The Dark Prince of Manhattan
Summary: Their lives were a real world fairy tale. The Dark Prince was a monster to be feared. The White Knight was an ideal. And she was a sleeping princess.
AN: Another one of my experiments. It will have elements of good old fairy tale, a little (really very little) touch of fantastic realism and a healthy blend of romance, fluff and drama, all in Gossip Girl style. PS I was planning to do a full blown science fantasy, in the likes of what I majored in, but I thought I'd take it lightly first.
"Once upon a time, there lived the most beautiful princess in the world," Harold Waldorf's voice drowned out the white noise.
The little girl in the bed glanced at the small sound machine and frowned. Her mother had insisted on it, so that the white noise could block out the sirens and honks from the street. Even the best neighborhoods, her mother had mentioned as she installed the small machine, had very bad noise that could seep through little girls' windows and wake them up from a solid sleep.
"Daddy, turn it off."
Harold glanced at the machine, then reached for it and clicked the switch. He held up a finger to his lips. "Only for a minute," he told his princess.
And her mother was right. Without the sound machine Blair could hear the ambulance and the fire trucks. Thoughts of the world outside crept through the open windows.
But her daddy was there, and she wanted to hear his story. "Tell it, daddy. Tell me about the princess."
"Well," Harold told her, "as I said, she was the most beautiful princess in the world."
"The whole wide world?" Blair clarified, her eyes wide open. When her father told her a bedtime story, it did the exact opposite of what bedtime stories intended. Blair was more awake, more alive, more excited to find out.
"The absolute whole wide world."
And Blair just said, "Wow." And she gave her father a brilliant smile. "Did she look like me, daddy? Did she have dark hair and dark eyes too?" Blair crinkled her nose. "Or did she have nice blonde hair like Serena?"
"Silly goose," Harold replied. "Didn't you know the most beautiful princess in the world looked exactly like you?"
"Cross my heart," said her father. Harold tapped her nose with a finger. "Now will you let me tell you the story?"
But Blair asked another question, "Did she live in a palace?"
"High above the clouds."
So she nodded. "Okay, daddy. You can tell the story."
"Thank you, your highness."
Blair grinned, then settled in the bed under her comfortable blankets as she listened to her daddy. She turned her head, just as her daddy's voice droned on.
"Everyone loved the princess, and all the other maidens in the land wanted to be just like there. But one day, something went very wrong."
She could see the twinkle through the darkness, of something up there, a flash of white light that blinked on and off.
"There's someone up there," she said with a yawn, pointing in the distance.
Harold cleared his throat, then said with a grin, "You're sleepy, princess."
"You didn't finish the story."
"We'll continue tomorrow," he promised her.
She was sleepy, and her eyes were crossing and she could see double her daddy now. But something had been very wrong, and she wanted to know what it was. "What went wrong, daddy?"
"The princess went to sleep, a very deep sleep. Only her true love could wake her up."
Blair took deep breaths as she drifted off. Her father stood up and switched back on her white noise, and all the sounds of the street switched off like magic. She smiled. "The White Knight," she whispered.
Everyone in Manhattan knew that up there beyond the clouds, up in a loft so high that from that perch one could not see the ground, way above all the ordinary rich and beautiful, there lived the Dark Prince. No one truly ever saw him, but he was a legend.
No, that was inaccurate. Certainly there were those who had seen him.
After all, any Dark Prince would have servants—possibly slaves. And he would have those who thought of themselves as friends. Yet anyone who thought themselves lucky enough to be his friend would never speak freely about the man, so treasured they held the relationship with the family.
And all the servants—they feared the father.
There were no siblings to speak for him. After all, some spoke of the Dark Prince's blood being so toxic it had killed his own mother.
In some circles, people spoke in hushed tones of the Dark Prince, and words had been woven and spun and threaded to one inevitable illustration. In the underground clubs of Brooklyn, there was a painting that circulated by the wife of a man named Humphrey. It was a picture tale of a vision of the Dark Prince, taken from the whispers about the man.
The painting depicted a dark monster looming in the shadows; a sparkling crown adorned its black head. He emerged from smoke and looked down through the glass walls of the unseen top floor of The Palace. It was the Dark Prince, in full glory, a beast upon a beast, the ruler of the Upper East.
It was satire, and it was unfunny. The most powerful families bent to his will were illustrated as caricatures that kowtowed at the Prince's feet.
Rockefeller. Wydham. Forbes. Trump. Kennedy. Bloomberg.
It came as no surprise then to learn—broadcast in the news by a cautious anchorwoman—that the painter had been found dead along the Hudson.
The only thing that saved the woman's family was the documents of divorce that the Rufus Humphrey so largely showcased on the screen. In his eyes was a simple message, and even without words he spoke volumes.
There is no war with the Basses. No more.
Blair held apart the curtains of her bedroom window. From above the clouds she noticed flashes of red and green laser lights, and sometimes they pierced right through he vapor. Even from her penthouse apartment she had no view of the top of The Palace. However, from what she could make out, they must be some type of party happening there.
She wished her father and her mother would let her go. Just once.
She had received invitations to the affairs there more than once. After all, she was Blair Waldorf—Queen B of Constance Billiard. Even the Dark Prince would be curious.
Behind her, her maid fastened the buttons on the back of her dress.
"It must be the most amazing event of the year, Dorota!" she mourned again.
Dorota peered over her shoulders, then grunted disapprovingly at the rapid, hypnotic circular movement of the lights. "That," the maid opined, "does not suit you, Miss Blair."
Blair rolled her eyes.
"You look beautiful, Miss Blair."
She was in a frothy white creation, whipped up by her mother. It was an Eleanor Original, yet Blair could somehow remember seeing a picture of the very dress in one of her pre-K fairy tale books. There was nothing original about taking the design from the page where it says, 'Happily ever after.'
Her mother stepped into the room and smiled at the sight of her daughter. "Just ten pounds to go, darling."
Blair's chest tightened, but she managed a grateful smile. That was, from Eleanor Waldorf, a great compliment. Dorota moved away from her, and Eleanor took her place behind Blair. Eleanor snorted at the obvious sight of an event in The Palace.
Eleanor placed her hands on her arms and turned her to face the mirror, and away from the window. "This is very you," Eleanor declared.
And when she looked at her reflection in the mirror, Blair had to admit that she did look every inch the Queen. "You're right," she murmured, proud of the picture perfect image of herself that she saw. Blair twirled a lock of hair around her fingers, then allowed it to spring free in curled abandon. "This is who I am."
Dorota released a relieved breath behind her. Blair allowed her mother to pull her in the direction of the window on the other side of the room, which faced Park Avenue. From the penthouse they could see the line of luxury towncars that were making its way to the Archibald townhouse.
"That is the event that will lock your place at the top of this Society."
But she had been dating Nate Archibald for years, had been coming as his girlfriend to all these events for years. "It's just another event, mom."
Blair turned to face her mother and noticed the sparkle in Eleanor's eyes. Eleanor flashed a tube of lipstick in front of her, then placed it inside Blair's pocket. "Trust me. Tonight is what fairy tales are made of."
Dorota peered down at the street, then straightened. "Miss Blair, the Chariot is here."
Blair's eyebrows rose. Nate usually took the towncar to pick her up for their dates. The Chariot was too boastful, too rich, he said, for his taste. He was the Soho type, and Nate certainly never used the Chariot in Soho. Blair's eyes narrowed.
"The Chariot!" Eleanor exclaimed, impressed. "He's pulling all the stops." Funny how to her mother all the stops meant Nate's borrowing his mother's stretch limo for a date. "And it's no less than what my daughter deserves." Eleanor kissed Blair's cheeks. "Have fun tonight."
Blair nodded, then looked at her reflection once more. She was still every inch the Queen, albeit—after her talk with her mother—ten pounds heavier in all the places that showed.
"Where's dad? I want to show him my dress."
Eleanor dismissed her with a wave. "Your father is at The Palace," she informed Blair. "You know his clients are crawling all over that place."
Blair glanced out the other window again, this time in wonder. Where was her father now? Did her father ever see the Dark Prince?
What was it like in The Palace?
Maybe tonight, she would ask him to tell her a story.
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