Disclaimer: I do not own Shrek or any of its affiliations, products, or so on. Just a couple copies of the movies. Meow.

Happily Ever

Prologue

". . .You're sure, madam?"

"Yes. Your future is not in the hands of yourself, but that of your True Love." The woman reading the fortune laid out another card. "There will be great troubles for you on this path."

Receiving the fortune was a woman in a cloak, her eyes wide and childlike as she gazed at the cards. "Can you tell me. . . What is my fairy tale?" she asked.

The old woman snatched up the cards and shuffled before putting them away. "Let me see your hand, princess."

Slowly, the young lady extended her hand, and winced when the old woman grabbed it and held a little too tightly. She looked over the princess' palm, nodding to herself. At length she let go and opened a box beside her. She pulled out a few items, placing them on the table, and the princess stared at them. One of them was a tiny crystal ball, another seemed to be a beast's hand, and several small finger-sized bones.

"I have found it," the gypsy said suddenly, pulling out a small box and opening it. She showed it to the princess, who found herself gazing intently at the contents.

"What is it?" she asked.

"A pendant, for you," the gypsy answered. She closed the box and handed it to the princess. "Your mother entrusted this to me the same day you were born, and now you must have it. Understand that not you, but your True Love, will know how to open the locket. And only then will you be freed from your Fairy Tale, to live as you would choose."

"Then. . . Am I trapped in my own story?" she asked, panicking a little.

"Yes. Now go, princess. With handing this over, your story has begun, and you must prepare."

The princess stood with a grateful nod and stepped out. It wasn't until she was out of the wagon that she thought to turn around and ask, "Prepare for what, madam?"

The wagon was gone, and on the ground where it once was lay a single scrap of paper. Kneeling down, she picked it up and read, "Prepare for your abduction. As it was written, it will be; until the end, you cannot be free. This tale will be little fun; your first step is to run."

She shivered. It seemed like such a bad omen, to hear nothing of her story except that her True Love is the only one who could end it. "I don't understand," she said to herself, and whistled for her horse. The large Clydesdale stepped up to her and knelt to allow her to climb on his saddle. "Do you understand, Smithy?" she asked him.

He neighed and shook his head before she pulled his reigns to start his walk. She thought over the paper, in her hand still, and looked down at it. As though waiting for the moment she looked away, it had written on it more words than before, and she read those with rising dread.

"You did not obey fast enough; the next few days will be rough. Beware the eyes in the dark; beware the form that lurks. Someone dangerous as a bear; sees her life as unfair. Do not look back or above; speed away to your True Love."

The princess cried out when the paper lit on fire and tossed it away from her, deciding that she'd waited longer than she'd been meant to. She moved to sit properly on Smithy and kicked him into motion, hoping whatever feeling of dread she had at the back of her neck wouldn't last.

A red hawk soared overhead the fleeing princess, one eye glittering green, the other a pale grey. It followed her from a distance, keeping itself hidden and unknown. It watched as the night began to lighten as dawn approached and the princess continued her ride back to her palace. At length, as the sun was almost to peek above the horizon, it perched on a low branch and waited.

Once the sunlight touched it, it spread its wings and dropped from the branch to the forest floor, fully encompassing itself in the dawn's light. All at once it glowed an unearthly, unpleasant slate color and in a second's time had become a human figure.

The person was hunched over, their face hidden in tightly wrapped bandages and form covered in a tattered cloak and hood. The only thing discernable about this person was its eyes -- one green, the other grey.

Breathing in a shaky wheeze, the person pulled a walking stick out of the air and began a struggled walk in the direction of the princess' escape. "One day," the scratchy voice croaked, "soon, I will be you," it promised the princess. Taking wobbly limps down the road, the figure ignored all wagons and horses as fiercely as they avoided it.

It walked long into the day, stopping only when it reached the edges of the princess' home, unwilling to take a single step onto the grounds of the town outlying the palace. It stayed there, stalking, waiting, knowing that at some point, the princess would have to venture out once more. She would, of course, to find her prince and True Love.

In the creature's bandaged hands, it held a worn book, and sat down painfully to flip open the cover and find the page it was looking for. "Here," it said, confirming its suspicions. " 'The Princess, knowing her True Love would never come to her, set off to find him. But she did not know the dangers lurking outside her walls, and ventured into the claws of evil.' " The voice cackled in agreement and continued to read, flipping through the pages. ". . . 'And some time later, a warrior joined with the Princess, to protect her from that which threatened her. Sadly, the warrior alone was not enough.' "

Snapping the book shut, the figure put it safely away within the cloak once more, watching as the sun set painstakingly slowly. It did not like its human form for how frail it was, and much preferred nighttime, when its wings could easily carry it every night ten times the length it could travel in one day. And once the sun was gone completely, no longer touching the creature in the least, it became that hawk and took to the skies once more.

There it waited, circling the palace from far above, for the princess to make her journey.