Chapter 6: Belle

Maman was acting très mystérieux ever since our last mother-daughter beauty pageant. She stayed in her bedroom, having one of the servants bring her chilled blood wine in a glass instead of eating with Papa and me.

But I caught her leaving the castle in the middle of la nuit, and I followed her all the way down to the docks in town.

She was dressed all in black, like the vampiress héroïne of one of my sister Ophelia’s novels. She wore her hair in a different way too…

Where was she going? Was she buying me a present in secret? I already knew where her and Papa’s favorite hiding places were, but it was nice of Maman to try to surprise me.

Maman didn’t notice when I followed her onto the ferry. She stood alone, staring out across la mer.

I truly was like a runaway princess, off seeking adventure away from the castle…

Eventually, the ferry stopped at an island, and only Maman got off–with me close behind her. She swept through a pair of big iron gates–and into a silent graveyard.

The beautiful adventurous princess followed–and hid, when she heard her mère speak.

“I–I can’t recall his face, Thaddeus. Or I can now, when I see yours, but…it’s fading, like those of so many butlers before him.”

“I have pictures aplenty, Lady Blackwell,” said a man in a butler uniform. We’d never had a butler at the castle, even though all my other rich and sophisticated classmates had them at home. “Never fear.”

“I wish I hadn’t burned so many,” she said softly, but I could still hear her. “Do you suppose he hates me? I shouldn’t be so happy, not when I’m so very close to forgetting him. It all seems so far away…”

They were so close together, like paramours… Were they paramours? Was that why he called Maman Lady Blackwell, so she’d forget about Papa? It should’ve been Blackwell-Straud

“He would never fault you anything, Lady Blackwell,” the man said. “He would want you to be happy, to find love and comfort in the arms of another.”

Was he talking about Papa? Because he’d never want to see Mama in another man’s arms, unless he could watch. And Papa was nowhere to be found.

“I’m a terrible wife and mother,” Maman cried. “Benedict was right, all those years ago…”

My brother Benedict was Maman’s favorite before I was born, so his words meant a lot to her. Would he tell me what I wanted to know if I asked, or was he still busy with the adoption?

“Hush, Lady Blackwell.” This other man, this possible paramour, continued to touch Maman with his white-gloved hands. “Don’t entertain such thoughts for another moment…”

And then he drew her into an étreinte passionnée

…What should I do? Should I tell Papa, even if it would shatter his unbeating coeur?

The ferry ride back home felt much different from the one to the island. The inside of the castle–one I always thought was bursting with love–felt different too. Papa called this painting “Graham Straud’s Treasures”…

What if one of those treasures was no longer his? Papa always said we were his world, Maman and me…

And now that world was crumbling…

I couldn’t tell Papa. I couldn’t.

So I told my beastly nephew instead, the next time he visited. (I only got a single glimpse of my sister Galatea.) “I think Maman is having a liaison amoureuse,” I announced.

Sly stared at me. “A what now?”

I lowered my voice. “I think she’s…fallen into the arms of another man, without Papa knowing.”

“Mom says Gramps knows everything. He’s got this badass spy network or something.” He kicked his foot in the air, like a barbarian. “And so what if she is? When I’m older, I’m gonna bang a million chicks at the same time, and all my girlfriends better be cool with it.”

As if any girl of class would ever want a bête mauvaise for a boyfriend. “Maman and Papa have something special,” I explained. “A love like no other. And for Maman to be willing to throw that away for another man… I saw this man holding Maman like she was a poupée.”

He snickered. “A poopy?

“A doll.” So unrefined. “I know what I saw…”

Sly shrugged. “So do the paps working for SiMZ when they say my mom is banging every one of her new costars. They can make a picture look like anything–even her flicking off the other lead becomes a lovers’ spat or some shit.”

I clenched my fists–my sister would never cheat on her paramour Sebastian. “This is different. Maman isn’t famous…”

But now I was beginning to wonder if I hadn’t truly seen what I thought. It was dark that night, and the princess had been far from her castle…maybe it hadn’t been a romantic graveyard rendezvous at all.

And so all went back to normal, more or less. Maman came out of her room more, and I could admire her pretty things as usual…

I decided to try on some of her jewelry that wasn’t so carefully protected. She had some set aside just for me when I got older.

Papa said I’d be grown up in the blink of an eye! Oh, how I hoped he was right. He usually was.

But instead of jewelry hidden in the back of Maman’s drawer of valuables, I found a pair of neatly folded white gloves…

Were they for me? She wouldn’t mind if I tried them on–she never minded when I tried on her jewelry or shoes or clothes, saying that a woman always had to think about looking her best.

“Put those down, Belle,” she hissed. “What do you think you’re doing, rummaging through my private belongings?”

I sniffled. I wasn’t used to Maman raising her voice toward me. “You never minded before…”

“I’m going to have to think very hard for an appropriate punishment.”

Why was she acting like this? I couldn’t understand–until I did. “Are–are they his gloves?” I asked. “Is that why? Are you afraid Papa will find them?”

“How do you know about…about–”

“That’s enough, Bee,” Papa said from behind me. “I’ll handle things from here.”

“Graham, she–she found his gloves, and she was trying them on…”

“I’ll see she doesn’t do it again, my alabaster dove.”

She left, my beautiful mère, turning her back on Papa and me…

I stayed in place, quivering like a blade of grass in le vent, until Papa came near.

“My sweet porcelain princess,” he said, “your mother didn’t mean what she said. She always gets this way around this time of year.”

“What time of year?” It was Princess Month, according to Papa–that was a time to celebrate, not to mourn.

He knelt in front of me, like a knight before a princess. “The anniversary of her first husband’s death. She loved him a great deal, and it pains her to remember such a tragic event.”

“Did she love him more than you?” I couldn’t bear to imagine it.

“Lysander was her first husband,” Papa said, “and I’m her husband for the rest of eternity. They’re different types of love, my little ice princess.”

I didn’t understand. Everyone had one true love, and only one. “Then who’s Thaddeus?” I blurted. “Why did he meet her in a graveyard at night without you?”

“Thaddeus,” he said, pulling me into a hug, “is family. Lysander’s father–and Bee’s son, in a way. She turned him, many years ago.”

“Why?” Because she was secretly in love with him?

“To save his life,” he said, “as I saved Ophelia’s.” That was one of my favorite stories, the way he saved my sister’s life by turning her into a vampire. She was able to marry her true love, Rhys–who happened to be Papa’s son, and also my brother.

“…Princess Month is a real holiday, isn’t it, Papa?”

“Of course, ma belle.” He guided me to a nearby sofa and let me rest my head on his shoulder. “Now put any bad thoughts out of your mind, and I’ll let you pick out any present you like tomorrow.”

So Thaddeus was like a brother to me… I wondered if he’d tell me about this man Maman loved before Papa–and who she loved more.

I wanted to know everything, just like an adult.

44 thoughts on “Chapter 6: Belle

      1. For a hot second I really thought Bianca was going start makin’ out with papa Thad or something, but nope – you had to go tug at my heart with Bianca’s pain. I’m so glad she hasn’t forgotten Lysander, though! That was a bigger worry when she thrust herself into Graham’s arms! So understandable that Belle would confuse the situation, though, just like any child might.

        SLY THO omfg, what a mess! 😂“He kicked his foot in the air, like a barbarian. That cracked me up, I can just hear her voice in my head being so fed up with this beast of a boy!

        My favorite part of this chapter was Graham, though. He loves them both so much, and just seeing him aware of Bianca’s pain and understanding and accepting it is really sweet to me.

        Liked by 6 people

      2. OMG, if Bianca started making out with Thad…rofl. I’m glad you and Belle had the same suspicions, at least for a second. But no, Bianca wouldn’t forget Lysander, no matter how hard she tried to purge him in her grief.

        Sly is a disgusting little boy beast. Poor Belle. 😉

        Awww, I’m glad you loved Graham in this. ❤ ❤ His marriage(s) to Isla and his troubled relationship with his kids really taught him a lot, even if he can't help but spoil Belle rotten.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. I am glad she regrets throwing out so much of Lysander’s things and pictures. Benny was definitely right, I wish she’d listened even a tiny bit 😦

        I love Sly, I need to know how Bas handles this boy xD I guess if he can handle Gal, though…

        I think Graham will forever have a soft spot in my heart, especially since he bothered me so much at first in Fangs! He grew on me and that hasn’t changed ❤ He can spoil that little princess all he wants ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

        Liked by 3 people

      4. Tossing stuff was what Bianca needed at the time, but maybe not the best decision for her in retrospect. 😦

        Poor Bas. Luckily, he has a lot of patience. A LOT.

        And omg, I love that your opinion of Graham rose so much. I know he can be really divisive, but I have fun writing him no matter what.

        Liked by 3 people

      5. I can’t remember why I didn’t like him at first, but I do remember that scene of him intervening when our Mr. Ravensbane messed with Isla being one of the turning points for me.

        The sexy scenes that followed with Isla’s play helped a lot, too 😏

        Liked by 3 people

      6. Also I still want to steal Belle’s bow.

        Also that Ferry, because when I went hunting for one in Rose Garden I ended up using a restaurant disguised as a Ferry which was a pain to use for screenshots

        Liked by 2 people

      7. LOL, I took some very strategic screenshots for that ferry, believe me. It was still super awesome though and I’m glad I found it–not sure if it’s still saved to my library though.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. I connect with Silas more than ever (okay it’s because I read it as “poopy” too)

    Bianca can’t get any peace! But it’s better it’s a prying child than someone from Graham’s spy network? Otherwise we wouldn’t get a tender moment like that. 😛

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I would be immature too, maybe that’s why he’s so easy to write.

      Bianca really can’t get any peace, LOL. And Graham absolutely knows about the yearly graveyard visits–but because Bianca told him, not because of a spy. 😉

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Omg I CALLED IT! I knew she kept a pair of his gloves! 😂 I want to both laugh and cry when I read that haha

    Poor Bianca. It’s undedstandbale that she’d always have a tough time around the anniversary of her loss 😦 She should have kept at least one photo of him. I hope Thaddeus can give her one she can hold on to.

    Graham is very understanding. It was nice to see him try and explain things to Belle… and then so sad to see all her worrying! But she’s so young and such a little romantic. She can’t wrap her head around someone having more than one love… but at least it wasn’t an affair as she’d feared? 😬

    And OMG Sly. There are no words. I love him 😍

    Liked by 3 people

    1. She couldn’t get rid of everything of Lysander’s, no matter how hard she tried. 😦

      I know certain times of the year are hard for me, and Bianca can hold things in most of the time and then let them come roaring out.

      But Graham totally does understand. He’s not threatened by Bianca’s love for Lysander, and he was fond of him too. But Belle…maybe someday she’ll understand, but not anytime soon.

      Man, writing chapters as Sly would’ve been so fun. Maybe later…!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, holding it in until it comes bursting out. That’s our Bianca… Queen of Repressed Feelings (but we wouldn’t have her any other way!) ❤️

        I hope Belle can come to terms with it eventually, but I understand how devastating it would be for a little one to learn one parent loves someone else too (even a dead someone).

        I wonder whether talking to one of her older siblings about their father would help? Or maybe hurt… 🤔

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, and also, I want to hug Bianca and tell her she’s being silly. She says she’s “so close to forgetting him”… but she shouldn’t worry about that. Maybe his face is fading, sure. But every time she looks at their three beautiful children or walks into a bathroom or catches the light gleaming off some impeccably-clean surface, I’m sure she will remember ❤️ (and hopefully remember fondly. It’s so much better when the memories bring joy instead of pain).

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I never expected this chapter to make the ninja onions bloom, but boy did they! It started with the line about not being able to remember his face and how much that hurts and the guilt she has for being happy. 😭😭😭😭

    Okay Silas helped a little and I was getting better because …Silas…😜

    Then BAM….OMG. Graham has an unbeating heart buried in there and it loves and is kind and sensitive.❤️

    I do worry a little about how this will effect Belle. But her parents love her and each other very much even if she is spoiled rotten. She knows love.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Damn those pesky ninja onions! Sorry about that. ❤ ❤

      Glad Silas helped…for a little while!

      And gasp, Graham's got a heart~ Only time will tell how everything will affect Belle. But she'll probably always be a fan of love. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Awww….what a sweet chapter! I love Belle so much. She should become a detective, stealing away in the nuit and finding a clandestine Tete a Tete!

    Lysanders death anniversary…Graham is such a loving and understanding husband. Bee was hit hard and those times every year are always the hardest. Now Belle will understand her Maman better. And she found a new brother! 😊

    Sly…hilarious as always. “Poopy?” Bahahahaaa….such a typical, what, 10 year old?

    “So unrefined.” You got that right, ma princesse!

    Belle, you’re such a sweetheart! Je t’aime! 😘😘😘

    Liked by 5 people

    1. OMG, Belle in a pink-and-green French detective outfit with a magnifying glass. That’d be so much fun.

      Certain times of the year are just the worst for me–my mom’s birthday, the holidays, and the anniversary of her death. It’s really hard for my brother because she died about a week and a half before his birthday. 😦 But Bee has Graham and Thaddeus to help her through this, at least.

      Sly is about *mrnfgkphkdfgph* years old. (I try to avoid saying ages outright for when I shamelessly fudge the timelines, LOL, and it’s tough when some of the kids are a few years apart but all look the same damn age.)

      ❤ ❤ ❤ Ty for the Belle love!

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Aww, I figured it was a Lysander death anniversary thing; we all have those rough times of the year when we get a little that way when remembering a loved one who’s passed… this is normal, and natural, and as much as it’s painful to watch someone else go through that, at least she’s not repressing her sadness! Much love to you Bee ❤

    Belle, you sneaky little minx! Following your maman like that!
    “Graham Straud’s Treasures”
    Ahh! I love that, he's really not the sort of man who's afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve; giving zero fucks what anyone else thinks of his passion for his loved ones, not ashamed to put his whole heart into making them feel special (Graham you are just so charming I want to *bite* you ok) ❤

    I'm trying super hard not to ship Sly and Belle. It's taking all of my concentration rn. I mean, alone, he's awesome, and she's awesome… but together? Next Level Awesome. 90s me would have even gone so far as to say Awesomesauce. IKR. Woa.
    These are terrific children; you are rightfully proud of thems ❤

    Ahh, Graham. Being amazing again; he just has such a capacity for emotional largesse. Couldn't ask for a better partner or parent, he handles Belle so well, also. It's a testament to them both that despite the luxury of her upbringing, Belle is still a thoughtful, caring individual; I can only seeing those qualities maturing very handsomely on her! ❤

    Brava darling ❤

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Grief is a process, and one that may last a long, long time for Bianca. Even if she forgets Lysander’s face, she won’t forget what he meant to her.

      Belle’s a bit nosy, like her mom (and possibly her dad?). Graham is long-past the point of hiding his feelings for Bianca, or at least lying about the extent of them. He loves his wife and he loves his kids, and he might as well commission 20-foot gold statues of all of them. Lucky for him, both Bee and Belle enjoy the attention and gifts.

      Oh man, if Sly and Belle weren’t related…they’d probably be my favorite love-hate couple to write when they’re older. Alas, off-limits. But I love this dynamic too, since they’re like siblings almost. Glad you like my children. ❤ ❤

      Graham knows the ladies in his life really well. And that's an interesting point about Belle–despite how spoiled she is, she does get a lot of love and sees a lot of love up close, so it does influence her in a good way. ❤ ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Lover WitcHazard: I love how Belle totally spies on Bianca having a emotional breakdown about Lysander I knew she wasn’t completely unaffected by the death of her first husband! She’s just good at hiding it! I hope Belle understands when she’s older cause like Graham said it’s two different kinds of it doesn’t mean one is greater than the other! I feel her love life will be very complicated I can’t wait!💗💗💗

    Dark WitcHazard: Silas my main man! I don’t mind he does have his own chapter just keep the cameos coming can’t get enough of Gal/Bas hybrid 2.0!

    Shipper WitcHazard: I’m with Lover all this emotional business will do a number on her future love life hopefully for the better!

    Anti Shipper:Or worse can’t rule it out!😈

    Emotional WitcHazard: I think this is an overdue emotional drag Bianca had to face eventually I’m glad she’s not running anymore hopefully this will make her life with her family even better without the weight of her Lysander guilt hanging over her head!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Bianca’s very good at hiding things–until she can’t. 😦 But hopefully it’s something Belle does understand later on–oh man, Belle’s love life, though. I’m not entirely sure how it’ll pan out, but I have Ideas.

      More Silas to come, I promise. 😉

      LOL Anti. Belle might have a difficult love life, we’ll see…

      Bianca has a lot to work through. Hmm, maybe Dr. Puck is also a grief specialist…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m loving Graham in this one! (Never thought I’d ever say that)
    He’s a good husband to be so understanding of his wife’s grief over her first husband.

    Even if it might be a little gross to some and I might be wrong… I’m gonna call it. I see a Belle/Thaddeus ship building. They are vampires. He’s not gonna age anymore and she’s gonna stop aging when she becomes an adult. She already thinks she’s so mature so liking an older man won’t be far-fetched for her. Also, they aren’t blood related (unlike most of the characters) so it’s cool…I think. Definitely not right now since she’s still a child but after her 18th birthday that ship can sail. 😉

    Liked by 4 people

    1. 😮😮😮😮😮😮😮😮😮😮😮😮😮😮

      I never thought you’d ever say that either! ROFL. ❤ ❤

      HA, is this the first time a Fangs ship is predicted before two characters interact? 🤔 (Somehow, I don't think so!) And did you have to consult a family tree to confirm/remember that Thaddeus and Belle aren't actually related? LOL. Sometimes I need to double-check it…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Nah it was easy to remember since I knew Thaddeus was Lysander’s father and therefore not related to Graham or Bianca. He is related to a lot of the other kids now that I think about it – Griffin, Fox, Clementine, Lani (she’s adopted so they’re not blood relatives but she’s still Benny’s kid), Ophelia’s kids, Anders and Caspian…wait a minute! Belle and Silas are the only ones he’s NOT related to by blood or adoption. Hmm…

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Silas!!! 😍😍 And all his girlfriends better be cool with his banging a million chicks at the same time… ha!! Kid cracks me up.
    Poor Bianca. I’m glad she has Thad to turn to, and he has pictures and things he can show her to help her out. But Graham! ❤️ He’s owned my heart almost since the beginning, and this is why. He’s so loving, and unafraid to show it!
    What a gorgeous chapter, all the way around.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Silas is gonna be a handful when he grows up. 😉 Though Belle might be right to wonder who’s gonna want to put up with him, LOL.

      Eeee, thank you for the compliment! And I’m so glad you’re not sick of Graham appearing in every single generation thus far, LOL. He really is one of my all-time favorite characters to write…

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Belle is as inexperienced with human feelings as Bianca was before falling in love with Lysander. They’re so much alike although atm, Belle seems a bit more sensitive than Bianca was. Could be the age difference though, after all Belle is a lot younger than Bianca when we first met her.

    Liked by 1 person

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