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Wilted Roses Smell Just As Sweet

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A lavish party fit for a king. One that everyone who was anyone was supposed to attend. Girls of varying shapes and sizes and from various kingdoms came to flock at the feet of the illustrious and mysterious Prince Gatsby, hoping to be chosen as his queen.

He looked down at the women with a rather taut glare,  examining them all carefully. As he danced with a few of the ladies, he found himself entranced by one. A gorgeous blonde with soft waves, eyes as blue as the sea. Her white dress flared out as she moved, her lace-like mask framing an angelic, heart-like face. Her - she was perfect.

The pair danced in silence for what felt like hours, the Prince's grip tight on the girl's frail hands, her fingers long and overlapping his. The silence was broken by the Prince's honey-like voice that seemed to dribble from his mouth, "How would you like to be my queen?"  His lips spread into a long smirk as the blonde looked up at him with innocent, doe-like eyes. "I see arrogance in your smile." She said in a gentle hum, looking down to the marble floor as the pair continued to waltz. 

"Arrogance? Please." The Prince said with a scoff, "I want to marry you. You're gorgeous." The woman looked back up to him again, a light giggle leaving her plump lips, "But it seems you know nothing of my personality. You're willing to marry me on just appearance alone?"

"Of course." Prince Gatsby said in a voice lower than a whisper, practically unable to be heard over the opera singer's loud falsettos and piano music that seemed to control the pair's movements as if they belonged in a music box. The woman shook her head, as her beautiful angelic face started to wrinkle, her blonde waves once soft and light graying and turning as dry as straw.

"What?!" The Prince said in shock as the woman removed her mask, to reveal watery blue eyes surrounded by crows feet. Her gorgeous appearance had melted into that of a haggard old woman. "Do you still love me now?" She said in a raspy and smoky voice, much different than the voice that sounded like a choir moments before. The Prince moved away, "No! You're ... you're hideous!"

"You have no love in your heart." The woman simply said, stepping into the center of the ballroom floor as she lifted her hand, her wrinkly fingertips glowing a bright golden yellow, the color of morning sunlight. The Prince's body felt heavy, as if it were being drawn into a slumber, before becoming racked with pain in his limbs.

The male watched in fear as his fingernails lengthened into claws, his skin becoming blanketed by coarse yellow fur, and a muzzle entering his field of vision. He let out a loud scream at the sudden pain, the voice sounding foreign and deep - this wasn't him. This was ... something else. A beast.

As the Prince let out a loud howl, the guests scurried out of the ballroom in fear. The Enchantress left him with a simple warning, "If you cannot find love by your thirtieth year, you are doomed to remain a beast for all eternity. But, if you find someone who loves you in return, then the spell will be broken." To keep track of the spell's progression, a magical rose was placed on an ornate table in the West Wing, as the castle's outward appearance melted and turned rather frightening. A castle that screamed "abandon all hope ye who enter here."

And so, the prince lived in the darkness of his castle, in the form of a sulking beast, watching solemnly as the rose wilted in its glass case. All hope was lost for the Prince. Who could ever learn to love a beast?



Nick woke up with a start to the sound of the pigs just outside of his window. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he glanced down at the pig pen as he watched his father slowly filling up the bucket with feed. He opened up his window with a smile, "Good morning, father."

The older man looked up at Nick with an almost ecstatic grin, "Well, good morning! I trust you slept well. Come, help me with some chores - your old papa is getting quite rickety nowadays." The brunette smiled and nodded, getting on his daily clothes which consisted of a white shirt and powder blue vest over it, as well as some white slacks. The same thing every day: get up, help father with chores, go to the library, pick things up for father's inventions, and then back home. There was no variety, and as a result, Nick had become an avid reader. His bookshelf was getting fuller with books every day, some of which were even being pushed out by others, onto the floor where they spread and wrinkled a few of the parchment papers.

Nick picked one of the shorter novels off of the ground and blew some dust off of it, taking a moment to stroke the navy leather cover of the book. His books were like his children - he spent many hours organizing them and adding new ones to his shelf. Most of the books that he had accrued had to be returned to the bookstore, but he had made good friends with the older woman in charge and was allowed to keep them, as Nick was practically her only customer.

He went downstairs after getting his brown buckled shoes on, going to help his father with the chores. He had been spreading feed around in the chicken pen before he heard the galloping of hooves down the cobblestone roads. He knew that sound anywhere.

"Myrtle, would you go and get some ammunition for my rifle? I need to go hunting this afternoon." The booming voice had said, glaring down at the redhead below him. "Of course, Tom!" The lighter voice chirped as she ran into the general store to grab ammunition. Nick glanced over at the male on his large black horse, noticing his posture. Rather full of himself, by the straightness of his back and face that seemed to immediately put anyone to submission. But not Nick. 

"Nicky?" Another feminine voice had sounded. Through the corner of Nick's eye, he saw the billowing of a lavender dress, flowing in the wind to reveal pale ankles that lacked stockings or shoes. She smiled, jumping into the chicken pen as the birds all started to cluck and run around fearfully from the sudden movement. "Good morning Daisy." Nick simply said in a rather monotone voice, still spreading some seed on the ground.

"Ah, Daisy~!" The booming voice from before. Tom. Nick rolled his eyes, glancing down at the blonde girl next to him as Daisy jumped back over the wooden fence to stand next to Tom's proud and rather muscular horse. Daisy pat the horse's muzzle, earning a satisfied whinny from the animal before going onto her tip-toes, hugging Tom. Tom liked beautiful women, and Nick couldn't doubt that Daisy was one of the most beautiful girls in the town. Her parents had abandoned her as a baby, and thus, she lived with Nick her whole life. Genetically, they were cousins, but their relationship was strong, as if they were brother and sister.

Nick continued his duties before moving back to get into the house. But, the burly male stopped him, "Where do you think you're going?" Nick furrowed his brows and chuckled lightly, "My ... house?"

"Hm. That's what I thought. I'm taking Daisy for a ride around the countryside. I'll bring her back soon. Tell your loony father not to worry for too long." Tom let out a snorting laugh, picking up the girl and putting her onto the back of his horse, which caused the blonde to let out a squeak and an airy giggle. Nick nodded, "Oh, definitely." The brunette mumbled under his breath, "What a brute."

"Excuse me?" Tom asked, jumping off of his horse and shoving the frail brunette to the ground. "I'll have you know, I am no brute. I am the commander in chief of France's great army!" Nick looked up at him with angular eyes, not contorted into a glare, but definitely displeased in nature, "Alright." Nick was never a fighter; in fact, he was rather submissive in nature.

Myrtle had toddled out just at that moment and let out a snorting laugh of her own, "You really got him good, Tom!" Tom rolled his dark brown, almost black eyes, "Just give me the gun and we'll be on our way. Now move it!" He yelled out in his baritone voice as he fired a shot towards the ground next to Nick, causing the brunette to jump up at the sudden loud noise. As the ringing in his ears only became more pronounced, Nick scampered back into the house. Nick cared for Daisy as if she were his little sister, wanting to keep her safe. This Tom was not right for her, but alas, it was her life. She needed a powerful man in her life to have many children and be a good housewife. After-all, that was supposedly a woman's purpose in this small farming town.

Just as Tom and Daisy had left for the fields, with Myrtle trailing along behind them, the town had sprung to life. Bakers carried their trays of baguettes towards the farmers market to sell them, as well as fishermen bringing their catches of the day towards the stream to clean them off. Even the florists had showed, bringing lovely bouquets of celandines and chrysanthemums. The fertile soil provided rich color for the flowers, and as Nick watched the townspeople from his window, he had to let out a small smile. They seemed to find joy in the simplest things.

At around eleven in the morning, once the crowds had died down, Nick decided to get on his coat and walk towards the bookstore to find a new novel. As he became lost in the stacks, he found an old copy of his favorite fairytale. A prince in disguise, magic, sword fights ... ah, how he wished things like that were real. His life was too boring, too predictable. How he longed for some kind of excitement, something to push him out of his comfort zone.

Nick was reading the novel at the stoop just below the window of the bookstore, while the lonely old woman reorganized the stacks. The kettle was whistling quietly on the stove, as she had decided to brew a cup of tea for the both of them. Nick had no mother. He never knew her, so this old woman almost acted like his mother. She knew his deepest secrets, and Nick knew hers. They confided in each other and supported each other whenever they could, and for that, Nick was forever grateful. Soon enough, the brunette was roused out of his concentration by cheering crowds as Tom rode back in. Nothing good can last.

The older woman came by with a cup of tea for Nick as she pushed open the squeaky double windows. "The peacock is here to show off his feathers." She said in a worn out and tired voice, before getting back on her step stool to reorganize the shelves yet again. Nick watched the display as Daisy jumped off the back of Tom's horse. Her cheeks were supple and red, unusual for the innocent blonde. Her bright green eyes were brighter against the redness of her usually porcelain skin, and her blonde ringlet curls were knotted and formed a sort of frizzy halo around her head. Daisy ran back into her house as Tom jumped off of his horse, pulling it over to a random person's house as the person practically groveled at Tom's feet, immediately bringing out some water and oats for the equine animal. Tom had practically everyone in the palm of his hand, it seemed.

With a sigh, Nick left through the back entrance of the bookstore, hoping to avoid the brute who walked around with an incredible arrogance. He scurried back to his home like a mouse with cheese in tow. When he arrived, Daisy was rushing around the house, many things in her arms.

"What are you doing, Daisy?" Nick asked, putting the book underneath his arm. She glanced over at him and grinned widely, chirping like a songbird, "Father's taking me to the inventor's festival!" Daisy quickly folded her things, before running over to place them in the hutch. His father was going to show off a new music box that he had created, and took one of the children every year; this year, it had been Daisy's turn to attend. 

"Would you like anything while we're off at the festival?" Nick's father had asked, turning his attention away from packing a trunk full of clothes and extra gears in case his invention were to break down. Daisy had a huge smile on her face as she folded up some more of her dresses, packing them away in a trunk of her own that was decorated with painted flowers. The paint had worn down incredibly from extended use, as well as a lack of gloss on the wood to protect them.

"A rose." Nick mumbled after some slight hesitation. "A simple rose. They don't have as many here as they did in Paris." Nick's father looked at him with a puzzled expression, one eyebrow cocked before he simply shrugged, "Alright. One rose." 

Nick helped the pair pack their things onto the carriage, and before he knew it, they were off to the inventor's festival, which was in a bigger city. It took a few days to travel by carriage to the festival, so the brunette would have some much needed alone time to catch up on all of the books that he started but never completed. He sat at the window stoop for days, his book pile only growing as he completed fairytale after fairytale, before he saw something odd.

Late in the evening, his father's white and gray speckled horse was running towards the house, stopping in front of it to get a much needed drink of water. His father was atop the animal, quickly jumping off with a broken lantern in hand, the flame inside of it merely flickering as it struggled to continue burning with the lack of wax. The older, white-haired male slammed on the oak wood door as Nick jumped to answer it.

The brunette looked on with surprise evident in his evergreen eyes; his father was in terrible condition, hacking and wheezing as he struggled to regain his breath. He sounded much older than he was supposed to. "I-It's Daisy. She's been kidnapped by some ... beast!"