1. PROMISES AREN'T...
The redheaded princess had gained a lot of sympathy since birth.
On the day she was born, people across the land were supposed to feel joyous for the new heiress. Instead, the whole Kingdom was somber and mourned over the loss of their Queen, who had died from childbirth.
Although she was too young to understand what she had lost, she did understand that she liked the attention everyone gave her. Many people mothered her, carrying her around and spoiling her to keep the infant happy. It became a consistent habit to give whatever the princess wanted, even when the princess could have got it on her own.
Because she was a princess, she felt that she can have it all. A handsome prince charming who will sweep her off her feet. All the riches in the world. And, most importantly, a happy ending.
However, the princess couldn't get everything. Sometimes, she had to compete for it.
For instance, her father's attention.
As if it wasn't bad enough that he had to adjust to becoming a sole ruler to the land, but that there was another person who occupied his busy time. A woman had taken his attention, seducing him with her beautiful smiles and sweet words.
The King was deeply infatuated with this mistress, and the princess didn't approve. Other people frowned upon the King's actions. How he was fooling around with some woman when he still should've been mourning over the death of his latest wife?
When the King asked his daughter permission to marry the mistress, her automatic answer was 'no'. The couple tried to persuade her to change her mind. Her dad tried to explain that it would be better if she had a mother figure in her life while the mistress tried hard to get on the girl's good graces, but the princess wouldn't have it.
The two never married, and the princess was glad for that. From the start, she didn't like that mistress, even though she was kind and got along well with her father.
After they agreed not to marry each other, the princess thought things were only going to get better...
...But it only got worst.
"For Pete's sake..." Princess Kairi groaned as she rolled her baby-blue eyes. "She's at it again."
Since when has it been Haruna's obligation to help every poor, defenseless creature she spotted? Didn't she ever quit her make believe fantasies of being a heroine?
All Princess Kairi wanted to do today was take a stroll to the old pond. Of course, her annoying half-sister, Haruna, had to complicate things. If only Haruna didn't catch her sneaking out of the castle and asked to come along!
It wasn't exactly because she hated her little sister. No, there were enough people in the Kingdom who saw the brown-eyed brunette as a disgrace. It was that Kairi led her own life as the next heir to the throne, while Haruna led hers almost like a commoner.
Although they looked alike - though, Kairi was gifted with her mom's auburn hair and their dad's blue eyes, while Haruna was stuck with their dad's black hair and her mom's brown eyes - the similarities stopped there.
Kairi was girly; Haruna was sporty. Kairi was a social butterfly and easily made friends; Haruna hung out with the same group of kids every day. Kairi grew up playing with dolls and dress-up; Haruna grew up fighting boys with a wooden sword or a blunt club.
Everyone always looked surprised whenever they found out the two girls shared the same father, who was also the sole ruler of the Kingdom.
But not for long.
At nineteen-years-old, Kairi was at the age for a princess to find a suitor. Since she turned eighteen, the King had arranged meetings of various princes across the land. But so far, she turned every one of them down.
There just wasn't anyone good enough to earn her hand in marriage.
"It's okay, little guy," Haruna's voice softly cooed as she picked up the fallen, baby bird, "we'll find your nest soon."
Mentally, Kairi slapped her forehead. Don't tell her that Haruna was actually talking to that thing.
What a freak. It wasn't like animals knew what people were saying, just like how humans couldn't understand what animals were saying. She thought it was ridiculous when people, like Haruna, pretended she could speak bird.
Not that Kairi can do anything to stop her. Haruna was already climbing around the top of a tree, cradling the fallen, baby bird in her hand.
The redhead turned her attention away from her half-sister and focused on her prized possession. Out of all her beautiful clothes, exquisite jewelry, and expensive belongings, Kairi loved her simple, golden ball. Mostly because it was given to her by her mother before she died and, although she remembered nothing about the woman who gave birth to her, she treasured it ever since.
With a flick of her wrist, she tossed the ball and caught it. Then, repeated the pattern and watched as the ball's golden color seemed to sparkle when it hit a certain amount of sunlight. She's done this so many times before, she didn't have to think about it as she tossed it a little higher and higher each time.
A consisting pattern. She caught the ball. She tossed the ball. Caught it, tossed it. Again and again and again and...
"Kairi! Good news!" Haruna exclaimed from behind the redhead. "I found the nest!"
"Haruna!" Kairi gasped, distracted the moment she tossed it once more. Fuming, she turned around to see the brunette pulling out twigs and leaves from her layered, black hair. The princess opened her mouth to yell when a splash came from nearby.
It was at that moment, the redhead realized that her precious, golden possession fell into the murky pond water.
Her blue eyes widened with horror as she shrieked, "My ball!"
Without a second thought, Haruna chased after the ball. However, the water was deep and the petite girl could only go more than half way in. Another problem was that she couldn't swim, so that slimmed down the girl's chances of getting it by a lot.
Kairi stood on the edge of a rocky surface, looking down at the dirty water in disgust. Though, she shook her head and focused on getting her ball back, encouraged her half-sister to bring it back for her. Haruna's fingertips barely touched its surface.
Careful not to slip, Haruna edged herself closer. One hand grabbed a firm hold of some nearby reeds to help keep her balance as her other hand continued to inch closer toward her goal.
She was so close...!
And, all of a sudden, she gave up. Just like that.
"It's too far for me to reach!" Haruna informed, much to Kairi's dismay.
"Try harder!" Kairi encouraged, desperate to get her ball back. But she already knew it was a lost cause. The tears in her eyes proved so. "Please, Haruna."
Haruna tried to feel around the bottom of the pond with her foot. Though, after a few more futile attempts, Haruna emerged from the muddy water empty handed. She wrung the front of her shirt dry, though her clothes and skin was caked with mud and damped with bits of algae.
At that point, both girls gave up retrieving her treasure, and all Kairi could do now was nothing but cry over her loss.
"This is all your fault, Haruna!" Kairi practically screamed as she shoved the smaller girl away. "If you hadn't startled me--!"
"I know, and I'm so sorry Kairi," the youngest of the two apologized once she saw the tears said person had shed. Her own brown eyes were filled with deep remorse. Then, she asked, "Couldn't you get the ball yourself?"
That only made Kairi cry harder. Like she'd actually get her new, pretty dress ruined.
"Are you crazy, Haruna?! I can't look disgusting in front of this Riku person," she half-lied, her voice broken in tears. Another prince her dad arranged her to meet, whom she could care less about at the moment. "It took me so long to get ready."
Haruna sighed at this, looking as if she just remembered they were supposed to have a visitor later. "Right..."
"I'd do anything to get my ball back," she sniffed, unaware that someone other than Haruna heard her.
While Kairi mourned and wept, and Haruna wallowed up in her guilt, a voice sounded out of nowhere. "Maybe I can get your ball."
In perfect unison, both girls flinched. Kairi immediately stopped crying and, while Haruna tensed, she asked, "Who said that?"
"I did," the source of the voice answered, appearing before them in plain sight. "I can get back your ball."
At first, all Kairi could do was stare. Did that thing just do what she thought it did?
Haruna was the first to break the silence. She glanced at her sister, looking more surprised than terrified or in disbelief. "I-I-I think th-that frog just..."
"Talked?" the frog finished, making Kairi jump bravely behind Haruna.
"Go away you filthy animal!" Kairi ordered, even as she cowered behind the smaller girl. Haruna just stared at the talking creature in awe.
But the frog just sighed, turning his back to the girls. "All right. I was just hoping I could help."
"Wait," Haruna stopped him and bent down a little so she could talk to it. "Can you really get back her ball?"
"Only if she promises to give me what I want."
What would a frog want anyway? Money? Fine treasures? Soap? A bunch of flies?
Not that it mattered. She was a princess who got whatever she wanted. And right now, all Kairi cared about was getting her favorite object back. Even if that meant a disgusting creature had to get it for her.
Oh, well. It wasn't like she was ever going to see it again after this.
"Okay, okay. I'll give you whatever you want."
The frog looked at her skeptically with dark-blue eyes. "Do you promise?"
Was the frog supposed to be bluffing? If it was, she'd be really pissed off.
"All right! I promise!" Kairi impatiently replied. "Are you gonna do it or not?"
The frog nodded and, just like that, jumped into the pond. Kairi and Haruna stood together in a mutual silence. The redhead waited anxiously to get what she wanted while the brunette continued to wring her clothes dry.
Finally, the frog resurfaced and spit out the ball by her feet. Kairi scrunched her face with disgust and hesitantly picked it up with her thumb and index finger. The frog started, "About your promise, I'd like to live with you."
"L-Live with m-me?!" she sputtered, appalled that he'd even suggest something that absurd.
Nodding, the frog listed, "Eat from your plate, sleep on your bed, live in your castle."
Kairi's face mixed with disgust, horror, and disbelief. No way is she going to let a frog live with her, let alone let it eat and sleep with her. She hated frogs with a passion. They were the worst animals in the world!
So, Kairi did the one thing she could do. She grabbed Haruna's wrist and, with the ball in her other hand, made a run for it. The frog called after them as Kairi sped away, never slowing down once until they reached the castle.
Haruna stumbled behind her and insisted that they go back, but Kairi wouldn't allow it. She forced the smaller girl after her until they got into the castle. Then, in a low voice she threatened, "Not a word about this. Ever."
"Don't, Haruna!" she snapped. Haruna looked at her with surprise but didn't say anything else. Kairi felt a twinge of guilt for the sudden outburst, but she quickly got over it.
Especially after Haruna retorted, "You should keep your promises."
Was that supposed to be a threat?
Please, like Haruna could threaten her. Kairi was a princess and things always went her way. Once she was queen, her word was rule, and if anyone thought otherwise, it was off with their heads.
One of the servants, named Ayame, spotted the two girls by the entrance of the castle and gasped. "Oh, Haruna! What happened to your clothes?!"
Evidence of what they had done was on her dirty clothes. "W-We--"
"Don't bring me into this, Haruna," Kairi instantly cut in, her voice firm and disapproving, as if she had been scolding her the whole time. "I told you that you shouldn't have went outside."
Haruna's mouth fell open in disbelief. "What?! Kairi, you went out too!"
Ayame crossed her arms and looked between the two princess. "Is that true, Your Highness? Did you both go outside without permission?"
In this world, Kairi's word was law. She was the princess and the rightful heir to the throne. Servants obeyed her every beck and call, and if they didn't agree with it...
"No. Only Haruna went outside, Ayame."
...They had to pay the price.
Anger was evident in Haruna's face, but before she could say anything, Ayame grabbed her arm and scolded, "You should've known better than to go outside without permission, Haruna, especially when Her Majesty has some very important guests coming!"
Kairi can hear the servant's lecture echo down the hallway and she could feel a small smile work upon her lips. Haruna was lucky that it was Ayame who caught them and not any of the other servants, especially those who still had a grudge over what her mom did.
Other than a little lecture and being forced to take a bath, Haruna wouldn't get in too much trouble. And neither would Kairi.
Even if Haruna told her the truth, no one would believe her. Kairi already confirmed that it was only Haruna that went outside, and they'd pass off the talking frog and promise as something in Haruna's overactive imagination.
The redhead princess went into a bathroom and washed off the ball in the sink. The guest that was coming was probably just another loser prince her father arranged for her to meet. She sighed, forgetting about the frog, the promise, and Haruna.
There were other problems she needed to worry about.
A baby girl with black hair and brown eyes was born.
Everyone knew who the child belonged to, even the three-year-old princess. A lot of talk went around since the mistress gave birth to the King's second daughter.
They called her a mistake that should never have happened. A disgrace to the royal family. A pawn in the mistress' mind to overrule the King. A living burden to remind the King of his foolishness. They said she was doomed for a tragic ending from the start.
Yet, even though the baby's existence was shunned, she was deeply loved by her mother. The mistress boasted how her adorable daughter was the greatest gift in the world and how precious she was. And the King said he had no shame on what he did. He loved his second daughter as much as he loved his first, and although he has yet to marry the mistress, he said it was a good possibility that they would someday.
That only made the little green monster grow inside the princess.
The redhead had often saw the mistress cradling the baby with such an odd expression, one so soft and warm. She watched as the mistress lifted the laughing baby in the air and snuggled the tiny thing in her arms, and wondered if anyone had done that to her when she was that small.
She didn't have any recollection of anyone speaking of her like that. Of someone holding her and laughing the way the mistress did with the younger princess. Of the beautiful smiles and loving looks that a mother gave to a daughter.
It made her feel... angry. Why didn't she have a mother? Why did this baby get the love of her daddy and the evil woman who tried to take her daddy away? Was this baby going to ruin her life as a fairy tale princess?
The baby was out to get her. As the princess thought, the mistress and her baby were both going to ruin her life. However, like many people said, the new princess was doomed for a tragic ending from the start...
And the redhead was determined to make her fall while she got her own happily ever after.
It was probably around dinner time the next day when they heard it. A high ribbiting sound outside, sounding clear through the castle doors.
At first, Kairi just waved it off as her imagination. Maybe she was just being paranoid or something.
Out of the bunch, the prince she was currently seeing was the best. He was really handsome, with his long, silky, silver hair and his sexy jade-colored eyes. He had an adorable smirk and seemed to be quite the charmer.
Prince Riku was just telling her a story about some secret cave when he suddenly asked, "Do you hear ribbiting?"
Kairi frowned. So it wasn't just her imagination after all.
She placed a flirty smile on her lips and waved off the noise. "Just a lonely frog looking for a mate or something."
Riku frowned a little. "Must be a really lonely frog."
Ignoring the cries of the loud frog, the two continued their conversation. And just when things were going well again, Haruna entered the room.
"Do you hear that?" she asked, the first words she had spoken to Kairi since yesterday. And at that moment, Kairi wished the little brunette continued to give her the cold shoulder.
"Not right now, Haruna," Kairi said, throwing the girl a look that normally made her shut up.
However, Haruna didn't catch it; she was too distracted by the awful ribbiting. "What if..."
Without finishing her sentence, she began to walk off. Kairi heaved a sigh and knew that she was going to regret doing this. She gave a polite smile to her guest and said, "Excuse me. I'll see if I can shoo the frog away."
Riku gave her a little smirk. "Okay. Don't be long."
"I won't," she chirped happily as she flashed him a smile. As soon as her back was turned to the handsome prince, she scowled and hurried after Haruna. She got there just when the other princess was going to open the door. Kairi grabbed a hold of it and said, "Let me do it."
She yanked the door open and was surprised to see a familiar frog look up at her. As soon as it saw her, the ribbiting stopped. "Hi."
From behind her, Haruna peeked around Kairi and gasped. "No way! You followed us here?"
Kairi immediately closed the door with a loud bang. "Go away, you filthy animal! We have nothing to do with you!"
But Haruna opened the door again. "That's so cool! What other tricks do you know?"
"Haruna! Leave that disgusting beast alone!" Kairi shrieked and slammed to door shut.
The brown-eyed girl rolled her eyes and, to Kairi's dismay, opened the door. As she scooped up the frog, she said, "Aw, he means no harm. He just wants to live with us, like you promised."
The princess looked at her with a horrified expression and jumped back. "Ew! You're actually touching it!"
"I think he's cute," Haruna said with a shrug and smile. She introduced herself and Kairi, much to the redhead's displeasure. "Do you have a name?"
"Sora..." Haruna repeated, testing the name. She turned the frog around and held it so it was facing her sister. "Kairi, tell Sora thank you for giving back your ball."
Instead, the redhead screamed and fell back. She hated frogs. And Haruna practically shoved one to her face!
The scream caught the attention of the King, a couple servants, and Prince Riku, all who rushed over to see what the commotion was about. Their father looked at his daughters, surprised to see one on the ground and another holding an amphibian in her hands.
"What's going on here?" he asked.
"Haruna's bringing that disgusting creature inside!" Kairi said, showing her obvious displeasure toward the indicated frog.
Ayame placed her hands on her hips and frowned. "Haruna..."
"Dad, Kairi promised this frog it can live with us. And promises are meant to be kept," Haruna insisted, trying to be all noble about the situation. Kairi had to resist scoffing out loud with what Haruna said, "Besides, this isn't a normal frog. He can talk and he doesn't like to be name-called."
"I think frogs are cool," Riku stated, walking up to the younger princess. He petted its green, black-spotted back with his fingers.
"Thank you," Sora said, surprising everyone in the room other than the two princesses.
"Kairi, is this true?" the King asked, still a little surprised over the talking frog. Kairi sat up then and dusted herself off. She calmly tried to explain the story she quickly made up. That she went to check on Haruna, who supposedly went outside without their father's consent, and met the frog, who threatened to take her favorite ball away if she didn't do what he said.
But as soon as she started with, "Well, I went to look for Haruna" the frog interrupted her story and revealed the whole truth. How he spotted the two girls playing outside and how he saw the distressed princess drop a shiny ball in the pond. He bargained a deal with the redheaded one and easily got back the ball, only to have the princess drag her sister away and ditch him.
"It took me a while, but I finally reached the castle," the frog finished after he told them he had been searching for the princesses all night, "and, well, here I am."
"I'm so sorry I doubted you, Haruna," the servant woman said as soon as Sora finished the story. That broke the little silence that hung among the group.
"Well, Kairi, a promise is a promise, and promises are meant to be kept," the King began as he looked at his older daughter. "Make sure you do what you said you will."
She looked shocked that her father didn't side with her, but she bit her lip and nodded, understanding there was no way out of it.
Kairi glanced over at the prince, who still hovered by the frog and her sister. He was talking to Sora, looking very animated when he spoke and seemed to cling on every word the ugly frog said.
Her glance turned to a piercing glare once her eyes landed on the stupid, green creature.
How dare it barge in her castle and demand to be taken care of! Now everyone sided with it, even her prince and her father!
"Dinner will be ready soon," another servant announced and glanced over at the younger princess. "Haruna, I must request that you wash your hands before you join us."
"I will," Haruna groaned and took Sora with her to the bathroom, most-likely to clean the frog as well.
That left Kairi alone with Riku. At last.
She was about to start a conversation with him when he chuckled, "I didn't know you were such an animal hater."
"I-I don't hate all animals," Kairi protested, which was true. She preferred horses and bunnies over frogs. Actually, she preferred almost any animal over those ugly creatures. "I just don't like frogs very much."
"Oh. Well, I like frogs," Riku said and an awkward silence passed between them. Great. She was doing so well with him, too!
She was almost thankful when the servant from before announced that dinner was now ready. Riku decided to stay, but it seemed that the only reason was because there was now a talking frog living with them. With a slight frown, Kairi took her seat and waited for everyone else to come.
Two princesses, half-related and yet so very different from each other .
On the older princess' birthday, there was a huge celebration in her honor, but there was a melancholy mood among all the people in the Kingdom. After all, her birthday was the death anniversary of their Queen. On the younger princess' birthday, it was a small party with homemade cake and a few balloons, yet those who celebrated all had smiles on their faces.
It was the worst day in the redhead princess' life, and it happened a year later. And it will continue to happen as long as those two live.
Another incident was when the mistress took her daughter out to town while the other was stuck inside the castle walls. The younger daughter had much more freedom than the first, and even though she was lesser, she was much happier than the first ever will be.
All the things that the first used to love, now belonged to the second. The old crib she used to sleep in was now the baby's bed. The old toys she used to play with - they were hers too. The seemingly unlimited time the servants solely gave to her was cut to take care of the second princess, whether they liked her or not.
The redhead princess watched with envious eyes as the younger princess took more attention away from her father, who had tried to love both girls equally. She watched as the mistress gave her daughter unconditional and adoring love, while the princess only received the pity and sympathy of her servants.
A green monster grew more and more within the young child.
Whenever the mistress did something the princess didn't like, she'd complain about it to a servant, who would say it to another, who would say it to another. The original story became twisted, exaggerated to make the mistress the bad guy. And the little princess allowed it all to happen.
When the princess fell and blamed the mistress, the servants believed the woman hit the child. When the princess was crying, it was because the mistress yelled at her. When the princess was isolated from everyone, they'd think that the mistress grounded her just because.
Any attention - whether it was out of anger, pity, or love - was good enough for her. And so she kept doing it, knowing that one way or another, someone would listen and someone would care for her...
What she didn't know was that her tangled web of half-truths and lies had conspired to the doomed fate of the mistress and the second princess.
Dinner made Kairi all the more uncomfortable.
Not only did she have to impress a prince and win back her father's trust, but she actually had to be nice to that filthy, talking frog. It was as promised, though if she had things her way, the demonic creature would be tossed to a flock of hungry pelicans. And the way it stared at her throughout her salad appetizer didn't help her become more at ease.
Everyone except her adored Sora, especially her little half-sister. Kairi could practically see the love in Haruna's dark-brown eyes. The redhead knew that if she wanted people back on her side again, she'd have to feign the same loving attention to the green beast.
Things were getting a little better when the main course was served. The chefs made her favorite dish tonight. Just when she was about to happily dig in, Sora hopped by her plate.
"I think he's hungry," Haruna mused from across the table.
"So? Let him get his own food," Kairi reasoned, wondering why this had anything to do with her.
"You promised I can eat from your plate, princess," the frog reminded her.
Damn. She hoped he forgot about that...
The princess turned to her father with a pout. He knew they were serving Kairi's favorite meal. He also knew how much Kairi hated frogs. Maybe he'd allow her to feed him a jar of flies or something tomorrow.
"A promise is a promise," he told her as he continued to eat his meal without even sparing a glance at his older daughter, "and promises are meant to be kept."
She held back a protest, knowing her defeat. Reluctantly, she shoved her plate toward the frog and forced herself to say, "You can have it."
"Really?" Sora asked, sounding surprised and grateful. He smiled brightly at her. "Thanks!"
"No problem," she muttered, leaning her cheek against her fist. Like she'd want to have frog germs all over her food anyway.
To their amazement, the frog picked up a knife and stood on his hind legs. Then, he started cutting the food into smaller pieces.
Haruna's brown eyes widened. "Whoa... who taught you how to do that?"
He chuckled slightly. "It's not as easy as it looks. At least, not when I was human."
"You used to be human?" Riku asked, though, now that everyone thought about it, it made sense. He was a talking frog after all. "What happened?"
"Well," he started and decided to talk more about himself. "I'm the youngest prince of a King who loved to challenge people, even his own sons. There was this girl that my two older brothers and I liked; a cute blonde girl with blue eyes. We used to argue over who'd marry her one day. Then, she was turned into an ugly frog and we decided to make up and forget about her." 
"You were a prince?" Kairi asked in disbelief. "Then why are you a nasty frog?"
"Let me finish my story. It's not like I wanted to be a nasty frog," Sora said as the redhead noticed she just earned frowns from the two people she's been trying to impress. "Anyway, you remembered how my dad loved to challenge people, right? Well, he gave his three sons three challenges. The first was to find a specific cloth; a beautiful carpet. I had a hard time finding mine and I ended up meeting a talking frog. She offered me a piece that was beyond what my brothers found. Then, my dad sent us on our second task: to find an excellent golden ring. Again, the frog helped me out and gave one for me. My dad was really impressed and soon, we had to do our final task."
"What was that?" Haruna asked, looking like she was really getting into the story. Kairi tried not to roll her eyes at the girl's childishness.
"To find a bride," Sora answered and Kairi almost shuddered when the frog glanced over at her. "The King told us to shoot arrows and we'd find the women we're destined to be with wherever the arrow landed. Mine landed by the swamp and was picked up by the same frog who's been helping me out. I was kinda disappointed 'cause I wanted to complete this challenge on my own. My other brothers already found their brides, making me the last to complete the task." 
"How very sad for you..." Kairi said, a little spiteful in her voice.
Sora just continued to smile at her. "I guess she took pity on me 'cause she offered to be my bride. I only had one arrow and my bride was a talking frog. Not exactly something I was thrilled about. I was the laughing stock of the entire Kingdom. My dad came up with more challenges to test our brides-to-be, like spinning clothes and baking bread. The frog outdid the other two in every task, except for the third task."
"Which was?" Riku asked, also listening to the story with interest.
"Dancing," Sora replied. "I was so ashamed with having a froggy bride, even after all the help she gave me. I wasn't grateful, so she transformed into an enchanted princess, the same girl that my brothers and I used to fight over. And 'cause I didn't appreciate her like I should've, she turned me into a frog."
"Wow... that sucks..." Kairi stated, not trying to be mean about it. She'd hate it if she turned into a frog herself.
"How long have you been a frog?" Haruna asked.
"Four months, I think," Sora continued as he finished the rest of the food. "I'm still trying to figure out how to break the curse she placed on me."
If the curse could be broken. Which Kairi highly doubted it would.
Dessert came soon after the main course. And just like with her main dish, she pushed the whole thing to Sora. The little frog blinked at her with surprise. "Aren't you going to eat some?"
"Not hungry," Kairi muttered and looked away from the tempting pastry. Just a salad wasn't enough to satisfy her appetite, but she figured she could grab something in the kitchen later.
While everyone else ate, Kairi just sat there with a slight frown on her face. Even Riku, who was supposed to be there for her, was all over the green creature.
The two talked about what they shared in common, and Haruna piped in their conversations once in a while. Especially when they began talking about fighting techniques. Typical boy stuff.
But as Kairi listened, she began to think Sora was either a really good liar or that he might actually have been human.
Such a pity that he turned into a frog though. Kairi felt like he would have been just her type if he was human.
Up and down the golden ball went. With a flick of her wrist, the first princess tossed the ball up high in the air. Then, with both hands, she caught it. Up and down, up and down. It was a consistent pattern.
On the couch, brown eyes followed the movement of the ball. The younger princess, only two years old, watched as the older one played by herself.
The princess knew that her half-sister wanted to play with the golden ball as well. She knew she was curious about it, since it was the only old toy she wasn't allowed to have. What she didn't know was how one little lie became the cost of someone's life.
"Why don't you let your sister have a chance to play?" the mistress asked, her voice sickly sweet like a venom.
"No," the older princess stated, keeping the ball close to her heart. "I don't wanna."
The mistress frowned. "Now, now. Be a good girl. You should let your sister have a turn."
But the older princess wasn't going to have it. "No! This is mine!"
"Sweetie..." she started, but the redhead wasn't going to have it. It didn't matter what this woman said. She already took away her dad, gave away her things, made people pay more attention to her daughter. She wasn't going to give away her ball just like that.
But after a few minutes of cooing the small girl into sharing, the five year old had enough.
"Fine!" she screamed, almost throwing the golden ball at her sister's face. The mistress gasped at the young girl's behavior as the toddler quickly used her arms to block. Then, when it bounced off, she cried at the impact.
The princess didn't care that the mistress demanded an apology. She cared even less if her younger sister almost got hurt and was crying. It was their own fault for being so greedy.
She climbed up on a stool by the counter, crossing her arms and pouting. A chef saw the pouty face and asked, "What's wrong, dear princess?"
Quick to answer, she told the kind man what had happen. How she was just minding her own business when that lady came and forced her to give her ball to the other princess. She even cried, telling him that her daddy gave it to her after her real mommy died. She told him that now the princess had nothing to play with because everything else was her half sister's.
Two other chefs heard the story, and it was talked about in the kitchen. Then, servants picked up the conversation. The servants told the maids, the maids told the guards, the guards told a gardener, and the gardener told the villagers. Soon, everyone in the Kingdom heard of the mistress' treachery.
What had became an innocent request to share turned into a threat against the princess. People not only looked down at her for having an affair with the King, but because she was now seen as abusive and cruel. Her two-year-old was in no better shape, for she was called spoiled rotten and no better than what her mom was.
People in the Kingdom even went to the King, complaining that this woman was no good. Those who worked in his castle served her half-heartedly, some even went to the extent of putting their jobs on the line and refused to abide her commands.
Things only got worse when the media was involved.
Magazines had bogus articles of what a horrible woman she was, brainwashing the population with their gossip. News reporters crowded around the front gates, eager to interrogate the mistress or the King. Talk shows expressed their worries and sympathies to the older princess.
The poor King tried to assure everyone that all of this was untrue. He told his mistress not to let them get to her, and all she did was smile.
However, the hatred from her people cut deep through her heart. Her beautiful smiles were like plastic - there, but not real. The shine in her eyes died away. The younger princess was worried about her mother's well-being and murmured, "Mom doesn't play with me anymore."
Soon, the lady wasn't acting like her usual, energetic self. She was quiet and hardly even looked at her own daughter, even when the young child wanted to play with her mom. Her head was in the clouds most days and sometimes, she didn't even come out of her room. It seemed as if she had given up and was just tired of the way things were.
The first princess didn't understand how one lie caused so much trouble, but at the same time, she welcomed the attention with open arms. So many people loved her again; so many people cared for her while they hated the mistress and her daughter. She smiled at the cameras and told them her stories of how unfair and mean the lady was. Even if they weren't exactly true, even if Daddy told her not to say anything to them.
One morning, the princess was playing with her golden ball when she accidentally dropped it. She chased after it, sprinting down the hallway until it finally stopped. The mistress picked it up and handed it to the girl, a strange smile on her face.
She didn't say thank you. She simply took back the ball and left. The woman was like an empty shell these days, so that smile made her feel... out of place.
That night, the older princess peeked through the door of the lady's room. She saw the mistress lying next to her daughter on the bed. She cuddled the small girl, kissing her forehead gently, and read her stories until she fell asleep in her arms.
She saw them like that thousands of times before. She heard the mistress tell her daughter that she was precious and how she loved her hundreds of times. But there was something different about that night.
The mistress held her daughter, telling her that she loved her. Then, she pulled the little girl close and cried.
After what felt like an endless amount of time, dinner was finally over. The servants began to clean up and the King left to talk to his adviser about tomorrow's schedule. Haruna was going to bed and Kairi assumed that she took Sora with her. Riku said that he should be leaving before it got too dark.
This was Kairi's chance to win Riku over again. So the princess took this opportunity and walked Riku to the door. She smiled at him politely and, with hope in her voice, she asked, "I'll see you again tomorrow?"
"Uh, no," Riku flatly told her, and then gave her an apologetic smile. "I'm sorry, Princess Kairi. You're a charming girl and you're very pretty, but I don't think it will work out between us."
Kairi's mouth fell agape. No one had ever rejected Princess Kairi before. No one had ever told her it wasn't going to work out when she wanted it to.
Riku looked over her shoulder and waved, throwing a smile at someone behind her. "Hey, nice meeting you, man! See you tomorrow."
"Okay. See ya."
Kairi stiffened when she recognized the voice behind her. She shut the door after Riku and threw a glare at the source of her personal hell.
Sora sat there in the middle of the floor, giving her a benign grin. "Hey."
But Kairi wasn't going to buy it. She was smarter than the rest of them. Just because Sora was nothing but a seemingly innocent frog didn't mean that he wasn't out to ruin her life.
"Listen you," she growled and narrowed her bright eyes. "I am seconds away from tossing you out these doors and--"
Kairi stopped in mid-sentence and blinked away her glare. Haruna couldn't see Kairi like this. The little snitch would probably run to Daddy and tell him Kairi wasn't keeping her promise.
"We're in here," Kairi said, putting Sora back on the tile floor. She resisted the idea of just dropping him.
Haruna came in the room, already dressed in pajama shorts and a tank top. "What's going on?"
"Nothing," Kairi answered automatically. She grinned at her sister and walked off, purposely leaving Sora behind. "I'm going to get ready for bed."
"Wait!" Haruna exclaimed from behind her. The brunette's footsteps easily caught up with the redhead.
"What is it?" Kairi asked, wheeling around.
She bit her tongue to hold back a scream when Haruna suddenly lifted that dumb frog to her face. The little brunette smiled, practically beaming. "You forgot Sora!"
"Er, thanks," Kairi said, though not exactly thrilled about it. Haruna plopped the slimy creature in the older princess' hands and practically skipped off, singing to herself as she did. Kairi vaguely wondered if Haruna was doing all this on purpose until she looked down at Sora.
The frog just looked up at her and smiled.
Kairi scowled and carried the frog with her, wondering how much worst this day could get.
A while later, a shot was heard throughout the castle. It rang out, loud and clear. Guards quickly hid the King and his daughters, protecting them at all costs. The younger princess was frantic when she realized her mom wasn't among them, telling them she had to go and bring her back.
They didn't let her. No one was allowed to leave until they were sure it was safe.
The older princess didn't remember what happened after that. Everything else was a blur, that woman didn't seem to be around anymore. The two-year-old was all by herself, just when that lady was starting to pay attention to her again.
People were saying that this was a good thing, that the spiteful woman deserved it. Whatever that meant. They all seemed happy, but Daddy wasn't. Neither was her half-sister. Both of them were really, really sad. So sad, it made her confused.
Shortly after, she understood. The people on the news said that the mistress took a gun to her mouth and killed herself. Then, the King took his two daughters to the private funeral. They burned the body, and the princess couldn't help but feel bad.
The image of that woman's strange smile... it haunted her ever since that lady gave her back her ball. She didn't understand it that day. It wasn't until she was much older when she realized that no matter what, the mistress didn't blame her.
After all, it wasn't like she meant for things to get so out of hand. It wasn't like she told the mistress to go on and kill herself either. And yet, she couldn't help but feel glad that the lady died and that it was finally over...
Apparently, it could get a lot worse.
Princess Kairi went into the bedroom she and Haruna shared. The sixteen-year-old was already under the covers of her twin bed, reading one of her childish fairy tale stories. When the younger princess noticed who came in the room, a smile touched her lips. "Hey, Sora."
"Hi to you, too," Kairi muttered sarcastically, dropping the frog on Haruna's bed. Then she went into their bathroom to wash invisible frog slime off her hands (not that there was any slime in the first place, but she still hated to touch it).
The bathroom door was open, so she could hear Haruna talking to the frog and it sounded like she was having a great time. Kairi wondered why the amphibian insisted on bothering her when Haruna seemed more than willing to take care of it.
Kairi returned to the room and, to her displeasure, she saw the stupid frog sitting on the center of her bed now. She threw it a look of disgust, but noticed that Haruna was still in the room. In a calm voice, she asked, "What are you doing on my bed?"
"You promised I can sleep here if I gave you back your ball."
Kairi sat at the head of her bed and hugged a pillow, as if going near Sora would infest her with frog germs. "Why can't you just stay with Haruna? You two seem to be getting along."
"But Kairi," Haruna inserted as she sat up on her bed, "a promise is meant to be kept."
"And promises aren't meant to be broken. I already know what you're going to say," Kairi sighed since she heard this from the brunette a hundred and one times. She turned to the frog and shooed him away. "Sleep at the other side of the bed or something. I don't want to wake up with slime all over my bed."
Sora hopped to the foot of her bed as Kairi tucked herself under the covers. She turned away from Haruna, who was still in the middle of reading. Usually, she didn't mind having Haruna's reading lamp on while she tried to sleep. It was sounds that usually kept her awake.
"How long are you going to stay with us, Sora?" Haruna whispered a while later as Kairi's blue eyes snapped open. It was a question she never thought about. She really hoped that it wasn't long.
"I don't know," the frog murmured back. If Kairi hadn't known that he was a frog, she would have thought he sounded like a young man. She almost smiled when she heard the frog's soft laughter. "How does forever sound to you?"
Haruna giggled and turned off her reading lamp. "I'd like that."
Kairi put one of the pillows over her head and cursed herself for ever promising to house a frog.
Haruna heard her and giggled louder. "See? Kairi's excited about it, too!"
The redhead groaned. She should have known better than to trust a frog to get her golden ball back.
Screw her pretty dress. She should have just got the ball herself.
 I actually started to write out a short poem about at, like, 4 in the morning. ._.;;
The second was plain-looking and blended with the crowd.
The first got new clothes and new toys.
The second loved the simple joys.
The first one was jealous and cried for attention.
The second was blessed with her mother's affection.
 Based on the story: [Puddocky]
 Based on the story: [The Frog Princess]