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Heer Halewijn's Song of Blood

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Everyone who hear his song, they say, wants to be with him. And the princess wants it too.

She is not sure she actually heard Heer Halewijn's song. Maybe she only heard about it. But it was enough to make her obsessed, and she likes to think that maybe, it goes deeper. She always had a good ear for music.

She likes to think she heard it as a child, and it's the reason why growing up, she always wanted to be somewhere else, why she felt deep longing for something she couldn't describe or understand.

But now she knows. Now she will be with Halewijn. And if he behaves badly, she will take her sword and kill him, because he's a monster, she's a princess, and she has her honor to defend. But it's not something she wants to do, only something she may have to.

The princess just met Heer Halewijn, and she wonders how she could even have believed she knew the music. It's not only the sound, it's his whole face and being. His eyes sing, and his long hair, as well as his voice, even when he's saying the simplest words.

She cries when he undoes her hair. She cries when he undoes her clothes. She never wants this to stop.

They ride together for days and she loves him more and more. She's stopped mourning her lost honor at this point. She's just scared to be apart from him, even for a second.

When he asks her to choose her death, she understands why he does this. It's mercy killing, as the girls who love him will never be more than empty husks when he's not here. But it's not the end she wishes for herself, no! She wants to be with him always, not for the next few seconds!

It's not a lie: she doesn't want to dirty his shirt with blood. But as the fabric muffles his voice, hides his face, she finds in herself the strength to soil it anyway, and cuts off his beautiful head.

This way she can live, and she can bring Halewijn home.

Of course the princess doesn't invite Halewijn's friends. Of course she doesn't seek the approval of his mother. He is hers only. For the same reason, she gags him, so no one can hear him sing.

"He's my husband," she says, as she throws Halewijn's head on the dinner table. "Please, bring food and drink for him and me."

She feeds him herself, one small bite after another, removing the gag just long enough to put the spoon in. She smiles to him. And then she takes him in her private chamber, and listens to him sing.

It's wonderful and she could listen to it forever.

She will.

Time passes and the princess' parents die. Her sister marries away. Her brother goes to war. She's the queen of the castle, now, and she has to do politics and justice. But every evening, every night, she listens to her husband's song. Sometimes she sings with him.

No one else ever hears him, except when there's an enemy she really hates. Then she makes them listen to her husband's song just one time, and they can waste away, pining forever. No one else gets to hear him twice. No one else will be with Halewijn.

The princess hates how Halewijn's head is rotting and decomposing. She still loves him, of course, and he's still her husband, but it's not the same. When they sing his songs together, her voice is clearer and stronger than his.

In the end he no longer sings. In the end she puts his head into a golden box. Maybe one day, when the smell becomes too much, she'll bury it. Right now, she keeps it by her bed.

One day, she goes down to the garden and it's summer. The flowers smell good, so being separated from her husband is bearable. And as she sings his song, even if with only her lips, it's as sad as a lonely kiss.

There's a young gardener tending to the flowers, and when she hears the princess, she turns around and bows. The princess had time to see her eyes, though. There is longing in them, too intense to be only for her looks. She looks sweet.

"Let's go into the forest together," the princess offers. The girl doesn't question it one moment.

The princess might be apart from Halewijn, but Halewijn's song will be with her always.