Melody watched the boy working to make her food. She stood up. “Stop it. Let me help you!”
He turned to her and smirked. “You’ll have to decide between the two, your highness.”
“And don’t call me your highness, your majesty or anything of the sort! My name is Melody. Not Princess Melody. Just Melody.”
He raised an eyebrow at her. “Jim.”, he said and turned back to his work.
“You should look at me when I talk to you.”, Melody complained.
“I understand, miss, but don’t you think it would be a bit disrespectful? Considering your current clothing, I mean.”
Melody looked puzzled and looked down, realizing in horror that her nightgown was see-through. She blushed and didn’t dare look at Jim, wrapping her arms around herself.
Jim noticed she was embarrassed and then pulled off his jacket, handing it over to her. “No doubt, it’s not worthy of royalty, but you should probably take it anyway.”, he said blankly.
Melody grabbed the jacket and put it around her shoulders. “I still want to help you.”, she said.
He turned to look at her. “Why?”
“Because I hate it when people do things for me.”, she answered bluntly.
Jim chuckled. “And now ask yourself why they do it.”
“Because I’m a princess.”, she replied, looking slightly confused.
“Maybe…but maybe it’s because you have no idea how to do it yourself.”, he said and looked at her. “Or is that not the case?”, he asked, already knowing the answer.
She stopped and looked at him. “Where are you from? I’ve never seen you before in the castle…”
“I was on the ship that arrived this evening. I’ll be working in the castle for a while.”, he answered, not looking at her. She was still the most beautiful creature he had ever seen and he felt that if he looked at her a bit longer, he might not be able to look away.
“So, Jim…will you teach me then? To do things for myself?”
He felt his heart starting to pump again. “Starting now?”, he asked, still not looking at her.
“Yes.”, he heard her say.
Suddenly Jim reached out and pulled her to him by the hand. He was right behind her now, taking her hands, guiding them. There was no sound, only the light knocking on the wood as he showed her how to chop vegetables.
Melody was blushing so hard, she couldn’t move at all. Her heart beat at an amazingly fast pace. His hands felt warm…
He could smell her, she had a sweet scent. He moved her hands slowly and gently, his heart still being a burden. Morph was hiding somewhere, he reckoned, since he couldn’t see him anywhere.
“Why are you moving so slowly?”, she asked him. He stopped and turned her around.
“I am just respecting your position, miss.”
She opened her mouth and then she understood and laughed. “That’s not what I meant, you fool!”
He laughed along. “You can’t just start fast, you need to have patience, learn to handle the blade, before you start hacking away at the speed of light.”, he explained to her.
They continued cutting away, until Jim got out a pot, filled it with water and hung it over the fireplace. Then they sat down together.
“Now you have to tell me how it’s possible that you have never sung to anyone before.”, he said to her.
“Of course I have sung to people before, I used to sing all the time when I was a child. But as a princess gets older she is no longer considered a child, she is considered a young lady and has to act like one.”
“I thought you acted very lady-like earlier.”, Jim said.
Melody looked down. “At the ball you mean? Well that…”
“No, not at the ball. I mean earlier, in the library. When you were singing. In fact you seemed even more like a lady then than you did at the ball.”
Melody turned to him. “You really think that?”
“Of course. Your voice…it was amazing. Unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. Almost inhuman.”
Melody blushed and looked away. He was dangerously too close. “Oh, well, thank you.”, she said.
He noticed her looking away and wondered if she was hiding something. “Well, it’s true…”, he dug deeper.
She got up suddenly. “I think the water’s boiling.”, she tried to distract him.
“Oh.”, he just said. He got up and picked up the cut vegetables. Suddenly Melody jumped into action.
“I want to do that!”, she cried excitedly and rushed over to him. She took the platter from him and pushed them in, smiling.
Jim stared at her, losing himself in her green eyes...she was still so childish in so many ways. He thought it fascinating, since from the outside, she didn’t look like a child at all. Except for her face, she had a childish face.
“What now?”, she asked and turned to him.
“We wait for a bit.”, he replied and smiled.
“Alright.”, she said and took a step towards the chairs, when she felt her knees get weak and her vision blur and the next thing she knew she was in Jim’s arms.
“Are you alright?”, he asked, slightly worried.
“Yeah, I’m...I’m fine.”
“No, you’re not. Princesses shouldn’t lie, it shows signs of bad manners.”, he replied and picked her up, carrying her over to the chair. “It all seems a bit crazy to me. You’re as light as a feather, you shouldn’t be starving yourself to this point.”
“D-Don’t princesses do that where you come from?”, she asked him.
He smirked. “We don’t have princesses where I come from.”, he told her.
“No princesses? I would love to come with you to that place.”, she said and smiled weakly at him. Her stomach started growling and Jim laughed at the sound.
“It’s about time you eat something.”
He prepared a big portion of soup in a bowl and added a little salt. “Okay, so normally my friend Ben does the cooking, but I like to think I manage...”
She grabbed the spoon and started on her food. “It’s delicious!”, she gasped and smiled at him with a little soup moustache above her upper lip. He grinned back and sat down next to her. He watched her eat and sighed on the inside. Didn’t she realize what a striking beauty she was?
After she finished, she had trouble keeping her eyes open.
“Full?”, he asked her.
She made a tiny burping sound and then giggled and nodded sleepily. Jim turned to wash off the dishes and five minutes later, when he was done, he found the princess had gone to sleep on the table. He chuckled warmly and picked her up carefully.
The castle was completely silent, there was not one voice, not one footstep, not even a window cracking. Jim crept across the ballroom and up the stairs. He knew her room had to be somewhere around her and he found it soon. Gently, he lay her down on her bed and covered her up, trying his best not to look below her chin.
He stayed and looked at her a bit longer. Then he noticed the locket she was wearing.
‘No, Jim, you shouldn’t! Then again...’, he thought. ‘I’m on a mission here, this could be helpful.’ He bent down and slowly removed the locket from around her neck and opened it carefully. Suddenly a soft melody started playing and Jim stared at what was inside. Inside a large bubble was a kingdom, a castle, made out of gold from head to toe. But the most peculiar thing about this sea-shell formed locket in his hands were the things swimming around the castle. Humans...with fishtails. Merpeople. The legends of old books he used to read. Not ever sighted on any planet.
He stared at the locket. Why did she have this? Maybe she found it? Suddenly he noticed the name engraved on it. “Melody”. Jim looked down at the sleeping girl. Her long black hair fell around her pale and beautiful face and down over her shoulders. She looked so peaceful.
After a bit more time, Jim closed the locket and hung it over her neck again. He tore his gaze away from her and left the room. He headed back to the ship and fell asleep the minute he reached his hammock. But before closing his eyes he decided something. He wasn’t going to report any of this. Just in case.