The Brothers Grimm and the Rose Red
It had been a long and weary days ride for Breaca Horton, as she dismounted in the village square in Maraban. She sighed as she slid from the saddle, and smiled gratefully at the stable boy who came to take her horse from her.
"Take care of her lad, she's done me proud today" smiled the young woman as he took the reins from her hand.
The boy not sure of what to make of the young womans cloak and breeches simply nodded and led the horse away for the night. Suddenly Breaca started startling the boy.
"Wait, where would I find the Brothers Grimm, I have heard they now reside here in this village?" she asked.
The boy finally realising this stranger was a young woman around the same age as the brothers smiled ad pointed to the village tavern.
"Thank you." she smiled tossing the boy a coin for his help, and headed off towards the tavern, what she found was to an extent what she expected, the younger of the brothers was tucked up in a corner with a mug of ale and a pretty young woman, Breaca remembered from childhood called Angelika, and a worn leather book in his hand, he seemed to be reading from it, the other brother was at the bar surrounded by a bevy of pretty girls all vying for his attention and a kiss, he seemed to be reveling in it. Breaca shook her head in disgust at the elder Grimm's behaviour, she was no prude, but come on not 5 or six girls. Sighing she headed for the younger of the Grimm brothers, pulling her hat down over her hair.
Quickly before they could protest she pulled up a chair and plonked herself down on it next to Angelika and gave her a quick hug. The younger Grimm seemed highly affronted by this brazen act and pulled himself straight and was about to tell her where to go when Breaca whipped off her hat and grinned.
"BREACA!" Squealed Angelika "What in the world are you doing here?"
The younger Grimm looked stunned.
"You two know each other?" he questioned.
"Yes, me and Breaca learned the ways of the forest together, she left, how long ago 4 years?" asked Angelika.
"Nope it's been 5 years since I was home, and no I didn't make my fortune, I made enough to retire on though." smiled the young woman.
"Where are my manners?" gasped Angelika "Breaca this is my fiancée Jakob Grimm, Jakob this is Breaca Horton and old friend of mine as you may have gathered." smiled Angelika.
Jakob smiled and gently kissed Breacas hand.
"A pleasure." he smiled marvelling at how she had managed to get all her hair under the hat she had worn, it fell almost to the floor when she sat down, in soft copper waves and curls.
"I take it you have not yet met my brother Wilhelm?" asked Jakob "Most of us call him Will and I am more often known as Jake." He explained already taking a liking to the pretty young woman who had just got home. "May I ask how you made your living?"
"I was a soldier, till I was injured last month,then I was found out and discharged." she explained "I assure you if it hadn't happened I 'd still be there, even though Carl was killed last year trying to stop the French."
"Oh Bre, I'm sorry." said Angelika
"It's fine, he died a hero, and I managed to sneak into the sick room to be there when he passed, he was not alone I assure you, that alone gives me more comfort than anything." she replied, smiling weakly at her old friend. Her smile finally dissolved as she was enveloped in a hug from her friend.
"Well what do we have here?" came a smug voice from behind them "And who is this?" It continued.
"Ah Will this Is Breaca Horton, she's an old friend of Angelikas, she's just returned home after five years away." explained Jake.
Jake noticed the coldness in his brothers voice as he thought the figure in his fiancées arms had been a man.
"Oh, how do you do miss Breaca?" questioned the elder Grimm his voice warming considerably at the thought of a new female face.
"I am well." she replied a little more coldly than intended stung by his coldness.
Wilhelm recoiled and a cocky look appeared on his features.
"Do you have a husband Miss, to take care of you, though dressed as you are I would be surprised." he countered cringing inwardly at his rudeness.
Suddenly he stepped back as the young woman turned a hard look in his direction.
"After the things I have seen men do to one another, I am glad to be alone, I have seen things that would make you cry like a baby, and be sick to the stomach, master Grimm, do not presume I need any man to care for me, I am quite capable on my own." she replied in a deadly whisper that even Angelika did not recognise as her friend.
"No man would want a woman with a tongue like that anyway." he shot back not noticing the girls hand curling into a fist at her side.
Jake made a move to stop her, but was held back by Angelika, who shook her head.
"It is about time he learned to hold his tongue, she may just be the one to do it." she explained.
"What woman wears an army uniform anyway? She must be a ..."
Wilhelm never finished his sentence as Breacas fist slammed into his jaw sending him flying.
"One more Wilhelm Grimm and I swear to God I will remove your heart with my blade." she growled having unsheathed her sword as she had punched him.
"I have my reasons for being as I am, and until you can keep a civil tongue in your head and behave yourself, I saw you at the bar, do not pretend innocence, you will never find out the reasons behind my mystery." And with that she stalked from the tavern, swiftly followed by Angelika who non too gently kicked the elder Grimm.
"You never learn do you?" she forced out trying not to curse the blonde man laid on the floor.
Will just groaned and held his now throbbing jaw. "Lord she can throw a punch" he thought out loud.
Outside Angelika was trying to calm down a furious and distraught Breaca who was pacing like a mad woman and whispering curses under her breath that would have made lucifer himself blush.
"Breaca stop!" demanded Angelika grabbing the younger womans arm.
"How dare he!" bit out Breaca "How dare he insult me like that, I've a mind to challenge him to a duel."
Angelika looked stunned
"You'd do what" questioned an incredulous Angelika
"I'd challenge him to a duel if he didn't look so damn inept with weapons." she said a small smile gracing her face. "I've done it before and I have no doubt I'll do it again, strangely always came' out on top, don't know how though." she giggled a little.
Angelika looked stunned, her old friend had changed so much, she was as quick to calm as she was to anger.
"I should apologise, I shouldn't have hit him, he just hit a sore spot, I was to be married 2 years ago, my fiancée was killed in battle like my brother." she explained a lone tear finding its way down her cheek.
"Since then for my own safety and to ensure my job, I have dressed like a man, and to reinforce this image I have had to act like one, I thank my father and brother for allowing me to be trained in the same way as my brother. Otherwise I'd never have survived if they hadn't." she added sadly.
In the house by the window Jake shook his head sadly and looked at his brothers stunned face.
"When Angelika told you not to judge the people who are returning home, she was talking about this young woman I'd wager." he commented.
Will just slumped onto the table his head on his arms, his jaw throbbing in time to his pulse.
The sound of the door opening made him look up, in the doorway stood a tired in ill looking Breaca, Jake quickly crossed the room and led her to a chair by the fireplace, gently sitting her down. Looking up she smiled her thanks.
"Wilhelm?" she said quietly in a voice he nearly did not recognise.
He looked at the young woman sat in the chair looking for a moment very small and fragile as if the world was proving too much, and felt something in him tug and making him want to reach out and hold her close.
"Yes?" he said in a warmer tone than before. "What is it? " he questioned.
"I just wanted, I mean, look I'm sorry, I shouldn't have hit you, there's no excuse for it, I'm sorry." she just about got the words out before everything she had been through in the past few years caught up with her and she broke down, she angrily brushed away the tears, but they refused to stop coming.
Suddenly Will crossed the room and gently placed a hand on her shoulder.
"What has this world done to you Breaca to make you so angry?" he questioned gently.
"Do you really want to know Wilhelm Grimm, it is not the happiest of tales nor is it the most romantic, nor is it a tale of heroism, it is however a tale of survival, pure and simple, I survived, I survived the French, I survived living as a man for 3 years and I survived loosing my brother and the only man I have ever loved, do not presume to tell me that. I am unloved and will always be so, you are wrong on that, I will always have his love and the memory of it." she replied her eyes momentarily glowing emerald in the fire light. "Angelika, I do not mean nor intend to trespass but, do you have somewhere I can stay for a few nights, I will of course look for a place to live in the morning." she asked shakily