The Beauty of the Beast

The beast sunk into his chair, hazily gazing at the ceiling of the darkened room, nothing but the faint glow of fire and moonlight illuminating the outline of his satin throws and pillows. As he tried to drift off to sleep, he let his mind wander on all the recent events that had transpired. Despite all the ugliness of the past years, fate had ultimately been good to him.
He remembered seeing her scurrying around the castle gardens, before breaking into the foyer and continuing her hasty search for her father. At that time, the beast thought to himself, he was still miserable to the bone, each day wallowing in self-pity because of the curse that the dreaded witch had cast upon him. By the looks of her dress, he could tell she was another dusty peasant, just like the dirty old man he had caught before trying to steal the treasures of his palace. But as Belle fell to her knees and pleaded, the young man inside him was entranced by her big, doe-like eyes glistening with tears that fell down her rosy cheeks, and the sound of her sweet, feminine cries escaping her supple lips. The trade was a quick one, and he let her wander about the grounds as she pleased, knowing she was far too small and frail to climb over the towering walls and gates or pose any threat to his being, having long been equipped with a thick, furry pelt and claws like daggers.
At first, they spent most of their time apart, the beast knowing that any forced attempts to be together would be met with discomfort and fear. So she would spend her days wandering through the endless maze of the castle, while the beast would secretly watch her from the shadows. Belle was a distraction, a glistening light that permeated the dread that had sunken into long untouched floorboards and echoed through halls filled with emptiness. She would graze her hands along the intricately carved banisters, pick up and admire the trinkets and antiques found in each room, trace her fingers over the gold trim woven into the window curtains and decorated the thousands of hardcover books in the library. And with equally matched intrigue, the beast would watch her. If he had been stunned by her beauty before, he was all the more enamored by her now that she was cleaned up and fitted with the royal gowns he provided for her to wear. He was fixated on the way her body moved in those form-fitting dresses, the handiwork perfectly accentuating her small waist and falling along her slender legs, meeting her hips that rhythmically swayed with each step. It had been a long time since he’d been in the presence of such beauty, and all of her girlish mannerisms were like a drug. The delicateness of her fingers when she’d mindlessly twirl about her shiny brown locks, the way her chest would slowly rise and fall when she let out a sigh.
I am in love, the beast would think to himself, and soon he could no longer bear to watch her from afar. He’d frequently cross her path, and with no other beings in the castle, the two soon become accustomed to each other’s company. They would walk together, talk together, eat their meals together. Between bites of caviar and roast duck, the beast would watch her as she rambled about whatever interesting thing caught her eye that day. Oftentimes he noticed that when she paused, her eyes would follow the light that glistened and reflected off of his bejeweled chalices and silver plates, a shy smile creeping onto her lips.
She’s finally starting to become comfortable here, he’d think to himself. And lo and behold, by some sort of miracle, one night they decided to dance, and on that same night they held each other's hands, and she rested her delicate head upon his chest. He held her close, reveling in the softness of her skin and that somehow he’d been able to muster up her affections for him, despite still being trapped in a body that was beastly and repulsive to look upon in every way.

The beast stretched his limbs, sinking into the warmth of his chair. Soon enough, he thought to himself, I will make that beautiful woman my wife, and the curse and all these years of suffering in loneliness will be over. He smiled and closed his eyes to rest, fantasizing about Belle standing radiant before him in her wedding gown, what it would feel like to finally to be human again, the equally beautiful children that would inevitably come to be, tumbling about in the gardens and scuffling their knees, returning each day to the coddling and care of their mother.
Just as he was drifting off to sleep, he heard the tiptoeing of soft footsteps behind him.
“Belle?” he hazily opened his eyes and turned his head to watch the young mistress shuffle into his view, wearing a cloak over her nightgown. The soft light of the fire lent just enough of a glow to illuminate her features in the darkness, her long tresses flowing freely past her shoulders and perfectly framing the furrow of her dark brows and gently pouted lip.
“It’s late, my love, what’s troubling you?”
“My room felt so empty tonight, and the creaking in the walls was beginning to frighten me. I was going to walk around in an effort to clear my mind.”
Before the beast could inquire further, Belle climbed into the chair and pressed her body against him. The beast put his massive arm around her, and she rested her head upon his shoulder, gently brushing her hand over his eyes and cheeks as an assurance that there was nothing to worry about. He accepted the invitation and pulled her fragile body close, drifting off to slumber once again
Suddenly the beast was jolted awake by a sharp, piercing pain in his heart. His eyes flew open just quickly enough to see Belle with her arm pulled back, tightly gripping a shiny, blood-stained dagger. Their wide eyes met, but only long enough for her to plunge the blade back into his flesh again, and again, and again. In his pain and fury he swung his arms about, launching Belle off of him and sending her across the room, knocking the wind out of her as her body slammed against the wall and then the floor. A flurry of jewels and gold-laced trinkets flew out from within her cloak, scattering in all directions. Belle recoiled into herself and laid gasping for breath, one arm gripped against the floor and the other flailing about trying to relocate the dagger she had dropped. The Beast remained stuck in his place, roaring in pain as he dug his claws into the arms of the chair, his claws ripping into the upholstery. His eyes shot down to his raw, marred flesh, watching his chest jaggedly rise and fall as thick blood gushed from his heart with every beat. In his anguish he turned to Belle, now on her hands and knees, panting and pointing the dagger in his direction. She remained in a crouched heap upon the ground, her tattered hair dangling in front of her face now splattered with blood.
“Why? My beauty...” His voice sputtered as the blood began to rise to his mouth “My love...”
“Silence, monster!” She shouted, gripping the dagger even tighter. The glow of the fire shone unevenly against her clenched teeth and illuminated the darkness beneath her eyes. She kept her gaze locked in place as his body twitched helplessly before her. “You of all people should know...” she watched the life fade from his eyes before slowly rising to her feet, letting out a raspy laugh. She swept aside a strand of hair and licked at a spot of blood that had landed above her supple pink lips. “...that beauty is only skin deep.”