Continuing Tales

Kissed by a Rose

A Beauty & the Beast Story
by SamoaPhoenix9

Part 26 of 33

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Kissed by a Rose

Can things get any worse? wondered Belle. She had hoped never to see Gaston again. To see him now when she was practically helpless felt far too much like the dream she'd had several months ago, where she had first realized the Beast's identity.

The Beast had rescued her—sort of—in that dream. For a second, Belle wished she had listened to him and allowed him to come with her. Or that he would come and save her as he had when she encountered the wolves. Then she wished him a thousand miles away. Gaston hunted large, powerful animals for a living. Gaston had both his gun and bow with him. It was all too easy to imagine the outcome of such a confrontation.

Gaston began to stride towards her. Belle shrank back, noticing for the first time that Lefou was there as well. She didn't expect any help from him; he always did what Gaston told him.

Gaston stopped a few feet away. He looked Belle up and down. His lip curled as he took in her pregnancy. Belle tried desperately to sink into the cold state she'd always felt whenever she saw Gaston after he'd raped her. It wouldn't come. That safety net was gone. She could no longer pretend she felt nothing when she looked at him.

Her mind wheeled in panic. Her mental protections were gone, shattered by months of feeling safe in the castle. All of her fear, and yes, burning anger, were plain to see on her face. What would Gaston do to her?

"How could you, Belle?" Gaston demanded. "You know you belong to me. Yet you went and gave yourself to another man. How could you betray me like this?"

He still hadn't guessed he was the father! Belle looked down to hide her relief.

Gaston took both of her arms, pinning her against the carriage. "Who is it?" he demanded.

"Who?" Belle managed.

"The man! The man who took what's mine! Tell me!" He shook her hard enough to rattle her teeth a little.

Belle was half-tempted to tell the truth. But only for an instant. If she told, and Gaston believed her, she was sentencing herself and her unborn child to even worse than rattling teeth. She clenched them together and shook her head.

"Tell me!" Gaston shook her harder. Belle's head hit the carriage hard enough to hurt.

An image of the Beast suddenly popped into her head. He had always been there to protect her against her nightmares. She drew the thought of him around her like a cloak of security.

Miraculously, the fear and even the anger began to slide away. Belle held the image in her mind of the Beast's face as she'd last seen it: caught somewhere between concern and sorrow, human and animal. He cared about her and the baby, far more than Gaston was ever likely to do.

"I don't know his name," she lied.

"Are you sure?" Gaston demanded, leaning down to look her in the eye.

Belle looked straight back. "I'm sure." She couldn't believe how calm she felt. She wriggled a little higher against the coach. "Let me go, Gaston. I have to get my father somewhere warm before he gets worse."

He let go and stepped back, but the sneer remained on his face. "You think I've waited all these months for you to reappear to let you out of my sight again?"

"How did you know I wasn't dead in the woods somewhere?" Belle asked, curiosity getting the better of her.

"I was afraid when your trail disappeared," Gaston admitted. So he had tracked her. "Don't you know how dangerous that was, Belle? Anything could have happened to you."

"It seemed a better alternative than being forced to marry you," said Belle, reveling a bit in her newfound boldness. "Gaston, please. Doesn't all this prove to you that we're not right for each other? I'll get back in the carriage and leave now. You won't ever see me again. You can find someone more worthy of you. Just let me go."

"I always get what I want in the end, Belle. You—and everyone else—has to learn that. Am I right, Lefou?"

"Right, Gaston," repeated Lefou dutifully.

"As I was saying," Gaston continued grandly, "I was afraid something had happened to my future bride. I searched all night, while the whole village waited to celebrate the wedding. And then, just when I had given up hope, your father appeared in the tavern."

Belle glanced at her father, huddled beneath his blankets. She noticed a flash of gold out of the corner of her eye. So Lumière had wisely hidden himself somewhere in the carriage.

"He was raving like a lunatic," said Gaston. "Something about you being the prisoner of a Beast in a castle." The huge man chuckled. "He had obviously lost his mind. There are no Beasts like the one he described in these woods. I would have seen the footprints. And you a prisoner of such a creature—in a dungeon? The idea is laughable."

Belle said nothing, which Gaston seemed to take for agreement. "So what else could I do? I had him committed."

"You what?" gasped Belle.

"Monsieur D'Arc of the Maison des Lunes took charge of him that night."

"And he's been there ever since? Oh, Papa!" Belle climbed into the carriage without realizing how she did so, and clutched her father close under his blankets. "I'm so sorry, Papa," she whispered. No wonder he was so thin! That was the work of the past months, not just his current illness.

"I was certain if your father was in the Maison, you would reappear, especially since he kept insisting you were alive. But you didn't come back. Your father stuck to his story despite Monsieur D'Arc's best efforts to convince him there was no Beast."

Belle shuddered and pulled Maurice closer. Monsieur D'Arc was not known for being kind to his patients.

"Eventually, your father escaped, claiming he was going to search for the castle and rescue you. That was two days ago. Lefou and I have been tracking him since then." He rubbed his chin. "The old man's smarter than I gave him credit for. Led us a good chase. Interesting that you should appear now, after all these months, just when we were about to find him."

"I wish I'd come sooner," said Belle, "if I'd known you were torturing him just to get at me."

"'Torturing?'" Gaston repeated. "Your father needs help. He was claiming you were a prisoner. In a dungeon. You weren't, were you?"


"And there is no Beast, is there?" Gaston pressed.

Belle hesitated. She didn't want to bring the Beast into this anymore than she had to. But if she told Gaston there was no Beast, she would not only be confirming her father's insanity, but telling an even bigger lie. She wasn't sure how many she could sustain without Gaston getting suspicious.

"There is a Beast," said Belle. "I can't deny it. My father is telling the truth about that."

Gaston stared, and even Lefou looked astonished. "Well!" said Gaston after a moment. "I can see the old man is a bad influence on you, Belle. It won't keep us from taking him back to the Maison des Lunes, where he belongs. You, maybe some time with me to show you the truth will cure you." He started towards the carriage.

"No!" Belle wailed. "My father's not crazy, and neither am I! And I can prove it!" She began rummaging around on the driver's seat of the carriage for the mirror.

"Mademoiselle!" Lumière's voice hissed at her from somewhere nearby. "What are you doing?"

"It's the only way. You heard him," Belle whispered back. Her fingers found the mirror's handle, and she pulled it towards her. "Show me the Beast!" she commanded. The mirror shone with its magic, and an image of the Beast's face appeared. From the background, she could tell he was in the West Wing. Even seeing him this way brought her comfort in the midst of her panic. She turned the mirror defiantly to show the approaching Gaston.

He halted. His mouth dropped open for an instant, and then his eyes narrowed. Lefou, beside him, looked terrified.

"What is that?" Gaston demanded.

"This is the Beast. I've been in his castle these last few months. He's been very kind to me." Belle turned the mirror again so that she could see him.

The next thing she knew, the mirror was seized from her hands. "Him?" Gaston demanded. He looked from the image in the mirror, to her, and back. His face twisted in disgust. "This monster is…"

"He's no monster, Gaston," Belle snarled. Her anger blazed up, and suddenly she felt like the Beast in one of his—now rare—rages. "You are. The Beast is more of a man than you'll ever be."

"You—" Gaston was in the carriage with one hand around her throat before she could blink. Belle closed her eyes and waited for him to squeeze, or snap her neck.

"Gaston…" came Lefou's nervous, confused voice, breaking the tension. Immediately, Gaston released Belle and backed away a step.

"You really are crazy, just like the old man," Gaston said to Belle. He was still staring at her in abject disgust and rage. "You've betrayed me with that…that thing. But maybe there's still time to show you the error of your ways." He hoisted himself into the driver's seat of the carriage. Belle started to climb out, and Gaston turned. "Leave me from now on, and I send your father back to the Maison. Stay, and we'll keep him close. Never say I'm not a generous man." Belle sat back down with a plop. "Come on, Lefou," Gaston added. Lefou climbed in beside Belle and Maurice, and Gaston flicked Philippe's reins hard. The horse whinnied in protest, but began to pull.

Helpless tears began to wind down Belle's cheeks. In trying to protect herself, her child, and her father, she had only managed to make more mistakes and put them all in greater danger. "I wish you were here, Beast," she whispered as the carriage rolled towards the village. "But I hope you stay away; I couldn't bear to lose you, too."

Kissed by a Rose

A Beauty & the Beast Story
by SamoaPhoenix9

Part 26 of 33

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