Continuing Tales

Kissed by a Rose

A Beauty & the Beast Story
by SamoaPhoenix9

Part 23 of 33

<< Previous     Home     Next >>
Kissed by a Rose

"When Guinevere heard that Arthur was slain, she stole away to a convent. And no one could ever make her smile again. The end."

"That was a beautiful story," the Beast said after a pause.

Belle smiled with pleasure. "I knew you'd like it." Belle closed Arthur and Guinevere and ran a finger fondly down the cover.

"I don't think Lancelot really loved Guinevere, though," the Beast remarked.

"What makes you say that?" asked Belle. "I agree with you, but I want to hear what you think."

"Lancelot was just obsessed with Guinevere. Yes, he did all sorts of brave feats for her, but he did those things because he thought she was beautiful. I wonder what would have happened if he'd seen someone prettier."

"That's interesting. I'd never thought of it that way," said Belle. "I have to admit, I used to wonder why Guinevere gave in. She and Arthur were so in love in the beginning of the story. They were fated to meet, and when they got married it was like a fairytale come true."

"Used to?" the Beast repeated gently.

"I think I understand her a little better now." Belle glanced down at her bulging stomach. "Attention like Lancelot paid to her…it's flattering, at first. You let it go on because it seems harmless. Then all of a sudden you find yourself in over your head, and no way back." She shuddered. "You wonder why you didn't say 'no' at the very beginning and end things before they went so far."

"You couldn't have known," the Beast said. His gruff voice was very quiet. "If you make a choice because you were naïve and terrible things happened because of it, there's no point in asking why you didn't see it coming. Thinking that way can drive you mad." His voice grew even quieter. "Trust me."

Belle looked at him. He had been to the brink of that madness; she could see it in his sad blue eyes. He understood, possibly better than anyone ever could, the feeling of regretting choices. She knew what he wasn't telling her: whatever choice he had made, it had cost him his humanity.

Her own eyes filled with tears. She tried to halt them, but without her permission those hot tears began to crawl down her cheeks.

"What's wrong?" The Beast looked alarmed, but for some reason Belle couldn't seem to stop. She buried her head in her hands, shoulders shaking as she tried to stifle her sobs.

"Belle, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you. Please don't cry," the Beast begged.

"I'm s-sorry," she gulped. "I d-don't mean to…" Oh, how she wanted her father there, to put his arms around her and reassure her that everything would be all right the way he had when she was little. The thought of him only made her cry harder.

"Belle…" The Beast's voice was a gentle rumble. She felt a reluctant touch of fur to the cloth on her shoulder, as though he had reached out and then stopped himself at the last minute. That was enough. All she wanted was comfort. She turned and buried her face in his shoulder.

A distant part of her, the part that was still thinking rationally, felt him stiffen beneath her for a moment. Then, very, very slowly, his huge arms went around her. She almost disappeared into his embrace. She could feel how careful and gentle he was being to check his strength while still drawing her close. It was like being pulled beneath a warm blanket.

Just the way he smelled was somehow soothing. Strangely, he didn't smell like animal hair. The scent wasn't anything she recognized; sort of spicy, laced with hints of lemon and soap from his clothes. Belle could feel herself relaxing with every breath she took. Slowly, her sobs grew less. Even when she was almost finished crying, she found herself reluctant to draw away. She was so comfortable and warm, and it felt…it felt familiar, and right, to be in the Beast's arms. The thought wasn't even disturbing to her, though she had a vague sense that it should be.

She realized that her hair ribbon had slid out at some point, and the Beast was running one paw very carefully through her hair. The gesture was incredibly relaxing, and it felt wonderful. It was also 'safe,' in a way, because this was something Gaston had never tried to do with her. For some reason, her hair had never seemed to interest him much. The sensations were unique, and Belle stored the memory of them away deep within herself.

At last, she realized she had to pull away. Not that she wanted to, but the thought of what one of the servants might think were they to come in was enough to make her sit back.

"I'm sorry…" she whispered, eyes on her lap. "I don't even know why I was crying…"

"Don't worry," the Beast reassured her. "Mrs. Potts warned me you might be easily upset sometimes. She said it's something that happens to, well…"

"Women in my condition," Belle finished. She sighed. "I don't see why it wouldn't be. Pregnancy has done all sorts of strange things to me. My nails are even growing faster than usual."


Belle held her fingers out. "I can't keep them trimmed to a reasonable length anymore. They're turning into—" She stopped. She'd been going to say 'claws,' but realized that might make him self-conscious. "—weapons," she chose instead.

He chuckled, then sobered. "Belle, are you sure you were crying over nothing? If something's bothering you, I…I want to know."

Belle opened her mouth to deny it, but stopped. Then she thought of a hundred smaller things she could say. Yes, she was growing more and more worried about the impending birth of her child, how much it would hurt, if the baby would look like Gaston. Yes, she hadn't been sleeping well for some time because the baby had his own ideas about when it was appropriate to be awake and active. Yes, the bigger she got—and she felt as though she were getting bigger every day now, practically—the more her back and legs ached. Yes, she still hadn't even begun to think of a suitable name. Yes, she missed her father terribly, ached to know if he was all right.

But none of those things was the real trouble. The real trouble was something she didn't even want to look at. And now here the Beast was, asking. Dare she give him what was feeding on her soul?

"Tell me," he said, as if reading her thoughts.

Belle wiped at her eyes with one sleeve. "Are you sure you want to know?"

"Tell me anyway," he answered. Something in his expression reminded Belle that his past had horrors of its own.

"I don't even know how to start…"

"Is it about…what happened?" His eyes flicked to the baby.

How would he know to go straight to that? Belle felt her eyes filling again, but in a way, they were tears of relief that he had started for her. "I feel so guilty…if only I'd said no…there are times when I feel I brought it on myself."

"Didn't you? Say no, I mean?"

"Not at first. Gaston—that's his name, by the way, Gaston, I don't remember if I ever told you that. He had come in to have a drink. He brought me flowers, and I thought it was only polite, since he'd gone to the trouble of getting them and coming out to our cottage. My father was away for a few days, so I was alone.

"I was fixing the things for tea when I turned around and there he was, right next to me. I had a strange sense that he was too close.

""What are you doing?" I asked him, because he'd startled me.

""Nothing you haven't wanted for a long time," he said, and then he…he kissed me."

The Beast shifted beside her, but didn't comment.

"I tried to push him away, but he's very strong. I was bruised for several days afterward. I didn't even think about yelling—I was too shocked. By the time I finally realized what he was going to do…" She shuddered. "It was too late. I don't really remember a lot of detail. I know I didn't scream. It felt like my whole body was numb. It was too much; I couldn't take it in. Even after he got up, I couldn't move, couldn't do anything. I know he talked to me afterwards, even yelled once or twice, but I have no idea what he said. Eventually he left. I do remember him saying something to the effect of 'now I belonged to him.' That was what woke me up, as if from a horrible nightmare. I thought, I will be damned if I ever belong to him."

The Beast snorted, possibly at her strong language. She didn't think she'd ever sworn in front of anyone before. But she was too lost in her own memories to find the energy to care.

"He wouldn't leave me alone after that. Kept on asking me to marry him. I did everything I could to discourage him. He'd tell me that I was being coy, and that he'd wait. He got angrier and angrier. Apparently he'd told his friends at the tavern that he was as good as married, or something like that. He thought I was shaming him in front of everyone.

"Then I realized I was pregnant." Belle barely recognized her own voice at this point. It was rough from crying and shaking slightly with pent-up emotion. She also realized that tears were slowly falling down her face. She hadn't even realized she'd started again. "That might have been the worst moment of my life. I knew that the child was his chance to own us both, for good. I considered going to the village midwife, to—" She stopped, not certain how to explain.

"Lumière once told me what that means," the Beast said, surprising her. Very gently, he asked, "Why didn't you?"

"In the first place, I realized it wouldn't solve my problem with Gaston. The midwife was one of the town gossips. She'd never hold onto to something as juicy as the aloof town beauty coming to her, and eventually it would get back to him. In the second place…" she thought back to that moment, placing a hand on her stomach as she did so, "…I couldn't. At the time, I just knew that deep down I didn't really want to. Now, I'm not sorry. The baby is my child, no matter what, and I love him. Even if he grows up to be the spitting image of his father, I don't care. I know I'll have moments like this, where it hurts to remember, especially since he'll probably be my only child. But I have to believe the love I feel when he moves inside me will last the rest of my life."

"What did you do then?" the Beast asked after a brief silence.

"I knew I had to protect the baby, no matter the cost. Papa was working on a big invention that he was going to show at a fair before the month was out. I planned that he'd have the money to move us someplace else when he came home."

"Did you tell him?"

"I didn't tell him about any of it. I hid my bruises when he came home from the first trip and tried to act normally. He knew something was wrong, but eventually I think he put it down to my being ill while he was gone, or something like that. I was going to tell him the truth the moment he came back from the fair. I knew that if I told him beforehand, he'd worry so much that he'd never finish the invention in time.

"He left for the fair, and Gaston came to the house the next night. He said he'd gotten tired of me playing games with him, and that he'd arranged a wedding at the tavern. I had no choice." She spat the word out. The Beast winced, and Belle put a hand briefly on his paw to tell him this was not aimed at him.

"This time, I ran. I left the house with only a cloak and a little food. On the path, I met Philippe, without Papa, and I realized something had happened on the road. Eventually, we found our way here."

"I think I understand," the Beast said. His voice sounded dull for some reason. "You agreed to stay here in place of your father so you could get away from Gaston and the rest of the village while you had your child."

"In part," Belle agreed. "I'm not proud of it." She tried to smile. "I'm no saint, whatever you might have believed."

"You were protecting the baby," he pointed out. "And if we're talking about sainthood, I'm the last person to judge fitness. I put you in that situation in the first place." He took a deep breath. "I've been wanting to ask your forgiveness for what I did."

He said 'person,' Belle thought distantly. Aloud, she said, "I forgave you a long time ago." She leaned back on the couch, thinking. "And maybe even if both of us did what we did for the wrong reasons, but I think good things have come out of it. Are you sorry we met?"


"I'm not sorry, either."

They sat silently for a few minutes. Belle closed her eyes, suddenly exhausted. She hadn't moved very far, and it was easy to lean over a little and put her head on the Beast's shoulder. This time, he didn't stiffen, or even seem very surprised. For herself, Belle couldn't believe how relaxed she felt. It was as if a knot in her chest had loosened, and she could take a deep breath for the first time in months. The pain and the fear from what Gaston had done were by no means gone, but they had diminished to a bearable distance.

The baby nudged Belle, and through her, the Beast, who happened to be touching that side of her. She could feel him shift to look down.

"I felt that," he said.

"Mm-hm," Belle answered dreamily, still keeping her eyes closed. "The baby's strong. He's been keeping me up at night with his bouncing around. Maybe that's why I got so upset."

"You have reason to be upset."

She didn't respond. A minute or two more of silence, then the Beast, said, "Belle?" She could hear the hesitancy in his voice.


"Are you…do you…" Now she could almost feel his struggle for words.

She sat up to look him in the face. "Yes?"

"I…you said earlier that you didn't think Lancelot really loved Guinevere, but I don't think you ever said why."

"Oh." Belle got the impression that this was not really what he had intended to say. However, he looked so uncomfortable that she elected to humor the abrupt subject shift. She'd just told him a lot. Maybe he was having trouble absorbing it, and was switching to a safer topic in order to cope. She could understand that.

"I always thought love was more than just showing it by doing things to honor the other person," she said. "Lancelot sets out to prove his love by defeating knights, dragons, and so on, and bringing trophies back to Guinevere. But in the end, it's Arthur who is willing to forgive all of her past betrayal. I wonder if Lancelot would have had the courage to do that if he had been her husband instead."

"So Arthur is the better man because he lets his wife betray him?"

Belle shook her head. "No, that's not what I meant. Arthur is heartbroken when he finds out about Lancelot and Guinevere. But he declares that if Guinevere is happier with someone else, he'll accept it, because he loves her enough to let her go if that's what she wants. Lancelot is more interested in his own desires, and keeping Guinevere in his castle as another prize. Guinevere realizes in the end who really loves her more, and returns to Arthur to beg forgiveness just before he rides off for his last battle. Arthur at least dies knowing that his hope that she would one day come back to him has been fulfilled, even if Guinevere can never quite forgive herself for not realizing what she had until it was lost. I think that's why she stays in the convent for the rest of her life, although the book doesn't give a reason.

"I once read that true love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. It isn't selfish, and doesn't keep a record of wrongs done. Faced with those criteria, it's Arthur's love that is the enduring kind." She smiled, feeling the tear-dried skin of her face protest the motion. "That was a long speech. I didn't mean for it to turn into such a sermon."

"It's all right. I got your meaning."

They were silent again, but this time the silence was slightly uncomfortable, for reasons unknown to Belle. Eventually, however, the Beast said, "I've been thinking. Now that we're done with Arthur and Guinevere, maybe you could help me choose another book."

"Of course. I've found lots of good books here. Or, if you're feeling adventurous, we could pick one of the ones I've never seen before."


Belle laughed. "All right. We'll stick to ones that I've read."

"And liked."

"And liked. I promise." She took one paw and led him over to the shelves.

Later, as she lay in bed trying to sleep that night, she thought about that awkward silence, and what had brought it on. And she wondered what he had been going to say but hadn't managed to get out.

Kissed by a Rose

A Beauty & the Beast Story
by SamoaPhoenix9

Part 23 of 33

<< Previous     Home     Next >>