Karin: Yay! My two-year anniversary on fanfiction has finally arrived. So, I've decided to put out another PaTG oneshot. Here's the first one I've done in the book-verse so I hope you enjoy.
Disclaimer: All rights to Princess and the Goblin belong to George MacDonald.
"The beginning of atonement is the sense of its necessity" –Lord Byron
Autumn, Winter, Spring—now it is summer. It had seemed so long ago indeed that one night where Curdie had stumbled upon the little Princess Irene and her nanny Lootie. Strange how time had passed this much with his journeys down into the mountains where the goblins resided to discover their nasty deeds being his top priority.
However, once his top priority, the task of finding out the goblins' plan was buried in the back of his mind with something entirely new taking its place.
Redemption. Penitence. Atonement.
No, it was not he who was wronged, but he was the one who did the wrong. He, Curdie the miner, had done wrong to someone else. He, Curdie Peterson, had wronged someone precious.
He, Curdie, had wronged the Princess Irene.
Indeed he had wronged the little princess. And what had he wronged her for? What could possibly be a flaw with Princess Irene? She was kind, faithful, and innocent. No one surely had anything bad to say about Irene, so why did he?
He accused her of lying.
Lying; he said she lied to him after she had saved him from his imprisonment by the goblins. She had risked everything to save him and yet, when she needed him in return, he had practically shoved it all back in her face like some lowlife.
And the Princess—that sweet, kind, little princess—had sadness on her face and sorrow in her bright blue eyes while looking upon him. He had hurt her with his words. He had hurt her for accusing her of something she didn't do.
He hurt her because he didn't believe her.
In retrospect, who would believe someone who said they were talking to someone whom you could not see? It was common sense and human instinct to doubt someone in that state of mind. Whether it be a child or an adult.
And yet, young Curdie had discovered he was wrong about Irene's great-great-grandmother. Yes, he did not see the old queen for himself, but his mother's testimony and the fact that the little princess wouldn't have any reason to lie had taught him otherwise. Even if Irene had been wrong, he had no right to crush her hopes into dust like that.
And now he was paying for it.
Since the beginning of the summer, the little princess has been visiting the mining town despite her nanny's protests. She was very popular among the other children. Everyone loved her; she was like sunshine coming in to cheer them up on a cloudy day.
But he was not among them.
Certainly, Curdie too felt the warmth in his heart swell when he caught sight of the Princess Irene coming up the mountain to visit, but along with the warmth came the ache. The hurt. The desire to atone himself to her for he had done her wrong.
He was determined to make his wrongs disappear in the princess's eyes. While she did not show any ill will towards him at all, he felt the ill will towards himself, which is why with each passing day he becomes more diligent in his endeavors to serve her.
He would often see his mother giving him a tender smile and with eyes that said "be patient, my son. You're time will come" and Curdie would take that to heart and be patient for his opportunity to apologize to Irene.
Over the course of time, however, in his patience to atone to her, changes began to take place. Curdie started noticing things—like the way the little princess's hair shined like the golden sun, or the way her night blue eyes sparkled when she was happy, or even when she smiled—as if there was nothing wrong in the world and she was content.
He began noticing the smaller details as well. For instance, when she appeared nervous or troubled, she would bite her bottom lip lightly. When she was feeling shy, she averted her eyes and shuffled her feet a little. When she laughed, she sounded like bells making others join in with her. When she was sad, her eyes glossed over as if they were watery pools containing her tears. When she happy, she would smile and invite others to join in her merriment. Did anyone else notice these things? Did anyone else know what he knew just by looking at the little princess?
The answer was no, probably not. After all, Curdie was an excellent observer so why shouldn't he notice these things? It was nothing out of the ordinary to notice such things as these while being a good observer such as himself.
Nevertheless, there were the strange feelings in his gut at certain times when the Princess Irene was near. For one, when she was near him, he felt his heart begin to pump harder—as if he was working in the mines all day with no break whatsoever—and he felt a pool of warmth in his stomach, but not in a bad way of course. In addition, when she smiled at him, he couldn't help but pride himself for being the one to receive that smile and found himself smiling with her always; as if this was the best place for him to be. Another instance would be when he would see her upset. He would catch on rather quickly, even before her nurse Lootie, and immediately devote himself to making her happy again as well as wanting to rid of the thing that made her upset in the first place. At times when she held his hand, his grip would slightly tighten without him noticing and he found himself not wanting to let go of her. And on certain occasions, when other boys would approach her and take away her attention, he would often glare at them and find himself in an incredibly foul mood until they were gone and she would turn her gaze back to him once more.
Truly these feelings did not erupt from being a great observer. The only conclusion he could come up with was that he was really engrossed in his desire to atone to Irene. To right the wrong he had done to her. She was their beloved princess; so, it was only natural Curdie would be very preoccupied and immersed into serving her. There was nothing wrong with him wanting to atone for what he had done to the little princess.
But thinking this made his heart clench and his stomach twist in a nauseating way. Thinking like that made it seem like an obligation to atone to Irene, or perhaps a greedy way to save his own skin. However, serving the princess was because of none of these thoughts. He served her because he wanted to, not because he had to. He served her for her, not for himself.
That was that. That was all it would be.
Then his mother gave him those smiles—that smile in which he did not really understand. She had been giving him that smile ever since his declaration to atone to Princess Irene. That all-knowing, yet gentle, smile. That insightful, yet soft, smile. That smile that knew something he did not know, and yet feels like he should. That understanding, cryptic smile—as if she knew what exactly he was going through.
And that's when it would all come crashing down on the young boy. Every detail he's noticed and every feeling he's felt. Every detail of Irene's face and every feeling she ignited in him with just one smile or tear. His mother was wise to it all. She had known what he should've known from the start. There was something more, her eyes told him when he looked at her with that all-knowing smile on her features.
There is something more.
Curdie shook his head as he denied it. It was impossible. It was completely out of the context. It was not part of the plan to atone to her—to serve the little princess. It couldn't have happened. It can't be happening now.
It wasn't supposed to happen.
He wasn't supposed to find her smile contagious or cherish them like they were the greatest treasure. He wasn't supposed to feel himself tear inside when she would leave for her home. He wasn't supposed to want to do anything possible if it would cease her tears. He wasn't supposed to want to rip a boy's hand off if he so much as looked at her in the wrong way. He wasn't supposed to memorize every detail of her unconsciously. He wasn't supposed to want her to be by his side and never leave.
He wasn't supposed to fall in love with her in his endeavor of atonement to her.
But he did, he does, and he always will.
For loving her was much more sweeter than any atonement he ever gave.
"Meeting you was fate, becoming your friend was a choice, but falling in love with you I had no control over" –Unknown
Karin: okay, there you have it folks. This was dedicated to my two year anniversary on fanfiction and I'm very happy to be able to put it out. Hope you liked it. Please be kind enough to leave a review. Much appreciated and thank you.
See ya Next time.