Continuing Tales

Kissed by a Rose

A Beauty & the Beast Story
by SamoaPhoenix9

Part 24 of 33

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Kissed by a Rose

The Beast was still annoyed with himself days later. He'd been so close, so very close. He and Belle had been talking about love, of all things. He had nearly asked her that one thing he so desperately wanted to know: "Do you love me?"

He couldn't do it. His courage had failed him. Even after she'd confided in him her painful secret of the night she'd been raped—that she blamed herself, despite the facts pointing to none of it being her fault. Even after he'd held her close, with her knowledge and consent, for the first time. She fit into his arms as if made to be there always.

He'd even started the sentence. And then a vision had flashed before his eyes of her looking horrified at his question. Not necessarily because he was a Beast. No, he feared her horror because it would mean she knew he loved her, but she didn't love him back. Their relationship would forever change the moment the question left him. Thereupon the words had died in his mouth, and he'd changed the subject. As always, Belle had gracefully humored him, and the chance was gone.

It wasn't that he didn't want to be human again. Oh, no. He wanted badly to be a true match for Belle in every way; someone who could at least make an attempt to be the man she deserved. But even if she did say she loved him and he changed back, what then? Would she still love him, or did she love him now—if she did love him now—precisely because he wasn't a human male, and therefore somehow 'safe?'

"Trust her," the enchantress had said in his dream. Belle herself had said that true love always trusted, and always persevered. He should ask her. There was every reason to ask her. He only had a week left, now.

He still couldn't do it.

Every time they were together, he was trying to work himself up to ask. It had gotten to the point where Belle had actually asked him straight out if there was anything wrong. He'd assured her there wasn't, but he'd taken more care to hide his inner turmoil since she'd asked. He had to wonder if he was fooling her, though. He knew from reading her book she noticed far more than she ever let on.


He turned around, and there she was in the doorway of the library. Even three weeks or so from giving birth, he still thought she was beautiful. Her brown hair especially gleamed so that he just wanted to do nothing but run his claws through it. She was so big that he was sometimes surprised that the baby didn't just pop out of her. Often now she'd stand with one hand on her belly and the other on her back, eyes closed as if listening.


She smiled and quirked an eyebrow at him. "Surely you haven't forgotten?"

"Forgotten what?" he asked, suddenly terrified he'd made her a promise and didn't remember doing so.

Belle chuckled. "Nothing important. We just agreed we were going to read a little before bed, and I was coming to find you."

"What's so funny, then?" he demanded.

"You. From the look on your face, you'd have thought you'd forgotten my name, not just a meeting to read."

"I'd never forget your name." He was indignant.

"Of course not. Never mind." She took a step forward, then paused. "Are you certain nothing's bothering you? You've been acting very…distracted…recently."

So she had noticed. The Beast restrained a wince. "No. Everything's fine."

"We can read some other time, if you want," she offered.

"No!" he said, a little too loudly. She blinked, and he hastily went on, "No, we can read now."

"All right. If you're sure." She came forward to fetch the book from its place on the table.

What was wrong with him? She was right, he'd been tense around her for days. If he kept it up, she'd think it had something to do with her. Which it didn't. Well, it sort of did, but mostly the problem was he just couldn't force himself to ask a simple question, and it was frustrating him.

Just get it over with! he ordered himself. But like the problem he had once had with wanting to destroy the rose, he couldn't force a single muscle to obey his command.

In the meantime, Belle had sat on the couch, and he'd sat beside her without realizing it. She had already started the book, having either not noticed his fidgets or chosen to ignore them. Probably the latter.

They were reading Robinson Crusoe, and the Beast was thoroughly enjoying it. There was no romance, since it was about a man stranded alone on an island, but it was full of adventure and danger, and he knew a lot about being alone and lonely. The Beast soon found himself relaxing into the story. When it was his turn to read, he took the book eagerly. Not many pages in, he felt Belle's head drifting onto his shoulder. He shifted so that he could put an arm around her, and she put her head on his chest. Within a minute or two, he felt the change in her posture that told him she was asleep.

He stopped reading. Instantly, she raised her head a little. "Why'd you stop?" she asked fuzzily.

"You fell asleep."

"No, I didn't. I was just resting."

The Beast was inclined to disbelieve her, but he didn't argue. He started reading again. Belle was soon asleep, and he stopped, fearful of disturbing her.

"I did it again, didn't I?" asked Belle.


"I'm sorry." She yawned. "It's just, I haven't been sleeping well. It's so hard to get comfortable with this." She patted her huge belly. "And now…I can't help it. Your voice is so soothing, and for once I actually am comfortable. Just keep reading, even if I fall asleep again."

"All right." He swallowed. "Belle?"


She was already half asleep. "Never mind." He continued to read. He read even as Belle's head drooped lower, and she relaxed even further. He read until his own eyes felt heavy. He put the book aside and closed his eyes for a moment…


"What?" The Beast jerked awake. Lumière was standing a few feet away. The candelabra's head and arm-branches were the only light in the room. He hopped closer.

"You fell asleep, Master," Lumière whispered in an almost conspiratorial tone. "You and the girl."

The Beast looked down. Belle was practically in his lap. She seemed to have crept there somehow after he'd fallen asleep himself. On her face was the same happy smile she'd worn when he'd carried her to bed a few weeks ago. His heart fluttered at the sight.

He thought at once of carrying her again, but first he had to get up. In maneuvering her off his lap he woke her. Luckily, she was already mostly on the couch, and by the time she opened her eyes he'd already stood.

She looked at him, and then at Lumière. "I suppose it's time for bed." She sighed, as if disappointed. She moved a little so that her legs were firmly planted on the floor, then tried to stand. She couldn't manage it. She held out her hands to the Beast. "Can you help me, please?"

Very gently, he took both her delicate hands in his paws and pulled her to her feet. Once there, she was able to make the walk back to her room unaided, though the Beast and Lumière stayed with her the entire time. Mrs. Potts met them halfway, en route to the library herself to search for them. They all saw Belle to her room, where she gave them a last "Good night," and shut the door.

Lumière and Mrs. Potts accompanied the Beast to the West Wing, unasked. As soon as they were there, Lumière burst out, "You are in love with the girl, are you not, Master?"

"I…" This was the first time the Beast had had to say it aloud, and he found himself unprepared.

Mrs. Potts figured it out before he could say anything. "After all this time," she sighed.

"That's it, then!" Lumière could hardly contain his excitement. He was practically shooting off sparks. "That should break the spell!"

"Stop it, Lumière," Mrs. Potts scolded. "It's not enough. She has to love him in return."

"Doesn't she?" Lumière looked genuinely surprised.

"If she did, we'd be human again," Mrs. Potts pointed out.

"But you didn't see them in the library." Lumière shot the Beast a suggestive look that made him blush hot under his fur.

"It wasn't like that…" he protested.

"Bah, but it is a beginning, no? She would not sleep so…close…if she felt nothing," Lumière said confidently. The Beast flushed again and looked away. Lumière smiled. "No need to be ashamed, Master. That you feel such things for the girl can mean nothing but good."

"If you love our Belle, why haven't you told her?" asked Mrs. Potts. "Or asked if she loves you?"

"I've tried!" the Beast burst out. All his frustration came bubbling to the surface. "I've been trying for days! But every time, I start I…I can't. I can't make the words come out."

"But you must tell her! You don't have time to be timid," Lumière insisted. He gestured at the rose. "You have barely a week to make your feelings known if we are ever to be free! You must be bold, daring."

"Bold, daring," the Beast repeated, as if saying the words would somehow endow him with their properties.

"We'll help you, Master," Mrs. Potts said. "But you must find the courage to ask Belle yourself. I do think she feels very strongly for you. She may not even realize it."

"What makes you say that?"

"Master," Mrs. Potts replied sternly, "Belle has trusted you with her deepest secrets, things she won't even tell us. She did tell me about the conversation you two had, but not the details. That alone speaks volumes about the depth of her feelings. Isn't it time you trusted her with yours?"

That made the Beast feel ashamed. Belle had told him things she hadn't even told her father, the person she was closest to in the world. Did that mean…?

"How can you help me?" he asked in a resigned voice.

"We can create the mood," Lumière answered with a grin. "Tonight. We will prepare a special dinner. There will be music. Romantic candlelight, provided by myself. And when the moment is right, you confess your love."

Just thinking about it made the Beast feel a little more confident. "But how will I know when the moment is right?"

"You will feel it here," Lumière said, placing a candle to his midsection.

"In your heart," Mrs. Potts clarified. "And when that moment comes, you must speak from the heart as well."

"I'll try," the Beast said, more decisively than he felt. "Alert Cogsworth and Monsieur Joli, please. Oh, and Belle, too."

"Of course, Master." Lumière bowed low, and he and Mrs. Potts left to get things ready.

That night, the Beast waited nervously in the dining room for Belle. He was reminded of that night—how long ago that felt!—back in October when he'd waited for her in the same room, and she had refused to come. Things had changed so much since then.

He hadn't really gotten dressed up, though he had found a blue tailcoat in his wardrobe that would fit his Beastly size. But, knowing that Belle wouldn't have anything to match that would fit, he had selected more ordinary clothes. The ballgown he'd given her for Christmas was waiting until after the baby came. The tailcoat could wait, too.

There was a tap at the door, and Cogsworth came in. His grin stretched to both sides of his face as he said, "Your lady has arrived, Your Highness."

The Beast blinked at the title. The enchantress had called him 'Your Highness' in his dream, but that had had a tinge of mockery to it. From anyone in the real world, he hadn't heard it in years. And he knew that for Cogsworth to call him that, it must be sincerely meant. The clock's limited sense of humor did not extend to mocking unless Lumière was involved.

Then the door opened and Belle came in, and the Beast forgot everything else. Like him, she wore relatively ordinary clothes: a pink dress cut to accommodate the baby that he'd seen her wear several times before. However, instead of her usual simple style, Madame had piled Belle's gleaming hair on her head, leaving some to stream down her back. The effect made the Beast's mouth go dry.

"You…you look wonderful," he managed to spit out.

Belle flushed a little and looked down. "Thank you. You look…good too. I haven't seen your hair like that before."

Now it was the Beast's turn to flush. His mane had been tamed enough to tie a horsetail at the base of his neck, a style he remembered wearing before he'd been transformed. "Lumière insisted," was what he said aloud.

"Lumière is usually right about things like that," Belle smiled. She hadn't moved from the doorway, and the Beast suddenly remembered his manners. He came up and offered her an arm with a bow. Belle spread her skirts and dipped just enough to suggest a curtsy without endangering her balance, and took the arm. The Beast led her to her chair, marveling as he did how she somehow still managed to carry herself with grace and dignity even when she had to be very uncomfortable. She deserved to be called 'Your Highness' right now, not him. He vowed to treat her as such the whole evening.

Everything went smoothly. They didn't talk much while dinner was on the table, though Belle complimented the Beast on his use of utensils. He'd been practicing sliding a spoon past his teeth privately for awhile but hadn't dared to show her the skill until now. As Lumière had promised, gentle music and candlelight created a very relaxed, elegant background. The Beast made a mental note to compliment the candelabra later.

When the meal was over, they went to the parlor and sat together in front of the roaring fire. Belle settled in close, and again the Beast put an arm around her with no objection from her. The warmth from the fire seemed to pale against the warmth and contentment inside him. And the Beast knew it was time. Speak from the heart.

"Belle…" he began, "Are you happy here?"

"Of course!" Belle replied. "Everyone here has been so kind, far beyond what I could ever ask for, or deserve. I couldn't think of a better place to raise my child." She paused.

"What is it?"

"It's just…so many times, I wish I could see my father again. Just for a moment, so that I could know he's all right."

The idea hit the Beast like lightning. He forgot what he was supposed to be doing. Why hadn't he thought of this before? "There is a way."

"What?" Belle sat bolt upright, and twisted around as much as she could to look at him.

"Come on." He helped her up, and led her upstairs.

Belle hesitated when they reached the West Wing corridor, seeing where they were. "Are you sure…?"

The Beast just pulled her along. Belle stared around with wide eyes once they entered his suite. He noticed she seemed particularly drawn to the shredded portrait of him as he used to look before the transformation, but he was too excited by his idea to really think about it. He just drew her past it to the table with the rose. As usual, the mirror sat beside it.

"Here." The Beast handed it to her. Belle turned it around in her hands, eyebrows furrowed.

"I don't understand. It's just my reflection."

"The mirror shows anything you wish to see. You just have to ask." He watched joy and comprehension dawn in her eyes.

"I'd like to see my father, please," she requested. The mirror shone, and she glanced away briefly. When she looked again, the eagerness in her eyes dimmed and turned to horror.


Kissed by a Rose

A Beauty & the Beast Story
by SamoaPhoenix9

Part 24 of 33

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