by Hiwaru Kibi (火悪 木美)
The slipper itself was beautiful. Jean-Cristophe referred to its substance as “miraculous fairy crystal” and seemed quite disappointed every time they stopped and someone asked about “that glass shoe”. Right now it was resting on the toes of a curvy farmer’s daughter, stubbornly refusing to go over her heel.
“I think it can–” The girl looked nervously at her father screwing up her face resolutely. “No, I’m sure it would fit if only I–“
“That’s all right.” One hand cradled lovingly under its toe, the other bracing its slightly raised heel, Jean-Cristophe leaned back. The fitting was over. He stared into the reflective material of the shoe the way a lovesick young maid might have stared into a pond, wishing for its surface to show her some hint of her beloved. His beautiful dark curls shifted as he shook his head and gave a sigh. “My quest, it must continue.”
On their way out the door, Guillame took a none-too-small pouch from his purse and placed it in the farmer’s hands. “For your troubles, good sir.”
“For my…” The farmer pulled open the drawstring of the velvet bag and his eyes went wide. He showed its contents to his daughter, who gasped and drew her apron to her face to hide her tears. The poor girl hadn’t actually wanted to be a princess. None of them really did. They tucked in their toes and flattened out their heels not for romance, but because their families needed the money.
Guillame nodded with all the sincerity years of training as a manservant had given him. “Of course. We recognize what an imposition this is on our parts and we would see you well-compensated.”
The farmer grasped one of Guillame’s hands in both of his, giving it a warm shake. Fierce gratitude welled up in his throat as he looked Guillame in the eye and said, “Thank you, my lord, thank you.” He raised his voice and called after the figure already climbing into the royal carriage. “Thank you, Your Highness!”
“You’ll have to excuse him,” Guillame said as the departing prince did not turn in reply. “He’s just so distraught that he hasn’t found his mysterious bride yet. The poor man can’t even eat. Barely sleeps.”
“Oh, of course,” the farmer said, as though traversing the kingdom on a several-month journey to find a wife by her shoe size was a regular experience that normal people had all the time.
Guillame pointed toward the coin pouch in the daughter’s hands. “And you’ll not tell anyone about this part of our visit, yes? It’s just that … well, of course you two are good people, salt of the earth, but there’s unscrupulous folk out there who might try to fool us if they knew there was money involved even for the unsuccessful. So best to keep this part under wraps, agreed?”
“Aye, agreed.” The farmer nodded and Guillame nodded in return, as though they’d struck some kind of secret blood oath. The truth was that Guillame didn’t much care who got told about the coin changing hands, so long as such a rumor didn’t make its way back to the king too quickly. “I do hope he finds the woman who fits that shoe soon.”
“As do I,” Guillame lied.
Prince Jean-Cristophe was the picture of despondency at supper that evening. Of course, he gathered all his courage to push his way through that dark cloud weighing on him, making obviously forced happy conversation with the baron and baroness who had offered him a place to stay on his journey. That poor man, they would all murmur later amongst themselves, clutching concerned hands to their silk-clad breasts. They would exchange rumors: that the mysterious woman from the ball had been a witch, compelling the prince to search for her, lest his inaction lead to his own death; that she had been instead some sort of shapeshifting nymph, one who could only be caught when the moon was full and the barley was high and some other ridiculous conditions of timing were present; that the king, in his youth, had executed an innocent man, and that man’s ghost had cursed the king’s third son with a fascination for footwear.
Half the rumors out there, Guillame had started, and the other half he’d spread merrily. A well-placed but you must not go around saying such things added to the end of a tale all but ensured it would be known throughout the entire household by morning.
When Jean-Cristophe pushed back from the table and excused himself from the meal, no one made any move to stop him. That poor, poor man, they all sighed quietly as they saw him pass, still cradling the slipper lovingly wherever he went. With his trusty manservant at his side, he was allowed to retreat with his sorrows to the guest wing of the manor, surrendered from his obligations to his melancholy.
The door to the prince’s chambers closed, and the moment the latch was thrown, Guillame was up with his back against the wall, gasping as Jean-Cristophe kissed him hard. Guillame laughed into the kiss, poking at Jean-Christophe’s side. “Put that thing down!” he ordered.
What, this?” Jean-Christophe lifted the slipper, his ostensible focus of a fascination that had lasted nearly a full year now, as though it were a wet rag. “You don’t like it?”
“I do not!” Guillame screwed up his face in a comical mask of disgust. “You’re going to develop a fetish.”
“Perhaps I have already,” Jean-Christophe teased, bringing the toe of the slipper up as though to stroke Guillame’s face with it.
Guillame jerked his head away. “Don’t you dare,” he spat, even though he couldn’t stop laughing. “Do you know how many people’s feet have been in that thing?”
“Two hundred thirty-seven, by my last count.” Jean-Christophe gave an exaggerated swoon, falling back atop the four-postered bed. He looked at the shoe for a moment, letting the candlelight sparkle through it, then placed it gently on the small chest at the side of the bed. He’d paid very good money for it, after all, and even more for the silence of the craftsman who’d made it; getting a replacement would have been a chore indeed. “And I hope sincerely the young women attached to them will all someday find someone who loves them for more than their ability to wear a shoe.”
“You’re ridiculous,” said Guillame, who was already stripping out of his clothes.
Jean-Christophe propped himself up on his elbows, getting a better angle. “How many more in this barony?”
“Ten households.” It was Guillame’s job to know these things. “Though who can say how many feet we shall find in each?”
“Who indeed?” Jean-Christophe affected an expression of exaggerated sadness before laughing and beckoning Guillame over. “I am tired, though.”
“Are you?” Guillame knelt on the bed and began to unfasten Jean-Christophe’s trousers. “Too tired for this?”
“Never.” Jean-Christophe stroked Guillame’s straw-blond hair, then curled his fingers behind Guillame’s head, slowly bringing Guillame’s mouth down to his cock.
When they’d first begun this, Guillame had hardly been able to believe Jean-Christophe had never had his cock sucked before, much less sucked one himself. The prince, meanwhile, had simply assumed that his manservant had the same lack of experience he himself had, and was therefore shocked to find the natural, eager ease with which Guillame had taken the prince’s cock into his mouth. For all they’d learned of each other’s bodies since, that remained in a way their mutual favorite thing: a reminder of how good it had felt to admit and give into their mutual desire.
Guillame was just as eager now as he always had been, taking only a moment to admire Jean-Christophe’s stiff shaft before parting his lips and taking its head into his mouth. He flicked the tip of his tongue across the slit, tasting the warm, salty musk of Jean-Christophe’s precome. He looked up at Jean-Christophe with heavy-lidded eyes, smiling to see the evidence of Jean-Christophe’s pleasure on his face.
He was such a beautiful man, and all the kingdom thought so. Unlike his two elder brothers, who had inherited their father’s sturdy frame and ruddy cheeks, Jean-Christophe had taken after their mother, who was slender and dark-complected. Part of Guillame’s job was not to let Jean-Christophe know that the common folk called him “the Pretty Prince” when he wasn’t in earshot.
But there was an aspect to his beauty that Guillame loved best, and that was the aspect only Guillame got to see. He bobbed his head lightly up and down Jean-Christophe’s shaft, letting his wet lips tease the sensitive flesh there to full hardness. Jean-Christophe sighed and grabbed at Guillame’s hair, never enough to force him into anything, but certainly hard enough to convey his preference that Guillame not stop what he was doing. He had little to worry about, though; Guillame had no intention of moving until the job was done.
Since he was the naked one, Guillame bowed his back so that his ass was further in the air. On nights when Jean-Christophe was not so tired from travel, Guillame might spend more of the evening in that pose, on all fours, his forehead pressed against the sheets. In other people’s houses, though, it was safer to keep their pleasures a bit more contained. Several of their hosts surely suspected, of course, but suspicion was not certainty, and without certainty they could carry on as they saw fit.
Guillame pulled down Jean-Christophe’s trousers and pulled them down over his hips, giving him a bit more access. He cupped his hands under the prince’s balls, squeezing them lightly. He loved the way Jean-Christophe squirmed at that touch, the way it made Jean-Christophe’s cock jump in Guillame’s mouth.
Jean-Christophe patted the bed beside him in a way that let Guillame know he didn’t expect Guillame to stop. Instead, Guillame turned his body so that his mouth was still fixed to Jean-Christophe’s cock, until he lay the wrong way in the bed, his feet near the pillows. Even though he couldn’t see the way Jean-Christophe was touching him, he shuddered at the feel of fingertips stroking lightly up his shaft.
Guillame had been half-hard since before supper thinking of what would come after. He loved the feel of Jean-Christophe’s hands on him. When the prince had first suggested that Guillame put his mouth to such sensual use, Guillame had assumed that that would be the whole of their relationship: Guillame providing pleasure, and Jean-Christophe receiving, as their stations dictated. It had been a revelation indeed to learn that Jean-Christophe wanted to touch Guillame as much as he wanted to be touched, and that he’d never stopped wanting this, not in all the years they’d taken liberties with one another since.
Emboldened by the touch, Guillame began to close his lips a little tighter. His fingers squeezed Jean-Christophe’s balls with encouragement, letting them know that their release was close. He paused at the head of Jean-Christophe’s cock, dragging his tongue around the sensitive underside before going back to the business of sucking off his lover. Guillame closed his lips tight around Jean-Christophe’s shaft and squeezed his balls, then swallowed as Jean-Christophe came deep in the back of his throat. He let Jean-Christophe’s taste flood his mouth, then sucked him clean, until there was not a trace of come left on his softening cock as it slipped from Guillame’s lips. Pillowing his head on Jean-Christophe’s thigh, he lay there for a moment, shutting his eyes.
After several seconds of this quiet bliss, though, Guillame felt something cool against his erection. He thought at first it might have been Jean-Christophe’s fingertips, which he knew from experience could get very cold, especially on winter nights. This, however, was different — it was a more pervasive chill, and far less pliant than skin. His curiosity finally overwhelming him, he turned his gaze back up near the head of the bed.
“I found my bride,” Jean-Christophe announced with giddy pride. He was holding the shoe, into which he had managed to slip Guillame’s cock; he gave a little shove and tucked Guillame’s balls in right behind it. To Guillame’s intense chagrin, he had to admit that it was kind of a good fit.
“I hate you,” Guillame lied.
Jean-Christophe tutted disapprovingly. “Don’t speak that way about my future wife. Look at her, she’s beautiful.”
“You’re going to have to put your mouth on that in a minute,” Guillame pointed out. “Where two hundred and thirty-seven feet have been.”
That, at least, gave Jean-Christophe visible pause enough to reassure Guillame that he was not, in fact, watching a fetish develop. “Perhaps the future princess should have a bath drawn for her this evening.”
Guillame’s eyes narrowed. “Is this something I’m going to have to do?”
“Perish the thought!” Jean-Christophe pulled the shoe from Guillame’s cock and sprang out of bed. Folding one arm across his middle, he gave a deep bow. “I shall take care of milady’s every need.”
“I hate you,” Guillame repeated, sitting up.
“You can hate me all you want once you’re married to me,” Jean-Christophe promised, leaning forward to pull Guillame into a deep, affectionate kiss — one that wasn’t sorry at all that he’d put Guillame’s penis inside a shoe, but Guillame supposed he’d have to live with that. There were worse things in the world than this, than traveling the kingdom on a quest that was by definition impossible, than draining the greedy king’s impossibly large coffers along the way, than using a ruse to be with the one he loved.
One day, of course, they’d run out of women and feet. What would become of them then? Guillame supposed it didn’t matter. They had one another, and that was about all the enchantment he could ever need.