“This is a worse mess than the first time I was brought here to clean,” Adalina said.
The Assassin looked around at the mess.
“It’s... not the cleanest it’s ever been.”
“It looks like a lion with a temper was let loose,” she said, stooping to gather the remnants of the curtains she’d once stitched together so patiently.
“That isn’t too far from the truth,” the Assassin murmured.
“What was that?” Adalina looked up, arms full of scarlet scraps.
The Assassin flashed a smile. “You must’ve been hearing voices again, Beauty.”
She grew thoughtful looking. “I do still hear them at times. Only when falling asleep or waking. And certain items.” She set the cloth on the table and walked to the other side of the room where the chipped cup sat on the pedestal.
The Assassin was shocked. “You still hear them...”
“Usually it’s more of a... a sense. Not true voices. Just sensation and feelings. I might be able to tell where someone is, or... you can’t? But you had that curse for centuries!”
“And it took me nearly a century to control, whereas you were able to master it right away.” The Assassin was slightly disgruntled. She was even better at being cursed than him.
“Just one question,” asked Adalina, setting down the cup and continuing to clean up scraps of cloth and shards of dishes.
“Do I still have to sleep in that cell?” She looked at him innocently, a smile in her voice. That beautiful, beautiful voice.
The Assassin set down his mangled chair and crossed the room to take her by the waist, pull her to her toes, then kiss her. A gentle kiss.
“I think,” he said. “Beauty has lost her brains again.”
She kissed him back. A firm kiss.
“I think you owe me a bedroom.”
“Oh, I owe you far more than that.”
Laughter rang once again in the fortress. Once a prison, now a home. Just as she told Peter in her letter.
It’s now been over a year since the diplomatic trip gone awry. I know you and father have been frightened not just for me, but for the entire world. The events I set in motion nearly allowed Malif to destroy everything. But no doubt you were concerned for me as well since hearing off my “going Beast” as the villagers are fond of saying. But I’m certain you also heard of Malif’s defeat by way of a Huntsman, an Assassin, and a Warrior Queen. And, of course, the Beast.
Truth be told, there is little left for me to tell you that you and my father would not have heard by way of gossip. What you do not know is my voice in all of this.
I’ll start by saying that I am safe and well. I am married now as well, which I’m sure you, Peter, would have known. As I’m officially not sound of mind, I suppose that I’m unfit for the throne. It matters little; Costas is a good king, if not the best person. He will be better able to repair the damage father and Malif have done than I could. (Don’t tell Father that part when relaying this message to him!)
I recall you asking me if I could ever be happy returning to this prison. But it is now a home. Things are far from perfect. But knowing life, I doubt it ever will be. Everything is the same, and yet everything has changed.
My beast’s past is no longer a mystery, though it was every bit as terrible for him as I had feared it had been.
Our present is no longer cursed; that burden was taken from us by someone we trust, and someone who loves us (well, one of us) very much.
And our future has more beauty than ever before.
All the love in the world,
Adalina and her Beast
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