A Change In Me

Chapter 3

Beast's POV

It was early the next morning when he was startled awake by a cry of fear. Instantly remembering he was sitting in Belle's room, he opened his eyes prepared to see Belle scrambling to get away from him. Instead, he watched as Belle muttered and turned in her sleep, clearly having a nightmare. She was moving violently, seemingly trying to push something off of her. "No, Gaston," she muttered fearfully. "Get away! Beast, help me!"

The Beast was startled to hear his name mentioned in her dream, and even more astonished that she would call to him for help. Perhaps he hadn't ruined everything by what happened in the West Wing. A warmth spread through his chest that she should call to him, but he was afraid that if she continued moving so violently she would hurt herself further. Mrs. Potts had not gone into detail about Belle's wound, but he was certain thrashing about was not good for her.

"Belle, you're having a dream," he said bluntly, hoping his voice alone was enough to wake her. He was unwilling to touch her, certain that he could do nothing but repulse her after last night, but the nightmare continued to terrify her. Carefully, he took hold of her shoulder in his massive paw and shook her gently. "Belle, wake up," he insisted as gently as he could, hoping that she would not be more frightened of him than the dream. She woke suddenly with a gasp, but when her eyes focused on him she smiled. The Beast could not help but smile in return, careful to keep his teeth hidden behind his lips.

"Beast," she said wearily, her voice no more than a whisper. Her beautiful brown eyes remained half closed, as if she would fall asleep again at any moment.

"You should have told me you were hurt," the Beast growled at her, though this time he did not mean to be unkind.

"I'll be all right," she insisted with another tired smile before falling asleep once again. What if you won't be, he despaired silently. He watched over her sleep for another moment before he had to stand. No, standing wasn't enough. He had to pace, but her chamber did not allow enough room for his stride.

"Madam Armoire," he called quietly and turned to face the wardrobe, but she was not there. Quietly he went to a second door in Belle's room that led to the large washroom and heard the wardrobe sobbing inside. He grimaced, unwilling to disturb such a messy display, and instead went into the hall to call for Mrs. Potts.

"Master, what is it?" she asked frantically, clearly worried something was wrong.

"Nothing. I—I just have to go for a walk," he growled. "Can you watch over her for a few minutes?"

"Of course, dear," Mrs. Potts said kindly and hopped into Belle's room. Convinced Belle was well looked after, the Beast was able to get away to collect his thoughts.

He actually cared about this girl, he realized as he paced the hall. More than just a tool to break his curse, he realized he was growing fond of her. It wasn't love, at least in the way he understood it, but Belle was slowly finding her way into his heart. He stopped pacing to look out one of the large windows as the day continued to brighten over the forest. It was easy to imagine that Lumiere and Cogsworth were on their way back from the village beyond the trees with the medicine, though he had no way of knowing for sure.

With an impatient snort, he made his way back to Belle's room to find Mrs. Potts pouring liquid into a cup. It didn't smell like tea, but the scent that caught in his nose wasn't offensive either. Usually Chip was the one to serve as Bell's teacup, but Mrs. Potts had chosen one of the few inanimate teacups to use. The Beast briefly wondered why before remembering that the living teacups were all children and the motherly Mrs. Potts would not want them to see Belle in such a state.

"Oh, master I'm glad you're back," Mrs. Potts greeted him as he walked in. "Belle hasn't eaten since yesterday morning and I was hoping you could help me give this to her. It will help keep her strength up."

The Beast nodded, but in truth was nervous about helping to take care of Belle. It was one thing to put cool cloths on her forehead when he didn't have to touch her directly, but helping her drink would require lifting her head for her. Careful not to let his hands shake in front of Mrs. Potts, the Beast took the cup from the table and eased his massive hand behind Belle's head. He tried not to notice how soft her hair was as he gently lifted her head and raised the cup to her lips. Belle moaned and turned her head away as the Beast tried to get her to drink. He looked to Mrs. Potts for help.

"Talk to her," she encouraged. "Gently. Let her know it's going to help her." Feeling a bit foolish, he cleared his throat.

"Belle?" he began clumsily. "Belle you have to drink this. It will give you strength." He could not imagine his words would have any effect, but like a miracle Belle slowly turned her head back and allowed the Beast to help her drink.

"Well done, master," Mrs. Potts praised quietly as Belle continued to drink from the cup in the Beast's hands. The Beast was startled by the praise and accidentally spilt some of the liquid down Belle's cheek, but Mrs. Potts pretended not to notice.

"What now?" the Beast asked once the cup was empty.

"Now we continue to wait, master," Mrs. Potts responded sorrowfully. "I'll go see if there's any sign of Lumiere and Cogsworth yet," she offered and hopped out of sight. The Beast resumed his vigil over Belle and continued to bathe her feverish face with the cool cloth.

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