Beauty and the Beast. Tale as old as time: She was lovely inside and out, he was only one of those things.
Her being so unselfish, she was able to put his appearance aside and focus on the connection they shared. She came to save her father, and, put in this situation, Beauty would make the best of it. She knew that not all things were like her wonderful stories. Heroes could act like villains, villains could be acting like heroes, but for the other side. Her beast was somewhere in between.
At first, and reasonably so, all she felt towards him was anger. Beauty loved her father and wouldn’t change her decision, but that did not mean she couldn’t resent the beast who caused her troubles.
Sometime after his attempts to interact with her, Beauty came to see that he had his own troubles too. He was exceedingly lonely, above other things.
Books and some time in the snow prove that the Beast wasn’t unfavorable company. Indeed, he seemed to understand her better than anyone in her hometown did. Beauty could tell him her truths, and he slowly opened up to her and shared his own stories.
One thing she liked was that they didn’t lie to each other. She had no traumatic experiences with lies, but no one really enjoyed them, did they? She and the Beast were different. If a question either didn’t want to answer was asked, they could be honest and say that. “I’m afraid I don’t feel comfortable telling you that.”
It was freeing to not owe this stranger, who had eventually turned into friend , all of her intimate knowledge. At the same time, it was becoming less and less likely she’d utter those words. Her trust in him was growing.
The subject of her father still worried Beauty. She wondered how he might be doing by himself, if he was trying to find a way to save her. In truth, she wasn’t sure she wanted him to - the risks of him doing so were frightening to imagine on such a kind and, at times, naive man.
That was not to say she didn’t desire freedom. Even if this captivity wasn’t terribly unpleasant, it was nearly as stifling as her hometown, averse as it was to the adventure she so craved. The only reason it was not just as bad was that she hadn’t been here very long. Beauty would find some way to escape, but maybe she could visit the Beast sometime afterward.
This whole thing had been a whirlwind of a week. Her father had nearly died, and so had the Beast. She had never experienced something so wholly horrifying as an entire angry mob - of people she knew personally, as well - attempting to kill her friend.
It almost made her regret wishing for adventure. At the very least, she could be content for some months to reading books and not living them. It would, however, be a lie to say she may not someday become lustful for excitement again.
The Beast wasn’t the Beast anymore. She had realized that she loved him, which was.. Strange. The revelation came to her when she saw him lying dead on the ground, and she was forced to consider the implications of never seeing him alive again. It wasn’t something she thought fondly of, no matter what happened because of it. One of the most unusual things in this was the fact that he was, in fact, a human Prince. His personality remained the same, but his face was beautiful, and his figure was as handsome as any man she knew.
Very little changed, somehow. The only thing that did was her being able to fathom intimacy betwixt them.
Beauty may change his title from friend to lover.
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Marriage was more of an adventure than Beauty previously suspected. It ate up her time in a way she didn’t mind overmuch. She found herself endlessly fascinated by the concept of pregnancy, of motherhood, of what it would mean for her and the Prince’s relationship.
He seemed like he would be a good father, so gentle and caring. Without his loneliness to obsess over, he seemed to truly thrive. She imagined the two of them reading to her child just like she once did to the Prince when he was still under the curse.
She wondered if this tiny seed, a sign of the fertile, loving grounds of her marriage, was a girl or a boy. If they would be healthy or not. If they might take to reading like Beauty did, or maybe if they would be the type to stay outside all day, avoiding all written words. Beauty would love them, no matter what. She didn’t mean to sound like a dull, kept woman, but this beautiful creation of her and her lover’s would do that for her.
If her life was a story, she imagined her child might be the start of a sequel. A new beginning, a sign of another plot to unfold.
Her Prince was as sweet as ever, and each day she felt like her heart expanded in her love for him, for this unborn child, for her life. It seemed nothing could go wrong.
And yet, some things weren’t right. Her lover, though kind and usually indulgent, became distant, as though he had something on his mind. Sometimes he refused to lay with her, claiming that he needed sleep, but then wouldn’t meet her eyes. Beauty wanted nothing more than to never think of this, but it stared her in the face after the time that she was swollen with her child and yet the Prince reached the twentieth time to show disinterest.
“Has it to do with my pregnancy? What could make you not want your wife, husband?”
He gave her a sigh like she ought to be used to this by now. Beauty was, in a way.
Beauty felt the worst pain to ever be experienced. Like her body was fighting her, all of her muscles contorted. Sweat layered her face, joining the tears halfheartedly falling.
Marital issues had no place in her mind, not when nine months of waiting had lead to this. It was odd that her husband from his place at her beside had pained expressions to match hers. He wasn’t the one hurting, after all. Beauty’s hand clutched his so that both were white with pressure, but this was not the cause for his tense body or worried eyes.
Just around two hours later, it became obvious why. What she had wanted to ignore was leading up to a horrible event, one that would make her world crash down around her.
As her baby was placed in her arms, she ecstatically began to take every detail in.
Only, something was very wrong.
Instead of a beautiful clear face, she saw a mangled mouth with large teeth already starting to protrude, and a dog-like snout. The creature had hair growing all over it, and small, beady eyes. They looked like that of an animal, dark and uncomprehending. The thing’s waist was small and its torso round and its legs were built like a lion’s, thin and still covered in a light shroud of fur.
Beside her, the Beast looked horrified. It could not rival her own expression, however. It reflected exactly how she felt to suddenly understand that this being that she deified, that she cradled and nurtured with her own body was- was- an animal.
How could this have happened?
It began pitifully crying, sounding so much like a puppy, looking for something to suckle on. She pushed it away to the foot of her bed, sitting up. This managed to make the weight of childbirth feel like a feather.
How did you react to your waking reality ceasing to be so?
“I was afraid of this,” the man said. He seemed unfamiliar to her, in a way that suggested she might have known him a long time ago, much too long to recall with any ease.
He sighed, and it reminded her of something she couldn’t name, like the feeling of desperation creeping up on you from behind, but she couldn’t put a concrete memory to it.
“My wife.. I have a secret to share with you. I know you will shun me, but I never stopped being that ugly beast. I placed an illusion on myself, to make you happy.. It is because of this that our child looks like this.”
Was he speaking to her? Was she his wife? It sounded like a lie. Beauty wanted to close her eyes and dream up that world again, live like the past day never happened.
The man’s eyes glistened with tears. She felt no emotion to his words, focusing on her lethargy and the need to keep the animal-thing away.
He muttered something that sounded like a spell from a book of Beauty’s. Suddenly, she saw a large beast. This sight did trigger something in her.
She snapped. Everything sunk in, and she realized just what had happened.
For one, he lied about who he was. For two, he lied about what they were - they were not a couple in love, they were a man weaving his falsities for years to a trusting woman, a parody of romance. For three, he made her give birth to the spawn of their unholy matrimony.
Beauty’s dazed thoughts of sleep were washed away. Instead, she felt intense, red-hot fury. How dare he betray her? How dare he?
She screamed at that wretched Beast and took the thing into her arms.
“You really are a beast! You put this disgusting creature inside me. You ruined my life!” Her shrieks filled the room, and, seeing the hurt expression on the Beast’s face, she fled.
A year later and Beauty was still bitter. A year since she saw the Beast and her anger dulled, but the sting of finding out that he had no faith in her love, that her happiness was false, stayed fresh.
In the end, she realized that her baby was still hers, even if the animal had a hand in creating him. The day she left that castle for good, she finally let it nurse from her breast. He looked at her with need, and she couldn’t bring herself to reject him.
A few days later and she felt like a real mother. She remembered how excited she was when the baby was still a mystery. Those emotions were still there, only curtained by her anger.
To put it like one of her books: When she pulled that curtain back, the sun was able to shine in on her without the clouds obscuring the rays.
His name was the name of Beauty’s father, and he would never know of the Beast’s existence. It was a secret she would take to her grave, and here in this new land that she was making her home, no one was there to expose these truths.