Also a result of my frustration over other such AUs that insist on making Belle a maid under Beast’s employ (she’s not Cinderella folks; if you want to do the respectable-but-still-under-your-employment-route take a queue from Jane Eyre and make her a governess to Chip or something), and don’t consider the historical background and social consequences for said actions (to be fair there would still be scandal if a gentleman married his governess, but less so than if he ran off with the maid. Also maids weren’t considered to be educated ladies whereas governesses were, and that bought them some respectability).
Anyway, rant over; let us move on!
Setting: London, England c. mid-1880s.
Isabelle “Belle” Prentiss is the daughter of famed society painter Marcus Prentiss. She has recently come into an impressive fortune on her mother’s side, as her uncle had no children of his own to leave it to. Great news, right? Wrong! Because said uncle left a condition in his will that she must marry to secure her inheritance, and if not the money will pass to some distant relative. In spite of the recent Women’s Property Acts of 1870 and 1882 that allow women to maintain their own property, Belle has to be legally married to obtain the money in accordance to the will. No exceptions.
Normally Belle would say the Victorian equivalent of “fuck you!” and move on (she’s not going to marry for the sake of money, thank you very much), but the problem is….she needs the money. Business has been bad for her father and now he’s taken ill, which means bills have been piling up. To make matters worse that cursed libertine Captain Grayson Lockwood (Gaston) has been making unwanted advances towards her, and has placed her in a position that will leave her in disgrace unless she marries him. It’s bad enough that she even has to consider marriage to save her father, but to Grayson!? Uggh. He’ll never treat her with the love and respect she craves, and will likely try to take control of her inheritance, of this she is certain. What’s a girl to do?
Enter His Grace Adam Beaumont (Beast), 9th Duke of Sheffield and master of the dilapidated Balmore Castle. He’s been subjected to a series of high society scandals in his youth, and suffered from an accident a few years back that left him visibly scarred on the left-side of his face. The society to which he rightly belongs might pander to his face because of his name, but behind his back gossip, and baseless rumours about a violent, monster like nature start to spread. Mothers hide their daughters rather than put them in his path as potential wives. Better a live Countess than a savaged Duchess (paraphrased from @romancingthebookworm). These rumours, combined with his quick temper and reclusive nature has earned him the nickname “The Beast of Balmore.” And the sad thing is, Adam has started to believe it.
He’s also land-rich but cash-broke and needs to marry a wealthy heiress to secure the estate for the next generation, else he lose his family’s legacy forever. So he makes the trip to London to mingle amongst the hypocrites of the aristocracy, a society he once so loved, to find said bride.
Fate brings our Beauty and Beast together and they….get on as well as two dogs in a bear-baiting ring.
All joking and terrible first-meetings aside, Adam makes a deal with Belle: marry him, help him secure the financial future of Balmore and she can maintain her inheritance, provide for her father, save her reputation and never want for anything ever again.
How can she say no to that?
….Actually, she almost did, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and hey, at least he’s allowing her to keep some of her autonomy. That’s certainly more than what Grayson was offering. Besides, there are no better offers coming her way.
So a secret wedding is hastily arranged and there’s a great deal of muttering about this (there are some particularly salacious rumours that go along the lines of: “My word, what’s going to happen when a Beast takes a bride, wink-wink, nudge-nudge?”), and Belle leaves London as the Duchess of Sheffield to live with her new husband that she barely knows (and is slightly intimidated by) in this crumbling, far-off castle in the Peak District away from any traces of civilization.
But when she actually gets to Balmore, Belle is pleasantly surprised to discover a house that, while in need of repairs, is full of unexpected beauty: decorous rooms, fine galleries, gardens hidden behind stone walls, a library filled with more books than she could ever read in a lifetime.
An incident occurs three weeks after her arrival in which she and Adam get into a huge row and she storms out of the house, hitching up her her chosen horse Philippe and heading off into the storm. She rides, faster and faster into the hills, wanting to get away from that gilded cage she’s forced to call home, to get away from that man, that Beast, when she’s suddenly set upon by wolves. She manages to hold them off until Adam arrives, who had followed her out, being more familiar with the surrounding woods than she, and helps her, but also gets injured in the process. She helps him back to Balmore and tends to him, whereupon she finds his scars and learns more about his accident and the cruelty he endured at the hands of his father. It’s not the beginnings of love, or even friendship, but it’s an understanding, and Belle begins to see him in a new light.
Afterwards, while reading to him as he recovers, Belle brings up Romeo and Juliet, and dismayed at the thought of a wife whose tastes are so limited Adam brings her to the library for the first time. The look of joy on her face fills him with such warmth, a strange sort of pleasure through her own pleasure, and he gifts it to her on the spot. That is when the true turning point of their relationship occurs.
She makes friends amongst the household staff: kindly and motherly Mrs. Potts, the housekeeper who always has a fresh pot of tea on hand, and her sweet son Chip; Cogsworth the Butler, who despite his stuffiness keeps the place orderly and is an asset to Belle when she inquires after management affairs; first footman Louis Meir (nicknamed Lumiere) who keeps everyone’s spirits up and knows how to put on a good show; the French maid Plumette, who becomes Belle’s lady’s maid and closest confidante, helping her adjust to the demands of her new position.
Things between her and Adam are still a bit awkward, but gradually the barriers begin to break down as they start to spend more time together, bonding over books and Shakespeare, and taking walks in the gardens or going for rides. Slowly, slowly the monster she initially saw is replaced by a man with gentle blue eyes and an inquisitive mind; one whose emotional pain is as evident as the scars on his face, but not so deep to mar the beauty of his soul.
Other bonding activities include: private dinners, dances, a fancy ball where Belle dresses up in an 1880s bustle version of her yellow ball gown (actually that was one of the reasons I set it in this period. You can’t deny Belle’s dress would be a GORGEOUS as a bustle gown, especially with the design and pleating on the back), and a moment where Adam comforts her during a thunderstorm because Belle. hates. thunderstorms.
As for possible sexy-times…..I’ll leave that to @je-suis-em-jee and @dereksprettyboy (I can’t write smut to save my life; they’re so much better with that kind of thing).
Within the year they are truly in love, and things have never been better for the estate or for each other.
They have a second wedding the following spring, followed by a proper honeymoon traversing France and Italy.
And now the Modern Royals:
I don’t have this one nearly as well-thought out, other than it has a sort-of ‘Princess Diaries’ vibe to it. If anyone wants to add on please do.
The Beast is His Serene Highness Jean Mathieu Yvain François Adam de
Montmorency (once again, with the exception of the last bit, is curtesy of @je-suis-em-jee), Sovereign Prince of Bergerais. Bergerais is a fictional European Principality situated between France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany (you get the idea), and one of the few that managed to survive the chaos of two World Wars and the general upheavals of the twentieth century.
That being said, the Princely Family doesn’t have the greatest reputation at the moment; it’s one rife with scandal and intrigue caused by Adam’s father (and later through him), but now that he’s ascended to the throne it’s time for him to clean up his act.
Isabelle “Belle” Dubois comes into the Prince’s life one way or another (college? a high society event? she gets hired as tutor/governess to his younger brother Chip? or as a new addition to his PR team? IDK) and as typical of all BatB stories they don’t hit it off immediately
But shit happens and they become friends, then they slowly begin to fall in love; then Adam proposes and Belle has to adjust to life as a future Princess Consort in the twenty-first century with the aid of Plumette, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, Lumiere, maybe even Madame Garderobe, and maybe special guest appearances from other Disney Princesses.
As a patron for @kelslk-art on Patreon, every other month I get to request a fun sketch! The first one i asked for is from October, with Thor and Natasha being buddies and apple picking together in their plaid! Aren’t they so cute??
And for December i asked for Peggy Carter in Victorian era clothing, since I love Peggy and I love the Victorian era! Her bustle gown is so beautiful and I love the star embellishment on her collar!
Thanks Kelsey!!!!! ^_^
Y'all should “treat yo'self” and become a patron for her ASAP! :)