Disclaimer: If I owned Beauty and the Beast, I would AT LEAST live in Disneyworld. I don't. Do the math.
Soooo... I just kind of had to write this. I don't know. My muse wouldn't stop poking me. "I don't do fanfiction anymore!" I said. She wouldn't listen. So here you are. Just a little vignette.
He has danced with princesses.
Many of them. And that's not even it. Princesses have danced with him. Longed to dance with him, waited in lines to dance with him, elbowed each other with trembling royal fury for the chance to dance with him. Baronesses, too, and duchesses, and countesses. He has swept them around this same ballroom floor all night and never missed a step. He has studied under the finest dancing masters in the kingdom, danced with the finest partners to be had.
With whom could she have ever danced? With her father, some lighthearted evening, or with a daydream, her eyes closed, when nobody was watching. Or some bumpkin beau, he supposes, but that thought irritates him and he pushes it aside. The point is…
The point is that as they lay down their spoons and the music starts, it should be him standing up and reaching out to her. It should be him smiling reassuringly to allay her nervousness. And now, as they stand together in the middle of the great ballroom, her smiling so sweetly, not fearing him at all—he remembers the dancing, but he does not remember what it is like to not be feared—it should be his hands guiding hers to their places; one on his arm, one in his own.
But it is not. He can only watch in stupid bafflement as she, with petite hands gloved in gold satin, brings his enormous paw around her small waist, and puts her hand just above his elbow, since she cannot comfortably reach any higher. The paw is so large, he marvels, that it covers half of her back. Never in ten years have his own hands seemed so foreign to him as they do now, next to the only ones that never shrank from his touch. He has never had much of a taste for irony.
The violin music swells, and they begin to turn slowly. He is so terrified of his lack of practice, so terrified of her beauty, so terrified of the hugeness of his hand on her back, that he leads too strongly to make up for it all, and his first few steps threaten to be stumbles. But she deftly keeps her slippered feet out from under his, and shifts her balance to compensate for his looming stance, and nothing goes wrong.
He backs off hastily, though, and for a moment their dancing is teetering and aimless. Then he begins to notice the changing pressure of her hand on his arm. She is not leading him, but almost. It is only a slight, insistent suggestion, asking him to remember things he has never really forgotten. He takes his eyes off of their joined hands for a moment to look at her face. Her brown eyes are deep and warm, and she smiles. It is a genuine smile, and just for him, just for right now and his uncertainty.
It bolsters him, the smile and the hand on his arm, and he carefully takes the lead again. He begins to smile back at her. The smile widens as the steps return to him, and his feet become more sure. And then, with a sudden rush of confidence, he straightens, grips her hand not-too-tightly, and takes a surging step to the left. She follows. They are dancing.
Waltzing with her is like waltzing with his own shadow, so responsive is she. His paw shifts on her back, only barely impelling her away, and her body eagerly floats off from his in a spin. But just as readily does she float back, without even a signaling tug on her hand. It pleases him each time she does, as though he does not expect, once he lets her go, that she will ever return. He can not get over that feeling that the next time he releases her back, she will just keep drifting away until she disappears into ether, and he will lose her.
He has danced with princesses. He does not care whether he ever does again. This dream-eyed peasant girl is royal enough, human enough, for both of them. Even if she does float away, even if he meets the end of his days with fangs and claws, she will have left him a little more human. For that, he is grateful. For that, he loves her.