from an original work in progress by Andara Bledin}
She did not know of his presence and he watched her for several minutes before making his move.
"Oh! Who are you?" she cried as he came forward, crushing her to him. "What do you want?"
He breathes in the scent of her before answering. "I want the treasure only you can give."
His voice sends tremors of fear through her. "I don't understand. I have no treasure! Please, let me go."
He continues to hold her close. "You have treasure beyond worlds." He looks down at her and she looks away. "I want your love."
"What?" She looks back at him sharply. "But... I'm in love with another!"
His laugh echoes around the room and she shrinks within his grasp. "In love with another indeed! You're in love with quite a few others. I've never known anyone with the propensity to fall in love with people as you have!"
He smiles down at her and she quails again. "Why..." she begins hesitantly.
"I require the love of a woman. I have chosen you."
"But I can't just fall in love with you!"
"Why not?" He frowns at her in puzzlement. "I have been watching you for months and you seem to have no trouble falling in love with all manner of people! Most of whom you've never even met." He strokes her hair and smiles again. "Certainly you should have no troubles falling in love with me."
"But it doesn't work like that!"
"Then how does it work?"
She thinks for a moment before answering slowly. "I don't know."
"You don't know. You don't know?" He holds her at arm's length and looks at her, brows drawn down over his eyes. Then his hand moves quickly, capturing her chin and holding her still so he might peer deep into her eyes. She thinks that he can see into the depths of her soul with his piercing gaze.
After several minutes he releases her chin and then the rest of her and looks away.
She stands immobile and uncertain of her fate.
His voice is so soft she nearly misses his first words. "You truly don't know. I was certain that you who has fallen in love with half of creation would be the one to help me." He turns back to her, "It would seem that I have misjudged the situation. I will leave and trouble you no more."
As he turns toward the door she takes a half step and calls out, "Wait!" before stopping, unsure of herself.
"I," she hesitates, "I want to help you."
He stands still but does not look at her. "If you cannot love me, then I must go find one who can."
"I never said I couldn't love you," she begins, surprised at herself, "I said that I couldn't just fall in love with you. I don't know you."
"Why do you wish to help me?"
"I-" She falters.
"You said you needed help. I can't let you leave without at least making an attempt." She looks down at the floor, unsure of her own motivations and does not see him turn and approach.
She catches his movement as he stops before her and she looks up at him.
"Why can you not let me leave?" he asks softly.
She takes several moments before giving her answer. "Because I could not live with the idea of your sadness. As with my tendency to fall in love with those I barely know I also have the desire to help others. It almost reaches the level of a compulsion." She stops, embarrassed at this confession. "Please, allow me to help you," she says in a voice so low it is nearly inaudible.
His mind reels as he feels the beginnings of the curse's release and he bows low. "As you wish. I will stay my departure."
She smiles up at him as she marvels at how life can change so quickly.