Love and War
The war had been going on for four years now and still there seemed to be no chance of a near end. Both sides were quite strong and neither side was used to losing. Everyday hundreds from each side were dying yet the two kings refused to give up the war. There was no more hope left in the hearts of the common people, many of whom were left widows, left childless, or left without a brother. Each burnt village reminded the peasants about the silly cause of the war and angered them.

Neither of the kings had ever liked each other, but never expressed their hatred for they knew it would lead to war. They owned the two mightiest kingdoms of all and it was this jealousy for each other, it was greed for more, it was anger that led them to be on bad terms. Neither jealousy, greed, nor anger led them to war though. The real cause was, ironically, love that made them cross the limits.

Now, King Richard had two daughters, the older being Annie, and the younger being Jessica. Though Annie was older, she was definitely lacking in both good looks and brains. Jessica on the other hand was probably the most beautiful in the family and quite intelligent too. It was this pride about her strikingly good looks which made Jessica a rebel right from when she was a kid. Annie being as thick as she was always followed her father's command, even when it involved ruining her whole life. For this reason she agreed to marry the snobbiest and ugliest prince in the world without much protest, in fact none.

Jessica was quite young when she first met Prince Tristan, only son of King Theodore. She would go for walks in the woods near the castle with her friends and one day when she was alone, there he was on a black horse. He wasn't much older than her, and being the mischievous lad he was, would venture into the woods often, against his father's command. He smiled at her, but she didn't smile back. She knew all the rich boys in the kingdom and didn't recognize him thus instantly knew he wasn't part of the kingdom. Jessica crossed her hands and said, "May I know who you are? I don't seem to recognize you as anyone from the kingdom."

Tristan smirked and said, "I'm surprised anyone knows everyone in a kingdom as large as this one. Even though I have a great memory I don't know all the faces in my kingdom."

Jessica scowled and said, "That doesn't answer my question! Since you are the intruder I demand to know who you are or else I'll send the guards to hunt you down and lock you up in jail!"

"Tsk, tsk, tsk, temper, temper. I guess you don't realize who I am, or else you'd never dare to ask me something like that. Anyways, I may as well save all the trouble and tell you who I am. I'm Prince Tristan, son of King Theodore, you know, from the neighboring kingdom. Now, who are you? I've been here often and don't remember seeing you."

Jessica peered at the boy standing in front of her. He had almost as much pride and wits as she herself had. She could tell he was telling the truth, he was certainly dressed like a young prince. He must've been around one or two years older than her though, around sixteen or seventeen. She didn't smile and said, "Do you realize your father dislikes my father?"

Tristan smirked again and said, "Ah, so you're Princess Jessica, daughter of King Richard, huh? You definitely can't be Princess Annie, you're too pretty. I thought there was some noble pride in you. You've got even more pride than is spoken about in our kingdom."

"What do you mean by that?" Jessica was obviously not at all happy with what he said. He was trying to hurt her pride, trying to make her look lowly compared to him. She detested such people.

"Though now I think you lack the wit you are known to have. Is such simple English really all that difficult to understand? Come on, I thought you were suppose to be a smartass, but seems to me like you really aren't."

"Excuse me? How dare you insult me like that, that too in my kingdom! I'm much smarter than you think! You are such an idiot! You watch what I get my father to do!"

Tristan sneered and jumped off his horse. He walked over to Jessica and whispered, "Why don't you do something to me instead? Don't drag your poor father into this. Are you chicken?"

"How dare you! You are such a bastard!" Jessica was glaring at him by now and her face was turning red hot. She was getting even more annoyed with the way Tristan just stood there with mocking laughter in his eyes and a smirk on his face.

"Well, thank you very much. I appreciate your respect. How about we forget this meeting and just become friends?" Jessica's eyes grew wide with surprise, was this some kind of joke to put her down? Something in his green eyes told her that he wouldn't do something like that just to get revenge. "Oh come on Jessica, I'm sorry, fine. Now do you want to be friends?"

"Why are you so keen on friendship all of a sudden?"

"Because I don't like being on bad terms with anyone."

"Don't you realize our fathers are enemies? Don't you realize you just insulted me and I insulted you back? Don't you reali-"

"I realize all that, but I really don't believe that just because our fathers are enemies we can't be friends. Yes, I am loyal to my kingdom, but I don't believe I shouldn't be friends with the princess in the neighboring kingdom just because my father hates her father. About our mutual insulting, you very much know I was just joking and I very much know you were joking too. I wouldn't want to mess with Princess Jessica's temper, now would I?"

"Is this some kind of joke to make me look bad?"

"Do you really think so?"

Jessica had always been a good judge of character. She studied his face to find even the slightest trace of deceit, but found none. He had a slight innocent smile on his face as he stood there waiting for her to answer. She realized he was quite handsome, though looked quite boyish. He had this boyish charm about him, this harmless mischievous streak in him which clearly showed on his face. He had dark brown hair which seemed to naturally fall into place, completing his mischievous look. She knew she would grow to like him.

"Hey Jessica, what happened? Are you that stunned by my strikingly good looks?"

It was Jessica's turn to smirk as she said, "No, I was actually mesmerized by your strikingly bad looks. I have never seen a prince so ugly." Saying that she started laughing.

Tristan rolled his eyes and said, "I'm sure you haven't. What about your sister's fiancé? I've heard he's really ugly. I can't be worse than him!"

"Ah, but you are!"

"Hey, this isn't fair Jessica! Anyways, you didn't answer my question. Can we be friends?" He stuck out his hand to give her a handshake.

Jessica smiled and shook hands with him. "Tristan, have you been here before?"

"Course I have! How else do you think I knew I'd find you here?" Tristan's face turned green and he stammered, "I-I mean h-how else do you t- think I'd be so much at ease here." He gave a nervous smile and stared at the trees.

Before Jessica could reply, they heard a sound nearby and Tristan went running to his horse. "Bye Jess, I'll meet you tomorrow at the same place, at your usual walk time. I've got to go before I get caught talking to the King's daughter. Please come, will you? Come alone."

"I'll try my best!" By the time Jessica said that, Tristan was already galloping away. She smiled to herself as she started walking away. It was odd Tristan seemed so scared of nothing, just a stupid sound probably made by some dumb animal. What he said was funny though, so he had been watching her. This was the first time she felt someone from the opposite gender wasn't a complete moron.

This was how the two met. They met on bad terms but became the best of friends, after all their personalities did match. Tristan had liked her right from the start, he knew she was not like the other girls he knew. The girls he knew were always either putting makeup on to impress him or they were trying to flirt with him to get a show of affection from his side. Most of his friends enjoyed talking to the girls because of this but he was different. He was more interested in someone who would match his personality, who would talk to him and not flirt with him, someone who didn't love him because he was the prince.

It took Jessica much longer to actually like Tristan. He was a nice guy, who had a similar personality and similar thoughts, but he was the enemy's son. The most fascinating thing about him was his wit. He was very unlike most boys she knew, who were only interested in playing silly games and staring at her with that dumb look on their face. All the other boys she knew were spoilt brats lacking the valor their ancestors possessed. Tristan was different, he was cautious, but he was brave. He didn't do anything without thinking twice and making sure the consequences were worth it. Thus most of his actions were carefully organized and highly successful. In fact, even his way of befriending her was carefully thought out.

They had thus been meeting in the woods for seven years before Tristan told her how much he loved her. By this time, he looked much more handsome, and a lot more mature. Jessica was even prettier than before and her mind was much sharper. The both of them were much more grown up.

There Tristan stood, standing with his new chestnut brown horse. He smiled when he saw Jessica. Today he would tell her how much he loved her. He never really thought he could fall in love with this haughty girl, but on getting to know her better, he couldn't help it. It had taken him seven years to muster up the courage to tell her that he liked her and he wanted her hand in marriage. He decided not to ask her to marry him until they got to know each other better as a couple and confirm his feelings for her. Anyways, she would never say yes to marriage at this point.

"Hi Jessica. Want to go to the stream, you can ride with me on my new horse."

Jessica looked at the horse and said, "Nice horse you've got here. How often do you get a new horse? This is like the millionth horse I've seen you with!"

Tristan laughed and then said, "I love horses. I don't know how I'd meet you if I didn't have my horse friends to help me out. Anyways, want to come with me to the stream or not?"

"Yeah, sure I don't mind. How come suddenly you want to go to the stream? Remember that time we went there and I pushed you into the water? I never thought you'd want to go there again, especially with me." Saying that Jessica laughed.

Tristan joined in the laughter. That day he went home half wet with wrinkled clothes. His father hadn't been too happy. "Well, come on then, I'll give you a hand up." Tristan took her hand and led her to the horse. Then he cupped his hands together and she put her leg on it to lift herself up onto the horse's back. After that Tristan got on too and rode the horse to the stream.

They were sitting near the stream in complete silence, listening to the sound of flowing water. Everything seemed to be at peace, everything was in perfect harmony with everything else. Tristan watched her as she took in the beauty of everything around her. He watched her in silence.

Suddenly Jessica said, "So tell me Tristan, how come today all you seem to be doing is staring at me?"

She was smarter than he thought she was. She seemed to be in her own world and now he comes to know she caught him staring at her. "Well Jessica, I want to tell you something."

"Well Tristan, why don't you just tell me? You're making me feel all uncomfortable, you know, the same kind of feeling one gets when they're being stalked."

Tristan laughed at her comment. She was right, it was very uncomfortable being stared at. He said, "Well Jessica, I'm going to be frank with you. I love you. I've had feelings for you for a long time, but never really told you about it earlier because I was unsure about my feelings."

"So that's your reason why you didn't tell me about it before, you were unsure about it? I was more expecting you didn't know how I would react or you were afraid of ruining our friendship, but no, you were unsure about your feelings!"

Tristan's face seemed a bit distorted now due to a look of anger and confusion. He just told Jessica how much he loved her and all she says is she doesn't like his reason for not telling her about it earlier. He scowled and said, "What do you mean by that? I just told you my innermost feelings for you and rather than giving me a kiss and saying you love me too you ask me why I didn't tell you earlier! Jessica, this is unfair! Be practical sometimes woman!"

"Tristan, calm down will you. I guess you didn't notice the humor in my voice when I said that. Anyways you could've said it more romantically, but since you didn't, I'll not complain. I love you too."

So this was how they finally got together in a relationship. A year later Tristan brought a diamond ring for Jessica and asked her to marry him. This of course he was careful to do romantically. He made sure to kneel down on one knee and hold out the ring to her and say, "Jessica, sweetheart, I know how much I love you, and I know you love me just as much, and I feel it's now time to make a decision. Will you marry me honey?"

Jessica could not refuse, he was too cute while he was romantic, and besides, she loved him a lot. That day, she went to the palace and sat with her father for dinner. While she was eating he noticed the ring on her hand and questioned her.

"Jessica, where did you get that ring from?"

Jessica had never liked her father much, he demanded she listen to him and she was basically her own person. She wasn't the type of person who would listen to anyone else. On this occasion she spoke the truth though, "My future husband proposed to me today."

King Richard raised his eyebrow, "And who is this future husband of yours? He had better not be a poor bastard otherwise I'll have to have him murdered."

Jessica scowled, "He's not poor so not to worry. If you really want to know then I'll tell you. It's your worst enemy's son, Prince Tristan."

"HOW COULD YOU? YOU HAVE BETRAYED THE KINGDOM!"

"Father I love him. Just because you hate King Theodore doesn't mean you have to hate his son!"

"How did you get to know this, ahem, Tristan? HOW DARE YOU SPEAK TO HIM KNOWING HE IS THE ENEMY'S SON?"

"I refuse to take anymore nonsense from you father. If you don't understand I love him then too bad, you won't only lose me but you'll lose a wonderful son-in-law." Jessica then got up and went to her room to pack. Her father couldn't stop her from loving Tristan, he never was able to stop her from doing anything she wanted. She was going to the cottage in the woods and would wait there for Tristan to come. Then she would tell him what happened and discuss what to do next.

The cottage in the woods had especially been built for her when she was a little kid. Jessica had always had a special connection with the woods and when she was a kid, the cottage brought her closer to the woods thus she loved the place. She hadn't been there very often since she turned thirteen, but that was mainly because she was too occupied with studies and with being a princess. Suddenly other priorities overshadowed her cottage, thus leaving it forgotten in the woods. Though she still went to the woods everyday, she never visited the cottage mainly because it brought back many memories and left her craving for her childhood again.

Having fully packed, she snuck out that night while her father was sleeping and made for the cottage. On reaching the cottage, she quickly opened the door and collapsed onto the dusty cottage bed without bothering to clean it off. She fell asleep instantly.

The next morning she woke up and took a quick bath with cold water. She got dressed and started wondering if her father knew she was missing or not. Her father was quite dumb so she didn't have to worry about being found before she could speak to Tristan, he wouldn't think of the cottage until a few days had passed.

She met Tristan, and they spoke about what to do about getting married. The best option was to run away and get married and then return to Tristan's kingdom and disclose the news to King Theodore. That's exactly what they did and oddly enough King Theodore took it lightly and welcomed both the children with open arms. He had a huge wedding reception for the two and even invited King Richard.

Only problem was, instead of coming to the wedding reception, King Richard declared war on King Theodore and alas, the war has been going on since then. Both Jessica and Tristan are in hiding, in a place no one knows about, after all King Theodore had enough sense to accept their love and help them at the cost of his kingdom. The peasants sit around a fire talking about the war and its cause, and discuss how stupid it really is, fighting over two lovers. Ironically it wasn't jealousy, greed, or anger which triggered the war, but it was love.

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