Once Upon A World Away

Once upon a world away, the gypsy swore her life to stay. Grasp the rose but not the thorn, the poison is your burden borne.

In this Beauty and the Beast story, Josephine and the band of gypsies she calls family are professionals--hunting legends and claiming the prize to share as they find fit. But the rose garden of a cursed castle turns out to be too much, and Josephine's will is put to the test when she gives her life over to the lord, a horrible beast with more secrets than the castle can hide.

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5. Once Upon A Gilded Cage

I finished with the wrappings on his torso, and the Beast sighed quietly as he relaxed, chest expanding as he breathed in deeply. “Thank you, for assisting me.”

“I suppose it was owed, after yesterday,” I relented, finding a nasty bite near his ankle. I began to dab at the blood with the warm cloth.

He hissed quietly in pain. “Would I be able to get that in writing?”

I laughed and shook my head. “Oh, don't push your luck. After all, I am the one here tending you.”

“One moment you apologize and the next you threaten,” he noted in a murmur. “If only I could begin to understand what thoughts drive you...”

I bristled, startled by my own aggression towards his desire. “My freedom drives me, beast. I suppose you may never understand.”

My words were unmet by his own matching venom, and instead I looked into the eyes of a cage-broken animal who had long since given up on leaving his bars no matter how open the door may appear. His reply was quiet, though it sounded like the world might shatter from it, “No, I never will, belle.”

I stared at him in horror, for the first time revolted more so by his being than that face, the monster that reflected something of a shriveled and un-nurtured soul. My chest tightened not with pity but fear, fear of this creature and the cage it had so cruelly been baiting me into for its own company, its sick, sadistic fun. Any other person may wonder if such a creature could be lonely, could only need and want of company. But I, I saw a monster that should have been laid dead at birth to cut short a legacy of suffering.

“Well, can't hurt to ponder,” I snapped harshly, gathering up my skirts to stand curtly. I took my leave, him still staring at me with that knowing expression. That honest, agreeable face.

But I slammed the door of his gilded cage on his nose, without glancing back.

 

~~ * ~ * ~ * ~~

 

The Beast stared at the bandages on his torso, still in a daze. Why did I fight? Saving her was necessary, of course, but trying to save myself? Am I too much of a coward to die? Or...?

“No,” he growled to himself, finding the thought sharper than a blade. “No, the mirror was right. I know...She shouldn't...couldn't...What she said...”

He cradled his head in his hands, the beastly hands and monstrous face he had been cursed with so long ago. “What am I doing? Who would be fooled? Who could ever love a beast?”

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