Continuing Tales

Kissed by a Rose

A Beauty & the Beast Story
by SamoaPhoenix9

Part 29 of 33

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Kissed by a Rose

Through a haze of pain the Beast felt Belle kneel beside him. Her fingers touched the wound on his shoulder, making him give a little half-groan.

"We have to get the rest of the arrow out," Belle said. Her voice shook, but it was matter-of-fact. "It can't heal otherwise."

"Don't, Belle," the Beast gasped. "You have to think of the baby. Go inside."

"This is all my fault," Belle answered stubbornly. She bent down and attempted to embrace him. "I'm so sorry! I should have listened to you when you wanted to come with us…but then Gaston might have killed you." Her voice caught. "Lumière, go for help. Tell the others what's happened."

"On my way, chérie! Hold on, Master. We'll have you warm and safe soon." Lumière said. The Beast listened to him tap away.

Belle was still talking. "I'd have come back days ago, but Gaston locked Papa and me in our cellar. It was only by good luck his friend Lefou let us out. I hoped we'd get here in time, but… please forgive me."

"Nothing to forgive," the Beast whispered. "You came back." He shuddered with the pain, and noticed that Belle had also shuddered and whimpered softly. "The baby. You should go—"

"I won't leave you!" Her hands began to work on his shoulder again. In only a minute she'd drawn the rest of the arrow shaft, along with the head, out of the wound. She began staunching the bleeding with strips torn from her sleeves. The Beast remembered another night when her sleeve had been in tatters because of him. It seemed like another lifetime. Now, he wished he could persuade her to go inside and take care of herself and the baby. The wound on his back was still draining his life away. Belle was just staving off the inevitable.

"Belle…" he whispered. His mind seemed to be drifting all over the place, away from his wound and the idea that this would be the last he saw of her.

"Yes?" She took his paw.

"The baby. You should…name him Arthur. After the story."

Belle's eyes filled with tears, and she lifted his paw to rub the knuckles against her cheek. "I'd hoped to name him after you," she said.


"Yes. Your real name. The one your parents called you."

She knew. Somehow, and he couldn't begin to guess how, she knew that he'd once been human. Heartbreak twisted the Beast's thoughts. Now he understood what the enchantress had meant when she'd said "Learn to trust her," in his dream. He'd thought that meant trusting Belle to come back if he let her leave, but that wasn't it. He should have trusted her with his deepest secrets, as she'd trusted him with hers. If he had, things would be very different right now.

Belle saw from his expression that he understood. "I guessed a long time ago, but I don't blame you for not telling me. Whatever happened to you and the servants must have been very painful."

"Oh, Belle…" His voice had begun to fail, but he had to say this. "I'm sorry."

"Don't," said Belle. "Once you're better, we'll have all the time in the world to talk about this."

"Not going to…"

"Don't talk like that!" she said instantly. "You'll be all right. We're together now. Everything will be fine, you'll see. Us, and the baby, too."

She still held his paw against her face. With the last of his strength, he reached up a few more inches and ran his fingers gently through her hair. "At least I got to see you…one last time." Darkness was closing in, but he fought to keep his eyes on her face. This was it. He would get no other chance. "Belle…I…l…ov…"

He didn't have the breath to finish. His head hit the stones beneath him, and he knew nothing more.

Belle felt the Beast go limp, felt the life leaving the arm she still held. His eyes rolled up just before they closed, and his head fell back at a loose angle.

Until that moment, she had refused to acknowledge that he might die. She'd known his wounds were serious, though she couldn't see his back where Gaston had stabbed him. But she'd convinced herself he'd still live. That he'd be there waiting when the baby was born, which she could feel would be very soon. The pains were coming closer and closer together, and they hurt as much as if she were the one being stabbed.

But that was almost distant compared to the pain of contemplating a future without the Beast. She hadn't been willing to face it, but now, here it was, glaring at her.

"No!" she begged, still hoping against hope that it wasn't true. He couldn't really be dead. "No, wait. Please. Don't go. Not yet." Tears streaming from her eyes, she bent as low as she could and kissed his cheek.

"Please don't leave us," she whispered. "The baby needs you. And I…I love you."

A strange hush seemed to fall over them. Belle looked up and realized it was just that the torrential rain had finally stopped. The morning sun was even trying to poke through the dark gray clouds on the eastern horizon.

Another pain hit and she doubled over, gasping. When she looked again, the sun wasn't the only thing lighting up the scene.

The Beast was glowing. Eyes wide, Belle scooted away on her knees until her back hit the causeway wall. She pressed herself hard against it, something solid to lean on in a suddenly much more unstable world.

Streaks of light like shooting stars began to rain down. They hit the stone and scattered, bathing the causeway all around the Beast's body in sparkles. Belle reached out to touch one, and was instantly sorry. It stung like a tiny jolt of lightning. She pressed even further away.

A light mist, as if the recent rain were evaporating in sudden heat, rose up and concealed most of the Beast's body and the air above it. Within it, Belle saw the Beast begin to rise, still partially obscured in mist.

What on earth is this? she wondered in awe and fear. Is this the Beast somehow…being called up to heaven? It wasn't anything like this when Mama died…

The Beast slowed in his ascent, and seemed to hang in the air with his hind paws dangling a foot or so above the causeway. Another burst of light, this time from the Beast's body, forced Belle to close her eyes and look away. Blinking spots from her vision, she squinted back towards the Beast, anxious about what had happened to him in the few intervening seconds.

He was changing. Before her eyes, his huge body was shrinking, pulling in on itself. The dark fur lightened and seemed to fade away into pale skin. All except for his mane, which gained tones of blond and red.

Another birth pain squeezed Belle, and she couldn't help crying out. More tears trickled their way down her cheeks, obscuring her vision with a watery blur. She blinked them away furiously.

When she could see again, the Beast was almost invisible in the light-streaked mist. She squinted, but all she could see was a body. It twisted in the air, and another flash of light blinded her a second time.

The whole situation just became too much. The pain, the fear of impending childbirth and of losing the Beast, the confusion of what was happening to him now. She couldn't take it in anymore. The white spots of light still covering most of her vision faded into black, and she sank into near-unconsciousness. The only thing still keeping her mildly aware of what was going on around her were the ever-more frequent pains.

The Beast woke up with a jolt. He took a sharp breath, feeling as if his lungs had been flat and were abruptly inflating again. Something was wrong about that, but he couldn't remember what it was.

Then it dawned on him: it should have hurt to take that breath.

He opened his eyes. All he could see was an expanse of stone in front of him, and a stone wall a little further away. Weak morning sun was just touching everything.

He pushed himself up into a sitting position, and the ease of the motion surprised him. Not only was he not in pain, in either his shoulder or his back, but he felt strangely…light. As if a huge burden he'd been unconsciously carrying around was suddenly gone.

He brought a paw up to feel his shoulder, to try to figure out what had happened to it. Halfway there, he froze. It was a paw he'd ordered to move, but what he saw before him was a hairless, clawless, human hand.

For a second he thought he was dreaming, and the enchantress was playing games with him again. He glanced around suspiciously, but she was nowhere in sight. He flexed his fingers, and the fingers in front of him also moved.

Could it possibly be true? He reached up and touched his face. Skin on skin. No fur, no fangs. He looked down. Bare human feet looked back at him. He still wore the same clothes, torn and bloody at the shoulder and back, and now astonishingly too large. Still amazed, he plucked at the loose folds of cloth around his neck while his brain tried to catch up.

What had happened, and more importantly—how? Memory was coming back. He was on the causeway between the castle and forest. Gaston. Belle. The knife. He was dying. He and Belle had talked about the baby's name. He'd realized how far he'd fallen short in trusting her. He'd tried at the last second to tell her how he felt.

After that was a haze. Nothing but a blur, and a feeling of floating. And now…this. Inexplicably waking up again, in a human body, fully healed. What would Belle think?


He spun. Belle lay curled a few feet behind him against the causeway wall. For a second he was terribly afraid when he saw how pale she was, but then she moved her head and moaned. Then she gave a little half-scream, all with her eyes shut tight.

"Belle!" In an instant he was beside her. "Belle! Wake up!"

Belle moaned again. Her eyes stayed shut.

"Belle, it's me. I'm all right. Look," he urged, but still she didn't respond. Beginning to be really frightened, he reached down and put his arms around her. She didn't open her eyes, but as before when he held her, she snuggled close to him. He relaxed, just a little. She still recognized him, even in this strange almost-unconscious state. But she was obviously in a lot of pain.

She'd said the baby was coming soon. That explained the pain. Holding in his panic, the transformed young man scooped up the woman he loved. "Don't worry," he said soothingly, "I have you. Everything's going to be fine." She was much heavier than he remembered, but some of the Beast seemed to have stayed behind in his arms and legs. He was still strong enough to carry her.

Belle thought she heard someone calling her name. The voice was familiar and unfamiliar at the same time, but she couldn't find the willpower to move her mouth to answer, or open her eyes to see who it was. Arms went around her and held her close. A unique and comforting spicy smell filled the air. Now she knew who it was without doubt. She relaxed into his hold, knowing she was safe. He wouldn't let anything happen to her. She could even stand the pain, so long as he was near.

The former Beast started towards the castle, Belle's head on his shoulder and her tangled hair mingling with his. Every twenty steps or so she would tense up and moan again, and he would hold her closer. The last time, just as they left the causeway into the courtyard, he shyly leaned down and pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead. "I love you, Belle," he whispered.

And Belle smiled. "I love you, too," she said, very distinctly, though she stayed limp in his arms and her eyes didn't open.

Immediately, the castle gave a great shiver underneath them. The young man staggered but managed not to fall or drop his precious burden. From his feet in all directions spread out a ripple of change. The dark stones became light marble, the angry gargoyles all around angels. Flowers peeked out from all corners. Sparkles of light danced around the towers, and then faded.

The young man stood still for a moment, staring in awe. The castle was now just the way he remembered it from his childhood. The enchantress had said this would happen if he somehow managed to break the spell—everything would return to the way it had been. Which meant…

The front doors flew open with a bang. Down into the courtyard rushed three people. The young man recognized them instantly.

"Lumière! Cogsworth! Mrs. Potts!" he called.

Cogsworth, now a heavy man with a dangling pocketwatch that served as a pendulum, skidded to a halt. Because he had been in the lead, the other two crashed into him.

"Dieu, Cogsworth, what is the matter with you?" the tall, thin man dressed all in gold demanded in disgust. "Can you not see the Master and Mistress Belle need our help?"

"Master?" Cogsworth squinted at the young man as if he couldn't believe his eyes.

"Of course," Lumière snapped. "Who else would it be? Your eyesight must be worse than even I suspected."

"This is no time to stand there bickering," Mrs. Potts, now a plump, matronly woman with white hair, reminded them. She came forward and laid a hand on Belle's forehead. "Poor dear." She looked up into her Master's eyes. "The baby?"

He nodded. "She said soon. And now, she's blacked out like this. I can't get her to wake up, but she knows I'm here, and she knows who I am. She spoke to me a minute ago."

"Shock, I think," Mrs. Potts answered. She peered behind them. "Where is her father?"

He'd forgotten Belle's original errand. "I don't know. He wasn't with them."

"He's safe," Lumière assured them all. "Staying with a friend in the village while he recovers. The journey here would have been too much."

"Then we've no more time to waste! If the baby's coming soon, then Belle needs to be warm and comfortable. Come on, quickly!" Mrs. Potts led them all back into the castle. It was all the young man could do not to stop at the threshold and stare around. Everything had gone from dark and cobwebby to bright and polished in an instant. But he'd have time to examine it later. Belle moaned in his arms again.

"Belle's room is too far," he said. "I don't think there's time."

"The only other room with a built up fire is the West Wing," Cogsworth announced, sounding slightly panicky.

"It will have to do," answered Mrs. Potts. They followed her up the flights of stairs, the young man's arms burning more and more with each step. "Hold on, Belle," he whispered to her. "We're almost there."

It was a relief to finally lay her down, though it was odd to do so on his own bed. To distract himself, he turned to Mrs. Potts. "Now what?"

"Now, you leave," she answered firmly.

"Leave?" Had he still been a Beast the sound would have been a thunderous roar. As it was, Cogsworth and Lumière stiffened and drew back a step. Mrs. Potts, however, had apparently learned a thing or two from Belle. She stood her ground.

"This is women's business, Master. I can tell you now that your father wasn't present when you were born in this very bed. And Belle might not be comfortable if she knew you were here, anyway. Things will be messy, and she'll be in a lot of pain. She may not want you to see her like that."

It was only the suggestion that Belle might feel better if he left that made him begin to back towards the hallway. Lumière took his shoulder and steered him gently. Still, he couldn't take his eyes from Belle until he passed into the parlor and out of sight. His last glimpse of her was Mrs. Potts tucking the covers up.

Kissed by a Rose

A Beauty & the Beast Story
by SamoaPhoenix9

Part 29 of 33

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