Disclaimer: Victorious and all related characters do not belong to me.
Summary: Not all fairy tales begin with "Once upon a time" and end with "And they lived happily ever after". My contribution to the Once Upon a Bade tag in Tumblr. Bade (if you squint).
Continuity: Alternate Universe
Author's Notes: OMG. I don't even know. It's like I took some weird hallucinogen and started writing. Thanks, Thea and Laura for the beautiful manips that inspired this story.
Beck Oliver and the Seven Sisters
Jade West rode her trusty steed Sinjin as if the hounds of hell themselves was after her.
It was true, in a way. If her stepmother's huntsman finds her, it was game over.
Not that she was worried; the moment Sinjin stepped hoof into the Dark Forest, Jade knew she was almost home free. No one, especially not her stepmother's huntsman, would follow her into the depths of the forest at such breakneck speeds.
Or at all.
The Dark Forest, located at the southernmost edge of her father's kingdom. It was said to be the home of evil creatures, the vilest and deadliest of which were the Seven Sisters, a coven of witches who were so ugly that not even the wild animals can stand to look at them directly. The sisters were also rumored to be man-eating headhunters who led everyone and anyone who dared step into the forest to their doom.
Jade, however, did not believe all that crap.
When her father, King George, was still alive, he insisted that Jade must learn every nook and cranny of the kingdom she would one day rule. As such, not only did Jade learn organizing a party for a thousand along with the laws and culture of their kingdom; everyday, if the weather permits, her father took her out for a ride to learn about their land and the people living in it.
Everyday for a month when Jade was eleven, she and her father spent hours upon hours on horseback, familiarizing themselves about the secrets of the Dark Forest. They never met any of the feared Seven Sisters, so Jade chalked them up as myths.
When Jade deemed herself deep enough in the Dark Forest, she allowed Sinjin to slow down. There was no sense risking breaking her neck with their previous speed since she was reasonably sure her stepmother's huntsman wouldn't be able to find her anymore.
"What do you think, boy?" Jade asked her horse. "Good place to hide for the day?" It was the perfect summer day, a bit on the warm side, but still too beautiful a day to spend cooped up in her tower.
Sinjin neighed, which Jade took as an assent. When Sinjin slowed to a stop, Jade disembarked. She patted his flank and reached into the bag tied around his saddle. She took two apples, courtesy of her stepmother's favorite tree, and handed one to her horse, who ate it in one big bite.
"You glutton," Jade rolled her eyes at the animal's antics. "This one is mine. I'm not gonna share it with you." But just as Jade was about to take a bite of her own apple, an inhuman shriek interrupted the normally quiet forest.
Sinjin reared up in surprise, causing Jade to drop her apple on the ground.
"What was that?" Jade asked in a soothing voice, so as not to spook Sinjin further. "Do you think that's one of the Seven Sisters?"
When Sinjin had calmed down enough, Jade mounted again, determined to find the source of the noise. If there was one thing aside from the kingdom that King George passed onto his daughter, it was curiosity.
Jade tracked the sound, which was becoming louder and louder. She realized, however, that the sound was not inhuman, after all, but a woman's loud wails. It only sounded weird because it was accompanied by the softer cries of other people, the number of which Jade cannot determine yet.
A mere five minutes later, Jade and Sinjin found themselves walking into a clearing.
It was picturesque. Against the beautiful backdrop of the twin majestic mountains between which the castle Jade considered as home was built, the blue skies and the radiant sun, there stood a homey looking cabin that looked well-built. It was sprawling and large, with dark smoke coming out the chimney, indicating that it was inhabited.
Jade's attention, however, was not on the cabin, but was on the small group of women and one small child crying over something that Jade couldn't see.
She counted; she couldn't help it. There were seven of them: six teens and one kid. Were these the dreaded Seven Sisters?
Jade doubted it. For one thing, they didn't look like sisters, if the colors of their hairs and their skins were anything to judge by. They all didn't even look alike. Speaking of looks, they didn't even look ugly, in fact, some of them were prettier than most of the ladies in court.
She, however, put her musings on the Seven Sisters aside to ask, "What's going on here?" Jade demanded as she once again disembarked from Sinjin.
Most of the cries immediately stopped, save for the loudest sound which attracted Jade's attention in the first place.
The source of the sound was a well-proportioned woman, with big, curly hair and caramel skin. Her face was splotchy because of the huge tears falling from her eyes.
"Hey, Noisy!" Jade demanded from the woman. "What are you crying about?"
"Her name is not Noisy." A tiny blond kid told Jade with a sniff. "It's Trina. I'm Ally. Who are you?"
Jade looked at the kid. "That doesn't answer my question."
In reply, the women, except for Noisy, parted, revealing the fallen form of a beautiful man in their midst.
"He's dead!" Cried one of the women, a tiny little thing with shockingly red hair.
"What of?" Jade asked.
"We don't know." A petite brunette glared at Jade. "Who are you and why are you here?" She was obviously not liking Jade's take charge attitude.
"My name is Jade." She replied absently as she drew closer to the man. She supposed he was a corpse now. Too bad. He looked promising.
"Jade? That's the name of the princess of the kingdom," a curly-headed blond with coke-bottle glasses offered.
"You look like her, too." Another blond offered.
"I should," Jade murmured absently as she knelt down to examine the corpse.
"Wait a minute," a pretty girl with cheekbones to die for interrupted. "You're her, aren't you? Princess Jade?"
Jade didn't reply. Instead, she placed two fingers on the man's neck.
"I don't think she's a princess." The glaring petite brunette crossed her arms in challenge. "Look at her clothes! That's not something a princess would wear."
Jade was wearing an old leather top and a pair of dusty breeches—not exactly the height of princess fashion. "Does it matter who I am?" She asked them. "Isn't figuring out what happened to your friend more important?"
There was no answer to that, but the women closed ranks around Jade and the man.
Jade felt a tug on her sleeve. It was the little girl.
"Hi." The girl said shyly. "Are you really Princess Jade?"
Jade gave the girl a tiny nod.
"I never met a princess before. You're pretty. Can you fix Beck? 'Cause that's his name: Beck. He's really nice too. I think Trina likes him, but he doesn't like her back. But he's still nice. He helps us clean the house and cooks food for us. He even takes care of Sparkles!"
Jade felt the beginning of a headache from the little girl's insistent chatter.
"So what are you doing?" The kid continued. She's cute, but Jade just wants her to shut her trap. "Can you fix him?"
"I may be a princess," Jade said haughtily. "But I can't raise up the dead."
Another loud wail from Trina.
"Fortunately for you," Jade said slowly as she found what she was looking for. "He's not yet dead."
"Really?" The kid gasped happily. "Then what's wrong with him? Why isn't he waking up even if we splashed water on his face? We thought he was dead, we were so scared."
"Cutie," she motioned to the kid. "Stop talking. And you," this time, she pointed to the one with the glasses. "Nerdy, tell me what happened."
Cutie sighed exasperatedly. "My name is not Cutie, it's Ally." She pointed at Nerdy, "That's Courtney. And that's Tara, and Hayley, and Cat, and Tori, and Trina."
"Didn't I just tell you to shut it?" Jade demanded. Then, to Noisy. "And while I'm at it: you, shut up! I can't hear myself think."
"Excuse you!" Noisy gasped in outrage. "My true love just died! I'm allowed to cry."
"Shut it, Trina!" The one with the cheekbones snapped. "The princess just said he's still alive."
"He is?" Noisy gasped in joy. "He's staying alive just for me! Hold on, my love!" She cried out as she grasped one of Beck's hand into her bosom.
"Somebody please take her away." Jade said.
The perky one with the nice cheekbones grabbed Noisy's arm to drag her away just as Jade leaned down, placing her face as close as possible to the pretty boy's.
"What are you doing?" Noisy screeched.
"Are you giving him true love's first kiss?" The redhead asked with a dizzy giggle.
"True love's first kiss." Dizzy explained, dimpling daintily at Jade. "It can break all curses and cure all diseases."
"If that's true, my kisses would have woken him up." Noisy interjected.
"I am not kissing him!" Jade roared out in exasperation. "First of all, curses are not real. Secondly, if there are such things as curses, I highly doubt a kiss can break them."
"But it's true love's first kiss," Dizzy tried to argue. "The most powerful kiss of all!"
"And lastly," Jade glared at the redhead for daring to interrupt her. "True love? Really? It's the first time we've met, AND HE'S UNCONSCIOUS."
"You're mean." Dizzy pouted.
"And I'm surrounded by idiots." Was Jade's riposte.
"So, what are you doing?" Perky the cheekbones asked.
"I am checking to see if he's breathing." Jade replied as she once again placed her face closer to the unconscious man's.
"Lucky for you, he is. Crabby," she motioned for the brunette glaring at her to come closer. "Help me put him on his side to help his breathing."
"The name is Hayley," the brunette grumbled, but knelt down nonetheless to help Jade.
"But he may not stay alive for long if you don't tell me what happened." Jade said. "Not you!" She told Cutie when the little girl opened her mouth to start explaining. "You, Perky!" She pointed at Tori.
"Well, we were all working," Perky indicated to their thriving vegetable garden. "When Beck walked out of the house, announcing lunch was ready. He was holding an apple and when he took a bite of it, he suddenly choked then fell down, and we thought he was dead."
Jade frowned. "He was immediately unconscious?"
"He's already breathing normally, so I doubt it was choking or an allergic reaction." Jade mused.
"That's weird," Crabby frowned. "Didn't Beck say this morning that we're out of apples?"
Jade's head snapped up.
"Yeah! I remember that!" Blondie, the one Cutie pointed out as Tara, suddenly agreed. "He asked us if we can go pick some up later, and I said, like, okay!"
"Omigosh!" Dizzy cried out. "What if his evil stepbrother disguised himself as an ugly warlock, put poison in the apple and gave it to Beck?"
"I'll try to find the poisoned apple!" Cutie cried out. "Maybe we can make an antidote from it."
"NO!" Noisy wailed. "He can't be poisoned! He can't!"
"He should never have eaten the poisoned apple!" Nerdy cried out.
"We should seek revenge against his evil stepbrother!" Blondie growled, fire in her eyes.
"Maybe the apple isn't poisoned," Crabby offered. "But cursed! I think his stepbrother dabbles in black magic."
"Or maybe he wasn't poisoned or cursed or the victim of attempted murder." Jade told them.
"What?" All seven girls turned to Jade.
"I think this theory is crazy, but hear me out." Jade said, sarcasm dripping from every syllable.
"What?" Noisy asked, clueless.
"We're having a particularly warm and dry summer," Jade told them. "During the hottest part of the day, he was cooped up in the kitchen, cooking. He got hot, maybe he was so busy he forgot to drink water. His clothes didn't help him any." She indicated the dark colored top the pretty boy was wearing. "So down he goes."
At the women's blank looks, Jade groaned long an loud. "He just fainted because of the heat. Crabby, help me sit him up."
Noisy gasped in offense. "He's the manliest man I have ever met! He can't have fainted."
"And I've got the poisoned apple!" Cutie cried out, brandishing the apple which flesh was already browning, up above her head.
Jade clicked her tongue. "Look at him! He's already coming to!"
As if on cue, Beck let out a painful groan, his eyes moving behind his lids. His head shook to and fro before his eyes slowly fluttered open.
"Hi." He breathed. Eight faces peered down at him in varying degrees of worry, but all Beck saw from the moment he opened his eyes was beautiful stranger who held two fingers on his neck.
"Someone get him water!" Jade snapped out the command with the air of someone who was used to everyone doing her bidding.
Nerdy jumped up and ran inside the house, presumably to grab the pretty boy a drink.
"What's going on?" Beck groaned when he realized he was sitting on the ground. His body was aching and his head was pounding. Gingerly, he sat up. The last thing he remembered was calling everyone in for lunch. He grasped the hand that was touching his neck. "Hey."
"How are you feeling?" The strange girl asked him.
"I've got a bit of a headache." Beck admitted. "What happened?"
Jade's reply, however, was drowned out by Noisy. "You were cursed!" Noisy declared. "Good thing I was here to administer the cure: true love's first kiss!"
"No, he wasn't cursed!" Dizzy cried out. Big, brown eyes turned to Beck. "You were poisoned. Good thing the princess was able to give you the antidote."
"For the last time, it's not a poisoned apple! Neither was it cursed." Jade said. "It's just a regular apple!" To prove her point, she grabbed the offending piece of fruit from Cutie and took a huge bite.
Everyone gasped in surprise.
Jade chewed deliberately and made a production out of swallowing. "See? I'm fine!"
"She's immune from the curse." Dizzy said, impressed.
"Maybe she's magic!" Nerdy breathed out.
Beck smiled up soulfully at Jade. "Thank you for saving my life."
"I did not save your life! I just—" Jade trailed off when Nerdy returned with a tall glass of water. "Just drink this. No, slowly. Don't gulp it all at once."
The water did help Beck feel better.
All Seven Sisters screamed at the sound.
A skinny, pasty boy with a head full of dark, riotous curls, broke out of the forest into the clearing. In his hands he brandished a huge, shiny sword.
Beck attempted to stand up, to put himself between danger and the women. However, he was so weak that Jade was able to single handedly hold him down.
"It's Beck's evil stepbrother!" Dizzy cried out. "He's back to finish what he started.
"That's not his evil stepbrother." Jade declared, rolling her eyes.
"How would you know?" Crabby demanded.
"Because that," Jade said. "Is Robbie."
"And never run off without warning again!" The frail-looking man snapped at Jade. "I was looking all over for you! I thought something bad had happened. You scared me!"
"The Dark Forest scared you, you mean." Jade smirked. "But I'm impressed you made it this far."
"No, it didn't scare me. Okay, maybe it did." He admitted at Jade's disbelieving look. "But only a little."
"Uh, Princess," Ally whispered. "Who's he?"
"That's Robbie, he's a huntsman." Jade replied. "Though what he hunts and how he hunts for it, I have no idea. Lately, though, he's more like my minder than anything else. How did you get that job, anyway?"
"Because your stepmother's despairing of ever turning you into a proper princess, so I'm here to make sure that you don't do anything she deems improper."
"Like wear these old clothes, ride Sinjin and go into the Dark Forest, you mean?" Jade smirked. "Why are you still on the job again?"
"Because I'm the only one you couldn't run off. "
"Only because I feel sorry for you."
"And! I still hunt wild animals with my trusty Rex," he said pompously, brandishing his sword in a complicated arc that ended with him dropping it and almost cutting off his big toe.
"Oi," Jade groaned.
"It's time to go home, Princess," Robbie told Jade with as much dignity he could muster, considering his dropped sword.
Jade attempted to stand up, but Beck held her back. "Wait, we haven't even been properly introduced. My name is—"
"Beck!" A new voice snarled. "Why am I not surprised that you're still alive?" A tall, handsome man in a knight's garb arrived in their midst atop a warhorse. "You're worse than a cockroach."
"Ryder!" Beck stood up clumsily, with the help of Jade.
"Ryder?" Perky asked in worry.
"My stepbrother, the one who ran me out my home and tried to get me killed." Beck replied. "How did you find me?"
"A woman in the village was talking about seeing a boy with extraordinary hair who looked like a pretty pony." Ryder replied. "I figured that can only mean you!"
Beck balled his fist in frustration. How can he protect his women when he was feeling dizzy and not his best.
"Why did you try to kill him?" Cutie demanded from the newcomer.
"Because he kept stealing women away from me!" Ryder snapped. "Can you imagine how hard it is to get a date when your stepbrother, who would not only inherit your stepfather's dukedom and fortune, looks like that?"
"So you're trying to kill him because you can't get a date Friday night?" Jade asked incredulously.
"People have died for less." Ryder shrugged before drawing out his sword and crying, "Prepare to die!"
Two things happened simultaneously: first, Robbie the Huntsman, who had drawn his trusty Rex up, ran towards Ryder in an attempt to save his princess; and second, a lone figure erupted from the bushes in a war cry.
When Ryder brought down his own sword, it met a resounding clang. The lone figure who burst into their scene also drew out a sword that met the deadly arc of Ryder's.
On the other hand, Robbie's heroic attempt ended in a dismal failure: he tripped and fell. He also once again dropped his sword, Rex. It, however, fell near Ryder's horse, causing it to rear up and for Ryder to lose his balance.
"Good!" The newcomer stated. "I made it in time."
"Oh, wow!" Dizzy giggled as she wound a strand of red hair round and round her fingers as her eyes ravished the newcomer. "Hi!"
Perky, Blondie, Nerdy and Crabby all converged at the fallen Ryder to contain him. Cutie, on the other hand, tried to pacify the warhorse.
"Psst, Beck!" Dizzy's whisper was loud enough to be heard by everyone. "Who's he?" She motioned to the newcomer.
"This is my good friend, Andre. He's one of my father's knights. He was sent out by my stepbrother to kill me, but he decided to spare my life." The boys then exchanged a long and complicated series of handshakes.
"Yeah, Ryder didn't know that Beck and I grew up together when he asked me to kill him." Andre grinned.
"Thanks for coming, man." Beck grinned.
"Curse you, Beck!" Ryder tried to struggle against his captors.
Noisy slowly sidled up to them. "So, you're just looking for a date whom your brother won't steal?"
Ryder ceased his struggle to look at Noisy. "Yeah."
"My name is Trina and I'm available." She batted her eyes seductively.
"You're not attracted to Beck?" Ryder asked after a beat.
"Of course not," Trina rolled her eyes. "He's not my type."
Slowly, Ryder's face broke into a grin. "You're not going to dump me for him?"
"Pshh. He's cute, but not that cute."
"Wanna go out for drinks with me?" Ryder asked joyously.
"Sure." Trina smiled. "Now," she turned to her friends. "Let him go."
The women looked at Beck for instructions. When gave a nod, they let go of their hold on Ryder.
Ryder brushed himself off and mounted his now calm horse. He then extended a hand to Trina. "My lady."
Trina tittered as she allowed herself to be pulled on the horse sidesaddle. "Don't wait up, girls!" She called out as she and Ryder rode off.
"That's it?" Jade asked in disbelief. "That's kinda a letdown."
"Not much of an ending," Robbie agreed.
"And that's half of my day I'll never get back. Oh well. You live and learn." Letting out an ear-piercing whistle that called Sinjin back to her, Jade stood up. "It's time to go." She easily swung into the horse.
"What about me?" Robbie cried out.
Jade rolled her eyes but directed Sinjin back to Robbie. She then held out a hand to help him up.
"Wait!" Beck cried out. "I didn't even catch your name. Will I see you again?"
Jade paused and gave it a thought. "If you stop being a wuss and take back your home, then maybe."
Beck grinned. "Then, we'll definitely be seeing more of each other."
Jade simply raised her brow, trying hard to conceal her smile at Beck's declaration.
"Time to go, Princess." Robbie reminded her.
"Later, losers!" With that farewell, Princess Jade rode off into the sunset.
PS. Should I apologize for wasting your time? It was fun writing it (except for the end).