This story has non-consensual sex in it. Also, it was previously in my 'East o'the Moon' collection, but I'm doing some housekeeping today, and figured I'd get around to finally moving it here.

The Giant who had no Heart in his Body

--

Once upon a time…

"No, mother, I will not marry this-this princess you've picked out for me."

"Han," said his mother, "you need to settle down, you cannot go gallivanting around the courts of Europe forever."

"I will not marry that fat pig you've picked out for me," the prince snapped.

"Handsome Charming Truthful Kendrick!" his father, the king, snapped, "you will treat your mother with respect."

Prince Handsome hated when they used his full name; it always sounded like they were listing qualities they expected him to have, but which he lacked. Not that Handsome wasn't handsome, but the rest were generally just wishful thinking. "She knows why I refuse to marry," Han snapped at his father. "You both know, so why do you keep pressing?"

"Handsome," his mother said, still trying to keep this meeting peaceful, "you're too old to still be going on about that. You've duties and-"

"Too old?" Han cried. "This isn't just a phase, mother, this is how I am, I'm not going to grow out of it as you seem to think."

"Still, son, you've duties as a prince to fulfill and-" Han interrupted before his father could finish.

"Duties? What duties? Allowing you to marry me off so I can breed like a horse and provide little insurance-heirs just in case my golden, shining, older brother somehow fails in his duties as king?" It was a low blow, but Han was too angry to care.

"Han, you know my uncle-" the king began, his face pale.

"Was a horrid despot and a murder?" Han snapped. "Yes, and if Peter turns out the same way, then one of his sons will have to deal with it, because I'm not going to have any, now or ever."

"Handsome," the queen said, reaching out a hand.

Han pulled his arm away before she could touch it.

His mother dropped her hand. "We don't doubt that your brother will make a fine king; we're not looking for someone who can replace him. We just want you to be happy."

"Marriage to a woman, mother, will never make me happy," Han said as a parting shot, spinning on his heel and leaving the room. I thought they understood, Han thought as he stormed towards the castle garden. He should have known that the long dry spell of balls was due to marriage negotiations and not to his parent's finally accepting him for who he was.

Once in the garden, Han terrified the gardeners as he made his way to where the cultivated flowerbeds abetted against the forest. There was a certain spot there, where he always sat when things like this happened, where moss-covered rocks lined the edge of a small, cool stream.

Han sighed as his little secret place came into view. It was just far enough from the rest of the garden that he could have a good scream with no one the wiser.

But there was something different about the prince's spot today. He paused a moment, forcing himself to calm down enough to see what the difference was.

Someone was there. Lying on his moss, next to his stream and—Han stepped over and kicked the man.

His ankle was caught before his foot connected and Han found himself unable to twist it free. "Let go of me," he snapped.

"Do you greet all strangers with a kick?" the man asked, although he let go of Han's foot, slowly standing up-and up- and up.

As Han craned his neck back to look at the man, he realized that it wasn't a man at all, but a giant. All the proportions of this man were huge, far beyond even what an abnormally tall human could achieve. "You are a giant," Han said.

The other man laughed with a deep rumble. "What gave it away?" he asked.

"Your large feet," Han said, pointing.

The giant laughed again. "I am Humbert," he said, "and you are?"

"Han," Han said, not wishing to give his identity to someone so large and intimidating.

"And what brings you so far into the woods, little Han?" Humbert asked, stepping closer.

Han frowned. They weren't all that far from the castle. "I came to be alone for a spell," Han said.

"Ah," said the giant, edging a bit closer, "then you would not wish for my paltry company."

Han took a deep breath, intending to agree and send the giant on his way. But that breath brought in the earthy smell of the giant, and Han instead found himself taking a second look at the giant's craggy features. They were attractive, in their own way, far more masculine than Han thought he wished for, and yet- Han took another deep breath, wondering if he swayed in truth, or only in his mind.

The giant rumbled another laugh. "Or perhaps you do wish for my company, after all, little Han," Humbert said, moving so that there was barely any space between them at all.

"M-maybe," Han stammered, shaking his head to clear it. "I-I don't-"

"Hush now, little Han," the giant said, leaning down to brush a hand along Han's face, "I will keep you safe." He leaned down and pressed his lips to Han's.

Han felt a rush of lust the likes of which he'd never felt before, and his arms slid around Humbert's neck almost without his knowledge.

Humbert rumbled another laugh, lifting Han off the ground with his huge hands. "You like that, don't you, little Han," asked the giant as Han's legs settled upon his waist and Han's body attempted to press itself closer and closer to the giant.

S-stop, Han thought, his mind struggling though his body did not. What have you done to me

The giant rumbled again as he pressed Han's back against a tree, the sensations overcoming Han's mind's feeble protest as all the world went white.

--

Han awoke in an unfamiliar place. He slowly opened his eyes and looked around at the rough-hewn beams and thatch that made up the ceiling over his head. When he tried to turn and look at the rest of the room, a sharp pain shooting up Han's spin alerted him to an unfamiliar discomfort as well.

Unable to keep in a gasp at the pain, Han alerted the room's other occupant.

"So you're awake," Humbert's deep voice rumbled. Heavy footsteps trembled through the floorboards and the bed as he came closer.

Han bit his lip, trying to keep the tears in as he remembered what had happened last night.

"I will be back by sundown," Humbert said, his eyes sliding over Han's form. "I expect dinner to be ready upon my return." He turned to walk away. "I have no room or use for laze-a-bouts," he added as he left the cabin entirely, the whole building shaking as he shut the door behind himself.

Laze-a-bout? Han wondered, unable to even shift his legs due to the pain. Lazy, he thought again. What will he do to me if dinner's not ready? Han didn't want to find out, he just wanted to leave and get back home.

Marriage cannot be as bad as this, he thought, trying again to move his legs. Gritting his teeth, Han made it to the edge of the giant bed before he had to stop, letting the tears flow at last. There was no way that he'd be able to leave the giant's cabin today. "And I don't even know how to cook," Han said out loud, laughing and crying and despairing.

He made it to the stove, somehow. Built the fire back up slowly, carefully chopped up some food and cautiously cooked it. He cooked it too long, though, so it was burnt. And he cooked it too soon, so it was cold as well when the giant came home.

"Well?" said Humbert. "Where's dinner?" He sat at the table which was on the far side of room, looking expectantly at Han.

Han nearly cried again when he understood that Humbert expected him to carry the meal over, but he bit back the tears, lifted the heavy pot and limped as best he could across the cabin.

"This is burnt, little Han," Humbert said when the food was on a plate in front of him.

Han dipped his head.

"This is burnt and it is cold," said Humbert. "I expected better of you."

"I cannot cook," Han mumbled.

"What?" said Humbert.

"I never learned to cook," Han repeated, lifting his head and looked into Humbert's eyes.

The giant grunted. "Come here," he said.

Han didn't move.

"I SAID COME HERE," Humbert thundered, rising partly from his chair.

Han scuttled over, suddenly too scared not to obey.

"Kneel," Humbert said, spreading his legs. He pulled Han forward until the prince was settled between his knees. "You wish for my forgiveness?" Humbert asked.

Han wished to leave, but he also wished to never make Humbert angry again, so he simply nodded.

"I can," said Humbert, "squish you like a bug, if you should intentionally disobey me, you will not get a second chance to do so."

Han nodded, still silent.

"But, it occurs to me that you may, occasionally, do something unintentionally to disobey. Something like this inability of yours to cook. If that should be the case, then there is only one way that you can gain my forgiveness."

Han bit his lip and dared to glance up at him.

Humbert smiled faintly, running one finger down the side of Han's face while the other fiddled with the ties of his pants. The smell of Humbert assaulted Han's senses as it had the night before, earthy and masculine and impossibly attractive.

Han blamed that for why he didn't realize what Humbert's intent was until his trousers were fully untied, the giant's giant erection standing proudly in his lap.

That-that was inside me last night, Han thought, as Humbert's voice rumbled more words, and his hand gently but inexorably pushed Han's head towards it. No wonder I felt such pain this morning, and now he wants me to-to- Han couldn't even finish the thought, wishing he could pull his head away, wishing he could run or resist or anything, but caught in Humbert's scent and unable to physically protest. Wishing and wishing, Han's mind finally fled, leaving his body to the task it found so attractive.

--

"It's not a princess he's got," Espin's third-eldest brother, Prince Paul said.

Espin's second-eldest brother, Prince Adrian shrugged. "A rescued maiden is-"

Prince Paul shook his head. "It's not a maiden, either."

"Well, not after she's been living with that giant," snickered Espin's fourth-eldest brother, Prince Rupert.

The three oldest brothers turned to glare at him. "It's not a woman at all," said Prince Henry, the eldest. "Nor a girl."

"Then what is it?" asked Espin's fifth-eldest brother, John. "You're not leaving many options."

"The giant seems to have captured a prince," Espin said.

Prince Rupert snickered. "I'll bet he's not a mai-" he was cut off as Prince Paul smacked the back of his head.

"What are you going to do with a rescued prince?" Prince Adrian asked.

Prince Espin shrugged.

"He ought to be rescued at least," Prince Dustin, Espin's sixth-eldest brother said. "It's not a fate anyone should have to endure."

Espin nodded. Everyone knew what giants did to captured princesses, one could only imagine what they did to captured princes.

"There aren't many other quests hereabouts," Prince John said. "But surely you can-"

Espin shook his head. "Mother won't let me go far," he said.

"There's still a few other local things that you could do," said Prince Paul.

"Things that will end with a princess to marry," put in Prince Adrian.

"Perhaps I don't wish to marry a princess," Prince Espin said.

There was a heavy silence.

"Are you trying to tell us something, Espin?" asked Prince Henry.

Espin shrugged. "I just don't think marriage is for me," he said. "I'm the seventh son, and there's not much left for me to inherit anyway that you look at it. And besides, I would prefer to remain a bachelor and live in comfort." Wives were scary creatures, after all.

"So you're willing to rescue this prince-" Prince Paul began.

"Do we know he's a prince?" interrupted Prince Dustin. "Giant's aren't known to be very discerning in the matter of royal blood."

Prince Paul sighed. "So you're willing to rescue this prince," he repeated, his gaze daring Dustin to interrupt again, "and then live out your life alone and celibate?"

Espin frowned. "Perhaps I'll wish to marry in a few years," he said, though privately he doubted it.

"An engagement can be long," said Prince Dustin, "there's no need to rush things after you've rescued her." His own engagement had lasted for several years, and showed no sign of ending anytime soon.

"And it's much easier to be betrothed to a princess you've rescued," Prince John said.

"Yes," said Prince Rupert, "look how well that turned out for you."

"Are you for this or against it, Ru?" asked Prince Paul. "Because your current attitude is not helping in the least."

Prince Rupert held up his hands but remained silent.

"It's no use," said Espin, "I've made up my mind about this. I'll rescue this prince, or lad or whatever-" he added, glancing at Prince Dustin "-and I shall decide about my future later."

The other princes, seeing that their brother's mind was set, broke up into other conversations as they started filing out the door. All except for Prince Henry, who gestured Prince Espin farther back into the room for a more private conversation.

"Are you sure there is nothing you wish to tell us?" Prince Henry asked his youngest brother.

"Henry-" Espin began.

"Espin," Henry interrupted him. "We love you and support you, and I would be honored if you would confide in me."

Espin sighed. "You've been thinking about this for a while now, haven't you?" he asked.

Henry nodded. "Me and Paul suspect, and I think Dustin does as well."

Espin snorted. "You should suspect Dustin," he said.

"Dustin?" Henry asked, "Espin, what-?"

"Look," Espin interrupted his brother again. "At this time I've nothing more to tell you than I'm not interested in marriage. Suspect all you'd like." And with that he turned and walked out of the room.

--

It would be easier to tell my brothers, Espin thought as he wandered through the forest, if I had something to tell them. Espin didn't know himself what he wanted, after all, he just knew that he didn't want it yet.

By and by, Espin thought he would sit down and have a bit of a lunch. As he was looking for a spot to sit and eat, he noticed that there was a raven standing on the side of the road. It was very thin, and spoke to Espin as he passed. "Please," said the raven, "won't you give me a bit of food? I promise to repay you at a later date."

"Well," said Prince Espin, "I suppose I've got enough food to share. I don't suppose you know where the giant lives?" he asked, as he gave the poor raven some of his food.

The raven shook his head, his beak too full to talk. "I've no idea, but thank you for the food, and I will repay you later." With that the raven flew off.

Prince Espin sighed, but finished his lunch and continued upon his way. After awhile he came across a stream that cut through the path. Lying on the side of the stream was a large fish, flopping and gasping in the air. It called to Espin, "Please help me now, and I will repay you later!"

"Well," said Espin, "I've no idea how you could possibly help me, but it's easy enough to help you." And so he carefully pushed the fish back into the stream. "I don't suppose you know where the giant lives?" he asked.

The fish shook his head. "No, but I owe you one for the rescue," he said as he disappeared with a flick of his tail.

"And we're back to looking," Espin muttered, following the trail further into the woods. Quite a long time after that, Espin saw a wolf lying dead on the side of the path, but as he drew closer, he saw that it was not dead, but instead was only mostly dead.

"Help," rasped the wolf. "Please, I beg of you, share a bit of food, and I will repay you as best I can."

"Well," said Espin, more hesitant with a predator than with the other animals. "I suppose it harms me none to aid you."

He offered some food to the wolf, and while he ate, Espin asked if the wolf knew the way to the giant's house.

The wolf finished chewing before he spoke. "I do know the way to the giant's house, and if you sit upon my tail, I will take you there right-quick, though I do not know why you would want to visit such an ill-omened place."

Espin explained his quest as the wolf ate.

"…my plan is to kill the giant and save the prince," said Espin. "I just haven't figured out the details yet."

"Well," said the wolf. "Killing the giant will not be easy, since he does not keep his heart in his body."

"How is that possible?" Espin asked.

The wolf shook his head. "Dark magic," he said. "I'm sure you do not wish to know the details. But in order to kill the giant and rescue the prince, you'll need to figure out where his heart is."

"Does the prince know?" Espin asked.

The wolf shrugged his shaggy shoulders. "He has to," the wolf said, "We've no other way to find out. But I shall take you there once you know the location."

Espin nodded and thanked the wolf, before seating himself upon the wolf's tail. The wolf bore him swiftly and smoothly to the clearing where the giant's house was. "The giant goes out during the day, so you should be safe enough," said the wolf. "Be careful," he cautioned, settling into the shadows to wait.

Espin nodded and approached house, which appeared normal form a distance, but which grew larger and larger as Espin grew closer, until Espin hesitated upon the doorstep, wondering what, exactly, he had gotten himself into.

Having come too far to turn back now, Espin made a fist and did his best to knock upon the hard wood of the door.

Rubbing his sore hand, Espin waited while the door slowly creaked open. A young man stood on the far side, staring at Espin as though he'd never seen another human.

"Hello," Espin said hesitantly, worried the man might spook.

"He'll eat you when he gets back," the man said, rubbing his arms with a haunted look in his eyes.

"The giant?" Espin asked.

"Yes," agreed the man, "so leave quickly."

Espin shook his head. "I've come to rescue you," he said.

The other—who must be the giant's prince—began to laugh. "Commit your suicide elsewhere," he said at last. "I've no need of another death."

He started to shut the door, but thankfully it was a large door and Espin was able to dart inside long before it was closed. "I'm Prince Espin," he said, holding out his hand.

"Prince Handsome," said the other, eyeing Espin's hand as though it were a poisonous snake.

"So you are a prince," Espin said, dropping his hand.

Handsome nodded. "And a prisoner of a giant who likes to eat princes like you." He folded his arms across his chest, rubbing them again.

"Which is why I'm here to rescue you," Espin said, looking around the giant's cabin.

Prince Handsome snorted. "Good luck with that," he said, making his way across the cabin to the stove. Espin noticed how he limped.

"Are you wounded?" he asked.

Handsome snorted again. "No more than usual."

"Oh," Espin said, his mind making a few connections between that comment and a few of Rupert's. "Will you help me?" he asked.

"Sure," Prince Handsome said, "Why the hell not. If the giant kills me and eats me, at least I'll be free of him."

Espin frowned. "That's not the attitude one would expect from someone getting rescued," he said.

"Well, it is the attitude one should expect from someone living as a slave to a giant for so long," Prince Handsome replied.

Espin sighed. "Very well, Prince Handsome-"

"Please," said Handsome, "Just call me Han. My name fits me even more poorly now."

"I don't think so," Espin said, looking at Hand- Han.

They stared at each other in silence for a moment, then Espin blushed and glanced away. "Anyway, Han, I was wondering if you knew where it is the giant keeps his heart."

"That bastard doesn't have one," Han said, stirring something on the stove.

"Not in his chest, no," Espin said. "The wolf told me he removed it by magic and hid it somewhere."

"And wolves know everything, is that it?"

"Han," Espin said, "please, do you know where the giant's heart is or not?"

"I should think this is a resounding 'not,'" Han snapped, rapping his spoon against the pot with a sharp 'clang.'

"Then do you know how we can find out where it is?" Espin asked, looking around for a chair. They were all giant-sized, of course, but Espin hopped up to perch on the edge of one nonetheless.

"Ask him," Han suggested, "though it won't do you much good when he eats you."

"You're being quite morbid and unhelpful," Espin said, swinging his feet and watching Han shuffle around and gather more ingredients for dinner. Han winced as he reached for something on one of the higher shelves, and Espin jumped off his perch. "Let me help," he said, though he was shorter than Hand and had to climb onto the counter to hand the dish down. Han didn't look too happy, but he accepted the dish and carried it over to the stove.

"What are you making?" Espin asked, sitting on the edge of the counter.

"Hopefully something less burnt than last night," Han muttered.

"What's in it?" Espin asked from where he was sitting.

"Meat," Han replied.

"Human?"

"No. Chicken."

"What else?"

Han shrugged. "Carrots. Something leafy and green."

"You don't know how to cook, do you?" Espin asked.

Han laughed bitterly. "I barely know what food is made from. I was a second son of a king, not the kitchen boy."

"You still are," Espin said, jumping down from the counter. He brushed a hand ever-so-lightly on Han's shoulder. "Go rest, I'll make dinner," he said.

Han looked at him for a moment, but turned away before the tears could fall. Espin half-expected him to go to the bed and lie down, but instead Han crawled into one of the lower cupboards, where he curled up in a pile of giant-sized rags.

Of course, Espin thought, as he tasted the food Han had been cooking, he probably hates the bed, after- the giant. Espin shook his head. He couldn't even imagine, nor did he really want to.

Shortly before sunset, Espin opened the door to Han's cupboard to see him curled up and sleeping quite contentedly. "Han," Espin said quietly. "Han, dinner is ready, and the giant will return soon."

Han shifted, blinking sleepily up at Espin.

"I had better leave and hide in the woods," Espin said, stepping back so Han could slip out of the cupboard.

"No," Han said, "he'll find you in the woods. It'd be better if you hide here." He stepped aside and gestured towards the cupboard.

"But-" Espin began, just as they started to feel the resonance of giant footsteps through the floor.

"Please," Han whispered, "you'll be safe here."

"But-" Espin hesitated a moment longer.

Han gave him a shove towards the cupboard. "I'll ask about his heart, just hide, hurry."

Espin scrambled into the cupboard, and Han closed the door on it just as the giant opened the front door.

"Well, well, little Han," said the giant, "It smells awfully delicious in here, have you given in at last to cooking human meat?"

"No, Humbert," Han said. "It's just chicken."

"Funny," said Humbert the giant, "I could have sworn it smelled like man."

There was silence, and Espin carefully cracked open the cupboard so he could see what was going on, but it was nothing more exciting than Han serving the giant dinner.

When the giant was finished, he picked Han up and deposited him upon the bed. Han whimpered and curled in upon himself as the giant blew out the light. Espin could hear when he returned to the bed by the way that it squeaked, and then there were only thumps and grunts for quite a long while. Espin tried not to imagine what was going on, wishing there was some way that he could have prevented this from ever happening to Han at all.

At last the thumping stopped, and there was silence. The silence was broken moments later by quiet murmurs, and then it was shattered completely by the giant's laughter. "You want to know what?" he asked, sounding far more amused than angry.

"Where is your heart?" Han said, loud enough that Espin could hear.

"Why do you wish to know?" asked Humbert. "Ah, no, don't tell me," he said, "because you no doubt wish to kill me with that knowledge."

"If only I could," Han said.

"Anyway," said Humbert, "it's hidden under the threshold, so you'll never find it." With that he gave a giant yawn, and fell asleep.

Han woke Espin in the morning after the giant had left. "Did you hear last night?" he asked, looking sad rather than hopeful.

Espin nodded. "His heart is under the threshold," he said, not mentioning the other stuff. "Let us dig it up and see."

Espin ended up doing most of the work, while Han shifted from foot-to-foot and watched. Once they got the stone under the door up, they dug for quite a ways, but could not find anything at all. "I think he may have lied to you," Espin said at last, looking up at Han from where he stood.

Han nodded sadly. "I supposed I can try again tonight," he said.

"Oh, Han," Espin said, stepping out of the hole and slowly putting his arms around the other prince, giving him plenty of time to flinch away. "Can't I take you away today?"

Han shook his head. "We both know that he would only follow," he said. "And then eat us both."

"I don't want you to go through that again," Espin said, releasing Han when he struggled slightly.

Han laughed bitterly. "What difference one more time?" he asked. "We had better cover this hole again," he added, looking at the mess that they had made.

"Let's cover it with flowers," Espin suggested when they had finished replacing the stone.

"What good with that do?" Han asked, leaning against the door jamb.

"If he asks, say that you did it to shower his heart with beauty or something," Espin said. "He'll think you aren't trying to kill him, and maybe he'll give you the real location."

Han sighed. "If only he really was that dumb," he said, but went off in search of flowers nonetheless.

--

That evening, Espin once again hid in the cupboard while Han served the giant's dinner.

"I smell human again," the giant said. "You sure you didn't cook with any?"

Han shook his head. "This is just chicken, although I am a human, in case you've forgotten."

Humbert laughed cruelly. "I've not forgotten, little Han." He patted Han on the head.

"What's with all the flowers?" the giant asked as he finished eating.

"That is where you said your heart was hidden," Han said, glancing towards the door. "I thought maybe some flowers would make you nicer."

Humbert laughed. "Wouldn't that be the day," he said. "Well, never mind that, the flowers aren't near my heart after all, since it is hidden in the eaves."

"You lied to me," Han said, his voice emotionless.

"Yes," said Humbert, "and I'll do so again, as I please. Speaking of pleasing," he added, eying Han, "come here." And with that he picked Han up and put him once more upon the bed, while Espin once again tried to block out the noises.

--

They searched under the eaves the next day. They searched the whole roof, in fact, inside and out, but neither Espin nor Han found any trace of a giant's heart.

"Flowers, again?" Espin suggested as they dusted themselves off.

"We'd be better off with poison," Han said, but he got flowers and hung them around the house.

Espin prepared dinner again, and then once more hid in the cupboard when the giant returned home.

"It still smells of human in here," Humbert said as he sat down at the table.

"Maybe your nose is stuffed up," Han snapped, all but slamming the plate in front of the giant.

"What's got you in such a mood?" Humbert asked. "Did you fail to find my heart again today?"

"I didn't even look," Han said.

Humbert laughed. "The flowers say otherwise," he said, gesturing. "Could you not find any poison?"

"If I had any, I would put it in your food," Han said.

Humbert laughed again. "Well, no matter, you will never come near to my heart."

"How can you be so sure?" Han asked.

"Because," said the giant, "it is not here, but instead three day's travel from here, there is a lake, and in the middle of that lake there is an island with an old ruin on it. In that ruin is a well, and in that well is a duck, and in that duck is an egg, and in that egg lays my heart. You, my dear little Han, will never come anywhere near to it. Now," he said, pushing his chair away from the table with a horrible screech, "I believe you need to ask my forgiveness for wishing me dead."

When Espin realized what was going on, he nearly slammed his cupboard door, remembering only at the last moment that he was supposed to be hiding. Oh, Han, he thought, tomorrow we'll make sure you'll never have to suffer so again.

--

The next morning it was Espin who woke Han. "Come," he said, holding out Han's clothing. "We need to hurry."

"Hurry?" asked Han, though he got into his clothes willingly enough. "Hurry to do what?"

"Hurry to find the giant's heart," Espin said, tugging him to the door.

"What?" Han asked, pulling back. "I can't leave," he said. "Humbert will kill me."

Espin sighed and stepped back to the door. "If the worst that he can do is kill you, what have you got to lose?" Espin asked.

"You," Han said, and then blushed a moment later.

"Then come with," Espin said, pulling Han out the door. "Wolf, Wolf," Espin cried.

The wolf appeared only moments later.

"Can you carry us both, Graylegs?" Espin asked.

The wolf nodded. "He looks to be light enough," he said.

They climbed onto the wolf's tail, and the wolf carried them swiftly and smoothly to the island where the giant's heart lay hidden.

Now, the moment that they set foot upon the island, the giant knew, through his dark magic, and he let out a mighty roar, and began to crush his way through the woods towards the island.

His roar startled the duck into taking flight, and she soared out of the well, and out of the princes' reach.

"Call the raven," cried the wolf.

"Raven, raven," Espin called, "bring me that duck and we are even!"

With that the raven appeared and snatched the duck out of the air, but even as she did so, the egg fell from the duck, and landed with a plop in the lake.

"The fish!" Espin cried, rushing to the shore of the lake. "Fish, fish! Bring me that egg, and we will be even!" As the fish appeared and caught the egg, Espin could see the giant's form breaking through the tree line, and by the time the egg was in Espin's hand, the giant was more than half-way across the lake.

Espin turned then to race back to the higher ground in the middle of the island.

"Espin, Espin," Han called, "look out."

Espin glanced behind himself and saw the giant nearly at his heels. "Catch!" he called, throwing the egg to Han as he himself was grabbed by the giant.

"So you are the one who's been making my little Han feisty," the giant said, shaking Espin around by his foot.

"Giant," Han said, squeezing the egg in his hand. "Let him go."

Humbert laughed. "I have a better deal. You return the egg to me, and I promise I won't eat you as well as this prince." He glanced at Espin. "You are a prince, aren't you? Because, little Han, only a prince can break that egg, and ki-" the giant's voice was cut off with a peculiar hiccup, and Espin twisted in his grasp to see that Han had crushed the egg in his hand.

"I am a prince, you motherfucking bastard!" Han snapped, throwing the remains of the egg onto the ground and stomping on it. "Die!" he screamed. "Die! Die! Die!"

The giant's body began to fall, crumbling into the clay and stone it was made from as it splashed into the lake. Espin kicked at the fingers that were still gripping him, twisting his body free just in time to jump away from the last falling pieces of the giant.

"Handsome," Espin whispered, putting his arms gently around Han.

"Die," Han whimpered again, turning his face into Espin's shoulder and beginning to cry.

"He's dead," Espin whispered back, "he can't hurt you anymore."

The giant's heart was no more than a smear of red upon the ground, and Espin led Han gently away from it.

"Would you take us back, Graylegs?" Espin asked the wolf. "Your debt has been repaid, but I can owe you in exchange."

The wolf shook his head. "It will be an honor to return the giant-slayers to their home," said the wolf, and he put out his tail that the two princes might ride upon it.

--

The road home was short, but it took much longer for Prince Handsome to return to what he had been before. Luckily for him, Prince Espin was there whenever he was needed, and so long as they have not died, I have no doubt that they are together still.

--

Based on The Giant Who Had No Heart in His Body from East o' the Sun, West o'the Moon