It was no secret that the princess hated him, the hero mused as he dressed for the ceremony. But was it his fault that her father had offered her hand to anyone who successfully slayed the dragon? And was it his fault that he was the fated hero? Or that fated heroes needed prizes before they risked their lives fighting dragons?
It wouldn’t be an enjoyable marriage, he thought, but it would be a good investment. After all, with her hand came all the lands and income of the kingdom after her father died. He could stand her scoffing and fuming in the bedroom if it meant a life of luxury for him. Even better if her bedroom was on the opposite side of the castle from his.
He admired his reflection in the mirror, more stunned by the polished glass than the ceremonial tunic he was provided with. Was everything in the castle so fine?
He was calculating how much he could fence the mirror for when a servant came by to let him know they were ready. He couldn’t help but laugh when he realized what he was doing. After the wedding, he wouldn’t need to worry about how much anything cost ever again.
The hall was crowded when he arrived, so that he could hardly see the king and the princess on the other side of the room. He waved and smiled at the cheering masses, enjoying their adulation. At least they didn’t care what he was in his past life.
At the end of his gauntlet of admirers stood his blushing bride—face red with rage no doubt. At her side stood a servant with the ceremonial sword, still sheathed. They had explained to him that of course he would need to be knighted before the wedding. Royalty couldn’t marry commoners, even if they were heroes, after all. But he hadn’t realized that she would be doing the dubbing.
He took her hand for a kiss, pressing his lips to her ring finger. Surprisingly she didn’t pull away, although her hand was trembling. He kneeled, for the last time, closing his eyes to savor the moment.
He heard the princess unsheathe the sword and step closer. She grabbed his shoulder then, with such force he couldn’t help but look up. The princess stood with the sword raised high above her head. Her face had gone white as her dress. His stomach flipped. He squeezed his eyes shut when he saw the sword come flying down, too fast for the simple taps required for dubbing a knight.
It was her scream that echoed in the now silent hall. The hero fell back and saw the princess had fallen to her knees as well, a red stain blossoming on her dress. A crowd surged around them, calling for the court physician.
But he hadn’t been cut. In disbelief, he looked down at his tunic where another red trail dragged down the front. In his lap was the same hand that had clenched his shoulder so tightly.
“Your prize, hero,” the princess spat, clutching her stump to her chest. “The hand of a princess.”
Inspired by a weird sentence while editing Spinning Wheel and this is the drabble that results.