Author's note: This little one-shot was written for a fanfic prompt on Bittersweet & Strange (a wonderful BATB fan forum - come check it out! The link is in my profile). The prompt was "Write a story or scene in which a BATB character meets their counterpart from another Disney movie." Enjoy!
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The servants had been busy for days preparing the castle for the visit of two princes of neighboring kingdoms with whom Prince Adam hoped to forge an alliance. The furniture had been cleaned and polished till it gleamed, the finest food was prepared, and Cogsworth had coached Adam on diplomacy and etiquette until the prince was reciting well-mannered phrases in his sleep. Now the day of the meeting had arrived, and all was in readiness.
But out in the paddock, there was one member of the royal household who didn't care about any of this. Oh, Phillippe was certainly well aware that the humans had been bustling about for some reason and had all been in excited discussions for the past several days. But from the little he'd overheard, it wasn't anything that had anything to do with him, so he'd stopped listening. He was far more interested in the succulent grass that Belle had thoughtfully arranged to be planted in his paddock, and which he was enjoying immensely.
It was a warm, sunny spring day with a lovely breeze. The humans are so silly to stay cooped up in the castle, rushing around and pointlessly worrying about things, Phillippe thought. Eating sweet grass and relaxing in the sun is a MUCH better way to spend a beautiful day like this.
As Phillippe was munching contentedly on the grass, he was surprised to see the stableboy open the gate and lead another horse into the paddock. The newcomer was a fine white stallion, clearly well-bred with a high-caliber pedigree.
"Hello," Phillippe said agreeably. "I'm Phillippe. Is your human visiting here at the castle?"
"Indeed. My name is Samson. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance," the stallion said formally, with a bow of his head. Then he added with obvious pride, "My human is Prince Phillip, the heir to the throne of Kingdom of the Dawn."
But if he was expecting the draft horse to be impressed with his credentials, he was disappointed. "That's nice," was all Phillippe said. "My humans are Princess Belle and her father. They live in the castle."
"Oh...you are the horse of a princess?" Samson said in surprise.
"Yes," Phillipe said, cocking his head. Why was that a problem?
"Forgive me," Samson apologized. "It is simply that...well...you don't LOOK like a royal steed."
Phillippe flicked his ears, the equine equivalent of a shrug. "My lady wasn't born a princess," he explained. "She and her father lived in the village nearby. She became a princess when she married Prince Adam."
"Oh. I see! So the reigning prince here fell in love with a peasant girl!" Samson said in sudden understanding. "In truth, my prince did the same thing. Well, not exactly." He tried to work it out. "She seemed to be a peasant girl at first...That is, he met her in the forest, where she was dancing barefoot in a homespun dress, and she lived in a tiny cottage-"
"Sounds like a peasant to me," Philliippe commented.
"You would think so, wouldn't you?" Samson agreed. "But she turned out to be a princess in disguise!"
Phillippe was intrigued. "That's interesting. Our Prince Adam was a prince in disguise when Belle met him. She had no idea he was royalty."
"Oh, was he disguised as a peasant as well?" Samson asked.
Phillippe hesitated. "No...not a peasant..."
He was spared having to explain further by the arrival of yet another horse. This one was also a white stallion, but he was muscular and wild-eyed, unlike the slim, elegant Samson. Instead of saying hello, the new horse kept darting around the paddock in quick, jerky motions. He ran to one corner of the paddock, stopped short, raised his head to look around intently, then ran to another corner and did the same thing.
Phillippe and Samson exchanged a look as if to say, What's up with him?
"Are you looking for something?" Phillippe asked finally.
The new horse came over to them. "Simply making certain the perimeter is secure," he said officiously. "I used to be a horse of the Royal Guard, and believe me, you can't be too careful! If we horses don't stay alert, thieves can steal the royal treasure from right under the humans' noses!"
"Hey, not my problem. Let the humans guard their own treasure," Phillippe said cheerfully. "Anyway, welcome to the paddock. I'm Phillippe, and this is Samson."
"Maximus." The horse bent his front leg and lowered his head in a respectful bow. "My human is Prince Eugene."
Samson's ears perked up. "Prince Eugene? I recently overheard my human, Prince Phillip, talking about him. Didn't he used to be a common thief?"
Maximus bristled. "Prince Eugene is a valued member of the royal family! He rescued the Princess Rapunzel from the evil woman who kidnapped her at birth, and returned her to her parents! He...he..." Maximus trailed off and sighed, hanging his head. "I cannot tell a lie. Yes, he was a thief. In fact, that's how I met him. He had stolen a royal crown, and as a member of the Royal Guard, I was tracking him down to get it back." Then he straightened up , regaining his dignity. "But I set him on the straight and narrow! He turned out to be a fine fellow, once I trained him properly."
"No need to be embarrassed," Phillippe assured him. "My human, Princess Belle, used to be a simple village girl. And her father, Maurice – well, he's a kind man, but SO addle-brained! The stories I could tell you..."
"Please DO tell us!" Samson said, leaning forward eagerly.
"Well, for example: we were once on our way to a fair," Phillippe began. "We came to a fork in the road. It was obvious to me that the sunny, well-traveled side with singing birds was the best way to go, and I tried to move in that direction. But he jerked me back with the reins and forced me to go down the dark, deserted, spooky road full of BATS! Of course, we ended up hopelessly lost – and do you know what he said?" Phillippe paused for effect. "He said, "This can't be right! Where have you taken us, Phillippe?"
The other two snorted in derision. "Typical human!" Samson commiserated. "Blaming the horse for their mistakes!"
"We ended up being chased by wolves, and I almost fell of a CLIFF!" Phillippe added. "All because he wouldn't listen to me!"
Maximus nodded in agreement. "They couldn't manage at all without us," he said. "Why, if it weren't for me, Prince Eugene would be dead right now! After he fell in love with Rapunzel, he wanted to rescue her, but he was captured and condemned to be executed for the crimes he had committed as the thief called Flynn Rider. But I helped him escape," he bragged proudly. "I galloped through the castle with armed guards in hot pursuit, diving under gates just before they closed, leaping over parapets where a fall would have meant certain death...it was all ME! All Flynn could do was hang on for dear life. He was completely useless! Well, until it was time to actually rescue the princess," he acknowledged. "But it was all thanks to ME that he was alive and free TO rescue her. Now he's a prince!" He chuckled. "Still a total goofball, though. I have fun playing tricks on him all the time."
Samson grinned. "We have to find our fun where we can," he agreed. "Once, Prince Phillip wanted me to come with him to find out where a mysterious voice was coming from. It turned out to belong to the love of his life, but we didn't know it at the time. He promised me an extra bucket of oats and some carrots if I'd go. So, ever the loyal steed, I raced in the direction of the voice and leaped over a river...but Phillip got smacked by a low-hanging branch and fell right in the water!" Samson snickered. "I didn't mean to do it...but it WAS funny!" The other horses laughed. Samson went on, "Then, while he was pouring the water out of his boots, some forest animals stole his cape, and he didn't even notice! I had to point it out to him!" He chuckled. "He's a good human, though," he added loyally. "Despite his faults, I'd do anything for him."
The others nodded. "I would for mine too," Maximus said. "Flynn – I mean Prince Eugene – is a decent, well-meaning fellow at heart. He just needs me to keep him in line."
"Belle and her father Maurice are very kind," Phillippe said. "I've always considered myself lucky to have them as my humans." He looked up. "Hey, there's Belle now!"
Princess Belle was indeed approaching the paddock, and to the horses' delight, she was carrying a basket of apples. "Here, Phillippe," she said with a smile. "I thought you and your friends might enjoy these." She emptied the apples into the paddock.
"I told you she was kind!" Phillippe said eagerly. "Come on, guys - I'll race you over there!" Happily, the three new friends galloped across the paddock to get their lunch.