She took another chocolate and savored its taste. Today she would have the afternoon off from her royal duties and wasn't expecting any visitors. It was the perfect time to indulge in a guilty pleasure like reading a good book. Why the guilt over a book? Because it was a stolen book from an author she should not like, much less read.
It was sweet. It was sweeter than the chocolaty candies she enjoyed eating while reading this. Sweeter than candy, a cliché, a common phrase, but this is not so common. Who would have thought that she would do such a thing? She couldn't help it, it was a guilty pleasure, very guilty but most pleasant.
She sighed. "I'm a thief." He might have written that she stole his heart, but she hope he hadn't noticed that she stole something else. Really, if he didn't want her to read his diary, then he should have hidden it better. He'd already made that mistake before when he trapped her high up in the sky. At the end of the walk-in closet, behind countless shells, under a box full of spiked chokers and bracelets, wasn't a very good hiding place. Why did he insist on hiding it in obvious spots, she wondered. It was as if it was meant to be found. So why... did she felt so guilty, but full of pleasure?
It's perfectly normal to become addicted to a book every now and then. It's perfectly normal to read it until you've consumed the last page. But what if part of that book is blank? Then she'd have to continue reading when the words were written. She had hoped he wasn't too upset to find his diary missing. She figured that she'd put it back once he left his room. Bowser's castle had a lot of secret passages and she was starting to discover many. She wondered if he even knew about them? He must know about some, but she didn't think he knew about all of them.
He was a good poet. She guessed that only a true poet could recite a haiku while steps away from a dangerous battle. She remembered staring at him for a full minute back then while everyone else was distracted by one thing or another. She didn't think they'd even heard. When he looked at her she pretended not to notice, but she was surprised. All of this that had been written for her... She had to get him to read it to her some day, it would be more special that way.
Princess Peach Toadstool ran as fast as her feet could carry her while at the same time trying to avoid the guards that patrolled the Koopa Castle. Hearing approaching footsteps, she turned the opposite way down another corridor and came to an apparent dead end. She had been in the castle so many times and for so long that she thought she knew her way around. Then again, she was usually locked in a room and not running around exploring. Finding the path back towards Bowser's room was going to be harder than she thought.
Feeling frustrated that she would inevitably be caught as the footsteps continued to approach, Peach placed her hand gently on the wall and waited for the inevitable to happen. She was taken by surprise when suddenly she felt her hand miss solid matter and go through the wall. She pulled back her hand and looked at it. The wall appeared to be solid. She touched it again and for a second she could feel it and then it was as if it wasn't there. With no time to waste as the guard approached at a faster pace, she ran past the wall.
At the other side of the wall Peach could see the guards looking confused. There was a Koopa Troopa with a yellow shell whose footsteps she had heard and a Paratroopa with a light blue shell flying close by.
"I thought I heard something over here," Kerés the Koopa Troopa said.
"Well there's nothing here except a dead end. C'mon, we have to finish this round and then we get a break," Skyri the Paratroopa said. The Koopa Troopa shrugged and fallowed her.
Peach sighed in relief and looked at the dark tunnel that lay before her. Her curiousity got the best of her and she decided to explore. She figured that she had the strong tendency to do that anyway, even if it was an invasion of privacy.
Slowly and careful not to trip on the stairs, the princess of the Mushroom Kingdom made her way down the spiraling passage that reached deep beyond the castle's basement. Finally she came to a door with a statue shaped like Bowser's head on it. "Who goes there?" the stone head suddenly asked.
Peach gasped in surprise. "Peach," she answered, sounding frightened.
"I was told not to let anyone in, but I know that Bowser cares about you..." the stone head told her.
Peach felt a little odd talking to a stone head, but she tried to be respectful. "Does that mean I can pass?"
The head looked thoughtful. "You may." The door was opened.
Peach was amazed with what she saw. She walked to the next room, which was a rather large chamber with flowers everywhere. The gray stone floor ended at the entrance, and after three steps there was red-orange grass. Although it was the color of dry grass ,it appeared to be full of life. Fire Flowers were everywhere.
The atmosphere was warm but pleasant. There was a small waterfall of lava shining brightly in the background. The tiny river of lava went underground after forming a circle around a small platform. It was connected to the main area by a white stone bridge under which the lava disappeared.
There were more flowers on the platform. They looked like Fire Flowers but they were pink. She had heard of them before, a rare kind of plant long thought extinct. She felt like the flowers were watching her. In the center of the platform among the flowers there appeared to be a grave carved in polished white stone adorned with pink jewels.
Peach approached the grave, carefully avoiding stepping on the flowers, and read the inscription. "Queen Clawdia Koopa" There was also a picture of a beautiful Koopa. She had rainbow hair in dark blue, light blue, pink, yellow, and green. Her eyes were blue and she had a pink shell. Beside that picture there was another of the same Koopa wearing a dress instead of her shell.
The dates of Clawdia's birth and death were listed bellow her name. Peach made the calculations in her head. The queen had died years ago before she, Peach, had met Bowser. Well she had met him before, but that was only a year in grade school so she didn't remember a lot.
Peach remembered that day when Bowser stormed into her castle. She feared for her safety back then. Ironically, nowadays she felt safe in the Koopa Castle but didn't like worrying everyone back home. To be perfectly honest, she somewhat enjoyed going to his castle, because it gave her a break from the stress of being the princess of a well respected country.
"You're not supposed to be here!" a voice cried out. Peach turned around to see him.
"I'm sorry," she quickly said with an apologetic bow. "I'm very sorry, please forgive me."
Bowser was taken off-guard by her reaction. "Ugh... It's all right, you didn't really do anything wrong anyway."
"I didn't know where the passage led to," Peach explained. "I wouldn't have come here without permission if I knew it was something so personal."
"If you survived coming here then it's all right" Bowser said, this time looking directly at Peach. Peach looked confused by that statement so he explained. "There was an additional precaution. Anyone except me, the Koopalings, Kamek, and Kammy, is supposed to be instantly set on fire by the flowers."
"So that's why I feel like they're watching me." Peach should have known those pink ones weren't ordinary Fire Flowers.
"Yes, the pink Fire Flowers can sense people's intentions. That's what the Magikoopas said, anyway. If anyone with the wrong intentions comes here, they'll regret it. I'm really not surprised they would allow you to be here, Princess."
Peach was surprised by that statement. As Bowser approached her, she could see that Bowser was blushing, a true sign that he meant it. He must be real good at pickup lines, because Peach found that she was blushing as well.
They sat at the bridge and for a moment Bowser simply looked at Peach quietly. "I never noticed how much you have in common with her. The shiny hair, although the color is different; the blue eyes; the way children quickly take a liking to you; the gentle nature; and that you both like the color pink..."
Peach smiled. "Thank you."
"So you can take a compliment..." Bowser said.
"What do you mean?" Peach asked.
"Usually when I give you a compliment you act like you're insulted," Bowser answered.
"You just caught me in a bad mood because I was kidnapped," Peach said. She paused and smiled. "However, you just compared me to someone you obviously love, and that is a great honor. It's the best compliment anyone could give me." Kind, beautiful, and gentle Princess Peach, always so considerate and caring.
"That's because I love you." Finally there was no doubt in her mind that what he said was true. This wasn't about his rivalry with the Mario Brothers, and it wasn't about her kingdom. It was all because of her. She smiled. Maybe, just maybe, things could work out after all.
"Bowser... I have something that I want to give you."
Bowser looked interested, but he didn't say anything. He closed his eyes and didn't open them as Peach eagerly shoved the journal into his hand and gave him many kisses through his lips.
To Be Continued...
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