Summary: A year after their marriage, Prince Vincent and Belle are expecting. But when the happiest moment in their lives takes a beastly turn, will Belle and the Prince be able to overcome the curse once more?
Disclaimer: I do not own Beauty and the Beast, Disney does. All original characters, however, are mine.
The Legacy of the Beast
by Fancy Friday
"Belle…? Belle! Heavens above, my dear, will you ever get your nose out of that book?!"
"Hmmm?" Belle's brown, doe-like eyes lifted from the page to peek above the book she was currently devouring.
Belle blinked slowly. A small smile twitching behind the book's cover as her gaze met a flustered wardrobe mistress, measuring tape spiralling to the floor in one hand, fabric samples fanned out in the other. White clouds of dust puffed from the imposing woman's extravagant powdered wig, her rouge lips pursed with exasperation towards the dreamy princess.
Belle smiled and stretched. Tucking a ribbon as a marker between the pages, she gently closed the book.
"Oh I am sorry Madame," she sighed airily as she lifted herself out of the high-backed chair she had been curled into, "I think my imagination just ran away from me!"
"Hmph!" Madame de la Grande Bouche harrumphed and lifted her eyes to the ceiling, "How am I ever going to take your measurements with your head in the clouds like that? A new season is almost upon us!"
Belle floated past the former-wardrobe, resting her hands on the castle window sill and gazing out to the scene beyond. The kingdom beckoned. A kingdom that far surpassed her old provincial life of village taverns and petty gossip. Instead, all she had read about: Prince Charmings, magic spells and dreams coming true, had blossomed into reality like the roses had done once the curse was broken. The castle, once swathed in shadows, now glistened upon the hilltop for all the countryside to see, its golden spires reaching towards the sky and gardens bursting with flowers. A castle that had once been her prison, but now, for almost a year…had been her home.
"Well, if that is the way you would like to do it, I suppose I will have to take your measurements from there!" Madame declared, whipping the measuring tape around the young princess' shoulders.
"Oh!" Belle laughed with surprise as she twirled around.
A stubby pencil dancing in the corner of Madame's mouth, the wardrobe mistress made quick work of jotting down a series of numbers that had Belle's mind in a spin.
"Mmhmm…ah! My goodness girl, Mrs. Potts must be feeding you well! You are no longer the skinny waif we first saw when you came to the castle!" Madame chortled jovially and pinched Belle's sides.
The princess' eyes widened with surprise as she held her stomach protectively. Well, truth be told, her dresses had been feeling a little tighter than usual lately…
"What was that Madame, dear?"
The squeak of a tea-trolley's wheels heralded a small, rosy-cheeked woman, her lavender mob cap bouncing up and down as she shuffled into Belle's royal dressing room.
"I thought you all would like a spot of tea," Mrs. Potts smiled warmly as she busied herself with pouring.
Belle took her teacup graciously, placing a peck on the former-teapot's cheek.
"Thank you Mrs. Potts."
"Well, I was just remarking on how well Belle has been looking lately, she is looking far more womanly if I say so myself!" Madame continued, practically barrelling Belle over with her inspection. Belle's eyes widened with mild alarm as the wardrobe mistress thrust her ample bosom into her vision.
Mrs. Potts managed a knowing smile.
"Well Madame, I think we all know that marriage has that kind of effect on young ladies," her eyes twinkled as she spoke.
Belle could not help but subconsciously rub the wedding band on her finger. She and Mrs. Potts shared a smile before the homely woman tutted:
"Come, come my child! Finish that tea before it gets cold!"
Elsewhere in the castle, marriage was on the lips of some other members of staff. But instead of being thought of fondly, that one, simple word, 'marriage', conjured up a flurry of something like…panic.
"One year. One year! Oh me, oh my, whatever are we going to do?!"
"Cogsworth, mon ami, you need to learn how to re-lax."
"Relax!? Relax! The anniversary is three days away! How can you possibly relax?!"
Lumiere, former-candlestick, simply rolled his eyes at his stout friend's antics. Ah Cogsworth, he thought to himself, you never change! The suave valet straightened his white cravat and quirked an eyebrow as the rotund chief of staff barrelled around the lower floor of the castle barking orders in his too-tight red frock coat. A very amusing scenario indeed.
"Zut alors…" the lanky gentleman exhaled, striding after Cogsworth on the rampage.
"There is so much to be done! Oh me, oh my! You! Over there! Clean those windows before the Prince returns! And you! I don't know you but…make yourself useful! Polish the silver! Babette?! Where is Babette! The whole place is covered in dust!"
Cogsworth, red-faced and his auburn moustache twitching, was drawn to an immediate halt as his gangly companion placed a single finger on his forehead.
"Cogsworth," Lumiere spoke softly, holding up three fingers, "Three days. Trois jours. You have plenty of time."
But the former clock was fit to burst.
"No we don't! No, no, no! Three days, we have no time! It took me three months to plan that wedding to perfection!"
"And what a success that was…" Lumiere drawled out of the corner of his mouth.
Cogsworth stopped, his moustache twitched.
"Yes, yes it was. Thank you," he commended himself at his role in organising the most spectacular wedding the castle had ever seen.
Lumiere rolled his eyes. Getting Cogsworth off the subject of the wedding for the past year had been a task in itself. Every member of staff was almost bored to tears whenever the rather bossy fellow, who in some people's opinion should have remained a clock, decided to open up another conversation with: "And remember when I organised the wedding…"
"Where is Mrs. Potts? We need to plan a feast! And not just any feast! A banquet!"
With a fervour that would put the Emperor Napoleon himself to shame, Cogsworth whipped up a frenzy in the castle staff. Buckets of sloshing water were whisked out as maids set to scrubbing the floors. Menservants dusted the curtains and clambered on rickety ladders to get to chandeliers. Someone had procured masses of flowers. Chip whizzed down the staircase banisters in his version of 'polishing' and Cogsworth was soon inundated with every possible menu imaginable.
The once tranquil castle was now bustling with action, the hushed tones overcome by the raucous noise of cleaning, Cogsworth's commands being the loudest.
"Scrub faster! You missed a spot! Oh me, oh my! No, you're not stacking those glasses properly!"
Lumiere wiped his brow as weariness overtook him at the sight of the castle staff in such a flurry. Drawing back one of the velvet drapes for a glimpse at the quieter gardens, he almost choked at what he saw.
"I say, Monsieur Cogsworth!"
"Not now Lumiere!"
The clattering, chattering, clinking and crashing of so many hands at work drowned out the valet's voice.
"I am afraid I can't hear you!"
"Mon ami, listen to me-"
But the din didn't last for long as the great double doors to the castle flung open and an imposing shadow swept over the frozen staff's faces.
"What is going on in here?" a voice boomed.
Lumiere lifted his razor-sharp nose superiorly.
"The Prince, Cogsworth."
Cogsworth was all but reduced to a jittering heap. No one made a move.
Four carefully placed footsteps echoed in the cavernous castle, light streaming behind the figure. Prince Vincent, although no longer a beast, still cut a very imposing form. A navy frock coat with golden buttons was tailored to his well-built physique, his mass of auburn waves tamed by a navy ribbon, the Prince, in mud-splattered riding boots, folded his arms and raised an eyebrow above his piercing blue eyes, demanding an explanation.
"Well?" Vincent asked quietly, his voice still resounding in the dead silence that surrounded him.
From behind the Prince, a meek Maurice, Belle's beloved father and resident in the castle since the royal marriage, peeked out at the stunned scene before him. Cogsworth cleared his throat.
"Ah….well…um….you see….Your Highness…uh…Your Eminence…eep…Your Grace…"
"Get to the point Cogsworth," Prince Vincent tilted his head to the side, a slight growl rising in his voice.
The flustered chief of staff fanned himself.
"Spring cleaning?" he shrugged innocently.
A blank look settled over the Prince's features, a look that could range anywhere from a curt dismissal to an all-out roar. The entire castle braced itself.
A pattering of footsteps down the sweeping staircase caused Prince Vincent to lose his focus and instead meet the smile of his wife.
"Vincent!" Belle waved happily, weaving her way through the frozen staff. Her expression crinkled as she noticed everyone behaving so…oddly.
"What is going on down here?" she asked, laying a hand on her husband's arm. Her expression brightened as soon as she spied her father, "Oh Papa!"
Maurice chortled as his daughter placed a kiss on his balding head.
"How was the village?" Belle was suddenly full of questions, her eyes sparkling as she saw what her father had in his hands, "More books? Oh you shouldn't have! Tell Monsieur Livresque that I thank him for his generosity…!"
Mrs. Potts and Madame de la Grande Bouche, who had made their way onto the landing to watch the scene, exchanged bemused looks.
"That child has a whole library of books in this castle and still she asks to go to the village? Oh my!"
The books safely in her arms, Belle turned back to the motionless gathering before her. Her brown eyes narrowed slyly.
"What has happened?" she spoke slowly.
Prince Vincent's brow crinkled.
"I think they have some explaining to do because when I left the castle this morning, everything was in order, but as soon as I returned it was like a riot!" Vincent, his temper flaring a little, spoke calmly yet with every word he uttered his servants flinched.
"Ahem, Cogsworth, mon ami…" Lumiere prompted, pushing his friend to the fore.
"M..m…me?" the small man squeaked.
"You're Highness, no harm was meant by this racket," Lumiere strode forwards, taking over in a far more eloquent fashion than Cogsworth could ever muster, "My friend, here, was simply trying to get things ready for…ahem…the royal anniversary."
The Prince and Princess stared at the valet.
"The anniversary?" they spoke in unison.
Then the franc dropped. Vincent and Belle met eyes.
"Oh my goodness…" Belle rubbed her cheek with wonder, "Its three days away!"
"I cannot believe I almost completely forgot!" Vincent slapped his forehead and groaned.
"Has it been a year already?" Belle continued.
All of a sudden, the pair stopped and looked around them. They noticed the flowers, the crystal glasses, the diagrams of extravagantly iced cakes and acres of ribbon.
"But what is all this?" Belle blinked with disbelief.
Cogsworth, his chattering tongue sufficiently recovered, barged in front of Lumiere.
"Why, they are the preparations, Princess!"
Belle and Vincent exchanged worried looks, the very same thought occuring in their minds. Vincent chewed his lip. Perhaps it would be best if Belle were the one the break the news…she was more of a people person.
"Oh…" Belle breathed, trying to muster a smile, "It certainly is something Cogsworth…"
The chief of staff beamed.
"Um…but the Prince and I would prefer for our anniversary something a little more…simple?"
Belle tried to soften the blow with her winning smile. Cogsworth appeared to pale a shade.
"Simple…?" he wheezed, "Of…of course…! I can do…simple…"
All eyes were trained on the rotund man as his eyes rolled into the back of his head and he keeled over, then and there, with a resounding thud.
Belle's mouth dropped with surprise, crouching down to the unconscious fellow.
"Cogsworth…? Oh dear…"
Author's Note: As beginning's go...that was certainly a beginning! Please do scuttle on down to the button below and drop me a review! Tell me what you think: thoughts? Commendations? Complaints? I'm all ears (or eyes...).