12 Days, 12 Stories, each 200-300 words. The contest theme is gifts and each day has a prompt. Today's is:
Flea didn’t speak to her. No point in that. It’d only shock her, and she’d be forced to be gracious. Flea had watched her do that before, when peasants from the village offered up their babies to be kissed or laid flowers in her path. She didn’t want to kiss their little wretches, but she did. No one would’ve guessed she was anything but delighted.
But Flea knew her like no one else. That was what love did, made you pay attention to every tiny detail. The way her eyes curved like scimitars when she was happy. The slight stiffness in her gestures when she reluctant. The way she stood straighter when she was scared.
She stood straight now, staring out across the throne room with a smile on her lips. The King and Queen were talking about duty and sacrifice. Flea knew all about duty. Duty was emptying the chamber pot, not minding when Cook battered you with a ladle. It was turning the spit until your palms burned.
Then they said “DRAGON” and the whole room went quiet. There hadn’t been a dragon in the Kingdom for one hundred years. Dragons wanted maiden-flesh. Royal maiden flesh.
The Prince jumped up, waving his sword, talking about quests and legends. The Princess just smiled, stiff and straight. Ready.
No one noticed Flea slink away.
At sunset they rode out to the Dragon’s nest, the Princess gleaming in cloth-of-gold. People wept as she passed, nobility personified.
But the nest was empty.
“Impossible,” the King said. No one noticed the tattered silk scattered across the floor, the blood spattered on the walls.
Dragons liked the taste of Princesses - or girls dressed like them.
That night the castle was alive with celebration. Only Cook noticed a girl was missing. There was no one to turn the spit.
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