Beauty from Ashes is a short story I’m working on. It’s kind of a hybrid story between Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast because fairy tale medleys are fun. 😀
I’m so glad you guys liked the last part! (Click here to read it if you haven’t yet.) Thanks for all of your sweet comments. ♥ Are you ready for Part 2?
Just to refresh your memory, here’s an excerpt from the end of Part 1:
But the worst part was, I had promised, and my promise was backed by the terrifying threat of the Beast’s roar. I had to go back tomorrow, like it or not.
Beauty from Ashes
Furious rage could not even begin to describe Druscilla and Lady Tremaine’s feelings toward me when I returned home single-shoed with only Anastasia’s roses in hand. I thought they would explode into tiny pieces. Even my frantic, tearful excuses and description of the Beast did little to calm them. I was sent to bed without dinner (though I had barely had lunch), and given twice as many chores for the next day.
When I awoke the following morning, I was more exhausted than when I went to sleep – Beast had tormented my dreams all night. By late afternoon it was nearly time to meet the Beast and I still had chores to do. I whirled the duster up and down the banister, polished the table in 30 seconds flat, and shooed a herd of dust bunnies frantically out the door. I could hear feet clumping down the stairs, but I didn’t wait for further instructions. I was out the door and in the forest in the time it takes Anastasia and Druscilla to pick out their cereal bowls.
I had one last chore – gathering those twenty white roses for Druscilla. This was the chore I dreaded most, for to complete it I had to meet the Beast once again.
I timidly entered the clearing, glancing this way and that for signs of the Beast. Nothing. I breathed a sigh of relief and started picking white roses, much faster this time. But just like the day before, I had only barely finished when I heard twigs crackling.
The Beast was here.
“I’m here. I came,” I managed to gasp as I cringed under his imposing glare.
“I see you succeeded in snatching a few more of my roses,” Beast frowned impressively. “I thought I had taught you a lesson the first time, but apparently you are slow to learn. WHY are you STEALING my ROSES?” Beast bellowed.
“I’m so terribly, terribly sorry, Sir Beast, Sir. I – I didn’t know they were your roses. You never told me!” I whimpered. “It’s just that… my sister needs these roses, I – I mean she wants these roses, very badly, and if I don’t bring them my mother is likely to shut me up in the house. Which means I can’t come back to see you.” I looked hopefully up at his face, searching for any signs of relent. Though his expression was harder than a stone chopping block, his words surprised me.
“Very well. You may take them on one condition: you must serve me for twenty days – one day for each rose. Meet me here each evening and I will put you to work. Or, if you would rather not…” Beast shrugged, “leave the roses – and your other shoe – with me.”
This was hard. Would I face the fury of my stepsister and stepmother and go barefoot for who knows how long, or face the Beast every day for twenty days? I buried my face in my hands in agony. I knew what I had to do, but I couldn’t bring myself to say the words.
“I will serve you for twenty days,” I whispered at last.
A tiny spark glimmered in Beast’s eyes. It looked almost like… hope, or gladness. But he only grunted and said, “Very well. Your service starts today.”
My shoulders sagged. I was far too tired to do anything properly, much less to serve the demanding Beast. But all I said was, “As you say. What is my task?”
Half an hour later I dragged myself home, picking bits of moss and leaves from my dirty dress and clinging to a handful of limp white roses. The Beast had ordered me to make a couch from wood, leaves, and moss. It was backbreaking work that he could have accomplished far easier than I, but he never lifted a finger to help. All he did was stare at me – or more like stare through me – the entire time, as if he were prying open my heart and searching for secrets. The Beast was a strange creature.
He only got stranger the next day. He sat on his couch and asked me question after question – who were my parents? Where did I live? Did I have any siblings? Was I good at sewing? Dancing? Painting? And many other questions, some normal and some unsettling. When I asked him why he wanted to know all this, he only shrugged and said that if I were to be his slave, he had better know some of my background. Secretly I wasn’t so sure. The Beast didn’t seem like one to care where I came from or who I was, as long as I did the things he required.
Instead of voicing my doubts, I began to question him. What was he anyway – a huge, hairy human or a talking animal? And if an animal, what kind, and how did he learn to speak? Where did he live? What was he doing here? How could I be sure that those rosebushes were really his? But though I bombarded him with questions, he remained stubbornly silent.
“Go on,” I prompted him, “it’s only fair that a slave should know something about her master. Why aren’t you answering my questions?”
Beast answered soberly. “Ella, girl, I do not answer because you would not believe me. The time has not yet come for you to know these things. I shall tell you soon enough, when the time is right and not before.”
I cocked my head in puzzlement. This was strange. It was like my father was talking to me. The Beast sounded almost wise, almost kind… Almost, but not quite. I shook my head. Would I ever understand this creature?
In the days that followed, I did a variety of tasks for the Beast. I brought him mushrooms, nuts, and other good things to eat from the forest; I tended his rosebushes; I entertained him with stories and sang to him songs from my childhood; and sometimes I simply walked through the trees with him, answering his questions and talking with him.
A strange thing began to happen. Each day Beast seemed to soften, each day he seemed more like my friend and less like my master, until finally we walked and talked and laughed together as naturally as a brother and sister. I could not fathom how this astonishing change came about or whether it was on his part or mine; I only knew that instead of dreading the daily meetings, I soon looked forward to them eagerly.
My eyes were bright with tears as I walked the familiar path to meet the Beast for the last time. Oddly enough, I would miss him very, very much. Who else could I pour out my troubles to? Who else would cheer me up when I was weary of life?
Who else would be my friend, the best friend I had ever had?
Beast looked sad and nervous too. There was an uncomfortable pause, then Beast said softly, “I have one last question and one last task for you, Ella, my dear. They will be the hardest of all.” Beast lowered his eyes and took a deep breath to steady himself. “I want you to answer honestly – you know me well enough to know that I will see through a lie.”
Beast reached out and held my trembling hands in his. My mind was racing. Why was he so anxious? He was frightening me. What was he going to ask me? I could think of nothing that qualified as “the hardest question of all.” He’d asked me everything, everything already. What was there left to ask?
Beast swallowed hard and looked me straight in the eye.
Mega-cliffhanger! Mwahahaha, I’m so cruel. XD It’s too bad you already know the background fairytales, or it would be super suspenseful. 😛
Oh, and since I couldn’t quite find a picture of Ella as I imagine her, I drew one. I think it turned out pretty well – except that her eyes are a little too big. XD I meant them to be big, but not that big. XD Also, this is not how Ella looks in her normal daily life. She looks like this when… well, you’ll see. 😉
I hope you enjoyed this rather long second part of Beauty from Ashes. There’s more to come!
P. S. You only have until September 10th to submit questions for the Sisters Q&A! I’m sooo excited to answer them. 🙂
P. P. S. I have a good idea for my first entry for Grace‘s TIWC! 😀 The deadline is the 8th, so I’ll post that soon.