Beyond the Rose

Chapter 1: It's a Wonderful Life

As Fife signaled the first notes of the first piece of the evening, Belle and Adam walked together through the glass doors to the balcony. They had been helping the servants prepare for the Christmas party all day and had not yet had much time to themselves. Earlier, Belle had told Adam that she had a surprise for him. She would have simply told him what she had to tell, but she was secretly nervous. She worried that Adam would find her surprise untimely. Only months ago, he was still under the Enchantress's spell. With Belle's help, Adam had adjusted relatively easily to his newly regained human form. But now, even as they walked onto the balcony, Belle could sense the clumsiness of her husband's steps.

For the first few weeks following the breaking of the curse, Adam had been forced to rely much on the use of a walking cane. After that, he stubbornly forced himself away from it, though Belle and all of the servants advised that he should not rush into things. That he should take as much time as he needed to adjust to his new feet. He had been walking with the feet of a wolf since the age of eleven and now had to become accustomed to walking with the cumbersome feet of a twenty-two year-old man. This was not an easy task, as Adam knew only too well after stumbling over nothing and falling down several flights of stairs. He dare not tell anyone of his slip-ups; he wanted no one to worry or think him weak. He wanted to walk on his own to prove to himself that he could, and also so that he did not have to lean on Belle. She had already done more for him than anyone else ever had. Now he wished nothing more than to return the favour.

The prince and his princess stood before the railing, beneath the stars and over the beauty of God's night earth. The mountains stood in the distance before the flowing ribbon of river. Adam cradled his wife's hands in his own. Belle marveled at the warmth of his hands. They strangely seemed to be much warmer since they had shed their fur, though they were still just as gentle. Adam thought of how wonderful it was to be holding Belle's hands in his own. To him, holding her hands was the equivalent of holding the hands of an angel. To him she was an angel, and he made certain to remind her of this fact every day.

For several minutes, the couple continued staring fervently into each other's gaze. They gave silent thanks to God for having allowed them to find each other. Adam also secretly hoped the Enchantress knew of her spell being broken and that she had made him a very happy man.

"Oh! I nearly forgot," Adam broke, raising a finger and then reaching his hand into the underside of his tailcoat.

Belle chuckled. Just minutes earlier he had produced, from beneath that same coat, the present they had bought for Chip PottsĀ¾ a storybook. She wondered just what else Adam could possibly be hiding.

"It's a little something just for Christmas Eve," Adam answered in reply to Belle's silent query as he placed, in her hands, a rectangular box.

With genuine curiosity, Belle carefully lifted the lid. Inside the box she found nothing more or less than a freshly cut pink rose.

She smiled up at Adam, knowing the exact significance of his gift; and he replied with a smile of his own, telling her that he knew she understood his thoughts. A pink rose had once been the symbol of the curse that bound him, but now he was offering this very symbol to the love of his life. It was a reminder of all they had been through together. It was also a charm of hope for an even brighter future.

Adam no longer despised those many years he had spent as a beast. They had not taken anything away from his life, for he now had everything that he had ever wanted. Now he had someone to love and to love him in return. He would have lived the hell of that past curse one thousand lifetimes if, for only one of those lifetimes, Belle was there for him to hold.

Belle, with her heart thudding amorously against her chest, fell easily against her husband. Sometimes it still amazed her that a man other than her own father could display such sweetness. At times she even found herself fearful that she would one day awaken to find that Adam, Beast and all, had only been a dream. But now, with her head resting upon his chest, she could feel his every breath rushing into her own lungs and his warmth running through her own veins. In that moment, Adam's presence was more real than anything Belle had ever known. In that moment, Adam's presence was her existence. She thought this as she felt his gentle fingers playing with her hair and, suddenly, she knew that she could reveal to her love what she had before been so reluctant to reveal. He would always be ready to hear it.

"Adam," Belle finally dared.

"Yes, my love?" Adam replied.

"Remember that surprise I mentioned to you earlier?"

"Yes, of course. I've been wondering what it could possibly be all day."

Belle sighed. There was no turning back. She had to tell him. Her mistake was the use of the word "surprise". Normally Adam would not be so easily able to handle that word for so long. Though he had been abnormally patient thus far, it was highly unlikely that Adam would let the night slip away without pressing Belle to reveal her secret. Besides, if she did not tell him now, he would soon realize what she had been hiding.

"Adam, I- I-I-"

Belle froze. Suddenly stunned. Adam now had his arms wrapped around her midriff and was rubbing the area right around her navel. He passionately pressed his lips against the curve of her neck.

"Adam-"

"You're pregnant."

Belle whirled around without even thinking and stared into him with a look of bewilderment.

"Who told you?" she asked, astounded.

Adam shrugged, resting his hands upon her shoulders and giving her a loving smile.

"No one had to tell me, Belle. You are positively glowing this evening."

Belle smiled back, chuckling inside herself. Although her husband was no genius, he had many times floored her with his clever deductions. No, he was not a genius, but he was no fool either.

But then Belle felt a sinking feeling at the pit of her stomach. Maybe he was only hiding his disappointment for her sake.

"I'm sorry, Adam," she felt herself saying before allowing herself time to sort out her worry.

Adam's smile shrank. He suddenly appeared completely taken aback. He tried to recall what he had done wrong. He was doing everything in his power to make Belle comfortable.

"For what?" Adam finally inquired.

"I know this can't be a good time. I mean, you're just adjusting to being human again and now I tell you that you are also going to be a father. I mean, this must be happening all too soon," Belle released, finally dispelling all her concerns out into the open air.

She turned away from Adam, secretly hoping he would say something to quell her anxieties. Adam smiled as he looked on his beautiful wife. She was always concerned about his well-being. This was something he had not had in his childhood. It felt good to have someone who cared for him so, but he did not truly want her to worry so much about him. He wanted her to know that he cared deeply for her as well, and that her happiness was everything he wished to maintain.

"Belle," he called from behind her.

Belle turned to see Adam beaming at her with apparent sincerity.

"If this were not the right time for a child, no child of ours would now be living within you," he said. "Besides, Belle, you fell for me when I was a hideous beast and made me a man. This child is going to make me an even better man now that I am struggling to regain my balance."

Adam walked up to Belle and wrapped his arms around her shoulders, stooping to rest his chin over one of them.

Whispering soft as a rabbit's tail, into her ear he said, "Any child of yours would be a blessing, but I am honoured above all men that your child should also be mine."

Belle turned around to look up at his beautiful face. She could feel tender tears welling behind her eyes and, when she noticed the sincerity radiating from his, she knew that he would never lie to her. Looking directly into the blue beacons that were his eyes, she realized he couldn't.

"I love you, Adam," she declared to the beat of her own heart.

"I love you, too," Adam replied, lifting her from the ground to meet her lips with his own.

And the servants' eyes were filled with awe as they looked out the window to see their master kissing their mistress with more fervor than the world had ever dealt.