"Belle?" whispered the queen. Belle had retired to her room after a long, painful day. Her face was still aching from the accident with the door and the boy earlier that day. As nice as it was of him to fetch a servant to tend to her, the princess still found it rather inconsiderate and perhaps even selfish that he had snuck into the palace. Of course, she had alerted everyone in the palace of the story, but by the time word had gotten around, the boy was long gone, so no punitive efforts could be made.

When the princess heard her mother's voice, she sat up slowly in the midst of her bed, which was covered in fluffy pink and white pillows. The queen entered the bedroom regally, holding her head high as always. She took a swift glance around the bedroom with her cold but utterly angelic blue eyes, then turned to her daughter, the heiress to the throne. Throwing her long, curly black hair over her shoulder, the queen awkwardly took a seat on the edge of Belle's bed and gave her daughter a brief smile. Belle returned it, her eyes drooping, and rested her head gently against a pillow.

They sat there just like that for several minutes before Belle decided to break the silence. "I've been feeling loads better."

"I'm glad to hear it," her mother responded softly. "Belle, there's something I have to tell you, and I just don't know how I'm going to break this new news to you. It's horrible."

Belle braced herself. She had no idea what this news could possibly be. Normally, when something bad was happening, it would be bustling about the castle within mere minutes.

Her mother took a deep breath and then sighed. "Your Prince Noah…well, he enjoyed his vacation in the Mongos and everything…but…well…" her voice trailed off momentarily. Again, she sighed. "He came here. To town. To Aurora. To see you. He skipped stopping at home first, even, Belle. And…for some reason or another…he was…" The queen paused again. This time, it took her even longer to pick up her train of thought for her daughter. "He's dead." These last words stayed in the silent air even after she'd articulately pronounced them. The heavy silence was only broken when the queen began to sob. A single tear rolled gracefully down her ivory cheek.

"You lie," Belle whispered. She couldn't believe that her boyfriend—her own betrothed—could possibly be dead. But her mother nodded to assure that this was, in fact, true. Soon after this assurance, Belle realized she was crying herself. And the princess' own favorite maid had entered the bedchamber, decked out in black, with irritated eyes.

The princess wept for an hour, after which, she abruptly stopped, at which time her mother believed that her daughter had been captured by sleep. But the princess wasn't asleep. She was perfectly awake, although depressed. As she lay all by herself in bed, she mournfully wondered for the millionth time that day, "Why does everything happen to me?"

…………………

"Assassinated," boomed the king the next morning at breakfast. He appeared totally unperturbed and completely insensitive to Belle's grief. "Yes, and we've found the culprit. Ten minutes after the assassination. In fact, right outside the palace, we found him. Threw him in jail. He'll be there for quite a time."

The queen nodded slowly. "I should hope so," she concurred quietly.

"Yeah," the king agreed. "We'll give him a trial and all, but I doubt he'll be let off. People saw him around the church at the time of the murder. He was the only civillian there; it was closed to the public. Can you believe that one—he died in a church. Even worse—murdered in a church. Poor guy." He looked over at Belle. "I'm sorry, honey. I guess we'll need to find you some new suitors, then!"

Her father's insensitivity and ignorance annoyed Belle. How he had acquired the throne was beyond her, except that he had married the eldest princess and so became king. Belle sometimes wished she had a more normal, caring father. He only ever gave her money, and so expected her to be happy. She was spoiled, and she still wanted more.