Sorry this took a little longer than expected, my old laptop finally died. However, now I have this lovely new MacBook Air that is much faster! Oh, and I got a job... Anyways, I thought this was much quicker than last time's almost six month gap (which will hopefully never happen again). Alright, I'll stop now and let you read :) Just remember reviews make updates come quicker because of the wonderful state of euphoria they send me into ;)
There was something different about this Prince Adam of Touraine, Belle Dupont was sure of it. His actions were so strange, like he was unsure of every move he made. Each step he took was hesitant, as if he were being extra careful not to fall.
Then there was the kitchen incident. Adam had quickly excused his lack of cooking knowledge on the absence of his servants, but was that true? Surely his servants had not done everything for him, despite his royal status. It was doubtful he really knew that little about commonplace activities, but after seeing him miserably covered in burnt bananas and milk, she could definitely tell he had tried as hard as he could to prepare a meal for her. It seemed like a desperate attempt to impress her, almost like Gaston's previous antics for her hand in marriage, but sweeter and less controlling. Was this man, this Prince Adam of Touraine, trying to impress her for some reason? Surely not, he was royalty after all; Belle was only a girl from a nearby village he hardly knew. They'd only just met that day.
For all these reasons, Belle became ever more perceptive at dinner that night after they had prepared salads, or rather Belle prepared salads as Adam occasionally pitched in, hoping he wouldn't mess up again. Belle observed him as he took his salad plate with unsteady hands to his seat at the wooden table that she herself had insisted eating at. Then, curiously, he just sat there, staring at the plate and fork as if they were foreign objects to him. Before Belle could say anything, the Prince mumbled that he wasn't hungry. She raised an eyebrow at him, curious for a moment, then decided to let the topic go for the moment and nodded.
Belle followed the Prince back up to her room later that evening, letting her eyelids droop slightly feigning exhaustion. In actuality, Belle wasn't tired at all; thoughts of Prince Adam and what he was hiding kept her evermore anxious and ruined any possibility that she might go to bed at this hour. Although Belle was sure it must be late, the Prince looked far from tired as well. His rigid posture, Belle observed, seemed too tense to deny her suspicions. So, when the Prince shut her door after bidding her goodnight, she waited for a moment and stared at the ordinate carvings on the oak doors. Belle frowned.
As Belle looked closer, at the carvings around the edge of the door were of intertwined roses. They were beautiful, but they reminded Belle of another castle and another rose she had stared at a few days earlier.
Belle remembered going into the West Wing, seeing the portrait of the boy with the Beast's eyes. With a small gasp, her frown burrowed deeper, making deep lines between her brows.
Belle had forgotten the specifics of what happened that night, forgotten the irrevocable conclusion she had come to, but as her dainty hand traced the intricate wooden roses on the door in front of her she remembered everything.
The man's face was so familiar, but Belle couldn't exactly place where she had seen it before. Then again, it wasn't his face she recognized; it was his distinct features.
His hair was an attractive red-brown color. It was wavy as it hung loose past his wide, strong shoulders. Belle knew that color…
The feature that stood out to Belle the most was his eyes. The bright blue eyes were something she had definitely seen before. But somehow they looked different, kind and gentle; somehow Belle had expected them to be fierce and full of anger and hatred. Belle removed her hand from the piece she held up making his mouth and stroked the cheek of the man in the painting. Her hand moved upwards to his oh-so-familiar eyes and she rubbed her thumb over them. Immediately, she knew where she had seen them before. The thought was absolutely absurd, she feared she was losing her mind when she thought of it, but there was no mistaking it now. She knew what she saw; what she had seen were the Beast's eyes staring back at her.
A single tear sprang forth from her right eye as she continued to look upon the Beast's eyes on a man's face. She was right, she knew it; Belle had recognized the man's hair as the fur coat of the Beast. Although, the Beast's fur was much more matted and tangled, it was definitely the same.
Had she gone mad? She must be, for here she was thinking that this man she barely knew and the Beast were one in the same. It was insane, positively preposterous, this idea that had formed itself inside her brain. It couldn't be true, it wasn't possible, these sort of events only took place in her books and they were purely fiction. They were not real.
However, Belle couldn't deny how much she had always wanted to climb into her books and be part of those fantastic stories that provided a world so much more than her own, something better than she was offered in her poor provincial town. Would it be wrong to imagine such bizarre things that had once only existed in her storybooks could be real? Was it simply too crazy to believe in such things?
Crazy. The word brought such fury to Belle because along with that word came another man who believed her to be crazy.
"It's not right for a woman to read. Soon she starts getting ideas and thinking…"
He was absolutely infuriating. So arrogant, rude, conceited ,boorish, brainless… Honestly, he was worst than any Beast she had ever encountered. He thought he knew everything about her when he couldn't be more wrong.
"Picture this: a rustic hunting lodge, my latest kill roasting on the fire and my little wife massaging my feet, while the little ones play on the floor with the dogs." He turned to her again, "We'll only have six or seven," he said, shrugging it off nonchalantly as if he were asking nothing of her.
White hot fury enveloped Belle as she thought of that day. He had planned their wedding before he even proposed, assuming he would win again, like he always had.
She would not let him win, even if it did make her… odd… for believing in strange ideas.
Although, the thought that a Beast could also be a human was more than just a bit odd. Even though it was intriguing, Belle thought, that this mysterious prince could somehow be the Beast. It was like her favorite story, the one the bookkeeper gave her, about a prince in disguise. Had the Beast merely been a disguise? Who was this Prince Adam of Touraine really?
Belle jerked her hand away from the carved rose, as she thought of something else. Shouldn't she try to find some other proof that this could even happen?
The last thing Belle remembered was leaving the castle on Philippe in the wintery storm. It had been so cold, but she had been in such a rush to get away from the castle and back home to her father, she had tried to ignore the sting of the frozen air against her frost bitten cheeks as she rode through the forest. It hadn't been too long before the wolves had blocked her path. She had tried to fight back, but there were too many of them. They clawed at Philippe, as her poor horse panicked and stood on his hind legs. She gripped his reigns in an attempt to stay on, but her hand were too cold to function properly. She slid off Philippe into the snow. Belle remembered hearing the furious roar from a Beast before she lost consciousness.
Had the Beast been the one to save her from the wolves? They hadn't been on the best of terms when she left, he had sounded so heart broken as he released her. Her heart had called out to him in such a miserable state. She remembered telling him she loved him, only it seemed to not even come from her. It was like some other force was possessing her to say it. The Beast didn't have a reason to follow her into the woods when he was clearly not interested in her company. As far as Belle knew, the Beast hated her; he probably would've let the wolves eat her alive. Besides, Prince Adam had said...
Now that she thought about it, the enigmatic prince hadn't said anything about how he had found her in the middle of the woods. How curious, Belle thought, and resolved to ask him about this later.
At that moment, Belle decided to take a journey through this castle she hadn't known existed. If the Prince and the Beast were one in the same, then surely his castle was too. Perhaps its appearance directly correlated to the condition of the Prince and as a result would have something to recognize it by. Like the Prince's eyes, Belle hoped that there was something that was the same.
At this though, Belle frowned. She hadn't seen much of the castle at all; in fact, she had been on a tour when she had decided to venture off into the West Wing. The only room she really knew well enough was the room she had been given be the Beast himself.
This was where Belle would have to start, she supposed, and carefully opened the door without making a sound. She hesitantly poked her head out of the door and looked both ways to make sure Prince Adam wasn't around. When she saw the halls were empty, she quickly stepped out of the doorway and turned to shut it behind her with a soft click. Checking once more to make sure the coast was clear, she headed down the main stairwell.
Belle remained cautious as she wandered through the castle's corridors in search of a room she had only been to once or twice. The castle was eerily quiet with no one else inhabiting it; which made Belle think once again. She remembered that Prince Adam had told her he had sent his servants on a vacation. Was it because they were still as Belle remembered them, as objects, while the Beast himself had become human? It was unlikely; if they were still objects, they surely couldn't return to society. It was frustrating to say the least, trying to figure out what exactly had happened , so much so that Belle doubted she would ever understand it all unless Prince Adam told her himself. This was, of course, assuming that the Beast was the Prince in disguise. Belle was almost sure of it, she just needed to find this room as proof.
Then again, there were so many things that had changed about the castle, so much that Belle wasn't sure if she'd be able to find the room at all. If she did find it, would it still be the same?
At that moment Belle reached the end of a long hallway; she was on the fourth floor of the castle and though it looked very different from how it did before, it had a certain air of familiarity that couldn't be misplaced. It was much the same as the feeling Belle got around Adam. She had been here before.
Arching an eyebrow, Belle eyed the cupid shaped door handles with doubt. They had been in the shape of grotesque Beasts before, but her fingers still itched with curiosity to pull on Cupid's Arrows and see the inside of the room before her. When she did, she realized the door was as heavy as before, but with a good sturdy pull she was able to open it.
Belle was met with complete darkness. She couldn't see her delicate hand in front of her face. Frowning once more, she journeyed to the opposite wall and felt for cloth. When her hand filled with velvet, she took a pile in each hand and tugged hard on the heavy material. Immediately, moonlight bathed the room and Belle saw the familiar rose colored curtains still grasped tightly in her hands. She shut her eyes, preparing for a sight that would change everything and confirm her wildest imaginations; Belle turned around to face the inside of the room and opened her eyes abruptly.
Her small hand flew to her mouth in astonishment as the familiar room was unveiled before her eyes. She stood at the window, frozen in shock and unable to move, but not completely understanding her actions. This was what she had been expecting, why was she so dumbfounded?
It was like she had jumped into her own storybook full of magic, for this was the only explanation for what she was seeing now.
It was her room in the Beast's castle, completely unchanged since it had lacked any bestial elements before. The walls were still a pristine white marble and the bed was draped with the same rose curtains and decorated with the all to familiar green and rose pillows and green comforter that she had cried so many tears on that first night. The only noticeable difference was the still armoire beside the bed. What did this mean? Where the servants human now, too? Belle stared at the furniture for a moment expecting Madame de la Grande Bouche to open her eyes and greet her and suggest some elaborate dressing gown for her to wear. When it didn't happen, Belle shook her head and decided to think on a much more productive track.
She was certain this was the Beast's castle, so that meant this Prince Adam of Touraine was formerly the Beast. What had happened? She was sure he wouldn't tell her; this was yet another thing she had to find out for herself.
So, not feeling the least bit tired, Belle headed downstairs. She had a feeling Prince Adam would be down there, although she hadn't the slightest intention to speak with him. No, she planned to see this Beast-turned-human and how he acted when he wasn't aware of her presence. Remembering the way from the time Lumiere had escorted her to the dining room the night of his fantastic show, it didn't take Belle too long to reach her destination.
As Belle peeked through the crack in the doorway, she saw a sight that she couldn't help but find humorous. Prince Adam sat at the wooden table, thick brows furrowed in deep concentration as he held he fork in many different positions while he eyed the salad he and Belle had made hungrily. He twisted and turned the fork in his hand, unsure of exactly how to hold it. He dropped the utensil many times before he finally skewered a piece of lettuce, albeit he was holding the fork at a very awkward angle. Even then, he dropped the fork a few times on the way to his mouth. When the Prince finally managed to perfect his grip on the fork, he leaned forward much more than necessary and stuck his chin out like a muzzle before taking his lower teeth and scraping the leaves into his mouth. Clearly, this was the Beast. This man hadn't the slightest idea how to eat like a human, much less fix a meal for him self.
Everything fit, despite how impossible it seemed. From the way he walked, ate, and seemed to be hiding something, to the astounding similarities in hair color and eyes, Belle was sure this was the Beast. Though, this man seemed to have changed somehow, in more ways than purely physical. He was no longer the cruel animal that had taken her sick father to be his prisoner, or sentenced her to starve in her room and stay in the castle with him forever. This Prince Adam of Touraine was giving her a choice, one Gaston had never offered as many times as he tried to force her hand and eventually end up raising six or seven little ones, and one the Beast hadn't offered either. Prince Adam was letting Belle do what she wanted and Belle decided it felt nice. So, she stood there for about half an hour watching the Beast learn how to be human again, but he didn't give up like the Beast would have. Despite how silly she knew he knew he looked he continued to try. For what reason, Belle was clueless. However, she felt intrusive as she realized that he didn't know she was there and didn't know that she was watching him trough all his mistakes. Belle smiled slightly to herself before heading upstairs to bed and dreaming of things far more realistic than reality.
So a slightly shorter chapter than I intended it to be, but its 3 in the morning and guess what?! It's my seventeenth birthday! So please can I somehow get to one hundred reviews for a birthday present? It's 12 reviews and I know hundreds of people are reading this. So please, I really would love for you to give the best present ever by reviewing; it doesn't have to be critical of my story, just a simple 'hi' or 'happy birthday' will do. I would really appreciate it. Oh, and I promise I will reply to all your reviews this time. This chapter was a heck of a chapter to write because I was so unsure of where I wanted it to go. However, now I know exactly what I plan on doing for another two or three chapters and I plan for them to be my favorites ;) So, please PLEASE review to get me to that magical 100 that's so close! Reviewers will get a virtual slice of my yummy birthday cake (and my Grandmother is making it, so it doesn't get much better ;) ) I will leave you there with one last 'please?'. I love you all, and I'm getting really crazy from lack of sleep. I really should go to bed.