Welcome to Beauty’s Beast, book 3 in the Black Trans Fairy Tales series. This novel­la is releas­ing one chapter/week on the blog ahead of publication. 

This chap­ter will only be up for one week. If you miss a chap­ter or would like to sup­port projects like this, join my Patreon.


Unfortunately, this chap­ter was only up for one week and you’ve missed the win­dow! If you’d like to catch up or sup­port oth­er projects like this, please join my Patreon.

Belle and her father sat at one end of a long din­ing table larg­er enough to seat half the town. The dust had been swept away, the cur­tains thrown open, the glass win­dows pol­ished, and the table itself gleamed like bronze in the morn­ing sun. Lumière danced down the table, his brass body and arms fresh­ly pol­ished, light­ing tall can­dle­sticks as he sang about break­fast being the most impor­tant meal of the day. The cut­lery danced, the teacups sang cho­rus, and Belle clapped along to the song, delight­ed in every way. Beside one of the win­dows, Madam Armoire belt­ed an aria fit for a great hall.

Light glit­tered off the sil­ver and brass of the staff and the sweet smells of syrup and juice made Belle’s stom­ach rum­ble in anticipation.

Breakfast dis­pensed itself from rolling carts, the plates smooth­ly turn­ing in place in front of both Belle and her father. She gasped as the sil­ver domes float­ed away, and she breathed deeply of smoked sausage, roast­ed veg­eta­bles, bis­cuits and gravy, more food than she knew what to do with.

An entire bowl of fruit, glis­ten­ing like jew­els, hopped into her hand and one of the danc­ing forks sprang into a spin­ning back flip to land pre­cise­ly in a strawberry.

Lumière’s song came to a flour­ish­ing end. He bowed. He almost lit the table­cloth on fire with one of his hands, hopped on it to put out the ember and stayed bowed.

Maruice cheered the loud­est but Belle heaped prais­es on Lumière as he cor­ralled the cut­lery into their places.

So it was to a room full of laugh­ter and light that Quinn joined their guests for break­fast for the first time.
The hall doors opened in tan­dem, admit­ting the guardian at their full height. Their antlers just brushed the arch of the door­way and with the new braids in their mane pulling the hair away from their face, Belle could see their eyes were bright and hope­ful even from across the room.

Belle stood up at her place at the table and her father fol­lowed, rais­ing a glass of juice in Quinn’s direc­tion as a greeting.

Quinn wore a suit.

It wasn’t a suit for a human with a col­lar and tie. It was more like the out­er jack­et of a suit tai­lored to fit under their mane with a long pair of coat tails and shiny brass but­tons. The fab­ric was such a dark blue it made Quinn’s rus­set fur brighter. They tugged gen­tly at the bot­tom hem, uncom­fort­able in such a for­mal set­ting after untold years of ignor­ing not only the world, but their own staff.

Quinn signed a cau­tious, “Good morning.”

Belle beamed. “Good morn­ing! I’m so glad you’re here.” She caught Lumière’s eye and tapped the place next to her, request­ing anoth­er place setting.

Lumière recov­ered from his shock and qui­et­ly orga­nized the rolling carts to take him back to the kitchen for anoth­er plate.

A brief moment of still­ness cap­tured the room when Quinn hes­i­tat­ed at the door­way to their own din­ing hall, vis­i­bly unsure of their wel­come. Belle clutched her hands at her chest in sym­pa­thy. It must have tak­en all of Quinn’s courage to join them after being stuck in the gray haze of depres­sion. She refused to let them feel uncom­fort­able in their own home.

Belle’s father didn’t let the moment stretch. “Come in, come in!” he bellowed.

Quinn walked for­ward auto­mat­i­cal­ly and Belle saw the moment their brain caught up with their body. A stut­ter­ing step half way across the room. The last bar­ri­er to entry when anx­i­ety and doubts scream the loudest.

Lumière returned in that moment with the most impec­ca­ble tim­ing, rid­ing the han­dle of the rolling cart that car­ried anoth­er pair of cov­ered plates. “It’s delight­ful to have the din­ing room full of your vibrant and shin­ing faces!” Lumière expert­ly direct­ed Quinn to the seat beside Belle, dis­trib­uted their break­fast, and wheeled him­self away on the cart, wav­ing his can­dle­stick arm. “Enjoy yourselves!”

Everyone took a seat. Belle smiled up at Quinn on her left and said, “You look quite dap­per this morn­ing.” Their fur gleamed in the morn­ing sun. Had it been brushed?

Quinn signed, “Do you like it?” Their long ears perked up and forward.

Belle nod­ded and Quinn reached up to touch their mane where it pulled back from their face. They signed, “Thank you for doing my braids.”

You’re wel­come.”

Quinn del­i­cate­ly pulled the sil­ver dome off of their break­fast plate and across the table, Belle’s father said, “Ohh, is that a stack of pan­cakes?” He called toward the kitchen, “Lumière!”

Lumière arrived on a rolling cart stand­ing at atten­tion, “Monsieur!”

More pan­cakes for the table, please!”

Oui!” Lumière hopped about face and road the cart back to the kitchen.

And from there the con­ver­sa­tion flowed more smooth­ly. Quinn relaxed as Maruice and Belle dis­cussed their trip through the woods and plan the next one to go with a pic­nic bas­ket and blan­ket to set out on the sun­ny rocks. Stacks of pan­cakes joined them fol­lowed by anoth­er round of fruit bowls and Belle ate and laughed until her stom­ach hurt with both.

After the staff cleared the table and the three of them set­tled down with tea or cof­fee, Quinn spoke up. Their large hands signed over the table, “There’s anoth­er room in the cas­tle I want to show you.”

Belle sat up with ris­ing excite­ment. She want­ed to know every cor­ner and secret room of this place and the fact that Quinn was ready to show them anoth­er area made her heart leap with joy. Having friends around, with no expec­ta­tion or require­ments, so often lead to brighter days. Belle beamed with delight.
She tossed the last of her tea back as Quinn stood and hooked her arm through her father’s to walk with him down the car­pet-plush hall.

Warm can­dle­light lit their way from floor to ceil­ing and every trace of neglect had been swept, washed, pol­ished, and shined until even the stones them­selves seemed to gleam. A com­fort­able sense of home set­tled around Belle’s shoul­ders and heart. She’d felt it briefly at the top of the tow­er with Quinn, and again in the for­est, but now she was cer­tain. Nothing and no one would drag her away from here.
Not only was she wel­comed with open arms, as a woman who could grow a beard, she was the least strange per­son in the entire cas­tle. And the staff, despite their odd forms, had become extend­ed fam­i­ly in no time at all. Lumière the can­dle­stick was like an uncle. Madam Armoire like a bois­ter­ous aunt. The teacups like lit­tle cousins. And her father looked brighter than he’d ever been.

What more could a girl ask for in life than fam­i­ly, friends, and a warm home to enjoy?

All she was real­ly miss­ing were her books.

Belle squeezed her father’s arm and smiled as Quinn led them to an under­stat­ed pair of dou­ble doors. About as tall as the din­ing room, but with­out any elab­o­rate carv­ing or dec­o­ra­tion. Simple bronze han­dles that had been recent­ly polished.

Quinn gen­tly opened both doors and with a slight bow to Belle, stepped to the side.

Belle dropped her father’s arm with a delight­ed gasp.

The plush red car­pet spilled down a short set of stairs into a mas­sive room stuffed wall to wall with shelves of books. The sweet scent of their pages tick­led her nose and Belle was drawn for­ward like a moth to flame. A library. A library so large that Lukas’ shop could fit inside six or sev­en times.

She took the stairs and the ceil­ing just kept stretch­ing upward. A sec­ond sto­ry unfold­ed above her with even more books and Belle clutched her chest in shock. She spot­ted a few over­stuffed chairs and loung­ing couch­es beside tiny windows—currently drawn closed to pro­tect the books from direct light.
She sheer scale of the room over­whelmed her.

Belle had no idea there were this many books in the whole world.

She found her­self at the foot of the stairs where a small table sat beside a bank of lit­tle draw­ers. On the table was her adven­ture sto­ry. The one she’d been read­ing last week in the court­yard when Quinn had stum­bled upon her. The book that had gone missing.

Sitting on top of the book is a small, blank library card. Ready to be added to the collection.

Belle picked up the card, fight­ing over­whelmed tears, and start­ed when Quinn’s hand came down gen­tly on her shoul­der. She looked up at them.

This is for you,” they signed. “I want you to have the whole library.”

Belle’s brow fur­rowed. That was far too gen­er­ous. And besides, she didn’t want to take any­thing from Quinn, that wasn’t how friend­ship worked. She put a hand on top of theirs and shook her head. “I don’t want to own this myself, Quinn. I don’t want the cas­tle or to take you away from any­thing. I just want to be your friend. I want to enjoy the view from the tow­er and go pic­nick­ing at the riv­er and read books. With you.” She squeezed their hand to empha­size her words. “And maybe we can replant the arbore­tum. Together?”

Quinn draws their hand away but it’s only to form signs that make Belle grin. “Together. I like that.”

Good,” she said, smil­ing even wider. “Because you’ll nev­er get rid of me now that I know you have this many books.” She threw a hand out to the room. “There are so many, Quinn! Where did you get them all? I have to invite Lukas, he’ll nev­er believe it.”

Quinn bared their fangs and a proud rum­ble rip­pled out of their chest.

Belle took up the the pen on the table and filled out the library card with her book’s details. The title and author, the date it was writ­ten, and so on. She inves­ti­gat­ed the lit­tle draw­ers of cards until she under­stood their order and filed the new card in its place.

Then she picked up the book and turned to face Quinn. “Show me where it needs to go?”

Quinn’s ears perked up and they lead the way.