Aleister Crowley isn't a very good storyteller.
Crowley sits adoringly at her feet and reads to her the story of a beauty and a beast without a single stutter.
Eliade sneers at the ending. It would be better, she says, languidly licking the juice off her wrist, if the beast had remained a beast. It wasn't a prince she wanted to marry, after all.
She leans down to pull her bedazzled storyteller close, so that he can smell her, honey and musk and peaches, so that he can taste the peach juice on her lips. Read me another, she commands, and he hastens to obey.
He tells her the story of a sleeping beauty, but it bores her and she stops him before he is even halfway through. Read me the first story again, Eliade says absently, running her fingers through his hair, idly separating the white strands and the black.
When he finishes, he daringly asks her, Eliade, will you-- and she stops him with a perfect finger to his lips.
You're wrong, says Eliade, I am the Beast. Marry me, Aleister Crowley.
Of-f-f c-c-course I-- Crowley begins, and again she stops him.
The story doesn't go like that, she tells him. You've got it wrong.
Ssh. This is where you say, I'm sorry, Beast. I cannot marry you.
The words are heavy and halting on his tongue, and Eliade laughs at his expression and kisses away his disappointment.
It becomes Eliade's favourite game then, and Crowley quickly learns that she becomes angry if he deviates from the story.
Not yet, says Eliade implacably.
Not yet, she says again, when they bury the first villager who made his teeth ache, who died at the same time the pain died, with Crowley's fangs in his neck.
Eliade wears black mostly now, after her pretty white dress became filthy from the dirt and the blood. She paces along the battlements of the castle, looking north, south, east and west. She stands at the high windows that overlook the forest, staring at some unseen point, with a hunted expression on her face.
Marry me, Aleister Crowley, she repeats, when they bury the second man, the fourth, then the eighth.
I-I-I w-want to--
I-I-I am s-sorry, Beast. I c-c-cannot m-marry you.
Eliade smiles at his answer, touches her fingers to his cheek, pressing against the flesh until the tip of his own fang begins to cut into the flesh.
I will ask again, by and by, she says.
When she takes her hand away, Crowley is ashamed of how good it feels when his teeth stop hurting.
Eliade never does ask him again.
Perhaps he should have read the story to her again, one more time, because she got the ending all wrong.
Or perhaps he was the one who got it all wrong. He had a castle, but it was empty, with no enchanted servants. He had roses, but they ate people and didn't really look like roses anyway. He had given her all the wrong answers, but she had never wanted him to say yes.
Crowley's made a mess of his fairytale, just like he made a mess of his life, and surely he ought not to be surprised.
Allen tells him a story; with his cursed eye, he can see the souls trapped in the akuma's frame. He fights to free these souls, so that they can go to heaven.
Crowley doesn't believe in fairytales, but he cannot help but hope.
Will you marry me, Aleister Crowley?
Y-y-yes Eliade. W-w-with all m-my heart.