This story is a part of the Darker Oneshots Halloween Challenge 2020 organized by Seth's Kiss and NekoPantera.

Thank you so much for including me in the event! Sensibly, thanks so much for recommending me. Also Seth, thanks so much for being so sweet.

Readers! Please enjoy the other amazing authors and stories who are also a part of the event. Tons of Halloween goodness to be had! They are as follows:

Harry Potter: Babyvfan (me) Name Your Price, Xache Harry Potter and the High Jinx Hotel

Naruto: Kakashi97 Redemption Astray, Rhearenee Nyctophilia, Tartarun Indrajit, Drawingdownthemoon Professor, Ellerus Aftertaste, KurohimeHaruko Sleep Walker, TsukikoUchu Taken, WhatIExternally Desire To Die, Yatsu Narurasuke PAROXETINE

My Hero Academia: Brenna76 The Red Wolfe, DemonOfTheFridge Monster in Disguise, Karkatsabe Live. Die. Repeat, SensiblyTainted Trick or Treat

Death Note: Potashiamu Paradise Lost, Seth's Kiss The Fear I Promised You

Black Butler: ArgentNoelle The Somnambulist, AsgardianHobbit9 The Fear Shows, PhantomGypsy18 Against Your Nature, HoshisamaValmor Merely a Simple Conversation, Starfire98 Butler and Master: Damask Honeymoon

Bleach: Hisaagi Kirigakure Cuero La Sombra, Phoenixreal The Demon on the Mountain, SesshomaruFreak Dark Side of the Moon, NekoPentera Stuck in Hell, Sigan Curse of the Ishida Estate

One Piece: Alastair Monsters, Iceburg-sanCPX Whips and Chains, Kittyface27 There is Light in even the Darkest of Times, but Sometimes It's Not Bright Enough

FairyTale: DancesWithSeatbelts Read the Fine Print, Desna The Vault, FreyjaBee Sweet Dreams

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Nazaki-Sama The Soldier

Yuri On Ice: SpunkyOne Eclipse

Full Metal Alchemist: Silirt Ishbalan Halloween

Blue Exorcist: TheBadIdeaBears Vivisection

Fate/Stay Night: Caldera Valhallis Deliverance

Yu Gi Oh: SerenaJones585 Boo On You, The Token Disorder, Bewdofchaos Torment, RayeMoon A Yu-Gi-Oh! Nightmare

Sailor Moon: Count Morningstar The Vampire of Yuggoth, Max888 Decorating for Halloween, Sailor Silver Ladybug In the Shadow

InuYasha: Shnuggletea Eleven Miles

Pokemon: Nissa Fox Electric Bone

RWBY/Predators Movie (Crossover): Wrath of Vajira Who's Watching You?

The Silmarillion: Ferith12 The Beating Heart

Game of Thrones: Kamil the Awesome The Green Dreamer

Stardew Valley/My Time at Portia (Crossover): Yemi Hikari Ghosting Reality

Mortal Instruments: SereneCalamity Little Bit of Poison in Me

Miraculous Ladybug: SemonShippingQueen Paris's Dark Halloween

Ikemen Sengoku: CrimsonRaine87 The Kitsume's Trap

ThunderBirds: Silverstar This World

Hazbin Hotel: Jadeile Blue Moon Massacre

Be safe to check out all these stories by these incredibly talented writers if you're in the mood for something creepy and spooky.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN


Name Your Price

Once upon a time, in the deep heart of France that was hidden from rest of the world, a beautiful white swan landed in the gardens of a dark, looming castle that nearly overshadowed most of the tiny village.

A beautiful white swan whose color was purer than that of the clouds floating in the sky, its wings softer than anything else, as she landed in a small pond by the daisies. At the exact moment she landed, the esteemed king of the castle had wandered outside to the gardens.

Perplexed by the appearance, annoyed that a creature even as lovely as she managed to get through his secure castle, the King was ready to cast her out, the grip to his cane tight in his hand. Then, just as he was nearing the pond, a flash of light beamed through the water, turning the beautiful swan into a more beautiful maiden.

So fair was she with skin smooth as porcelain, hair like rays of sunshine cascading down her shoulder in smooth waves, and eyes as big and blue as the sea that blinked once, twice, three times before they found the gaze of the king, who stared at her slack-jawed.

She peered up at the king who stood across her, his brows that were pulled in annoyance quickly smoothening into an easy smile that broke her through her defenses, settling her anxiety.

He offered her his hand and, after glancing at it for a minute and that charming smile a minute longer, she took his hand.

That was her first mistake.

Her second mistake was accepting the diamond necklace he gifted her.

~...~

King Lucius Malfoy was many things, holding a number of titles that was as endless as his wealth and power. On the very top of that list was ambition. For others, that word would be replaced with greed. To the king himself, he simply saw himself as a man with impeccable taste that liked to collect, knowing the value of a true treasure when he saw one and being well-versed in the art of trade.

It was how he schemed and cut his way to the top, both of the very top of his father's will and on the highest political status.

It was how he secured himself the most beautiful creature as his wife, building a grand castle that was fit for a queen, so stunning that one would almost forget it was a cage. Almost.

It was how he figured out the perfect use his child could finally bring him.

Lucius's ever calculating, cool gray eyes flickered over to his daughter who was quietly eating her breakfast.

At first, he was outraged that his wife had only given him a girl, the first child after a string of miscarriages and disappointment. A girl who couldn't carry on the family legacy, his title, his name. Initially, at the time with his wife weak in her bed and a crying infant in his arms, he had half a mind to fling it into the fireplace and prepare his wife to produce a new one. But as he stared into that serene face with silent tears rolling down her cheeks, tiny mouth sealed tight, he decided to keep her, sure that one day she'd prove to be useful for him.

Draconisa Malfoy was truly a great beauty, much like her mother. With her gleaming white-blonde hair, her face stunning face that looked like it was carefully hand-crafted by the Gods themselves, and her eyes that were a mix of blue and gray. The famous Fair Rose of France they called her, and within good reason. When she was a girl and he allowed her out a few times to accompany him on trips or her mother with shopping, she'd immediately caught the attention of any who managed to sneak a peek at her. When she had grown from a precious child to a stunning maiden, accidents and riots broke out along the square for the possible chance of getting a glimpse of the great beauty usually locked away in the grand glass castle under heavy lock and key.

Lord Malfoy thought of the massive crowd that would gather and gawk around his daughter during the few times he allowed her out. He thought of the manic frenzy buzzing through the crowd as they fought for a chance to glimpse at her. He thought of the hungry gazes of men and how that desperation would work in his favor.

Gain him more land. Grant him more power. Rise his glowing status even higher.

A smile curled his lips, and with a clink to his glass called his wife and daughter's attention. "I have news, dear daughter."

Lady Malfoy shifted uneasily in her seat, taking a slow sip of her water. The younger simply looked at her, face expressionless.

Smiling growing, Lucius announced, "I've decided it's time for you to find a husband."

The uneasiness buzzing through Lady Malfoy's swelled inside her, widening her eyes, slacking her jaw. She moved forward. "Lucius-"

A strangled cry hissed through her lips as searing pain rushed to her neck, slowly but brutally, as if a hand was around that delicate neck, closing in on it. Wheezing, she looked down at her diamond that still shone prettily even after all those years, the snake's golden eyes gleaming up at her as the sensation continued. She placed a hand on the snake charm, as if she wanted to take it off.

Her startled eyes looked over to her husband, who simply smiled at her. After a second or so, she lowered her head and laid her hands across her lap. No sooner did she stood down, the sensation faded, the phantom pain lingering on her neck.

"Narcissa," Lucius said sweetly. "Darling. Is there something you wanted to share?"

She shook her head as she further lowered her head.

How oh how he hated nodding, causing a sliver of ice to creep into his pleasant tone, "Speak."

His pretty bird complied. "No, my Lord." A heartbeat later and she then she added, "I think it's…" Another heartbeat and she licked her lips, looking as if she were struggling to bring the words out. "I think it's a fine idea."

He took her hand and placed a kiss on her knuckles, right underneath her golden wedding band that was as shiny as her diamond necklace, decorated with the same silver golden-eyed snake. He then glanced over at his daughter, whose eyes were fixed on her plate. "And you, daughter?"

Her eyes stayed on her food.

His own eyes narrowed, flashing in annoyance. "Draconisa!"

Setting her fork aside, she slowly lifted her head up, gray-blue eyes meeting with his own.

"What are your thoughts on marriage?"

"So soon?" she inquired so softly that he barely heard her.

His eyes were narrowed, cold slits. Yet still his voice remained steady, still pleasant, as he said, "You're eighteen now. Only two years older than your mother when she landed at my doorstep."

His wife further sank lower in her seat.

"I think it's high time."

For a moment, she stared at him, gaze bottomless and steady as still water. Her hand drifted down to the diamond necklace hanging from her neck, similar to her mother's, the golden eyes of the snake charm winking across the table from him. Her face was stone, revealing not a hint to her thoughts or emotions, until a smile blossomed like a rose.

"Yes, Father," she said. "I think it's a marvelous idea."

Later on that night, the fair maiden, the Fair Rose of French, sat in front of her vanity mirror as her mother ran a brush through her hair, each tug done with care. It was a routine the two shared between them and no one else. Not by the servants who were sent away as soon as she was bathed and dressed for bath. Not even by the Lord himself, astonished that his wife would be content such servant work, but allowed it as a gesture of good faith and reminder of his generosity.

His ever-changing, inconstant generosity.

Lady Malfoy raked her fingers through her white gold strands before the brush. Once her daughter's hair was smooth, she leaned in and wrapped her around her. Much as she tried to be careful of hair, the emotions rushing into her body, nearly cleaving her heart in two, it was hard to remember caution's name. "I'm so sorry."

Her voice still held a note of magical lilt, but years of forced silence and harsh reprimands made it near rusty from lack of use.

Silently, the maiden touched her mother's hand, cupping them in hers and kissing her knuckle. At the gentle touch, sparked with years of understanding and love, Lady Malfoy dissolved into tears. She would have crumpled to the ground if her daughter's hold on her wasn't firm.

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." She wept.

So lost in her grief and fear that she failed to realize her daughter's calm demeanor that remained intact throughout the day. As her father called for servants to come through with the parchment and quills, as those parchments were sent from house to house throughout the kingdom of the grand news, as he spent the day and dinner talking about the grand wedding. How grand she would look at her wedding. The fair maiden simply wore a smile so soft that it was barely seen, her eyes steady. That smile appeared now, and her eyes were fixed on the dark forest that loomed beyond the Malfoy estate and the high iron walls, riddled with countless tales of monsters and poor souls that entered once never to return.

"All will be well, Mother." The fair maiden assured.

Her smile grew more visible, brighter as a plan formed in her hand.

"In fact, the timing couldn't be better."

The wind blew in a gentle breeze that caressed her cheeks, her nose, invisible fingers running through her hair. She could have heard that she heard just the softest trickle of laughter.

~…..~

News spread fast and wide of the announcement of marriage. That the high-esteemed Lord was offering his daughter, the Fair Rose of French, and her hand in marriage. A great beauty seen by so few. A great beauty with vast wealth and status to match, making her the ultimate prize.

Man of every status, every occupation came forward to ask for her hand, some bearing gifts, others flowers, most grand promises. However they quickly found that Lord Malfoy's prickly as his sharp clothes and features. It applied to all matters he did, including his own family.

Malfoys were the best. Gained the best. And deserved the best, nothing more, nothing less. A husband for his daughter was no less.

Days turned to weeks, weeks to months. During that grueling time, names were swiftly cut from the list. The middle class and lower were immediately erased without a second thought. If the simpletons were incapable of taking care of their own affairs, they couldn't be trusted with that of his child already accustomed to a lavish lifestyle. Those of new money weren't trust-worthy either and were instantly dropped. Coming into money so suddenly when a fortnight ago they were poor was too suspicious, they didn't understand the workings of his old-fashion, old-money world. Those of simple-minded, set with pretty words, showed proof of charm but lack substance.

Soon thousands trickled to hundreds. Hundreds cut to a hundred. A hundred to fifty. Fifty to the final ten.

The day the final ten were chosen and were invited to the glass castle, Nisa crept down the stairs on a bright fall morning, a vision in white, hair shimmering white gold underneath the sunlight. Aware that all eyes were on her, especially her father's that watched every move.

Her eyes assessed the final group. "Gentleman, welcome."

Smiles met her words, then quickly fell as she continued.

"I hope you saved your energy from the surviving my Father's vigorous process of elimination, because that was just a warm-up to the final test deemed by me. As he made clear, only the best shall win my hand. One of cunning, one of ambition, and one of my heart. In order to win mine, you must find and bring me back a gift of unique."

"Where can I find such a gift?" one suitor asked.

A dazzling smile curled her rosy mouth, broadening her impossible beauty that made breaths hitched and hearts flutter. "Why, what I seek lies there." She gestured towards the woods.

The men stared at her in a mix of shock and fear.

"Only the best may win me. Only the great will have me. I wonder which among you it will be." Coy mischief shone in her eyes as she stepped off the last stair and eyed each of them, lingering a second longer than the previous man she stared at. Her scent of vanilla and lavender so strong, so sweet some of the suitors stared back with slacked jaws, droopy eyes. "Then do this one, little thing. You have until the end of October to come back your gift."

The end of October, merely a month away. Questions and worries and aspirations printed onto each man's face, lit his eyes, and twisted his mouth.

Nisa's lips soft smile blossomed into a full grin, revealing pearly-white teeth.

~…..~

A week after the maiden set the terms for the final test, Viktor Krum snuck away from the comforts of the inn he was staying ay and ventured deep into the woods, bow filled with arrows, crossbow slung over his shoulder, with a determined frown and a firm march.

A native from Bulgaria, he wasn't familiar with rumors and dark tales of the Dark Wood. He was familiar with the tales of the great French Rose and her impossible beauty that was even more stunning than rumors led him to believe.

Several of the final ten already dropped from the run, too scared of the woods and the darkness it held than the possibility they could marry into a powerful family. Luckily for Viktor, he was no coward or fool.

The dark woods was a maze of trees so tall, so wide that the branches nearly swallowed up the sky, leaving him in near pitch-black that was only slightly broken by the thin spots of the moonlight leaking through the branches and the flamed torch in his hand. On the ground were low branches and roots so large and mangled that one could snap their ankle if they weren't careful or make one lose their hand. The silence so heavy, so loud, his heartbeat felt like a clap of thunder with each step he took further and further in.

What Viktor would have given to hear the hoot of an owl. The soft thrumming of the grasshoppers. A sense of life to prove that he wasn't alone.

"Hello?" he called, and then repeated it again. Only silence met his words.

Not even the wind replied back to him. Just a long, heavy silence that chilled him.

Remain calm, he told himself. Remain calm.

He tried to imagine building a house twice as large and grand as the glass castle when he married the Fair Rose. He tried to imagine the beautiful white-haired, clear-eyed children she'd give him, plenty of sons of him and perhaps a daughter or two for her. He tried to picture their wedding and all the splendor she'd gift him, wearing that radiant smile she worn when she stated her challenge.

He just needed to find a rare item to gift her. Yet for the life of him, Viktor couldn't understand what was there to find. He barely could find his own feet and he knew he was moving.

His next thought, his breath halted as he felt a finger on his neck, the nail dragging down his nape.

Viktor whirled around, crossbow drawn. Nothing was there. No sooner did he relax, he felt the touch return, digging into his skin that he felt it break. He whirled around and was greeted by nothing. An instant later, a sharp touch pricked his skin, coaxing drops of blood to run. Another prick at his hair, nearly pulling it from the roots. A touch at his chin. A touch at his lips. His back. A slow, long drag against his chest, the touch so cold it nearly froze his heart.

Minutes later, he was panting hard, his quaver discarded with fallen arrows around his feet. Face flushed red and damp with sweat, he moved closer to the center, eyes darting wildly.

"Where are you?" he demanded. "What are you?"

A breath of laughter replied, soft as a chiming bell that bounced from tree to tree until it was like a chorus of them were ringing, laughing at his expanse.

Viktor's patience snapped, fusing to anger and fear. "Come out, you coward! Face me like a man!"

"Oh, you mean me?"

He whirled around, retrieving an arrow, prepared to dive it into a chest or an eye socket. In less than a heartbeat, the arrow returned back to the ground with a soft clank, his arm falling limply by his side as a figure stepped out of the shadows.

Beautiful immediately came to mind. Beautiful was all he could think of. Waves of curls so black, they shone blue underneath the faint moonlight that rolled down her shoulders like spilled ink. The deep purple slip, so scandalously to even be called a nightgown, brought out the golden hue of her flawless skin. Her face was the epitome of desires and promises with plump red lips and eyes so bright, so green, they nearly glowed in the darkness.

"Hello," she purred, her voice smooth as silk sheets.

Viktor's mouth nearly joined the clatter around his feet. "He…hello."

Those full red lips curved into a smile. "Now, what on earth could such a man be doing here?"

If Viktor's mind was completely in the right place, he would have asked her what on earth a girl like her was doing here. Where did she come from? But he was so lost in her dark beauty, in that sultry smile, those glowing green eyes that pulled him in, making him hard to think of anything else.

She cocked her head to the side, her faint smile slipping away.

It dawned on him he still didn't answer her question. What was he doing here? Why was he here? Viktor tried to remember what his purpose was when he left the inn and brought along his weapons, but trying to grasp onto his memory was liking trying water, slipping between his fingers no matter how much he tried to hold on. He remembered standing. Standing in a glass castle with high iron walls. He remembered nine other men, old as him, younger than him, older than him lined besides him in the halls. He remembered a girl in white making a simple request in exchange for her hand in marriage. A gift…a gift.

"A gift," he murmured, more to himself than to her, attempting to see the answer through the fog suddenly clouding his mind. "A gift."

She watched him, a slim brow slightly rose.

"For a girl."

The words made a lazy, cat-like smile unfurl across her face. She pushed herself off the tree and walked towards him, her every movement poised with a fluid-like grace. Then she walked around him, trapping him in a circle, tendrils of black silk brushing against his skin, his face. Scented with sweet perfume of cherries and dark chocolate that intoxicated him faster than the richest wine. He tried to follow her movements, to catch her eyes, but he only ever managed to see her back each time he turned.

"A girl, you say," she mused. "You mean the sweetheart you left brokenhearted and alone?"

His eyes widened from the blow her words caused. Against better judgement, her imaged popped into his head. Sharp features and a pug nose that made her stood from her peers. Black hair cut just above her chin. A sharp tongue and slim figure he gained great pleasure from until they were caught.

"Left alone in the bed of her fiancé, your very good friend. Left alone to bear the consequences while you fled."

Viktor recalled Walter's beet-red face as he exploded in fury. He recalled the pleading and screaming from Ms. Parkinson as he ran, following him into dreams until he locked them away. He shook his head to clear away the memory, but he could still hear her screaming.

Black tendrils brushed along the cut of his jaw, light as feather yet sharp enough to pierce skin.

"Or perhaps," she continued, her tone pleasantly light, the words almost like a song. "You mean the other girl from the lower slumps that tolls away in the local inn? Heavy with sorrow and the weight of your unborn child."

Ah, her. She was a strident contrast to Ms. Parkinson. Dark brown, tight curls and intelligent hazel eyes. She was clever. She was enjoyable. She was quite lovely. But such a union between them could never be, even if that child was half of him.

"No…no. No." He got out.

She stepped in front of him, eyes flat, face hard and cold as stone. She peered deeply into his eyes, as if she could see he had done and who he had used, had hurt, had left. She breathed in a small, soft inhale, and he could have sworn that he felt most of his strength leave him, rendering him limp and weak.

"Ah," she breathed, slowly opening her eyes that glowed bright jade. "The Fair Rose."

Ah, her. Yes, her. It was coming back to him in bits and pieces. Her shimmering hair that was like white flame. Her clear blue-gray eyes. The sweet smile she shared, gave him directly when she asked for her special gift.

"There's a gift," Viktor said. "A gem in the woods she wants and you're going to help me find it."

"Oh?" Amusement lilt her voice.

"Yes." She had to know what special item the Fair Rose wanted. She had to. He couldn't explain it but he couldn't the feeling urging him that she held the answers he needed. A theory that was further strengthen from the whispers and promises glinting in her eyes.

She moved closer to him, her scent of cherries and chocolate so strong that his knees buckled. She looked directly into his eyes, those emerald greens laughing. "What will give me?"

Give? A frown pulled his face. "What do you mean?"

"Exactly as I said. Nothing is ever given freely, kind sir. Not affection. Not secrets. Certainly not wishes. You were correct to ask for my aid, but like most things in life, I do not come without a fee. So tell, what will give me?"

Viktor thought of the wealth and power. The glory. The maiden's purity under his thumb. This girl, this creature in his bed. He wanted that, he wanted all of it. He'd happily give a fraction of his soon-to-be riches if it meant keeping most of the wealth. "Everything."

"Everything?"

"Yes," he breathed. "Money, my unborn child. My soul, my heart, anything. I'll give you everything."

She smiled at him, her finger tugging at her bottom lip. It was all the permission Viktor needed to crush his lips against her, trapping them in a brutal kiss, fueled by need. She tasted so sweet, her body so warm. He was like a raging dog, each taste of her tongue, every touch of her curve edged him deeper to the brink of madness.

He found himself pushed backwards, clothes gone into a warm bed. She came to him, her slip bunched to her waist, her chest bare. He touched every bit of free skin he could reach. He tried to capture every morsel of sweetness he could suck from her lips. More, his mind roar. More, his body cried. He wanted-no, he needed more.

She laid him flat on the bed and slid down, her lips leaving a trail of light kisses on her low descent of his body. She peeled away his pants, his undergarments, and held his cock, causing a yelp of shock and pleasure to burst form his mouth.

"I knew the moment you entered my den, you were sweet, kind sir."

Her thumb ran over the tip, causing bolts of pleasure to shoot through his body. Clenching onto the black sheets, he summoned the strength to tilt his head up.

She looked up at him, face still lovely, those eyes an eerie green. So bright, so green with a black iris slashing through the middle, gleaming manically.

"I wonder if you'll taste as sweet." she mused.

Before he could draw another breath, before fear could fully grasp him, her hand tore through his chest at the same time her mouth tore out his throat.

Across from the woods, shielded by the high walls, the Fair Rose was warm and snug in her bed. A smile played across that rose-pink mouth, as if she heard the unheard screams, the skin being torn, and was delighted by it.

~…~

The discovery of the Viktor Krum's mangled corpse found a week later by the edge of the woods, close by the Malfoy estate, face down with one arm stretched as if he were reaching for something was gruesome to say the least. More bones was shown than actual ruined skin. Faced onto his back, it was clear his chest was shredded meat, his head nearly rolling off from his torn neck.

The discovery sent the village into a frenzy. Several of the suitors dropped from the race, valuing their lives more than a treasured prize.

Percy Weasley was not one of them, determined to make it through no matter what.

He wasn't as fit as the others, which put him at a disadvantage. He wasn't as good-looking or charming like the others, facts even he had to admit to himself, which were another set of disadvantages. However, Percy did possess one thing that made him stand out from the others: his intelligence.

It was his brains that urged him to seek a better life than the mindlessly repetitive lifestyle his large family were content to dwell in their small, crowded hovel and farm. It was his brains that helped him rise from shoe-shiner, to valet, to secretary to the most prestigious nobleman family in the village.

Unlike Krum, he knew nearly all the tales of the Dark Woods, often told by his father at night by the fire after yet another day of taming animals and collecting hay. Including the most infamous one of a dark witch, a favorite of his younger sister, that resided in the woods and knew all that was needed to know. Could gift all that was desired in exchange for a price.

Unlike Krum, Percy knew exactly how to play her game.

After a week was spent mourning and burying Krum's body, Percy marched into the woods with his head held high and his torch to guide his way in.

He used the light of the fire to guide his way carefully through the woods, over and through the branches and roots. Ears on sharp alert for any sound that didn't come. When he was sure he reached far enough, deep enough, he implanted in the ground.

"Witch of the wood," he called out, proud of how clear his voice sounded. "I know you're here. I've come to strike a bargain."

"Oh?" His heart leaped at the amused, light tone that sounded so close, too close like she was right by his ear. He stumbled forward, nearly collapsing onto the fire, and pushed strength into his legs to upright himself.

She leaned against a wide oak tree, as if she had been waiting for him to arrive. "And what might be that be?"

Percy had spent the entire week preparing the speech he'd use if he met. He had been fully prepared for her tricks, her power. He was prepared to face her head-on and be unfazed. Yet there was nothing that could prepare him for her beauty.

If Draconisa Malfoy was the Fair Rose of France, soft and delicate, then she was the Lilith of dark fantasies. Raven black to the maiden's light blond. Golden caramel skin to porcelain white. Petite and curvy to tall and willowy. There wasn't a place where Percy's eyes could land safely without being met with temptation.

Not her lips that were plump and sensual, like a perfectly red apple holding its sweet juices. Not her scandalous slip of a dress that was held together by two thin straps at her shoulders, displaying every generous curve, valleys of smooth skin, and a peek of full breasts. Not her eyes that were two bright pools of emerald green.

Percy tried noticing on one thing, but the full picture. Yet someone, that made the effect worst. An aura seemed to shimmer around her like black silk, toying with her hair as if it were an invisible breeze, outlined her body, pooled at her feet.

She breathed in slowly, heavily. He nearly stumbled back from the strong perfume of cherry and chocolate that blew into his face, filling his nose, ensnaring his senses until his body felt limp and heavy.

On the next breath, she let out a breath of laughter. "Percival Weasley."

She knew his name. A brief surge of panic nearly jumped in his gut, but he forced himself to remain calm as he said, "You know of me."

A strange gleam sparked in those emerald greens, causing the hairs on the nape of his neck. "I know many things. I know despite your impressive current status, you came from humble beginnings." That gleam manifested in her eyes like a round of laughter, lifting the corners of her lips as she tapped a finger against her mouth. "Or should I say crawl?"

Panic was forgotten the second irritation sparked like a match. Humble. How he loathed that word. Used repeatedly in his mother's tearful as she begged him not to leave, to stay and be grateful for their simple life. The butt of the joke to every smile as they took in his second-hand clothes and barely-concealed country lisp. The first word Lord Malfoy said when he came for his daughter's hand. Be humble and grateful. Proud but humble. Bright but humble.

Well, he wasn't humble. Not then, and certainly not now. He wanted more. He wanted it all and would have it.

"I'm not-" An invisible hand clamped his mouth shut.

Irritation quickly broke apart into fear as he felt that strange force tighten its grip, nearly crushing his morsels. Percy groped around his mouth, as if he extract the sensation, but the more he tried, the more his mouth was crushed. Panicked, he glanced over at the lady, who was examining her nails, her index finger brushing over her thumb.

"I also know," she continued in a bored drawl. "That you plan to marry the Fair Rose to help rise higher in the social ladder. And that you need my help."

Yes! The thought screamed in his head. "Yes," he repeated again when the strange force away, allowing him to speak.

"And what will you give me?"

That was prepared for. He reached into his coat pocket and retrieved the bright red apple he picked out especially for her. Proudly, he held it out to her.

She glanced at the apple, at his bright smile, and rose her brow.

His smile froze. He was told that her appetite was insatiable, that she desired fine sweets. But he saw that his father wasn't clear with his interpretation. Typical.

If food didn't satisfy, then what was there to give? What could be offered to a being like her? Money doubtlessly had no value to her. Nor did jewels, fancy clothes, or shoes. So where was there to give?

"Surely, there's something," she mused, amusement lighting her voice. "Something near and dear to you. Or perhaps something you wouldn't mind giving away."

An image popped into his head. His mother, red hair touched by early gray, face streaked with tears. His father in his shabby clothes that were practically swallowing him whole. Two of his older brothers who continued the cycle of marrying and starting families. His younger twin brothers, a pair of annoying schemers, who took great pleasure in humiliating him. His last brother and sister.

"Ah," she murmured, soft realization crossing her tone. "That is something."

"My…my family?" he asked, puzzled.

A feline smile served as her answer.

"What would you do with them?"

She slowly peeled herself from the tree and walked over to him. Each step, the scene hit him harder. Made him drowsier, seeping energy and common sense away like a leech.

"The question," she purred, voice warm and rich like red wine. "Is not what I'll do with them. The better question is how much are you willing to give in order to sate your ambition?'

"I-"His head was swimming through thick, sticky honey.

"To be on equal footing with all the men who look down at your shabby clothes and family name."

Percy remembered those pitying smiles, those smug and displeased looks as he presented himself, his clothes, his name.

"To win the hand of the beautiful fair maiden who can change everything for you."

That beautiful glass castle that was a craftsmanship of dreams. Riches, immeasurable and endless, that most wouldn't see in twenty lifetimes.

"To finally achieve the notoriety you sought so long for."

The concern that slivered in his stomach over his family disappeared, replaced with stone-hard determination. Everything he sought to achieve, what he crawled and scraped for, and kissed the soles of the shoes of those above him. It could all be his, finally his. The Rose, the wealth, the power and glory. And this woman, this dark witch, this goddess, she could give him everything.

"All things can be achieved, all things can be granted, all things can be possible," Her ruby-red smiles lifted into a faint, feline smile, eyes shining bright that send a chill through his bones. "For a price."

Only if you're willing to pay, the trees whispered.

It was no question then. He would pay it. He would give them everything.

The velvet touch of her finger against his mouth was a glimmer of light in deep depths of the inky-black sea his mind was under.

"I ask you again, good sir," she said.

He looked into her eyes. So incredibly bright, so incredibly green, a siren's song guiding him along.

"What will you give me?"

Everything, his heart said. Everything, his mind screamed. "Anything."

The sweet, sweet songs those eyes sang. "Even your family?"

"Yes." He answered without a second thought.

The smile she gifted him was so sweet, dripped with honey, and leaned in for a kiss. Soft lips devoured him with each suck and nibble. Soft hands unraveled him layer by layer. Vivid emeralds were all he could see before everything fell away to black.

~…..~

The next morning it took nearly forever for his brain to wade through the thick darkness before he finally reached the surface, gulping in fresh air. To find the strength to open his eyes, blinking up at the white ceiling.

For a moment, he laid in utter bliss as he remembered soft lips and touches. Then his smile changed to a frown as he felt something sticky and hard coating his hand.

Perplexed, he brought his hand closer to his face and winced. His body, every muscle of it, ached as if it had been stretched beyond their capacity. Even his toes throbbed in pain. Slowly, with great difficulty, Percy sat up.

He was naked.

He was back in his family's house.

And…and…he was- he glanced around, horror seizing his heart, freezing every muscle and vein, pinning him to the spot.

In front of him laid his mother, one hand stretched out, towards the door as if she were trying to crawl away, with a long knife sticking out from her skull, dry blood pooled around her head.

No.

His father slumped in his chair, spilled red ringed around his neck, nearly masking the gaping slit at his throat.

No.

His youngest siblings, practically babies, sprawled across the ground, empty eyes fixed on the ceiling with their chests torn ripped apart.

No! No, no, no, no, no.

"Monster!" His eyes looked over to the right, where one of the twins, bloody and bruised, cradled the body of his other half who was a dead husk in his arms. "You fucking goddamn monster!"

Percy made a move to look forward, but then stopped as he became aware of the cold, heavy weight in his clenched hand.

A knife, much like the one punctured through his mother's head, was clenched in his hand. Rusty with blood.

"No." he murmured as the incredulity of what was happening slowly sank in.

"No!" he screamed as men of the law charged in and took him away, marching him through agape mouths and horrified eyes.

Before he was thrown into freezing, dark dungeons, before he was sealed away, he heard the faintest sound of laughing.

~…..~

She felt like she was wrapped in warmth, delicious warmth that was more brilliant than the sun. It embraced her, holding her tight and close. It raked through her hair, sending tingles down her spine. It brushed her lips that parted easily underneath the soft touch before two fingers slipped inside her mouth.

~…..~

Merriment over news of the pending wedding between the Lord's exquisite daughter and the lucky suitor was a distant memory, lost in the chaos of bloodshed and fear that swept over the village. Krum's murder was horrific, the fate of the poor farmer and his family slaughtered at the hands of their ungrateful child was bone-chilling. All the murder could say over and over was that he tricked, he was being controlled. Yet the horrific state of his shattered, splintered body found hanging in his cell pointed to both guilt and something wicked hanging in the air.

So wicked that more men dropped from the race. Half that immediately withdrawal. The other half were content to find a substitute in the safety of simple jewelry shops.

All but Tom Riddle, the bastard son to the king who was cast-aside but still enjoy the lavish life his high stature brought.

Unlike Krum, he didn't discard the dangers of the woods.

Unlike Weasley, he wasn't foolish enough to believe that darkness could be so easily tamed.

He knew exactly how to tell the she-devil's game. Which was why the night he slipped away from his fine home, he didn't venture deep into the woods. Didn't bring weapons to fight her off or a gift to woo her.

Instead, he stood at the edge of the woods and called out in a steady voice, "I've come to bargain with you, witch."

Silence greeted him, so heavy and long, that his patience wavered. No sound met his request, not even the wind blew. Until streaks of black oozed through the darkness, leaking from the ground like spilled ink, stretching tall and expanding wide. Forming into a body, shaping into a woman, transforming into a stunning dark creature that stood in front of him. Her beauty was as terrifying as her smile, eyes bright green and gleamingly coldly, curls of black cascading down her back.

"What on the earth," she wondered. "could you possibly give me?"

He met her vicious smile with one of his own as he answered back with ease, "The Fair Rose itself."

The creature's face was nearly unfazed by the question, nearly, until he spotted the tiniest form of a question creasing her brow.

"The girl is just a means to an end," he said. "Pretty as she might be, she's nothing more than a tool I need to secure my power. Best way to begin is through a powerful marriage with heirs."

She cocked her head at him.

"So in exchange for your help, once I secure my throne and have my heirs, I will give you her." He gifted her with his most charming smile that always granted him favor. "Have her. Kill her. Eat her heart and wear her skin as a cloak. It matters very little to me."

Vivid jaded greens searched imploringly into his own, for a scrap of hesitation or regret. She found none. Giving a slight nod, she held up her hand. Threads of black crept from her hair, up her arm and rested in the center of her palm, morphing into a fully-bloomed black rose. Each petal full and lush, with a ruby-red bud resting inside.

It was magnificent.

"Give this to the lady," she said. "And you shall have all you deserve and more."

A mad grin spilt his mouth as he took in the flower. He inhaled deeply and nearly moaned from the intoxicating scent billowing from it.

The next morning in the full court, Tom presented the rose to the lady with another one of his dazzling smiles. All held their breath. The king's narrowed eyes flickered from Tom to his daughter, cutting into cold slits. His wife's fearful one remained on her.

Oblivious to their stares and anxiety, the Fair Rose's eye were fixed on the black rose, her face expressionless, eyes unreadable.

"Well, daughter," Lord Malfoy asked finally when the silence rolled for too long. His hand balled into a fist, and the silver eyes of her snake charm glinted. "What say you?"

Her expression didn't change, even as she pressed a hand against her chest, the charm caught between her fingers.

"Daughter!" Impatience napped in his voice.

Slight discomfort cracked that near-perfection blank façade as she balled the snake in her fist. Quick as it came, the look disappeared just the same, replaced with a soft smile.

"I accept," she said.

~…..~

On the day of October, when the moon was full, the ballroom in the glass castle was remade in dazzling white. From the white candles hanging high in tall stands, stuck into chandeliers that hang high above heads. White roses plastered everywhere, its soft petals littering the floor. Fine white clothes from gorgeous dresses and fine suits, including his own with the black rose secured in his breast pocket.

Tom almost didn't consider wearing it, sure it would ruin the whole look, but something nagged at him as he looked at the flower the maiden insisted he kept safe for her. Something urged it to add it.

"Wear the flower," a voice chimed inside him. Repeating the words over and over again until he finally was compelled.

The Fair Rose was a stunning vision in her own white gown, hair pinned up, silver jewels sparking from head to bodice. She smiled at him all throughout the ceremony, so delicate and pure, allowing his mind to run wild with many ways he'd have her.

He was so lost in his fantasy of her quivering, pleading underneath him that he nearly missed the question asked by the Minister.

"Who gives this woman away to this man?"

"I do." Lord Lucius rose from his chair walked over to them. He gave him a smile and a key. At Tom's baffled look, he explained, "Handing over management from one head caretaker to another. Treat her well."

Understanding clicked in his mind as he glanced over from the key, tiny and silver in his hand, to the necklace hanging from his bride's neck. He almost considered leaving the necklace, not wanting to give his pretty bird any ideas of escape, but figured one night couldn't hurt. He would simply put it back on tomorrow. Maybe even add his own charm to the collection.

"I suppose one night couldn't hurt." Tom murmured more to himself than to her. He kissed the back of her neck, smiling at the shiver that raked through her body, and slipped the key through the lock.

Small as the key was, light as the lock felt, the sound of it unclasping was heavy, almost like the timing of the church bell. Once her neck was bare, once the snake was unchained, a strange sensation throbbed at the left side of his chest, like a set of razor teeth slowly biting into fruit. Startled, Tom looked down at his chest, his smooth jacket, his unmarked chest, at the black rose.

One minute the flower was there, the next it disappeared from sight.

The stinging sensation spread from his left side to the right, stretched down to his hips, reached up to his neck until it felt like thousands of fire ants were crawling underneath his skin, biting their way through the surface. No, not fire ants. Spiders. Each touch iced his veins, paralyzed his limbs, causing him to fall flat on his back. Dimly he was aware of the anxiety and yelling that shattered throughout the room, but all he could focus on was the pain, the intense cold.

His painful spiders grew to leeches, a swarm chomping their way through his organs as they crawled up his chest, over his heart. Second his heart was touched, the rose punched through the organs, its' thick thorns sprouting from front and back.

Tom opened his mouth to scream, but black tendrils shot from his chest and mouth. Waves upon waves of black that rippled in the air. Then black flew to the chandeliers, they jumped to the candles, gentle flickering exploding into fury.

The guests screamed as they ran, choking from the thick black smoke, trying to ignore the rapid flames growing fast. Trying to ignore the rapid bodies falling to the ground.

Nisa chose that moment to flee. Not giving her betrothed a second glance, she grabbed the skirts of her dress and raced down the steps, leaping over the flames, skipping over corpses. She then paused mid-step and looked back at her mother was still at her seat. "Mama!"

She offered her girl a small, soft smile. "Go, my girl."

For all of her life, through all the pain they've suffered, all the smiles and laughs they managed to muster, it had been the two of them. How could she leave her?

"Fly free, my bird."

Nisa gave her mother one last smile, conveying all the love she had for her, the one of the few joys in her life, expressing her thanks and regrets for all she had endure to protect her. Then she fled.

While all the guests and servants rushed to the front, she snuck out the back way. She was nearly there, nearly through those iron walls, but was thrown off course by a hard force slamming against her left cheek, nearly knocking her to the ground.

Cheek swollen hot, she placed a hand against it and looked up at her father. His handsome features were monstrous by the sheer fury twisting his face.

"You insolent, ungrateful brat!" he roared. "What did you do?"

She pursued her lips.

Snarling, he rose his hand up and brought it down, steps to a familiar dance done so many times that always ended in black eyes, fat lips, swollen cheeks, and tears. Only this time, Nisa's hand caught his before the blow could strike and twisted, bringing him down to his knees.

As he sank low, she rose up, glaring down at him. Years of hatred and anger painted vividly across her face.

"Draconisa."

"You seem to forget one little things about birds, Father. They sink the prettiest of tunes."

He tried to escape her grip, but her grip only tightened.

"And have the sharpest claws."

She brought her clawed hand down, her delicate nails sharpened to talons, and slashed them across his throat.

~…..~

Unlike Krum who stuck away to the woods in a piss-poor armor and arrows. Unlike Weasley who snuck away with caution. Unlike Riddle who snuck away with blinded ambition. Draconisa Nisa Malfoy, the high-regarded Fair Rose, the great beauty of France, the obedient daughter, happily raced into the woods.

She ducked the low branches and leaped over vines. Her heart sang as she came across a clearing, where she heard the soft creaking of the river nearby. Where the familiar figure stood, back pressed against the tree, focused on the black rose in her hand. Nisa's heart stopped at the beauty, seeing how it had grown more stunning than before. Her heart melted as those emerald greens turned to her.

Heart hammering against her ribcage, Nisa took in a deep breath and pasted on a smile. "I've seen you've been quite busy. And pleased."

"Quite," Those green eyes followed her as Nisa moved closer to her. "Although I must say, this was the first time someone went through such great lengths to seek my attention. And sending several tasty morsels to do so." Her eyes traveled down to Nisa's neck that was bare, the imprint of the necklace along with faded bruises shown clearly. "I also wonder what is there left to ask me since it appears you already got what you wanted. Your plan worked perfectly."

"All thanks to you." Nisa reminded, taking another step forward.

Her green eyes gleamed. "Yet here you are."

"Yet here I am," Nisa repeated. "Not to ask you something. But to give you something. Freely."

The dark creature glanced over at her, slim brows knitted. Nisa didn't fault for her. She knew she knew she looked a mess. Her white dress splashed with blood, streaked with smoke. Her hair falling apart from her neat bun, loose curls hanging around her face. Her cheek bruised red from the slap her father gifted her, her hands stained red from the last gift she offered him.

"My heart." Nisa said.

She cocked her head to the side.

"The heart of the renounced beauty always valued for her looks and nothing more. The heart of a lovely, silent bird who knew nothing but her glass cage. The heart," She licked her lips and closed the distance between. "Of a little girl fled into the woods all those years ago, scared and alone. And found comfort in the darkness and friend it gave her."

A frown pulled at the demon's mouth. She settled her hand against Nisa's cheek that was so warm, her knees buckled. She searched intently into her eyes that narrowed into slits before widening.

"Nisa?" she breathed.

Attempting to breathe through her throat that was clogged, her chest that was tight, Nisa covered that soft hand with her own and kissed her thumb. "Aria."

Her other hand covered the swollen cheek, wiping away the tears rolling down Nisa's cheeks. "My sweet dove."

"My fierce raven."

Lips met in a fierce, savage dance of teeth and tongue that was soon followed by hands then bare skin that were tangled in reddened, marked by desperate touches and marks.

Nisa's breath came in a soft whoosh as her back landed on the red satin sheets in the candle-lit bedroom of the she-devil's lair. Alll her thoughts, all her focus honed on the dark beauty before her, standing at the foot of the bed, equally bare as she, pinning Nisa down with those wicked eyes and smile.

Her chest heaved with every stammering breath that puffed from her mouth. She used her elbows to help prop her up, and felt her heart and stomach muscles twist in anticipation as desire roared in those eyes as they examined her pearl white skin, slender figure, and breasts. Desire she had seen a thousand times in a thousand other pair of eyes, greedy and predatory. This desire, deep and raw, was different and one mutually shaped as Nisa did her own examination of Aria, taking in the full breasts her fingers itched to touch, the generous curves, the light golden skin she just wanted bit and kiss until they were covered by her own bite marks.

"Take me," Nisa demanded.

Aria let out a chuckle of cool, amused laughter as she laid her hands on Nisa's thighs, easily moving it over to the side, exposing herself completely. "Oh believe, my sweet dove. I intend to. In every possibly way."

Nisa felt her folds grow wetter the longer those dazzling greens stared at her clit. Growing hot underneath her intent gaze, causing Nisa to squirm, her body tingling.

"I want to try something," Aria said, looking up at her.

Nisa's heart thundered in her chest.

Then Aria's face changed, some of that raw desire dropping away, revealing something tender. Soft, with a ghost of a smile curling her lips. "Do you trust me?"

The words left her words in a heartbeat. "Yes."

Those words brought on more shape to her smile.

Nisa's breath hitched as a wolfish hunger entered that smile. In the next instant, threads of black leaked from the shadows, dripping onto the bed, sliding across her body. Nisa nearly shrieked from the cool touch, but Aria's hand tamed her fear.

"Don't fear," she purred. "Just feel."

Sucking in a deep breath, Nisa followed her command. She focused on feeling and what she felt was pleasure. Pleasure rolling through her skin, combing through her upper and inner thighs, nibbling along her jaw and neck, flicking at her sensitive nipples.

"Oh…." she moaned, closing her eyes to the sweet sensation.

Two threads of blackness gently pulled at her arms, locking them to the headboard of the bed. Two other threads laced around her ankles, spreading her legs wide.

"Look at you," Aria said. "Just good enough to eat."

Nisa knew from the gleam in her eye what was to come. She remembered enough from the erotic reads what was going happen. Yet not prepared her for the first touch of Aria's slender fingers circling around her clit, the first touch of lips against her before a cool tongue slipped in. Nisa was all but melting by the time Aria truly dove in.

It was like each touch, each flicker of her tongue and fingers, Nisa felt an echo of it shooting through her body, tugging at her nipples, biting into the sensitive points of her body until it was wound like a tight curl, twisting tighter and tighter. The more she felt, the more the bounds pulled at her, exposed her, until she was sure every nerve and cell buzzed from the electric sensation. Until she was sure she was swept until finally-

"Fuck!" Nisa yelped, body breaking into violent shudders as pleasure swept through her.

By the time her heartbeat slowed down and she regained some feeling back into her boneless limbs, the black chains melted away. Aria straddled her hips and looked down at her with a dark grin.

"Appealing for you, darling?"

Before she could help herself, before her mind and body could connect to each other, Nisa leaped. In a single movement, Aria was slammed on her back, Nisa on top, and their lips hungrily devoured each other as Nisa slid her hand between Aria's legs, the vicious thrusting of her fingers matching the force of their kisses. Wild, desperate, and hunger.

"You're mine," Nisa snarled, removing her mouth from Aria's and placing it on her neck. "Mine."

Aria grabbed onto her waist and moaned into her mouth as shudders rocked her body, her clit squirming around Nisa's fingers, nails drawing thin lines against porcelain skin. Quickly their movements grew frantic, more desperate, rocking against exchanging grind for grind, until their bodies were stiff with pleasure that easily broke apart, coming only seconds apart, melting into shudders and breathless kisses until kisses grew into light puffs of air, then finally soft smiles.

"You may have given me your heart," Aria said later on, once they were finally sated and tangled in each other, combing her fingers through Nisa's hair. Nisa lifted her head up from her chest to glance at her. "But you had mine from the very start."

Smiling, Nisa captured her lips in a soft kiss. The end of story and the great of another.

~...~

Once upon a time, two little girls met in the woods. One golden-haired and lovely, the daughter of a former swan turned prisoner and serpent disguised as a prince in the glimmering castle where years of pain and sugar-coated poison filled every corner, who escaped from her guards and her father's iron first she still felt clenched around her throat. The other dark-haired and green-eyed, a creature born of the darkness and desire, raised by the woods and all the magic it held.

At first sight of the dark-haired girl, the Fair Rose's heart shriveled in her fear, terrified of what would be done to her. How she could kill her.

But then the dark creature smiled at her, so warm and sweet.

Played with her from dusk till dawn and showed her the beauty of the woods.

Was the true touch of friendship, kinship she ever had and never wanted to let go.

"Who did this to you?" the dark girl asked her, fingers slowly brushing against the red marks of her throat.

"My-" It was difficult to get the words out, the pressure at her throat growing tighter with each shine of the sterling snake. The golden girl attempted again. "My father."

She could still hear her mother's sobbing and yelling as she fled.

Green eyes studied her for a moment before they slid down to her necklace, eyeing the snake charm as if it were a bug she was stuck on whether or not she wanted to crush it. It was as if she saw the dark magic embedded in the jewelry that put the golden child and her mother chained to Father. As if she saw the faded ring of scars her neck had worn, that her mother had worn anytime he felt his order was being questioned. "I see."

The golden child gulped. She didn't know she was crying until a gentle hand cupped her cheek, brushing away the tears.

The dark girl placed her damp finger inside her mouth. "Shall I kill him for you?"

"You…you would?"

"Of course," she answered as if it were simple as that.

"Why?" The golden child replied. If life had taught her anything, nothing was given away freely. Not love, not safety, and certainly not favors.

"Because if there's one thing I despise more than anything else, more than hypocritical nature of the self-righteous, the harsh brutality of the innocent and the protection of the guilty, broken promises, it's child cruelty. So," she said. "Simply tell me when and it shall be done."

The golden child thought it over, long and hard. Finally, she answered, "No. No, not yet."

The other girl frowned at her.

"When the time comes, my father shall die. And I intend to be make it glorious." She looked up at her friend. "And when that time comes, I trust my fierce raven will be there to help me."

Bafflement at her words slowly changed to shock, then shock bloomed into a smile that was befitting a smile, sharp and amused.

"If my sweet dove asks for it."