One, cold late December evening, the Forte family was traveling in the horse-drawn carriage provided by family friend, Monsieur Valjean. Felicity bundled closer toward her mother as she put down an arm and wrapped her arm around her daughter. The family was going through the forest and into an old family friend's house. Forte was lying back in his seat, smoking his pipe to keep warm as the fluffy snowflakes kept them company. Tonight was Christmas Eve, and Cherry offered this year, Felicity spent Christmas with some new friends who were the children of an old friend of hers. Cherry looked out the window and called out to Monsieur Valjean.
"We're here, Monsieur," Cherry told him. "You can stop here."
"Very good, ma'am," Monsieur Valjean called back. "Whoa, girl!" he tightened the reins to make his horse stop.
The coal-black horse snorted, and stopped in her tracks as told. She let out a whinny as the family carefully climbed out. Cherry's stomach was extended since she was now pregnant with her second child with Forte. He held her hand in his as she carefully came down.
"Felicity, what do you say?" Forte prompted as the dark-haired girl was looking all around.
"Oh," Felicity looked up at the horseman. "Merci beaucop for letting me ride in your carriage."
"Of course, dear, Joyuex Noël to you all." Valjean tipped his hat and let his horse go and they would go to their home for the evening.
"Joyuex Noël!" Cherry waved with a grim frown on her face, looking sour as ever on the outside, but was actually cheerful of the holidays on the inside. She then felt a stomach spasm, and gently put a hand on her stomach.
"Are you alright, Cerise?" Forte asked in concern.
"I'm fine, Charles, really." Cherry assured him as they walked together to the house they were expected to arrive at.
"Maman, Papa, where are we?" Felicity asked as she held tight on the grip of her parents' hands in each hand of her own.
"An old friend of your mother's house," Forte replied. "Is this the one who has twins?"
"Oui," Cherry nodded and spoke in French to amuse her husband. He always found it amusing whenever she spoke his native tongue. "They're named Sanji and Talia. Now Flick, I want you to be on your best behavior."
"Oui Maman." Felicity accepted her responsibility.
The wind howled as the Forte family traveled to the house. Inside the family was preparing for their arrival. Felicity looked all around as they were going in and the snow crunched under her squishy black boots. Inside the house there was the family expecting the Forte family, Bianca, Ken and their children. The twins were on the floor, adjusting their Christmas lists, Sally was decorating all around to show the guests, and Messager-1 was in the kitchen, baking cookies. There came a knock at the door as Bianca was on the couch, watching the children.
"Ken, would you get that, dear?" Bianca gently asked of her husband.
"Of course," Ken smirked and walked to the door. He opened it to see the Forte family. "Ah, you must be Cherry."
"That would be me," Cherry replied, putting both hands on her stomach. "We have another one of us, but he's not due for another week or so."
"Thank you so much for coming, dear," Bianca walked over with a smile. She then looked slightly startled to see Forte right at the door. "Oh, and this is your husband?"
"I am Maestro Forte," the man introduced himself. "Court composer and most loyal husband and father."
"Pleased to meet you, Mr. Forte," Bianca smiled nervously. "I'm Bianca..."
"Yes," Forte sounded unimpressed for a moment. "My enchanting bride has talked about you, child. She said something about you two exploring the jungle and meeting a man cub by the name of Mowgli."
"Yes," Bianca confirmed. "When she was 10 and I was 12, we had an adventure together."
"Maman has a lot of adventures..." Felicity said very quietly, barely audible.
"Who do we have here?" Ken smiled, then bent down to the girl's height.
Felicity's eyes widened and she dashed behind her mother. Felicity then poked her head out, shaking slightly.
"Don't worry, I won't bite." Ken insisted.
"Flick, go out and say hello to the nice man." Cherry told her, firmly.
Felicity came out and looked back up at Ken. She let out a shy wave. "Bonjour, Monsieur Kenneth." she drawled in her gentle voice.
"She certinately takes after you when it comes to social interaction." Forte whispered to his wife.
"Oh, and like she doesn't have your hatred for other people's company?" Cherry raised an eyebrow and glinted her eyes at him, her voice baring no emotion.
Forte shuddered as Cherry said that, leaving her to have a satisfied smile, her eyes still glinting at him like she wanted to eat him or something.
The twins came from the floor, noticing the guests.
"Good day, who do we have here?" Cherry asked, hoping for the twins to answer her properly.
"I'm Sanji," the boy replied.
"And I'm Talia." the girl finished.
"My name is Sally," the red-headed girl in the green dress walked over. "How do you do?"
"Don't forget me," Messager-1 came to meet the guests. "Welcome to our home!"
"Merci, children, you may give us room to come in now." Forte let them step back a little.
"Charles Amadeus Forte, you be nice to these children or you're not getting dessert tonight." Cherry sneered, grabbing her husband's arm and adding a squeeze to make sure he would behave.
"EEK!" he grunted from the excruciating pain included by Cherry's stress from the holidays, coming here, and everything related to labor pains. "Oui, oui, mon petite Cerise..."
"Good... Now stay that way." Cherry squeezed extra hard, then pushed him over to walk inside.
Forte groaned as he collapsed on the couch and he got up to adjust himself and sprinkle away the dust. "I wonder if I took a vacation, would Cerise even care?" he mumbled to himself as he darted his eyes at the woman he loved.
"So Tante Bianca, is it okay if we spend Christmas with you and Oncle Ken?" Felicity asked.
"We'd love to have your company," Bianca smiled. "I even have a little something for you. Tell me, Felicity, do you have any dolls?"
"I have a homemade rag doll I once made, but she got lost." Felicity frowned.
"Well, this is an early present, you'll get more in the morning, but this is for you." Bianca smiled and gave Felicity a doll.
Felicity smiled widely and took the doll instantly. It had pale skin with frizzy blonde hair, an emerald-green jacket with a darker green inner shirt with matching shorts, white tights and black buckled dress shoes. It appeared to be reminiscent of a typical man in the 17th century.
"Merci, Tante Bianca!" Felicity smiled and hugged the doll.
"Where on Earth did you get a thing like that?" Forte drawled.
"I made it," Bianca told him. "I guess Cherry didn't tell you, in my spare time, I'm a toy maker. My most famous doll is Raven."
"He sure is weird-looking." Sanji laughed.
"Sanji, that is not nice!" Ken scolded.
"I think he's wonderful." Talia looked with Felicity as she held the doll in her hands.
"Kind of handsome," Messager-1 smiled. "What are you going to name him, Felicity?"
"Hmm..." Felicity stuck her tongue out to concentrate. "I think I'll call him... Ludwig!"
"Ludwig?" Sally sounded unimpressed. "Okay, he's your doll..."
"I bet he's a brave, heroic, noble Renaissance man like Papa, or King Adam." Felicity hugged the doll tight.
"King Adam?" Ken and Bianca's kids asked at once.
"Come, you can check on the food with us." Bianca invited Cherry and Forte in the kitchen along with Ken.
As the adults left, all eyes were on Felicity.
"Oui," she replied to their questioning that she knew a king. "Don't you guys know who King Adam is?"
"I don't know any kings." Sally shrugged.
"I'll tell you a story," Felicity walked over, dragging her new doll and crawled into the story telling chair. The other kids gathered in a circle around her to hear the tale she had known. "Once upon a time, in a far away land, a young prince lived in a shining castle. Although he had everything his heart desired, the prince was selfish, spoiled and unkind. But then, one winter's night, an old beggar woman came to the castle and offered a single rose in return for shelter from the bitter cold. Repulsed by her haggard appearance, the prince sneered at the gift and turned the old woman away. But she warned him not to be deceived by appearances, for beauty is found within. And when he dismissed her again, the old woman's ugliness melted away to reveal a beautiful enchantress."
"Oh, my!" Talia cupped her mouth.
"The prince tried to apologize," Felicity continued. "But it was too late, for she had seen there was no love in his heart. And as punishment, she transformed him into a hideous monster and placed a powerful spell on the castle, and all who loved there."
"Goodness, gracious!" Sally hugged her knees in fright.
"Ashamed of his monstrous form, the former prince concealed himself inside the castle with a magic mirror as his only window to the outside world," Felicity took out a mirror which looked a lot like the mirror from Beauty & the Beast. "The rose the enchantress offered, was truly an enchanted rose, which would bloom until his 21st year. If he could learn to love another and earn her love in return by the time the last petal fell, the spell would be broken. If not, he would be doomed to remain a beast for all time. He nearly fell into despair and lost all hope, since it seemed almost nobody could ever learn to love a beast."
"Did he ever earn love, Felicity?" Messager-1 asked.
"Oui," Felicity nodded. "He's married now with a woman named Belle and they have a daughter together named Gabrielle who will become the next ruler of the land once Adam and Belle retire as King and Queen."
"She's obviously making the whole thing up," Sanji cut in. "Come on Felicity, this is just a fairy tale!"
"It is not, you can ask my parents if you don't believe me!" Felicity sneered at him.
"Your parents?" Sally asked. "What do they have to do with this?"
"They were in the castle when the enchantment happened," Felicity explained. "You see, the curse not only affected Adam, but it also affected my Papa. The servants were turned into moving furniture, the housekeeper Madame Potts became a teapot, her son became a teacup, my father turned into his own pipe organ, towering at 20 feet high."
"And why weren't Belle and your mother enchanted objects?" Talia asked.
"They were guests in the castle," Felicity said. "The spell happened before they came along, so they were normal human beings. Belle broke the spell and my mother was there to make sure it would happen, even though my father didn't want them to fall in love."
"Why wouldn't he?" Messager-1 asked.
"I don't know," Felicity shrugged. "They don't like to talk about it."
"Dinner time!" Bianca chimed from the dining room.
After dinner of stuffed turkey with cranberry sauce, buttery mashed potatoes, savory cabbage, and fresh rice with a hint of egg, everyone was full now and ready for bed. The adults decided it would be best if they went to bed as early as possible since tonight was Christmas Eve. Bianca and Ken sent their children to bed while Forte and Cherry were catering to Felicity to sleep on the couch while they slept on the guest bed. Felicity was in her pale yellow ochre night-gown with silver fringe and cotton white socks while Cherry was in her flimsy black night-gown and wearing a puffy white robe over it, and Forte wore an old-fashioned night-shirt. Cherry tucked Felicity in on the couch.
"Bon nuit, Felicity, thank you for behaving," Cherry kissed her forehead. "Did you make friends with the children?"
"Oui," Felicity replied as her pigtails were being extended into her hair-line and her hair bounced down to her shoulders like her mother's. "I told them the story of how you two met."
Forte's eyes widened. "How could you do that?" he asked, sounding stern.
"Maman told me." Felicity replied with a yawn.
"YOU TOLD HER!?" Forte hissed at his wife.
"She asked!" Cherry said in defense. "When a child asks me a question that bugs me, I answer it so they'll shut up and leave me alone! GOSH!" she then stormed off to the guest room and slammed the door.
"I'll join you in a minute!" Forte called to her.
"Whatever!" Cherry roared.
"Poor Maman..." Felicity moaned.
"Yes... Poor Maman...." Forte echoed, then looked down at his daughter. "Sorry about your mother, she's just in a weird mood, having a child does that to you."
"Papa, is it bad that I know about Queen Belle and King Adam?"
"Non," Forte kissed her on the forehead, sending shivers down her spine. "It's just that your mother and I have an issue with the past. We'll talk about it when you're older, but for now, get some sleep. Bon nuit, Felicity."
"Bon nuit, Papa." Felicity yawned, and turned over in her sleep, cuddling with her Ludwig doll.