A long time ago there was a king and a queen. They loved each other very much but they longed for a child. No matter how hard they tried they could not conceive. And then one day a witch approached them; she told them that she would cast a spell so that they could conceive. In return, if the baby were a girl, she would be given to witch's son to wed on her eighteenth birthday.
The king and queen agreed, though they asked why. And the witch replied because her son deserved a princess. Very soon after, word spread that the queen was pregnant. When the day came they wished for a boy, but when a baby girl came out they fell in love with her instantly and named her Annabelle. And when the witch didn't return, they forgot about her and were happy.
Annabelle grew quickly, it seemed to her parents. She ran wild through the castle as she grew and terrorized the servants, who all loved her anyway and put up with her childish foolery. She settled down a bit as she got older and developed of love for books and the garden. She wouldn't just enjoy the flowers; she had to take part in growing them and was often found on her hands and knees right next to the gardener. Her parents didn't mind that this wasn't proper for a princess, because she was their baby girl and they loved her.
When Annabelle turned twelve, the queen became pregnant again and this time had a baby boy. Then less then a year later became pregnant again and had a pair of twins. Annabelle loved her little brothers so much and would constantly play with them. She grew up happy and loved. Her parents never told her about the witch and the circumstances about her birth.
Meanwhile the witch and her son, Zachary, lived in a small cottage in the woods near a village that was a couple miles away from the castle where their rulers lived. The witch realized that her son was different from the moment he was born. He looked to be a monster, his skin was pale green and he had smooth scales, like those of a snake, on his shoulders and covering some of his face and part of his back, thighs and hands. His hair was jet black and so were his eyes. Even though he looked like a monster, he was anything but. He was kind and gentle hearted and loved nature and animals.
His mother kept him out of site from the villagers, for she knew that they would never accept him. But one day when he was five, he was playing in the woods and chased a butterfly a little too close the village. He saw a group of boys playing and went to them to ask to join, but they called him a freak and threw stones at him. He told his mother about it, and that was the day she made the deal with the king and the queen.
After that, children were dared to go into the forest to catch a glimpse of the snake boy. They taunted him and bullied him whenever they did see him, but didn't hurt him too badly because their parents told them to leave him alone because they wanted the potions from the witch. Zachary tried to stay away from children and the village, and spent most of his time with his dogs, their old horse, and the animals of the forest.
Though he was content, his mother saw him crying when he was twelve because he was lonely and didn't have any friends. So she took him up to the palace and told him that there was a princess in there and that she was waiting to become his wife one day, but that he couldn't approach her until she was eighteen and that he should just be patient.
After that, Zachary went to the palace often. He climbed a tree outside the garden wall hoping to get a glimpse of her. And when he finally did he thought she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. He watched her in the garden and longed to talk to her, but listened to what his mother said. So instead he made her woodcarvings and through them over the wall for her. He watched her find them and saw the look of pleasure on her face. After the first couple she began to look for them and Zachary hurried to make them for her so she wouldn't be disappointed.
He grew very strong and big and people left him alone because they were scared of him. He watched the princess grow and become more beautiful each day and couldn't believe that one day she would be his. Then one day the witch died and Zachary was left alone. He had no one, and the villagers, no longer having a reason to let him stay with the witch gone, burnt down his cottage. He moved further into isolation in the woods and rebuilt his home. He was lonely and embittered after his mother's death, and the only thing that kept him going was Annabelle and watching her in the garden and thinking of her. Then one day she turned eighteen.
Annabelle woke up on her eighteenth birthday to the sound of her mother sobbing outside her door. "What are we going to do?"
"What can we do? We made a deal," she heard her father's voice.
"Yes, but she said our baby girl had to marry her son, she failed to disclose that her son is a monster. We can't let this happen." At this Annabelle went pale. What was going on? She waited for something else, and when nothing came she got out of bed opened her door.
Her mother instantly embraced her saying, "My poor, poor baby, I won't let him take you." Her father wrapped his arms around them both.
"What's going on?" Annabelle asked.
Her parents hesitated for a long moment then her father finally spoke, "Before you were born your mother and I worried that we would never be able to have a child after failing to do so for so long, so we made a deal with a witch that if we had a baby girl she would have to marry the witch's son on her eighteenth birthday. Then you came along."
Annabelle's face got paler at the end of the story. "And he's a monster?" she asked. Her mother wailed and her father hung his head. Annabelle went to the top of the staircase and looked down. There, was a pale green man with what appeared to be scales, dressed in shabby clothing. She was so shocked by his appearance; she had never seen anything like him before.
"I love you both so much," Annabelle said when she go back to her parents, "and I know you love me and would never intentionally do anything to hurt me, and since you made a deal I will go through with it and I want you to know that I don't hold it against you." Her mother cried more and her father even shed a single tear and she knew it was breaking their hearts.
The monster introduced himself as Zachary and within the next hour they were married. She said all her tearful goodbyes and then the monster took her up behind him on an ancient horse and they started toward the woods. He said he was taking her to her new home and she shuddered.
Zachary rode the horse with Annabelle sitting stoically behind him. This is what he had waited for for so long and now he had it he didn't feel any joy. When he got to the castle her parents were horrified to see him, no surprise there, but they acted as if they were surprised that he showed up. They clearly hadn't known that he was "monster" and then he found out that Annabelle knew nothing about the arranged marriage. He remembered the times when he was young and thinking about her and their future and wondering if she was wondering about him too, and now how stupid that idea was because she didn't even know about him.
He thought about her standing next to him while the priest read their vows, and how his heart swelled when she said "I do" and the look of bitter disdain on her face when he had said them back. He thought about how she had turned her head when he went to kiss her mouth so he got her cheek instead, and how even that small contact made her grimace. He thought about how she cried when she said goodbye to her family.
Now he was thinking that it would have been better if he just hadn't gone to get her. He was so excited he hadn't really thought what he was doing through. He was taking her away from her family and her fine castle and nice things into a cabin in the woods where the only company she would have was him. She would hate him. She would hate him and he didn't really blame her.
Annabelle was weary of the monster as she entered his house. She looked around and saw that it was actually a quaint little cottage with a separate kitchen, living room, bedroom, and loft. "Shall I be sleeping in the loft then?" she asked him.
"If you want to."
"I do," she wanted to make it perfectly clear that she did not intend to share a bed with him. And by the way he fidgeted and shuffled around she guessed that he got the point.
"Are you hungry? I've got dinner," he said. She nodded and sat down at the table. Neither of them said a word throughout and she refused to look at him and he couldn't keep his eyes off her. Immediately after she was finished she went up to the loft without a word, her small bag in tow.