She really is a princess, though not everyone ever really saw her as one.

She has always loved being on the dangerous side of things—climbing trees in the orchard when she was little, even learning how to fence as she grew older.

She never really cared how she looked like. Not the hair, not the gowns. Not even the way she sounded with the language she has gotten used to.

That's why everyone has always thought she was a tomboy.

Her parents want her married one day, of course, and it's not like no princes from the neighboring kingdoms ever courted her. Of course they did—they always said that her natural, wild beauty was striking to them.

But she never believed.

Well, it always seemed to her that they only want to be better than her at everything. They just had to be better at fencing, at horseback riding, heck even at tree-climbing. Those bastards.

She thinks they probably only see her as a great challenge—someone who could give them the assurance of their manliness they so desperately needed.

And once it finally dawned on them that she was always going to be better, that they could never beat her in any way, they'd just give up, and in the end they'd all leave her.

All of them weren't worth a single second of her time.

What more, what's with the "natural, wild beauty" they kept on saying she had? What bull.

She doesn't have time to deal with those kinds of things. She'd rather spend her days enhancing her skills, and just enjoy her life to the fullest.

And with these thoughts in mind, she finds herself in the middle of the woods that are probably not too far from their castle, since she can still see the turret flags, although she had to squint to see them. But did she really get that far that quickly? Sometimes even she surprises herself.

So she walks, and whistles, and hums a random tune while surveying her surroundings.

She has always loved nature, especially the wind. She loved to climb to the topmost towers and gaze out the window all day just feeling the wind at her face. She envied the birds that could float along with the wind, going over and beyond the treetops.

See, she had a quite feminine side, too.

So she walks, and muses to herself, and to her delight, she comes across a beautiful, sparkling pond with a small but equally stunning waterfall beside it. How could she have just discovered this sight now?

Feeling excited and mesmerized and suddenly very hot, she takes off her shoes and outer gown and dips into the cool water in her undergarments. She wades around lazily, sleepily, and swims farther into the middle of the pond, wanting to practice her underwater swimming skills.

In a few seconds, she disappears into the water. But a few more minutes pass by, and she doesn't resurface.

She didn't know that there was an underwater current at the center of the pond.

She didn't know that the pond was supposed to be cursed, and that the townspeople avoided it all costs. But actually, saying it had a current was more accurate.

Well, either way, she's in deep trouble. Literally.

As she feels the pressure pulling her under, she struggles against it, but all her fencing and tree-climbing skills are not really of much use now. She clutches at her throat and thrusts out her hand, but it grasps nothing but bubbles. Her mouth opens to give out a silent scream of protest that even the water couldn't hear.

Her vision is clouding over, and she's about ready to give up, but… what's that? She swears she just heard the faint sound of a splash, but then again, it's probably just the water in her ears.

Well, she's heard that people who are about to die seem to hear voices calling to them. But in her case, was drowning to death only giving her a splash as the last sound she could hear? Not even a voice? How boring…

Oh well, there's nothing she can do ri………

She opens her eyes, and green fills her sight. Probably the grassy meadows of heaven, she groggily thinks.

She's lying on her side. She even has a pillow, and it's nice and warm, too… She feels the pillow shift slightly underneath her head, and she prepares to go back to sleep. She'd look for the angels later.

Wait a freaking second.

She bolts up into a sitting position, and comes face to face with a young man. Or a young girl. No, it's really a male, she chides herself for being silly. And he's smiling at her, and he looks so handsome and princely and charming and gentle and… she realizes that she's been staring and ogling for too long. Crap.

Then he looks down, and she follows his gaze, and she sees to her horror and embarrassment that she's only wearing her undergarments. Her still wet undergarments.

It's not that he left her to look like that while she was sleeping on his lap. He covered her with his coat, but since she sat up so suddenly, it was thrown off, and now he's trying his very best not to keep looking at her… wet clothes.

She screams, slaps him, clambers to her feet, and runs off at lightning speed.

In her hurry, she forgets to take her gown and shoes with her.

He smiles to himself, amused, and slightly rubs his stinging cheek. Then he gathers up the things she left behind and mounts his horse and follows her. And hopefully, she won't slap him again.

She hasn't gotten very far when she realizes to her dismay that she left her gown and shoes near the pond. Why, oh why, must be she so stupid sometimes?

Fuming and impatient and starting to get cold, she deliberates if she should go back to the pond immediately, or wait an hour before returning for her gown, or just come back to the castle. She stands rooted to the spot, when she hears the sound of approaching gallops.

She turns around, and before her, the charming and princely and elegant young man halts his horse and climbs down. He stands in front of her and hands out her things, saying that she left them behind. His voice is so friendly and warm and gentle and… and…

She feels terrible. She feels guilty for slapping him, especially after he certainly saved her from drowning. She hasn't even thanked him yet. He probably sees her as a dreadful bitch now, but then why is he still smiling? It just makes her feel guiltier. Dammit.

She looks down at her feet, meekly takes her gown and shoes, and clutches them to her chest, still avoiding his eyes. Then she mumbles a thank you to him and turns around, wanting to escape from the situation as quickly as possible, but he calls out to her.

Will the princess let her prince take her safely back home? He asks.

She stops.

He called himself her prince. Her prince.

It's the first time someone ever told her something like that, and it sounded a bit silly, but nice all the same. She feels herself blush. He clears his throat.

She turns around slowly to face him, and she nods, even more meekly. He smiles again, and she notices how his eyes light up when he does.

And she wonders why she notices.

She tells him that she's just going to put on her clothes, and he says he'll gladly wait. She heads toward a tall clump of bushes and hurriedly puts on her clothes, and takes extra time to make sure that she looks more presentable than before.

When did she start caring how she looked like?

She peeks into the bushes, and she sees him adjusting the saddle on his white horse. He's probably making sure that she would be comfortable once she's on it.

She finally walks out and he smiles when he sees her. Why, oh why, does that smile seem to affect her so much? It's unnerving. It makes her heart flutter and her stomach all airy and… so many more feelings she can't even describe.

He climbs his horse, and he reaches out both of his hands to her and pulls her up to the spot before him. It's not like she can't mount a horse on her own, but she just felt like letting him help her up. And as she feels his arms linger around lightly around her as he takes hold of the reins, she can't help feeling grateful that she almost drowned that day.

Because it led her to someone who, she is certain, will finally see her as the princess that she really is.

A/N: Something written out of a whim and into the wee hours of the night. And if you haven't figured it out, this is a RaiFuu fic, people! Please take time to review! Thanks!