Once upon a time, there lived an okay-looking prince named Hank. Sure, he wasn't as handsome as that charming upstart across the border, but he made up for it with a sense of humor. Okay, really he used the humor as a defense mechanism. He knew he wasn't as good looking as the guys in the rival kingdoms. In fact, on a scale of one to ten, the fair maidens in the nearby towns would only rank him a six. They might be generous enough to give him a seven if the lighting was right.
Most of the time Hank didn't care what anyone thought of him. After all, he was a prince. He was heir to the throne of a small but distinguished kingdom. But there were times when he just felt inadequate. He could generally trace those feelings of inadequacy to the parties that Prince Charming liked to hold.
Every couple months or so, Charming would have a big party in his daddy's big old palace, just so he could show off his latest conquest. Last year it was some girl named Snow White. Hank was almost convinced that was just her stage name. Apparently she ate a bad apple that nearly killed her. She slipped into a coma and Charming came along and supposedly woke her with a kiss. The only witnesses to this alleged miracle kiss were a group of miners. They were conveniently missing from the prince's party that night.
That very night, Charming met another girl. Hank was pretty sure that Charming had a bit of a commitment issue. Anyway, that night, at Snow White's coming out party, there was a blonde girl in glass slippers. When Hank heard about her, he couldn't help but think how impractical glass slippers would be. But he knew how women were with shoes. As long as they looked good, it didn't matter how uncomfortable they were. This girl was a peasant that snuck into the party. Her mother and sisters called her Cinderella.
Turns out that wasn't her real name. That's just what her family called her because they were using her as a slave. Oh, and she wasn't really related to her family. They were her step-mother and step-sisters. In reality, she was the heiress to some fortune that her step-mother hid away from her when her father died. Hank felt sorry for her, he really did. Especially after Charming got his hands on her. One more romance that Hank knew wouldn't last. And whatever happened to Snow White?
A few months later, it was another girl. Something about a chick with really long hair. Hank wasn't too sure about that one. He skipped that party, so he only heard about it through others who had been there.
So he sat in his room, kind of feeling sorry for himself. And then he heard the trumpets blasting outside. Who were they announcing? No one was scheduled to visit the kingdom this week. Hank stood and looked out the window and saw Charming riding up the road on his white horse.
Hank rolled his eyes and let out a heavy sigh. "Ugh... this guy..." He turned around, walked out of his room and headed toward the main entrance.
"Hank!" yelled Charming as he walked into the foyer. He gave his fellow prince a hug. "How charming it is to see you!"
Hank nearly vomited. Why did this guy have to use his own name as an adjective all the time? It's one thing for your heralds to announce you in that way, but really, come on.
"You seem down, Hank," Charming said, holding the depressed prince at arms length. "Is this because you missed my party last month?"
"Yeah, I'm sure that's it," said Hank.
"Well you don't have to worry. You didn't really miss anything. In fact, the girl I had there, Rapunzel, she's history."
"Already?" Hank asked. He couldn't believe the attention span on this guy.
"It's the hair. I couldn't handle getting tangled up all the time," said Charming as he paced back and forth. "And do you have any idea how much shampoo that woman goes through in a week? Seriously, my kingdom for a bottle of Herbal Essences!"
Hank rolled his eyes again. Yes, yes, you're so funny! "So what brings you here, Charming?"
"I'm here because I want to set you up with my sister."
The offer was tempting. Princess Charming was a classic beauty. But Hank didn't want any of Charming's charity. "I don't need to be set up, Charming."
"Are you sure? I haven't seen you with a fair maiden at any of my parties."
"I'm sure. I may not have as much luck with the ladies as you do, but then again, if I looked like you, I'm sure I'd have damsels in distress knocking down my door all the time."
"You think it's just my looks that helps me out?" Charming was taken aback. "That sounds like a challenge to me."
"It wasn't a chall--"
"I will ugly myself down," Charming started, "No, wait. I'll make myself positively beastly. And I will still manage to have a beautiful woman fall for me. Do you want to impose a time limit on me?"
Hank snorted, "No, take all the time you need."
"Very well! I'll see you next month with a beautiful lady in tow!" Charming shouted as he mounted his horse and rode off into the sunset.
Hank laughed out loud. "Beauty and the Beast? That'll never work." He then made the long walk back to his room.
A month later, Hank received an invitation to Charming's latest soiree. Apparently he would be introducing a French woman named Belle. Cute, her actual name was Beauty. Hank sent his RSVP. He figured he should make an appearance. He was curious to find out how Charming was able to pull off his "beast" routine. He figured he would go and see how they would start their happily ever after. Or, at least, their happily until Charming gets bored.
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