When you are born, the world celebrates: you are the princess, you are everything. You are the first child your parents hold. They do not yet realize that you will be the last. And so they smile and hold you high into the sky for the kingdom to see. And they call you a blessing.
You are cursed when you are fifteen.
The reason: he proposed to you. You turned him down. You have never met this man before in your life.
The result: his face twists up into something ugly. He spits insults at you, at how you tease him with your beauty, at how clear your interest in him was. He refuses to listen to reason and so you slam the door in his face, heart shaking in your ribs, and feel that you narrowly avoided death.
He stalks away from the castle, removed by guards and your loving caretakers.
Lightning hits the castle when a storm comes crashing in, just hours into the night.
And suddenly, you are a monster.
The man is cruel in his revenge; it is not just you who is cursed, but the entire castle, turned into furniture and kitchenware.
You are glad death has taken your parents from you a few years prior. They are the only ones to escape this.
Winter comes in the summer, freezing and killing the plants around the castle. The forest grows thick and wild and you know that no one will find you. Know that no one will help you.
You howl and scream and cry until you resort to destroying your room and the portrait you have with your parents. If you are to be a beast, you will be a beast.
You swear that no man shall ever lay a hand on you again.
This does not make the pain any better.
For weeks, you stay in your room, unable to look into the mirror, unable to speak to anyone in the castle. The shame of your new beastly nature and the guilt of hurting everyone else keeps you isolated.
They try to speak to you through the door, but you escape to the balcony and let the cold wind bite into you.
A witch stumbles into your castle one day. She spends the night safe from the snow and makes friends with the staff. When she enters your room, you first try to scare her away, then try to hide yourself away
“It’s alright,” she says, in her kind, grandmotherly voice. “I won’t hurt you. Why don’t you come out so I can see if I can help?”
You want to hide, but you are lonely. So you step into the light. She doesn’t flinch at the sight of you, just grasps one of you paws in her frail hands.
“What a horrible curse. I’m sorry, but I can not fix it. I can offer another curse that will break this one if the other is broken as well.”
You are desperate for anything, so you say yes.
She leaves you with a rose. It glows and floats in its glass case.
You only have until your twentieth birthday to find a love that will be returned, or you shall be forever cursed to be a beast.
You remember the man, and think that you will never fall in love.
After a year, you come out of your room and meet everyone again. Lumiere, Cogsworth, Ms. Potts and Chip; all cursed, but still full of life. They are overjoyed to see you, and with tears in your eyes, you realize that you have hurt them as much as you hurt yourself in your self-imposed isolation.
And you swear to never hurt them again.
When you tell them of the new curse, one that might save everyone from the man’s curse, they hold you as you cry.
For the first time in many years, you feel loved.
An old man stumbles into your castle one day. You watch, terrified as he enters and then runs out a few minutes later. He stumbles and trips into your rose garden, the one you tend to everyday because it keeps your hope alive, and snaps off a rose.
You see red. Your fear is forgotten. You are not the princess of the castle; you are the beast.
And you will protect your home from men.
“Come out,” the girl says, glaring into the shadows where you hide. “Let me see your face.”
She’s come to save her father. You step out, eyes cast downwards in shame. The girl says nothing.
Then: “Let him go. And I will stay in his place.”
It’s better than having an unknown man in your castle, so you agree.
“My name is Belle,” she tells you are dinner.
“Beautiful?” you ask.
“Do you disagree?” Her eyes are alight with fire. She is strong, with spirit and courage and determination. You stay silent; in her challenge, her strength, she is the most beautiful person you’ve ever seen. You can’t disagree.
You snarl and howl and scare her off the moment her hand drifts too close to the rose. The blinding panic begins to fade. You look over the rose and feel a shiver go down your spine as a petal falls off and floats gently down to the table.
Distantly, you hear a horse cry out, and when you look out from the balcony, Belle is riding away into the forest.
She doesn’t understand the situation she’s fallen into. But she fought through everyday without fear. In the few days you’ve known her, Belle has become the brightest thing in the castle, your own personal sun in this endless winter. You will never forgive yourself if Belle is hurt because you couldn’t keep your temper in check. So you use the monstrous strength of your body and leap from the balcony.
No matter what happens, you will save Belle.
You remember the wolves. You remember Belle. And then you remember nothing at all.
When you wake up, you are inside, on an armchair besides a fire. Belle cleans your wounds despite how you snap at her. She presses a kiss to your bandage and blushes, unable to look you in the eye.
You heart stutters, then speeds up and for a moment, you are grateful that your fur can hide how flustered you’ve become.
Belle laughs as you trade childhood stories, ranging from the time you hid in a suit of armor and scares the servants, to the time she dropped enough books on a bullies head to knock him out.
Later, you realize that you didn’t once think of the curse, of your beastly body, of the future. All you thought of is Belle.
Somehow, you manage to stutter through asking her to a dance. What you didn’t prepare for was the panic that came with getting ready. Lumiere and Cogsworth bicker and offer conflicting advice; you resort to flicking them with soapy water.
You look into the mirror and watch as Lumiere works on your hair. You are still too beast, too much fur and teeth to be loved by someone as lovely as Belle. Even more so with the power Lumiere dumped on your face.
You go back to the bath, though not without giving him a foul look.
You dance with the woman of your dreams, dressed in finely spun gold. She glows under the candlelight and her smile lights up the ballroom.
You forget your early insecurities and shame; with Belle, you feel loved.
You let her go to save her father. There are two petals left on the rose. Her happiness will always be worth more than yours. As long as you can keep her happy, you’ll be okay, curse or not.
It may make you selfish, but you don’t really care.
The yells don’t rouse you. The name of your love on that man’s vile lips is. He gloats about taking her as his wife; you howl and let go of your humanity.
As if you’d ever give up Belle to a man as disgusting as Gaston.
You win the fight, though not without a gunshot to your gut. Gaston falls to his death. You only feel dim satisfaction. Belle is safe from him; that’s all that matters.
And then: Belle.
“I love you,” she whispers. You smile as the world fades away; your only regret is that you couldn’t tell her that you love her too.
The curse breaks. The rose vanishes with the beast. Before you: the love of your life, frozen with disbelief, tears still running down her cheeks. You reach out; it’s a human hand that cups her cheek, that thumbs away her tears.
Your heart has never felt so whole.
“Belle,” you breathe. She looks up at you, a hand on yours, and smiles. You truly are blessed, you think, and finally, finally, kiss her.