Light It Up (Burn It Down) 3/?, (2016-04-30)

Ben is dreading the next communication from the mirror so much that when it finally happens he is completely taken aback by the question’s tone:

“Have you ever met a dragon?” The paint on stone asks, almost innocently.

Almost.

Ben hesitates, “No,” he says, hoping this doesn’t turn into some other disheartening quest for a disheartening truth. Or worse, an automatic failure–yet another blue petal falling off the rose.

The letters change:

“Ask them what they love the most,” it demands, bizarrely, and refuses to clarify when Ben asks the mirror to do so.

How is supposed to ask a creature he’s never met a question which, even to him, seems awfully personal?

But, well, he supposes it could be worse. All he has to do is find a dragon, befriend it, and ask them a question–how hard could that be?

Here’s hoping he hasn’t jinxed himself.

Actually, surprisingly, it’s rather easy; the first step anyway. While there are no dragons in Auradon–for obvious reasons beyond the dwindling of magic in the world–Ben at least paid attention enough to know that dragons have very different reputations in other kingdoms. And although Ben wasn’t close friends with her, he was friendly enough with Lonnie in school that he doesn’t need an official appointment with the Chinese ambassador in order meet up for lunch.

“You want to meet Mushu?” Lonnie asks, incredulous laughter in her voice, an additional pleasure on top of her amusement at the flock of paparazzi trying to get a good shot of their table.

He hopes the tabloids won’t print something about an engagement–his public relations team still has to put down the occasional story about his and Audrey’s supposed on again off again romance, or his secret unrequited love for Princess Melody, or even random people claiming to be pregnant with his child.

“Yes?” Ben asks in response, because he doesn’t know why that would be funny.

“Really?” she says, starting to become honestly confused, and this is getting ridiculous. It’s not like they’re playing Questions. Why doesn’t she think he’s serious?

“Sorry,” she says sheepishly, “It’s just that given Auradon’s… thing… about dragons, I figured…” she ends with a shrug.

During political negotiations, she is a far more eloquent speaker, but right now she is not the ambassador of China. She is the woman who was his chemistry lab partner in high school. The girl who he once ate an entire batch of cookies with in the middle of the night because she was feeling homesick and and he realized he’d never know what that was like. The girl who offered to punch Audrey on his behalf when he found out she was cheating on him with Chad Charming in senior year and didn’t know what to do–he declined the offer, but he did go to prom with her that year as friends and she spent the entire time talking about her little cousins while he confessed that he was afraid he was going to end up being a terrible king.

He doesn’t quite know how to explain to her that him meeting Mushu will help him not be a terrible king.

“Please,” he says, because being reminded of yet another one of his kingdom’s failings–and how far off is a cultural fear of dragons from being bigotry against a sentient species?–has keenly reminded him of why they are having this lunch in the first place.

“Well, I suppose don’t see why not,” Lonnie says with an entirely different sort of shrug, “We can go after this,” she adds, before resuming to eat her meal.

Ben pauses, confused, “Go… to China?”

She looks up at him, brow raised, incredulously amused again, “No… go to the embassy,” you idiot, she doesn’t say, “Now let me enjoy this very expensive steak you are paying for.”

Costly, yes, but still–surprisingly easy.

Ben has been to the Chinese embassy before, but always in his official capacity as king of Auradon and mostly for various galas where the name of the game was Dont Start A War And Don’t Get Engaged. Somehow he’s more nervous now, following after Lonnie as she leads him to a dragon.

It’s not fear–while he’s not completely free of cultural bias against dragons–he at least knows that this particular dragon isn’t going to try to kill him. He really doesn’t want to mess this up, for a lot of reasons, really. Lonnie is his doing him a favor, letting him meet Mushu, and he doesn’t want to offend either of them by saying something awful. And there is the whole matter of this being another one of the magic mirror’s strange quests–none of which he’s managed to answer or solve correctly. Yet.

“Mushu!” Lonnie calls out, after directing Ben to take a seat in one of the conference rooms and waving one of the embassy staff for some refreshments. Apparently the dragon has free reign of the embassy–at least when galas aren’t being hosted–because Lonnie just takes a seat as well and waits for him to arrive.

Ben hears Mushu before he sees him, a light staccato of claws against the floor, and a beleaguered voice from about ankle high complaining, “Xiao Lon! Girl, I know you did not just raise your voice as if that would summon me like that old cow!” And then a darting stripe of red winds it’s way up the table leg to stand in front of Lonnie.

“It worked, didn’t it?” she says, flippant, but brushing a finger down his back apologetically, nonetheless.

“Hmph, I am unappreciated around here,” he says, still beleaguered, but allowing her petting. Until the dragon sets eyes on Ben, “Now who’s this? You didn’t say anything about company. I would have put on a little show–a little smoke, a little fire. Some pizazz! Instant crowd pleaser,” he says, his claws tap tap tapping against the wood of the table as he makes his way towards Ben. He tries not to tense up too much, because no matter how small or friendly Mushu may be, he is still a fire breathing creature with claws and fangs.

Then again, for a good chunk of his life, Ben’s father was also a creature with claws and fangs–and while he couldn’t literally breathe fire, he was neither small or friendly.

“I’m Ben, Lonnie and I went to school together,” Ben introduces himself, because right now that’s who he is and his title doesn’t matter.

“Oh, oh I see,” Mushu says slyly, massive grin showing off his relatively massive teeth, “Someone’s trying to get my blessings. I don’t know, Xiao Lon, this one doesn’t look like he can take on Cri-Kee much less an entire army of Huns. But I guess, since you’re asking, unlike Xiao Lon’s dad who just went off and proposed and wouldn’t even let me plan her wedding…”

“No! Mushu, that’s not what he’s here for,” Lonnie says, embarrassed, because it’s one thing for tabloids to speculate about possible engagements, it’s an entirely different thing for family to do so.

Huh. Family.

Ben’s pretty sure he knows the answer to the question he came here to ask. But he still asks anyway.

Mushu looks at him, the expression of incredulous amusement on his reptilian face somehow the same as Lonnie’s, “What do I love the most? Boy, that is the strangest ice breaker I have ever heard. And, frankly, stupid. The answer’s obvious, even a cross eyed, blind folded, dumb hat wearing bureaucrat can see it,” the dragon says, dashing over to Lonnie to give her a hug, “I love baby girl and baby girl’s baby girl the most.”

He goes back to the castle after an additional three hours of talking to Lonnie and Mushu and heads straight for the magic mirror. The same sentence is there, not a question but a demand… or maybe a suggestion.

He tells the mirror about his day, about his meeting with dragons who love each other because that’s what family does. He’s not sure if he succeeded but he’s grateful for the experience regardless, so when the image changes from paint and stone to glowing rose he’s calm.

But instead of a petal falling, marking another failure, something strange happens: a pair of hands, one of them holding a knife, reaches into the frame and carefully cuts off a thorn.

~

A/N: Whoaaaaa, I bet you thought I forgot about this. Well guess what? I didn’t! I just hella procrastinated. 😛

Anyway, most of my Lonnie / Xiao Lon feels can be found here, but basically: I headcanon that Lonnie’s real name is Xiao Lon aka Little Dragon and the westernization would just to make Lon cutesy. Hence Lonnie.

Light It Up (Burn It Down), 2/? (2016-03-06)

Ben doesn’t mention the blue rose until Chip catches him staring at the magic mirror. And, given Chip’s history with floating magical flowers, his reaction is completely justified.

“I’m fine!” Ben protests as Chip bodily hauls him to the Fairy Godmother.

“Tell that to my porcelain childhood!” Chip yells back, panic making his word choice odd but no less accurate.

By the time Fairy Godmother gets to her office, she is greeted to the sight of her king being held in a headlock by his bodyguard. She smiles, even though this is not the first time she’s seen such a thing.

The situation quickly become serious, however, when the topic matter is explained to her.

“I’m not going to be losing my limbs any time soon, am I?” Chip asks, though what he’s really asking is if this curse is the same as the one from his childhood.

Fairy Godmother examines the magic mirror, the image it contains, and her brow furrows in concentration and concern.

“It’s not the same, that much I know for sure,” she says slowly, as if carefully laying down the foundation for something huge she doesn’t even know of, “Roses were never really my specialty, and curses even less so, but I have been researching ever since the jewelry store robbery…” She purses her lips, “I’ll let you know what I find. Until then… for how long has this been going on?”

“Ten days,” Ben says, and immediately gets an indignant glare from Chip.

“Well, since then only the first petal has fallen, correct?”

“Yes,” Ben nods, and only feels the slightest twinge of worry when the Fairy Godmother doesn’t say anything in response to that.

“I’ll hold on to this for now,” she says instead, gesturing at the mirror, and not so subtly dismissing them.

Ben, despite being her king, was also once her student, so he leaves. And where he goes, Chip follows.

The thing about most curses is that they are fairly easy to undo–but only under very specific parameters. The more powerful the curse, the simpler the cure… and vice versa.

But she doesn’t know what this is. As far as she can tell, nothing has happened to Ben–yet–or to anyone else.

Unless the rose is meant to throw her off the right track. Have her make the obvious connection between this spell and the one that afflicted Ben’s father–wasting her time trying to undo one curse only for it to turn out to be another.

The petals must mean something, though. Maybe not a countdown to escalation but a countdown to activation. Something with such a long activation time would surely be incredibly strong.

In which case… an activation of what, exactly? And what triggers a petal falling?

Before she can research the answers, the image in the mirror changes. Gone is the rose; replacing it is a painted stone wall with a question of its own:

“Who did Laurette Bibeau hurt?”

She brings the mirror to Ben, who reads the question and is immediately alarmed. Considering the last one led to a murder investigation, it makes sense to expect the worse.

Captain de Châteaupers is eager to jump on it, even with so little to go on–it must be galvanizing to see the perpetrator of his last case walk free even with all the impeccable detective work and evidence against Chad Charming.

Still, even determination and skill does not make up for the lack of information on Laurette Bibeau, much less her possible unknown victim. The Knight hits a dead end within the week–the only Bibeau is an old bar in a small village in the outskirts of the capitol.

Ben checks the mirror obsessively, worriedly–if a failed conviction caused a petal to fall, what would a stalled investigation?

Thankfully, a lead appears. From the queen, in fact, visiting her son for their biweekly lunch. He tells her about the question–but not the curse–more as a way to vent than anything else, so it’s surprising when Belle solves it.

“Laurette Bibeau?” She responds in surprise, “I haven’t heard that name in years.”

Ben stares at his mother in shock, “You know who she is?”

“I did grow up with her after all. She and her sisters were the only other girls my age in our village,” Belle explains with a small nostalgic smile, “We weren’t that close, but I know none of them would hurt anyone,” She pauses, considering, “The triplets did have terrible taste in men, but in their defense, it was a very small village.”

Ben squints in confusion, “I don’t understand,” he has no idea where this is going.

“Well, all of them wanted to marry Gaston when we were younger,” at this point, Belle’s mouth twists into a frown, “Of course, only Laurette actually succeeded.”

“Where is she now?”

His mother looks at him, incredibly sad, “She married Gaston,” she says, instead, as if that were answer enough.

In a way, it is.

Ben sits in his study, head propped up in his hands, staring blankly at the magic mirror on his desk. The sky has already gone dark, but he has yet to turn on the lights in his room. Only the low gleam emitting from the mirror illuminates the room.

He’s already passed the information on to the captain–who will continue his investigation out of professionalism by finding and interviewing the remaining two triplets–but Ben is quite certain as to what he will find: nothing.

Laurette Gaston née Bibeau has hurt nobody, that’s the point. She’s hurt no one and yet she was exiled to the Isle of the Lost because of who she married.

“Why are you asking me these things?” Ben asks futilely, fingers pulling at his hair in frustration, “Why are you making me do this?”

It’s rhetorical, of course, Ben knows why. The kingdom of Auradon is imperfect, it’s justice system clearly flawed, and these questions are making him confront these facts. Who better to correct these problems than the king? But no child wants to know this about his inheritance, about the home he grew up in.

The mirror does not answer him.

“Laurette Bibeau hurt no one,” he says, then watches in fascination as the image wavers and changes, like the reflection on the surface of moving water.

“So what?” the mirror asks, flippant and cruel and goading.

Ben is confused, startled–what does that even mean?

“So,” he begins, “if she wants to return to Auradon, then I can arrange it.”

The image flickers and twists, back to the blue rose. Another petal falls.

“No, wait!” Ben says, “What did I do wrong? What do you want?”

Again, the mirror does not answer him. He resists the urge to throw it against the wall.

Four days later, after the latest Isle barge run, Princess Melody visits Ben in person, bearing a package.

“Normally, I’d say something about how I don’t appreciate being a delivery person. But I think for this I’ll make an exception,” she sets the box on Ben’s desk and steps back, looking away to give him privacy as he unpacks it. Which he appreciates when the contents become clear.

Inside is an urn. The plaque reads: Laurette Gaston née Bibeau, Beloved Wife and Mother.

Date of death, three years ago.

Ben thinks maybe he understands why the second petal fell.

~

A/N: This took me a very long time. So I don’t feel guilty about being ten minutes late for my daily post 😛

Also, in case you didn’t catch it, Laurette is one of the three “Bimbettes” (aka the three swooning blonde sisters) from the Beauty and the Beast movie. Why did I choose Laurette? Well, just use the search function on the wiki page and read about her. SHE WAS CLEARLY THE MOST AMBITIOUS AND CUNNING OF ALL THREE SISTERS. Why did I choose Bibeau as their last name? Well, I basically looked up French surnames, went to the part of the list that started with “Bi” and found one that means ‘heavy drinker’ and considering they’re apparently waitresses at the village tavern it seemed to suit.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed 😀

(Still no Carlos yet–sorry about that @walker2702)

Light It Up (Burn It Down), 1/? (2016-01-25)

A little over four years into Ben’s reign, the Isle of the Lost goes dark.

In a literal sense, it’s always been dark: the island never lent itself well to development, and so only a small area was installed with power lines; the sun, too, was almost constantly obscured by fog. But now it’s also figuratively dark.

It takes two weeks for Ben to be informed that the cameras monitoring the most populated part of the Isle have stopped broadcasting. That the last barge of supplies has yet to come back.

The Isle of the Lost is still a part of his kingdom, even if it’s residents are not necessarily his people. He has a responsibility.

And then, news of burglaries and thefts come in. Small things at first–some food, some blankets, clothes. It’s disheartening, but not necessarily bewildering–even a prosperous kingdom like Auradon has homeless people.

Ben doesn’t think it’s related at first.

Except it keeps happening. More frequently and in greater quantities. And it spreads to other stores–a pharmacy, an electronics store, hardware store, a plant nursery–to the point where finally the police must admit to their king that they cannot stop it.

This series of crimes are the work of a well organized and strategic mind, these thefts are pointed and specific. It is no longer the actions of a single, desperate person trying to survive, but rather a group of people. A group whose motivations and background are completely unknown. A group who has yet to leave any evidence beyond the lack of clues.

Then a jewelry store is broken into.

While this particular burglary still has a distinct lack of mistakes on the thieves’ parts, it does bring up a lead. Two actually.

The jewelry store heist finally pushes the case up from minor crime to grand larceny, meaning that an actual detective is put in charge. The detective is an old man, more prone to talking about past cases than current ones–the old days when things were actually exciting–but that tendency proves to be beneficial. And worrying.

“If I didn’t know she was trapped on that rock, I’d think this was de Vil.”

Of course, that information isn’t nearly as worrying as the other lead. Because the actual jewels stolen? They weren’t the most expensive or the prettiest or even, in contrast, the easiest to grab and pawn off.

No, the gems stolen were done so for a specific reason, the Fairy Godmother says solemnly, those gems are ingredients for certain, powerful, magic spells.

Or curses.

After a month of seemingly random thefts and silence from the Isle, a message is sent to Ben.

Technically? All of the glass in the castle shatters except for one lone mirror. The hand mirror Ben’s mother received as a gift from his father–one of the few magical items in the castle.

Though the household is spooked, nobody is injured, which gives Ben a tentative sense of optimism when he finally sees the message:

“Where is Mr. Smee?” The mirror asked in stark letters on gray stone. No matter what Ben said, it would show him nothing else.

But what a strange message: unlike the rest of Captain Hook’s crew, Mr. Smee had not been banished to the Isle despite being the Jolly Roger’s boatswain and thus fairly high ranking amongst the pirates. The Darling family’s defense of him as an individual made it so that he could have lived a completely new life in Auradon. But Smee’s deep loyalty, even to a man as evil and cruel as James Hook, led to him working on supply barges to the Isle of the Lost.

… such as the last one that had yet to return. Did he defect? Was Mr. Smee somehow in charge of the radio silence from the Isle? Is that what the message is trying to convey?

Running a kingdom is not easy, and while Ben has many responsibilities as king, many matters he has to delegate–to his councilors, to the other royal families in charge of their regions–but he thinks he ought to check into this matter himself.

The nearest point to the Isle of the Lost is the resort town of Charmington. As the name implies, it’s under the rule of House Charming. One of the kingdom’s less… cooperative royal families. Ben remembers not being keen on Chad Charming during their Auradon Prep days, and his father certainly never enjoyed interacting with Charles Charming.

Of course, while that worked well for his father’s “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy in regards to the Isle of the Lost, it’s making this investigation rather… tedious for Ben.

Oh, he’s still going to be inspecting the warehouses in charge of shipping supplies to the Isle–he’s king, there’s not much he can’t do in Auradon–but apparently Chad is going to be dogging his every step. As a “guide,” of course.

This does backfire when Ben actually sees the warehouses though, “We’re sending them garbage?” He asks, his outraged question bouncing off the walls. The stench of the so-called supplies is disgusting, but not as much as what it means.

Ben knows that the Isle depends entirely on the barges–there’s a limited amount of arable land and useable resources, even if they had the tools to do anything–and it’s frankly nauseating that they’ve been living off of Auradon’s scraps. No, not even: Auradon’s waste.

Has this been happening all along?

Chad’s face is pinched, brow furrowed almost in irritation at being caught. But it completely shutters in fear, going pale, when Ben asks the question he came to Charmington for:

“Where is Mr. Smee?”

The Knights of Auradon is a law enforcement agency beholden to the greater good of the kingdom, not royalty. Ben is relieved when Captain de Châteaupers arrives because he knows the matter will be in good hands. The Charmington police department cannot be trusted for this: as it is, he’s pretty sure an innocent man will be sent to prison in Chad’s place anyway. The Charming family can certainly afford the best lawyers, given how much they made by shipping trash instead of supplies and pocketing the money for themselves.

Ben leaves the town, a sour taste in his mouth, and he channels his anger into reassigning the Isle of the Lost supply route. The House Atlantica is fair, and though their region is farther from the Isle, they have a stronger ocean presence. Negotiations with Princess Melody go well–at least one thing in this situation is.

The Knights find the body four days after they begin their investigation, wrapped in tarp and weighed down by cement blocks beneath the pier. It’s bloated and decayed, a horrifying thing on which the coroner can only give estimates. Over a month, for sure, but more exact is impossible.

It’s enough, though. Enough to connect the burglaries and the message. He doesn’t know how to control his mother’s mirror–it’s still displaying the same question–but he takes time out of his busy day to read the Knights’ reports out loud, hoping it will appease whoever is on the other end. Whoever is demanding justice for a man that would have been forgotten otherwise.

When Princess Melody sends word of her House’s first successful supply run to the Isle, she also sends news that the missing Charmington barge was sent back as well–the captain unharmed but, somehow, missing his memories of the past two months. She also includes the encounter her House’s captain had with the lone islander who greeted him on the docks.

The captain pointedly remarked on how foggy it had been, how only the docks jutting into the ocean was visible, the rest of the Isle hidden from sight. He described a young woman, purple hair and green eyes, and her brief message.

“The supplies are appreciated, but we are not appeased.”

An alarming statement, Ben thinks, upon hearing it. He shoots a look at his mother’s mirror, never far from him these days. Nothing changes, it still asks after Mr. Smee, even though Ben continues to read aloud to it updates on the case.

For a few weeks, he doesn’t quite forget it, but he is no longer so actively concerned. The burglaries have stopped completely–likely because they already have what they need–and the justice system chugs along, the case switching hands from Knights to lawyers.

Yet again, Ben is reminded of how imperfect his kingdom is, when Chad Charming walks free and an Andrew Baker is thrown into jail instead. Something is rotten in Auradon, and something must be done about it.

From the corner of his eye, Ben spots the mirror’s image changing. When Ben gives it his full attention, he sees the question disappear and, in its place, a blue rose appears, floating upright. A single petal wilts and falls off, drifting slowly, ominously, and downwards out of view.

~

A/N: I’ll be honest, @walker2702, your prompt spawned an absolutely fascinating AU in my head which kind of blindsided me as I was writing it.

Like–I had no idea Mr. Smee was going to be mentioned, much less murdered by Chad Charming. I had no idea there was going to be a rose curse. I had no idea Carlos wasn’t even going to appear in this even though I kept writing with the hope that he would appear.

So I guess this means I’ll be writing a part two for this?

😀 I’m excited, I missed writing Descendants. So thanks, walker2702!

‘we have magic on our side’ Ben says almost warning, ‘so do i’ i say with a slight condescending tone ‘and all three of my magic users could utterly destroy the fairy godmother’ Carlos Ain’t No Rest

Well, walker2702, I’m sorry to say that Ain’t No Rest is on a hiatus, but I do greatly appreciate this prompt. So here’s a different AU–hope you enjoy reading it, because it was certainly a lot of fun to write!

[I know the drabble doesn’t have the prompt in it though it is largely influential in the development and feel. Hopefully this means I will write a part two that does have that cool exchange in it]