No love, no friendship can cross the path of our destiny without leaving some mark on it forever.

-Francois Muriac

Prologue

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who met a handsome prince. It was love at first sight, and the handsome prince swept the girl away to live in his castle. They weren't married, like the prince and princess are in most of these stories—but they would be, one day, when the time was right. And then the day came when the girl grew up a little and opened her eyes, and realized that her fabulous castle was really just a gilded cage. So she escaped, and she ran away, looking for a life of adventure. She found a ship, a ship with brilliantly-white sails and a name out of a fairytale, and she decided that it was her new home. She demanded to be let aboard and was made part of the crew, proving herself through many feats of strength and courage and finally finding a place where she belonged.

Once upon a time, there was a troublemaker of a boy who had a knight for a best friend. The knight was constantly getting bored of life, and pulling the boy along for new adventures. Eventually, they wound up on a ship, travelling the world. The boy had to leave for a while, to take care of things back home, and when he returned, he found that the knight had been given his own ship by a strange girl.

Once upon a time, there was a ship which sailed the skies and went to exotic, far-away places, carrying both passengers and dreams into lands of adventure. Aboard it were a boy and a girl, really a man and a woman by now, who were desperately in love, though neither of them would admit it. Every touch, every word, every breath meant something—though they pretended desperately that nothing had changed from the moment they had met. But both of them knew that, some day, they were going to have to face what they were feeling.

Once upon a time, on a rainy day in a distant land, they kissed. And on another day, the woman finally put forth the idea—the barest hint of a suggestion, really—that maybe one day they could be together. Two years was the timeframe she implied. In two years, she would be ready, and they could live their fairytale life.

Once upon a time, a scorned prince set forth to retrieve his love and bring her back to him, though his motives may not have been entirely pure. He tracked her down, determined to take her back from the barbarians who had kidnapped her—for kidnapped she must have been. He found them, and he completely and utterly destroyed them, sweeping his bride-to-be away on a glorious ship with sails of gold, soaring off into the sunset.

Once upon a time, a woman and a man who were desperately in love lost everything, including each other, and were forced to realize that there would be no happily ever after. But they'd forgotten a few things—a knight, his lady, and the strands of fate themselves, which had bound all of them tighter than they could have ever possibly imagined.