Helena's story has been a lot of fun to work on, especially as she and her love interest have known and loved each other for a long time already (but haven't seen each other very often. One of the fun things about writing romance is discovering the different paths characters take to love! Read on for a teaser!
Copyright 2022 Laura Greenwood
Two years ago...
No one is paying any attention to me and Wilhelm. The celebrations for the start of a new year are well underway. My parents are busy doing their part as the monarchs hosting the party, and Wilhelm's mother is spending all of her time with a duchess she's friends with.
Which is fine by me. Anything that means I get to spend some actual time with Wilhelm.
"Do you want to go outside?" he asks. "I swiped us this." He lifts up a bottle of wine.
I raise an eyebrow. "You could have just asked one of the servants for it," I point out.
"Where's the fun in that?" A lopsided grin takes over his face.
I shake my head in bemusement. Something tells me I'm not going to have a dull moment in my entire life with him around. Our betrothal is all but sealed, all we have to do is wait for our fathers to finish creating a treaty between our kingdoms. Until then, I'll continue studying at Grimm Academy, and Wilhelm will continue visiting me there, or here in my kingdom for occasions like this one.
Unbidden, my prophecy springs to mind, but I push it to the side. I only learned about it a couple of years ago, and I refuse to let it control my life. Especially not my courtship with Wilhelm. I've not connected with anyone like I have to him, and I'm not going to let any prophecy stand in the way of our happiness.
I grab one of the blankets from a bench. "Come on." I slip my hand into his and pull him through the palace corridors.
No one pays us any mind. They're all occupied with having a good time.
The chill outside air is a welcome change from the oppressive heat of the banquet hall we've come from, and the quiet isn't unwelcome either. Most of the time I get to spend with Wilhelm is heavily chaperoned, unless we're at Grimm Academy, but even then, I get very little actual alone time with him.
Which means I'm going to seize this opportunity and make the most of it.
I lead him under a flower arch and lay the blanket on the ground.
We sit down, close enough that we're almost touching, but not quite. I think we're both a bit nervous about what it may mean to be closer. We've been friends for years, and have known we were going to end up married for almost as long, but something has changed between us in the past year or so, and it's impossible to ignore. When I'm with him, I find myself thinking of romance as well as partnership.
I like it, and I think he feels the same, but I'm not completely sure. Maybe he still sees me as nothing more than a playmate.
Wilhelm pops the stopper off the bottle of wine and hands it to me. "Sorry, I should have thought about glasses."
I smile reassuringly at him. "It doesn't bother me."
Our fingers brush against one another as I take the bottle from him and take a drink.
"That's not very princess-like," he teases.
"Neither is sneaking out into the gardens alone with someone I'm not married to," I point out.
"Ah, true. But what are they really going to do if they catch us?"
I shrug. "No idea."
"Then maybe we should make the hypothetical punishment worth it."
I cock my head to the side and hand him the wine back. "What did you have in mind?"
"A kiss. If you want." The earnestness in his eyes reveals how much he wants it.
I do too. And not because of the wine. I haven't had enough to even slightly cloud my judgement.
Slowly, I nod. "That sounds nice."
Relief rushes over his face, as if he really hadn't been sure whether or not I was going to say yes.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure." I take the wine back from him and dig into the soil of one of the flowerbeds. I'm sure the gardeners will hate me for it, but it'll be worth it.
Wilhelm reaches out, a little hesitant as he tucks a strand of hair behind my ear.
"I'm nervous," I admit, hoping it helps him.
He lets out a small laugh. "Me too. I've never done this before."
"Why do you want to?"
"Because it's all I've been thinking about for my entire visit."
"I think that's a good reason." I shuffle closer to him. "And I've been thinking about it too."
He leans in, and I let my eyes flutter closed, hoping I'm doing the right thing.
A fantasy fairy tale academy series (non-bully) following different fairy tale characters as they try and avoid becoming a part of their own story. Each book can be read on its own. Part of the Grimm World.