Genre: general, fantasy
The king first met the girl in his own private garden. The palace staff held their breath, for he was a cruel king who was quick to repress any disobedience, and trespassing his private garden was definitely an act of disobedience.
Unsurprisingly, the king had the girl thrown into the dungeon, never mind that she was unconscious and young enough that they could easily count her age with the fingers on their hands. They tended to her as they did the other prisoners and stepped back when the king visited the dungeon, as was his routine.
The girl had no memory, not of how she ended up in the garden, not of herself. No matter what the king threatened, she could not give any answers. For the king, whose paranoia demanded that he knew everything, it was unacceptable, and he visited again and again, hoping to pry out her secret.
At some point, the visits became less hostile and more peaceful. The cruel king and the amnesiac girl spoke for minutes to hours at a time. Interrogation turned to exploration to conversation.
The palace staff kept watching and waiting for the day the girl made a wrong move and attracted the king’s infamous cruelty, but the day never came. Instead, it was the king, their stubborn, set in his ways, don’t-tell-me-what-to-do king, who changed. He became more willing to listen, more open to alternate opinions, more merciful in his actions.
Over the years, the king continued to change, but the girl remained the same.
Exactly the same.
Before, they wondered about her safety. Now, they wondered about her.
The girl, as young as the day they mysteriously found her in the king’s private garden, merely smiled at their questioning glances and skipped with childish glee through the palace.