Disclaimer: The Princess and the Goblin, all characters, places, and related terms belong to George MacDonald.
Author's Note: I always thought Curdie and Irene should have had a moment together before she left with her father after the farm was flooded. This is what may have happened, and is obviously AU.
There was bustling and activity as the king and his company prepared to depart for his castle. However, there were two who had separated themselves from the excitement. Curdie lay on his stomach, his chin resting in his hands, his face unreadable. Her Royal Highness, the Princess Irene, having joined him a little while ago, sat on the ground, her hands clasped neatly in her lap. Her gaze, like Curdie's, was on the flooded farm down below. Silence hung between them.
Slowly Irene looked over at Curdie. When he at last met her gaze, his eyes were troubled.
"You will be missed soon," he spoke first.
Irene shrugged slightly, quickly glancing at the preparations still going on. "I thought you would have come with your mother when she bid me goodbye."
"No." Curdie replied to her comment and underlying question, and he looked down the mountain once more.
"You did…do not wish to…?" A troubling silence hung in the air. The little princess's eyes filled with hurt. "Well, then…" She rose gracefully to her feet and, turning around, started with heavy steps for where the men were beginning to mount their horses.
"Wait! No, princess!" Jumping up with amazing speed, Curdie ran and blocked her path.
She looked up at him and waited, her heart going out to him on seeing the mixture of hurt and sadness in his eyes.
"I'm sorry. It…I thought if I didn't say goodbye it would not be so dreadful." Curdie stared at her, his eyes pleading for her to understand.
And she did. Irene had been full of sadness as the departure drew closer and closer. She did not want to say goodbye to him. She would miss him.
"It would be more dreadful to me if we parted on such terms," the princess confessed quietly. "I will miss you, Curdie."
"And I you, princess," the boy said, a lump forming in his throat, and for a moment focused his eyes on the top of Irene's head.
"I shall not forget you." Irene's chin trembled then steadied. Curdie gave her a weak smile, also attempting to regain his composure. "Farewell," she whispered.
Solemnly they shook hands and gazed at each for a long moment. Slowly Irene backed away, turning away when her king-papa's calling for her reached her ears.
His hand at his side, Curdie stood silent as the miners cheered their king and princess. His eyes were fastened on the child held protectively and tenderly by her father and seated before him on his horse. She smiled sweetly at the miners and waved. Then her gaze moved beyond the crowd to where Curdie was. Their eyes locked for an instant; then the company rode off, the horses' hoofs pounding the earth. Curdie's eyes followed them for as long as he could see the dust stirred up from the horses.
With a quiet sigh and a strange feeling in his chest, the boy once again gazed down at the flooded farm, his memories his only companion.