Belle sat at the vanity in her room, nervously fiddling with her hair while trying to take direction from Madame Armoire. She didn't have much practice in styling her hair beyond her usual low ponytail and she depended on Madame Armoire's more experienced opinion to help her.
"I don't know," she said uncertainly, examining her hair in the mirror. Half of her hair was piled elegantly behind her head, leaving the rest to flow loose onto her shoulders. "It's not what I'm used to."
"But that's the point, dearie!" Madame Armoire insisted. "This is not a night to play it safe." Play it safe? Belle repeated in her mind. Before she could ask what Madame Armoire meant, Mrs. Potts spoke.
"I agree. I think it looks lovely," Mrs. Potts added, smiling kindly up at her. "We've got to get a move on if you're going to get to dinner in time." Belle nodded, taking once last uncertain glance at her hair before moving to stand before the gorgeous dress that was spread across her bed.
She ran her hand across the golden silk and smiled at its beauty, excited at the prospect of wearing such a thing for the first time in her life. Before she could put it on, however, there was a light knock on the door. Belle opened the door to let Lumiere hop inside the room.
"I have come to tell you the Master will meet you at the grand staircase by the ballroom tonight," he said grandly, bowing to her.
"Oh, there's—all right," she said unsteadily, caught off guard at this new information. "I'll be ready soon." Lumiere left with a grin, no doubt to return to the Beast with this information. Of course there would be a ballroom in a castle, she told herself as she turned back to the dress. But she couldn't help the excitement she felt at the idea of wearing the gorgeous gown in a real ballroom, almost as if she was a princess. She laughed, realizing she sounded like a child.
"What's that, dear?" Madame Armoire asked curiously.
"Nothing, I just didn't know there was a ballroom here," she said, keeping her childish thoughts to herself. Belle finished getting ready, finally donning the beautiful dress, her heart inexplicably racing with excitement as she did.
"Oh, Belle," Mrs. Potts sighed. "You look so beautiful."
"Really?" she asked and examined herself in the mirror. She couldn't deny that the dress itself was certainly magnificent, but she felt slightly out of place. The dress was too grand for someone as low born as herself. But she reminded herself that this was simply dinner with the Beast, not an official ball where real courtiers might scoff behind their hands. The Beast would never laugh at her.
At bit more at ease with that knowledge, she slipped on the elbow-length gloves and declared herself ready. She opened the door to make her way down to the ballroom, but paused as she noticed Cogsworth standing in the hall. "Cogsworth?" she said, curious as to why he was waiting outside her door.
"Oh, Belle! Goodness me, you look lovely! I was just coming to ask when you would be ready, which you obviously are. I shall inform the Master." And without another word, Belle watched as Cogsworth waddled down the hall as quickly as he could manage.
"Excitable fellow, isn't he?" Mrs. Potts remarked as they watched Cogsworth. "Come along, then. Madame Armoire and I will show you the way."
"You're coming too?" Belle asked the wardrobe in surprise. To the best of her knowledge, Madame Armoire had never left the room, always complaining it was too difficult to navigate the doors with her girth.
"Oh yes of course, dearie!" she exclaimed in her usual boisterous tone. "I wouldn't miss this for the world!" So Belle obligingly opened both of her bedroom doors to accommodate the wardrobe and together the three of them made their way down the hall. Belle spent a few steps adjusting to the weight and bulk of the dress, but it wasn't long before she found her stride again. It was the bubble of excitement and fear in her stomach that she found harder to control.
As they approached a door Belle had never seen before, Belle's heart started to pound. What if the Beast decided not to come to this ridiculous dinner she had proposed? What if something went wrong and he ran from her? He hadn't done such a thing since the day he played the piano, but what if this upset him, too? But she watched as a betraying hand reached for the door handle and knew there was no going back.
He had been successfully groomed and stuffed into a fine suit for the night's dinner. It was a handsome suit, comprised of a deep blue coat with gold trim and black trousers. Cogsworth and Lumiere both said how magnificent he looked, but the Beast couldn't help but feel a bit foolish in such formal clothes as the creature he was. He only hoped Belle would be able to overlook that so he wouldn't spoil her evening.
Lumiere had told him what he had prepared for that night: music, romantic candlelight. All so that he could confess. . .well at least try to say to Belle what was in his heart, what he knew to be true.
Bold, daring, he repeated Lumiere's words to himself over and over as he walked towards the grand staircase where he and Belle were to meet. The words were enough to get him through the door, kept him standing upright while he waited for Belle to appear at the door opposite him as Lumiere promised she would. But as the door gently swung open, the steadying words all but flew from his mind as he saw what now stood before him.