The Princess made her home high in the hollow of an old dead tree and was silent while weeks and weeks went by. Then one day, a young Prince, far from home and wandering in the forest, stumbled across a stream. He bent down into the flowing brook to quench his thirst and, as he cupped his hands in the sparkling water, a delicate handkerchief of finest lace swept past him. The Prince reached and caught it, then craned his head upstream to seek its owner. He could see no one from where he was and, curious, he set off following the sinuous course. Eventually, he came to a place where the stream widened into a small pond, and there, washing her clothes, was the Princess. The Prince called out to her, waving her handkerchief. At this the Princess, startled and confused, hurried away into the thick of the forest. The Prince pursued her until he came to the tree into which she had disappeared. He thought she must be a Spirit or a faery or enchanted. Her bright eyes flashed at him but she would not reply as he questioned her.
At length, settling on the ground beside her, he took out his food and offered it to her and she was famished and had some and soon he set off talking again: of his past, his present, and his plans; and all the while he was thinking: what eyes! All the while he was thinking: to kiss that mouth! So taken was he that he quite forgot what he was saying and blushed and laughed and blushed and the Princess smiled, her first smile in months, a smile that wrapped all the way around her heart and his heart and squeezed them tight together. And the handsome young Prince came back every day for a week and they practised the smile until it was ready for him before he arrived, and soon he gave up speaking too and they were content simply to sit and hug on that smile. Until one day he could not contain his thoughts and said them all: ‘Love,’ he said, and ‘Marriage’ and ‘Always’ and ‘Ever,’ and the Princess came out from the tree and they kissed and that was that.
— The Three Ravens, based on the German folktale ‘The Six Swans’ by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, retold by Anthony Minghella.