Greetings! For those who know me and follow my other story, Beauty and the Prince, I just wanted to say that I am NOT giving up on the story. I just felt I needed a break and this was the perfect way to be productive at the same time. I know I put up a bad summary, but it's hard to describe a story in few words without... spoiling it. However, I hope you like it and here are just a few notes I find important to mention:
- The original tale belongs to Madame Beaumont. NOT Belle, lol.
- I called the Prince Vincent because... it suits me )
- It's a short story and I'm going to post the three chapters at once.
- A BIG, ENORMOUS, HUGE thank-you to Trudi for beta-reading and, mostimportantly... putting up with me ) She's a saint!
Disclaimer: The following characters belong to Disney. This version is also based on the Walt Disney one.
T H E G I F T
Belle slowly opened her eyes. A ray of light pierced the curtains and lit the room dimly. It was so silent. All she could hear was Vincent's breathing, so gentle and soft. She turned her head over to face him. His reddish-brown locks rested on his shoulders and his hand lay across her thigh. She stroked his face gently and leaned her forehead against his. Vincent slowly opened his eyes and looked sleepily at Belle. Seconds later he closed them again.
Belle pulled herself away quietly and got out of bed. She walked towards the curtains and opened them. The room became very bright and caused Vincent to twitch. He stretched his arms and opened his eyes again. Belle sat next to him and kissed his cheek.
"Happy birthday, my love," she whispered.
He smiled in return and sat up on the bed. "Thank you," he whispered back, spoiling her with a gentle kiss afterwards.
Belle was about to get up when Vincent pulled her towards him. "You know how I hate to be woken up so early in the morning."
"Well you need someone to get your lazy bottom out of bed every morning," Belle replied teasingly.
Vincent laid Belle across the bed and began tickling her. Belle tried to stop him, but she couldn't fight against him or the laughter.
"Come on, you try and say that again!" Vincent teased, tickling Belle more and more each time.
Belle finally gave in. "All right, all right! I promise I'll let you sleep a little longer next time!"
Vincent let Belle go and they both stopped to recover their energy. Then he lay down next to her and held her hand.
Belle entwined her fingers in his hair. "Why do you have to go, Vincent?"
Vincent sighed. "Belle, we've been through this before. It's a short trip. I'll be back by tomorrow morning, I promise."
"But why today? It's your birthday, and we're supposed to spend it together."
"I wish we could, but if I don't meet my uncle today, he'll be furious."
"Then let me go with you."
"And take the risk of something happening to you and the baby? No way, Belle."
"Vincent, I'm only three months pregnant. Nothing will happen!"
"Forget it, Belle. You can't come with me."
Belle frowned and Vincent comforted her with a kiss on the forehead. "But I promise I'll be back as soon as I can."
"I'll try my best, but it depends on the road. Most likely I won't get back till tomorrow morning, so don't wait for me tonight."
"I'll miss you," Belle whispered, sinking her head into his chest.
"I miss you already," answered Vincent, wrapping her in his arms.
"Good morning, Belle!" cried Mrs. Potts as soon as she spotted the brunette down the hallway. "My, you are looking so gloomy. Whatever is the matter, dear?"
"I wish Vincent didn't have to go away on his birthday. I wanted to spend it together," said Belle.
"Of course, my dear. But if it cheers you up, we're planning on a surprise party for him when he gets back tonight!"
"Tonight?" Belle echoed. "But… he's not getting back till tomorrow!"
"Whoops!" exclaimed Mrs. Potts, making it sound like she had just let something slip.
"What? What is it? Tell me, Mrs. Potts!"
"Well… I…" Mrs. Potts quickly looked around and made sure no one was around. She drew closer to Belle. "I overheard this morning that the master was going to return tonight."
Belle's face lit up. "He is? Are you sure?"
"I heard it myself!"
Belle put on a quizzical look. "But… why didn't he tell me?"
"He probably wanted it to be a surprise… and there I've gone and ruined it!" said Mrs. Potts with regret.
"Don't worry, Mrs. Potts. I won't tell him," added Belle with a wink. "So what's this party you're all planning?"
"Oh, yes, of course! I almost forgot! I was on my way to the dining hall to meet all the other servants. We still have to organize a few details. Perhaps you would like to join us?"
"That would be wonderful!" said Belle with a smile.
She followed Mrs. Potts into the dining hall, wondering what everyone else already had in mind.
"Blue, and that's final!" roared Cogsworth.
"You are so stubborn!" Lumière complained. "Isn't it obvious that the master prefers yellow ribbons?"
"Yellow just wouldn't look right!" replied Cogsworth. "Blue stands out better!"
"What's going on?" said Belle, Mrs. Potts following her.
"Belle!" exclaimed Cogsworth. "What a pleasant surprise!"
"Belle has decided to join us for the party preparations," said Mrs. Potts cheerfully.
"Why of course," said Lumière. "Surely madame will agree that the ribbons should be yellow," he added, winking at her.
Cogsworth groaned. "Quite honestly, Lumière. Don't you ever give up?"
The two begun bickering until Belle interrupted them. "I have an idea! Why don't you mix the blue and yellow ribbons together? It will create a wonderful effect!"
Lumière pondered. "Madame is right," he finally agreed, turning to Cogsworth.
"Hmm… yes, well… I suppose so," replied Cogsworth with a small smile.
The other servants let out a sigh of relief and begun talking amongst each other. Cogsworth rapidly silenced all of them. Once they were settled, he started giving out orders.
"Right, now… You all know what to do. The cooks may start baking, the maids may start cleaning and once that is done, you may follow Angelique's instructions and decorate the ballroom."
As Cogsworth talked, the servants followed different directions and started taking care of their chores. After a while, Mrs. Potts, Chip, Lumière, Cogsworth and Belle were the only ones left in the dining hall.
Chip sat on his mother's lap and wrapped his arms around her neck.
"Mama, isn't there something missing?" asked the small boy.
Mrs. Potts gasped. "You're absolutely right, Chip! We're missing a present!"
"But of course!" said Lumière. "We cannot throw a party empty-handed! But whatever can we give a king for his birthday?"
"He's got everything a heart could desire," added Cogsworth.
"Maybe Belle's got an idea," suggested Chip.
"Well…" Belle began, a little blushed. "I did happen to ask him what he wanted for his birthday…"
"And?" cried out all the servants at the same time.
"He says he's the happiest man in the world and has everything one could desire. He also wished for our baby to be born healthy, but that's not something someone could give as a birthday present," said Belle with a small chuckle.
"Dear me, this is going to be much harder than I expected!" complained Cogsworth.
"I honestly don't see why you're worried at all," said Belle. "I'm sure he'll be more than happy with just the party. Maybe we can think up something later, but right now a party will do," she added.
"Everyone loves a party!" said Chip cheerfully.
"You're right, Belle," agreed Cogsworth. "Isn't it wonderful to see how much the master has changed? Why, back when he was a Beast, he'd never appreciate any party what-so-ever. He even preferred for his birthday not to be remembered at all!"
"How silly," said Belle with a laugh. "Everyone likes to be remembered on their birthday. And even when Vincent was a Beast, I'm sure that deep down inside he still loved parties and birthday gifts. He just liked playing hard to get."
Lumière poked Belle with his elbow. "Well, surely you know him better than anyone!" he said with a chuckle. Belle blushed.
"Lumière!" yelled Cogsworth. "Keep your nonsense to yourself. There's a lot to be done. Off to work, off to work!"
Lumière groaned while he dragged his feet outside the dining hall.
"And what can I do to help?" asked Belle.
"Well, madame," began Cogsworth. "I more or less have everything under control. There is nothing to worry about!"
"I can't sit around and do nothing all day!"
Chip jumped off Mrs. Pott's lap and towards Belle, grabbing her dress. "Can you come play with me, Belle? Pleeease?"
"Now, now, Chip!" interrupted Mrs. Potts. "Don't be such a nuisance!"
"Of course I'll play with you," said Belle, giving Mrs. Potts a wink. "As long as Cogsworth is sure he doesn't need my help."
"Really, madame, there is not a thing to worry about. Everything is under control," he said proudly.
"Oh, boy!" Chip cried with a cheer.
He took Belle's hand and led her out of the kitchen. She looked back one last time and smiled at Cogsworth and Mrs. Potts.
"Poor child," said Mrs. Potts, referring to the young queen. "She tries so hard to please everyone."
"Indeed she is most loveable," agreed Cogsworth. "Luckily she's only expecting the master to arrive tomorrow."
Mrs. Potts swallowed hard. "What do you mean?"
"Well I've just heard that a great storm is heading towards us. If the master is reasonable, he'll prefer to stay there over-night and only arrive in the morning."
"Oh, but that would be awful! Belle is… we're expecting him to arrive tonight. What about the party?"
"We must not let that dampen our mood," said Cogsworth determinedly. "Storm or no storm, a party needs to be prepared."