Belle was in thrall of the flower before her. The rose, it's delicate shape, it's gentle beauty, it's innocence. It reminded her of a child
depending on the care of others to live, and yet capable of doing so on it's own, if needed.
It truly was magnificent. One of many pale pink roses adorning the manor's large arbor, it climbed only halfway up, easily within reaching distance, if one desired to touch it. The bloom was large, and something about it gave her shivers. She was drawn to it, almost as if
She found herself reaching towards the rose, unconsciously trying to get close enough to touch it. What was it about this bloom in particular, that drew her eye so? It almost seemed to pulse, faster and faster as she drew nearer to it.
A strange thrumming sound filled the air, and then there were bees. Hordes of them, surrounding her with their gentle buzzing. Belle felt a moment of fear; she had never seen so many bees before! But, this abated soon, as the insects seemed content to just hang in the air, almost as though they were waiting for something. Had been waiting for such a long time. Waiting, waiting, for the one
Shaking her head at the strange train of thoughts that seemed to not come from herself, she reached forward. Honestly, this, this build-up, or escalation, of whatever it was, was highly unnecessary. It was just a rose, albeit an extraordinarily beautiful example of one. Surely it couldn't hurt to just touch it, just for a moment
Her fingers touched the petals, gently brushing against the tender flare. Time seemed to stand still- the bees' buzzing faded to the background, or possibly stopped altogether, Belle's own mind stopped for a moment, as did her
heartbeat? The air crackled with a strange energy that wasn't quite right.
The noise, almost like the beat of a heart, filled the silence, bringing life to the surrounding atmosphere. It was not a gentle life, by any means. It almost seemed feral, like it would devour whole any life force that came within it's grasp.
Belle stepped towards the rose, the oh so special rose, and slowly bent her head forward. She tipped her face up to the petals, and ever-so hesitantly, placed her lips against it in a kiss so chaste that it almost could not be called one. She closed her eyes, instinctively, and gasped when the sound of a heartbeat reached a crescendo, now making it seem as though she had pressed her ear against a human's chest.
She opened her eyes warily, and her breath caught in surprise. The rose was
glowing? It's petals were unfurling quickly, as if of their own accord, and Belle was given the strange feeling that no humans were supposed to witness such a sight.
sensations, as though she were having mood swings rapidly, and, and that she was sharing them with someone else. Or they were sharing them with her, or maybe someone else was sharing them with the both of them, or the feelings were their own separate beings, only deigning to allow the lesser
mortals to use them to guide themselves through right and wrong. This suddenly seemed all too likely, and made perfect sense to the befuddled, overwhelmed girl.
The sensations started with apparently righteous anger, flitted through despair, sailed over ecstasy, and finally landed at joy. There were white bursts of unadulterated joy now flashing through Belle's system, and consuming her vision. She was so very, very happy, happy as can be, that they had finally arrived, that one person
Again, she was given the rather disorienting thought that the thoughts currently in her mind were not her own.
For several moments, she simply
drifted, a prisoner in her own mind. A prisoner with no wish to be freed. Perhaps the very saddest kind
Belle was jolted abruptly back to herself. She felt fiery tingles spreading throughout her body in an unpleasant wave, getting hotter and hotter. Hotter and hotter and hotter
She was burning alive!
Or at least she felt that way, for several moments. And then, abruptly, the pain was gone. Her body felt as though it were her own again, and with no lingering alien presences.
As her hearing returned to her, she realized the utter quiet of the air. It was a dead silence, horrible and dull and feeling almost blind to her ears. It was suffocating and roaring
There was a crack, coming from the direction of the rose that seemed to so fascinate her, rather like the sound of wood being struck by lightning. Belle felt panic welling up within her, at the thought of the rose dying, being so cruelly taken from her by a horrid twist of fate. Her heartbeat sped up, and her breathing turned to pants.
The rose was transforming into some creature, right before her eyes. It was the most beautiful, and yet completely disturbing, thing that she had ever seen. The rose was morphing, changing both it's shape and being, and all that Belle could do was look on in wondering horror.
There was a moment where everything seemed to hang in the air, or perhaps it was Time, and then everything sped up. There was an explosion, a wave of dark malice traveling through the air, outwards and away from the garden, and then
Then there was a
man? Yes, definitely, quite possibly, a definite possibility
But, he was so tall! And he looked like a wild animal, feral and rabid. His eyes were wild, and Belle could not quite tell which colour they were. One moment they looked blue, the next green, and then a deep onyx black. His hair was long and tangled, hanging down to his hips, a deep brown with subtle, almost imperceptible burnt-orange highlights when it caught the light. His complexion was fair, but not overly so, and his hands were large. Definitely human, except for the look in his eyes
The man looked at Belle for several moments, before stepping forward and grasping for her hands. He looked down at her, and she got a good look at his face.
His lips were wide, and she thought that she could detect the faintest trace of fanged canines when they parted so that he could breathe through his mouth. His eyes were almond shaped, and his pupils appeared to stay constantly dilated, although it did not appear to cause him any pain. He had a beaked nose, that added a regal look to his face.
All in all, this strange man was very handsome, although not conventionally so in any way. He was
unlike any being that Belle had ever seen before. And that was not necessarily a bad thing, now was it?
No, not a bad thing, he has been waiting for so long, such a long time, longing, longing, waiting, wanting
Belle came back to herself with a start. Really, these strange voices-not-her-own in her mind were getting a bit tedious. They were never even polite enough to explain themselves properly!
She gasped when she suddenly felt the sensation of being pulled forward, most insistently. She had completely forgotten that the man who featured in her contemplations held her hands. Now a blush rose to her cheeks, when she realized that he was gazing into her face, and had undoubtedly caught her scrutiny of him.
But, a moment later, she was catching her breath in shocked surprise, as the man leant down, and caught her lips with his own. She would have drawn in an angry breath, if she could, but his lips were sealed tightly to her own, and a moment later, she was not in possession of the presence of mind needed to do so.
For now, she was being bombarded with images, dreams
Memories? And were they hers, or his, or those of the strange presence that had lurked within and without her own mind since the moment she laid eyes on the rose?
Flashes of another life, obviously lived by a queen, rolled through Belle's mind. The queen, receiving her subjects, eating in a grand hall, dancing in a ballroom with the very man who's lips were now melded to Belle's own, laughing with him, kissing him, curling up next to him in a large, comfortable bed, getting dressed in the morning, with the help of her ladies' maids, looking in the mirror to make sure that she looked alright. After all, she must look perfect for his birthday!
Belle pulled back from the kiss abruptly at the image in the mirror. It was her, dressed in regal, beautiful, Medieval-esque robes of a dark burgundy, with her black hair plaited into a complicated braid on the back of her head, her blue eyes shining, and interspersed with flecks of gold and green, and
a crown, resting atop her head.
This could not possibly be real! She had never worn anything like that, only jeans and t-shirts and sneakers, and she had never had ladies' maids, never been to a palace, or attended a ball, and she had never met this man before!
Belle sank to the ground, her hands clutching at the soft grass as her head spun. This must be a dream, then. A wonderful, beautiful
impossible dream. She felt tears slip down her face, and her shoulders started shaking.
And then there was a warm hand on her shoulder, and wild, yet gentle and worried, eyes looking down at her, and she felt another flash of what must now be the memories of the man.
There was happiness, and love, when he saw his queen walking forth to greet him on his birthday, looking even more beautiful and radiant than she normally did. They danced and danced, and talked with their friends, and drank and ate, and had fun, each just enjoying themselves in the others' company.
Someone crashed through one of the tall windows, there was a flash of light, screams from the partygoers. And then there was a darkness, horror, despair of the deepest kind, and finally a rage so intense that it left him in waves and waves. His murderous intent was no doubt evident via his eyes, which had always been so very expressive, and he used this to his advantage, looking her killer in the eyes. They would die. One day, maybe not today, or the next, for he had to make sure that it would be a suitably horrible death for one so vile.
He gathered her lifeless form into his arms. Oh, his beloved queen! He laid his head on her chest, uncaring of the blood that smeared over his face and hair as he did so. He knew that she would return, and he would wait for her, even if that meant venturing to the other world, and that she would not remember him. He would wait.
Belle was rocked back to the present, and was surprisingly not shocked to find that she was now grasped in a hug by the tall, tragic man. She felt an urge, undeniable, to wrap her arms around him and squeeze him tight, as he was most likely emotionally pained for having remembered those horrible things. She did, and lay her head against his chest, as she could not reach his shoulder in their current position.
"Walk with me, my queen?" His words were soft-spoken, even though his voice was a deep baritone.
She knew, somehow, what he was asking of her. She glanced at him, then the forest at the property's edge, and then thought. She thought of her disappeared mother, her angry, drunkard father, and looked back at the man. Slowly, she stood up, and held her hand out to him. He grasped it, and together they walked, disappearing into their dream realm.