She was a complete conundrum; though, admittedly, he never had extensive experience with women to fall back on. The ladies of court from his past were delicate, tittering complexities in equally delicate dresses. He remembered watching them in confusion, trying to understand their gestures and coy smiles. The language lessons of the schoolroom never covered these. When he reached adolescence, his eager questions about his female counterparts were met with little interest. However, it was explained that beauty was non-negotiable in a future bride. A prince deserved the best of what was offered. His needs and desires came first. Being surrounded by the aesthetically pleasing was simply a part of that. And as he watched the girl while hidden in shadow, even he had to admit, much to his embarrassment, that her form was certainly pleasing.
Belle, as her father called her, was reclined on the ample ledge of one of the large windows, looking out over the expanse of dense forests that hid his castle from outsiders. One of her hands rested lightly on the glass, as if trying to reach out and make a connection with something in the distance. Her eyes, their color unknown in this light, would lower and blink rapidly before returning to gaze ahead. Her other hand would occasionally brush her cheek. Human body language had become so foreign to him throughout his isolation, but the adept sense of smell his cursed form garnered was more than capable of making up for what he lacked. When the sharp scent of salt filled the air, he knew the girl was crying.
Strangely, there was beauty even in that. Plump droplets finally made a noticeable appearance, clinging to her eyelashes, yet she made no move this time to wipe them. It irritated him that someone could possess such attractiveness in a moment of weakness, especially when that person also seemed to be completely unaware of her own general magnetism. She was obviously striking, even under such peasant garb. He recognized it. His servants recognized it. Yet she gave no thought to it. For someone who gave his appearance great thought every day, her nonchalance was extremely unsettling. Sometimes he wanted to take her in his hands and –