Dexter Charming sat next to Dragon's pond, the place most of the Heroes went to for their training. He never understood why the professors thought it was necessary to train in a place that was so damp and dark…couldn't the school's gym work just as well? He shook his head, it didn't matter, what did matter was why Daring, his brother, had decided to have their camping trip in this location.
Dex looked over to the large tent, fishing rods, portable stoves, and firewood that lay piled in a heap by their tree. Dexter, Hopper, and Hunter each had the great pleasure of carrying all of that junk while Daring, the great Daring Charming, supervised, like "A king should".
"Hey Dex, are you gonna help us with this?" Hunter asked as he swung a sack of trail mix onto the heap. "We've gotta get this tent up before it gets too dark."
Dexter looked around, "I thought Darring and Hopper were gonna help with that."
Hunter shook his head, "Hopper went out to get more firewood, he says we may need more, and Daring…" Hunter looked around, "I honestly have no idea where that guy is."
Dexter rose to his feet and jogged over to Hunter to give his friend a hand.
It had been a while since Dexter, Daring, Hunter and Hopper hung out last. Over the summer the four would spend every day together. Either playing video games at the Charming Castle, exploring the woods by Hunter's cottage, or just going to Book End to stare at the new MirrorPad games.
Before they knew it Hunter and Dexter has raised the tent (not that it was any surprise to Dex, Hunter did have his father's skill at building)
"Thanks man. Now, once Hopper gets back we can get the fire going."
Dexter looked around and nodded. The sooner the fire was up the better, he never liked the look of the swamp in the day time, he shuddered to think of what it was like at night.
"Ah ha! Boys, look what I have caught for our meal tonight."
The boys turned to Daring Charming who had appeared out of the foggy swamp with dozens of lines of fish. There was cod, grouper, and yellow tail.
"Wait…half of those types of fish can't be found in lakes. Whe-"
Daring just shrugged off the question before it was even asked. "Little brother, this is me we're talking about." He hung his catch from a nearby tree and looked over the tent. He shrugged. "Not bad," he said, "Of course, I could have done it much better."
Dexter wanted to roll his eyes, but he was too busy looking at Hunter's face. The huntsman couldn't take his eyes off the legions of fish that now hung lifeless from the tree. If Dexter didn't know any better, it almost looked like Hunter was going to…cry.
"Y-you alright there Hunter?" Dexter asked, reaching for his friend's shoulder.
In a flash, Hunter shrugged his shoulders. "Y-yeah dude, I'm great." He looked around, trying to change the subject. "Look! Here comes Hopper with fresh wood."
Daring smiled. "Hexcellent, now we can get the fire started and start dinner."
The fire took no time to start. Just a little elbow grease (and a few matches) and they were on their way. The fire roared into the night, keeping the darkness at bay.
Daring's mouth was wide open, sharing stories of his recent triumph in hero class. Hopper chewed on his last bit of fish, only to throw the bones into the far off bushes. Hunter gnawed on bags of trail mix.
"So fellows," Daring began, "Who is excited for Legacy Day? Why in only a few weeks' time we shall begin our journeys to our rightful places."
Hopper nodded. "Dude, I can't wait til I stop turnin' into a frog."
"What about you Hunter? I'm sure you can't wait to start hunting down wolves and rescuing pretty damsels from their wicked step mothers, right?" Daring smiled (his teeth nearly outshined the fire).
"Y-yeah. Legacy Day. Can't wait."
"Of course you can't!" Daring gave one of his signature laughs, the ones he used to practice in the bathroom when he was little. Dexter never told his brother, but he always hated that laugh. It always made him sound so…fake.
"And Dexter," Daring said as he swallowed his last morsel of fish, "Don't you worry about your story. You'll find out who your princess is and then live Happily Ever After, just like the rest of us."
Dexter rolled his eyes. "Yeah Daring, whatever you say."
Hopper looked around, "So, Daring, how are things with you and Apple going? You two dating yet."
Daring rolled his eyes, "Hopper, if I've told you once I've told you forever after, Apple and I are not a couple. We're just taking things slow. But speaking of which, how are things going with you and Briar? I hear you've got quite the little crush on her."
Hopper croaked (for a second there they all thought he was going to turn back into a frog) "I don't know. I've tried everything, I've given her flowers-"
"Uh, a bouquet of smelly swamp grass does not count as a bouquet of flowers" Hunter chimed in.
"Whatever, the point is, she doesn't want to go out with me."
Daring slapped his friend on the back and smiled. "Don't worry, you just need to be patient. You know, I hear that new girl Cupid? She's great with that kind of stuff. Mayhaps you could ask for her counsel."
Hopper nodded. "Well, it couldn't get any worse I guess. What about you Hunter? Who you got your sights set on?"
Hunter looked towards the stars. "I-uh. Well…"
"Yes Hunter tell us," Daring chided, "Last I saw you, you were heading to the forest in Dexter's old suit jacket. You were looking quite princely, if I do say so myself. Who is she? Does she go to our school?"
Hunter swallowed his last bit of trail mix…"She's…it's not really…I…"
Dexter patted Hunter on the back, "It's fine man. You don't have to tell us if you don't want." Dexter smiled, "We're just glad you found someone."
To be honest Daring, Dexter, and Hopper were a little jealous of Hunter. Unlike them, he was not a prince, his love wasn't destined, so in a strange way, he could date whoever he wished. He wasn't locked into kissing a sleeping princess, or being cured by a girl who kissed frogs. He wasn't a prince, so his love wasn't predetermined for him.
So…why did he always look so sad every time the subject was brought up?
"Well Dexter, how about you?" Hunter jammed his elbow into Dexter's side and grinned. "Any princesses you lookin' at?"
Dexter's face began to blush. "W-well, there is this one girl." He closed his eyes. Her eyes sparkled like stars, and her skin was of an ivory that even Apple would envy.
"Hey, maybe she's the girl who you marry in your story." Hunter said.
Dexter only shook his head. "N-no. I don't think so. There's no way our stories could be related at all."
Daring smiled, and not that false smile he did the impress the girls, or that bravado smile he did for Blondie's mirrorcast show. He…smiled. "Hey, don't be so negative little brother. For all you know, she and you could be destined to be together forever after." Daring tilted his head, and for a brief second, his face softened into a humble glow. "Don't give up hope."
The night grew darker and their fire slowly died down.
"I believe it's time we went to bed." Daring said, not even leaving the subject up for debate. They all headed inside their tent. Daring placed his sleeping mask over his eyes, Hopper snuggled close to a stuffed frog he brought from his dorm room (something he made the guys swear never to reveal to anyone). Hunter wrapped himself in his sleeping bag, and Dexter only stared at the top of the tent.
He couldn't sleep.
All his life he had someone telling him, "You'll find your princess soon. Just wait for Legacy Day."
But…he didn't need Legacy Day to tell him what his heart already knew. He didn't need the Storybook of Legends to guide him to something he never really wanted. Wasn't listening to your heart, more important than anything else? Isn't that what the fairy tales said?
His eyes became heavy.
"Don't give up hope." He whispered to himself.
And that night, he dreamed of magic spells, and raven hair.