She was in the other room when it happened.
Love doesn’t always come with fanfare. Sometimes there is no dramatic reveal, no tearful proclamations, no trumpets sounding and heavens parting, etc., etc., you get the picture. Those moments exist, of course, as all things must, but they are shooting stars in night skies filled with dull, static twinkling. Of course, those shooting stars are nothing more than seconds of hot excitement burning quickly down to nothing. Those dull, unmoving bits are built to last.
So, while he was in his bedroom, trying to get an unruly bit of fur just in front of his left ear to lie flat and being wholly unsuccessful, she was in her own room, trying to decide which dress she should wear. It was early spring and the weather of the day was so hard to predict. At that moment the sun was streaming through her window creating pools of warmth at her feet, but what of the breeze? Would it continue to get warmer as the sun climbed, or would the temperature stay just above chilly? Clouds could roll in and bring a storm with it, the worst kind of storm with fat drops of near-freezing water and winds that swept under dresses and…well, she supposed, if it got that bad they simply wouldn’t go outside.
Finally the choice had been narrowed down to two dresses, both with heavy skirts and thin long sleeves that would be easy to throw a coat over. One dress was a red that was almost light enough to be called pink but not quite, and the other was a dark green with a fur trim. All of her choices this morning had been a struggle akin to pulling teeth from a lion who really hadn’t been in the mood for a dental appointment, but putting the almost-red dress away and preparing the green dress turned out to be as easy as getting eaten by a lion with a toothache.
“What color is that, even?” he had asked the last time she had worn it.
“It’s pink,” she had said, smoothing the skirts. She had quite liked the color, actually, but he had been looking at her like she had dressed herself in nothing more than vines and lily pads.
“It’s not, though. It’s not bright enough.”
“Then it’s red.”
“No, it’s not. It’s not dark enough to be red! It’s this color that’s stuck in the middle, like it can’t decide what it wants to be.” He raised his voice to approximate the voice of the color, barely pulling it up from its usual baritone to a tenor. “‘Maybe I’m pink, maybe I’m red! It all decides on my mood, teehee!’”
Hearing a little girl’s giggle come from a seven foot furry giant with a falsetto still deeper than her own voice had almost succeeded in breaking through her resolve, but a lifetime of successfully navigating the outspoken and often bullheaded opinions of her old village kept her face perfectly stony.
“Are you telling me you don’t like this color because it doesn’t have its shit together?”
He had spread his arms out in that way he did, that way that meant, well, am I wrong?
How on God’s green earth was she supposed to answer such a meaningless question? This had been one of the more surprising pieces of him that she had discovered, once she had worn away through the layers of sadness and resilience and betrayal. He had the tendency to climb…no, it was far more like a sprint…yes, he had the tendency to sprint to the top of some new hill and declare that he would die on top of that tiny patch of green before admitting that colors didn’t have personalities, or that horses couldn’t read minds, or that the harpsichord wasn’t a bad instrument, but it was wildly overrated.
The worst of it was, he could be terribly persuasive in his insanity. With both dresses in front of her, she found she couldn’t deny that maybe, perhaps, in some small way that really made no sense yet made all the sense in the world, that pink-red dress really was…well, weak. It was a color of weakness and one she didn’t want to wear because she wasn’t a weak woman. Maybe that had been why he had balked at it. Not only at the color, but at seeing it on her. He was a distinctly weird sort of person, but he wasn’t wrong, and-
And that was when it happened.
She looked at herself in the mirror, half in and half out of the green dress, a strong green that didn’t waffle about what color it was, and she let out a breath.
“Oh, fuck, I love him.”
These moments are quiet, and quite nonsensical, but they are as important to love as all the trumpets and all the vows and all the speeches and all the dances and all the deep passionate kisses put together. The quiet moments, when someone comes to the sudden realization that the person they have spent so much time with is deeply weird, and that realization leads to a further realization that they don’t hate it. That, in fact, the weirdness only makes their affection grow stronger, and truer, and they wouldn’t want them any other way. They wouldn’t, in fact, want anyone else, because no one else will be weird in the way this person is weird.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the castle, he had gone to find the pomade and was about to put a dab of it on that bit of fur that wouldn’t stay down (the next step being shaving the whole area and telling her some story about a fight with the hairbrush) only to step in front of the mirror and discover that the fur was already gone. Not only that little patch, but all of the fur, everywhere. He’d also lost the horns, and the tusks, and about a foot of height. All of his clothes sagged around him, and when he lifted the pants off the floor he did not find hooves, but pale toes wiggling.
He stared at those toes for precisely fifty-seven seconds. The world had been remade, something he had been desperately hoping for with every fiber of being sewn into him and onto him and around him, but it hadn’t happened the way he had been led to believe it would happen and so nothing was making sense. This was all from a simple erroneous assumption on his part. The curse that had brought his other form into being could be broken by love. He thought it would be that other form of love, with a declaration and tears and perhaps even a song. But the curse said nothing of a declaration, only that the love be present. And now it was. Perhaps if the love had arrived with an air of drama the transformation would have been made with a matching energy. As it were, her realization had been simple, and so had the transformation. Beast one moment, man the next.
“Oh, fuck, she loves me.”
This, of course, was a good thing. Not only because he had fingers again, but because he had come to the same realization about her not a few days before. They had been sitting together at breakfast, simple scrambled eggs and fruit salads. He noticed, not for the first time, that she was saving all of her blueberries. It wasn’t that she disliked blueberries, because he knew she would eat them at the end.
“Are blueberries your favorite?” he had asked. “You always save them for last.”
She had simply shrugged. “I don’t like or dislike blueberries anymore than any other sort of fruit. But they’re full of themselves and they need to know where they stand.”
He had only stared at her as she delicately tore apart the eggs and ate them bit by bit, serenely unaware of the complete insanity that had come tumbling from her mouth only seconds before. Falling completely in love with her in that moment was as natural as a horse reading your mind.
After the near-minute of staring at his wiggling toes, he looked at the rest of him. It only took a few seconds more of study for the reality to finally fall within his grasp, and then he was running down the hall. He slipped and fell three times, unused to human feet, but eventually made it to her room. She had only just finished pulling the green dress on and was going about pulling the strings and tying the ties when a strange blond man in baggy clothes ran in screaming.
“You love me?”
Following was a scene most humorous, wherein he only realized his mistake after she had come at him with a sword he didn’t know she’d stolen from the library shortly after she’d arrived. These, really, are only hiccups in the drunken toast that is love.