"It's not right—this obsession he has for this, this girl."
"She might be a far better beauty than that that has ever walked our streets, but she's not right— in the head, I mean."
"Have you seen them in town together? She practically runs from him!"
"He's thinking with the head in his breeches not the one on his head."
Gaston grabbed the warped wood of the tavern door and slammed it closed behind him. Letting the sound sink into the drunken minds of the customers that were in the pub. The tavern was full, with it being past midnight already, husbands and fiances were drinking their troubles away with a lass or two sitting on their laps just pretending to enjoy themselves. Everyone seated or standing took notice of the menace that was flowing off Gaston in waves. He was in no mood to be trifled with.
There was only one group of men in the whole tavern that didn't seem to notice Gaston's entrance. They were seated at the bar and Gaston could tell just by the way that they tottered on their seats that they were already well past drunk. Annoyance bit at him—how many times did he have to order them to search for Belle or her father?
Gaston's mood had not been good lately. He had cheered up for a bit when Maurice had first come back, but now… he was missing again. And Gaston had no idea where the hell he could be.
He set his rifle by the entrance as he walked in and threw two dried deer pelts beside it, he had plenty more like them, they were nothing special. He'd thought hunting a bit would calm his nerves. It hadn't.
He sauntered farther forth, his boots a loud thunk in the tense disquiet of the room. The room seemed to move with each of his steps, making a predatory grin spread over his face. He looked the people he passed in the eye, men glanced away from him, women smiled. One whore who was sitting on the barber's lap, pulled her bodice the slightest bit down, but far enough that he could see the color of her nipples. He ignored her. She wasn't near as pretty as Belle therefore wasn't worth a second glance.
He towered over everyone he walked by, even if they weren't sitting down. No one stood up to greet him, no one spoke a single word to him. Things had been different since Belle had run off. The town was acting different to him. He'd admit himself that he was rather demanding in having Belle for his wife, but he wanted her. The one thing that he had truly wanted was denying him at every turn. He shook his head at his own thoughts, it would all be over and done with soon. When they found Belle, he wouldn't waste any time. He would consummate the wedding before there even was one, that way she couldn't deny him anymore.
Dreams of Belle's lush body plagued his mind and his body. He found himself, lying in bed at night staring at the rafters with the feeling of her flesh beneath his hands. The promise of her arching onto him. Every sound of a draft reminded him of a devilish whimper that would fall from her lips once he had her.
He couldn't even find a woman to sate him, there were many and willing in the town and the towns connected, but they weren't Belle.
I need her, the thought rang clear in his head. He closed his eyes and tried to push it away, but it just wouldn't leave, once the thought was there, it had planted itself and started to grow into a horrible obsession.
It would be okay once he had her. Once he made her body, mind, and soul his for the taking, everything would go back to normal. The town would love him again. Once having Belle, he can pursue others once his thirst for Belle had been sated.
He drew upon the four men that he wanted to talk to. But, as he came up behind Henry and Jacque— he found them having a conversation of their own. Gaston ground his teeth together as their words rang clear over the edgy silence of the room. Chester was behind the bar and was the first to see Gaston, he raised a brow and opened his mouth as if to warn the other two, but one sharp glance was enough to keep him silent.
LeFou who was sitting at the bar was turned toward the laughing duo and had a mug lifted, so that Gaston was only able to see his eyes. But, by the way those beady eyes widened, Gaston knew that he was wearing his anger all over his face.
"If I were him, I'd raise any other pretty skirt and get my fill" Jacque chortled, coughing on stale watered down ale, "—until I forgot about the dumb one." Gaston came up behind his two men and wondered briefly if they would feel the rage radiating from him with every pulse of his heart. He cast a glance down at the greasy red hair of Jacque below him. Gaston had at least four stone on the puny man. If he so desired he could grab his face and push it into the stained sticky counter. His fists clenched so hard with the thought that he felt as if he was going to break his own knuckles.
"I understand his thoughts though." Henry joined in who was also oblivious to the furious mass behind him. But, Gaston was in no way ready for Henry's vulgar words. "I have to admit, if during one of our hopeless searches for his little wife in the forest—I were to actually find her," he leaned in breathing heavily with the effort it took to stay on his seat, his voice heavy and mocking. "I might just spread her myself for a poke before bringing her back to Gaston."
Henry fell into a drunken fit of laughter, joined in by Jacque.
Chester stopped wiping up a random spill from the counter and brought his head up sharply, his eyes filled with a touch of fear. LeFou set his mug down with a thud and lifted his hefty body and scooted into the next chair over, farther away from the scene. Gaston only looked up long enough to see each of them look away and pretend as if nothing had happened. They were the smart ones.
Jacque was the first to notice the odd disturbance of utter silence. He glanced over his shoulder to look at the other patrons to see what all the fuss was about. But, his view was blocked by a thick gold belt buckle and a muscled torso. The smile slid from his face, and even through his drunken haze he knew exactly whose torso it was.
Gaston watched as the smaller man took a sharp breath in and his face blanch. His watery eyes slowly removed themselves from Gaston's belt buckle, to his abdomen, finally coming to rest on his face. Gaston hadn't known he had been smiling, but by the way Jacque's throat jumped from gulping, he would say that he was a tad intimidating.
Jacque pushed his back solid against his chair, desperate for a little distance—distance that Gaston had no intention of giving.
Henry's laugh faded quickly when he realized that something was obviously wrong. He glanced at Jacque's uptilted white face with confusion over what he was looking at.
Gaston let out a deep chuckle from his chest and watched with pleasure as Henry's whole body froze. With nothing but that one laugh, there was no question that Henry knew who was behind him.
"Henry, Henry, Henry… I'm afraid I didn't quite hear you." Gaston let his hands rest on Henry's shoulders. He dug his fingers into the sensitive flesh, laughing when the drunk man moaned in pain. "Repeat what you said."
Chester, who had pretended not to notice that anything was wrong tried to defend him by being the first to speak, "He's been drinking all night, he doesn't know what he's talking of."
"Are you defending him?" Gaston gritted out without looking at Chester. Chester knew that what Henry said was wrong. For his own good, he better not be defending him.
Chester looked away and rubbed up some spilled ale. "No," he shook his head and closed his eyes. Gaston would deal with him later.
"That's what I thought."
"I didn't mean anything by it!" Henry slurred his words together with nothing but fear driving them from him, he tried to pry his shoulders from Gaston's grip, but he had no intention of letting go so easily.
"Of course not," Gaston replied cheerfully. He squeezed underneath Henry's collarbone until his own fingers started to hurt. Then and only then did he let go and ease himself onto the stool next to him, so that he could see half of Henry's pained face. He leaned uncomfortably close to Henry, his breath stirring the oily brown strands. Gaston's lip curled with disgust over the soiled smell seeping from Henry.
He watched as the smaller man peeked at him from the corner of his eye and when Gaston just smiled at him, he eventually relaxed, until he regained the gall to laugh a bit. His eyes still held traces of fear, but when Gaston offered no reprimand to laughing, Henry relaxed even more.
"It was just a joke," he said leaning towards Gaston, his rancid breath making Gaston want to jerk away.
"Of course it was." His smile slipping. Every labored breath from Henry made Gaston want to grab the back of his skull and just slam his dirty face into the counter. The mug in front of him would shatter, the pieces lodging themselves in Henry's face…
No one talked of Belle, his wife, that way. No one.
Apparently, his cruel intentions were noticed by LeFou, who was staring at him. LeFoe offered a forced cough with a jerk of his head to the rest of the tavern and shook his head at Gaston. Gaston looked at the rest of the them. The sad lot of them. Everyone was watching the scene, they most likely couldn't hear the words they were speaking, but if his actions were as angry as he felt than they wouldn't have a problem knowing that something was wrong.
LeFou was right. He couldn't do anything here. Not with everyone watching. He cursed under his breath. These people a week beforehand would have done everything and anything for him. But, now they were looking at him with fear. He couldn't go on like this. It was all Belle's fault.
He would marry her and make her fix this. This wasn't how it was supposed to be.
Henry, more at ease, looked at Jacque and even Jacque started smile. Gaston glanced at Chester and LeFou and caught them as they glanced at each other. They were the two that had been with him since the beginning. They knew his dangerous moods as much as they knew their own. They knew that he was not going to let Henry's comment go by without punishment.
Henry drank the last of his ale and smiling, went as far as to slap Gaston on the back, smiling towards him with his brown teeth exposed. "You know what a beautiful lass that girl is! You know I'm not the only one that wants to shove up her skirts and have at her."
"Of course," Gaston held a small battle inside of himself to keep his temper under siege. He could not kill this man in front of everyone. He could not kill him… Here. The tavern was filled with local townsman, townsman that gave him business and at the moment didn't fully trust him.
Gaston stood up, his mind resolved to think of a different route, shoving the stool out and calling Chester closer as he did so. "Chester, I want you to give my two men here my finest brew. The one from my personal collection."
Chester came forward, raised a brow in confusion, but turned and picked up a decanter that was pushed to the back of the shelf, behind dozens of other bottles. He raised it up and brought it over to the counter. Henry and Jacque leaned forward with a hedonistic glaze in their eyes.
The liquid in the decanter was dark amber and sloshed gently in its casing. It was Gaston's personal favorite and he had never before shared it.
Gaston almost smiled for real this time. He had never been a patient man as Belle so obviously had figured out, but these men had never had a good opportunity to find out. Well, he was giving them one.
Gaston himself leaned over the counter and grabbed three mugs from a stack. He set them upright and uncorked the decanter. "Now," he said conversationally, "I don't share this with just anyone. But, since you two obviously see Belle as much of an asset as I do, I feel it imprudent if I don't share a drink with you." He filled the glasses to the brim, passing them down to Jacque and Henry and downing his own within seconds. When Henry and Jacque just looked at him with a little bit of fear he motioned to their glasses, "drink," he ordered.
He watched as with trembling fingers they did as he told. At first with fear, but then as the smooth taste of dry alcohol made its way over their tongues they gulped greedily, before long they were asking for more.
Gaston gave it to them.
No doubt it would affect them quickly with how drunk they already where. Considering that the drinks sold in the tavern were watered down a bit to save on alcohol. Gaston might not go all the way for his customers, but for himself he would have nothing but the finest. There was no way these two men could handle this alcohol.
"Alright, you two on are duty tonight, aren't you?" They both nodded while gulping, their drinks spilling from the side of their mouths and sliding down their throats to their stained shirts.
"Well, you better get a move on then," Gaston got closer to them, "There's a reward if you find Belle before anyone else."
Jacque nodded and stood with his mug in his hand and tottered towards the door, tripping and nearly falling on a couple that was seated, sloshing his drink on them with a belched apology.
Henry was a little slower, he pushed himself from the counter, his chair falling back to the floor, and he shook a finger in Gaston's face.
"I'm going to find her for you."
"I have the highest faith in you," Gaston said with as much conviction as he could muster. It sounded rather rude even to him, but Henry didn't notice or was too drunk to care.
Gaston poured himself more to drink and didn't bother to watch the two stumble over each other to the door.
LeFou whistled and sat on the stool that Henry had vacated as Gaston drank from his glass. He laughed, "Those two aren't going to find anything at all, and you gave them the real stuff. They can't handle that kind of spirit," he chortled.
"I know, but they won't have to for long," Gaston retorted.
"Ah, what are ya' planning on doing to the poor sods?"
"Nothing they don't deserve."
"Just make it quick," Chester advised as he left the counter to wait on the other patrons.
Gaston ignored that and scrubbed a hand down his face. At least the rest of the tavern wasn't staring at him anymore. No, they'd all turned towards their own tables, trying to make out what had just happened. Their insistent whispering was grating on his last nerve.
He hadn't seen an inch of Belle in one whole week. Seven days. He couldn't keep his mind off of her. Every woman that passed by him, he thought of Belle, every time he stepped into his own home, he thought of Belle, it was a never-ending circle and he was tired of it. He was tired of being trapped in her snare, but there was only one person that had let on to where she was.
The only person was the old loon… who had disappeared.
Gaston had searched the town high and low. Maurice was nowhere to be found.
Gaston had had it all ready. He had gathered his men together in the pub and they'd figured out the best plan. Right after Maurice had come to him, spouting insanities but giving hints that he knew where Belle was, he had immediately known what to do to get him to talk, but the problem was, you needed the damn man to get information from him.
No one had seen him leave town, Gaston had even interrogated nearly every person in the town and no one knew of a single damned thing. No one had seen him leave, no one had seen him go home even, and not one single person could vouch for where Maurice was.
For all Gaston knew, Maurice was sitting with Belle somewhere dining on pheasant.
It just didn't make any sense—the whole family had gone missing.
They had tried to carry out the plan that they had figured out to get Maurice to talk, on the very same night that he had come to Gaston. LeFou, Jacque, and Henry had accompanied him to Belle's house. They had thought to take Maurice by force if they had too, force him to answer their questions and if nothing worked take him to the asylum where he would rot until he learned to talk.
The blankets and pillows had still been strewn about before the fireplace from where he and Belle had quarreled, but no sign of her father. The kitchen had been tidy, the living room in shambles from when Gaston had woken up to Belle escaping, but the upstairs floor was still intact.
Though he had found no sign of Belle or Maurice he hadn't left empty-handed.
While searching the second floor he had found something that he had only been able to dream of.
Gaston would never forget what it felt like to walk into the room. The room looked like her. It smelled like her. It had been neat and tidy. The bed barren of blankets, since they were down by the hearth, but if he looked hard enough he could still see the shape of her body in the indents of the feathered mattress.
He had found himself opening drawers, riffling through the chest at the end of her bed, and looking through her nightstand, finding all of her possessions, finding them and looking through them. He'd found her precious books which he threw on the mattress in distaste. She didn't need them. He'd found gauzy undergarments that were in no way special, or extravagant but instead worn to the point of being see-through. He found himself rubbing the fabric between his thumb and forefinger, letting the material slide through his grip. He could easily imagine it as the only thing Belle wearing between him and her. He set them aside and looked some more, finding two corsets and four day dresses.
Wordlessly, he had gathered up all the clothing and put it back into the chest that he'd gotten them from. He grabbed a few of the knick-knacks, a hand-held mirror, and the two pairs of slippers by the door that she was so fond of wearing and set them in the chest before closing it. He bent and heaved it onto his shoulder, ducking out the door past Jacque's curious gaze, and carried it down to his personal carriage that they had come in. He'd hitched it to the back of the carriage and knowing that no one was going to find anything called the men off. He'd then dropped the men at the tavern, letting them find their own ways home and went home himself.
He took her clothes and personal belongings into his cabin, that way if she came back willingly she would have no choice but to come to him. She was done making her own choices.
Now the problem was in getting her to come back or merely finding where she was hiding out.
Startling him out of his reverie was LeFou's hand slapping his back. Gaston looked at LeFou with a deadly glare in his eye. Was this really the appropriate time for someone to be trifling with him?
LeFou cocked his head and raised his glass, "Don't be giving me that look, I have some very valuable information that I would have shared earlier if Henry hadn't taken the time to make you angry."
Gaston gave LeFou's red face a glance. His bulbous bulging nose, his sagging cheeks with their straggling facial hair. His lips were wet with spit, a condition that they always seemed to be in. His muddy eyes as usual were yellow and red-rimmed from years of drinking. Gaston was repelled by the shorter man, but he had proven himself useful on more than one occasion.
But, he wasn't in the mood right now. "If it doesn't involve where Belle or Maurice is, save it for when I deem it necessary."
LeFou was practicaly giddy as he glanced around to see if anyone else was listening in before whispering, "it's about Belle."
Gaston's full attention was snagged by that. "What do you mean?"
"Have you ever heard of Roul, the homeless fellow that wanders around the town?"
"Roul? Yes, I have, but what does this have to do with Belle?"
LeFou smiled and looked excited for knowing something that Gaston didn't. "Oh, be patient. Well, if you know of him, you would know that he's been breeding wolves with his own bitches. His dogs are giving birth to little ferocious beasts that look and act like wolves, but are a little more loyal to him. He's been doing it for years now, and no one bats an eye when he walks around with what looks like a wolf. But, he came to me yesterday with some very… intriguing information."
"You said you had information on Belle," Gaston gritted out once again becoming annoyed, "yet you waste time telling me of some street rat that entertains himself by breeding mutts?"
"Ah, but this rat has seen your Belle."
"Where?" He asked wasting no time, he was ready to kill LeFou for drawing out this information.
"He seen her in the forest."
"What?" Gaston asked loudly shoving away from the counter as he stood up and scoffed. "There's no possible way that she is in there, we have searched every inch of that damned forest for a week!"
LeFou shook his head and held up his hands, "he's not lying. He gave me proof!"
"What kind of proof?" he asked rigidly as he realized he'd brought more customer's attention to himself by standing up. He hung his head and breathed deeply, bracing his hands on his hips. He'd waited nine months to be with her, he could hold on for a few more minutes.
"Let me explain a little more. Those dogs of his, those that he lets breed with the wolves from the forest, they are viscous. They are cruel and everyone knows not to mess with the damn man because of them. Well, these mean, cruel, half-wolf dogs were ripped to shreds the other night."
LeFou jumped up so he was standing nose to Gaston's chest, "Limbs torn off, bitten and strewn about by a creature much bigger than them."
Chester pulled it from his coat pocket, using his body to cover up what he was doing from the rest of the people, before shoving the bloody cloth into Gaston's hands, "Roul, watched as his dogs ran after this creature while they were deep in the forest. He followed them and what he saw was his dogs circling a monster. Belle was with it."
Gaston held up the cloth that was in his hands, the fabric was red to start out with, but there where brown stains, obviously copious amounts of blood had been spilt.
"Roul came in just this morning, his dogs are dead, he couldn't find all of their pieces, but what he did find was this cloth that the monster he seen was wearing. Look at it, Gaston. That is no ordinary cloth."
The cloth in question was thick in his rough hands, yet didn't catch on the callouses on his fingers. Finer than anything he had definitely, Gaston felt his lip curl. No one in this town could afford something like this. It was just how Maurice knew it was Gaston in his house that day from his fine cravat being left on the floor.
"How did he know it was Belle with the creature? How did he see this beast in the first place?"
LeFou snorted and took a drink, licking his lips, "as much as you don't like it, Gaston. Everyone in this damned town knows about you and Belle. They know what she looks like, even if they do just sleep in the street with dogs. He says that he was walking when his dogs suddenly bolted away from him. He followed them by listening to the sounds of the fight. From how he tells it this thing is large."
"I want to speak to this man," Gaston crumpled the expensive fabric in his hand with a snort. Monsters in the forest? It was the thing of wives tales.
LeFou ran a hand over the back of his neck, for the first time looking a little uneasy. "There's one other thing. Wolf said that Belle… well, that she wasn't trying to escape the creature. In fact, she seemed to be worried for the thing."
Jealousy wove its way up Gaston's spine. All the times she had denied him at every turn, the way she had struck him, and the way she had run from him… all of that and she goes and is worried for a creature that can literally rip apart wolves? It didn't sound plausible… but weird things had been happening.
He steeled his jaw, moving it forward and straightening his spine while clutching the cloth. "So, this beast took her with him, back into the forest? How did we not find either of them before?"
"I don't know. What I do know is, Roul got out of there as soon as it was clear. He described the creature to me and I don't blame him if what he says is true and you can't blame him for not following them."
Gaston looked back at the cloth that was in his hand.
"I don't know who else to turn too!... I'll kill him myself… She's with someone better than you!"
The words came back to Gaston as he remembered how scratched and bruised Maurice was when he had come to him, how even his arm appeared awkwardly bent as if broken. He had called him the best hunter in the town and that Belle was with someone dangerous.
"He knew what she was with," he whispered to himself as he remembered how angry Maurice had been.
He would rather have had his daughter with that thing in the forest rather than him.
If Belle was truly hiding in the forest with this Beast than both her and Maurice were going to have a lot to tell him. The sheer fact alone that Belle didn't try to escape the creature and come to him…
"Bring this man—Roul—to the tavern. I want to hear it from him."
LeFou nodded, than quirked an eyebrow in thought, "You know my little woman Helen has been missing for a day or two…"
"So?" Not bothering to sound like he cared.
"…Do you think they have something to do with each other? I mean Belle, Maurice, and Helen all missing at the same time? It's a little strange isn't it?"
Gaston scoffed, "Why do you care? She's just a whore anyway," he waved away the conversation, he had no inkling of care for the missing woman, she could stay missing where he was concerned.
But Belle on the other hand, Gaston smiled to himself. Perhaps he wouldn't have to wait as long as he thought. He had bested any animal that he had come up against… he could do it again, if needed. But, this time the prize would be much sweeter.
Maurice rolled over on the small cot underneath the only bookstore in town. He felt hot and sweaty though it was drafty in the basement of the bookstore. He threw the blanket off of himself and sat up with a pained grunt.
His body ached, his legs were sore, his arm ill-wrapped in the self-made brace. His head felt heavier than ever before, but despite this he stood up. Pools of sweat ran down his face. He was burning up.
He heard the basement door open as he wobbled slowly towards the steps.
Mr. Fehr gasped as he made his way down the steps, "What do you think you're doing?"
Maurice stopped and bent over bracing his good arm against his knee. "I… need to get… Belle."
"You aren't going to help anyone like that!" Fehr, was finally at the bottom of the stairs, he shuffled over to Maurice as fast as he could. "You're feverish. You probably have an infection, you need the doctor!"
"No!" Maurice stood up too fast and black dots filled his vision. He gasped as he struggled for air. "No doctor," he gritted out. "Gaston is looking for me, I know he is. The doctor can't be trusted."
"Then you can't leave, you need to rest and regain your strength. Wherever Belle is she's safer there than here with Gaston. He has the whole town in chaos with his need for Belle. He will stop at nothing to get her. You'll do more good for her here than outside stumbling around!"
"She… needs me." Maurice whispered, feeling weaker than he had. He held up his arm for Fehr to grab, because the room was starting to spin.
"Your safe here Maurice. Belle is like a granddaughter to me, she can take care of herself for a while, she's a strong girl for having to live in this town."
As Maurice fell back onto the small cot that Fehr had made him, he heard Fehr's voice before falling back into a troubled sleep.
"Belle is safe, but you have to keep yourself safe for her."
Sixteen years behind...
"Keep this rose with you, at all times. Do not let it die and do not let it wither. Meet me tomorrow at midnight and I will tell you how to get Gaston in a wedding bed… Belle will die in a Beast's arms and I need you to set that into motion. Then with her out of the way, you will get what you always wanted."
The seductive words that had pulled her into this situation, kept running through her head, jumping over the common sense that she so desperately wanted to have right now.
Old age was painful, as she and the old woman that had done this to her made their way up the bank, she felt her knees creak and crack with every quavering step.
"What are you waiting for?" The old woman ahead of her cackled, practically leaping over loose stones and tree roots back to the village.
Helen was already panting. The woman had said something about how going back in time changed the body, but that just made her wonder why the old woman's body hadn't gotten younger or even older.
"What did you mean when you said you wanted me to curse a castle?" Helen finally reached the woman. She looked up at her face, with Helen's hunched back she was a bit shorter than her. She watched as the old woman's face lit up as if delighted for a question.
Her lips curled upwards, slowly, dragging the deep wrinkles up with pleasure. Her nose was hooked and long, nearly curling over the seam of her lips. Helen again thought it strange that she had never met this woman before in town, she most definitely would have remembered it.
"Why I meant exactly what I said. You're going to enchant a whole castle."
Helen's brow wrinkled more than it already was. "But, there are no castle's here or near the village."
"Oh, perhaps in your time, but here," the woman gestured to the village that was just beyond the clearing. "in this time period, there is one."
"But, I've never heard of one by the village, even before my birth. Why doesn't everyone know there was one?"
"That's something you'll have to inquire yourself."
"Show me the rose," the old woman grabbed Helen's clenched hand in her cold one and brought it up to eye level. "My, my, my." She tsked. "Simply look at this," the rose was sticking out of her clench fingers and still had all of its petals, but they were drooping and the once red flower was turning a brownish-black. "Oh, don't let any petals fall off, which would be quite unfortunate." The woman was running careful twisted fingers over the rose as if wanting to nurture it back to health. Helen was wondering if the woman even still realized that Helen was even there with how privately she acted with the flower.
"Why'd you give me the rose in the first place?"
"So that you could curse someone for me," her ancient voice was as sweet as the baker's sugar.
"Why do I have to curse someone? Can't you do it?"
"Oh, I could, but this rose is like a double-edged sword… are you ready for that?"'
Helen stared into the pale eyes, that looked blind from use. "What will happen to me?"
"Well, you will get a man you have always wanted. You will finally have everything you've ever thought you wanted. All you have to do is sacrifice others happiness in terms of your own."
"Is that my punishment?" Helen laughed, "and what do you mean by others? I thought I was just cursing one man?"
"One man and all that live for him." Was all she said back.
Helen glanced down at her hand, she'd opened her palm so that the woman could see the rose, and what she saw now was a weathered hand, one that had been through so much. Helen had had a hard life. She was a triplet, but that did not make her special. Out of her sisters, Gwen and Beatrice, Helen had always been the odd one out. They all looked the same but Gwen and Beatrice had something about them, something that made them different. A certain charm that Helen lacked and would never possess.
But, this was a way out.
A way to get away from LeFou, a way to be better than her sisters for the first time in her life… A way to be with the courageous Gaston, who would finally notice her… A way to take Belle from her life once and for all, a girl who had everything and didn't respect it.
All she had to do was curse a castle.
Helen let herself grin, "Tell me what I have to do."
Helen laughed at the unconscious heap of what had once been a man. His paw, that had been a hand, was bleeding onto the floor where the rose she had forced him to take cut his skin with its thorns. Screams were dying down in the rest of the castle, she had no idea that there would be that many people in the household. The screams had been earth-shatteringly horrible. But did she not deserve what she was going to get? She was going to get the man that she loved. She had lived such a hard life- she deserved happiness.
"You should have just taken the rose," as she spoke to the poor sod that had been so cruel to her, she heard her voice returning to its youthfulness once again. She couldn't help but grin down at him, "Thank you for not doing so," she whispered to him.
When she had asked the old woman what to do, she had been led to a black carriage that had been sitting in the middle of the village. The village that Helen could definitely tell was in the past. She had seen at least three successful stores from her time, that hadn't even had the buildings built yet in this period. The tavern was there, but it looked much different. It looked cleaner and there were cheers coming from the inside and it sounded as if fiddlers were having the night of their life inside. It was indeed stranger than she remembered.
There weren't many people out on the streets. An occasional group wandering by themselves through the dark streets or women in bright dresses motioning to men. Helen watched but there was no one there she recognized.
The sounds from the tavern traveled the towns air, she could hear the wildlife calling out to each other in the forest. There was only one disturbance in the whole town, it was a dog barking madly, but as she listened it tapered off to pained whimpers. She found out why though as they drove past an alleyway and seen a young man violently kicking the dog.
Her horror must have shown on her face as they continued past the spectacle, the driver whom Helen hadn't even taken notice of appearing not to care, because the old woman who sat across from her on the seat asked, "Does that act repulse you?"
"Yes!" Helen gestured out the window though they were long gone and she could no longer hear the whimpering. "It's just a dog, it was just barking."
"Hmm… Do you know who that was?"
"Who?" she asked confused.
"The boy kicking the dog. Do you know who that was?"
She scoffed in anger, "I wish it were him I was cursing!"
"Hmm," and that was all the woman said.
Helen leaned back in her seat, they were coming to the end of town to the apex of the forest.
Halfway through the forest the old woman had started preparing her, saying that how if she did this she would get what she wanted. Telling her what to tell the man as she cursed him. Telling her that no matter what that when he refused the rose (the woman had no doubt in her mind that he would) that she had to get him to take it.
"Now, once you get him to hold the rose in whatever way you can, I want you to tell him that he has cursed himself and those around him, that only during the night he will find relief. Secondly, that he should blame himself but he will blame everyone else. Lastly, tell him that he has to earn someone's love being as ugly as he is on the inside."
And she had done it all.
Helen was going to get what she wanted so she had been more than eager to go along with this. Well, she completed her part of the deal she thought as she looked down at the thing.
The once handsome man was bigger than her house, he was a mass of furred muscles now. His horned head was against the floor, his bleeding hand still bleeding. Coming closer, she tipped his face up with her foot so that she could look into the animalistic contours that used to be a face.
It was worth it she told herself, the way he had been cruel to her, calling her ugly, calling her old, he deserved this.
But… the more she thought about it, even she wouldn't have taken the rose, from someone like her. The rose had once again bloomed fully, to it's true state, but when she had tried to hand it to him, it had been withered and dead looking. No one would have taken it. No one. Was that really a premise to curse a man to be this. To being an ugly beast that was cursed with finding love?
Doubt started to cloud her mind, perhaps she had been too hasty in doing this. She shouldn't have cursed someone she knew nothing about. Then it occurred to her.
She hadn't even asked what this man had done to be cursed.
"Once again by your look of horror, I'm guessing that you regret what you did," a sweet voice broke through her doubt.
Helen looked up and seen the most beautiful woman that she had ever beheld. Helen stepped back and knocked over a small table.
"Who are you?" She didn't look back to see what she knocked over. She was too busy staring at the tall willowy woman standing in the doorway. The woman was looking at the beast with a trace of what looked like pity.
"Who do you think I am?"
Helen gasped as the old woman's voice came out of the woman's beautiful mouth. It couldn't be true. She had left the old woman just outside, she was never a young woman.
"Oh, don't look so surprised!" This voice matched her face better, she no longer sounded like the old crone that had lead her here. Perhaps it was merely a trick of her ears that made her think she sounded like the old woman.
"You sound just like her, you—you can't be her, she—she's an old woman!"
"Just like you're a young one now?" The woman's voice returned to normal and her quick laugh sounded like tinkling bells. Helen had heard that phrase before but she had never understood the sound until now. "I made you old, did I not? So why not myself? I wasn't sure if I could gain your trust in this form." She ran a hand down her barely covered body. The dress she wore looked as if it was made from shimmering gauze. It was most indecent.
"You, or she, she said that I became old, because I traveled back in time," she burst out breathlessly, trying to back away from the glowing beauty.
She laughed again and it lit up her face even more. Her blond hair was wavy and lifted in the air as if floating in water. She flung her arms open and gestured to the beast of a man on the floor.
"Why so skittish now? I made you old, to prove the power I had, besides with a face as beautiful as your natural one, Adam would have taken the rose and asked you to stay. This way was the safest and easiest way for him to refuse the rose and be cursed as he rightly deserves."
Helen was quiet, she felt the ever-present tears well in her eyes. She wanted to go home. She wanted this to just be a dream, she wanted to wake up and everything be okay again. The full impact of what she had just done was starting to sink in. She cursed a man, a man she didn't know.
"What did he do?" She asked in a whisper, hoping a sad hope that it was bad enough that he deserved this.
"Adam is on a dangerous path. He disrespects elders, authority, and women. He only cares about himself, but let us see what being a real beast will do to him in the future. He will be a better man because of this."
Helen racked her mind, trying to think of someone, anyone. "He doesn't sound that bad, there have been worse men!"
"Who, for example?"
She floundered for some sort of answer, "I don't kno—" she cut herself off. She leaned forward with a tears streaking down her face, "That young man beating that hopeless dog. He most likely killed it, does that not deserve punishment? He was so young, but already cruel."
The woman smiled. Sadly this time. "I asked you before, but I'll ask you again. Do you know who that boy was?"
Helen shook her head. She knew no one in this time, she wouldn't know any of the children. "No, I don't."
"Oh, but you do. You want him above all others. He is the one you wanted so much that you destroyed a man's life because of it. He's younger obviously than you've ever seen him, but have no doubt that that was him."
"No, no," she said to herself, "Gaston wouldn't do that!"
"Yes, he would. He has. What you seen him do to that dog was something so normal to him that he has forgotten about it in your time. He hurts humans and creatures to get what he wants. He would hurt you in a second if he believed it would give him what he wanted…" the woman waved her hand, "in a way, you are alike. You hurt Adam for your own desires."
"But, you said yourself he deserves this!"
"Yes, he does. But, you knew nothing of it, you cursed a man without knowing his sins. You cursed his servants who care for him, just so you could have someone that doesn't notice you."
"This isn't fair!" Helen cried for the second time that night. "You didn't tell me the full story, you knew I was going to go along with it and curse him, though I knew nothing of him. You used my desires for a better life to hurt me!"
The woman looked away with a sigh. "I have done this to give you a better life… I told you that the curse was a double-edged sword. Now you must deal with the consequences."
Helen sunk to the floor, her blurry vision focused on the shape of the beast still unconscious on the floor. His chest was rising and falling with slow deep breaths. She cringed, she couldn't imagine what it would be like for him when he woke up. To be normal and human, than wake up to be a huge animal that is ugly enough that there was a real chance he wouldn't find love.
"What consequences?" she whimpered out.
"In sixteen years, in your present day, this beast of a man will be better, he will find love. Love will not break the curse, it will lesson it a great deal so that he may find pleasure in his life once more, but it will not break it, though he believes it can because of what you told him. Love was merely something he needed to better himself. But, the curse can be truly broken by you taking the rose back from Adam and giving it to someone whom you know deserves it. Someone who is worse than Adam ever was."
Helen's hands found themselves digging into her scalp, pulling on the strands to the point of pain, she swayed back on the floor and sobbed. She didn't want this responsibility, she didn't need it.
The woman continued, "If you do not curse someone you know deserves it. You will have the life you have wanted not the one you don't know you need. Adam will eventually die as a beast, something he will not deserve, Belle will die in his arms loved but not fully loving long before he dies and he will have to live with that pain, and you… you will have Gaston. Someone who has manipulated, killed, and violated people to get what he wanted. He will use you but at least you got what you wanted. Can you curse the one man that deserves it to save the people that don't? In doing this you will save Adam, Belle, the countless servants, and most importantly yourself."
"Why… why are you doing this to us… to all of us?" Helen didn't look at the woman, she wouldn't have been able to see her through her tears anyway.
"Because all of you have potential for a wonderful life. I am Eglantine, one of the fae and I believe humans have to go through hardships before they realize what they truly need to be happy. I may have been tricking you and manipulating you, but as a faerie that is what my people are good at, but in the end I desire peace, so if you do as I say you will have a happy life. You are the one I'm trying to save here, but you're not the only one who needs me."
"…But I love him," she whispered brokenly, not even shocked that there were faeries. She was too broken down. She knew she didn't have to say who she was talking about.
She felt a hand on the back of her head, smoothing the hair that Helen had pulled out "You may now… give it time. But, I pray you heed my words or else everyone will pay for your actions. Either save yourself by doing as I say or give into your impulsive desires" The faerie nudged her shoulders, "now let's take you home to your own time."
Helen couldn't think straight. She wanted Gaston so badly, he was all she ever wanted and she could have him. She just didn't need to follow the faerie's words. She didn't fight the woman, she let her pull her to her feet and lead her out the door. Helen didn't look at anything while leaving the room, but she couldn't help but glance down at the hulking beast as they walked by his body.
Could she sentence him to this life of hell, just to get what she wanted? What was she giving up if she didn't curse someone who deserved it?
She turned as the question plagued her mind and followed the faerie out the door without a second glance.
But, she was so close to having Gaston within her grasp...
Author's Note: OOOOOHHHHH! This chapter took a bit, because obviously a lot of stuff is going on, I definitely needed to cover Gaston's and Helen's point of view due to all the details that come to pass. (btw I love writing Gaston, he's so arrogant and so mean, that I can do anything I want with him, he's just really fun to write. Anywho, hope ya'll aren't too upset over the lack of Belle/Adam, trust me they are in the next chapter together, I promise, I can't wait for it either. I really wanted to fit the fairy into the story as much as I could due to it being in the original fairytale and even the movie.
P.S. I'm sorry to the person that wanted this up before finals week -sniffle- I really tried!
P.P.S. Happy readings, I know I update slow, thanks for reading/liking/following/faving/reviewing and all that jazz!