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"Briar?" Apple's soft voice echoed slightly in the small bathroom. The other princess didn't answer.

"Briar." Apple sounded more urgent now, but she didn't want to reply. Waves of nausea crashed within her. Briar was certain that speaking would cause her to throw up.

"Listen to me, Briar!" Apple shrieked. "If you don't come out this instant, I'll-"

Briar kicked open the stall door. "You'll what, Apple?" She hissed. "Continue lying to me about the existence of my prince? It was never funny!"

"I wasn't lying!" Apple snapped back, irritation present on her face. "And I'm offended you'd think I'd do that to you." She huffed, expression softening. "I just... thought telling you would make you happy. But- Oh, Briar, have you been crying?"

The horror in Apple's voice drained away Briar's anger, leaving nothing but sorrow behind. "Yes." She murmured helplessly.

"I am so, so sorry!" Apple wailed, dragging Briar into a tight hug. "I should have come sooner! I didn't know you'd be this upset over him."

"It's okay, Apple." Briar patted her on the back, a little resentful that Apple was seeking comfort when she was the wounded party here, but still grateful for any sort of contact with a sympathetic person. "I'll get over it eventually. I just need time to meet him on my own terms."

Instantly, Apple stiffened in her arms. "Is that so?" Apple laughed weakly.

Briar withdrew from the embrace. "Apple, what did you do?"

"Well, you see, I ran into Connor on the way here (and might I say that he grows more attractive by the minute!). He wanted to talk with you, so..." Apple trailed off, twiddling her thumbs. "I told him to follow me while I looked for you. He's waiting outside."

"Apple!" Briar felt the nausea return in full force. "Why would you do that? I told you to tell him that he could go fuck off! He's ruining everything, and you know that."

"One: I would never do that, Briar! A princess is never coarse with strangers. And two: what on earth is he ruining anyway? Why is it so imperative to avoid this guy? You're going to have to talk to him eventually!" Apple scolded her maternally.

"Because, Apple," Briar started her spiel, "he's not meant to exist yet! The prince has to be born while my slumber is almost up! It doesn't matter if he's related to ogres or anything like that! What matters is the fact that he's here and I'm here at the same time! That's not right at all!"

"Related to ogres?" Apple exclaimed, voice wavering. "How could anyone that attractive be related to ogres?"

"Have you ever even read my story at all, Apple?" Briar sighed. "The prince is beautiful to every beholder and his mother is an ogre. Ergo, the princes always come from ogre backgrounds. It's tradition."

"Oh." Apple blinked, absorbing this new knowledge. "So, I suppose he wouldn't have any ogre-ish tendencies, right?"

"Probably. Depends on how strong the ogre line is within him." Briar noted, gazing apprehensively at the doorway. She was fixing to skewer him with thorns, but she didn't want to pick a fight with an ogre-blooded prince of all people. That would be suicide.

"That's good to know." Apple sighed, relieved. "I'd hate to see a brute living in such a pretty package."

"That's pretty superficial, Apple."

"Hey, I tell it like I see it!" Apple huffed. "There's no need to call me names for that. Worse vices exist!"

"Yeah, yeah, Apple." She rolled her eyes. "I hear you."

"Don't be so, so..." Apple fumed, searching for the right word. "Condescending! You're going to have to meet your prince, you know! You really have no choice."

Briar's eyes darkened. "I'm well aware of that, Apple. And I'm not afraid anymore. I'm going to give that conniving asshole a piece of my mind. How dare he claim he's part of my story!"

"Briar, I don't think-" Apple tried to convince her to reconsider this, but she was roughly bumped out of the way. "Wow, rude!"

Briar didn't react, having come face to face with Connor as she marched out of the bathroom, which was quickly feeling cramped. She blanched, shrinking back. Apple's words were true after all.

Briar had known from the start that her prince was intended to be attractive, but she hadn't expected such a sharp allure. It dulled the senses, made you vulnerable. No wonder her great-great-great-great grand aunt Talia had fallen for her assaulter. How could one resist their advances when they were so criminally perfect?

"Are you Briar?" He spoke, breaking the spell. His voice was completely and utterly normal, a sharp contrast that served to put Briar back in control.

"Yes. Are you Connor?" She quirked an eyebrow at him.

"Yes." His words had a sense of finality to them.

She sized him up warily. Any Beauty worth their salt could recognize a hint of ogre blood and the signs for him were more pronounced than she would have liked. For all intent and purposes, he seemed to fit the bill of Sleeping Beauty's prince, even though he had to be an imposter. And Briar was not going to take the insult lying down.

It took her a few moments, but Briar eventually worked up the courage to address him directly. What she said would change the course of their lives forevermore.

"Why are you pretending to be a part of my story?"

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