Title: Harmony and The Memory
Category: Books » Harry Potter
Language: English, Rating: Rated: T
Published: 02-17-19, Updated: 05-04-19
Chapters: 3, Words: 9,546
Chapter 1: Part I
AN: My attempt at a romance fairytale. Beauty and the Beast, Hermione Granger and Harry Potter. Takes place several months after the Final Battle. I have never been good at writing short stories but here it goes and you'll on Fanfic .net have been teaching me how to write romance. This will have two or three parts, under 20K.
"Hermione!" Harry shouted, much to Madam Pince's horror.
He ran through the stacks. The war was over but none of them had found rest. Harry couldn't shake his nightmares, Ron was directionless, and Hermione had become obsessed with finding a way to restoring her parents' memory.
But Hermione's spell work had been too good, her memory charm was irreversible.
There was nothing to be done.
"Hermione!" Harry roared, sprinting into the restricted section, he could see her bag peeking out from the furthest aisle.
Professor McGonagall had contacted him when she saw Hermione dragging her listless parents into Hogwarts.
"Hermione!" he cried as he rounded the corner, her bag, her cloak, and her wand lay on the ground. There was no other sign of her or Mr. and Mrs. Granger.
Madam Pince caught up to him, panting, "There is no running- in, the, library, Mr. Potter."
He didn't point out that she had just been breaking her own rule, rather he approached the stacks, his Holly Wand in his hand.
One book had been pulled from the shelves. It was a pretty book, with a suede cover embossed with gold leaf borders.
The title read simply, Beauty.
Harry reached his hand out toward the book only for Madam Pince to catch his wrist in a bone crushing grip.
"It's cursed," she said sharply.
Harry met the older witch's gaze, "Is she in there, is she cursed?"
Madam Pince's only answer was a narrowing of lips.
He wrenched his arm from her grip and reached for the book.
The moment Harry's fingertips touched the book, a bright light engulfed him and when the light faded he was gone from his world.
In addition to the title Beauty, golden words wrote themselves only the warn suede; And the Beast.
Written by Jacob Apples.
Once upon a time, there lived a clever girl who had two loving parents in a small town.
In a time long ago, there lived a fearful prince in a small kingdom.
The girl dreamed of a better world, one where she had a purpose beyond taming her unruly hair and mucking the stalls of her parents' barn.
The prince believed he would forever be alone in his castle deep in the woods, where his every need was met but where no one ventured and no one spoke.
The people in the girl's town thought her the most beautiful girl in the land and urged her parents to marry her off.
The servants of the prince's castle were mute, and as cursed as he, for though none of them could remember how they had angered the witch, the servants were trapped as household objects, from furniture to the teacups, while the prince had been twisted into a hideous form, of twisted limbs, large claws, and a pelt of dark wild fur.
She wished to see beyond her town, her little village settled in a shadow of a valley. But she had not the means to go, not as an unwed farmer's daughter.
He longed to be freed from his empty fate. But he could not leave the castle grounds without all his servants perishing.
They were cursed and only true love could save them.
The Beginning of a New Day
"Bonjour, Père Robert," Belle greeted, her brown eyes glinting as her eyes scanned over the sparse shelves.
Searching, searching. Searching for something new.
"Bonjour, ma cherie. Nothing new today I'm afraid," he greeted warmly. "But you may reread any of the others that you like."
She smiled, though the hope in her eyes dampened. She would be twenty-two this day.
Twenty-two. Old maid, they called her, well they whispered behind her back. Belle did not care what they said, there was no man in this town who could hold a conversation that wasn't about hunting, fishing, or a faraway war they had returned home from.
She was not that interested in killing things for sport, though she would have liked to know more about the war, but aside from the armies each man single handedly taken down, there was little fact, little reason for why they had gone to war.
Belle thought she would have liked to fight, to protect her family, her town, her kingdom, but she was a woman and such things were not her place.
She ran her fingers over the books on the shelf, the titles smiled at her in the dusty room; La Coupe de Feu, Prince de Sang-Mêlé, and Les Reliques de la Mort.
The author of these books was her favorite novelist, and Belle often pretended she was a character from those pages. She was supremely glad that the town priest didn't know what the novels were about. Most thought she read fairy tales, but not even her parents knew the heroes in her books were witches.
Witches were a sore subject in their Kingdom. Legend said that two decades ago a witch had cursed the royal family that protected their lands.
Some blamed the war on that witch, some said the royal family and their court had simply died because of an onslaught of the Plague.
Regardless of what had befallen the royals, no one knew in fact what had happened, nor did anyone know where the castle was. Which seemed strange to Belle.
How did one lose a castle?
But no one had a logical answer for her, if they deigned to answer her at all.
She was a maiden, and no one took anything she said seriously, not when she suggested that the children of their town be taught to read nor when she suggested that girls could be just as brave as boys.
No, no one took her seriously, not even Père Robert as he waved her goodbye with a bemused smile on his lips as he beheld her with the small child's book in her hand.
A book of friendships and new beginnings, of a boy discovering magic, and be freed from his mundane world.
As she walked home, greeted by everyone who crossed her path. She wished magic would find her.
"I won't do it!" she yelled at her parents.
"You are twenty-two," her father repeated with a strained patience, "You must marry and Gaston-"
"He's a brute!"
"He's a war hero!" her father snapped, standing he towered over his petite daughter, "And you will show him and your father respect. You will be wed on Sunday morning."
Belle just shook her head, Sunday was tomorrow.
"Ma petite fille," her mother crooned, "you are no longer so little, you must begin to start a family, or it will be too late."
Belle turned to her mother with pleading eyes, "But, Mama, I don't love him."
Her mother's dark eyes were not unkind but neither was she close to folding, "We have given you freedom long enough, Belle, your beauty will fade sooner than you believe and there are lesser me-"
"I don't want to marry him!"
Her father struck her across the cheek, "You will respect us, girl, you will respect your mother, and you shall respect me, who has kept your burden these years. Curb your pride, know your place. You will be a married woman of title tomorrow, and you will be grateful."
He stormed to his bedroom slamming the door behind him.
Belle sank to her knees on the kitchen floor, the dirt likely mussing her dress, she didn't care, the dress had seen worse working in the garden and the fields.
Her mother bent to kiss her forehead, "It will not be so terrible as you believe. You will learn to love him, and the children you shall bear him -you will know love such as you have never imagined."
Belle said nothing, a hollow emptiness filling her core.
She would never know adventure, never be allowed to be her own person, not with a man like Gaston as her husband.
She wasn't sure how long she stayed liked that, frozen on her knees as the light waned from the sky and the candlelight flickered out from her parents' room
Belle stood stiffly, brushing off her aching knees. Looking out the window, she could make out the horizon of the treeline.
The moon was bright tonight.
She acted before her thoughts caught up to her quiet movements. She stuffed a loaf of bread and few apples into her small bag. She crept out of their humble home toward the stables.
Philippe greeted her with perked ears and the swishing of his tail. Belle raised a finger to her lips, as if a horse could understand such a gesture, and quickly as she could, she saddled the great clydesdale.
Slowly, she walked Philippe out of the stable, his large hooves thudding against the packed earth, her parents did not leave the house.
And with one last look behind her, Belle mounted the horse and disappeared into the night.
AN: No, not terribly ingenious, but I have a sister and we grew up watching Disney. So here's my first crossover, inspired by art of Hermione and Belle. Please review if your interested in my completing this short?
P.s. Spoiler, her parents aren't going to die.
Chapter 2: Part II
AN: Pretty sure this is ridiculous but I am enjoying it. Please let me know what you think?
Wolves and Nightmares
He knew the moment she crossed on the border of the castle land, which was not a remarkable achievement as there was a pack of magical wolves crashing through the wood after her.
The Beast was running before he could think about what he was doing. It was dark, dark enough that she did not notice him behind the shadows of trees, even as her horse bolted forward ever faster, probably having caught his sent on the breeze.
The Beast lunged at one of the wolves, snapping his teeth and using his antlers as a stag might.
He was careful not to harm them beyond recovery, if his plates had been people once who was he to say these feral creatures hadn't had families once upon a time.
The wolves pursuing the woman on horseback turned to join the fight against him. Wisely, the woman rode on toward the castle without looking back.
The Beast slapped at the wolves, his claws only grazing their fur, he rolled on his back as they jumped on their back, but when one got a good bite on his ankle he roared at them. Roared loudly enough to wake the birds in the trees. With the sound echoing in the night, the wolves turned tail and retreating back to the secationary of the woods bordering the castle grounds.
A border that they did not pass, that he could not pass.
He wouldn't dare to.
Belle bent over Phillippe's neck to plead with him, "Fly, Philippe, fly."
And indeed, the horse launched into a gallop, his hooves seeming to barely touch the ground.
If it wasn't for that roar still reverberating in her bones, that beastly sound that she doubted had come from one of the timber wolves, she might have let herself enjoy the speed. They had never gone this fast before.
They came to the doors of what appeared to be an abandoned castle. On shaking legs, Belle dismounted, running toward the large doors, Philippe breathing heavily at her shoulder.
The door was heavy for one person, but not impossible, she urged Philippe ahead of her and she sort of regretted inviting horse poop onto the marble floors, but she wouldn't leave him to the wolves, or whatever else had been out there.
"Bonjour!" she called, "Bonjour? Is anyone here."
Silence was her only answer.
Belle went to Philippe murmuring soft thank yous and calming words as she undid the saddle and began walking him around the large entrance hall. His nostrils stayed flared and his chest heaved. She kept touching that soft spot above his chest bone to feel his fluttering pulse.
It took many, many circles to calm him down. She needed to find him water, both to give him something to drink and to rinse the sweat of him.
The Beast was grateful that his injury wasn't deep, he wasn't even bleeding, but he was sure that if he could see the skin beneath his fur he would have teeth mark bruises.
As he limped back to the castle he wonder who the young woman was, how she had come to be in these woods, or why she was alone.
He followed the hoofprints to the steps in the snow and climbed the side of the castle walls to the second bunch of windows.
Climbing walls and rooftops was about his only hobby. Sure, he read books, but reading wasn't as good as experiencing things, and in this perpetual lonely winter wonderland, there wasn't much to experience, well except for how far he could jump and how fast he could run on the narrow peaks of rooftops.
He was a silent shadow as he slipped in through one of the windows. He watched the woman -with a mass of wild hair, lead her horse around the entrance hall in circles. The poor horse looked spooked out of its mind, the whites of his eyes flashing.
Ducking around the moonlit windows, the Beast made his way to kitchens, instructing the silent servants to prepare a feast for the girl and one of the many, many, entertaining rooms into a makeshift stable.
Yes, they had stables, but the horses had been as cursed as the servants, silent pitchforks, saddles, and reins that had gone a bit mad and attacked anyone and anything that tried to enter the giant stables.
The Beast was pleased, a hope rising in his chest even if he knew he would have to keep himself hidden, there was someone new here.
And she was filling the castle with her honeyed voice.
A human voice.
Even though he could speak, he was no longer human.
"Bonjour? Bonjour?" Belle called again and again.
Something was moving around them, somethings or someones were shifting in the shadows.
A door opened of its own accord, and though instinct told her not to go see what lie inside, curiosity got the best of her. Walking in, Philippe following behind her like a lost child, they found a high ceilinged room that had been filled with sawdust, hay, and two large tubs filled with water. Which looked very odd beside the ornate furniture.
She grabbed a handful of the hay and smelled it, sweet and green. Philippe snatched it out of her grasp with soft lips. She removed his reins and he went straight to the water tub for a drink.
Finding some clean rags, she dipped it into the tub he wasn't drinking from and began wiping him down.
"Settled in rather quick, don't you?" Belle asked the horse, who blew air out of his nose in response.
"We'll stay here for the night then, and see if we can't find who lives here in the morning."
She shut and locked the door, and the windows for good measure. She paused every now and then to see if something moved in the shadows.
She saw nothing, but she had an eerie sense that she was being watched. But when she curled up on the sofa, the last two days caught up with her.
She had run away from home, been chased through the woods by wolves and something louder, only to find refuge in an abandoned castle. Belle wondered if the witch lived here, it was winter here after all, and it was June.
But when her eyes closed, sleep claimed her.
The Beast gently tried the door to the room she had chosen, locked.
He would give her privacy, he would give her whatever she needed. She was his guest, and he would do his utmost not to scare her.
That night in his bed in the West Wing, when his head found his pillow, it wasn't nightmares of a war he could not recall in his waking hours, but dreams, dreams of a bushy haired girl who was above all things; his best friend.
When he woke, he would not remember those dreams either, yet when the sunlight touched his dark eyelids he did not dread the day to come.
Belle was determined to find someone, anyone, in this giant castle. She started with finding the kitchens, which smelled like heaven.
As she walked through the doors she heard something clatter further into the room, she ran to it and found a ladle on the ground.
"Bonjour?" she called.
She glared at her surroundings, at the food in the midst of being made. But there was no one here. Which was impossible, the breakfast that was being made looked as if it could four people. There had to people here, likely had been until she entered the room.
She checked under tables, in the cabinets and pantry closets. Nothing but the cutlery.
"Maybe…" she held out her arms and began walking quickly between the tables. If they were invisible, they were faster and quieter than she.
She announced to the room, "If no one answers me I am taking some of your food."
No one answered.
Sighing, she took a plate of pastries and eggs, "Merci beaucoup."
Which is how most of her day went. Nearly every room she entered she was certain had had people moving around inside. She only got through one wing before returning to the kitchen where dinner seemed to have been prepared. In the sink she found dirty bowls were someone, or something, had eaten from.
This time she didn't ask before stealing a plate of lamb, and later a large slice of pie.
It was good, really good. Finer food than her family had ever had money for, finer than she had imagined food could ever taste before.
An image flitted through her mind of long tables and children in black robs lining them, on each table was piled food grander than what she held in her hand now.
The image was gone in a moment, and she shook her head trying to place it, but she forgot it as she saw a teacup hop onto a stack of sources on the plates.
"Bonjour?" she asked almost angrily, turning to face that cabinet.
No one answered.
Belle huffed and was certain that whatever was going on in this castle had to be magic.
She should take Philippe and leave, find a city and forget about this place.
But she couldn't, the mystery of this place beckoned to her.
She had always dreamed of magic, of impossible things, should would not give up this chance to discover, to live.
Even if a witch popped out a closest and cursed her, it would be worth it. Worth it to find answers to questions she had never hoped she could ask.
The Beast was thrilled beyond measure that the young woman had stayed. She searched the castle calling out, Bonjour, bonjour like a songbird.
He wondered if she would be any good at singing. Regardless, he loved the sound of her voice. And during the day he followed her around from room to room, hopping from rooftop to rooftop.
She stayed two more days, and it was on the third day he slipped.
One of the windows had a ledge just big enough for him to rest on and look into the castle without being seen.
But one of his back paws dislodged a stone shingle and he slid from the ledge.
"Ah-ha!" he heard her announce, as his front paws scrabbled across broken stones.
He let go of the next ledge and landed hard on the stone windowsill below. He ignored the pain, and pressed himself to the wall. The ledge above him should be enough to keep him hidden.
"Bonjour!" the woman shouted above him.
He held his breath.
"Please!" She called, "Please, I won't hurt you. I promise."
He didn't fall for it. If she saw him… she would fear him, hate him. He had glimpsed her curiosity, her passion for life that he had long forgotten.
She was beautiful, and it would destroy something inside him if -when, she ran from him.
Someone had definitely been there. She had glimpsed a dark shape from outside a window she passed by. She heard someone fall from the ledge. She knew she would be too late, but she ran down to the floor directly below it. She found the broken stone shingle, proving she wasn't crazy.
Returning to what had become her room, Philippe looked up at her and gave a soft whinny before returning to his pile of fresh hay.
"Are you ready to leave this place?"
Philippe flicked his tail in a sharp motion, as if saying, 'No, ma'am.'
She sighed, "One more day then. I have one part of the castle left to explore and then we will leave."
The possible dangers of a magical castle aside, it was nice not to be the one to clean up after the horses. She liked work, but farming could be… repetitive.
Foolishly, he had followed her back to her room, listening outside the door. Her words broke his heart.
One more day, and then he would be sentenced back to a solitary existence.
His nightmares that night were terrible, he was being held in a prison cell, and there was screaming, horrible, horrible screaming above him.
He woke before the sun rose, roaring the word, "No!"
The Beast climbed out of his bed and staggered toward his door. Illogically, he needed to check on the woman, he needed to know, know, that she was alright.
That she was safe.
Belle woke screaming from her nightmare, thrashing so badly she rolled off the sofa in a tangle of blankets that had been left for her after her first night staying here.
She rubbed her arms, not exactly knowing what she dreamed, but knowing it had been terrible.
Philippe was at her side, his soft nose nuzzling the side of her cheek.
She hugged his giant head, happy that she was not alone.
When her heart beat had evened out, she stood, the room was nearly pitch black, it was the night of the new moon and though she could see stars winking outside her window, she could not see much else.
She grabbed a candelabra, and the candle wicks spirited to life.
Belle smirked, "I knew this place was magic."
She opened the door, holding the light before her. The first thing she registered was the color of his eyes, eyes as green and bright as finely cut emeralds.
Eyes that were so strangely familiar to her, as if she had met him before, as if she had spent a great deal of time looking into those eyes.
Then she blinked and took in the great hairy beast standing before her. His fur was black, his antlers wove above him like a crown, and he stood several feet above her, his paws like that of a lion. Though his front paws, she noted, had thumbs.
Oddly, he was wearing clothes like a man, though they appeared to fit him poorly.
His expression on the other hand...
The Beast frowned at the girl who began to smile then let out a soft laugh.
"What's so funny?" he asked gruffly, embarrassment flooding him. He had been hopeful when she hadn't immediately thrown Lumiere at him and run screaming, but her laughter…
"I'm sorry," she said, giggling between each word, "It's just, well, you looked afraid of me. You look as if you could eat me."
He frowned down at her, and couldn't help but bare his teeth a little. "I do not eat people," he growled. "I was human once."
She grinned up at him, "Good to hear."
"You aren't afraid of me," he stated in awe.
She shook her head. "If you were going to hurt me, you would have done it by now," she informed him.
His lips twitched, "I'm still sure that most people wouldn't be comfortable around me."
"Why? You just look a little hairy to me."
He blinked at her. "Who are you?" he asked.
She held out her free hand, "Belle."
He took her delicate hand in his oversized paw, wishing more than anything that he had human fingers to feel the callouses on her hands, that he had human lips to lay on the back her fingers. He settled with giving her a brief hand/paw shake, before reluctantly releasing her.
His touch was jarringly gentle compared to the strength she could see rippling in his arms, the weapons of his claws.
"What's your name?" she asked.
"I don't have one."
It was her turn to frown, "Everyone has a name. And are you the only person living here? I don't think you could have hidden from me in the kitchens."
"No, I am not so good at hiding in the kitchens, and no I'm not -we aren't alone, though it feels that way. Everyone in this castle is cursed. I was changed into a beast and everyone else- furniture, plates, rugs, teacups, the list goes on. They can move, jump, float briefly, but they can not speak."
Belle gazed at the candelabra in her hand.
"His name was Lemerie," he said sadly.
Her fingers twitched but she didn't drop the candl- the man in her hands. "If he has a name than you mus-"
"If I had one then it is forgotten. I remember little from before this unending winter, this curse that keeps me, them here."
"Who cursed you?" she asked.
"I don't remember."
How sad, she thought before asking, "So you've been spying on me since I've been here."
"That was rude."
His emerald eyes twinkled in the candlelight, "Ruder than staying in a stranger's castle and eating their food?"
She blushed, "No, I mean, you could have told me to leave or introduced yourself."
"I don't want you to leave," he said, and looked away from her, "Er, I mean, if you wish to stay, you will always be welcome here, Belle."
His voice was familiar, but it was if the familiar voice had been deepened, made more gravelly, and she could not place where she had heard it before.
"I have to be able to call you something," she told him.
"Beast?" he suggested, looking back at her with hope shimmer in his beautiful eyes.
She shook her head, glaring up at him. "No, that would be awful. You can't possibly want to be called that." Belle mulled it over for a moment then she had an idea. "Hairy," she decided.
He grinned, his wickedly sharp teeth glinting. "Hairy," he repeated, "Hairy, yes, I like that. And it is certainly accurate."
"Why were you outside my door, Hairy? It's quite late."
He took a step back from her, "I had, I had a troubling dream, and I wished to check that you were alright."
There was real pain in his eyes and she wanted nothing more than to reach out to him in comfort. "My dreams weren't -pleasant, either. I was going to go to the kitchens for a cup of tea, would you like to join me?"
He nodded as if he were afraid to speak.
They walked together in silence. It wasn't an awkward silence, and despite his inhuman shape, Belle felt as if she had walked down castle hallways in the night with him a thousand times before.
Chapter 3: Part III
AN: Mwahahahahaha! I finally finished a short story. This is how the Harry Potter series should have ended, even JKR admits it. Reactions, comments, please?
She hadn't run from him, she wasn't even a little bit afraid of him.
He felt giddy beside her, and self-conscious. He did take regular baths but his fur was wild, and the rest, well there was nothing to be done about the rest. There were no clothes to fit him properly, his antlers made him unnecessarily taller than he already was, and his face… if a lion could mix with a black wolf, that's what his face looked like.
But she didn't flinch away from him, not even when he was forced to lap milk out of a bowl as she sipped from a mug.
He was finally close enough to her to make out her features; her skin glowed in Lumiere's light, her dark hair haloed around her, and her eyes, rich, rich brown that he longed to look at in daylight.
He shouldn't ask, he shouldn't push, but he needed to know, "How long?" He coughed to clear his throat, "How long were you planning on staying?"
She watched his shoulders sag and his adorable ears droop. She felt as if she had just kicked a pupped, punted said puppy into a trench and laughed at it as it sunk into the water.
"But now that I've met you, perhaps I'll stay longer, if you want me to that is?"
"As long as you want, forever if you wan-" He seemed to bite his tongue then grunted as his sharp teeth sunk in. "Sorry, I know you wouldn't want that, I just meant that my door will always be open to you."
Belle smiled at him, "Merci."
He was shy and so unsure of himself. Belle had a suspicion he had been a prince when he was human, it seemed the most logical conclusion. But if he had been a prince, he must have been young or not allowed to have many friends.
Of course, she didn't know how much confidence she would have if she had antlers and pointed teeth.
He returned her to her room with a bearing of teeth that she was sure was meant to be a smile.
It was endearing.
And she found herself smiling as stretched out on her sofa. Philippe didn't even stir from his dreams.
He could hardly fall back asleep. He would get to spend at least tomorrow with her.
Belle. Beautiful, beautiful Belle.
She had given him a name, Hairy. And though it wasn't the most dignified name, it was his name. It felt more right than anything had in years.
And as he rose with the sun, the world seemed to be brighter. Looking around him, the only thing that could dim his joy was the servants around him, mute and trapped, and he with no way to help. No memory to even know if there was something he could do for them.
Hopping from rooftop to rooftop he tried to put all his worries aside, today was going to be a good day.
And it began with Belle's smile.
They had breakfast together which Hairy, unfortunately, had to lap out of the bowl. Lucky, Belle didn't give him so much as an odd look. The look she gave him was more calculating as if she were thinking about how food conception worked.
After they had finished, he said, "I have something to show you."
She smiled, and it was like he had seen that smile a thousand times over and with those phantom memories came the sense of home.
Home, a novel concept that he had never felt wondering this baren castle.
"Alright," she said with a grin, taking his outstretched paw without a wink of fear.
He had to shorten his stride for her but finally, they reached the library. They each took one of the ornate handles and throw the doors open as if they had planned it. Light streamed into an enormous room.
Shelves and shelves of books, the only parts of the walls not overtaken by shelves were the windows that stretched to the twenty-foot domed ceiling.
But Hairy didn't care about the wonder of architecture and knowledge that surrounded them, he cared about Belle. And her expression… it outshined the sun.
She didn't let go of his hand as she dragged him across the room to start browsing titles.
Moments later he found himself with an arm full of her choice books, hours later she finally looked up at him to ask a question.
"Um," she started cheeks a bit flushed, "Do you like reading?"
His lips curled and he held up the book he had chosen for himself. Of course, it had already been on the table, the leather of the cover well worn, but the golden design of a dragon still shown bright when it caught the light.
"Oh!" she exclaimed, "I know that book! My mum used to read it to me."
"I think it's my favorite," Hairy said.
"You know it's a children's book, right?"
He huffed, "It's a good book, I like the adventure, I like the prose, I even enjoy the poetry."
She grinned, "Some of it is silly."
He began to grin back, but hesitated, stopping short of bearing his teeth, "I like the silly ones, life is grim enough without insisting everything be serious."
She held out her hand for the book and he passed it to her, their fingers brushing against each other. He blinked fast, not wanting her to see how much that simple contact meant to him.
Belle began to read, and her voice was spellbinding. The adventure came to life in a way it had never had before. And for the first time in years, he was happy, grateful to be where he was. He could sit by her side and listen to her read for eternity.
Their quest came to a decided halt when her stomach growled to be noticed.
He laughed, standing, held out his paw to her. She reached for it without hesitation, allowing him to help her to feet.
It meant more to him than she knew. She meant more to him than he thought he could even comprehend.
She was a familiar stranger, and what she thought of him mattered.
When they sat down after getting food from the kitchens, Belle asked, "Where does the food come from?"
He shrugged, "Magic, I suppose. This entire castle is cursed and everyone in it. The kitchen staff are now the pots and stoves, they manage somehow. Even the forks and the napkins were people once."
She squeaked and nearly dropped her fork, she caught it and gently placed it on the table.
"That's awful," she said and looked on the edge of tears.
"Don't be afraid, they're servants, they like guests. There isn't anything else they can do here but sit cabinets and collect dust."
She glared at him, "No one would choose to be a fork."
His voice was only a bit bitter when he said, "Some would say that none would choose to be cursed."
Belle took in a long breath, then she picked up her soup like he had to, drinking from it like an oversized cup.
Hairy refrained from telling her the bowls were people too.
Belle was comfortable around Hairy, he was kind. Sometimes he seemed so familiar that when she closed her eyes she saw flashes of a young man with glasses, with the same raven hair -limited to the top of his head, and the same emerald green eyes. But of course, she couldn't have ever met him when he was human, he was a prince after all, a king if he didn't have a father. But still, she couldn't shake the feeling that she knew him, nor could she put aside how deeply she cared for him.
She pitied him too, and everyone in this castle, herself excluded. And the next day she pressed her questions in the library, "So you really have no idea who cursed you?"
"Nope," he said, eyes looking up to the ceiling as if he were trying to pull back the veil of his forgotten memory, "I know it was a witch, and that is all I know."
"If it was a curse, there has to be a way to break it."
He looked at her ruefully, "I wouldn't know where to start, Belle."
She smiled and flung out her arms toward all the hundreds and thousands of books around them, "I do."
Considering how small the library was where she had grown up, she was amazed at her own ability to navigate this enormous one.
Day after they searched for answers, and day after day, she and Hairy fell into a more familiar pattern.
One day, Hairy slammed shut another useless textbook, some potion book that could change person's appearance to look like another person's appearance as long as you had one of the other person's hairs. Belle had already looked at that book she knew, though oddly, it had been in the unread pile.
Hairy looked despondent like they would never find a way to break the curse.
"What do you like to do in your free time?" she asked suddenly, "I mean aside from read."
He snorted, "Reading isn't what I spent most of my time doing before you came along."
"Alright," she challenged, shutting the book she had been reading. She had no intention of giving up, but she wanted to chase the hopelessness from his eyes. "What does the king of the palace do on his own?"
He looked at her for a long moment, "Do you trust me?"
"Yes," she said with a certainty that almost scared her, almost.
"Then I'll show you."
They stood and she headed for the doors, she stopped when she realized he wasn't headed out of the library.
"Hairy?" she question.
He turned, giving her that half smile of his, "Doors are overrated." And he swung open one of the windows behind him, the other hand he held out to her.
Feeling her heart fluttering in her chest, she went to him. She hadn't realized how big he was until he wrapped his arm under her, lifting her up at the thighs. She wrapped her arms instinctively around his neck. The smell of him was soothing, and she only half strangled him when he leaped out the window.
She gasped as he climbed effortlessly up the castle's exterior.
Hairy tried not to be too pleased with himself as Belle clung to him. The day was reaching its end and he would be able to show her the sunset from the tallest tower as the castle and land changed colors. Show her the one part of his world that was truly beautiful, the sky.
When he had reached the ledge to see the sun kiss the mountains, he tried to set her on her feet, but she wouldn't allow it, curling her fingers into his fur.
So he sat down with her in his lap, "Look up, Belle, you're safe, I promise."
She looked up at him, and his heart nearly stopped in his chest, in her rich brown eyes, the honeyed sunlight illuminating the side of her face, he saw only trust on her face.
Trust, and something… something more.
She turned her gaze outward, and this time her gasp was not of fear but awe. The landscape and sky were thrown into dramatic hues, and they sat above it all, a part of the sunlight and growing shadows.
They watched the sun fall behind the mountains, watched the stars appear from the vast blue dome above them.
Though no words passed between them that evening, Hairy realized something vital as Belle fell asleep in his arms.
He loved her.
Gaston had been searching for his betrothed for weeks. No sign of her, no word from anyone who might have seen her. He might have assumed she was dead, eaten by wolves, but his gut told him she was still alive.
And his gut, as it always was, was correct. Because that afternoon he saw a monster crawling up the side of a castle with his bride to be in his claws.
Gaston didn't stay to see if the thing threw her to her death or not. He rode his horse back to the village as fast as could to summon the men of their village.
Whether it was to save Belle or avenge her, the Beast of the castle would die tomorrow.
Belle woke on her bed, with Phillipe nickering at her.
She smiled up her giant horse and stretched, taking in the morning light.
Something had changed between her and Hairy last night. She wasn't sure exactly what, but she rose for the day with new purpose.
Perhaps, she had found where she truly belonged, and she had never belonged anywhere in her life.
Belle did not know why she felt this way, why she felt as if she had known Hairy her entire life, or why now she felt something more for him, but she knew that last night was the first she could remember without a whisper of a nightmare.
"Do you dance?" she asked him abruptly after they finished their late breakfast.
He blinked at her, trying to pull the memory of dancing across a dance floor. Two images appeared to him, a tall boy with bright orange hair dancing with a tall woman in emerald green robes, and then a second image of a girl, who looked like a much younger Belle, standing at the head of a staircase looking beautiful. He nodded, "I think so."
"Does this castle have a ballroom?"
He grinned, "You've already seen the ballroom. Did you forget which wing it was in?"
She blushed, "No, I just- Do you want to dance with me?"
His heart fluttered, and not trusting his words, he nodded.
Belle led the way, because she hadn't forgotten for a moment were the large ornate room was.
Sunlight poured in through the large windows, glinting off the polished floors and the gold on the walls. They went to the center of the room.
She curtsied to him in her country dress, and he bowed to her in his antlered monstrous form. But despite what one could say about country dresses or cursed beastmen, she was the most beautiful woman in the realm and she made him feel like a man.
Music began to swell around them. The musicians -now instruments, playing their souls out, and they danced in the daylight.
They danced and danced, and when the music turned to more folk than classical, they made fools of themselves, dancing and twirling, until they were breathless and laughing. Laughed as she stepped on his paws and he lifted her off her feet. They were carefree and happy, and the world was made new around them.
It was magic between them, and though they paused for a drink of water, they didn't dare depart for dinner. They danced slowly as the sun set, candles flickered to life around them. And nothing, nothing in the world could ruin this moment between them.
Except, perhaps, for a flaming rock smashing through one of the windows.
Hairy expected her to scream, but she didn't, and it seemed as if they had done it a million times before because they both dropped low to floor, and edged around the wall to get a better look out the window.
These windows looked over the entrance to the castle grounds, which gave them a splendid view of the mob with pitchforks and torches headed toward them.
Hairy growled, "What do they want? No one ever comes here, why now?"
He heard her gulp, "It's my village, they're here because of me. Hairy, I am so sor-"
He gripped her arms, not hard but firmly, "You listen to me, Hermione Jane Granger, you are the best thing to ever happen to me. I would be dead without you and I wouldn't trade you for all the world."
She frowned up at him, "Who is Hermione Jane Granger?"
More windows shattered, and he shielded her with his body.
Taking her hand in his paw, he pulled her into a run toward the hall. Finding a window on the other side of the castle. Without being asked, Belle climbed onto his back as he scaled the walls.
Sounds of fighting broke out in the castle, and Hairy was pretty sure the silverware and tapestries had just declared war on the villagers.
They reached one of the top balconies and Belle stood on her own feet looking at him oddly.
"Hairy," she said, "Before you join the fight, I just want to tell you that I-"
Hairy didn't get to hear her finish that sentence or have time to think through why he had called her by a different name because a man with a crossbow launched an arrow into his shoulder from feet away.
Hairy spun around to face his assailant with a roar, and he growled, "How do you get up here?" How had this stranger chosen this balcony out of the hundreds to be on?
"Worry not, Belle, my wife, I've come to save you from this horrid beast," the cleft-chined man said.
Belle said with such disdain that even Hairy winced, "The only beast here, Gaston, is you. But perhaps 'beast' is too strong a term, you're more cowardly, like a rodent."
"This beast has bewitched you, once he's dead, you and I will marry and you will bear me many, many sons." He gave her such a suggestive look that Hairy punched him.
He didn't land the blow, but he did manage to send the crossbow skittering to the ground. The arrow in his shoulder hurt but it was bearable, until the man, grabbed it and twisted it as he yanked it out.
Hairy roared, and scrambled back from the pain. Gaston pulled a knife from his boot and went at Hairy in a blind rage.
Belle, meanwhile, had snuck up behind Gaston and retrieved the crossbow.
Her aim was true, and an arrow pierced Gaston's heart from the back. Hairy throw the dying man over the ledge.
Belle and Hairy looked at one another in a stunned silence, stunned not because of their disbelief in killing another person but at how easy it had been, how familiar it had been, and at how well they worked together.
Neither knew how long they stood there, but eventually, two villagers found them.
"Belle!" the woman screamed, running toward her. The woman flung her arms around her daughter, sobbing.
The man approached more warily, but he threw his torch to the ground when he saw that Hairy was making no move to attack them. The father wrapped his arms around both his wife and daughter.
"We were so worried," her mother said.
Belle hugged them both before pulling away, she held her hand out for Hairy. "Mum, Dad," she began as his paw touched her hand, "This is the man I love."
His breath caught in his chest as raw and wild magic swirled around them. Where they touched, golden light spilled up his arm leaving pale skin behind.
For moment Hermione and Harry stared at one another. A woman in her prime, a man in his glory. They had aged, they had grown, and they knew why they mattered to one another.
"I love you, too," Harry said.
And then the stars fell from the sky, blinding streaks of blue fire and midnight shadows swirling around them.
The realm collapsing between the pages of a book, the curse broken, and every memory returned.
Harry fell into the side of his desk in his small apartment in London.
An owl hooted at him, looking at him as if he were a madman. Adjusting his glasses, he reached for the letter the owl had tied to his leg.
His hands, not his paws, were shaking.
Had it been real?
The letter was from Headmistress McGonagall, informing him of Hermione entering Hogwarts with her parents.
He didn't think before apparating, whether the years that passed in the cursed book were real or no, he found he had the power to apparate into the very walls of Hogwarts itself.
"Hermione!" he yelled into the library.
"There is no yelling in the library!" Madam Pince snarled from behind him.
He ignored her, running toward the restricted section.
"There is no running in the library either, Mr. Potter!"
He had just reached the stacks when Hermione emerged, her parents, both smiling with tears in their eyes behind her.
She flung herself into his arms and he held her as if he might crush her. She was younger, they both were, but he loved her just the same, and she was as beautiful now as she had ever been.
Pulling back, Harry waved to her parents, "Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Granger."
They smiled and her dad said, "Hello, Mr. Potter, you treat my girl right or you will be facing worse than a mob of angry villagers."
Harry grinned, "Yes, Sir."
Mrs. Granger smiled at him gently, "I believe you are the most dangerous person to ever enter my daughter's life."
Harry's heart fell, and Hermione hugged him again.
"And without you, I don't think my daughter would ever have found such happiness," Mrs. Granger finished.
Mr. Granger looped his arm with his wife's, "Now, I'd like to explore more of this Hogwarts I've learned so much about. I must say, I will be happy to return to a life dentistry than that of a farmer."
Mrs. Granger gave a happy sigh, "Hot showers."
"Air conditioning," Mr. Granger said in turn.
They left, giving Harry and Hermione a moment of privacy as they charmed Madam Pince into guiding them around.
Hermione looked up at him, "Harry, I love you."
"Harry?" he asked, "Or Hairy?"
She smacked his chest, and he laughed, "I love you, too. I've always loved you, I just didn't know I was in love with you until we-"
"Had some time apart, time to grow up a little, away from the chaos and grief of war," she offered.
He nodded, and then he bent the knee, "Hermione Jane Granger, will you marry me?"
She smiled, the light in her brown eyes was full of intelligence and the boldness that had gotten her sorted into Gryffindor. "Yes, Harry James Potter, I will marry you."
His smile was heartbreaking, not the half smiles she had seen when he was a beast, but a joyous smile of a man being granted his heart's dearest desire.
He rose, sweeping her into his arms, and kissed her among the stacks.
It was their first kiss, and it was everything it was meant to be, sweet and passionate. A kiss filled with a lifetime of trust and admiration, a brush of lips searing and caring. They were each other's other half, the person they could not go on without.
They would live happily ever after.
"I still can't believe this is happening," Ginny Weasley growled as she slouched in her chair at her family's table.
Fleur laughed, "I cannot believe she dated your brother. Viktor and I knew from their fourth year they would end up together."
Bill squeezed his wife's leg under the table as his mother turned a violent gaze on them. "This isn't what should have happened. They don't belong together, it should be my daughter up there."
Ron was staring numbly up at the head table set amongst the grass and flowers, at Hermione who glowed in her white dress, her wild hair looking more beautiful than ever with white flowers woven amongst the curls. She looked like a queen, and Ron's shy, stubborn, and often gloomy best friend stood as confidently as a king. He held his head high and looked- truly happy.
Ron should have been Harry's best man, but he had lost it when Hermione had told him that they were breaking up so she could marry Harry.
Though to be fair, he acted better than Ginny and his mum had. They had nearly gone on a witch hunt after Hermione.
Neville had received the honor of being Harry's best man, and Luna had been Hermione's maid of honor.
The wedding had been in the backyard of Potter Manor. The house was in bad shape, but the land was beautiful and sickeningly perfect for a summer wedding.
"Molly dear, it's alright, be happy for them. Harry and Hermione are good for each other," Arthur coaxed.
Molly grimaced, and turned her bitter expression into one of sorrow, "He was going to be our son. Don't you care?"
George snorted, and stood to his feet, "Don't you get it, Mum, Harry and Hermione will always be family, they don't need to marry into the family for that to be true." He walked away to another table to greet some old friends.
Ginny wiped at the tears on her cheeks, "It was supposed to be me."
Ron looked up at the table again and knew that it wasn't supposed to be him. He had deserted them more than once, let Hermione down time after time, and when the last test had come, to choose her happiness and Harry's happiness over his own, he had cursed them, failed them.
That's why he was sitting here at a distant table rather than at his friends' sides.
Hagrid, Minerva, Pomona, and Filius were overjoyed at Hermione and Harry's wedding. Having near raised the two, they knew of no one better for them.
Hagrid was a tearful mess, but he was glad that his tears were for a happy occasion. Even Minerva was teary-eyed.
Pomona and Filius were filled with joyous laughter, feeling in their bones that the future was in good hands, that what followed after this would be bright.
Unsurprisingly, Sybil Trelawney was not invited to the wedding. But as the witch gazed into the future in a drunken haze back at her tower in Hogwarts, she saw three beautiful descents, the first named Athena Lily Potter, the second Jane Luna Potter, and the third Sirius James Potter. Along with Teddy Lupin, the four Potter children would grow up wild, intelligent, and happy.
Hermione would become the Minister of Magic until her youngest son entered Hogwarts. That year, Hermione would retire and become the new Transfiguration professor at Hogwarts and Head of Gryffindor House as her husband Harry, re-entered the workforce as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor and Quidditch coach.
It was a good thing they returned to Hogwarts when they would too, as Sirius and Jane Potter would have been the doom of the Wizarding World had they not focused so very hard in school in finding ways to prank their parents. Both choose to become Aurors after graduating and put their incredible talents toward constructive avenues.
Teddy Lupin would become a potions master who discovered the cure to lycanthropy and would become Head of the Department of Magical Creatures in the Ministry, furthering the work his stepmother had begun.
As for Athena Potter, well, she was rather incredible, inheriting the best from both her parents.
It was, indeed, a bright future that Sybil witnessed in her crystal ball, and subsequently forgot as she dozed off.
"So I was thinking for my wedding present," Hermione Jane Potter mused as they sat at the head table of their wedding reception, "I want a library."
Harry laughed, "Let me guess, you want a ballroom too?"
She grinned, taking his hand in hers, "I bet with some magic I could create a castle out of our Manor."
"Of that, I have no doubt, and yes, for your wedding present, and for the rest of your life, I'll buy you as many books as you like."
She leaned into him, and he bent to kiss her lips, "I love you, my Harry."
They kissed and it was the love between them that made it magical.
"And I love you, my beautiful Hermione."