DISCLAIMED

Everything Was Beautiful At the Ballet

Berlin, Prussia, 1800s.

"The ballet, really?"

"Yes Klaus- the ballet. You must make an appearance in order to meet with Wolfgang Sinclair. He will be showcasing his skills in foreign countries and as a representative of Prussia, he must be sweetened up so that he will not look bad. Remember that they are considering a prince from Saxony as a husband for your sister."

Prince Niklaus, third son of King Mikael III of Prussia, liked to think of himself as a refined man. It was hard not to be a noble and not to have the refined tastes of a Renaissance child- music, art and literature were all parts of the high life. Prince Klaus was no exception, a dedicated artist and an avid listener of the orchestra. He enjoyed art galleries and spending his time in front of the easel, squeezing paint onto a bland canvas. His favourite combination was his sketchpad and a naked prostitute lying on his sofa, legs open and breasts on show. It was hardly what the grand duchesses would consider art, but he only showed them the beautiful landscapes and portraits of respectable nobles.

He imagined the old Duchess Le Marck, a wizened old lady at 85, would drop dead of a heart attack if he showed the fiery redhead Frieda wearing only his mother's fur shrug.

Unfortunately, the ballet was not his scene. They were all the same, picturesque romances that the high society ladies enjoyed. For Princess Rebekah, the ballet was one of the few productions allowed for its purity, good messages and respectable cast. Those in the ballet were considered reputable professionals, not like the male actors who reportedly kissed one another and the actresses who scandalously took on the stage as ladies. Actresses were not acceptable, even though more and more women turned to theatrics.

Ballerinas, however, were good women from good families, dressed appropriately and retired at a good age to marry. Klaus didn't want to watch pretty girls dance daintily out of fear of falling asleep. He did not imagine he would be able to talk any of them into bed, for they were scared of falling pregnant and ruining their career. An actress could hide a bump under layers of clothes but a ballerina had no such luck.

It was a miracle that Klaus had not (knowingly) got a woman pregnant. He was sure that he had a few bastards running around Prussia, as did brother Kol. Elijah and Finn were too good to stray, they waited until they were married men.

Klaus sighed, resting his chin on his knuckles. It sounded rather arrogant to be annoyed at being forced to go to the ballet, considering there were far, far worse problems to have. He only had to look out the carriage to see the beggars on the street and the sobbing prostitute leading a drunkard back into the brothel, clearly one who had been forced into sex work by circumstance. Klaus was sure the woman would absolutely love to spend a night at the ballet. He, however, was rather tired by the whole affair. His best friend/ chief secretary Lord Marcel was joining him.

The carriage halted outside of the Berlin Ballet House, the valets immediately opening the doors for them to pass through.

It seemed as all of grand society was there, the ladies in their finery and gentlemen in their pressed suits. Klaus could barely see the stairs due to the lady in front of him and her fabulously tall hat, attached by what looked like a dead fox. She turned to her husband, who was busy eyeing one of the refreshment girls. Scowling, the lady elbowed her husband back to attention.

"That's Hans Kimbers and his wife Elisabet," Klaus heard a young woman behind him tell her companion, "He is rumoured to be having affairs than more than one of his female staff, his wife knows but what can she do? Reportedly she stopped being interested in sex after their children were born- they have one son and four girls, they need another boy. He's been getting his kicks elsewhere- it's her own fault, Ms. Elisabet is still young enough to have babies. I wouldn't blame my husband if I was so stupid as to deny relations so young. You know his brother, the Lord Edmund? He had a big wedding with Ms. Elin, the Swedish woman- your cousin attended the wedding I believe. Anyway it turned out Ms. Elin was barren but he didn't divorce her, instead he started an affair with some fishmonger's daughter. The girl got pregnant and she had a healthy boy so he started the mechanism to get the child TITLES and legal inheritance rights. That's right, a bastard boy borne to some common wench getting to be a lord. It's preposterous, Ms. Elisabet is stupid for giving up, otherwise some bastard will get the titles- they say the legitimate son is a sickly boy."

The two ladies giggled at the scandalous gossip.

"You see what I mean about these blasted events," Klaus muttered, "I don't care about some prudish noblewoman noticing the affairs of the husband who can't keep it in his trousers. Gosh, I was told that the ballet was a regal affair, not the home of idle gossip."

"Says the man who has bedded more women this year than ten soldiers put together," Marcel replied.

"Perhaps there will be a lady or two that I can take home this evening," Klaus smirked, eyeing those present.

"It's a diplomatic event Klaus, can you not use it as an opportunity bed some innocent girl?"

"You are so crude, the women I bed are not innocent, I like some experience- I don't want them to get into trouble on their wedding night."

"You are so chivalrous my lord."

Klaus let out a smirk as an attendant led them to the royal box. He sunk into the red velvet seats, the cushion neatly sat at the arch of his back. The attendants busied themselves pouring champagne and presenting the two men with stools to rest their feet on. Klaus nodded at those in the surrounding boxes, the upper classes who were able to afford the best seats- Dukes and Duchesses and the like. Those in the lower seats were those without titles and the middle classes who were attending this as a treat. Klaus understood that even in the ballet, there was somewhat of a ranking.

For example, the ladies in the box to his left were dripping with diamonds, from their head to their toes. Those in the stalls were dressed nicely, but their dresses were clearly more modest.

"So what's the plot of this, then?" Klaus asked.

Marcel gave him a look, "Really? It's Swan Lake, it's famous."

"Means nothing to me, I don't pay attention to stupid romances."

Marcel sighed, "It's about a beautiful princess named Odette who is cursed by an evil wizard. She is forced to live as a swan by day and a human by night. There she meets a handsome prince and they try to use true love in order to break the curse."

"It sounds like fairytale drivel," Klaus rolled his eyes, "Two hours of fairytale drivel. I know what I would rather be doing."

"Yes, strangely enough I do," his friend retorted, "Just enjoy it, hush, it's starting now."

Klaus grumbled, sinking into his seat. He eyed the first act with disdain, at least understanding that the prince was being told that he was to marry and that he wanted to marry for love. That made Klaus chuckle, nobody married for love in these circles- any marriage was arranged for strategic reasons. The young prince then apparently decided to go hunting with his companions.

Just shoot one of them and get this damned ballet over with.

The prince and the hunters danced, the former then going it alone.

That's when she arrived.

Prancing on the stage with the delicate nature of the swan, her ballet shoes tapping lightly against the floor, the White Swan (Odette) arrived on the scene. A vision in a white tutu, the blonde commanded attention as she made her way towards the prince. Everyone in the room had gone stone cold silent; you could hear a pin drop as the ballerina continued. The White Swan was easily the best dancer in the cast, a perfectly elegant lady portraying the innocent Odette perfectly.

Klaus, for probably the first time in his life, was entranced. Being so far up meant that he could not see the girl's face, but her golden curls and dancer's physique were astounding. He felt himself sit up further, his eyes locked on the girl. Klaus would usually go for the rebellious, freer girls with a more suggestive spirit, but something about the purity of the pretty ballerina that caught his eye. She was beautiful and one of the best dancers he had ever seen. The prince lifted Odette up, allowing those higher up to see her at a better angle. It was at this point that Klaus wished that he was closer so that he could see her better, for he yearned to see her face.

Who was this girl?

Klaus hated the moments that the Swan Princess was not on stage, yearning for the moments that she danced. He thought that he would look forward to the intermissions, but found himself internally begging for her return. Never had a beauty captured him in such a way, especially one that had otherwise eluded him. He always craved the touch of the sexually liberated prostitute, not the closeness of the innocent ballerina.

The final act arrived, Odette broken by the prince's mistake of choosing the identical but evil Odile. Deciding that she did not wish to be a swan forever, the beautiful swan lost the will to live. Many in the audience dabbed their eyes with their tissues as Odette danced until she was limp in her lover's arms, the prince then joining her in heaven. The music came to a crashing halt, to which the audience responded by jumping to their feet and applauding heartily. Going to the front, the cast joined hands and bowed. Those in the front row threw roses onto the stage whilst many others screamed for an encore.

Marcel was surprised when Klaus was on his feet first, clapping heartily. He did not question it until the curtain dropped and the crowd began to disperse.

"You seemed to like the performance."

"It was better than expected," Klaus replied coyly, "The dancers were excellent, especially the..."

"...White Swan, I noticed," Marcel grinned, "You liked her, I saw you snap to attention whenever she was on the stage."

"Well I'm sure I will have a chance to talk to the lady when we go backstage," Klaus clapped him on the shoulder, "Shall we dear friend?"

Marcel shook his head, knowing exactly what his friend planned to do. They were led down a side passage away from the main crowd, the attendants taking them down the narrow stairwell that led to the back of the stage. As soon as they arrived, Wolfgang Sinclair greeted them.

"Your Highness, Your Lordship," Sinclair bowed deeply, "I thank you for your custom. Did you enjoy the performance?"

Wolfgang Sinclair was a rather eccentric man, rather short but also very portly. The buttons on his waistcoat were almost popping off and he seemed to be breathing heavily, clearly as a result of rushing to greet the two men. His lengthy handlebar moustache matched his sleek black hair.

"We did," Klaus confirmed, "Your dancers are a talented group."

"Oh why thank you, I am very proud of them all, such a wonderful group."

"There was one particular performer that caught His Highness' eye, did it not?" Marcel told Sinclair, teasing Klaus gently.

"Oh which one?" Sinclair asked joyfully.

"The lady playing The White Swan," Klaus replied, his heart beating at the thought of her.

"Ah, Caroline Forbes, she is such a star," Sinclair replied, clutching his suspenders and rocking on his heels, "A wonderful talent."

"Has she been with you long?" the prince asked.

"Six months as The White Swan, but a year and a half as a performer. She started as one of the dancers in the ballroom scenes then got promoted to one of the swans. Our old Odette retired and she auditioned- oh how perfect she is, she captures the role so well. Such a talent, she will be the talk of Europe one day! Oh and such a lovely young woman, no pretences. She is a delight to work with, always so kind and mature. Miss. Forbes works so hard, I have never had a problem with her. I feel that she is our most popular dancer; everyone claps hardest when we perform Swan Lake. Her mother teaches piano to the society ladies and her father composes, music runs in her DNA. Gosh, I am so glad that you enjoyed her dancing."

"Might I meet Miss. Forbes, perhaps somewhere quiet?"

Sinclair frowned, "She is a good lady, Your Highness, remember that. I do not wish for dear Caroline to be, erm, alone with any gentlemen without her wishes."

Marcel immediately went cold- no man dared protect his womenfolk from the prince, for he could always fear punishment. Klaus would never hurt a lady, but he didn't care so much for virtue otherwise he would be a hypocrite.

"I do not wish to force anything upon her and you can wait outside if you wish, as will Marcel."

Sinclair nodded, "As you wish, M'lord."

He led them further back into the building to a long corridor with many doors. The words 'Swan Princess' were emblazoned on a wooden block upon the door.

Sinclair knocked.

"Enter!" a sweet voice called.

Sinclair opened the door slightly, "Good evening Miss. Forbes, you were as splendid as usual! You have an audience member who wishes to speak to you."

"Why thank you Mr. Sinclair, please send the kind person in."

Klaus was motioned to enter. Caroline Forbes looked surprised to see him, but he was immediately drawn to her. She was a very beautiful lady, with soft skin, ruby red lips and golden blonde curls, giving her the appearance of an angel. Her costume was no longer on, as she was now dressed in a simple robe.

At the sight of him, the ballerina immediately kneeled on the floor.

"Your highness," she remained on the floor deferentially.

"Please stand, miss," Klaus assured her, holding out a hand for her to take. She was surprised when he brought her knuckles closer to him, kissing his lips against it, "I must say that I was entranced by your dancing, you are quite the talent."

"Thank you, Your Highness; I am glad that you enjoyed the performance."

"It was a pleasure to watch you, Miss. Forbes," he gave her a toothy grin; "Perhaps you can give me a private performance sometime."

"Ah, I understand," Caroline moved forwardly slowly, "What will that entail exactly?"

"I will provide you with wine and dinner, after which you can show me your dance moves."

"That sounds so enticing, Your Highness, but I must say that is not something I am interested in."

Klaus was shocked- he was not used to women as beautiful as Caroline rejecting him.

"Pardon?"

"You heard me, Your Highness; I have no interest in being your private whore for a night."

"Are you sure that speaking to me like that is a good idea, love?" Klaus asked, moving closer to her.

"I have heard the rumours that you are a beast, but I am unafraid of standing my ground. Chopping heads off is something that the English do, not the Prussians."

"Well I find that interesting," Klaus licked his lips, "For I have no quarrel with your bravery, but I do not understand why the idea of me bedding you is so repulsive."

"I know what happens to girls like me when they are with princes."

"Enlighten me."

"I am a woman who believes in certain Christian values, one of which is that my first time will be in my marital bed on my wedding night with my husband. I am not interested in having intercourse with a man who has been all around Prussia and probably has numerous venereal diseases- I do not wish to catch anything. You men can have all the women you want but the second a woman has a baby out of wedlock or has intercourse outside of marriage, they're ruined. They're whores, they're horrible names. It isn't fair- the Bible is against adultery but that seems to only be a rule for women. You continue to sleep with women whilst your previous lovers are sent off to convents or forcibly married for having a single night with you. Besides, if that got out my career and life would be ruined. I'm not stupid enough risk a very successful dance career for a night with a man that will think nothing of it. My body may have desires, but I am more than just the man that I lay with at night. You come into my room alone and expect me to fall into your arms. I am not some love struck servant, Your Highness, I am not afraid. I dance until my feet bleed, which is what gives me passion. I am aware of the consequences of my actions."

Klaus smirked.

"These women choose to come to me."

"In a perfect world, women would be able to be as sexual as men are. They are not- there are no consequences for you because you are a rich prince, but there are consequences for every woman. You are careless, everyone knows you- if you did not kiss and tell, then these women would be safe."

"I'm sorry, are you blaming me for women getting sent to convents?"

"No, I am not blaming you; I am explaining why I will not do this. Besides, a man like you does not care for women. Intercourse is about love, in a marital bed the husband is willing to care for his wife and realise the consequences of love making. You send them off with a fancy trinket without an ounce of loyalty."

"You are well versed in psychology, Miss. Forbes," Klaus smiled, enjoying the verbal sparring.

"I enjoy reading about the mind, many philosophers have fascinating ideas about it."

"I do not know many people who learn the art of the mind, especially ladies."

"I love arts regardless of how they are practiced, M'lord," Caroline played with her curls, "My main problem with you is how presumptive you are, you do not wish to learn about someone before you jump into bed with them. I am not sorry if you are offended by what I say, for I know men like you."

"You speak with such callousness when you barely know me."

"You speak with such lust when you barely know me," Caroline shot back; "I never took you for the ballet type."

"I was forced to come, but it was not as bad as I thought that it would be. I suppose that a certain principle dancer really persuaded me."

"You have had your fun with me, now I want you to leave," the blonde told him curtly.

"We have barely gotten to know one another, Miss. Forbes," Klaus leaned against a chair, "I am offended that you think so little of me."

"I have been dancing for nearly twelve hours today, I am exhausted and I do not want to be treated like a piece of meat by a man who does not understand my craft. I thank you very kindly for your compliment, but I request that you leave me to go home."

"Allow me and my companion to drop you home."

"My father sends a carriage so that I am safe; there is no need to thank you."

Klaus was torn between being horrified that he was rejected by the pure Odette and being amazed at the bravery of her. For the first time in a long time, he did not wish to jump straight into bed with her- he wanted to know her, hear her story and watch her dance until her feet bled. Everything she had said made so much sense, thinking about it made him understand her reluctance.

"Fine, I do not wish to discomfort you, my apologies Miss. Forbes. Best of luck with your performances, you are truly a fine performer."

For the first time that evening, Caroline gave him a real, genuine smile.

"Thank you, Your Highness."

Klaus nodded, walking out of the room and back into the corridor.

After some conversation with Sinclair, he headed back to the carriage with Marcel. As soon as Sinclair was out of earshot, Marcel rounded on his best friend.

"What happened?" he asked, "You had a face like a slapped arse when you came out of the dressing room."

"She rejected me straight away, then told me off for my conduct and asked me to leave."

"Wait...what?" Marcel spluttered, "I need to hear the whole thing."

Klaus regaled his story to Marcel, who laughed heartily throughout the tale.

"I like this girl, she's a riot," Marcel grinned, "Sounds super intelligent as well, I don't know many people who could spit logic like that without a pre rehearsal. Was she attractive?"

"She's beautiful."

"Are you feeling alright? You never call a girl beautiful."

"I cannot describe it; she was like a portrait of an angel. When she told me off, the idea of bedding her just melted away...I wanted to know her, to get to know her. This girl is something else, I tell you. I do not deny that hearing her moans of pleasure would not bring me joy, for she is sculpted beautifully, but I cannot say that I am not intrigued by her. She is so pure, yet has such fire."

"Klaus is in L-O-V-E," Marcel sang.

"I do not do love and romance, I do love and seduction," Klaus shook his head, "I wish to see her again, perhaps i will make some more trips to the ballet."

"It's the thrill of the chase for you- if she wants you to stop trying to bed her, then respect it. She is not a deer to be hunted."

"I will respect Miss. Forbes' wishes," Klaus replied as they climbed into the carriage, "But I cannot deny that she enchants me. Do you know then the next performance is?"

-AT THE BALLET-

Klaus went to many performances after the encounter with Caroline. He never went backstage, respecting her wishes to stay away, but he could not stop watching her. The music of the ballet remained in his head, playing constantly in his mind. He could not stop watching Caroline, simply because he couldn't believe a woman so beautiful and sharp could also be talented- she must have flaws, no one could be so amazing. Watching her move, he wondered what meant through her mind as leapt and pirouetted on the stage.

The idea of being intimate with her did not fade, but he had become more interested in learning about her. He couldn't imagine talking with a woman over dinner on a balcony, but suddenly he imagined it. Klaus wanted to hear her favourite ballet, the books that she enjoyed and what she did when she was not dancing. A prince courting a ballerina would be shocking, but it was more shocking to Klaus that he considered courting. She was witty, he wanted a woman who would stimulate his mind and would not be submissive.

Most of all, she was the most pure kind of beauty. There was a soft light around her, skin as white as snow and her hair golden in a halo around her head. He was fascinated.

One night, he was surprised when an attendant asked him to go outside. He waited against a wall until Caroline emerged, wearing a heavy fur coat to hide from the winter cold. She practically glowed against the light of the snow.

"I know that you come to all of the performances," Caroline stated as she approached him, clutching her coat close, "I was surprised that you did not come to my dressing room again."

"I did not wish to bother you," Klaus replied honestly.

She nodded in understanding, "So you have become a big ballet fan?"

"I cannot lie and say that I don't find ballet incredibly boring, but you I am honestly in awe of you as a dancer. When I first met you, I had that feeling in my head of wanting to treat you like all other women. When you spoke to me as an equal, something sparked in my brain. I wanted to get to know you simply because everything about you piqued my interest. See, I fancy you and that is not something that ever happens. You are beautiful, you can dance and you can see right through me. Everyone else falls at my feet and whilst I cannot deny that it isn't perfect, I cannot deny that you rejecting me was rather exciting."

Caroline laughed, "My heart was beating rather fast, I was questioning myself the entire way home wondering if you would get me fired."

"I would not be so petty."

"Then I am honoured at your chivalry. How is your friend, the one who joined us the first time?"

"Marcel is fine, thank you for asking. I will give him your regards."

"Yes, please do, I heard he was a gentleman from Mr. Sinclair."

"Look," Klaus stood up, "I get if you want me to go to Hell, but like I said, I fancy you and I do not wish to give up so easily."

"I am not a prize to be won," she told him plainly.

"I know that, but I cannot deny my feelings."

"I'm a ballerina, not a Duchess."

"I am not saying that I have thought this through," Klaus shook his head, "But I want to get to know you, for real. You are the first woman whose mind I have wanted to learn. Your wit astounded me and I could watch you dance until the end of time. I do not ask you to give your heart to me for I know that I might well break it, but I ask that you give me a chance to show you that I am not the womanising idiot that I portrayed myself as when we first met."

"Are you denying that isn't who you are?"

"I like women and it may be hard for me, so do not think that I will suddenly change. My life has revolved around being with the most beautiful woman in the room, even if it is just for one passionate night. Still, if you allow me, then maybe I can mature from that."

"I have one more question."

"Go for it."

"Why me out of everyone else?" she asked, "I am from a good family, but I am not nobility or royalty. You could fall for anyone."

"I cannot help who I fall for," Klaus moved a step closer, "You are an exceptional woman, Miss. Forbes. You are a light in a dark world, a true White Swan. The others in the company are talented, especially the lady who plays the Black Swan and the gentleman that plays the evil wizard, but you are in a league of your own. When I first met Sinclair, he told me that one day you would be the talk of Europe. I believe that to be true."

"You must understand that my career comes first."

"I would never dream of getting in the way, hence why I never approached you."

"Thank you, Your Highness. I have to say that I cannot deny that my heart does not beat slightly whenever I see you in the audience. I thought you to be an arrogant pig in our first meeting, but you struck me with your politeness and your good looks. If you had to proposition me, then at least you knew boundaries."

Klaus chuckled, "I try. I cannot claim to be perfect and cannot claim I will be the perfect man, but I will try."

"Then perhaps we can take this slow," Caroline agreed, "Nothing too intimate, for I said what I meant when we first met- my honour will remain mine until my married day. I will not besmirch the choice of others, but my choice will be forever mine."

"I understand," Klaus nodded solemnly, "We can get to know one another first."

"Fact One: My favourite opera is Madam Butterfly. It's small, but a start."

"Fact One: I love horses more than most people."

Caroline smiled, "I understand that."

"It is cold tonight, I do not wish to give you a winter chill- perhaps we can meet soon? I will send a messenger to relay the details. It will be better for us."

"I'd like that," Caroline gave him a warm smile, "I do not wish to freeze to death either. I must go anyway, my father's driver is waiting and he will be worried if I do not return home soon."

"One more thing?"

"Of course."

"May I kiss you?"

Caroline nodded in assent, moving within reaching distance of Klaus. He brought her into a gentle embrace, their lips moving closer and closer together. She leaned up on her toes to bring down the height gap as Klaus moved their lips within the perfect distance.

Both leaning in, the Arrogant Prince and the White Swan kissed as a blizzard surrounded them. The road would not be easy, but dance had proven itself to bring people together in more ways than one.

Fin- I hope that you enjoyed it, please review to let me know what you thought x