“The Lonely Princess,” by Hana Carolina

Dec 20th, 2023 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

Once upon a time in a land far, far away there was a beautiful princess. Hated by her influential, evil younger sisters, and banished from her kingdom, she lived in constant terror. A target for ruthless assassins, surrounded by deadly traps and blood-thirsty monsters, she fought for her life. In desperation, she sought the help of a famous knight, Sir Gregor de Bute. 

Sir Gregor cut down her pursuers with a few graceful swings of his sword. He swirled in the air, his fluid movements both elegant and deadly, blood spilling, screams ringing in her ears. Poisoned apples, arsenic in hot chocolate, arrows suddenly shooting from dark windows of abandoned houses, old ladies turning into gorgons, nothing seemed to faze him. Somehow, he single-handedly chased away the stormy clouds of her fears. With him protecting her, her paralyzing panic dissolved into a warm feeling of trust and safety. 

Then, imperceptibly, her reliance on him turned into something more.

One day, as they were hiding in a little cottage at the edge of the forest, she looked at him sharpening his sword. His face appeared soft in the warm glow of the fireplace. She was just about to confess her feelings to him, when a loud knock on the door made her jump.

“Who is it?” Sir Gregor asked, his deep, low voice resonating in the silence of the cottage. 

“You know bloody well who the fuck this is. Let me in,” a sweet, musical voice announced from behind the door. It took him just a few seconds to lose his patience. “Greg?” He kicked the door with annoyance. “You can’t be serious.”

Sir Gregor rolled his eyes and looked at the princess, apologetically. “That’s just my… troubadour. This will only take a moment,” he said, voice hushed so the person behind the door wouldn’t hear.

“Oh, just your troubadour, you bastard?” the voice snapped back. “Better be warned, I’ll make motherfucking sure to take all the time I need, just wait and see.” He let out an exasperated sigh. “What possessed me to make your pointless escapades the subject of my best work, I’ll never know. You sure made me regret every stellar turn of phrase I used to describe that ugly mug of yours.”

Sir Gregor blinked a few times and opened the door.

The princess saw a youngish-looking overdressed man, with messy blonde hair, hands on his hips, and pure outrage written all over his face. He looked at Sir Gregor, eyes narrowing, and then looked down, both hands pointing at his destroyed trousers. His knees were covered in dry mud, fabric torn in multiple places. “Did you not see me running behind your noble steed this morning?” he asked.


“Well, I ran. And I slipped. It was quite impressive.”

Sir Gregor seemed skeptical. “You expect me to believe you didn’t change right away?”

The man flinched. “I didn’t… for the sake of a dramatic entrance,” he admitted. 

“Ah. No, that makes sense.”  

“Didn’t you see me wave when you were passing through the town?”

“I did.”

“And it didn’t occur to you to stop?”

“I’m working.”

“Sure. You’re always working these days, as long as that work takes you far, far away from me.”

“Fidel, this is not the time.”

“Of course it’s not, it never fucking is. It’s been weeks.”


“I can see what you’re doing, you know? It’s the oldest trick in the book. I won’t be dismissed like this. I know how this goes. It finally happens… and then the man magically disappears. Poof! I wake up to a fucking cloud of smoke.”


Fidel was fuming. “You fucking coward,” he seethed.

Sir Gregor stepped back, calm but the first cracks in his composure were beginning to show. “Could you just—”

“No, Greg. I can’t just, that’s the point.” He licked his lips, and took a deep breath, attempting to calm down. “If I was a fucking stranger, it would be understandable, to an extent. But oh…” He laughed sadly at the thought. “I’m so far from a stranger, Greg. So fucking far.”

He shifted his weight from one foot to the other with a quiet huff.

“If you had a grain of respect,” he continued, “any inkling of what it feels like to be abandoned so you can go be some macho, monster-killing protector of fair maidens.” He stared at Sir Gregor with suspicion. “Are you compensating for something?”

The princess walked up to the door, a bit shaken by the situation. Sir Gregor’s eyes passively followed her before he turned back to Fidel. “I need you to leave,” he said.

Fidel seemed hurt, eyes a bit glassy. He inhaled sharply, ready to retort but then stopped himself. “You know what?” he said, finally, voice controlled. “I don’t care. Stay with fucking—”

“—Flora,” she added in hesitant tones. 

“Flora, thank you.” He looked towards her for a moment and bowed his head a bit before turning back to Sir Gregor. “So proper, pretty and nice. She’s—”

“—a princess,” she said with some pride, and Fidel nodded in acknowledgment.

“Impressive, Greg, well done. I wish you both all the best. I’m sure Greg will look extremely attractive with a crown on his head. I can already picture it—the prestige, the class, the elegance.” Suddenly a thought hit him, and he blinked a few times. “Wait… the princess Flora?” 


“Your story is all the rage amongst the royals. So much compassion for your banishment.” 


“Oh, yes. Prince Phillip is desperate to find you. He commissioned multiple ballads about your golden hair and  charming smile, so sentimental. My greatest rival, Carlo Garvaldi, wrote some truly abysmal stanzas about your teeth. What kind of a deranged man expects the public to want teeth?” Fidel rolled his eyes.

“Fucking teeth,” Sir Gregor muttered under his breath.

“Right?” Fidel turned to Sir Gregor, and both nodded in agreement for a moment. Then he turned back to her. “There’s no reason for you to keep running. You’re completely fine.”


“What was I saying?” Fidel was distracted again. “Ah, I found this at the threshold.” He held out a neatly packaged present with a fancy, silk bow. He was surprised when both Flora and Sir Gregor moved away. “It’s just a present, nothing scary. I know some of us have issues accepting nice things, but let’s be reasonable about this.”

“Fidel, put that down,” Sir Gregor growled, instantly turning from frustrated to protective. “Throw it the fuck away.”

“Now you care, don’t you?”

“Put. It. Down.”

Fidel shook his head, eyes set on Sir Gregor. “So invested all of a sudden. Who would have imagined?” He pulled on the bow, enjoying Sir Gregor’s nervousness. 

“Don’t be a fucking idiot.” Sir Gregor launched forwards, and grabbed the box.

Fidel pulled back. It split. Something tiny and swift slipped out of the tear and ran up his arm. Before either of them managed to respond, the creature bit Fidel and disappeared.  

“Fuck, Greg,” Fidel squealed, not a trace of previous annoyance in his voice. He stared down in disbelief. “My feet! I can’t feel them! Or move them! I’m… turning into stone?” he whined, half scared, half offended by the ridiculousness of the predicament. 

“Shit,” Sir Gregor hissed, frantically looking through the box. He found a letter and read it hastily. “Fuck,” he summarised.


“It’s one of these curses that needs true love’s kiss to be lifted.”

“I thought these were just legends,” he whispered.

“That’s what it says.”

“Well, fine.” Fidel was in no place to argue. He could already feel his knees turning numb. “Just do it.”

“What? Me? Are you joking?”

“Well, who do you think? I’m sure this will work, relax.” He gave it a second thought, and panicked a bit. “Does it say if my love needs to be reciprocated?”

“The letter doesn’t go into that much detail.”

“Then just do it. I’m not asking for much, am I? I mean—if it’s going to save my life?”

Sir Gregor reluctantly came closer. “Just don’t be disappointed if it does nothing,” he growled, some actual concern in his voice.

“Yes, sure. Just make it good. You know, in case you never do it again.”  

Sir Gregor didn’t give it a second thought. He grabbed Fidel and pulled him close as if he weighed nothing, tossing him around like a rag doll. Fidel held on to him, barely managing to keep his balance, fingers pulling on his partner’s linen shirt. His eyes grew wide as he felt Sir Gregor wrapping his hand around his waist, another supporting his spine and tipping him backwards. Suspended above the ground, he clawed at the knight’s straining muscles, both uncomfortable and mildly impressed. 

Finally, Sir Gregor leaned towards Fidel and went for it. Sadly, the result was no more than a lingering peck, completely impersonal. 

Fidel whacked Greg’s muscular shoulder a few times, frustrated. 

Sir Gregor smiled snidely in response, still not breaking away, but keeping his lips pressed together, and the kiss shallow. The moment Fidel accepted his fate, Sir Gregor deepened it, perhaps too much, surprising him.

Fidel grunted with disapproval but then, as the kiss turned from playful to passionate, he instantly eased into it, melting into Sir Gregor’s arms, his displeased moans transforming into a satisfied rumble at the back of his throat. 

This somehow encouraged Sir Gregor who became surprisingly involved, and then pulled away, shocked by things turning so genuine. 

Fidel was having none of that. He pulled Sir Gregor back and returned the kiss in earnest, clinging on to him with iron determination.

Flora kept staring, startled, somehow more petrified than Fidel. She cleared her throat to attract their attention but they ignored her. They were approaching the task with full dedication which had little to do with any princesses or even curses. After a while, they slowed down, both panting, fingers tangled in each other’s hair, faces flushed, hearts racing. 

Sir Gregor looked at Fidel. The image turned borderline hazy and he was surprised by a sudden influx of strong emotions, which he was afraid to give a name to. The most ridiculous, sentimental thoughts passed through his head, and he flinched. “Fuck.” Not again. He blinked a few times but the feeling was not going away.

Then he stared down at Fidel’s feet. 

When he looked back up, Sir Gregor appeared as if he fell head first into a dark void. Even his hair was messy as if shaken the moment he hit the rock bottom. “Fidel, fucking shit. Oh, gods.”

Fidel froze, terrified. Although his legs felt normal now, it could have been an illusion. He spent a few seconds imagining his own slow and painful demise. “What?” he asked, finally, afraid to look down. “Did it fail? Am I getting worse?”

“No. Fuck, no. It worked like a dream.”

“Oh.” Fidel lit up, feeling relieved and finally breathing easy, but then processed Sir Gregor’s response. “Oh.” 

“This can’t be true,” Sir Gregor growled with disbelief.

Fidel was insulted, but also a bit compassionate. Confronting his feelings was such a struggle for Greg every single time. “Facts are facts,” he shrugged, trying to remain casual, but his smugness was undeniable. “Things could have been much worse, though, right?”

“Could they?” Sir Gregor didn’t seem convinced.

“I’m going to go on a limb here and assume you didn’t really want me to turn into a statue. Am I right, Greg? You don’t want your best friend in the whole wide world to die, correct?”

Sir Gregor just grunted in response, but remained unsure.Fidel tossed back his hair, some repressed anger in the movement. “It was a bit much, let’s admit, such an all or nothing situation, but—” he was failing to hide his excitement. “I mean—well. At least this brings us some clarity, some much needed clarity, considering—”

“Shut up, Fidel. Just—”

“There’s no shame in experiencing some strong feelings, especially positive ones.” Fidel smiled encouragingly but his expression faded as he met Sir Gregor’s vacant eyes. 

Sir Gregor massaged his temples with a groan. “Maybe this doesn’t really mean anything?”

“Eeeeh…” Fidel was not quite sure how to respond, and let out an uncomfortable laugh instead. When he stopped, the silence was deafening. 

“We could—” Fidel started but was unable to continue because this beginning alone made Sir Gregor appear scared for a lack of a better word. “No, I don’t mean, ehm.” He hesitated. “I just mean we could ignore the curse and trust our guts. You know… Was that good for you by any chance? Not to be presumptuous but I had a strong feeling—”

Sir Gregor’s eyes somehow managed to become even more distant.

Fidel swallowed, loudly.

“This was not what it seemed,” Sir Gregor announced with suppressed anger.

“Right, yes, fine, of course. No, sure, I understand. That’s clear too, see?” Fidel blabbered on, sweating slightly. “We’re doing so well. Clarity all round. So much… clarity.” His eyes grew wider and he sighed. “I might, just… I don’t know. Kill myself now, maybe?”

“That would defeat the purpose.”

“Well, yes, it would, wouldn’t it?” Fidel nodded eagerly. “In that case I can’t, surely. Who would want that kind of sacrifice to go to waste? I have to live so bloody long now, just to compensate… No death for me.” He shook his head. “Killing monsters and protecting fair maidens is one thing but this, I mean, oh boy. Maybe I should—” he chuckled, unable to stop himself “—pay you.”

Sir Gregor laughed despite himself and some of the tension dissolved into the air. 

“Great,” Fidel sighed, relieved. “We have an answer now. We’re s—so great.” His awkwardness turned into intense sadness all of a sudden, eyes watering.



“Don’t start this again. We’re upsetting her.”

Fidel stared at Flora for a second as if he was surprised by her very existence. “How the fuck is she more important than me? She’s a bloody stranger.” He turned to her, apologetic. “With all due respect, but it is what it is.”

She opened her mouth as if she wanted to say something, but he already turned away from her, upset and focused on Sir Gregor.

“Could you please acknowledge that something actually happened here? Can you? Can we finally move past this repressive nonsense of yours, and stop tiptoeing around the issue?”

They both turned towards the door for a second, hearing it close behind Flora. 

Sir Gregor shook his head and turned back to Fidel. His eyes softened a bit, and he groaned, annoyed with himself. “You will never give up on this, right?”

“Right,” Fidel proclaimed with pride, his chest puffed slightly.

Fine,” he said with a sigh.

Fidel stared at him in total disbelief. “Really?” he asked, his voice overflowing with anticipation and hope.

Sir Gregor just grunted in agreement, and shrugged his shoulders.  

And they lived happily ever after.


Hana Carolina is a pseudonym of an Edinburgh-based creative and academic writer. Born in Poland, she moved to Scotland and studied literature, film and television for many years. Since then, she has been working as a tutor, interpreter, and researcher, and publishing academically while writing (mostly) dark stories about horrible people. Her work has been published in Every Day Fiction, Crow & Cross Keys, Five on the Fifth, the Chamber Magazine, BRUISER, The Horror Tree, Black Sheep Magazine, and others. You can find her on X/Twitter @HanaCarolinaSCO, and BlueSky @hanacarolina.bsky.social.

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