Friday, March 19, 2010

The Beauty Within by afraglielittlehuman

The Beauty Within





Going to his brother Jasper's company Christmas party, Edward hopes to spend time with the employee he's admired from afar for months. Will his blindness keep her away, or will she find it allows him to see her in another way?

And because we can, the photo inspiration for this story:


I confess - I was a huge fan of Fragile's before I read this story - so yes, I'm biased! She is a great writer, always throws in a twist or two, in both her multichaptered stories and her one shots, and is super consistent with updating. So I wasn't surprised she would knock an unusual story like this one out of the park. What I wasn't prepared for was my emotional breakdown after I read it. This story wasn't angsty in anyway - but breathtakingly beautiful! I was a complete and utter mess. There I was, laptop dangling off my lap, tears streaming down both cheeks doing that weird inhaley/snort/sobbing thing. Good God, how could this woman surprise me yet again!

The Beauty Within started off as almost a dare of sorts by her beta, Erikasbuddy. She found this great picture and sent it to Fragile - and away she went! This is a E/B story, completely AU/AH and quite OOC. A blind Edward is going to a Christmas party where he's more or less set up with a girl (ahem, Bella, of course) and the sparks fly. But it's not a cheesy set up. The rest of the Cullens are super fun and witty and are in to make the magic happen between these two. There are lots of one liners that are literally LOL funny. This story just clicks along and you are cheering for these two awkward soon-to-be-lovers and huffing and puffing with them to the grand finish of a sweet and panty-melting kiss. Oh - did I tell you this started out as a T-rated story?

Thankfully, Fragile took pity on us lusty, lemon-loving ladies and promised an M-rated follow up chapter for Valentine's day. And whoa-boy did she deliver! She also wrote another chapter for the Help for Haiti fundraiser which is still T - but exceptional. I think the most interesting part - and why this story touches me so much - is the way she has her Edward describe things. Instead of the normal and instant 'sight' references, she has to pull in deeper to the touch, taste, smell, and sound. And these are actually much more rich and real to me. This story is really something special - if you're ready to be touched...and not just touched...ahem...down there....Read it. These three chapters are absolutely delightful. So Fragile...more please?

I read the original one-shot for The Beauty Within when it was first published and loved it so much even then. It's not often that I read (and thoroughly enjoy) T rated stories (which it was at the time), but I so did with this one. Nina, Emmy and I had originally planned this for our Team Wussperv rec because it is absolutely perfect for that. However, Hopey and Kathy both swooned over it, and soon the rest of the Pack followed in line and everyone was saying THIS NEEDS TO BE A WEEKLY REC. So, why did we all fall in love with this story? Point blank, it's beautiful.

The characterizations she creates are wonderful and I found myself completely enthralled in Edward's story. He's sweet, compassionate, caring, sensitive...and blind. Yep, you read that right. But, the way the author writes it is so authentic and real that you feel like your THERE with him, living this life. It's not done to make you feel sorry for Edward, but you definitely empathize with him. The author also allows Edward's blindness to have Bella and Edward explore each other in more intimate ways, and I love that she uses it as a tool to bring them closer together rather than forcing them apart.

The first chapter is the start of their relationship - it seems Edward's had a little crush on Bella, and I loved reading about the fumbling and the awkwardness that you inevitably feel when you're around that secret crush.

Of course, by the end of the first chapter, I was smitten. By the end of the second, I was swooning. And bursting because I wanted to take the U out of UST.

Thankfully, chapter three brings us the sexytimes, which I was exceptionally excited for.

Because, not gonna lie, I really, really wanted to read some Blindward smut. I think there is something so sensual that you can really bring out when one of the senses is lost, and AFLH definitely does that with this fic.

"Bella, I need you to tell me how I make you feel." I kissed my way to her ear and nibbled around the shell. "I need you to be loud."
Unf. Tell me that doesn't get you all hot and bothered...

The only complaint I have about this story really just shows how much I love it, and that's that I wish it was longer. A little birdie told me to expect another installment around the Fourth of July, so I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of it.

I give this 4.5 out of 5 canes

This is a delightful wee gem of a story. Its full of warmth, tenderness, humour, reality and love. Its not the smuttiest or the sexiest story we have ever recc'd on the shack. But I do believe its up there with some of the most beautiful. Its complete (so far) in three parts and I urge to take a minute of your day to read it and brighten up your Friday. You will not regret it.

Its all EPOV. His pov is not bitter, although his blindness obviously is a massive part of his life. We only "see" Bella through his loving and hesitant view of her sensations and the sensory overload she causes him. Her scent in particular - obviously a nice twist on Canon is used in a very realistic and evocative way.

So the sex? As we are the Perv Pack's Smut Shack? Its beautiful, its meaningful and SensoryWard is gorgeous in his hesitance, gentleness, love and desire. I really do hope afragilelittlehuman does write more of these delightful two. It truly is a series to treasure and delight in - I will deffo go read more of her writing now. You should do too. As if this story is any indication - we are all in for a massive treat!

4.5 white sticks out of 5 from me. - An absolute delight of a story! Thank you to my fellow WussPerv ladies - Nina and Bri, who first told me I would love it.

Have you ever read a story and sighed at the end? Sighed because the story was utterly adorable, heartfelt, romantic, funny, endearing and made you wish you were one of the characters? Well The Beauty Within is one of those sighing stories. I'm honestly at a loss for words on how to describe this little ficlet, or describe how completely happy and sappy it makes me.

I'm not going to go into the details of the story (it's short and sweet); lets just say Edward is blind, but that's not who he is, ya know? Even though the story is short, you get a complete picture of who these characters are and the world that they inhabit. It's quite wonderful really. It all boils down to the talent of afragilelittlehuman. It's the story and the way she tells it that makes this story so...magical. Yeah, magical works. This story could have turned out cheesy or schmaltzy, given the setting, but it's the opposite in fact.

Sigh, I love it. See, again with the sighing and that's just thinking about it.

I can't pinpoint the exact reasons I adore this fic, there are too many, but I think a major one is that the attraction Bella & Edward feel for each other is not based on looks or the physical. It's based on who they are, not what they look like. It's deeper than the cursory look and feeling that spark of physical attraction. Though Bella does feel physically attracted to Edward. I mean, he's Edward, come on.

The smut (though brief) adds to the, story doesn't take away from it. It's beautiful and sweet and realistic, while also being fantastical and romantic and epic. Yeah, I said epic. There's isn't much UST, not because they resolve it, but because that's not the focus. It's all about the emotions the other evokes in them. Don't mistake me, they want each other and in a bad way. The Beauty Within also has one of the best first kisses Of. All. Time.

This story is jubilant, enraptured, euphoric. I could go on and on and on and on ad nauseum about this story; it's simplistic (simple isn't a bad word) beauty, deep sincerity and utter greatness, but that would be boring. Like Kathy, this is easily in my Top Ten of all time. I could spew a million glowing adjectives and it still wouldn't be enough.

5 out of 5 canes from moi.

One of the first things that struck me as unique (and maybe a bit odd) about Twilight fan fiction was the many and varied 'wards. Douchward, Jerkward, Wankward, Darkward, Vladward, Geekward, Nerdward, etc. It seems that there is a 'ward for every occasion, and (sadly) there is not cliché that hasn't been exploited for the purpose of creating a new incarnation of Edward (aka the romantic hero of our stories). At times it starts to get on my nerves.

I'll be honest, when I saw people recommending this fic, I was skeptical. Blind Edward? Really? I mean, Hollywood can't pull of a storyline like this without making me hurl in my popcorn. So, how is a fan fic going to not make my stomach turn with the fluff or offend me by misrepresenting a disabled person? How could it not be cheesy, and overdone?

Easy, get afragilelittlehuman to write it.

From the beginning of this story I was pulled in, charmed and bowled over by its beauty. Afragilelittlehuman skillfully handles the sensitive subject of a visually impaired person navigating through a world built for those with sight. Not only does she write this story with care and reverence, but she gives Edward an air of dignity that left me awe-struck. The fact that Edward views the world and the people around him in a very different manner is never forced. We fall naturally into his vocabulary of scents, touches and tastes. Because of that authenticity and respect with which this story was written, it often moved me to tears in the most unlikely of places.

Despite Edward's disability and the fact that this is an All Human story, he is so very canon. His pride, tendency to isolate and his reluctance to believe in Bella's love for him. His hesitance around intimacy (especially in Chapter Three) also rings true to an aspect of canon Edward that is rarely explored. This Edward is vulnerable, but not weak, and I think that is important part of why we love him so much.

To put it plainly this story is sweet, sincere and perfect.

I know, I'm ruining this whole badass rep I've got going on and frankly, I don't fucking care.

The Beauty Within is too wonderful for me to ignore. It reminds me of all that can be right in the world. It gives me hope, makes me smile and shows that love is never out of reach, even in the dark.

5 out of 5 canes.

The Beauty Within, even when it was a T-rated fic, is in my Top 10 all time favorites.

We learn early on in chapter 1 that Edward has admired someone from afar, for awhile. Even though he is visually impaired, he lives alone. His parents love him greatly, as does his brother, Jasper (nice twist, btw, love that it's Jasper he's related to), and many other little tidbits sprinkled in. I love that everyone treats him normally, even making jokes at his expense.

When we discover that Bella has been his crush all this time, and that she has asked Alice to seat her next to Edward, the swooning begins. Bella asks Edward to dance, not the other way around for once.

About 2/3 of the way into the story, we also learn about Edward's sight, what caused him to lose it, and just how much he can/cannot see. This line just about killed me:

In the thousand times I'd probably told this story, I'd never wanted to share it more...or wished more than I didn't need to.

The description when Edward learns Bella's facial features through touch... exquisite.

I'd never been so lost so quickly. No, I'd never been this lost period.

*sigh* Do you see what I mean, people? Swoony.

I totally giggled at this:

Wrapping my arm around her waist, I drew her close to my side, and we relaxed back onto the bench. "Sounds like someone's been busy Googling 'how to seduce blind guys.'"

"I had to do something. You were taking forever."

It's just adorable, and again, turns canon on its ear in a way that I love – Bella, being the one to make the first move, and Edward with such a wonderful sense of easy humor. He's not brooding or whiny or full of self-pity, like this Edward could be. He's fucking hot, and sexy, and full of RAWR.

We learn in chapter 2 that Edward wasn't always accepting, and that just makes him all the more human, and this story all the more believable.

Edward brings Bella to a room with special meaning, and we learn of its place in his life. My heart squeezed when I read through each part, and then as Edward reads her poetry from a book.

Chapter 2 also made me realize another key piece of the genius of TBW – brevity. We know Bella's been hurt before, but we don't know each tiny little detail. We don't need to. We've all been hurt, we know the pain. We can accept it and empathize without all of the extra words.

I almost fell off my chair laughing at this:

"You know, if you'd just keep the 'rents in the loop and quit trying to keep everything on the down low, you'd still be getting busy right now," my mother said, laughing.

Adorable Esme, trying to be hip and cute.

There's this wonderful sense of them beginning their lives together – in the truest sense of those words – and that touched me so deeply. I love the falling in love stage of romance and this story simply hits it on the head for me.

Everything about these two conveys their love and tenderness with each other – the way they speak to each other, the way they touch. There's this sweet, secret intimacy that I almost feel bad peeking in on. Almost.

Seriously, this lemon is EP-IC. I could probably write an entire essay on what made it so hot, sexy, delicious, tender, sweet, and all-around tasty delicious good times, but I want you to experience it for yourself. That's how good it is. If I describe any of it, I might not do it justice, and I would hate to take away any of the first-time-reading-tingles of the moment, so just take my word, and go read it yourself. Don't skip ahead, either. Read the first two chapters. They're fairly short, very well written, and set up the UST perfectly.

5 out of 5 canes, without a doubt

Since I became a full-time Perv, I've discovered that I am one picky bitch. I did not know this about myself previously. Thus, when my fellow Pervs bring a story to my attention and virtually guarantee that I'm going to love it, I sit up and take notice. The Beauty Within came (!) highly recommended, so I dove in head first. I still haven't recovered.

Right off the bat, I need to confess my absolute love for this story. There isn't a single word I would change. LOVE. IT. It's the kind of fic that instantly draws you in, and flows right in front of your eyes. The kind of fic that makes you wish it kept on going. It is presently only three chapters, but you want it to be longer. In my opinion, that is one of the things that makes a good fic great--you never want it to end.

So often in fanfiction, characters become almost cartoonish compared to their canon version. In The Beauty Within, the characters take on the very best parts of their canon temperaments. Jasper plays the role of protective older brother in a most sublime way, and Alice perfectly complements Jasper's strong empathy. Esme and Carlisle are shining examples of how these two should be written: Fiercely proud, loving, and caring. Both Edward and Bella are all you hope they will be. No disappointments in the entire group.

Afragilelittlehuman does an amazing job at recreating the world of a blind man. She describes the sights and sounds that Edward experiences in such a way that you feel like you understand what it must be like for him to be sightless. His nervousness in attending Jasper's company's holiday party was completely endearing; your heart melts when you realize how anxiety-provoking such events are for Edward.

I found it incredibly ironic that the man whose green eyes are known for causing epic swoons within Twi fandom was blind in this story. Same beautiful green eyes, of course, but he likes to hide them behind his sunglasses. *gasp!* Naturally, he is in love with Bella, but he only knows her by her voice and her scent; he has never "touched" her face to know what she looks like. Edward is gentle and shy, but absolutely lovable, and as fuckhot beautiful as ever.

Edward's inner voice is written beautifully, and it is wonderful to be privy to hear his thoughts, especially when they turn to Bella. It turns out that Edward has been pining away for Bella for months, so Jasper and Alice arrange to have him sit in an assigned seat next to her at the big holiday party. When she arrives, he listens for a "Neanderthal mouth-breather" standing next to her, but finds out Bella arrived alone.

As the evening progresses, Bella becomes "shy and meek," and admits to Edward that she asked Alice to seat her next to him at the table. It becomes obvious to Edward that Bella has researched "how to date a blind guy." It is clear that they are both equally as shy and awkward, but when they go out to the garden, just the two of them, their interest in each other, and the quiet intensity, becomes crystal clear.

The way Edward discovers Bella, the focus on all his other senses except his sight, makes the story so much more appealing. It ramps up the sexual tension to the equivalent of a four-alarm fire. The way their first kiss is described is mesmerizing, and afragilelittlehuman does a beautiful job weaving in the words Edward speaks to Bella when they share their first kiss in "Twilight." Every time Edward and Bella touch, it is electric. The way they work their way up to dating, falling in love, and finally having sex is HOT. Four-alarm fires all over again. I never knew nuzzling could be so fucking sexy. Honestly, when Edward asks if he can touch Bella, in order to see her face, it is so intimate and incredibly erotic. Every time he touches her it feels like you're reading a lemon!!

Their relationship reminds me a bit of Hugh Grant's deaf brother in Four Weddings and a Funeral. There is a woman who is attracted to him, and by the end of the movie, she has taken up sign language in order to meet him. The Beauty Within's Bella has many of those same qualities, the same tenacity, in getting to know Edward. It's beautiful, natural, and absolutely delicious to watch them come together as a couple.

The ultimate travesty of justice that needs to be corrected at once is that The Beauty Within has only 125 reviews. Yes, you read that right, 1-2-5. Please, people, show this impeccable little story some much needed love it justly deserves.

5 out of 5 canes, held high and proud

I had no idea what The Beauty Within was about until an email was exchanged among the group. TBW was originally a pick for Team Wussperv. But one by one those in Team Anything Goes practically shouted from the roof tops how amazing it was, and I knew I had to read. Then of course I was shouting from the roof tops as well.

TBW, as you may have guessed, is the story of Bella and Blindward. For whatever reason, the concept of Blindward is incredibly sexy to me. I think it's because he has to rely so heavily on his other senses, discovering his likes and dislikes through touch, smell, taste, and sound. When he falls for someone, it's based on the person's other redeemable qualities, not looks.

Edward is also one of the most lovable Edwards I have ever come across. The sincerity and humor in his words is evident from the beginning. And the way he shares his story really touches my heart. Finding out you'll need surgery that could take away your eyesight is hard. Finding out when you're 10 or 11, down right awful. Yet, Edward, with the help of an amazing family, is able to grow into someone who is not only self sufficient, but likes himself.

He also likes Bella. Who is sweet and adorable and all things good. The reader only knows her through Edward's "eyes," which IMO makes her characterization so much better. Edward, who has been smitten with her for so long, hasn't even ever touched her face to "see" what she looks like. He's too afraid, and thus only knows and loves her for the person she is. When he finally does get to touch her face and have her describe the way she looks, I thought I was going to melt right off my chair.

Honestly, I would love this little slice of heaven even if it had no sex. But it does. And it's great. Edward can't see any sexy lingerie. that doesn't mean Bella won't wear it, describe it, let him "see" it...ya know, with his hands? Get it? It's so sensual to read about a man who needs to hear his lover in order to know what she likes and doesn't. And you know how I was saying about the touch, smell, taste, and sound? Well...imagine all his heightened senses during that.

5 out of 5 canes

I didn’t know a lot about The Beauty Within except that in this story Edward is blind. I read the first few lines:

I'd dressed myself for many years, and, while I loved spending time with my mother, I couldn't understand her sudden interest in my tie. I could feel her loosen, straighten, and tighten it, then perform the cycle all over again.

Immediately, I got such a vivid image of Esme dressing Edward. It was so heart-breaking and real, that I pounced on Bri, accusing her of making me read a story that wasn’t wussperv safe. When she assured me that I would love it, I started reading again.

Before long, I’m introduced to fantastic Jasper, a wonderful Alice and the sweetest Edward I have come across in a long time. This is all before the most adorable Bella shows up.

You see, Edward has been secretly pining for Bella, an employee at his brother, Jasper’s company. As he gets ready to go to the holiday party, he already assumes she’s unavailable. But when Bella sits down next to him without a date, things begin moving fast.

My mouth hung open in shock for a millisecond before I wisely closed it. I might be blind, but I'm not blind. This woman, who I'd silently admired for months while we tested software, was flirting. With me.

I LOVE this Edward. It’s not just the fact that he loves Bella for who she is, not what she looks like. It’s his honesty. There are no pretenses with him—no games.

Afragilelittlehuman does an amazing job of remembering who she’s writing about. Edward can’t see what’s going on around him, so we can’t. He can feel Bella’s face, but he doesn’t really know what she looks like. It’s only through Bella’s own description that we learn anything about her features:

"What color are your eyes?" I whispered.

"Brown," she said in a breathy voice.

"Oh, you can do better than that," I teased.

"My dad says they're like big cups of hot chocolate."

"Tasty." I felt a blush spread across my face when I realized what I'd said.

Everything about this fic is authentic, leading up to the point when they consummate their relationship. Inexperienced Edward obsesses over ways to introduce the topic of sex:

I began to wonder what was the correct way to ask your girlfriend to have sex with you.
"Dear, may we have relations now?" No, too formal.
"Hey, there baby, like what you see? Wanna see more?" Oh, God, I wanted to bleach my brain for even thinking that.
"Please, can we just have sex already?" Yeah, needy and desperate...that's exactly the way to go. I mentally rolled my eyes.

The chemistry is perfect and the lemons are hot. I love this fic and I really, really want more.

5 out of 5 for me

When I first started this fic, I was excited to see it was a Blindward, though it is not my first dance with this -ward. What I did find fresh was this Edward wasn't always blind. That he did have sight for ten years. So it is interesting to hear him explain how he can feel the differences in the appearances of his family, but still pictures their younger selves. Also, how he struggles to picture Alice's hair, and how he admits to Bella that she is a version of Sandra Bullock in his mind. It got me thinking of what it would be like to be visually frozen to how the world was perceived by your ten year old self.

I love that he is human though, and at times craves his sight, but in the end is not bitter about it, such as when they are making love for the first time:

"I'd never wanted to see her more than I did at that moment, and I willed the sorrow away, instead focusing on the warmth and wetness of her surrounding me."

My favorite thing about this Edward, is that he is independent, but isn't emasculated by reliance on others. He accepts this as part of his disability. I think it is easier to do when those that surround him don't baby him, but do those little things to aide him without asking. For example, the venue and menu Alice picked out for the Christmas dinner, so Edward wouldn't have to navigate stairs nor have to use a knife to eat. Then, I loved the detail of the 2-6-10 dinner plate arrangement. That is one of those little details, you don't think about, but I am so happy Afragilelittlehuman did.

Finally, I love a girl who knows what she wants. Bella has been admiring Edward as much as he her, but it is she that conspires with Alice to get seated next to Edward at the Christmas party, and is not shy about making her desires known. She also has a past of something that has caused her pain. Charlie mentions on the phone to Edward:

"...he thanked me for making his little girl smile again."

Yet, she isn't letting whatever happened in the past make her bitter or shy away from love. It is refreshing to see her like Edward, and go for it with no guard or hesitation. There is something fantastic in people just going all in, feeling the reward will out weigh any pain.

Finally, there is the whole play of senses that overlays the whole story. You see the sense of sound, taste, smell, and feel play a more important role, and it heightened my senses memories as well. Yet it is Afragilelittlehuman's descriptions that leave me humming in contentment:

"I heard her every breath and could feel the reverberations of her heartbeat."

...and craving more.

4.5 out of 5 canes.