Disclaimer: I don't own Beauty and the Beast.

Something Different
By Jennifer Collins

He couldn't quite put his finger on it. Maybe it was the way she unconsciously brushed away that one lock of chestnut colored hair that always seemed to fall into her eyes. Gosh, she was so beautiful and she didn't even realize it.

He'd never met anyone quite like her before. She was unlike the other girls he'd been acquainted with. Most of the pretty girls he'd seen before were just that- pretty girls. Nice to look at, but nothing more. They were the kind of girls who were beautiful on the outside, but ugly on the inside. Truthfully, he'd never known that another type of girl could exist until now.

This Belle, she was beautiful on the outside and on the inside. So sweet, and charming, and nurturing, and sensitive…. caring and gentle and… brilliant. There was definitely something different about her.

Maybe it was how she spoke to him. Not like she was afraid of him. She never cowered away from him or tried to avoid him altogether. Not anymore, at least. Not since she'd actually made an effort to get to know him. She didn't speak like she was overeager to please him, either. She didn't talk down to him. She didn't act like she was above him, or beneath him. No… she treated him completely different from how others had treated him in the past. This girl treated him like they were equals. They had an understanding between the two of them. An understanding unlike any other relationship he'd ever had with another person.

And the way she'd stood up to him! Nobody had ever attempted that before, especially not a woman. At first, he wasn't sure what to make of that. Now, he was in awe of her. She was somebody who stood up for what she believed in, no matter what the cost. So passionate and strong. He wished he could be that strong.

Of course, most women would never speak so loudly in public. Most women would never dare express their opinions, and this girl had many. He chuckled silently to himself. It wasn't that she didn't know her place. More like she was making her own place.

He smiled contentedly. Maybe it was the way she always teared up when she reached this part of Romeo and Juliet. He sighed dreamily as he rested his chin on his paw.

She looked up at him questioningly.

"I'm listening," he reassured her quietly.

She treated him with a warm smile as the flames from the fireplace flickered in her eyes before she lowered them back to the book and continued reading out loud.

His heart soared when she reached out and placed a tender hand on top of his paw. His stomach fluttered and he swallowed hard nervously. A strange, new feeling started to swell in his chest. He thought that whatever it was that was different about her, he was glad that it was there.