Beauty's Rose

By Azhuraea Fluer

I hid in the shadows, my tattered hood pulled up to shield my face from the rain. Lightning streaked overhead, revealing for a moment my beautiful features. I was beautiful, and I knew it. But it was more a curse than anything. I had once been the most vain of all creatures on earth, and to keep my beauty for all eternity I had made a rash and sinful deal.

In exchange for eternal beauty and power beyond imagination, I was a slave to Destiny's hand, forever doing her bidding, punishing and rewarding, killing and rescuing in her place. I was her hand on earth. And now here I stood, before this massive castle here in Ireland, deep in the woods of darkness. Within that castle was a creature vain and spoiled enough to rival what I had once been. And it was my duty to try and change him.

Smiling sadly, knowing it was a hopeless cause, I pulled my hood lower over my brow and whispered a few words that mothers would cover their children's ears to keep them from hearing, for they were potent with a power not of this earth.

When I stepped out of the shadows of the trees once more and set my foot on the pebbly, muddy path that lead to the castle, a second lightning bolt split the sky. But now, instead of a breathtakingly beautiful enchantress, an old hag smiled grimly from under the hood.

I formed a fist under my cloak as I walked, hobbled over, like a grandmother would. I felt my power collect there, then lengthen into the form of the most ethereal white rose. I knew it was lovely, even though I'd yet to see my own creation, hidden under my cloak as it was, because it was of pure magic. Everything made of magic, touched by magic, or even destroyed by magic was in some way beautiful, even if it's cause or purpose was anything but…

I was at the great castle doors, now. I heard the sounds of party-making from within. Music, and laughter. My smile fell from my face sadly. I knew the sound of that sort of laughter; forced, fake, fearful almost. I myself had once caused people to make such a sad sound.

Now I was paying…

I sighed, and raised my slender-turned-gnarled fist and rapped on the door, using a bit of my power to raise the sound of the knock over the music. The sounds inside stopped abruptly, and I heard the sound of only a single man's footsteps. Proud, vain footsteps they were, so similar to the high and mighty clickity clacks I made with my own slippers so long ago…

Again I shoved away memories as the door was pulled open by two guards in radiant splendor clothing. There I stood dressed in rags, my fiery-red-turned-coarse-gray hair whisping out from underneath the hood of my cloak.

"What causes you to dirty my doorstep, hag?" A proud, snideful voice filled my ears, and I was tempted to simply shake my head and pity. But no, Destiny had given me a task to fulfill, one of the many I was required to eternally complete as punishment…

I tilted my face upwards slightly, and even I, whom had seen beauty beyond imaginable in my long, long years, was hard pressed to keep my surprise and even awe hidden. Before me stood a most magnificent example of a man. A glorious man, clad all in radiant golden splendor. His hair, more golden than the clothes he wore or the rings on his hands, framed his darkly angelic face in soft curls. His eyes were bright and hard, like azhure sapphires.

"I asked you a question, swine!" The man snarled. I looked at him in the most submissive manner I could muster, and out from under my cloak I pulled the splendid white rose, shimmering, almost sparkling in the moonlight that peeked out through the storm clouds.

"Please, my lord, my prince," I said in a weak, old, feeble voice. "My house has been destroyed. All I can offer you is this single rose, if only you would be kind to an old grandmother, and shelter her generously for a single night? Out of the storm?"

The Prince, the golden man, only laughed outright. A spiteful laugh, full of himself and his beauty.

"You? In my castle?" He crowed. "Absurd! Begone, you! You made me laugh, which is the only reason I spare your life now."

With that, he slammed the door shut on his own, and slowly the party within nervously began again.

I smiled sadly and looked down at my rose. I sighed, and my eyes began to glow whiter than the bloom in my hand…

Destiny told me the price I would have to deal the Golden Prince if he refused to give an act of kindness at least once…

How I hated being Her hand! But the rules and commands were clear.

And so I shed my ugliness, standing again in all my glorious, beautiful, eternal splendor that I had all but given my soul for. I raised my arm and extended a single, slender, pale finger.

The doors blasted inward, and I walked inside, my tattered rags transformed into the most radiant gold-white gown. The Prince whirled and looked at me. At the look on his face, I was glad I didn't have to explain who I was. He knew. He knew I was the 'old hag' that had stood outside his door.

And he knew, even as he screamed, even as my white power flowed over him, even as the Rose flashed, that his time to pay was here…

The light disappeared.

My job was done.

Tears ran down my face.

I turned to leave.

Yet I could not…

I went over to the huddled form that was the Golden Prince, and laid a hand on his back…his back that was now covered with a thick, thick coat of fine brown fur. He lurched away from me, his wolf-like face, monstrous, yet heartbreaking for the pain in the bright blue eyes, snarling.

I looked at him, and I wept.

I looked at him, and my heart broke.

I looked at him, and I knew…I knew that I could handle no more… To long had I dealt others what Destiny had dealt me for my vanity. I could do no more!

I leaned forward, the Beast Prince's shock rendering him still, and kissed him on the forehead. I stood, my gown sweeping around my like a magical glow, and looked up at the Rose that floated above myself and the Prince.

The room was deserted, by now. But the castle wasn't… I didn't want this Prince to be alone… He would only grow bitter at his punishment if left to himself, he wouldn't repent. I knew what I had to do.

I closed my eyes, raised my arms, and I floated upwards. As I rose, my body became engulfed in a white glow, rapidly turning red. Red, because in this act I was defying Destiny, my mistress. I would pay dearly for this, I knew…but I couldn't do it anymore! No more…

I pulled my arms down to me quickly, wrapping them around myself tightly as the glow around me flashed deep, deep red, a red that engulfed the whole room, then the castle, then the castle grounds…

When it faded, I felt my body fading along with it. I sensed the castle inhabitants…they too would share their master's fate, keep him company…perhaps this would mean the difference between the Golden Prince's becoming bitter, and his search for happiness and redemption for his vanity.

And as I vanished, I felt what was left of me, not my body, not my beauty, but me become absorbed in the Rose… As I sank into the Rose's petals, the flower absorbing me and my mind, I felt it close, retreating back to the form of a bud.

There was another flash, and it was done…

I felt myself begin to sink into a slumber that could very well be eternal, for only if the Golden Beast Prince could learn to love someone other than himself, and earn that person's love in return, weather or not it was a lover's love, a mother's love, a father's love, or a sister's love… Only then would he, and I, be free…

And so I slipped into the deepest of sleeps…

Just before my mind was pulled into darkness, I felt the rose open slightly… going from a tightly closed up bud to a bud that gave only a peek at its radiant beauty…

The Rose had become red.

And so I slept…

The End

This was just a little something I thought might have gone on in the mind of the enchantress that cursed the Beast in 'Beauty and the Beast.' That end part with the rose and her going into the rose was my creation, but I thought it might be a little food for imagination. *grins*

Anyways, hope ya liked!

Smile More, Dream Always,

Azhuraea Fluer