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The Man Beneath the Beast

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The marriage between Adam’s parents has never been a particularly happy one. His father is greedy and selfish and payed little to no attention to his wife and child. The marriage is an arranged one, not made for happiness. Adam’s mother is fierce and loves her son into oblivion. Whenever The Prince gets angry (he has a horrible temper) she nurtures her son who always gets scared when his father yells at him. To make him feel better she holds lavish dinners and balls to distract him from his father’s anger. Adam, of course, also has the servants who help the Princess in raising the boy as his friends. He considers them family. But when his mother dies from a long sickness he loses his whole life. His father, now having more control of his heir, keeps him at his side at all times, trying to make him into the son he wants. God forbid he disappoints him. When he returns from lessons or simply spending time with his father with a new bruise forming his friends bow their heads in shame and say nothing. The Prince feels betrayed by the ones who were supposed to be his protectors, his family, his only friends. His father’s words start to get to him. He’s useless, too soft to rule, too forgiving. He’ll never be enough. From this stems his distaste for other people than himself. He’s learnt the lesson the hard way. No one will ever love you but yourself. For years no one touches him but his father, and those moments are when he is terrified. Simply a brush or look makes him crawl inside his walls and hide in fear.

When his father dies Adam is faced with a new feeling. He thought he’d feel freedom, be happy. But when he looks himself in the mirror he only sees his father. He’s going to be a Prince someday, he knows. And he’s had no other figure to be inspired by but his father. In vain he tries to keep the part of him that reminds him of his mother alive. He holds lavish balls with beautiful women, and each night one of them (or more) joins him in bed and with every touch he begs God to feel something. He doesn’t. But he keeps trying. He never let’s them stay ‘til the morning, and never let’s them see his bedroom. That is his private space, the only place where he can be himself, where that painting of his mother hangs. For one night, for just a moment, Adam feels like a god. Untouchable, praised, worshipped. But never loved. So he continues.

His beauty he got from his mother, and that is why he praises it above all. He wears wigs to cover up his hair, the trait he’s gotten from his father, and uses makeup to cover his face from the eyes of strangers who try to see into him. But he won’t let them, cause he knows what happens when you let people in.

One night the enchantress turns up. In Adam’s eyes she’s just an old plain crone asking to spend the night in his castle as shelter from the storm. All of this in exchange for a rose. He laughs in reply. He’s learnt not to trust people, nevertheless beggars and commoners. Of course, this leads to him being cursed. When Agathe says the only way to break the curse is for someone to learn to love him Adam knows it’s because she doesn’t consider it likely, and it breaks his heart because he knows it to be true.

The first thing he does when he’s been turned into a beast is to run away from the judging eyes of the servants he used to call family. He locks himself up in the West Wing. There he finds the eyes of his father staring back at him from the painting. He claws his face away, trying to avoid his gaze. He hates his father, hates what he’s made him into. The eyes of his younger self stares back at him too and tries to claw them out as well, but for some reason he keeps missing. Perhaps Agathe left another curse. He’ll always be judged by who he was before, those blue eyes never leaving him. His mother he doesn’t touch. He barely looks at her, in fear of what she might think of him. As Adam claws at the painting he realises his arms are covered in fur. He rushes over to the mirror and sees this naked, horrible beast staring back at him. Worst of all, he’s covered in the hair he detested so much. He tries to cut it off, clawing at it, but only ends up hurting himself. He collapses onto the floor crying, bleeding from his own cuts, reminiscent of the bruises his father left on him. He’s so ugly, so ugly. No one will ever love him. Everything he had left of his mother is gone.

He stays in that room for an eternity. Never goes out, only watches over the rose as petal by petal falls off, withers, and dies. He covers all the mirrors except the enchanted one, which he almost never uses. He can’t stand to look at himself. Adam’s always hated his father, but now he hates himself more. Slowly but surely his servants stop being afraid of him. They try to encourage him that he’ll find love, he’ll just have to go out there. But he dismisses it. There’s only been one person who has loved Adam, and she’s been dead a long time. They are proof of that.

When Maurice arrives he despises him for entering into the one place that’s supposed to be his safe haven. But Adam keeps himself together, let’s Maurice leave. Except when he sees him steal a rose. He pounces. That rose is his. His mother loved those roses. He cannot let him take them. In anger he throws Maurice in a dungeon to rot. Then of course Belle arrives to save her father. Adam doesn’t think much of her. He notices she’s beautiful, but that means nothing. Beauty is fleeting, he’s learned. She’s defiant. "You're so cold-hearted you won’t let a daughter kiss her father goodbye?” He’s tired of fighting so he opens the door and let’s them say goodbye. When Belle takes Maurice’s place he doesn’t understand why. “He’s my father,” she says like that’s supposed to mean anything. He’s never understood selflessness. Why would she sacrifice herself for her father? Father’s don’t care. They only hurt you and break you. He calls her an idiot and storms off. He has a feeling in his stomach that he might have been wrong about family.

Later he finds out his friends have given her a room to stay in and prepared a dinner for them both in hope of that she might be the one who could learn to love him. He dismisses the idea. He has no hope. Adam will remain a beast forever. Besides, her father is a commoner and a thief. What does that say of her? “We can’t judge people by who their father is now, can we?” says Mrs. Potts and hits the nail right on the head. Adam feels guilty for judging her too quick. He’s become the prejudiced people he hated so much before he was cursed. He let’s hope get to him and asks her to join him for dinner (a bit wobbly at first, he’s forgotten what it is to smile and be kind). Of course, his hope is in vain and he’s let down. He’s humiliated. How could he believe she would even consider spending a moment to look at him? Back at the West Wing he picks up that enchanted mirror for the first time in a long while and asks to see her. He looks at a scared young woman, huddled in a corner. Adam recognises that face she makes. He used to wear it when he was young and his father got angry.

However, when he finds her invading the one place where he can be vulnerable, touching that rose that is his last lifeline, that anger boils up again and he curses her and yells at her to leave. Belle does as he asks and runs away. He asks the mirror to see her again and sees the wolves creeping in on her and the horse. When the image fades away he sees that beast staring back at him again. No, he thinks. I refuse to be my father. He goes after her. Adam saves her right on time but is gravely injured. He collapses onto the snow, waiting for death to come for him. He sees Belle ready the horse to leave, just like he thought she would. At least he did one selfless act, to prove himself, before he dies. He closes his eyes. Then he feels the soft fabric of her cloak being placed over his shoulders. He opens his eyes to find Belle looking at him. “You have to help me. You have to stand.” He does.

At home he lets her touch him like no one’s ever done before. He’s scared because when her fingers brush over his back he can feel it. The sensation he’d been looking for. No, he tells himself. You’re just imaging things. She’ll never love you.

Of course he’s wrong. From that moment on he let’s her in. She’s seen him now as he is, at his worst. She’s seen the West Wing. She knows what happened to him, that he doesn’t look like this. Not really. Above all she knows about his father. He gifts her the library where they read together, sharing opinions and thoughts on the books they’ve read. They start eating together, she takes him outside in the daylight for the first time in a long time. Adam finds himself falling for her more and more, hopelessly so. She’s kind and clever, careful, and beautiful. Her father loves her. Belle is everything he wants to be. He tries to tell himself that nothing has changed. He’s still ugly. He doesn’t deserve love. But sometimes he catches her glimpse at him with a special smile. He lives for those moments. Belle tells him of the village and how badly they treat her, something they both can relate to, and Belle starts to see him for him, starts to see past his facade, and his beastly appearance. She looks him in the eyes instead and sees the man he could be.

Then he takes her to the book. Belle dreams them away to her childhood home in Paris. Adam hasn’t been in Paris since he was little. For a moment he forgets what he looks like, thanks to Belle, and asks what she’d like to see first; the Notre Dame or Champs-Elyssées? Then he realises she just wants to stay where they are. Carefully he asks her what happened to her mother, another topic they can both relate to. After she finds out what happened to her mother, Belle is heartbroken. “Let’s go home,” she says and looks into his eyes. His heart skips a beat, and finds that hope start growing inside him. Perhaps one day she might learn to love him.

Once they return to the castle he wants to cheer her up. “You’re making everything look so beautiful,” Adam says and asks if she’d care for a dance. Expecting a no, he finds himself in panic once she says yes. He needs to make her happy. He takes a bath and asks his friends to help him. He wants to be beautiful again now more than ever, for her. He doesn’t realise of course that he doesn’t have to. Belle already sees that.

When they dance he forgets that he’s an ugly beast. When Belle looks at him Adam feels beautiful, he feels like himself. Afterwards he, terrified of denial but also expecting it, tells her how he feels. “I suppose it is foolish for a creature like me to hope that I may one day earn your affection.” “I don’t know”, she replies and his hearts leaps in his chest again. “You think you might be happy here?” “Can anybody be happy if they are not free?” Of course Adam’s always considered her to be free. She could’ve left any moment she wanted without him stopping her, but to show Belle that he leads her to the West Wing again to let her see her father. When she discovers Maurice is in danger he lets her go. At first she considers staying, but then she runs away, just like he’d been waiting for her to do all along. Adam’s heart breaks, but he knows he has to let her go. “Why did you do that?” “Because he loves her.” “Then why aren't we all human?” “Because she doesn’t love him.” He climbs the stairs of the towers just to keep her in sight as long as he can until she fades from view. He accepts his fate. He’ll be a beast forever, but at least he got to love before he turns. No matter that Belle didn’t love him the way he loved her, or that he shall never see her again. She’ll live on in his heart. His soul will forever be tied to hers. She’ll continue to inspire him and make him a better person, even as she forgets him. But he’ll always be there, hoping he might be wrong, hoping she might one day return and love him.

The mob arrives, but Adam lets them enter. He’s given up now, he’s done everything he could. It’s finally time for his miserable life to end. Gaston finds him. “Beast.” The word stabs at his heart. That’s not his name. His name’s Adam. “Belle sent me. Are you in love with her?” He couldn’t be more right. “Did you honestly think she’d ever want you?” He speaks the words Adam has been thinking all along. It’s not the bullets that hurt, it’s those words. But then she returns. He sees Belle standing in a window, reaching for him. “Belle…” he doesn’t believe it. “Belle!” he shouts her name and jumps from tower to tower to reach her. “You came back!” He can’t believe it. Perhaps she does love him. Then Gaston stops him, and letting the want to return to Belle power him Adam grabs Gaston by the throat and holds him over the edge, ready to drop him to his death. “Please don’t let me go. Please don’t hurt me, Beast.” Adam sees himself in the reflection of the scared tears in Gaston’s eyes. He refuses to do it. He’s not his father. He’ll harm no one. "I am not a beast.” He spares his life and instead leaps towards Belle, to be with her. Just as he’s about to get to her Gaston shoots him in the back. He collapses into her arms. Gaston shoots him a second time before falling off the bridge. Belle drags Adam onto the balcony where the rose is, only one petal left. “You came back.” “Of course I came back. I’ll never leave you again.” ”I'm afraid it’s my time to leave.” “We’re together now. It's going to be fine.” she says hopelessly. “At least I got to see you one last time." The last petal falls and crumbles and he dies in her arms. His friend’s turn to objects.

“Come back,” she cries. “Please don’t leave me. I love you.” Agathe hears this and sees that Adam has changed and let love in again. She lets him live. He turns back into a man. The first thing he does is to look at his hands again, no longer claws to harm people but beautiful hands. He turns around slowly to look at her. He lets Belle see him. He says nothing, only stands there so she can see him, finally. Belle walks up to him slowly and gently cups his cheek in her hand. He relishes in it. There’s that feeling again. The feeling he’s been waiting all his life for. It’s the first time he’s been touched by her, been touched lovingly, truly as himself. No beatings, just a warm hand. Belle sees him and loves him. Afraid to do anything to scare her he lets her kiss him instead of the other way around.

Spring returns as well as love to the castle. They return hand in hand, just as they are. He doesn’t care about his hair, or not wearing a mask, or any beautiful clothes. Belle makes him beautiful. He sees his friends again. He’s forgiven them long ago.

They hold a ball for the people. Adam gets to dress flamboyantly again, but wears no wig this time. He’s accepted that it’s not his father’s but his own. He loves being able to hold her, loves being seen by her knowing she won’t turn him away. He dances to his heart’s content, something he’s always loved. Belle looks at her like she’s waiting for something. “What is it?” He’s curious to hear what he wants to say. “How would you feel about growing a beard?” He growls at her and she chuckles. He laughs too, knowing that he made her smile. And thus the cold-hearted and distant prince learns to love, and lets people in, lets Belle touch him, and becomes the man he’s always wanted to be.