She’s never out of sight, part II
Adam set up his laboratory in the North Wing, where he said the light was best. Belle knew that was important to artists but she hadn’t imagined it could make much difference to a scientist. She didn’t say that because she didn’t want to mar his exuberance, dimly aware that there were differences between what was expected of a friendly companion and of a wife, considering how he had never mocked her once for the ecstasies she’d gone into over his library. Teasing the Beast had come naturally to her but it was not the same with Adam, whose face was so much more expressive and so much harder to read. She might reach out for his hand and catch it easily, without any fear of his claw, ruffle his hair without the chance of grazing the horn that curled from his head like the steam from her tea-cup, but the ease was its own difficulty. She was not sure he would tell her No, Belle, not now afraid she would be offended, but there must be times when her errant caress was not as unexpectedly delightful as butterfly’s wing, but instead the fly’s distracting, grating buzz. She watched him from the doorway of the room, as quietly as she could, the long apron that covered his linen shirt and dark trousers, his frock coat hanging from a hook, how lithe he was moving among the vessels and glass tubing, lighting the blue flame, sprinkling in powders and pouring colored liquids that looked like syrups in the pantry. He liked the fine work best, lingering over the measurements and the notations; he had missed precision as the Beast, missed his human hands. She had not, thinking his agile mind and those blue eyes were enough, but if she loved him and she did, she did very much, she needed to understand what it had meant to be trapped as he had been and not only as she had. She began by asking him whether he wanted to make a philosopher’s stone and smiled at his startled laugh and at night, she asked him to unlace her, laying her own hands over his to keep them on her skin when he was done.