~*~*~*~ Forget the Past ~*~*~*~

Disclaimer: As much as I would like to have them, Tammy's characters don't own them. *tear* Only the people and places you don't recognize belong to me.

A/N: Hiya! This is my first fic, so please, please, please R/R!! ^_^ Try and keep the flames to a minimum. Thanx! BTW, this is set during the the first year of the Great Progress in POTS. Unintentionally, this may contain some spoilers for Squire. You've been warned…=o)

Chapter One: Isabelle

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Isabelle backed away from her father's upraised hand, shielding herself from the oncoming blow. Her back hit the wall, and she cowered into the corner. It had been like this ever since she had returned from the convent. Her father had insisted that she come home instead of going to Corus to find a husband, claiming that no respectable man would marry his daughter. So, Isabelle had left her one-time friend, Evelyn, and returned to Ravensloft.

Jared of Ravensloft advanced on her, a menacing glint in his blue eyes. He yanked her arms away from her head and slapped her full across the face, leaving a mark. Isabelle cringed when her father struck her, hiding her tears, because she had learned long ago that crying would have gotten her worse. Her eyes were burning with tears, but she squeezed them shut against the next slap. But surprisingly, none came. She eased open one eye, and glanced cautiously up at her father.

He had let her arms go, which were mottled with discolored bruises from previous beatings. Isabelle resisted the urge to rub her stinging cheek. Jared stared down at her for a moment, and then spoke in a cold, clipped voice.

"When I send for you, I expect you to report to me promptly, not a quarter of an hour later."

Isabelle nodded mutely. She had a legitimate excuse, but she kept silent, knowing that her father liked feeling like he was overpowering her.

"Next time something like this happens, you can expect to be confined to your room for a week," he went on, acting as if he had never hit her. It always happened this way.

She nodded again.

"A response!" her father roared.

"Yes, sir," she replied quietly.

"What I wanted to discuss with you is that the Great Progress will be stopping here on it's way back to the capital. You do know what that is, correct?"

She knew, all right. It was all the castle servants had been talking about for the last month. "Yes, sir."

Jared continued, "I have been told it will be here in less than a week. I expect you to dress and act appropriately while we are housing their Majesties here."

"Yes, sir." She felt like a parrot.

"Leave me now. Go to your room. No supper for you."

Isabelle crept toward the door, and slipped out, feeling her father's hateful glare boring into her back.

As soon as she was out of sight of her father's study, Belle, as Evelyn had called her, glanced around to make sure no servants were near. If they were, they had surely overheard their overlord's outburst, and would no doubt send Belle to her room if they saw her. There were none, and she instinctively ran to one of the lesser-used servants' entrance. She scrambled outside, shutting the door quietly behind her.

That man doesn't have the right to call himself my father, she wailed to herself, much less a lord.

She hiked up her green skirt and ran for the stables. She was almost blinded by her unshed tears by the time she got there, but she knew where to go. She flew to the very back of the building, flung open the door to her stallion's box, and was immediately greeted with an enthusiastic whinney. (A/N: I dunno how the heck that is supposed to be spelled.) Belle had to smile-Demon always had a way of making her feel better.

Well, it's about time you came to give me my dinner, her stallion retorted.

Demon's disposition couldn't have been any more different from Belle's. He was well named. Somehow the two got along. Belle thought a lot was due to the fact that she could sort of, well, talk with Demon. But not only Demon. The girl could communicate with all the creatures that lived in the nearby forest. Belle had no clue if she was crazy, but she was still glad about being able to. (A/N: She hasn't heard of Wild Magic, or the Wildmage. Yet. *grin*)

Not trusting her voice, Belle only rubbed her face in Demon's warm mane.

The Bad Man hit you again, didn't he?, Demon questioned bluntly. Your cheeks are wet, and your eyes are red. Just like yesterday.

Belle finally found her voice, and managed to croak out, "Yes, he hit me, but only because I didn't do as I was told. I deserved it."

You always say that. When you told your two-legger friend about how he beats you, even she said that it wasn't your fault.

Belle was beginning to regret that she had gotten in the habit of telling her horse everything. When she did that with her old best friend, Evelyn had turned on her. Belle hadn't had a friend since then, except Demon. She had had a hard time trusting anyone since Evelyn, and she thought she had good reason.

"Listen, Demon," Belle said brightly, trying to lighten the mood, "that's over now. And guess what? The Great Progress is stopping here in a week! Just think, we'll get to see the royal family! I might even get to meet a young man!" she continued with false excitement.

Unfortunately, her horse was not fooled. Don't make me kick you. I've done it before, and I will do it again. (A/N: Does that sound like someone? *cough* Cloud *cough*)

Belle had to grin. Maybe there was some good in housing the Great Progress for a few days. Maybe it would bring change. Ravensloft was getting boring. Belle needed a change. A break in her endlessly cycling routine. One that consisted of getting abused daily by her father. The beatings were usually no more than a slap or another bruise. She could handle that. The problem was that Belle couldn't see any end in sight.

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A/N: Sorry I didn't get around to describing what Belle looks like. I just couldn't find the right place. I promise to get it in next chapter! But anywayz, what did you think???? I will luv you forever if you review!! As always, ideas and constructive criticism are greatly appreciated. And flame if you must…J

Goddess Bless!

~IrishRose~