Once in a far far away land there was a King and a Queen. Their subjects were loyal and all were happy. Then one day, the Queen had a baby girl, and the people rejoiced for the gift they had been given. But not long after the baby's curly locks had started to sprout from her head, she fell ill and the people grieved for the loss that would surely come. The King and Queen sought people from all over the kingdom to come and aid their daughter, offering riches to any who helped the slightest bit. But nothing worked, and the princess grew worse as time progressed. Then a man brought news of the last witch, who was hiding in a forest on the edge of the land. The King sent the man to find her but the man was hesitant, speaking of the witch and her evil doings. He feared that just asking would bring horror amongst the land. But the King begged the man to search for the witch, promising praise and glory. It took many days and the King and Queen lost hope that the man would never return, until one day he did. And he had brought a beautiful woman, whose radiance shot silence into the people around her.

The King and Queen honoured the man and pleaded with the witch to save their daughter. They promised to give her anything she wanted, but all she asked for was one thing, for which they agreed willingly. So the witch saved the princess and bestowed upon the girl the greatest curse ever known. The curse of beauty.

So the girl grew up, strong and beautiful, with gentle brown curls and a face that never tarnished. But her parents never told her about her curse, the curse that they saw as a blessing. People around the land marvelled at her beauty unaware that they were marvelling at the work of the evil witch. Blissfully they were led to believe that a kind-hearted woman had graciously given the princess her blessing and disappeared before honour could be given.

From a young age she was aware of her beauty, but she did not understand it. Oblivious to why she was marvelled at, she started to become arrogant, finding things were easy with people falling to her feet when they saw her.

The princess' parents found no problem with her conduct, still finding no curse in her beauty.

It came to be nearing her eighteenth birthday and her parents requested a husband to be found before her birthday. Suitors came from across the land, all yearning to be married to the beautiful princess. Each one was placed before the princess, and each one she compared to her own beauty, finding none reached up to her. She longed to find the man that matched her beauty, and she found she could not accept any other.

Her parents begged her to choose one, just as they begged with the witch. But still she wished to find the one man who could compare with her. Men tried again, repeating their desperate attempts to win her heart, bringing her dresses and charms. She laughed at their jokes, she gasped at their tales, but still she would choose none.

With her birthday nearing her parents grew desperate, sending word for people to every corner of their kingdom. But everyone had already come, and problems began to arise in the towns around them. Crops were dying from lack of attention, with all turned to the princess. Towns nearby became overcrowded, bringing a lack of food to the places concerned. Together with the lack of crops and the lack of food, a shortage began to emerge, rations began to be divided.

The King and Queen looked upon these troubles, and called all their advisors to solve these qualms. With a sigh they all said the same thing, "Send the people home." So with one week to their daughter's birthday, everyone was sent back to their homes, to mind their fields and vacate the surrounding towns.

The princess watched as the men trudged out of the city, hoping that one would catch her eye. But as much as she wished one to, none came.

It was as the night began to dawn and lights were lit that for the first time, she wished she were not beautiful. She then saw the burdens of her beauty, the burdens she had once thought of as gifts. She looked at the friends she had, the friends that always moved on so quickly, that came and got what they wanted before they left without a word. And all those people she had used, just to get what she wanted. Things she never needed and little effort to do herself. The more she thought about it the more she found she was not truly happy. As she realised these things, she saw her so thought gift as it was; a curse.

It was then that the princess swore to herself to accept the next man presented before her. To end her parents troubles and end her unneedful deeds.

That night she slept uneasily, hoping that her parents had one more suitor left for her. But the morning came, and so did the news that everyone had gone home. There was no one left.

She asked for just one to be sent back, but her parents said she had had her chances.

It was three days to her birthday and the princess was still wishing for someone to walk through the door. She was losing hope that she would find someone before her birthday. Her parents, desperate, divided all their efforts to find one last man for their daughter.

So when a man turned up they welcomed him, though hesitantly, sure that their daughter would reject his offer.

The princess heard of the man and remembering her promise to herself, she prepared to see him, dressing in her best. She went to meet him, hoping that she could keep her promise, knowing she could never forgive herself if she did.

Her parents meanwhile, talked with the man, each moment becoming surer that there would not be a marriage before their daughter's birthday.

But when the princess entered the room and saw the man, she saw only beauty. Even when she turned and she saw the scar covering half his face and the arm hanging limply by his side, she saw beauty that could compare with hers.

So she kept her promise and married him the next day, knowing that she could not have asked for a better man.

As the princess grew she became a queen, and ruled fairly over the kingdom. So in that she was happy, and turned her curse into a gift.