"Alright people, we've got a lot of work to do," Jason announced the next day. "Tonight's gonna be big and we have to do it right. We got like twelve hours and change to create the most romantical magical evening the world has ever known. Hey...hey guys! Is anyone listening to me?"
In the main hallway, of course no one was paying attention to Jason. They were much too busy talking amongst themselves. Jason should have expected as much...no really, he should have...come on, no one ever listens to him. He thought he was allowed to run this meeting after begging Zeke and Tiara for the job. But some job he was doing. What would it take to get some attention - and possibly respect - around here?
In the front of the group were of course the main enchanted objects: Zeke, Gabriella, Donny, and Tiara. As for Jack and Boi...well Jack was kind of stuck in the kitchen at the moment and Boi was running eagerly all around the hall. Donny was with all the other tea cups, who were just making jokes and goofing off. Gabriella was keeping an eye on him, yet wasn't too far from Zeke or Tiara to overhear their conversation. And Tiara and Zeke...well, they were having their own little discussion.
"Who does he think he's kidding?" Tiara muttered to Zeke. "I could do a much better job of telling everyone what to do than Jason."
"I know, ma'cherie, I know," Zeke replied to who was supposedly his girlfriend. "But Jason wanted to do this. You saw how eager he was. How were we supposed to say no to him?"
"Very easily. We open our mouths and say no," she told him simply.
"But that would hurt Jason's feelings. He's the butt of so many jokes around here. Look at him, he's just trying to feel appreciated," Zeke sighed. And how true that all was.
"Every other part of him has been crushed at some point in the last two years," Tiara pointed out.
"Don't you mean three?" Zeke raised an eyebrow.
"No, he was trying to protect himself at all costs that first year, remember?" Tiara replied as-a-matter-of-factly.
"Oh yeah..." Zeke recalled. Who could forget all the times that Jason either tried to run around in a rubber ball or covered himself in some kind of armor.
"Alright, why don't you two break it up," Gabriella said as she went over to them. She'd heard enough. "Tiara maybe if you kept quiet we could hear Jason speaking."
"Excuse me, was I the one talking just two seconds ago?" Tiara asked coldly.
Zeke could tell that if these girls went head to head it would not be a pretty sight. Gabriella and Tiara could get along once in a while but most of the time...most of the time they just hated each other for once reason or another. He decided it would be best to talk to Gabriella about this. He couldn't count how many times it was the two of them trying to accomplish something around there. Jason was his best friend so Gabriella was his best female friend. After all, growing up in the castle what else was the be expected of them? There's no other explanation as to why they're the group that are always together. As for Tiara, she may be sweet around Zeke and who knows, some other guys, but she was much more ruthless than Gabriella. Zeke didn't want to take any chances with these girls.
"Um...excuse me for a moment, mademoiselle," he told Tiara politely before taking Gabriella away from her. But before Zeke could say anything, Gabriella beat him to the punch.
"Why do you put up with her, Zeke?"
"Wha...what do you mean?" Zeke nearly stammered.
Gabriella was no fool. She was perfectly sweet and innocent, but no one tried to push around her friends. One could say that she just did not know when to keep her mouth shut. It would end up being a downfall one day. "Tiara thinks she's so great just because the master allowed her to travel all the way from her home in England to come here and work for royalty. It's like she can sometimes get special treatment because of that so she expects everyone else to give it to her. What do you even see in her?"
"She's pretty and English," Zeke stated simply.
"And there's something else isn't there?" Gabriella assumed. After all, Zeke was not that shallow. Or shallow at all for that matter.
"And what can I say?" he shrugged. "I like girls who know how to take charge."
"Well she's not the only one. So get your head out of the feather dusted cloud and help Jason run this meeting," she urged.
"Wow Gabs...didn't realize you wanted to be human again so badly." Zeke replied.
"Oh that's not why I want to do this," she shook her head. "You know I'm a sucker for a happy ending."
"Of course you are," Zeke muttered. He should have known she was going to say that.
"And it would be kind of nice to be taller than a fourth of a foot, too," she admitted.
"Knew it," Zeke chuckled.
"Hello!" Jason called out. "Is anyone taking the meeting seriously?"
Everyone turned to Jason and looked at him doubtfully. Let's see now...Jason never took anything seriously; no one ever took Jason seriously; no one took anything Jason did seriously; Jason didn't take the most serious situations seriously.... So as long as he was 'in charge' of this meeting why should anyone take it seriously? Such a support group the castle staff could be. Not.
Zeke sighed and went onto the stairs. He got by Jason's side and tried to get everyone's attention. "Come now everyone, let's give Jason a chance. I'm sure he's a got a perfectly good reason why we should all listen to him."
Jason looked at Zeke confused. "I do?"
"Yes you do," Zeke mumbled to him.
"Well what do I have?"
"I don't have a rose."
"Yes you do."
"Oh, you're giving me a rose?"
Zeke hit his head. He looked at Jason from the corner of his eye, not wanting to face his friend directly, and kept his candle stick hand on his head. "The pretty petalled thing that keeps master alive."
"Oh, that rose!" Jason exclaimed with a wide picked up a ruler to act as his pointing stick as the table from the West Wing that held the rose stepped over. It was a bit difficult to see the exact status of the rose, but enough of it was seen to know that it was wilting and clearly, time was running out. The color was even fading from its bright shade of pink to almost a red shade. "Now then," Jason said as he pointed at the rose with the ruler, "clearly we don't have a lot of time left. Because if the last petal falls then the spell is never gonna be broken!" He accidentally ended up hitting the rose's container so much that it almost fell off the table; lucky the table moved out of the way just before it could touch the edge, leaving everyone relieved that the rose was still in one piece, and Jason not only lost his grip on the ruler which ended up going across the hallway but also fell off the stairs and flat on his face. Zeke came down to the floor to check on his friend; Jason then lifted his head slightly. "Is this the part where we get assignments?"
"Give them their assignments," Zeke sighed, knowing how much Jason wanted to do it. He helped Jason up, but the clock was so dizzy that as he spoke he ended up pointing in nearly the same directions as he spun around.
"Alrighty then peoples, let's get started. Half of you to Westy Wing, half to Easty Beasty Wing, and the rest wit me."
Donny raised an eyebrow at Jason's scattered brain. "What's he talkin bout?"
"Half of us go to the West Wing and half of us go to the East Wing," Zeke translated.
With that said, every single enchanted object in the hallway was on their way, leaving Jason to fall back on the floor. Jason got up and rubbed his head. "Hey...what about everyone else coming with me?" he moaned.
Zeke, Gabriella, and Tiara did return over to Jason and Zeke helped him up. "Sorry Jason, but you know they just want this to work out. The master will be in the West Wing preparing. You know how many of us in here are experts with making him look his best. The coat rack is going to draw his bath and everything. He'll be like a new man! Well...sort of."
"And Martha's probably already sent Taylor to go to the East Wing so she can get ready there." Gabriella added. "It's best that the two of them not see each other until dinner. They need to be surprised by each other."
"Yes, why don't we just do what we need to do and let them take it from there?" Zeke suggested. Then he rubbed his head. "Hey...where did those crazy kids go anyway?"
"And there never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and Romeo." Taylor finished before closing the book and holding it close to her.
Of course they would be in the library where all the books were. Taylor had probably read it out loud twice already, at least. After all, who really didn't enjoy a good Shakespearean play? It was a classic and she hadn't read the book in ages. The Beast, however, was a different story. He had always hated stories like that. He always hated tragic, sappy, romantic...old books. But this time, he was actually really into the story. He didn't hate it at all. As a matter of fact, he was actually loving it. The Beast was just resting his head on the table listening to Taylor's voice carry the story along. There was something so hypnotic about her voice. She just made him really get into the story and want to read it. Why he almost seemed...relaxed by it. He picked up his head slightly and looked at her hopefully.
"Do you think, by any chance, you could...maybe read it again?"
"As much as I love reading to a three hundred pound beast..." Taylor teased.
"Not over three hundred. Just... Just been eating a lot," the Beast replied glancing away. He was not that heavy...was he?
Taylor giggled and held the book out to him. "Here, how about you read it to me this time?"
"Oh...um, sure. Ok," the Beast said, reluctantly taking the small book in his big paws. Wait, why did he just agree to read an old play that he used to hate? This was going to be harder than he thought. Alright, alright, no need to panic. He could do this. Trying to hold the book without his claws digging into it, the Beast turned to the first page. He held the book close up, then far away, then close up again. No, he didn't have trouble seeing. He had a whole different issue. "Um...erm.." Now what was that letter with the straight line and the straight line over it? And the letter next to it that looked like a fat circle? And why was the print even so small to read?
Taylor raised an eyebrow as she watched him. It almost seemed like the Beast was hesitant to read. "Is everything alright?" she wondered.
So much for keeping it cool. Can't say he didn't try to hide it. Ok, he did try, but he failed miserably. "I can't read," the Beast sighed, closing the book and pushing it to the side of the table.
Taylor tilted her head. She could never have imagined someone around her own age didn't know how to read. There could be so many reasons. A learning disability, never learned, bad vision…. She decided to go with the obvious answer. "So you never learned how to read?"
"Well I did," he admitted turning to face her. "It's just been ages. I can't remember the last time I read." And why wouldn't he not want to mention it?Here was a girl who was some sort of reading genius and did it every day of her life, and the Beast was just too lazy to even try in three years. Or was it more? Well at least she didn't need to bring math into it - then they'd have a real problem.
"Oh..." Taylor said, at a loss for words at the moment. "Well it's never too late to learn. Again. I can help."
"You could?" the Beast's face lit up.
"Of course. It's easy," she promised. She took the book and turned to the first page. She rested it faced open on the table and turned it to the Beast so he could read right-side up. "Start here," she instructed pointing to the first line.
The Beast moved his head in a little closer to try and see. "What's that first letter?"
"It's called a T," she giggled.
"Right, right," he said quickly. That's what her name started with. He should have figured that out. "And...the letter next to it?"
"That's an O." she replied.
"So then the word is...to?" he asked, pronouncing it as 'toe'.
Taylor couldn't help but giggle again. "'To'," she corrected.
"I knew that." he replied quickly again. Boy he had a lot to learn!
"Oh well, we'll deal with finding them later," Zeke decided, answering his own question.
"And it will be all the more better if they're spending the day together while we start preparing everything for them," Gabriella said. "It's obvious there's a spark between them. It's only going to grow the more time they spend together."
"But I thought we were planning this whole big fancy dinner tonight so they could spend time together," Jason said. "It's supposed to be the only way for the spell to be broken."
"Well I suppose we never said it didn't hurt to lend a helping hand," Zeke replied. "And if we do well then we will be rewarded. When the master becomes human again, we will as well!"
"Ah, human again," Gabriella sighed contently.
"Human again," Tiara repeated.
"Think of what it means," Zeke added. "I can help Jack cook in the kitchen again. I can't even remember the last time I helped him make his famous steaks. I was the sauce expert in there. And the vegetable chopping, very nice. But I most miss baking cookies and brownies as treats for the master and ourselves. They were one of the few things that just kept him grinning instead of frowning and scowling. I can actually use my fingers again. It's impossible to give anyone a thumbs up with these excuses for hands. And I'll be chic and sporting again."
"While of course not everyone will see you as, and we'll be walking in on you posing in front of a mirror again," Gabriella giggled.
Martha danced by them in the hall, most likely either heading to the East Wing or just passing by and overhearing them. "I'll have my own two feet to dance properly with again. And it'll be nice to be a little smaller around the sides. We can actually dress up and go to the parties we used to. We can have a girl's day in and have our own spa day."
"With make-up and dressing up for no reason at all," Gabriella loved the idea.
"And we'll have our own hair again," Martha added.
"Oh I do miss doing my own hair," Gabriella admitted.
"And maybe when we're human again our heads won't feel so close to our bodies. I never feel like I have a neck on here," Jason said trying to feel for a neck area between his head and shoulders.
"Well at least you have an actual body," Gabriella stated. "I have to jump everywhere I go."
"As do I, but it's a small price to pay for having some kind of arms," Zeke chuckled.
"Why do the girls around here have no more arms?" Tiara sighed. "It's impossible to reach anything without help."
"Maybe you guys don't have arms, but these doors on me do work as good substitutes," Martha stated, opening her closet doors and closing them again to emphasize her point.
"We can actually do our real chores around here!" Gabriella exclaimed.
"Eh, not so much," Jason and Zeke said in unison.
"Well if we're getting dinner ready, why don't we make the castle look a lot more suitable for such an occasion?" Gabriella suggested.
"I'll go get the mops and brooms and the other feather dusters! We'll be right on making the floors and windows clean and spotless!" Tiara exclaimed heading out of the hallway.
"Don't forget a lot of the shelves too, and if you could help polish some stuff that would be great!" Gabriella called.
"Don't tell me what to do," Tiara replied.
"Polish help, Mademoiselle Tiara?" Zeke called.
"But of course!" Tiara replied.
Zeke chuckled. "See there Gabs? You just gotta know how to work the charm. It'll be so much easier in human form."
"Yeah, all the girls will still laugh at you," Jason chuckled as the four of them left the hallway and departed ways to clean the castle.
"Gabby are we really gonna be human again?" Donny asked hopefully as he met up with his sister to help brighten up the kitchen.
"Of course we are. My friend's the key to breaking the spell. I know she can do it," Gabriella said.
"Wait, the spell is going to be broken tonight?" Jack gasped as he tried to get a fire in himself going. Yes, a small price he had to pay for being a stove.
"Yeah! Taylor's gonna marry the master!" Donny exclaimed.
Gabriella giggled. "Let's not get too carried away. They have to fall in love first."
"Ew, gross!" Donny gasped.
"Give it a couple of years. You'll be hitting on those girls in no time," Jack said. He moved in closer so he could whisper to the tea cup, "And I know exactly what makes them tick."
Gabriella overheard and went onto the shelf, almost right in Jack's ear. "And what makes us girls tick?"
Jack immediately stepped back. Yeah...it probably was not a good idea to give a talk like that to a growing boy when there was actually a girl around. "Sensitivity?" he asked hopefully.
"Much better," Gabriella nodded in approval as she got back to work.
"Let's get some light in here!" Tiara called to the other feather dusters as they went into the main dining room where the brooms and mops were cleaning and trying to keep a filthy Boi out of there. "Open up these curtains. We want them to have a nice view of the garden." When Tiara looked out the window over to the garden, there was still snow around and the yard was completely deserted. "Hey! Someone should put that garden back together!"
"Right on it!" Zeke called as he ran out with some other servants to help out. They got some flowers from the pots inside and started planting them in the wet soil after the shovels cleared away the remaining he planted the flowers, the remainder of the snow in the yard was very much in the process of being soon as the shovels were done with all their work, Boi was automatically running through the dirt and making a mess or everything. It was surprising he didn't destroy the freshly planted flowers. Jason was trying to help trim the hedges and make them in the shapes of anything he could come up with - even if they were semi demented animals - and then tried to direct where the remaining gardening tools should go. Of course that didn't work out too well because one of the wheelbarrows just ended up running him over. He groaned and got up rubbing his head, only to see Zeke starting to plant some seeds around.
"Grass planting time?" Jason asked going over to him.
"But of course not. I think we're going to need a nice vegetable garden. After we're human again I'll be able to make my special pie," Zeke replied. "The grass will grow just fine on its own. Now let's see about turning the fountain on and getting some nice water going on around here."
"Don't get your hopes up Zeke. I think the pipeline's gonna be stuck," Jason said.
"Here let me give it a go," Zeke said. He walked over to the pipeline and turned the handle pretty easily. The small water fountain in the yard was letting out water in no time, like one of those fancy fountains in shopping centers where fish swim and people throw coins in to make wishes. "See Jay? I told you it'd work. Now come on, we have to check on the master for his special dinner. It's almost sundown so dinner will be soon."
"Good, I'm starving," Jason said.
"Not for you, for them." Zeke nudged him. "Let's go see how everyone is doing inside before we get back to business."
"Alright, but I think we have the right to eavesdrop on them tonight," Jason replied.
"All in their best interest, of course," Zeke said innocently.
Jason was about to speak up again when they heard a loud barking. Jason and Zeke faced each other, both standing in front of the water fountain. Then they slowly turned their heads and across the yard they could see Boi riding in a wheelbarrow like a Sunday driver. They watched wide-eyed as the wheelbarrow slowly started to turn and head right towards them. The boys' mouths dropped wide open as Boi wagged his tail and barked happily.
"No, Boi! NO!" they exclaimed before the footstool dog and wheelbarrow hit them dead on, causing all of them to fall into the fountain with a big splash.