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.


8. Once Upon A Magic Mirror


The Beast stood in his gardens, admiring the roses and the scent of them. Seasons had come and gone and the gypsy woman was still in this castle with him. Every morning and evening, she joined him for meals. During the day, she would keep him company while reading or drawing. Once, she even allowed him to paint her. Framed, the portrait was hung in the grand entryway to greet whatever future tenants the castle may one day hold.

In spite of himself, the Beast smiled, cradling a rich red rose in his palm. She enjoyed his company, perhaps even as much as he treasured hers. Friendship now, perhaps later... Without his realizing, his fingers curled and crushed the rose, petals fluttering away from him when he opened his hand again. No, maybe not. But then, friendship itself was a luxury he had never before had.

Nearby, he could hear the gypsy singing to herself quietly. He listened to the tune, unfamiliar with the melody. She appeared from around the bend, blue and golden blooms wreathing her on either side. She started slightly, but smiled easily No disgust, no bitterness or resentment. Simply companionship.

Later that evening, as he recounted the wonders of the day, the mirror kept silent. This caught the Beast's notice, drawing his speech to a halt as he strode to the mirror to investigate. Finding no cracks to damage it, he stared the reflection down skeptically.

“And what have you to say of these developments? You've never before been shy about your...opinion,” said the Beast slowly, watching for something to betray the creature on the other side of the glass.

“Never. I was just being polite, Beast,” replied the reflection coolly. The Beast remained wary, tempting a laugh from his reflection. “Reality remains unchanged, poor fool. Unless she leaves, or you die, your fates are sealed.”

The Beast growled impatiently, finding within himself a startlingly deep well of defiance to draw from. “And what are our fates, mirror?! What cruelty are we condemned to!”

The creature there remained calm, ignoring the Beast's attempt to get a rise from it. “Now, now, you know I only answer to rhyme.”

The Beast took a deep breath to calm himself. “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, what fate will come to call?”

The mirror took on an eerie glow.

“See for yourself.”

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