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“You were eleven,” Belle repeats after him. 

“Yes.” He laughs and shakes his head at the memory - laughing at his younger self, or shaking the memory away, Belle isn’t sure. “An arrogant prince, turning away an old woman. My mother read me the stories growing up, I should have known better. But I was not taught better.” 

His mother, Adam had told her, had died when he was eight. His mother would have still been reading him the stories only a few years before he had been cursed. 

“You were a child.” It surprises him, the anger in her voice. “An eleven-year-old child.” 

Adam gives her a funny look. “Royalty never really get to be children, Belle. I was already being prepared for-”

“A child is a child,” Belle says, her fists clenching at her sides, “no matter what their station in life is.” 

“Belle, it’s okay-”

“It’s not okay!” She cries. “However cruel you were to her, you were too young! How were you to know she was an enchantress? How could anyone at that age think to let a strange woman into their home? wouldn’t have. I’m sure Mrs. Potts would tell Chip the same thing. Would we be deserving of a curse?”

Adam holds his hands out but doesn’t touch her, trying to calm her. “You wouldn’t have turned her away for her looks, would you? Or turn her away because she only had a single rose as payment?”

“I don’t care!” It’s harder to scorn the prince’s actions now that the arrogant prince she had imagined him to be would have in reality only come up to her hip like the young boys back in the village. The image of a beast like her Beast, but younger, smaller, springs to her mind and her heart aches and makes her anger burn stronger. “Whatever your reasons were, you were young, too young. You were a child, and it should not be a child’s duty to- to-”

Tears of anger spring to her eyes. Adam looks horrified and quickly gathers her into his arms. It should be the other way around, but it’s not. Later, she’ll confront the staff, talk more to Adam about it. Belle refuses to let this go.