This is the third and longest of the three one-shots I've done so far. I have to say, this isn't my favorite of the three... I don't like the ending, especially... but I'd still appreciate it if you'd read and review.


I ran. Branches whipped my face, leaving long, bleeding scratches. But still I ran.

He won't die, I won't let him die…

Trees jumped in front of me, blocking my way, leaving bruises on my shoulders and body when I couldn't dodge fast enough. But still I ran.

He can't die, I won't let him go, I'll get there in time…

Roots stuck up from the ground, tripped me, leaving my toes aching with every step, throbbing with every stride. But still I ran.

He's not going to die, he's not going to die… he won't die, he won't die, he won't die!!

I stumbled from fatigue, fell to my knees. It would be so easy to fall asleep here… the ground seemed so comfortable… my eyes fluttered for a second, then closed peacefully. He could wait, I could fall asleep…

NO!! My eyes flew open. I could not give up now, not when I was so close.

I climbed painfully to my feet and continued running, slower now, then slower, and slower… I was about to give up, when the castle came into view.

It was beautiful in a wild way, the roses climbing up the high stone walls, the hedges growing aimlessly in the courtyard. Intoxicated with my success, I rushed in with new strength.

But where was he? He was usually waiting for me right here, in this room, as if he knew I were coming… I rushed to his room, the once intimidating doors now familiar to me.

I reached his room. There he was, sitting on the windowsill, one leg dangling, eyes closed. Just as I had seen him in the mirror. His mirror. Which he had let me have.

I rushed over. "I'm here, I came, I'm so sorry I couldn't come sooner." His eyes stayed closed, and he showed no sign of stirring.

"B-Beast?" I stuttered. "No, no, oh no, please, no, don't be gone!" It was as I had seen in the mirror, my dream, except more terrible. I held onto of his massive claws. This was no dream, no vision, no nightmarish fantasy. This was real.

Tears began escaping from my eyes. "I love you," I whispered, almost inaudibly. "Don't die, I love you, I love you…" His eyes flickered. Was he alive? Oh, please, be alive…

"Beast? Beast! Please! You're alive, you're alive, I know, it… please, hold on, hold onto life! I love you, Beast! I love you, I love you… you can't die!"

His head rose slowly, weakly. Yes. Be alive. Be alive. I willed it with all my heart. Be alive. Please.

"J-Jeslyn?" He whispered, so softly my ears strained to hear it. "Jeslyn… Beauty? Beauty? You came? This isn't a… dream?" His voice was pleading, painful.

"No, Beast, no, I'm here, I'm sorry… I love you."

He stood on shaky legs. At my words, he seemed to gain strength. He chuckled weakly. "I love you, too, Beauty… Jeslyn… I love you."

Light engulfed him at these words; his head was thrown back; brightness bloomed from him. When the light subsided, a radiant smile lit up his features. I shot him a confused look.

"Don't you see, Beauty? I'm me again!" I smiled indulgently.

"You're always you, you always were. What's this on about?" I approached him, arms out to embrace him.

He stared down at his hands- paws.

"Wha-What? What!" he roared. His shocked faced transformed into a livid snarl. "No! No!" he howled angrily.

He struck out with a vast claw, shattered a vase. The claw continued on its path toward the window, shattering it, and ripping the hangings to shreds.

Shocked, I cried, "B-Beast! What are you doing!!"

"Don't call me that!" he snarled.

"But it's what you told me to call you," I whispered, softly, voice shaking with tears. With a loud, angry growl, he swung his claw towards me. His intent, I didn't know. But the last thing I saw was the angry expression on his face. Directed not at the invisible servants, as was usual, but at me. And that cut through me, sharper than his claws ever could.


My eyes flutter open. Slowly, painfully. I see Beast's face close to mine, void of expression.

My hand reaches up to touch my wound, and comes away wet, red. "H-How c-could you… you… I thought you loved… I…" I can barely get the words out. I can barely breathe. I went through pain and rejection for him… and this is my repayment. I remember my mother, once, when she made me do all the chores, when I complained. "Life isn't fair," she had snapped, "you do and you help and you do some more, and what do you get in return? A whole lot of nothing! That's reality." I had never complained after that. And now, I see how true her words are. But I am getting a whole lot of something, not nothing. A whole lot of pain.

I realize that those words were the truest things anyone's ever said to me. Everything else was nothing, had no meaning.

Empty.

I feel myself going weak, weaker than ever. I was always so strong. "Jeslyn… Beauty…" I can barely hear Beast. His fond nickname for me, Beauty, inspired by the fact that I always, in his words, 'refuse to be beautiful'.

I used to like this nickname, I used to laugh at it. But now it is nothing to me. I sigh, let my breath out. I let my wild spirit go free. My body is now just a shell.

Empty.


I watch her sigh her last breath away. I whisper her name one more time. Jeslyn. Beauty. It's my fault she's gone. It's my fault she died.

Had I been that angry that I hadn't transformed to a man, that I killed my love? Had I really trusted the sorcerer who made me a Beast in the first place that much? This was probably what he had planned, all along.

I feel a warm prickle edge up my body, but I no longer care. My finger strokes her cheek; my hand caresses her hair. And then it hits me. Hands? Fingers? I stare down at myself, and sure enough, I am once again human. But I don't care. This transformation means nothing to me now.

Empty.

I wander through the halls, once so full, once so cheerful. Now deadly silent.

I go outside, to see the roses that flourished so under Jeslyn's, Beauty's, influence, by her just being here.

The once beautiful courtyard is now wilted. In the matter of seconds it took Jeslyn to die, so did the beautiful nature that she loved so. The trees droop desolately, the flowers and shrubs are wilted, void of life.

Empty.

Back up to my room, where Beauty still lies. She seems like a different person… she had been so passionate, so full of life. She was never without a cause, face always flushed with excitement, never this emotionless, lifeless being. She is like a porcelain doll, fragile, white skinned. So different from what she used to be: beautiful in an earthy way. She's gone, and it's my fault. All I have now is a shell, which is even worse than nothing at all.

Empty.