Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach.

Author’s Note: This is based off the original story I heard as a girl and not related to the Disney movie except from inspiration in the title. (Sorry no talking furniture or a Gaston type character.) Also this is told as a Fairy Tale so it’s not like my usual style.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Tale as Old as Time

 

Once in a small village in France there lived a merchant and his three daughters. He had come upon hard times as his ships were lost at sea for he had no wares to sell. This displeased the two eldest daughters as they were used to the fineries their father’s wealth brought them. The oldest Rangiku missed the wine and especially the Japanese sake from the east. The middle daughter Rukia missed the Chappy goods that she loved so much. She even had to cancel her monthly subscription to Chappy Cute magazine. The youngest was more not mournful of the loss of money as she valued her family’s health above all. Her name was Orihime and she was considered a beauty. All three of the daughters were beautiful but the caring and soft nature of Orihime made her considered the village favourite.

One day word came to Urahara the father that one of his ships had finally docked and there were still some goods to be sold. He donned his infamous green and white hat and said his goodbyes to his girls.

“Now then ladies, is there anything you would want your dearest Daddy, who is still very young, to buy for you in town?” He asked.

“I refuse to call you Daddy.” Rangiku pouted.

“I’ll buy you anything you ask.” Urahara said in a sing-song voice.

“Oh! Daddy! Daddy!” Rangiku cried, “Please let me have the finest sake from the East. My throat is so dry!”

“Consider it done,” Urahara smiled and patted his shortest daughter Rukia. “What about you my dear?”

“Do I have to call you Daddy as well?” Rukia asked.

“It’s not as funny coming from you...” Urahara pondered. “Father would be good. A respectful tone is much cuter when it’s my noble little Rukia!”

“Then dearest father.” Rukia said her eyes shining. “May I ask for you to buy me the latest in Chappy’s pyjama range? They should have it out by now.”

“That I may do for you and I shall buy whatever else we have missed these past four months.”

Rukia squealed in delight and hugged her father, who laughed in joy. He beckoned to his youngest who had just finished her chores.

“You work so hard my dear Orihime; let me get you something as well.” He said.

“Yes, don’t come out with anything lame like you usually do!” Rangiku warned. “If you say, ‘I just want father to return home safe’, then I’ll tickle you till you cry tears!”

Orihime looked a little shocked; it was just what she was going to say.

“Um... then a rose!”

“A ROSE?” The whole family exclaimed together.

“Yes, if it’s a rose that father picked for me specially then I would be glad to receive it.”

“That’s it you’re getting tickled!” Rangiku said rolling up her sleeves.

“Ah, then a rose it shall be!” Urahara said ignoring the plea of his youngest as she was molested by Rangiku. Rukia joined in and Urahara silently slipped away. He hated goodbyes and as such it pleased him to see them in such good moods it had been a hard four months with no money. He needed to make haste and return as soon as possible. It did feel that their luck was now on the rise.

000

A week passed and Urahara had made every success in his business in town. He had made enough money from the selling of his goods. It had meant that he was able to buy his presents for his children and make a profit; enough to ensure his continuing success as a merchant. He was on his return home when the weather changed for the worst. It was a powerful storm which had wind so strong you could not stand. He was several miles from the next village when he had to take refuge in a nearby abandoned mansion. It was big and almost like a palace but it was in such ruin that he wondered how long it had been since a Lord had set foot in it.

He was therefore surprised on his entry into one of the rooms to find a fire alight there. It was freshly made and new wood was nearby to add to it. Urahara felt uneasy but did not take this gift as a threat. If there was someone with evil intent in the mansion then they would have killed him as soon as he set foot inside. He dried himself and felt his warmth return in his fingers. He did feel like someone or something was watching but it did not seem to mean him harm. As his strength returned so did his hunger and he decided to explore to see if there was a kitchen with some scraps.

As he entered the next room he did not find scraps but more a feast. He gave a whistle with surprise. He gladly sat down and ate his fill. Again he felt the strange presence in the corner of the room but it did not move or come near the light. Urahara did not feel frightened by this creature. It had provided him heat and now food. He continued on with his exploration of the rooms.

He walked up a staircase and entered the room at the top. He found a bed with fresh linen and spread open to invite him. He gladly accepted and taking off his hat he lay down to a most comfortable sleep. He felt the sensation of being watched again but this time it came from the door. The creature did not enter and disturb his rest. This made Urahara sure this had been done for him. ‘What a kind creature’, he thought. ‘I wonder if I could capture it and sell it.’

With these thoughts he fell asleep and in the morning woke. The storm had passed and he could see from the window a beautiful garden of roses. He checked his bag, it was as he feared. The single yellow rose he had bought for his youngest was ruined by the journey. The other presents were fine but the blustery wind had knocked his bag so much that the delicate rose had been destroyed.

He ventured outside to the garden of roses that were in full bloom and every colour imaginable.

‘If I take just one,’ he thought, ‘it will not be missed.’

He reached out for a large orange rose and plucked it from the bush.

No sooner had he done that then a horrendous roar cried out behind him. He spun around and was eye to eye with a monster, a beast! The cold yellow eyes stared at him and he tumbled backward. He then got a full view of the monstrosity. He at first seemed human his head had bright orange hair and human ears covered by a mask; but his body was large and the arms were like claws. Behind him a huge tail swung back and forth in agitation.

You dare take something from me after I have shown such hospitality!” He roared.

“I-I’m sorry, but you see...”

SILENCE! You sat by the fire I made, you ate the food I gave and you slept in the bed I offered. Yet you wanted more! Humans are such greedy creatures.”

“Let me pay for my stay and this fine rose.”

“I care not for money.” He sneered, “I have no use for it; I am but a beast!”

“Ah yes, I’ve noticed that but I would be a fine merchant willing to sell goods to you.” He dipped his hat in hope of finding a new client.

“Trinkets and baubles are less of an interest for me.”

“I only wanted this rose for my daughter, she’s a strange child; she has no care for trinkets as well.”

“Daughter?”

“Oh, I see, you like girls!” Urahara said. “Well, I have three daughters, you could have the oldest she will be happy if you just keep feeding her and giving her wine.”

“No.”

“Well then how about my middle daughter, she’s a bit violent and likes rabbit things but her heart is good.”

“I will only take as fair exchange the one that asked for the rose.”

“Oh you’re a weird one too I see.”

“Give that rose to the girl and she will instantly come here.”

“Really, like some sort of magic?” He looked at the other roses wondering if he should have got a few more to sell them.

“Yes, these roses are magic that is why no money can buy them.” The beast explained. “Your part is only to give her the rose.”

“Well then good sir, I do believe I have stayed longer than I ought.” Urahara said bowing. “I hope my girl will do good service for you.”

“I will take no pleasure from the child. You have my word on that.” He said. “She will be like a rose in my garden, untouched.”

“I do trust your words.” Urahara lied and quickly collected his belongings and made for the gate. When he reached the gate, out of sight from the Beast, he dropped the rose from his hand. He had no intention of making a slave out of any of his daughters. Unknown to him however was the fact that the rose had attached itself with its thorns to his clothes. He walked on unaware and wishing never to see the place that was behind him again.

000

Urahara reached the village in good time and news of his arrival spread quickly. The daughters busy with their housework were glad to hear of his safe return. They dropped everything and ran to see him. Rangiku wandered lazily behind, she was the only one who refused to do any housework. Although she made sure that she helped with making any cooking. All three of the daughters had very similar taste in food. That no-one else really did share in.

“Come father we’ve just cooked dinner!” Orihime said happily. “You must be tired and hungry from your journey.”

“Oh well, I would much rather treat you all to a meal at the Inn!” He said; his usual reply to their offer of food. He had just had one of the worst trips home ever. He did not want to finish it off with food poisoning from a welcome back feast. He would rather eat another meal at that mansion. He shuddered at the thought of letting any of his children near there. Except perhaps Rangiku, who he always suspected was not his own.

“Are you cold?” Rukia asked. “There was such a big storm, were you caught in it?”

“Where are our presents?” Rangiku asked eyeing the bag. “I assume you did well and have brought back money?”

“Here my dear, but you have to call me Daddy.” Urahara teased as he waved a large bottle in front of her.

“Oh Daddy! You’re the greatest! You’re fantastic!”

“Wherever there is money I am there!” Urahara added. “Now be a good girl and carry this home, I have many stories to tell!”

“Oh Father!” Orihime said joyfully. “You remembered my rose!”

He looked down and before he could stop her, Orihime had taken the rose that was on his jacket. The orange petals began to glow and as he reached out to try to make her let go; his daughter was gone.

“Orihime!” Rukia shouted out in surprise.

Rangiku dropped the packages and searched the ground where she had so recently stood.

“What did you do old man?” Rukia snarled as she held him by the scruff of the neck. She was as small as a ten year old girl but when she was angered she seemed much larger.

“I’ll hold him down with my breasts and you beat the information out of him!” Rangiku said as she charged forward. She may be a lazy girl but when her sisters were in danger she fought like a wild cat.

“No! Not your breasts please!” Urahara said quickly. “I can explain without any shady parent abusing, please she is safe. I never intended to for her to receive that rose. Look here’s the real one.”

He produced the bent and twisted yellow rose from the bag. The head of the rose dipped down and Urahara felt himself do the same. The next few hours would be very painful indeed. He silently prayed as his beating began that the Beast would indeed hold up to his part and leave his most innocent daughter untouched.

000

The Beauty did not know what to think, one minute she was reunited with her father, the next she was in an old and neglected room. She checked that she still had the orange rose in her hands and was surprised to see that it had now turned a gold colour.

‘This perhaps is the work of fairies that have kidnapped me and want me to help them recapture the mushroom kingdom from the evil Turtle King.’ She thought.

She had no doubt that it was the work of magic and she checked the rose to see if it had a return switch.

“I would not touch that rose again if I were you.” A voice came from the shadows.

“Are you the fairy King?” Orihime asked.

“I have been called many things but no-one has presumed me to be a Fairy King.”

“So you’re the Evil Turtle King then!” Orihime cried in alarm. “Return the Mushroom Kingdom to its rightful owner!”

“You’re again mistaken.” The voice growled. “Are you making fun of me?”

“Oh no! I’m wrong again!” Orihime sighed. “I always try to guess any outcome but my sisters and father tell me I’ve no skill in this area.”

“I agree with them, please do not make any more strange guesses.”

“Where are you?” Orihime asked. “Will you step into the light and explain what’s happening?”

“Promise me not to scream.”

“I’ll try...” Orihime said holding her breath. She had a bad feeling it wasn’t going to be pleasant.

The shadow that loomed in the corner she could barely see a dark shape, larger than a man. She heard the heavy footsteps and she took in a sharp gasp as she saw the claws. The legs of the creature were bent like that of an animal but as she followed the clothed body upwards she could tell it acted like a man. The head oval shape and with orange hair bowed down still in the shadow. It moved and what she thought should be a face she was confronted with a white with red stripes skull mask. She couldn’t hold in the shriek and felt guilty for breaking her promise. She kept her head down and her eyes closed. It was not the mask that had truly frightened her but more so the cold yellow eyes that shone out from the hollow holes in the mask.

“Why do you wear such a mask?” She stammered. “Why am I here?”

“This is part of my curse,” He explained. “I am a beast, not human. I do not need to show my face, it is not for human eyes. You were brought by my rose which your father picked in my garden. You are to be payment for his greed. He took one of my roses and so I must have you.”

“This is because of my father?”

“Yes, follow me. I will show you to your room.” He said calmly. His voice had changed now it was out of the shadows. It was softer. “You are my guest here, even if it is because of your foolish father.”

Orihime wanted to protest but she couldn’t find the words. She followed the back of the monster. Its tail moved on its own and she could not think what sort of creature this was. It dressed in clothes and could talk, yet it was not human. She supposed this creature could be one of those dragons she had heard in the stories and it had won this great house from a fight with a knight. She let her mind wander and was snapped out of it by a very close breath.

“Did you hear what I said?” The Beast hissed.

“Sorry, I was thinking...” Orihime weakly laughed. Usually this would be an acceptable excuse with her family or the villagers that knew her but the beast seemed irritated.

“This is important. Do not under any circumstances come into my room when I’m sleeping.”

“I wouldn’t!” Orihime gasped, horrified at the thought.

“I do not wish to be disturbed. You will respect this.”

“I understand. I won’t intrude.”

“You will have the finest dresses and jewels while you stay here.” He motioned with a white claw towards a door. “This will be yours.”

The scared girl opened the door and was amazed at the size. The bed itself was triple what she had at home. The wardrobes were open and she could see many dresses of different colours there. On the dressing table there were large boxes of jewels and ornaments.

“This is too much!” Orihime said. “I can’t accept all this.”

“It is all yours if you stay.”

“I can’t, I must return to my family.” Orihime said. “I will stay only as long as it will pay for my father’s misdeed.”

“Then that will be a week.” The Beast said. “Will you little Beauty stay with this beast for a week?”

“My name is Orihime not Beauty. I will stay but only for one week.” She said.

There was a stalled silence.

“Eh, usually when you introduce yourself you expect the other person to tell them their name.”

“You may call me Kurosaki.”

“Then Kurosaki, I will be in your care.” She made a polite curtsy and as she looked up she caught a glance of those eyes. Her head dropped instantly and it was not missed by the Beast. He solemnly nodded and walked out.

“I shall come back for you in a short while, please change and be ready for the tour of my home.”

As the door closed the events replayed in Orihime’s head and she collapsed on the bed. Her body was no longer able to hold her up, she was technically a guest here but it was obvious she was really a prisoner. She hoped her family wouldn’t worry but she knew that they would. She stared at the ceiling trying her best to forget the eyes that haunted her. This Beast was not human; there was only an animal in those eyes.

000

An hour passed and Kurosaki knocked on the door.

“Are you ready?” He snapped. “I’ve been waiting for you to come down.”

The door opened and Orihime peered round. Her eyes were pink and puffy, she had been obviously crying.

“Sorry, I forgot the time... I’m not changed yet.”

“Stay as you are.” He sighed in an irritated growl. “Come, you must be hungry.”

There was silence from Orihime as her stomach gurgled at the idea. She laughed awkwardly but the Beast turned and she hurried to catch up. The Mansion was very large, they walked for a few minutes until he stopped and pointed with a long white claw at the door.

“Your food is ready, eat what you like.”

Orihime entered and gasped at the sight that she held. Many dishes scattered across the table and she sat down eagerly to try each one. The Beast sat on the floor opposite; he was too big for the simple chairs and watched over her as she tried mixing several dishes together.

“That’s a dessert, it doesn’t go with chicken.” He said as he watched.

“But it tastes really good. I’ll add mustard too!”

When the meal was finished and the girl had eaten her fill of strange combinations; she was given a tour of the large estate. She was allowed to walk everywhere within the fence. The garden was for her to enjoy and each room from the library to the billiard room she could enter. The only exception was the Beast’s room and she could tell where it was from the large scratch marks on the door.

Orihime had felt nothing from kindness from the Beast and she came to not fear him as much, although his eyes caused her some problems. She could still not look into his eyes directly but she found that he was an enjoyable companion. She spent her week well and every night they would sit by the fireplace and tell strange stories. Orihime’s being the strangest of all. One thing did spoil it for her, every night just as they were about to part to their rooms the Beast would come out with a proposal of marriage.

“I wish for you to be my wife, please marry me and stay in this house forever.”

“I cannot!” Orihime always replied. “I think you are very kind and would look after me well but I do not love you.”

She would see the pain in his cold eyes and for a moment she would think of him as not a Beast but as a man. She apologised and turned back into her room. As she closed the door she would often hear his whisper.

“Goodnight, sweet Beauty. I will ask you again tomorrow.”

000

The seven days passed and Orihime sat by the door waiting for Kurosaki. She had enjoyed her time in the large house much more than she could ever have imagined. The gardens were beautiful and her companion was very kind and nice. He listened to her stories and encouraged her to eat what she liked. She stood up as she saw the large creature approach but she could feel that he was angry.

“Your father has already been here!” He snapped. The dark voice had returned.

”What do you mean Kurosaki?” Orihime asked.

“All of my roses have been picked and I have this note from him!”

The tattered piece of paper was thrown at her and she read it aloud.

Dearest Beast and my beauty Orihime, I have watched over you both these last few days and I feel very happy with this situation. Please look after my daughter; I will certainly look after these magic roses. I will send you any excess profit and I do hope that you find it all satisfactory. Once I find out how the magic works we may start our own business! I will be in touch again, I hope that you do find yourself in good health and I do give my consent to marry the Beast.

Love, your future father-in-law

Urahara”

“THAT BASTARD!” Kurosaki roared and flipped a chair into the wall, smashing it.

“Oh my terrible father!” Orihime wailed. “Do not concern yourself Kurosaki, I will return and get all your roses back!”

Do you think I would trust your words?” He snarled. “You are the daughter of a thief and a man that does not keep his word!”

“Didn’t my father let me have the rose as he promised you; I came here by that very rose!”

“I was watching him. He tried to throw it away. He is a swindler and a thief.”

“How did you watch him?” Orihime asked. Her heart was racing, she disliked that his trust in her had been so easily shattered. She knew how sly her father could be when it came to business so she was not really that surprised by his actions. What surprised her most was how hurt she was at the words he said.

“I have more magic in this house than simple roses.” He huffed. His anger was abating and he could see the panic in the girl’s eyes. She was obviously ignorant of Urahara’s actions but he still felt the betrayal strongly. He winced as he felt her small hand resting on his shoulder.

“I will go to my father then.” She said softly. “I will return to you, I promise from my heart.”

“You would return?” He whispered, his voice had returned to normal.

Orihime tried to hide the fact that butterflies were having a party in her stomach. “I would, I would come back and stay with you again for however many weeks it would take to pay back my father’s thievery.”

“Would you be my bride?” He asked, taking her hand.

Orihime almost taken away in the moment bit back her answer. She could not marry such a creature. She tried to look him in the eyes but turned away. She clasped her hand tightly against his clawed one.

“It is impossible for that; please do not ask me again.” She said sadly. “You are kind person Kurosaki; I don’t wish to hurt you further. I do not love you.”

He swiftly let go of her hand. “I understand. I am a Beast after all.” He bounded up the stairs and came back just as swiftly. “You wanted to know before how I knew of your father’s will to not pass on the rose. It is from this.”

He showed her a simple hand mirror decorated with roses.

“Show me Urahara!” He snapped at the mirror. Golden sparks rose from the mirror itself and an image of a man appeared. As Orihime drew close she could see her father in his workshop.

“He is studying your flowers.” Orihime explained. “He has quite a good skill at discovering how things work and duplicating it himself to sell it.”

“There is no time then,” Kurosaki said. “I cannot leave here but you may go and retrieve the flowers. They are essential for my life.”

“Your life?” Orihime seemed shocked.

“I and the magic of the roses are connected. Do not let it concern you it is not instant death; although if they are not returned within 5 days I will get sick.” He said looking away. “There were 14 roses taken, be sure to return them all. They each have magic different from your rose, do not touch them. Remember, I do not know how I will survive if I do not have those roses returned.”

“I won’t let that happen.” Orihime said.

“Take the mirror; use it to find me again.” He handed it over along with the rose.

“Is this the rose that brought me here?” She asked.

He nodded his large head. “Touch it and it will return you but after that the magic will be gone.”

Orihime looked up and tried her best to stare into his eyes. “This is why I need the mirror?”

Kurosaki reached out with his large monstrous hand and touched Orihime gently on the cheek. “I want you to return even if you will never be my bride.”

Orihime gratefully held his claw and bravely looked into his eyes one more time. She could not give any more reply or voice her goodbye. It was not love she felt she was sure but in that moment she felt herself wavering again. The Beast took back his claw and turned his back.

“Go, I do not want to see you leave.” He whispered.

“I’ll return to you.” She vowed and touched the flower.

The strange sensation of change happened again and she suddenly found herself back in her little village. It was so instant that she couldn’t say how it felt. She wished she could say there had been a whooshing sound or perhaps some sparkly lights but there hadn’t. One minute she was in the large mansion the next she was in her home town. She looked at her golden rose and was sorry to see it had turned brown. Orihime was too caught up in her thoughts to notice the small figure running towards her.

“Orihime!”

She was pushed to the floor and hugged by her sister Rukia.

“You’ve returned!” She said happily.

Orihime hugged her back and tried not to notice the worried bags under her sister’s eyes.

“I’ve been safe.” She assured Rukia.

“What about the Beast?”

“He wasn’t scary at all!” Orihime said.

“I forgot you’re the girl that made friends with the wild animals in the woods even the bears and wolves.” Rukia sighed.

“Ah but, he wasn’t a bear or a wolf. I don’t know what type of creature he was. At times I believed he was human for he was so kind and gentle.”

“Orihime!” Rangiku cried as she came out to see what the noise was. “Let me do an honour check!”

“A what?” Orihime asked confused.

“Not here, inside!” Rukia hissed as she saw Rangiku was starting to lift Orihime’s skirt.

“I don’t have time, where is our father?” Orihime said. She had for a moment forgotten the Beast. “He’s taken something from the Beast, he must return it.”

“Might be hard he’s deep in study in his workroom.”

“Let’s go, I can’t wait. I think Kurosaki was lying to me a little.”

“Who’s Kurosaki?” Rangiku asked.

As they walked to the house, Orihime explained everything to her sisters. Although she left out the marriage proposal as she thought they would not approve. She told them of the kindness she had received instead and she learnt of her sister’s own search for her. In the seven days their father had gone missing and only recently did he return. The sisters having no clues to go on other than it was a one day walk from the village had gone in every direction looking for a large mansion.

“That Urahara is impossible!” Rukia hissed about her own father. Only when she was really mad would she deny all relations to the man.

“Let’s torture him till he tells us what he’s up to.” Rangiku agreed.

“Can’t we just ask for them back?” Orihime pleaded.

The suggestion was ignored and Rukia went ahead and kicked down the door. The one problem they found was that Urahara wasn’t there.

“That bastard!” Rukia snarled.

“Oi! Daddy! Daddy dearest!” Rangiku called but with no love in her voice. It sounded more like a threat.

“It’s okay, some of the roses are here.” Orihime said as she picked up a basket and was about to collect them.

“No, don’t touch them remember!” Rukia warned her. “Here, use the tongs for the fire.”

Orihime nodded and began to collect the flowers. Rukia however made a gesture to her sister.

“Do we really want Orihime to go back to the monster?” She whispered in a low voice.

“You think Orihime has misjudged it?” Rangiku asked quietly. 

“You know how blindingly trusting she is.” Rukia sighed. “Besides I can tell that she’s hiding something.”

“Let’s do what we can to keep her here.” Rangiku agreed.

“What are you guys whispering about?” Orihime questioned. She had finished collected the roses and was surprised at their lack of answer to her cheer.

“We're trying to decide just exactly what we’re going to make for dinner for your welcome home party.” Rukia said.

“I should hurry and go back to the Beast; I don’t know how long he has.”

“One day will be fine, how long it has been seen we’ve seen you!” Rangiku pouted. “You have all the roses, we can relax now.”

“Well...” She faltered for an objected but could find none. One day would not hurt and she was already ahead after all she had all fourteen roses.

00

The day passed quickly and Orihime slept in her smaller bed and felt the joys of home. She had missed her family a lot and indulged in the chance to be with them again. As she slept she was unaware how difficult it would be to wake up again. Her two sisters had put in a sleeping potion that would make her sleep for a few days. They both felt a little guilty but they didn’t want her to return.

Two days passed and Orihime awoke incredibly groggy and with a very dry mouth.

‘How long was I asleep for?’ She wondered as she rubbed her eyes. As she got dressed she noticed a slip of paper under her door. She picked it up and read.

“Dear Sister,

You can’t go back to that monster. You have to stay here, let him die. It’s for the best if you just forget about him. Don’t try to escape; we’ve already locked the doors. This may take a while for you to forgive us but we couldn’t let you go back to being a prisoner.

Rukia & Rangiku <3”

Orihime in disbelief tried the door but it was as the note said, locked. She glanced around the room. Her roses were still in her room where she’d left them. As she gazed at them she could see that the petals were starting to wilt. The magic was fading; her friend didn’t have much time.

The two sisters when they came to deliver her food and to comfort their sister were not that surprised to see her gone. Rukia picked up the note that was left on the bed. It was their original message but Orihime had added her own message at the bottom.

“I’m sorry, but I have to do this. I promised Kurosaki.”

“She broke the window to escape.” Rangiku said impressed. “She really is serious about this.”

“It’ll be okay then.” Rukia said folding up the note. “We’ll just get the old man to pay for the new window anyway. This whole mess is his fault anyway.”

00

The young girl Orihime ran on following the path that the mirror showed her. She had no idea how much time she had lost but she felt the need to hurry. The roses had begun to wilt and with each step she had a dread that something had happened to her friend. She didn’t wonder any why the thought of losing him gave her such a dread or what her real fear was. She didn’t think but relied on her feelings. They had always kept her out of trouble so far; she had to believe she was doing the right thing. Kurosaki was not the monster that everyone saw him as they couldn’t see how he was deep down.

As the sun began to set she found herself at a familiar house. It was the mansion but now as she looked at it, the place seemed colder and emptier than she remembered. There were no flowers in the garden and thorny weeds gathered around the place. She walked through them carefully, but it still ripped her dress. She placed the mirror into the basket and looked fretfully at the roses again. She had hoped that they would have recovered once they got home but they still hung their heads.

Orihime burst into the room and called out to her friend. “Kurosaki!”

She heard a faint groan and followed the noise. It lead to the Beast’s room. She stopped at the door, remembering she was told before not to enter. She could hear struggling breaths inside.

“I’m coming in.” She warned.

“I thought I told you...” Came a weak voice. “Not to enter my room when I’m sleeping.”

“You’re a liar, you’re not sleeping.” Orihime said softly and tried to hide the shaking voice. The Beast looked terrible; he was spread out on what looked like a giant mattress on the floor. His large body curled up into a ball and she could hear his raspy breathing. She sat down beside the bed and showed off the roses.

“I found them, all 14!”

“They’re fake.” He said in a low dead pan voice. “You’ve been tricked by your own father.”

Orihime looked down at the roses and touched one. Nothing happened, there was no magic.

“No, why...?” She stood up. “There’s still time, it’s not that far I’ll go back and try to find them.”

There was a deep growl. “There’s no time at all, it’s already been three days.” He said.

“Then what will happen to you?” She asked trying to keep in her tears.

“Leave, don’t return to this cursed place. Live your life and think of me when you want.”

“I won’t leave. I’ll help you get better!” Orihime said.

“This isn’t something that can be cured with chicken soup.” He turned and the sharp eyes that she feared looked at her. Orihime could look at them now and she wondered why she didn’t fear him. She could see his gentleness portrayed in those eyes.

“Kurosaki, you have to get better.” She reached down and touched the mask, it was smooth and cool. She traced round the edge to see if there was a way to take it off.

“Don’t touch me.” He hissed. “GO!”

“No I won’t!”

“You will leave!” He roared and his hand pushed her away. Orihime slammed into the wall and gasped in shock. “I don’t want you to see me like this, let me die in peace.”

Orihime stood up her legs shaking and ran out of the room. She reached the bottom of the stairs and looked up, the sun had now set and darkness was entering the house. At night it was too dangerous for her to leave so she sat down on the sofa they had once had fun conversations together. That was now in the past and she could only watch the sickle moon rise as she tried not to think about her friend who was dying upstairs. That night the beauty cried herself to sleep.

000

In the morning a tapping on Orihime’s head woke her from her slumber.

“What...?”

“Dear, dear, my sweet daughter crying herself to sleep over such an animal. What is a father suppose to do?”

“Father!?” Orihime woke up at once and sprung up out of her bed. She then punched him in the stomach.

Urahara bent over and tried to hide the wince of pain. Orihime had a surprisingly strong straight punch.

“My research has been a failure.” He groaned. “I cannot use the magic roses for any profit.”

“Your eye is black.” Orihime commented. “Plus you have lots of burns on your arms, my sisters found you.”

Urahara sighed, he’d been found out. “Well I took the roses back and they’re in the garden now. Your sisters are kindly guarding them.”

“I must tell Kurosaki!” Orihime cried.

“Kurosaki?” Her father asked. It was a familiar name.

“That’s what the Beast told me to call him.” Orihime explained and kissed her father on the head. “Oh I’m so happy, he can be saved now!”

Urahara wondered why his daughter cared so much but tried not to dwell on it. She was a strange being after all and if it was the Kurosaki he was thinking of then not all was as bad as it seems.

“Kurosaki!” Orihime called. “Wake up! I have wonderful news!”

She bounded in the room and stopped. There was no breathing noise, any groans or growls. It was a sickening silence.

“Kurosaki?” She touched his arm, it was cold. “No this can’t be! The roses are back!” The tears came so easily and she bowed down her head. It was too late. He must have lied about how long he had. Last night when he had pushed her away, he must have known how little time he had.

She looked down at the mask and could see a crack across it. She lightly poked the crack and watched in shock as she saw the crack spread and start to crumble the mask.

“Ah! No! I just touched it!” Orihime said in a panic. She was about to get up and go ask her father if he had any glue but she stopped. She could see half of his face and apart from the white colour it looked human. She swept away the crumbling mask, vowing to fix it for the funeral and gazed at the face. He had a deep scowl, it reminded her of many things and if this was a happier time she would have enjoyed making up different looks for such a face.

“Kurosaki...you lied again you’re very handsome, not a beast at all.” She said softly her tears falling. “You know even without knowing what your face looked like I still would have given you my answer. If you had asked me about marriage just one more time I would have said yes. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone as kind and understanding as you. You listen to my strange stories and tell me off if I get it wrong but not in a bad way. I wished I could have lived those seven days with you for the rest of my life.”

Her tears dropped onto his cheek and she tried to wipe them away. “Ah it’s not good crying like this over something you can’t ever have. I loved the time we shared.”

Orihime could feel her heart breaking but she wanted to say it once. “I will always love you.” She touched his clawed hand and held it tight. “I don’t think I’ll find anyone else whom I’ll love as much as I love you. Don’t die Kurosaki!” She closed her eyes and tried to fight back the tears. The sun shone into the dark room and as the light hit the beast smoke began to rise.

“Ah he’s on fire now!” Orihime shouted. “FATHER!”

She gripped his hand and tried to pull his body away but he was too heavy. Where the light touched Orihime could see that it wasn’t smoke but ash. Kurosaki’s body was being disintegrated. Orihime cried out again for her family and pulled at his arm. The light was now all around them and all she could see was black soot. She closed her eyes and let out another cry.

“Don’t take Kurosaki!”

“I’m not going anywhere.” A voice said.

It wasn’t the deep voice of the Beast she knew. It was similar but something was different, less harsh. Orihime opened her eyes and saw a handsome boy with orange hair smiling at her. She looked down and saw that she was holding hands with him.

“Ah! Let go! Where’s Kurosaki?” She asked as she tried to shake herself free.

Orihime was pulled closer by the boy.

“I’m right here and I’m not going anywhere.” He laughed as he hugged her.

“No, you’re not the Beast.”

“But I am Orihime.” He said. “Can’t you tell?” He frowned at her.

Orihime was reminded of the face under the mask she had seen that was once white. Now he was a healthy flesh colour, the eyes were so different. She stared into the large brown eyes. They weren’t black and yellow like the beast. It couldn’t be him. Unless....

“Don’t tell me, Kurosaki you got a fairy witch mad and were placed under a curse to forever live alone as a beast. Until one day a human girl would be able to love you as you really are, not for your appearance but because of your heart!” Orihime guessed. “Wait, am I wrong again?”

“Uh... no that was spot on actually.” Kurosaki said amazed.

“Really?!” Orihime cried amazed herself.

“You’re quite unique.” The boy laughed as he gave her a kiss.

Orihime was a little shocked but accepted it and wrapped her arms around her Kurosaki. They were stopped by a sudden splash of cold water.

“Sorry, my daughter said there was a fire.” Urahara said laughing. “I guess you’re the infamously missing Prince Kurosaki Ichigo.”

“Eh? A Prince!?” Orihime gasped breaking free from the hug embarrassed that her father had seen.

“Oh I give my consent by the way and any healthy donations to help a businessman are always good.”

“YOU!” Ichigo snarled. “I have a score I want to settle with you.”

Ichigo was stopped from his revenge by a swift kick to the face.

“Any score with father has to wait until we’re through with him.” Rukia said her foot on top of Ichigo.

“Rukia, you shouldn’t do that to someone you’ve just met!” Orihime told her.

“Oh but he has a very kickable face.” Rukia smiled.

“Good job sis, you bagged a Prince.” Rangiku cheered as she gave her thumbs up.

“You know he almost died because I was late getting back!”

Rukia looked a little guilty and jumped off Ichigo. Rangiku just whistled and tried not to show how much she was sweating.

“If you don’t mind, Orihime and I have some business I’d like to discuss.” Ichigo snapped and picked up Orihime and threw her over his shoulder.

“Wait, I’m heavy don’t...”

“But this is the only way to escape.” Ichigo said innocently, not realising how red Orihime’s face was behind him. He opened the window and jumped out.

“Wait! Orihime!” Rukia called, but her father held her shoulder.

“I think we should leave those two free to do what they like.” Urahara suggested.

“True, but don’t think that means we’ll leave you free to do what you like.” Rukia smirked and cracked her knuckles.

“Ah, looks like it’s time for me to take another trip.” Urahara said as he backed out of the room.

Meanwhile outside in the garden...

“Are you okay?” Ichigo asked as he put her down. “You got soaked as well by your father.”

“I’m fine, fine!” Orihime said smiling and waving her arms. “I never really catch any colds so don’t worry about me...”

Her babble was silenced by a firm kiss on the lips. She leaned in and felt herself drift off into happiness.

“I’m going to ask you again.” Ichigo said sweeping back her hair from her eyes. “Will you marry me and stay with me forever?”

Orihime smiled and hugged the tall Prince. “Yes, even if you annoy a 100 fairy witches and get turned into an albatross.”

“I won’t let that happen.” Ichigo said, “Besides albatrosses don’t get to kiss beauties.”

They kissed again and all the problems they had felt melted away. In a small rose bush a small fairy watched with pleasure.

“See it all worked out Ichigo!” The pink haired fairy said to herself. “I hoped you learned your lesson not to deny me candy.”

000

After this it the young couple were introduced to the court and the King and his two daughters were reunited with their brother. The whole kingdom was happy and apart from a tax of candy to the Good Fairy witch Yachiru, it was all very peaceful. Urahara continued his trading and eventually retired and ran a small shop. Rukia and Rangiku stayed in the castle with their sister and were like one of the family, much to Ichigo’s disappointment. Orihime continued to fall even deeper in love with Ichigo and she was a good wife and the same could be said for Ichigo. He never forgot that she had been the one that had unlocked his heart. It was the oldest tale of all, The Beauty who could love the Beast.

It should be said that of course they all lived happily ever after.

The End.

000

 Author’s Note: This story was so out of my style; I may have made some errors so please be kind. This was made in a rush and I will change any errors if spotted.

The original fairy tale had the two sisters of Beauty being selfish and vain. I couldn’t bring myself to make Rukia like that. (Rangiku is guilty of these faults but not enough to cause harm to others like the selfish sisters in the original story.) The only one I feel that was completely out of character was Ichigo, but then I’ll let you be the judge of that. This was a joy to write and hopefully I’ll get back to my other fanfiction projects now.