In the Land of Ever After

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Chapter 15 - Belle's Curse

The good fairy isn’t too impressed with Belle.

Belle had just come back into her bedchamber when a shower of sparkles startled her and suddenly a plump, white-haired woman in a glittering blue dress was standing there. The woman was giving her a disapproving sort of look, and shaking her head. “Good heavens, what in the world have you been doing? You look debauched! You haven’t been cuckolding that sweet boy, have you?”

“Of course not!” Belle tried to edge closer to the door, but the woman huffed and waved the wand she was holding and the door disappeared. “Wait, are you the same fairy who cursed him? Because he’s not here…”

“Of course I’m not! And I know that – I just left him,” the fairy told her. “He’s attending a wedding party and wishing you were there, so I came to see what this curse nonsense was all about.” She looked Belle up and down, frowning. “I do not see a curse, young woman. But your husband was telling the truth when he said you were all but lost to him, he was honestly upset about it. Where were you just now?”

Belle immediately became wary. “Nowhere. My sitting room.”

The fairy snorted. “If doing needlework or reading a book leaves you this flushed, we’d best be finding you less strenuous pursuits to engage in.” She walked into the sitting room and looked around it, zeroing in on the door at the far end. “And what is out there?”

“An enclosed porch, just a little balcony where I can go to get some fresh air and be protected from prying eyes…”

“And what should those eyes not be seeing?” The wand waved again and the door to the small space flew open…and so did the fairy’s mouth, as the ice statue of the Beast was still there in all its glory. “What…why you horrible, horrible creature! It wasn’t enough to humiliate your husband, you had to corrupt an innocent at the same time? How in the world did you even get her to make it…accurate? There’s no way she’d ever seen that before, did you draw her a picture?!”

Belle cringed…but nodded. “I…you have to understand, I just…I miss him!”

“You married him!” the fairy snapped, making her recoil again. Sparks flew, and the ice statue disintegrated into a splash of cold water which spilled across the flagged floor and into the sitting room, soaking the rug; Belle shrieked. “Oh stop, you shouldn’t have had it anyway and you know it. No wonder he’s telling everyone you’ve been cursed, you’re exhibiting all the signs of one…” Her pale blue eyes narrowed. “Hmm, you are, aren’t you? And Marguerite doesn’t like her curses undone…” She squinted again, using her wand’s sparkle-trail like a lorgnette this time. “Oh there it is – not a curse all on its own, not exactly, but a very nasty side effect of the one that was already here. Still, though, maybe that’s the answer to this problem: I’ll just make the boy’s fiction into fact. You wished he’d never been delivered of his curse, didn’t you? Well, I’d not put it back on him – he’s a good boy, helped resolve a certain situation I’d been working on very satisfactorily, and he’s remaining faithful to his love for you even though you’ve been so blatantly not returning the favor. You, though…” She smiled suddenly. It was a very predatory smile, and Belle backed up until she hit the wall. “You wanted your Beast back, did you? Very well, then, I’ll give you one for your very own.” She aimed her wand, the tip glowing ever more brightly.

A curse on you and your selfish heart;
For the love you set to flight;
A beast you’ll feel and his pain you’ll know;
Ere the moon doth rise this night!”

Belle dropped to her knees when the curse hit, flashing through her like lightning, the shock of pain so strong she wasn’t even able to draw breath enough to scream. When she could finally breathe again she opened her eyes…and the fairy was gone. So was her pretty sitting room. A sharp blade of light stabbing in through a narrow casement window marked the moon rising, casting just enough light to show crumbling, cobwebbed stone walls but nothing familiar at all. Also unfamiliar was the wild, animal fire now burning within her breast, making it hard to think clearly, even though on the outside she didn’t seem to look any different. And there was something else within her now as well, something more human and less beast which felt almost as though it were a shadow of feeling being cast upon her, the shadow of a sad and lonely feeling that belonged to someone else. The words of the curse came back to her: His pain you’ll know…

Oh god, what had the fairy done to her? And where had she sent her? She needed to be back home in Valeureux…

Belle gasped aloud. Their kingdom’s name was Valeureux, home of the famous Rubis Marché. And her father had gone insane when the curse had taken that knowledge from him, and spent nearly every day since then right up until his death trying to fill the ever-empty pages of the huge tomes which graced his study. Some of them books he and her mother had once filled the pages of together, documenting the history of the kingdom.

Belle curled up in a ball on the cold flagstone floor, sobbing, and so did not see the curious shadows gathering themselves away from the walls and reaching for her with pale, trembling hands.


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