris laughed. “All right, I think Sarver’s belly is demanding food.” Everyone nodded in agreement, so they headed downstairs for supper.
***In the kitchen...***
Kris had set the table and was just starting to ladle out the stew when he remembered something important. “You guys remembered to wash up, right?” No answer was given. He turned with his hands on his hips. “Did everyone make sure to wash their hands before dinner?”
The seven housemates nodded and hid their hands behind their backs. “Well, gee, of course we did,” said Archie, looking away from Kris.
“Right,” Kris replied dryly. “Then let me see your hands.”
Brad pouted prettily. “Who does he think he is? Snow White?” he asked cheerfully, referencing the name of a popular brand of soap.
“Just show me they aren’t too dirty and I’ll let you eat without cleaning up.”
Sarver immediately shoved his hands out for Kris to see. Kris inspected them carefully. “My, my. Sarver, I’m disappointed in you. Your hands are filthy.” Kris ushered him outside with a bar of soap. “The rest of you, too,” he ordered. They all hung their heads in shame of disappointing him. “That means you too, Gokey.”
“Urgh,” Gokey grumbled before walking outside to the washbasin, the door slamming shut behind him.
***Meanwhile, in the castle dungeon...***
“What is the meaning of this?” Sauli shouted at Adam. “You told me he was dead. You brought back his heart. Why does my magic mirror still see him alive?”
“I...I’m sorry, sir,” Adam pleaded. “I just couldn’t bring myself to kill him. He’s done nothing wrong. Why should he suffer simply because he’s prettier than you?”
“Enough!” Sauli shoved Adam backwards. A loud crack sounded throughout the room as his head collided with the stone floor. He was disoriented, so he couldn’t fight back when Sauli dragged him to a cell in the corner. “You’ll be locked in here until the little pig is dead. Then, you’ll be kept in here until you agree to marry me.” He spat at Adam’s feet. “Incompetent fool. I should have known better than to send a boy to do a king’s job.” Adam collapsed on the ground in defeat. There was nothing he could do to help poor Kris now. He listened and watched as Sauli prepared to kill Kris himself.
“Let’s see,” Sauli mused as he searched his bookcase for the spell book he was looking for. He choose one and pulled it out. Adam could see that the front cover was adorned with a broken black heart. “Hmm...,” Sauli mused as he flipped through the pages. “Now where is that spell? Aha!” He stopped when he found it. “The sleep of death, perfect.” He gathered up all of the ingredients and threw them into a black cauldron. “Now I have to soak an apple in the poison and make sure he eats it.” Sauli grabbed a fresh green apple and dipped it in the liquid. A puff of smoke rose and he pulled it out, now as red as blood. Sauli looked back at the book. “What’s this? An antidote?” He seemed to have forgotten that Adam was listening, because he read off the one thing that could save Kris’s life. “‘The biter of the apple will experience a sleep so deep, it will be as death. However, the sleeper can be awoken by true love’s first kiss.’ Ha! True love’s first kiss. He’ll be buried alive before then. The spell is as good as permanent.”
Inside, Adam was rejoicing. His heart was beating fast and he was mentally jumping for joy. He could save Kris from Sauli’s evil clutches yet. All he had to do was kiss him before he was buried, for he knew he was Kris’s true love. The only problem was that he was still locked up. His heart dropped to his stomach. How was he supposed to escape? He paid no more attention to Sauli as he sat back and began to think of a plan.
***By the black cauldron...***
“Now to the problem of getting Kris to eat the apple. I can’t very well just give it to him. He knows I tried to kill him once, he’ll never trust me.” He walked back over to his bookcase and looked for something helpful. He finally came across one that was simply titled Disguises. “This will do perfectly,” he cackled in glee. He thumbed through the pages, looking for a perfect disguise. Finally, he found one. “Kris’ll never recognize me as an old hag.”
He opened all the cupboards and drawers to gather the ingredients. Each was thrown into the cauldron as Sauli prepared the cloaking potion. The concoction turned green then purple then blue as everything was mixed together. “Now, for the last ingredient. The hair of a man in love.” Sauli turned his evil gaze unto Adam. “Filthy slave,” he addressed Adam. “You said you were in love with Kristopher, correct?”
“Y-yes, my king,” Adam’s voice wavered. “Why does it matter anyway?”
Sauli unlocked the cell and approached Adam. “I need a strand of your hair.”
“My hair? What for?” Adam screamed as Sauli yanked his head back and pulled out a lock of his raven black hair.
“Perfect,” Sauli mumbled, leaving the cell and locking the door behind him. He walked back over to the cauldron and dropped the hair in with the other ingredients. A crash of thunder sounded as a plume of smoke erupted in front of Sauli. “It is complete!” he shouted in joy. He filled a small cup with the liquid, cackling in glee.
He downed the potion swiftly. A thunderbolt flashed outside. Sauli doubled over as a wave of pain swept through his body. As he laughed, his voice grew hoarser until he sounded like an old woman. His hair turned bone white, his skin wrinkled, and his back bent. “Soon, Kristopher will be taken care of and I’ll be properly restored as the fairest in all the land!” He grabbed the poisoned apple and started his journey to find and kill Kris.
***At the washbasin...***
After Kris had yelled at them, the seven inhabitants of the cottage had gone outside to the washbasin to clean up. There was some confusion as to how to wash, but Cas solved it with a song. He sang: “Step up to the tub. It ain’t no disgrace. Just pull up your sleeves and get up in place. Then scoop up the water and rub it on your face, an’ go blud-dle-ud-dle-ud-dle-ud-dle-um-dum.” Everyone followed his lead and washed up quickly. Everyone, that is, except for Gokey. He sat on a barrel pouting. “Come off...on Gokey,” Cas ordered. “We all need to beacon...be clean for super...supper.”
“I don’t wanna,” Gokey griped. “Who is he to tell us what to do anyway? He barged into our house. He doesn’t get to dictate what we do.” He crossed his arms and turned away from the others.
“I say we make him do it,” Brad suggested. Everyone looked at each other with mischievous smiles on their faces. They walked over to Gokey and surrounded him.
Gokey eyed them warily. “What are you guys doing?”
They just smiled at him. Cas shouted “Get him!” and they all pounced. Gokey struggled against their hold, but he couldn’t fight six people. They dragged him to the tub and dunked him in the water, scrubbing his face and hands. Together, they sang, “Now scrub good an’ hard. It can’t be denied that he’ll look mighty cute as soon as he’s dried. Well it’s good for the soul and it’s good for the hide to go blud-dle-ud-dle-ud-dle-ud-dle-um-dum.”
When he was scrubbed clean, Alli took a hair bow out of her pocket and tied it in his hair. “Now you’re perfect!” she announced. “Well, as...achoo!...perfect as you can be.”
Gokey ripped the bow out and threw it on the ground. “Whatever, let’s just go inside.” He grumbled and marched angrily into the house, the others following closely behind.
***Around the fireplace...***
After dinner, everyone gathered in the living room, and Sarver started the fire. He had almost set the cottage ablaze, but Archie rushed to put it out. “If we don’t have a house, everyone will be able to watch us,” he explained as he looked around warily for peeping eyes.
“No one’s watching sweetie,” Brad said before jumping up. “Let’s have a sing-along!” he exclaimed excitedly. “Do you sing, Kris?”
Kris enjoyed singing very much, but he didn’t like to do it in front of people. He was fine with singing for the animals and for Adam, but he didn’t know his new friends well enough yet. He didn’t want to make a fool of himself. “I’ll listen to you guys.”
“Aw, please...ah...sing...ahh...with us...achoo!” Alli begged. “We don’t bite...too hard.” She winked at him.
“How about this,” Kris conceded. “You guys sing a song first and maybe I’ll sing with you on the next one.”
Alli jumped up excitedly and hugged him tight. “You better sing...achoo...later.”
Kris patted her on the back and sat down as the others took their places and grabbed their instruments.
Alli and Cas were on guitars, Archie was on the accordion, Gokey played the piano, and Tommy was assigned the flute. The others danced around the floor. They all sung together. “Ho-la-la-ee-ay, ho-la-la-ee-ay, ho-la-la-ee-ay-ee-la-ee-ay-ee-lee-ay.”
Brad sang the first solo. “I'd like to dance and tap my feet, but they won't keep in rhythm. You see I washed them both today, and I can't do nothing with 'em.”
The rest joined him in singing, “Ho hum the tune is dumb, the words don't mean a thing. Isn't this a silly song for anyone to sing?” Then it was time for a drum solo by Sarver.
When that was done, Alli and Cas pushed Archie to the forefront for his solo. After a couple false starts where Archie was too shy to begin singing, he finally managed to start. “I chased a polecat up a tree, way out upon a limb. And when he got the best of me, I got the worst of him.” Archie turned bright red and rushed behind Cas while the others repeated the chorus.
Cas grabbed Kris by the hand and dragged him to the center of the room to dance. Kris danced with Cas, Alli, Archie, and Sarver while the others continued the song on their instruments.
When the song was done, Alli and Kris sat down next to each other. “So, what did you think?” she asked.
Kris was dumbfounded. “You guys were great!” he exclaimed. Alli squeaked in delight. For most of them, what Kris said was true. Six of them were extremely talented. He wasn't so sure about Gokey though. However, he supposed it was just a matter of personal taste.
“Yay! Now it's your turn to sing!” Alli exclaimed beside him.
Kris shrunk back into his seat. “I don't know guys. I'm not really that good.”
Brad cheerfully flitted over. “Sorry, but you did promise. We're all waiting.” He shoved Kris to his feet and sat in his spot.
“All right,” he agreed reluctantly. He sat down in a rocking chair and faced his audience.
Archie cuddled up next to Alli and Cas. “How about a bedtime song?” he suggested before yawning.
“For once, I agree,” Tommy remarked after yawning widely himself.
“Well,” he began a short story. “Once there was a prince, and he fell in love. It was very easy. Anyone could see that the man was charming. The only one for me. There's nobody like him anywhere at all.” He began to sing. “He was so romantic I could not resist. Someday my prince will come. Someday we'll meet again. And away to the castle we'll go to be happy forever, I know. Someday when spring is here we'll find our love anew. And the birds will sing and wedding bells will ring. Someday when my dreams come true.” Kris stopped singing and found that everyone had been lulled to sleep by his voice. “Goodnight everyone,” he whispered before heading upstairs to get some sleep himself.
***In the Morning...***
“Now, you scream and shout...uh, get gout...I mean, watch out for the king while we're away Kris,” Cas warned. The seven band members were going to practice at their super-secret rehearsal space. No one outside the band was allowed, so Kris had to stay behind. “He tried to mildew...uh, kill you once. He may try again.”
“Don't worry, I'll be careful,” Kris assured. Cas hugged him before heading outside.
Brad followed Cas quickly, stopping to hug Kris and whisper,” Don't get yourself killed, sweetie. I'll be upset at you if you do.” Kris nodded his assent and watched Brad join Cas.
Tommy came next. He yawned widely before also hugging Kris. Archie snuck up, looking around warily. He hugged Kris quickly before darting outside behind Tommy. Gokey walked forward angrily, grumbled something that sounded like “Stay safe,” and shook Kris's hand. Sarver wasn't far behind. He hugged Kris cheerily and said “See you later!”
Alli was last. She wrapped Kris in a large hug. “Don't get hurt, Krissy. I'll miss you too much.” She pulled back and Kris saw tears in her eyes.
“I'll be fine, Alli,” he tried to comfort. “Nothing's going to happen.”
Alli hugged him again. “It better not,” she asserted. She hugged him once more time before pulling away to sneeze. She walked outside and joined the others. They all began to walk away to wherever their rehearsal space was. Alli turned and waved once before the group disappeared around a bend in the path.
Kris closed the door to the cottage and headed to the kitchen. If he was gonna be alone all day, he figured he might as well do something useful. He opened the window above the sink and let in his smaller animal friends. “All right guys,” he instructed. “I'm making apple pies for everyone if you wanna help out.” A smattering of twitters and squeaks met his words. Birds flew around getting dough and squirrels, chipmunks, and the like gathered the apples. Kris rounded up the rest of the ingredients and started baking.
He was nearly done- all he had to do was put a name on each- when the animals all scurried around, frightened by something. Kris looked up and screamed, startled by a hideous old hag looking at him through the open window. “I-I'm sorry, ma'am,” he recovered. “You just startled me is all.”
The hag smiled spookily at him. “That's quite all right dear,” she said in a scratchy old voice. “I was just walking by when I smelled something delicious cooking. What kind of pies are thouse?”
“They're apple pies.”
“Apple pies!” the hag exclaimed. “How delightful. You know, I have a bushel of apples right here that would be perfect for a pie.” She held up a basket overflowing with green apples for Kris to see. As soon as they saw the fruit, the animals swarmed on the the woman. “Get these blasted things away from me!” she cried. She backed away from the window and swatted at the birds circling her head.
“Hey!” Kris shouted at the attackers. He ran outside and grabbed the hag. They returned inside together. “I'm so sorry about that,” he apologized. “I don't know what got into them.”
“It's not your fault, sweetie,” the hag assured. “You're such a sweet soul. I want to give you something very special as a token of my appreciation.”
“You don't have to give me anything.” Kris led the woman to a seat and helped her sit down. He went to the sink and got her a glass of water. He offered it to her and she accepted, quickly gulping it down.
She reached into her basket and grabbed the lone red apple. “For you, dear,” she offered. “This is a magic apple. You make a wish, take a bite, and all your wishes will come true.”
“Oh, wow!” Kris admired. “That's amazing, but I could never accept something so special.” He wanted the apple. He could wish for a life with Adam away from evil kings. He could be so happy, but he wasn't the type of person who accepted such wonderful gifts. He was well off enough, the apple should go to someone who needed it.
“Please, take the apple. It is yours and no one else's. It was created special for you.” The hag held the apple out again and begged him to take it.
Kris couldn't resist. The temptation of being with Adam along with the pleading of the woman made him forget why he had declined in the first place. “Thank you very much,” he said as he took the apple.
“Don't forget to make a wish.”
Kris closed his eyes and imagined singing with Adam, talking with Adam, being with Adam. He wished with all of his being and took a large bite. Flavor exploded on his tongue and lights flashed across his vision. “Oh my,” he said before crashing to the ground, lost in a sea of black.
***The seven-piece band...***
Kris's seen new friends arrived home later that evening to find Kris laying lifeless on the kitchen floor. They couldn't believe what they saw. Alli collapsed on top of Kris, crying and begging him to just open his eyes. The others stood watch, crying silently. Even Gokey was crying at the loss.
In the night that followed, they built a glass coffin to place Kris's body in. They didn't think he should be hidden from sight and buried in the earth. He was too beautiful to be kept from the world. They placed him in the coffin surrounded by hundreds of white roses. They placed the coffin in a clearing and stood guard at Kris's side, holding a silent vigil all through the next day. Their peace and mourning went undisturbed until a mysterious man appeared out of the trees.
It had taken all night and day for Adam to escape from his cell. By the time he had broken the lock and made it outside of the castle, the sun was already high in the sky. He was sure that Sauli had beaten him to Kris. Now all he had to worry about was getting to Kris before he was buried alive.
He ran through the woods, branches tearing at his clothes making them more tattered than usual. Thorns scratched his body, drawing blood on his arms and legs. Finally, after a long search, he emerged in a clearing.
In the center of the clearing, he saw a coffin surrounded by seven people. “No,” he uttered under his breath upon seeing who lay in the coffin. He ran down the small hill to the edge of the circle of guards. He looked past them at Kris lying peacefully. “Oh, my love. I am too late to save you from the kiss of the poison apple!” he despaired. He pushed through the crowd of people to Kris's side. “Don't worry Kristopher. I'll save you from this sleeping death.” Adam tried to pry off the lid of the coffin, but it was too heavy for him to do it by himself. He turned to the onlookers. “Please, I can save him. Just help me get this open.”
Everyone just stared at him like he was crazy. Finally, a girl with fiery red hair stepped forward. “You're too late. He's already dead,” she said with an air of finality.
“No, it's not too late!” Adam asserted. “It's just a curse that holds Kris hostage. I can cure him of this!”
“Sorry,” a brown-haired man said. “We blant...uh, can't help you. We think Kris should stay undisturbed in death. He deserves keish...I mean, peace.”
“Fine. If you won't help me, I'll have to save him myself.” Adam turned back to the coffin and prepared to try lifting the heavy lid again. He mustered all of his strength and pushed up on the lid. It still wouldn't budge. He tried again and again, but couldn't get the lid to move. Finally, he gave up and sat sobbing on the ground. “Oh, my Kristopher,” he lamented. “I have tried so hard, but I can't save you. Forgive me, my love.”
The coffin exploded with light. Everyone gasped and took a step back. Except for Adam. He stood and approached the coffin once more. He reached out, expecting to touch the cold glass, but was instead met with the warmth of Kris's palm. The light faded and Adam looked down upon Kris's peaceful face. Adam stroked a palm down Kris's cheek. “Only true love's kiss can save you, Kris,” he whispered. “And my love is true. Please come back to us baby.” He leaned forward and kissed Kris's unmoving lips gently. When he pulled back, Kris was still lying unconscious. “I guess my love wasn't true enough,” he said dejectedly.
However, before he could let go of Kris's hand, he felt one of Kris's fingers twitch. “Kristopher! Are you awake? Kristopher!”
Kris gulped in a large breath of air and opened his eyes. “Adam?” he croaked weakly. “I guess my wish did come true after all.”
“To be with you.”
Adam laughed joyously and leaned in to kiss his love. “I'll never let anything harm you again!”
Kris sat up and looked at Adam. “Your clothes! Why are you not wearing your servant's garb?”
“But I am.” Adam looked down at himself. It wasn't torn rags he saw, but the flowing robes of a king. “What magic is this?”
“No magic, my lord,” a petite and perpetually cheerful man said. “These are merely the clothes you are meant to be wearing.”
“My lord? What are you....?” Everything came to Adam in a rush. He recalled his father, King Eber, dying from a sickness he had contracted in a far corner of the kingdom. Adam had been left to inherit the throne despite not wanting to be king yet. He had no choice and ruled the kingdom to the best of his ability. One day, a noble named Sauli sought an audience with King Adam. He propositioned the young king, attempting to get Adam to marry him. When Adam refused, Sauli was furious and stormed out of the castle screaming “I will be on the throne one day, mark my words!”
Adam dismissed the noble as crazy, but the next morning he awoke as a servant to King Sauli. “All this time, I was meant to be king!” He couldn't wrap his mind around the idea. He had served the king for five years without knowing any other life, now he had to reconcile his old life and his new life. He turned to find Kris crying. Adam immediately embraced him. “What's wrong love?”
“I'm so sorry for what my cousin did to you. I understand the sentence for treason such as this is the banishment of the guilty party's whole family. I'll understand if you hate me forever. I'm so sorry.”
“No baby, it's not your fault. I could never hate you. I love you so much.” They hugged each other tighter until the brown-haired stutterer approached.
“I don't gleam...mean to interrupt, but I think you've got a kingdom to rave...um, save.”
“Cas is right, Adam,” Kris agreed. “You need to take your rightful place and rid us of that awful man.”
“I don't know if I can be the king you all deserve,” he whispered into Kris's throat. “All I know anymore is how to be a servant.”
“Don't worry, love,” Kris reassured. “I'll be there for you every step of the way.”
Adam lifted Kris and kissed him. “Let's go, baby. It seems we have a kingdom to save!” And with that, they said goodbye to the seven-piece band and went off to vanquish King Sauli. Once they had taken their place as leaders of the kingdom, they ruled and lived...
Happily Ever After...