LOVE’S FAILED KISS
Phinn chewed on his pipe while a bobber floated on the still water of a pond. He sat on a rock, half snoozing, jerking awake whenever his fishing pole slipped out of his claws.
On the grass beside him, Blackfeather had surrounded the unconscious princess with plucked flowers. “Look at her,” whispered Blackfeather in awe. “Is she not the most captivating thing you have ever seen? Her hair. Her pale skin. Her delicate fingers, how they clutch her prized mirror! Her eyebrows, arched as if to say… as if to say…”
“…let me sleep,” said Phinn.
“No, that’s not it. There is a… a dare in her expression. ‘Do you dare to do what must be done?’ Yes, your highness, I…”
“I meant, let me sleep,” said Phinn with a sharp-toothed yawn. “You kept me up all night with your princess-stealing.”
“How can you think of slumber when such an adventure is about?” Blackfeather dropped with great drama to his knees beside the princess and tucked her hair behind her ears. “When such a beauty needs aid? Never fear, my lady. Blackfeather is here.” With that, he bent and brushed his lips against hers.
Susie, perched comfortably on Phinn’s nose, tweeted a morning song.
A red-whiskered carp poked its head out of the pond to peer with suspicion at the bobber.
Princess Malene did not stir.
“That’s bizarre,” said Blackfeather, startling Phinn awake. “Something went wrong with the kiss.”
“Like as not, it’s your technique,” said Phinn, making eye contact with the carp. “Kissing is an art. It’s all in the incisors.”
“I weep for troll women.”
“I haven’t yet had a complaint,” said Phinn as he casted again, landing the bait closer to the curious carp. “Come on, now. Heeeere my little breakfast. Take the juicy worm, now.”
“Your provinciality would drain the romance out of any but this exquisite moment,” said Blackfeather, and again he lowered himself to press his lips to Princess Malene’s, lingering longer this time.
Susie ate a fly out of Phinn’s ear.
The carp nibbled the bait.
Phinn snorted awake and yanked up his pole, piercing the carp through its coquelicot-mustachioed lip.
Princess Malene did not stir.
“Preposterous!” cried Blackfeather. He pouted with crossed arms while Phinn reeled in the carp. “Something is wrong with her, because I am the best kisser in this land.”
Phinn raised up his wriggling catch, but Blackfeather was too despondent to admire it. “Maybe she needs to be awake to enjoy it,” offered Phinn.
“That is the point of the kiss,” cried Blackfeather, startling Susie. “To wake her up.”
The carp died.
“Kisses don’t wake up princesses. Who told you that nonsense?” Phinn bit the head off his breakfast and chewed while shaking his head at his friend.
“Of course not. Only the tickle of a seraphim’s feather will wake a sleeping princess. Blue feathers work best.”
Susie nodded in agreement.
“That … that makes so much sense!” Blackfeather sighed with relief. “Why else would my kisses be ineffective? Now, where do we get this famed azure plume?”
“Beats me. Not as many seraphim about as there used to be. Why do you care anyway? I thought we were her kidnappers, not her heroes.”
“We can’t very well collect a bounty on a princess in a coma.”
“Seems you rather like her.”
“Like her? Dear, sweet Phinneas. The crevasse between heroism and villainy is not wide, but it is deep.”
“Take care not to fall in when you jump over, then.” Phinn swallowed the remainder of the carp and, as was his habit after eating anyway, fell again to napping. Once he was sure that Phinn wasn’t watching, Blackfeather took Princess Malene’s hand.
“I shall be the one to tickle you awake, your highness,” he whispered. “I care not where the adventure takes me.”
To be continued … someday.