By My True Reflection
Being born a Prince Charming means a lot more than just dazzling teeth and nice hair. As my dad always says, we must be prepared for whatever destiny can throw at us and face it bravely. For my brother, Dexter, that means being heroic enough to battle any evil
though he needs a bit more practice. For my sister, Darling, it mean a willingness to wait for destiny to find her and defeat it when it arrives.
Once Upon a Time, I thought I was to be the prince of Snow White, but recently I’ve flipped the script into a new story: Beauty and the Beast. And, plot twist, I’m the Beast! It’s a
character upgrade new experience; a whole different page of the book. Still, a Charming follows destiny wherever it leads, so I shall pursue my role in its entirety. By my princely honor!
It had been a charmingly perfect day, as usual. I had just finished with Heroics Class (in which I slayed not one but two dragons) when Headmaster Grimm appeared on the Intercom. “Daring Charming, please report to my office.” No big deal, I figured. He probably wanted to congratulate me for my astounding hexpertise in all things princely and dashing.
But when I got there, he didn’t have a medal waiting for me. Instead, he was holding my school records and frowning. What the hex!
"Mr. Charming, it’s come to my attention you have changed your story from Snow White to Beauty and the Beast," he said, looking over my fairy detailed record. "Destiny changes are rare and that makes it tricky to score your grades. As it is, we may have to throw out your record completely. None of it fits your destiny!"
You can imagine how horrified I was. Throw out all my heroic deeds and chivalrous after-school activities? Unthinkable.
"Sir, what must I do to fix this?" I asked him
desperately in concern.
He thought for a moment, then replied. "The only thing you can do is to earn some hextra credits through real beast training. You’ll take a week of hextra classes…at Beast School."
Beast School (also known as Beast Academy) was the twin facility of Beauty School, where Poppy O'Hair had transferred from. Everyone said it was filled with the most terrifying creatures ever after who hated all other characters, especially princes. No wonder they weren't invited to school mixers!
"Sucks to be you, Prince Beastly,” Sparrow Hood smirked once he found out my problem. Word had spread through school faster than someone calling wolf, and my Best Friends Forever After had come to cheer me up. But as usual, the son of Robin Hood was just being a tease.
"It won't be so bad," Hopper Croakington II said. "You're the best at everything. You'll do fine. Like a toad in a frog pond."
He wasn’t what you’d call an eloquent speaker
unless he was in his frog form, but he was a great friend. I knew what he meant to say was that it would be different, but I could pull it off. I just had to tell myself I’d be great.
Sparrow wasn't finished. "I bet they'll make lunch out of you," he teased, strumming his guitar. "All that will be left is your crown."
Unfortunately, a lot of people seemed to think the same thing and it was starting to get me
frightened worried. All except for one person.
Rosabella Beauty came to see me as I waited after school for the dragon bus. She was the princess in our Beauty and the Beast story and my maybe-girlfriend (though we haven't come to a conclusion yet).
"Don’t listen to the others,” she said, smiling in encouragement. “Beasts are nicer than the stories make them seem. Just be kind and they’ll like you just as much as I do.”
I quickly nodded, pulling out my mirror to
hide my blush check my reflection. A prince had to look perfect for meeting new people. I would be representing Ever After High, so I needed to look even more fableous than I already was. The bus finally arrived and I took my seat, waving to her as it flew off. I was confident in my abilities as a hero. I was the best, after all. But when it came to being a beast…
Maybe it would still be fine.
Beast Academy was pretty impressive; a stone castle in the Wild Woods almost completely covered in moss and ivy. There was even a crocodile moat I had to cross to get inside. Looking down, I saw that the crocodiles were all wearing the school uniforms, meaning they were students here. They waved up at me as I passed.
Inside of the school was like a new world. There were lockers mixed with trees growing inside just like at Ever After High, but more. It looked like a jungle with students everywhere, even hanging from the branches. They all stared as I walked in and I got the feeling it wasn’t just my
lack of uniform dazzling good looks that drew attention. They all had claws, fangs, and fur. All I had was my crown, letterman jacket, and Charming Signature backpack.
Trying to stay calm, I decided to use my usual tactic: strut and smile. I glided through the halls, giving them all my winning smile that made any fairytale character’s day better. Though, for some reason, they didn't seem encouraged by it. They flinched away from my glowing teeth like it had burned them. Could beasts have a natural aversion to beautiful things? If that was true, then when I became a beast, would I no longer like my own reflection? Horror upon horror!
The student of the Welcoming Committee (I'd never seen a tortoise in a blazer before) led me to my first class: Roaring 101. I'd aced Wooing 101 and roaring was in a beast’s nature. I would be royally gifted at this for sure!
Things didn’t go quite as planned that day, or the day after. I couldn't seem to get the hang of this beast stuff. My roar was more like a whimper, Track and Find class left me way behind the other students, and when it was time for Intro to Claws and Fangs, I couldn't draw the goose feathers out of a pillow. For the first time I was a fairy-failure and it did not feel good. I wish I had
Dexter’s determination a way to escape this.
By the time I got back to Ever After High, I was really down in the swamps. If I couldn’t catch up to the other beginner students, I would flunk my hextra credits and have to repeat the year. It didn’t seem fairest that I just got a new destiny and already was going to lose it.
A knock came to my door and I thought it was Hopper, my roommate. It was Rosabella who I had been avoiding for a few days. She sat with me on my bed and asked how my beast classes were going.
“Great," I told her, just like I did when my friends had asked. "I was perfectly beastly."
But she gave me a disbelieving look and my fake smile faded away. I think it might be because of her magic touch to “see true selves”, but she always knew when I was bluffing.
Sighing, I admitted to her how bad things were and that I was worried I might not be able to pass the final test on Friday. After that, I nervously waited to hear what she would say. Would she not want me to be her prince anymore now that she knew how bad I was at being a beast? Just the thought had unprincely tears welling in my eyes. It never took much to get me upset.
She looked me in the eyes, but she didn’t look disappointed. "Did you ask for anyone's help?"
Ask for help? Laughable! A prince always knew how to do things. It was written in the Charming Handbook! I told this to her and she shook her head. “You aren’t trying to be a prince,” she reminded me. "You're training to be a beast. It can be hard to change studies like that, so maybe ask someone for help. The worst they could say is no."
I didn’t like this plan. It felt like I was admitting defeat if I couldn’t master this on my own. And what if when I asked for someone's assistance, they laughed at me or said I was a failure?
"Trust me.” Rosabella took my hand in hers and gave it a squeeze. "I know you can do this."
It made my heart race that she put so much faith in me. I didn’t want to let her down. And just as importantly, I didn’t want to let myself down, either. I would try again tomorrow and this time, give it my best-beast shot.
Oh my Grimm, it worked!
When the time for Intro to Claws and Fangs came, I raised my hand for the teacher's attention. “Sir, I don’t have any claws or fangs. How will I do the exercise?” His name was Herr Katz, a relative of the cat from Pinocchio and he explained to me how to summon my claws.
“Just think of a moment when you felt most afraid,” he said, gesturing to the wood target we were using. “Picture when you wanted to be brave, then use it to drive you forward.”
This was hard to do since I, as a prince, was never afraid of anything. But I did remember a time when I was young. Dexter, Darling, and I were playing in the woods around our castle, and ran into a giant wild boar. He was so big and scary that I froze on the spot, unable to move. Luckily, Dad came to our rescue, but I never forgot that.
When I looked at the target, I pictured the boar that tried to hurt my family and made me see how important it was to protect them from anything. To protect everyone.
Thunk! Before I knew it, I pounced and when I looked to my hand, it was stuck in the target, with claws extended. I could summon my Beast claws again!
For the rest of the week I just kept improving, all by asking others for help. The beast students were fairy nice and gave me pointers for tracking, camouflage, and, most of all, roaring. It didn't feel as "princely" as I was used to; but, truthfully, I liked this new feeling. It was a freedom I’d never experienced being just a prince. I couldn’t wait to show my skills on my exam!
On Friday, I had to take my examination in front of all my beast teachers and the school principal, Headmistress Anderson. Using everything I’d learned, I clawed through all the targets, stalked the volunteer rabbit through the grass, and I roared so loudly that I shattered one of the examiner’s glasses.
“Well done.” Herr Katz clapped for me along with the other examiners. “85 points score.”
It wasn't a 100, but it was enough to pass and I was glad. I had worked hard for it. Who cared if it wasn't princely perfect? I got my hextra credit and wouldn't have to repeat the year! Spelltacular!
It was sad saying goodbye to all the new friends I had made. The Beast Academy students, as a sign of friendship, gave me a parting gift: a new patch for my letterman jacket. A patch for the Roaring Team, shaped like a lion's face. It was better than any medal I'd ever gotten. I smiled in gratitude, though remembered to cover my teeth this time.
Once I returned to Ever After High, I went in search of Rosabella, wanting to tell her everything. Not surprisingly, I found her in the school gardens, reading a book. She always said the gardens reminded her of her home castle.
I rushed over and showed her my new patch, telling her all about my victory in the examination. She applauded my success. “Good job, Daring. I knew you could do it.”
“Only because you believed in me,” I replied. And you know, even without the badge, I would have felt proud. I didn't need a trophy to prove what I'd done. I’d keep my new skills and practice them even more so by the time we graduated, I could be the best beast ever after. That was my new destiny.
I summoned just one claw and used it to cut a rose from the bush (Groundskeeper Thumb wouldn't mind), handing it to Rosabella which made her blush as brightly as I did while we traded smiles between us.
Hopefully, being together like this would be part of my destiny as well.