Beautiful Men
by Patricia R.D.

He's standing in the balcony when Belle finds him, staring at the darkness below him. He listens to her feet barely making any noise against the thick rug as she makes her way towards him, avoiding destroyed furniture and litter. He still won't allow the servants to come in and make the West Wing tidy again. He's not ready.

"It wasn't your fault," she says. He tenses, holds his breath, but doesn't speak. Belle is now behind him, wrapping her arms around his waist and resting her head on his back. Her voice is barely a whisper, yet he hears her perfectly. "You didn't even touch him. He lost his balance while he..." A long sigh and he knows she's trying not to cry. She blames herself, not for Gaston's death, but for the nightmares tainting their happiness. For it was her Prince who spoke to the guards the following morning, who followed them into a small room in the cellars to look at the body they'd brought carefully wrapped in their capes. It had been the Prince who had paid for the funeral, making sure Gaston would receive the honours his friends thought he deserved.

Never mind that Gaston had died while trying to murder their Prince. To them, their ruler is still an illusion, a Beast wearing the skin of a beautiful man. Only fear and the memory of what happened to Gaston, their best hunter and the strongest man in the village, keep them for trying anything against their Prince. Belle brought hope and bliss to his life, but also death and fear in the form of those who once knew her. And with Gaston, Belle brought the dark dreams.

The Prince doesn't mind them, really. For his family, he will accept anything coming his way. Even the nightmares.


They start the night after his transformation. The Prince sleeps in a room in the East Wing, just five doors away from Belle. Their wedding is in two days and he has to resist the urge to wake everyone up and tell them he can't wait, to bring the priest in and start the ceremony. But of course he can't, as there are guests to invite, preparations to be made. He also wants to give Belle the fairy tale wedding she deserves. So he closes his eyes and waits for the next day to arrive.

Gaston gets there first. On that dream, he is just as the Prince saw him last: broken and bleeding, his handsome face twisted in permanent pain. The hand he raises towards the Prince has three broken fingers; the voice calling out is harsh, with a bare hint of the dark, seductive baritone that once taunted a Beast into fighting.

I can see you. No matter your new face. Everyone thinks you've changed. But we know better, don't we? You monster...

The hand is closer now. And the Prince knows that this is his own doing. There's no escape from the anger, the pain, the vengeance...

The Prince awakens just as the hand touches him, too terrified even to scream. He tells no one about the dream.


The wedding is everything he hoped for and more: People from all over the country have come to celebrate. Even royalty from far kingdoms are raising a glass to the Prince and his beautiful bride. Guests eat, drink and dance, sometimes approaching the happy couple and saying a name, something nice and familiar the Prince can't recognize at first. Hours later, before he retires with Belle, he asks Cogsworth about it. The look on the other man's face makes the Prince remember. His name. His human name.

That night, in the intimacy of their chambers, the Prince asks Belle not to use that name, at least for now.


Gaston never leaves. He keeps coming back, haunting the Prince's nights with visions of pain and guilt. Each night the wounds heal a little and the blood slowly disappears, until the Prince is being threatened by the handsome man that once upon a time must had hoped for Belle's affection. This is someone the Prince can suddenly fight. Somehow the Prince is on the floor, straddling Gaston, the dark-haired man taunting the Prince with a madman's laugh. The Prince roars and bites and claws for this is the only way he remembers how to fight. And he's winning. He's finally winning. It is his own howl of joy that awakens him, Belle's hand on his shoulder.

He only smiles, makes up a story about a bad dream from his past before reaching out for her. He's drunk with his own power and she's warm and beautiful under his eager touch.


Gaston mocks the Prince's first attempts at fighting.

"I've seen girls who could handle this better than you do," he says as the Prince buries his


Teeth in Gaston's shoulder. "You are winning. That's true. But you fight like an animal."

They're in the West Wing, surrounded by dust and neglect. Not even in his dreams will the servants be allowed to clean.

The Prince looks up, licking the blood on his upper lip. "Maybe I am an animal."

Gaston smile widens. "Probably. Let's hope it doesn't run in the family"


He's grateful Belle doesn't awaken this time with him. He always does his best to calm her down with sweet words and passionate kisses, but she's not fooled. He once promises to tell her everything someday. If only he could...

Gaston's last words dance around his head as he embraces his sleeping princess. They're just words, he keeps telling himself. But he knows better. He will be happy as he receives the news, kissing his wife and telling her how happy he is, but it won't be a surprise. There will be an announcement, celebrations, plans made around the child. Their child.

And the Prince will celebrate with everyone, for he knows that Gaston can touch only him and not those he loves. Only one creature is a worthy opponent now.


"What is my name?"

Gaston laughs. "Damned if I know." The Prince can't see Gaston's face, just a mess of black hair pressed against broad, sweaty shoulders. But the Prince knows the other man is grinning as he goes on, "Can't you ask your servants, your Highness?"

The Prince thrusts his body forward and is rewarded with a harsh, throaty moan. "My real name."

He's still grinning. The bastard is still grinning. "You're the Beast."

"Thank you," the Prince says as his hands

(Perfect human hands. He is a man, yet he can only be a beast)

Reach out, and almost caress Gaston's heated flesh just before they snap his mighty neck.


People talk behind closed doors. There are dark circles under the Prince's blue eyes. He's pale and haggard and rumours about unknown illnesses surround him. He also knows about the ones of him shedding his skin at night and roaming the forests as a Beast again. These are the ones closer to the truth.

He confesses to her that he has been dreaming of Gaston, but spares her the details. Even if she wasn't carrying their child, he could never upset her with his darkest secrets. She holds his hand as he speaks. Then she kisses him. Her words are lost to him but it doesn't matter. He has to remember that he's doing what he does for her and for their child.

And what about the pleasure he gains from such a dangerous game?

After their talk, he claims a walk will do him some good, clear his mind. Belle offers to join him and he shakes his head. She should rest and he will be back shortly. He does go out, wanders around the gardens for about an hour before slipping back into the castle without being seen and walks into the West Wing. He's so deep in thought he doesn't realize Belle follows him there, watches him go into the balcony before walking away, closing the door behind her.

She comes back the following night. He hasn't moved.


The Prince wants to cry, but finds himself tearless. He'll never love anyone as much as the woman talking to him. And in saving her, he's given to so much darkness, so much destruction. And he'd do it all again in a heartbeat.

So he turns and smiles at her. And his smile gives her hope. It's not a lot. But it's all he can do for now.


He never goes back to the West Wing after that night. He finally orders the servants to clean it up. The dreams are suddenly gone.


Their child is born six months later. A boy with lots of chestnut hair and huge blue eyes. He cries a lot, the peace in the castle shattered forever. The Prince has never seen such a lovely sight.

Belle cradles the child against her chest, singing to him as the Prince looks through the window. Somewhere beyond the forest, villagers celebrate the birth of the heir. Despite their feelings about the Prince, the Princess once lived among them, and they care about the child already.

And yet no one would go as far for him as his father did.

Then he hears it. The laughter is only inside his mind, a rich and dangerous siren's song. But he knows better. He knows what it means. He hopes his eyes are not betraying as he turns to face Belle. "I'm going for a walk."

Belle's smiles fades, but she nods. They kiss and he leaves, wondering how long will it take for him to trash the West Wing in his human state.


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