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THE CLAIMING OF SLEEPING BEAUTY
THE PRINCE had all his young life known the story of Sleeping Beauty, cursed to sleep for a hundred years, with her parents, the King and Queen, and all of the Court, after pricking her finger on a spindle.
But he did not believe it until he was inside the castle.
Even the bodies of those other Princes caught in the thorns of the rose vines that covered the walls had not made him believe it. They had come believing it, true enough, but he must see for himself inside the castle.
Careless with grief for the death of his father, and too powerful under his mother’s rule for his own good, he cut these awesome vines at their roots, and immediately prevented them from ensnaring him. It was not his desire to die so much as to conquer.
And picking his way through the bones of those who had failed to solve the mystery, he stepped alone into the great banquet hall.
The sun was high in the sky and those vines had fallen away, so the light fell in dusty shafts from the lofty windows.
And all along the banquet table, the Prince saw the men and women of the old Court, sleeping under layers of dust, their ruddy and slack faces spun over with spider webs.
He gasped to see the servants dozing against the walls, their clothing rotted to tatters.
But it was true, this old tale. And, fearless as before, he went in search of the Sleeping Beauty who must be at the core of it.
In the topmost bedchamber of the house he found her. He had stepped over sleeping chambermaids and valets, and, breathing the dust and damp of the place, he finally stood in the door of her sanctuary.
Her flaxen hair lay long and straight over the deep green velvet of her bed, and her dress in loose folds revealed the rounded breasts and limbs of a young woman.
He opened the shuttered windows. The sunlight flooded down on her. And approaching her, he gave a soft gasp as he touched her cheek, and her teeth through her parted lips, and then her tender rounded eyelids.
Her face was perfect to him, and her embroidered gown had fallen deep into the crease between her legs so that he could see the shape of her sex beneath it.
He drew out his sword, with which he had cut back all the vines outside, and gently slipping the blade between her breasts, let it rip easily through the old fabric.
Her dress was laid open to the hem, and he folded it back and looked at her. Her nipples were a rosy pink as were her lips, and the hair between her legs was darkly yellow and curlier than the long straight hair of her head which covered her arms almost down to her hips on either side of her.
He cut the sleeves away, lifting her ever so gently to free the cloth, and the weight of her hair seemed to pull her head down over his arms, and her mouth opened just a little bit wider.
He put his sword to one side. He removed his heavy armor. And then he lifted her again, his left arm under her shoulders, his right hand between her legs, his thumb on top of her pubis.
She made no sound; but if a person could moan silently, then she made such a moan with her whole attitude. Her head fell towards him, and he felt the hot moisture against his right hand, and laying her down again, he cupped both of her breasts, and sucked gently on one and then the other.
They were plump and firm, these breasts. She’d been fifteen when the curse struck her. And he bit at her nipples, moving the breasts almost roughly so as to feel their weight, and then lightly he slapped them back and forth, delighting in this.
His desire had been hard and almost painful to him when he had come into the room, and now it was urging him almost mercilessly.
He mounted her, parting her legs, giving the white inner flesh of her thighs a soft, deep pinch, and, clasping her right breast in his left hand, he thrust his sex into her.
He was holding her up as he did this, to gather her mouth to him, and as he broke through her innocence, he opened her mouth with his tongue and pinched her breast sharply.
He sucked on her lips, he drew the life out of her into himself, and feeling his seed explode within her, heard her cry out.
And then her blue eyes opened.
“Beauty!” he whispered to her.
She closed her eyes, her golden eyebrows brought together in a little frown and the sun gleaming on her broad white forehead.
He lifted her chin, kissed her throat, and drawing his organ out of her tight sex, heard her moan beneath him.
She was stunned. He lifted her until she sat naked, one knee crooked on the ruin of her velvet gown on the bed which was as flat and hard as a table.
“I’ve awakened you, my dear,” he said to her. “For a hundred years you’ve slept and so have all those who loved you. Listen. Listen! You’ll hear this castle come alive as no one before you has ever heard it.”
Already a shriek had come from the passage outside. The serving girl was standing there with her hands to her lips.
And the Prince went to the door to speak to her.
“Go to your master, the King. Tell him the Prince has come who was foretold to remove the curse on this household. Tell him I shall be closeted now with his daughter.”
He shut the door, bolting it, and turned to look at Beauty.
Beauty was covering her breasts with her hands, and her long straight golden hair, heavy and full of a great silky density, flared down to the bed around her.
She bowed her head so that the hair covered her.
But she looked at the Prince and her eyes struck him as devoid of fear or cunning. She was like those tender animals of the wood just before he slew them in the hunt: eyes wide, expressionless.
Her bosom heaved with anxious breath. And now he laughed, drawing near, and lifting her hair back from her right shoulder. She looked up at him steadily, her cheeks suffused with a raw blush, and again he kissed her.
He opened her mouth with his lips, and taking her hands in his left hand he laid them down on her naked lap so that he might lift her breasts now and better examine them.
“Innocent beauty,” he whispered.
He knew what she was seeing as she looked at him. He was only three years older than she had been. Eighteen, newly a man, but afraid of nothing and no one. He was tall, black haired; he had a lean build which made him agile. He liked to think of himself as a sword—light, straight, and very deft, and utterly dangerous.
And he had left behind him many who would concur with this.
He had not so much pride in himself now as immense satisfaction. He had gotten to the core of the accursed castle.
There were knocks at the door, cries.
He didn’t bother to answer them. He laid Beauty down again.
“I’m your Prince,” he said, “and that is how you will address me, and that is why you will obey me.”
He parted her legs again. He saw the blood of her innocence on the cloth and this made him laugh softly to himself as again he gently entered her.
She gave a soft series of moans that were like kisses to his ear.
“Answer me properly,” he whispered.
“My Prince,” she said.
“Ah,” he sighed, “that is lovely.”
When he opened the door, the room was almost dark. He told the servants he would have his supper now, and he would receive the King immediately.
Beauty he ordered to dine with him, and to remain with him, and he told her firmly that she was to wear no clothing.
“It’s my wish to have you naked and always ready for me,” he said.
He might have told her she was incomparably lovely, with only her golden hair to clothe her, and the blushes on her cheeks to cover her, and her hands trying so vainly to shield her sex and her breasts, but he didn’t say this aloud.
Rather he took her little wrists and held them behind her back as the table was brought in, and then he ordered her to sit opposite.
The table was not so wide that he couldn’t reach her easily, touch her, caress her breasts if he liked. And reaching out he lifted her chin so that he could inspect her by the light of the servants’ candles.
The table was laid with roast pork and fowl, fruit in big glistening silver bowls, and immediately the King stood in the door, dressed in his heavy ceremonial robes, a gold crown atop his head as he bowed to the Prince and waited for the command to enter.
“Your Kingdom has been neglected for a hundred years,” said the Prince as he lifted his wine goblet. “Your vassals have many of them fled to other lords; good land lies fallow. But you have your wealth, your Court, your soldiers. So much lies ahead of you.”
“I am in your debt, Prince,” the King answered. “But will you tell me your name, the name of your family?”
“My mother, Queen Eleanor, lives on the other side of the forest,” said the Prince. “In your time, it was my great-grandfather’s kingdom; he was King Heinrick, your powerful ally.”
The Prince saw the King’s immediate surprise and then his look of confusion. The Prince understood it perfectly. And when a blush came to the King’s face, the Prince said:
“And in those times you served your time in my great-grandfather’s castle, did you not, and perhaps your queen also?”
The King pressed his lips together in resignation and slowly nodded. “You are the son of a powerful monarch,” he whispered. And the Prince could see that the King would not raise his eyes to see his naked daughter, Beauty.
“I will take Beauty to serve,” said the Prince. “She is mine now.” He took out his long silver knife and, cutting the hot, succulent pork, he laid several pieces on his own plate. The servants all about him vied with one another to place other dishes near him.
Beauty sat with her hands over her breasts again; her cheeks were moist with tears, and she was trembling slightly.
“As you wish,” said the King. “I am in your debt.”
“You have your life and your Kingdom now,” said the Prince. “And I have your daughter. I will spend the night here. And tomorrow set out to make her my Princess across the mountains.”
He had placed some fruit on his plate, and other hot morsels of cooked food, and now he snapped his fingers gently and in a whisper told Beauty to come around the table to him.
He could see her shame before the servants.
But he brushed her hand away from her sex.
“Never cover yourself like that again,” he said. He spoke these words almost tenderly, as he lifted her hair back from her face.
“Yes, my Prince,” she whispered. She had a lovely little voice. “But it’s so difficult.”
“Of course it is,” he smiled. “But for me you’ll do it.”
And now he took her and placed her on his lap, cradling her in his left arm. “Kiss me,” he said, and feeling her warm mouth on his again, he felt his desire rising too soon for his taste, but he decided he could savor this slight torment.
“You may go,” he said to the King. “Tell your servants to have my horse ready in the morning. I won’t need a horse for Beauty. My soldiers you’ve found, no doubt, at your gates,” and the Prince laughed. “They were afraid to come in with me. Tell them to be ready at dawn, and then you can say goodbye to your daughter, Beauty.”
The King glanced up very quickly to accept the Prince’s commands and with unfailing courtesy he backed out of the doorway.
The Prince turned his full attention to Beauty.
Lifting a napkin he wiped at her tears. She kept her hands obediently on her thighs, exposing her sex, and he observed that she did not try to hide her stiff little pink nipples with her arms and he approved of this.
“Now don’t be frightened,” he said to her softly, feeding a little on her trembling mouth again, and then slapping her breasts so they shivered lightly. “I could be old and ugly.”
“Ah, but then I could feel sorry for you,” she said in a sweet, tremulous voice.
He laughed. “I’m going to punish you for that,” he said to her tenderly. “But now and then just a little very ladylike impertinence is amusing.”
She blushed darkly, biting her lip.
“Are you hungry, beautiful one?” he asked.
He could see she was afraid to answer.
“When I ask you will say, ‘Only if it pleases you, my Prince,’ and I shall know the answer is yes. Or, ‘Not unless it should please you, my Prince,’ and I shall know the answer is no. Do you understand me?”
“Yes, my Prince,” she answered. “I’m hungry only if it pleases you.”
“Very good, very good,” he said to her with genuine feeling. He lifted a small cluster of glistening purple grapes and fed them to her one by one, taking the seeds out of her mouth and casting them aside.
And he watched with obvious pleasure as she drank deeply from the wine cup he held to her lips. Then he wiped her mouth and kissed her.
Her eyes were glistening. But she had stopped crying. He felt the smooth flesh of her back, and her breasts again.
“Superb,” he whispered. “And were you terribly spoilt before and given everything that you wished?”
She was confused, blushing again, and then full of shame she nodded.
“Yes, my Prince, I think perhaps ...”
“Don’t be afraid to answer me with many words,” he coaxed, “as long as they are respectful. And never speak unless I speak to you first, and in all these things, be careful to note what pleases me. You were very spoilt, given everything, but were you willful?”
“No, my Prince, I don’t think I was that,” she said. “I tried to be a joy to my parents.”
“And you’ll be a joy to me, my dear,” he said lovingly.
Still holding her firmly in his left arm, he turned to his supper.
He ate heartily, pork, roast fowl, some fruit, and several cups of wine. Then he told the servants to take it all away and leave them.
New sheets and coverlets had been laid on the bed; there were fresh down pillows, and roses in a vase nearby, and several candelabra.
“Now,” he said as he rose and set her before him. “We must get to bed as we have a long journey before us tomorrow. And I have still to punish you for your earlier impertinence.”
Immediately the tears stood in her eyes; she looked up at him imploring. She almost reached to cover her breasts and her sex, and then remembering herself she made her hands into two little helpless fists at her sides.
“I won’t punish you very much,” he said gently, lifting her chin. “It was just a little offense, and your first after all. But Beauty, to confess the truth, I shall love punishing you.”
She was biting her lip, and he could see she wanted to speak, and the effort to control her tongue and her hands was almost too much for her.
“All right, lovely one, what do you want to say?” he asked.
“Please, my Prince,” she begged. “I’m so afraid of you.”
“You’ll find me more reasonable than you expect,” he said.
He removed his long cloak, tossing it over a chair, and bolted the door. Then he snuffed all but a few candles.
He would sleep in his clothes as he did most nights, in the forest, or in the country inns, or in the houses of those humble peasants at which he sometimes stopped, and that was no great inconvenience to him.