After Sarah had long since gone home, things quieted down enough in Codstaril's castle that Ashley was able to consider her situation and plan a perfect proposal. Rather than try to be romantic and make him nervous, Ashley decided she would wait for a quiet evening, and bring it up as if in the normal course of conversation.

Her chance came one night while both ate dinner. Neither had much of anything to say, as life in the castle could be rather uneventful without any visitors. They ate without words, but were no uncomfortable in their silence. So as not to arouse suspicion, Ashley began with a casual comment. "You know, it's been about a month and a half since you kidnapped me."

"It'll be exactly ninety days next Thursday," Codstaril answered without looking up from his stew. For a moment, Ashley wondered how he knew exactly how many days had passed.

She forced a laugh, then asked, "Do you remember that silly offer you made my very first night here? You said that I had a choice to either marry you, or die." Codstaril didn't answer, and Ashley took his silence as a "yes." "You gave me a time frame to think about it too, didn't you?" she continued. "How long was it? A week?"

"I don't remember," Codstaril replied. "Your time has probably been over for a good deal of time by now."

"Definitely," Ashley agreed. She let a pause hang in the air for a moment before she laughed again, then suggested, "I guess that means we should get married, doesn't it? You know, the time's up and I'm certainly not dead, so we must be engaged, right?"

Slowly, Codstaril looked up and gave Ashley a hard stare for several long seconds. Then, he asked, "Are you proposing to me?"

"Yes, I am," Ashley admitted, "and I'm really nervous that you're going to say no. So, hurry up and say yes so I don't have to be nervous."

"No!" Codstaril cried, rising from his chair. "You can't propose to me! Princesses aren't supposed to propose to people, they're supposed to get proposed to! This is just wrong, and I'm not agreeing to it."

"Since when do you care about doing things the right way?" Ashley replied, her voice rising in volume to match his. Mortified by the rejection, she rose from her seat as well and clung to the back of her chair to keep her hands from shaking. "Don't you want to marry me?"

"Of course I do," Codstaril answered, and despite his heartfelt words, his tone was still that of an argument. "I was going to propose to you, really. There's a ring in my room and I've even got it all scripted out. I was going to take you out into the desert to see the stars during a meteor shower and propose then, but we haven't had a meteor shower yet, and it was going to be a surprise, but you just ruined it!"

Dumbstruck, Ashley answered with, "Sorry. If you don't want to say yes to me, I could wait while you go get the ring and ask me. I promise I'll say yes."

"I don't want to ask you now," Codstaril complained. "I've been planning this for weeks, and I'm not going to throw away all that time to ask you over dinner. You just have to forget this conversation ever happened, and act surprised when I do ask you. OK?"

"All right," Ashley agreed.

Codstaril was blushing furiously, and Ashley supposed he felt nearly as embarrassed as she did. Both took their seats, and, in the clumsiest manner she'd ever heard, Codstaril tried to change the topic of conversation. "Did you see the game between the Ducks and the Mules last night?"

A few days later, a second knight appeared outside Codstaril's castle walls. Just as before, he and the warlock fought a somewhat silly battle, which Codstaril won easily. After his victory, Codstaril came back inside where Ashley waited for him. "You're so brave," she breathed. Codstaril laughed.

"I'm a bit worried, though," Ashley sighed. "That was the second knight to show up. Jastorranianbro will be the next to show up, and he'll have to win. We have no way of knowing how long he'll take- he could show up any minute." She wrapped her arms around Codstaril's neck. "You should probably propose to me now, before it's too late."

"No!" Codstaril cried, slipping from her grasp. "I just battled against a knight; I'm all hot and sweaty and dirty. Besides, the timing isn't right. Just let me do this on my terms, and everything will be all right."

About a full week after that conversation, Codstaril proposed. Everything was just as he had described it that day over dinner. Shooting stars streaked across the sky while the two sat side by side in the desert, a carriage at their back. As soon as she'd realized what was happening, Ashley had been ready for the proposal, and when Codstaril finally dropped to one knee, she blurted out a yes before he could even ask the question. Codstaril had ignored the outburst, asked her to marry him, and again, she'd said yes.

The next morning, Ashley had sent letters home to her family so they could know the news, to Erik's family so he wouldn't needlessly attempt to rescue her, and to the University of Merryland so they would know their agreement with Codstaril was cancelled.

Soon, she received a letter from Jessica. As soon as Ashley had recognized the handwriting, she'd felt a pang of guilt for not telling her roommate the good news when she'd told everyone else, but the body of the letter quickly made it apparent that Ashley already knew of the engagement.

Dear Ashley,

Congratulations on your engagement. I would have written to you sooner, but I am in a great deal of trouble, you see, and I am sort of on the run from the law. Not to worry, I am not in any serious trouble, and all this will surely blow over in a month or two.

You see, shortly after you were kidnapped, nearly every girl at the University began making declarations of love, and suddenly, everyone was getting into peril. You may be interested to know that Caroline was almost eaten by a dragon at the Spring Festival, but her prince rescued her just in time. What a shame.

I never found myself in peril, forever, for I never found a prince to fall in love with. I remained ever true to Jastorranianbro, but I could tell no one, for I knew that he was promised to you.

Soon after nearly all the other girls were engaged, it became apparent that I was the only girl who had not chosen a true love yet. School officials began demanding that I quickly make a decision, but unable to imagine myself with anyone other than Jastorranianbro, I did not choose. Instead, I ran away.

Little did I know that such drastic action was frowned upon by the University. For nearly a month now, I have evaded officers of the law and trained dogs. For a while, I lived on the streets. Many a night, my only shelter from wind and rain were alleyways.

Then, by luck or fate, one night I stumbled onto an ordinary front porch, and was admitted by a kind old couple. Little did I realize that these people were Jastorranianbro's parents.

Since I first found them, I have stayed with the kind family. They have cared for me and hidden me from my enemies. More importantly, I have had a chance to get to know Jastorranianbro, and in our time together, we have fallen in love. When we received your letter yesterday, we were overjoyed, for by marrying another man, you gave us a chance to be together.

I am sure that once Jastorranianbro and I are married, the University will stop their pursuit. After all, the only thing that truly troubles them about my predicament is my lack of husband, and that will not be an issue for much longer.

As both our wedding days approach, I wish you prosperity and the best of luck with your true love. Also, I thank you for the opportunity your deviance has given me. I hope to see you soon, and if at all possible, I would greatly enjoy your presence at our wedding.


Jessica- soon to be Mrs. Jastorranianbro

Smiling for her old friend, Ashley folded the letter and began to write a reply, congratulating her on her engagement to her true love.

"Come on," whined Codstaril. "We're already engaged. It's not like it won't happen eventually, anyway. Why wait three more months?"

"Because that's what princesses do," Ashley answered with a pleasant smile. They'd had this conversation nearly every night since the engagement, and she'd decided that her new favorite thing to do was to tease Codstaril. "I'm a princess, and as a princess, it's my job to remain pure until my wedding night."

"Well, I'm an evil warlock, and as an evil thing, my job is to steal your purity away, so come on!" Codstaril demanded, gesturing to his bedroom. "Besides, since when have you been worried about being a good princess?"

"That's a good point," Ashley conceded. "Still, even if I'm not a good princess, I'm still a good girl, and as a good girl, I'm going to wait. Besides, don't you want our wedding night to be special?"

"No," Codstaril pouted.

"Well, you don't have any say in the matter," answered Ashley. "Now, you go to bed and forget all about sleeping together before our wedding night. I'm going to bed, and I'm locking the door, so don't take that as an invitation."

With a saccharine smile, Ashley turned and strode into her room.

Their wedding was small. After receiving a few hate notes from strangers who didn't approve of Ashley's and Codstaril's relationship, they decided together that they would invite only family and close friends.

On the wedding day, a few reporters showed up, but neither was concerned. People didn't like to hear stories about "perversions" like warlocks and princesses marrying each other; they wanted to hear about the side of evil loosing and the handsome knight winning the girl's heart. Confident that their privacy wouldn't be too infringed upon, they allowed the reporters to stay.

Caroline, Jessica, and Sarah all served as Ashley's bridesmaids and Codstaril's groomsmen were friends from school who Ashley had never met. Jessica's husband, Eric, uncomfortably sat beside Ashley's parents during the ceremony.

All in all, Ashley and Codstaril did not live happily ever after. Rather than embrace a boring fairy-tail ending and live a boring fairy-tale life, the two continued to rebel against convention. Often, they would work together to create truly unique evil plans, only to face defeat again and again. Never did they find success or rest.

And neither would have preferred to live any other way.

The end.