Disclaimer: I do not own Kingdom Hearts, nor am I making any money off this fanfiction.

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Author's Notes…

This one is short and simple.

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For Susie

Real Life Fairy Tale

"Once there was an old king who lived in an old castle, which was in an old land far, far away from here."

As his nanny spoke to him softly, the boy pursed his lips, brows furrowing. He had his arms wrapped around her neck, sitting snugly in her lap, and the afternoon's rays of sunlight were filtering in gently through the stained glass windows, causing an array of colors to sparkle along the floor.

"What was this king like?" the boy asked, his voice slightly high, but as soft as his nanny's.

"No one really knew. Everyone was afraid of him."

The boy's brows furrowed so hard that they knitted over his nose. "Why was everyone afraid of him, Nana?"

"They were afraid of him because he hid himself away in his castle, and he never came out. His people whispered that he delved into dark magic, and his servants claimed that they never saw him, either. Their tasks were simply to clean up the castle, and some rooms within were not to be entered."

Tilting his head, the boy chewed on his bottom lip. "I wonder why…"

"Why, everyone wondered." Kind blue eyes twinkled with amusement.

"So what happened?" the boy asked imperiously, sniffing slightly, eager to know, but not wanting to seem that way.

His nanny knew, however, and she petted his hair, fingers moving through it in a calming fashion as she spoke next. "Well, there was a little girl. They said that she had the fairest hair, and the brightest eyes. Her skin was like ivory, and her lips were as soft as a petal of a rose."

"Hmm…" the boy murmured, wrinkling his nose. "Who cares about that?"

"The people of her village did. They cared about her very much. They cared so much that they warned her not to go near the castle. They feared that the king would see her from one of his high windows and want her for himself. For, surely, when she grew up, she was going to be a beautiful maiden girl."

"Go on."

"Unfortunately for the villagers, this girl was very curious. She didn't understand why everyone feared the king, and so one day, without telling anyone, she set off by herself and snuck into the castle."

The boy's eyes widened in surprise. "But why would she do such a thing!"

"Because she wanted to know for herself what this king was like." His nanny smiled. "Eventually, she came across the king, who was in his study. When she entered the room, she found a large chair facing the fireplace, and the king was in this chair.

"'Who is it?' the king demanded in a rich, deep voice. 'What do you want? I am busy. Go away.'

"'It's only me,' the girl replied. 'I've come to visit you, Your Majesty. The townspeople have said some awful things about you, and I wanted to find out for myself if they were true or not.'

"The king was silent for a long moment, and the girl began to fear that she had upset him. But then a pale hand rose slowly over the side of the chair, and fingers gestured. 'Come here,' said the king. 'I want to see you.'"

The boy was listening with rapt attention now, his amber eyes wide and focused on his nanny's face.

"So the girl came near," his nanny continued softly. "She placed her small, dainty hand into his large one, and he pulled her close. The king was handsome, with dark eyes that enraptured her, and long hair that touched his shoulders. But he had a frown so awful on his face that it made her heart ache to see it."

"What did the king do next?" the boy whispered in awe.

"He told her that she had a lot of courage to speak so freely to her king. 'But I only wanted to get to know you,' she replied firmly. 'You look as if you need company.' And, decisively, she crawled onto his lap and rested her temple on his shoulder, and she drifted off to sleep, for she was tired from her small journey.

"Later, when she returned to her village, she discovered that everyone had been worried sick just looking for her. When they asked where she had gone, and if she was hurt, she said simply, 'I was visiting the king.'

"Gasps rose into the air—her father took her by her arm and shook her a little, crying that he had forbade her to go near the castle. But a few of the villagers pulled him off and crowded around the girl, who looked up at them innocently.

"'What happened?' they asked.

"'I took a nap,' she replied. 'But your assumptions are wrong. The king is not frightening, nor is he evil.'

"The villagers looked confused. They exchanged puzzled glances, then returned their attention to the girl. 'Then what is he like?'

"'Why,' the girl replied softly, 'he is just very lonely.'"

The boy's nanny ruffled his hair affectionately, her smile spreading. "The moral of the story is that you should not judge others on what you hear, but for what you know yourself."

Lowering his gaze, the boy murmured, "I hope that when I am king—I am not feared. I hope that I am not lonely."

His nanny pressed a gentle kiss to his temple. "Do not fret, Ansem. When you are king, your people will hold you in reverence far more than anyone else."

And they did.

Even after he destroyed them all.