Not too much time has past since the wolf incident. It was probably around a week or two at most. The Beast's arm was healing quite nicely, though he was still wearing the bandage on his arm. He just couldn't help but keep rubbing his arm right where the bandage was and thinking about how every time he needed a fresh one it was Taylor who took care of it, and that she was the one who helped it the first time. The Beast couldn't get it out of his head. It had happened because he had to go off and fight all those wolves. He didn't even remember what had pushed him to do something so reckless. It could have been when Zeke and Jason ran to tell him that Taylor had left the castle and gone to the woods. Or maybe it was the guilt he felt from snapping at her from going into the West Wing. But that was in the past. The Beast had done it and they were both back in the castle safe and sound. Everything seemed to be calming down. Even when the Beast talked he was getting better at controlling his temper. He barely raised his voice which was quite an accomplishment. But all the enchanted objects knew very well that he was changing for the better and that it was a sign the spell could be broken soon.
The ground was covered with snow but it was one of those slightly warmer days where just a jacket was fine and no earmuffs, gloves, or anything of the sort was necessary. The sky was bright and there was no snow falling from the clouds. The Beast was watching into the castle's yard, leaning against the banister of the balcony with Jason watching along with him. In the yard Taylor was walking Jimmie, giving him some daily exercise. He had been fed and he was getting attention, which he was obviously enjoying. Taylor led him by the reigns as she walked in front of him through the white covered ground and he playfully nudged her with his nose. Taylor smiled and shook her head as she rubbed his head and stroked his mane.
Prancing around in the snow was a very eager Boi, barking happily as he left his footstool paw prints in the snow and dug through it like he was looking for some bones. His tail was wagging rapidly and the other side of him, technically where his head would be, was covered in snow from all of his digging. He picked his head up and ran back over to Taylor, circling her very actively. Taylor giggled as she watched would would be the dog and picked him up in her arms. If it was easy to tell where his mouth was, or if he had one, he would probably be licking her like crazy.
The Beast never once took his eyes off of her. He ran his paw against his healing arm again. A whole bunch of thoughts were running through his head. She was happier now. She had done so much to help him. She didn't seem scared of him anymore. He actually felt...better. Like he was a better person...Beast...better guy. It just relaxed him to know that. The one thought that kept coming back to him was, 'why'? Why did he keep feeling that way? Why was it so easy for him to develop those feelings? It wasn't like he could have been falling in love already. It wasn't logical; even he knew that. But he knew he had some feelings. He wasn't as cold-hearted as he was at the beginning. But even if the Beast wasn't sure what was going on he knew Taylor had something to do with it.
He took his eyes off of his arm and looked down towards Taylor again. "I...I never felt this way about anyone before," he admitted to himself, even though Jason was practically next to him. Ok, so that was step one - he admitted to his feelings. Sort of. At least it wasn't denial. So then what was next? "I...I think I wanna do something nice for her," he decided. He almost looked excited about it. There were plenty of things he could do for a girl. Give her some chocolates...but wait, he couldn't exactly go out and buy any and he didn't know if there was any chocolate in the castle. He could get flowers...no, it was impossible to grow flowers around here anymore. He could give her a cuddly teddy bear with a heart attached...but that was so corny. Who did something stupid like that? Alright this wasn't going over as well as he planned. He automatically looked to Jason for help...even if it was mainly because he was the only one around at the moment. "But what?"
Jason hadn't heard everything the Beast had said. "But what?"
"What can I do that's nice for Taylor?" the Beast replied.
"You sure you don't wanna ask Zeke? I mean the last time I tried to impress a girl the next thing I knew I was baking inside a pie in Jack's kitchen," Jason said.
"He's not here right now," the Beast reminded him, doing his best to control his temper. "So that leaves you. Now give me some advice before I make an idiot of myself in front of her again."
Oh yes, can't forget how just a few days ago the Beast had tripped on the rug in one of the hallways just watching Taylor pass by. Yup, something was definitely happening with them. Or starting to anyway. Jason began counting a few ideas off his fingers...or what of them he had at least. "Well there's a nice outfit, dinner, flowers, chocolates..."
"I already knew those," the Beast rolled his eyes.
"Well what about promises you don't intend to keep?" Jason suggested.
Luckily Zeke had come out and made his way onto the balcony's banister. Perfect timing on his part; a comment like the one Jason had just made might be the one to really tick the Beast off. "Ah Jason I can see you have lost your touch a bit with the women. It can't just be something simple and classic with this girl. We have to mix it up a little, make it more original," Zeke said. "It has to be something very special. Something that sparks her interest..." He was silent for a few minutes as he thought. But of course! Why didn't he think of it two seconds ago? It was so obvious about what could win her over. He smiled widely and held up one of his arms eagerly. "Wait a minute...!"
Not too long later the Beast was leading Taylor down one of the nicer hallways. They stopped at two regular sized doors, though they were obviously leading to a big room. The Beast knew that Taylor would just love it. It was all planned perfectly. Alright he had Zeke to thank for that, but he wasn't going to do it right away. The Beast turned around and waited until Taylor was caught up with him before he said anything.
"Taylor, there's something I wanna show you," the Beast said, still sounding calm. And he still had a smile on his face, like he was excited. He reached for the door handles to open them, but saw that Taylor was looking right over his shoulder to see what was inside. Her curiosity had definitely been peaked. The Beast quickly closed the doors. "But first," he added turning back to her, "you have to close your eyes."
Taylor raised an eyebrow, wondering what to expect from this more nonchalant and relaxed Beast.
But instead of the Beast raising his voice and insisting she do it like he did when she first arrive, he continued speaking calmly. His voice was soft and it wasn't even close to being raised. "It's a surprise."
Taylor kept an eyebrow raised and examined him. She didn't believe him at first, actually. She had noticed the Beast's slow transition from easily angered to more calm, cool, and collected but somehow it just threw her off. It was a completely different side to him and as much as she hated to admit it, this was probably the longest she had communicated with the Beast. Whenever she had replaced his bandage or just stopped by to check on him they hadn't said anything to each other. It wasn't some incomplete tension that needed to be investigated because that aura never surrounded them. Maybe awkward at times, but never tense. And as much as she would often have the urge to, she could never seem to deny that there was some kind of attraction slowly growing between the two of them. It made Taylor wonder if this had something to do with it. Nevertheless, she gave into the Beast and closed her eyes as instructed.
The Beast gently waved his paw in front of her face to make sure that her eyes were closed. Her head didn't move once nor did she even try to peek. He smiled at this, knowing that finally there was a way to get someone to do something without yelling or forcing them to. Turning back to the doors, he swung them open in a very vivacious manner before turning back to Taylor. Lightly taking her hands in his paws, he led her into the room. It wasn't just a few steps so they would be standing by the doorway; it was much more than that. The room must have been large, because the Beast instructed her to wait here, as in where they were currently standing. It must have been somewhere in the center of the room. The Beast moved over to the curtains and opened them, emitting the sunlight into the previously dimly lit room. Even with Taylor's eyes closed she could still tell that it had gotten lighter in there. The Beast expected nothing less. He moved to open the next set of curtains, bringing the room up to its ultimate brightness.
"Now can I open them?" Taylor asked, knowing that this was all leading up to something big.
"Alright," the Beast nodded, the grin widening on his face as he waited to see her reaction. "Now."
Taylor opened her eyes, only squinting at first to get used to the sudden brightness. Her first sight was merely the Beast standing by the windows but she slowly turned her head around to not only see the largest room she has yet to see in the entire castle but the possibly largest room in the castle filled with books. Mountains of books, piles of books, stack loads of books... This must have been the library that Jason and Zeke went on and on about when they first tried to keep Taylor out of the West Wing. There were shelves that went as high as the ceiling and there wasn't a single shelf that didn't have the exact same amount of books nor any empty spaces. There were staircases and ladders that helped lead to the higher shelves, there was a huge book near the window which much have been a directory for all the sections or something to alphabetize the books in. There was even a desk and lamp where she could sit and read as many books as she wanted. And turning to her left she could see the room going on. It wasn't just one of those square or rectangular shaped rooms. It was more of an L shaped room. It was probably holding over fifty thousand books. Alright, that was a bit of an exaggeration but there had to be at least a good thousand books in there.
Taylor's mouth dropped with excitement as she examined the whole area. "I...I can't believe this. It's...oh my God." She couldn't even seem to describe how she felt at the minute. "I've never seen so many books in my life."
At first the Beast couldn't believe it. He just couldn't have imagined Taylor's reaction to be shocked. Maybe it was overjoyed. Or a combination of the two? "You...like it?" he asked hopefully, watching her circle around and eying as many inches of the library as she could.
"It's absolutely wonderful!" she exclaimed.
She loved it! Ding ding ding, he had a winner! They were definitely going somewhere with this. And if there was something starting between the two of them, now was the perfect time to show it. "Then it's yours."
Taylor blinked and looked at him. "Mine? This whole library's mine? But it's your castle..."
"And this is yours. To use as you like. You can come in here whenever you want," the Beast told her.
She couldn't even express the gratitude she was feeling right now. The entire time she had been 'trapped' or 'living' in the castle, this was the most it's ever felt like a home to her. "Thank you. Thank you so much. Just...thank you."
What neither of them realized in all of their happiness was that they were actually being watched. Just at the end of the hallway, peeking into the opened doors of the library Zeke, Jason, Gabriella, Donny, and Tiara were watching and evaluating the situation. And while they couldn't hear everything that was being said between the pair they knew that something was going on. It was the excitement they had while moving around the library and the smiles they had on each others' faces.
Gabriella was the first to speak up. "Can you guys believe that?"
"Haha, I knew it would work!" Zeke cheered.
"What would work?" Donny asked eagerly trying to see through all of them and see what was going on.
Jason chuckled. "Wouldn't you like to know?" he said as he and Zeke made their exits first.
"This is exciting. We have so much planning to do," Tiara said as she followed the boys. "Someone get some paper and a pen, I'll tell you exactly what to write down."
"What would work, Gabby?" Donny asked as he hopped over to his sister. "Nothing happened. I didn't see anything? What's going on Gabby?"
"Not now, Donny. We have to get started on that planning. And I think you have a few chores to take care of," Gabriella said as she started following the others.
"But I wanna know what was going on," Donny whined as he struggled to keep up with the group. "What was going on Gabby? Tell me. Was he trying to make a move?"
The day turned into the next day very easily. The weather pattern had barely changed and the relaxed aura hadn't once been removed from the castle. Taylor had barely left the library and every so often the Beast would walk in to see her reading or to see how she was doing. Not once did he check on the status of the rose, the one thing that was probably keeping him alive now. But it was no secret that since his eyes had last been laid on it, the rose had wilted even more. Time would be running out soon and the enchanted objects were more aware of it than anyone. That's why today was the day that they were really going to make something happen. with all the events that had occurred since the start of Taylor's stay, a relationship was most promised between her and the Beast. The servants even had friendly debates, eager to see how far it would go.
Gabriella had offered plenty of theories, also having grown very closely with Taylor. Now it wasn't like she revealed any of Taylor's thoughts to the group but she did suggest hints as to what she thought of the Beast. Gabriella suggested that ever since the wolf incident, Taylor had earned a sense of respect for the master and it was the first big step into seeing past his fur. But Gabriella also made it a point that affections can't be won over night so it was best not to rush into anything. They could meddle and offer their assistance in the slightest ways, but they couldn't overdo anything or else something would go wrong.
Zeke and Jason, however, saw it a little differently. They wanted to rush a little more into it. Zeke had often checked on the status of the rose and knew they had to do something. He could tell easiest out of anyone that the Beast's feelings for Taylor were growing more rapidly than hers, which led Gabriella to offer more theories. She believed that since the Beast's temper toned down greatly he has been given the chance to step back and see for himself what a great catch Taylor was and that there was more to her than a stubborn attitude and a pretty face. Zeke sounded most certain that it was love and Jason, as usual, was offering up numerous crazy suggestions to get them together and confess their feelings. Luckily no one agreed to them, as they knew all of his ideas would end up in failure or blowing up in his face. But Zeke and Jason were growing tired of the current body structure and desperately wanted to be human again. The sooner the Beast and Taylor could get together the sooner that would happen. However, speeding like the Road Runner in a situation like this was the last thing they needed. It was best to take it one step at a time.
The group decided to start out with lunch. They had worked together to make a tasty meal, though not exactly their fanciest work, and set it up on a small table as opposed to the longer table where one person might have to yell to be heard when they asked for the salt. That didn't stop them from trying to make it feel slightly romantic, however. In the middle of the rectangular table was a candelabra well lit; the table was set in a small area of the castle with windows surrounding nearly every side of them. Really, what couple didn't like lunch with a view?
The meal was completely silent, most likely another one of those awkward times. Gabriella and Donny stayed at the table to assist with tea and to keep an eye to make sure they weren't making fools of themselves...or rather that the Beast wasn't making a fool of himself. Shortly after the pair was seated they began eating the warm soup. Gabriella looked over at Taylor first; she had taken one small sip of the appetizer from her spoon and already seemed to be enjoying it. She gave Gabriella a thankful smile, which Gabriella returned with a nod. Donny, at that moment, was keeping his eye on the Beast. He tapped Gabriella on her side with his cup handle and they both turned to see their master eating from his soup bowl like a slobbering mutt. His entire chin and a great majority of his snout was completely covered in the soup. The liquid was flying all over, almost making a mess out of his entire eating area. Gabriella's eyes widened at the sight and she looked at Taylor, who had quite a shocked look as well. Not exactly the lunch date she'd have in mind. Taylor took her gaze away from the Beast and unsteadily took another sip from her spoon.
The Beast wiped the soup away from his face with the help of his sleeve and looked at the teapot and teacup, both of who had uneasy looks on their faces. Gabriella bit her lower lip, trying to keep herself from saying anything that might sound rude. The last thing they needed was to risk the master's temper making a return appearance. Donny looked a bit on edge about it as well. Then he looked over at the clean spoon on the side which the Beast hadn't dared to touch. A smile came across Donny's face as he hopped over to it and gently pushed the spoon closer to the Beast. The master looked at it uneasily; he hadn't touched a utensil in a long time. He wasn't sure he could remember how to use it. But then again, this was sort of kind of...guess one could say, a date. He had to make a good impression. Eating like a filthy animal certainly wouldn't do that. Boy, was he a jerk! Gulping, he reached for the spoon and grasped it tightly in his much larger paw.
Taylor slowly returned her gaze to him as she watched the Beast try and get some soup on the spoon. His paw was so large it was covering almost the entire utensil, leaving almost no room for the soup in it. The Beast was most certainly struggling with it. But he knew there was still some soup covering his face and he didn't bother to remove it. He just had to focus on trying to work this thing...come on, get in the mouth. Oh wait, that was a bad idea. His fangs could rip it apart in a second. The first problem...he accidentally tilted the spoon too much and the soup that was on it spilled right onto his pants. Donny bit his tongue so he wouldn't laugh that time. It was too soon to make jokes about that anyway. But he would certainly have to remember to tell his fellow teacups about it. Or he could just turn the story around completely and say the master wet his pants. Luckily he wasn't the only one who was trying not to laugh. Taylor covered her mouth to suppress even the smallest of giggles from escaping her. Straightening her position in her seat, she continued her meal.
Gabriella gave the Beast a look, urging him to try again with the soup. The Beast gulped and picked up the spoon, wiping it off with his sleeve. He started out the same way again, barely getting any soup in the spoon as he tried binging it to his mouth. He could tell that even though he wasn't tilting the spoon this time, however, the liquid continued to drip steadily. He put his free paw underneath it so he wouldn't get any more food on the table - or him, for that matter. Unable to even get the spoon close to his mouth, whether he was worried about biting it or not, he let the soup drip from the spoon into his mouth, even holding his tongue out for reassurance. It still looked sloppy, but that was one of the reasons why Donny didn't hold back any laughter that time. It earned him a look from Gabriella, but he took that as his cue to keep quiet right away.
Taylor could see the sloppiness in the Beast's eating habits as well. This was some lunch. There had to be some way to make it work. After all, he did just try to use a utensil with his overly sized paws. Then again...who said she had to use a spoon either? It kind of gave her an idea. Taylor smiled weakly as she put down her spoon and picked up her bowl in both hands. The Beast saw what she was doing and followed her lead. They held out their soups to each other, almost like they were toasting each other. But neither of them ate like animals nor used their utensils. They actually brought the edge of the bowl to their mouths and consumed it that way. It was the perfect way to compromise.
After lunch the Beast changed out of his soup covered clothes and into some more decent ones. He met Taylor outside in the yard where she was feeding some birds. They were flocking all around trying to pick up the bread crumbs she was tossing out to Beast walked over to her through the snow with his paws behind his back. Everything looked so calm and peaceful out here, why hadn't he noticed it before? Taylor noticed the Beast coming over and gave him a smile. He returned it and held out his hands, wanting to help give the birds their lunch as well. Taylor placed a little bit of food in his paws and watched as he leaned down, eager to feed the hungry feathered fellows. Taylor watched him and could almost hear a melody in her head just thinking about him.
There's something sweet
And almost kind
But he was mean, and he was coarse, and unrefined
The Beast held out his paws at an instant he got close enough to the birds. The poor things were scared by the sudden surprise and flapped their wings, though not flying too far away. When they landed in the snow again, the Beast took a few more paw steps forward and tried to get them their food again.
And now he's dear
And so unsure
I wonder why I didn't see it there before
She shook her head at the Beast and walked over to him. Getting down and sitting by his side, she placed some more bird food into his paws and let them down to touch the snow. Most of the birds rushed away with fear, though one bird didn't seem to notice. Taylor took some of the food out of his paws and laid it out on the snow, trailing a path from the bird into the paws. Surely enough, the Beast's paws looked like a death trap with his sharp claws. But this bird just wanted its lunch. It happily munched on some of the crumbs on the ground before jumping right into his hands where the rest of the pile was. A wide smile came across the Beast's face as he watched the reaction of the bird. And as he looked at Taylor from the corner of his eye he couldn't help but think about her almost to the same melody.
She glanced this way, I thought I saw
And when we touched she didn't shudder at my paw
As a bird landed on Taylor's shoulder she got up and briefly touched the Beast's arm. He was a bit shocked at first, and then saw her walk away with the bird. He even thought he saw her glance at him and he began wondering if it was all in his imagination. He shook his head and looked away. He knew that couldn't be it. But he picked up his head and looked at her again, seeing Taylor move behind a tree. He didn't even take the time to notice another bird munching in his paw nor one landing on his own shoulder.
No it can't be, I'll just ignore
But then she's never looked at me that way before
Taylor leaned her back up against the tree, briefly fiddling with her fingers as though she were trying to put the situation together. Was something more really beginning to develop? She could certainly see it...but it was uncharted territory. What if it was all a trick? Besides the last place she would have ever imagined herself was beside a Beast.
New and a bit alarming
Who'd have ever thought that this could be?
She removed the hood from her head and peaked out from behind the tree at him. She watched him for a minute and he wasn't the same Beast that she had first come in contact with. And then a smile came across her face as she saw him almost completely covered in birds. He had both his paws out and standing like a statue and almost every inch of his upper body was covered in the feathered creatures.
True that he's no Prince Charming
But there's something in him that I simply didn't see
The Beast moved a couple of inches and the birds automatically flew off and he shook his head. So many feathers...he wanted to feed the birds, not get bathed in them. And as soon as he went to make eye contact with Taylor, his eyes came in contact with a snowball...which happened to smack him right in the face. Taylor covered her mouth as she watched him shake the snow off of him. The Beast smirked and leaned in towards the snow, gathering as much of it as he could into the biggest snowball ever. But when he tried to throw it, it just ended up flying up, then falling down and covering him in the snow.
As all of that was going on, Zeke, Jason and Gabriella were watching from inside as the two had their bit of fun outside. The Beast was now chasing after Taylor and the group couldn't help but enjoy the sight. They knew something was going on. Zeke was the first to speak up to the same tune. He turned right to Gabriella and Jason with a big smile.
"Well who'd have thought?"
Gabriella joined in next, followed by Jason as they turned away from the window and faced Zeke.
"Well, bless my soul"
"Well who'd have known?"
"Well, who indeed?"
They hopped down from the window as Taylor and the Beast headed inside and they tried to keep an eye on the two, not wanting to miss a single moment. The lines went back and forth between Gabriella and Zeke as they hopped along the carpets and Jason struggled to keep up with them, occasionally tripping on his own feet.
"And who'd have guessed they'd come together on their own?"
"It's so peculiar"
"Wait and see a few days more"
The Beast removed Taylor's coat and hung it on the caot rack by the fire place. Taylor picked up her book and stressed out the dress she was wearing to keep her warm so it almost lay flat on the floor. The Beast then walked over and sat down beside her, looking over her shoulder as she read...even if most of it was just to herself. The enchanted objects were now all standing in the doorway secretly watching them. Almost as if the three were reading each others minds, they said just what was on their own mind.
"There may be something there that wasn't there before"
Jason rubbed his chin and turned away from the door to look at his friends, almost like he was finally getting the message and he had just been pretending to understand the whole time.
"You know, maybe there is something there that wasn't there before"
Donny once again jumped up and down eagerly, wanting to know what they were talking about. It was almost like gibberish to him. "What? What's there?"
Gabriella just smiled. She looked at her friends, then back at Donny.
"There may be something there that wasn't there before."
"What? what's there Gabby? Tell me," Donny begged.
"Maybe when you're older," Gabriella giggled.
"Gabriella, do you really want to do that? It's going to mean a very big talk when he gets older," Tiara whispered.
"What talk? I wanna be big. Tell me!" Donny complained.
"Have fun explaining all that to him," Jason chuckled. Then he blinked. "Wait...what do you need to explain to him?"
Zeke shook his head. "Let's give it a rest for the day, Jason. Come, we have much planning to do for tomorrow night!"
"What's tomorrow night?" Jason asked, watching Zeke hop away.
"We said give it a few days more, but I don't think we can wait that long!" Zeke called.
"Let me handle this Zeke," Tiara sighed following him. "I know romance. Let me run the meeting."
"Sorry, ma'cherie, I'm running the meeting," Zeke replied.
"But I wanna run the meeting, too," Jason complained like a little kid. "Why don't I ever get to do the fun stuff?" He rushed to try and catch up with Zeke and Tiara.
Donny raised an eyebrow, then shook his head at Jason. "Boy, he's sure being a big baby."