These days, Princess November can sleep, but she doesn't necessarily sleep easily.
She isn't married, yet, but she expects that will come in time -- mostly, she spends her days sleeping, falling gladly into the slumber so long denied her. The moon is in the sky again, and all's right with the world; weary and bent from her travels, the princess takes her well-earned rest.
The servants are supposed to wake her to try on her wedding gown, to tell her to eat, to change the sheets and turn the bed. The strange gray cat the princess brought back with her, though, will have none of it. Curled against her side both in waking and sleeping, the tom hisses and claws at anyone and everyone that so much as dares to approach the slumbering November. They take the hint, and leave them well alone, but the four walls of this room cannot hold out the world forever.
November stirs, but does not rouse. She dreams.
The rock will not move and the moon is bound still; the princess's hands (and her hair and her skin and her skirts) are slick with what could be slime or water or blood for all she knows. It is dark and it is storming, but whenever lightning flashes, she can see the shadows darting forward.
"Where's Red?" she yells, over the din of the rain and thunder; she cannot hear Perrault's response, but the sound of methodical chopping somewhere behind her is enough confirmation of the cloaked girl's whereabouts. Satisfied (though that is a poor word to use; she's anything but) as to Red's continual existence, November turns her attention back to trying to pry the rock off the grave.
Silver hands join her in her task, and she looks up, grateful, to catch the ghost of a smile on the paler woman's face. But now is not the time for niceties.
"One--two---heave!" They pull, but the rock remains fast, only lifting the barest fraction off the clinging mud.
November can hear herself babbling, from a distance. "We're not going to make it --" And she can see the shadows almost upon them. Her grip becomes weak, and the rock slips down a few precious centimeters.
She hears Perrault's voice, rife with irritation and a subtle kind of a fear, exactly one moment before a hand in a torn glove cups her chin and tugs her forward.
Perrault, unexpectedly, does not taste like tuna, and his teeth do not cut her mouth when he kisses her.
"There," he says, breaking away. "I've always wanted to do that."
Astonishment makes November freeze up like a piece of driftwood; her hands jerk up on reflex and suddenly, /suddenly/ there is light and burning and pure holy whiteness --
The shadows scream and the moon laughs as she springs free.
opens her eyes to find the cat perched on her stomach, mewling discontent,
and she blinks slowly, heart still racing, before she attempts sitting
grunts in displeasure, and the princess smiles wistfully as she eases
it into her lap.
really quite unfair, you know," she tells him, not angrily. "If
I knew that freeing the moon would turn you back, I wouldn't have
wouldn't have, either. The realization is a novel one.
Perrault gives her a long-suffering look, but as he can no longer talk now, he cannot reprimand her, either. Instead, he opts for washing his paw to express his disdain. What a sop, he might as well be saying. You knew what you had to do.