A/N: Beauty and the Beast has always been one of my favorite Disney movies, second only to The Lion King and The Little Mermaid. And I really love Broadway. While I have never had the chance to see BatB (the musical) live, I still hold hope that someday I will - I bought the Broadway soundtrack two weeks ago, and I love the music. This fanfic is a oneshot taking place two months after the movie/Broadway. There are certain musical elements in it (such as the title of a book, and the title of this fic), but it can be read just as easily with only knowledge of the movie.
I chose 'Aimon' to be the former Beast's name because it is of French origin and means 'home.' My favorite song from the Broadway is also entitled "Home."
Disclaimer: BatB belongs to Disney.
Two Lives Have Begun Now
The party was grand. All the important nobles of the realm, far and near, were present to celebrate the lifting of the sorceress's enchantment and the renewal of the kingdom. Even in all its splendor, the ball was second to the wedding of King Aimon and Queen Belle, barely a month before. Now servants scurried from group to group, serving refreshments to Grand Dukes and Duchesses. Though the king was easily visible in the crowd, no one had seen the queen in some time.
Aimon looked around and noticed that Belle was missing. This in itself was not strange. He had, after all, instructed her to be social and not feel obligated to remain by his side all night. The nobility would be anxious to meet their new queen, to shake her hand and see the young woman who had saved them all from lives of misery in a land of darkness. But glancing around the large hall, he did not see her brunette head anywhere, or any trace of her bright golden gown.
Politely disengaging himself from the conversation he and a few dignitaries were engaged in, he stepped over to Lumiere, who balanced an appetizer tray overhead with perfect precision, a touch not lost in ten years of being a candlestick.
"Lumiere, have you seen Belle?" he asked.
Lumiere shook his head. "Not lately, your majesty. However, I did see her a while ago, heading toward the East Wing."
Aimon frowned as Lumiere excused himself and hurried to serve a knot of duchesses already deep in the wine. The party was not in the East Wing…but something else was, and Aimon suddenly thought he knew exactly where his wife had gone. Checking to make sure all was well in the room, he wandered off in the right direction.
Several minutes later, the library's tall, intricate oaken doors stood before him. He took a breath and opened one slowly, stepping inside.
"Belle?" he called. His voice was muffled by shelf upon shelf of books pushed against the walls on all sides.
Aimon turned and saw her, settled into a couch under one of the ceiling-to-floor windows, her legs drawn up beneath her with the heavy dress pooling onto the floor. A candle was lit on the table beside her, and though she appeared to have something in her lap, it had disappeared behind a pillow an instant later.
"I'm sorry," she said meekly as he approached.
"For what?" he asked her gently, moving the folds of her dress aside to sit beside her.
"You wanted me to meet everyone, and here I am in the library." She smiled apologetically, cheeks reddening.
"I know you, Belle. I knew this was the first place to look for you. And frankly, I don't blame you. I myself would rather be anywhere but with those pompous old fools."
"It isn't that I wasn't enjoying the party. It's truly lovely, and the castle is gorgeous," she explained. "But – all those people out there don't know me, and I'm not sure they really want to know me."
Aimon nodded. He knew all about Belle's opinions of shallow people who judged by title and outer appearances, and he completely concurred. After all, it was she who had seen beyond his exterior and had broken the spell binding him to his beastly form. He would never judge anyone quickly again.
"I think I know what you're saying. Because you're the queen and look so beautiful – which you do, by the way – everyone acts like they like you. But if you were just a peasant in simple dress, they would drop all pretenses and sneer in your face."
She nodded, pleased he understood. "Exactly. In the town I came from, I didn't dress differently than those around me, but I acted differently, and people thought me strange. I suppose…I suppose I feel like I'm just as out-of-place at this party as I was back home. I wasn't born into royalty, after all."
"You aren't "out-of-place" at all to me, or to anyone else who resides in this castle," he reminded her. "Without you, we would have little to live for now."
But she still seemed upset about something, so Aimon probed deeper.
"Do you miss your old home?"
She did not respond right away, her fingers fumbling with the hem of her gown; but one look at her face was answer enough.
"Yes," she admitted finally. "It surprises me. Before I came here, before I met you, my greatest wish was to find adventure and escape from that provincial town. Now that I'm here and have never been happier, my thoughts often stray back."
"You miss your father." It wasn't a question.
Belle nodded. "Terribly," she whispered.
Aimon took her hand. Maurice had stayed in the castle with Belle and her fiancée until the wedding, a month after the enchantment on the castle lifted. He remained for a week after the ceremony as well, but then he returned home to his and Belle's cottage, now his alone. Aimon knew Belle was very close to her father and that it pained her to be away from him. After all, they had lived in the same house for most of Belle's eighteen years, and now she resided in a castle that, while growing more familiar every day, was still new to her.
However, Aimon had already taken this into consideration and had come up with a solution. Now was the perfect time to present it.
"Belle," he began, "I have thought about this. I know how much your father means to you, and I thought that maybe – maybe he would like to come live with us, in the castle."
Her mouth fell open, and her hand closed around his. "You would be willing to have him live with us?" Her eyes sparkled with tears, and the smile spreading across her face told Aimon he had guessed right as to her desire.
"Well, of course!" he said with feeling, elated that he could do this small thing and it would mean so much to her. "Belle, I want you to be completely happy here. If that means bringing your father, then so be it."
She threw her arms around his neck, struggling to kiss him despite the voluminous skirt. "Thank you! I'm sure Papa would be honored to live here." She paused thoughtfully, and then said, "But I am not sure how he would feel about living inside the castle. It is all rather grand for him, you know."
Aimon did know. When Maurice stayed in the castle to help with the wedding, he had a whole suite of rooms for his own, and was quite overcome by it all, remarking with every opportunity how a simple man like himself could hardly believe such fineries existed.
After a moment of thought, another idea came to mind.
"There is another way." Belle turned to him hopefully. "The castle includes an old miller's cabin, right on the grounds. It would need to be fixed up a bit, of course - no one has lived there in ten years. But I imagine it would be cozy when restored. Not only that, but there is a workshop right next to it. It has been used for different purposes over the years, and I am sure it would make a perfect inventing space. Perhaps your father would prefer to live there."
"That would be perfect!" Belle exclaimed, eyes dancing.
Aimon beamed. "Why, I'll even make him the Official Inventor of the kingdom! We've never had one before, and I know he would be just the one for the job."
"I'll write him to ask, but I know he'll say yes." Belle kissed her husband. "This means so much to me. I love you."
"I love you." His eyes turned to the slight bulge behind the pillow beside Belle, and a smile turned up the corner of his mouth. "Now show me what you were doing when I came in."
"Oh," Belle blushed, and pulled a thick book with a blue cover out of hiding, handing it to Aimon.
It was King Arthur.
He smiled fondly. "You were reading this?"
"It's my favorite."
"Yes. Ever since we read it together."
He hesitated. "Belle, speaking of that...you began teaching me to read, but in all the confusion lately, we haven't continued our lessons. I was wondering if we could begin again."
Her face lit up. "Of course! I love reading with you."
"Good! Is tomorrow too soon?" he asked.
"Will you have time?"
The question wasn't odd. As the new king of a kingdom that had fallen into disrepair for the last decade, Aimon was very busy with affairs of state; so busy that he often had to send one of the servants to entertain his wife. Mrs. Potts was Belle's close friend and confidante, and she loved to play with Chip and talk with Lumiere or Cogsworth, but he knew she missed him on these occasions.
"I'll make time. Belle, things will settle. You and I will have more time together before long." He promised.
She nodded, accepting the present and hoping for the future. "We should return to the party. Our guests will be wondering where their hosts are."
He held up the book. "Read me the first chapter, and then we'll go back."
She smiled, taking the volume from him and opening it to the first page.
"Once upon a time…"
A/N: I hope you enjoyed it. This was my first venture into Disney fanfics! Review?