A/N… Hi there! Do you remember me? Can't apologize enough for the 15-month gap, but let's not dwell on it: Here is Chapter 10!
Gaston pulled back his knife and looked at the blood dripping on the floor. Strange...this blood was less dark than the blood of the animals he had shot. He had always thought all blood was the same.
"Gaston?" Belle asked in confusion. Then she collapsed.
It took several moments for Gaston to understand that Belle was saying his name. He stood there staring as the blood stain on her wedding dress grew bigger and bigger. What had he done? She reached out to him and he didn't know what to do.
His mind was racing in a panic. How had this happened? It wasn't supposed to be like this! This was his perfect wedding day with his perfect bride! It's not my fault! he thought defensively. I had to do whatever it took to protect what was mine!
It was all that prince's fault. If that prince hadn't shown up, none of this would have happened!
"Look what you made me do!" he yelled in anger at the prince.
Everything that happened after that seemed unreal, like a dream.
No one in the village could have ever imagined that something like this could happen in their provincial town. He was their hero. Their Gaston. And now… His hands were tied tightly together as four guards dragged him out of his own house. How was this possible? He struggled and yelled like a madman, but nobody dared to go against four guards. Everyone was standing there, watching the event.
The door opened again and next to come out of Gaston's house was the man who had been revealed to be the prince of their country, the heir to the throne, with Belle limp and bloody in his arms! The sight was horrible. Several women fainted, while the men turned away at the sight of all that blood. The people could not tell if she was unconscious or dead. Her eyes were closed, and her face was white as a sheet. Her once-white wedding dress was covered in blood.
To Adam, too, everything seemed like an unreal blur. Without consciously planning it, he tore a piece of fabric off Belle's dress and tightly wrapped it around her waist in the hope that it would stop the bleeding. He could only pray that he had done it right. All he could think about was getting her out of here as fast as possible. He had to get her to the castle. If Belle was dead because of him, he could never forgive himself.
He kept whispering to Belle all the way to the castle, words of hope. Whatever happened, he couldn't let her die. That man couldn't win! She would survive this! Then finally...finally! They would finally get married and have their happily ever after. She was his wife, no matter what, she was his!
"Please don't die… stay with me," he whispered. "I need you. I love you."
He couldn't imagine his life without her. There was no life without Belle - not as a human prince, not as a beast.
After what seemed like forever, they arrived at the castle. Within minutes the entire household was thrown into commotion. Adam went into the first bedroom he came across and carefully laid Belle down on the bed. Immediately a doctor pushed Adam aside to help her. Adam sat down on the floor in a corner of the room, his head buried in his hands.
Never in his life had Adam felt this helpless, not even when he was a Beast. There was nothing he could do. He watched the doctor and a nurse taking off the bandages. To his horror, the wound started to bleed again! Even more frightening, Belle didn't make a sound – no screams, no moans, nothing!
"How bad is it?" Adam asked softly as the doctor was busy stitching the wound.
"She's lost a lot of blood," the doctor murmured. He turned away from Belle for a moment and shook his head. "What were you thinking, moving her?"
"I had to get her away from there!" Adam tried to defend himself. "Will she live?"
The doctor avoided a direct answer to that question. "She should rest now. The knife plunged in deep, but I don't think anything vital has been damaged."
Adam watched the doctor and the nurse leave the room. He sat down on the bed next to Belle, took her hand and gently rubbed it. Her hands were so cold. If the doctor was right that she would survive this, then her attacker might come after her again. He had to prevent that at any cost. He had to get rid of that man. Now.
He kissed Belle's forehead and left the room.
"Your highness?" Cogsworth asked, who was waiting in the hallway with Lumière.
"I can sentence someone to death, can't I?" Adam said. It was not really a question; he knew he could, even though he had never done it. "Attempted murder. He's not getting away with this."
Cogsworth's eyes widened. "Let's not discuss that here, your highness."
The plan grew in Adam's head. He was a ruler - he could do this! This villain deserved nothing less than death . "He tried to kill a future princess of this country. For this he must die himself."
"Your highness, it's not that easy!" Cogsworth protested.
Adam stopped walking and turned to Cogsworth. He pointed at himself. "Why not? I'm a prince. I can do whatever I want and I want that man DEAD!" Without waiting for an answer, he stormed out into a different hallway and down the stairs.
"Your highness, wait!" Cogsworth yelled as he had a hard time keeping up.
"It can't be difficult. We locate the executioner...we used to have one, didn't we? Pick a date, et voila!" Adam continued. He could take a life as simply as that. A life for a life. It was only fair. He would protect Belle.
"Where are you going?"
"Tell the executioner that he has a job again!" Adam ran through the hallways. He remembered that the executioner used to live in the rooms near the kitchens.
It would be over in seconds. A quick blow with an axe and the man would be beheaded. He didn't plan on torturing the man for days. He wanted to get rid of him as soon as possible.
"Your highness, please wait!"
Why do I have to explain everything? Adam thought, annoyed. He stopped and turned to the butler."Look, I am the prince. When I say: 'Off with his head', you answer: 'Your will be done'!"
"Your will be done," Cogsworth said after a long pause.
"Then do it!" Adam took a threatening step in Cogsworth's direction. "No more 'wait', Cogsworth, my word is law. Tomorrow at sunrise, he will die!"
Cogsworth bowed reluctantly and walked away.
Adam sank down on the first bench he saw in the hallway. All of a sudden he felt so tired. But he knew his decision was the right one. He would eliminate this evil from his castle and his country. Belle would be safe. That was the most important thing. Without that evil man around, she could recover and be with him.
"My prince, are you sure that this is your will?" Lumière asked as he sat down next to Adam.
"What do you mean?" Adam said absent-mindedly. "Belle is safe. What more could I want?"
He didn't look at Lumière, but he could hear hesitation in the maitre'd's voice. Lumiere was about to say something Adam didn't want to hear.
Sure enough, Lumiere asked, "But will she be happy with your decision?"
"How could she not be happy?" Adam asked, raising his eyebrows. Surely Belle would be more than happy to see this man dead!
"She married the man you are going to execute," Lumière pointed out slowly.
Adam waived away Lumière's words. "She married against her will." He was sure of that.
"You don't know that, my prince."
"She recognized me, Lumière," Adam explained. It was as clear as day to him. "She recognized who I was. Even without ever seeing me in this form, she knew it was me. "
"Wouldn't it better to wait till Belle is able to explain what her reasons were?"
Adam stood up and shook his head. "No!" he yelled. He didn't want to think about what Belle's reasons were to marry that man. He only wanted to believe what he hoped was the truth. With that man's death, Belle could forget all about that village and her former life and live here with him.
"He will die, Lumière!" he said as he walked away. "First thing tomorrow morning!"
Even with Gaston's perfect physical condition, he was panting when they finally arrived at the castle. It had been hard to keep up with the horses. The guards had not looked back once to see if he was all right. He had tripped over his own feet several times, almost being dragged through the mud. He was thankful that no one from the village could see him humiliated like this. Not that it mattered who saw: he was humiliated just the same To be treated like a criminal, or worse, a useless animal.
But he had no time to sulk on this feeling. He had to find a way out of here. He had no doubt that he would. As soon as the guards looked the other way, he would get out.
They had passed at least three or four staircases; there seemed no end to it. His hunting skills were of benefit to him now. Just as he remembered every tree and every bush in the forest, he now memorized the route they were walking. From the main hall up the grand staircase, twice taking the stairs on the right, through a long hallway with white statues. At the end of the hallway, through the door and up a spiral staircase. They must be in one of the towers now.
"Which one should we put him in?" one of the guards asked.
The other guard shrugged. "Does it matter? No one will ever get out of here."
"I will be your first," Gaston whispered with a grin.
The guards looked over their shoulders. "Did you say something?"
Gaston was tempted to try again to fight off the four guards. They were much smaller than he was, but they were armed. He needed to rest first, and then when there were fewer guards, he would get out.
"That one," the head of the guards decided. He opened a barred door and let Gaston in. Gaston turned around and held out his hands and waited for the guards to undo the ropes.
The guards started to laugh. "You think we get rid of those while we are still in this cell with you? Idiot."
He closed the door, but Gaston was able to grab the man's collar with both hands through the bars. "What did you call me?" he hissed.
The guard easily released himself from Gaston's grip. "You heard me. You are an idiot."
"Leave those ropes," the head of the guards said. "We might need a ball and chain."
Adam went back to Belle's room, hoping that he would get a sign that he was doing the right thing. Surely Belle wanted the scoundrel who had injured her sentenced to death. Once he was gone, she would feel safe again.
All of a sudden a sound came from the bed. Adam immediately took Belle's hand.
"My love, can you hear me?" he whispered.
"G—Gaston?" she murmured. "Is that you?…Help me…"
Adam let go of her hand as though he had been burned. He was in shock, too confused to even speak. This couldn't be. He must have heard it wrong. She didn't say that. She didn't say that man's name!
He stood up and straightened his shoulders. His fists clenched and his eyes narrowed. This was not Belle. He would get to the bottom of this. He left Belle's room. "Where is he?" he said through clenched teeth.
"They have brought him to the tower, your highness," said a chambermaid who was dusting a large vase.
"You stay here! No one is to enter this room!"
Gaston didn't know if he had been in the cell for minutes or hours. It was hard to determine time in an empty cell. . Besides his own footsteps, there was nothing to hear. It was driving him crazy. He could deal with the cold; he had stayed out several nights in winter to hunt. But it was the lack of the sounds of the wood or the village that was bothering him.
He let the events of the day go through his head. Somewhere he had made a mistake, but he couldn't figure out where. He walked over to the bars and leaned against them.
This was humiliating: to be put away in a cell, like some caged animal! He at least always had the decency to kill the animals right away; they didn't suffer.
The thought of animals being killed suddenly jolted him with a realization. Good God, could that happen to him? For the first time it dawned on Gaston the mess he was in.
With his fingers, he felt the spot under his chin where the prince had touched his sword . There was still a little mark. Gaston swallowed and felt his heartbeat speed up. He had almost lost his head! Was that why the prince had come to his house? To arrest him and hang him?
Hang him?! No. This couldn't be the end! He wasn't ready to die! His life wouldn't end with the proclamation of his death sentence! He was Gaston! Other people might make foolish mistakes and end up in situations like this, but not him!
All of a sudden the door flew open and the prince stormed into the tower. He grabbed the bars of the cell and shouted: "What did you do to her?"
Gaston breathed in deeply, trying to win some time and avoid showing the panic he was feeling. Whatever was going to happen, he could not show any sign of fear. He would defend himself to the last breath.
"To who?" he asked innocently.
"Oh, you mean my wife."
"Stop calling her that!" Adam reached through the bars and tried to grab Gaston, who jumped back with a nervous laugh. It didn't sound as confident as he wanted it to. The secret to winning every battle was to act as though there was no doubt about the outcome.
He knew that taunting the prince wasn't the smartest thing to do, seeing what had happened the last time he did that, but he couldn't resist it. "You can like it or not, 'your highness', but Belle is my wife," he said with a smirk. "We were married yesterday before the eyes of God and the law."
Adam tried to ignore the facts and get to the bottom of the truth. Belle might be married, but there was no way that she had done that willingly, especially since she had never mentioned this man to him.
"I want to know why I never heard of your existence for all those weeks when Belle was with me," he demanded.
Gaston's eyes narrowed. That was new information. He had wondered how Belle and that prince knew each other. Apparently Belle had spent significant time with the prince. That was not exactly what Gaston wanted to hear. That man is obsessed with Belle. Gaston thought. But he won't get her. Belle is mine!
"My wife was probably afraid of you," he said with a shrug.
Outraged, Adam opened his mouth to protest...but then a memory popped into his head: the moment he had found Belle in the West Wing. How he had roared at her when she was about to touch the Rose. The fear in her eyes as she ran away.
Why had she come back? He had chased after her in the woods, like a beast… any normal human being would have ran away as fast as possible. Even when he was recovering from his wounds, she had had plenty of opportunities to leave. Why did she stay? Was she scared?
No. It couldn't be. She had broken the spell. He couldn't let himself have these doubts. Belle broke the spell. That meant she loved him. She had stayed because she wanted to – he hadn't forced her.
"If she was afraid of any man, it has to be you," he said firmly. "You put her in a madhouse!"
"That was for her own good!" Gaston defended himself. He had done what was necessary - not just to get Belle to marry him, but also to help Belle to see things in the right perspective. "She was confused. Like her father, rambling about a beast in a castle." He shrugged, "What was I supposed to do?"
Adam looked away. Was he really the cause of all Belle's problems?
Gaston hadn't expected it, but he actually felt that he was winning. He had been improvising, saying whatever he could think of, but it seemed to be hitting home – the prince looked uncertain and distracted by what he said. Gaston didn't know how or why, but he could tell that he was on the right track, and pushed his advantage.
"Belle was grateful for her stay in the Maison. She said that it helped her to clear her head," he continued. "That love of books was getting out of hand - if you gave her one book, she would do any for you."
Adam couldn't react. The longer he listened, the more the things the man said made sense. Had Belle stayed only for the books? They had bonded mostly when they were reading together. No! He shook his head He had to focus. This man was the enemy. He had attacked Belle, the woman who had broken the spell. He couldn't be telling the truth.
"I had to stop that," Gaston went on. "As my fiancée and my wife, Belle needed to focus on more important things. There is more to life than books."
As he talked, Gaston observed that the prince had stopped attacking him and was now listening to every word he said. Gaston had known he was good and that he would get out of every situation, but to be able to make a nobleman change his mind – that was really impressive, even for him! He walked back to the cell door and looked at the prince.
"Your highness, I understand. Belle's beauty is hard to resist," he said. "I don't blame you, but Belle is my wife. She will be for as long as she lives."
Gaston saw triumphantly that there was some doubt in the prince's eyes. This was going exactly as he had hoped…
But the last thing Gaston had said snapped Adam out of his doubt. As long as she lives. Adam suddenly remembered why he was here. Belle was in her room, badly injured. As long as she lives… Because of this evil man, that might not be very long! Adam felt his blood turn to ice in his veins. He didn't want to listen anymore. Whatever had happened before Belle came to the castle didn't matter. What mattered was that this man had attacked her, and he had to pay.
"Or as long as you live," Adam said darkly. "Till death do you part."
Gaston gasped, but quickly recovered, thinking fast. "The bond between me and Belle is very strong," he said smoothly. "We will be together, now or in the Hereafter. We belong together and always will."
The door opened and in came a priest. "Your highness," he said. "I'm here to give the prisoner the last rites."
Adam looked at the priest. He hesitated for a moment, but then nodded. "Do it."
"You can kill me, your highness, but she will never forget me!" Gaston yelled at the top of his lungs. "Belle will be mine forever!"
Adam ran out of the tower and down the stairs. "Gag him!" he yelled. "Cut out his tongue if you have to, but I don't want to hear that voice ever again!" Gaston's laugh followed him through the castle. A laugh that sent shivers down his spine. He wanted to get away from this man as far as possible but that laugh was all he heard.
"Come on, Elise!" a chambermaid called Lisette pleaded with her friend. "There's chocolate cake! We haven't had chocolate cake in years!"
The chambermaid working opposite Belle's room shook her head."His highness, the prince, said I had to stay here."
"What can happen here?" the third chambermaid, Marie, added to the conversation. She leaned against the door. "The safest place for Belle to be is in this room. There are guards everywhere around the castle; no one will come in."
"I know, but still…" Elise bit her lower lip. She was in doubt; it had been such a long time since she had eaten chocolate cake.
"Besides, they have captured the man who hurt her!" Marie said.
Lisette nodded. "Marie is right., And we have something to celebrate! We are human again!"
"It's only for a few minutes."
"It's only chocolate cake!"
Elise sighed and smiled. "You're right. I'll be right back, after all. What could happen?" She put down her feather duster and left with her two friends to head to the kitchen.
It took a lot of energy for Belle to open her eyes. She couldn't remember what had happened, but her body hurt all over. She slowly turned her head. She didn't recognize the room she was in. This was not her bedroom in her father's house. This bed was bigger, warmer, and softer. She took a deep breath and slowly let it out. With her eyes closed, she tried to think about what happened instead of the pain.
Her wedding. She was married to Gaston now. That meant she was safe!
She sat up straight, or at least that's what she tried to do. When she pushed herself up with her arms, she felt a sharp pain in her side. Automatically she placed her hand on the place where it hurt. She only noticed then that she was in a night gown. A silk one. Much more luxurious than she had ever imagined Gaston would give her.
Was she at Gaston's house? It couldn't be. This room was enormous. Gaston was well off, but this well off?
There was something missing in her memory. It had felt like this when she was in the asylum. After drinking tea with Madame Beaumont, she always felt like there were gaps in the time. Wait… Belle gasped in realization. The asylum! This room… it reminded her of the nice room her father was in in the Maison!
What had happened at the wedding? She had to remember! Surely Gaston wouldn't bring her back to the Maison! They were married now - he would never have married her if she were crazy! She remembered the argument they had about her books, but she hadn't gone to her own house to get them.
She carefully turned and let her legs slide over the edge of the bed. Her hand went to her side again. It felt like someone had planted a knife her side. It took her a moment to just sit and breathe. What has happened? The gap in her mind was huge.
She slowly looked around.. The room seemed deserted. "Hello? Is anyone here?" she called. Her voice was hoarse. No one answered. She lifted the hem of the nightgown above her waist and saw the bandages around her waist. Suddenly a memory came back to her.:she was standing in the nursery in Gaston's house, and There was shouting downstairs. There was a fight. Was that how she had gotten injured? But this room didn't look like a hospital wing.
No, the only possible conclusion was that she was in the Maison again and that Gaston had paid for a better room this time. Which was only right now, that she was his wife.
She looked out the window, but couldn't determine what time of day it was. If this was the Maison, it could be that everyone was eating or outside right now. Maybe if she was lucky, she could get out. Whatever had happened, Gaston and she needed to talk about it.
It seemed like it took forever, but finally she managed to place her feet firmly on the floor and stand up. Her side hurt terribly. She felt light-headed, but she had to do this. She had to find a way out of the Maison or she would be here forever.
Belle wandered through the hallway. All was quiet. She didn't hear any crazy inmates screaming. The silence scared her. Everything seemed to go rather slowly, but as she held on to the walls, she could manage to make her way through the hallway.
"That chocolate cake was delicious!" she heard a voice say. Servant girls!
She gasped. What could she do? Where could she go? As soon as anyone saw her, she would be back in her cell! As quickly as she could, she pressed herself against the wall, next to a large cabinet. She tried to hold her breath and not make a sound.
Two chattering maids walked by. They were too busy talking to notice her.
Softly Belle breathed out the air in her lungs. They hadn't seen her!
She needed all her energy to focus on how she put her feet on the floor, but she did notice a few things. This part of the Maison was extremely luxurious and beautiful. Why did the Maison have a hallway with tapestries and portraits on every wall and thick carpets on the floor? There were also suits of armor, and large white statues of angels, cherubs and unicorns. What was all that doing here?
There! An open door. Please, let it be a way out!
Belle paused inside the door. That's strange. This place looked so different from the other parts of the Maison. Immediately behind the door, there was a stone spiral staircase going up. This staircase wasn't carpeted and there was no wall paper on the walls, just cold stones. She shivered in her nightgown. It was much colder here…
A staircase couldn't be a way out. The best thing to do was to close the door and go a different way. But there was something familiar about this staircase. With her heart beating in her throat, she walked up the stairs. She had to see what was up there. She remembered something about this place. She had been here before...or was it in a dream? She walked higher and higher. I believe there is a niche in the wall around this next… And indeed she was right: there was a niche on the right with a candelabrum, with three burning candles.
All of a sudden she heard something at the top of the stairs. It sounded like someone was walking up there. The footsteps resonated against the walls. The person would walk a few steps, stop, and then walk a few steps again, over and over.
She hesitated, she'd better turn around and go. But she couldn't. Now she didn't hear anything anymore. Maybe she had imagined it. "That's funny, I'm sure there was someone…" she muttered softly. " I-I-Is there anyone here?"
"Belle?" she heard a man's voice say. "Belle, is that you?"
Belle's heart skipped a beat. She knew that voice! Thank the Lord! "Gaston!"