Welcome back to Celebrotica, in which the Cut's resident romance novelist reimagines the news.
"Natalie Portman and her family are getting ready to say au revoir to Hollywood. The Black Swan star's husband, French dancer-choreographer Benjamin Millepied, has been tapped to be the new director of dance at the Paris Opera Ballet." —Us Weekly
"Over the past few years, there have been various reports on Natalie and Benjamin’s arguments about where they were going to build a home, based on her career and his." —Celebitchy
Le misérable. That was Natalie Portman's first impression of Paris. A noisy, teeming city with none of the color or soaring sweep of the movie. No, this city was like one of the many close-ups of Anne Hathaway's prostitute face: wretched and ruined, a painted tart, its best days long since past. The crooked streets teemed with nosy tourists and noisy Parisians carrying croissants that offended her veganism. She hated it here.
After the Oscar, it was hardly a question that the couple would stay in Los Angeles. Natalie had the pick of every script in Hollywood. She had graciously allowed Anne Hathaway the boon of Les Misérables' Fantine, though Natalie's countless years dancing and in theater camp — and her superiority in the art of crying, particularly during haircuts — had made her the natural choice. Still, it was the least a Harvard graduate could do for a Vassar girl. Everyone knew their prospects for spinsterhood.
Benjamin had started his own dance company in L.A., while Natalie prepped to reprise her role in the ongoing magnum opus of Marvel Comics' Thor. She would play Dr. Jane Foster, a brilliant doctor of theoretical astrophysics with strong feelings for Thor, an ancient alien superhero endowed with a mighty hammer. The part was demanding, but child's play to Natalie, who had been Alan Dershowitz’s research assistant at Harvard. Then, to the newlyweds' surprise, the Paris Opera Ballet dance director position opened up; then, to everyone's surprise, Benjamin won the appointment. The outgoing director had been with the prestigious and highly disciplined corps du Ballet since age 8; Benjamin was 35 and known for choreographing a Hollywood film that portrayed ballet as a living nightmare. And he was married to an Academy Award winner for Best Actress in a Motion Picture.
“We French must always have a new revolution,” Benjamin had said, persuading her to go. “The people call out for me to lead them, for a new day of dance to dawn. It is a heavy burden. I have read my Robespierre.” So they went. And though they lived in the finest palatial splendor in the most fashionable arrondissement, Natalie would soon regret the move. Benjamin vanished into a world of haughty dancers and intricately wrapped scarves. He dared to fill the fridge with the hard, blue-veined cheeses she so despised. The wedge of brie left carelessly on the table by a Ming vase sent her over the edge. This is just like the time Carrie Bradshaw ruined her life following Mikhail Baryshnikov to Paris, she thought to herself. Not that I watched that show.
In a fit of temper, Natalie flung herself into a furious plié that carried her into the ballroom, still furnished in its original centuries-old splendor. By the stained-glass windows, Benjamin was at the barre, and turned to evaluate her form. Their foundation, their communication, the very nature of their union was dance; dance had brought them together; dance had made them love and was how they loved.
He read the rage in her third position. “Que, ma chérie? What has upset you?”
Leaping through a frenetic Pas d'action, Natalie danced the story of the cheese. He apologized, but she was too far gone to hear it. She threw a Chaînés his way, with extra kicks, then launched into the greater arc: The city was awful, she hated the way everyone pretended not to know English when they did, she was disappointed that the giant elephant statue central to the plot of Les Misérables was nowhere to be found. Faster and faster she spun, her feet flying, she was flying, flying all the way back to Hollywood where she was a Queen, Queen Padme Amidala of Naboo!
Benjamin's firm yet graceful pas de deux caught her mid-air, overpowered her, channeled her dairy rage. That he was the better dancer meant he could dominate the narrative. As a choreographer, he was used to getting his own way. He had trained and tamed Natalie, after all, in the rigorous daily sessions for Black Swan that had fast become an erotic pièce de résistance. He tossed her high and dipped her low; he stripped off their leotards and ordered a crescent bend.
“Adagio,” Benjamin murmured, directing. “Now allegro, with more feeling, my pale swan.” He assumed the principal role, executing sensuous positions quite horizontally, making the plush carpet their theater.
“Jeté, jeté,” he encouraged, until he had her spread out in ideal form underneath him, contorted to the strains of the Black Swan movie soundtrack. The thrilling scales fed the frenzy of their movement and their hunger for each other.
“Allongé,” Natalie said, gasping approval as she plead for him to elongate the flick of his tongue. “Allongé!”
At last they landed on their hands and knees. Benjamin was behind her, and had his fingers pushed deep into her hair, then pulling back so that she hummed like a plucked harp. She tossed her head in abandonment now, transcendent, transformed; there were deviously clever fingers everywhere on her, and she was electric to the touch, ready to take wing. She tilted her head to look back, to take in his dark hair, his —
— his very long, very lustrous dark hair, spilling over the slope of a delicate pale shoulder, over a rounded breast. Natalie thought she saw herself, it was her own self behind her, a stunning brunette with a dancer's lithe naked body, making love to the lithe body she called her own. She blinked, trying to clear hazy vision, and the woman smiled like a vixen. She gasped. It was Mila Kunis. Was it a fever dream? A twisted fantasy born from contact with poisonous milk fats? She did not know. She only knew she was powerless to resist.
Benjamin had disappeared; the women were alone by the crackling fireplace and an antique suit of armor. Mila crawled with a slinky slither over Natalie, slick with the sweat of their exertion, and kissed her — hard and possessively at first, as one must kiss one's doppelgänger. Then she slowed to teasing touches of lips and tongue-tips, until their mouths were open and panting. With a wicked, knowing look through long lashes, she drew back. “Dance for me, black swan. Dance as never before.”
Her fingers, too, were wicked and knowing. Natalie tossed her head and screamed like a bird mating in the night, and in the rapture of her delirious release —
— she collided hard with the marble legs of a table in the hallway. Still riding out the aftershock of ecstasy, she slid a shaking hand up her body and rubbed her eyes. Her heart was beating wildly behind her ear, and she could hear faraway music. She was alone. Mila was gone. Benjamin was gone. Hollywood, Los Angeles, her life, her love — everything was gone. Natalie was akimbo in the entrance to the apartment, half-propped against marble, her clothing in disarray, her hair wild from pulling it, lips smeared with the last of the brie. I knew dairy was a bad idea, she thought.
Amelia Casey is a romance novelist. Her most recent book, Taken by the Highwayman, makes Lady Anabel Mayward quiver.