Part 32: You’ll Love Me At Once
Sunlight streaming in through an open window woke Janus from a deep sleep. He blinked against it, raising a hand to shield his eyes from the warm, golden light. He had the strange sensation that he had been dreaming- a dream that had felt real, lucid. But when he tried to recall what it might have been, his mind turned up empty. In fact, he had a little trouble recalling anything about the last few days. He had been at his tower in the Wastelands…then King Hunter had come after him. But for what purpose?
He sat up and studied the room. He was clearly in the palace…he remembered that much. It had taken a long journey to get from the Wastelands to Mackshire. But somehow, anything that had happened before the journey seemed to have fallen right out of his head. And the more he thought about it…the more he realized he didn’t remember.
He quickly got dressed and made sure he looked presentable, then stepped out of his rooms. The hallway was empty and quiet, as though he were the only one in the entire palace. Not even a palace servant was in sight. A sense of unease grew in him. As he traveled through the halls, he raked his hand through his hair and tried to find his missing memories hidden in his brain. But the more he searched, the more it felt like his mind was riddled with holes. The empty feeling left him nauseous.
He wasn’t sure where exactly he was going until he ended up in the palace garden. It was still early in the morning, and not many people were out and about. There was something about the stillness of everything…the colorful flowers and plants, the stone paths, the cool breeze…that gave him a strange sense of nostalgia. A feeling of watching fireflies at dusk… Yet, he could not place the odd feelings.
He whirled around at the sound of a small voice, and found a young lady in a form-fitting pink dress staring up at him in surprise. For a moment, his voice was lost as he studied her, though he finally said, “I-I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
The girl recovered, smoothing down her skirts. “It’s all right. I wasn’t expecting anyone to be up at this hour.” She glanced at the sky and giggled. “It’s almost nine o’clock. You’d think more people would be awake.”
Janus found himself smiling. The girl gave off a welcoming aura that set him at ease, though there was something strange about her. “May I ask your name?”
The girl’s lips pulled into a small smirk. “Emerald,” she said softly. “Princess Emerald, actually.”
Janus raised his eyebrows, but just as he thought to bow, the name struck him and made his heart quicken. Emerald…where had he heard that name? He tilted his head and locked eyes with her, both of them studying one another.
“Do I know you?” they each said at once, and both crumbled into nervous laughter.
Emerald covered her mouth with her hand, her eyes searching him intently. “You’re…familiar. But that probably sounds creepy.”
Janus shook his head. “No, I’m…getting the same feeling about you.” He raked his hand through his hair. “In fact, I’ve been feeling like I’ve forgotten something all day. I have no memory of why I’m here at the palace. I remember coming here, but…I don’t remember why.”
Emerald clasped her hands behind her back. “I remember being away from the palace for a long time. I think there was a spell on me. But I don’t remember how it was broken, or how I got here.” She made a mischievous smile. “Maybe…it was fate that we met here.”
Janus felt butterflies in his stomach. He might not remember the circumstances surrounding his journey to the palace, but looking at Emerald…there was something special about this. Perhaps it was fate after all. Perhaps this time, his life was about to change for the better. So, his heart pounding, he offered his arm to her. “Would you like to walk with me?”
Emerald beamed up at him, and looped her arm through his. “That would be nice,” she said softly, a slight blush on her cheeks.
They shared a smile, starting down the stone path together.
~ ~ ~
The rest of the palace held no memory of the events Fate and Time had rewritten. Janus and Emerald were still fated lovers, per Fate’s dying wish, but they held no memory of each other due to the rips created in time and space. Though Hunter had still set out to find Janus, and convinced him to break Emerald’s spell, Janus and the princess have lost the memories of this interaction. The rest of the palace find this a little strange, but they make no comment of it, chalking it up to the spell.
When Hunter asked Emerald to court him, she politely turned him down, for there was another she held feelings for. It was as though an invisible string tethered her to Janus. But this was not Hunter’s only chance at finding love, for a girl from the Wastelands later stole his heart…
Janus and Emerald had lost their powers and their memories, but their new life together was better than it ever had been. Janus soon became a member of the Knights of Dusk, and Emerald promptly became his wife. It would be a lie to say they lived happily ever after. Life can be cruel.
But they were together, and that was enough.
~ <♥> ~
That’s all, folks!
I enjoyed writing this story SO MUCH! The characters were fun to write, and the story pretty much fell into my lap as I went along, even if it wasn’t the one I had envisioned from the start. And I appreciate every one of you who stuck with me until the end! Your views, likes, and comments keep me going!
There for a minute, this didn’t really feel like a Sleeping Beauty retelling, and I wasn’t sure how to tie everything together and bring it back to that Disney feeling. I was sitting on the couch one day writing the part titled “Time’s Heart” when it hit me just how I would end it. Unfortunately, I had already used “Once Upon A Dream” as a chapter title, but I was able to find another song lyric from the original movie that I liked. That being said, as a disclaimer, this title comes from the song “Once Upon A Dream”, which belongs to Disney.
Thank you again for reading my story, and I can’t wait to share the next one with you!
God bless y’all and have a wonderful weekend!
Anything relating to Sleeping Beauty is property of Disney