Anecdote of the Lioness
Some of the girls passing by gave their disgusted looks and snickers, which secretly concealed jealousy, at the two for carrying on as they did. Ariel didn't want it to come to an end. She had planned on kissing him for a while, but at his enraging comment she had dismissed the thought. After he had come over and made such a sincere apology she couldn't resist his charm and had gave into the tingly feeling in the pit of her stomach. It had made her even more happy that he hadn't away, it would have taken the magic that happened between them. She wanted to hold his warm body against her and have his sweet lips against her forever after this.
Clopin became overjoyed as she took the initiative in the relationship he was wishing for. And despite her sarcasm and often depressing mood she must have felt something too, other than sadness. Clopin had wanted to kiss her since when she peeked her beautiful face around the flap of her tent. But at that time it was nothing out of the ordinary that he had felt when he was with the many beauties in the Court. However, after spending time with her he gained a knew feeling, and it was unlike anything he had ever had with a woman. This tugging pulled at him, she was a magnet. Usually the women of the Court were afraid of loosing Clopin after their one night engagements, but this one, Clopin was afraid of loosing her.
Their hands moved off of each other and held together in Clopin's lap. They were about to part when not only anyone but the King and Queen of Thunes walked by. Hoping to sit and enjoy some stories and drinks in the center. They approached and found their son in an intimate moment with their newest guest.
"Clopin!" They broke away as their hands shot to their own sides to look up at who had shouted. Clopin's face immediately turned red as Ariel stood up.
"I had better go to my home...I have....home things to take care of." At a loss for words and not caring to see Clopin be scolded such as an infant would she made her silly excuses to leave. She hoped that she would see Clopin that night, but doubted it would take place, she was growing weary from her emotional work out. She skipped merrily home though, despite her tired state. Something inside of her had triggered when they touched. She felt more like an adult as a smile curved on her red lips. They still felt his taste on them and she licked them to try and relive the moment. Stepping through her doorway with graceful steps she then laid on her bed and hugged her pillow against her chest. Her heart was beating rapidly and inside she was bursting but she tried to keep a calm composure. What a pleasant evening.
She woke up with a smile on her face and a twinkle in her violet pupils. The feeling in her heart was sweet and she was so caught up in it that she almost forgot the whole reason of why she was so ecstatic. She got up in front of the mirror to see her hair in black tangles and her body still in the clothes from the previous night. Letting out a long sigh and picked out another dress, slinging it over her shoulder and heading to the bathing tents, which were surprisingly empty. Shrugging it off she slipped in a tub and closed her eyes and dipped lower in the water. She hummed a slow song she had learned as a child and washed her hair, running her fingers slowly through it. This was not a day of rushing, it was a day of realization. To realize what she had gone through and what had happened, and what could come out of it. Cheerfully washing the rest of her body someone tapped her should rapidly. Ariel let out a surprised yelp and covered herself with a rag nearby while spinning around. The woman jumped herself backward but recovered quickly, patting down her small apron and clearing her throat. "Miss, are you all right?" Ariel cocked her head to the side and made a dreamy smile.
"I am wonderful, and how are you on this beautiful morning?" The woman seemed quite speechless at Ariel's kindness, and also at the fact she could tell Ariel had not been outside and yet described it as beautiful. She still narrowed her eyes in question.
"I'm doing well...thank you. I have never seen you around our Court of Miracles, are you a new addition?" The woman waited patiently for an answer, the thought of a spy from the outside Parisians crossed her mind.
"I suppose so, my cousin has left me here to stay temporarily while he travels with our performing wagon. I will stay here until he returns. What is your name madame?" The hefty woman shifted and turned sideways, she was till a bit suspicious of the young woman. Placing her hands on the hips and keeping a stern look on her face she answered, perhaps the woman wasn't a lie or a spy.
"You, as the rest of this haven, may call me Tante Marie." Ariel consciously got out of the tub and wrapped an embrioded towel of hers from Germany around herself. She held one hand out for Tante Marie and the other to support her towel. Hesitating she shook it quickly, despite the animosity Ariel kept beaming. Nothing could ruin her day, she was invincible. All thought of her depressing life was history. All thoughts were simply glued to last night.
"Hmmmm...pleasure to meet you," Tante said in a less than sincere manner."
"And the same to you, now please excuse me, I must get dressed." Ariel turned away without waiting for a response and put on her golden dress. She felt like a thousand coins and wanted to look her best today. Skipping back to her tent she put on a little bit of lipstick to accent her smile and rouge on the apple of her cheeks, hopefully it would hide any blushing. She went to her chest and pulled out golden slippers to match her outfit, they were an heirloom from her mother. She clicked them together when she sat on the bed. Her face lit up even more when Clopin strolled through the door.
"Bonjour ma cherie," his dancing black eyes greeted her accompanied by hi flawless smile. Ariel tried to ignore the butterflies that had apparently come out of their cocoon in her stomach. She gave a simple grin to show no signs of being smitten, she would not give into his charm so overtly to him. Clopin gingerly took her hand and kissed it, Ariel bowing her head slightly to acknowledge it.
"I hope you are fairing well this morning." He kept his grin across his face.
"Very well, thank you." Clopin did a smal spin in her tent and then moved his attention back to her face. "I'm afraid I will have to leaving soon, my audience shall never be disappointed." Despite it, he made himself comfortable on the bed next to her. She looked away quickly to let her make the large goofy smile she'd been wanting to show all morning. Turning back she laid back on the bed, her feet dangling just above the ground. Clopin followed her movement. Her rouge covered up her blushing at his forwardness to invite himself to such a position. Introduced by no words Clopin began to sing, to her. She closed her eyes to absorb his words and sighed as she then recognized the song. She had learned it as a child and quietly she began to join in. But as she joined she didn't sing the simple melody Clopin had perfected with his notes, but she harmonized with almost everything, making the song sound even more beautiful then it did. The pairing of the two and their voices was perfect, no mistakes, nothing went off key. Shocked, Clopin slowly got softer to hear her, and he son dropped out of the song all together, leaving only her to sing. By the time she had taken the melody and continued on, being caught up in the moment and not realizing she was performing solo. Clopin was stunned as he listened, it was very hard to find someone to match his abilities, and out of the blue a woman had come into his life and without preparation almost beaten him at his own game. It drew him even closer to her. A woman of such talents was so intriguing to him. She finished the song with a satisfied smile on her face, until she realized she had finished by herself; her smile quickly faded.
"I'm sorry,"she whispered, "I did not mean to interrupt your singing, I.....I couldn't resist." She sat up quickly and looked away, embarrassed. She was almost sure her spontaneity had cost a relationship.
Instead, he sat up and took her hands in his, reassuringly. "Oh no! No, that was wonderful." He just sat there for a few moments looking at her, before he spoke again. "I just had no idea you could do that. Your talent is truly amazing, I am speechless I must say." He actually wasn't. There were a million and one things he wanted to say: "How did you learn how to do that? How did you know that song? Would you like to sing with me for and audience? Do you think you could ever stay here, with me, forever?" Just to name a few.
"Well, for our traveling act Pipes and I sing, him as the main act, me harmonizing. But, again I am very sorry for interrupting you, your voice is delightful! You have an amazing talent."
"Nothing as you cannot do yourself mon amie, and please, stop apologizing, you have done nothing wrong. And to prove this, I would love for you to accompany me in my performance today." Her face brightened as a larger smile than before appeared. Then she toned her joy down bit.
"Oh no, I couldn't. I would never compare to you. I don't think I should." He gave her his pleading face, big eyes, with his bottom lip sticking out. A very unattractive face, Ariel had to stifle her mocking laughing, but soon regained control. "No, not today. Maybe another time." She looked away again, her shyness resurfacing and getting the best of her.
Disappointed, but not wanting to prod, he accepted her refusal and kissed her cheek quickly, without meaning. "I had better get to my cart, I will see you tonight I hope,"he added with a smirk as he left her tent. She let out the breath she was holding in at the anticipation that was going to say they shouldn't see each other. Grabbing her chest and catching her breath she waved good-bye to him, but he had missed it. She took a deep breath.
Why am I do afraid? she asked herself angrily. But she knew the answer, because this has never happened to her before. She had never felt these feeling before, she was afraid of doing something wrong. Why am I afraid to be myself? she asked herself outloud. But she knew the answer to that question as well. She had never been giving the chance to be herself. She had gone through a life of waking up in the night from a horrible dream and from going place to place, never getting to know anyone. She had never known the way to really express who she was inside. A few tears escaped her eyes and she wiped her eyes, crossing her arms. She grabbed a book and stared reading. It was a romance and a quarter way through it she became frustrated and set the book down. She had to see him, she had to talk to him. It wasn't time to be scared anymore, who knows how long she's be there, Pipes could come tomorrow and it would all be over. Running out of her tent she reached the outside in record time and strolled quickly looking for Clopin. She passed a man playing a pip and then went back. Listening, she knew the tune and started humming along with him. He beckoned with his eyes and cautiously, like something pushing her from behind she joined him and started singing. She wasn't sure where the courage had some to stand beside him and perform she felt a small victory in being herself. What she did know was it felt wonderful to show off her talent. After the song was over the coins showered the two and Ariel just stayed in her spot, beaming. She curtsied a few times before getting ready to walk away. The man picked up the coins and divided them in half. He stuck his hand out and offered her a fair share. She shook her head with a smile. "No, no, that's all right,"she lied. She needed money, desperately, her pile at home was growing smaller, but she felt bad taking his money.
"Please, take it. It's the least amount I you deserve. Please." He jingled the coins in front of her and she finally took them, hesitantly. "Would you join me tomorrow? Your voice is beautiful, truly enchanting. Please come back." She nodded and smiled, walking away.
Her mood was a little more positive as she stuck her coins in a small pocket on her dress and found Clopin with a small puppet. She walked a little closer to get a better look. It was a miniature version of Clopin, himself. He made witty comments about Clopin as he told a story. After a while he hit to small think on his head with a wooden stick. Ariel covered her mouth as she giggled and tried not to cause attention to herself. His show was very good, even if it was geared toward children. She tapped her foot during his song. He looked up quickly to catch her glance. He winked and then went back to his show. She started back to the Court but made a small detour past one side of the Town Square. She went into a jeweler and looked around, noticing the suspicious looks shot her way by the man behind the counter, as well as a few customers. She looked behind the glass to see a simple gold bracelet. She could tell it wrapped around the upper arm. Simply gorgeous, she had to have it. Pulling out the coins from that days unexpected performance she had enough, and then some. Even though she needed money she wanted to celebrate what she had accomplished that day, and she was performing the next day anyway so she would have more money. Smiling, she gave the money to the man who ran the place. He eyes the coins carefully, scrutinizing the small objects to make sure of their worth. Finally done looking over the coins he handed her the bracelet. She muttered a soft, "Thank you,"and walked out, almost regretting she even went in. Putting the bracelet on she grinned and forgot her regret as she liked the way to look against her skin. It reflected the sun almost blindingly and it complimented her greatly. She then decided to head back to the Court of Miracles.
Taking off the bracelet she sat on her bed sadly, setting the bracelet on a close nightstand. She couldn't come out of her shell around Clopin yet in front of strangers who watched her in the street it was an easy task. One thing she did regret about herself was how shy she had become over the years and how her favorite people could intimidate her. Clopin was one of those people, he certainly had a lasting effect on people, one you couldn't forget, she wasn't sure if she liked it yet, but she was almost sure she did. The night before was very spontaneous yet it seemed Clopin didn't mind any attention from the opposite sex. She was nothing but an object to him, she thought. Sighing, and feeling her stomach she traveled out of her tent to find the butcher of the Court.
Walking up to the counter a man turned to her, a friendly smile greeting her. He was an older cheerful person. "Good day. How may I help you? She glanced at the meat and requested chicken and some pork. She wanted a large supply so she wouldn't have to make the trip every day. As he wrapped up her purchase a woman walked up. The butcher seemed surprised at the woman appearance.
"Up and about today Abigail?" The butcher grinned. The old woman smiled back, wrinkles creasing her cheeks and the corners of her eyes.
"I felt the need to get out today Christophe. Business doing well?" He nodded as Ariel paid him and muttered her appreciation as she left the shop.
Quietly, she sang to herself as she put her meat away in her tent. Humming a little then and going into the words she bent over, finishing putting away her food. She was swept back but long thin arms and met with a kiss on the cheek. Forcing a smile she turned to him.
"Oh, hello,"she mumbled. Turning away and trying to busy herself with organizing her tent. Clopin couldn't help but sense the awkwardness she was feeling.
"Bonjour Ariel!"he replied cheerfully, trying to get rid of the tension in the air. He saw a small smile, a red one on her lips cracked on her face. He walked behind her and spun her around, keeping her pace firmly with his hands on her waist. "Anything wrong ma cherie?"She shook her head and looked up at him. She laughed a little at her silliness for trying to avoid his glance, it was too irresistible. Sighing a breath of relief she placed her hand on his arms. He leaned down and kissed her, she wanted to continue but pulled away.
"Why do you tease me so?"she frowned, walking away from him.
"What am I doing to tease my dear?" She was going to tell him not to call her that but found it pointless, it would never stop.
"You have so many women around you, and yet you kiss me. How am I to know that I'm the only one enchanted by your sweet gazes and soothing words?" She walked over to her bookshelf. She was almost speaking too soft for him to hear, she was partly speaking to herself and didn't realize how quietly she was talking. Again he went up behind her and placed his arms around her waist, whispering, "Because you're the only one with my kisses." Her cheeks turned red and felt hot. She waited there in his arms for what seemed like hours before she mentally calmed down. Turning around slowly she met her eyes with his. She couldn't smile, she couldn't so anything, except stare. She had no proof of his faithfulness but felt that she didn't really need any anymore. Playing hard to get was getting to be very difficult. Waiting, he finally slipped his hands completely around her and brought her even closer than before. He could smell her sweet breath and gentle hands that slowly moved up his back to securely around his neck. A small smile of triumph crossed his face and she returned it, showing him she let him win. This time, she took the initiative and kissed him.
It lasted longer than the time before, but that was because they were now in privacy. As her eyes stayed shut he held her tight, feeling her delicate curves against his body. He didn't know how far to test her with his actions and decided to just keep them at the level they were on for the time being. He still needed to gain her trust and she still needed to become a little more comfortable and open. They stayed together for over a half hour. After they finally parted she laid on her bed, he leaned over and kissed her again, quicker but with the same amount of affection. He kissed her cheeks, and neck. He sat next to her and rubbed her hand gently.
"So am I still worth your while?" She asked softly to him, proping her head up on a pillow, still letting him caress her hand.
"Of course, Clopin never lies, especially to a woman such as yourself." He said reassuringly. Clopin had to laugh to himself, he was going to ask her the same question.
"And what kind of woman is that Clopin?"He stayed silent for a few seconds, thinking out his answer.
"One who actually keeps me on my toes." They both laughed. but despite his promises doubt still swan around in the back of her mind. She wondered how many times he had uttered those words to a woman he was courting. She made a small snicker.
"Good,"she smiled. He moved himself to lay beside her, but on his stomach.
"So how long have you been with your cousin?" She shrugged not ready to touch on the subject.
"As long as I can remember. We were together in our tribe with our parents and stuck together ever since. I tell most people he's my brother, they can't tell otherwise." He nodded. "Do you have any siblings?"she inquired. He seemed surprised that the tables had turned.
"Yes, two brothers and a sister, but they are off in their own lives, I don't see them much." He looked away, a bit saddened at the thought of them. Remembering that Ariel must had remembered her parents in answering his question and not shedding a tear brightened them both up. He ran a finger through the hair that laid next to her head and felt its soft texture. Feeling himself lost in everything about her he couldn't help but grin and kiss her again. Parting she smirked, and yawned. He chuckled at her.
"I suppose I have kept you up long enough mademoiselle, I shall leave you in peace until tomorrow's light." She nodded and he gave her one more kiss on the forehead before she gave an absent minded smile and closed her eyes. He smiled as her breathing slowed to a steady pace and he brushed her cheek wit his gloved hand. Her soft face looked so beautiful to him, even while sleeping. "Sweet dreams my lioness,"he whispered as he turned and left the tent.
She woke up a bit chilly with no covers on her. Slipping under her blanket she didn't feel like moving from her bed. Snuggling deep into her pillow she closed her eyes again, half sleeping and much warmer.
Ariel finally arose two hours later. Finding herself in last nights clothes she immediately undressed and put on a new, tighter dress. It was green and black, and had small holes above her hips to show off her tanned skin. She tried not to wear it, or ones similar to it for that matter, often because of her fear of getting a bad reputation. But not sure she felt like showing off a little, she did need to get used to the Court more, and herself as well. Strutting what she had she puled the sleeves off the shoulders and started toward the streets of Paris she and a commitment to go to.
Roaming the streets she followed the notes of a pipe and found the man she had partnered with the day before. He smiled at the sight of her. Nodding back she waiting for a song she knew. Soon she was belting out notes she didn't know she could reach, and each perfectly in tune with the pipe. Peoples faces filled with amazement as they listened and more coins hit the ground with each song that was finished, The man insisted that she took the bulk of the money. This time she accepted it and he grinned.
"You must tell me your name my child." His gentle voice made the request sound trivial and she willingly answered.
"Ariel. Thank you for letting me sing with you." At this, he chuckled.
"Ariel, without you my pipe would be nothing but a useless stick, you make my music come alive. " She slightly blushed at the remark but accepted it gratefully and left, walking past Clopin's performance. She made a smile as she passed him and he seemed slightly distracted from his puppet as he gazed at Ariel's graceful steps down the cobblestone. Grinning blissfully he was brought down from the clouds as the children laughed and called him. Looking back to his audience he continued from where he had left off, Ariel out of sight.
She arrived back at the Court and the warm colors of the hanging tapestries and banners greeted her. Skipping, she made her way to her tent to drop off her coins, and then to the center, possibly to meet new people. Her prediction turned out correct, not too long after she sat and sipped some wine, three young ladies looking around her age sat next to her, smiles on their faces. An uneasy feeling came over Ariel, the girls' smiles were fake friendly ones.
"Hello there! And who might you be?" The one closest to her spoke, the most attractive of the three. All of them were pretty, but in their own way, but the one nearest Ariel had that certain universal beauty and dangerous charm about her.
"Ariel, I am staying her for some time. Who are you?" She replied politely, she didn't want them to dislike her already. Little did she know they already did.
"Oh, so you're Ariel,"they
made a sly smile as they looked at each other, "Well, welcome to our home.
It isn't much I'm afraid but you learn to live with what you have. I am
Isabeau, this is Rosa, and Lucille." Ariel nodded in reply, wanting to
excuse herself but not finding a good enough excuse to do so. "So, have
you met anyone else? Have you made any new friends?" They leaned in, waiting
for her response.
"That is none of your concern, now please excuse me. It was a pleasure meeting you." Her good-bye was dripping with sarcasm as she walked away from the trio. The three sat their with pleased smiles on their faces.
Not sure to be angered
at herself for letting them get to her or at Clopin for pretending to be
with only her. Or maybe she should be upset because she was being used.
Or maybe none of it was true and she should be upset for believing them.
Standing near the small fire place in her tent she felt an unnatural chill
and started a small flame. Sitting near it and drinking a glass of herbal
tea she made for herself she roasted some of the chicken she bought earlier.
"My dear, I can't apologize if you do not tell me what I've done wrong," Clopin finally said softly, breaking the horrible silence. He said it gently, he wasn't angry, merely confused. A soft snicker followed his comment, trying to get a positive reaction out of her, he received none. Frowning and realizing this was no laughing matter he pried off his gloves so he could feel her soft skin. Ariel finished slicing the chicken and put some on a plate. However, she didn't sit down. She just slowly paced back and forth trying to think of an easy way to address the subject, but she couldn't think of any. After minutes of waiting, Ariel spoke.
"Are you just using me as an object?" Bad choice of words. Clopin's eyes grew large with fury and he threw his arms into the air.
"Have we not already had this argument? I told you there is no one else! How can I prove this to you? Why are you constantly having doubts? This relationship will mean nothing if you keep doing this time after time of me assuring you. You are accusing me of something that is false just as your parents were! Are you going to send me to burn at the stake as well?" Another poor choice of words, this time on Clopin's part. Ariel took her turn in becoming furious.
"How dare you even bring up the subject! And how can I not doubt you when I go and meet new people and every one of them has been with you at one time of another?" He mouth opened but he said nothing. He had been trapped by his own past. He stood still and put his hands on his hips, thinking. "Yes, but, that is all in the past now. I did have relationships, and quite a number of them, but I stopped them all the day I met you, the day I saw your beautiful face peek out from behind that tent. I don't know how else to prove it to you that I am only with you on my night and spare time. Please don't do this. Every moment you look away my heart continues to break. I don't know many things, but after being with you,"he moved up to her and took her hands into his, "I get this amazing feeling. Dare I call it, yes I think it might be love." At this point her eyes had raised to meet his, they were brimmed with tears.
"What?"she choked out.
"I love you, Ariel." He almost didn't believe he was saying it himself, but he knew it was the truth. She broke down in tears and buried her face into his tunic. She knew she felt it too, something so strong inside it couldn't be ignored. She cried for relief, for forgiveness, for him, and for love. He placed his arms around her and laid his head on her, stroking her black locks and smiling to himself. She had forgiven him.
"I love you too,"she whispered, only loud enough for herself to hear. She held onto him and cried, hoping that they would never have to leave each other and her nomadic cart would stay away forever.