“It’s really raining rather hard tonight,” Belle noted, stepping out onto the covered balcony. The sound of the rain drops pelting the castle’s roof tiles was soothing in a way; Belle was sure she could read quite peacefully to it. Adam shrugged his robe on his shoulders and followed her to the balcony, his gaze shifting between the stormy night’s sky and his wife’s beauty in the moonlight.
“Yes, it is,” Adam muttered, standing behind Belle, putting his hands on her shoulders tenderly. In their moment of peace, an idea formed in Adam’s mind. His grip on her shoulders tightened ever so slightly, “Belle, come with me,” he whispered, rather ominously. His hands fell at his sides, one taking Belle’s to lead her out of their room. Belle silently and curiously followed, intertwining her fingers with his as they went down corridors and ascended staircases.
The castle was dark; only the occasional glimmer of moonlight from a window or a few candles to signify a corner were the couple’s guide. Adam, however, lead them down their path with such confidence as though he could’ve done it blindfolded. He eventually lead them to a spiral staircase, stone, instead of finished marble like the rest of the castle seemed to be. It was in a remote nook of the castle; if one had asked Belle to find her way back, she wouldn’t have been able to do it for all the money that the estate was worth. They ascended the stairs quickly, Adam having to restrain himself from skipping every other step to allow for Belle to keep up with his enthusiasm.
When they finally reached the top of the stairs, Adam pushed open an old wooden door, closing it behind the pair of them when Belle stepped in. Adam let go of her hand then, she didn’t seem to notice. Both their eyes were fixed on what was in front of them. The room, if one could call it that, had the essence of an attic; small, dingy, and untouched. But darker, with stone walls, almost like a dungeon with no bars. Its only source of light was a gaping hole in the wall opposite the door; the reason for Belle and Adam’s fixated eyes. One could argue it was a window, but its thick, stone-bricked frame stretched from the floor to the ceiling, (which wasn’t very high, Adam had had his head lowered slightly ever since they’d entered) and it had no glass to protect the room from the outside world. The sound of the rain had echoed in the small room since they’d entered, and it only got louder as the couple made their slow steps toward the ledge. As Belle carefully walked closer, she jumped at a sudden noise behind her, instinctively wrapping her arms around Adam. A bird had been taking refuge in the dusty cave, and did not appreciate its newest guests. The bird flapped its wings in panic and set off into the rain, not willing to share the space with others. Adam chuckled a little, the mysterious tension officially having subsided. Belle looked up and joined him in the laughter, bringing her arms back to her sides.
Finally the pair made it to the edge of the room. Adam put a hand on the top of the opening’s frame, leaning out a little to take in the view. Belle wrapped her arms around herself, leaning out a little too, flinching as the rain landed on her nose and cheeks. She looked up at Adam, who seemed to have been in a daze staring out into the vast midnight landscape. He silently lowered himself, removing his slippers and crouching to the ground. He was eventually sitting on the ledge, his legs dangling and rain just barely beginning to sprinkle onto his toes. Belle followed suit, sitting down next to him while keeping her gaze steady on him. She eventually let her eyes fall to the dark view of the estate. They were facing the back of the castle, Heaven knows how, what with all the twists and turns in the corridors they’d taken. An easy silence fell between the two. They’d reached that point in their relationship rather early on- the calm silence. It wasn’t awkward, nor was anyone worried about breaking the silence with words. They were just a husband and a wife, sharing their favorite person’s presence.
Eventually though, the silence was broken, and it was Adam who did it. “When I was a boy,” he began, turning Belle’s focus on him. “And my father was… particularly angry, I’d come up here.” His shoulders tensed a little, almost as though his entire body winced at the thought of his father’s abusive wrath. “No one knew about it, not even Mrs. Potts or Lumiére.” He said, with a bit of childhood pride in his voice.
“Not even Mr. Cogsworth?” Belle asked, a light tone to carry his story on.
“Not even Cogsworth,” Adam shook his head with a little smile. “I’d come up here, no matter the time or the weather, and I’d just sit here. I’d sit here and I’d… I’d be free. Just for a moment.” Belle looked at him with sad eyes. She wanted nothing more than to take away the childhood he’d had; to shower him with kind love and sweet hugs and for his young, lonely self to know that he really was enough. But she couldn’t, and that left her only wanting to compensate now, and to love him for the rest of time. She slid herself slightly closer to him, so their warms bodies could touch and she could wrap her arms around his torso. He lifted his arm around her back, squeezing her closer to him.
Adam sat there, holding onto his wife, wishing there had been someone to hold then. When he was a sad kid, confused by the rejection he felt from his father. He’d run up the spiral stairs with tears flooding his eyes, he’d run all the way to the gaping window and then he’d stop. He’d stare at the open field and the forest beyond it. He’d wipe the tears from his face with his sleeve and sit on the cold stone floor. He’d long for the warmth of his mother but knew it would never come. He’d sit alone, confused and upset, but damn it if he wasn’t free at that moment. Free from succession, free from harsh beatings and even harsher words, free from a life that was being laid out for him on a silver platter. He’d sit back and stare as hard as he could at the forest, he’d count every tree until his eyes hurt and the sun was setting. No one would ever come for him, and he’d eventually have to pick himself up and return to his life. Return to the pain he felt every time he walked past anything that reminded him of his mother. Return to “are you listening to me, boy? Don’t you walk away from me” with loud voices and slammed doors. Return to a life of growing up with a broken heart and losing the faith that anyone could ever mend it. Because how could anyone ever want to fix someone so shattered inside?
“Ready to go, my love?” Belle whispered, stifled by a yawn with her head still resting on his chest. Adam’s mind had been a million miles away, but his heart had always been right there with Belle. The one woman who was able to fix his heart. Adam still couldn’t believe she married him; he couldn’t even believe the curse had been broken in the first place. It all seemed too much like a dream. It was too similar to the fantasies he’d dreamed of as a boy. Someone to love and to be loved by. He never thought he’d find her, and sure enough, she managed to find him.
“Yes,” he replied. The couple untangled themselves from each other. Adam rose first, reaching down his hands to help her up next. Belle took a step to leave, but Adam stood firm, still holding both of her hands and grinning at her.
“What is it?” Belle stepped back in front of him, chuckling a little.
“Thank you,” he said, holding her hands in front of him as though they were at the altar getting married all over again.
“You’re welcome,” Belle replied, quirking an eyebrow. What was she going to do, not follow Adam on a secret midnight adventure in the castle? Not a chance. “Thank you for letting me be the first to see your special escape.”
Adam blinked, “of course,” his smile grew wider. He hadn’t even thought about it. No one else had seen this place of his. But of course, it should be Belle to be his first and only guest. This was where he took his broken heart on so many painful nights. It was only fitting that he show the one who mended it.
Adam let go of one of her hands, once again leading the pair of them out and back to their safe retreat in the West Wing. Their fingers were laced together, and Belle had her other hand around his arm, leaning on him as they walked. Adam looked around at the high-ceiling corridors they walked down. Countless memories flashed across his mind from when he was a child. Racing past servants, dodging Cogsworth’s need for order, running into his mother’s arms and receiving a kiss on his cheek. His castle was filled with the worst and the best memories, and he sometimes found it impossible to only remember the ones he wanted to. But as he and his wife reached the doors of the Master Chambers, a wave of peace swept over Adam. This castle had a new king; a new chapter of life and laughter and countless walks hand in hand. With Belle by his side, there’d be no need for any hidden escape ever again.