Thin streaks of pale warm sunlight pierced through the twisted brambles of the Dark Forest. Two very different beings raced around black leafy branches, playfully chasing each other. Yes, they were quite the opposites, one a fairy and one a goblin. However, their hearts were practically the same, beating in time with each other.
The goblin, who was in fact the Bog King, watched as the fairy threw him a sly look over her shoulder before turning sharply to dart up an ivy covered tree, her laugh trailing behind. His face adopted a crooked smile as he raced after her. Flying closely against the tree trunk, the goblin dragged a long claw over the bark. It created a soft scraping noise, joining the quick flutter of his wings.
Once he touched down carefully on a thick branch, the forest king found that his companion was out of sight. His smile grew mischievous as he began to quietly stalk the shrouded boughs like a predator searching for his prey. "You can't hide from me, Tough Girl." He stated, peeking around the tree trunk.
"Oh, can't I?" The fairy's words echoed above him. The spirited lilt in her voice was one of Bog's favorite sounds, especially if it was accompanied with her warm brown eyes and the impish arch of her thin brow.
The goblin darted toward her voice, moving aside any leaves in his way. Again, she was nowhere to be found. He couldn't help feeling both puzzled and impressed. She's getting good-
"YAAHH!" Suddenly, he felt lithe arms wrap around his neck as the fairy pounced on him from behind. Bog bit back a surprised yelp, instead listening to her chiming laugh in his ear as his heart pounded in his rib cage.
"I totally scared you!" She exclaimed, craning over his shoulder to see his reaction.
He tried to look back at her, but the fairy limited his movements, so he countered her claim jokingly,"Impossible! I'm never frightened!"
She scoffed, sliding a hand down his chest, "Yes, I did. Your heart is going crazy."
Before he could stop himself, he said, "Don't be silly. It always does that when you're around, Marianne." Where the hell did that come from?
Though he couldn't see her, the Bog could nearly feel the heat radiating off her face when she placed a sweet kiss on his rough cheek and muttered, "Whatever you say, smooth guy."
Unhooking her arms from him, Marianne slid off his back, which enabled him to face her. Bog coughed awkwardly. Though they had been dating for a few weeks, the two were still not completely used to such affectionate words and actions. "Y-you know your way around the Dark Forest pretty well now." He pointed out, trying to steer the conversation somewhere else.
Marianne's blush dissipated as she leaned against the tree, "Thanks, though there's so much more to explore here."
He mimicked her actions, nodding, "It is quite a large kingdom."
"Yeah, maybe it's just because I've lived there from birth, but the Fairy Kingdom doesn't seem nearly as big as the Dark Forest."
At the mention of the Fairy Kingdom, a thought Bog had dwelled upon for the past week entered his mind. Despite the stark contrast between the neighboring nations, Marianne had been more than willing to learn about the land he ruled over. Her eagerness to understand his birthplace and his people warmed his frigid soul. It was one of the reasons he loved her so much.
Now, he wanted to return the favor. Bog was genuinely curious about her life in the Fairy Kingdom. Sure, he's visited strictly for business matters a few times over the years, but never has he seen any further than the walls of the palace. Also, he never had the desire to until now. He even sought advice from his mother, who agreed that it would be a great experience for the couple to share.
He glanced at Marianne, who turned her face to the tree tops. Her hair, though wild from their escapade, looked so soft as short wisps fell around the slender flesh of her ear. The Forest king wanted nothing but to thread his long scaly fingers through that hair. His face became warm at the thought. She's so beautiful, he thought. She'd be embarrassed if her subjects saw me with her…
Bog raised a brow at Marianne's curse. Seeing the question in his eyes, she explained with a groan, "My dad wanted me back home ages ago! I'll never hear the end of it."
"Oh, well I'll escort you back to the border, then." He said, straightening himself.
"Such a gentleman." The fairy princess teased, stretching out her lavender wings, "We'll need to hurry up."
The walked to the end of the branch, and Bog admired the gentle colors of Marianne's wings. It was almost like a case of déjà vu as he remembered this same scenario during their first flight together.
The two took off, quickly flying to the border. It didn't take long before Bog could see bright green grass and the familiar pink blossoms of the primroses peeking from the dark plants in front. They landed at the edge of the perimeter and Marianne turned to him to give a quick hug and a peck on the lips. He wore a small smile when she waved and said, "See you, Wild Thing!"
With a clawed hand lifted in farewell, he replied, "See you, Tough Girl."
As she flew off, Bog let his hand flop to his side. His toes curled over the soft soil as he stared at the distant fairies flying about. How could he possibly venture in the Fairy Kingdom without completely humiliating Marianne? Bog didn't care about himself. As a royal, he was used to criticism. He just didn't want her to suffer just because of his...not-so-appealing presence. No, it was a terrible idea. He should just forget about it.
But, he couldn't.
Bog growled in frustration, blindly punting a stone lodged in the ground. The rock soared in an arc, landing on the head of an elf passing by. The creature glared angrily at him before scurrying away with a frightened whimper when the Forest king snarled wickedly at him.
Not wishing to look at the sunny kingdom any longer, Bog retreated to the land of dark that was so comfortable to him.
Bog just barely blocked the overhead swing of Marianne's sword, his jagged teeth bared in strain. In turn, he swiped a long leg to knock her off her feet. The fairy merely jumped back, using their connected weapons to launch herself away. With a spin, she brought the flat of her sword to his face, fully expecting him to dodge it. Marianne gasped in horror as metal met flesh with a loud thud. Knocking him to the side, Bog hissed in pain at the injury, bringing a hand to his cheek.
"Oh my god! Bog, are you okay?" She reached up to inspect his cheek, which was streaked with an angry red mark.
"I'm fine." He grumbled, a little embarrassed. How could he have been so careless?
Seeing that he would live, Marianne sheathed her weapon, eyeing him, "What's up with you today? You aren't focused at all."
Bog merely grunted, avoiding her scrutinizing gaze, "It's nothing."
"No, it's not." She frowned, slightly peeved that he was avoiding her, "You've been mopey for the past few days. Something's obviously on your mind."
The goblin mentally cursed himself for forgetting how observant Marianne could be. Maybe if I just ignore her-
"Bog…" Marianne warned, crossing her arms and tapping her foot.
He threw his arms up in defeat, "Alright, alright!" With an obnoxiously loud sigh, Bog began to twiddle his fingers nervously, "I've been thinking… that- that I should learn more about the Fairy Kingdom. Like how you've been learning about the Dark Forest."
Marianne's eyes widened before being replaced with an appreciative grin, "Really? I'd love to show you around-"
Bog waved his hand to cut her off, "No, I was thinking more along the lines of books."
"Books?" The smile turned into a small frown, "It would make more sense to actually take you to the Fairy Kingdom."
"Well, books can be very informative."
"That's a lame rebuttal. Going will be more fun."
"I don't know, Marianne…" He started, but was silenced when she laced her arms around his neck, her eyes tender and inviting. She had always been the more forward of the two, though you couldn't really call either of them that. He gulped loudly when she murmured, "Come on... please…?"
Marianne's gaze made his nerves melt away when finally he answered, "...Okay..."
The journey to the Fairy Kingdom felt like an eternity to Bog. While a small part of him was excited to experience the world Marianne grew up in, another much larger fraction of him was nervous beyond belief. Ask him to crash a party hosted in the Fairy Kingdom and he would do it without a problem. Ask him to blend in with hundreds of bubbly fairies...well that wasn't going to happen even if he wanted to. It was easy being feared, maybe a little too easy. But, it was difficult being accepted.
The curve of the land revealed a field of color that stretched across the distance. Orange tulips, grape hyacinths, and delicate snowdrops covered the expanse, permeating fragrances so strong Bog almost felt dizzy. How could Marianne stomach it?
"So, where are you taking me first, Princess?" Bog asked, his tone teasing.
"Just follow me." She laughed, using the wind to drift.
The forest king beamed at the way she leapt from one tulip to another, her feet barely touching the petals. She looked so at home...That is why I'm doing this.
With a toothy grin, Bog followed closely behind. Looking down at the passing blooms, an idea formed in his mind. Stealthily, he crouched down and scooped up a handful of yellow pollen. Balling up the soft substance, the goblin threw it at the unsuspecting fairy in front of him.
"Ack!" Marianne's spine stiffened as she slowly turned around, an expression of utter surprise on her face. "Bog!"
With a challenging smirk, he merely said, "What are you going to do about it, Tough Girl?"
Grinning herself, Marianne quickly grabbed a chunk of pollen and hurled it, yelling "This!"
Bog easily dodged it, chuckling as he hovered over her and poured a billow of the bright dust over her. In response, Marianne laughed, playfully throwing more at him. They continued their bombardment, dashing through the air in a yellow cloud. Neither realized how they traveled closer and closer to the society of the fairies until someone shouted, "HEY!"
Marianne gasped, skidding to a halt and causing Bog to run into her. The impact spun Marianne out of control until she slammed into a large flower, sliding down its stalk.
"Marianne!" The forest king flew down to meet her, carefully pulling her up to her feet.
Looking quite ruffled, Marianne brushed off grains of dirt imbedded in her arms, "I'm fine, I'm fine."
Still concerned, Bog rested his hands on her shoulders, examining her face. There was the sound of shattering clay, which made the two turn their attention to the small crowd of Fairy Kingdom creatures ahead of them. They stared open mouthed and wide-eyed at the odd looking couple, particularly at the appalling figure towering over their princess. One fairy piped up, speaking to Marianne but eyeing Bog nervously, "Are you okay, Princess…?"
Marianne nodded, straightening herself to appear more authoritative, "Yes, thank you. Now," she took hold of Bog's hand, marching through the congregation, "If you'll excuse us!"
The people quickly shuffled back, appearing to distance themselves from the royals. Not too deep down, Bog knew it was really because of his presence since they gaped only at him like he was some sort of...abnormality. He grumbled irritably in his throat. This is going to be VERY difficult.
After brushing off the remaining pollen, Bog found that they were in what looked like a marketplace. Sturdy stands were set up everywhere, elves and fairies alike pawning off an array of products. There seemed to be people from many different walks of life, from a ritzy fairy selling glittering jewels to a scarred and burly looking elf polishing a newly made sword. Bog's eyes roamed over the display of weapons, mildly impressed at their craftsmanship.
"Welcome to the Garden!" Marianne announced. She inhaled deeply with a satisfied smile, "Ahh, I smell food!" She pulled him to a nearby stand that elicited smoke from a spit behind the structure. "First lesson: fairy food culture." Producing a few coins from her pocket, she regarded the vender and began to point out various food. Once she paid, Marianne handed Bog a cup that was filled with some sort of magenta hued liquid layered with translucent honey.
A little wary, he asked, "Uh, what exactly is this?"
"It's called Berry Binge. We usually eat this during festivals." Marianne answered, helping herself to a spoonful of her own. Seeing how apprehensive he was, she chuckled through her mouthful, "It's only different berries mixed together with honey on top. It's really good!"
Her expectancy and his awareness of pedestrians slowing to watch made Bog feel very out of his element. Gingerly, he pulled the spoon from his cup with his claws, nearly cringing at the syrupy honey and the thick purple substance dripping off it. With reluctance, Bog placed it in his mouth. To his surprise, it was actually quite cold. He could recognize the taste of blackberries, which also grows in the Dark Forest, but all of the other flavors were foreign to him. Though it wasn't foul, the food was incredibly tart and sweet. Bog swore he would get a tooth ache from another bite.
"Well? How is it?"
"It's very sweet." He muttered as he became slightly hunched, the coverings on his shoulders twitching with annoyance from everyone gawking at them. All he wanted to do was retreat to somewhere private with Marianne. Do it for her. She went through the same thing, dammit!
After they tried more food, Bog and Marianne traversed the marketplace as the latter went into detail about the Fairy Kingdom's economy. The goblin could hear the passion she had for her people. He knew she would be a magnificent leader someday.
As evening approached, the sky became painted with wispy red clouds while the sun neared the horizon, bathing the land with the color of newly bloomed marigolds. The two were relaxing near a public fountain, where a number of fairies were enjoying themselves or simply passing by.
Marianne let out a contented sigh, "You know, I've never realized how...bright and colorful it is here. I mean, it's beautiful, but it's nothing like the Dark Forest."
"I bet the forest is a dump to you." Bog quipped.
She laughed, nudging his arm, "You know that's not what I meant. I'm saying that the Dark Forest is so...serene? I guess?" Sighing again, Marianne leaned her head against his shoulder, the sight making Bog's heart beat a little faster, "I just wish everyone else here could understand."
"Me, too." He muttered, noting how the princess's public affection caused a number of people around them to waver in their conversations. He forced himself to remain focused on his girlfriend, but the spitefulness was impossible to drown out.
"...that's so disgusting…"
Bog tensed, his anger boiling rapidly.
"How did that ever happen?"
"Well, she always was a weirdo…"
At mention of his love, the forest king ground his teeth, nearly leaping up to punch whoever said that. To his surprise, Marianne placed a hand on his arm and shook her head almost imperceptibly. She- she could hear everything, and he didn't even notice. His heart told him to beat the living daylights out of the slanderers, but his brain told him to restrain his fury. These were Marianne's subjects. He had no right to punish them, even if they're acting like complete fools. No, it was her decision what to do-
"Can you imagine what their kids will look like?"
"THAT'S IT!" Bog felt a gush of wind as Marianne took off towards the fountain. She landed on the lip of its base, her wings fanned out and absolute rage took over her whole demeanor. "Does someone have something to say to us?" She shouted, glaring down at the stunned fairies and elves.
Once the shock left him, Bog scrambled up and rushed to her side, whispering urgently, "Are you sure you want to do this?"
"Yes!" She hissed back, then faced the others, "Well? After weeks of this, you're being awfully quiet now! What, can't say it to our faces?"
Fear and anxiety froze everyone in their place, not even a whisper to be shared. That is, until a lone male elf stepped up. "To be frank, Princess Marianne, he's both evil and a goblin! How can you possibly care about the Fairy Kingdom while you're with him?"
"Wha-I love my kingdom! I would do anything for it! And Bog is not evil!"
"He threw a rock at me!" The elf cried back, tearing off his hat to reveal a bruising welt on his forehead.
Marianne's brow furrowed in disgruntlement and she looked at Bog. He silently opened and closed his mouth, trying to find his words before saying, "That was an accident!"
"Then why did you snarl at me?"The short creature remarked with his hands on his hips.
Bog grated his teeth and growled lowly, "Well, you're just gaining all sorts of confidence now, aren't you?"
Having enough of...whatever this was, Marianne waved her hands frantically to end it, "W-whatever! What I'm trying to say is that if you have a problem with Bog and me being together, then you'll just have to get over it! And I would reeeally appreciate it if you don't treat us like some sort of freak show!" She gestured to the crowd, "In fact, some of you had pretty interesting partners during the whole love potion fiasco."
There was muttering all around them while the elf said, "That's not even the same thing-"
"Please," Marianne implored, "I don't expect many of you to understand what Bog and I have. All I ask is that you at least try to accept it," She rested a hand on his shoulder, "because nothing between us is going to change."
In that moment, Marianne, who was so full of love and fire, was the most beautiful thing Bog had ever seen. Nothing in both the Fairy Kingdom and the Dark Forest could compare. He considered himself the luckiest goblin to have her at his side.
"Aaand that's all!" Marianne bowed awkwardly while the crowd scattered away. She jumped down from the fountain, suddenly tight-lipped and shaking.
Bog was still in awe at what just happened, "Marianne, that was-"
Without turning to him, the fairy told the goblin to follow her as she took off into the air. He blinked before trailing behind her as she flew faster than usual. What has gotten into her?
Finally, she landed next to a small brook that was shrouded by tall grass. Bog followed suit, bewildered, "Why did-"
Before he could finish his sentence, Marianne yanked him down by the collar of his tough exoskeleton and kissed him straight on the mouth. Bog's eyes widened and his feelings uncoiled like a taut rope when she cupped his face to deepen the embrace. As his eyes slid closed, Bog slipped his hands around her small waist. He couldn't fathom how soft her lips were and how sweet she tasted. Then again, that could've been because of the Berry Binge.
Finally, they reluctantly parted. Bog, who was experiencing some sort of dreamlike state, dumbly said, "That was nice."
With her face a light shade of pink, Marianne laughed good-naturedly, "Just nice?"
"Really nice. Amazing." Bog answered wearing a grin, "But, why?"
Marianne smiled softly, "Because I love you, knuckle-brain."
"I love you, too." He sighed, pulling her close.
While they hugged, Marianne stood on her tiptoes and said in his ear, "Don't ever think I'd be embarrassed of you."
"What? How did you-?"
"I just know you so well!" She declared, pulling away. "Oh, and Griselda told me."
At this, Bog just rolled his eyes and groaned. I will never tell her anything again!