The Prince and the Serpent

This story is very near and dear to my heart.  It’s the first original fairytale that I ever dreamed up.  I have actually told this story so many times in so many different ways that I’ve lost count of the various drafts I’ve written over the years, and I’ve lost precious details from when I told it before I started writing it down.

This particular version — by far the most unique incarnation of the story — was written in 2007 as part of an ongoing personal project called The Opera of Pillow Insanity.

In this game, and for this story, they called me Princess Ivy
I was the daughter of a king called Whiteleaf who adored me
But Whiteleaf and the Lady Daffodil, his queen
Had betrothed me to a prince, whose face I’d never seen
And I was so very furious when I first heard the arrangement
That I fled my kingdom from the castle to the Forest of Enchantment

There I met up with a tree in the center of the wood
It bore large apples above my head, around the place I stood
I stopped at this tree from the exhaustion of my feet
There I cuddled in its roots, and swiftly fell asleep
And as I slept there, unaware, a Serpent lurked above me
As he watched me in my repose, he realized how he loved me

When I awoke, he was at my side with an apple for an offering
I screamed and ran away from him, a complete misunderstanding
And as I ran away into the woods, I quickly became lost
I found a river — nay, a brook — and in it I was caught
I began to drown, and oddly so, as it was really shallow
I gurgled as I feared for life, when I saw someone in the shadows

A hand took mine, the perfect hand, to extract me out
He pulled me up and helped me stand, but I lost it just about
As he helped me to my stance again, I felt the need to stutter
He looked upon me curiously, us both caught in a blunder
A handsome face and his perfect hands reached over to me now
He asked my name, but I wouldn’t say, and he furred his handsome brow

“Then what am I to call you?” he asked of me, playfully
I said: “In such a place as this, then you may call me Eve.”
“Why Eve?” he inquired. I replied: “For this forest is an Eden.”
“Then I would have you call me Adam, that you might be my maiden.”
I blushed at this, at his flirtation, for I had never before then felt
Such butterflies inside my head, or feeling so completely overwhelmed

“And what is my maiden doing here, in such a place as this?”
He asked me and I replied to him, “It’s not my Adam’s business.”
I then continued on to say: “Thank you for your kindness,
I hope to repay it faithfully, but I’ll not reveal my purpose.”
And at this, he begged to ask: “Perhaps I could persuade you,
If I explain my presence here, and how I came to save you.”

I shook my head, to this attempt, but made it very clear
That we should only learn things through a vague and careful ear
He explained to me his purpose was that he was on a mission
To find something lost to him in the forest so forbidden
He kept it vague, as I had wished for, so that he might stay my stranger
I only ever told him that I ran away from family danger

And then we fell in love over the next several of days
He hunted and he searched and then came back to where we played
It was obvious to me that he wanted to know more
I would not, even though I knew his intentions to be pure
Unknown to either of us though, was a spy amid the tress
The Serpent who so loved me, watched us with jealousy

One day, my Adam awoke before me and I was left alone
As I looked around our camp, I feared where he had gone
There was no food. Perhaps, he left to stock our pantry
And in the corner of my eye I saw the snake that had once scared me
He slithered to me silently, and brought fruit with him to offer me
His dark eyes brooding hauntingly, I accepted, for he’d entranced me

As I bit into the juicy flesh of the apple he had given
I heard a voice, a whisper, from the Serpent as he said then
“Be not afraid of me, sweet maiden, for I have always loved thee,
The apple which you now digest grants to you this ability
To hear the words said from creatures who reside within this forest
I’m here to tell you something sad, and try to cheer you up, in earnest.”

“I will listen to your words, though it scares me that I can.”
I told him then to continue, as I finished the apple in my hand
And then he brought my worst of fears into a harsh reality
“Your friend, who you call Adam, has left the wood entirely.
What he had lost was another beautiful of maidens
One with golden hair and greenish eyes who had somehow betrayed him.

“He found her sometime at the dawn, when she apologized
He left you here, he left with her, I saw it all with my own eyes.
So now I’m here, as I have always been… watching over you
I know that this must break your heart, but I am here for you.”
As he said this he moved closer and slithered up my arm
His tongue then tickled in my ear, and in whispers he had charmed

Though as it happened I believed him, what it is I didn’t know
Is that my Adam had only gone to find me a wedding rose
With it he would confess undying love and give to me his heart
He had planned on telling me a secret that would give our love a start
But before he could come back to me he’d found he’d lost his way
I also didn’t know it was the Serpent who was to blame

For three long days I cried, and the Serpent gave me comfort
As I believed him so blindly, I eventually found contentment
The Serpent had taken me back to the apple tree
Where it is I fell asleep when he fell in love with me
On this third of evenings he asked me if I was pleased
To have him there to watch me, to keep in company

I said: “You are all that I have, you know things that I don’t
I could only ever love you more if I could have the things I won’t
If you were a man and not a snake, I’d marry you today
It only makes me sad that there will never be a way
But as we live and sleep in this forest made of magic
I hope to fall asleep to wake in dreams that aren’t so tragic.”

I didn’t know what I had done, to give him such excitement
As I fell asleep, he began to scheme and plot in his enticement
And in repose I dreamed of both my Adam and my Serpent
As I slept with all these dreams I felt his sentinel protection
But my Serpentine protector was soon so horrified
As he looked beyond the ground I slept on, catching Adam with his eyes

As he watched from afar, across a lengthy distance
My Adam had come back for me, and was nearing our position
I was still so fast asleep that I could not bear witness to them
My Serpent slithering towards Adam, so rapidly pursuing
He met with Adam, who saw nothing in dark that was upon him
Two fangs then pierced his ankle and filled him with their poison

The Serpent knew that I would wake upon my Adam’s scream
He bit into the flesh of apple for the blood to come off clean
So that when he appeared to me and told me what had happened
He lied and said was a spider which had fatally attacked him
He knew that spiders were the thing that I so most had feared
And then it happened, an ungrateful thing, I watched it through my tears

The Serpent had become a man, and even he did not know
That biting into the apple would make a creature so
But in all his joy that he was feeling from transformation
I had run to the side of Adam who wasn’t dead yet from the poison
“He’s breathing!” I exclaimed aloud, “He’s only badly hurt,
We need to bring him water, so that he’ll become alert!”

The Serpent had obliged me, most probably out of guilt
He helped me tend to Adam, whose blood the Serpent spilt
But as a man now, when I was breaking from tending to my Adam
The Serpent found a new form of flattery in a sobering flirtation
“I’m now the kind of creature that you could even marry
Perhaps when Adam finally goes, we’ll say the vows he buried.”

“I know that he is dying from the bite of his arachnid killer
But I can’t give into this love with you until I avenge his murder.”
And then the Serpent took away the last thing that I needed
He said, “But I had eaten it that night, the slayer has been beaten.”
And then as I stared into eyes that always could entrance me
My maiden lips were up to his, as I let him kiss me

But suddenly the kiss was lost as I began to gasp for air
I could not breathe, it was only pain of which I was aware
Though the Serpent walked beside me with the air of being human
The apple he had eaten had only changed the shape of him
The man that I had kissed, the one I thought I loved
Was still no more than just a snake, his venom in my blood

He cried out a curse as he realized that he could never kiss me
Because as man or beast, or anything, poisonous he’d always be
And in the fleeting seconds left of my precious life
The man who I had loved first had risen up his knife
Behind the monster he came up and stabbed him in the neck
Adam tried to slay the beast that killed me in the breast

The Serpent turned around then, bleeding from his head
He opened his mouth widely showing fangs so stained in red
The blood of Adam’s ankle and of my lips were on his tongue
He bit into Adam’s shoulder to finish off what he had done
I grabbed the sword at Adam’s hip from underneath the Serpent’s arm
I sheathed it in the Serpent’s back which made the apple lose its charm

No longer did the Serpent look as men so often do
A dangling snake upon a blade is what I’d made him to
“You saved my life,” my Adam said, as he took me in embrace
“You saved mine first,” I said to him, with bloody tears upon my face
And then we shared in our first kiss as the sun came in the sky
A healing kiss, no more bloodstained mess that magic seemed to dry

“I should say to you the reason that I left you on that morning
I didn’t leave for what he said, but for secret that I’m holding.
I did, indeed, come in search of a maiden that I find lovely
I came in here to find her that I might take her home to marry
But she, I found the day we met. For the secret I have hidden
Is that I am your betrothed, Prince of your neighboring kingdom.”

“You knew that I was Ivy?” I asked him blushing rather red
He shook his head before a kiss and then is when he said:
“I have loved you since I met you when we were only children
I asked your father for your hand, which he eagerly had given…
But then I learned you ran away into this wood enchanted
So I followed you that I might make you understand it.”

So as this story wrote itself, I found that I was happy
To have a dream of my Prince, of the man who would find me
Papa said that I would have all of my dreams one day
And in this dream I invested all of my heart in every way
It is the dream that I desired to have somehow, to carry
To be loved and love, by the one that I would marry