When We’re Human Again
Word Count: 2,900~
Summary: Based on @artsycrapfromsai‘s Beauty and the Beast AU. In which Ford becomes human again after years spent cursed as an enchanted journal, and Stanley and the kids realize happy endings are often a lot more complicated and messy than one might initially perceive.
The fading laughter was what let him know the onslaught had finally ended. Ford sensed the distant pelt of vibrations against the stone, moving towards the balcony, towards-
An insidious tendril of dread began to suffocate him as he realized his cursed form was wholly unable to come to his brother’s aid. And worst of all, the young man— Gideon, his name was?— abused him enough that his binding was starting to unravel at a dangerous rate.
Wild gales assaulted delicate parchment, threatening to cleave these pages from his trampled spine and leave him barren. He feared this wind was bitter enough to seep through even his brother’s thick fur, but as he didn’t possess the nerve endings required to differentiate temperature, there really was no way to tell.
Stanley mentioned playing in snow on the castle grounds with the children the other day, though, hadn’t he?
He lay sprawled on his back, trapped within his roving thoughts and functionally helpless without his brother or one of the young siblings to pick him up. The long years had chipped away at him, cruelly stripping bundles of parchment from his binding with each passing month— each page representing a portion of his memory. He’d already lost so much of his childhood and early life to this unstoppable decay. In fact, in his present state he found he barely recalled how he’d been cursed into this form to begin with.
What was it like, Ford wondered, to be human? To have strong limbs extending in every direction? The ability to contort and move his form by deliberate choice? What did it feel like to hold an ink quill and write manually for once? To consciously express emotion in more than simple text on page? Faintly, he thought he recalled a time when all of these actions and properties were overlooked mundanities— but he’d been imprisoned within this leather bound journal for so long that sometimes the thought of anything else but this existence faded into obscurity within seconds. And this frightened him.
I can’t even remember… what I once looked like, he realized in a pang of panic.
How much humanity did he have left to spend?
The few pages still bound fluttered endlessly in the wind, and he desperately struggled to keep ahold of them. He imagined his own thoughts appearing on pages in written word, frantic pleads for help, in the futile hope that continuing to mark his own parchment would somehow retain his connection with it. He felt another page tear away. Heard it as it cut through the air like a thin blade.