A/N: A mingling of several Beauty and The Beast stories with a twist. Will be mostly a romantic tale (at least I hope).
Prologue Part I
Two children sat on a carpet flooring with their backs facing the hearth. A fire crackled behind them, keeping their tiny bodies warm. In front of them sat an elderly man and his wife on a tan-colored couch that was years past its breaking point.
"Legend has it that your great, great, great, well let's just say a very long time ago we had a relative that was a very rich man. His name was Vincent." Grandpa Keller started as he told them one of his many stories.
"That's my name grandpa." Vincent, his grandson interrupted.
"Yes it is Vincent. Shall I continue?"
"I'm sorry Grandpa. Please continue."
"Now this young man was very wealthy and very handsome. Every woman in the village loved him but he didn't love any of them. They all thought that they were his one true love and was vying for his heart. The truth was he was a very selfish person and cared for no one but himself.
One day as he was in his carriage on the way back from the country he met a peasant. She was trying to get home to her husband and daughter and was weak, tired and hungry from her long travel.
Her husband had been sick and his health had deteriorated. They prayed to the high heavens hoping to lift his spirits but he grew weaker each day. They tried everything they could to get him back to his usual self but nothing worked. Desperate, she decided to go to the next town over and seek the one they said healed all. But of course people like that back then were thought to be witches and were very difficult to find.
She hated to leave her beloved husband but she had no choice as he was slowly dying. The only thing that kept her mind at peace was the fact that their daughter would be at home with her husband to care for him. She bid them both adieu and kissed each on the cheek then set on her journey.
She walked through rain and storm, mud stricken paths and slick hills. Wet and tired she finally arrived at her destination. Some turned their backs on her as she asked for help but others understood her situation and gave her shelter and some food while she searched for the one who did not want to be found.
It wasn't until three nights later that she managed to make progress. A stranger at an alley way called her over. Though it was dark and most people had already gone home she still trusted this stranger." Grandpa Keller paused and then yawned. "I'm not as young as I use to be. I'll let your Grandma Belle continue. Is that okay with you kids?"
The two children turned their heads to look at each, the smaller one being shy just nodded while Vincent the more outgoing of the two smiled and answered. "Chip says continue!"
"Vincent what did I tell you about calling him that? Say sorry to J.T." Grandma Keller scolded her grandson but could never bring herself to punish him. He had been through so much at a young age.
"But J.T. likes it." Vincent turned to his best friend. "Don't you Chip?"
"It's okay Mrs. Keller." J.T. answered shyly.
"Call me Grandma Belle." She corrected him. "You and your mother have lived with us for years now J.T. You'll always be family to us."
"Yea Chip, best buds, remember?" The older of the two chimed in.
J.T. cracked a smile and his chipped tooth showed. "Best buds Vincent." They both turned to each other and raised their hand for a high-five.
"Shall I continue?"
"Yes Grandma." They both answered this time.
"My heavens, silly me, where did Grandpa leave off?"
"A figure in a dark alley!" Vincent said excitedly.
"Yes Vincent thank you. She had been up since the break of dawn and regardless of how tired she was she kept looking for this healer. She looked all over town and no matter who she asked no one ever knew where this healer lived, just that she appeared when needed.
For three days she walked and searched until hours after sunset. On the third night a hooded figure appeared in an alley and called to her. Discreetly, they walked from cobblestone pathways to mazes of darkened alleys until they were no longer in the village.
The stranger stopped. "If you should continue, you will do as I say, without question and without hesitation. Is this understood?"
Tired and weak but rejuvenated at the fact of being able to save her husband. She gladly answered. "Yes."
Behind them the sun shone bright as it started to rise once more. They continued their path into a forest that no one dared enter but the ones called witches. They walked through the woods, over logs and underneath branches until they reached a cave entrance covered in vines.
"This is as far as you go. Stay here while I get what you seek for."
"But I have not told you what it is I am in need of."
"Your husband is very ill, is he not?"
"But...yes very ill." She nodded.
"Will you still agree to do as I say?"
"Will my husband stay alive?"
"I will do all you ask of me."
"Just one and your debt to me will be repaid. If you are to change your mind your husband will die. Is this understood?"
"Yes. I have not come far to watch him die."
"Wait here for my return. I shall not take long but it is a journey I must take alone. Enter the cave only if you hear others approach. It will keep you safe from harm."
The hooded figure disappeared in the darkness of the cave. In silence she waited for the mysterious stranger to arrive. As her legs and feet grew tired she sat outside of the cave and carefully listened to any sound. She rested her eyes and soon sleep followed.
She woke up at the sound of footsteps and as she opened her eyes she saw that they were no longer in the forest. She looked around the darkened room covered in webs.
"We are back in the village. I saved you some bread and water for your travel home. Will you be okay to make the journey?"
"I believe so."
"I have for you the potion to save your husband's life." The hooded figure removed the hood of the cape and revealed herself. She had piercing blue eyes and hair like the sun. Her face was young and she was very beautiful.
In her hand she held out a vial filled with blue liquid. "Have him drink this and his health will be restored." In her other hand she brought out another vial with red liquid. "You will meet a man in your travel back home. You are to ask him for help which he will refuse. Kindly thank him for stopping and hand him the vial but do not show him. Tell him 'I will pray for thee' and nothing more."
"But what if he does not refuse, what shall I do then?"
"He will refuse. He does not take kindly to strangers especially those who seek his help. And if by some miracle he agrees to help, simply give him the vial and say 'I pray for thee' but wait until the end of your journey with him. Once said the potion will change into something he cannot refuse."
"Will it kill him?"
"His death will not bring me any satisfaction. Once he drinks the potion his true nature will be revealed. Will you do this for me?"
"Start your journey at dawn. Get some rest as you will need it. Goodbye friend."
As she turned to say goodbye the woman had vanished. She wanted to leave and start her journey back home but she followed the instructions that were given to her. She took the two vials and slipped it into a secret compartment in her jacket and laid on the floor to get some rest.
She woke with the sun beaming on her face and the birds chirping around her. She was no longer inside the small dusty cabin that she fell asleep in but outside of the village. The truth of how she got there she never knew but had a feeling it had to do with the healer.
She checked her secret compartment to make sure she still had the two vials and when they were, she rose. As she stood a sack fell to ground and inside was a small vial with clear liquid and a piece of bread. She ate the piece of bread and drank the vial of clear liquid then started on her journey." She pauses and starts to cough. She covers her mouth with her hand then clears her throat. "Will you finish the story dear?"
"Sure dear. The pathway had dried and the weather for her journey home was the opposite of what she encountered when searching for the witch. The sun was bright and the day was hot and dry. Having drank all of her water she found the rest of her travels to be difficult.
She walked along the path and stopped only to pick some berries, sometimes almost giving into the temptations of drinking the red liquid. She walked and walked until her feet could no longer take her any further. As she was resting she heard the sound of a horse and carriage approaching.
She reached into her secret compartment and grabbed the two vials. She puts the vial with blue liquid back and keeps the other in her hand. She got up immediately and stood in the middle of the path.
The carriage stopped as they got closer to the elderly lady. The carriage door flew wide open and a gentleman staggered out.
"Why have you stopped Cogsworth?" His voice was loud and intimidating, echoing through the forest.
"Sir there's a lady...a lady on the road. I just thought...maybe...maybe we should help." The coachman stuttered.
"Help you say? Where is this lady?"
"Here sir." She answered feebly.
"Cogsworth you fool. That is no lady! She's nothing but an old woman." His voice boomed and a chill came down the woman's spine. If the potion was to show his true nature she didn't want to be around to see it.
"I beg your pardon sir. I may not be pretty nor young but I am still a lady. If I may ask, I am in need of assistance. I've run out of food and water and still have a long way to go."
The young man shook his head and struggled to walk decently. From afar he was standard looking but up close he was indeed very handsome. He had long hazel hair that turned golden in the light. His eyes were as blue as the sky but green as the leaves of the forest when seen from profile. His jaw was strong but his features gentle.
"That's all you poor folks are good for. Always asking for help."
She nervously approached him. "I'm sorry to have bothered you sir." She reached for his hand and placed the vial in it. "I pray for thee." She turned away from the men and walked on, hoping to never see them again.
He opened his fist to see what the woman gave him. The once red liquid was now a deep wine color.
"What do you think it is sir?"
He pulled off the cork and smelled the liquid. His eyes flashed amber and quickly turned back to its natural color.
"Spirit! Care for any Cogsworth?"
"Don't you think you've had enough?"
"No such thing as drinking too much!" He happily drank every drop of what he thought was spirit. The potion had been bewitched the moment the spell was said by the old woman.
"Let's go Cogsworth. I'd hate to get home after night fall."
"But sir what about the lady?"
"Leave her be. Do not stop until we are at the castle." He walked back into the carriage and slept until they reached home."
A/N: Had to break down the prologue into two parts. Didn't anticipate it being long.