Created 3-18-00

Beauty and the Beast

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FF7 does not belong to me. Neither does the original script of Beauty and the Beast.

Anyway, I wrote this on a whim. It's more traditional than the Disney version, hopefully an interesting read. I created this when I was but a fledgling fanfic writer, and under the influence of sparkling cider. I post these now, three years later, and laugh heartily at my rather silly attempts at storytelling. Still, they have entertainment value-that's good enough reason for posting them, right?

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Once upon a time, there once was a man named Antonio Reeve who had three daughters-Tifa, Yuffie and Aeris. Yuffie, being the youngest, was her father's pet and Tifa, being the oldest, had to excel to be noticed. Aeris was the middle child and was neither spoiled nor praised. So, while her sisters grew proud and imperious, Aeris grew up a perfect sweetie. This annoyed her sisters so much that they said behind their sister's back: "She thinks she's so perfect."

Maybe she was. While her sisters were both pretty and were courted frequently by the good-looking men of Midgar, beautiful Aeris was courted even more, but politely declined every proposal, saying patiently that she was too young to get married and wished to spend more time with her father. While Tifa and Yuffie went to elaborate parties, Aeris helped her father with his work and assisted the poor. So, it came to pass over time that Aeris became her father's favorite.

Yuffie, spited that her father paid more attention to Aeris than she, conspired with her older sister Tifa to do something mean to Aeris. However, before they could think of anything, they heard a loud yell from their father's office, which was right below their rooms. They ran down, alarmed.

"I'm ruined! RUINED! My god." Reeve held his head in his hands. "How could this happen?"

"Ruined?!" Yuffie squalled. "What happened?!"

"All my trade ships got wrecked.I have nothing to sell.that's it." He stood up with a sigh. "We're going to have to move."

"Move?!" Tifa screamed. "Where?"

"Probably some place not as high priced as Midgar." Reeve sighed.

Aeris touched him on the shoulder. "It's okay, Dad. It's not that bad."

"That's what YOU think!" Her sisters thought furiously.

In the end, they moved to Corel, a small and quiet town in the mountains. Reeve got himself employed as a coal miner and Aeris tended to domestic chores, waking up early to cook breakfast and clean house. She was indeed a boon to her father, unlike her sisters, who were stumped. They had no idea what to do and often took walks, sitting underneath a tree and complaining loudly about how wretched their lives had become. It was on one such day that they heard a loud whoop from their house. Half dreading what would be the cause, they ran to the house.

Reeve was dancing around the kitchen, polkaing with Aeris as she laughed and allowed herself to be led around. "We're saved! One of my ships didn't really sink! We can move back! Okay you three-while I'm in Junon to get the cargo back, stay here."

"Yes father." The three girls chorused.

"Good. Now is there anything you want?"

Yuffie clapped her hands. "Materia!"

Tifa smiled. "A pair of gloves."

"And you, Aeris? What do you want?"

"I.just a rose, dear father, since there are no flowers around out house." Aeris smiled demurely.

"That's it?" Reeve was surprised, but agreed. "All right then, a rose."

Once in Junon, Reeve set about trying to get his ship back, but due to some legal loopholes, he lost the ship and went home just as poor before he came to Midgar. As he rode home on his Chocobo, he wondered how he would break the news to his daughters. "No Materia for Yuffie . . . No gloves for Tifa . . ." He let out a sigh, but a glimmer of white caught his eye and he stopped the Chocobo.

Inside the garden of a mansion regally covered with ivy, Reeve spotted a white rosebush. He dismounted his Chocobo and walked into the garden, smiling ruefully. "Well, if I can't get my other two daughters something, I'll at least be able to get Aeris a rose." With that thought, he reached out and broke a rose off the bush.

A bestial roar made him jump and he whipped around his eyes growing wide. He fell into the rosebush and got scratched, but his fear blotted out all pain.

A huge demon with bat-like wings and a square, brutish body glared down at him, small ruby eyes leering at him. "How dare you take that rose?" It snarled thunderously.

"F-f-forgive me!" Reeve begged. "I only wanted one to give to my daughter Aeris! I'm very sorry-I didn't think you would get offended! Please don't kill me!"

The beast snorted. "I should kill you-but for the sake of this daughter of yours, the one you love so much." The beast eyed the rose. "Very well-give her the flower, then. But return straight here to receive your punishment for trespassing my grounds! If you don't come." The beast thundered, pointing at him with one black, diamond-sharp claw. "I will kill you, your daughter and anyone in your house! Be back here in one week!"

Reeve snapped at the beast, his paternal instinct getting the better of him. "Like I would send my daughter here to die!"

The beast shrugged and suggested in a slightly milder tone, "At least this way, you may see your daughter one last time."

Reeve nodded slowly. "Then.I agree to these.terms." He jumped to his feet, running as fast he could away from the beast.

However, the beast grabbed him by the shoulder, stopping him from escaping. "WAIT! I will not let such a considerate-minded father leave empty-handed." The beast walked into the mansion and came out carrying a chest. Tossing it at Reeve, the beast laughed as Reeve staggered under its weight. "It is full of money. Buy the other things for your daughter. She should at least be happy before you die."

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It was with a heavy heart that Reeve returned to Corel. Although he had bought everything his daughters had wanted, the threat of death hung over him like a cloud. Even seeing his daughters' overjoyed expressions did little to cheer him.

"Father, what's wrong?" Aeris asked as she planted the rose.

It was no use hiding the truth. Reeve told the unfortunate story to his three daughters, becoming steadily gloomier with each gasp of horror. As Reeve finished, Tifa turned on Aeris, shouting, "Now look what you've done! Why didn't you ask for things like we did, instead of some stupid flower that's gonna cost Dad his life?!"

Yuffie wailed. "Aeris, how could you?"

Aeris, however, stayed silent until the end, upon which she said, "There's no need for Dad to die. It's all my fault that you're in this situation- I'll go to the beast, instead of you."

"NO!" Reeve cried out, grabbing his daughter by her shoulders. "Don't! You're young and have your whole life ahead of you!"

"Dad, what's life without you?" She asked quietly, taking his hands off her shoulders. "Besides, Tifa and Yuffie need you. You have to live. And if I don't go, he'll kill us all."

So stubborn was she in her opinion that she totally ignored her father's pleas, threats and begging. Finally, one day before the doom, Reeve finally consented. "At least let me come with you . . . "

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A week passed all too swiftly and soon, Reeve was sorrowfully riding a Chocobo, his daughter Aeris beside him. The trip to the mansion took a mere few hours, but Reeve had put off the journey for so long that it was nighttime when they finally reached the mansion. They quietly dismounted, walking into the mansion, their way lighted by the stars. Aeris looked up at her father and noted his face was resolute and grim. Then, with a small gasp, she saw the slight bulge of weapon underneath his coat.

They walked into the mansion and Aeris clapped her hands over her mouth to stop from screaming in terror at the beast. He was tall, at least eight feet high, and gray with two horns twisting out of his small head, brilliant ruby eyes watching Aeris and Reeve with humanlike curiosity and calculation. His massive, bat-like wings shifted on his back as the beast spoke. In a deep rumbling voice, the beast asked, "Young lady, did you come of your own will?"

She nodded, rather than speak and risk screaming.

"You are a dutiful and loving daughter then, and I am grateful for that."

Surprised by the beast's civil answer, Aeris lost all her fear, However, she was frightened when the beast turned to Reeve and rumbled, "You have provided a substitute for yourself, I see. Leave, then, tomorrow morning and do not come back. I will not harm your daughter in any way. And put that gun down, you don't know how to use it."

Reeve paled, but removed the gun from his coat and tossed it to the beast, which caught it in his claws and inspected it. "Quicksilver model." The beast said matter-of-factly. Looking at Reeve and Aeris, the beast pointed upstairs to the right of the huge window above the stairs. "You both are tired-there are rooms upstairs. Goodnight, rose-thief. Goodnight, young lady." With that, the beast walked out of the room, somewhat shuffling in his gait.

Aeris finally found her voice. "Goodnight." She called after the monster.

Reeve turned to his daughter and hugged her fiercely, tears dropping from his eyes. "Aeris, this is your last chance! Run, please run home!"

"No.' She said stubbornly. "I won't agree to it and you can't force me. I will stay here and you go home tomorrow."

With that, they both went upstairs to different rooms and fell asleep after several hours of nervousness and unrest. While she slept, Aeris dreamed that an elegant red animal with a scarred face and golden earrings walked up to her, saying "Do not fear, pretty girl. You are so good to give your life for that of your father's, so the beast will not harm you. Do not be afraid. You will soon find what you want-a man who respects your intelligence and loves you dearly. You will find your heart's desire."

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Aeris woke up the next morning with a lighter spirit and walked out of her room. Upon finding her morose father sitting on the steps with his head in his hands, she told him her dream in hopes of cheering him, but it was no good and it was a long time before she got him to leave her. As she watched him go, Aeris felt hot tears form in her eyes. Normally she was a courageous girl, but the utter hopelessness of the situation had dragged her spirits down. Captured in a mansion (no matter how lovely) with a ferocious beast that God only knew what it wanted to do with her! Aeris wanted to cr. However, there was little she could do by crying, so she walked outside to wander the grounds of the mansion, all of which were very pretty and delighted her. However, the thing that surprised Aeris the most was the mansion's huge library and the piano sitting in one corner.

"He must not mean to punish me at once." Aeris murmured, seating herself at the piano and playing a few simple notes.

"Do, re, mi, ti-la. Do re mi so fa do re do."

She passed the day pleasantly, reading books and playing music, until it was dinnertime. Walking to the dining room and seeing that the table was elaborately arranged with all sorts of food, she was about to sit herself at the table and eat something when she heard the shuffling footsteps of the beast.

Her heart began to beat faster and she thought, "This is it! He's going to kill me now!", but the beast did not approach her and instead sat at the opposite end of the table, asking, "Young lady, will you give me permission to sit at this table and watch you dine?"

Not wanting to offend him, Aeris answered in a slightly trembling voice "If you wish, sir."

"You do not need to address me as sir and it is not my decision as to whether I sit with you or not." The beast replied in surprisingly cordial tones. "If you do not like my company, say so and I shall leave. But tell me," The beast said, changing the subject. "Do you think me very ugly?"

All her life, Aeris had been taught that lying was evil, so she answered as honestly as she could, although she felt a great apprehension in doing so. "I do, but you seem to be a good . . ." Aeris paused. Was "person" the right word to use? She used it anyway. "Person. You have not threatened me or my father so far and you thought well enough of him the first time to send him home with a chest of money, as well as the rose I requested of him." She paused, and then added, "You seem to be a good enough person underneath your . . . hide."

"Am I?" The beast mused, clicking his claws together. "Yet besides being ugly, I am also stupid. I am but a brutish beast, nothing more."

"Stupid people aren't aware of their stupidity." Aeris replied, a bit disturbed by the beast's utter lack of self-confidence or even self-worth.

The beast looked somewhat pleased and surprised at her answer, but awkwardly said, "Please, do not let me detain you from eating. You must be very hungry. Everything in this great house is yours to use and command as you will. I do not deserve to use such finery, being as I am."

Aeris looked at the ruby eyes, surprised that they held human sadness. "As you are?"

"Yes." The beast nodded. "As . . . . hoary as this. As monster-like and terrible."

"There are many people who are monsters on the inside. It is better to have a human heart rather than a human shape."

The beast looked even more pleased and the sadness in his ruby eyes seemed to go momentarily. "Thank you for your beautiful speech, but I am too stupid to say anything that would make you happy." The beast said all this in a melancholy tone and at this moment, Aeris felt her fear of him utterly disappear. Dinner passed nicely, both of them conversing for a while. As she finished her dinner, the beast suddenly asked, "Aeris, will you marry me?"

She was surprised, but not wanting to lie to him, she said firmly. "No, I will not."

The beast did not fly into a fury, but instead sighed and left the room.

As soon as he left, Aeris began to feel pity for him. "How sad it is that he is so frightful and still have such a good temper."

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One month, two months, then three months passed by in a pleasant manner, the beast and the beauty meeting every night at precisely eight 'o clock. Aeris no longer dreaded his coming, but instead looked at the clock, waiting for him to come. Only one thing bothered her and it was the fact that the beast asked her to marry him every night before he went away and it made her unhappy that she always answered "No." At last, Aeris asked, "Chaos, it hurts me deeply that every night when you ask me to marry you, I must continue to say no. I wish that I could take a more . . . romantic liking to you, but to tell you the truth, I don't think that will happen. I will always be your friend, though; please try to let that content you."

Chaos nodded. "I have to let it content me since I know how evil I look. But to tell you the truth, I love you more than life itself."

Aeris blushed and looked down at her food. Chaos glanced off to the side, seemingly embarrassed. Still, he spoke, although gruffly.

"I am very lucky to have you stay with me. Please Aeris, promise you will not leave me."

Aeris bit her lip. "I wish I could promise you, but."

Chaos took a deep breath. "Another dream of your father becoming ill, is it not?"

She nodded.

"Your dreams have proved right more than once, dear Aeris. I will let you go to see him." Chaos said, his voice heavy with sadness. "But promise you will return in a week's time. Else . . . I am afraid I will die of grief. You are so dear to me . . . "

Aeris nodded, her eyes shining with happiness. "I will return! I promise!"

Chaos nodded, but seemed so upset that Aeris could no longer eat and had to leave the room.

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The next day, Aeris rode from Nibelheim to Corel and walked to her house, leading her Chocobo. Tying it to the stable, she walked up to the door and knocked.

"Yuffie! You get it!"

"Like hell I will! You get it!"

"It's YOUR turn!"

Aeris sighed and stood up on her tiptoes, reaching for the key that was hidden in the gutter. Finding it, she put it in the lock and opened the door.

"Aeris!" Her sisters looked at her, astonished. "You're alive!"

"I am, and healthy to boot. How are the both of you?" Aeris asked, smiling at their stunned expressions.

"Oh . . . okay." Yuffie said carelessly. "Tifa has a boyfriend. His name's Cloud and she's gonna marry him. Dunno WHY, seeing as he's an idiot."

"He is not!" Tifa snapped. She turned to look at Aeris and Aeris was surprised to see that her older sister was actually happy to see her. "Aeris, I was so worried for you! I didn't realize I would miss you so much!" She ran over to her sister and hugged her tightly. "You came just in time-Dad's gotten really, REALLY sick! He's been ill for a couple weeks now- caught some sort of sickness in the mines."

"Black lung, the doctor said." Yuffie nodded. "Come on, he's upstairs!"

Aeris spent a good five days nursing her father back to health with the help of her sisters and told them of her life with Chaos, reassuring them that he had not harmed her in any way and would not do so. "However, I must go back in two days."

"But you just got here! There's so much to catch up on!" Tifa protested.

"But if you have to go, GO.' Yuffie said eagerly, wanting to be her father's favorite once more.

"I really should, since Chaos said he would die of grief if I stayed away too long."

Yuffie twitched suddenly as a bright idea popped up in her head. Excusing herself, she busied herself with a sudden chore to hide her wicked smile. "Hmm . . . maybe if I can keep her here more than a week, that brute she likes so much is gonna get so angry that he'll come here and eat her up. And then we'll never have to bother with her again."

Certainly they were wicked thoughts, but Yuffie was only sixteen. Surely one has to forgive her for that.

As the end of the week came, Yuffie pleaded and begged her sister to stay a while longer, crying until Aeris finally consented to stay a little longer. However, as Aeris fell asleep on the tenth day she away from Chaos, she dreamed of him. The kind demon was glassy-eyed, his scales dulling and Aeris felt him dying, his life slipping away from him. He truly was dying. She woke up frightened and began to cry.

Tifa came into the room and switched on the light. "Aeris, what's wrong?"

"Tifa . . . I'm so mean to stay here while Chaos is dying . . . he's been so nice to me . . . " Aeris sobbed.

"Oh . . . well, you should go then. I don't think Yuffie's gonna let you leave while she's awake. Better go while she's asleep." Tifa advised. So it was in the middle of the night that Tifa packed Aeris some clothes, food and readied her Chocobo for her sister, sending her younger sister off into the night.

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Aeris jumped off her Chocobo as soon as she got to Nibelheim and ran into the mansion, calling out, "Chaos! Chaos!" She nearly passed a room, but saw his long tail and ran inside, gasping as she found the demon exactly as he had been in her dream. He looked at her dully as she knelt in front of him.

"You forgot your promise . . . " Chaos said hoarsely. "So I starved myself and soon I will die . . . but I will die content since I have seen you one last time."

"No!" Aeris cried, forgetting her past revulsion and hugging him. "You're not going to die . . . you can't die . . . all this time you've been so wonderful to me, and so kind!"

The demon smiled feebly. Aeris continued to cry, panic making her speak words she hadn't known were in her.

"You're going to live, Chaos! You're going to be my husband!" She began to cry as she buried her face into the demon's warm, scaly hide. "I'll marry you, Chaos, I'll marry you. I love you."

Suddenly Chaos let out a low growl and Aeris felt the scales underneath her fingers grow smooth and meld together, becoming soft folds of cloth. Chaos's horns turned dark before splitting into many dark strands and dropping softly over her hands and shoulders. Aeris gasped as a low voice murmured gently to her. "Don't cry . . . please don't cry."

She drew back sharply and looked at the man before her. He was deathly pale with black hair, dressed in a red cloak and a black shirt and pants. Although undeniably handsome handsome, his sudden appearance was still cause for alarm, especially because of the large golden claw he had in place of his left arm. "Who are you?" Aeris demanded, distraught. "Where is Chaos?"

"I was Chaos." The man explained. "Thank you Aeris, for freeing me from that curse."

"Curse?" She inquired, tilting her head.

"I never told you, but a man put a curse on me when he thought I was fooling around with his wife . . . which I wasn't." He added hastily at Aeris's scandalized look. "So I was to remain Chaos forever until someone could look past how I appeared and see who I really was. It was meant to be irony, since the man believed I was a snake, and that people would only see bad things in me, but . . . you were my redemption, Aeris. Thank you." He touched her cheek with his fingertips, his crimson eyes full of tenderness. "You judged me by my heart, so I will offer it to you." His voice was a breathy whisper that sent shivers down Aeris's spine. "I love you."

His heated confession, the closeness of his body, and the familiar touch of his fingers on her cheek made Aeris lean backwards slightly, her eyes narrowed in suspicion. "How do I know that you are really my Chaos?"

The man didn't say a word, but instead tilted his head and looked at her with mournful sanguine eyes, so filled with familiar pain and sadness that in an instant, Aeris knew who he was. Sweet pain exploded within her breast.

"Oh!" Aeris flung herself on him, hugging him tightly and crying at the same time. "You are my dear Chaos . . . you really are . . ."

"Aeris . . . darling." He murmured, kissing her cheek. "I will be whatever you want me to be."

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In Corel, Reeve stood in the doorway of his house, doing an impressive imitation of the guard statues in Wutai. "No way." He said flatly, looking the man at his daughter's side over. "This was the beast?"

"Please sir, my name is Vincent Valentine." Vincent said, putting his normal hand to his chest. "And yes, I used to be Chaos."

"And you two eloped without telling me?" Reeve demanded, crossly folding his arms and fixing his glare on his daughter.

"Yes." Aeris admitted, blushing although not looking away.

Reeve's eyes narrowed and his lips became thin.

"Maybe it was for the best." Someone-or somebeast-purred.

Aeris looked into a nearby tree and saw the red animal from her dream sitting in it. It was the same red beast from her first dream in the mansion.

The fiery feline hopped from the branches and walked up to Reeve, looking up at him. "You most certainly would have disapproved, and, while you wouldn't have stopped them, you would have damaged Aeris's martial bliss. Can't you see how happy they are with each other?"

Reeve glanced at Vincent suspiciously, but said nothing as his gaze traveled to Aeris and saw the rapt adoration she had for her dark husband shining in her eyes. Reeve's expression softened slightly.

The crimson cat turned back to Aeris. "Dear girl, you have done well to look past outer appearances and love Vincent for who he was." In a friendlier tone, she beast asked, "Did I not tell you you would find your heart's desire?"

Aeris blushed and slipped her arm around Vincent's waist, who smiled at her in return. The beast nodded, a smile on his furry features, and turned about to look at Yuffie, who was standing in the doorway behind her father.

"I know of your wickedness, Yuffie." The beast said in grave tones. "I know how you wished to have Aeris eaten by Chaos. For thinking such a horrible thing on your sister, I shall punish you."

Yuffie paled as she took in the red beast's gleaming fangs and the blazing fire at the end of its tail.

"However," The red beast said. "I see no worse punishment for you than to see your sister happy. Therefore, I am going to cast a spell on you and every time you think a mean thought, you are going to see how happy your sister is. My little spell will only go away when you can finally be happy for Aeris, or stop thinking mean thoughts, whichever comes first. However," The animal chuckled merrily and scratched behind his ear with one footpaw. "I think you are going to be watching your sister for a long time."

The End

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Author's note:

Never wrote a story in which I didn't talk at the end. As you could probably tell, no one was really in character in this entire thing. As I recall, I just did this on a lark. I did a lot of fairy tales with Final Fantasy characters on a lark, now that I think of it . . . huh. Oh well. Ha ha ha!

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