What Goes Around
Disclaimer: I do not own Beauty & the Beast or any of its affiliated characters. Everything you recognize belongs to Disney. Etc, etc. You know how these things go.
What Goes Around...
Footsteps echoed down the corridor and a white granite hawk shuffled behind the safety of a large decorative vase. Dull stone eyes peered around its edge, searching for the approaching being. The sound of a repetitive click coupled with a faster thumping fell on the bird's ears and it relaxed.
A faint glow became visible down the hall and the hawk moved towards it, talons clicking lightly on the stone. Soon the rumble of voices was audible; one high and frantic, the other deep and heavily accented. The sound of steps ceased as the voices grew more serious. The hawk's pace quickened until she could see where the two characters had halted.
The glow was coming from a golden candelabrum whose three candles were lit. His arms were crossed and he scowled as he gazed at his companion. Next to him stood a mantle clock, chiding the candlestick in frantic tones.
"You know as well as I that there is nothing we could do," the clock said fervently.
"I still think we should go after her," the candlestick grumbled in reply. "She's our last chance, Cogsworth."
"I know that," Cogsworth the clock sighed. "But if the spell is to be broken she must love him in return. That is something she must do on her own. We would be of no use, Lumière. Besides, even if we could do something, we wouldn't be able to reach her in time. It is a long way to her home, made all the longer by the fact that neither of us stands over a foot tall."
"The girl has escaped then?" the hawk asked, stepping into the light of Lumière's candles. Both men jumped.
"Ella, must you sneak up on us like that?" Cogsworth asked exasperatedly, a hand over the pendulum case where his heart should have been.
"My apologies," the bird replied slyly, "but it is no fault of mine that clocks have no ears." Cogsworth scowled, but not angrily; as cheeky as she could be, he had always enjoyed the girl's company. "So the girl finally escaped, did she?"
"Hardly," Lumière said with a hollow laugh. "He let her go."
"He did?" Ella asked, her gaze turning to Cogsworth. The clock nodded. "Unbelievable! Why would he do such a thing?"
"Because he loves her," Cogsworth said solemnly.
The hawk tilted her head pensively. "So he's finally done it then," she said. "Remarkable."
"Indeed," Lumière agreed. "But she is now on her way home and far from this castle."
"And we must simply wait to see if she returns." Cogsworth sighed again. "If not, well then all is lost."
"Ella, you are a bird," Lumière said on sudden inspiration. "You could fly to her and–"
"I'm made of stone, Lumière," Ella cut across him. "I can fly no better than you." The candlestick sighed in defeat and all three of his flames extinguished, casting the trio into darkness.
"Lumière!" Cogsworth growled and the lights returned.
"Pardonez-moi," Lumière said saucily. Then his voice softened. "I was just disappointed."
"I'm sorry, I really wish I could've helped," Ella said gently, "but there is nothing any of us can do but hope."
"It is difficult to sit by and do nothing when the master's birthday is but a few days away," Lumière groaned, anxiety heavy on his face.
"It may be difficult," Ella stated, "but it must be done. I have faith that she will return."
"I hope you are right, for all our sake's," Lumière said slowly. Cogsworth nodded in agreement.
"Oh Lumière." The call echoed down the corridor far ahead of its speaker and a faint grin crept back onto the candlestick's face.
"Ah, if you will excusez-moi," Lumière said with a cheeky grin. As he turned away from the group Cogsworth rolled his eyes. Soon the sound of Lumière's hopping faded away, although not before they heard a female's playful shriek.
"I think I will retire as well," Ella said with a laugh. "Although perhaps not in the same fashion as Lumière."
Cogsworth chuckled. "Good night, Ella."
"Keep your hopes up," Ella said comfortingly. Cogsworth smiled in response and continued to walk down the hall in his awkward way. As he was passing out of her line of sight she heard his voice echoing back to her as he sang softly to himself.
"To be human again, only human again, when the girl finally sets us all free…"
Ella sighed at his longing and then hurried into a nearby room. Once inside she closed the door with her stony wing and then swiftly resumed her actual appearance. Pale granite gave way to smooth brown skin, white hair blossomed from her head in waves, and limbs twisted and reshaped until a beautiful young woman stood in place of the stone creature. For you see, Ella was truly the enchantress Tryamon, the very enchantress who had cast a spell over this castle nearly a decade prior.
Tryamon leaned her back against the door, her face contorted with grief. She had enjoyed pretending to be one of the castle's ensorcelled servants during the last decade and mingling with the other objects to see how things were progressing. The words of Cogsworth's song echoed painfully in her mind. She had grown fond of the castle's inhabitants and regretted having cursed them all. If there was anything she had learned during her visits, it was that the serving staff were all loving people despite working for such a cruel master. Her curse had been rash and she wished now that she could take it back. When the young village girl, Belle, had arrived at the castle she had hoped that she might break the curse, but now she was gone.
"Oh, what to do?" the enchantress muttered to herself.
A fierce tugging sensation formed in the pit of her stomach and the world before her blackened. Within seconds colour slowly began to seep out of the darkness and Tryamon found herself in an entirely different place. A groan of annoyance on her lips, she turned around. Sitting in a polished wooden chair, a frustrated scowl dominating his face to match her own, was her summoner.
"Father, you know that if you simply call, I will come," Tryamon grumbled. "It is quite discomforting to be simply plucked from a place without so much as a warning."
"Then you should not be gallivanting around in the human world," her father responded, his frown still in place. Tryamon sometimes wondered if he was actually capable of smiling, since she had yet to see him do it.
"Was there a reason for your unannounced summons?" the young enchantress asked sourly. Most often when he requested her presence it was to punish her and she had learned long ago not to raise her hopes.
"Indeed, there was," her father said and his lips twitched slightly but still did not manage a smile. "Someone very important has come to see you."
As if waiting for a cue – which was most likely true, based on her father's love of dramatics – the door to the room opened. Through it strode a sight that made the enchantress' heart stop with horror. The man who entered was astonishingly attractive, with an angular face, black hair and the brightest green eyes. Had Tryamon not known who he was, she would have been interested. Unfortunately, she knew him.
"Alkyl," she said in surprise.
"Tryamon," the man replied. "It is good to see you well."
The enchantress wished she could say the same, but honestly she rather hoped he would drop dead on the spot.
"You are well past the age to wed," her father informed her. "Alkyl's work has kept him far from here, but now that he has returned your betrothal may proceed."
"I cannot marry him!" Tryamon shouted. "I don't love him."
"Love?" her father asked cynically. "This mortal sensation you speak of so much? It is ridiculous. We of magic are above such things."
"I'm not, Father," Tryamon protested. "I have seen it and I refuse to wed someone who I have no feelings for."
Her father sighed heavily. Tryamon had unfortunately been born with her mother's heart and determination. She would need to be coerced into this marriage the same way. "How can we settle this? A bargain perhaps?"
"What?" Alkyl gasped. "Cyrix, what are you doing?"
"Silence," Cyrix barked. "I know what I am doing." He returned his attention to Tryamon. "What was the last spell you cast involving this – love?"
Tryamon hesitated a moment before answering, unsure of her father's intentions. "That he must learn to love someone, and earn their love in return, before his twenty-first birthday."
"Perfect," Cyrix said, his lips fidgeting slightly again. "Here is my offer to you: I will send you into the mortal world with a task. You must earn the love of the first man you encounter, and learn to love this man as well, before your twenty-first birthday. If you do I will release you from this marriage and let you do as you wish. If you do not, you must return here and marry Alkyl without complaint."
Tryamon and Alkyl both tried to argue but Cyrix overruled them both.
"Also, you may reveal to no one that you are of magic or use your magic on this man. This is the only offer I will extend. Take it or leave it."
Tryamon contemplated the proposal before her. She could not fall in love with just any man, but she was willing to try almost anything to escape this betrothal. Anything but relinquish her immortality and magic. That was one sacrifice she could not make for anything.
"But I turn twenty-one in just a few months," Tryamon pointed out. "That hardly seems like enough time."
"Take it or leave it," her father repeated.
"Only on the condition that I choose where in the mortal world I appear," Tryamon demanded.
"Fair enough," Cyrix nodded.
The enchantress thought over the deal one last time, searching for some hidden technicality her father might have cleverly disguised. "Fine, I accept."
This time a genuine smile crossed her father's face and Tryamon decided instantly that she preferred his scowl. "Then until your birthday, daughter," Cyrix said with the haughty air of a man guaranteed victory.
Tryamon closed her eyes and felt herself travelling through the black void again. She opened them when she felt gentle rain tickling her skin. She was standing on a lower balcony of the castle she had so recently departed, although here several days would have passed since she'd gone. Time moved so much more quickly here than in the world of the Immortals.
A clamour of shouts came from above and Tryamon looked up. On a tower a few levels higher, two people were fighting savagely. A woman's cry split the night air and the enchantress felt her heart leap. So Belle had returned after all.
Suddenly one of the men tumbled over the edge of the tower. His hands reached out desperately for something to save him until they latched onto the railing of the very balcony Tryamon stood upon. Fearing that this man might be the prince and not wishing him to die with his freedom so near, the enchantress grabbed his hands and helped him onto the balcony. But when she looked into his face, Tryamon knew it was not Prince Adam.
Abruptly remembering the bargain, she turned her eyes away but it was too late. She felt the magic settle inside of her as the seal was locked. The man whose love she must earn, and the man she must learn to love, was none other than the great Gaston.