Author's note: Just a silly bit of fluff!

"Now remember, LeFou," Gaston said. "When Belle and I come out that door-"

"I know, I know!" said LeFou eagerly. "I strike up the band!" He waved a stick like a conductor, and the ragtag group of musicians began playing a makeshift "Here Comes the Bride."

"Not yet!" hissed Gaston, slamming a tuba over LeFou's head to shut him up.

Belle was reading when she heard a knock at the door. She sighed in annoyance when she saw it was Gaston, but ever polite, said only, "Gaston! What a pleasant surprise."

"Isn't it though?" he agreed smugly.

Behind him, through the doorway, Belle was startled to see what appeared to be the entire population of the village gathered in her yard. Her eyes widened. There were long tables laden with food, and there were musicians, and...Good Lord, was that a wedding cake?

What on earth...?

Gaston pushed his way into the house. "You know, Belle, there's not a girl in town who wouldn't love to be in your shoes. This is the day your dreams come true!" He began to describe his view of an idyllic future, with a houseful of sons and a wife who would massage his feet. "And do you know who that little wife will be?"

Belle felt a flash of panic. "Let me think..."

"You, Belle!" said Gaston triumphantly, advancing on her.

Belle couldn't believe things had gone this far. Gaston had been pursuing her for months, but she had tried to make it very clear that she wasn't interested. She should have realized that he was too self-centered and stupid to take the hint, she thought ruefully. Vain as he was, he could not even imagine the possibility that a woman might not idolize him.

Now here he was, in her home, confident that within minutes she would be his wife. Belle shuddered at the thought.

She tried to stall for time, her mind racing. "Gaston, I...I don't know what to say."

"Say you'll marry me," he replied confidently.

Belle thought fast. There was no way she would marry such an arrogant, conceited oaf. How could she get out of this? He clearly wasn't going to take "no" for an answer.

There had to be a way to get him off her back once and for all. What kind of strategy would work with a vain, not-too-bright man like Gaston?

Suddenly, with a flash of triumph, she had it.

"Why, of course, Gaston," she said sweetly, batting her eyes. "How could anyone resist you?"

He smiled broadly. "I always knew you were just playing hard to get," he said smugly, putting his arms around her.

"You know me so well," she purred. "I'm just so lucky! To think that you want to marry me - even knowing that it will make you the laughingstock of the town!"

Gaston's smile vanished. "Laughingstock? What do you mean?"

She shrugged. "Oh, you know what people say about me," she said airily. "They all think I'm odd. Just because I spend all day reading! I mean, really. How can I be bothered with dull matters like cooking, or cleaning, or sewing, when I'm in the middle of a great book? But they just don't understand." She shook her head in annoyance. "Why, just today I overheard Francois and Claude talking about us."

"What did they say?" asked Gaston, concerned.

She pretended to think. "Let's see...First Claude said, 'Why on earth does Gaston want an oddball like Belle? He must be crazy. All she does is read! He'll never get a hot meal or his clothes mended with her for a wife.' And then Francois said, 'Well, at least he knows he has no competition. No one else wants her, that's for sure!' And then they laughed." Belle pouted as she had often seen the blonde triplets do. "It quite hurt my feelings!"

She snuggled up next to him. "Ah, but then I remembered that I have you, the sweetest man in town, who loves me so much that he doesn't care if everyone thinks he's a fool for marrying me!"

Gaston was shaken. He suddenly remembered the day he had told LeFou of his plans to marry Belle. The little man had looked stunned, not impressed. "The inventor's daughter?" he'd sputtered. "But she's-"

Gaston had interrupted, ignoring him and praising Belle's beauty. But now he wished he had listened to LeFou. Maybe his lackey had been trying to warn him.

"And to think," Belle went on, "you chose me over..." She thought quickly. Not the blonde triplets - as beautiful as they were, she knew Gaston devalued them because they were identical. He wanted a trophy wife whose beauty belonged to him alone. "Over Monique," she said. "She's so lovely, with that honey-butterscotch hair. No one else in town has such a distinctive shade. Not like my run-of-the-mill brown!" she said with a self-deprecating laugh. "And those pretty curls! I could never get my hair to do that." She sighed enviously. "And Monique is the best cook in the village. Her dinners are legendary."

Belle took Gaston's arm and squeezed it possessively. "I'm so glad you picked me instead of Monique! But then again, it's just as well - there's so much competition for her hand already. Do you know, she's already gotten three marriage proposals? It will take someone really outstanding to win her heart. Whoever she picks will be the envy of the town, that's for certain."

"The envy of the town, you say?" Gaston murmured, the wheels turning in his head.

Belle shook her head and laughed prettily. "Ah, but that has nothing to do with us. We'll be so happy together, darling! You can go out and hunt all day, and I'll stay home and read. Of course, we'll need to put 20 or 30 bookcases in your house once we're married, to hold my collection of books. We'll have to get rid of all those nasty old animal heads to make room. But you won't mind that, will you, dear?"

"What?" sputtered Gaston. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. What had he gotten himself into?

Belle suddenly clapped her hands in delight, as if she'd just thought of a brilliant idea. "Oh, I know! Every night, we can have a reading hour, just the two of us! We can sit and read all of my favorite books together! Oh, won't that be fun, Gaston? I just can't wait to be your wife!"

She struggled to suppress a laugh at the look of pure horror in Gaston's eyes. Gingerly he detached his arm from her and stepped backward. "Uh, Belle...I think you may have gotten the wrong idea about us," he said uncomfortably.

Belle advanced on him, backing him against the wall, and grabbed his arm back possessively. "Why, darling, whatever do you mean?" she asked innocently. She gestured at the open door. "You set up a wedding for us right outside my house! The whole village is waiting to see us get married. Isn't it just wonderful?"

She felt a flash of triumph at his panicked expression - similar to the way the deer must look when he pointed his gun at them, she thought. Hastily, Gaston pulled his arm out of her grasp. "I'm sorry, Belle," he said firmly. "I'm not going to marry you."

Belle gasped in mock horror. "No! You can't be serious! How will I ever recover from the heartbreak?" She raised the back of her hand to her forehead, as if about to faint from the shock.

"Oh, I'm sure you'll find someone else," he said vaguely, his thoughts already turning to the fair Monique. "Au revoir, Belle." He turned and headed out the door, slamming it behind him.

Belle sighed with relief. Normally she would have felt guilty about foisting her problem onto someone else. But she knew that Monique lusted after Gaston, just like every other female in the village who wasn't Belle. She had done the girl a favor.

She opened the door a crack and peered through curiously to see what would happen. Gaston was striding toward the villagers, his head held high.

"How did it go?" asked LeFou eagerly.

"Oh, she was overcome with joy at the thought of marrying me, of course," said Gaston dismissively. "But I changed my mind. She's just too strange. Why would I want a wife who reads all the time?" He shook his head. "No, I need someone much better than Belle."

He walked over to the gaggle of girls who stood watching. They all gasped, and a ripple of excitement swept through the crowd as they realized Gaston was about to choose a new bride.

"Now, who should it be...?" Gaston said, drawing out the suspense. Girls were jumping up and down, waving their hands frantically, calling out, "Me! Me! Pick me!" Some had their hands clasped together as if in prayer. A few had even fainted from the excitement.

Gaston's eye roamed over the girls. Then he saw the one he was looking for. "Monique!" he said triumphantly, announcing the winner. The blonde triplets burst into tears.

Monique shrieked joyfully. "Oh my goodness! I don't believe it! This is the happiest day of my life!"

"Well, of course it is," Gaston said impatiently, grabbing her hand and dragging her over to the preacher. "Come on, padre, let's get this wedding started!"

The preacher cleared his throat. "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today..." Monique beamed happily at her husband-to-be, wondering how she could ever have gotten so lucky.

Belle sighed with relief, closed the door, sat down and opened her book.


Author's note: FYI, the girl I named Monique is the one to whom the man on the wagon calls "How is your family?" during the "Belle" song. She's also seen at the beginning of "The Mob Song."