Disclaimer: Not mine. Truly.
Author's Note: This is all me being very literal. It's based on the fact that Adam (Beast's official name) was only a little eleven-year-old when he was cursed. It has a little crossover surprise inside!
ONCE UPON A TIME, in a far-away province of France, there was a magnificent castle. It was a grand, stately piece of architecture; pointed towers gracefully stretched toward the sky, connected by solid stone walls and bridges. Beautifully arranged gardens and courtyards were scattered across the grounds. The entire bastion was lit by dim moonlight, but the slight hint of gold on the eastern horizon told of a slowly approaching dawn. Sunrise was still long way off, but a hint was enough for some.
Lumiere had been having the most pleasant dream. Now he couldn't remember anything about it. He drifted in semi-consciousness, feeling a faint disappointment at having been dragged out of his sleep. After another moment of sleepy contentment, his mind turned to the cause of his awakened state. Eventually, he realized that someone was pounding on his door. Lumiere scowled and pried one eye open. He couldn't even see the clock that sat a few feet away from his bed. That boded ill for the chances of a good night's sleep. Someone was still banging on the door. It had to be Cogsworth, surely. Only he would wake people up in the middle of the night. Lumiere pulled the covers over his head. "Que voulez-vous?" he asked groggily, voice muffled by blankets. He lowered the covers to glare at the door. "What do you want?" he asked again, but with more volume.
The noise paused, only to continue a moment later, complete with shouting. However, it was not the voice he had expected. "Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!" yelled a child's voice. Lumiere opened both eyes and raised his head a couple of inches in surprise. "You have to get up! It's my birthday!" Lumiere didn't even have time to reply before he heard the sound of a small someone running further down the hall, doubtless to wake the occupant of the next room.
Before six o'clock had come, practically the entire staff had been forcibly assembled in the main lounge. They waited wearily, attempting to help their neighbors stay awake. Finally, Prince Adam came in, dragging a fussy Cogsworth by the arm. Letting go, Adam stood before them all imperiously. "It's my birthday," he announced. Most of the servants smiled drowsily and nodded, while others said, "Of course!" Adam tried not to look relieved. "You all forgot," he told them.
"I most certainly did not!" Cogsworth protested, looking highly affronted. "We spent all night…" He was interrupted, however, by a sharp elbow from Lumiere, which, due to the height difference, caught him on the shoulder. "Ouch!"
"Of course we did not forget your birthday, Master," Lumiere said smoothly. He snatched up Cogsworth's pocket watch and dodged an attempt to retrieve it. "It is simply hard to recall these things at five fifty-eight in the morning."
Adam had looked dubious throughout this speech, but at the last part he perked up. "It's five fifty-eight?" He rushed over to Cogsworth and grabbed the pocket watch. Cogsworth gave up and unhooked the watch. "Three minutes!" Adam shouted, bouncing on his toes.
And for three minutes, the room was completely silent except for the nearly inaudible ticking of the watch the young prince held. He stared intently at the watch face, mouthing the numbers as they went by. Finally, he thrust the pocket watch into the air with a cry of elated triumph. "I'm eleven!" he crowed. Despite the early hour, a cheer rose from the staff and they moved forward to offer their congratulations.
"Imagine you being eleven already!"
"Quite the young man now, aren't you?" Mrs. Potts said warmly. The prince beamed and stood up straighter. Mrs. Potts fought the urge to ruffle his reddish hair, as she would with one of her children.
He poked Cogsworth. "Can we have my party now?"
Cogsworth spluttered a little. "Not… Well, I… It is… Well, it's only quarter after six, Master, and I don't… I hardly think that we can have the party now, as it were." He stopped. The prince's face was darkening.
"I want it now," he said impetuously. The servants glanced apprehensively at one another.
"It wouldn't be any fun to have the party now," Mrs. Potts said sagely.
He rounded on her. His voice grew louder. "Why not? Why can't I have it now?"
"Well, you could have it now, I suppose," she said patiently.
Lumiere cut in. "But it would not be much of a party, eh? We haven't set anything up!"
This was Cogsworth's forte. "Indeed! We have not even hung a single decoration!" His tone turned genuinely fretful as he counted off the tasks on his stubby fingers. "We must rearrange the furniture. The room has to be decorated. The meal must be cooked – but how many courses? And the cake! Fortunately we have…"
Lumiere forcefully draped an arm across the shorter man's shoulders, interrupting him. "See, Master, how worked up you have gotten poor Cogsworth! Wait, and let us put together our grand celebration! It will be your best birthday party yet."
Prince Adam did not look like he cared too much about how worked up Cogsworth was. He fixed Lumiere with a calculating gaze, blue eyes forceful. "Promise?" he said at last.
"Promise," Lumiere agreed solemnly. They shook on it, Lumiere's long, thin hand gripping Adam's smaller one. "Leave us to our work for a while. As long as you stay out of the kitchen…"
"Ahem – and the ballroom, and the dining room, and the halls in between," Cogsworth interjected.
Lumiere gave him a sidelong look and continued. "As I was saying, you may do as you please if you stay out of our way, and we will be ready to celebrate in no time."
Adam's eyes sparkled mischievously. "I can do anything I want?"
Lumiere bit his lip. Cogsworth leaned toward him. "Nice going," he muttered.
Lumiere regained his composure and clapped his hands together. "But of course," he assured Adam, who grinned. Cogsworth made a weak noise of objection, but Lumiere ignored him. "What would you prefer, Master?"
"I want to go riding!" It was a benign activity, fortunately.
"Come, then. We'll go down to the stables and let Charles get a horse ready." Lumiere led the prince out of the room.
"Bundle up!" Mrs. Potts's cry reached them just before Cogsworth's flood of orders began. It was sound advice, and they grabbed coats before braving the frozen winter morning.
The snow had long since come and gone, but frost still crunched beneath their feet. Prince Adam was trying his very best to walk in a stately, dignified way, but his excitement kept getting the better of him. There was a bounce in every step. He began to tell Lumiere exactly how he wanted today's party to be, and who he thought would come to the official party on the following day, and what gifts he expected, and how much he really, truly wanted his own sword, despite the fact that Mrs. Potts had firmly told him that he shouldn't have one yet. He scowled angrily as he said the last; he wasn't supposed to be denied anything. Soon, however, he returned to the previous topics. The more thrilling the subject matter, the higher Adam bounced as he walked. Occasionally, he would stop, grasp Lumiere's arm, and stress the importance of one thing or another as much as any recent eleven-year-old can. Lumiere agreed and exclaimed at the right places, grinning down at the boy the whole way.
Eventually, they reached the stables, where Charles was already up and at work. Charles was a sizeable man, broad-shouldered and muscular. He was diligent, good-natured, and talented with animals. He bent down a little to greet Adam. "Good morning, Master. And happy birthday!" he rumbled. "What are you doing out here so early?"
"I want to ride Havoc," the prince asserted. The stallion in question perked up upon hearing his name.
"I'll have him saddled him up," said Charles. "Jacques! David!" Soon, Charles was leading Havoc up to Adam. "Do you want to get on first, or should I?"
The prince looked up at him challengingly. "I want to ride him by myself."
Charles looked cautiously at Lumiere, who couldn't entirely repress a smirk. "Well, he is a talented horseman," Charles acknowledged. Adam stuck his chest out a little. The stable master's gaze turned down to the prince, and he nodded judiciously. "Besides, he's eleven now. Yes, Master, I do believe you can ride him alone."
Adam let out a whoop and scrambled up on top of the stallion, who danced to the side a little at this sudden assault. Charles knew not to try and detain his impatient master long enough for a safety review. In any case, he didn't have time. As soon as Adam was fully situated, he and Havoc were darting across the field, leaving behind hoof prints and the fading sound of euphoric laughter.
Mrs. Potts had very little to do in the kitchens. At first, she kept busy doing Lumiere's job in addition to helping with the cake. However, everyone had soon gotten into the swing of things. Now Mrs. Potts observed from the back of the kitchen, glancing occasionally out the window at the stables. They truly were a pair, the maitre d' and the prince – probably because Lumiere was more of a child than most realized. Then again, Mrs. Potts realized, sighing, about everyone seemed like a child to her at that point. You could only have so many before you started seeing them everywhere.
No one was entirely sure about the Potts brood. There were certainly enough of them, ranging from Eliza, who was nearly twenty, to the newest boy, Chip. Mrs. Potts, it was said, had lost her husband some time ago and moved from England to France to start over. She had simply arrived in the nearby town with a baby soon to come and a cart full of children. The castle staff had taken pity on her; Adam had merely seen a lot of playmates. At any rate, she had been arranged a place at the castle and stayed there ever since. Her motherly kindness and superhuman patience made her a friend to the whole staff – and the prince – in short order. Seven months ago, Chip had been the first Potts child born on the castle grounds. He was only known as the youngest. No one counted the Potts children; if they did, no two came up with the same number.
Several of them were, in fact, in the kitchen at that point. They were all well acquainted with the art of dodging people. They talked and squealed and laughed and chased one another, and never bumped into a servant the whole time. However, it seemed Cogsworth was having trouble dodging them, especially when the six-year-old twins broke out into fighting.
"Daniel! Nicholas! Stop that this instant!" Mrs. Potts said sternly. They let go of each other, though reluctantly, and Cogsworth edged between them.
"Do you think you could train the servants to do that, too?" he asked darkly. Mrs. Potts chuckled. The poor man was already harassed, and it was only the household celebration. She couldn't wait to see him before the official party.
"It's all going well, isn't it?"
He harrumphed. "Oh, yes, it's all going along just swimmingly. However, there are some who think that just because this party isn't open to the public, they don't have to work at it!" His stick-straight moustaches were quivering with indignation.
"You just have to use discipline," she said cheerily, then looked down. "James, let go of your sister. She can play there if she wants to." James sheepishly put Hannah down; the latter snatched up her doll and stormed off. James, being just about Adam's age, was the prince's favorite of the children. It was that pair that could most often be seen pretending to fight with swords (though admittedly Adam did not play well with others; too often the pretend sword fights had to be stopped before they progressed to real fist fights). That line of thought brought her to another, more serious subject. "Has the Master's uncle said anything else?" she asked Cogsworth.
He looked uneasy. "Well, I did receive some correspondence. Lord Bernard has told us that he… requires… a few years more."
"What? Why?" Mrs. Potts sounded rather agitated.
"He would only say that he wanted to let his son come of age first." Cogsworth lined up the words and said them all at once.
"Curse the man!" Mrs. Potts bit out, earning a few stares. She never let her temper get the best of her. "Pierre is nineteen! This isn't the way for a boy to grow up, Cogsworth!"
"I know," the man said solemnly.
"Being the master of a castle since he was six, being raised by his own servants, who aren't allowed to refuse him anything – he can't be brought up this way!"
"I know," Cogsworth assured her. "But if Lord Bernard won't take the Master in, then we'll simply have to do our best."
"I suppose you're right. Goodness knows I have enough experience." She shook her head. "The Master needs more than attention, though. He's a boy – just a boy."
In a forest in northern Spain, the enchantress appeared in a glittering swirl of flower petals and sat delicately on a stump. It had been a tiring morning. She had attended a royal wedding on implied invitation. It had been a grand affair, including half the kingdom as guests. The new couple had appeared speechless with joy at their wedding gift. She had (as always, it seemed) transformed one nobleman into a squirrel, but he was probably better off. The fairy closed her eyes, organizing the rest of her day. She still had a royal naming to go to; that could take all afternoon. She tapped her lips thoughtfully. Today was as good a day as any to deal with that prince she had heard of. All the other fairies talked of him, saying that one of their number should go straighten him out. However, no one seemed to be willing to actually do the deed. The enchantress stood. She would just have to take the initiative. She disappeared in the way she had come, leaving behind the strong smell of lilacs.
Eventually, Mrs. Potts sent James out to fetch everyone at the stables. They came tramping back inside in a general air of merriment. Adam was the happiest of all of them; his grin seemed bigger than his face, and his normally intense blue eyes positively glowed with exhilaration. Cogsworth stood in the hall, waiting for them. "Ahem," he said, a bit portentously. "Let the festivities… commence!" Adam and James let out a whoop and darted past Cogsworth. Charles prodded Jacques and David in the right direction, and they followed the prince. Lumiere strode over to his friend.
"How was it?" he asked innocuously.
"Oh, the usual," Cogsworth huffed, "people lazing around, just like you. Somehow, we still managed to get everything done."
"And this is only the house party!" Lumiere said in mock surprise. "Imagine tomorrow!" He laughed at Cogsworth's groan and made his way to the ballroom.
It was a success. Everyone talked, ate unhealthy food, and generally had a good time. Adam got compliments and small trifles from most everyone. He would be enthralled with a gift for all of five to ten minutes, and then lay it on a table to be ignored. No one really minded, though. His real birthday gift, after all, was yet to come.
After a while, the party died down. Adam dragged James off to play knight and dragon. Mary Potts was immediately procured as the damsel in distress. After much heated debate on which one was to play the dragon, they agreed that they would both be knights and James' brother John would be the dragon. John, however, just scowled at them in a very un-dragon-like way, and they got David instead.
The adults cleared away the empty dishes and left the rest for people to pick at. Lumiere and Babette were absent; no one said anything but Cogsworth, and he only mumbled a bit. It was time for a few hours off, anyway.
When knight and dragon had gotten boring, Adam had tried out his gifts one more time. They weren't very exciting, for the most part. Then he had made Mrs. Potts read him a book (though she had only gotten about six chapters into it before he moved on). He had eaten an amazing amount of cake. It was a very enjoyable birthday. He didn't want it to end, but it was getting dark outside already.
He was playing hide and seek at the moment. He had found either Daniel or Nicholas; now he was looking for the other. He was sure he had heard someone giggling in this hall…
"Hey! Prince Adam!" It was Morgan, and Andrew was with her by default. The former waved. "They want you in the ballroom."
Adam glowered. He was in the middle of a game! "Why?"
Morgan winked, and even the reserved Andrew smiled a little. "They said it was a surprise."
Adam was racing downstairs before she had finished the last word. He had known that those wimpy presents weren't all he was getting! He slid down the handrail on the second set of stairs and abruptly ran into the bulk of Charles. "Whoa, there!" the man said, helping the prince up from the floor. "I didn't see you coming. All right? Good. We've a surprise for you." Adam nodded eagerly.
"Wait!" Cogsworth jogged up to them. "There you are! This way, please." Adam allowed himself to be steered into the main hall. "We don't have your… er… surprise quite ready yet. Until we do, it would be best for you to wait here. It won't be long." With that, Cogsworth returned to the ballroom.
The hall was boring. The prince twiddled his fingers, scuffed his shoes on the floor, and hummed a song he had heard Mary singing. There was nothing to do. Willing as he was to do what someone wanted to get a gift, he was impatient.
He jumped three feet in the air when there was a knock on the door. He looked around. Someone was supposed to answer that, he was certain. He winced when the knock came again, but no servants appeared. Adam scowled and stomped his foot a little for effect. He was a prince. He wasn't supposed to go around getting doors. However, as the person knocked a third time and no one else came, he reluctantly went to the door and opened it.
"Who's there?" he asked imperiously. He opened the door a little wider – and promptly wished he hadn't.
An old, stooped crone stood at the doorstep, grinning at him ominously. Adam wanted to shrink back behind the door, but instead he tried to look like royalty. "What do you want?"
The crone coughed. "The weather is cold," she said hoarsely. "I want but shelter for the night." She stuck a hand inside her cloak and rustled around for a while. Then she pulled out a rose, surprisingly fresh and beautiful for such cold conditions and unorthodox storage. "In return for your hospitality, I can give only this rose."
Adam wrinkled his nose at the flower. Why on earth would he want a rose? Besides, why would he let some strange old woman in his house, into his birthday party? Suddenly, he was just a little scared. Mrs. Potts had warned him against talking to strangers (excepting nobility). Was this lady going to do something horrible to him? "No," he said shakily. "You can't stay here. You weren't invited." Without further ado, he made to shut the door. However, a withered hand shot out from nowhere and stopped his progress.
"Do not judge me by my appearance, for beauty comes from within," she said vaguely.
Adam stared. She was really creeping him out. He wanted to go back inside with his servants, where he didn't feel so vulnerable, and open his present. He wanted this weird woman to leave him alone. "I already told you, you aren't invited. Go away!"
Instantly, the whole front of the castle was illuminated by a pure white light – and it was emanating from the old lady. Adam cried out and covered his eyes. When he looked up, blinking, the crone was gone. In her place was… someone. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She was dressed in an elegant ball gown, and she floated slightly. Adam stared up in awe. She had to be an enchantress; he had read about them.
"I'm sorry," he breathed. "You can come to my party if you want."
She looked down at him sadly. "Prince, by refusing a poor old woman shelter, you have proven that you have no love in your heart. I must punish you."
Adam's awe was faltering. "What for?"
"Henceforth, you will be a beast." She took out the rose. "This rose will bloom until your twenty-first birthday. If you can learn to love another, and earn her love in return, before the rose dies, the curse will be broken. But be warned; if you fail to find love before the last petal falls, you will be doomed to remain a beast forever." The enchantress handed him the rose.
The prince didn't quite comprehend. "Love? Like girls?" He was doomed.
The enchantress didn't speak, but pointed her wand down at him. Panicking, Adam scrambled backwards, making for the hall. Before he had gone more than a few steps, however, his muscles froze. He struggled for movement as he was lifted a few feet up into the air, but nothing responded. Soon, panting gasps turned into whimpers of pain. His skin stung; his bones ached and throbbed. His whole body began to shift and rearrange itself. He yelped at every crack of tissue snapping into a place it didn't belong.
Finally, the enchantress dropped him to the ground. Adam curled up into a ball and squeezed his eyes shut, trying to recover. He vaguely heard the fairy say, "You and everyone who lives here are cursed. I leave you the rose, as a reminder of your limited time. I also leave you this enchanted mirror, as a reminder of a world you are no longer a part of." There was a bell-like sound and the faint smell of lilacs, and she was gone.
Adam, still breathing harshly, relaxed and opened his eyes. He peered through a lot of hair at the paws in front of his face. Until he flexed his fingers, he didn't even realize that they were his. Those furry, clawed, deformed abominations were attached to a furry, deformed prince. He tried to scream, and the roar that came out of his mouth scared him even more. Stumbling up, he rushed into the castle on all four legs, heading for the one place he was sure he would be alone.
Cogsworth awoke, which was very confusing, since he didn't remember falling asleep. The first thing he noticed was a very loud, irritating, and incessant ticking noise. He shook his head, but his neck felt incredibly stiff. He looked up. He was lying by a very large table leg, which supported a very, very large table. It looked, he noted rather distantly, like the table that the party food had been served on. Only he knew that he was taller than that particular table. He looked around the room. It was the ballroom, but it, too, was distorted and enlarged. There were also various household appliances strewn across the floor. How terribly messy, he thought, but his heart wasn't really in it.
A few feet (at least, what used to be feet) away, a candelabra groaned. Cogsworth stared at it. His rational brain, terrified at the whole situation, had fled some time ago. The candelabra sat up. There was a face carved into the wax. It seemed a bit disoriented and more than a bit bemused. That face looked frighteningly familiar. The candelabra with the face stared at Cogsworth. He stared back. They stayed that way for a long while.
Finally, the candelabra tilted its middle candle, the one with the face, curiously. "Cogsworth?" it said with a familiarly accented voice.
Cogsworth didn't stop to wonder; he just responded. "Yes?"
The candelabra blinked. "Oh. I thought as much."
Recognition was beginning to worm its way into Cogsworth's overtaxed mind. "Lumiere?"
"Oh." There didn't seem to be much need for conversation after that.
Their confusion was interrupted by a clinking sound, which clashed horribly with the ticking that rung in Cogsworth's ears. The two looked over. A teapot was hopping around erratically, followed by a lot of frightened-looking teacups. The procession reached them and stopped. The teapot was panting slightly. "You two haven't seen Harry, have you?" it demanded in Mrs. Potts' voice. They shook their heads mutely. Mrs. Potts jumped on, calling out her son's name as she went. The teacups, presumably her children, followed.
Slowly, Cogsworth got to his feet – or whatever they were. Lumiere did the same. "I suppose," Cogsworth began, gesturing around the room, "we should help everyone else out."
Lumiere sighed. "I suppose." Suddenly, he turned to Cogsworth. "What am I?"
There was no question as to what he meant. "A candelabra. What am I?"
"A clock." Oh. That would explain that blasted ticking.
Adam glared at the rose yet again. He hated that rose, but he had to keep it. It floated gently under a dome of glass. He had always hated flowers, anyway.
The mirror sat on the table, too, next to the rose. He hadn't dared to look at it; he knew he was a monster now. However, he was too curious. He couldn't spend the next… however long… not knowing what he looked like. He had to know. He would just take a quick peek and put it back down. Gulping, he clutched the handle of the mirror. He would just jerk it up and back down. It would be over with before he had fully registered what he had seen. Taking a deep breath, he lifted the mirror… and froze.
His face was covered in brown fur. It was mostly just brown, with streaks of darker brown and some tan. His nose and mouth had extended into a snout. Fangs protruded from his mouth. His ears looked like dogs', and he had small curving horns on the side of his head. Yelping, he slammed the mirror back down on the table. Though it landed with a solid thud, it didn't break. Adam wished it had.
His gruesome face twisted even more than it already was, but he refused to cry. Big boys didn't cry. Maybe big monsters didn't, either. But it was too much. He wailed miserably. It wasn't fair! What had he done? That stupid fairy had no right to mess up his life! It just wasn't fair! He couldn't be a… a beast!
Adam curled up in a corner and sobbed. "This is the worst birthday ever!" he howled.
The enchantress shook her head at the display inside the castle. These people didn't understand curses in the least. Certainly there was a chance that they would remain beast and domestic devices for the rest of their lives, but that never happened. Some beautiful, open-minded young lass always came along. And in the meantime, being a coat rack couldn't be that bad. Yes, this would all turn out for the best. They just didn't know it yet.
Smiling to herself, Lucinda departed to do more good deeds.
So? So? Review! It's my first Beauty and the Beast fic, so tell me how to write a better one next time!