There was a kingdom, where a beautiful princess lived. Her name was Sarah; she had fair skin, blue eyes and golden hair. The whole kingdom called her the “golden princess” in adoration of her beauty.

Sarah spent her days playing with her servant; Amber. Sarah chose Amber because she was not as pretty as she. Amber had brown eyes, and brown hair which was always in a chunky plait. Despite Amber’s gentle nature, Sarah forced her to do everything. If Amber protested, Sarah would coldly threaten to take her job away.

She was from a very poor family in the village. Amber’s job was their only source of money. But Sarah did not care about that. All she knew was that comparatively, she would look golden and beautiful.

However, one day Sarah’s charms did not work. Her marriage had been arranged to the prince of the kingdom nearby. He was not as beautiful as she nor did he have golden hair. Yet, Stephan adored Sarah the second he laid eyes on her. He saw her beauty, and he knew she was a prize to have. In his adoration, he did not notice that she was cold, and resented him.

On the day of the wedding Sarah’s blue eyes were sore from tears. Amber was combing her golden hair.

“My beauty is too great to marry that ugly Stephan!” she cried. “His hair is like yours… Brown… You match him. You will dress as me; he will not see your face until after the wedding has finished!”

Amber protested, but Sarah warned her that if she refused, then she would lose her money and her job.

The wedding happened. Stephan was horrified that he had not married beautiful Sarah. His parents were angrier than he, and banished them from the kingdom. He and Amber found a small cottage, to live in.

Days passed, and Stephan would not even look at Amber. He reminded her that he wanted the golden princess, the symbol of beauty, and that she, Amber, was nothing to him. Amber however, replied simply, that she would not abandon him, like his parents and Sarah had done.

One sunset, Stephan was particularly angry, so he stormed into the woods.

“I want the beautiful Sarah, not his peasant girl!” he screamed, running through the thick branches. He ran for so long that by darkness, he was lost.

Then, he stumbled across a little cottage and thinking it was his own, he rushed in. However, behind the door there was a very old woman. She had a sickly grey pallor about her face.

“I knew you would come,” she whispered hoarsely. She pointed her frail finger at him. “You know I am a witch … and I saw you coming.”

Stephan was thrilled, “You are a witch! You must grant me a wish! Please! I want to marry the golden, beautiful princess!”

The witch warned him, “If you do not win this princess’s affections within seven full days, then this curse will transform you all, until it is resolved.”

The prince was so happy he barely heard the witches warning. He accepted, and exchanged his jewels for the wish.

In the morning he found Sarah’s castle and from the courtyard, yelled as loudly as he could.

“Sarah, I can marry you now! You are the best prize a man could have!”

The villagers in the courtyard ran to get the message to the princess. But Sarah dismissed the messages and ignored the prince.

He stood there for seven days, and six nights, but to no avail. The princess did not come.

On the seventh night the prince staggered back to his cottage; exhausted. Amber ran out to meet him.

“Stephan, where have you been?” she cried, taking his arm and leading him inside the house.

Stephan ripped her hand from his arm. “Do not touch me! I wanted Sarah. Now I will be cursed forever because she hates me for marrying you!” he screamed.

Amber’s tears were so helpless and so earnest, that Stephan reached out to her; a moment of sympathy. At that moment midnight passed, along with the seventh night.

Instantaneously, they were transformed. There stood a tree, with warm brown bark, and leaves that hung low; weeping. Upon it sat a majestic brown owl. In the distance, the moon was different; shining, so brightly, it looked golden.

Stephan cried, flapping his wings, protesting to be changed back. But he could not speak. He did not know how to fly so he stayed close to the trunk of the tree, taking in its warmth. He looked up into the sky, he saw the beautiful moon, shining golden, and he knew that it was the beautiful princess.

Yet, the next night, the sky was moonless, and the owl hooted lowly, crying at his loss. The full moon appeared monthly, and she would not shine for him.

An entire year passed, and the lonely owl spent his time waiting his golden moon to shine. Until… one day the owl heard the wind whisper through the leaves.

“Stephan…” whispered the wind.

The owl began to cry My golden princess! Does the moon speak at last?

“Stephan… I have not left. I protect you from the rain, and the animals that could eat you. I keep you warm and I give you insects to eat. I will love you no matter how you are,” whispered … Amber.

The prince’s heart stopped. The tree.

All these months, Amber had loved and cared for him. She was his beautiful tree.

A single tear fell from his eyes.

As instantaneously as before, they were transformed. Amber stood, her stunning face, glowing in the sunshine. The prince took Amber’s hand and knelt on the floor. “You are the most beautiful creation in this world. And I need you.”

Amber cried with happiness as the prince took her hand, gently. They built a new kingdom, with love, care and support, and lived happily ever after.