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Tale As Old As Time

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Once upon a time, in a faraway land, a young prince lived in a shining castle. Although he had everything his heart desired, the prince was reclusive, self-centered, and a bit weird. But then, one winter's night, an old beggar came to the castle and offered him a single rose in return for a kiss and shelter from the bitter cold. Repulsed by the haggard appearance, the prince turned down the gift, and sent the old beggar away. But the beggar warned him not to be deceived by appearances, for beauty is found within. When he dismissed him again, the old beggar's ugliness melted away, to reveal the beautiful enchantress Ryan Ross. The prince tried to apologize, but it was too late, for Ross had seen that there was no love in his heart and as punishment, he transformed him into a hideous beast, and placed a powerful spell on the castle, and all who lived there. Ashamed of his monstrous form, the prince concealed himself inside his castle, with his brother transformed into a magic mirror as his only window to the outside world. The Rose the enchantress had offered from his vest, was truly an enchanted rose, which would bloom for many years. If the prince could learn to love another, and earn their love in return by the time the last petal fell, then the spell would be broken. If not, he would be doomed to remain a beast for all time. As the years passed, he fell into despair, and lost all hope, For who could ever learn to love...a Beast?

~

Frank had his nose deep within the pages of a book. It was not a euphemism, however much he wishes it was. He was nearly finished it and had a sneaking suspicion that it's not going to have a happy ending. But then again the fact that it is about zombies who have the ability to operate door-handles and crossbows should've given that away. It's barely mid morning and his uncle is swearing loudly in the basement. The last time Frank had checked he had been working on some sort of steam-powered wood chopper or harvester, something strange and probably illegal. They had immigrated over from Italy and ended up somewhere in the ass end of a French provincial town. It is pretty boring and the language made little sense to either of them, so Frank spends most of his time with his nose in a book, seeking adventure and a chance at a life he could only dream of.

“Frank!”

Frank sighs and carefully replaces the bookmark, taking his time in getting to his feet. Currently the remaining three survivors are surrounded in a dilapidated farm house with no chance at escape and only two bullets left in the shot gun.

“Frank!”

He reluctantly closes the book and heads down stairs. His uncle, Luigi, is underneath the contraption that has been his sole focus for the last four months. Frank tries to put on his most optimistic face as he hands him the various tools that his uncle asks for. He knows that if they can actually get the damned thing to work they should be able to bring in enough cash to live more comfortably and maybe, just maybe, somewhere closer to a decent library. He sighs a little wistfully at that particular pipe dream and agrees to head into town to pick up some more scrap metal from the blacksmith.

The town is bustling by the time he heads in. It's not a particularly long walk from the cottage he shares with his uncle, and like every time, it is filled with the sounds of birds chirping and the babble of a nearby stream. He hums a familiar tune, mentally adding lyrics about the little town being quiet, everyday like the one before. The smell of fresh bread from the bakery is almost too distracting as is Phillipe's back room filled with books which waylays him a few minutes.

“Back again so fast?” Phillipe asks as Frank scales the shelves with practiced ease.

“You bet. Got anything new?”

Phillipe shakes his head, “Not since yesterday.”

“Oh, right, of course,” Frank replies, hopping down from the shelf and grabbing one of the novels he has read half a dozen times, sliding the zombie one back into its spot on the dusty shelves. The book had been okay, the ending too predictable. Of course the military would arrive just in the nick of time and rescue the survivors from the plague of undead. Of course the guy ends up with the girl. He cannot help but roll his eyes. Nothing that interesting ever happens here, unless you count Gabe.

Gabe Saporta could have anyone in town he wanted and frequently made that fact known. Why he continued to try and persuade Frank that he destined to be with him and live with him at Le Cobra, Frank will never know. It's not like he is particularly popular here, in fact, most of the citizens tend to regard him and his uncle with a mild disdain, their whispers of “he's not like the rest of us” and his personal favourite so far - “it's a pity and a sin they don't fit in” are pretty obvious. He wonders sometimes if the gossip is all that they live for and thinks that it might make a rather amusing song. He can picture himself sitting on the village fountain, surrounded by their dogs and telling them all about the book he has just read involving wizards, spells and boy love. That is one of the most puzzling things about Gabe's apparent interest in him. He knows that Gabe likes women, preferably blonds with a sassy attitude and therefore by default should not be interested in bookish Italian boys with shoulder length hair and a fondness for puppy dogs.

“Speak of the devil,” Frank mutters as he glances up outside the blacksmiths. The dog he has been playing with for the last ten minutes gives an unhappy whine as he slowly straightens. Gabe and his usual cohort, Bill, have yet to see him and he would much rather keep it that way. Wiping his hands on his trousers and tucking the book more securely under his arm, he tries his very best to give them the slip. He is almost successful, having gotten as far at the local tavern before he hears Gabe call out to him.

“Oh for the love of- Hi, Gabe, Bill”

He is momentarily blindsided by the sauntering of Gabe's hips and the way Bill leans casually on the wall of the tavern, his eyebrow raised in greeting.

“What're you up to, Frankie?” Gabe asks, clearly not understanding the concept of personal space. Frank tries his best to shrug and act like he's really busy.

“Just getting some metal from the blacksmith for my uncle,” he explains before noticing what lays at Bill's feet. “Oh my god, is that a deer? What did you do to it?”

The poor creature is laying in an unnatural position, its eyes wide and vacant, several bullet holes marring its tawny hide. Frank feels sick and has to swallow against the bile surging up his throat.

“Oh, my latest trophy?” Gabe replies, flick a glance over his shoulder towards the carcass. “Yeah, ain't it beautiful?”

Frank blanches and has to try really hard not to heave all over Gabe's imposing black tailored boots. “I... uh, guess,” he offers, tearing his eyes away from the horror in front of him. He hates that the people in the town think that it is acceptable to go and murder animals for sport, to hang their heads and skins above their mantlepieces as a testament to how manly they are.

“You know,” Gabe says, taking a step closer. “You should come around and I could show you the rest.”

“I'm busy tonight,” Frank quickly replies, mentally adding doing anything else but you.

“Tomorrow then, I'll pick you up.”

More than anything Frank hates Gabe's confident tone and strut, the way he seems to think that he is entitled to everything, including him. If they weren't in the middle of town where ordinary citizens could bear witness to the scene, he'd be replying in language that would make even a sailor blush, but for now he bites his tongue and replies saying that he is helping his uncle who is off to the fair the soon.

“You know, I'm sure Vicky would love to see your trophies,” he adds as an after thought. Maybe if he could convince Gabe that there was someone more worth his time and heaven forbid, affections, then he would be free to do whatever the hell he wanted without worrying about being propositioned all the goddamn time. A part of him wonders what would happen if he did actually get his dick out. But that part is only very small and doesn't quite remember that time on the boat with the one of the ship's hands who mistook him for a girl. Frank misses his guitar and wonders if the fishes are enjoying it more than he ever did. He watches instead as Gabe tries to hold in a laugh and only succeeds in snorting.

“He still thinks he can get anywhere with that crazy contraption?” Gabe asks with a roll of his eyes.

“Hey!” Frank quickly retorts, his empty left hand curling into a fist. “It totally works!”

It's a lie. It really doesn't.

Gabe steps closer, crowding him. “Oh, I'm sure, Frankie... Pretty thing like you shouldn't be worrying about things like that though.”

“Bill's pretty. Bill's also taller than me,” Frank replies, glaring and trying to summon his best fuck off face. It's true though. William is prettier, taller, better mannered and skinnier than he is. Frank's sure that his legs actually could extend to Africa. He's only a little bit jealous. “Why don't you date him instead?”

Gabe laughs and moves closer, bringing a hand up to tuck a piece of Frank's hair back. “So modest too,” he says as Frank tries his best not to flinch away. There are people watching and the last thing he wants is a reputation worse than his already is.

“Look, I really have to go,” Frank states, backing out of the proximity of Gabe's large hands. He doesn't miss the indulgent sigh Gabe gives before loudly stating that he will see him tomorrow.

“Busy remember?” Frank replies, before swiftly turning around to leave. The smell of the deer's blood in the heat is getting too much for his stomach to handle.

“You might change your mind about that.”

“Busy, Gabe!” he yells back over his shoulder before picking up a quicker pace along the cobblestone road that leads out of the town towards his home. He almost wishes that he didn't catch Gabe turning to Bill and positively stating “I'll get there. ”

~

Luigi eagerly greets him when he gets home and for a moment Frank forgets that he has the bag of scrap metal and thinks that his uncle is genuinely very, very happy to see him. He hands the bag over with a sigh and slumps down on the spare stool.

“What now?” Luigi asks, carefully sorting through the pieces and making appreciative noises when he comes across something useful.

“Do you think I'm odd?” Frank asks, picking at the torn fabric that exposes his knees.

“Sure I do, but that's a good thing. The world would be pretty boring if everyone was the same.” Luigi turns to look at him for a moment. “Why? The townies been giving you shit again?”

“Sort of? I just feel like there is no-one I can actually talk to other than you, not even Phillipe who lets me borrow his books.”

“Ah,” Luigi says, dusting his hands off before climbing back under the machine. “I know what you mean. It's tough being an Iero. I remember when I was growing up, everyone called me crazy. They still do but you get passed it.”

Frank gives a small nod. Even his own family still calls his uncle crazy. It's probably true.

“What about that Gabe boy? He seems to like you,” Luigi's voice echoes out, strangely amplified by the badly supported monster of machinery above him.

“Ugh, please don't talk about him. You know he hunts right? Like every day. I bumped into him in town, or rather, he spotted me and chased. Bill was carrying around this deer carcass like it was a token of love or some bullshit. Fuck that.” Frank shakes his head in his hands. “I don't know if he just wants me because I'm a challenge or what.”

“Ah,” his uncle replies helpfully.

“It's just weird. Apparently he's only dated girls before and there's, well, Bill-”

“Who is prettier, taller and skinnier than you?”

“Exactly! Maybe he doesn't know I have a penis.”

“Like the ship's hand?” Luigi asks. “See, I would've thought the trousers would've been a dead give away, but then again, I've seen some rather interesting liberated women these past years.”

Frank makes a noise in agreement before standing, mentioning that he has a book to start. His uncle gives a little chuckle before swearing loudly as something metallic makes an awkward clunking sound.

~

As much to his own surprise as everyone else’s, Luigi's machine works the next day. Frank stands back in mild horror and watches as his uncle stokes the fire to boil the water, which will produce steam to drive the engine. It's pretty impressive but hardly looks safe. He keeps some distance just to be sure. Luigi is all grins and loud exclamations in Italian as the machine successfully cuts log after log of wood. Frank is a little confused how this bizarre collection of gears and levers is meant to be their ticket to a better life, but who is he to judge.

Sometime later they head back in doors, covered in grease and sweat. This outburst of masculinity somehow gives Frank's uncle the courage to broach the whole dating thing again.

“So Frankie,” Luigi calls, heading back to the basement. “Made many friends in town?”

Frank rolls his eyes before yelling back “Not really, no. Nothings changed in the months we have lived here!”

“Oh,” comes his uncle's reply. “What about girls?”

There is a knock at the door which Frank immediately opens without hesitation, replying loudly that nothing has changed and girls don't interest him in the slightest before stuttering to a stop.

“Oh, um, hi, Gabe.”

Gabe smirks, casually leaning on the unpainted door frame. “Hey Frankie. I couldn't help but overhear, and I promise, you have nothing to worry about on that front with me,” Gabe sleazes, adding a wink in case Frank missed his subtle eye-fucking.

Frank tries not to look disgusted and gives a tired sigh. “What do you want Gabe?” He doesn't quite expect Gabe to barge in however, his pants slung low on his hips and grab his shoulders.

“I want us to stop beating around the bush. This dance is getting old and I think it's about time I actually asked what you've been dying to hear.”

“And what would that be?” Frank asks, quickly ducking out of Gabe's grasp and pulling his suspenders up over his stained shirt once more. He watches cautiously as Gabe laughs and settles himself at the dining table.

“You know, back at Le Cobra, my latest kill roasting on the fire, and a certain someone massaging my feet, while the little ones play on the floor with the dogs. We'll have six or seven.”

“Dogs?” Frank replies, excitement colouring his voice as Gabe props his feet onto the table before smiling self-indulgently.

“No, Frankie, handsome boys like me!”

“Oh...” Frank doesn't even try to keep the disappointment out of his voice. Of course it wouldn't be six or seven dogs. He'd be foolish to think otherwise. He opens his mouth to remind Gabe that it is a physical improbability for the two of them to conceive and carry a child but figures that even basic biology is lost on the man who is now standing and striding over to him.

Gabe presses his fingers to Frank's lips, shushing him and his fast paced internal monologue. “Shh, I haven't actually asked yet.”

“Asked what?” Frank asks, eyes wide and voice muffled by Gabe's long fingers.

“Asked if you'll marry me. Just say the word, Frankie, and your dreams come true.”

It's not a word that Frank thinks to say, rather, a whole slew of curses. He sighs and backs away. It's not the first time that Gabe had proposed but he is really rather hoping that it will be that last. “What do you know of my dreams, Gabe?”

“That they rest on one three letter word,” Gabe tells him confidently. “Marry me, Frankie.”

Frank stalls quickly, half tripping over one of the dining chairs. “Um... You know it's customary to ask my father right? It is only proper.”

He watches as Gabe smirks and saunters closer, “Are you playing coy?” Gabe asks rhetorically. “That's adorable. Come on, baby, say the word.”

NO Frank tries to project but replies with “Let me think about it,” in a measured tone instead.

“What's to think about?”

“Well,” Frank starts. “My family would have to agree to this, and to do that we'd have to go to Italy-”

“Details! Just say yes and we can work the details out later!” Gabe interrupts, sauntering closer again. Frank wonders when and if Gabe will ever give up, before considering if it would be easier to fake his own death.

“I'll, uh, go talk with my uncle. I'll be back in a few minutes.” Frank quickly backs towards the stairs leading to the basement. Gabe grins at him widely before settling himself onto a chair. Luigi raises his eyebrows at Frank, but doesn't say anything or ask for a reason why he is hiding on the stairs for a good ten minutes.

“I don't wanna marry him,” Frank whispers after a while, receiving a grunt and a muffled “Well don't then,” in response. It's hardly useful and he wishes that his uncle would for once share his skills on bachelorhood with him. To his knowledge, the man had been single for over 50 years, which is quite an accomplishment really. Frank sighs and cautiously returns to where Gabe is polishing his short-range musket.

“Luigi said no, sorry,” he apologises with a shrug of his shoulders, “it was wrong of me to lead you on.” Frank is disgusted at himself for lying so badly. As if he was the one leading him on, what a joke. He watches in mild horror as Gabe raises an eyebrow, still smiling and approaches him.

“Such games. Come on, when would a good date for the wedding be?”

Frank thinks of the furtherest time from now and quickly replies “Next January, I... uh.... really like snow, like Hoth, you know?”

“How about tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow? No! I... I'd have nothing to wear and you haven't even met my family!”

Gabe has this hungry look in his eyes as he stalks closer, announcing that there is plenty of time for that later on. Frozen as if in the headlights, Frank doesn't realize that his slight body is pinned against the door until it is too late. He panics and tries in vain to escape. “I'm not a virgin,” he states, hoping and praying that to will be enough to put Gabe and his beer smelling breath off of him. Gabe looks surprised for a moment before caressing his fingers down Frank's jawline with a small hum of approval.

“Mmm, you'll have to tell me all about that-”

“You deserve to have someone unspoiled,” Frank interrupts, twisting his head away from Gabe's warm touch. He mentally does victory arms when Gabe's hands drop from him, but is disappointed when they suddenly grip his shirt and press him harder against the wooden door.

“Oh, I'm sure there's plenty more spoiling to be done,” Gabe leers, leaning in for a kiss. With Gabe's eyes closed, Frank seizes the opportunity and twists the door handle, sending the taller man flying outside with an anguished cry of surprise. The door remains open long enough for him to see half the town assembled in their sunday best, accompanied by the minister and a rather elaborate looking cake.

“Tomorrow my ass,” Frank mutters bitterly before stalking back down to the basement to help his uncle prepare for his journey that afternoon.

~

By the time it takes to help Luigi load the god-forsaken contraption onto the cart, it is well into the afternoon. The villagers have all sloped back to their homes to gossip. The only reminder of the previous events are areas of flattened grass and the occasional piece of crepe paper. Frank breathes a huge breath of relief and wishes uselessly that Gabe will now leave him alone after such a public humiliation. He knows that it has probably made Gabe more determined than ever, and he cannot help but wave at his uncle with a sinking heart. Maybe this village and a life with Gabe at Le Cobra is all that he can really hope for. With a disgusted sigh, he grabs the bucket of scraps from outside the kitchen window and makes his way to the chook pen.

“Can you imagine?” he asks one of the hens. “He asked me to marry him! Me! The partner of that boorish, brainless, sleazy Saporta. They'd all call me 'Madame Gabriel,' seriously, can't you just see it? 'Madame Gabriel' - his little wife.” He mimes throwing up and quickly dumps the bucket's contents into the feeding trough. He sighs angrily and dumps the bucket down, hopping over the fence with practiced ease. It's stupid to talk to oneself but he can't resist the urge to yell out “There has to be more than this fucked up, boring provincial life!” He takes a breath, calming slightly and adds “I want adventure in the great wide somewhere,” in his mind he can hear sweeping violins and deep voiced cellos and his words come out more like a song. “I want it more than I can tell, and for once it might be grand to have someone who'll understand. I want so much more than what they've got planned for...” Frank trails off realizing how profoundly stupid he sounds. Come on, might be grand? Who the hell even says that? He shrugs, tucking his arms back down by his sides self-consciously and slopes back towards the back door.

~

Luigi knows that something isn't quite right as he heads deeper into the forest. He doesn't really remember the trees being like this, all twisted and bare. He shrugs and urges Jon, his faithful horse forward. Something flashes past them a minute later, startling them. Jon breaks into a run, promptly dumping Luigi from his poorly fitted saddle. Luigi calls after him to no avail before spying the wolves at the last possible moment. He runs as quickly as his short, stocky legs can take him, rolling down embankments and stumbling over exposed tree roots. As luck would have it, he finds himself in front of a heavily fortified castle, its sinister wrought iron gate practically spelling out Do Not Enter Upon Pain Of Death. He ignores it and yanks it open, preferring whatever might lay on the other side to disembowelment by a pack of ravenous wolves. He cautiously enters the castle, shivering slightly and dripping wet puddles on the polished marble floor and red rug in the vast atrium.

“Hello?” he calls out, not really expecting a response other than the echo of his own voice. Somewhere in the corner voices whisper to each other.

“He must've lost his way in the woods.”

“Keep quiet, maybe he'll go away.”

“Is someone there?” Luigi tries again, feeling rather unnerved by the sheer size and echo of the castle. “I don't mean to intrude, but I've lost my horse and my way. I need a place to stay for the night.”

“Oh Spencer, have a heart,” the first voice whispers again.

“Shhh!” comes the reply before the smell of burning metal and grease fills the air along with a sharp “Owww!” and a “Of course monsieur, you are welcome here!”

“Who said that?” Luigi asks, picking up a handy candle stick and waving it around in the hopes of illuminating whoever just spoke to him. It's all really rather creepy and he's sure that his nephew, Frank, would do much better in the situation. Provided there weren't any spiders.

“Over here!” the voice says cheerfully.

Luigi spins around a few times but still cannot locate the owner of the oddly musical voice. He feels a hot tap on the head and looks up towards the candle stick in his hand, who grins at him. He drops it quickly, flailing backwards in the vain attempt at distancing himself as far from the object as possible. He's heard stories about places like these from his nonna and knows how bad they are. He didn't expect to find one in the middle of the French country side, but then again, what he expects life to throw at him is often very different from the reality. Curiosity overcomes him after a few heart palpitations and he takes a couple of hesitant steps towards the candle stick lying groaning on the floor. “Incredible...” he muses, bending down slightly to get a better look at the very human looking expression on its face.

“Now look what you've done! Splendid! Just peachy!” a sarcastic voice announces, hopping down from the table and strolling over. It's meant be a clock and Luigi really cannot help himself. He picks it up despite its screams of protest and wonders aloud how it is all accomplished. It's rather incredible and he takes a few moments to give the clock a thorough once over. It wriggles in his grasp and pants out a few indignant yelps of “Put me down!”

The candle stick giggles loudly at his comrade’s pain. Luigi must've stuck his probing fingers somewhere personal as the clock suddenly screams “Do you mind?!” at the same time as the candle stick. Curious and curiouser, he thinks, finally setting it down and sneezing loudly. The candle stick beckons him into a sitting room with a large, well stoked fire. Luigi quickly forgets the stories told to him and takes a seat, unaware that his actions carry the same heavy cost as Persephone's eating of the pomegranate.

~

Frank is happy enough, minding his own business in town, when he hears some commotion coming from the local watering hole. The town itself is unusually empty despite it being still early morning. He thanks the baker quickly for the bread and steers himself closer to the building. It is strange for it to be so busy and he has to bite his hand to stop himself from laughing out loud when he hears one of the villagers loudly exclaim “But Gabe, you're the greatest!” Well, that explains the lack of villagers this morning. He hovers closer to one of the windows, peeking in. Gabe is slouched rather sadly in a rather impressive chair, his back turned towards the fireplace.

“Who does he think he is?” Gabe asks no-one in particular. “That guy has tangled with the wrong man, no-one says no to Gabriel. Dismissed, rejected, publicly humiliated. Why, it's more than I can bear.”

“More beer?” William asks, reclining gracefully. Gabe scoffs at him, turning his head away muttering something like “What for? Nothing helps.” (It's either that or something about a pound of Mediterranean sea bass. Frank's never been very skilled at lip reading.)

“Pull yourself together, mate,” one of the locals pipes up, raising a glass towards him. Frank recognizes him as the one that always overcharges his uncle on his chewing tobacco. “Yeah!” another voice joins in, “It's really disturbing to see you so down in the dumps. You know that every guy here wants to be you Saporta? Even when you've contracted mumps. There's no-one in town as admired as you, you're everyone's favourite guy. Everyone's awed and inspired by you and it's not very hard to see why-”

Frank stops listening and pulls himself away from the window in mild disgust. It's almost like they are about to break out in a cheering chorus of support of how amazing their Gabriel is. He walks away humming an oddly catchy tune. He supposes if the unintelligent villagers were going to burst randomly into song – that happens in real life right? - the lyrics would probably be something like “no-one fucks like our Gabe, no-one sucks like our Gabe, on a blind date no-body dares cock block our Gabe.”

He arrives home to find a very distressed Jon with a half attached saddle and no sign of Luigi or the machine. Fear twists inside of him, knotting up his stomach and tongue. He drops the basket containing the bread, sparing no mind to how they end up in the dirt and rushes over. He begs the horse to tell him where his uncle is and without a second thought, re-saddles the poor animal and swiftly climbs on, urging him back out of town in the direction that Luigi set off on. Jon leads him through the woods, the midday sun barely able to peek through the dense under bush. They search fruitlessly for hours, until both of them pull over, desperate for a drink and some form of nourishment. Frank curses himself for not grabbing something back at the house and kicks a stone violently. It crashes through the foliage and makes a rather unusual sound, one of stone against stone. He steels himself a little, tethering Jon up with a stern “wait here,” and goes to investigate. The object the stone had hit was in fact, a rather large, imposing stone wall. Frank lets out a low whistle, and wonders how the hell he could've missed seeing such a thing. With little to go on other than the massive wall, he decides to follow it as best as he can and is surprised when the wooded area gives way to a gate a few miles later. The gate is twisted, rusted from years of neglect - behind which stands a rather impressive castle, its battlements concealed in smoothly rendered stone. No flags fly from it and it appears abandoned. The villagers had never mentioned anything about a castle. It seems like a likely place for his uncle to stay, who is not one known for rough housing it. With little choice he musters up some courage from somewhere and leads them through the gate towards the castle entrance.

Chapter Text


The castle itself has this weird horror filled vibe going on and Frank cannot help but shiver a little. It looks like the kind of place that would have corpses stashed somewhere. And spiders. Frank hates spiders. He loathes them and will scream like a little girl when faced with one, clambering away whilst screaming “Kill it!! Kill it with fire!!” until some kind person comes and squashes it. Luigi always pretends not to notice the little victory dance Frank does after the spider has been killed, nor the “Ha! Who's the dead one now, fucker!” comment he yells at it. It is times like this that he has little respect for the Iero name.

“Luigi!” he calls out, voice kind of wavering. “Where the fuck are you old man?”

“Ahem.”

Frank pauses, spinning slowly around. The empty hall behind him is now filled with hoarse whispers of “No! Shut up Brendon! Remember what happened last time! You think the master will be this forgiving if he finds out you've let another one into the house? The one you let sit in the master's chair and pet the pooch, remember?”

“You worry too much Spence,” the other voice replies. “Besides, this one's cute!”

All Frank can see is a candle stick, talking to an aged clock. Wait. Talking? Well, that certainly is something unexpected. He swallows down the impending scream and carefully asks if they happen to know where his uncle might be. The candle stick bounds up to him with reckless abandon and promptly introduces itself as Brendon. If Frank has been the fainting type, he'd be out for the count.

“Mademoiselle, it is with deepest regrets that I have to inform you that there is a good reason these tables are numbered -”

“He's is the basement, locked up,” states a very bored sounding clock, whom Frank suspects is called Spence.

“Err... right... thanks,” Frank replies, edging away slowly. He hopes that these two are the only enchanted objects.

It doesn't take long to realize that they are trailing him, whispering between themselves something about spells and some guy called Ryan Ross. After a few minutes through darkened corridors that seemingly appear to all end in dead ends, Frank appeals for his stalkers aid. Brendon eagerly thrusts himself into Frank's tattooed hands, his light casting long shadows and flickering depths around them.

They eventually reach what Frank assumes is the basement or holding cells. It is damp and his lungs are already protesting. On inspection of the third gated cell, which looks like something Poe would have described, they find Luigi. He is crawled up in a ball, shivering on the freezing stone floor. Frank rushes forward, dropping Brendon in his haste to wrench the lock off the gate. After a few hoarse yells to move, Luigi stirs, groaning.

“Shit!” Frank swears, tugging uselessly on the lock. “Don't worry, we'll get you out of here!” He doesn't see the large shadow looming over him until it is too late and he is wrenched upwards by his collar.

“Who are you?” a growling voice commands, not entirely human sounding. “Why are you here?!”

“Argghhhhhh!!” Frank yells, flailing uselessly as his feet leave contact with the floor. “Put me down! I'll fucking cut you!”

“You're not welcome here!” the voice tells him, pulling his shirt tighter as it slowly digs further into his throat, making it harder to breath.

“No fucking shit!” Frank replies, lashing out with his voice fading, he wants to ask why whoever it is who has him three feet off the floor has got his uncle penned up like a pig, before a horrible thought hits him. “Oh god, you're going to eat us, aren't you?”

Frank is thrown to ground, the cold stone scrapping skin off the palms of his hands and ripping further holes in his pants.

“Of course not! He trespassed here! Get out or you'll get the same!”

“Fine by me! Let him out so we can both go,” Frank spits, cautiously rubbing at the impact wounds. He turns after a beat to look at his attacker for the first time and recoils in horror.

“Just you. He's my prisoner,” the beast tells him, standing on hind paws and clothed in a mixture of too short pants and tailored jacket. Dark fur peeks out from between the oddly expensive looking garments. Frank is struck at the way the beasts ears are laid flat in mock aggression, like the way some of the ears of small dogs do when they are threatened and wish to look bigger than they really are. The creature is quite disturbing in its appearance, a monstrous hybrid of human and wolf. It has elongated limbs but still retains a short snout filled with too many teeth.

“No! Why? I'm not leaving without him!” Frank fervently tells the monster before him, hands balling uselessly into fists. Luigi has stirred enough by this time to cry out weakly for Frank to leave, prompting him to throw a careless “Shut up old man, I'm not going anywhere,” over his shoulder to him. He is seized again by his shirt collar and dragged out by the beast. It's getting a little old and Frank is annoyed that his favourite shirt is being mistreated in such a way, same as his knees which will be bruised for days. He thrashes around to no avail and even manages to sneak in a few really good punches. “Let go of me, you beast!” he cries out, receiving a growl in return, “I'll take his place, just let him go.”

The monster stills, paw still tightly clutching Frank's shirt collar. “You would... take his place?” he asks cautiously and is surprised when the tiny tattooed guy nods and repeats “Just let him go.”

Frank feels the monster pause for a second before he is thrown to the floor yet again. “Done,” the gruff voice says, somehow producing a key to unlock the gate and drags Luigi out. He can't bring himself to move, to stop them and is forced to watch as his uncle is taken away from him. Distantly he hears the front door slam and a “Stay out!”

Spencer, the clock, cautiously eyes Frank and contemplates going to help him or offer words of comfort. He thinks better of it and stays to the side, half hiding himself when the master returns.

“So what? You're gonna lock me in the dungeon for a few months as punishment?” Frank asks bitterly, picking himself up off the floor, his eyes narrowed.

“You must stay here,” the monster states, ears twitching. He is a grotesque mix of species, upright and wrong. “But you can go wherever you want in the castle – except for the west wing – It's your home now,” gets added almost as a afterthought.

“Home? Forever? That's pretty fucked. I'm not going to be your servant.”

The beast looks confused for a moment, half spinning back around to face Frank. “What? No, you... I mean...” he pauses before quickly yelling “Look, do you want to see your room or do you want to stay in the dungeon?!”

Brendon makes abortive gestures for Frank to follow and is relieved when he does. He casts a quick look to Spencer who looks a little unsure about the whole situation.

“Fine, whatever. Imprisoned in a castle by a monstrous beast. Totally where I saw my life heading,” Frank mumbles, purposefully glaring at his shoes which he scuffs along the rough flooring. He doesn't miss the growl that issues from the monster as Brendon is scooped up to light the way.

“Say something to him,” Brendon whispers to the beast and is rewarded by his master merely raising an eyebrow and pointedly ignoring him. He sighs long-sufferingly and hopes this whole imprisoning thing works out better in real life. He tries again when they reach one of the many guest bedrooms. “Invite him to dinner,” he whispers.

“You will join me for dinner,” the master growls. “That's not a request!” The door is slammed before Frank even has a chance to refuse. It's more than a little rude and he finds himself gesturing crudely at the door before collapsing down on the four poster bed. He supposes if he was an actual girl, he'd be in a fit of tears right now, sure there is a lump in his throat and a weird pain in his chest at the sudden lost of freedom, but crying about it isn't going to help. He can't help but wonder if he will get turned into a piece of furniture too if he tries to leave without permission. The thought is enough to make him bide his time and cause him to sigh frustratedly at the ceiling. He doesn't know how much time has passed, but there is a knock at the door a while later, a cheerful voice announcing that it's Patrick. The voice sounds friendly enough, not like something out of Attack of the Body Snatchers. Frank crosses the room to try the door. Curiously, it isn't actually locked and opens rather easily. A rounded coffee pot comes bounding in, announcing that it thought that he could use a cup. It's not what he was expecting, that then again he was locked in an enchanted castle and by default nothing is normal or predictable. It is all rather impossible and the freestanding wardrobe agrees with him wholeheartedly. Frank quickly steps away from it and picks up the cup full of coffee which bounds up to him in a tea cup. “Thanks,” he tells them, raising the cup to his mouth before the tea cup suddenly lets out a rather dirty “Oh yeah, wrap your lips around me sugar.” He hastily sets it back down feeling very weird about the whole thing. He's less than eager to drink from it despite everything in his body crying out for it. The tea cup shrugs, blows a few milky bubbles before bounding away again. The coffee pot, Patrick, glares at it for a moment before turning its attention back to Frank.

“That was a very brave thing you did,” he states truthfully.

Frank shakes his head, leaning his head down onto his fist. “But I lost my uncle,” he replies sadly. “My dreams, everything.”

“It'll turn out alright in the end,” Patrick tries to reassure him, giving Frank the odd impression that if he had hands, he'd reach out and pat his knee. Patrick then rolls his eyes a little, “Listen to me wanking on whilst there's supper to get on the table.” He gives a small wave with his spout before tottering out of the door. The wardrobe seizes the moment to fling its doors open to showcase the wide number of dresses to be worn to dinner. It even goes so far as to put out some ghastly pink number, announcing loudly “You'll look ravishing in this one!”

“That's, um, very kind of you,” Frank replies, holding his hands up defensively, “but I'm not going to dinner.”

The wardrobe seems shocked at this announcement stating that he must go. The clock – Spencer, he is later corrected, comes in and loudly clears his throat, stating that dinner is served and if Frank would mind terribly walking in front of him so he could keep an eye on him if he decided to run off.

Frank tells him no and sits down on the bed. Stating that he isn't moving and that is that.

What Frank doesn't know is that at this exact moment, the beast is prowling in front of the fire whilst Brendon and Patrick give him a pep talk about smiles and manners and controlling his temper and not sulking. Spencer is the one to break it to the master that Frank is in fact, not coming to dinner. The news doesn't exactly go down well.

“What?!” the beast roars, before bounding up the stairs on all fours. He smashes on the door with his fist and demands to know why it is that Frank will not be joining him.

“Not hungry!” Frank yells back.

“You come out here or... or I'll break down this door!”

“Master,” Brendon says cheekily, “forgive me if I'm wrong, but doesn't appear to be the way to win the beauty's attention. Attempt to be a gentleman.” Spencer face-palms and then ducks for cover.

“But he's being so difficult!”

“Gently! Gently! Like a puppy,” Patrick prompts.

“Will you come down to dinner?” the master tries, softening his voice a little. The “Fuck off,” he receives in return does little to placate his anger. “Fine!” he yells back, “Go ahead and starve!” He leaves express orders with the servants clustered around him that if Frank doesn't eat with him, then he doesn't eat at all. He knows that his actions are a little rash, but it is incredibly uncomfortable having someone else in the castle, someone new, someone who could hurt and betray him.

Frank ends up taking a nap, face smooshed into the stale smelling pillows that are too hard and too soft all at the same time. His stomach, by this stage, is rumbling painfully and it is the one thing to drag him out of bed and down in the general directions of the kitchens. He manages to find them after about five missed turns and is mildly surprised to find the clock so happy to see him.

“Good to see you out and about,” he remarks, approaching him. “I am Spencer and this hopeless case is Brendon.” Brendon scoots in front of Spencer and bows slightly.

“You must be famished! Come, come sit! We will prepare the dinner!” Patrick voices from somewhere, the air suddenly filling with the sound of a thousand pieces of silverware waking up in the drawers.

“Remember what the master said!” Spencer hoarsely whispers as a couple of plates suddenly launch themselves from the cupboard.

“Oh please,” Patrick replies. “I'm not about to let the poor thing go hungry!”

“Oh alright, fine, cup of water, crust of bread then back to-”

Brendon cuts Spencer off, burning him slightly when he jabs him a little. “Spencer! Have a heart! This fine specimen before us is not a prisoner, he's our guest! We must make him feel welcome here, right this way, mademoiselle”

Frank opens his mouth to correct the gender confusion that everyone in the castle seems to be having with him but thinks better of it. He follows Brendon into a large, expansive dining room as Spencer runs up beside them warning them to keep the noise to a minimum.

“Of course, of course,” Brendon replies swiftly before waggling his eyebrows a little. “But what is dinner without a little show?”

Frank is a little curious but takes a seat regardless as Brendon proceeds to hop onto the table, in blatant disregard for customs regarding feet on tables. He clears his throat dramatically before spreading his arms, “Sit tight, I'm gonna need you to keep time, come on just snap snap snap your fingers for me.”

Frank quirks his eyebrow and reluctantly starts clicking his fingers to the beat.

“Good, good, now we're making some progress, come on, just tap tap tap your toes to the beat. Now I believe this may call for a proper introduction, and well, don't you see, I'm the narrator and this is just the prologue -”

“The other song Brendon!” Spencer yells out, interrupting Brendon's tangent. Brendon gives a little huffed sigh, rolls his eyes before launching into something completely different. “It is with deepest pleasure that we welcome you tonight, so relax, pull up a chair, as the dining room proudly presents -” he pauses for dramatic effect, “your dinner!” A few dishes spring magically up onto the table and make their way closer to him.

“Be our guest, be our guest, put our service to the test, tie this napkin round your neck, cherie, and we'll provide the rest –”

The dishes continue to move ever closer until they are parading in front of Frank, lifting their lids tantalizingly.

“Soup du jour, hot hors d’oeuvre – Why we only live to serve! Try the grey stuff it's delicious!”

Frank politely declines tasting “the grey stuff” and raises his eyebrows at the advancing dishes spinning around on the table.

“Don't believe me? Ask the dishes! They can sing, they can dance, after all, miss, this is France! And a dinner here is never second best. Go on, be our guest! Be our guest! Be our guest! There is beef ragout, cheese soufflé, pie and pudding en flambé.”

Brendon quickly sets alight the pie dish which wails in pain, falling from the table before skittering away in painful whimpers. It's not particularly appealing and the march of semi-sentient dishes does little to persuade Frank that he should in fact eat from them. Brendon, however keeps singing and dancing.

“We'll prepare and serve with flair, a culinary cabaret! You're alone and you're scared but the banquet's all prepared. No one's gloomy or complaining, even Spencer's entertaining! We tell jokes, I do tricks with my fellow candlesticks.”

They mention something about it being all in perfect taste and to lift his glass which has magically appeared in front of him. Frank eyes it warily. Suddenly the lights dim and a spot light falls on Brendon, who dips his top hat.

“Life is so unnerving,” he laments, “for a servant who's not serving, he's not whole without a soul to wait upon. Ah, those good old days when we were useful. Suddenly those good ol' days are gone. Ten years we've been rusting, needing so much more than dusting. Needing exercise, a chance to use our skills.” Brendon winks dirtily in the direction of Spencer. “Most days we just lay around the castle. Grumpy, fat and lazy you walked and oopsie-daisy!”

From the direction of the kitchen, Frank can make out the sound of Patrick singing in a very similar meter, as if they had previously organized this as a choral ode. It weirdly reminds him of the letter which his father had sent to him from the Greek city of Epidaurus with its giant theatre which would've played host to many comedies and tragedies. He can't help but wonder which one he is in. The dishes take advantage of his preoccupied attention and display themselves in front of him. He turns back and almost falls backwards in his chair away from the bowl of beef ragout. They all continue to sing the same line of “Be our guest, please be our guest!” for another minute or so before finally stopping to pant and wait for his reaction.

Frank crosses his arms and looks at the dishes sadly. “But guys, I'm a vegetarian!”

They all look at him strangely, as if waiting for the “I'm joking!” sentence to follow. Frank pulls a funny face before apologizing. The dishes continue to stare before huffing sighs of annoyance and vacating the table.

“Told you a glass of water and a crust of bread would've been better,” Spencer sulks, consoling a particularly upset plate of chicken. Frank couldn't have agreed more.

 

~

The next evening, Frank cautiously enters the dining room. It's sheer size and decoration leaves him as breathless as the first time he saw it. He swallows hard against the odd feeling of nervousness and forces himself over to the table to be seated. “Um, hi?” he offers. “Brendon said that I should eat here...”

“I... You came. I didn't think you would,” the monster replies, scrambling out of his chair to stand.

“Yeah... You said I had to,” Frank eyes his chair with interest before being seated. It is enchanted, like most objects in the castle and he feels mildly uncomfortable about sitting down in it, especially when it starts stroking his ankle. He really hopes there isn't a repeat of last night's song and dance. “So, I was wondering what was so special in the west wing that I'm not allowed there?” he asks, remembering the odd set of instructions from the day before last when he was shown to his room.

The beast flinches and he snarls as Spencer stands on his foot. “Don't go in there,” he commands.

“How come?” Frank pushes, picking up a piece of baguette to dunk in his soup. “You hiding something? Is this the part where you tell me that you're under a spell and you're actually a prince?” He is too busy staring at his plate – which is wiggling it's porcelain eyebrows at him - to realize that the creature at the end of the table has stilled and is blinking at him, trying to work out if there is some way that he somehow knows already. “Or toad,” Frank adds, “I'm thinking toad.”

The beast barks a little huffed laugh, “I'm not a toad.” He looks down to see Brendon flailing at him madly. “I... I'm Gerard, by the way.”

“Oh damn,” Frank replies, pushing his plate away is mild disgust after realizing that there were chunks of some kind of meat in it. “I thought that it might be like a fairy tale and if I give you a kiss you might magically stop looking like something that wants to gouge out and eat my liver.” He laughs brightly before offering a little wave to the other side of the long dining table, “I'm Frank, Iero. But I also accept Frankie, Sweetie and 'oi captive slave'.”

“I don't! I... I'm not going to eat you, Frank. And you're not a slave.” Gerard tries to keep the annoyance out of his voice, but fails somewhat miserably given Brendon's slow shake of his head. He is beginning to regret the decision of making Frank come to dinner.

“Fine,” Frank replies, glaring at him, obvious contempt shining in his bright hazel eyes. “While we're on the topic of things I'm not, I can't eat this, I'm vegetarian. I told them last night, but well, you know.”

“Oh,” Gerard states, deflating a little before getting up and storming into the kitchen, demanding something be made without meat for Frank. He cannot stomach any more of the forced interaction and flees to the west wing for some much needed solitude. He knows that he should let the boy, Frank, go, but the risk of him returning to the village and reporting his cursed existence is too great. It is horrible being what he is, but it is preferable over death. Something twists a little in his stomach at the thought of Frank. Maybe being cooped up with in a castle with only his enchanted servants and Mikey to keep him company had been more detrimental for his mental health than he had previously anticipated.

Frank doesn't bother to hang around the vast dining room after Gerard's hasty departure. He off-handedly remarks about needing something from his room and politely excuses himself from the dinner staff, creeping subtly down long hallways after Gerard. He is intrigued and only a little scared. Although mildly directionally challenged, he works out that he is in the west wing due to the murals painted along the walls. He stares in amazement, hesitantly studying each one. Whole scenes are painted out, lovers on a highway yelling to each other in a hail of bullets, a parade of sorts, all dark and sombre leading a man in hospital garb across the walls, men leaning out of a brightly coloured carriage and shooting modified guns with streaks of light. A soft glow shines out of the room at the end of the main corridor and Frank cannot help being drawn into it.

The room is a mess of destroyed, ripped canvases and furniture, as if it is the scene of a crime. It smells closed in and mildy like feet and Frank has to steel himself before walking cautiously into it. His gaze falls on a small table, simple in its construction and housing a rather large bell jar on it. That in itself was not unusual, the floating rose inside of it is, however. “Huh,” is about all he manages before Gerard spins around, a growl issuing from his throat.

“What are you doing here?!” he demands, setting a hand mirror down carefully onto a nest of blankets.

“Looking at your floating rose, you suck at keeping it alive,” Frank states, walking closer to it and trying to stop the choking feeling of fear in his throat. “It's got, like, three petals left on it.” Gerard's reply of “It's the time limit!” is not quite what he was expecting. “Time limit?” he asks, “for what?”

Gerard paces a little, anger rolling off him. He can't believe that he blurted that out, to Frank of all people. All he can hear is his brother's silent chastisement for his admission. He eventually stops and sighs heavily, asking if Ross is still in the village.

“Ross?” Frank asks, confused. “Ugh, not that I know? Is he like, your boyfriend or something?”

“You'd know if he still lived there, he makes a spectacle of himself. Ryan Ross, town witch. He, ah... he had a thing for me but I wasn't keen so...” Gerard gestures awkwardly with his monstrous paws, “Werewolf. He's pretty dramatic.”

Werewolf. Shit.

“Fuck, that blows dude. I bet you miss having hands, what's it been? Four years?” Frank asks, unable to stop himself from prying despite the icy grip of fear on his internal organs. He never thought anything like this could actually happen. Without really thinking, he reaches out to move the bell jar from the rose.

Gerard's paw appears seemingly out of nowhere and slams the jar back over the rose with a stern “Leave it alone.” Frank flinches at the feeling of his claws pressing against his skin and quickly retracts his hand. His neck is still sore from where the claws had carved their way through his collar the day before and he does not wish to experience that again.

“So, werewolf huh? Do you change back into human on the full moon?”

Spencer and Brendon come sprinting into the room at that moment, interrupting Frank's slew of questions. He supposes that it is for the best, he'd really rather not be forcibly dragged out for being unable to keep his mouth shut. It wouldn't be the first time, that's for sure.

“Sorry master!” Spencer pants, leaning a little on what passes for legs. “We couldn't stop her!”

Frank raises his eyebrows. “Her?” he asks.

Gerard gives an awkward little cough and shuffles a little.

“Wait, you guys know I'm a guy right?? Like, I have a legitimate penis,” Frank gestures to his crotch. He doesn't get why people here keep mistaking him for a girl but it's getting very annoying, very quickly. He's already lost his guitar because of it, and now his freedom, it makes him wonder how many people can misunderstand his obvious masculinity. He, however, fails to take into account the fact that these are not people, but instead enchanted objects who view gender boundaries with nothing more than a casual side glance. Gerard has taught them well.

Gerard growls a little, gruffly replying that he knows that he is. He glares at Spencer and Brendon, silently telling them off for calling Frank a girl. “You should all go,” he commands them. He sees Frank give a huff of annoyance before starting to slowly walk back towards the door.

“You know,” Frank states, popping his head around the door once he is back out in the hallway, “it wouldn't hurt you to actually be nice.”

Gerard is about to yell that he was being nice but just turns away, roaring and smashing something when the door closes behind them. The moon rise is too close and the aggression coursing through him is overwhelming.

“You should all go” probably referred just to Gerard's bedroom, but Frank is taking the statement liberally. It is easy enough to distract Brendon and Spencer, getting them into a small conversation reminiscing about when they were human. Oblivious stoner bros in love, Frank thinks, hurriedly tugging on some old coat he found that morning. He wonders if anyone has missed him and his throat does this funny tightening thing when he thinks about love. He's a stupid, hopeless romantic and prays that one day he might meet someone who will return his affections and kind hearted sentiments. Naturally Gabe Saporta doesn't make the list of wishful candidates, the deer corpses made sure of that. The castle is quiet for the most part and it is easy to slip out of back doors approaching the stables. Frank is a little taken aback to find no horse, or indeed, anything there. He sets his shoulders with a sigh, his breath visible in the chill of approaching dark. He knows that the town isn't too far away and with a bit of luck he should reach it by morning. He slips away through a long forgotten gate unaware of the dark hazel eyes tracking him from the castle.

Heading out at night wasn't exactly the smartest idea Frank has ever had, but the taste of freedom is terribly sweet and addicting, his feet growing tired long before the feeling does. The full moon has risen, bathing the overgrown forest in a ghostly light. It's incredibly eerie and he tries not to think about the number of spiders spinning their webs above him. The forest is filled with all sorts of weird, unsettling noises and he quickly finds himself humming to distract himself.

It doesn't take long for the wolves to find him.

At first they hang back, a little curious about their prey. Frank is oblivious to his peril, having no sword nor arrows to defend himself with. He doesn't really notice the creatures stalking him until it is too late, their large ferocious eyes illuminated in the humble flame of his handmade torch. He panics, sprinting ahead and screaming. At some point he drops the torch and his bag, ditching the heavy coat along with his sanity. One of the wolves gains easily on him and pounces, pinning him to the cold, damp forest floor. Frank squeezes his eyes shut, believing that this is truly the end and waits for the sharp pierce of teeth tearing through his flesh. It doesn't come, instead, another large, heavy body collides with the wolf, tackling it off him with a snarl. Frank swiftly scampers to his feet. The breeze feels icy against his skin, biting in through his torn clothing. The wolves howl and snarl at each other and Frank's eyes widen in terror at the larger wolf attacking them. He wastes no time in trying to scamper away and ends up trying to climb a tree to escape. The large wolf suddenly takes an interest in him and quickly bounds up to him. Frank deals with it the only way he can really think of at the moment and delivers a swift roundhouse kick to its face. The wolf's head whiplashes unnaturally and Frank feels a little sick at the pained noise which it makes. He doesn't expect the other members of the pack to attack it, sinking their jaws into the poor creature's black hide. The fight plays out viciously in front of his eyes, the bigger wolf still managing to hold its own despite its extensive and bleeding injuries. The pack eventually scampers off with a few whimpers and half-hearted snarls. The large wolf hangs around for a bit, limping and occasionally lift its head up as if it is looking at him. Frank clings to the tree branches and prays for morning and an escape from the horror. The wolf continues to stalk, as if protecting him. It seems ridiculous and downright impossible but eventually exhaustion wins Frank over and his heavy eyes close.

Chapter Text


Frank awakens in the pale pre-dawn light, his body is stiff and aching from the deep scratches and gouges. He shivers and glances down to the forest floor. The wolf is gone and the only evidence of the violent night is small puddles of dried blood and messed up leaves. He barely has the strength to climb down out of the tree, let alone limp back towards the castle, yet somehow he makes it. The imposing stone architecture is a welcome sight and he practically falls through the doors. Spencer, Brendon and half the castle are alerted to his presence by the pooch barking loudly.

It isn't until he is settled in the main drawing room, near the roaring fire, wincing as he strips his tattered shirt off that he notices a shifting black mass in the corner. The dark mass issues soft pained whimpers and Frank cannot help but edge closer despite his beaten, achy muscles. Brendon bounds up, his candles illuminating the area with reckless abandon. Frank throws himself backwards with a cry, seeking out a weapon to defend himself with.

“Argh! That's a fucking wolf! What are you doing?!”

“Helping mon amie! Fetch me the bandages and some hot water!” Brendon tells him instead of explaining why there is a wolf in the castle. Frank takes a few deep breaths before limping off to do as he is told. He returns, cautiously approaching the animal which is bleeding all over the castle floor. It looks so pitiful and it doesn't take much for Frank to bend down, slowly applying the damp cloth to its matted fur.

“Oh,” he says, rinsing it out, trying not to notice the way the blood is still flowing freely from the wounds made by teeth and claws. “You're nothing but a puppy!”

The wolf glares at him with obvious contempt, but it's true. Its ears are soft and rounded, like the rest of it, giving it a slightly more puppy look. It's kind of adorable and all Frank wants to do is make it better and maybe snuggle with it a little. “Poor puppy, bet those hurt,” he remarks, one hand washing the cuts, the other reaching up to scratch behind its black ears. “You're pretty cute.” He receives a growl in response, but the animal presses into his touch regardless. Frank counts it as a win. He helps Brendon wind some bandages around the worst of the wounds, petting the creature through the discomfort of Brendon's too close flames. The smell of burnt fur hung around for weeks regardless.

Frank allows himself to rest once the majority of the blood has been staunched and bandages applied to the wolf pup. His eyes feel too heavy, his body too weak to do anything but lay in front of the fire and lazily pet the creature until he falls asleep, arm tucked almost protectively around it. The wolf glares at Brendon and Spencer who give it thumbs up gestures and quiet comments of support. It eventually gets bored of their actions and tucks its head down against Frank's shoulder to wait until he wakes again.

It is well and truly daylight the next time Frank pries his eyes open. His body feels like it has been put through a pasta press and then some. He keeps his eyes shut and reaches out subconsciously to pet the wolf. It is only when his hand comes in contact with the ancient rug instead of the warm, soft fur of the animal does he crack an eye open.

“Huuurggghhhnnn?” he asks, confused, before his eyes settle on the creature lying a foot or so away from him. Its ears prick at the sound and it eyes him with interest and an expression of mild amusement. “Oh, there you are puppy yuppy poo,” Frank coos, shifting closer and petting it once more. He is too tired to work out how absolutely ridiculous he sounds, almost like a prepubescent girl. The wolf's fur is a mixture of black and deep russet colours, longer than what it appears, but it is its eyes that steal Frank's breath. He hadn't really noticed them in the flickering light of the fire before, but now he doesn't know how he could've missed them. They are a deep hazel colour, more brown than his own but oddly beautiful. “You have very unusual eyes,” he compliments it. “Like chocolate only greener. You're also snuggly and much better than the pooch. But shhhhh you can't tell him otherwise I will have no-one to cuddle.” The pooch was not so much dog as it was an animated footstool, sure it would bark and roll over but it wasn't the most comfortable thing to have curled up to you in bed.

The wolf pants a little laugh in response, dipping its head to nuzzle at Frank's cheek before looking directly at him, as if trying to get him to realize something. Frank blinks at it, moving his hand down to scratch at its half exposed belly.

“There's something familiar about you, I'd ask if you were part of this stupid enchantment but you're a puppy, not an animated piece of furniture.”

The wolf quirks its eyebrows.

Frank sighs, staggering to his feet. The shock of standing makes him woozy and he has to support himself on the nearby tall-back chair. He mutters something about the pup just being super smart and calls for it to follow him to his room. He desperately needs to get rid of the rest of his shredded clothes and wash some of the dried blood and fear from his tacky skin. The wolf follows him, almost leading the way at times as if it knew where it was going. Frank thinks that maybe his scent is just that obvious. Once inside, he is grateful to see that Ray has trundled off to another room and is, by the sounds of it, banging his doors open to a musical score similar to the performance Twelve Minutes To Midnight. He eagerly and somewhat painfully strips that last of his clothes off, wincing at the cool air raising goosebumps on his exposed skin. “You're pretty cool,” he mentions, undoing the draw string to his shredded breeches, “reckon Gerard will let me keep you?” It would be a rather pleasant thing to have a friend in the castle who isn't one of the enchanted servants.

The wolf gives a little noise which could almost pass for a laugh before turning its head, seemingly very interested in the floor all of a sudden.

“I hope so too, it'd be nice to have a friend,” Frank continues, making a move to undo the unexpectedly large number of buttons, “Everyone in the village sucks and treats me like there's something wrong with me.” He walks over to the bed, pulling a pair of untorn breeches from under his pillow. “It was the biggest full moon last night and...” Frank trails off, breeches almost completely open. He freezes in fear as a random though hits him with the same impact as a sledgehammer to his temples. Oddly exposed, he hastily attempts to close them, backing away. “Gerard?” he asks cautiously.

The wolf quickly paces closer to him, closing the distance until Frank is pressed flush against the peeling wallpaper.

“Please don't bite me, I didn't know! Please!” Frank begs, his eyes squeezed shut. He knows the legends and has no wish to be forced to become a creature of the night also. Werewolves are reckless, blood hungry and-

His thoughts come to a screaming halt when he feels the wet lick of the creature's tongue on his wrist. He peeks an eye open and sees the wolf do what can only pass for a rather awkward nod and another lick to his fear drenched skin. He breathes out a shaky breath of relief. “I taste good huh?” he awkwardly jokes before doing up his breeches so fast his hands are a blur despite the shaking. He has no wish to be naked in front of him, not now that he knows the wolf is Gerard. The full moon must still be up, he reasons and asks the creature in front of him if he changes back to human when the moon dips back below the horizon.

Gerard, the wolf, makes a sad little sound and promptly drops back down to the floor, lying his head on his paws. Frank's heart fills with an odd sense of pity and he cannot help but sit down beside him, gingerly reaching out to pat him. “'M sorry, Gee. Really, I am. No-one deserves this.” Being turned into a half human monster is one thing, forced to become an animal every time the moon reached it zenith is quite another. He can't imagine that he spends much time out of the castle, it's not like he can stroll into town. He begins to understand why it was such an outrage for his uncle to stray onto the castle grounds. If he was in Gerard's shoes he would not want to be seen either and risk being known as a monster. Better to be assumed dead. Dead, that's exactly what he came so close to being last night when...

“It was you that saved me wasn't it?”

Gerard nods after a pause, shifting his head to rest against Frank's leg, his body warmed and seemingly soothed by his presence. Frank looks down at him horrified. “Oh god, I kicked you! I thought you were trying to attack me! I'm sorry, it was wrong of me to try and leave.” As fucked up as the situation is, Frank has given his word that he would stay and he'd be damned if he was going back on it. Besides, as bad as everything at the castle may seem, it sure was better than having to see Gabe's face every day or so. Gerard shakes his head and nuzzles against him, hinting for a scratch behind his ears.

Frank obliges and is horrified when, a few minutes later, the wolf's body contorts unnaturally. The sound of sinews tearing and ripping, bones grinding and the animal's pained cries fill the room. It is beyond grotesque yet Frank cannot bring himself to look away. Helpless, he freezes, fear over-riding all of his senses. The change itself barely takes a minute but it feels like forever and no time at all. Eventually the form in front of him takes on a familiar looking shape, still covered in fur but oddly proportioned, stuck halfway between beast and man.

Gerard coughs violently, not meeting Frank's eyes. “Sorry,” he apologizes through a broken throat, “I should've left before you saw that.”

Frank shakes his head, unsure what to make of what has just happened. “Uhhh, no... it's okay,” he replies, somewhat awkwardly. “You, uh, stay here and I don't know, rest or something and I'll go get some food and coffee.” It seems like a perfectly acceptable suggestion until Gerard attempts to get up but ends up collapsing again in pain, wincing.

“Okay,” Frank breathes and forces himself to his feet to give Gerard a hand. It takes some work but eventually he is able to manoeuvre him into his bed, tugging the covers up to give him back a fraction of modesty. He keeps his eyes trained anywhere but there, despite his morbid curiosity of just how much of a wolf Gerard really is. “I'll be back soon,” he tells him, hastily retreating to the kitchens.

Upon his return, Frank briefly hears a mumbled “Thank you, Frankie” which sounds as if Gerard has his face buried in his pillow– which is exactly what Gerard was doing, maybe subtly sniffing it too.

“Hey, you saved me from ravenous wolves. I kinda owe you one,” Frank replies, setting a tray laden with croissants, cheese and coffee down on the bed. He had pointedly told the wait staff that he was perfectly okay carrying it up to the room and didn't need assistance. It feels too weird to have servants after so many years of self-reliance. The kitchen staff tried not to stare and raise their eyebrows at a breeches only clad Frank. They failed.

“Still, thank you.”

Frank smiles earnestly at him, grabbing his coffee and mumbling a “You're welcome” into its warm milky depths. He finds himself asking about the murals in the west wing, remarking on how amazing they are.

Gerard gives a small nod of acknowledgment, “Yeah they're mine. From before.” He glances wistfully at the full, beckoning coffee mug, his paws too ungainly to hold the fragile porcelain. Contemplating how exactly he's going to pick it up, he isn't quite prepared when Frank grabs it, offering it to him. Gerard tries to hide his obvious yet pained grin as he takes it from him, his paws wrapping around Frank's tattooed yet human hand. Frank doesn't flinch, but retracts his hand regardless. It takes him a second, having been slightly blindsided by the urgent need for caffeinated beverages, to realize that Frank has in fact been talking.

“-Oh, I mean, if you are still drawing I'd love you to design me a piece, I have too much blank space on my right arm,” Frank gestures with it before suddenly becoming aware that he is still shirtless. His cheeks catch fire as he quickly pulls a discarded shirt on. Gerard balances the fragile cup in his paws and laps at it a few times before pausing. “I would if I could hold pencil properly,” he remarks sadly.

“Seriously, if I ever meet this Ross guy, I'm gonna castrate and then kill him. Taking away your ability to draw is beyond cruel,” Frank pauses, “Do you miss it?”

It is a bit of a dumb question and he isn't all that surprised when Gerard looks up at him, earnestly replying “Every day. Was all I used to do. It was what I was made to do.”

Frank cannot help him and without putting too much thought into it, suddenly reaches out and hugs him.

“I-- Frankie?” Gerard asks, concern tinting his voice as if suddenly afraid.

“It's called a hug,” Frank murmurs into the embrace. “Roll with it.” Gerard is warm, really warm and smells like earth just after rain, old cigarettes, coffee and something undeniably sweet. It makes his head swim slightly and it takes a good few heavy heartbeats before he pulls back. “Looked like you needed one,” he off-handedly mentions with a shrug, as if trying to deny how important and oddly right it felt.

Gerard blinks his large hazel eyes at him, thanking him and explaining that he hadn't had one in a while, besides the ones that Brendon attempts to give him but mainly succeeds in singeing him. “Sounds painful!” Frank giggles in response. It is then that Brendon bursts into the room with Spencer trailing behind him.

“Master! We couldn't find you and-” Brendon breaks off, glancing at the scene in front of him. “Why are you in Frank's bed? Is the spell breaking?” the hopefulness and excitement in his voice is so sickeningly sweet, it could practically cause cavities.

Gerard glares at him for a moment before tipping his monstrous head back and swearing at the ceiling. “I just changed back, Bren, go worry about someone else for a change,” he explains. Brendon makes a disappointed sound, physically drooping. Frank almost feels bad for him but realizes that he is probably going to be hassling him more often so he declines to offer supportive words. Brendon shoots one more look at them before grabbing Spencer's arm, dragging him out with this look on his face and a half whispered statement about “polishing” his “cogs.”

As soon as the door closes, Frank bursts into a fit of laughter. He doesn't even know what the spell is and Brendon's words practically have confirmed that in order to break it Gerard must bed someone, either that or love, as if that solves anything. “Wow, that was gross,” he states, finally catching his breath, “were they like a thing before the spell?”

Gerard gives a small woofy laugh, explaining that they have been a thing forever and a day. “I'm surprised it has taken you this long to figure it out, Bren isn't very subtle. Spence struggled with the change but Brendon couldn't care less, especially when he could actually set things on fire.”

“I had my suspicions,” Frank replies, picking up one of the croissants and nibbling at it. “I should let you sleep though, you must be exhausted.” Part of him really wants to crawl in beside him and pass the fuck out, but he goes for the more mature and socially acceptable idea of going back to the sitting room. Sure the chair was a little lumpy and cracked jokes about his lack of ass, but it was in front of the fire and perfect for much needed naps. He gets as far as the door before he pauses, turning around, something tugging inside of him at seeing Gerard like that. With a slightly unconvincing nonchalant shrug he goes back to sitting on the bed.

Pete pops his head around the door a few hours later and finds the pair still engaged deeply in conversation. He smirks and practically dances all the way to the west wing to tell Mikey.



A rather disastrous Christmas comes and goes, Frank tries his best not to think about it and spends a few days avoiding as many of the servants as he can, preferring the company of an old book filled with poems entitled The Lovecats. Gerard has introduced a magic mirror to him to use occasionally. The first time he had held it the mirror had raised his eyebrows and refused to comment anything other than “'Sup.” Frank had carefully placed it back down, afraid to actually use it for its intended purposes. It had felt kind of weird holding it as the mirror was clearly enchanted and obviously someone really important to Gerard. The mirror's name was Mikey, he had learnt from Pete, a feather duster, who spent an unusual amount of time hanging around. This in itself shouldn't really be surprising, as he should be doing his job of keeping the castle free from cobwebs and dust. Most of the time he really could not have been bothered and prefered to draw pictures of bats into the collecting layers of dust, soot and wherever else decides to float into the castle.

The second time Frank holds him, Mikey introduces himself in a slightly bored tone and explains how he works, remarking that if Frank wants to use him he needs to stop thinking about his brother like that.

Frank blushes, knowing that Mikey apparently shows his heart's desire, which, well, at this present moment in time happened to be a very graphic daydream about a pale skinned, dark haired boy who would kiss him hard before dropping to his knees and tugging his breeches... He quickly stops the thought and asks “Brothers?”

If he could, Mikey would be rolling his eyes. “Yes, I'm Michael, as in Michael Way, Gerard's brother. Now can you stop being gross and desire something else?”

“Umm, sure,” Frank stutters slightly before asking how the castle came under the spell in the first place. He isn't quite prepared for what Mikey shows him and walks away from the conversation feeling off centre and with a strange mix of feelings. Gerard isn't a bad person and should not have been punished so badly for refusing Ross's advances and being self absorbed. It seems so utterly unfair, especially for those employed here. No-one really wants to live their lives as a closet, clock, foot stool – the exception being, of course, Brendon, who rather enjoys setting things spontaneously on fire.

He lies in bed that night, thinking about Gerard and how he has come to mean a surprising amount to him. Not that he'd admit it out loud. That thing is generally frowned upon. A part of him wonders if it is just stockholm syndrome, if he is only feeling like this because he really has no other choice. But then he thinks back to their conversations and how alive Gerard seemed talking about art, books and music with him. Frank wonders when he began to see him as a person and not just a monster.

The next day starts out fairly ordinarily. He joins Gerard for coffee in the main sitting room sometime close to noon. He asks, mouth wrapped around a blessedly hot cup of coffee if there are any more books. The hard covered and very worn copy of LeathermØuth had been finished a few days ago and he finds himself pining for something else, maybe involving vampires. He doesn't quite expect Gerard's expression brighten so suddenly. “Come on,” he says, reaching out to take Frank's hand and cringing inwardly at his own monstrous paws. “I wanna show you something.”

“Um, okay...” Frank agrees, grasping onto what he assumes is what passes for Gerard's thumb these days and gently squeezing. “Is it a surprise?”

He hears an odd metallic scuttling behind him and isn't terribly surprised to see Brendon skitter to a halt in front of them. He is, however, a little taken back to see a silk scarf in his hand. It is another left over piece of ephemera from Ryan Ross, master enchantress. Thankfully this, unlike the rose, did not contain any curses, enchantments or well-wishes but what it lacked in magic, it clearly made up for in style.

“Master! Forgetting something?” Brendon cries, brandishing the scarf like a matador. Frank is amazed that the whole thing isn't on fire yet, especially considering how close it comes to the flaming candles that represent Brendon's hands. Gerard nods gleefully and tells Frank to close his eyes before thanking Brendon and carefully taking the scarf from him. “May I?” he asks, looking down at Frank and awkwardly shuffling behind him. Frank makes a slightly undignified noise at the suggestion before breathlessly stating “Wow, kinky, but sure.”

Gerard sighs long-suffering through his grin before slipping it over Frank's closed hazel eyes. “You okay?” he asks, fumbling to tie the damned thing. Paws. Paws with claws. Fucking Ross. You'd think he would've at least left him better control of his opposable thumbs.

“Yeah...” comes Frank's reply. It's a little raw sounding and Gerard pretends not to notice. He gulps audible before steering them both down the long hallway and through four sets of doors and up a staircase. At least, Frank thinks to himself after tripping over his feet or some unknown hazard, possibly Spencer, the stairs don't move like in that book about wizards and their magical school. He almost faceplants when they abruptly stop and it is only with some rather creative and embarrassing wind milling of his arms that he manages to stay upright.

“Just wait a minute” Gerard's rough voice echoes as his claws click across what sounds like polished wooden floors. Spencer and Brendon's voices join in and bicker over something before light floods in.

“Smells weird in here,” Frank mentions, shifting his weight from foot to foot. “Almost like...”

Gerard sneaks up behind him and rips the scarf-come-blindfold from Frank's eyes. (Although obviously not Ross's original intentions for the scarf, it made itself useful and Frank Iero should hence forth be very glad that it was not enchanted. The phrase “Argh! My eyeballs have been raped!” comes to mind.)

“Like books?”

“Holy shit... Is this?... Can I?...”

Frank clearly has lost his ability to communicate like a rational human being so Gerard kindly fills in the blanks for him. “It's yours, if you want it,” he tells him. It's strictly not true, technically the library belongs to the castle and volumes to museums and various collections, but for the moment Gerard can think of no greater purpose for it than making Frank happy. He watches as Frank runs to the nearest shelf, running his hand along the spines in sheer joy.

“There must be hundreds of thousands of volumes here!” he calls out, hands busying themselves in tugging a few out from their ordered shelves so he can glance at their illustrated and gilded leather covers. He hears Gerard prattle off some huge number as well as off handedly stating that it has been built up by his family for centuries. Centuries. If he didn't know better, he'd think this was actually the fabled home of everything that was lost at the burning of the great library of Alexandria. But he does knows better and turns his attention instead to the small pile already in his arms. “Are you sure this is okay?” he asks, hesitantly looking up.

Gerard cannot help but laugh, giddy with how Frank looks and tells him “More than okay.” He means every word and watches as Frank grins hugely at him like a Cheshire cat and literally climbs the shelves. “You have Lord Morrison's Doom Patrol?!” his voice cries down, tugging it out and appearing to be trying very hard not to fall down.

“Whole series. Signed by the author too.” Gerard tries not to boast, he really does and as usual, fails miserable. Behind him he knows Spencer and Pete are shaking their heads at him.

“You lucky fuck,” Frank tells him when his feet are safely back on the floor. The awe is evident in his voice and Gerard is rather impressed at the now rather large pile occupying the side table.

“I'll let you have some peace and quiet,” he says, quietly backing out slowly.

Frank, sensing his reluctant withdrawal, runs up and tackles him, burying his face in his fur. “Thank you” he says earnestly, voice muffled by the soft black-brown fur peaking out of Gerard's opened shirt. Gerard is more than surprised at the outburst, especially given Frank's earlier behaviour towards him. He blinks a few times for good measure and stutters back “You're welcome, Frankie. I'm glad you like it.” He feels Frank nod against him, still hugging. It's an assault on the senses having him this close and his sweet and slightly musky scent is more than he can bear. Gerard closes his eyes, trying not to be obvious about enjoying it.

“Stay with me?” Frank asks, pulling back a little.

Gerard blinks in surprise. “I... Sure? Are you sure?” Neither of them break the hug and Brendon takes this moment to nudge knowingly at Spencer and waggle his eyebrows a little. Frank nods enthusiastically before noticing something different. It is small, barely any change but he could swear that man-wolf-beast-thing he was currently hugging looked more, well, human. Tentatively, he reaches up, testing his fingers along the pale human skin now showing and the upturned nose. “Hey, you're changing...” he states, mesmerized.

“What?” Gerard asks, confused and overwhelmed at Frank's touch and closeness. “I... Wow, that's cool” Frank breathes and Gerard does his best to hold back a shiver as his slightly calloused fingers ghost over his nose and mouth. “What are you talking about?”

“Your face, you're not as wolfy looking...”

Now Gerard is really confused and maybe getting a little pissy with Frank's mocking. “Are you messing with me?” he demands, after all, this is Frank. Frank, who has to date hidden all of Gerard's favourite jackets, taught the pooch that his favourite chair is a most excellent place for urination and told him that he couldn't grow a moustache if he tried. What he doesn't understand, however, is when Frank pulls his hand back, his face falling as he swiftly replies “No... I... Were you happy before?”

“When? Before you started making fun of me? Yeah, I was,” Gerard pauses as if realising something. “More than I have been in a long time...”

Frank still doesn't make a move to step back from him, “Maybe,” he starts, voice soft and kind of puzzled, “Maybe you only change when you're happy, if you must know, I truly wasn't making fun.” It sounds like a fairly sound theory, after all the curse was not really specific on the whole werewolf-curse-thing so...

“What are you talking about?” Gerard asks, breaking Frank's important train of thought. He distracts himself by going back over to the books, picking one up and pretending to study it idly. “Your face changed. You were more human looking,” Frank states, he tries not to notice the way that Gerard's barely human features cloud over.

“I haven't looked human since... Never mind.”

“You were seventeen?” Frank helpfully supplies, “Yeah, Mikey told me.” This was in fact, not strictly true, Mikey had shown him. Frank was sure Mikey would've rather have spelt it out.

Gerard looks at him, his dark brown-green eyes wide before rolling them comically. “Of course he did. Fucking Mikey. He's actually my brother you know...” he trails off, remembering back when they were younger. Poor Mikey had been barely fourteen before he was turned into an annoying talking hand mirror. It was however fitting that his “friend” Pete, had been turned into a feather duster. Personally, Gerard couldn't think of anyone fluffier in the castle, besides the pooch and Frank's epic bed hair. He tries very very hard to stop the mental tangent of Frank is bed, propped up by pillows, the cool summer breeze raising goosebumps on his naked... Gerard smiles a little and tries not to blush. “So you know the story, so you know why what you said can't be true. If you're trying to make me feel better, I appreciate it, but please don't get my hopes up for nothing.”

Frank frowns and sets the book back down. He makes a mental promise to come back to it shortly. “I wasn't lying, and I definitely wasn't doing it to get your hopes up,” he replies before being struck with an idea so wrong it could possibly be right. “Wait!”

Gerard allows himself to be tugged over to a large picture with reflective glass over it. Brendon creeps further into the room to get a better look at what is going on whilst Spencer flails his clockwork limbs around in a vain attempt to get him to come back.

“See?” Frank says, a grin brightening his face. “Hideous werewolf?”

“Hey...” Gerard begins in protest but is swiftly cut off by the shorter man surging up on his tip toes, fingers grabbing a fist full of his eighth favourite jacket and kissing him. On the mouth. He barely has time to react before Frank is pulling back, biting his bottom lip anxiously. Gerard feels sick and uneasy watching his face fall the way it does as he quietly says “Oh... I thought that would work... Um, sorry.” Gerard gingerly raises a paw to his tingling mouth which now tastes of Frank. Fuck. “Was that...” he starts, very confused now. “What was that?”

Frank shifts uncomfortably as if his clothes were too hot and itchy for him, despite it being the beginning of winter and the library sitting at a chilly eight degrees centigrade. “I thought...” he abortively tries, “no, never mind.” Gerard watches as he scoops down to pick a book off the ground that had somehow fallen in the excitement.

“...Just an experiment?”

“Stop lurking!” Frank calls out instead of answering him, “I can see you, and yes I'm talking to you Brendon! Hiding behind Spencer won't do you any good.” He then does the only thing he can think of given the awkwardness of the situation and sits down cross legged on the couch, book in hand. He doesn't look up when he mutters “You changed when you were happy, I just thought that... Whatever, it was stupid.” He cowardly opens the book and pretends to read hoping that Gerard will drop the subject. He feels so stupid for doing that and really isn't sure what the hell he had been thinking.

“Did you mean it though? Or did you just want to test your theory?”

Frank is scared. He doesn't want to admit even to himself that he might have meant it. He's kissed a few people, sure, but none of them had been a werewolf living in a cursed castle. His stomach twists involuntarily and for a second he is worried he will heave up breakfast all over the precious printed pages in front of him. He likes Gerard. He's funny, smart, a little temperamental, artistic, geeky, sweet, understanding, introverted and downright weird, but he's the closest he has had to a true friend since he was a kid with Shaun coming to stay for lazy summer breaks. Something whispers inside of him that it is more than just simply liking the guy, but he chooses to quickly disregard it.

“Frankie?” Gerard prompts again, his voice sounding weirdly wrecked even to his own ears. He ignores the way half the castle is now congregating at the doors to the library.

“I don't just kiss people randomly,” Frank mumbles, head bowed and eyes down-turned as if ashamed.

“Just for experiments?”

It is then that Brendon burst up onto the couch alongside Frank, clearly unable to contain himself any longer and loudly exclaiming “You kissed me last week!” Gerard lifts his paw as if to strike him but stops at the last moment when Frank throws his head back with a low groan.

“Remember your temper master!” Brendon quickly skitters away, practically into Frank's lap which does little to stop the rage rising within Gerard's chest. Frank is his. He doesn't get the chance to work out what that thought actually means as Frank loudly exclaims “That was one time Brendon! It was dark and I couldn't fucking see anything! Naturally I was happy as fuck to see you.” Brendon hops out of his lap and dips his head, dripping small puddles of wax onto the complexly patterned parquet wooden floor. “And it was a pleasure to see you too mademoiselle!” he announces.

“Brendon stop calling me that!” Frank yells, his cheeks flushed and with a sigh Brendon tottles out of the Library to face a slightly pissed off Spencer who wastes no time in admonishing him. The double doors close, leaving a wake of awkward silence. Summoning nearly all his courage, Gerard swallows, running his tongue over his impressively large canines and shuffles closer. He looks shyly at Frank who has yet to meet his eyes. “Did you mean it?” he asks, nervously staring at Frank's soft, inviting lips as if willing him to speak. He is more than aware that Frank is yet to meet his gaze and knows the odds are pretty damned high that the man before him is so repulsed that he can't bring himself to move his gaze from the book perched in his lap.

Frank, to his utter amazement, gives a small nod after a few heart-wrenching seconds. “I liked seeing you happy and I thought that would...” he starts before sighing and showing a crooked grin, “Guess I was wrong.”

Wrong? Frank? Wrong? Gerard finds himself relaxing somewhat but also returning to a state he is now labelling intense confusion brought on by a tattooed yet extremely alluring midget. It is important to note that Frank is not actually circus-carny small despite the rumours. If he was, he'd smell like cabbage and have tiny hands. “No, you weren't,” Gerard starts, hoping that they are on the same page about the whole incident, “I thought you didn't... I don't want to be a lab rat. But if you meant it...” He understands that there are different sorts of kisses – mummy kisses, hairy Aunt Judith kisses, drunk kisses, puppy kisses, friendly kisses and hurry-up-and-get-naked kisses, but is a little unsure which category the one Frank gave him fits into.

Frank looks at him, his hazel eyes bright with something unsaid and most likely rude. “Maybe it's stockholm syndrome or whatever,” he suggests with a nonchalant shrug, “But I can talk to you and feel like you get me. I don't want things to be awkward between us, after all, I am here forever.”

“I feel like you get me too. More than anyone ever has...” Gerard gushes before his brain plays catch up with what else Frank had said. Here forever, he knows that is what he told him when Frank had first appeared at the castle in search of his uncle and as nice as the idea is, it makes him very uneasy. Despite his own feelings he does not want Frank to be miserable and feel like he's trapped here. “You... You don't have to stay if you don't want to. I guess I release you...” he tells him softly. He can't bring himself to look at him in case his expression reads one of elation whereby crushing any chance Gerard has of legitimate happiness – his bi-monthly delivery of new books didn't count.

Frank jerks his head up suddenly. “Why?” he asks angrily, “Is it because I'm not a girl and can't break the spell?” He snaps the book shut with more force than necessary and gets up. “Cause that's fucking bullshit.”

It only serves to piss him off more the way Gerard is staring at the ground and softly stating “You can. I just don't want you to be stuck here if you don't want to be. I like you too much for that.” Which, okay, yes, lovely to hear that Gerard values his happiness, but he can't expect him to be that person. Not after, like, a few weeks. “Mikey said the spell has to be broken by a girl falling in love with you and besides, my wardrobe is filled with pretty much just dresses . Everyone here – including you, is waiting for this person I will never be. Anyway,” Frank adds, glaring at him, “Screw you, I'm actually happy here.” He quickly strides forward, intent on leaving the room when Gerard calls for him to wait.

“When-- When Ryan cursed me, he said “You must fall in love with another, and have them love you in return”, there was nothing about girls or boys.”

“But everyone is waiting for a girl, Gerard, there are only dresses and skirts, and whilst I'm not opposed to dressing up, hell, it wouldn't be the first time, I'm not what everyone was hoping for. Hell, probably not what you were hoping for either.” It kind of hurts him to say but it is true and the best he can do is flash Gerard a weirdly small smile. “Some strange, tattooed Italian boy, hardly anyone's cup of tea. If it would suit you, I'd like to take my leave for the rest of the afternoon.”

Gerard's mouth works before he has a moment to think and he calls out “Frank, wait, before you go...” He stops mid sentence with You're not what I expected at all, but you're exactly what I want on the tip of his tongue. He shakes his head, mournfully watching as Frank clutches the book tighter to his chest, “I, ugh, see you at dinner?”

Frank shakes his head and mutters some excuse about feeling under the weather before fleeing the room. Gerard waits exactly two seconds after the door is closed to bury his face in his paws and give a low dejected cry.

Chapter Text


To say Frank had slept badly after the whole library incident would be an understatement. Frank had slept terribly. The room had been too hot, too stuffy, his thoughts projecting loudly into the echoing room. Not even the pooch was a source of comfort despite its soft doggy snores. He stumbles down the stairs to breakfast, tired eyes glued to his book. He's currently only a third of the way into it and finally understanding what Gerard had meant by calling him a hobbit, despite his lack of hairy feet and more than apparent love of “pipe” weed. Frank makes a mental note to ask Gerard if it is even available in France as he plonks himself down in one of the dining chairs near the frosted windows. He misses the way Gerard awkwardly stands as he sits down and is unable to make eye contact with him. Frank pats around the table for the cup of coffee and mutters a brief “'Morning,” and “thanks,” when the cup is pressed into his hands. Frank takes a large gulp, half burning his mouth in the process. The rush of hot liquid and caffeine is enough to jolt him into some form of consciousness and after a few minutes finally lifts his eyes from the book. “Sorry, uh, I'm being rude,” he states, carefully putting the bookmark in and setting it down away from the breakfast foods. Books, in his opinion, should be treated with more respect than some humans.

“Oh, no, it's fine,” Gerard tells him with a hesitant expression. “It's nice to see you smile again after... Never mind.”

“Um, okay,” Frank replies, his mouth back around his cup, “so what's for breakfast?” One of the things he is most thankful here in the castle is that the coffee cups aren't enchanted, the teacups are a total different story however, sleazy bastards.

“...Porridge? Not very exciting, but Bob is a great chef so it'll be good, also it'll warm you up if you wanna join me in pretending it's Hoth in the snow today.”

Snow. That would explain the fact that the castle appeared to have ice clinging to the interior furniture and why Frank was in fact bundled up in his pyjamas, two pink cardigans and an old military trench coat he found in the east wing. He cannot help but bounce in his seat in excitement.

“It's winter,” Gerard explains, “it snows in winter here.” Frank's excitement seems to be contagious and he cannot stop his own mouth from curving up into what he has come to know as a grin. The food arrives promptly and Patrick does his best to keep their coffee mugs full. Gerard tries to be subtle as he watches Frank load his porridge with fruits and a rather generous helping of cream. Frank eats with the same enthusiasm as he does a lot of things and it takes a few moments before Gerard shakes himself out being a total creep and looks at his own bowl, frowning. Bowls, cutlery, Shit. He had attempted this whole eating with silverware before and it turned out disastrously. He can practically see the spoon shaking in fear of being manhandled in his large, ungainly paws. Up until this point he had lived pretty much on coffee and rather large servings of French toast.

Frank, sensing his sudden unease, sets his spoon down. It had occurred to him before that the usual dining conventions would be hard for Gerard and that it would only serve to make him uncomfortable should he attempt and fail spectacularly. He picks up his bowl and slurps a mouthful of it down, off-handedly remarking that they should just stop putting cutlery out. The silverware naturally takes offence and scuttles off the table. Frank is secretly glad as the cutlery is just as sleazy about going in his mouth as the tea cups were. He watches over the rim of his bowl as Gerard blinks his large brown-green eyes, clearly confused by his actions. He goes to spell it out to him but by the time he has thought of something witty enough, Gerard is gripping his bowl and bringing it gingerly towards his snout.

“Thank you, Frank,” Gerard says, giving his bowl one last lick. Frank raises his perfect eyebrows a little before quickly replying “It's really not a big deal. Fuck society, who cares if you have paws?”

“It's more than just the bowl. More than the paws. I haven't felt like I might not be a monster in a long time.”

“You're not a monster” Frank quickly tells him, running his fingers along the inside of bowl to collect the last of the porridge and a stray piece of apricot. “Trust me. I've seen monsters and you are far from one.”

“Even before I was... like this, I was, but you -” Gerard makes the mistake of looking up and watches captivated as Frank licks his strong, tattooed fingers. Seeming to feel his stare, Frank grins sheepishly and uses a passing napkin.

“You should tell me what you were like before sometime,” he replies, making a grab for another cup of coffee. He doesn't miss the way that Gerard's gaze suddenly falls back down to the table with a muttered reply of “Maybe. Sometime.”

“Deal,” Frank tells him, supposing that he probably doesn't want to remember being properly human. “And I'll tell you about growing up in Italy and my uncle's crazy inventions...” he trails off. His uncle. More than anything he hopes that Luigi is okay. He feels guilty for not having thought of him in many days. He promptly hides his expression in his cup.

The rest of breakfast passes fairly awkwardly after that. Gerard cannot help but feel the overwhelming, sickening feeling of guilt after Frank's words and expression. It was wrong of him to be away from his uncle – the only family he has in the whole country. An uncle he knows who loves him. He wants to tell him again that he is free to leave but after the incident in the library he is less than keen. The guilt is soon replaced by embarrassment when Frank wipes porridge from his fur. He mutters a quiet thanks and wonders if it is too late to request meals in his room instead.

They get as far as the side door out into the courtyard before Ray comes thudding down the stairs, his doors flying open and breathlessly yelling at Frank to put on something more than just his pyjamas and fluffy slippers. He lobs a pair of too-large boots in his direction and yells a swift apology as one of them smacks Frank in the head. Gerard suppresses a laugh – only just, and once Frank has tugged on the offending boots, he grips the sleeve of the trench coat and drags him outside.

“C'mon, Frankie! The empire will never find us all the way out here!” Gerard shouts, running out into the snow, his bare paws sinking deep into the drifts which have collected on the hidden lawn. Frank tries to follow but almost face-plants when the boots hit a patch of ice and has to steady himself on a nearby evergreen shrub. Maybe this whole snow thing was highly overrated as he already he can feel freezing cold seeping through his boots. He glances back to the relative safety of the castle and sees Brendon trying to lure a lurking Spencer out. “Look sir!” he calls back, pointing at them, “Droids!” He wastes no time in compacting a handful of snow and throws it at them with practised aim. It smashes at Brendon's feet, extinguishing all three of his candles. The look of sheer annoyance is comical and Frank quickly scoops up another one.

“Wait, wait! That's C3PO!” Gerard cries, spotting the wet curses leaving his servant's mouths. He points to Brendon before adding “And R2!” and pointing at Spencer, “They're with us, young jedi.”

Frank giggles and throws the snowball at him instead before scuttling behind a conveniently placed tree. The tree in question had originally be planted by Gerard's great-great-great grandfather for the express purpose of pissing off his wife with it's less than convenient placement. If the tree could think, it would probably be remarking instead on the root-rot which had started to set in four years and thirteen days ago, rather than the irony of this circumstance. “Hey!” he hears Gerard yell at him over the top of the sound of snow being scrapped together, “Friendly fire!” He cannot help but laugh harder, peeking around the tree trunk to see Gerard covered in quickly melting snow. His breath is momentarily stolen when he sees the paws and dark fur retract into something more human. The frigid air burns in his throat as he stares, transfixed at the transformation, so much so that he doesn't notice until too late, the snowball headed in his direction.

They are too busy exchanging fire and shrieks of laughter that they don't notice the congregation at the door of servants and enchanted objects. Brendon is still muttering about the snowball and is yet to successfully re-ignite his candles whilst Spencer bitches about rust. It is only when Pete gives a low whistle do they notice the playful exchange between the master and whatever the hell Frank is – prisoner, other master, pain in the ass. They are obviously flirting with each other, something they hadn't witnessed before and it fills them with a bizarre hope. It is plain to see, looking at the way that Frank's face is flushed red as he clambers onto Gerard, rubbing his icy hands over his face; that there is something there that wasn't there before, well, that they had witnessed at least. Bob on the other hand had been privy to many long glances between the pair as they made coffee on him at ass o'clock in the morning when most kitchen fires are meant to be sleeping. He had naturally come to the conclusion that they were both idiots and promptly burned their facon.

“Ice in your face, motherfucker!” Frank cries, triumphantly, pinning Gerard to the ground, his numb hands seeking refuge in the heat of his rapidly disappearing fur. It seems so strange that the man underneath him is the same one that had been so unforgiving and coarse when they had first met. There is an unsureness in Gerard's eyes at times, a weird longing and nervousness that made Frank's stomach fill with butterflies instead of the usual dread and carrot sticks. It is all very new and a tad alarming, especially given what had happened in the library yesterday, whilst it is true that Gerard is no prince charming or hell, even human at this time, he still feels some sick attraction to the personality, to the sweet awkwardness that lay behind the horror novella exterior. He wonders why he didn't see it there before. Gerard squirms underneath him, his large hazel eyes focuses on him as he half-heartedly tries to push Frank off him. It doesn't seem fair when Frank stops teasing and stares at him, mouth open and panting.

“Gee...” Frank's voice comes out soft and slightly awed.

“Hey...” Gerard replies with a lack of better things to say. He would never admit to anyone how good it feels to have Frank this close, the heat radiating from under his trench coat as he straddles him, his smell, his... He swears he sees something different in Frank's almost golden eyes, a surprised and adoring look. It doesn't make sense. He's a monster, he knows that, regardless of how Frank treats him like he is human and not a complete fuck up. He doesn't miss the way that Frank doesn't shudder or reject his touch or closeness, whether out of sheer stupidity or bravery. Gerard doesn't allow himself to think about the other potential reason – Not in the yard, in a snow heap with Frank on top of him at least. Bedrooms and quiet, secluded parts of the castle are better suited to those types of thoughts. He knows he should ignore the feelings that he has for Frank, but each day it is getting harder and harder, more so when the little punk slides his frozen hand into his and raises it to his mouth to present it with a burning hot kiss.

“Look,” Frank commands, his eyes an unreadable mix of emotions. It takes Gerard a minute to tear himself away from Frank's gaze and when he does he is more than puzzled.

“Huh?” Gerard blinks at his fingers. “I... What...” he wiggles them slightly under Frank's reassuring squeeze, “How... Frankie! Look at it!”

Frank quickly returns his grin, bringing his spare hand up to stroke down Gerard's pale human cheekbones. “You're hot,” he states and watches as his eyes widen even more so.

“You... You're doing this,” Gerard tells him, awe tainting his voice, “I'm sorry if it's too much, too forward of me, but you are. I didn't know I could be happy like this.” A part of him desperately longs to find a mirror and see himself for the first time in almost ten years, but he cannot bare to move from Frank's steady weight on him.

“Can I...?” Frank suddenly asks after a few seconds. He sounds breathless and nervous and before he can ask for more of a specific question, Frank is leaning down and hesitantly brushing a kiss against his mouth. Gerard freezes, willing this to be different to the “experiment” in the library, but his own desires betray him as he quickly but carefully slides a hand over Frank's heated cheeks and pulls him closer, kissing him back with actual lips. It is perfect and for a moment it feels like the kiss is the only thing which matters in the entire world. That everything was Frank and nothing hurt. Frank makes a weirdly hot moan in the back of his throat and parts his lips to lick his way into Gerard's mouth when a rather loud wolf whistle interrupts them.

Frank reluctantly sits back and is promptly tackled by a very wet pooch. He falls backwards into the snow with a loud “Ompff” and gets smothered by wet fabric. Gerard lays there stunned for a moment. They had kissed, well, rather Frank had kissed him, of his own accord. It made no sense. Frank was perfect and he was so far from it. He doesn't understand how Frank could want him, especially considering everything which had happened. He knows that he longs for freedom and adventure – the books he borrowed from the library were testament that that fact, and all he had done was lock him inside stone walls with a monster. Gerard tries not to look at the way his hands re-grow into paws. Who was he kidding, really? There is no way that Frank could return his feelings. He is startled out of thoughts by the pooch jumping onto him instead, sniffing at his jacket as if he had hidden a treat inside of it. He pets it idly before glancing up at Frank. The blush on his sculptured cheeks must be from the cold.

“So, um, that happened,” Frank states, a little awkwardly.

Gerard laughs a little in response, “It did, didn't it? I didn't just dream that?”

Frank shakes his head slowly before standing to offer his hand to help Gerard up. He pointedly ignores Brendon's yelled suggestion to kiss him again. Standing this close to him enables him to see the change back into a werewolf as if it is in slow motion, the dark fur advancing as Gerard's mouth and nose lengthen into a snout filled with razor sharp teeth. It is strange to think that behind his appearance lurks a pale skinned, awkward looking man with an upturned nose and brilliant eyes. Frank tries to keep smiling, he really does but he can feel his composure slipping. More than anything he wants Gerard to be human, so he can do stupid things like feel the warm grip of his fingers in his.

“I... I'm sorry,” Gerard apologizes, his monstrous form filling out his clothes once more. “I can't control it...” Frank tells him to shut up and makes an abortive move to lace their fingers together. He settles for gripping his paw, running his thumb over one of the black pads. He asks if he believes him now.

Gerard squeezes his eyes shut, his mind overworking itself into a hole about how he really cannot be what Frank wants and deserves. His mental tangent is broken by Frank's hand suddenly petting down his neck. It feels absurdly good and he almost gives into the temptation to ask him to scratch behind one of his ears.

“Your fur is pretty soft, never noticed before,” Frank remarks, mentally doing victory arms when Gerard presses closer.

“You always see the best in me. I don't know how you do it.”

Frank shrugs and moves his hand upwards to scratch behind one of Gerard's wolfy ears. He grins at the satisfied sound which rumbles deep in Gerard's chest, almost like a purr. “It's pretty easy,” he admits. “You're actually the coolest person I've ever met.”

Gerard blinks one eye open, unaware that he had closed them in the first place. Frank's closeness and scent are nearly overwhelming and he fights the urge to never shower again to keep it with him. “You can't have met many people then,” he states with a lopsided smile. Conversation was a difficult ruse to keep up with when Frank's hand slips inside his jacket to scratch at the magical place on his ribs. It takes all of his self control not to pump his leg up and down.

“I've met lots!” Frank hotly protests, shifting with the itch.

“You mean people from town? Why do you think I live all the way out here?”

Frank laughs in a weirdly adorable way, reluctantly returning his hand to his side, “No! I meant growing up and on the voyage here. Although the townsfolk are jackasses, especially Gabe, have I told you about him?” He flops back down onto the powdery snow and promptly proceeds to make a snow angel.

“Gabe? I think I remember a Gabriel from when I was a kid...”

“Last name Saporta, creepy as fuck? I swear he could sleaze my uncle out of his own home.”

Gerard relocates to a convenient wooden bench so he can appear more subtle about checking Frank out. His pyjama top and the two cardigans have ridden up to show his soft olive stomach and the inkings there. “Wow,” he states a little breathlessly. He wants to see them properly, to trace them with his fingertips and tongue. He swiftly shakes his head and sets about actually replying to Frank. “That's the one. He still lurking around that place? I'd thought it was too small for him. Or does he think he's top of the stack and acts like he runs the place?”

“Second option. Almost every girl is in love with him,” Frank replies with a shake of his head whilst moving his arms and legs to form the angel. “He actually proposed to me, you know.”

“He what?”

Frank laughs at the little growl and how protective Gerard sounds. It flushes him with a weird twisting warmth. “He barged into my uncle's house and was all You're gonna be my wife and have lots of babies and watch me hunt shit and rub my feet,” he explains. “He tried to kiss me and fell through the door. The weird part is that he had half the town assembled in the yard as if I was going to say yes and we could be married that afternoon.”

“Would you be terribly upset if I hurt him?” Gerard growls, “Just a little?”

“No way! That dude is an asshole!” Frank replies, sitting up and dusting himself off with frozen hands. Obviously mittens were hard to come by in the castle. “I am no-one's property and-” he cuts himself off, realizing of course that this wasn't strictly true as he had promised to stay here in the castle forever in return for his uncle's life therefore effectively making him Gerard's property. The thought, however, does not sicken him like it used to. “It doesn't matter, it's not like he's gonna come looking for me.”

Gerard awkwardly brings up the topic of his family and tells him that if he wants he is welcome to go to them. Frank politely reminds him that his family are back in Italy because they thought it best for his health and future that he went with his uncle. He watches as Gerard openly admits that he doesn't want him to leave, but also that he doesn't want him to be a prisoner. Which, okay, no-one wants to be imprisoned in a castle, unless it's like a thing, in which case, he is obviously a lot more kinky than he realized.

“Have you seen your library?” Frank retorts instead, rather than go into the intimate details of things which he jerks off to. “Hate to break it to you but I'm not leaving here in a hurry. You're actually my best friend. Hey, what are the odds that you have a guitar in the castle somewhere?”

Gerard nods and enthusiastically explains that he has one somewhere and if it is broken then they can send for a new one from the capital. He was never good at playing it and his new body made a lot of things practically impossible.

“Seriously? Fuck, I haven't held one in forever. My one got tossed overboard on the way over,” Frank sighs fondly. “Her name was Pansy and she played like a wet dream.”

Not quite sure what to do with that last statement, Gerard fumbles over his words, half tripping over the hallway runner. “I... Okay... Well, come on, we'll go dig it out. You can name it if you want, it doesn't have one already.” Frank jumps a bit and practically sprints down the hallway, calling out behind him “Maybe! If she's not enchanted too! Think she might object to what I'm about to do with her!”

“Think I might object to who you're doing it with,” Gerard grumbles, giving the evils to one of the statues lining the hall.

“Jealous?”

Frank spins around to see Gerard's eyes drop to the floor, clearly embarrassed to be heard and mutters a quiet “...Maybe” before apologising for saying something. They don't have to look for very long as it seems that most of the enchanted household are dead set on hearing him play too. Pete finds it up in the forbidden west wing and convinces the pooch to carry it down for him. Bizarrely enough, the strings are un-rusted and unaffected by the passage of time and it doesn't take long to retune and strum out a melody. He hunches over its familiar curves and loses himself in song after song. The staircase is hardly the most comfortable place to entertain but he cannot bring himself to move just yet. “She plays nicely,” he tells Gerard before asking if there was anything he wanted to hear.

Gerard gulps and replies in a scratchy voice that he just wants to hear anything and everything before nervously sitting beside Frank.

“Thank you,” Frank tells him earnestly after a few more minutes. “You give me so much, I just wish there was some way to repay you.” He doesn't notice that their audience is gone, snuck away to grant them some privacy.

Gerard blinks. “Me? I haven't done anything, except, well, kidnap you and lock you away from the world... Sorry about that...” He doesn't expect Frank to laugh and strum out a few random chords before telling him “Well, you can run away with me anytime you want.” It seems like such an impossibly wonderful idea, to be alone, with Frank, out having marvellous adventures - and Gerard allows himself a moment to daydream about the sandy beaches of the Mediterranean.

“What if we found someone to break the spell?” Frank asks suddenly, “How long do you reckon you have to find someone?”

Unable to help the slightly bitter laugh, Gerard tells him “Not long enough. But I appreciate the thought.”

“But we could try? There was this girl, Lindsey, who I met on the voyage over here who was pretty badass-”

“Badass enough to love a werewolf? I doubt it, Frankie. That kiss from you is the closest I've been to breaking it, but.... You know.... Best Friend, you said. And that's not good enough.” More than anything Gerard wishes it was, or that he could magically make Frank fall in love with him, as imperfect as he is.

“Probably! Wait, what? What's not enough?” Frank asks, frowning and setting the guitar aside. He doesn't like the way Gerard shrugs, stating “Having a best friend. Don't get me wrong, you're the best thing to ever happen to me. But all the high-fives in the world aren't going to break Ryan's spell.”

“I know that,” Frank snaps, “What exactly are you trying to say here?”

Gerard inspects his paws and quietly murmurs that he wishes him being in love was enough. Frank feels sick, Gerard in love? No! It wasn't right! He was supposed to want to be with... “You're in love ? With me?” he asks, his mind finally catching up. It pisses him off to no end when Gerard gives a small nod, ears flattened as if ashamed and whispers an apology. Frank demands to know why he is sorry.

“Because you told me less than an hour ago that I was your best friend. Now it'll probably be weird and you won't wanna stay here and I'll miss you so much-”

You're being weird, and what's wrong with wanting to be with your best friend?”

Gerard looks at Frank sadly but also like he's an idiot. Best friend. Fuck it had hurt so much when Frank had uttered those words, and repeating them seems to only prove how different their wants and desires are. “Because you don't love me too and so the spell won't break and I'll be like this forever,” he explains.

Frank stands abruptly, his usually warm eyes cold and hard. “Okay, now you're just being a dick. Love doesn't happen overnight! Also, screw you. What part of the whole kissing thing didn't you get?”

Gerard flinches as if he had been struck. “But you said...”

“I said what?” Frank demands, turning sharply back towards him after making a move to leave.

Gerard opens his mouth as if to speak before closing it. He repeats this action a few times like a deranged goldfish before settling on a soft “'M sorry.”

“Fuck!” Frank yells, “Stop apologising! I like you okay?! I know it's not good enough, I fucking know that. But, I'm sorry. I can't change that.”

“Please don't be sorry. Not for that. Not for anything, but especially not for that.”

Frank crosses his arms defensively across his chest, his tattoos peeking from underneath the cardigan's sleeves. “But I know it's not good enough, everyone here knows it's not. So much is riding on someone falling in love with you and you with them,” he draws in a shaky breath. “I'm not saying I won't be that person, more than anything I want to see you happy but you don't have much time.”

“But I don't care anymore. The others don't realize, but I gave up on breaking the spell a long time ago. This is who I am...” Gerard's voice trails off.

“I like you for you” Frank states, jabbing his finger into Gerard's knee. “What you look like doesn't matter to me. I know it shouldn't be a big deal, but that fact that I have a dick is kind of a deal breaker here. Don't tell me that you weren't expecting not to have some pretty damsel show up, or that the rest of the castle wasn't.” He sighs, stepping back, “But I can't be anything but me. I can't be that person. I hate that you've given up, that you're not even fighting to be human again.”

“I'd love to be human again,” Gerard tells him bitterly. “If it was actually a fight I could win, I would never stop. I can't just make someone fall in love with me though. Like you said, it takes time, the one thing I don't have. I'm not fighting it because there is nothing to fight.”

Frank gestures wildly and comes close to smacking himself in the face. “Then try! Don't just sit around and mope all the fucking time!”

“What?” Gerard asks, standing and towering above him, “You want me to fucking waltz into town to find someone?!”

“No!! You say you're in love with me, then fucking show it!”

“Wait-- what?”

Shifting his weight from foot to foot, Frank begins to back away. “Dinner? Tonight?” he asks, his voice unsure. Gerard nods, confused but replies that he will be there before picking up the guitar and holding it out to him.

“Oh, thanks, so it's a date...?” Frank quickly grabs the guitar and makes a hasty exit but not before Gerard echoes a “I... Yeah.”

~

Frank is overwhelmed with everything that had just happened. Gerard had admitted that he loved him. Him. Regardless of the spell and what everyone else wanted. A part of him snidely remarks that he is the only human thing besides his uncle to enter the castle in ten years, but that is quickly shut up by his ears pricking to the sound of singing. Curious, he edges forward, peeking into what he assumes is the great ballroom, or at least, the lesser-ballroom. This castle was the type to harbour at least two of them, despite there being no practical need. The ballrooms were not the only rooms to have suffered the indignation of needless multiplicity. The barroom, the second level sitting room, the conservatory and curiously, the potting shed around the western side of the castle, all had mirror image twins – with the notable exception being the lavatory in the attic, of which there were three.

Brendon is clutching Spencer, waltzing them around as mops circled them, wet with suds. “I'll be cooking again, be good looking again!” Brendon sing-songs, much like he had that first night. Frank watches as Spencer rolls his eyes before wincing as Brendon accidentally drips wax onto him. It is weirdly captivating and he allows himself to lean further in. “When I'm human again, only human again-” Brendon's oddly good voice is interrupted by what sounds like Patrick harmonizing with “When we're knick-knacks and whatnots no more.”

Spencer wistfully sighs adding quietly “When I'm human again, only human again, when the world once more will make sense-”

“Really? Hell, that'd be strange!” Brendon interjects.

“Can I help it if I'm tense? In a shack by the sea, I'll sit sipping tea, far from a fool made of wax...” Spencer glares as Brendon grins and drips more wax over him during a dip. “I'll play drums and finally relax.”

“Ah, but when we're human again, we'll be fucking again, we'll make out with each other all night. Only human again, maintaining erections again, when we no longer have to be super polite.”

The mops stop mopping for a second, before shrugging in a weird fashion and continuing with their synchronised dance of suds across the marble. The moth-eaten curtains are pulled back, letting the cool winter air flood into the room. Frank stares in horror at the impending storm of dust motes headed towards him and quickly tugs his coat over his nose and mouth. Hearing the hope in their voices makes him desperately uncomfortable and he reluctantly tugs himself away from their song and dance.

“I can feel it, I can tell, someone might break the spell any day now!” Pete's voice rings out, causing Frank's stomach to clench and his throat to close. If anyone had asked, he would have blamed the way the way his eyes prickle on the dust. The guilt however, that was all on him. He wants to help, wants to break the spell on all of them, but he's a twenty one year old Italian with a love of animals and old books, hardly enchantment breaking material. It makes him angry that Gerard had given up, locking himself away instead of helping himself or his friends. Frank has never been in love before so he doesn't pick up on the fact his stomach fills with butterflies at the mere thought of seeing Gerard, or the overwhelming urge to be around him all the time. He quietly returns to his room, attempting to bury his thoughts rather unsuccessfully in a novel.

 

Frank doesn't know that later that evening, Gerard cannot rest. His mind is too full with everything that had happened over the past month or two since Frank had arrived. Frank's words from before, however, sting him. He needs to show him that he cares, obviously the library wasn't enough, but he is at a loss of what to do. That and Frank had said that it was a date tonight. Gerard has never been on a date and wonders how it will differ from their usual interactions. He sighs and sits down, purposely avoiding looking at the rose. “I've never felt this way about anyone,” he states out loud to no one in particular. “I wanna do something for him, but what?”

Spencer rolls his eyes a little, “Well, there is the usual, flowers, chocolates, promises you don't intend to keep.” The glare in Brendon's direction makes Gerard question who Spencer is actually addressing.

“Ahh, no. It has to be something very special,” Brendon says dreamily, before attempting to set fire to Spencer's leg. “Wait a minute!” He whispers the plan to Spencer who shrugs but gives a little nod regardless. “But you must be bold! There is no time to waste. You must confess your feelings! There will be music, and dancing and candle light – provided by myself of course – this plan cannot fail!” Gerard really hopes so.

Chapter Text


Frank comes down to dinner that night feeling oddly self-conscious and riding a very weird high. He tugs his gold gloves higher up his arms. He tries to stop the obvious grin on his face but fails, especially when Gerard almost falls over upon seeing him.

“F-Frankie?”

“'Sup,” he replies, his voice attempting to sound cool but ending up falling between a mix of desperation and frustration. He makes a weirdly pained sound, picking up a handful of the large poofy gold dress and attempts to sit down. It's not the easiest thing he's ever done and one of the most awkward. Stupid corsets.

“Uh... Hey...” Gerard's voice comes out sounding incredibly awkward too but at least he has to decency to clear his throat before attempting to speak again. “I mean. Hey, you look...” He searches vainly for the right word and ends up settling on “Fuck you look amazing.”

Frank blushes, biting on his lower lip and finally allowing his eyes up to glance properly at Gerard. He is more than little taken aback by the expression of sheer adoration on his face. “Thanks! You too!” he tells him earnestly. It's particularly true at that moment, happiness shaping his features into something more human. All the dark fur on his face has receded back into heavy sideburns and a tangle of black hair which falls, framing his face and dark eyebrows, almost to his shoulders. He is wearing a cerulean blue jacket trimmed with gold and some sort of formal white shirt with all the trimmings underneath. He looks good. Really good and Frank has to remind himself that he is at the dinner table and not somewhere more suited to erections. He watches as Gerard glances down at his jacket, having taken a seat again and blushes.

“Uh, just thought I'd make myself more presentable,” he mumbles, “this is a date after all.”

Frank grins widely at him. “Good jacket.”

“Good dress,” Gerard replies with an answering lopsided grin showing his tiny human teeth.

Frank cannot help but let the insane giggle which has been building up in his throat loose. “You're lucky that gold's my colour,” he manages to get out finally.

“Thought you'd throw Ray out the window before you'd let him talk you into wearing a dress.”

“Nah, but he was pleased as piss that I finally did.” This was true, at first Ray had thought that Frank had been kidding and mocking him for his efforts to get him into something other than worn breeches and cardigans. It had been the way Frank had blushed, fidgeting before asking if he could please see the dresses that had convinced him in the end. “I'm not one to bow to social stereotypes,” Frank continues, tugging his gloves off to pick up tonight's dinner of Provençal tomatoes.

“You're amazing,” Gerard tells him, awe tinting his voice slightly. It feels too weird being seated at opposite ends of the sixty two seater dining table. Frank feels like he has to shout and suggests that they go and eat in the kitchen. Gerard nods his agreement and moves down to Frank's end of the table, shooing a speechless Brendon as he does so. The conversation is a little strained until Frank licks his fingers, resisting the urge to wipe them on his clothes.

“So Spencer let slip something about a surprise tonight?” he asks. Gerard shoots a glare at Spencer who quickly ducks back into the kitchen with an apologetic expression. “Yeah, but it's a surprise.”

“Oh?” Frank raises an eyebrow.

“Yes, and so should be surprising,” Gerard replies, playfully nudging Frank's elbow with his own. Frank is right, the gold does look incredibly good on him. It's unexpected and he is more aware how fast his own heart is beating. He wants to be closer to him, feel his warmth pressed against him -

“As surprising as seeing me in a dress? Cause I have to tell you, this baby fits like a glove,” Frank tells him conversationally.

Gerard gulps before softly replying that it looks incredible on him. Frank grins back brightly at him, lighting the room, “You know, if anyone saw this I'd be stoned to death? Apparently it is borderline okay for a lady to wear trousers but not the other way around. However,” Frank adds, reaching out for his glass of wine, “I had no idea stockings and suspender belts were such a bitch to put on.” This is also true. Frank had spent the better part of an hour hidden away in the adjoining ensuite trying to buckle them up. There was a lot of cursing and mentions of someone having sex with their own mother, but in the end he had been triumphant, which is all that matters really.

He doesn't miss the way that Gerard's jaw drops and his breathing and speech stutters.

“You-- Shit... You gotta stop or I'm going to become entirely inappropriate for a dinner date.”

“Oh yeah?” Frank teases, leaning towards him and whispering in his ear, “well, in that case I won't tell you about the underwear I'm wearing.” He goes back to eating, feigning innocence despite his stomach tying itself into heated knots. He had liked the way that his words had made Gerard shudder, and with him looking human again... He tries to unsuccessfully convince himself that Gerard is still a werewolf, a monster.

“Fucking hell,” Gerard mutters after a few deep, measured breaths.

“It's not worth doing if you don't do it properly. I'd show you but it isn't polite at the dinner table.” Frank grins and watches as Gerard throws his head back, muttering to the ceiling “Gentleman, Gerard, remember you are a gentleman.”

“You sure?” Frank asks, cheekily, peering around the table at Gerard's lap, “cause your pants suggest otherwise.”

“You're like a fucking temptress right now though, what are my pants supposed to with this?” Gerard's voice comes out slightly harsh. Having Frank notice his body's betrayal is beyond embarrassing and he really isn't prepared when Frank suddenly asks if he can actually jerk off. He kind of wants to die, for the earth to swallow him up like the Sarlak pit. “I.. I can...” he replies slowly, toying with the food on his plate and decisively not meeting Frank's eyes, “It's just not all that easy without hands.” He waves a paw, realizing that they more like actual human hands than usual and grins a little to himself.

“So what?” Frank asks, “you just have to hump a conveniently placed pillow? Wow, I can't even imagine how horrible that would be.” He watches as Gerard blushes darkly, mumbling a low reply of “You try living with paws for ten years.”

It appears that his ability to stop himself from spurting out every though which pops into his head is nil, as Frank suddenly comes out with “Would it count as bestiality if I was to... you know?”

Torn between a truly horrible mix of arousal, embarrassment and anger, Gerard cannot help but bite back a growl. “I'd love to get angry and say I'm not an animal,” he replies calmly after a few stern words with himself. “But... well...” He waves his paw looking hand again. Once more his body lets him down.

“It's just a curse, it's not who you really are. I could like, close my eyes and stuff.” Frank mentally punches himself. That sentence had started off so well. He expects Gerard to get offended or maybe lash out but instead he rolls his eyes before Frank has a chance to quickly apologize.

“You're full of shit, you know that, right?”

Frank does the only mature thing he can think of at that moment and flicks a pea at him with a “You love it,” comment attached to it. He doesn't see the way Gerard bristles, flinching a little or the way the servants stay away. “So what's this surprise you mentioned? Cause if it's Brendon setting fire to the pudding, I've seen it already.”

Gerard blinks up and offers a smile. “Yeah, he tends to do that a lot. Are you finished eating?”

Frank nods, pushing his plate away and drains his glass. Gerard mimics his actions before getting up rather hastily, rushing to pull out Frank's chair and offering a hand to help him up. Frank looks at him for a moment before asking if the dress has super powers, adding that he doesn't think that he has ever pulled his chair out for him. “But um, thanks,” he adds, tugging his gloves back on and accepting the hand up.

“Are you... Surprised?” Gerard asks with a grin, leading him out of dining room.

“That you're treating me like a damsel? A little bit. I always thought you weren't one to fall to the pressures of societal gender ideals and stereotypes.”

“Not a damsel,” Gerard flails a little. “Oh god, never mind. Come on.”

Frank demands to know where they are going as the dainty shoes are murdering his feet. In cold blood. With hack saws. He again asks a few seconds later where they are going but Gerard just taps the side of his nose and leads him down a corridor to huge doors. They stop outside as Gerard takes his hand, resting the other one on the door handle.

“Frankie,” he asks, pausing for dramatic effect. “Do you dance?” He pushes the door wide open to reveal the ballroom lit by a large chandelier. Large windows and towering marble columns grace the walls with sweeping royal blue garlands of fabric linking their capitals. Everything shines in the soft light, polished and clean. It is incredibly beautiful and Frank is a little awestruck.

“Wow...” he breathes, subconsciously gripping Gerard's fingers tighter. “I... uh, a little.” His heart does the stupid squeezy thing when Gerard pulls him in and swings him around gently but enthusiastically. “Just go with it,” he whispers into his ear with a grin.

“Is this...? Are you wooing me Gerard Way?” Franks asks breathlessly. His skin feels too hot, prickling against his clothes. Gerard doesn't meet his eyes and his face colours a bit, fur receded back so the blush is obvious on his pale, flawless cheeks. “Ah...” he replies quietly, “is it working?”

“Well, I'm in a dress, for you, dancing so yeah, I think it might be.” Frank hates to state the obvious. He is such a sucker for romantic gestures and this has to be, hands down, the greatest thing someone has ever done for him. Gerard takes the lead after a few ill placed steps, leading him around the floor, dancing slowly to some music which echoes out from one of the wings from an ancient gramophone. “You're surprisingly good at this,” he tells him. “You've only stood on my feet twice.”

Gerard dips him down with a smile, “Ah, thanks, I think. Brendon and Spencer have been trying to teach me for years.”

Frank giggles, straightening up, “Spencer dances?” The mental image in his head is too much for him to bear and he finds himself almost in a fit of giggles. The dress digs in rather uncomfortably.

“You'd be surprised by that little clock.”

“Sounded like you said 'cock'” Frank corrects helpfully, allowing Gerard to spin him. His slightly honking laugh rings out through the echoing ballroom. “You'd have to ask Brendon if you want to know anything about that,” Gerard replies. “I don't make a habit of looking down my staff's pants.”

Frank ponders this thoughtfully for a moment before replying with a very sincere “Fuck I hope not, but then again, I don't count as staff right?” He thinks back to when Gerard was in wolf form and how his hazel eyes had lingered a bit on his torn breeches. The memory makes him feel flushed and slightly uncomfortable.

Gerard gives him a slight smile as if trying to work out how he should answer. In the end he gives a shakes of his head and tells him “Definitely not.” It feels like the truth. They grin at each other for a bit before Frank offhandedly remarks that he likes him too much to have him think of him that way. Their movements stutter to a slight halt. “By the way,” he hastily adds, quirking his eyebrows, “this is really really gay.” He doesn't quite expect to have Gerard laugh as hard as he does, or the hug he draws him into. Frank cannot help himself and against all reason and societal norms, hugs back, burying his face against him.

“...I like you way to much too,” Gerard echoes.

“You said love earlier,” comes Frank's muffled reply.

He feels Gerard nod, holding him tighter as one hand caresses up the back of his neck. “I did. And meant it. Still do.”

“I love you too,” is on the tip of Frank's tongue, but it remains there, sweet and unspoken, caught in his throat like a secret. Instead he pulls back from the hug, making a vague statement about it being too stuffy and if Gerard wouldn't terribly mind, would they be able to relocate outside to the balcony for a bit.

Gerard nods, trying not to be hurt at Frank's lack of answer. The fact that the spell hadn't broken was proof enough that Frank didn't return his feelings. He knows he has no right to be upset, after all, he is a monster and Frank... Frank is perfect. From his bright eyes and mischievous grin right down to his small and oddly endearing toes. Perfect, perfect, perfect. There is no way he would ever fall for someone like him, tonight is more than testament to that. He quickly leads them outside regardless, hoping that the fresh air will stop the hurt and rejection from choking him up. It doesn't help, nor does Patrick's voice softly echoing through the ballroom.

Tale as old as time
True as it can be
Barely even friends
Then somebody bends
Unexpectedly

Ever just the same
Ever a surprise
Ever as before 
Ever just as sure
As the sun will rise

Tale as old as time
Tune as old as song
Bitter sweet and strange 
Finding you can change
Learning you were wrong
Certain as the sun 
Rising in the east

Tale as old as time
Song as old as rhyme

They are both silent for a good long minute after Patrick's familiar voice fades out. They don't meet each others eyes. Frank distracts himself by taking the small high heels off, throwing them with disgust over the edge of the balcony. The cool stone through the stockings provides a welcome relief to the hot pain in his arches and toes. The words which Patrick had sung haunts him. He wanders what he meant by some of the lyrics. Who is the one that is wrong? How is their story and what is happening to them a familiar and well charted thing? Frank has read a lot and has never come across anything that may actually be of any use in his situation. At last he steels himself and looks at Gerard beside him. He is shocked to see how he has become more wolf like, his human features almost indistinguishable now. “Hey,” he says, breaking the silence finally. “Go back to being happy.”

“Hm?”

Frank prods him a little stating that he was happy before.

“I am happy,” Gerard replies, trying to be convincing and failing miserably. He cannot bring himself to look at Frank who tells him “lies” and proceeds to pull a stupid face. He can see him out of the corner of his eye and eventually gives into his urge to meet his eyes. Frank watches as a fond smile graces his features, making him more human so fast he feel dizzy just looking at him. Gerard draws in a deep breath, raising a hand up to Frank's cheek and before he can think twice or begin to regret his choices, he leans in and quickly kisses him.

Frank kisses back eagerly, surprised by the warmth and hard press of Gerard's very human lips. It the type of kiss that makes his head spin and every part of him ache to be just that little bit closer. After what feels like forever and no time as all Gerard pulls back, apologizing. Frank does the only logical thing and fists his hands in the richly tailored jacket and drags Gerard's mouth back to meet his own. He feels the slightly taller man mumble a swift “okay,” before all his words are stopped by his teeth biting down softly on his lower lip. It is nowhere near enough, not after all that time dancing around each other and reluctantly Frank breaks the kiss with a panting “Bedroom. Now.”

They trip and stumble their way through the corridors and up several flights of stairs, letting their hands and mouths do the talking for them. It feels oddly right, as if everything had been leading up to this. The dress itself is a huge hindrance and Frank is more than glad to get out of it. “You wanna help me out of this thing?” he asks, biting his swollen lower lip a little and gesturing to the garment once the bedroom door is firmly shut behind them.

Gerard swallows hard and nods, reaching around to the back of the dress. It is more complicated that what he anticipated it would be and wonders how the hell Frank managed to get into it in the first place. He manages to get a little undone before his nerves and frustrations start to get the better of him. He tries to ignore the way his fingers become more clumsy and fur appears on the back of his hands. He makes a pitifully hurt sound at his body betraying him again for the evening and eventually steps back. “...Fuck, I'm sorry,” he apologizes, shaking his paws in the hopes that he will regain his fingers. Frank turns around and looks at him with a mix of emotions that does little to reassure him.

“Oh... Maybe we shouldn't...” Frank trails off, his own hands stilling in their process of unclipping the stockings.

Gerard stills completely and drops his gaze down to his paws. His stomach feels too tight as his throat twists painfully with the obvious rejection. Of course Frank wouldn't want to continue. He's not even human. “Oh. Um... oh,” he replies softly and entirely misses the way that Frank's brow creases in hurt.

“My room is on the other end of the castle,” Frank explains, despite it being obvious. “Could I sleep here? I mean, it's fine if not, it's just that I thought that... it's just that...”

“It's fine!- Yeah, it's fine,” Gerard quickly replies. Ever since Frank's arrival in the castle he had longed for the feeling of his warmth next to him, soft and silent in slumber. Part of him really wants to find out if he's a cuddler or a puncher, but right now every part of him is screaming to take whatever he is given and not to question it. “It's just what?” he asks instead, shifting his weight from paw to paw. “I'm sorry I can't be what you want.”

Frank closes the distance between them, hands sliding out from beneath the voluminous fabric and presses a kiss to his furry cheek. “You're all that I want,” he tells him softly before stepping back to slip out of the dress. He's aware of how utterly stupid he must look, limbs moving spastically trying to dislodge the garment. He cannot help the blush which reclaims his cheeks as he quickly undoes the stockings and corset.

Gerard tries to stifle a whimper and tries his best to look away until Frank asks, with his eyes on the floor, if he can borrow any breeches. He nods quickly, using it as an excuse to distance himself from Frank's art filled skin. He is eventually triumphant and returns with an old pair, handing them over without meeting Frank's questioning eyes. They are silent as they dress for bed, awkward and wanting.

“Tonight was...” Frank starts, searching for the right words as he watches Gerard struggle with the clasps on his jacket. “Really fun,” he settles on finally, adding a quick “thank you,” for good measure. Gerard gives a small nod, clambering in beside him and rolling onto his back so as to be able to see him but not to directly face his wide eyes.

“I'm glad you think so, I do too. And ah, you're welcome,” he replies before turning his head away. Last thing he wants to do is give him nightmares. The silence settles over them one more, but it is softer and more welcoming that before. He listens to Frank just breath for a few minutes, trying to stop the wave of emotion that tries to burst forth.

“When you were younger did you ever want to run away from all this? Like go have adventures?” Frank asks unexpectedly.

“All the time,” Gerard replies, a wistfulness in his voice. “I wanted to see the world.”

“So you didn't wanna stick around here, find a wife and settle down? More than anything I wanted to go have adventures, live a little you know? Go to the continent, to Asia and even to the Pacific.”

Gerard rolls back over, his eyes flicking to where Frank lay in the darkness. “No settling down with a wife. No,” he tells him, “I'd love to go to those places, maybe even Italy.”

Frank scoffs a little, “And paint? And eat weird food like pizzas?” He cannot help the grins which tugs at his lips, trying in vain to ignore just how keyed up and turned on he is, lying there in Gerard's bed. He wants so badly to kiss him, to bite on his bottom lip and hear the soft pleading moans slip from his hot mouth.

“Obviously!” Gerard replies with a grin. What little light there is that comes through the torn curtains illuminates his more human looking face. It makes Frank feel brave and he wriggles closer, asking “If you weren't under a spell, what would be the one thing you'd do right now?”

Gerard coughs a little, caught off guard by the question and where his mind goes with it, “I... Um...” he tries very quickly to think of something that doesn't involved the words “you” or anything relating to Frank's cock. Frank blinks up at him expectedly before moving closer again.

“Would you do me?” he asks softly.

He tries to look away but can't. Eventually he gives a small nod of his head and whisper a very enthusiastic “Fuck yes.”

Frank makes a rather pleased sound in the back of his throat and reaches out, carding his hand through his long hair. “Because it's be a while?” he asks, “Or because you love me?”

Gerard asks breathlessly if it can be both. He tries and fails to stop himself from pushing into Frank's touch, seeking what contact he can.

Frank gives an oddly soft giggle before announcing “I'm going to kiss you now, okay?” He doesn't wait for an answer and carefully presses their lips together once more. It doesn't take long for their bodies to follow, grinding against each other, seeking more than just the heat through their clothes. They don't talk. They don't need to. Everything feels so natural, so obvious.

The next morning, Frank yawns loudly, stretching before snuggling against the warmth of bare skin against his own. It takes a while for him to realize where he is and this is in fact, reality and not just a very good dream. The memories of the events of last night comes crashing back to him, the way that Gerard's skin tasted, his low and desperate moans of pleasure, the way his back had arched as he came. Frank had fooled around before, sure, the odd handjob here and there but nothing had been as good as last night. The morning air is still and almost icy around them and he finds himself pressing closer still to Gerard. The taller man wriggles a little, breathing deeply through his lopsided mouth. Frank peeks open one eye and is pleasantly surprised to see that Gerard had maintained his human features, all pale skin and inky dark hair. Unable to help himself he reaches out with a hesitant finger and strokes over his cheekbones and up turned nose.

“Morning,” he whispers, seeing Gerard's dark eyelashes flutter against his cheeks.

“Hm?” Gerard replies, not really awake. It's more of a noise than a word or expression. It makes something hot and needy stir inside him and he finds himself prodding his soft, warm belly. “I said 'Morning,' dickbreath. It's customary to reply,” he tells him instead of what is really aching in his gut.

Gerard's eyes fly open, confused and flailing against Frank's embrace. Momentarily blindsided, Frank doesn't see the way that Gerard that becomes more wolfish, focusing instead on the way his limbs lash out, almost hitting him. “Morning,” he replies with a shy smile upon regaining control of his arms. The pleased sound which Frank makes and the kiss he plants on his dry, chapped lips fills him with a weirdly happy twist in his stomach. He wants to wake up this way, always. His silence must have unnerved Frank a little, as he pulls back, a frown tugging at his pillow lined face.

“What's up?” he asks. “Oh, should I go? Is this going to be one of those times where I have to forget that we have slept together?”

“What? No! I mean... Do you want to?” Gerard replies, half sitting up. “I don't want to...” he adds quietly.

“Hell no, that was... honestly, the best sex of my life.”

His eyes brighten at Frank's answer. “You too?” he questions somewhat hastily. He studies Frank's expression for a moment and feels a bit stupid when Frank merely rolls his eyes deadpanning “No. It was the worst. Clearly those multiple orgasms were all faked.”

Gerard giggles and drags him back into his arms, capturing his mouth once more.

“So how long do you reckon until-” Frank starts when they break apart once more to pant and ran their tongues over their furry morning teeth. Brendon, of course, is the source of the interruption, rushing in and crying in a very loud voice “Master! We couldn't find Frank and thought that...”

He watches as Gerard flicks him a carefully measured look and mutters something along the lines of “took longer than I thought” before addressing a flustered, speechless looking Brendon before him. “Go away. You've all got the morning off.” Frank keeps his head tucked down and pulls the blankets just that little bit higher. He doesn't notice Brendon's amazed expression but does manage to hear the astonished “You're human! But...” his voice stutters to a halt, presumable when he looks down and notices that he is still very much a candlestick. “You are both horrible, horrible people. Just admit you love each other already,” Brendon tells them with a huff before leaving the room and calling loudly for Spencer.

Frank waits until the door is closed before giving a short laugh, asking “all morning, huh?” But Gerard looks confused and brings his hand up to his face as though seeing it for the first time. He asks if he has been like that all morning to which Frank replies “And most of last night,” before gently stroking his fingers down his angular jawline. “Maybe the spell is breaking?”

Gerard shakes his head, watching as the fur starts to reclaim his hands once more, “Everyone will turn back when the spell breaks. You saw Brendon. He's a short guy but he's not that short.” He feels Frank fidget beside him, pulling away more with a mumbled “Oh, right, yeah, of course.”

“I'm sorry,” he blurts out as he feels his body shift and change back into the monster he is so used to being. “I can't stop it.”

“No, this is all on me, we shouldn't have... I shouldn't have done this. It's not fair on you. I shouldn't have taken advantage of the situation. I was lonely and, well,” Frank shrugs, fishing out the pair of breeches and tugging them over his naked body before climbing out of the bed. The cold air is an unwelcome shock to his system, as is the conversation.

“You think I'm not lonely? You think I didn't want you? You didn't take advantage.”

Frank shifts his weight uneasily before replying with a measured “If you say so. Would it be too much to borrow Mikey for five minutes?” It had suddenly struck him that it had been quite a while since he had last checked in on his uncle and the thought fills him with remorse. He doesn't really expect Gerard to glare at him, becoming quite wolfish again in appearance before getting up and wrapping a large robe around himself. “Go for it,” he growls before getting half out the door.

“Gee! Wait!”

Gerard stops but doesn't turn around.

“Thank you,” Frank tells him softly. It's not really what Gerard wants to hear and he is about to grump back “For what?” but makes the mistake of turning around to look at the shorter man. Frank looks, for lack of a better word, heartbroken.

“I'll be back soon,” Gerard mutters before leaving the room, unable to face Frank after everything that has just happened. It was stupid of him to think that things would be different, better, but they are not. It has cut him up more than he'd ever admit, to have Frank pull away from him, disgusted, and ask to use Mikey. Of course the poor guy was lonely, after all, he was the one to imprison him away from his family and friends. Lonely. He had said it himself, the only reason why he did it was because he was lonely. Not because he had any feelings towards him. Gerard feels like an idiot for allowing himself to think that Frank might actually one day love him. Lonely, he thinks as he slumps down in the general direction of the kitchen in the hopes of something strong and alcoholic.

Frank, unaware of the utter emotional turmoil Gerard is facing, takes a seat on the bed and carefully raises Mikey up to eye level. He keeps his thoughts focused on his uncle, not wanting a repeat of the last few times he had asked him to show him things. Mikey seems to understand and without so much as a “good morning,” he crackles, green sparks shooting from him (He is enchanted after all. Something had to be a little more amazing than just a mirror which shows one's heart's desire.) He watches as Luigi approaches the tavern, his clothes ripped and torn and a wet sounding cough coming from his chest. He tries to rouse some help from the villagers but succeeds only in gaining mocking scorn and in the end, is tossed out into a snow drift. He eventually gets up and Frank watches as he digs out an old compass, a map and wraps a cloak around him before leaving their humble cottage. But the image doesn't end there, rather he sees him stumbling through the forest at night before collapsing underneath a thicket, shivering and coughing hard.

Frank is horrified. There is no way he can just abandon his uncle to an undignified death in a snow drift trying to come rescue him, no matter how heroic that sounds. He carefully sets Mikey down and hurriedly grabs one of Gerard's old shirts, tugging it on as well as a well worn cloak and too large boots. Time is of the essence and he all but sprints down the stairs, half tripping over himself in the maddening haste to reach the front door.

“Frankie!?” he hears Gerard call out and whips around to see him standing in the corridor, reaching a hand out as if to stop him. “My uncle,” he tells him, torn between asking to go and just leaving. “He's sick, he might be dying. I...”

Gerard strides forward, closing the distance between them easily. He grabs Frank's hand and tugs him back up towards the stairs as if to stop him. “Go,” he commands, “But take Mikey with you, so you'll always have a way to look back.”

Frank stops fighting and squeezes his hand, barely noticing how human he is. “Thank you for understanding how much he needs me,” he tells him, reaching up on tip toes to press a quick kiss to his pale cheek. Once they reach the bedroom, Gerard hands him Mikey, who makes a little noise of protest. “But this is Mikey,” Frank begins to protest. “Your brother, I can't take him. Besides it's not like I'm gonna forget you or anything.”

“He needs an adventure, no legs and all. You can bring him back some time,” Gerard states plainly, letting Frank's hand slip from his own. He doesn't need to look at the enchanted rose to know that it is very quickly wilting. He makes a mental note to place it in adjoining room so he doesn't have to witness its mocking.

“I'll be back,” Frank states with a nod, barely pausing at the threshold to the room, “Promise.” He takes the stairs two at a time and quickly runs out of the castle, leaving Gerard with too hurt and too torn feelings. There was no way he could've made him stay, but after last night? When he can no longer smell Frank in the castle besides stale reminders, it hits him that he is alone and he sinks down onto his bed. A sob sounding roar tears itself from his throat just as Spencer decides to waltz in to congratulate him for getting this far.

Chapter Text


It takes a good few hours of hunting but at last Frank finds Luigi. He is still breathing, much to his relief, and Jon is tethered to a nearby tree. It is hard work getting them both onto the horse and back into the village, the snow drifts only increasing in depth and desire to ensnare them. It is nearly dark by the time they reach the cottage. The sight of it fills Frank with an uneasy feeling. He knows this has never really been his home but he can't help but feel that the castle is, and that he has left something really important behind. He busies himself instead by helping his uncle into bed and gradually warming him with a mountain of blankets. Luigi's cough slowly improves but it is nearly midnight by the time he opens his eyes.

“I thought I'd never see you again!” he explains in a very raw sounding voice, tugging Frank in for a hug which he warmly returns. When at last they pull away Luigi quickly asks him how it is that he managed to escape the beast.

“He's no beast!” Frank exclaims before reeling in his defensive attack, “He ugh, just let me go, I didn't escape. He's different uncle, he's changed somehow.” As if right on cue, there is a rustle in Frank's shoulder bag and a small music box comes tumbling out along with Mikey.

“Hi!” Dewees says in the deep gravelly voice that never ceases to surprise Frank.

“Oh, a stowaway,” he comments as Dewees promptly jumps up into Luigi's palm. Luigi greets him like an old friend, mentioning what a happy surprise it is to see him. The tone of voice he uses reminds Frank of the one he usually only reserves for behaving pieces of machinery. It makes sense somewhat, and he can't help but wonder how close he managed to get to the servants before Gerard had locked him up. The thought of Gerard makes his throat tighten and he finds himself anxiously praying for Luigi to recover quickly so that he may return. There is a knock at the door the second Frank closes with an almost blasphemous “amen,” startling them all. Frank eases himself off the bed and goes to answer it. Outside an old man is standing looking every bit like the Crypt Keeper. His skin is sickly and hangs loosely from his gaunt cheekbones and hooked nose.

“I've come to collect your uncle,” he explains in a wheezing voice. Behind him are assembled twenty or so of the villagers with torches and the odd pitchfork along with a wagon with Asylum painted on it. Frank's initial thoughts are that they are going to kill them all, slowly and that this really is like in every bad fairytale he's ever read. He eventually, however, realizes that this is not the case and launches himself out of the door-way to jab the old man in the chest.

“My uncle's not crazy!” he cries and is about to yell at them all to leave when William strides forward, stating that Luigi was raving like a lunatic and that they all heard him. The villagers loudly agree, thrusting their fiery torches and pitchforks aloft. Frank curls his hands into fists. “I won't let you take him!”

“Frank?” comes Luigi's voice behind him.

“Ah! Luigi!” Gabe calls out. “Tell us again old man, just how big was the beast?”

“It was.. it was huge!” Luigi replies, gesturing wildly above his short stature. “I'd say at least eight, no, more like ten feet tall!”

Frank opens his mouth to correct all of them when Gabe cries out again, “You don't get much crazier than that I tell you!” The villagers all laugh along, agreeing as some men in rather posh looking uniforms drag Luigi down the stairs and towards the wagon. Frank is torn as to what to do, he knows he can't take on that many people, but he can't just sit back and watch them take his uncle away from him. His mind races, trying to work out if the musket in the kitchen actually has any ammo in it. He reaches out to the old man in an attempt to bargain with him but is quickly shoved off and into Gabe's waiting arms.

“I might be able to clear this little misunderstanding if...” Gabe starts, keeping his grip firm on Frank's arms, spinning him around to face him.

“If what?” Frank spits, fighting off his dominating embrace.

“If you marry me,” Gabe leers. “One little word, Frankie, that's all it takes.”

“Never!”

Gabe gives him a look as he drops him and begins to walk away. Frank knows that look, it's the one where he will not be bested. It's usually reserved for difficult game animals and the occasional townsfolk and it is unnerving to be fixed by it. His mouth goes dry and he can only watch in horror as they tug a protesting Luigi towards the wagon. A thousand thoughts race through his head. Maybe he should've said yes? What if the musket actually has ammo? What can he do to save them both?

Mikey.

The idea hits him seemingly out of nowhere and without wasting another second he dashes up the stairs to snag him before sprinting back outside. “He's not crazy! I can prove it!” he yells and commands Mikey to show them Gerard. Mikey ignores him three times before eventually giving in and showing the villagers his brother roaring in misery. It's a heart-wrenching sound and Frank feels sick, but it's the only way he can free his uncle and... oh shit, the realization that he just outed Gerard to some crazy villagers with pitchforks and torches suddenly hits him. He tries to convince them that Gerard isn't dangerous, that he is kind and gentle. “He's my friend,” he says, gazing back into Mikey's reflective depths. His throat feels tight, like he's about to get sick but the ache in his chest that goes along with it suggests something else entirely.

“If I didn't know better, I'd think you'd have feelings for this monster,” Gabe's voice appears out of nowhere behind him, causing him to jump.

“Fuck off! He's not the monster, you are.”

This was clearly the wrong thing to say as Gabe snatches Mikey from him, green lightening crackling from him. Gabe yells something along the lines of Frank being as crazy as Luigi and that the beast will make off with the villager's children and they won't be safe until the monster's head is mounted on his wall. “I say we kill the beast! I'm ready for it, come on bring it!” The villagers eagerly agree, each making comments about what this supposed beast will do like stalking them at night. If it wasn't in such a pivotal moment Frank would be loudly laughing, Gerard doesn't stalk, that's Pete's job, creepy bastard. As for the sacrificing and eating of children, he is no Cronus.

“I won't let you do this!” Frank cries, practically climbing Gabe to get Mikey back. Gabe, in a surprising outpour of strength and manly domination, grabs him by the wrist and holds him. “If you're not with us, you're against us!” he dictates before throwing Frank and Luigi down in the basement and sealing the entrance. “We can't have them running off and going to warn the creature, Bill! My gun! Let's go make ourselves a hot mess,” Frank hears him yell, blinded by the complete darkness in the basement. His wrist is aching madly and all he can think about is Mikey being held captive by Gabe and of course, Gerard.

Under the spreading chestnut tree I sold you and you sold me: ...here lie we, under the spreading chestnut tree.

He has betrayed Gerard and the whole castle, there is no denying it. He feels frozen and numb, not realizing that he's actually yelling at the top of his lungs. Gabe will kill Gerard and then come back to seek his prize - him. It's in every fairytale, the tall, handsome hero slays the monster and gets the girl. Maybe this was what Patrick was singing about, he wonders, sinking down against the wall. Tale as old as time. Of course this was going to end badly. He can hear the villagers chanting a war song, one passed down through the generations “Light your torch, Mount your horse, Screw your courage to the sticking place, Through a mist, through a wood, Sally forth, Tally ho, Grab your sword, Grab your bow, Praise the Lord and here we go! Bring your guns, Bring your knives, Save your children and your wives, We'll save our village and our lives, Protect the innocent from the bourgeois' knives!”

Their voices slowly fade away, leaving the empty sounds of night in their wake. Frank immediately gets to his feet and searches out for an oil lamp which he knows is located on the opposite wall. He lights it quickly, glancing around at the half made contraptions in the hopes of finding something which can get them out. Naturally the axe, plough and scythe are all locked away outside leaving, well, fuck all that is useful in an “escaping the basement” scenario.

Suddenly an axe is thrown through the tiny window, smashing glass everywhere. It falls to the floor, narrowly missing Frank's toes. He glances up and sees a panting Dewees who grins at him. “What?” he asks, hopping through the hole that the axe had made. “The fuck stops here.” Frank is a little confused to what he is referring to but is more than glad for the axe. He quickly seizes it after a swift “Thanks!” and sets about hacking the door away.

Once free, they quickly re-saddle Jon and hastily make their way to the castle, Frank's heart and prayers in his throat the entire journey. I'm coming, Gerard, he thinks, forcing Jon to go faster. I love you. I'm so sorry.

~

Back in the castle, the servants have no idea of the mob, the battering ram nor the badly constructed siege tactics headed their way. They are still struggling to come to terms with the fact that their master had let Frank go. Frank, their one hope at actually becoming human again.

“I knew it was foolish to get our hopes up,” Spencer remarks, glaring at the recently dusted bookcase. Brendon nods adding that he wished that Frank had never come at all. Patrick opens his mouth to add to the conversation, Pete hanging sadly on him when the pooch scampers off to the window, barking loudly.

“Could it be?” Brendon asks excitedly, changing his tune rather quickly. “Has he returned?”

They all hurry to the window and are surprised to see the mob already breeching the gate, torches aflame and echoing whispers amongst them. “Sacre Bleu! Invaders!” Patrick cries.

“Encroachers!” Brendon agrees, hoping the word meant what he thought it meant. After all, it was appropriate to use such formal language at a time like this.

“They have Mikey!” Pete cries, bringing one of his feathers up to stroke the rain splattered glass.

“Don't just stand there! Go warn the master! If it's a fight they want then we'll be ready for them!” Spencer yells bravely at some poor shaking teacup, the effects of being alone too often with Brendon clearly showing.

It doesn't take too long to assemble every single enchanted object in the house that isn't bolted to the floor into the main atrium. They wait in silence, hearing the battle cries growing louder, “Raise the flag! Sing the song! Here we come, we're fifty strong and fifty Frenchmen can't be wrong! Let's kill the beast!” The battering ram hits with a loud thuuddunkkk against the large doors, along with the occasional cry of “Ow! Fuck! A splinter, seriously?” Brendon winks at Spencer. They've got this one in the bag.

The mob bursts through at last, suddenly growing quiet in the large echoing entrance. The sight is not one they were really expecting. Huge amounts of furniture sit there on the marble floors, as if begging to be carried off as booty. Gabe gestures for them to come further in, his musket already in hand. William flanks his right side, scooping up an unsuspecting candlestick as he does so. From seemingly nowhere comes the shout of “Now!” and all hell breaks loose. The dishes launch themselves at the mob, smashing quickly and throwing more shards of porcelain than a Greek after a good meal. The cloak stand boxes, the mops throw themselves onto faces, the drawers smash kneecaps and balls alike, the pots and pans target the heads and backsides, the chairs team up with the rugs and chests to dispose of at least two villagers, and the teacups pour boiling water all over them from their perch above. Ray somehow has managed to haul himself down from Frank's room and with a battle cry befitting some curly haired viking giant, crushes three of the villagers.

Somehow in the midst of the madness, Brendon became separated from those most likely to help him out of a jam and comes face to face with Bill brandishing a torch at him, his long hair whipping around his face and sticking to his sweat drenched skin. Brendon cowers in fear, his wax melting too quickly and just when he thinks that this really is the end, he hears Spencer's voice. It's oddly fitting and just as he accepts his imminent death, pressed into a corner with no hope of escape as a candle stick, Bill drops the torch with a loud yelp and leaps away. Spencer brandishes a very sharp pair of scissors, grinning manically before offering Brendon his hand.

The pooch does what dogs do best and bites and howls before running off towards the kitchen with six of the villagers hot on its tail. It cowers under the bench, one of the shoes of some villager in its firm footstool jaws. The villagers don't notice their mistake until the drawers pop open revealing some rather sharp knives and Bob, the wood-fired oven sends a fireball hurtling toward them. He remarks with interest that the smell of their burning flesh is remarkable similar to his own when he accidentally caught it alight and melted his trouser fabric to his leg. It got infected and really, really wasn't pretty. He hopes the villagers fair better.

Whilst the carnage is happening in the hall, Gabe quickly ascends the stairs, peeking into every room along the passage way. It pretty dark and is definitely has a creepy vibe to it. His heart is set on finding the beast, there is no way in hell he's going to let Frankie and some monster best him.

The villagers don't hang around to see what else the castle might throw at them and rather hastily tumble out the front doors and back into the rain. “And stay out!” Spencer yells, still riding the adrenaline high that comes from saving your best friend's life. Before he can really understand what is happening, Brendon is spinning him around and kissing him full on the mouth. Spencer allows himself a quick moment of losing himself in the heat of Brendon's kiss before pulling back. He knows that they really shouldn't be doing that in front of the other staff, it's hardly proper, but hopes that if anyone did see that they merely thought it was a victory kiss, not one of ten years of pent up sexual frustration. Brendon kisses him again unheeded by Spencer's apparent worries about everyone finding out, after all, he had just saved his life, the least he could do was to give him what so many others desired. Spencer pulls a ridiculous face and bats him away.

Despite the siege and being warned of it, Gerard stays in his room, watching the rain streak down the windows. It's pointless fighting if he's got nothing to fight for. Frank is gone, and despite his promise to return, Gerard doubts him. Frank has nothing for him here, he doesn't love him, he knows that much. He can't really blame him though, after all he did lock up his uncle and demand that Frank stay as his prisoner in this place. He knows that sooner or later the villagers will make their way up to this part of the castle to slay him for what he is – a monster. He barely hears the noise of his door being pushed open above the sound of the rain and the triumphant voices downstairs. He turns around somewhat reluctantly and sees Gabe pointing his musket straight at him. Of course it would be Gabe. A low sound escapes his throat as he turns away again, staring down to the storm lashed woods beneath the castle. If only he could see Frank one last time – a hot pain suddenly shoots through his shoulder, tearing through the flesh and muscle.

Gabe watches, flinching a little but not lowering his gun as the beast roars in pain, its back arching against the lead invasion. He pauses for only a second before throwing his gun down and charging at him, knife extended. They both crash through the windows to the rain drenched balcony, landing in a messy heap. “Give up,” Gabe pants, pulling back and tightening the grip on the knife handle. The beast doesn't fight him, only winces in pain and looks at him with sad hazel eyes. “Give up!” he repeats. “What's the matter Beast? Too kind and gentle to fight back?” The monster looks away. It's not going to be a very satisfying kill but just as he advances forward again, a loud voice cries out “No!”

Gerard looks down. He knows that voice, he'd know it anywhere. Frank has returned to the castle, his uncle perched behind him on their horse. The sight makes his heart ache painfully. He came back. “Frank...” he whispers, reaching out one paw as if he could touch him despite being five stories up.

“Behind you!” Frank screams, gesturing. Gerard spins around just in time to catch Gabe's wrist that holds the knife and forces him back despite the bullet lodged in his shoulder. For once he feels like he has a chance and he seizes it, backing them up, feet skidding on the wet stone. If this was some sort of play or dramatic staging, they'd be all over the roof, matching strength for strength on different balconies and parts of the roof not designed to be walked on, lightening would be crashing and the rain would be overly dramatic against the darkened sky. The rain in actual fact is barely a drizzle and gets in both their eyes as they slip around on the stone, neither one actually managing to get any blows landed. Gabe slips and skids away, half falling off the balcony, it gives Gerard the chance to back himself up against the wall, trying to blend in with the deep shadows that cling there. He watches as Gabe struggles back up, panting with exertion.

“Come on out and fight!” he yells, voice weary. “Were you in love with him, Beast? Did you honestly think he'd want you when he had someone like me? Did you think you honestly stood a chance?”

Frank wastes no time in pushing Jon into a gallop and up the stairs into the castle. His heart is beating too fast and he doesn't even think to grab a weapon. All he can think about is Gerard and getting to him. He dodges the various servants who are celebrating despite the battle that wages upstairs and without so much as a backward glance, leaves Luigi behind. If he could spare the breath he'd be screaming at them to help, but he can't. There are too many flights of stairs to climb and his lung capacity sucks, even on a good day. He can hear Gabe yelling as he gets nearer.

“It's over beast! Frank is mine!” Gerard's loud growl answers a few seconds later  with Gabe yelling to be put down, begging not to be hurt. Frank assumes that Gerard has got him by the throat, preferably over the side of the castle. There is silence apart from Gabe's begging and as he rushes into the room he sees Gerard set Gabe down onto the balcony.

“Get out,” he tells him harshly, letting go of him.

Frank coughs and calls out a frantic “Gerard!” extending his hand as he does so. Gerard turns quickly around, his face brightening as he sees him, becoming more human looking as his hard fur retreats and he is able to stand straighter. He begins to limp towards him and just as their hands touch, Gabe sticks his blade deep into Gerard's side. Gerard roars in agony, lashing out and sending Gabe flying along with his knife. Both fall with a sickening crunch. Frank doesn't have to look to know that Gabe is dead, impaled by his own weapon. Any other time he'd be remarking how oddly fitting it is and how the universe apparently has a sense of humour after all, but right now all he can think about is Gerard and helping him.

The battle is now officially over, but the rain does not let up. Frank gently lowers Gerard's bleeding body down onto the rough stone of the western, exposed balconies. He couldn't bring himself to think about Gabe and how he's lying not two feet from them, dead. All he can concentrate on is the massive amounts of blood issuing from Gerard's wounds. He tries to staunch the bleeding, pressing his balled up cardigan to the open flesh. “Don't die on me, motherfucker. Come on! You can make it!” His desperate pleas quickly fill with horror as he feels Gerard convulse beneath him.

“I..I'm not so sure...” Gerard pants out, blood dripping from his mouth that is twisted into a pained smile. Frank doesn't care about the tears that stream from his eyes despite the way they blur his vision making it harder to know where to press the bundle of clothing to the rather large wound.

“Don't lie,” he says quickly, as if this is nothing more than a paper cut. “You'll be fine, Brendon will find us and get help.” Each passing word seems more and more impossible and the situation's gravity isn't lifted at all by Gerard raising his paw in an attempt to brush away Frank's fast tracked tears, but failing as his strength does.

“I'm sorry,” Gerard tells him a little thickly.

Frank shakes his head. “No no no, you don't get to say that. You have nothing to be sorry for, 'cause you'll get better and we'll sit in the library and read to each other and eat dinner with our fingers.” Gerard laughs and chokes a little on the blood collecting in his throat. “Hang in there, please. Fuck, Gerard, I need you,” Frank pleads as he begins to realize that help isn't coming.

Gerard opens his mouth to say something along the lines of “You're meant for more than being stuck in this backwards town. I don't know why you didn't leave as soon as you could.” Frank seems to get the gist of the gurgle though and almost angrily tells him “No! You don't get to do this! You don't get to be a selfish asshole and leave me. I'm meant to be here, with you.”

“At... at least I got... to see you... one last... time...”

“Shut up!” Frank screams. “You're gonna be fine! You're gonna be-” he looks down at his hands, covered in blood and how all his efforts to stop the bleeding have been in vain. He flicks his glance back to Gerard's soft, wolfish features just in time to see his lips twitch into something like a smile and the whisper of “I love you, Frankie...” slips from his lips before his whole body slackens.

“Gee! No!! You can't- I love you- Don't-” words escape him as he collapses down on his body, sobbing loudly. It's over, despite everything, Gerard is dead and he has lost everything. His sobs quickly become hysterical, forcing his breaths into small pants. He doesn't notice when light seems to explode out from everywhere or when the rain slows. He does however stumble back in shock when he feels Gerard breathe. His heart stutters and comes to a slamming halt as Gerard's very human eyes flutter slightly and it takes him exactly point three of a second to launch onto him, burying his face in his neck and loudly proclaiming “You're alive! You asshole!”

Gerard coughs a few times before asking in a weak and threading voice “Frankie?”

Pulling back, Frank proceeds to plant small kisses all over his decidedly human face whilst laughing somewhat hysterically. Gerard blinks up at him, raising his hand to wipe the tears off Frank's cheeks. “Hey...” he begins, before pausing with confusion. His eyes widen as he looks upon his own hand.

“Well, you're not dead,” Frank giggles, sniffing loudly.

“Dead? Who's dead?” Gerard blinks, genuinely confused and worried. But Frank, it appears has run out of words and patience and kisses him hard. It takes Gerard a second to get with the program, letting out a surprised “Mmph!” as Frank cups his face in both hands, sealing their mouths together. His eyes quickly snap shut as he eagerly kisses back, letting Frank's tongue lick against his own. After a few minutes of frantic making out on the cold, wet balcony, Gerard notices that Frank is mumbling actual words when he kisses him.

“Love you,” kiss, “so fucking much,” kiss, “you have no idea.”

Gerard forces himself back from Frank's perfect mouth, “You do?” he asks, a huge grins spreading over his face, “You do?!” Frank grins back blindingly and nods before rolling his eyes a little. If there was a proper fairy tale there would be fireworks going off right now, dissolving the night into a bright spring morning and transforming the castle into soft white colours with angels instead of gargoyles guarding the roofline. But it's still raining so there goes that idea.

“Yeah,” Frank replies. “Have for a while now.”

“You... You never said...

Frank bites his lip, seeing the slight hurt that tugs at Gerard's features. “'M sorry, I was confused and the spell never said anything about needing to say it!”

“Ross is an asshole,” Gerard tells him before kissing him again. He pulls back with a hiss when he tries to sit up, the bullet still lodged in his shoulder. Of course, all the damned spell would do is break, it's not like it's magically going to heal him. Frank seems to catch on to this train of thought and very reluctantly leaves his side to find a pair of tweezers, old rags and the like. Gerard keeps his eyes shut and refuses to acknowledge that fact that Frank has a needle in his hand that he is sticking into his torn flesh. He must've blacked out at some point because when he comes to, he's in bed with Frank hovering over him, nervously chewing a fingernail.

“Hey-” he starts softly before loud footsteps are heard running down the hallway. A good forty percent of the servants and workers burst through the door.

“Master!” Brendon cries, leading them in and dressed in a rather odd assortment of clothes. “We're human!”

Gerard grins at them. It's been so long he had almost forgotten what they had all looked like, what he had looked like. Frank tries not to feel too jealous as they all rush forward to embrace Gerard, that they are the ones to get a hug first from him. Mikey steps back, brushing himself off a little and mutters “About fucking time, jeez.” It's aimed in Frank's direction and for the first time since the servants have entered the room, Gerard looks at him.

“You saved us,” he says simply before being tackled once again by a very enthusiastic Patrick. Brendon quickly draws Frank into an embrace, thanking him over and over again before kissing his cheeks repeatedly. Frank eventually pushes him back to arms length. “Seriously,” he demands, “where the fuck were you guys when we needed you?”

“We were watching the rose in an adjoining room! The last petal! It fell and-”

“And you didn't think about coming to see if Gerard or I were okay after Gabe came up here with his fucking musket and knife?” Frank asks. Everyone slowly turns their head and for the first time notices the body of Gabe, still out in the rain, the knife buried deep in his chest. The celebratory feeling in the room dims and the room fills with silence.

“Typical,” Frank mutters, avoiding looking out and taking a seat beside Gerard. “Good help is always so hard to find.”

“Hey!” Brendon and Spencer protest in unison, turning to glare at him.

Gerard gives a small giggle, “It's okay, Frankie. We're all fine. Better than.” He squeezes his hand reassuringly. They don't notice Mikey roll his eyes and mutter something about going to find Pete, or the way that Brendon waggles his eyebrows at Spencer and drags him away. For the first time in a while, it's just them and as their lips meet again it's to the resounding feeling of home.

~

~Two Months Later ~

“Fuck, could you be any louder? I thought you'd be packed already,” Frank whispers angrily in the half-dark as Gerard fumbles around, stashing various paint tubes and whatever the hell else into his bag.

“I am,” Gerard grumbles, searching around for a certain sketch pad that he knows he left around here somewhere. He does understand the urgency of the situation. They've only been trying to leave the castle for the better part of a month and a half, but every time they get as far as the carriage, one of the servants pop up from god-knows where and demands to come along.

“Here,” Frank says, tossing the sketch pad to him before carefully going to stick his head out of the door. They've kept the room dark on purpose, making it look like they're sleeping and not actually plotting their escape. At last Gerard seems satisfied that he's got everything and they slip out into the dimly lit hallway, hands tightly grasping each others. They sneak out through the back to the carriage that is waiting for them just outside the walls. Frank's contagious grin is bright in the moonlight, the silvery light bleaching his skin out and fading the coloured ink that marks him. It's times like this that Gerard cannot help but be amazed, that he is here, with Frank. No more curses, no more hesitations and certainly no more paws. He watches as Frank swiftly stows their luggage, awed at how heartbreakingly beautiful he looks tonight with his hair cut short and shirt half buttoned. Frank seems to feel Gerard's wanton gaze and quickly steps down from the carriage. He doesn't bother to say anything to the coachman, this event having become too well practiced, too frequent for the usual exchange of niceties. Instead he surges up on his tip toes to crash his mouth against Gerard's in a searing kiss before tugging them both into the cramped interior of the carriage.

“About time, what took you so long?” Mikey asks, scaring the pair who immediately leap away from each other with broken off curses.

“What the hell, Mikey?” Frank demands, pressing his palm to where his heart is threatening to explode out of his chest.

Mikey merely raises his eyebrows in a way that roughly translates to “I've been stuck in that castle for ten years. You can't not expect me to join you on your 'adventures’, besides, Alicia said she has lodgings for us in Switzerland.”

Gerard nods as if he got all that and gives Frank's hand a reassuring squeeze as if to say it's fine for Mikey to accompany them. Frank grumbles something along the lines of “Well that certainly rules out back seat blow jobs,” before taking a seat and closing the door. Mikey signals the driver that they are ready to depart and the carriage suddenly lurches forward. The bubble of excitement in Frank's stomach is almost too much for him to bear and he hides his grin in the crook of Gerard's shoulder. They are free and together and for the first time in his life, he feels he belongs.

~The End~