Poor Unfortunate Souls: Atlantica Pt. 12

The Enchantress had gone right to work checking over the ritual site that Belle and Ariel had put together. She made little noises of approval and disapproval as she worked. She gestured with her hands and adjusted things magically, moving candles and chalk lines with pure willpower. Belle felt her temper rising with each sound that the woman made and eventually stepped out of the library to cool down. A little while later, Tiana found her sipping wine in another corner of the palace. Belle looked up as Tiana approached.

“How are you doing?” Tiana asked, sitting down opposite Belle. “Your nerves getting settled?”

Belle sighed and shrugged. “Just being near her drives me crazy,” she said. “thinking of what she did to my husband. I don’t trust her. I can’t trust her.”

“You don’t have to trust her after your experiences,” Tiana said. “I don’t trust her. I know Aurora doesn’t trust her and you can’t pull anything with Esmerelda around. I think Ariel wants to trust her.”

“Ariel has a good heart,” Belle said. “I’m glad that Aurora is around to protect her.”

“Me too,” Tiana said. “As much as I’m ready to get home, I’m glad for the people I’ve met. Yourself included.”

“Oh. I’m not always the best person,” Belle said with a dismissive gesture. “Sometimes I care about books more than people. I know it’s made me judgemental.”

“You are not your past,” Tiana said. “One thing that I have learned is that people can change if they dig down deep. It sounds like you’ve figured some stuff out. You just need to keep doing that work. We all have work to do.”

“Do you think the Enchantress could change?” Belle asked.

“It’s a happy thought,” Tiana said. “We’ll have to wait and see.”

Esmerelda poked her head into the room with a smile. “She’s done,” she said. “Are you ready to come back to the library?”

Belle nodded and stood up and Tiana followed her and Esmerelda back to the library. The Enchantress was front and center as if she was holding court. She was all smiles as she had been since she appeared. It was hard to trust somebody who was nothing but smiles. It was like she was a performer, always on stage.

“I’m actually very impressed with your work,” The Enchantress said. “You were pretty close to achieving a stable portal between worlds. Few mortals would be capable of that. I can only count on two hands the people with that power. Of course, what you made would have torn you apart if you got too close to it. It’s safe now.”

“Sure,” Belle said with plenty of doubt in her voice. “What do we do now?”

“First, I activate it,” the Enchantress said.

She walked slowly over to the edge of the room, glancing at Aurora’s sword for a moment as she moved. Seeing that glance made Belle smile just a little. The Enchantress focused on the center of the room and a portal formed with a rushing sound. It was a swirling maelstrom of energy.

“That looks like it will tear us apart,” Ariel said. “What did you do wrong?”

“Such trust issues,” the Enchantress said with a laugh.

“I’ve had my fill of witches,” Ariel said. “Prove to me that my trust hasn’t been misplaced.”

“Look, you just need to focus on a person, place, or thing with your whole heart and the portal will take you there,” The Enchantress said. “Try it and see. I’ll stand over here and not interfere.”

Belle stepped up to the portal and she could feel a slight tingle as she got close to its energy. She closed her eyes. She thought, of course, about Adam. She thought of the fights they had, him saving her from the wolves, standing up to him, the little kindnesses that had broken the dam and let the love flow. She thought about his smiling face. Both of his smiling faces. She found herself smiling and she noticed the rushing sound had gone away. She opened her eyes and there was Adam but he was back in Beast form. He was standing with a brunette man, a beautiful woman, and a hulk of a man with so many tattoos.

Suddenly, Adam looked at her and his Beast form turned human yet again like it had that day on the castle battlements.

“Belle?” he asked softly.

Belle lept through the portal and into his arms.

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