Because my previous short story was rather heavy and dark, I have decided to write a slightly lighter, more humorous story to add to this collection. I hope everyone enjoys it, and thanks for the great reviews!

Reluctance and the Pea

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"How many times must I tell you?" King Audrey asked his son. The Prince snorted and muttered in his sleep. Angrily, the King lifted his large, pudgy hand and smacked his son in the ear.

"Owwwww!" complained Prince Henry, rubbing his ear. "What?" he glared at his father, who held an expression of superiority.

"You must find a wife!" he growled. Henry's mother entered the study, her large skirts causing tables to rock and oil lamps shake dangerously. Both Audrey and Henry held there breath until Elizabeth, the Queen settled into a special, extra large cushioned chair.

"Yes, dear" she agreed, voicing her opinion in a high pitched voice. Queen Elizabeth was a very opinionated woman, but only when someone else came up with and supported an idea. "A woman would be good for you. End your tralamping days. "Not a very good public speaker, Queen Elizabeth was notorious for making up random words. "Now I must snoozump for a few minutes. I'll be in the Master bedroom." And she left, tromping dangerously back out the door, huffing and puffing.

King Audrey looked his son in the eye. "You must find a princess by the third moon of this month. No excuses." King Audrey rose, and in a dignifying manner strut out of the room. Prince Henry lay quiet, and soon heard loud shouts of the servants, and a large grunt from his father. King Audrey was not the most graceful king.

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"But motherrrrr" whined Latika. "I don't want to go into the city. It's soooo faar awaaaaay."

"Quit your whining!" Friasha snapped. "You will go into the city like your told, or I'll kick you out of the orphanage for good."

Latika rolled her eyes. In the whole 17 years she had been at Heavenly Hearts Child Center, Friasha had never carried out that threat. Still, Friasha was not one to argue with. Getting kicked out was better than having to scrub chamber pots for a month.

A ramshackled coach, drawn by a pair of sandy brown nags approached the run down stone house. The driver hopped onto the ground, a dusty, but cheerful man and bowed to Friasha.

"Now stop it Franco." Friasha scolded, and Franco the driver straightened immediately. Friasha turned to Latika, who stood by with her arms crossed. Giving Latika the harshest face she could she ordered, "Now get into the coach! Quick, you're wasting Franco's time!"

Latika dragged her feet reluctantly to the carriage, and waited while Franco loaded the luggage into the trunk.

"Now be safe." warned Friasha. "I can't afford to loose my best spinner." Smiling, Friasha winked at Latika and blew a kiss as the carriage began to drive away.

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The wind howled angrily, and Latika wrapped her thin shawl closer around her shoulders. There was a loud crack and the air glittered with the electricity. Latika dared a glance out of the window, and saw they were in the middle of a large field. The road beneath them had turned to mush, and the carriage dragged along sluggishly. Lightening made flashing patterns across the sky, visible for only a few moments.

Then there was the smell of burning grass, and the carriage began to move faster. Latika reached out and held onto the sides of the carriage with both hands, to keep her self from being bounced about. The horses neighed, and continued to run.

The wheels stopped turning, and the horses broke loose. There was just a light sprinkling of rain now, and Latika climbed out of the broken carriage. Franco was no where in sight. Latika began to walk, telling her self that there must be a place of shelter somewhere near by. She was stopped dead when she nearly walked straight into a security guard.

Nervously she backed away, looking up and noticing for the first time the large gray castle which loomed from the sky. The guard snorted, and she nearly ran until she heard the following snore. Swallowing a laugh, she quickly ran past and ran across the drawbridge. There stood another guard, who watched her suspiciously.

"Where are you from?" he asked gruffly. Latika grew flustered and looked down at her feet. What was she to say? "You are not a terrorist are you?"

The sudden randomness of the question threw Latika off a bit. "Why no, "she replied, "At least I don't think so." thinking fast she added, "I am the Princess Ilakia, from the North Kingdom." The guard peered at her from behind his helm.

"You don't look very princessy." her pointed out. Latika looked down at her dress and had to admit, he had a point. Her already worn out dress was now soaked, clinging heavily to her.

"Well, we were traveling through and the storm caught us by surprise. The horses spooked and the coachman died. The carriage was broken and extremely uncomfortable, so I headed for the nearest castle. And besides, every castle has a prince, and every prince could use a princess." Latika bit her tongue, hoping the guard bought her story.

He nodded thoughtfully. "If you say so." Without another word he began to draw open the doors and she entered quickly, before he changed his mind.

She was greeted by a very sleepy looking prince, who looked rather surprised to see a dripping wet girl in his grand entrance hallway.

"Who might you be?" demanded Prince Henry. Latika sighed. not again! she thought. She began to explain, but Henry stopped her on the word "princess".

"You're a princess?" he asked. Latika wearily nodded. "Follow me." he led her up a set of staircases and into a grand bedroom.

"Mother, Mother" he shouted. "I have found a princess." Both the king and queen immediately sat up. Queen Elizabeth squealed in delight and said "I will do prepare the bedding."

The three others looked questioning at each other while the Queen hurried to the kitchen.

"Fetch me a pea!" the queen ordered. "We have some princess testing to do." the servants looked at her funny, but carried out her orders as told. The Queen then ordered that 20 feather mattresses be placed in a bed, on top of the pea.

"Now we shall know if this girl is really a princess." The queen rushed back to retrieve Latika. Latika, on her part was relieved. Both the Prince and the King were incredibly boring, asking her questions about her kingdom and such.

Latika was led to the guest bedroom, where the mattresses had been prepared. The Queen gave her an oil lamp, and a ladder, then left, shutting the door tight behind her.

Latika stared at the ladder in hand, and then looked up the top of the mattresses. All her life Latika had been afraid of heights, especially since she fell from the ladder trying to paint the ceiling of the dining room at the orphanage.

Sighing, Latika placed the ladder and oil lamp down and retrieved a blanket from the bed stand next to the bed. She laid it out on the floor, and settled in for a very uncomfortable night.

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The next morning, Latika was the last downstairs. The monarchs and their son had already sat down to breakfast. The queen watched keenly as Latika trudged into the dining room, still dressed in the frilly, pink gown supplied by the servants, rubbing her back and wincing.

"How was your sleep?" the queen asked cheerily. Latika considered lying, and saying it was wonderful but decided to tell the truth. It had been horrible. Latika had decided during the night that she wouldn't force her worst enemies to sleep in the floor. Well, maybe she would.

"It was very uncomfortable. There was a small rock that seemed to be lodged in my lower back all night."

The Queen's face lit nodded up with excitement. "She really is a princess!" she exclaimed, before leaping up and enclosing Latika in a large and odious hug. The Prince smiled so big Latika thought his teeth might fall out, and the king looked relieved.

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The wedding ceremony was held the next week. The queen cried, and the king stayed in bed from a whooping cough. After the wedding, Prince Henry and now Princess Ilakia were presented an official notice announcing them as the new king and queen.

The now King Henry and Queen Ilakia (Latika) were sent through town in a white wedding carriage, pulled by a pair of magnificent white Lipizzaner stallions.

"Henry?" Latika asked quietly. Henry tore his gaze from the window and looked at her tenderly. The carriage began to enter the Enchanted Forest, on the other side where they were attend there honeymoon. "I think you should no something. "Latika cleared her throat. "I'm not really a princess."

Henry stared at her in disbelief. "Stop joking honey, you can tell the truth." Latika smiled faintly and shook her head.

"No, I'm really not a princess. And my name is not Ilakia." quickly she explained the entire story, from the orphanage, to the sleeping on the floor. Each word seemed to deepen the frown lines in Henry's face. Nervously Latika looked outside, and noticed familiar surroundings.

"You're not a Princess." he said. Latika nodded. "Get out." Henry ordered.

Latika nodded then stopped, surprised.

"Leave now! I cannot be married to an orphan peasant! OUT!!!" The carriage stopped and the coach driver peered in the carriage door window.

"Any trouble, your highnesses?" he asked genially. Henry nodded and pointed at Latika.

"Get this...thing out of my carriage!" Latika, who had been leaning against the door, fell backwards suddenly when the coach driver pulled the door open.

"Sorry miss." he said, and hopped back into the driver's seat. Latika watched as the carriage continued on its way.

'Well, I was wondering when you were planning on returning home." a voice came from behind. Startled Latika spun around to see the smiling face of Friasha.

"Let's go home." Friasha offered her hand and helped Latika up off the ground.

'Well don't you look lovely. "Friasha commented on Latika's frilly white wedding gown. "Pity white doesn't stay white for very long."

Latika just smiled and hugged Friasha, glad it was all over.

The End!