A/N: This story is based off the original story of Beauty and the Beast, not the "Disneyfied" one. It's a lot more understandable if you've read that (and if you haven't, it's pretty short and a nice read.)
Once upon a time, there lived five girls and their parents. They lived a humble life in the English county of Hertfordshire, and although one could not say they lacked nothing, their father did make a reasonable income.
The eldest Bennet sisters, for that was their family name, were well known for their great beauty. The firstborn was also renowned for her kindness, while the other for her wit and sharp tongue. The men in the area gazed longingly at them, while the ladies glared.
One day it was found out that Mr. Bennet had pressing family business in the north. On the day of his departure, he asked his five daughters what they wished for upon his return.
"New ribbons for my bonnet!" exclaimed Lydia, the youngest.
"Fashionable lace for my gowns," said Kitty, the second youngest.
"A collection of Fordyce's sermons would be nice," sighed Mary, the third youngest, wistfully.
But when the father asked the two eldest, they would not request anything.
"Come now," said the father, "You must want some trinket or another."
At last Elizabeth relented. "If it would not be too much trouble," she implored, "Would you mind fetching a rose, please?"
The father patted her on the back and told her that it would be done. He set off at dawn the next morning.
Late that night, the roads became very muddy. The horses, which were tired from the exercise, let the carriage fall into a rut. The driver and Mr. Bennet tried in vain to remove the wheel from the mud. It was decided that the case was hopeless. Mr. Bennet took any valued possessions and walked off to find the nearest residence in the pouring rain.
Soon he came upon a large estate, the manor situated comfortably within vast expanses of lawn. Mr. Bennet knocked on the large front doors, a hollow thump issuing each time.
"Hello?" he yelled.
Slowly, the door creaked open and he stepped inside. He glanced around, noticing with surprise that such a house as this had fallen into slight disrepair. All it needed was a good dusting, really.
Another door creaked slightly, and the man opened it curiously. It led to a small hothouse, where many species of flowers were kept. A single rose bloomed brighter than the rest, its radiant petals overpowering any notion of greatness the smaller ones might have had. The man had just taken the rose when a low growl sounded behind him.
"What, sir, do you thing you are doing?" snarled the beast.
"Plucking a rose for my daughter, Lizzy," replied Mr. Bennet meekly.
"Well perhaps-" the beast growled a bit more, "-it would you some good not to sneak around other peoples' gardens, taking what you please."
"I am very sorry sir," mumbled Mr. Bennet.
"You must be," said the beast, "for you are to stay here forever unless you can convince your Miss Lizzy to come in your stead. I shall give you my hospitality tonight, but come daybreak tomorrow, you must set off whence you came. I expect you or your daughter back here in three day's time. Now go!"
Mr. Bennet scurried off quickly, finding a room made up for him just down the hall. He fell onto the bead drifted into a dreamless sleep.
The next morning, Mr. Bennet set off on one of the beast's horses. He rode throughout the day and arrived home just as the family was retiring.
"Papa!" Lizzy exclaimed, "You are back so soon!"
Mr. Bennet handed her the rose, and she placed it carefully on her vanity.
"That rose," said he, "has cost me your freedom."
Lizzy gasped, and Mr. Bennet quickly revealed all.
"I shall go," she stated resolutely, "I should not wish such a fate upon you, Papa." She kissed his cheek and bade him leave so she could pack for her journey.
The next day was spent saying goodbye to her friends and family. Elizabeth retired early, knowing she had a long day ahead of her.
"Lizzy, I shall miss you dreadfully," said Jane softly as she drifted off to sleep.
At dawn Lizzy set off on the same path as her father, riding her horse in a way that would certainly cause scandal if someone were there to see it.
As she neared the house around dusk, she silently noted how well it looked from the outside. Beautiful gardens surrounded the house, and a large pond reflected the sunset.
The beast welcomed her in the hall.
"What is this place?" she asked.
"It is called Pemberley," said the other, and then abruptly, "Your room is two doors down and to the left."
Lizzy thanked him and collapsed onto her bed. She dreamt of a dark, handsome man. He roamed the grounds of Pemberley with her, talking about every subject imaginable. For the first night at Pemberley, Lizzy slept peacefully.
When she woke up in the morning, breakfast was on a small table in the corner of the room. As the beast had not yet appeared, she decided to look around the manor a bit.
After examining the portrait gallery, she came upon the music room. She gazed at the instrument within, and let out a little sigh. "Lovely."
"I am glad you think so," said the beast from behind her, "Will you not play me a tune?" He sat down in a large armchair.
She sat at the pianoforte and accustomed her fingers to the feel of the instrument as many thoughts raced through her head. She was quite confused as to the nature of the beast.
As Lizzy played, the beast closed his eyes and listened. When she was done, he applauded softly.
"Where did you get such an instrument?" inquired Lizzy, "And for what purpose?"
"I obtained the pianoforte in London from one of the best makers in England," he responded, "As for my reasoning behind it- it was for my sister. But nothing would give her more pleasure than to have a sister, and I a wife. Will you marry me?"
Lizzy froze. How was she to respond? If she replied negatively, he might unleash his wrath upon her. But she did not wish to marry him!
"Please do not hesitate to answer. No matter your reply, I shall not lash out," he murmured.
"I believe I must decline," said she, and raced off to her room, still fearing the beast's anger.
That night, the man in her dreams looked extremely saddened.
She raced over to him, wondering what was wrong.
"Why do you torment me so?" he rasped, "Your beauty and wit are all I have ever wanted, and yet I am not able to have you."
"I do not mean to pain you!" she cried, "Please, tell me what I should do to relieve your suffering."
"You mustn't judge by appearances," he said, and wandered off again.
The days and weeks that followed found Lizzy exploring all the nooks and crannies of the old house. Every day, be it at dinner or during her exploration, the beast would ask to marry her. She would always decline, although her affection for the beast continued to grow.
At night, her dreams got worse. The man was always a bit more depressed, a bit more heartbroken.
"Please, tell me what I must do!" she would say.
His response was always the same.
Eventually, Lizzy drew the courage to ask the beast for a short return to her home.
"For I am dreadfully homesick," she said, "And I do sorely deed Jane's advice." The second part was said to herself.
The beast hung his head, and a look of sadness overcame his features. "So you wish to escape," he growled, not unkindly, "Am I so loathsome to look upon as that?"
"No, dear beast," said Lizzy, for that was what she had taken to calling him, "I simply wish to see my father one last time. Then I shall be able to spend the rest of my days contentedly with you."
"Ah," said the beast, and Lizzy perceived he was a bit embarrassed to misunderstand her so, "You may take the horse your father borrowed." As they were presently passing the stables, he stopped. He quickly saddled the horse and gave her the reigns. "Promise me you will be back in three day's time."
Lizzy nodded, jumped onto the horse, and sped off in the direction of her home.
She arrived in the dead of night, it being midday when she had set off. Her family, although grumbling a bit about the lateness of the time, was overjoyed to see her.
"My dear Jane," Lizzy said as she prepared herself for bed, "I hope you have not suffered much during my absence."
"I am fine, Lizzy," replied Jane, "But it is you I worry about. Stuck with such a beast for the rest of your days!"
"Oh, do not believe me to be unhappy," said Lizzy, "for I could quite easily fall in love with him."
Lizzy galloped back to Pemberley a day after her planned departure. Her dreams had become much stranger. Instead of the man she was accustomed to seeing, it was the beast. He lay dying near the rose bush in the hothouse. She knew something was wrong.
Upon her arrival at Pemberley, Lizzy jumped off her horse at the stables and began searching the house for her beast. She did not find him inside, so she took to the grounds of the estate.
She found him, near death, in the hothouse.
"Lizzy," he groaned, "You came!"
"Dear beast!" she cried, ""What has made you so?"
"This is what happens… When someone breaks a promise." His breathing had become laboured and his eyes were closing.
"Please, do not die. I love you too much to let you go." She clasped his paw in her hands, tears forming in the corners of her eyes.
His paw suddenly grew hot, and she leapt back in surprise. His body seemed to be levitating and glowing, a tornado enveloping his flesh.
When the beast emerged, he was no longer a beast. He was the handsome man of Lizzy's dreams!
"Good afternoon, Miss Bennet," he said, "My name is Fitzwilliam Darcy." Mr. Darcy got down on one knee. "Although I have known you for a few short months, I have come to love you in a way I have never felt before. Will you marry me?"
"Yes!" cried Lizzy, and ran into Mr. Darcy's warm embrace.
"Thank you," mumbled Fitzwilliam into her hair, "for having faith in me."