Chapter 1 : Beauty
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This is not a love story.
When I was a little girl, I used to read and re-read Beauty and the Beast. I would sit up late at night, huddled under the warmth of my coversóbut I have no need for covers now, isnít that right?óand dream of the day when I would meet the man whom I could shape into my perfect prince. He would be a little rough around the edges, like most men are, but I would have the right words to turn him into the husband he was always meant to be. I loved to twirl in my motherís dresses, the hems pooling around my little feet, and flutter my eyelashes, imagining the moment when we would meet and he would instantly fall head over heels for me.
That moment came, and then it went. The man is not my husband. He never was.
And this isnít a love story, itís just me standing in front of my bathroom mirror in this tiny flat, putting on lipstick. I have never been told that Iím one of those girls who would be so pretty if she just took all that paint off her face, so I put it on thick, tracing the edges of my lips again and again. My eyes are encircled in a promising coat of mascara, but I wonít be taking them out on the town. I stopped going out when people found out, and it didnít take long. I think Iím on record somewhere.
Sometimes I think it would have been better if Fenrir Greyback had sunk his teeth in a little bit deeper and just made me into a monster on the outside, too. What I am now is just a little more maladjusted than I once was and a further cry from the woman Iíd like to be, the beauty in the story. I donít need covers at night because warmth lives in my skin even in the absence of a fur coat. My eyes are a little sharper and my nose a little bigger than it once was; you canít fix that with paint. There is a little spot of red stain on my kitchen counter where I put the bloody raw meat I get from the Muggle market downstairs just before I rip it into little chunks. The stain lives under my fingernails constantly, but I take care to paint over it nicely. I cover up the counter stain, too, with a cutting board I use on days that are not red. But thereís no wolf version of me, no howling, no real threat to my neighbors.
Still, there is no denying the effects of the full moon.
I am drawn to it even now, its light streaming in through my window and threatening to steal me away. The moon does nothing to change my body, but it takes a toll on my mind, making me irritable, impatient, obsessive. Some months, I am weakened, and I sit and stare at the stars, a book open in my lap and Professor Trelawneyís voice in my head. Would my prince have chosen a star just for me?
No, not tonight. Not this time.
I put my lipstick tube back in the cabinet and cross into the kitchen, opening one door after another until I find it. There are still Ashwinder eggs stuck to the bottom of my small cauldron, a reminder that I will need to plan another trip to Knockturn Alley soon, the only place in the wizarding world where I am not a strange outlier. My kitchen stinks of peppermint and roses, but in my solitude, I crave the scent.
The thick liquid in the bottle is the color of my beloved moon.
I take it back to the mirror, staring myself intensely in the eyes as I open it. For a while, I would wrap the bottle up in ribbons and make a show of presenting it to myself, just to make sure it would work. The show quickly depressed me further, so instead, I poured the love potion into my tea. But when the moon is high in the sky and I am angry with myself and the world, I need it undiluted, in its full glory.
It slides warm and comforting down my throat, turning my stomach with its sweet sickness and causing my mind to fog over. When I wake up in the morning, Iím sure I will find little bits of it seeping out of the corners of my mouth and the bottle half-full of water in the sink, where I tried to get every little bit, to drink every last drop. But for now, I stare into the mirror and see the princess I was always meant to be.
My hair is long and thick, containing strands of sunlight that the moonbeams adore. My eyes are simultaneously kind, like warm chocolate, and fierce, a hint of the Gryffindor bravery I must possess to have come so far in life with such hardship. I am just the sort of woman whom anyone could fall head over heels foróeven me.
A girlish smile graces my perfect, dribbling lips. Maybe this is a love story after all.
Authorís Note: This is the product of an inability to sleep, general angst toward my advisor, and Bobby Dazzlerís Potions Inspired Challenge. Beauty and the Beast is a fairy tale first written by Madame Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve in 1740. What you recognize from canon belongs to JKR. Hope you enjoyed it!