The Questions Belle Left Unasked
"Beast! Gaston!" Belle yelled. "We can talk! There's no need for violence."
"You want to talk to this monster?" Gaston said, shakily climbing to his feet.
"Belle!" The Beast smiled in disbelief. “You came back!” He slowly climbed the slick roof to Belle. As he caressed her cheek, agony exploded in his side. The Beast reared back, letting go of the railing as he roared.
Gaston wrenched his hunting knife from the Beast’s meat, blood gushing from the wound. “Monsters can’t be reasoned with!”
The Beast’s flailing loosened Gaston’s one-handed hold, but he caught himself on the Beast's cloak, causing the larger male to choke. Belle forced her fingers between the fur and medallion and pulled the men towards the balcony. Between plummeting to his death or helping himself and the Beast get to safe footing, Gaston sheathed the knife and braced his feet on the stone of the castle.
With a lot of shoving and yanking, the Beast’s body rolled limply across the wet stone. Belle knelt beside the dying monster. Whispered words of regret and forgiveness passed between them. Gaston’s triumphant grin faded as Belle laid her head on the Beast’s chest.
As the last rose petal fell, falling embers of magic littered the balcony. The Beast’s body rose and convulsed in the sky. Steam billowed as golden light sprang from his fur-less fingers and toes. Belle retreated towards Gaston who then forced her behind him, his knife at the ready. A final burst of light sent the body slowly back to the ground. Before Belle could edge past Gaston, the body stood up, checking itself out. It whirled to face the pair.
"Belle! It's me!" the handsome man said, arms spread wide.
Belle eyed the dark blonde haired man. He was human, not a beast. He was pretty fine too. When she caught his vibrant blue eyes, she knew it was still the Beast. "It is you!" she said.
Gaston, not expecting her to shove past him, stared as the no-longer-a-beast prince drew Belle into an embrace. “Now hold on there!”
The prince dipped his head to finally get his first kiss. His lips bumped into her damp, slender palm. "Belle?"
"Hold on there, Beast. What just happened? You were dying, sparks fell, and now you're human."
“Yeah! We demand an explanation.” Gaston said, swaggering up to wrap an arm around Belle’s shoulders, which she promptly step out of.
"Oh, right," the Prince said sheepishly though he glared at the burly man. He gave them a general overview of why the castle and its inhabitants were cursed.
"Well. I feel a bit used. Everyone blatantly hid the truth from me," Belle said, rubbing her hands on her ruined dress.
“Hoorah. You’re no longer as hideous as before. Now I must take Belle back to where she belongs. With me,” Gaston said.
Belle looked up at him, an unreadable expression on her face, before she turned back to the Prince. "How come you never set out to break the spell? Good things come to those who wait, but sitting idle was not the way to go about it. You're lucky that my father is a horrible map reader."
"I was a teenager. I was depressed. How couldn’t I be with a body like that? But then you came. You helped me overcome my depression and selfishness. Stay here. With me," the Prince said, moving closer to hook his finger under her chin.
She flinched away from his touch. "I've been living here for only a few weeks...I think.”
“And how dare you!” Gaston said to the Prince.
Belle shot him an accusatory glance. “And where were you? In the tavern?” She redirected her attention. “The only clock around is Cogsworth, and he never seems to keep time consistently."
"Yes... What are you getting at?" The Prince said, ignoring Gaston.
"When Lumiere and the other servants made me dinner the first night I was here, I recall him mentioning the fact that this spell is ten years old. That means you were eleven when that enchantress came. You just confirmed this yourself."
“What does it matter, Belle? Let’s get back to town and out of the rain,” Gaston groaned.
Belle backed away from both men. "The ripped up picture of you in the West Wing. You were not eleven years old."
"Belle, listen to me," the Prince said moving closer to the suddenly edgy woman. They were still standing on the rain-drenched balcony and she was dangerously close to the railing.
Gaston sidestepped into his path. “We’ve listened to you for long enough. Let’s go, Belle!”
She hadn’t heard either of them. "Now that I think about it, I don't even know your name! And what exactly are you the prince of? None of the villagers remember you or this castle. I haven't seen any pictures of your family nor a crest. Who are you?"
The night deepened as the thunderclouds circled back around. The Prince's reaching arms fell to his sides. "My...name. It’s better if you don’t know it.”
Belle gripped the icy stone railing, her brown hair sticking to the damp skin of her neck. "Who are you?"
His blonde eyebrows lowered and his arms folded across his broad chest. "So be it," he said.
The world grew still. The winds shaping the clouds overhead into a funnel slowed to a stop. Drops of water hung suspended, refracting what little light there was. Both of their eyes were on the writhing body that was the prince. Standing, or more like existing, where he had been was a mass of swirling darkness. The clouds were spinning down into it, feeding it.
You wanted to know who I am. The voice blasted into the minds of the trembling pair. I am the Narrator.
“The what?” Gaston growled through his clenched teeth.
I am the one who began this story all those years ago. You know, Belle, you shouldn’t be so nit-picky. How many other men, or beasts, aside from your father can keep you mentally stimulated? The black mass circled in a calmer manner, its volume lowering.
“Well, you should learn to narrate a better story!” Belle said pushing away from Gaston. “Now what happens?”
Technically, you broke the spell, so I shall continue with the story. Do you still want Prince—let’s call him “Adam”—Prince Adam?
“As you said, I don’t really have a choice. Prince Adam it is.”
“Belle! I still have my heart set on marrying you.”
Belle waved a weary hand at the hunter. “Gaston. Every girl in town fawns over you. Pick one.”
That’s that! A loud groaning accompanied his words. The suspended rain drops resumed their course, but the stone beneath them crumbled. A burst of wind exploded from where the Beast had been. Gaston managed to grab Belle again and spun so that his back hit the stone railing instead of hers. Then that collapsed and they were free-falling.
Before they fell more than a foot, pink-tinted marble replaced the fragmented blue-grey stone. Gaston let out a pained howl, his spine connecting with the new railing. He slid down and clutched himself, attempting to ease the pain in his back as well as the splintering in his heart.
Belle, freed from Gaston’s arms, looked to see what had become of the Narrator.
Everything was as it should have been. Prince Adam stood among the now human servants, gazing at Belle hopefully.
“What have I to lose? A castle, servants, an attractive prince, the possibility of gaining vassals... I could do worse.” With that Belle rushed to embrace whatever the future held for her.