Once upon a time, which is to say, at some point in the past but maybe not in our past or even our world necessarily, once upon that time, there lived a king and a queen who had no children. They wished for a child for many years, and finally a daughter was born to them. A daughter was not as good as a son, since she had to be married away to be worth much, but they weren't too worried; they always planned to have another child.

The princess was a beautiful little girl, with her mother's lips and her father's eyes, and she was admired by everyone in the kingdom. This might have been okay, if only there was someone around to temper the adoration and keep the princess' ego in check, but unfortunately there was not, and the princess grew up with a bit of a superiority complex. She always got everything she wanted, and so she expected to get everything she wanted. The idea that she might not get what she wished for never even occurred to her, and it certainly never occurred to anyone else.

The princess grew up to be a beautiful young lady, and a terribly spoiled brat. No one in the kingdom seemed to notice this though; they were too mesmerized by her beauty, too full of love for her.

Unfortunately, the King and Queen never had any other children. They were happy with their daughter, but now she was going to have to become Queen herself one day, and whoever she married would become the king. This meant that they started thinking about her marriage when she was at a rather young age to be thinking about such things herself.

The princess was twelve when they first told her about their plans for her marriage. They told her that one day she would have to marry a prince from another country, a good strong country, so that they could build ties as well as choose a good king for their own throne.

The princess thought about this for a long time, and then shook her head. "No." She still thought boys were gross; why would she want to get married to one? People kissed each other at weddings. Her parents explained to her once again how important her marriage would be, and the princess shook her head again, and this time she stamped her foot when she yelled, "No!" She then ran out the door to play in the garden.

The King and Queen looked at each other and smiled indulgently. "She's such a headstrong little girl."

In the garden, the princess was playing with her favourite golden ball. She liked to throw it up in the air and catch it again, and she liked to throw it at boys' heads. As she played she wandered down to the edge of the King's forest, where there was a scummy little pond. She was throwing the ball up and down when a few of the palace boys came up and started teasing her. She quickly got mad and threw the ball at one of the boys' head, and she threw it so hard that it bounced off the boy's head and into the water, where it quietly sank to the bottom.

The princess stared after it for a moment, stunned, and then she turned to the boys and ordered them to get it out for her. They all shook their heads; they weren't about to get all slimy for her stupid ball. The boys ran away and left the princess to stand by the pond and cry in frustration. The nerve of those boys, telling her no! She had rarely heard that word in her life, but she hated it with a passion (though this was only when other people used her to tell her no; she loved to use the word herself).

Soon she heard a small voice asking her what was wrong. She looked about but couldn't find the source of the voice. "Down here." The voice said, and she looked down to see a small, gross little frog sitting by her feet.

"A talking frog?" She wondered. "What nonsense is this?"

"Nonsense indeed." The frog muttered, and then asked her again what was the matter. She explained what had happened with her ball and the frog offered to fetch it for her. The princess agreed immediately, but the frog had conditions for his rescue mission.

"I'll get your ball for you if you'll take care of me." The frog said. "Bring me back to the palace with you, and let me eat your food, and sleep in your beds."

The princess agreed, after a longer pause. She had no intention of letting this frog sleep in her bed; as soon as the frog brought her her ball she would just kick him back into the pond and run away, leaving him behind forever.

The frog returned with her ball, and he looked so pitiful and happy that she had pity on him and didn't kick him; instead she just ran away as fast as she could. "Wait up!" The frog called after her. "My legs are too short; I can't keep up!"

The princess ignored him, leaving him in the dust. She smiled to herself, thinking he would soon be nothing more than an odd memory. Little did she know just how wrong she was...

Their meeting was just the beginning of our story.