Authors: Ava Zavora
Table of Contents
The Beast has changed back to a handsome prince, yet Beauty finds out that although some curses may be broken, they are never completely destroyed.
Beauty but a Funny Girl
In this story, happily ever after is not where Beast and Beauty ended up. The Beast is now a handsome prince - king?- but he is haunted by his curse. He stays in his own wing and Beauty stays in hers on the opposite side of the castle. He's the perfect husband ... in public. Beauty tries all that she can to connect with him, but he rebukes her every effort. After years of being in an unhappy marriage, Beauty finally takes things into her own hands.
This story was beautiful and tragic. I thought it was the perfect length and really told the story of what happened after the curse was broken. It is far from the Disney version of this tale and really grasps your attention. It was one of the rare short stories where I didn't want more, as it would have ruined the ending and been too much.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2013 by Ava Zavora
All rights reserved.
first appeared in
Belle Noir: Tales of Love and Magic
Some curses fade and leave nothing but the faintest mark, a tea stain on watered silk. There are those that are so malevolent that, upon defeat, explode in a fiery burst of sulfurous flames, burning everything they touch as they die. Others dissolve like morning mist in the brightness of the midday sun. Some cannot be defeated at all, but feed upon the energy spent trying to vanquish it, growing more and more potent with each failed attempt.
And then there are those ancient curses with deceptively simple antidotes that shatter like jagged shards of a vast mirror.
These curses may be broken, but never completely destroyed, sharp slivers of light distorted.
“What would you like me to bring back for you, my pet?" My father had asked gaily before he made his journey. “Gowns, baubles, perhaps new shoes?" Outside the window, autumn leaves drifted in a shower of scarlet and gold. Soon the snow would cover everything in eternal white.
“I would like a rose.”
“What, my dear?”
Keep safe and come home soon.”
When he stumbled back to the manor that winter’s night, his face drained and pale from the knowledge of certain death, it was not solely out of duty or love that I chose to take his place.
“It was for you Beauty, that I took this." My father had knelt in front of me, a small gold rose in his hands catching the firelight. “I did not think such a trifle would be missed."
Words fell like thorns from his mouth-a terrifying beast in the woods, his great error,
a demand for reckoning. He did not ask me to save him, but the meaning lay there, all the same, heavy and golden in his hand.
Did I know what awaited me? Did I have fear? All I had ever known was my father’s world of preening nobles and petty jealousies, where my only worth, the lush fall of my hair, my jeweled eyes, the glowing luster of my skin-the sum of my extraordinary beauty was measured by the brilliant match my father had hoped for me. He had held me out like a prize rose and, under his calculating gaze, kept me in a glass case for a lord wealthy enough to satisfy his greed and ambition. My golden future had been cultivated for me; my father dictating what I should wear, to whom I should
speak, how I should stand and sit to best be displayed.
Across drawing rooms and banquet halls, amidst the swirl of silks and satins, I was paraded in front of and judged by endless eyes, treacherous, desirous, always watching. A swift intake of breath, momentary silence, then the glazed look of enchantment whenever I am first beheld. All look, whether they want to or not, and keep on looking, consuming me until only shadow and light remained. At them all I gazed silver and serene, reflecting back what they wanted most to see.
But sometimes, in rare moments when I was left alone, I would slice my serene and pliant image with a few fine cuts of the blade on my inner thighs. A small revolt of red temporarily welling against smooth, white skin to be washed away, not even a hint of a scar to mar the surface afterwards.
I had bowed my head to every demand made of me to the last, but still my father’s eyes only glittered with dreamt of gold. And gold it was that ruined all of his careful scheming.
I was not brave, I was not honorable. I merely wanted to be free of the glass case, where I was watched but never seen. My father kept me closely guarded only to barter me to an animal. I laughed in silent bitterness as my father led me to what he believed was my doom. He barely paused at the gates before spurring his horse back home. I watched him disappear into the forest, not once looking back.
Yes, I had fear, but with every step towards what awaited me in the blackness beyond the gates, and away from the constraints of my old life, I felt myself breathe freely for the first time. That I had so readily accepted my dark fate perhaps hinted at the darkness hidden in my own heart.
That fate, when it was finally revealed to me the night I first arrived, in its hideous shape and form, surpassed my every nightmare.
How my blood raced when you drew dangerously near—the threat of your gleaming claws that could have torn me to shreds, the promise of your sharp fangs that could have devoured me, the wild, musky scent of you that hinted of unspeakable things done in the cover of a full moon.
It was only much later, when I was able to listen to your voice without drawing back in fear, then later still when I was able to meet your eyes, steadily, that I realized all along I was meant to face you. You were a dream I once had that vanished with the waking—a mystery and keeper of a secret that belonged to me. You were my one true reflection, as I was yours.
“I wish you wouldn’t.”
“But I must.”
“You know how I would answer.”
“Do you know what it is that you ask?”
“It will never be.”
“And still you ask.”
“Beauty, will you marry me?”