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04 November 2009 @ 01:07 pm
Fic: Lump and the Stump  
Written for the Goldenlake Fairytales Challenge. Cross-posted to thekingsown.org Tamora Pierce Fanfiction Archive. :)

Title: Lump and the Stump
Ratings (and Warnings): PG, hints and the like
Summary: Beauty and the Beast, Owen style.
Notes: This is for the girls in the Kel/Wyldon thread. :D Thanks to Sue for the beta, and to Greeenie and Joa for all their help and cheerleading. :D

It was a cold winter’s night in the Palace. Kel, her friends, and their families were sitting in one of the practice courts, the adults catching up and reminiscing as their children played games around them. Almost ten years had passed since they had become knights, and almost all of her friends were happily married with several little ones. She had none of her own, even though she had been happily married for a few years now.

Her husband, Lord Wyldon, was standing on the other side of the room, talking with his daughter Margarry and few of the other ladies, with one of his grandsons squirming in his arms as he tugged at Wyldon’s tunic. Owen, Faleron and Neal were standing with Kel, watching the children run around while they discussed their latest travels.

Suddenly, Kel felt a weight crash into her leg. Looking down, she saw one of her step-granddaughters hiding in her skirts. Behind her, she spied Cleon’s eldest son feinting as he made to chase her. Kel bent down, picked the young girl up and settled her on her hip. The little girl promptly wrapped her arms around Kel’s neck, glaring at the older boy.

“Uncle Owen, would you please tell us a story?” Princess Lianokami looked up at him hopefully, even as she did her best to appear calm and unexcited.

Owen beamed. “It would be an honour, princess. We’ll have a jolly good time of it too.” Clearing his throat, he called out, “story time!” The children promptly forgot their games and gathered around.

“I don’t understand. He has the flair of a drunken sailor, and he doesn’t even tell proper tales. Why do they always go to him for stories? And by Mithros," muttered Neal, "if I have to hear 'Lump and the Stump' one more time..."

Kel shook her head at his folly as a little voice piped up from her arms, "tell us 'Booty and the Beast!'" The other children nodded in agreement.

Owen took his daughter and placed her in his lap. “Beauty and the Beast it is,” he declared, grinning at her. Kel ignored Neal’s groan as the children cheered and dragged him over to a bench to sit next to Owen. As Neal glowered at the young knight, Lord Wyldon came to sit with Kel, placing himself between her and his son-in-law. He looked at Neal and the unsuspecting Owen, and then raised an eyebrow at Kel. She gave him the slightest shake of her head, enough for him to realise it wasn’t worth asking after.

Owen settled himself on the chaise, waiting for them to quiet down. “Once upon a time...well it was only a few years ago, there was a wealthy lord. His wife, who was sweeter than a summer’s day, had died some time ago, and from the pain of her death, he kept away from others.”

“Over time, he became rude and selfish from wallowing in his sadness. Until one day, the Queen asked a simple favour of him, and the Lord refused. The Queen became angry and banished the lord to his lands. She cursed him, and told him that he would soon turn into a savage beast, and that he would remain so until he found someone to love, who loved him back.”

“The proud, angry lord rode back to his lands on his trusty steed, and just as the Queen has said, he soon turned into a terrifying beast.” Lord Wyldon let out as snort as the children stared at Owen in awe.

“You did look rather beastly, with that large bear-skin coat and Scanran-style fur cap ,” Neal supplied helpfully and Kel hid a smile. “And that beard, Mithros!”

“That will do, Queenscove.” Wyldon nodded at Owen to continue.

Owen cleared his throat. “At that same time, there was a baron with several beautiful daughters. He was going to a land far away on an important mission for the King. The baron loved his daughters very much, and before he left, he asked each of his daughters what they would like him to bring for them. The girls all asked for jewels and expensive trinkets, save the youngest. She only wished for her father to return home safely. To her, he promised to bring her favourite flower, a red rose.”

“The baron went on his mission, and was victorious. But before he could buy his daughters’ gifts, he learned that a terrible flood had ravaged his home and destroyed his crops. Afraid his people would starve if he couldn’t afford to buy food, he didn’t buy any of the expensive gifts his daughters had asked for.”

“On his way home, the baron came across the beast’s lands, and upon seeing a beautiful red rose bush, remembered his youngest daughter’s wish. Thinking that he would at least be able to return with something for one of his daughters, he plucked a rose from the bush.”

“Then suddenly, the beast was upon him, calling the baron a trespasser and a thief. The baron tried to explain, but the beast would hear none of it, and had his men throw him into the dungeons. He ordered the baron’s men to leave his lands immediately, and they obeyed.”

“The men rode hard to the baron’s lands, and told his family what had happened. Already worried after the floods, the daughters were in despair upon hearing the news. But the youngest daughter was cool as a glacier. As courageous as she was beautiful, she decided that she would find her father and bring him home.”

“She rode long and hard on her monstrous horse, not resting until she finally came upon the beast’s lands. Finding the beast, she pleaded for him to return her father. The beast wanted to refuse, but he was taken by her beauty. With her golden skin, and dreamers’ eyes, and hair the colour of a jolly brown mouse, she was more than beautiful. And then there was the delicate dusting of freckles on her nose, and those womanly curves -”

“You’d best shut up before my Lord Wyldon begins to think you’re trying to woo his wife,” called out Merric, grinning at his own gag.

“He wouldn’t dare try that again,” muttered Wyldon darkly, loud enough that only Kel and Owen could hear.

Kel blinked. “Again?” She said dumbly as Owen flushed a deep red.

Wyldon ignored her as Owen recovered and continued. “So taken was the beast by her beauty that he agreed to set her father free, on one condition – that she take the baron’s place by marrying him.”

Owen paused dramatically, waiting for the gasps that always came from the children. “She agreed fearlessly, caring only for the safety of her father. The baron protested that he could not leave his daughter with the beast, and begged her to leave. But the daughter was insistent, and the beast offered money that the baron’s people desperately needed to buy food. So the baron went, and the beautiful daughter married the beast.”

As the children began asking questions about the wedding, Wyldon leaned over slightly to whisper in her ear, “I have some letters to write, so I will head back to our rooms.”

Kel nodded. “Do you wish for me to accompany you, my lord?”

He shook his head. “That won’t be necessary. Just give my excuses to Owen for me. I suspect he is only just warming up. ”

“Yes, my lord,” she smiled weakly, a little disappointed. There was something that she had wanted to surprise him with, and didn’t want him to retire too early. Wyldon nodded at her once, and then headed off to their quarters.

She turned her attention back to the rest of the room, and saw that the children had quietened down and Owen had resumed his story. “The beauty had everything she could wish for. Her husband was wealthy, had vast lands, a well-stocked armoury, stunning horses and playful puppies. And there were so many books in the library that it would take years to read them all. Yet, she was unhappy. The beast gave her everything she could want, and loved her with all his beastly heart, but she missed her family terribly.”

“Then one day, the beauty asked the beast if she could see her family again. The beast was most saddened by this, but because she promised to return to his side in two months, he agreed. Before she left, he gave her a scrying mirror and a ring. He told her the mirror was so that she could see him whenever she wished, and that a twist of the ring’s device would bring her back to him.”

“Excited, the beauty travelled home, and was welcomed by her family. She was so happy to see them, but time passed quickly, and sadly it was soon time for her to go back to the beast. Much as she missed the beast, and remembered her promise, her sisters would beg her to stay another day and she was reluctant to disappoint them. So the beauty did not go back. It was several weeks before she thought to use the scrying mirror, but she missed him terribly, and it got worse with each passing day. When she looked in the mirror, she saw him cold and still in the snow.”

“Was he frozen?” questioned one of the children.

“Did he die?” called another.

Owen waved them down. “Afraid that the beast was dead, the beauty turned the ring, and was suddenly by the beast’s side. Falling to her knees, she checked his heart, to find it beating faintly. The beauty began to cry with relief, and begged the beast for his forgiveness. The beast was moved by her tears, and began to wake. The beauty saw him stir and confessed her love for him for the first time, finally breaking the curse. So then the beast turned back into the handsome lord, and they lived happily ever after.”

The children cheered and clapped, even as her friends decided it was past time for them to go to bed. Some of her friends remained to chat as their wives rounded the children up, but eventually, they all drifted off to their rooms.


Kel went inside her dimly lit quarters, worried that Wyldon had already retired for the night. Spying the lone lantern that lit up his desk, she saw he was still working over his papers, his back to her. She quietly walked over to his desk, wrapped her arms around him, and smiled to herself as she kissed his cheek. His hand reached to tangle in her hair as he turned and smiled at her. “I’m almost done,” he said, moving back to dip his quill in the inkpot.

She moved away, lighting a candle and changing into her nightdress. Putting her things in the cupboard, she closed it and turned to find Wyldon in front of her. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she kissed him warmly.

“Did you enjoy the story?”

“Yes, my lord.” Kel let one hand fall to rest on his chest, and kept the other curled in a fist over his shoulder.

“I suppose it is a rather reasonable story, even if it is not a proper one.”

Kel looked at him and told him seriously, “Neal feels the same way.”

“Gods forbid that we should agree.” Wyldon gave her a wry smile. She kissed him again, deciding he needed to be reminded of other things they could be discussing. He cupped her face with his hand. “And that story always makes you rather... affectionate.”

Resisting the urge to groan, she decided to try a different tack. She let her hands fall away from him, and stepped back. Looking up at him, she replied simply, “it reminds me of our love. The story may be exaggerated, but the heart of it is there, and he tells it so sweetly.” Her hand slipped into his. “And I hope that maybe Owen will tell it to our children one day.” Feeling something in his hand, he lifted it, and she let her hand slip away from his.

Wyldon fingered the gold chain in his hand for a moment, before recognising it as her pregnancy charm. He looked up sharply. “Are you sure?”

Kel nodded, smiling. “Yes.” He looked at her for a moment, letting it sink in, and then he pulled her into his arms and kissed her fiercely.

When he eventually pulled away, he cupped her cheek with his hand. “I love you, lady knight,” he said, eyes shining.

She beamed at him. “I love you too, my lord.” Letting her hand trail up his arm, she leaned in closer to whisper in his ear, “perhaps we should go to bed?”

His only answer was a smouldering kiss as he gathered her up and carried her to their bed.