The Rose

Ever since her mother died and her father disappeared, Belle has been waiting for this moment. Her daggers at the ready, her heart steeled with confidence, she faced him.

The beast.

Veangeace is a mocking thing.

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11. Chapter X

   The next morning, the beast was sitting upright at the dining room table when I came down for breakfast.

   ‘Good morning.’ I yawned, the previous night’s garden wanderings catching up with me. I sat down in the chair beside him.

   ‘Morning.’ He smiled at me. ‘Tired?’

   ‘You could say that.’ I grinned back. It was very strange, how much nicer we were to each other, even thought most of our circumstances hadn’t really changed. My mother was still dead because of him, my father probably at home dying. I shuddered at the thought.

   I couldn’t decide whether to bring up the matter. I was doing what Maman had asked of me, but I couldn’t help but feel terrible at my negligence to my father.

   ‘Adam?’ I tested his name on my tongue. It was a lovely name, and in a way, it suited his bright eyes.

   He sat up, listening intently. ‘Yes?’

   ‘Is there any way for me to… I don’t know, it’s silly, but I have to know. Is there any way that I can contact my father?’ I gulped, rushing through my words, hoping with all body that I hadn’t ruined my chances of saving him with this one question.

   ‘I…’ He looked taken aback, but not in an angry way. ‘Yes. There is a way.’ He sighed. ‘But I have decided something, Belle. I’ve decided to…’ He looked down at the table. ‘Let you go.’

   ‘You’d do that?’ I gasped, shocked at his sudden willingness to do such a thing. ‘But… only a few days ago you were intent on keeping me here forever.’

   ‘Things change Belle. And you don’t deserve a life like the one I’ve been forced to live.’ He sighed, looking up at me. ‘You can save your father. You can go home.’

   I jumped from my chair. ‘But what about you? What about the curse?’

   ‘I’ll survive.’ He said.

   I couldn’t believe my luck. I also knew I’d be breaking my mother’s word. Would I do it? Could I just go home and live peacefully and completely forget about the man in the woods who would remain a beast forever because of my selfishness?

   I couldn’t do it.

   ‘I’ll go pack my things.’ I murmured, the lie rolling off my tongue with ease. ‘I’ll see you shortly.’ I nodded at him.

   ‘Yes.’ He tried to smile, but it didn’t reach his eyes.

    I rushed out of the room before he could see my tears.

#

   I wrote the note quickly with the ink and paper left in my room. I didn’t pack my things. I didn’t weep more than I had when I left the dining room. I stayed strong.

   Good things would come from this. I knew that. But that didn’t stop me from praying that it didn’t have to be this way.

   I walked down to the gardens.

   Somehow I knew Adam would be there. I stood beside him at the rose bushes.

   ‘So you’re leaving.’ He said quietly.

   ‘Not exactly.’ I didn’t want to lie anymore.

   ‘What do you mean?’ He frowned, but his eyes were hopeful.

   I knew my mother was right. Adam was a lonely soul. He had learned his lesson. He deserved to be saved.

   ‘Adam.’ I said. ‘There is a way to break the curse that doesn’t involve someone falling in love with you.’ I gripped my dagger behind my back. ‘There is a way to save you.’

   ‘How do you know?’ He asked, still frowning deeply, blue eyes still bright.

   ‘My mother cursed you Adam. My mother was the witch.’ I let the morning sun beat down on my face, and closed my eyes. ‘You killed her, but I know a way to bring her back.’ I smiled. ‘You are so worthy of love, Adam. So worthy. You’ve learned your lesson, and I’ve learned mine.

   ‘Be kind, Adam. Be loving and honest and true. It will save you more than I ever can.’ I brought the dagger forward from behind my back.

   His wide eyes fixated on the weapon. ‘Belle…’

   ‘Goodbye.’

   I plunged the dagger into my chest.

 

   The rose lost its last petal, and my mother spoke to me. ‘Belle, beautiful, sweet Belle. You are kinder than you have ever known. Your sacrifice has saved the prince, your father, even me.

   ‘Your heart was pure, once. It was poisoned by hatred and fear. But through such hardships as the ones you have faced, you have earned kindness, compassion, and courage. I love you Belle.’

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