Beauty and the Beast 2017 & Hobbit Crossover :: BellexBard :: One-shot :: Family/Romance
Hello! I just couldn't resist with Luke's roles :D Hope you like it!
Happy Reading! :)
Villeneuve's market was busy as usual. Full of merchants, sales-talks, and everyday conversations. Belle would be up for such chatter but today she was anxious in returning home to her son. That and to relieve her neighbor from babysitting duties. She had her fruits and jams and everything she needed. All she had to do was weave her way through the crowds-
A hard shoulder struck hers, catching her by surprise. "Forgive me, Miss," the man quickly apologized.
She looked to assure him that she was fine and no harm had been done, but she jumped away from him as if she had been burned. She dropped her basket, its contents spilling onto the street, in her shock. Her heart plummeted into her gut and she felt sick. No, no. This can't be real. He can't- He had died three years ago- She had walked into a nightmare.
The man's lips were moving but she couldn't hear him. Instead, she heard the blood pumping in her ears and clogging her thoughts, causing her unspoken questions to swim endlessly in her mind. She watched him with glassy eyes as he picked up her scattered items and placed them inside the basket. She tried to blink away her shock when he stood and handed the basket back.
"Miss?" he asked with concern. "Are you alright?"
Belle finally surfaced, relieved she hadn't drowned in her overwhelming thoughts. "Y-yes, of course. I'm sorry-" She took her basket. And before she could stop herself, she admitted why she had been so speechless. "It's just.. you remind me of someone."
He looked bemused and humbled at the same time. "Well, I'm sure I'm not him," he said and she noticed he carried a bit of an accent on his words. "Excuse me now, Miss. I must find my children."
"Children?" she asked before she understood his words. She internally cringed.
He didn't take offense to her sudden prying. Instead, he gave her a smile as if he were truly proud of his children. "Yes," he said with a firm nod. "Two girls and a boy."
Oh how lovely! she thought. "That is a blessing, if I may say, Monsieur. I have a son too-"
Why was she still talking? This man was obviously not who she mistook him for. She had no business cornering him for information, any information that could give her a little look into his life. To assure herself that he and who he reminded her of were in fact two different people.
She chewed her lip. Perhaps she wanted to bring him back.. or at least reconcile with their bitter parting three years ago.
She heard her own voice. "It's just he and I. His father- my husband-" Her throat threatened to close. It was all still painful. "He's long gone."
He gave an understanding nod. "My wife too."
Her face fell at that. He seemed so polite and not the grief-stricken widower as she was a widow. "Oh, forgive me, Monsieur. I had no idea-"
But his smile chased away her uneasiness.
Belle glanced over his shoulder at the sound of pattering footsteps on the cobblestone streets. A girl of about eight was running and winding her way through the busy market... with an older girl and a boy following her. A wide and happy and carefree smile lit her face. "Da!"
The man gave a sigh though she couldn't tell if it was relieved or tired. He gave her a polite smile. "Well, that'll be them. Good day, Miss."
She returned his smile though it didn't reach her eyes. He still looked so much like a man she once knew. And her buried pain surfaced again.
His daughter stopped, nowhere near out of breath unlike her brother and sister, before her father. She seemed eager and excited and the man seemed reluctant and a bit stern.
Belle averted her eyes as the girl looked at her. She pretended as if she had been entirely immersed in something else.
"Tilda-" he warned in a slightly frustrated tone.
Suddenly the little girl stood before her. She looked up at Belle with big blue eyes. "Hello, Miss! What're you doing for supper? We love having guests and you look mighty lonesome-"
The man caught up to her and steered her by her shoulders towards her older sister. "Stay with Sigrid," he scolded. Then he turned to the woman he had met mere minutes ago. "I apologize, Miss. My daughter- she doesn't know quite when to hold her tongue. Much like her mother there," he chuckled nervously. "I hope she hasn't made offense to you."
Belle shook her head and smiled softly, hoping to reassure him. "She hasn't. In fact, I am not doing anything for supper... So if the offer still stands... Monsieur-?"
"Bard," he replied. "And you are..?"
"Belle. Just Belle."
He hummed, "As I am just Bard." He looked as if inviting ladies to his house was not something he did very often.
She stepped in. "I am nearly done here-" She held up her basket. "I could walk with you and your lot on my way home."
The chuckle he gave seemed very relieved. "Yes, yes. Alright."
Suppertime came around and Belle knocked on the pale brown door. She smiled as his older daughter answered. She urged Jeremy forward but he had taken one look at the stranger and decided he'd remain glued to her legs. She decided they were not going to keep the kind and smiling young woman waiting. She picked him up and entered Bard's home.
Immediately, she felt - not as if she were intruding on someone else's life but walking in to her own home. It was very comforting and the house smelled faintly of cinnamon and tea. It was homely yet empty... also much like her own home.
"May I take your coat, Madame?" the young woman asked.
Belle smiled and shrugged off the article. "Thank you."
The girl smiled and hung it by the door. "Da is out. He'll be back soon."
"Oh, thank you," Belle repeated as she wasn't sure of a proper response.
Then those crazed footsteps sounded down the hall. The younger girl named Tilda stuttered to a stop just inside the living room. Her face lit with unimaginable brightness and Belle grew slightly worried that the girl was going to squeal or hug her enthusiastically. "My, you are pretty," she beamed. She scampered closer to Belle.
Jeremy didn't like the closeness of these strangers and he hid his face in her neck.
She grew interested in the little boy. "What's his name?" she asked.
The older girl spoke. "Tilda, help set the table before Da and Bain get back."
Belle watched the girl's shoulders droop and reluctantly do that as she was told. Belle coaxed Jeremy out from his hiding place. "Oh my love, are you ready for supper?" she asked softly.
Her son shook his head and rubbed his eyes. She kissed his head.
The front door opened and she straightened. Bard's face lit when he saw her. "I apologize. I thought I'd be back when you arrived," he said. He set down his satchel by the door and extended his hand to her - he also had no idea how to greet such ladies.
She smiled and accepted his hand.
Then he spotted her son attempting to make himself disappear. "May I?" he asked, motioning toward the toddler.
"Yes." She watched Bard offer her son his hand. She clearly saw the difference between him and the man he resembled - his manners, for one, were far more civil.
"Hello there, little one. What's your name?" he asked in his most gentle voice.
But her son was adamant he wasn't going to meet any of these strangers.
"I'm sorry," she apologized for him. "He's usually very lively with new people. I don't know why he's acting so shy today."
Bard gave a laugh and stood. "Oh, it's alright. Bain was the same way. Come, supper is ready."
It was a small rectangular table. She sat at one end while Bard sat on the other. She pulled one of the chairs close to her and set Jeremy on it. He wasn't too happy to be surrounded by these strangers but he sure was hungry. Bain sat beside Jeremy while the girls sat on the other side. Supper looked wonderful and Belle had realized her own cooked meals were meager and small and very, very solemn compared to all that was laid out.
She learned Bard's children's names: Sigrid, Bain, and of course, Tilda.
Sigrid was sixteen, Bain was eleven, and Tilda was eight. And all were clearly devoted to their father. Even though he had his kids, she could easily see the pain that filled the empty void in his eyes, much like her own.
Conversation had been mum, mostly about the children. She had been immersed in the steady lull of words when a question was suddenly directed at her.
"Are you married?" Tilda so forwardly asked.
Bard gripped his fork tightly and gave his daughter a hard glare. But Sigrid beat him to it, "Tilda, that was rude," she gasped.
The girl looked defeated and slunk slightly in her seat.
Belle knew she had been reprimanded but she gave her an answer nonetheless. "I was married. I'm not anymore." She met Bard's eyes briefly. She could see from his look that he didn't wish for her to be uncomfortable. That she didn't have to answer Tilda's questions if she didn't wish to. But they were honest and innocent questions and the young girl was curious.
"Oh," Tilda realized quietly. And she apologized.
Belle gave her a reassuring smile. "It's alright." She watched the light in the girl's eyes return and she looked ready to say something else.
"But Da, she is rather pretty."
Bard cleared his throat as he had just finished taking a swig of ale. "Tilda, eat your supper," was all he answered.
Then Belle couldn't help herself as she watched Bard interact with his most stubborn child. "Bard, I have to ask. Do you really enjoy guests?" she asked, referring to his youngest's sales-talk at the market.
His chuckle crinkled the corners of his eyes. "Most of the time."
She gave a laugh.
Belle sat quietly by the fire with her cup of tea. She had tucked Jeremy in - Bard had been so kind as to let her son spend the night - and now internally struggled for what to say to her host.
Bard sat opposite her and he also looked out of his element. She had thanked him numerous times for allowing her son to stay but he insisted she needn't worry about it. That it was fine. That he wasn't the sort of man to turn away another's child just because. His own children had also been ushered to their rooms where he hoped they had stayed.. although if he focused on the oil lamp burning at the front of the hall, he could make out two very familiar and nosy eyes. He chuckled to himself.
She took an encouraging sip of the warm liquid. "You're not from Villeneuve, are you?"
"No," he replied. He gave her a brief smile that he hoped appeared comforting. "We're from London."
"London?" she blanched. She clearly had not been expecting that.. so much so that she couldn't help herself. "What brings you all the way over here? You're- you're not a criminal are you?"
He chuckled at her hushed question. "No, I'm not a criminal."
Then he shrugged and looked forlornly out the window. A frown pulled at the corners of his mouth as he allowed himself to remember. "My wife always wished to live in the Paris countryside. We started out from London when Tilda was just two. We made it here to this small town. She-" He smiled as he was reminded of her memory. "She loved the safeness Villeneuve brought our family.. and so we built our new life. We weren't the best at some points but here, my children had more freedom than they did in the city. We did what we could to keep life happy."
A lump settled in his throat and he felt a weight on his chest. He dreaded remembering this part and to speak it- it could easily tear him. He hadn't given himself time to grieve over her death. He had to take care of their children and be strong for them. "Her- her illness grew worse and suddenly I had to leave my job to take care of her." He had to pause.
"Four years ago, she- she died. Peacefully in her sleep."
Belle never thought hearing another person's story of losing their lover would be as heart-wrenching as her own, but Bard just proved her wrong. She swallowed. "I'm sorry," she said quietly.
He shook his head and glanced briefly at her. "Thank you, and I am also sorry for your loss."
She gave a small hum and a pained smile. A verbal 'thank you' she could not manage.
Then she decided - he told her his story, she'd tell him hers. She set down her cup and wrung her hands in her lap. "Three years ago, I took my father's place in a beast's dungeon serving a life sentence for my father's crime. I loved my father deeply and I wouldn't dare seeing him wither away behind bars. My husband-" She unconsciously massaged the gold band she still wore on her ring finger as she thought of him. "I knew he could survive without me. I had told my father to tell him I would escape. I- I promised."
Bard felt her struggle.
"I spent weeks and weeks imprisoned. His servants attempted at kindness but- I was there for not less than a month when I knew I was with child." She pressed her hand to her mouth, willing the sob in her throat to stay silent. "It hurt me that my husband would never know.
"But then he appeared." She gave a bittersweet smile at the vision of him upon the gates of the castle, torch and pistol in hand, ready to take back his wife. "Like an answer to a prayer. He had brought along the villagers and they stormed the castle. But there was a battle- between him and the beast. I tried- I tried to stop it."
She hiccuped. "I saw him go down just after he killed the beast. I went to his side and held his hand. I told him of our child. He- his eyes lit up with the purest of happiness I'd ever seen him hold. Then, they faded and he was gone." Her breath was shaky and she knew she was trembling. "I'm sorry."
Bard shook his head again. "Do not be." He sat quietly, chewing on the inside of his cheek for a bit. Then he revealed his thoughts, "I look like him, don't I?"
Belle felt queasy.
"That is why I frightened you in town. That is why you hardly look at me," he said. "What I say is true, is it not?"
She couldn't look at him for different reasons entirely now. "It is." Her hands stayed busy as if the second they stopped moving, she'd bolt from the house.
"I am not offended. You needn't be scared." His voice was kind and gentle and not pitying. "Your husband must've been a good man and you must miss him very much."
"He was good, in his own way," she sighed with a small smile. "And I do miss him. Very much. As I'm sure you miss your wife."
"Aye," he hummed. He sat forward and looked into the dying fire. "I want you to know that I am not him. I know I cannot ever be him-"
"You're a kind man, Bard," she interrupted. "That's something that was a hit or miss with him."
"Da, are you going to marry Belle one day?" Tilda asked out of nowhere.
Belle was relieved for the break in the tension but she also grew completely embarrassed by the fact that his daughter had heard their awkward turn of conversation. She looked to Bard who was in the midst of heaving a sigh. "She's a darling, you know. I quite like her," she offered honestly.
He sent her a playful glare. "Don't let her hear you." He stood from his seat and she heard him down the hall. "Off to bed. You're supposed to be asleep. Yes, yes, my darling. I love you as many times as the sun has risen and fallen for the earth, but my love, go to sleep..."
She smiled softly to herself. Perhaps a friendship with this good-natured Bard would be the new chapter in her life...
Bard held the soft squeaking newborn who fists were rubbing at new eyes. He felt his heart swell with love for this little being.
It was bittersweet to hold such innocent and new life. His deceased wife had given him three beautiful children. And her deceased husband had given her a son. Together, the six of them had built a life far from Villeneuve, far from Paris. It had taken five years to love strongly again. To fall into love completely. To believe that each would wake to the other every morning without fear of illness or death.
And this child had been a blessing.
This child was born in the midst of passionate love that Bard thought he could never again feel. Their little one would be loved dearly just as her older brothers and sisters.
Her soft hand ran along his arm as he was sitting in bed beside her. "She to your liking?" his wife teased.
He gave a chuckle. "She is."
Belle rested her head on his shoulder as he held their daughter.