By Lindsey Gruden No comments

Jacob trudged after Aledia. She had somehow persuaded him to go to the tavern. Both wore plain clothes. The villagers wouldn’t be able to tell that they were nobles. Aledia wore a plain green dress, and Jacob wore a dull brown tunic. He pulled on the tunic’s collar. It itched. He wished he could go back to the finery he’d become accustomed to.

He had denied her at first. Taking a princess to a tavern was out of the question. Aledia was never one to take no as an answer and stated she would go alone. He was going to allow her to go alone. Then the thought of her father, the king, discovering she went alone. Jacob followed as she skipped as they neared the tavern.

The light from the tavern seeped out in the street. The music from the bards poured out with laughter and chatter as they opened the door. Aledia wrapped an arm through his and guided him in. She moved with sure steps straight towards a dark alcove. Jacob arched his brow. She was so surefooted. Aledia pushed him into the booth, and he jumped as he stared face to face with Wilhelm.

“You!” Jacob demanded and jumped back, right into Aledia.

She slid into the booth next to him and smiled at Jacob.

“Hear me out before you decide to run,” Wilhelm said as he offered his empty palms towards Jacob.

“I don’t want to hear anything from you. You and your family can stay away,” Jacob growled and looked back at Aledia.

She continued to smile. He cursed her under his breath. The girl was forcing the issue.

“Jacob, you haven’t seen me in ages. Can we not argue?” Wilhelm asked.

“You have nothing to do with me, remember?” Jacob hissed and glowered at Wilhelm. He moved to stand. This meeting with his brother and his apprentice was over. He would be sure to reprimand her once they got back to the castle. He began to stand.

“Can’t we have a pint and talk about the letters between us?” Wilhelm asked as he reached into his satchel. With a swift motion, he dropped the stack of letters onto the table.

Jacob stared at the letters. They were bundled with worn twine. Each letter he sent his brother was kept safe and close. He had burned the letter that Wilhelm sent…

“You kept them all? Why?” Jacob asked. His fingers shook as he picked up the stack. There were more letters than just his here. The twine was made up of different ropes. It was as if Wilhelm had to keep adding more to secure the increase of letters. His heart ached as he ran his fingers over the rough paper.

Aledia waved to the barmaid and held up three fingers. A drink would keep the conversation moving.

“There is something odd happening to us. You’ve run into a talking frog, cursed princesses, and a twisted wedding. No offense, princess. I know you are friends with Snow White.” Wilhelm said.

Aledia waved him off. This was not about her. She was here as a mediator that brought the brothers together.

“Those are just coincidences,” Jacob scowled. He placed the letters back onto the table.

“That’s not the case, and you know it. I have run into a witch trying to devour children and a maid trapped in a tower. Yesterday, I ran into a girl that lived in a magical glen. How many odd circumstances need to happen before you see the pattern?” Wilhelm chided.

Jacob hesitated. There was a girl in a glen? That was new. When his brother laid out all the events, it felt odd. A person would run into one of these events once in their lifetime. What were the odds they kept happening to them? There was a pattern to explore…

“What do you want me to do about it?” Jacob asked. It would not divert him. He wanted nothing to do with this family.

“You were always smarter than me. Ever since father went missing, these events started happening. Don’t you find that odd?” Wilhelm asked.

Jacob frowned and ran his hand through his hair. Of course, he did. Something was happening beyond them. Did he step on a fairy as a child?

The barmaid walked over and dropped off three pints of beer. Jacob took a swig and winced at the taste. He preferred wine. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched Aledia drink from the mug without a flinch. What was with this girl? She wiped her mouth with her sleeve and looked between the two.

“One would think a scholar such as yourself would be curious,” Aledia hummed. She looked at Jacob and then his brother.

“I am curious, but the thought of helping that family makes me ill,” he growled at the princess. She had no place or business getting involved with his affairs.

“What an example you are setting,” Aledia purred as she sipped from her drink again. Even in a plain gown, she held a regal air about her.

“What example I am setting? You tricked me into coming here!” Jacob exclaimed.

Aledia shrugged. This was about getting the brothers back together. One day Jacob would thank her for this. She smiled back at Wilhelm.

“Did you have any idea why these things are happening to you two?” she asked.

Wilhelm ran a hand down his beard and shook his head. There was no rhyme or reason for these events. He took a gulp from his beer. The meeting did not go the way he had hoped.

“You said it was after father disappeared?” Jacob asked with a sigh. If he played along, perhaps he could get back to his life with minimal interference from Wilhelm.

“He left, and it should have been about a week’s journey. The week passed, and then two weeks passed. After I went after him, these things started happening. The only thing he left was his journal,” Wilhelm rushed out as he retrieved the journal from the satchel. He handed it to Jacob.

“And he went missing? There were no clues?” Aledia asked.

The barmaid walked over with a plate of chicken and steamed vegetables. She cocked her head to the side. “Did you say missing?” she interrupted with a thick accent. She placed the food and three plates on the table.

“You all must be talking about that king. He went missing, and his daughter took over the throne with her lucky husband. The king was never heard from again,” she whistled low.

“What do you mean he’s missing? What were the circumstances surrounding it?” Aledia asked and pulled the barmaid to sit on the bench beside her.

The barmaid tossed her red hair over her shoulder. She looked over the group with sparkling eyes.

“I’ve heard that his son-in-law returned with a mountain of treasure. He went after it and never returned,” the barmaid whispered.

Wilhelm watched Jacob flip through the journal. His brother scoured over the words and didn’t look up to the barmaid. If there was anyone that would put two and two together, it was him. He ran a hand down his beard and tried not to be nervous. Aledia set up this meeting. Although she tricked him into coming here, his brother was looking over the journal. This would be his only chance to convince Jacob to help.

“Where was this king from?” Wilhelm asked, determined to keep the conversation up.

The barmaid picked a piece of chicken off the plate and chewed it slowly.

“The rumor said it was to the south of here. It was in a desert or something,” she coughed with a mouth full of food.

The brothers stared at each other in silence. A silent question passed between the younger brother and the elder. Will he assist? Would he accompany him to find their father? Jacob heaved a sigh.

“If I do this, will you stay out of my life? I had it going well until you, and my apprentice showed up and meddled,” Jacob asked in defeat. He didn’t want to do this. If he found the old fool, his old life could be put to rest. He held out his hand.

“If you help me find father, you can consider us gone,” Wilhelm agreed and shook his brother’s hand.

Aledia frowned. This wasn’t how she intended it to go. They should have reconciled. Now, they were using each other for their own personal goals and gains. Did she go about this meeting the wrong way? If she had chosen to be direct with Jacob, would it have gone over differently?

The barmaid stood and brushed off her apron. “It sounds like you three worked out whatever you were debating,” she said with a smile. Her bright green eyes glittered as she walked away from the group.

Aledia pulled a piece of chicken from the plate and chewed on it. A pout formed on her lips as both brothers looked over the last journal entry. They were working together for the wrong reasons. Jacob had freed her from the duties of marriage and unhappy life. He saved her and presented her with a new future. The future was once bleak in the hands of the men in her life. Now it shimmered with hope with her new fate. The least she could do was help repair the relationship with his brother.

She couldn’t imagine not talking to any of her sisters for months. What could have possibly happened between them? Aledia munched on another piece of chicken and sipped on the beer. She would solve this mystery and reunite this broken family if it was the last thing she did.

From behind the bar, the barmaid watched the three of them. Her green eyes twinkled in the lantern light as she repressed a giggle. The journey ahead for the group will be rocky at best. She looked over at the brothers. They were so different but so alike. The barmaid walked into the back room.

As she passed, a blonde barmaid walked in to replace her. The woman’s green eyes sparkled as she disappeared into the dark alley. How would those boys overcome what was coming for them? A laugh echoed from the empty alley.

***Disclaimer: This is a work of Fan Fiction.

It is an adaptation of the characters created and owned by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.

This story is not associated with Disney’s adaptations, their added characters, or story elements. ***

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