Chapter 9

Two weeks had passed since Feli and Lovino had patched things up between them and things couldn't have been better. The servants had never seen the castle filled with so much happiness since they were cursed. Feli was back to his happy, peppy self and Lovino was hardly lashing out from anger anymore. Even Amelia seemed a lot perkier, especially since her plan worked.

Lovino began to appear at mealtimes more and more often in the dining room with her and Feli. The two would always slurp down their food (due to Feli not having opposable thumbs and Lovino living as an animal for the last ten years), much to the servants' embarrassment and alarm thinking that Amelia would be grossed out, but she only laughed saying that that was how she used to eat and would even sometimes join in.

But that wasn't the only thing changing; Lovino was beginning to feel very strange, and wasn't because he was about to lose control. After he had made up with Feli, those phases seemed like a thing of the past. Now he only felt weird around Amelia; every time she was near him his heart would start pounding and his face would get hot and he didn't know why. Maybe it was her happy attitude towards everything and that the tiniest thing could bring a smile to her face; that bright, cute, adorable- wait what was he saying?! Why would he think her smile was cute or adorable?

Lovino sighed as he watched Amelia play with Hanatamago and Minty in the snow outside from the balcony with Francis, Feli, and Antonio, "I've…never felt this way about anyone before," he said almost in awe; it was true, he was feeling so strange as he watched the girl play and that feeling only grew whenever he was near her. "I want to do something for her," he finally blurted out.

Feli's eyes lit up, "You mean you want to give her a present?" he asked excitedly. Lovino nodded, "Yes…but what?" he asked turning to his two servants. Antonio smirked, "Awww look at my little Lovi; you finally want to charm your girl eh?"

Lovino blushed, "Sh-Shut up you tomato-bastard! I…I just feel like I owe her…you know for helping us," he stuttered. Antonio chuckled, "Sure; you could always give her the usual, you know, flowers, chocolates" he said. Feli frowned, "Shouldn't it be something that she likes?" he asked. Lovino agreed; he couldn't really see Amelia as a flower/chocolate loving kind of girl.

Francis nodded, "Oui, it has to be something very special…something that really perks her interest…" he said as he went into thought when suddenly it hit him,

'I don't read a lot of fairy tales without learning a thing or two about magic,'

'You have a library?'

That's it! "I've got it!" Francis exclaimed. They all listened in on the candle sticks' idea, "Are you sure?" Lovino asked when he was done, "Trust me mon petite; she'll love it," Francis reassured him. Lovino gave an uneasy nod and walked back into the castle to prepare everything; all he could do was hope that Francis was right about this idea.

"Where are we going?" Amelia asked as Lovino led her down one of the many winding hallways; even though she had lived here for a few months now she had never seen this hallway before. "There's something I want to show you," Lovino said as they reached a huge pair of double doors. "What's in there?" Amelia asked. "You'll see; but you have to close your eyes," Lovino instructed. Amelia seemed amused and complied; once Lovino was sure she wasn't peeking, he opened the doors to the darkened room and carefully led her inside.

As he did, he couldn't help but feel heat rush to his face as he held Amelia's hands, "Can I open them?" Amelia asked. "Not yet; don't you dare peek," Lovino answered warningly, but not in a threatening manner. He led her to the middle of the room and released her hands, "How about now?" Amelia asked teasingly, "Just a minute," Lovino said as he rushed away.

Amelia let out a small giggle as the anticipation and excitement caused her to cover her eyes with her hands so she wouldn't be tempted to peek. She flinched slightly as she heard Lovino roughly open some large curtains allowing the light to shine in around the room, "Can I open them now?" she asked with her million dollar smile. Lovino nodded (even though she couldn't see), "Alright; open them," he said.

Amelia slowly took her hands away and opened her eyes; she let out a soft gasp as she took in the most amazing sight. It was a library, bigger than anything she had ever seen! There were probably hundreds-no thousands- maybe even millions of books scanning the shelves. "Holy crap…" she breathed, "I've never seen so many books in all my life!"

Lovino felt his nervousness melt away as her smile grew bigger than ever before as she took in the sight, "You mean…you like it?" he asked. Amelia faced him with happiness practically emanating from her body, "Are you kidding; this is the most awesome-est thing I've ever seen! I mean…look at all the books!" she practically squealed, gesturing to the towering shelves; she couldn't remember that last time she had felt this happy or excited.

Lovino felt his own happiness grow as well, "Then it's yours; you can come here whenever you like," he said; he had done it! He had made her happy! He was caught off guard though as Amelia threw her arms around him, "Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou! Thank you soooooo much!" she said so fast that Lovino almost missed it.

The beast felt like his heart was going to burst out of his chest as Amelia hugged him; he almost thought he was going to pass out. Amelia herself had to admit that it was getting a little warm in here; maybe it was just Lovino's fur. Amelia released him and ran off towards one of the shelves, "Oh man where do I even start? Should I go with fantasy…or maybe adventure…but horrors good too…aw man I've never had to make such a hard choice!" she said softly to herself when she turned back to the beast, "Hey Lovi! Why don't you help me pick out a book?" she offered, waving to him.

Lovino felt even more heat rush to his face at the sound of that name, "L-Lovi?" he stuttered softly. Amelia felt a tinge of red come to her cheeks as she realized what she had said, "Oh uhh, I hear Feli calling you that all the time so uhh, I thought it was your nickname; you don't mind do you?" she asked unsurely.

Lovino flinched, "Uhh n-no no, I don't mind; I couldn't care less about what people call me!" he said quickly as he made his way over to Amelia to help her pick out a book. Meanwhile outside the room, Feli, Francis, Antonio, Elizaveta, Tino, Berwald, and Peter were watching the scene unfold, "Ve~! It worked! It really worked!" Feli silently exclaimed.

"I knew it would!" Francis said with a bright smile. "Just look at how cute they are together!" Elizaveta squealed. "It's very encouraging," Roderich agreed. "Oh, it's so exciting isn't it Berwald," Tino said happily. "Yes it is," Berwald answered plainly with a small smile on his face. Peter on the other hand was downright confused, "What? What worked? Mama, Papa, what are they talking about?" he asked as everyone walked away from the library to give Lovino and Amelia some time alone, "Come on Peter, we have chores to do," Tino called.

Peter stuttered as he scampered after them, "But-but what's going on? I didn't see anything happen! C'mon, tell me!" he protested. "We'll tell you when you're older," Tino answered, earning a nod from Berwald, which seemed like a good enough answer to keep Peter quiet.

From that day forward, Amelia spent almost every waking hour in the library. She plowed through the books like a rabbit in a huge garden; so much so that she truly believed she was in heaven. Some of the servants were afraid that Amelia wouldn't pay any attention to Lovino if she spent too much time in the library, but that changed quite quickly.

Lovino and Feli were walking down the halls when they heard Amelia's voice from the library. They slowly made their way towards the closed doors and listened; Amelia seemed to be talking to herself. They quietly pushed the door open and spotted Amelia walking around the room with a book in her hands; she was reading aloud to Peter. The teacup was sitting on a side table and listening intently as Amelia read the enchanting words:

"And with great cheerfulness of spirit the Mole pushed on towards the Wild Wood," Amelia's voice dropped to a sinister tone, "which lay before him low and threatening, like a black reef in some still southern sea." Peter was completely transfixed by the story, only to snap out of it when Amelia stopped and noticed Feli and Lovino looking into the room. Amelia quickly pieced together what they were looking at and a light pink dusted her cheeks, "Uh…how long were you guys standing there?"

"Not long," Lovino answered quickly, "we were just wondering what you were doing." Amelia smiled and held up the book, "Well, I was reading 'The Wind in the Willows' to Peter; my mom and dad used to read this to me all the time," she answered. "Ve~! Could we listen too?" Feli asked out of nowhere. Lovino looked incredulously at his brother but Amelia shrugged, "Sure; have a seat." She said gesturing to one of the couches.

Feli sat on the floor while Lovino took the couch and Amelia opened the book again, "Now where was I?...Ah! Here we are; Mole has just entered the Wild Wood." She said. "Moley shouldn't have done that; Ratty told him not to go!" Peter said frowning. Amelia nodded, "Yeah, but let's see what happens before we jump to conclusions," she said and resumed reading, "There was nothing to alarm Mole at first entry. Twigs crackled under his feet, logs tripped him, funguses on stumps resembled caricatures; but that was all fun and exciting. It led him on, and he penetrated to where the light was less,"

Amelia paused a moment to dim one of the lamps in the room, "and the trees crouched nearer…and nearer…and holes made ugly mouths at him on either side." Amelia paused for effect as her three listeners were sucked into the story and its setting before turning the page and continuing. "Everything was very still now. The dusk advanced on him steadily, rapidly, gathering in behind and before; and the light seemed to be draining away like flood water," Amelia dimmed another lamp so that the shadows of the room increased in size around them making the whole room seem haunted. "And then…" Amelia began; Peter, Feli, and Lovino all leaned forwards,

"And then…the faces began," Amelia finished, "It was over his shoulder, and indistinctly, that he forst thought he saw a face, looking at him from a hole," Amelia read in a menacing tone, "Mole quickened his pace telling himself cheerfully not to begin imagining things. He passed another hole…and another…and another…and then…YES!"

The three listeners jumped, "No! Yes! A little narrow face had flashed up for an instant from a hole, and was gone!" The listeners let out small gasps or their eyes grew wide with fear; the snowy wind outside slightly howled against the window, "The suddenly, every hole, far and near, and there were hundreds of them, seemed to posses its face all fixing on him glances of malice and hatred: all hard eyes and evil and sharp."

Feli and Peter began to shiver and Lovino tried to keep his heart rate down. Amelia meanwhile, was quite pleased that her emphasized story telling was working. "In panic, Mole began to run, aimlessly, he knew not whither. He ran up against things! He fell over things! He darted under and dodged round things!" Amelia read frantically as if she and the others were running through the dark wood away from the fear they couldn't see.

Amelia took a deep breath and calmed down a bit as she read on, "At last he took refuge in the dark deep hollow of an old bench tree, which offered shelter, concealment-perhaps even safety, but who could tell?" The three listeners calmed down slightly as Amelia changed to a low threatening tone, "And as he lay there panting and trembling, he knew it at last, in all its fullness, that dread thing which other little dwellers in field and hedgerow had encountered here, and known as their darkest moment-that thing which Rat had vainly tried to shield him from…"

Amelia peeked up from the book and read the last sentence slowly and dangerously, "The terror…of the Wild Wood…" Amelia stopped to allow her listeners some time to digest before Elizaveta nudged the door open, "Dinner's ready!" she announced. Everyone moaned in response, "But it was just getting good!" Lovino protested. "I have to know what happens to that poor mole! He must be so scared!" Feli cried. "Just a few more minutes?" Peter asked.

Amelia laughed at their action and closed the book, "How about we quickly eat and then come right back here to finish; how does that sound?" she suggested. The three decided that that was the best course of action and they all exited the library. As they walked down the hallway, Amelia and Lovino kind of hung away from the others.

"Hey Lovi," Amelia said, "I was wondering…tomorrow probably going to be the last day of winter," she wrung her hands like she was nervous, "The snow's probably going to start to melt tomorrow too…so would you…like to…you know…hang out in the garden tomorrow?" she asked, looking at the ground top hide the blush on her face; why was this so hard to ask? Lovino's eyes widened; was she asking him…on a date?!

"Sure," Lovino answered before he even knew what he was saying. Amelia's face lit up in happiness and relief, "Really? Awesome!" she said and Lovino couldn't help but smile back; Amelia had affected him more than he thought.

Meanwhile, Francis who was listening from around the corner smiled in delight; at this rate, they would all be human again before the rose even lost half its petals!

Wind in the Willows FTW! I LOVED that movie as a kid! I like all the movies but the 1983 stop-motion one is the best in my book!

The library scene was sooo cute to write! That scene in the movie always makes my feels fly away~! Sorry Peter, you're just a BIT too young to know what love is yet! And leave it to Amelia to make the first move! America will always ALWAYS be the seme no matter who you put him/her with! X3

I promise, next we'll get to the real plot. We'll see what Gil and Arthur are up to and Amie and Lovi will start falling even more in love and I plan to include 'Something There' in that chapter as well!