The Beauty and The Beast
by: Dottie Taylor
word count: 786
Despite the heat from the fire which warmed her skin, an icy chill ran the length of her spine as if ice was being poured down her back. "What are you?" she dared ask the shadowed figure, the one which was as menacing as it was seductive.
Gwynith had been shown into the Lord's library to wait for Denbarry. As she peered into the shadows, the figured moved within them once more. Something about this shadowy figure called to her, pulled her heartstrings, and she moved closer.
“I'm too horrible for your eyes, milady.” He spoke with a slur, and folded the shadows deeper around himself.
She reached out, brushing the shadows with her fingertips, and he hissed, jerking back.
“You mustn't, milady, my body is too corrupt with foulness.” He leaned further back, but as he turned away, even more of his form was revealed. His body appeared to be twisted, deformed, animalistic. Yet, she could see a cravat with an emblem of nobility held at his throat.
“What has happen to you, milord?” She cried, and again she reached out, stepping into the shadows, to find the man cringing back.
He roared, baring canines long enough for a tiger, and as he brought his hands to cover his face, claws clung to his fingertips, large enough for a wolf. He chest was broad and a sheen of fur bristled up from his collar of his fine silk shirt that stretched to the point of bursting. When he walked, his pants shifted oddly, and he wore no shoes, even though it was the dead of winter.
Then, she caught sight of his face, behind the hair, the teeth, the leathered skin, on her soul, it was Lord Denbarry!
She gasped, and crept closer when all of her instincts screamed to leave, run away as fast and far as her legs could carry her. But her pride made her stay, she had given her word, and keep it she would. Her heart pounded, and still she moved closer until she stood at his elbow which she tentatively touched.
“Lord Denbarry? It is I, Gwynith.” She whispered, and leaned closer, “what has happened to you, milord?” She had left three years prior, to attend school, but she was home now. The first person she had sought out had been Lord Denbarry.
“It was a perversion, an evilness visited upon me.” He looked down, he fisted his hands, hiding his claws. “My family curse,” he whispered, “on my twenty-five birthday, this was my gift. During the daylight hours, I am as normal as any other gentleman, but as dusk falls upon the light, the shift occurs, and the beast is born.” He glanced away, looked anywhere but upon her face where she might see his true horror, his eyes, black orbs surrounding blood red pinpoints.
She reached out, drawing his face back to her, and he squeezed his eyes. “Please leave me, please Gwynith, do not gaze upon me.” Tears glisten in the corners of his tightly closed eyes. Why did it have to be Gwynith, he furiously thought, anyone but her. He remembered how she looked as a child, auburn pigtails, frogs in her dress pockets, she had followed him around like a lost puppy, infatuated by the boy of the manor, and truthfully, he had always waited for her in the mornings so they could chase through the marshes together. He secretly delighted in it.
Finally she spoke, “Denbarry, I'm not some frail miss, I will not faint away. Three years ago, I told you I would return, and so I have.” She reached to take his... hand, and he was still the same Denbarry she remembered from childhood.
Slowly, Denbarry let her lead him to the fire and pushed him into the chair before it. It was the first time he'd seen her clearly, without the darkness of the shadows or the play of the fire across her features, and he caught his breath. She astounded him with her beauty, tiny stature, curling auburn hair which fell delicately over her shoulders with a springy bounce, bright green eyes sparking with intelligence, red full lips which begged for kisses, and the body of Athena herself. In that moment as she held his hand, unafraid, he knew his heart was lost to her forever. His beauty.
As Gwynith lead him across the room, she remembered all the times in her childhood he had been so indulgent, so kind, when he didn't have to be. She gazed upon him, even as the beast, he was a marvel of wonder. Again, her heart tugged and broke just a little, and she realized that no matter his appearance, she belonged to him, had and would always belong to him. She let her fingers linger upon his arm with possessiveness. Her beast.