A/N: For those wondering, yes this is a repost... I took it off and reposted it because I felt ripped off that I completed this on one of the days that ff.n was backed up and it got pushed to the bottom of the page before anyone even noticed that it was there... so yeah... :-D
The fifth and final installment, a twisted version of Sleeping Beauty… I hope you have enjoyed these rather dark renditions of the princess tales… And don't forget to review!
Her eyes are closed, dark lashes resting delicately on perfect, porcelain skin. Her lips are blood-red, but other than her lips her face appears totally lifeless, void of all color. The tone of her skin is snow-white, a deathly pale color that makes him wonder if she is even alive. She has a tangle of brown curls framing her pale face, spread out on the pillow like a fan, and deep, red roses, like those that gently ornament the wicked thicket of thorn around the tower, are set delicately in her hair, as though just recently plucked from their vines and placed ceremonially. If it weren't for the life in those lips, he would turn and leave.
The room is covered from ceiling to floor in a thick layer of dust. Turning round he notices the trail of footprints he has left along the floor with his bare feet; his shoes and stockings were lost in the battle against the thorns. His entire uniform is rather shabby-looking, after the journey and then the awful battle; his cape flutters in tatters; his breeches hang loosely over thorn-scarred legs; his shirt is ripped and an especially long tear reveals a nasty cut, which has stained the garment with blood. There is still something about him though that suggests a regal presence; perhaps it is the way he still puffs out his chest and holds his head high; perhaps it is the curly wave of his golden hair; perhaps it is the very fabric these torn and tattered clothes are made of, the elegant silk of the shirt and the rich velvet of the cape. Somehow an air of royalty lingers about this youth, despite his ratty appearance.
A breeze blows in from the balcony window and the young heir steps toward it, his features molded into an expression of curiosity. The thorny branches have crept up to the balcony, wrapping around the small pillars and even reaching to the curtains to poke and prod. But he notices how the cruel thicket does not enter the chamber of the sleeping girl. He sees the branches twist their way up between his legs and pulls away sharply, creating another long gash in his calf. He steps back into the bed room and the branches start to follow, but pull away, as though there is an invisible barrier blocking off the room.
He feels a sudden chill run up his spine and he turns to look at the window; but the curtains have not moved. The only change seems to be the sun in the distance, now suddenly seeming dangerously low, ready to dip away into the earth, ready to hibernate for the night. And something is telling him to stay away from the girl, that she is dangerous, that the deep red of those lips is just painted on to entice him, that she is dead. And, for some reason, that something that is telling him to pull away draws him nearer.
The dress she wears is intricately brocaded in a clean, white color. The skirts of the gown are spread out the bed, folded intricately and delicately, spreading out the floral pattern prettily. The gilded silver crown set among her brunette curls suggests royalty, or nobility at the very least. Red rose petals are scattered on the pillows, bed, and even on the girl herself, and for some reason he has the creepy feeling that he didn't see those before he stepped out on the balcony. The setting sun throws an eerie red glow over the bed, playing delicately on the girl's lovely features.
Her breast rises and falls in a deep breath, signaling to the youth that this regal girl is indeed alive; he swears that he hears that something from before let out an oath of disappointment, the same something that told him to stay away from the sleeping maiden. This sleeping, beautiful maiden. This sleeping beauty.
He steps closer, examining her beautiful face, the way her eyelashes flutter gently as she takes another deep breath. And now he hears another something, and this something is pulling him nearer, pulling her toward the beautiful girl. And to this something, he does not resist.
Those intriguing crimson lips seem to protrude, calling to him, pulling him in. He longs to touch this bit of life in a fortress of slumber and death, and puts a finger gently to these beautiful lips.
And another wind enters without bothering the curtains, but this is a breeze of warmth, of delight, of heaven, and it pushes him forward lightly, and his lips, dry and chapped from days without water, meet gently with the soft, tender, scarlet lips of the beautiful, sleeping maid on the bed.
He suddenly feels hurtled backward as the room goes ice-cold and the distant sound of a screaming woman grows nearer, until it pierces his ears wickedly. And as quickly as the coldness has come, it is gone and replaced with the warmth of summer and the room is glowing, somehow glowing with a rich golden color, and the rose petals on the bed are spinning upward into a single red rose, which is spinning now in the center of the room as the heated wind stirs away the dust and the cobwebs and the sun seems to set and rise again and set and rise again and set and rise again…
A figure appears the middle of the room, beneath the spinning rose, rising up from the fading dust and cobwebs; the woman seems to be made from the cobwebs, in fact, and is the source of the awful shrieking. She lifts a hand toward him and utters a curse, before bursting into dust; and just as this faerie-woman disintegrates, the girl's eyes flutter open…
He is at the bedside, kneeling, as though he never left, and is dressed richly once again in gray stockings and navy breeches and a bottle green vest and pale emerald silk shirt and maroon cloak. An elegant golden crown is set again among the waves of his hair and the scars on his arms and legs have healed away.
The girl's cheeks are rosy and her flesh is a rich peach color, as though the paleness of death had never been there. Her opened eyes are dark, a deep, brown color, warm and happy. She sits up and her long, brown tresses fall around her shoulders. She looks into his eyes and lets a small smile spread across her face.
'Are you him?'
And something in his gut bubbles up and overflows and he suddenly knows: 'I am, my princess.'
And now they kiss, and they kiss and kiss and kiss. And he knows her thoughts, her feelings, her emotions, her heart, her passion, her love, for they are one and always have been, though they are a century apart. And the room is suddenly filling with people, servants awaken from a hundred years of slumber and a king and a queen and yapping spaniel and a purring white cat.
And though he doesn't understand all that has just happens, he realizes he doesn't need to; for he has found his maiden, and she has found him, and they are both so happy.