He's Dear and So Unsure
By: 1000th Ghost
*This story is dedicated to Bobby because it's his 16th birthday!*
This is the coolest thing ever. A week-ish ago, I watched a documentary on the Smithsonian channel called "The Real Beauty and the Beast", which is about, you guessed it, the REAL Beauty and the Beast (whose names are Catherine and Petrus, not Belle and Beast/Adam :P ). Ahem, le story (forgive me if any details are inaccurate, I'm going off my memory from a week ago):
Once upon a time, The King of France is getting a bunch of presents for becoming The King of France. Everyone has this bizarro fascination with all weird/exotic animals, and in the midst of giving him camels and monkeys, someone gives him a wildman aka a Beast. Everyone is so totally amazed (as if today someone found a unicorn). Wildmen are at the top of their scary mythology legends chart: savage, evil, devil-created monsters who have unquenchable blood-lust and eat children alive. Well, since the going thing is that rich, powerful people keep freaks to increase their popularity (?), The King of France is very excited. He has the Beast brought to the dungeons and has all these physicians and scientists go in to examine him. Everyone pretty much assumes that he's going to kill and eat all these physicians and scientists and that it's a suicide mission. But, dun dun dun, he's only ten years old! He doesn't attack or do anything savage at all, he's just scared and keeps saying that his name is Pedro Gonzalez. (what it actually is is that he has hypertrichosis, that disease where hair grows everywhere, including all over your face. but this was in the 1500s, and they certainly didn't know that. to his death, they thought he was an animal-thing)
The King of France is very into experiments and science and such and decides that he is going to see if he can make this animal-man behave like a normal person. He pretty much takes him in as an adoptive son (and changes his name to Petrus Gonsalvus because everyone hearts Latin) and gives him princely clothes and food (which is cool because before this he was only ever fed raw meat and animal feed!) and gives him a nobleman's education. His teachers are all shocked because turns out he's wicked smart and is a gifted, hardworking student. He grows up and holds a position in the court and is nice and charming and wonderful, and everyone loves him.
But, the powers that be say that men who hold court positions need wives. Aaand then The King of France aka The Nice Dude in Petrus's Life dies. His wife aka The Evil Queen takes over the throne and decides, you know what, gonna slaughter a zillion people for being Protestant, yep. Crazy McBonkerpants Queen is also infamous for being a perfect matchmaker (meaning if you didn't marry who she picked out for you, she killed you, so you'd better have a happily ever after!). Like her husband, The Evil Queen is also into experiments and science. But unlike her husband, The Evil Queen is not caring and simply wants to breed wildmen because freaks are still the coolest thing since sliced bread. So, she gathers up all the girls in the kingdom and picks out someone who is beautiful (because everyone thinks wildmen are so savage that they need a ridiculous amount of weird stimulation to get going, so might as well make her hot to help the process out) but strong enough to not like run away in a panic when she sees who her husband is.
So, the day of the wedding comes. Catherine knows absolutely nothing about her husband other than the fact that she can't say no or she'll be killed. She's walking down the aisle, he turns around...bam, she faints. After the wedding, she spends like all her time praying because WHAT THE HECK I HAVE TO HAVE SEX WITH A DEMON THING AND HAVE DEMON BABIES NOPENOPENOPE.
And then the wedding night (which is what my story focuses on. so my story, up until the part where he starts to speak, is true, and then the rest is fabrication. although, psh, maybe the rest is true too, idk, the documentary didn't say). All the physicians and scientists are crowded around this peephole in the wall being creepers FOR SCIENCE! because they assume that, sure, he's behaved nothing like a wildman his whole life, but now when faced with SEX, he'll turn into the savage monster we've all been wanting him to be. Catherine jumps into bed and scrunches herself up on the far left side and is like, omgomgomg, he's going to kill me, omgomgomg. Except that the Beast isn't a beast, he's just a man, and he's AWKWARD and ADORABLE and LOVING AHHH. He like, slowly, slowly, slowly climbs towards her on the bed and slowly, slowly, slowly puts his hand on her arm, and she's like ASERKAWNHREWAH and pulls the covers up to block him, and he's just like, "...oh." D: Poor Beast, you're so awkward and adorable and loving and SAD NOW. He walks to this bench by a window and just hangs his head and is full of sadness and heartbrokenness. And Catherine is like, hmm, what, say, he didn't attack me, say, he looks sad, say, maybe I'm a jerk, and gets out of bed and puts a blanket around his shoulders. Aaand...the documentary then gets very vague about whether they actually had sex that night or not. I'm going with yes, but maybe not, maybe it took a few days/weeks for her to be really comfortable with him, idk. In any case, they're madly in love till the end of their days (the documentary kept making it explicitly clear that, YES, they really DID love each other, this wasn't just for duty or not-getting-killed).
So then fast forward, she's pregnant! And he reads to her awww :) (a bit of a role reversal from Disney, but, psh, it's freakin fantastic, real!Beauty and real!Beast did in fact read books together) She has two babies, and both of them are normal and non-hairy. Well, this simply won't do for The Evil Queen who only orchestrated this whole thing to mass produce wildmen. So, if they don't produce some hairy babies soon, she'll kill them all, mwahaha, cuz killing people is her #1 favorite pastime.
They end up having seven children in all, four hairy and three normal. Then, since freak shows are still all the rage, they become instant international celebrities. Everyone wants to meet them and have paintings of them ("them" meaning "Petrus, Catherine, and the hairy children". the three non-hairy children are basically treated as if they don't exist (which turns out to be the best case scenario)). (google "Petrus Gonsalvus" and you can see the paintings of him and Catherine and their kids! wheee the real Belle and Beast!) They travel all over the place and are sponsored by various rich people. They have a strange situation where they are neither slaves nor free - they can go wherever they want, they get paid and are very rich. But technically someone always "owns" them since they are considered animals (except Catherine who's just sort of lumped in with the rest of them). But because they are considered property/animals, ALL THEIR HAIRY BABIES ARE GIVEN AWAY AS GIFTS D: So, whoosh, goodbye, I'll never see you again to FOUR OF YOUR CHILDREN because rich people in the 1500s are epic jerks. But they get to keep the three normal babies because no one gives a rip about them, so at least they still had them.
Petrus and Catherine get fed up with being a traveling freak show, and Petrus is like, um, I don't like that I'm rich because I look weird. I'm really freakin smart, can I DO something? So whoever owns them at the time gives him an estate to manage, so they live there, and he does that. But then they're like, yeah, no, we don't like being in the public eye, bye, and move to some little island in Italy where they live completely by themselves and grow old together.
Petrus died at the ripe old age of eighty (which is old by today's standards, that must have been ridiculously ancient back then!), and Catherine dies I think five years later. The last known public record of him is attending his grandchild's baptism (awww :) ). But even though he was a total Christian, society was all, ohhh, no, he's some crazy evil demon wild thing that just happened to behave normal, and he wasn't given a Christian burial. But SCREW THEM, God knows the truth, and now Petrus and Catherine and (hopefully, idk if the hairy babies turned out Christian, but hopefully) all of their babies are together in heaven forever yayyy!
(oh, and for those who wish that the Beast had never transformed into the Prince, tada, in real life, he didn't!)
The End! (and now on to my story!)
Catherine blew out the candles and fairly flew into bed. She lay on her left side, scrunched herself as tightly as she could into the very far side of the bed, and tugged the covers protectively around her. Then she waited, and she stared, stared into the blackness that was now only illuminated by the full moon outside. Perhaps if he could not see her well, he would not be as tempted by her. But even in the dark, she knew she would not be able to erase from her memory the image of the horrible, monstrous, hairy Beast that she now must call "husband".
She heard his soft footsteps, and her heart wanted to stop. She was alone with the monster. Then the sound of his robe hitting the ground. She dared to glance quickly over her shoulder. He was going to rape her, he was going to ravage her like the savage Beast he was, he was going to kill her, she would be tortured, and in the morning, they would find her dead. And then the bed dipped under his weight.
He moved slowly, hesitantly, and his eyes brimmed with hope. He had a wife - a Beautiful wife - and...despite the fact that she had fainted at the sight of him at the altar, he was now inextinguishably optimistic that she would see the man he really was and would love him almost immediately. They would celebrate their love with a sensual, wonderful wedding night and live happily ever after. He crawled farther onto the bed and then farther. He stretched his arm out and with a flat palm placed it - hardly placed it, hovered it, really - on her arm.
She jerked and pulled the covers over the affronted arm and screwed her eyes shut. This was it. He was going to tear the covers off and then tear her nightgown off with his bare hands and roar like a lion before tearing into her. If he was merciful, maybe he would kill her quickly first before using her body.
Oh. His hand was still just-barely on her arm, but now the blanket-barrier separated them. The intent was perfectly clear. She did not want him, and he was an absolute fool for daring to dream that she would. He immediately began to back away, continuing to make no sudden movements, not wanting to scare her more any more than he already had.
Once off the bed, he made his way over to a bench that stood in front of a window. He stared up at the moon. It was full and sparkling and bathed him in its white light. It was stunning, the perfect backdrop to a magical, passionate wedding night.
His eyes dropped, and he hung his head in dismay. Only his dignity prevented him from crying. He had faced his share of hardships and jeers before - mistreatment and looks of disgust were surely not new to him - but nothing came close to the pain of this ultimate rejection. This rejection killed the hope of love, of mutual companionship, of a family, and certainly of any sort of physical intimacy. Perhaps what hurt the most was that she was afraid of him, not just repulsed or shy.
Catherine sat up. She frankly couldn't believe it. If someone had told her that this monster was going to behave in this way, she would have laughed them off. But he was not acting like a monster at all. He was acting..."humane" was the word that came to mind, but really, he was behaving even more gentlemanly than most gentlemen would. He was considerate, he was careful, he was respectful, he was kind. And now he sat over by the window looking-
A sense of shame crept over her.
Yes, he looked completely heartbroken, and why shouldn't he? He had shown her nothing but the utmost care, and she had turned him away. He could not help what he was or how he looked. Really, she was the one who had behaved Beastly.
He looked cold in any case, sitting there in just his nightgown. The bed was the only warm place in the room. It wasn't fair of her to make him suffer.
Before she could change her mind, she crawled over the expansive mattress, trying not to think of it as "his side", and started to drag a green blanket towards the figure in the moonlight.
She moved as slowly as he had - there was every possibility that this was all a trick and that at any moment he would leap up and attack. But so far, he did not give any indication that she had even moved.
Now she was behind him. She held the blanket stretched out ahead of her with both hands, still attempting to put distance between them. Then she placed it on the very edge of his shoulders, her fingers only touching what was just necessary of him to get the job done. His head started to rise, and she brought her hands to her sides.
She was completely startled, not at his choice of words but that he had spoken at all.
"You can talk?" Her voice sounded clear and sweet next to his deep baritone.
He turned his head to look at her over his shoulder. "Of course, I can talk."
"Oh. I-I didn't know."
He turned back to the window.
Now she felt stupid on top of insensitive. He had said, "I do," at the ceremony, hadn't he? She had guessed that they had trained him to do that; any animal could be trained. But he spoke in fluent French!
"You do not need to be afraid of me." He did not turn around. "I won't hurt you. I could never hurt anyone. I-I know you don't want me to touch you. And that's fine. I won't. But, please, there is no reason to be afraid of me."
She did not say anything. She was not sure what should be said or if anything should be said at all.
When standing behind him in silence became too much, she finally spoke, "You said you were sorry. What are you sorry for?"
"I'm sorry for you," he said. "I know I am far from the man you envisioned your husband to be. And I-I'm sorry for assuming you would want to proceed with marital relations. I've grown used to being treated like a normal man, I suppose. I wear fine clothes and eat fine meals and hold a position in the court where I am respected. I should have realized that this did not mean I was worthy of love like other men are."
Now she was truly fascinated. Before she questioned whether he could talk, and now he held a court position?
"May...may I sit?" she asked timidly. Well, she was getting tired of standing, and she felt that she had to learn more about this husband of hers.
He glanced up at her, his eyes wide with surprise, but murmured, "Of-of course," and moved over a bit.
She sat next to him. It was not a particularly large bench, and maybe she should have been apprehensive of their closeness. But with every moment, she felt more and more comfortable with him. If it was just an act, it was a very convincing one, probably too convincing for a wild savage to pull off.
"You have a position in court?" she asked. "So you are educated?"
"Oh, yes, I received a nobleman's education. I was quite the gifted student. I can speak in several languages." He hoped he didn't sound like he was bragging, but the more he expressed to her that he was not some uncivilized, wild animal, the more relaxed she seemed to be. "When I was ten, the king took me in like an adopted son."
Her eyes widened. "You are a prince?"
He chuckled, and she was surprised. Animals could not laugh.
"Not technically a prince, no. But with all the upbringing and benefits of one."
"I am not worthy of you then," she said, a small smile on her face. "I am only a servant's daughter."
He smiled back. "Nonsense." He paused and then asked, "Do you like books? I could read books to you."
"Yes, we could read books together." Then her expression darkened, and her eyes studied the floor. "They think you're going to attack me, you know. Rape me and kill me. Maybe eat me, I don't know."
She was almost alarmed by how ardent he sounded.
"No, you are my bride! I would die before I would harm you in any way!" Then he sighed. "They always are waiting for me to do something savage. I think they want me to. I think they're utterly disappointed that I've never shown any characteristics of a wildman other than...well, how I look, obviously."
"What are you?" she asked, a bit of awe in her voice.
He did not answer for several moments. "I don't know." He paused again. "I believe I am a man. Just a man. I was born of normal parents in a normal village. I think..." He glanced at her. "Well, you have brown hair. But some people have yellow hair, and some have black hair, and a rare few have red hair. If someone was born with, say, blue hair, would it make them any less of a human? Or would they just be a human who happened to be born with something out of the ordinary?"
"I think that you-they...you are just a human."
He sighed deeply, and it was tinged with relief. "I'm glad."
"I was afraid that you were something like a demon, an instrument of the devil."
He nodded. "I know people say that. People assume many things about me - they probably always will. But God knows the truth. I know Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. I have studied the Holy Bible extensively. I attend mass every Sunday. Catherine, I-" He turned to face her fully. "-I just want you to feel safe with me."
She shivered, and he mistook it for cold.
"Oh, how selfish of me! Here, please, take the blanket-"
"But then you will be cold," she interrupted. "I-it is a large blanket. We can share it."
His heart was threatening to explode out of his chest, and he hoped that she couldn't tell. It was wrong of him to think about her in this way, not if she did not want it.
He reached behind him and pulled the blanket. Then me moved his arm - and consequently most of his upper body - across her to place it around her shoulder.
"Thank you," she murmured, her voice barely a whisper.
Their closeness was even more evident now, entirely impossible to ignore. They were turned towards each other, huddling under the green cover. She could feel the heat radiating off of him.
"I do feel safe with you," she breathed. "Is...is that all you want?"
"Yes," he said definitively. "That is all I could wish for."
"So you do not wish to consummate the marriage?" She could not believe that she had just uttered that statement.
"I-" He seemed as disbelieving as she. "Of course, I do," he said in a rush. "I admit it, I would be lying if I didn't. You're so Beautiful - yes, I want to make love to you."
"I..." Her mouth hung open a bit, and she willed more words to come, but they were stuck in her throat.
"I've made you blush," he said softly. "I apologize. Though the blush is very becoming."
"I've never heard a man speak this way before. Tell me that he finds me Beautiful. That he...wants to make love to me."
"They were thinking it," he said lightheartedly, "but they were not your husband."
She hadn't even heard him. She could not concentrate on anything but the dark and the heat and his presence. She turned quickly with a gasp, staring at her bare feet.
"What's wrong?" he asked, concern evident in his tone.
"I feel..." She could not say these words, but then they were out before she had made a conscious decision to speak. "...highly aroused."
She felt him shift towards her. "Catherine..." His voice was low.
"How can this be?" she said in exacerbation before he could continue. "You're not attractive - I'm sorry, but you know that you're not. You look positively frightening. But I feel so very attracted to you. What kind of a person does that make me?"
"A person with an open mind and heart who can see past outward appearances and into a person's true intentions. Do you know who else does that?"
She shook her head.
"I'm so aroused. I-I've never felt this so strongly." She wrapped her arms anxiously around her middle. "I don't know what to do about it."
"I know what you can do about it," he said, daring to tilt his head in the direction of the bed.
"I-I...maybe, I..." She looked around with desperate, helpless eyes. "Well, could we just...just be in the bed? And just...maybe do something...but it doesn't have to be e-everything...but it could-"
He took her hand in his, and she was silent. It was the first time purposeful contact had been made since he put his hand on her arm in the bed. But this time, she felt the skin under his touch dance in excitement. She thought that if she could go back in time, she would have turned over and smiled at him when he did his gentle action. The image of what could have been made her shiver uncontrollably, and then she was nodding, and he was leading her to her feet.
He walked her all the way to her side of the bed and pulled the red comforter and white sheet down for her, revealing the red fitted sheet. She slid in and lay back. As he was making his way to the other side, she pulled the sheet up and clutched it with both hands under her chin so that when he lay down, she was just a head with large eyes peering at him.
"Are you nervous?" he asked, and his voice was so caring that she felt the hint of a smile pull at the corners of her mouth.
"Yes - not of you, I just...I don't know..."
He took her hand, the same hand he had taken at the bench, and pulled it over and placed a kiss on its knuckles. She felt like she would explode right there and wondered how she would ever survive this night. Maybe he would kill her after all, not as she had envisioned, but because every movement he made seemed to fill her with enough desire to send her entire world reeling.
"This is new to me too," he told her, and she had no doubt that it was true, "but I desperately want to try."
She bit her lip but turned so she was on her side, mirroring him.
"Do you want to come closer?"
She was not sure what she wanted, but that was as good an idea as any, so she slowly scootched over until she was a mere foot away from him.
She raised her hands almost to his face but then stopped, stammering an apology. "I'm sure you don't like people touching you, I was only curious, I'm sorry-"
"You are my wife," he said. "You are the only one whose touch I would welcome."
She hoped he could not see how fiercely she was blushing from his words.
She raised her hands again and timidly brought them to his face. She moved her fingers through his hair as if stroking a cat and marveled, "It's as soft as rabbit fur!"
His eyes were watching her and then slipped shut as if overwhelmed with emotion. She wondered if he had ever experienced affection in his life.
She brought her hands to rest on his shoulders, and his eyes opened.
"Would you allow me to kiss you?"
Words failed her, so she dipped her head in a nod, and her lips were captured before it was completed.
All the anxiety, all the apprehension and fear, vanished in an instant, and she was clinging to him as though he was her lifeline in a storm. But she loved the storm, and he was holding her too, one hand under her head, the fingers tangled in her long curls, the other at the small of her back, pressing her against him. She whimpered, and their tongues intertwined, and she pressed herself tighter and hoped she would drown in him.
It wasn't until he broke the kiss and the world stopped spinning that she noticed, with only their thin nightgowns between them, just how close together they were. She moved experimentally, which could have proved to be a bad idea in retrospect, but, yes, that was him, hard and all-too-real, nestled against the base of her stomach.
He groaned quietly, and for a moment she was terrified again, but then he spoke, "You don't have to worry about that. My only desire...is to pleasure you as you can only imagine. I want to make you feel like a queen."
She was sure she was already more sufficiently pleasured than she had ever imagined, but his words had the same electric effect they had before.
She could not even nod properly at this point and hoped he could read her response in her eyes.
He raised himself up on his forearms and towered above her.
His presence was intimidating, but nothing but adoration shown in his eyes. He began to kiss her neck, and she closed her eyes and let herself be immersed. Until he got to the neckline of her nightgown, and through the haze she thought she heard him say something about removing the garment.
Her eyes snapped open.
"I will not then," he said quietly. "I just...I just wanted to stimulate you properly-"
"How do you do this?" she asked, her voice raspy. "Oh, how do you make me feel this way?"
He kissed her cheek tenderly and said nothing.
"Yes, you may take it off," she said with an almost-moan.
She saw a quick smile grace his lips before he sat up and reached down to the hem of her nightgown.
He brought it up slowly, his hands caressing her sides through the fabric as he went. She moved accordingly to help and then lay stock-still as he undid the line of buttons that went from her neck to halfway down her chest. Then she raised her arms above her head and let him slip it the rest of the way off.
This was not as bad as she had feared - she was mostly concealed under the covers and still felt that she was almost clothed. She positioned her arms over her breasts to cover what was exposed-
It was the first time he had contradicted one of her decisions, and she would have reprimanded him had he not looked so disheartened.
"Do not hide yourself from me."
She looked skeptical but slowly removed her arms and placed them at bent angles on either side of her head.
"Oh, you are much too Beautiful to be covered up," he sighed. Then, partially to himself, he murmured, "The Beauty and the Beast."
"You...you should not cover yourself either," she said, unbelievably shy but feeling more and more comfortable with this strange man despite herself.
He looked slightly worried, and she made herself promise that she would not express any distaste.
He was covered in thick fur like she had expected, but instead of repelling, she gestured for him to lay back down beside her. When he did, she launched herself into his arms, burying her face in his chest. His arms encircled her so she was covered by hair on all sides.
"Well, what's this?" he asked with a gentle laugh.
"It's nice," she said. "You feel nice. This is nice."
For a few moments, they just lay in each other's embrace. But those moments quickly became too full, and he had rotated her back on her back and was kissing her, one hand on her breast. He brushed his fingers across the nipple, and she moaned into his mouth. His mouth left hers and went to her other breast, and she was practically crying it felt so divine.
Maybe she should have cared, maybe, maybe she should have been scared or disgusted or tried a little longer to maintain a sense of demureness. But then his free hand traveled down, and she had one lofty thought of how here she was as covered in hair as he was, and then there were no thoughts in her head save for those that were carnal and sacred, lustful and pure.
He was lost in her, her taste, her feel, the exquisite noises she was making because of him.
"Yes, yes, please," she started to chant, half-delirious. "I need, oh, please, please, I need-"
"Anything," he gasped, half-delirious himself. "What do you need? Ask anything of me, Catherine, and it will be given to you."
"I am here."
"No, I mean-" She raised her hips against him, and he groaned and closed his eyes and pressed his forehead to hers, and she repeated the motion.
"Do you wish for me to make love to you?" he spoke into the space between them.
"Yes," she begged, "yes, yes-"
He kissed her briefly and then nodded and desperately recited along with her, "Yes, yes-"
She cried out, and he whispered her name as he entered her.
"Did I hurt you?" he asked quietly.
"No, j-just a little," she insisted, touched by the concern in his voice. The concern he had shown all evening, the nervous hesitation, the steadfast tenderness. "I lo-" She stopped, her eyes wide. "What is your name? Oh, forgive me! I know it was said at the wedding, but I - I was too occupied to pay attention - oh, forgive me for that too! You looked so happy, so hopeful, and I...I fainted! And that kiss, it was hardly a kiss at all! I was so rotten, acting so horrified-"
"My name is Petrus, and I don't care, I don't care about any of that, I understand completely, I-"
"I love you, Petrus!"
He sighed deeply. "I love you too, Catherine, and will until the end of time."
She moved her hips a little, and the words, "You feel amazing," spilled from his lips irrepressibly.
"I-it does not hurt," she said, "you-you can, um..." She did not have a good word to indicate it, but it did not matter. He drew out slightly and thrust back in, and she gasped in shock and delight.
He did not ravage her. He was gentle and firm, and in a short amount of time she was already calling out his name. He could not hold back as he felt her clench around him, and he spilled his seed into her with a moan.
They were frozen for a few moments, simply breathing. Then he slowly withdrew, and they both groaned at the loss of contact.
He held his arms open to her, and she nestled into his embrace.
She glanced up at him. "What for?"
"For this, for everything. I thought at the very most you might tolerate me or perform the act out of duty. I never thought you would love me. I never..." He paused. "...I certainly never thought I would hear a Beautiful woman begging for me. It is more than I ever could have hoped for."
She smiled and took his paw-like hand in hers and held it over her heart. "It is a tale as old as time."