Laertes warred within his soul. He craved this maiden with a passion indescribable, the peerless beauty whose very lust blossomed from a
font of sweetest purity. She begged to know the ways of men and women and he was fain to indulge her. But what great sin would it be to
profane a heart so true? He touched the hand upon his trousers and whispered, "With all that I am, dearest Rapunzel, know that I love thee.
But I cannot grant this wish. In the world you know not, disgrace follows women who are loved by men such as I."
"Men such as you?" she asked. "A prince?"
"A lie," he said. "I am a prince of thieves, no more. I scaled this tower in the hopes of plundering its vaunted treasures. Instead I have
found the greatest treasure in the five kingdoms...and she has unmanned me with her goodness."
Rapunzel's fingers touched Laertes' trousers. "That is another lie. You are not unmanned, sir."
"Any wretched criminal would ravish you in a heartbeat," he said. "I shall not. I swear it." He dared not look at her again.
Rapunzel gasped to see the tears well in his sapphire eyes. Tenderly, she held his cheek. "Look upon me, Laertes. I bear the marks of your
passion and know no shame. What you are a prince of makes no matter to me. I am a princess of despair! I would give you any treasure in this
tower just to be rid of the smallest piece of my prison. And I would not interrupt this joyous union for the sake of a world I've never
known. I promise you every treasure in this wretched tower if only you will take me too."
Laertes laced his fingers through her own. "I will take you, Rapunzel, I swear it."
"And will you show me your manhood?" she whispered.
"I wish to," he groaned. "I want to! But I pledged to my lost mother's soul I'd never rob an unwed woman of her virtue."
Rapunzel freed her hand from Laertes' grasp. "My virtue! If my virtue prohibits you from bestowing the knowledge I have waited my whole life
to know, I charge you to plunder it as you would plunder my tower!" With haste, her nimble fingers began to unlace his trousers. "My virtue
has gained me naught but sleepless nights," she scoffed. "I long to be rid of virtue!"
Laertes seized her hand. "Rapunzel, I made a vow! As God as my witness, or even your precious moon, I shall not break it."
Rapunzel wailed with fury. She clutched the man by his thick shoulders and searched his sky blue eyes. "Then do not break your vow!" she
said. "Make me your wife."
Laertes gaped at the girl. "What?"
Rapunzel pushed herself into his lap and hung her arms about his tan neck. "Wed me, Laertes. Now! In this very moment."
"I haven't the power to do that," he whispered.
"Yes you do," she whispered back. She tugged at her ruined neckline and pushed her naked chest into his tunic. "Say I am your wife," she
said. "Marry me now and we shall consummate it here in my bedroom."
Laertes clasped Rapunzel's cheeks between his callused palms. "As God as my witness, and your moon, I declare that we are man and wife."
Their kiss made the constellations gallop in the dimming sky.