The Beast and the Prince (まものと王子様, Mamono to Ōji-sama) is the name of a picture book for children. This is the picture book that Zero Two had as a child, which later became available to everyone in the future.
In the deepest, darkest part of a forest lived a tribe, hidden from all. They had large wings on their backs and were beautiful, but they were what would be called beasts. Among them was their princess, who had huge, ashen wings. Their law said that once one turned sixteen, they would be allowed to fly outside the forest.
And on her sixteenth birthday, the princess took flight to the world beyond the forest. She crossed the steep mountains and the surging rivers and reached a world of humans. The moon shone brightly in the sky.
She landed in a castle garden, where she found a young man gazing up at the moon. The princess hid in the bushes and stared at the young man, and for the first time, love bloomed in her heart. But he was clearly of a different race. A beast and a human could never be together.
And so, the princess went to see a witch who lived in the same forest and said, "I want to live as a human. I want to be united with him." The witch replied like so: "I can help you if you offer me your wings. But keep this in mind. No matter how you disguise yourself, you are a beast, and you will consume the prince's life one day."
The princess ripped off her wings and was assaulted by pain far more intense than she had ever felt. She could never fly again.
Even so, she smilled happily, with tears of joy streaming down her face. "I'm human! I'm human! I'm the same as him now!
The princess once again set out for the land of humans, this time on foot. In the desert, she spotted a group of people. "Oh no! Is there anyone who can save him?!" There lay a young man, his leg bitten by a snake. The princess rushed to his side and sucked the venom out from his wound. "Thank you, o brave lady. I am the prince of these lands." It was the same young man she had met in the castle. "I owe my life to you. Please marry me."
A wedding ceremony was held soon after. The priest asked the princess, clad in a wedding dress of pure white, "Do you vow to be true to him in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?"
"I do." The two exchanged rings, and when the priest said so, they sealed their vows with a kiss. And cheers rang out across the land. "Bless the brave girl who saved our prince's life!" The whole kingdom celebrated their marriage.
"Humans! Humans! They have neither the wings to fly nor the claws or fangs to hunt. Such weak and frail creatures, but they are so, so warm. Humans are wonderful!"
After the wedding, she lived happily as the princess of a human land. She supported the prince in his work, travelled the world, and saw oceans studded with glints of sapphire, sparkling grasslands, and auroras that swayed like raging flames.
The princess took the prince's and said to him with a smile on her face, "Grab on to me and never let go, *******."
But the princess's happiness was short-lived.
She woke up one night to a pain that threatened to rend her asunder and found her body turning into one of a beast. "Why? I asked you to make me human!" On her back were jet-black wings, tearing through her flesh and skin to spread. "Using magic comes at a price. You've attained plenty of happiness as a human. Now, it is time for you to lose yourself and turn into an ugly monster," the witch of the forest whispered to her. "However, if you kill the person you love most, you will be freed of your curse and return to the beast you originally were."
The princess gazed at her beloved prince as her claws reached for his throat. She loved him more than anything and anyone, but the desire to rip his neck apart welled up inside her. As she desperately tried to clench her fist and stop herself, her claws dug into her skin, and blood started gushing out.
"If I kill the prince, I will be freed of this curse..." With tears streaming down her face, she kissed the prince on the cheek.
When the prince awoke, the princess was no longer beside him. Instead, the bed was covered in jet-black feathers.
In profound sadness, the prince searched all across the land for her. But nobody had seen the princess.
Zero Two wondered who she is as a child. She was trapped in her room for as long as she could remember. Though she felt like she had even older memories, she forgot about them. Zero Two remembers a person often came into her room and said that she was probably a stand-in mother. She would bring her food and pet her head. One day, for the first and only time, she brought her something that wasn't food. Though she tries to eat and break it at first, her "mother" flips open the page and Zero Two begins looking at it. She is amazed by its bright colors and different shapes. Though it had words, she couldn't read. After that day, her caretaker never showed up again. The book was her first "pretty thing."
After every experiment, the picture book was her only source of comfort.
In the deepest, darkest part of a forest lived a strong and beautiful beast princess. Beckoned by the moonlight, she wandered into a country of humans, and in the moonlit garden of a small castle, she fell in love with a prince. But the princess was a beast. She had ashen wings on her back. Not knowing what to do, she went to see a witch who lived at the edge of the forest and said, "I want to live as a human. I want to be united with him." The witch replied like so, "I can help you if you offer me your wings. But keep this in mind. No matter how you disguise yourself, you are a beast, and you will consume the prince's life one day.".
As Hiro begins reading, a group of adults appear, looking for them. Zero Two and Hiro continue to flee from the adults and they eventually fall into the freezing water. The two sit under a tree and Hiro finishes reading as Zero Two lies against him. He tells her that it's sad they can't get married. When she tries to say "married," Hiro explains what marriage is. When he looks at her, she smiles back. He says that they should get going, but she falls when she tries to stand. He had scraped her knee and blue blood oozes from the cut. He looks for something to bandage it but is forced to lick it instead. He explains that animals lick their wounds to heal them.
With him kneeling before her, she confuses his pose with the prince proposing. She asks if it's marriage. Smiling, he says that they will once they escape. He tells her he wants to be with her forever too and that he will become her darling. She begins crying and blushing as she hugs him close. They look up and notice that they are under a mistletoe. They are suddenly interrupted by a group of adults. Though Hiro tries to protect Zero Two, he is hit with the butt of a gun and falls to the ground bleeding.
After being captured their memories were erased. An adult says that while Hiro's memories were erased, Zero Two's couldn't be completely erased. Dr. FRANXX tells them to continue to try erasing all memories, regardless of the effects on her and orders Hiro back to the Garden. He says that Hiro's probably useless now that he ingested her blood.
After having memories removed, Zero Two couldn't remember the events at first but began to when she recognized familiar actions. She licked her wounds in a similar way. Seeing her book, she began eating it. She learns the word "boku", "Zero Two", and "darling." She remembers Hiro getting attacked and begins crying.
In the end of Episode 13 and begining of Episode 14, after regaining his lost memories, Hiro asks Zero Two if she is the girl with the picture book from their childhood, which makes her realize that he is her original darling, who she has been looking for so long since their seperation.
In Episode 16, Zero Two draws pictures in her room of the book they read together. When Hiro says that it's a sad story, she says that it was her first "pretty thing." She met him and wanted to have something beautiful with him. She realizes now what it means to be human and they embrace.
She tells him that she ate her old picture book when they were trying to erase her memories. She says that she started wanting to become human because she wanted to see him again and she was told that she could do that by killing klaxosaurs, though she realizes she shouldn't have believed them. Hiro asks if Papa and the rest told her, but she doesn't answer.
In Episode 18, Hiro explains the meaning of marriage to Kokoro and Mitsuru while showing them the wedding page of the book. Both like how it sounds and decide to get married themselves before Squad 13 has to leave for the Bird Nest. Zero Two shows a drawing of a bride to Kokoro and uses this to help the girls design the wedding dress. Later that night, Hiro notices the drawings scattered across the floor and says it looks almost complete. Zero Two smiles and says she will show him once she finishes the book.
In Episode 22, Hiro finds the pages next to Zero Two’s hospital bed while she is catatonic and he finds the last page left blank. While observing the last page, Hiro recalled a different ending:
"And so, she turned into a bird and took to the skies, leaving the prince all alone."
Although confused at first, he realizes she deliberately left it blank because of the possibility they would have to part ways one day.
A year after Hiro and Zero Two leave through a warp gate to fight VIRM, Ichigo finds Zero Two’s book and is baffled to see the last page is blank. 702 days after the gate passage, Ichigo begins drawing the last page because, although the thought of Hiro and Zero Two never returning makes her sad, she accepts their fate and she wants to finish it for Zero Two as proof of their bond.
3705 days (10 years) after the gate passage, Ichigo finishes Zero Two’s book - rewriting the end in the last page - so future generations will know about them. When flipping through the book, she is amused at Hiro's awful drawing. Mitsuru and Kokoro's youngest daughter is seen reading this picture book during the school entrance ceremony.
A thousand years later, a boy, who is revealed to be the reincarnation of Hiro, is seen reading the book by a cherry blossom tree and meets a girl who is the reincarnation of Zero Two by the end of the series.
- The picture book is where Zero Two learned the word "darling" from.