your father was an inventor. you knew better than to trust him in the center of town. he came home with scrap metal and built ships to glide on the grass. when you were young, you loved him for making. for a brief five years, you hated him, embarrassed of the town loon, embarrassed of what raised you.
but time shifts things. the man in town wants to marry you. a beautiful man by every account, and you hear many accounts. your nose in books doesn’t stop the stories of him: Gaston, bright, young, proud. Gaston, who could hunt and carve and flex his muscles. who forgot even himself what was true and what was fiction. it is a small village in paris, at the base of a kingdom. he is the bachelor you should have your heart set on.
you try to teach yourself to love him. he grins at you over beer mugs. never reads the books you suggest to him, drops one in the mud. and one night you hear him, drunk and singing, laughing with the others about your father, the crazy.
that night your father brings you a single white rose from a garden. you kiss your father and think of Gaston’s log cabin, where you could live in comfort.
they come for your father in the night. he is the property of the prince, on account of theft. his hands should be cut off and sewn to the walls of his house, to remind him of his failures. an inventor without hands is a death sentence. they come with fire and hatred. rip you out of bed. your knees hit the mud. you’re too small to fight them. they tear your father away from you, and your heart out of your chest.
you run to gaston. tall, fast, manly. you beg him. it’s a mistake, you cry, you must help - you gulp - and then we will marry.
gaston laughs and slams oak door against nose. you stumble back, feeling like a knife is in your throat. you take the wagon horse and ride improper, legs spread and bent forward, none of the lady your mother would have wanted. you ride for the life of your father.
at the door of the castle you stop. it is raining. you shout and rave and beg anything. take me, you scream, if you’re listening i’ll do anything. what do you promise on that doorstep, crying yourself empty? what do you promise to keep him alive, to keep him whole, to keep him healthy?
the door opens late. no one is there. you remember, suddenly, the tale of the beast who lives here, who ate the prince, who is terrifying. you think you hear your father and suddenly you are running, following his voice down dark hallways with no ending.
he is in a cell. his head is bleeding. you feel your breath hitch.
“will you?” a voice says, “will you trade yourself for your father, take responsibility for his sin?”
“he’s innocent,” you snarl, “you animals.”
“the rose, belle,” he whispers, and you stare at him. a white rose that is wilting beside your bedside would have been the death of him.
“take me,” you say, somehow empty and full at the same time, “if that’s what you need.”
the first night is ugly. you spend it crying.
over time, the castle learns you, and you learn it. you think you are imagining the talking furniture for most of it. invisible hands whisk food in and out, bring you ball gowns and petticoats and delicate flowers.
and always, the beast. at first, you were terrified of it. always in the shadows. moving like a ghost, prowling. tall, slim. menacing. never showing any skin, any proof it might be human.
but time and comfort destroy fears. you don’t run when it is in the room, you no longer shield your face in fear. it wears a mask, and this is how you know it really must be beastly.
it is the second winter when you, playing snowball fights with the statues - you manage to hit the beast in the face. you freeze, and the panic from the day they took your father returns in a firework.
but then the beast is throwing back. and you are laughing. the next morning it is at breakfast with you, and lunch. it comes and goes, and never speaks. laughs, sometimes, you think. talks with its hands. the furniture translates. you learn, because you are good at learning. the hands that mean can i come in? the hands that mean are you hungry? the hands that mean is it okay if i read next to you, here this book is good, i found this for you.
each morning you wake up with white roses by your bedside. you learn to talk a little louder than you’re used to, to move your own hands in a way that acknowledges the beast. it is strange that you were a quiet girl and now you are comfortable shouting. the two of you have your own language, together. it teaches you swordfighting, you teach it dancing. it teaches you archery and you teach it cooking. you walk through the gardens together. there are moments where your hands touch and for some reason you blush like it was kissing. you’ve never had someone who understands you so completely. sometimes you tell it about far-away stories. sometimes you tell it about your village. and sometimes, when you are raw, you tell it about gaston and the marriage you didn’t want and your father and his insanity
one of these nights the beast brings you the mirror. you cry when you see your father. and the beast is pulling you, running, picking out a horse from the stables, gesturing. go, go. you cry when you leave.
you save your father. tell him you’ll bring him back to the beast. do you talk too loud? is gaston only mad you never belonged to him? when the raid starts, you are still taking care of your father. outside, voices, ringing. kill the beast. you think of hands, dancing in the air to speak, and you think you have never heard something so ugly. you’re ashamed to be this species.
you ride in their wake, your father safe. you ride that same panicked race as three years ago to the day.
you fight, because the beast taught you how. the castle fights, because it is protecting its life. and the beast - you watch the flash of a blade, careful not to kill - the ability you once mistook for savagery.
it isn’t enough. gaston, and a gun. the three of you stand on the balcony, you in between. again you are begging this man, who means nothing. “leave the beast,” you say, “take me.”
“i’ll have both,” he says, and shoots. you feel the bullet streak by you. the beast is all movement, has pushed you out of the way. they grapple, and you scream when the beast falls, skittering. gaston marches over and you move without thinking. he falls into the night silently.
you can’t get there quick enough. you gather the beast into your lap, begging be okay. at the mask, you whisper something, and then say it again with your hands. i love you, you say. you were the best thing to happen to me.
the mask slips. a voice says, “belle,” and you are hit with the full force of something that feels like music. you can’t breathe.
the girl beneath the mask is beautiful. her blonde hair spills across your legs. she touches your face and her hands say i’m okay, and you’re laughing. you kiss her and roses open up in you.
“i thought you were a beast,” you say with hands and lips a hair above hers, “and here you are, the beauty.”
she smiles sheepishly. it is hard when you are like me.
your are sobbing. you kiss her again, because you can, because she’s here and perfect and the answer to questions you didn’t know you had been asking.
her hands, curious, worried, search for your wet cheeks. i’m okay, really, belle. you saved me.
funny, your hands dance, i was about to say the same thing.
“I’m tempted to think it was destiny,” de Havilland tells PEOPLE exclusively. She, along with her then-husband, Pierre Galante, engineered the couple’s introduction.
In the spring of 1955, the Gone with the Wind star (who turns 101 this July and has lived in Paris since October of 1953) was newly wed to Paris-Match editor Galante. On May 4, the couple arrived at the Gare de Lyon in Paris to catch Le Train Bleu — an Orient Express-type overnight sleeper connecting France’s northern port of Calais and Paris with towns and villages along the French Mediterranean coast and the Italian border.
Their destination was Cannes, where the eighth edition of the young film festival was already underway. (This year’s festival, the 70th, kicks off on May 17.)
Amid the vast station’s echoing noise, the couple headed to their compartment. Moments behind them, Kelly hurried down the platform.
Though de Havilland and Kelly had never met, both shared a reputation for rebellion. De Havilland’s battle against Warner Brothers studio in the late 1930s had already established continuing legal precedent. And at the time she and Kelly would meet, Kelly was under a well-publicized suspension from her own studio, MGM, having refused to make a film opposite Robert Taylor. By chance, though, Cannes had invited Kelly to present The Country Girl, (afilm she’d made on loan-out to Paramount), which, just five weeks earlier had won her the Oscar for Best Actress.
De Havilland believes, ‘destiny’ played considerable part. “It was an idea that struck [Pierre] for the first time while dining on the train,” she recalls, “after he learned Grace Kelly was a fellow passenger.”
“My husband had been born in Nice on the Cote d’Azur,” she adds. “He suggested the meeting between Grace and Rainier at dinner with Paris-Match editor-in-chief Gaston Bonheur, en route to Cannes — an idea immediately and enthusiastically accepted by Gaston.”
With everyone at table agreed to the desirability of Galante’s idea, only two parties remained to convince: Grace and Rainier.
Urged on by her husband and Bonheur, de Havilland rose to catch then departing Kelly.
“Grace struck me on first encounter as a rather reserved, self-possessed, well brought up young woman,” de Havilland says, recalling their fateful exchange which occurred “on the small platform between the dining car and the next carriage when I overtook her to ask if she would agree to a meeting with Prince Rainier.”
“She immediately agreed but made the highly professional proviso that such a meeting must first be approved of by the studio sponsoring her visit to Cannes: MGM.”
With Kelly’s “immediate agreement” secured, Galante set to work Thursday upon arrival in Cannes. He telephoned Kelly to announce Rainier had invited her to his palace at 4 p.m., Friday afternoon. Explaining her required presence at a Cannes cocktail for her film at 5:30, she declined. Later, when Galante called back saying Rainier had consented to move their meeting up to 3, Grace relented.
Friday morning started badly — and got progressively worse.
Waking late, Kelly washed her hair before discovering a labor strike had cut off all the festival city’s electricity. No hair dryer, makeup lights or iron. With two cars waiting downstairs outside The Carlton hotel, Kelly pulled her hair back, arranged it with flowers, put on her one unwrinkled outfit (a thick silk taffeta “Easy To Sew” floral model she’d worn a year earlier for McCall’s Patterns) and of course, finding the elevators without power, rushed down several flights of stairs, to meet Galante and a carload of photographers.
A fender-bender with photographers in a following car delayed them and when they eventually arrived at the Palace, Rainier wasn’t there. When he finally arrived, he invited Kelly to see his 225-room palace. She said she’d already had the tour. Undeterred, he proposed they visit his private zoo. They walked ahead, speaking privately, in the garden. Paris-Match photographers quickly recorded their meeting before Kelly hurriedly rushed back to Cannes. During the return, she described the prince as “charming.”
De Havilland remembers, “Pierre praised afterward how flawlessly Grace endeavored to observe the protocol required for presentation to the prince.”
“I guessed things had gone wonderfully well by Grace’s manner upon returning from her presentation to Rainier,” says de Havilland, who also attended the Friday afternoon cocktail party in Cannes.
“When she took her place at the head of the receiving line at the American reception, instead of offering her hand for a handshake, Grace extended her hand as if offering it to be kissed. She was in a state of enchantment.”
After their initial meeting, Kelly and Rainier began a private correspondence. Despite rumors, they largely succeeded in keep their developing romance secret until Rainier sailed for America, proposing seven months later during Christmas.
Having played a hand in the beginning, de Havilland “was not particularly surprised by the [engagement] news, but I was particularly charmed by it,” she recalls. Expecting the birth of her daughter, she was unable to attend the “the wedding of the century” in Monaco alongside Galante, 60 years ago.
They would only cross paths one other time. “I saw Grace Kelly only once in the long years after our meeting on the train and Cannes,” says de Havilland. “I was lunching with an American friend at a restaurant in Paris and saw Princess Grace at a table across the room with Princess Caroline, then about 10 years of age.”
“When they finished and were leaving, Princess Grace very graciously came to my table to greet me. Of course, I rose and curtsied.“
The Village Gate was a nightclub at the corner of Thompson and Bleecker Streets in Greenwich Village, New York. Art D'Lugoff opened the club in 1958, on the ground floor and basement of 160 Bleecker Street. The large 1896 Chicago School structure by architect Ernest Flagg was known at the time as Mills House No. 1 and served as a flophouse for transient men. In its heyday, the Village Gate also included an upper-story performance space, known as the Top of the Gate.
Throughout its 38 years, the Village Gate featured such musicians as John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins, Duke Ellington, Jimi Hendrix, Dizzy Gillespie, Bill Evans, Dave Brubeck, Dexter Gordon, Art Blakey, Woody Shaw, Miles Davis, Vasant Rai, Nina Simone, Herbie Mann, Woody Allen, Patti Smith, Velvet Underground, Edgard Varèse, and Aretha Franklin, who made her first New York appearance there. The show Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, debuted at the Village Gate in 1968.
Damn , I really wish I had the skills to write a Moulin Rouge Sterek AU *sigh*
“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”
The Moulin Rouge. A night club, a dance hall, and a bordello.A kingdom of night time pleasures, where the rich and powerful came to play with the young and beautiful creatures of the underworld. The most beautiful of all these was the man I loved. Stiles.He sold his love to men. They called him the ‘Sparkling Diamond’, and he was the star of the Moulin Rouge. The man I loved is…dead.
I first came to Paris one year ago. It was 1899, the summer of love. I knew nothing of the Moulin Rouge or Stiles. The world had been swept up in the Bohemian revolution and I had traveled from London to be a part of it. On a hill near Paris, was the village of Montmartre. It was not what my father had said. But the center of the Bohemian world. Musicians, painters, writers. They were known as the children of the revolution. Yes! I had come to live a penniless existence. I had come to write about truth, beauty, freedom and at which I believed above all things, love. But there was only one problem…..I’ve never been in love!
“My human life wasn’t a happy one. Growing up I came from a wealthy family, and was the youngest daughter. At thirteen I fell in love with a boy in the village name Paris, but when I fell pregnant, he denied the kids were his and left me. After, my parents locked me inside the house, to protect me from the gossip. I lived the last two years of my human life, never leaving my house. Only able to see the outside world through my bedroom window. Many see what happened to me as a curse, but I see it as a blessing. I finally got freedom for me and my twins.”