Greetings and salutations, dear and patient readers. I am so sorry that I have not updated for several weeks. School stared in late January and I have been bogged down with lots of reading and work of various kinds. Then my friends from Japan came and I had to 'baby-sit' them for two weeks. I didn't mind, but it was time consuming with work and school. I had spring break this week and I decided that it was time to finish this story. I want to thank all of my great reviewers, especially TrudiRose and SerengetiDawn. I would love to have this story go on for at least two more chapters, but I think that enough is enough. (gah, I can't believe I said that, I should bite my tongue off! I don't believe that there is any true end to the BatB saga.)
And now, without further adieu, the last chapter of Tear Drops and Rose Petals.
Disclaimer: The idea for this expanded version is mine, but the characters belong to Disney and whoever owns them at the moment. No Enchanted Objects were harmed during the writing of this fic.
Tear Drops and Rose Petals: Chapter 4, So Much for my Happy Ending
Belle heard a familiar voice coming from above her. Above her? What was happening? She sighed as she snuggled deeper into the familiar plush mattress of her bed at the castle. She heard the voice again, and then another that was even more familiar. Her father's voice. At hearing his voice, and the gentle rumbling timbre of the other beloved voice, Belle tried to make her eyes open, but she found that she could not.
Maurice and the Beast hovered over Belle's bedside, lurching forward every time the girl made a noise or moved. Maurice sighed as he pinched the bridge between his eyes. "Two days," he said to no one in particular, "she's been asleep for two days. Something must be wrong."
The Beast looked up from his vigil and stared at the man. He had sent Cogsworth with a carriage for him as soon as things at the castle had settled from anarchy into mere pandemonium and they had been there since. "Try and be patient, sir, after all, she suffered a terrible injury. She needs time to recover." Mrs. Potts said in a motherly tone from the small table where she was pouring yet another cup of tea. She gave the two men a sympathetic look and quietly left the room, closing the door with a soft click.
"She's going to be all right." The Beast said to Maurice, although it was for as much of his benefit as it was for her father's. "The Sorceress said that she would be fine."
Maurice glanced up at the Beast; his eyes were weary but patient. "I hope you're right." Sighing, the older man stretched and walked over to the window and took the tea cup from the table. He quickly checked to see if it just a teacup or one of the Objects before he took a sip. The Beast gave a small snort at the man's gesture; but inside his stomach added another knot to the growing mass of doubts and fears that had been gathering since he had carried an unconscious Belle upstairs after she had been healed.
He didn't doubt that Belle loved him, he was sure about that. Both she and the Sorceress had said so; but, he still feared that she wouldn't accept him as a Beast. Shaking his shaggy mane, he too rose and stretched out on all fours, sharp, deadly black claws extending, and he unconsciously clawed the wooden floor leaving ten distinct marks. He winced as his muscles screamed in protest at the extensive movements.
Maurice looked at the marks and eyed the Beast warily. He had no doubt that Belle loved him, and Mrs. Potts had explained about the spell and who the Beast had been before the enchantment. "Belle truly turned him around, it was nothing short of a miracle. I know that we must shoulder some of the blame for spoiling him, but I think he is more human now than he ever was back then." The servants' faith in both the Beast and Belle was what kept Maurice from taking Belle home; setting down his cup, he went back to the bed where the Beast was sitting in a chair, his massive form almost spilling over the edges. He put a hand on one round, massive shoulders. The Beast looked up and it was in those intense, soul-searing blue eyes that Maurice saw the man that Belle saw within. "You look tired; maybe you should go get some sleep. I'll stay with her." He offered.
The Beast was tired, his wounds had been quickly tended, but his entire body ached, he was hungry, and he knew that even his well was running dry. His eyes were blurry and he kept dozing off. But he didn't want to leave her: what if she awoke and wanted to leave? What if she needed him and he wasn't there? What would she think? As if reading his mind, Maurice smiled and patted his shoulder. "Don't worry, son, if she makes the slightest movement, I promise that I'll send for you. I bet that if she saw you like this, she'd scold you for letting yourself go without sleep. Then she'd be upset and I don't think that you'd want that to happen." The Beast thought for a second and was going to deny it but then his inner voice said, this is Belle we're talking about. He suddenly smiled wearily and nodded.
As Maurice watched the Beast lop out of the room, he couldn't help but smile. Oh yes, this man would be just the one to give Belle the happy ending she had always yearned for. From behind, he heard a soft "ungh" and the rustle of bedclothes. He turned to see Belle stirring. He rushed over and peered over her, "Belle?" he whispered.
"Papa?" she called out weakly, her soft lashes fluttering over clouded brown eyes. Her father's bushy head quickly fell into her line of vision, his round, kind, face etched with a mix of worry and sudden relief. "Belle, my dearest, we were so worried." He took her slight hand in his own and glanced over to the door. Belle blinked a couple times and sat up gingerly. Her head felt full of stuffing and nausea rolled in her stomach. She took several deep breaths to clear her head and realized that she felt much better. She looked around her room. It was light outside; the storm seemed to have passed. She turned to her father who had been watching her cautiously since she had awoken. "Papa, what happed? Where's Gaston? Wha" she stopped mid-sentence, her face went ghost-white. She sat forward, grabbing her father's hands. "Oh, Papa! The Beast! Is he all right? Where is he? I have to find him!" she flung the bedclothes aside and stumbled out of the bed. Maurice caught her as she fell and forced her to sit down on the edge of the bed. Belle struggled against her father, desperate to find the Beast, to make sure that he wasn't harmed. Her stomach churned as she thought of what a vicious, skilled hunter with a grudge like Gaston could do to a living creature and she shivered.
Maurice felt her shiver and guessed at what she was thinking. He began to rub his hand up and down her arms to stop her shivering and keep her in place. "Don't worry Belle. He's fine. He just went up to bed a minute ago. He hasn't left your side for two days. Yes, you were asleep for two days." The old man sighed as he gazed at his beloved child. He sat next to her on the bed, wrapping an arm around her slim shoulders. "Belle," he said in a weary tone, "I have to admit that I have my doubts that this relationship will work. But know that no matter what, I will support you. Both of you." Belle looked at her father, for the first time seeing how old he really was: she saw the worry and laugh lines around his eyes and mouth, his warm eyes a bit faded from the vivid color she remembered as a child. She smiled as tears filled her eyes. She always knew that this was one of the things that had drawn her kind, lovely, society-bred mother to this loving, gentle, sometimes absentminded man. She leaned into his embrace, resting her weary head on his shoulder.
"Thank you Papa." She rose and walked to the window. She wrapped her arms around herself. "This is where I belong."
There was a knock at the door. Belle had a feeling about who it was, but Maurice called out "Who is it?"
"Mrs. Potts, dear." Came the muffled answer. Belle smiled as her father went to open the door. She looked down to the floor expecting to see the familiar tea pot come rattling into her room. Instead, she saw a pair of plain grey shoes. She looked up suddenly as Maurice took a tray from a round, rosy cheeked older lady in a frilly cap and apron. The woman saw her and rushed over, enveloping her in a fierce hug. "Belle, my dear! Oh I'm so glad to see that you're up and about!" Belle blinked and before her befuddled mind could do anything but make her nod, a little boy and dog came bounding into the room.
"Mama! Mama! Is Belle awake yet?" The child skidded to a halt in front of her, his cherubic face spread into a wide smile showing a chipped front tooth. It was then that the pieces fell into place and Belle gasped as she fell to her knees in front of the boy.
"Chip?" she gasped as she placed her trebling hands on the boy's thin shoulders. He nodded his eyes bright with mischief. He threw himself into her arms, his arms tight around her neck. Belle fell back laughing as the dog joined in, yapping and bouncing around them on the floor.
Mrs. Potts and Maurice laughed heartily then Mrs. Potts sobered. "Now Chip, stop that now. Let Belle get up, she's been through quite and ordeal." The boy obeyed, but didn't let go entirely. He still gripped her hand. Belle put her free hand up to her forehead. The room was spinning.
"This is all so-so odd." She said lamely.
"Isn't it though? But here we are!" a buxom woman in a flamboyant dress giggled from the doorway. It didn't take Belle any time to figure out who she was. Behind the woman she had known as Wardrobe, Belle saw other faces peering around to get a look inside the room. All were smiling, some waved cheerfully.
From behind them, there was a bustling and a collective groan as people were pushed aside. A voice in the hall boomed, "Listen now, I'm in charge here, move aside!" Belle grinned as Cogsworth and Lumiere came into the room. The more she saw theses human strangers, the more she recognized her Object friends.
When they were all in the room, they all began talking at once: questions from Wardrobe, jabbering from Chip, scolding from Mrs. Potts, and an argument between Cogsworth and Lumiere. A few minutes into this fiasco, Belle finally yelled over the din, "Stop please!" They all immediately stopped and turned to look at her. Satisfied that she had their attention, she said, "I'm sure that there is a lot has happened since the other night, and I am very eager to know what happened. But right now I have to see him." A collective resounded "ohhh!" throughout the room and they descended upon her from all sides:
"Of course dear."
"I knew she'd say that."
"No you didn't."
"Oh will two stop already?"
"Shouldn't you rest a while longer?"
Belle pushed her way through the press of people and slipped out into the hallway. She was again swarmed by people touching her shoulders or grabbing her hands. They were all talking at once like her friends in her room. Suddenly, she felt a small hand tug at hers. She looked down and Chip was there, pulling her out of the throng of people towards the West Wing. They ducked under arms and passed through legs and were soon in the corridor that led to the Beat's Lair. Belle thanked Chip and gave his hair a playful ruffle. Chip gave her a chipped-tooth grin and winked as he prepared to 'stand watch' while she was inside.
He had fallen asleep as soon as he lay down. He curled up on top of the coverlet, too tired to make the effort to pull it down. Besides, the coverlet still faintly held her scent. Mentally grasping onto the thin wisp of perfume like a life line, the Beast fell into a deep sleep.
Chip left her at the doors to the West Wing, promising to hold off the mob of well-meaning, grateful servants that was sure to follow. She quietly slipped in, just as she had two nights before. She marveled at how it felt like a hundred years ago. In the soft rays of early afternoon, she saw the massive form on the bed. She quietly tiptoed up to him and sat on the edge of the bed, watching him sleep. His face was relaxed in sleep and she thought that he never looked more beautiful. She gently stroked his silky fur and he mumbled in his sleep and snuggled closer. She knew that she would love him forever. As she sat there, she tried to recall what had happened in the great hall. She remembered Gaston and the knife, and her running in front of it. After that it was a bit fuzzy. She put a hand to her abdomen, she felt fine and there was no bandage to suggest a wound. It was all very puzzling, but she hoped that he could explain it to her when he woke up. She climbed into a near by chair and began her own vigil. Mrs. Potts and Chip came in a while later; bringing breakfast and a book for her while she waited. She alternated sitting in her chair and sitting beside him, watching him sleep.
When he began to stir, she pushed herself up further onto the bed closer to his side. She gently stroked his face and as he opened his eyes, she smiled tearfully and said, "Hello bright eyes." The Beast immediately sat up, and he grabbed her by the shoulders. "Belle! Are you all right? I waited for you to wake up but—" she put two fingers to his lips to silence him.
"I'm fine, a bit confused at what's going on downstairs, but otherwise, I'm fine." She gave him a reassuring smile. He visibly sagged in relief at the news. He listened to what had happened downstairs and when she was done, he fidgeted a little, running his massive paw through his mane.
"Belle, there are things that I have to tell you…and when I'm done, things might be different between us." Belle gave him a perplexed expression but he sighed and began his story. Over the next hour, Belle listened to how he had been ignored by his father and spoiled after the death of his mother. "Ten years ago, I was not how I am now. I was human but on the inside I was a beast. It all changed when on one winter's night an old beggar woman came to the castle…" he told her what had happened in the great hall and what he had done to save her life. When he finished, he looked up at her with doleful eyes, waiting. His entire future was riding on her reaction. He couldn't keep some of the sadness out of his voice about being human, but as long as he had her, he would be happy.
At the end of his story, Belle sat there, wide eyed and pale. She put a trembling hand to her mouth, tears welling up in her eyes. Beast gaped at her, confused at her reaction. "Belle what's wrong?" he reached out a hand to her and she leaped up and fled the room. Beast watched her go, his heart falling into his stomach. She had rejected him after all. Gripped in deep despair, he fell back onto the bed curled up and waited for death to take him.
Belle ran down the corridor, her heart breaking as she burst into the library. She fell into the rose decorated arm chair, curling her feet up under her dress. She wept openly for several minutes, and then she wiped her red, blurry eyes with the heels of her palms. They had had such good times in the library. She had taught him how to read here. They had acted out plays and certain parts of her favorite books on the marble floor, using the balcony for Romeo and Juliet. It was also in the library, that the Beast had shown her the man he was inside, and she realized that it had been in those wonderful weeks that she had fallen in love with him. She was still in love with him, and always would be. But…he had sacrificed his humanity, a chance for a normal life, to save hers. She knew that he loved her, but she couldn't help but notice the sadness in his voice and eyes when he had recounted what had transpired in the great hall. Belle sighed, leaning against the wing of the chair. Had she ruined his Happily Ever After? He must hate her now; all of his dreams had been cut short by her recklessness. All she could do now was leave. Leave the castle so that he wouldn't be reminded about what he had lost.
Her heart breaking, she made up her mind and headed back to her room. Her feet felt too heavy to lift off the ground as she made her way upstairs to her suite. She found Wardrobe, whose real name was Trudie, and asked her to pack her bag. Trudie gave her a puzzled look as she took a bag out of the closet. "What's happening dear? Where are you going?"
Belle shook her head, "I don't know. I honestly don't know."
News quickly spread throughout the castle that Belle was leaving for a second time. Cogsworth and Lumiere had to break the news the Master. "We do not know what happened, Master. Iz 'zere something that we could have done?" Lumiere asked. The Beast just shrugged, although he knew the reason. He repulsed her. She couldn't bear the thought of living with him as a Beast. She would have rather had his handsome counterpart.
"Ahem, Master? What are you going to do?" Cogsworth asked as he wrung his chubby hands together.
The Beast looked up at his servants and sighed, "I don't know. I honestly don't know."
Chip swung up from behind Cogsworth and kicked the Beast in the shin. The Beast yelped in pain as Lumiere and Cogsworth pulled the boy back. The Beast rubbed his smarting leg and glowered at the little boy. "Whatca do that for?" his snarl came out more like a whine.
The small child's brow furrowed into a Beast-worthy scowl, "After all the stuff that's happened, why are you letting Belle go away?"
The Beast looked away, "You wouldn't understand." He said quietly.
The boy stomped his foot, "Try me." The adults arched their eyebrows and Lumiere moved to take the child out of the room.
The Beast held up a paw to stop him. He bent down very low to the ground to be at eye level with Chip. "Belle doesn't want to live here with me because I didn't change back into a human."
Chip gave him a skeptical glance. "Did she tell you that?"
"Did she say that. Did she say, 'I don't like you and I want to go home'?"
The Beast rubbed the back of his neck, "Well, no, but-"
Chip interceded, "Then how do you know?"
The Best gaped at the boy. He hadn't found out if that was the reason that Belle was leaving. He was about to make the biggest mistake of his life. He grabbed the boy in a fierce hug and bolted from the room. He rushed down the hallway towards the great hall where he heard voices. Please don't let me lose her again, he prayed.
Belle handed her bag to her father while she fastened the clasp of her cape. Maurice watched her with a worried expression as they made their way down the stairs. Belle had been tearful yet resolved when she had announced that she was leaving. He had tried to find out what had happened since that morning, but she wouldn't say a word about it. Two rows of servants lined the hall, many were weeping or hanging their heads as she passed. Just as they got to the door, the Beast tore into the hall. He vaulted down the stairs and nearly crashed into the line of people below him. Servants shrieked and scattered as he bounded towards Belle. She turned at the noise and gasped as he skidded to a halt mere inches away from her. Breathing hard, the Beast watched Belle. She looked torn between running to the door and coming to his side. "Belle, please, we have to talk." He panted.
Belle faltered but then turned to go. Maurice put a hand on her arm, "Go talk to him. If you still want to leave after that, we will."
Belle nodded resignedly and followed the Beast into the sitting room off the main hall. The fires had not been lit yet, and warm late afternoon light streamed through the huge windows. This was the room where Belle had tended to the Beast's wounds after the wolf attack. This was another room where they had spent a lot of time together. He led her to his chair and he crouched in front of her, her hands in his. She shook slightly and couldn't meet his gaze. "Belle," he whispered gently, "Belle look at me." She slowly raised her beautiful eyes to his. In those eyes she didn't see reproach or hatred; she saw what must have been mirrored in her own eyes: love and a bit of uncertainty. "Why are you leaving?"
Belle hiccupped back a sob as she wrenched herself from his grasp. She paced back and forth in front of the cold fireplace. "I'm surprised you have to ask," she laughed bitterly, "you hate me." The Beast's heart stopped. He swung around and grabbed her by the shoulders. "Hate you?" he gasped incredulously, "why on earth would I hate you? I love you! I adore you! I would do anything for you; I did everything for you!" he was roaring now.
Belle swung around, her eyes filled with tears, "Exactly!" she screamed back, "That's why you hate me! You gave up your human life to save me. I saw the look on your face when you told me what happened. I know that you resent me for it." The Beast then understood what had prompted her flight.
"Oh, Belle, no," he soothed as he put his arms around her. "I don't care what I look like, as long as I have you." Her body relaxed against his, leaning into his warmth. "Really?" she asked. He just held her tighter. She turned to look at him. She glared at him, "If you love me so much, how come you tried to stop me when I was at the door and not sooner?"
He rested his chin on the top of her head. "Some of this is my fault too. I thought that…well…I thought that you didn't want to stay with me because I wasn't human." Belle cupped his cheek in her slight hand, " think we were both being silly." She stood on he tip toes and kissed him. When they parted, they shared a grin. They walked arm in arm out into the main hall where it seemed that no one had moved since they went in. they6 gave the Master a look that said, "Well?" he grinned, "She's staying!" he crowed. The crowed cheered.
Belle laughed as he swung her up into his arms. Maurice came over to the Beast, a satisfied smile on his face that turned into a stern glare. "Now that that's settled, there's something that I have to discuss with you, young man." Both Belle and the Beast gave puzzling looks at her father. "As a father, I can't let my daughter stay here unattended. But if she were married…" he trailed off as the Belle's eyes widened, and the Beast grinned. He turned to Belle, "Belle, my dearest love, will you marry me: a Beast?"
Belle tapped finger on her dainty chin and stood there a moment. "Hmm, I'll have to think about it." The Beast realized she was mocking him. She broke out into a huge smile and jumped into his arms. "Well?" he asked again. The resounding kiss that she gave him was answer enough.
The crowd continued to cheer and Chip, who was in his mother's arms, asked, "Are they gonna live happily ever after Mama?"
The older woman smiled, "Oh course my dear. Of course." She cooed.
Maurice hugged both Belle and the Beast in coagulations. He stopped short all of a sudden. "What ever happened to Gaston?"
The looks that everyone gave each other indicated that no one knew.
Deep in the Dark Forest, Gaston was on his knees panting. Half a dozen rabid wolves surrounded him, their yellow eyes glowing in the murky darkness. Gaston had held them off for several hours, his hunter's instinct barley keeping him alive. The wolves moved into formation, preparing for another attack. Gaston bared his teeth in a snarl and braced himself. The wolves did not attack. They hung back, parting like two massive grey and black doors as a glowing figure in white stepped forward. She looked down at him with disdainful green eyes, her blonde hair gently flowing around her.
"You are more trouble than you are worth," her lilting voice was heavy with disdain. "I have barred my pets from killing you up until now." She raised her hand and an orb appeared, and inside he saw Belle and the Beast smiling and hugging. Gaston roared with unbridled fury and lunged at the Enchantress. The biggest wolf barked as he pounced and threw Gaston flat on his back. Gaston panted heavily as he faced a mouth full of sharp, dripping teeth. The Enchantress smirked. "I just wanted to show you what you wanted to destroy. I hadn't anticipated that you, little man, you have been so much trouble."
If I was that much of a bother, why'd you let me go as far as I did?" he snarled.
She squatted down next to him, moonbeams and sparks falling from the folds of her gown. She gently rubbed the wolf's head. In turn, it made a whining sound. "You were part of the equation, everything happens for a reason. These wolves are mine, these woods are mine. Everything went according to plan. Until you came along and tried to sabotage my happy ending." She suddenly snapped back to her feet. Gaston struggled under the wolf. "What's going to happen to me?" he wailed.
The Enchantress smiled as she raised her hand. All the wolves converged on him, tearing and growling. Gaston screamed as the wolves tore him apart. When they were done, Gaston was no more. In his place, a black wolf with red streaks stood in his place. His blue eyes were still human, and he was panicked. The Enchantress ran a hand through his coarse fur. "You belong to me now, and you will protect these woods forever more. What's more, you will have to guard the castle and watch their love bloom and grow. That is your punishment." The Gaston-wolf whined as he scratched the floor.
"Come my pets, I believe that there is to be a wedding soon. I don't want to miss this." She raised her arms and in a flash of light, was gone, her wolves howling in the distance.
As long as Belle and her Beast, in whatever form he may wear, continue to dance in a ballroom somewhere out there, the tale as old as time shall never end.
I'm done! Yay! What do you think? Let me know! I want to apologize again for the large gap between chapters, but as you can see, this one was big and took a lot out of me. Thanks for reading! HH