“I’m going to miss you,” Aurora said to the squirrel sitting on her knee. It chattered and gave her a confused look, scampering up her arm, resting its head beside her ear. “It’s true!” she said. A blue bird landed at her shoulder, and the rabbits began to hop closer.
“Why?” She felt a streak of guilt clutch her stomach. “Well,” she said. “I’m going to be married soon.” She smoothed out her skirt. “Remember the man I danced with here? Well…you saw us together. And I know you understand that…well, when a boy meets a girl and there’s love in the air…things change. But the man you introduced me to…” the animals made curious sounds, leaning closer. “He’s a prince.”
The celebratory sounds they made were a cacophony to her ears. “And I’m going to be a princess! Which means I’ll have to spend a lot of time at the castle…and I won’t have time to be here as much as I’d like to. I’ll be moving to the city soon.”
They were all instantaneously sad. Aurora realized abruptly that there was nothing tougher than seeing crying animals.
“I’ll try to come back and visit,” she said sweetly. “And when I get married, you’re invited to the wedding.”
They moved in to cuddle up against her. Aurora sighed. She adored Phillip, loved the idea of governing his kingdom; but to become a princess she had to retire the girl who had roamed these woods as a child. She would always be a part of her heart, but to be an adult, to grow into her promise, she would have to forget the scent of berry-dyed wool, the sound of her hectoring godmothers arguing over the weather, the price of meat; the fact that she was a barefoot child of the wilderness for near to sixteen years.
She petted their feathery heads and thought of the future – and what she would gain for love.