AN: I got this idea after reading the Hollow Kingdom short story, Parisian Judgment from Clare B. Dunkle's site. This takes place during World War II when the children were removed to rural areas and out of bombing targeted cities. The elf King and goblin King in this story are the grandsons of Nir and Catspaw, respectively. Please review and let me know what you think.

Judgment of Helen

September 1940

While war raged on among the human nations of the world, the elves and goblins paid little attention. Powerful and absorbed in their own simpler lives as they were, the problems of humans seemed to have little effect on them. It wasn't until the war came to their own kingdoms, in the Lake District of England, in the only way the human world could touch the elves and goblins: in the form of a possible King's Bride.

After news of a beautiful girl of 17 moving into the area reached the elf King, Aganir Melanur, and goblin King, Marak Wolfang, they each made plans to take her. The protocol of alerting each other of their intentions was observed on both sides- as an after though, but observed none the less. Unfortunately, they each missed their message because of their haste to snatch the girl. So when nightfall came, they each found themselves facing each other at the foot of this young woman's bed, much like their father's before them, Aganir Usan and Marak Boartusk, when they competed for the human girl, Colette.

"Do the girl a favor and go home Wolfang," said Melanur. He took a quick glance at his reflection in the vanity mirror and raked a hand through his black curls to make sure they hung as charmingly disorderly as possible. "You know I have precedence here."

"I would think you would prefer I take her," Wolfang said. "If I don't marry a human, that leaves one of your elves. But then of course, I would hate to raid such a small band as yours. With less than 700 elves, I'm not sure your people are strong enough to take the blow."

Melanur smiled, allowing his black eyes to dance, just as he always did when an insult hit him squarely where it smarted. "Fine words coming from a mutt. Do you always foam at the mouth like a dog or only when you're agitated like this?"

The last time Melanur made a similar allusion, he had the pleasure of watching Wolfang reach up to where his mouth protruded out almost like a wolf's to feel the brown hair around his lips and the canines that protruded out of his gum, to see if there was any foam.

Unfortunately, the goblin King had learned from their last sparring match.

"Back to the matter at hand, you foolish child, I'm not giving up the girl," Wolfang said.

"What in the world is going on?" asked a groggy voice from the bed. "William? Robert? Are you two out of bed again?" The young woman looked around the darkened room, trying to make out the two figures in front of her. "Who are you?"

"Just a dream and a nightmare," Melanur said, taking a few steps closer to the bed. "Nothing to worry about- unless the nightmare wins our little argument, but until then, sleep Helen."

The girl struggled to keep her blue eyes open, but they collapsed under the force of his sleeping spell. Melanur took a time to admire her pretty black hair and fair skin.

"For a moment there, I thought we would be forced to truly replay the scene from our fathers' courtship days," Wolfang said. "Of course, you wouldn't want that considering how soundly your father lost last time."

"Lost!" Melanur laughed. "I never realized goblins had such vivid imaginations. The only thing my father lost was interest in your mother. Your father only 'won' because mine withdrew his suit. If a human woman was really put to the choice of marrying a splendid elf King, like me, or a hideous mutt like you, there is no doubt who the victor would be."

"Yes, in a competition between a man like me and a child like you, then there is no doubt who the chosen King would be," Wolfang agreed.

Melanur's eyes brightened. "Let's put the theory to the test."

"Silly elf, I'm not playing games with you."

"I understand, you don't want to lose. It would be such an embarrassment for you. Think no more on it. I'll just take Helen and be off."

He went to approach the sleeping girl, trying to decide the best way to pick her up.

"Wait."

"So you do want to play! Good, good!" Melanur smiled brilliantly.

"Calm down, you prancing little ninny," Wolfang said. "We're setting up rules first."

"You goblins and your rules! Very well, what are they?"

"Neither of us will reveal our appearance to the girl."

Melanur glowered at him. "I should have known that would be a stipulation."

"Are you afraid your ugly personality can only be saved by your pretty face?" Wolfang asked serenely.

"What else?"

"No using magic to sway her choice. No persuasion spells or any of that elvish charm either."

"Naturally."

"And we need a time constraint."

"The second full moon of Winter," Melanur said without hesitation. "Her marriage moon."

Wolfang raised his eyebrows in surprise. "The elves research their human brides now?"

"Enough to know the essentials." The elf King smiled. "Now, the rules are set. Do we play?"

"Marriage is not a game," Wolfang said, preparing to leave. "Maybe losing a bride will teach you to take such things seriously."