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.

Early morn­ing sun­light dragged Belle reluc­tant­ly out of bed the next morn­ing. Elegant silk sheets pooled around her as she sat up in a bed she didn’t rec­og­nize in a gild­ed room that wasn’t hers. She wiped her eyes, blink­ing in con­fu­sion. Her bed was mas­sive and the pil­low seemed to be full of real feath­ers. Sheer fab­ric draped over­head from four cor­ner posts. Even the mat­tress was fan­cy, spring­ing back under her hand the way straw nev­er did.

A sin­gle wide win­dow dom­i­nat­ed one wall of the room and very expen­sive clear glass had been set in a grid all the way across. It didn’t have any bub­bles or ripples.

There was, how­ev­er, a wardrobe with del­i­cate scroll work and a dec­o­ra­tive crest on top stand­ing the wrong way against the win­dow like it had been moved out of the way and nev­er moved back.

The wardrobe turned itself around. In the place of the crest at the top was a jovial face lined in gold leaf that said bright­ly, “Good morning!”

Belle screamed.

She threw the fan­cy sheets and the heavy com­forter off the bed, scram­bling and tan­gling her­self in the process. She twist­ed an fell, scream­ing again in her pan­ic to get free, get away, run!

The wardrobe hob­bled away from the win­dow, with her lit­tle door han­dle arms held up toward her face in alarm.

Belle kicked her­self free of the sheets but didn’t want to run past the wardrobe to get to the door. She scram­bled back­ward on her hands and butt until she ran into the cor­ner of the room where she curled up, shak­ing, eyes wide and breath com­ing too quick­ly. Her long shirt for sleep­ing tan­gled in her legs.

The wardrobe stopped in the cen­ter of the room near the foot of the bed. Her skin­ny door han­dle arms came away from her face only long enough to say, “Oh goodness.”

Belle stared, her breath heav­ing in her chest.

It real­ly was an upright wardrobe with a face talk­ing to her. That was actu­al­ly happening.

What…” Belle couldn’t form a coher­ent thought let alone a full ques­tion. “Who…?”

The wardrobe stood up tall with a wood­en creak and said proud­ly, “I am Madam Armoire, the pri­ma don­na of the French opera and… well… now I’m a dress­er.” Her brass door arms swept down­ward and she bent for­ward, wood creak­ing, to look at her­self. The shape of the wood­work gave her a head, broad shoul­ders, and a taper down to small wood­en feet with­out the con­ve­nience of legs. Or knees. Two white doors on her front opened and closed appar­ent­ly at will, with the brass han­dles act­ing as emo­tive arms.

Belle shook her head. “You’re talking.”

In fact, I can sing, as well.”

I’m los­ing my mind.”

Madam Armoire chuck­led. “I don’t know about that. But you will miss break­fast at this rate.” She opened her doors and pulled a dress out out of her chest, lay­ing it on the foot of the bed. She kicked a pair of shoes out of her bot­tom draw­er. “Come on, up, up! I’ll see if I can explain.”

Belle gath­ered her shift in one hand and stood on unsteady feet. The wardrobe didn’t seem threat­en­ing so much as very alarm­ing. And as she hopped away from the bed and gave Belle more breath­ing room, Belle approached with curiosity.

You used to be a singer?” she asked as she changed.

A good one, too,” Madam Armoire said with con­fi­dence. She sang a quick refrain to prove it.

Belle clapped when she was done. “Oh, that was delightful!”

It’s been years since I’ve been on a prop­er stage. Dressers aren’t exact­ly known for their singing voic­es, you know.”

Belle pushed her feet into the shoes Armoire had giv­en her and leaned back on the foot of the bed. “What happened?”

Madam Armoire sagged a lit­tle against the wall with a sigh. “It was so long ago. I don’t even know what caused the com­mo­tion. The roy­al fam­i­ly was host­ing a ball and I had been invit­ed to per­form. It was a won­drous night. Beautiful. A nasty storm had whipped up out­side, but here in the cas­tle none of us were both­ered.” She frowned and looked into the dis­tance. “Some kind of mag­ic swept through the place. It touched every­one. I remem­ber the guests run­ning away into the night, but some of us didn’t make it out and we were… transformed.”

Belle shook her head. “You don’t know what caused it?”

I was on stage when it hap­pened, singing to a won­der­ful crowd. If you want to know the details, you’ll have to ask the heir. Quinn.”

Bell bright­ened imme­di­ate­ly. “Quinn! That’s the guardian’s name? With the…” Belle made a ges­ture around her head. “Antlers?”

Yes, oh! They want­ed me to give you this when you woke up.” Madam Armoire opened her doors and shook a small inter­nal draw­er open for Belle to investigate.

She found a book inside. Belle picked it up. “The beginner’s guide to sign language.”

Quinn can’t speak, so the house­hold learned this instead. It’s faster than writing.”

Belle opened the book and skimmed the first sev­er­al pages. “I remem­ber that. Last night, when I helped them clean up in the gar­den.” She snapped the book closed with a gasp. “Are they alright? Do they need help?”

Quinn is doing fine. They’re sleep­ing in the arboretum.”

And my father?”

We moved him to the next room over last night. Right this way.”

Madam Armoire lead the way out of Belle’s room and across a bright­ly lit hall with a plush rug run­ning down the cen­ter. “It’s so nice to have guests,” Madam Armoire said. “It’s been so long since this place had a prop­er clean, you know.”

The wardrobe opened the door across from Belle’s and allowed her to enter on her own. “I’ll be out here when you’re ready for breakfast.”

Thank you.”

Belle entered the dark­ened room qui­et­ly. Her father lay in the cen­ter of a plush bed like hers. She perched on the side of the bed and he shift­ed, his eyes flut­ter­ing open. Belle took his hand and said soft­ly, “Good morn­ing, Daddy.”

Belle,” he said, his voice full of grav­el. “I had the strangest dream. Gaston came to the house to call on you and this crea­ture came down from the cas­tle…” he trailed off in con­fu­sion as his eyes focused on the bed and the unfa­mil­iar walls in the gloom.

It’s not a dream, Daddy.” She pat­ted his hand and stood to open the cur­tains and let in some light.
Her father sat up in the bed, strug­gling with his ribs ban­daged, and man­aged to lean back against the pil­lows on the head­board. He touched the post on the bed near­est him, and gazed around the room in awe.

It looked much the same as Belle’s, a cen­ter bed, a stand­ing wardrobe—not ani­mat­ed and singing like a person—and crown mold­ing around the ceil­ing. Gold leaf in the wall paper. Flat, clear glass in the window.

What is this place?”

Belle rejoined her father on the bed, the beads in her hair clink­ing as she cud­dled close. “Do you remem­ber a few days ago I told you about the guardian I saw at the cas­tle when I was reading?”


Their name is Quinn and some­thing hap­pened to them and the staff here a long time ago. Something mag­i­cal. Lukas said they were cursed.”

Her father hugged her shoul­der close. “We’re in the cas­tle,” he said.

You said Gaston came to call on me. Do you remem­ber what happened?”

It was all so fast. He spoke about hunt­ing some­thing in the wood behind the house and came to ask my per­mis­sion to hunt the land. I denied him, of course, I know you don’t care for him and I want­ed him gone before you came home. I don’t know why he drew his sword. Maybe he saw the—Quinn, you said?—maybe he saw Quinn first. Or maybe Quinn arrived after. I think… Gaston attacked them. How did I get here, though?”

Belle nod­ded as her father put more of the pieces togeth­er. “Quinn shield­ed you from Gaston’s attack and brought you here. Bandaged you. Gaston was still there when I got home, but I knew some­thing was wrong right away. The blood…. There was so much blood, Daddy, I thought you were dead.”

I’m not, I’m here,” he said, hold­ing her tight.

I found you and Quinn in the arbore­tum here in the cas­tle. I helped Quinn clean their wounds in the pond and we stayed the night.”

Good. That’s my girl,” he said weakly.

Daddy, you’re still hurt. Lay back down and I’ll have some food brought in to you.”

He nod­ded and slid back down on the mat­tress with Belle’s help.

She found Madam Armoire out in the hall as promised and asked if break­fast could be sent up instead. The wardrobe assured her it could.

Belle found an extra blan­ket in the non-per­son wardrobe in her father’s room and curled up on an over­sized chair by the win­dow to wait for food. She opened the Sign Language book and start­ed practicing.

It wasn’t long before Belle was drawn out of her read­ing by the sound of singing and the dis­tinct clat­ter of plates approach­ing in the hall. She tucked the book away and opened the cur­tains at the win­dow all the way, let­ting light flood into the gild­ed room. She opened the door in time to see a cart full of break­fast appar­ent­ly dri­ving itself and, danc­ing at the front singing a song about break­fast, was the can­dle­stick Belle had used yes­ter­day to light her way up the stairs.

She hadn’t known yes­ter­day that the ordi­nary objects in the cas­tle were real­ly staff and guests, but she smiled as she real­ized the can­dle­stick had shown her the way to Quinn in the arbore­tum with­out reveal­ing him­self. The light had turned toward the hall when she need­ed help. She’d dis­missed it as old mag­ic, but clear­ly the can­dle­stick had guid­ed her.

The cart trun­dled and hopped its way into the room, danc­ing to the candlestick’s song which fin­ished with a flour­ish as the can­dle­stick lift­ed the lids off the break­fast plates with a bow. The flame on his head flick­ered and danced.

Steaming plates of pan­cakes and fat sausage await­ed. Jars of jam and syrup lined the edges of the cart. A tray of but­ter, two glass­es of juice and a pot of cof­fee with extra cups crowd­ed into the corner.

Oh wow,” said Belle. She drew a fold­ing tray out from the bot­tom of the cart and helped her father sit up in bed, perch­ing the stand­ing tray across his lap.

The can­dle­stick set the dish cov­ers to one side and lift­ed a plate. He hopped across the bed to deliv­er it and the cut­lery danced behind him, lin­ing them­selves up on the tray in excitement.

Belle’s father grabbed her hand and leaned close. “Belle, my dear, I do believe I’m more sick than I real­ized. I think the can­dle­stick was singing?”

Belle smiled and pat­ted her father’s hand. “You’re not see­ing things, Daddy. Remember I said the staff had been cursed?” She waved her hand at the can­dle­stick. “They’ve all been turned into house­hold items. My hand­maid this morn­ing was a stand­ing wardrobe.”

Her father shot a glance at the wardrobe across the room, but that one didn’t move.

Sir and Miss, it is my plea­sure and delight to intro­duce myself,” said the can­dle­stick with a flour­ish­ing bow. The can­dles on his hands flared to life as he posed. “I am Lumière, your ser­vant in all things, your loy­al maître d’, at your beck and call from dawn to dusk—well a lit­tle after dusk tech­ni­cal­ly. If you have a need it is my call­ing to fill it, you have only ask.”

Belle took her break­fast plate and the drinks to the side table where she could eat, her own uten­sils eager to cut her pan­cakes for her while she drib­bled jam and syrup on the pieces.

Her father took shock of a talk­ing can­dle­stick in stride, imme­di­ate­ly ask­ing after a straight razor to clean him­self up and an extra set of hot tow­els for Belle to do the same.

Belle rubbed her chin, find­ing a day’s worth of growth there that need­ed to go. She nod­ded in agreement.

Lumière took to his task with urgency, leav­ing Belle and her father to eat break­fast togeth­er. They watched the can­dle­stick burst into song as he left, the rolling cart under him danc­ing along like a trained horse. The door closed behind them. Belle and her father shared a laugh once he was gone down the hall. How absurd had life become overnight?

They ate well. Her father’s col­or came up and he seemed to gain much of his old strength back, which set­tled Belle’s con­cerns. The cart came back on its own with two sets of straight razors, soap, water, and hot tow­els, after which Belle felt quite refreshed.

She gave her father a kiss, set­tled him back into bed to rest, and set out to explore the cas­tle. She want­ed to prac­tice her new sign­ing skills with Quinn, and per­haps under­stand more about the curse on their house.

Her curios­i­ty lead her into ball­rooms, down hall­ways, into ser­vants quar­ters and back, she found the kitchens, the wine cel­lar, and the sit­ting rooms near the run­down atri­um at the entrance. Every room was neglect­ed, dusty, the wood falling apart, the stone chipped and cold. Fabrics had start­ed to dis­in­te­grate with neglect. Despite the charm of the staff, this house was not thriving.

Eventually she made her way back to the arbore­tum where Quinn knelt under the dying quince tree espaliered over the per­go­la in the cen­ter. She hes­i­tat­ed at the mas­sive iron door­way. Quinn seemed to radi­ate an intense sad­ness and like an expand­ing bub­ble, it pushed out­ward, resist­ing Belle’s wish to move into it. It almost felt as if Quinn encour­aged the mood, using it as a defense against any­one who might call them friend.