Beauty and the Beast II

"Cogsworth!"

The head of staff bolted up from his chair. He'd been playing cards with Chip Potts, the head of the kitchen, when he'd heard his name being called.

"Sounds like someone needs you." said Chip folding his deck and pushing in his chair. The young man was accustomed to bellowing by now having lived with a particular royal family for as long as he could remember. Chip Potts had grown up to take his mother's place in the kitchens, it had surprised many as the man was tall and well built with striking blue eyes and a very handsome face. Running the castle kitchens had seemed like the last thing a twenty-six year old man would want for himself. But Chip had rebuffed all offers from his master to work a higher position; claiming instead that he liked the coziness of the atmosphere.

"Yes she bellows almost as loudly as her father." said Cogsworth shaking his head. "I'd better go before she gets really loud."

"COGSWORTH!"

"To late." said Chip with a grin. "Got quite the set of lungs hasn't she?"

Cogsworth was already gone. He made a mad dash down the hall and to the young princess's chamber. He made it there in just under five minutes, an impressive feat for someone of his age and weight. Now gray and rather rotund, he found himself longing for retirement. Working for the young princess proved to be nearly as demanding as working for her father had been.

"You called you're highness?" he asked as he poked his head into her room.

"Twice now, are you going deaf Cogsworth?" Princess Lynette folded her arms and glowered at him. She was a tall girl of seventeen with long coppery colored hair and a dark stare that struck fear into the hearts of all of the servants when it was cast upon them. Now that particular brown eyed gazed was fixed on the unfortunate Cogsworth.

"No, your Grace, I was merely occupied -a trivial matter I assure you, you have my complete attention when ever you need it. I-"

"Stuff it Cogsworth, you know what day it is?" Lynette narrowed her eyes at him and drumming the fingers of her left hand against her right arm.

"It's Wednesday, your Highness?" he offered hopefully.

"Yes and what is supposed to happen on Wednesday, Cogsworth?" Lynette's brows pinched together in irritation.

The majordomo mopped a bit of sweat from his brow with his handkerchief. Wednesday...Wednesday...Sudden realization struck him.

"You're parent's are coming home?"

"Yes, Cogsworth, they are expected back home at ten this evening. You're a punctual fellow...aren't you? You know how to manage your staff...don't you?" the young Princess continued to glower at him as she spoke.

Cogsworth fidgeted uncomfortably. "Yes, of course I am."

"Then why is no one preparing dinner for tonight? It's seven o'clock already..."

"I can assure her Highness that all will be ready for the King and Queen upon their arrival. I will waste no time in-"

"Well get a move on it already!" Lynette shouted.

Cogswoth scurried back to the kitchen and began dishing out orders as though his life depended on it. When it came to Princess Lynette she was her father's daughter through and through.

Two hours later Chip left the kitchens to tell Lynette that dinner would be ready by ten exactly.

"Good, I don't want Mother and Father thinking I can't handle the castle while they're away." said Lynette.

"You certainly have a tight grip on things." said Chip.

He was Lynette's senior by nearly nine years and even so he was just the head of the kitchen staff, as his mother had been before him, she thought of him as an older brother figure in a way.

"Do you think I was to hard on Cogsworth? I saw the time and got nervous; maybe I shouldn't have yelled." she said chewing her lip.

"Bellowed was the term Cogsworth used. You should try to keep that temper in check." Chip said his tone was pleasant but there was a note of sternness to it.

Chip Potts was by far one of the nicest people in the castle, he was noted for his cheery demeanor and even temperament. Lynette would have loved to know where all of that infinite patience came from. She also wondered why a tall, blond, good-looking young man who was well into his twenties had never married...but she never had the nerve to ask him.

Lynette had the good grace to look sheepish. "I guess I should work on that..." she said.

Chip grinned. "As long as you mind that temper you're a very nice girl. But the bellowing isn't necessary. We will listen to you, you know." he patted her shoulder.

Lynette sighed. She was just trying to keep things in order. "How's your mother doing?" she asked hoping to change the subject.

"She's alright, she doesn't want much more than to be made warm and comfortable. I'm glad I took over heading the kitchen staff. She's just not up to handling that kind of work any more." Chip replied.

Mrs. Potts was indeed very old and fragile but her mind was still as sharp as ever and she had an excellent memory. She had often told Lynette stories when the Princess had been a small child and every now and again Lynette would visit her in her rooms to give her a bit of company.

Further conversation was interrupted when the maître d', Lumière, announced the return of the King and Queen.

In their twenty years of marriage they seemed to have aged very little. True Belle's bright eyes held a few creases at the corners and Adam's reddish-blond hair was lightening at the sides, but there was still a youthful and ageless quality to the pair that seemed to defy time.

Belle quite glad to be home, she and her husband didn't often leave the castle or their daughter alone for long but this time they'd had to go and visit a kingdom in Germany on the request of the German Queen. Adam didn't understand a word of German, thankfully Belle had read a book titled How to Speak German and so she'd been able to take care of the conversations.

Lynette rushed to greet her parents, both of whom held out their arms to her.

"I see you kept the place in order while I was away." said Adam giving her an approving smile.

"I told you not to worry about anything. I arranged for dinner to be ready when you got home." Lynette said as she hugged her mother. "Did you bring anything interesting back from Germany?"

Belle shook her head. "No, we didn't have time to do any shopping or sight-seeing." she said. "Come on then, let's go and eat I'm sure your father is hungry."

Adam gave a nod of agreement. "That I am. Tired to, I think dinner and then off to bed." he said stretching.

They had their dinner in the same fashion as usual, a warm and comfortable affair with much talking and joking among them and then as the evening wore on all of residents of the castle retired to their beds. None of them were even aware that a strange creature was making his home in the forest just outside of the castle grounds...


The Beast swept a large, black, furry, paw over a pile of leaves to inspect an animal track. Judging from the the size and shape of the hoof print it belonged to a wild boar. It seemed fresh too, hopefully this meant that he'd have his dinner sooner than later. He sniffed at the track to capture the scent, it was strong, the animal couldn't have passed this spot more than an hour ago. He stood and followed the trail with remarkable stealth for such a large creature. Within the hour he had the boar in his clawed hands and was sinking his long, sharp teeth into it's neck feeling the satisfying crunch of bone as he bit down.

when he had finished his meal he wandered to a nearby river to wash the blood from his paws and face. He stopped to look at his reflection in the water. Hulking and bearlike in stature with a leonine face and curling ram's horns protruding from his temples he was terrifying to behold. Ugly creature...he thought swiping angrily at the image. He'd been handsome once, a long time ago although, he knew not exactly how long it had been. He was unchanged by time and he had long since stopped measuring the years. He'd grown used to life as a beast, as long as he stayed out of sight he found that it didn't matter what he looked like. Animals didn't care if he was ugly and animals had been his only company in the long years since the enchantress had turned him into a beast.

His tusk torn lips twisted in an ironic grimace. One day he was handsome and adored, the next he didn't dare show his face. The witch had told him that only when he learned to love could he break his curse. But who could he love if he was alone? It seemed that it was a hopeless case. He left the river and returned to a small cave he'd been calling home lately. His possessions were meager, a pile of skins for his bed and some lanterns pilfered from nearby villages...and an old rusted blunderbuss from his days as a human.

He no longer needed the gun, he hunted with his claws and fangs, but he had kept it anyway. To remind himself of better days when he'd been the greatest hunter in the village.