AN~ EDITED.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions stated in this story are purely fan-based. They do not in any way represent the ideas of Michael Buckley or Amulet Books. Any similarity between these characters and any real persons is entirely coincidental.


Cindy stared blankly at the woman sitting across from her in Sacred Grounds- the go-to meeting place for anyone with taste in Ferryport Landing, and Beauty certainly had taste- for several minutes, then asked incredulously, "You want my advice?"

Beauty nodded.

"When have you ever needed my help with anything?" Cindy asked. "And why do you need it now? I thought I was 'too focused on real, interpersonal issues' for your tastes, and not enough on fashion- especially where my fairy godmother was concerned!"

"Well, see, I have an interpersonal issue now." Beauty said. "And you've got the best advice in town where that's concerned."

"Not denying that." Cindy smiled a little, and sat back in her booth. They both sipped their drinks, Beauty a caramel latte, and Cindy a cappuccino mocha. "So what exactly do you need help with?"

"The Beast." Beauty said with a sigh. "We're having... difficulties."

"How long have you been having problems?" Cindy asked, leaning forward. This was beginning to be interesting. Beauty and the Beast were one of the oldest couples in Ferryport Landing, and they had never had any issues before. She dropped her cool, detached demeanor in favor of doing what she loved- helping families get along.

"It really started around when we got Natalie- our daughter, you know- back from Rumplestiltskin. But, now that I think about it, things have been changing since before she even disappeared. He's never been the calmest of men, you know, and being trapped in this town hasn't been good for him, and he's getting... angry again."

"Ah." Cindy said. "Now, has he hurt you?"

Beauty shook her head. "He'd never do that. But... he's not friendly anymore. And he breaks things. He's verbally abusive to Natalie, and sometimes to me."

"You're not defending him." Cindy noticed. "A lot of wives try to make what their husbands are doing look like it's not as bad as it really is when they talk to me."

"But what's the point of that?" Beauty looked confused. "If I don't tell you what the problem is, you can't tell me how to fix it."

"But most women feel that they should defend their husbands." Cindy explained. "They love them, and they don't want everything they do aired for everyone to know. Is there anything else you're not telling me, by the way?"

"No, that's about all." Beauty said. "What should I do?"

"What are you considering?" Cindy asked. "Do you want to see if you can work through it, or have you had enough of this, or...?"

"I don't know." Beauty sighed. "Isn't that what you're for?"

"Well, I can offer advice and suggestions, but if you don't know what you want..." Cindy trailed off, then gathered her thoughts and continued, "What I'm saying is, do you want to come back with the Beast and try to talk things out?"

"I'm not positive we can." Beauty said. "He doesn't seem to want to talk anymore."

"Then maybe you should get some distance." Cindy suggested. "Take a breather for a little while, then see how things are. If the break makes you realize how much you two need each other, then you can try to work through your problems. If if doesn't, well... maybe you're not right for each other anymore."

Beauty smiled at Cindy. "Thank you."

"For what?" Cindy asked. "I just did my job. No need for thanks."

"But you listened." Beauty said. "You didn't mock me, or point out that none of the princesses in town have ever really gotten along, or tell me my problems were stupid. You acted like... a friend."

"Maybe we should be." Cindy suggested. "Hard times are coming, and we could all use a few more friends."

Beauty smiled. "I'd like that."