Disclaimer: The Beauty & the Beast world and characters are owned by Disney. No money is made by writing and publishing this fanfiction.

The young prince woke to creaking floors. His eyes shot open, chest heaving as he sat up and blinked against the darkness. He could hear the curtains brush against the ground, the cool nighttime winds sending a chill up his spine.

"H-hello?" he whispered anxiously.

Nothing replied. Calming down a bit, the ten year-old laid back down, pulling the heavy covers up to his chin and convincing himself it was only his imagination.

He was nearly asleep again when a raspy breath rang out from the silent room.

"My, my, what a handsome child."

The boy froze in fear, suddenly bathed in sweat as the sick voice hung in the quiet air. This is just a bad dream, he told himself, pulling the covers further over his head, eyes squeezed shut as he tried to will the terrible presence away.

"Now, is that any way to greet the great Enchantress of the East?"

The prince's eyes flew open beneath the covers at the revelation. No, it couldn't be her—

His heart nearly stopped as a heavy something settled at the edge of the bed, the covers flying back and exposing the boy to the cold air and an enormous woman glaring down at him.

She was, by any standard, beautiful—bright, ruby eyes; flawless skin that glowed in the moonlight; lips red as the roses woven throughout her white-gold hair.

Yet to the child, she was terror incarnate.

"Prince Adam," she hummed, words sliding off her tongue, her hand reaching out to caress his face. "We finally meet." Adam pressed himself against the bedframe, heart caught in his throat as her sharp nails ran along his cheek. He could feel the hairs on the back of his neck as they stood on end, feel her hot breath falling in waves over his skin.

"Goodness, you do look like your father," she hummed, licking her lips as she looked him over. She suddenly frowned, the mirth fading from her gaze. "Except your eyes. Those are hers," she snarled, nose wrinkling in disgust.

"H-help," Adam finally choked out, swallowing roughly as he mustered all the courage he could. "Guards! HELP!"

The witch only smirked as heavy footfalls echoed from the hall, two sentries charging into the large room moments later. They pointed their spears at the intruder, eyes growing wide in fear as she slowly turned towards them.

"It's the witch!" the first barked.

"We can't let her—aaargh!" the other cried, both guards quaking in agony as their bodies slowly shrunk into nothingness. Their spears crashed to the floor, and seemed to tremble against the stone in rebellion.

The enchantress pulled her hand back, examining her nails before glancing in amusement at the young prince. He stared in horror at the spot the men had just stood, eyes growing wet with tears.

"Not very hospitable of you, Prince Adam," she tut-tutted. "Surely you can give a poor woman shelter from the bitter cold," she continued, voice dripping like acid as she pulled one of the roses from her hair. She held it out to him, expression growing strangely soft as she leaned closer. Adam felt his eyes grow suddenly heavy as the flower's scent overwhelmed him.

"A gift, child," she whispered softly, and he'd nearly given in to the spell when his father's warning flashed in his mind.

"Beware the offering of a witch, my son," he'd told him. "I would not have you repeat my mistakes."

Adam shook his head roughly, throwing out a small hand at the rose, sharp thorns cutting into his skin. It flew from the witch's fingertips, petals scattering along the ground. Adam clenched his fist, ignoring the blood against his palm.

"Y-you—you aren't allowed here," he rasped, grinding his teeth in anger. "My father banished you!"

Her crimson eyes grew suddenly dark, cheeks sinking in as she barred her teeth. "How…dare you," she growled, hair losing its luster, skin growing patchy and rough in the shadows. "You, the filthy mark of his betrayal?!" she nearly screamed, thin fingers curling around his neck. "Like your father had any right, any power, to banish me."

Adam couldn't reply, hands tugging at her fingers as he gasped for breath.

"As much as you tempt me…I'm not, in fact, here to kill you," she conceded, releasing him and snatching his wrist in one cold grip as she rose to her full height. Her head nearly skimmed the tall ceilings, hair flowing around her shoulders as she dragged him towards the door.

"W-where are you taking me?" Adam asked, tugging in vain against her hold.

She leaned down slowly, fingers trailing through his hair as she smiled once again. Her beauty had returned, though the darkness remained in her eyes. "You, little one, are going to make my task much, much simpler tonight."