AUTHOR'S NOTE: There's a fanon idea I've noticed in fics recently, that pimps and brothel owners tried to force Aladdin to be a sex worker in his lower-income days. Of course this is far too dark for a kid's movie (even though both 1992 and 2019 films also had prostitute characters in said movies). But sadly this realistically may have happened.
Mehrunisa is the one who sings "still I think he's rather tasty" in One Jump Ahead, not Bakhtawar. But as Bakhtawar is the brothel owner, I've decided to combine the two women into one character.
This is based on the 2019 film, with the only reference to the 1992 film is that Bakhtawar runs a brothel (instead of a girls' school in the 2019 remake).
WARNING: There is a non-graphic description of an attempted sexual assault of a minor (not by Jasmine). This is rated M, not R.
"I was wondering, Your Highness, have you ever thought of forming a harem?"
Aladdin actually chokes on his wine. As he coughs, Jasmine and the new grand vizier at the low table beside him wait for the prince consort to finish hacking and wheezing.
"No," Aladdin, rasps. His entire body is now tense, panic rising in his chest. Desperate to convince his wife of the truth of his statement, he looks at the woman sultan seated next to him. He can say it in all honesty, as he has truly never thought once of having a string of official mistresses. "I have not."
"You may not be sultan yourself, it is true," the grand vizier continues as if he hadn't just encouraged Aladdin to cheat on Jasmine in front of the sultan. "But you have every right to have harem girls."
"That may be so, but I don't need a harem," Aladdin counters. "Why would I want that when I am married to the most beautiful woman on earth?"
He reaches for Jasmine's hand, and she smiles.
Aladdin is ten, starving, bruised, homeless, and very alone.
Only recently orphaned, his thievery skills are not quite where they need to be. A merchant had caught him stealing naan bread and beaten the boy for it. Tears streaking down his grimy face, Aladdin limps to an alley, lays down on a burlap sack, and tries to rest. But soon the pain is no longer his only concern.
"Are you alright, dear?"
Aladdin looks up with a start. Blocking the sun, a woman towers over him in the alley. He vaguely recognizes her, but can't remember her name. Yet the concern in her dark eyes dispells the child's fear.
"A merchant beat me for stealing."
"Oh, you poor thing!" She bends down. "I'm Bakhtawar. What's your name?"
"Aladdin," he sniffs.
She smiles. "It is an honor to make your acquaintance."
"Uh, you too."
Bakhtawar holds out a gentle hand. "Why don't you come with me and I'll get you something to eat, Aladdin?"
He hesitates for the first time, wondering if he should turn down her offer. He knows her from somewhere, but his parents always told him not to leave with strangers.
"Aren't you rather tasty?" she says softly, tone changing and an odd look in her eyes that unnerves Aladdin.
He's about to refuse her offer when his stomach growls. His mother Zera and father Cassim aren't here, are they? And if he halfway recognizes Bakhtawar, then she's not really a stranger, right?
Aladdin takes her hand.
"I have pomegranates at home," she says as they walk together hand in hand. "And dates, figs, chickpeas, falafel, hummus, naan bread, feta cheese, lamb. And sweets! Truffles, halva, knafeh, Turkish Delight…" The starving child's mouth starts watering. "I'll give you a meal fit for a sultan," she says with a wink.
Dizzy with hunger, he doesn't really pay attention to where Bakhtawar is taking him. But then Aladdin notices they have entered one of the poorest areas of Agrabah's capitol. Now homeless, he is no stranger to unsavory characters, but the woman is taking him into the heart of the slums. Drunks stumble through the streets and opium addicts waste away as they smoke hookahs.
And then Bakhtawar heads straight for a brothel.
Aladdin knows this place. He's run by it a few times escaping from guards, but has never gone inside. Before his parents' died of the pox, they had warned him to stay far away from businesses such as these. But now Bakhtawar seems to be taking him straight to the front door. Scantily-clad women pose by the doorway, while others lean out windows. Street walkers, his mother had called them before she died. Yes, Agrabah is hot, but the women are hardly wearing anything at all. But then Aladdin realizes not all of them are women. Some are merely teenagers, and there's even one girl around his own age.
"I didn't know you were starting in the gigolo trade," one woman says with a sharp laugh.
"I couldn't ignore such a pretty face," Bakhtawar replies, looking down at him with that strange glint in her eyes again.
Fear coiling in his stomach, Aladdin stops, digging his bare feet into the dust. "Madame, I think-"
"Come along, Aladdin," Bakhtawar says sweetly, but her grip tightens on his hand. "I promised you a sultan's meal, didn't I?"
She pulls the boy through the door. There are more women inside, as well as a few men putting money in the low necklines of the prostitutes' sheer gowns. Some of the women are shocked to see Aladdin, and one kind-looking girl with a black eye steps forward.
"Bakhtawar, what is he doing here?"
"The same thing as you. Get back to work!" Bakhtawar snaps, and drags Aladdin up the rickety stairs.
They go down a hallway past closed doors. Each room is clearly occupied from the odd sounds coming from within, and Aladdin hears a woman cry out in pain. Bakhtawar pulls Aladdin into the sole remaining empty room, the only furniture in which is a bed, and closes the door behind them.
There is an unmistakable hunger in Bakhtawar's eyes now. Frightened, Aladdin backs into a corner. "Can I…" he croaks, throat dry. "Can I eat now?"
"Later," she says. "Don't be afraid, Aladdin."
But he is consumed by terror as she towers over him. She starts to run a finger down his chest and torso, and he pushes her hand away. "Please don't-"
She grabs his arm with a viselike grip, suddenly dangerously furious. "Shut up, boy!"
Bakhtawar forces a smile. "If you're good," she says, finger returning to his chest, "I'll feed you after. If you're not, I won't feed you at all."
Starving is better than this, he thinks, silently starting to cry as her finger draws a line down his stomach.
"Stop," he gasps.
"Aladdin," a woman's voice says, but it's not Bakhtawar.
Before her hand can go lower, the door flies open. The prostitute with the black eye bashes an oud guitar over Bakhtawar's head.
"Go, boy!" the prostitute shouts, and he runs.
When he reaches a quiet, safe alley far from the brothel, the ten-year-old Aladdin throws up.
He hears someone say his name again as fear forces him awake. Covered in sweat, Aladdin realizes he is in the palace, his wife Jasmine in bed beside him. He is a thirty-year-old prince consort, not a ten-year-old street urchin about to be-
"Aladdin?" Jasmine says softly again. He realizes it was her voice he had heard in his dream as she tried to wake him from his nightmare. There is worry in her eyes, but he knows it is genuine, unlike the fabricated concern Bakhtawar had shown all those years ago.
"It was merely a dream," he says. "Forgive me if I woke you."
The sultan is undeterred. "You were talking in your sleep. You said please don't and stop. What were you dreaming of, my love?"
He almost says it was nothing; living such a hard life on the streets for so long makes trusting anyone a difficult task. But this is Jasmine. Out of anyone on earth, he knows in his bones that she won't hurt him, even if irrational fear weighs on his chest.
"I was dreaming of…" His tongue is as dry as sandpaper. "I was ten. After my parents died and I was on my own for the first time, a brothel matron… She tried to…"
Tears well in Jasmine's eyes. "Aladdin."
"One of the prostitutes who worked there stopped her. The matron, I mean. And I was able to escape. But she wasn't the only pimp who pursued me. I got quite a few offers over the years. Once I ever thought of slicing my own face open so I would have a scar, and they would all leave me alone."
"Tomorrow I will have that brothel matron arrested," the sultan declares. "And every person who approached you with such offers."
"I don't remember them all. Bakhtawar was the first one, but I doubt even the royal guard will find each and every one."
She lifts her chin. "Justice will be brought to those you do remember."
"And I meant what I said earlier today, about not wanting a harem. You alone have my heart," he swears. "But I would never force anyone into sexual servitude, even if it is a custom. What's done is not always what should be done."
"I quite agree." Tears well in her eyes again. "I am so sorry you went through this. Being beaten by merchants is terrible enough, but this..."
"I am not the first to endure such things. And Bakhtawar didn't… Yes, she touched me, but she didn't complete her, ah, attempt."
Jasmine locks gazes with Aladdin. "She should never have touched you in that matter, period."
Her eyes soften, and he knows he can trust that dark gaze. She reaches for his shoulder, but her hand stops, hovering over his skin. "I will not touch you if you do not wish it."
"You have my permission to do so."
"May I embrace you?" she still asks.
He nods. "Yes."
She carefully wraps her arms around him, and he presses his face to her neck. His nightmare was vivid, but he is here now with Jasmine. He breathes in the perfume of her namesake flower to convince himself of the fact.
"You are safe now, Aladdin. No one will hurt you ever again. I will make sure of it."
"What did I ever do to deserve you?" he says into her hair.
She pulls back to look at him. "Everyone deserves love. You are no different."
"But I am just a street rat, a thief, a nobody who was almost-"
"You are a prince consort," she counters softly.
"Receiving a title doesn't erase my past."
She cradles his face in her soft hands. "You are no less worthy of love than anyone else. Is it alright if I kiss you?"
He laughs airily. "You don't have to ask."
"I am perfectly serious. I want to give you the choice to say no."
Love surges again in his chest for her, nearly overwhelming him with its force. He will never deserve this woman, not if he lives for a thousand years. "Permission granted."
She kisses him lightly, and he deepens it.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is a stand-alone fic and not officially in my series golden sands and green fjords… but it can exist in the series if you want to read it that way. Whatever works.