Wednesday, December 26th, 2018.
The fourteen friends had rented a beautiful lodge in Norway for an extended Christmas holiday. The plan: relax, enjoy themselves, and do as little as possible. At least, that had been the plan—until Shank had begged them to take her foster daughter with them so she could compete in auto racing trials. As a result, the lead up to Christmas had been more hectic than anticipated, although it culminated in a rather spectacular day (that had ended far sooner than some of them would've preferred).
All of which explained why Belle was waking up at quarter to eight.
After deciding she wasn't going to be getting back to sleep, she pulled her dressing gown on, heading to the kitchen. She was the first one there, so she set about the task of making breakfast, humming about a provincial town. If she followed Tiana's tips, it wasn't that hard to cook for fifteen people. The hard bit had been getting fifteen people to agree on what they'd eat. Belle still wondered how most of her friends had managed to not collectively look at each other and say, "pussy".
The smell of food dragged everyone from their beds, and after a leisurely meal, they fell into discussion of what they'd do that day. Their discussion was interrupted by a knock on the lodge's entrance, and Ariel went to answer it, coming back within seconds.
"It's a package for you, Belle. You have to sign for it specifically."
Belle went to the door, where a fair-skinned brunette waited, bundled up against the cold in shades of yellow and green. Though not attracted to girls herself, Belle was quite familiar with what her friends found attractive, and the brunette definitely fit the bill.
"Sign here, ma'am."
Her accent was British, and Belle sighed as she signed for her delivery. Ariel was definitely telling the others about the hot British delivery brunette. The brunette smiled, clicking her fingers. A strapping young man came up from the van, bringing with him a potted plant. Curiously, a bird Belle couldn't identify was sitting on the plant.
"Enjoy your day, and a belated Merry Christmas," the brunette said, and the two took their leave.
Belle got a good grip on the potted plant, and yanked. It didn't move. Thinking to herself that her fiancé, Gaston, would have picked up both the plant and her without even breaking a sweat, she gritted her teeth and tried again.
"What's in this thing, rocks?" Belle straightened up, wiping her forehead. "Anna! This is too heavy for me!"
"I'm right here," Anna said. "We all are. Ariel was right, that's one hot British brunette."
"Just help me get this thing in, would you?"
Anna picked the potted plant up, striding back inside, where she set it alongside the stairway.
"Anyone know what this is?" Belle said, indicating the bird on her potted plant.
"It's a partridge," Pocahontas said. "And I do believe that's a pear tree, of all things."
"There's a note," Merida said, and she picked it up. "Oh, how boring. It just says 'with love, Gaston LeGume'. I thought you said of Gaston 'no one writes romantic letters like Gaston'... which I suppose is still true, since anyone else would've written a better note."
"You're just jealous no one got you a romantic gift," Belle said. "And it was a surprise gift, too. I'm going to send Gaston a thank you WhatsApp message."
My strong, manly Gaston,
I've gotten your gift, and well... smirks I can't really show my appreciation, what with all the girls in the house, but I'll be counting the days until I can have you over to my place. I have a new lingerie set that I'm sure you'll like. wink
It really was romantic and sweet, Gaston. You do think of the loveliest surprises.
With all my love,
Thursday, December 27th, 2018.
It was a bleary-eyed, half-naked Jasmine who stumbled to the lodge's entrance when the knock came, and she couldn't stop yawning as she opened the door.
"Delivery for—" The delivery woman ran an appreciative eye over Jasmine's body, blushing as she saw the collar around Jasmine's neck. "Wha—oh! I'm sorry, I shouldn't be looking."
Jasmine's lips curved into a seductive smile. "I'm sure they don't mind you looking—as long as that's all you do. I'll go wake Belle up."
The hot British brunette's eyes widened.
"No, no," Jasmine said. "We were up late playing Super Smash Brothers Ultimate. Nothing quite so adult as you're apparently thinking."
"Oh, I've delivered at least one of those to every house in Norway, it feels like. It's the Christmas present this year."
"Still don't know how Mulan beat the pants off all of us," Jasmine muttered, heading back upstairs to wake Belle. Running on as little sleep as she was, it was no surprise that Jasmine woke the entire lodge.
"Another present?" Belle said, rubbing her eyes and signing for the delivery.
"Don't ask me, ma'am. I just do the deliveries I'm told to."
Belle was presented with two caged birds, and another potted plant with a bird sitting on it, both of which she dutifully took inside with Anna's help. As she'd thought, it was another partridge in a pear tree, but the pair of birds she was less sure about.
"Turtledoves," Aurora said. "I'm certain of it."
"Why did he send you another partridge in a pear tree?" Vanellope said.
Belle had no real answer to that, and retired to her room to send Gaston another thank you message.
My strong, manly Gaston,
The turtledoves are adorable! I'm thinking of calling them Elsa and Anna; hopefully they won't be offended. I mean the sisters; not the turtledoves. The turtledoves have kicked one of the partridges out of the pear tree, but I've got two pear trees now, so hopefully they'll all get along. It was so smart of you to send a second partridge in a pear tree!
You're so thoughtful!
Love you and miss you!
Friday, December 28th, 2018.
"Why do we have to get up just because Gaston might send another present to Belle?" Vanellope said, grumpy.
"Don't you want to see what he sends?" Moana said.
Vanellope shook her head. "Momma says you never buy animals for other people because they might not want them, or be able to care for them properly."
Glances were exchanged, and Chione muttered, "From the mouths of babes..."
Vanellope cheered up some once she'd eaten breakfast, and as expected, soon thereafter came the knock. Belle jumped up, full of enthusiasm, and raced for the lodge entrance, followed by her friends, and surprisingly, Vanellope.
"Why are you all following me!?" Belle said, hands on her hips.
"I changed my mind. I want to see what you got," Vanellope said.
"What about the rest of you?"
"We want to see the hot British brunette," Anna said. "She's forking gorgeous."
"But you're all..."
"We're just looking," Aurora said. "There's nothing wrong with looking at menus for other restaurants, as long as we go to Tiana's."
"You don't even know her name!" Belle shook her head. "Just... just stay back, okay?"
She opened the door, holding her hand out for the pad she had to sign. As she signed, two strapping young men brought in three presents before returning to the van: a cage of three hens, a second cage of two turtledoves, and the partridge in a pear tree.
"Have a good day, Belle," the woman said. She smiled, her eyes sparkling. "My name's Jane, since your friends wanted to know. Jane Porter."
Belle slammed the door in Jane's face, her cheeks flaming as she turned on her friends, scowling. "Not one word out of you lot," she said.
"...I guess we could build a chicken coop," Ella said. "Maybe an aviary for the other birds as well?" She retrieved her copy of the lodge information from her room, skimming through it. "There's a... something I can't pronounce not so far from here. From what I can tell, it should have what we want. Hold that thought; the lodge has an attached barn. We should check it out."
Belle plucked the accompanying note from the cage holding the hens, reading it.
"He sent three French hens? Hens have nationalities now?" Belle said.
"In the 1860s a breed of chicken was developed in the vicinity of the Houdan and Faverolles villages," Elsa said. "For reasons lost to time, it was given the name of the latter village. The Faverolles is now primarily an exhibition chicken, although it was originally bred as an utility chicken—that is, for both eggs and meat. Those are Faverolles, and rather expensive compared to your standard chicken—about three times the price, last I knew."
"So we can't even get eggs or meat from them?" Vanellope said.
Belle didn't hear Vanellope's question, already cooing over her three Faverolles.
Gaston, my love,
I didn't even know France had its own breed of chicken! Lucky I had Elsa here to explain. She knows so much about the 1800s, it's scary. And Ella thinks we can build a chicken coop for them, and an aviary for the other birds.
But I'm confused—as are the other two partridges—by the third partridge. Not to mention, two more turtledoves? The first two turtledoves have welcomed the second pair, so that's a good thing. It would be terribly awkward if they fought.
For now, they're all singing in harmony.
I love you!
Saturday, December 29th, 2018.
To keep Vanellope from being underfoot the previous day, Tiana had volunteered herself and Vanellope to be in charge of keeping the construction crew fed and hydrated. The chicken coop and aviary had been completed faster as a result—the barn having been determined as insufficient for their needs, and not worth the trouble of the various repairs—but at the cost of a nine year old on a massive sugar rush.
At Merida's insistence both coop and aviary had been constructed to hold more birds than Belle had been gifted. It would be harder to expand later, should it be needed, and it wasn't that much more work if they did it now.
The anticipated knock came a little later than expected, and Belle glanced around the room.
"I don't suppose I could call upon our friendship to have you stay here?"
"When there's a hot British brunette to look at?" Rapunzel said. "Sisters may come before misters, but all bets are off when a hot British brunette is involved."
Belle sighed, letting them follow her; it was quicker than arguing. "...should I remind you that I'm a hot French brunette?"
"You're smoking hot, no one says different," Tiana said, glancing at Vanellope. "But... um, you don't like tacos. Maybe Jane does. We don't know for sure."
"But Belle does like tacos!" Vanellope said. "She went back for seconds last night, remember?"
Belle cut that conversation short by opening the door.
"So who's paying me ridiculous overtime to bring you these presents?" Jane said.
"My fiancé," Belle said, signing for the delivery. "He's wonderful."
"Given how much money I'm making, I'll agree with that," Jane said. "But... I prefer tacos."
"Why are we talking about tacos?" Vanellope said, sighing when no one answered.
Three strapping young lads brought in the presents: a cage of four blackbirds, a cage of three French hens, a cage of two turtledoves, and a partridge in a pear tree.
"More birds?" Belle said. "I don't have enough birds already? And why blackbirds? What would I even do with one blackbird, much less four?"
"You'd need twenty more of them for a pie," Vanellope said.
"Okay, and why blackbirds?"
"About the only thing I know about blackbirds," Pocahontas said, "is that because of their black feathers, they were originally called colly birds; colly being an archaic adjective to describe something either the colour of coal, or covered in coal dust."
"I need to put these birds away, and then send Gaston a message," Belle said.
I think twenty birds is quite enough for anyone, don't you? When I said I loved birds, I didn't mean I loved them nearly this much. I mean, they make such a mess, and an obnoxious racket to boot. And while the hens are beautiful, they're also rather useless. It's not like I can use the hens for eggs or meat, after all; they're chickens bred for exhibition. And on that note, they're ridiculously expensive! You shouldn't spend so much on me.
Really, I don't need anything else, least of all more birds.
Sunday, December 30th, 2018.
"Fine day, Sunday," Vanellope said, nomming on a bacon and egg roll. "In my opinion, best day of the week. Why is that, Mulan?"
"Because there's no post on Sundays?" Mulan said dryly.
"Right you are, Mulan," Vanellope said, cramming the rest of her roll into her mouth. "No post on Sundays!"
And for a time, it seemed that Gaston had perhaps listened to Belle's WhatsApp messages... at least until early afternoon, when the knock came, interrupting a ridiculously overcomplicated game of Trivial Monopoly.
Belle didn't even bother to ask her friends to stay behind this time.
"The roads aren't unsafe as such, but it was prudent to take extra care," Jane said. "We got here in the end, though. I'm sorry to have kept you waiting."
"That's not a problem," Belle said, watching as Jane's strapping young lads brought up a box from the well-known jewellery store Pandora, a cage of four blackbirds, a cage of three French hens, a cage of two turtledoves, and a partridge in a pear tree.
Belle accepted the Pandora box, letting the strapping young men take the birds inside. "Well, at least it's not more birds?" she said. She lifted the lid, her jaw dropping. Nestled inside were five gold rings, identical to the last gleam. She picked one up, hurriedly putting it back as she saw the ring in its entirety. She didn't want anyone else seeing them.
"Well, Gaston's an idiot," Jasmine said. "He's marrying you, and he doesn't know you don't wear rings?"
Elsa leaned over, whispering in Jasmine's ear. "Those rings aren't for her fingers."
"Where else—oh. Oh."
Jane smiled, eyeing Belle's chest, and Belle flushed, covering her chest with the Pandora box. Jane winked at her, and Belle turned around, fleeing to her room.
I don't even know where to start.
Well, the rings are great when you consider they're not birds. I am grateful you're off this bird kick; there are more avians than humans in this lodge now, and what was a lovely harmony is now just a racket. I have mentioned that, right? So thank you for listening to me at least a little. Just... please. No more birds. Of any kind. I mean it.
I do wish you'd thought a little more about the rings; now all the girls know I've got pierced nipples, and well... there was a reason I wasn't telling them!
Please, just... think a little, okay?
Monday, December 31st, 2018.
Whatever had been wrong with the roads the day before had cleared up, for the knock came at the usual time, and Belle stared at her scrambled eggs with smoked salmon before standing up and going to the door.
"Another delivery, Belle," Jane said.
"I'd figured," Belle said, signing off on the delivery.
Jane waved at the women inside as six strapping young lads each brought up a wagon containing a goose sitting on a makeshift nest. Belle began to hyperventilate, ignoring the entrance of the other gifts: a Pandora box of five gold rings, a cage of four blackbirds, a cage of three French hens, a cage of two turtledoves, and a partridge in a pear tree.
She didn't even register Jane kissing her cheek goodbye.
"Geese?" Belle said. "What do I need six geese for!?"
"They're laying eggs," Ella said. "There's bound to be a market for goose eggs."
"I don't have the time nor the money to properly set up a business that sells goose eggs! And where are we going to put them!?"
"We'll have to look at that barn again," Rapunzel said. "They can't stay in the lodge, that's for sure."
SIX FUCKING GEESE A-LAYING!?
Let me iterate once more, hopefully for the last time: I DO NOT WANT ANY MORE BIRDS. Where the fuck are you even getting these birds? I thought this was romantic, but it's really not. When you're stepping in bird shit because the birds keep getting out, romance is the furthest thing from anyone's mind.
And to think I was going to suggest we pierce my... well, not anymore!
Tuesday, January 1st, 2019.
They'd worked all day and into the night, but the most urgent of repairs had been completed on the barn, and the chicken coop and aviary relocated into it, along with the geese. None of the women had been up to staying up to ring in the New Year, or even to getting into their own beds, and they'd had an impromptu sleepover pile in the living room.
When the knock came, Belle dragged herself out of the pile, staggering to the door.
"Had a late night?" Jane said.
"Not for the usual reasons," Belle said, stifling a yawn. "It’s delivery time?"
"I'm afraid so," Jane said, with an apologetic tone.
Belle signed her name—or at least a passable scribble—and Jane clicked her fingers, summoning the strapping young lads.
Belle's shriek woke up everyone else, who came running, their jaws dropping in unison as they saw the seven trumpeter swans coming right for the lodge. The strapping young lads brought up the rear, bringing wagons of six egg laying geese, a Pandora box of five gold rings, a cage of four blackbirds, a cage of three French hens, a cage of two turtledoves, and a partridge in a pear tree.
"Um... don't trumpeter swans go south for winter?" Elsa said. "I read the E.B. White book in school, and I'm pretty sure they do."
"And they're native to North America," Pocahontas said. She shook her head.
The swans barged into the lodge, and Belle threw up her hands, going after them. The others exchanged looks, going to help.
None of us can shower without a goddamn swan trying to stick its beak where it's not wanted, so now we have to corral a swan or two so we can free up a bathroom, since they've taken over the various bathtubs and sinks and whatever else can hold water. What part of "no more birds" did you not understand!?
Oh, and one of the geese took a shit in my Louboutins, and obviously, they're ruined. I can't get the shit out for love or money.
You fucking asshole... those Louboutins were the last thing my mother gave me before she died, and... anything else, Gaston! Anything else, it wouldn't matter! But those shoes were the last thing I had from her! I wear them at New Year's—her favourite holiday—to feel close to her, and you took that away!
God... do you even care what this is doing to me?
Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019.
When the knock came at five in the morning, everyone bar Vanellope was still awake, having discovered that fighting swans for bathroom space was a very invigorating exercise.
"I don't want to go to the door," Belle said. "I can't even imagine what I'll find."
The knock came again, along with Jane's voice. "Belle? Please, I can't leave until I've made the delivery."
Belle whimpered, and went to the door.
Jane was resplendent in her high-vis outfit, and Belle gave her a hasty scribble.
There was a procession on the road, and Belle squinted. It was a line of cows, eight of them to be precise, each accompanied by a woman in a milkmaid outfit. They reached the front lawn of the lodge, and commenced their milking.
"Milkmaids," Belle said. "I guess the cows can go in the barn, but where the hell am I supposed to fit the milkmaids—"
The seven trumpeter swans raced past her, and the strapping young lads stopped behind Jane, bringing wagons of six egg laying geese, a Pandora box of five gold rings, a cage of four blackbirds, a cage of three French hens, a cage of two turtledoves, and a partridge in a pear tree.
"How much do I have to pay you to make this all go away?" Belle said.
"Sorry, honey," Jane said. "I'm just a delivery girl." She blew Belle a kiss, heading back to her van.
Milkmaids. Hah, they're no more milkmaids than I'm a 17th century girl kept prisoner in a castle by a feared beastial man. Where the fuck did you find them, huh? I can't go anywhere in this lodge without stepping in shit, one of those turtledoves took a shit in my hair, and THOSE FUCKING SWANS have made showering impossible.
I've half a mind to punch you.
Thursday, January 3rd, 2019.
The day passed in relative peace, but everyone was wary of what that meant. And well it was that they were wary, for in the early afternoon, Jane returned, her familiar knock introducing more tension into the lodge. Belle stormed to the door, scribbling her name.
Nine ladies came dancing up the road, followed by the eight milkmaids with their cows. Seven trumpeter swans were coming, making the usual racket, and as ever, the strapping young lads with wagons of six egg laying geese, a Pandora box of five gold rings, a cage of four blackbirds, a cage of three French hens, a cage of two turtledoves, and a partridge in a pear tree.
"Maybe I should use the rings to wring their fucking necks," Belle said. "At least then they won't shit everywhere!"
"Um... you know you've got bird shit in your hair?" Jane said.
"Of course I have bird shit in my hair. It's even between my tits, for fuck's sake. And I can't get near even a sink to clean up, because of all the fucking swans!"
"You're still gorgeous," Jane said.
Belle stared at her. "I just told you a bird shat on my tits, and you're flirting with me?"
Belle groaned, going back inside the lodge.
"...that was a better reaction than I'd expected," Jane said to the general population of birds.
So I imagine you got the dancing ladies from a similar place as the milkmaids? Because I am so fucking done with this, I have no words. There are too many swans; we can't even get to a sink. We don't have clean clothes anymore, because the bird shit's everywhere. Rapunzel is cutting off her hair, for fuck's sake, and she's been growing that for over two fucking decades!
Whatever the fuck you've been planning, CALL IT OFF. I mean it!
Friday, January 4th, 2019.
"I want to call Shank," Merida said.
"What good is that going to do?" Ella said. "She's doing the auto racing thing; unless she doesn't make it past the trials, she can't come here, and she's too good to flunk the trials. And I'm not sure I'd want to see the kind of people Shank can contact."
"Gaston's presents have pretty much destroyed the lodge," Tiana said. "I quite like the idea of setting whoever Shank can find on Gaston."
Belle didn't even protest this, which she might have once, Gaston being her fiancé and all.
The knock came around four in the afternoon, as expected. And with much trepidation, the group trooped to the front door to see what fresh hell Gaston had deigned to visit upon them this day. Jane was standing there at the door, and she looked truly embarrassed to be there. Belle signed for her delivery yet again, and they waited.
Ten men came a leaping along the road, interweaving with the nine dancing ladies. It was wonderful artistry, and might well have been appreciated under other circumstances. Other circumstances, like perhaps a ballet, or a flash mob.
"Are those men drunk?" Belle said.
"Probably; they're lords of some estate or some such," Jane said. "Oh, here come the birds. How very original, really."
"No. No, I am not dealing with more fucking birds. I will pay you to take the birds anywhere else!"
"I'd get fired, Belle, and I need this job. Believe you me, I wish that wasn't the case."
And so the delivery went on.
Eight milkmaids set up with their cows, milking. Seven swans came to fight for what water could be found. The strapping young lads with wagons of six egg laying geese, a Pandora box of five gold rings, a cage of four blackbirds, a cage of three French hens, a cage of two turtledoves, and a partridge in a pear tree.
Belle looked at Jane, a strange look on her face, before whipping out her phone, snapping a picture of Jane.
See this girl?
You're torturing her as much as you are me with this, and you're a fucking asshole.
Saturday, January 5th, 2019.
However overused it may have been, there was a reason Amazing Grace was a beautiful song, and perennial favourite. As a true, proud Scotswoman, Merida claimed that this reason was because of the traditional bagpipe solo that told anyone within several miles that Amazing Grace was about to be sung. However, even Merida had to admit that there was nothing beautiful about being woken up at five in the morning by bagpipes, whatever they were playing.
She tore downstairs, yanked the door open, and shouted, "Get tae fuck, ye radge wee shite, and up yer—Christ, Belle!"
Belle made her way to the door, pressing one hand to her face.
Eleven pipers were working away at their bagpipes as ten lords leapt about, weaving through nine ladies dancing around the eight milkmaids milking. Seven swans went for a swim in the lodge's frozen over pool, while six geese kept on laying eggs. Five gold rings waited in a box, four blackbirds called out, and of course, one musn't forget the three French hens, two turtledoves, nor the partridge in a pear tree.
Belle pulled out her phone.
You're a fucking uncooked twatwaffle, you mutton-faced simpleton. What the fuck is wrong with you? Are you the bottom bitch of a twenty-dicked totem pole, or perhaps, a coprophagic ouroboros?
Thanks for ruining what was meant to be an amazing holiday, you arse-faced wankstain!
She hit send, turning to Jane. "May I try something?"
"Uh, I guess?"
Belle pulled Jane to her, kissing her hard. Jane's eyes went wide, and she gasped with shock, moaning as she pressed herself flush to Belle.
Belle broke the kiss. "Okay, now I see why all my friends are lesbians."
Sunday, January 6th, 2019.
This letter is to inform you that our client, Miss Belle Miroir, is terminating her engagement with you, and furthermore, returning to you the gifts you have sent her, in the following quantities:
Twelve (12) drummers drumming;
Twenty-two (22) pipers piping;
Thirty (30) lords a-leaping;
Thirty-six (36) ladies dancing;
Forty (40) milkmaids milking (each with their own cow);
Forty-two (42) swans 'swimming';
Forty-two (42) geese a-laying;
Forty (40) gold rings;
Thirty-six (36) blackbirds, or colly birds;
Thirty (30) French hens, of the breed Faverolles;
Twenty-two (22) turtledoves;
Twelve (12) partridges, each in a pear tree.
Included with this letter is a bill for the reconstruction of the holiday lodge damaged by your gifts, a bill for the damages sustained by the ladies renting the lodge, and a restraining order sought by Miss Miroir, that you might not importune her further. Please see to it that you do not seek out Miss Miroir henceforth, and that you pay the bills within thirty days.
Attorney at law,
Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe.