All of Gabriel & Cantalys children have come home and have been staying in the castle since Cantalys passing to help their father and deal with the loss of their mother. All in the house had heavy hearts but no heart was as heavy as their fathers. It seemed to have added many years to him. A once vibrant King was dull and seemed to be barely able function when he was away from his subjects. It was crazy to them how he could act so put together in front of his subjects when they saw how he was when they were alone.
They knew their father felt it was his duty as King to maintain composure in front of their subjects no matter what the situation may be or how hard it was to hold that straight face or smile for them. Belle sat with infant Ariel, rocking her and feeding her milk from a bottle. Silent tears shimmered and trailed down her cheeks. She cried for her mother, her siblings, her father and especially for Ariel. Belle couldn’t imagine how it would feel when she learned why she didn’t have a mother. It was also saddening to know Ariel and Rapunzel wouldn’t have memories of Cantaly. Rapunzel could possibly have a few but Ariel wouldn’t get any atall.
Ariel would never know how loving and fun their mother was. It wasn’t fair, none of this was. She wondered if they’d even know the same father as herself and their older siblings did. Belle had never seen their father this distraught, never even anywhere near it. She worried he might not be able to ever be the same man he was. She hoped with all her siblings their that they coudl give eachother and him enough support and love to move on in life and get past the mourning of whom anyone would agree, was the greatest woman to ever come into the kingdom.
There wasn’t a person alive who had a negative thing to say about Cantaly. She had spent all her days being a loving and wonderful woman. Belles heart wrenching thoughts were disturbed by a maid clearing her throat. She spoke ina despondant tone “Your father wants to see Princess Ariel.”
“Not again, he only gets worse when he holds her”
“I know Princess Belle but he insists. He says that he needs to be able to look at her without crying before she is old enough to realize he gets sad when he sees her. He says he doesn’t want her to feel any guilt over the loss of Cantaly, that he could never blame her. He knows she will feel its her fault if shes making him cry so he’s trying to get over that now.” Belle sighed “could I atleast take her to him?”
“Please do, your father is hard to look at”
“I know, especially when he’s holding Ariel. I wish he would give himself more time but I understand where he’s coming from. None of us want Ariel to feel bad over what happened to mother”
“all but Snow” Belle groaned ‘nobody cares what Snows opinion is. She better just stay up in her room with that negativity” Belles sad tone getting angry thinking about her older sisters attitude about Ariel. Snow acted as if they shouldn’t even keep Ariel. She had even went as far as to openly say she hated Ariel and that she should be left out in the woods somewhere. Belle had always been patient with her eldest sister but in this situation Belle felt as if she might blow her top. Snow was yet again amazing her with how cruel she could be.
Belle calmed her anger than checked her little sister to be sure she had a fresh diaper before taking her to Gabriel. Ariel was clean so Belle made her way down to her fathers bedroom and entered. Gabriel was resting his back against his headboard. He didn’t look like he had bathed himself since his meeting a few days ago. Him in his entirety looked disheveled. Gabriel slowly lifted his head as if it were incredibly heavy. “Oh wonderful, you brought my newest angel.”
“Father, don’t you think you need more time. You did just hold her yesterday”
“Nonsense Belle, please give me Ariel. I do want to hold her and make sure she knows I love her.”
“Dad, she’s a baby. She doesn’t know how much you hold her”
“Belle, no more fighting with me. Give me Ariel.” Belle sighed and walked over. Gabriel cradled Ariel in his arms then kissed her head. “she’s so beautiful….just like Cantaly….I wish you could have seen how brightly your mother smiled down at this little one when she was in her arms. Cantaly was so happy to greet her” With that Gabriel began to cry again. Belle hugged her father “calm down daddy. If you cry too hard I’ll have to take her. She’s too little to be jerked when you cry”
“Sorry dear” Gabriel said as he managed to make himself stop and just let the tears silently roll down his face. It truly was heartbreaking to look at her father. He seemed to be the very picture of anguish. She was glad to see he was doing better today with holding Ariel. She could see how deeply he loved her in the way he looked at his newest daughter, the last he would have from his wife. Belle was exhausted since she had been taking care of Ariel on her own all night and all morning so decided to go for a nap. She kissed her fathers cheek and then Ariels “I love you both dad. I am going to be sleeping for a bit now”
“alright sweetheart. I love you too” He said only looking at Belle briefly then shifting his attention back to Ariel. When Belle left her fathers room John was just passing by and saw Belles tortured face so he wrapped her in a hug “shh little sister, you look as if you havent slept.”
“I was taking care of Ariel last night and this morning. She doesn’t sleep well so I didn’t get much sleep. I’m going to nap now that dad has her.”
“Is dad fit to have her?” John asked concerned and Belle nodded “he just wants to bond with her and make her feel loved”
“It’s remarkable how tough dad is though he’s suffering”
“Yeah” Joh lifted his sister “lets get you upstairs. John carried her to her bedroom then laid her in bed “when was the last time you ate?”
“I’m not sure, I definitely ate two days ago” John sighed saying “Belle”
“I honestly havent thought about it”
“could I make you a sandwich? I want you to eat somthing before you sleep”
“sure” she said trying to smile but nothing happened. “I’ll be back” John took off running, nearly knocking right into Cinderella which pissed off George but she grabbed his arm and gave him a look that told him she would be angry if he said anything. When John returned with Belles sandwich she had fallen asleep. He gently shook her “I want you to eat this”
“anything for my baby sister. I want you to start eating. You spend all your time in here or with Ariel. You arent her only sibling. I about have to pry her from you and you wont even give Rapunzel turns”
“I’m sorry, I did give Rapunzel a few turns. You just didn’t see.”
“Then sorry but I want you to eat and do other things besides just hold Ariel. Maybe Zane would spend some time with you” Belle blushed “he only comes here when he needs to work or if father invites him to function.”
“thats because you never invite him.”
“how do you know he wants me to” John almost fell over laughing “good god, don’t be dense little sister. That man loves you. He clings to your side every moment he has an excuse to be in this castle. If you would let him spend time with you for longer than a few hours I bet you a hundred gold he would ask you to be his girlfriend and I know that’s what you want.” Belle smiled shyly with slight embarrassment “I guess he does tend to follow me and he always talks to me. I do love when he’s around…it would be nice to have his hugs. None feel better to me than his.”
“why don’t you take your nap and I’ll see if Zane would like to spend a few days here to help you mourn mother. It’s easier when you have someone to lean on. I wouldn’t be so put together if it weren’t for my Scarlette.”
“then please ask but give me time to fix myself. I know I look horrid. I will slap the hell out of you if he is here when I wake.” John smiled “goodnight sister”
Belle quickly relaxed and fell asleep. Taking care of a baby was more work than her mother made it look like. Belle remembered her with Rapunzel and she made it look easy as pie. John entered his fathers room “where does Zane Koopmann live?’ It may have been a trick of the light but it looked as if Gabriel smiled a second “are you asking so Belle can have company?” John laughed “she needs someone to comfort her and I think he’s perfect. In moms weekly letters she was always telling me about how much Zane loved her and how he took every chance he could find to spend a little time with Belle. She told me that she could tell how much Belle liked the attention from Zane. That every time she knew Zane would be coming for a job she would make sure she was wearing somthing pretty for when he came to spend time with her before leaving.”
“Yeah, I noticed it too. Even before he was old enough to recognize the feeling of love he loved her. From the time she was born he has been taken by her. He has never been able to come to this castle without seeing Belle. He held her a lot when she was a baby. Nobody was better at soothing her than him.”
“yeah, believe me I know. My mom talked about those two in every letter.”
“I bet” Gabriel said sadly then cleared his throat. “well go get him. I want all my children to find the happiness i did with your mother. I think Zane is perfect for our Belle. He truly loves her, more than any other man I’ve seen. I know if they married he would make her happy like Cantaly made me.”
“she told me to wait until after her nap and then she wanted to get pretty first since she hasn’t been tending to herself”
“Poppycock, that man would still think she was the most gorgeous girl on the planet if she had been sleeping in mud for a month. You go get that man so she has him when he wakes. Just wait until you see the way he looks at her. Life is too short for them to waste time. Have him stay here as long as he wishes. He has my full blessing to help Belle mourn Cantaly.” John smiled “alright dad I love you. Want me to put Ariel in her crib since she’s sleeping?”
“no, I want more time with her.”
“alright, need anything?”
“Just a hug” John walked over and embraced his father. “I love you John”
“Love you too dad.”
“Find Sparrow, he’ll guide you” John walked out and quickly located Sparrow who had fresh tears on his face. It wasn’t surprising since nowadays it was rare to see anybody with completely dry eyes around the castle. “I need to be guided to Zanes house please”
“yes sir” They began to walk and didn’t stop until they were in front of Zanes house “is that all Prince John?”
“yes, thank you very much. You look like you need a breather. Want to go home?”
“are you sure I’m not needed around the castle?”
“we can manage, go home to your wife.”
“Thank you sir” John knocked on Zanes door. Zane answered quickly “Hey John, how’re things? Is Belle doing alright?”
“No, she is barely eating and doesn’t really sleep. She uses taking care of Ariel as an excuse but we have plenty of staff so she shouldn’t be staying up as much as she does.” a worried look instantly washed over Zanes face making John smile and then speak “I talked to Belle and she would like you to stay in the castle so she doesn’t have to be so alone. We’re all there but, well, most of us haven’t lived there in a long time and you see her alot. She wants you and King Gabriel said you have his blessing to be there as much as you want so would you like to come to the castle and comfort Belle?” Zane looked excited and relieved “Oh yes, I’ll pack quickly. I can really stay with her as long as I want? Belle even wants it?” His voice portraying how happy that made him “yes you love sick fool” Zane blushed and John laughed “you do not hide atall how much you love her. We all know.”
“You do not have a problem with my feelings?”
“No, In fact Gabriel said he would love for you two to be together” It looked as if hearing that seemed to rejuvenate Zane. His heart beat happily “you mean it would really be alright for me to be with her.”
“Of course you knuckle head. Is that why you havent asked her out? You thought Gabriel would disapprove?”
“I’m not of high blood and she’s a princess”
“You should know my father better than that Zane”
“I guess, oh I’m so happy. You have no idea. I love your sister immensely. She;s the only one I’ve ever wanted. It’s why I’ve stayed single. I could never be with anyone but her. I just thought Gabriel would tell me no. That I was fit for her friend but not her boyfriend”
“well now that you dont have that fool headed idea you better tell my sister you love her.”
“believe me, I will. I desire to be with her too badly to hold back now. First I will get her feeling better and eating. It’s really upsetting to know she hasnt taken care of herself. What if she falls ill?” John laughed “just get your things and come whip that girl into shape.” Zane went in and quickly threw clothes into his bag then walked with John back to the castle.
When they got to the castle John and Zane went their separate ways. Zane hurried up the stairs but slowed when he got near Belles room. John had told him on the way she was napping so he silently opened the door. He smiled at first but then he could visibly see how little she had been caring for herself lately and it made him frown. He walked over soundlessly. It was somthing he loved being able to do as a fully trained assassin. He knelt, still not making a single noise and kissed her cheek. It was a mere brush of lips against her soft skin. He would love to sit and admire her but he wanted her to eat a good meal. He left the room, planning on making one of his favorite dinners for her. He would feed her like she was a baby if he had to to get food in her.
Zane first found a maid “excuse me miss but is there a small table and some chairs I can put in Belles room so we can eat alone?” The maid blushed, she had always thought Zane to be incredibly sexy. His profession only made him sexier to her. “Y yes, follow me please” Zane did, keeping the sweet picture of Belle in his head. She went into a large closet that would have been considered a room to a commoner. She pointed out a small table with chairs near it was he set the chairs on top of the table then lifted it up “thank you” was all he said before heading back to Belles room. When he pushed the door open this time it made a small noise and his heart nearly stopped in fear. She needed rest and he would hate to wake her.
To his relief she stayed resting as he put the table and chairs down by her window. Another frown found him when he noticed she left it unlocked again. He hated that. It would take a fool with a death wish to hurt a princess but it still concerned him. Nothing would destroy him quite like losing Belle. Once her window was locked he allowed himself another glance at her. He got lost looking at her until he was pulled back by knowing she needed to have a real meal in her stomach. He left the room, making sure to pull the door shut then headed for the kitchen.
The head chef smiled “hello Zane, what brings an assassin to my kitchen?”
“I would like to borrow it so I can make Belle somthing to eat.” The chef laughed “you can cook?”
“Yes, I’m very good at it actually” The chef couldn’t resist laughing again “can I help?” he asked and Zane said “No, it will only turn out perfect if I do it and I want to be sure she eats. I’ll feed her like a child if I have to.”
“Good, I haven’t seen her at our table in days. When did she last eat with the family?” The head chef asked another cook “I believe it was breakfast Wednesday”
“You can’t be serious?” Zane said, obviously really upset by the fact. “I am, she has been having such a hard time and she concentrates so much on little Ariel. She’s trying to protect her from being alone with Snow. Snow doesn’t like any of her siblings but she has extra hate for poor Ariel”
“well Snows name fits her. She’s by far the coldest woman I’ve ever met” The cooks were afraid to agree out loud but they did agree.Zane quickly got to work preparing his meal. He wished he could force the pots to cook faster but he took solace in the fact Belle needed sleep too. He wished someone had invited him to stay with her sooner. He could barely stand the thought of her not being taken care of. If she became sick he would gladly nurse her through it though. After what felt like forever his meal was fully cooked and ready to take up to his love. He got plates, silverwear and cups and ran them up. Once he set the table he grabbed the frying pan of food and somthing to serve it with and ran up with it. He served it onto the plates then realized he put nothing in their glasses so he took them back down and poured them each a little apple juice.
He looked at the table and made sure it wasn’t missing anything when he was sure he walked over to Bell, just taking her in a few moments while staring wouldn’t make her uncomfortable. He then rubbed her cheek and said her name to wake her. Belles eyes fluttered open and she sat up “Oh no, I told John to wait. I look so terrible form lack of care. Please stop looking at me. I can compose myself quickly if you wait outside. I hate for you to see me looking so ugly”
“Belle, when did you become a liar?” She gave him a very confused look “what do you mean?”
“well you call yourself ugly when that couldn’t be a bigger lie. Even unkempt you are the most breathtaking woman I’ve ever beheld. You are never anything less than stunning. You shouldn’t lie and say you aren’t beautiful because in my eyes, you are a diamond amongst coal.” Belles cheeks tinted pink as she was unable to look away from those intense blue eyes that were holding her green eyes hostage. He couldn’t look away either, he wanted her to feel the full impact of his words. He wanted them to sink in so she wouldn’t say anything as foolish as she was ugly again. Zane heard Belles stomach growl. It was a sound that embarrassed her and he sighed “it greatly saddens me you haven’t cared for yourself. I’ve made you somthing to eat, please eat with me”
“you don’t want me to put myself together first?”
“What did I just tell you, you’re gorgeous. Stop fretting” Zane said softly and with eyes that were even softer. Belles heart went into overdrive. He was always sweet but he seemed more intense than normal. They were once again frozen as they delved in eachothers eyes. He finally smiled and picked her up then sat her at the table “you need to eat” he whispered in her ear then kissed her cheek. Her heart somhow went faster than it had been going before. He sat down in his own chair and she took her first bite. Her tastebuds rejoiced at the very appetizing taste in her mouth. She swallowed “wow, what is this?”
“somthing my Aunt Marcie taught me to make. I eat it frequently so cook it well. I wanted to be sure you ate so I made this myself” Belle couldn’t help but smile. Her heart also slowed down due to how touched she was he cooked this himself. “thank you, that was so thoughtful and sweet”
“You deserve nothing less Belle” Belle felt embarrassed again and took another bite. Zane could tell she was embarrassed and he thought it was incredibly adorable. He knew it was because he had never been this forward with his feelings. He just didn’t know until now he could actually be with her. That his dream girl was actually an obtainable dream. All he had to do was show her how deeply he loved her and then, then he just had to hope she truly loved him too and would want to be with him once she understood his love. Even if Belle didn’t love him he knew he could win her, he would do anything for her to be with him. If she wanted a dragon slain he’d do it. If she wanted a jewel from a whole other kingdom he’d fetch it. He would complete anything she asked to prove his love, anything she said he had to do to be with her.
When she was done he got up, taking his shoes off “what’re you doing?” Even as the words left her mouth he had already picked her up and started taking her to her bed. He got in and pulled the covers over them making Belle turn a deep red. “you need sleep aswell. I can see on your face how sleep deprived you are. I’m going to hold you down and make you stay in this bed until I’m satisfied you’ve had enough rest.” he kissed her head and said “You can however get up if you need to use the ladies room, maybe I should have let you do that first. Would you like to go?”
“I’m fine” she could barely force out. Her whole body was warm and her mind was blown. He cooked for her, was giving her kisses and was now holding her in her bedroom. She could barely even think right now. She was a little overwhelmed. Belle wondered what had changed to take him from slight flirtation to this.
Zane just held Belle close, taking in the incredible feeling of holding her like this. When John came he was actually laying in his own bed with a pillow, pretending to be doing this very thing. Finally it was real, here she was in his arms and he’d get to stay like this for awhile. This whole situation had Belle so nervous she was having trouble falling asleep. Zane moved his head down so it was by Belles ear and whispered “if you’d like I could rub your back to help soothe you to sleep. If it would make you uncomfortable that’s alright. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to offer.” Her heart did a flip and her stomach suddenly had butterflies fluttering around. She suddenly pulled herself tightly against Zane, pushing her head into his chest. He smiled then asked in a sweet tone “can I?’
“yeah” she answered and he began to let one of his hands travel up and down her. It was enough to instantly relax her. He slowly felt her let him go until she was finally sleeping. He propped his head up, still holding her with his other arm. Zane didn’t want her to roll in her sleep and move away from him. He smiled with a jubilant heart as he gazed at her. He really wanted her to catch up on sleep. It only made things better that he got to have her close to him. Her breathing and warmth eventually began to make him sleepy too. He quit supporting his head and allowed himself to drift to sleep.
Belle found herself dreaming of her mother. She was only eight in the dream and they were playing outside in front of the castle. Malachai, her father and Theo were there too. They all just laughed and played until Belle looked behind her and her mother was gone. One second Cantaly was chasing her and now she was nowhere to be seen. She grabbed Theos hand “where’s mommy?”
“Moms dead Belle. She’s been dead. You’re alone now”
“No!” she yelled in the dream and began crying for her mother. She ran around the castle then in it. She needed to find her mother. Eventually she just collapsed within the dream and began crying. The next thing she felt was being cradled in someones lap, it was her mothers. She began to rub her cheek and arms “I love you so much. Please don’t cry. Everything will be ok. I’m so sorry” Suddenly she woke and realized it was really Zane that was cradling her and offering soothing words. She then wondered “did Zane tell me he loved me?” She wondered but she didn’t venture to ask. That too was part of the dream she told herself. Belle just cried into his chest as he just sat against the wall, doing his absolute best to comfort her.
Her eyes hurt by the time she wiped her face “I’m sorry Zane”
“Don’t be sorry, it’s barely been a month since you’ve lost your mother. I’m going to be right here for you. You can cry as much as you need to and I’ll do anything I can to give you comfort. I’ll cook for you and hold you and whatever else you’ll have me do to help you. I hate to see you so sad Belle.”
“I just really want a shower right now.”
“alright, I will be waiting outside of your room. Take as long as you need” Belle smiled then kissed his cheek “You are so wonderful. Thank you” Zane stood, setting Belle on the floor. He was very tempted to kiss her but he wanted to let her finish mourning before he confessed his love. He didn’t feel it right to do it until she was a little bit more past her mothers death. When she could get through a few days without crying, then he’d tell her.
Zane sat down, leaning against the wall beside her bedroom door and holding his cheek where she kissed him. Zanes eyes were closed as he patiently waited for her to ready herself. Zane jst thought of Belle and enjoyed the lingering feel of her lips on her cheek until Snow spoke “what are you doing laying about here! If my father gave you a job you should be out doing it.”
“Oh god the shrew” Zane thought painfully to himself “I’m not here to work. I’m here to offer Belle comfort. She’s only just finished crying and is in the shower.” Snow scoffed “well isn’t that inappropriate. I bet its your dick thats giving her comfort. Maybe I should ask Belle if you’ve taken advantage of how sad she is yet” Zane instantly grew pissed and came to his feet saying in a blood chilling tone “shut your ignorant mouth. That is not what I’m doing atall you” Theo seemed to come out of nowhere interrupting him “back off both of you. Snow, why do you feel the need to antagonize everyone? Seriously, I know you’re mourning mom too but that doesn’t mean you get to be a bigger bitch than normal. Before you open your mouth I heard what you said to him. Go to your room or somwhere else. I don’t care, just get away from Zane and Belle. Belle needs someone and I’m glad she has Zane. If you need comfort I or any of your other siblings are here but after that supreme bitch remark and suggestion I dont think you belong anywhere near Zane and Belle for the time being.”
“You really think he’s here to comfort our baby sister? Assassins are philanderous perverts, all of them. He’s trying to take advantage of her”
“Shut up and go Snow” Theo was angry at her but also was trying to protect her from antagonizing the wrong man. He had to admit she had balls to talk to Zane that way. She obviously did not have a healthy fear of him. Not that Theo thought Zane would just kill people who upset him but he knew his sister, even somtimes had thoughts of his own after their fights about wringing her neck. He didn’t want her putting thoughts like that in Zanes head. Theo had been downstairs when he heard Snows threat to Zane and came running. Theo knew of no woman who could antagonize quite like Snow and he also knew Zane had no easier set off point than Belle. If Snow ever paid attention to anyone but herself she would see how much Zane loved Belle but she was too self absorbed.
Snow stomped away loudly while making a bunch of cacophonous sounds. “Zane, sit back down and wait for Belle. It’s over. Nobodies going to tell any lies to Belle. I know how you feel about her and I know thats nowhere near what you’re trying to do here ok. Just sit down” Theo urged. Zane sighed angrily and plopped down. His body coming to a jarring halt when he hit the floor. His face still said he was angry but Theo was glad that Zane was no longer standing or talking in that blood chilling tone. It had scared him and Zane wasn’t even speaking to him like that.
“how’s my sister?” Theo asked. Zane became a little softer “I’m not sure, we were napping and I woke to her crying. I held her until she finished and then she said she wanted a shower. I got her to eat too.”
“Oh thank goodness. She was scaring me with how little shes been eating. Belles too small to not eat. Thank you for coming”
“Thank you for stepping in before I did or said anything foolish. Snow is my superior and I shouldn’t have gotten that way.”
“she knows how to push peoples buttons. I understand. Anybody around here knows better than to step on your toes when it comes to my sister” Zane actually smiled “I really do love her”
“I know, thats why hearing Snow say those things to you made me run up here. I need to get back to my wife so I’ll leave you be.”
“you take care of your future wife” Theo said with a wink making Zane soften more and smile wider “I will” Theo saying that completely calmed Zane. He was so hopeful for that and was glad for the support of Belles family. Of course Snow didn’t but Snow didn’t support anything. She was more of a rip apart type of woman. Zane stayed seated until Belle opened her bedroom door a little while later “could you tie my bow in for me?” She asked as she held out a thin pink ribbon. He smiled “of course” He took it and tied it into her hair “beautiful” is all he said and she smiled back at him. “would you like to go on a walk Belle?” Zane asked, not wanting to be in the castle with Snow any longer. “sounds perfect. I need some fresh air”
“Where are we going?” Belle asked as Zane guided her away from the castle. “Nowhere really, just walking. You don’t mind that we don’t have a destination right?”
“I don’t mind, I was just wondering”
“How’re you feeling?”
“Much better after my nap and shower.”
“that’s wonderful. I’m so glad I could help. Want me to stick around for a few days to comfort you? I could sleep with you so I’ll be right there if you cry or get upset in your sleep. It’s easy to wake me”
“You really want to do that for me?”
“I’d love to do that for you.” Belle hugged Zane. He inturn wrapped his arms tightly around her. Zane held the hug until she let go. “you’re always so nice to me”
“It takes a lot for me to get tired so let me know when you’re done walking”
“Ok” Zane found himself surprised at Belles Stamina. They walked until stars covered the sky. Twinkling down and making the world gorgeous. “Lets lay down and look at them Zane” He smiled ‘Ok” They both laid down, Zane pleasantly surprised when Belle laid her head on his chest. When Zane noticed Belles eyes getting heavy he suggested “lets go back, you’re tired”
“But the stars are so beautiful” Zane smiled “get up for a second then” Belle sat up and so did he. “let me cradle you. You can watch until you sleep and then I’ll carry you home” Belle blushed “really?”
“Yes, i don’t mind atall and I’m more than capable” She lunged at him with a hug “gosh you’re so great. Thank you” They held this hug for a very long time. When they finally broke apart Belle got comfortable in his lap and began to look at the sky again. Zane waited until she had been sleeping for about twenty minuets to be sure she stayed out before standing and making his way back to the castle. He hoped Snow would be asleep so he wouldn’t have to look at her. She had really made his blood boil and it would take him awhile to be able to look at her without getting mad. He also feared her talking to Belle and filling her head with lies. Snow could ruin his chance with her poison tongue. There wouldn’t be anyway he could win her if Snow made her think all this kindness was because he wanted her sexually. All he wanted from Belle was her love. He couldn’t lie and say he hadn’t thought of her that way but his only true goal was to woo her into a relationship.
Belle had always been the apple of his eye. He didn’t know it when he was a young boy but he had loved her since the moment he saw her. He had grown up loving only her. He thought of her every day and loved when they got jobs because it meant he’d get some time with her. He especially loved when Gabriel and Cantaly invited him to balls and such because he got even more time with Belle. She was his world and he couldn’t let Snow make Belle think any different.
He silently went into the castle and hurried to Belles room. He was relieved to make it all the way there without a soul stopping him. Zane laid Belle on the bed then carefully removed her shoes. He concentrated on them, afraid to look up due to the chance of maybe seeing up her skirt. The very thought turning his cheeks cherry red. When he had removed her socks and shoes he took care of his own. He then let down his hair and situated himself with Belle in her bed. He once again laid on his side and held tightly to her. He gave her a brief goodnight kiss on the cheek then allowed himself to relax.
Zane dreamt of a tea party he had with Belle when he was 11. He had come to see her since his father was taking a job and she was sitting down with Malachai and Laura. Belle excitedly got up and hugged Zane then invited him to join her for tea. His father had not given him peace for finding him with a pink tea cup in his hand for many months. Zane didn’t care though, he would take any time he could with Belle. They woke in the morning to a knock on Belles door. Belle got out of Zanes arms and walked over to answer. “morning Miss, are you coming to breakfast today?”
“Yeah, thank you for waking me”
Belle rubbed her eyes as she walked to her chest of drawers. She retrieved a deep purple skirt and a white, frilly button up top. She then opened a small box on top of the dresser that contained her ribbons. She got a small strand of purple and a small strand of white ribbon and took it into the bathroom with her. Zane was a little confused, it seemed as if she didn’t even realize he was really there. The funny thing was, she didn’t. She often dreamt of sleeping with him too so chalked this morning up to another dream since she wasn’t fully awake yet. Belle washed her face in the sink then changed clothes. She tugged her ribbon from yesterday out then tied her new ones in. It finally sank in that Zane had really been in her bed as memories from yesterday filled her mind. She blushed, glad she felt like washing her face or she may have started changing in front of him.
She came out and he was just standing there giving her a saccharine smile. She loved how sweetly he was smiling. He seemed in such a happy mood. Belle gave him another hug. It increased his delight even though moments ago he thought that impossible. Holding her all night had left Zane in a state of euphoria. He had no idea a man could feel so happy. While Zane changed in her bathroom Belle tugged on her purple boots with white butterflys sewn into them. It was a little sad putting these on. Her mother had sewn those butterflys in herself. She ended up just staring down at her boots. The frown on her face ever deepening as she did until she began to cry.
Zane rushed to finish when he heard her and quickly lifted Belle into a hug when he came out. Belle latched onto him. She even locked her legs around him. He was her life raft at this moment. She lost her appetite and whispered “I don’t want to go to breakfast”
“You need to go Belle. You have to eat”
“I dont want to”
“Please” Zane begged sadly. She shook a little more with her tears then wiped her face “I’ll go I guess”
“Thank you” she could see he was very near tears and kissed his cheek “aw, I didn’t mean to make you sad”
“it’s hard seeing you sad” Zane said, the words making Belles heart flutter. She could almost hear the deeper meaning to them. Zane set her down and she fixed her clothes as he fixed his. “would you hold my hand as we walk down to breakfast?” Belle asked softly. Zane took her hand “of course, I told you I’m here for you in all ways. Whatever I can do to help you I’ll do Belle” They laced fingers and headed down. Gabriel was at breakfast this morning which was a happy sight to see. Snow scoffed and left the table inspiring eye rolls from everybody else. Zane and Belle took their seats and ate together.
Gabriel was glad to see them come in the way they did. He hoped that maybe Zane had asked his daughter to be with him. He still quite didn’t get the vibe they were together so he made no commentary. The sound of Ariel crying came into the dining hall and Belle stood “I’ll get her.” Zane stood and followed Belle into the kitchen. Belle prepared a bottle for Ariel then went to her bedroom. She lifted her out of the crib and began her feeding. Zane sat on the floor. He loved the sight of Belle like that. He could already see her doing that with their own kid one day. He sighed and just stared until Ariel had fallen back asleep. Belle gently set her newest sister down in her crib then walked out.
Belle nervously looked at Zane and asked “were you comfortable sleeping with me last night?”
“It was the best sleep I’ve ever gotten” Zane answered truthfully and he noticed the slight tint appear on her cheeks. “I’m glad, so you wont mind sleeping with me until I can get through the days without crying. It was really nice having you to hold me when I got upset this morning. It was just these boots. Mom sewed the butterflys on for me when I told her I thought they’d look better if they had them”
“Those are really cute. I’ll gladly hold you anytime. I’ll try not to let my eyes get wet like this morning”
“It’s sweet that you care about my happiness so much. Don’t worry about it” Zane smiled “what do you want to do today?”
‘what would you do if you weren’t being here for me right now?”
“Probably practicing” Is what he said out loud but he ended it with “or dreaming of you” in his head. “do you need to practice? I’m fine if you need to go do it. I’d honestly prefer not watch you.”
“I know, you don’t like my work”
“You have an amazing and important job Zane. I don’t care for the blood and violence but you keep our kingdom and people safe. Lord only knows how chaotic the world would be if men like you didn’t do their jobs. It’s not that I dislike it persay, I just dont wish to witness any part of it. I dont like thinking about it really”
“well I do not need to practice. I just practiced the night before john invited me to stay. I only make sure to practice once a week so my skills don’t get dull as I wait for a noble to summon me. It’s refreshing to hear you dont hate my job” Zane loved his work. The only times he would dislike it was when he worried about it causing problems between him and Belle. She was so frilly and girly. She loved beautiful things and to keep her mind filled with rainbows. He worried that one day she might not like him any more if she ever put much thought into what he did for a living.
A maid came up to them “You have a visitor Princess.”
“Who is it?”
“Prince Marvin, I was under the impression you turned him down” The maid said in a confused tone and Belle slightly tilted her head. Another action of hers that Zane found insainly cute. “I did, I wonder why he’s back”
“I wonder too since he comes bearing flowers. I would say that’s tacky since you’ve refused his hand in marriage” Belle smiled “It is isn’t it. We’ll see his intent before we make any more stabs at him though.” The maid blushed and Belle said ‘don’t be embarrassed. He just took my rejection very well, much better than the other suitors who have proposed so I doubt it’s him not letting go. He simply nodded and said that he could respect that choice though he wished I felt differently.” The maid spoke nervously “Yes, far from that Dukes son. Lawrence I believe his name was?”
“If you’re speaking of the one who said I was stupid and he could do way better than me anyway, yes, that was Lawrence.”
“He threw such a tantrum. It was very unseemly.”
“Yes but wasn’t it gratifying when his father made him return and apologize to me and to the staff he was so rude to?”
“It was indeed, to hear of anyway. I wasn’t here when he came back but boy was it the talk of us servants.” Belle giggled “well, we shouldn’t keep the prince waiting much longer”
“No mam” The maid moved and Belle walked past, followed by Zane who was very uncomfortable. He hoped the young man was letting go and wouldn’t be pushy with her. He had such a hard time keeping control of himself when it came to Belle. He didn’t want to do somthing that would make her unhappy with him. He wondered how many marriage proposals Belle had gotten. He tended to avoid the gossip about young men visiting her since it always made him sad or frustrated. The only one he knew anything about was the first one she got. The coming of age birthday at 14 when young people become adults is when princesses are eligible to accept marriage proposals. It was always a big party that people for miles around were invited to. It was customary for the king to invite suitors to the party but Gabriel didn’t for any of his daughters. He just felt there was somthing wrong about trotting ones daughter out for display when she became a woman.
A few suitors heard she was becoming eligible for proposals and came uninvited. Zane had been invited but Zane was a family friend and invited to everything. So even though he was a man Gabriel wanted for Belle he hadn’t intended to trot her for him even though he received an invitation.A prince from Elkernidale proposed right after the cake was cut. Zanes heart stopped in that moment but quickly began working when Belle said no. Zane could only imagine how many offers a woman as beautiful and sweet as Belle had received in a years time.
They walked down and saw Prince Marvin had already walked in and was sitting in the hall with his flowers “Belle, you are looking much better than expected. I’m sure you’re wondering why a suitor you rejected has come to you bearing a gift so I will clear it now. When I stayed in the castle a few days to get to know you I found that I adore your personality. It very much saddened me that you didn’t want to rule my kingdom by my side but it’s somthing I accept graciously. I came not to beg but to offer my condolences. I heard you lost your mother and I brought the flowers because it was the only thing I could think of to do. I want to be your friend if that’s ok with you. I swear I mean it, I swear on my honor my only want is for friendship. I know youre aware of how serious swearing on my honor is so I hope you believe that I am not up to a thing but reaching out for friendship with a very funny, sweet and amazing woman.”
“I’d love to be your friend and thank you. I enjoyed your company too. I just didn’t feel that way about you.”
“I gathered that very quickly but I had to ask for your hand anyway”
“How did you gather that?”
“You spent over half of our talks telling me about…oh god what was his name…starts with a z…Oh Zane! Yes, thats it. You kept talking about him. It was a rather big indicator I wasn’t interesting you the way I wanted.” Belle blushed and then Marvin realized that the man beside her must be Zane. “oh, so you must be Zane the incredible” Zane tried to keep down his ridiculous smile but it forced its way onto his face and seemed to turn into immovable cement shook the mans hand “nice to meet you” Belle looked at the floor and Marvin laughed then said “she spoke very fondly of you. You two must have been acquainted for a very long time”
“I am Zane Koopmann so I’ve always frequented these halls. I was four when she was born” Marvin seemed to go a bit pale and didn’t speak as smoothly “Oh…I know who you are now…um..so you and Belle are friends, thats nice”
Zane had expected such a reaction since it was the one he normally got when people realized who he was. Zane had already gotten up quite a reputation for being the best assassin one could pay to work. Somtimes people who weren’t royal tried to hire him but it was customary in his family to only work for high born employers. It’s part of what kept their names clean as assassins and kept the line from becoming corrupt. “so are you staying again?” Belle said with eyes still somewhere on the floor “just for today. I will leave after dinner. I’m traveling to meet another princess and i had to stop and ask for your friendship while offering my apologies for the passing of Queen Cantaly. I am not much older than you so didn’t know her personally but when my parents heard the news they spoke of how wondrous she was. I’m thirsty from my ride, do you think a tea party in the garden could be arranged?”
“of course” Belle called to a maid who promised to bring things out promptly. Zane, Belle and Marvin walked out to the table and chairs that were always set up outside and sat down. Belle continued not to look at either man which Zane both found cute and upsetting. He didn’t want her to be so embarrassed, he wanted her to know how happy that made him, how much he too spoke of her. After awhile of talking Belle seemed to be able to look at Marvin and give Zane small glances when he would speak. Her keeping her eyes averted from him concerned Zane more and more as the day passed. After dinner Marvin left as he stated he would then Zane asked “could we go to your room Belle?”
“Yeah” They walked up and then he grabbed her chin “why wont you look at me for longer than seconds? I’m happy you spoke of me to him. There’s nothing to be shy about.” Belle only blushed more “I just had no reason to look at you”
“Belle, you were trying to look at me as little as possible without being rude. I’ve known you since the day you were born. Please stop being so embarrassed. It’s not odd to talk about a person you’ve known so long.” Belle grabbed his arm and made him let go of her chin so she could hug him. Zane hugged her back gently, like always he kept the hug until she let go. “we should sleep” is all Belle said as she let him go “alright” Belle moved past Zane to get sleeping attire and then she went in the bathroom. Zane sighed, she wasn’t comfortable now and it was incredibly upsetting. He had an idea, he was going to do somthing that always made her smile that he quit doing a few years ago. Zane knew he would hear her giggle and she would loosen back up.
Zane untied his hair then grabbed some sleeping attire for himself. When Belle came out she went straight for the bed and Zane went into the bathroom. When he was changed he walked out and then stood by the bed “Do you know what sound the bee makes?” Belle instinctively covered her ears making Zane give a wide smile. In seemingly one movement he was over her and pinning her wrists down with his tightly gripping hands. He held his mouth against her right ear first and began to buzz. Just as she had been doing since she was three to the time he stopped she began to jerk and laugh. He kept going, loving that sound and hoping she would be relaxed when he stopped.Zane moved to her left ear and continued to buzz. He was sure her laughter might be becoming painful it had been going on so long so he quit, releasing her wrists but not getting from over her. Those beautiful green eyes had lured him in again.
They were so good at capturing his blue pools. She just smiled up at him and he just looked like he was lost in a dream. Belle loved the way he was looking at her. Just his eyes made her feel special and like he would always be there. He was far too handsome and sweet for her to resist trying to get that kiss she had thought about so many times. She slowly, fearfully even lifted her hands. She slide them across his cheeks then grabbed his face, bringing his lips to hers.
Her heartbeat turned into a constant flutter when he instantly began to kiss her. It was the greatest feeling Belle had ever experienced. Zane never wanted to stop but decided he had to before he risked becoming excited and ruining this moment. He pulled back and Belle spoke in a small voice due to barely having any breath when the kiss ended “I love you Zane”. Zane couldn’t decide if he should cry or jump around in excitement. He instead chose to sit up, pulling Belle with him so he could hug her. He pressed her hard into him “I love you too Belle. I always have”. Unable to help himself he began to kiss her again. Jubilant tears started to slide down Zanes cheek, wetting Belles face. She pulled back “Oh Zane” He kissed her head “I just didn’t think this would ever happen..I’m so happy right now. I want to be with you always. Nobody could ever make me feel the way you do Belle”
Belle hugged him again “I’m so glad to hear that. Nobody makes me feel like you do either. You’ve always made me so happy. Your short visits to the castle were all I looked forward to growing up. You’ve always made me laugh and smile. Those beautiful blue eyes have always made me feel so special. I love you Zane” She said again wanting to hear him say it again. “I love you Belle”. Tears dampened both their cheeks as they embraced. They held eachother until Belle said softly “I’m tired” Zane kissed her head “alright beautiful” HIs words soft and love filled. They laid down and he quickly took her right back into his arms.
Belles heart was finally normal and she just laid there touched by how happy Zane seemed and how much he obviously loved her too. Belle kissed his chest, causing Zane to hold her tighter and for more tears to escape his eyes. Zane wished he had the words to tell her how he felt, how truly amazing she was to him and how much he would forever adore her. He would do anything she ever asked. He would even quit the job he loved so much if it ever came down to it to make her happy. She meant more to him than anything and he would spend forever showing that to her.
~ The End ~