Title: The Prince Husband
Fandom: The Princess Bride
Disclaimer: not my characters
Warnings: AU; talk of violence/death/torture
Point of view: third
Prompt: The Princess Bride, Buttercup/Westley, Westley is the prince's unwilling and kidnapped husband-to-be. Buttercup is the Woman In Black.
Four years after Buttercup dies on the high seas, victim of the Dread Pirate Roberts, Prince Humperdinck offers Westley an opportunity to become the Prince Consort. He talks of making a difference in the lives of the less-fortunate, a chance to honor the people by having their king-to-be marry below his class.
Westley's back still aches when it rains, a terrible reminder of the injury that led to Buttercup seeking their fortune, and there is nothing for him on the farm that is a memorial to all he once had.
"I'll never love you," he tells the prince.
The prince laughs. "Or I you," the prince says. "This is a contract of convenience, nothing more."
Westley dreams of her, always. The way she haughtily said farm boy and watched him, the way she kissed, the way she fell into his arms. The way she took to hard labor when he injured himself so stupidly, how her body (which had never been soft) tightened into something new, something so strong.
The way she said goodbye, hair cut short, wearing his clothes altered to her frame. "I'll come home," she promised, leaning down to kiss him, one hand cupping his cheek. "Dearest Westley, I'll always come home to you."
But she never did. She never did, and he dreams of her, wrapped in thick blankets, tucked into the softest bed.
He always wakes with the promise, I'll never love again. He never does.
He is out walking because his back is acting up, so he couldn't stand a horse's gait. He is out walking to escape the castle's stuffy atmosphere and the courtiers' disdain.
A farm boy can be dressed in finery, but he will still be a farm boy. A farm boy can be taught elocution and memorize dictionaries but he will still be a farm boy.
Westley is out walking when the ruffians abduct him. He almost relishes the adventure.
A genius, a swordsman, and a giant plan to start a war with Westley's body as the spark.
"The prince doesn't love me," he tries explaining but that does not matter. Humperdinck might not, or the courtiers – but the people do. He is charming. He is handsome. He is one of their own.
"We are being followed," the swordsman says, interrupting Westley's argument with the genius.
"Inconceivable!" the genius whines.
Westley rolls his eyes.
The giant carries Westley, the genius, and the swordsman up the towering Cliffs of Insanity and then they all watch in shock as the stranger in black follows them up the rope.
"Inconceivable!" the genius repeats, and then orders the swordsman to deal with it because they have a schedule to keep.
When they look back half an hour later, the stranger in black is following them and the genius shouts, "Inconceivable!"
"Stop saying that!" Westley shouts back. "It is clearly conceivable!"
The genius backhands him and orders the giant to deal with it since the swordsman failed. "Keep up, your highness," the genius says snottily. "You'll die either way but it's up to you how painfully."
Westley keeps his head down and lets the genius drag him along by his bound hands, stumbling after him since the genius decides to blindfold his eyes – probably because it doesn't take a genius to figure out that since the giant and swordsman are gone, chronic back pain or not, Westley could utterly crush the genius.
The genius sits Westley down, still bound and blindfolded, and putters around for a few minutes. Westley tries to guess his actions by the sound.
Finally, the genius announces, "You have beaten my master swordsman and my giant. Clearly, you have tactics and strength. But what of intelligence?"
"A game of wits, then," the stranger says, voice soft. "If you like."
That voice is familiar.
Westley tries to follow their logic, but it's all so twisty and tangled, and no matter who wins, he is most likely dead. But finally the stranger says, "I've spent five years developing an immunity to iocaine powder" and something thumps on the ground.
The blindfold is pulled away and Westley blinks up a masked figure. "Come with me, your highness," the figure orders. "We've somewhere to be." He is dragged to his feet and the figure reaches only his shoulder – and that voice, that voice.
His hands are still bound. He lets the figure pull him along, listening to insults the whole way, muttered so that he can barely hear, and none of it makes sense - but then they're racing next to a steep decline, and this is his chance, perhaps the only one he'll get, so he shoves the figure over the side, shouting, "Let this be the end of it! Fuck this whole day!"
And then he hears, "As you wish."
He stares down the hill, at where the figure is prone on the ground. "Buttercup?"
Westley gently removes the mask and it is/Buttercup blinking up at him, hair still shorn close to her head, with a scar across her cheek. "You're alive?" he asks, collapsing down, letting his face rest on her shoulder.
"Dearest Westley," she murmurs, dropping that affected voice, wrapping her arms around him. "I never forgot about you."
Buttercup spent six months as the Dread Pirate Roberts' prisoner before she became his student and eventual replacement. "He knew I was a woman," Buttercup says, guiding Westley through the Fire Swamp, "but he didn't care." She grins brightly. "I was the most efficient of his men, and he told me he'd never seen someone so capable of viciousness."
"I'm just so glad you're alive," he says.
(They are found by the prince's men. Westley is taken back to the castle to spare Buttercup's life.
Unfortunately, Buttercup's life is not spared.
But the swordsman and the giant hear the screams, and there is a rescue, a miracle, and the storming of a castle, and (of course) a happy ending.)
(But before the happy ending, there is this:
"To the pain, your highness," the woman in black says, standing and holding out the sword, the blade resting on Humperdinck's cheek.
Humperdinck folds, dropping to his knees; Buttercup stares down at him. "Westley," she says, "bind him."
"I'm going to leave you alive," she tells the prince, "if you can convince me that you are trustworthy when you swear to leave us alone."
"I swear, I swear," and Humperdinck babbles his way through promises and oaths and finally, Buttercup holds up at hand, ordering, "Silence."
Humperdinck nearly his bites his tongue but he is instantly silent.
"Westley," she says, "I need you to carry me once you're done gagging him."
Humperdinck's eyes widen, but before he can start shouting, Buttercup's eyes are back on him and Westley is wrapping a sheet around his head.
"Don't follow us," Buttercup says. "I shan't be this kind next time.")
And there is a happily ever after.