Author's Note: This silly one-shot was written in response to a prompt on Bittersweet & Strange. The prompt was "Take a scene or situation from BATB, and write it in a way that gives it an interpretation the audience wasn't intended to have." In other words, using a scene from the movie, but writing it in a way that gives it a completely different meaning.
P.S. I mention the book "War and Peace" in this story. I know that book was really written a century later than BATB, but for a silly humor story, I figure it doesn't matter.
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Monsieur Fourbe looked around the basement of the bookstore with a greedy smile of satisfaction. The room was stacked floor to ceiling with wooden crates – crates that contained not books, but all manner of stolen property, smuggled contraband, and illegal drugs.
Not for the first time, Monsieur Fourbe congratulated himself on his brilliant idea to open a bookstore in a tiny village full of uneducated, illiterate peasants. It was the perfect front for his illegal smuggling operation: a respectable establishment to all outward appearances, but one that was totally ignored by the village's residents, leaving Monsieur Fourbe free to pursue his illicit criminal activities without fear of discovery.
Later tonight, under cover of darkness, his partner Monsieur D'Arque would send a coach to pick up the crates and take them to the next stop on their journey: the insane asylum several towns away. The Maison des Lunes was an even better cover than the bookstore, as it was out in the middle of nowhere, and all decent, respectable people avoided it like the plague. The only people who went to the Maison des Lunes (aside from its hapless inmates) were the criminals who secretly met D'Arque there to hand over money for the stolen and smuggled goods, which they would fence and discreetly sell to covert customers. D'Arque would then split the money with Fourbe.
It was a perfect setup, and the bookstore was ideal for Fourbe's part in it. In a village full of people who couldn't read, he never had to worry about unwanted customers poking their noses in his business.
That is, until that girl had moved to town. Fourbe cursed the rotten luck that of all the towns she and her father could have settled in, they had chosen this one. The girl was a voracious reader, and even the meagerness of the stock of the tiny unappealing store didn't keep her away.
But she won't bother me today, Fourbe reminded himself. The girl had come into the store only the day before, and Fourbe had deliberately given her the longest book in the store – War and Peace. It was well over 1,200 pages long. That should keep her out of my hair for a week or two, Fourbe thought smugly.
Or so he thought...until he heard the telltale sound of the bell jingling on the bookstore door. "Bonjour!" called a cheery voice.
Oh, dear God, not HER again! Fourbe thought with a groan. Quickly he hurried up the stairs and closed the basement door behind him. He couldn't risk her coming downstairs to look for him.
"Ah, Belle," he greeted her, coming forward and plastering a fake smile on his face.
"Good morning! I've come to return the book I borrowed," she said, handing it to him.
"Finished already?" Fourbe said in dismay. How could she read so fast?
"Oh, I couldn't put it down!" Belle said, already climbing on the ladder to peer eagerly at the bookshelves. "Got anything new?"
"Not since yesterday," Fourbe said pointedly, hoping she'd get the hint and leave.
But no such luck. Belle continued to peruse the bookshelves as if she had all the time in the world and might happily stay there all day. "That's all right," she assured him. "I'll borrow...this one!" Triumphantly she took a book off the shelf.
"That one?" Fourbe said in surprise. "But you've read it twice!" This was NOT a good sign. Fourbe had hoped that once Belle had read through the meager supply of books in the store, she'd go away and never come back. But if she wanted to RE-read books she'd already read before, he would never be rid of her!
"Well, it's my favorite!" Belle said enthusiastically. "Far-off places, daring swordfights, magic spells, a prince in disguise-"
"Well, if you like it all that much, it's yours!" Fourbe interrupted hastily, knowing she'd go on all day if he didn't shut her up. If he let her KEEP the book, she wouldn't need to come back to return it.
"I insist!" Fourbe said desperately, pushing her toward the door. Anything to get rid of her!
"Well, thank you!" Belle said happily. "Thank you very much!" Already opening the book and beginning to read, she left the bookstore.
Fourbe gave a sigh of relief. That was close! Thank goodness she hadn't insisted on looking in the basement to see if there were any other books down there. But next time, she might...
Maybe I should come up with another kind of business, he mused. Something that absolutely NO ONE in this village could possibly want, not even her!
Maybe a store that sells gloves and evening gowns for pigs and chickens...