As fairytale rescues went, it hadn't exactly been textbook.
Dean reflected as he lay cocooned by the four mahogany posts and voluminous voile hangings of the plush palace bed. Freshly bathed and resting gratefully, he listened to Sam behind the mass of silvery gauze, snoring gently as he slept in a servant's cot at the foot of Dean's bed with his feet hanging over the end.
He could just see through the miles of shimmering fabric that surrounded him and smiled when he spotted the faint pink glow of Not-Bobby perched quietly and restfully on top of the dresser in the corner.
Shifting on the plush samite sheets, Dean pulled the fur comforter up over him, and groaned as his bruised and abused body protested at the movement
Stupid freakin' giant.
Burrowing down into the biggest, squashiest pillow he had ever encountered, he stared up through the darkness at the ornate wooden canopy over his bed.
It was over.
Their great quest had been a resounding success; well, if you discounted the creepy pond horse and the tree grope and the troll snot and the swamp ooze and the whole freakin' statue fiasco. Details aside, Dean was rightly proud of himself and Sam.
Sure, the entry of the brave and noble Sir Dean and Sam, his loyal squire, into the princess' dungeon had been less of 'Prince Charming' and more of 'Prince Chucklehead', but after the initial shock of their less than spectacular entrance, princess Gwendoline hadn't been slow to show her immense gratitude to her rescuer, peppering him with joyful kisses and showing true royal dignity by barely even flinching at the eye-watering swamp stink that accompanied the brothers.
Sam, the ever-loyal squire, had also received a royal embrace for his trouble.
Now, thanks to their efforts, the beautiful Gwendoline, the woman who had haunted Dean's dreams, was alive and well, and back in the arms of her devoted father, the wise and kindly King Ulrich.
The wise and kindly and GENEROUS King Ulrich who had promised a celebration the like of which the noble shire of Impalia had never seen, and during which the nation's new heroes would be justly and lavishly rewarded.
What was even better was the discovery that the other men who had been un-petrified by Grimwald's demise were the Princess' brothers and their retainers; all present and correct apart from the poor manservant who had been exploded into smithereens.
Dean snorted at the thought of Grimwald; becoming Swamp Goblin chow was far too good for the evil asshole.
Princess Gwendoline's joy was a delight to behold and her effusive gratitude to her family's rescuer seemingly knew no bounds.
The precious sons King Ulrich had given up for dead were alive and well and upon their return to Impalia, had marched into the palace, singing the praises of the two brave strangers who were responsible for their freedom.
The noble Sir Dean, Knight of Winchester and his loyal Squire were heroes of legendary status and the grand realm of Impalia was going to honour them by partying like it had never partied before.
Dean heard the springs of the cot creak as Sam moved and a long pained groan sounded through the darkness.
Yep, all in all a job well done.
But giants still sucked.
Dean thought back to the moment he took the fair Gwendoline in his arms and accepted her gushing gratitude and promise of lavish reward with the awesome line, "Having you safe in my arms is reward enough." Yeah okay, he'd read that in a book once, but whatever, it still sounded cool.
Hand in hand, Dean and Gwendoline followed Sam out of the fetid darkness of the dungeon and into the labyrinth of tunnels beneath the castle. It was only moments before they met Not-Bobby, fluttering alongside the newly-freed swamp-goblin queen, all grey scaly skin, spidery limbs and bulbous yellow eyes.
Dean wasn't entirely sure if Princess Gwendoline's shocked gape was aimed more at the goblin queen who regarded them back with arrogant detachment, or the Winchesters' glittery little bearded faerie godmother dude.
"Don't think much of yours," he whispered to Not-Bobby before being herded onwards by Sam, mindful that Dean was more than capable of causing a diplomatic incident.
Of all the things Dean expected to find as they emerged, blinking, into the sunless daylight, a forty-foot giant on bended knee in front of him was not one of them.
Skidding to a violent halt on the slippery cobbles, he barrelled into Sam's back, almost pulling his adoring companion over.
"My noble lord," the Giant murmured; his quiet voice rumbling like distant thunder.
Dean stared up at the giant then turned, glancing behind him before he realised it was him the huge figure was addressing.
"I cannot thank you enough."
"Uh, you're welcome," Dean shrugged as he looked up at the enormous face; "happy to help."
It was, Dean noted, a surprisingly handsome face; not the typical warts and monobrow that he would have previously associated with giants. As he knelt before his liberator, the titan's thick dark hair tumbled down almost to his massive shoulders, and the warm hazel eyes that looked down on Dean and Sam were slanted and expressive.
Dean slowly turned to Sam; "Sam, is it just me or does he look a bit like …"
"Shut it Dean."
The giant began to speak. "I was the first champion to offer my services in the cause of our beloved Princess' freedom," he began hesitantly, glancing shyly at the smiling princess; "I crossed the Wildwoods and the Bleaklands without incident, but Grimwald tricked me; his men ambushed me from behind and he turned me to stone before I had a chance to retaliate."
"That doesn't surprise me," snorted Dean; "freakin' spineless dickwad."
"As you know, my friend, you maintain an awareness even when you are stone," the giant continued with a grimace; "and I knew that some weeks later, my wife crossed the Bleaklands to plead with Grimwald for my release."
"Wife?" the brothers asked in unison.
"Yes, my wife," the giant replied; "but Grimwald didn't turn her to stone."
"that's good …" Sam mumbled hesitantly; "isn't it?"
"I wish I could agree," the great man responded sadly; "instead, Grimwald struck her mute for daring to plead for my release and to prevent her asking for help, and then just to reinforce his displeasure, he told her that if she ever approached the castle again, he would shatter me to dust."
He sighed; "her punishment for trying to seek his pity was that she would never be able to speak to others; that she should know loneliness and isolation for the rest of her life. A fate made particularly painful in the knowledge that I was trapped and helpless in the castle grounds just out of her reach."
Dean scowled, glancing down at the princess who was shaking her head in silent sympathy as she snaked an arm around her shoulders. He smiled inwardly as she leaned into his touch.
"Your wife," asked Sam; "Is she blonde? pretty?" He winced at the futility of the question; it wasn't as if thirty foot women were exactly ten a penny.
"Yes," replied the giant hesitantly, tilting his head questioningly.
"We met her," Sam gasped; "we probably wouldn't have made it this far without her, she helped us through the Wildwoods," he continued.
"That would explain why she took to you," Dean leaned in and whispered toward Sam; "you're a mini-me of her husband!"
Sam ignored him insofar as that was possible.
"She lives?" the giant's eyes widened in awe.
"Yeah she does," Sam smiled warmly.
"Looks good too," added Dean with an approving nod.
Bowing his mighty head, the great man pulled in a deep breath and a solitary tear rolled down his nose, splashing onto the ground and soaking the brothers' feet as if someone had emptied a bucket of water over them.
"How can I thank you enough, my friends?"
"No need," Dean grinned. "I'm a bold and noble knight, helping the good guys; it's what I do." He gestured with a subtle nod to the princess who stood smiling, clinging to her rescuer as if her very life depended upon it.
"You are returning to Impalia?"
Dean, Sam and Gwendoline all nodded their confirmation toward the giant.
"Allow me to help you," he continued; "I can cross the Bleaklands in a fraction of the time it will take you, and no trifling spider ghoul or bleak wolf will attack something of my size."
Before the brothers had a chance to debate, they found themselves, together with the princess, being gently lifted within huge calloused hands and deposited into one of the deep poachers pockets which adorned the front of the giant's woodsmans jacket.
Smiling, the huge figure turned and stooped to pick up the two princes and their small entourage who had been hovering nervously behind him listening in silent fascination to the conversation, depositing them in two more pockets which circled his hips and the back of his coat.
"Beauty!" Dean shouted in alarm as he peered over the worn fabric edge of the pocket; "what about my Beauty?"
Gwendoline looked up at him expectantly.
"Oh, uh – sorry not you," Dean replied; "I meant my horse …" he choked and inwardly died just a little bit; "I mean, not that you're not beautiful because, I mean, you are but … my horse, see, I call her Black Beauty because she's, well, obviously, black and she's kinda …" he tailed off meeky as the princess giggled, and reached up to plant a kiss on his lips, effectively silencing him.
Sam rolled his eyes, "and my mule," he pleaded; "we can't go without my mule.".
The giant nodded amiably and stooped, nauseously tipping his passengers forward as he reached down and picked up Beauty with no more effort than if he were picking up a cat. She whinnied indignantly at the humiliation, but apparently knew better than to argue.
Raising himself back upright, their gigantic friend scanned the courtyard carefully; "Where is your mule, my friend?"
"Just look for something edible," sighed Sam.
Spying a suspiciously quivering bush in the far corner of the courtyard, the giant strode over to it, unsurprised to find it rapidly disappearing between the mule's massive brown teeth; "come here my fine fellow," he chuckled, "I can take you somewhere to find much more splendid fare, deserving of such a hero."
Gathering the fat mule under his free arm, the giant and his bemused passengers set off over the Bleaklands; Not-Bobby buzzing cheerfully round his head, and left the haunting ruin of the castle to the swamp goblin queen and her subjects.
Several hours later, with the Bleaklands behind them, Sam was becoming increasingly uncomfortable sharing such a cramped and unsubstantial space with the princess and Sir Friggin' Mighty Hero who were busy cementing their friendship way too enthusiastically for Sam's liking.
He stole a glance over the edge of the crowded pocket and his heart leapt as he saw a familiar figure standing on the edge of the Wildwoods, her blonde tresses fluttering in the breeze.
The giantess was waiting for them.
Sam heard the giant's gasp above him as he spied his beloved, and felt him stoop to gently place the horses on the ground, before quickening his pace. A lump of pure joy caught in Sam's throat as he thought about the giants' happy reunion.
They ran toward each other, arms outstretched.
Then Sam really thought about their reunion.
Oh … CRAP!
The two mighty beings fell into each others' arms with a force that shook the trees around them, embracing as if they could never let go.
They didn't hear the three pained groans that rose up from between their entwined bodies.
Dean felt his eyelids begin to droop as sleep beckoned. Yep, on the plus side he had at least managed to get a hell of a lot closer to the beautiful princess than he ever could have hoped at this stage in proceedings, but …
Giants still sucked.