|Sleeping Highland Beauty
Author: Athers PM
Fitzcairn aids a damsel in distress...Rated: Fiction K - English - Fantasy - Words: 2,348 - Reviews: 2 - Published: 10-10-01 - id: 430670
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: Fitz isn't mine, fortunately. Lisa and her mother technically are mine - but if you can find a use for a petulant six year old and her harassed mother, by all means...! The basic story of Sleeping Beauty isn't mine - although the modifications I've made to it are, but I'm not propriatorial about them g
This was written for the Fairy Tale Picture Wheel. Instead of sending out lyrics, we sent out (and received) pictures. For the picture that inspired mine, you can find it here:
Also, as the title might suggest, the wheel had a theme – fairy tales. Take an existing fairy tale and give it a Highlander twist...
Further Comments: This is probably NOT what Amand-r had in mind for the wheel, and it is sort of cheating, but I thought Fitz would have been very good at this, given his many charms. I also know I haven't exactly matched the picture I was sent (which is from Witchblade [many thanks to Dana for the pic and prompting me to use someone other than Methos!]), but this was the best that I could do.
Sleeping Highland Beauty
"Mommy tell me a story!"
The petulant and plaintive tones of the six-year-old echoed through the vaulted chapel amply demonstrating the wonderful acoustics. Fitz, who had come to Julian le Pauvre to speak to Darius, stopped in his tracks, looking for the source of the echo. He promptly spotted it too. A small girl and her harassed looking mother were over by the votive candles. The mother was apparently attempting to light a candle while also trying to pacify the child.
"But we're in church. I'll tell you a story later."
Fitz knew what was coming next.
"But I want one *NOW*!"
The handful of other people in Julian le Pauvre all glared at the pair and at least two started muttering imprecations about single mothers. Fitz rolled his eyes in disgust at the decidedly anti-Christian sentiment of the mutters and decided to step in, seeing as Darius was not around.
Swiftly, he made his way over to the howling six-year-old and tapped her distressed mother on the shoulder.
"Perhaps I might be of some assistance," Fitz began. The mother looked round puzzled - not to mention relieve - that someone was offering her assistance. "I came here to meet someone, who hasn't arrived yet, and I now find myself with time on my hands. I couldn't help but hear that the bairn would like a story - please, allow me." The woman looked sceptical. So Fitz added, "I have a horde of small nieces and nephews who are all about the same age as your daughter, I know a great many stories."
The child, on hearing the magic word 'stories' immediately ceased her howling and started looking expectant.
"But I couldn't possibly impose on you..."
Fitz could see she was wavering. "Of course you could," he replied firmly. "I insist."
The woman sighed in relief. "Thank you, Mr...?"
"Fitzcairn - Hugh Fitzcairn."
"Thank you, Mr Fitzcairn, then."
Fitz smiled and held his hand out to the child. With barely a hesitation, the child took the proffered hand and followed Fitz out into the bright Parisian sunlight. Once out side, Fitz turned to his small charge.
"Do you like stories about princesses?" The child nodded her head vigorously. "With heroic knights coming to their rescue?" Another vigorous nod. "In that case, I have just the story. It's all about a princess who's rescued by a brave knight but..." Fitz pretended to frown, "I don't have a name for the princess. I know - why don't we name her after you?" The child nodded yet again. "So what's your name?"
"Lisa," she replied.
"What a very pretty name for a very pretty girl," Fitz replied, taking a seat on a nearby bench. Lisa smiled shyly. Fitz patted the seat next to him, and when it looked as if Lisa wasn't going to sit down, Fitz added, "All good stories are told while sitting down - I think it's a rule, you know." Lisa giggled but sat down anyway. "Comfortable?" Lisa nodded. "Good. Once upon a time, in a far away land called The Highlands there was a beautiful princess called Lisa." At this, Lisa giggled again. Fitz smiled.
"She was the daughter of the king of The Highlands, who was a very wise and good man. When Lisa was born, he invited all the Highland Faeries to the naming party to ensure that his daughter would have the best of life. But one Faery didn't receive her invitation, so she arrived in the middle of the party, just as each Faery was offering the baby princess their blessings. The angry Faery made her entrance and stormed up to the crib where baby Lisa was lying. 'You have all blessed her,' screamed the angry Faery, 'to no doubt be beautiful, clever and witty, but she will not live to enjoy these gifts.' The assembled crowd gasped at this and the angry Faery continued, 'No, for I curse her. A fish shall be her downfall.'" Fitz turned to Lisa. "Now, to you or I, that might not sound like much of a curse, but in The Highlands, fishing was their way of life. It was a very serious curse indeed.
"But before the king could say anything, the Faery queen stepped forward, for she was yet to bless the baby princess. 'There is but one Faery left to lay a blessing upon Princess Lisa, and that is me. So I say this: A fish shall not cause Princess Lisa to die. I cannot lift the curse altogether so I say that should the princess ever eat a fish of any kind, it will cause her to fall into a deep sleep such that she might only be roused by the kiss of a pure hearted, courageous prince. And all those around her will also fall asleep, only to be woken when the curse is broken.' Of course, the angry Faery didn't like this one little bit, but there was nothing that she could do about it. The king of The Highlands liked it even less and immediately had fish struck from palace menus and barred from ever entering the palace in the hopes of avoiding the curse."
Fitz paused to take a much-needed breath. "So what happened next?" Lisa wanted to know.
Fitz smiled. "Well, the lovely Lisa grew into the most beautiful, kind, clever and funny princess The Highlands had ever seen. She was loved and adored by all the people and the king knew that she would make an excellent queen, but on her eighteenth birthday, disaster struck. Princess Lisa decided that she wanted to go for a walk beyond the walls of the castle, but didn't wish to be recognised. So she slipped out of the castle disguised as one of her handmaidens.
"Wandering around the festival that was being held to honour her birthday, Lisa found herself in the quayside market area of the village near the castle and found herself drawn to the stall belonging to an old woman. On the stall were fish of all kinds, colours, shapes and sizes. Lisa was astonished - she had never seen anything like it before. 'My! What strange looking things they are, to be sure,' Lisa exclaimed.
"The old woman smiled. 'Why, they're fish, my dear. These are haddock, and these here are cod. Those thin ones with the orange spots - they're plaice and these,' the woman indicated a batch of brilliant red fish close to her, 'these are red herrings. Would you like to try some?'
"Now, Lisa knew that fish had been barred from the castle and struck from royal meals, but no-one had ever told her why, nor had she ever asked. So seeing no harm in it, she said 'I'd love to.' The old woman smiled, and served Lisa with a small portion of red herring, but no sooner did Lisa bite into the delicacy, than did she fall asleep, as did everyone in the village and castle. All apart from the old woman with the fish stall, who was really the angry Faery in disguise."
Again, Fitz paused for breath. "Oooh nasty fairy," Lisa commented.
Fitz nodded. "She was, but she immediately felt guilty for what she had done, because in that brief contact, she realised that Lisa really was a nice person. So she used her magic to protect the sleeping castle and village - for it would have been very easy for an invading army to come and just kill everyone." Lisa shuddered at that. "She caused a huge wall of thorns and pine trees to grow up around the village and castle that would only admit the prince who would lift the spell. So you see, the angry Faery wasn't really a bad person."
Lisa nodded sagely at Fitz. "She was just jealous 'cos the mail man lost her invite."
"Exactly." Fitz grinned.
"So what happens next?"
Fitz was somewhat startled to realise he had drawn something of a crowd during his story telling. The speaker had been Lisa's mother, but the rest were an assortment of Parisians and tourists, all of whom had been drawn in by the spell of the story and all of whom were looking expectantly at Fitz for the conclusion of the old fairy tale.
Recovering from his surprise, Fitz turned back to Lisa and continued, "Well, many years passed and the legend of Princess Lisa grew throughout the whole kingdom and beyond, where it eventually reached the kingdom of Glenfinnan and the ears of the Crown Prince of Glenfinnan, whose name was Duncan. He decided that he would seek out the fabled castle and attempt to rescue Princess Lisa.
"So he set out from his home in Glenfinnan and began the long and difficult journey to reach the thorn and pine tree wall which marked the spot where the castle and village were reputed to stand. On the way he had to face dragons and all manner of beasts that had also been set to guard the sleeping princess to ensure that only those who showed true courage reached the castle.
"Now, Duncan was as afraid of these beasts as you or I might have been, but he faced his fears so that he might help another and proved his worth, for true courage comes not from brave deeds but from facing your own fears. And so he was able to reach the wall of thorns and pines.
"The wall was thick and the thorns were sharp, but Duncan didn't let that put him off and he managed to find the one path through the wall and into the village, where he found the most amazing sight. Every living being - be it man, woman; cat, dog - was asleep where they had been the moment the curse came down. So there were people asleep, slumped over market stalls, people sleep in the streets, people asleep in doorways...people asleep everywhere. And there was not a sound to be heard.
"Duncan carefully tiptoed through the village and made his way to the castle. Once inside the castle, he found the same scenes as he had seen in the village, with courtiers asleep at their posts and the royal cook asleep slumped over his stove. But Duncan ignored them and continued through the castle to the throne room. In the throne room, he found the king, asleep on his throne, with his advisors asleep before him, but that wasn't what drew Duncan's eye. He was more interested in the bier in the centre of the room, where Princess Lisa had been laid by the angry Faery's spell.
"'Och, she is beautiful,' Duncan murmured as he gazed upon Lisa's sleeping form. Quickly, he crossed the chamber, leaned over and pressed a gentle kiss on Lisa's lips. For a second, nothing happened, and Duncan thought that he had failed in his quest, but as he straightened up, he felt someone's eyes upon him, and he realised that Lisa was awake."
Yet again, Fitz paused for breath. "And what happened next?" The query came from a new member of the audience. Looking up, Fitz was startled to realise that Darius had joined the throng in front of his church to listen to the conclusion of the story. Darius merely smiled, indicating that Fitz should continue.
"In the next few minutes, the spell was lifted from the castle and village, and the newly awoken king was able to explain to his daughter and her rescuer about the curse, but neither Lisa nor Duncan really cared about the whys. All that mattered to them was that they had fallen hopelessly in love in the instant that their eyes had met for the first time. They were married not long after, thus uniting the kingdoms of Glenfinnan and The Highlands, and they lived happily ever after. The end."
There was a brief moment, and then the crowd burst into applause for the story. Looking at Lisa, Fitz could see that she had enjoyed it just as much as the applauding adults and on seeing that, Fitz sat back and enjoyed the adulation.
It didn't take long for the crowd to disperse once the story was over, Lisa's mother making sure to thank Fitz once more for his help, and soon, only Darius and Fitz were left in the courtyard in front of Julian le Pauvre.
"Sleeping Beauty?" Darius queried.
Fitz shrugged. "First story that popped into my mind."
Darius chuckled and shook his head. "Come - I have tea ready and I believe Duncan will be along a little later. Perhaps you should try your story telling talents on him?"
Fitz laughed. "Maybe."