Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Quick Update

Hello to all my readers! :)  I just have time for a quick post today.  Any of you who read Tess and Maggie's blog or Beast'sbelle's blog know that things have been pretty chaotic these past few days.  Getting to the computer has been a challenge.

I'm sure you're all wondering how I've been since my amazing Christmas Eve.  Everything has been wonderful! :)  I feel like I'm floating in a cloud all day long.  Robby just has to smile at me and it makes my whole day brighter.  I think I'm smitten. ;)

Rapunzel and Eugene were really excited when they heard the news.  Rapunzel laughed and hugged me, and Eugene grinned from ear to ear and gave Robby a handshake and a slap on the back.  I'd never thought about what my infatuation with Ben might have done to our little group.  Rapunzel, Eugene, Robby and I are like 4 peas in a pod. ;)

Speaking of Ben, I haven't seen much of him since my confession by Robby's bedside.  He seems to be doing okay, though.  I think he's just a bit embarrassed by the whole scenario.  I truly hope that he can find happiness in his life as well, whether he ends up with another doll or not.

We haven't set a date for a wedding or even talked about a wedding yet.  (I'm sure you've all been wondering about it!) ;)  We know we want to get married eventually, but we want to take things slowly and enjoy this new stage of our relationship for a while.  Personally, I think a summer wedding would be lovely, but I want to make sure that works for what Robby has planned, too. :)

We've also decided to wait on kissing.  I want our first kiss to be really special.  However, I do NOT want our first kiss to be in front of a bunch of other dolls, so we'll kiss before our wedding day.  Robby suggested that we could share our first kiss when we're officially engaged.  I think that's a great idea!  That will make it extra special and seal our commitment to each other, but it will also be a private occurrence between the two of us.  I mean, what if I miss his lips or something?  That would be really embarrassing in front of everyone else. ;)

I'm afraid that's all I have time for at the moment.  Beast'sbelle has to use the computer...again.  I'll keep all of you in touch!! :)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas to all of my readers!!  This Christmas has been the best I've ever known!

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  I need to get you all caught up first! :}

Robby continued his slow recovery process throughout the month of December.  By earlier this week, he had gotten strong enough to make it all the way down the hallway with assistance.

At this point, he still has Eugene, Ben or I to help him walk for long distances, but he can manage short distances by himself.  As Ben predicted, he has a pretty bad limp.  I don't mind it, though.  I've been so proud of the way he's persevered.  He's had his good days and bad days, but he hasn't given up.

Earlier this week, I decided that I wanted to do something special for Robby for Christmas.  By the middle of the week, Beast'sbelle and her family had already left to spend Christmas elsewhere, so all I had to do was coordinate things with the other dolls in the house.  I decided that Christmas Eve would be the best time for my plan.

I waited impatiently for Christmas Eve to arrive.  When Eugene made an offhand comment about spending Christmas Eve all together, Rapunzel must have noticed my panicked expression, because she reminded Eugene that it would be good for them to spend Christmas Eve with their daughters.  He looked a bit confused at her urgent tone, but went along with it.  Thankfully, Robby didn't seem to notice anything was afoot.

At long last, the big night came.  I dressed in my fanciest dress and went over to see Robby.  He had decided to stay on Beast'sbelle's bed while they were gone.  Tess needed her bed for her friends and family that had come over, and it was still too difficult for Robby to get down from any of the high shelves without a human in the house.  Beast'sbelle had very graciously set up a small pile of boxes right next to the bed so he could get down without human assistance.

"Merry Christmas Eve, Robby," I said cheerfully.

He looked up in surprise.  I didn't miss the look of admiration in his eyes.  "Merry Christmas Eve to you, too," he said pleasantly.

"Would interested in maybe...taking a walk?" I asked nervously.

His smile faded.  "What, is this an extra assignment from Ben or something?"

I blushed.  "No, not at all!  I just thought it might be fun to go see the big Christmas tree in the living room."

"The Christmas tree?  Wow, so we're going for marathon length tonight," he said teasingly.

I was disappointed.  "If you're not up to it, then..."

"Belle, it's okay...I'm just teasing," he said gently.

I looked up at him.

"I wouldn't mind, but we may have to take it in stages.  I haven't walked that far yet."

I beamed.  "That's what will make it so special.   It'll be a milestone for you."

He eyed me suspiciously.  "Are you okay?  You seem kind of flushed."

I tried to keep my face calm.  "I'm fine," I said casually.  "Are you ready?"

Robby looked amused.  "What, right this minute?"

"Why not?" I asked with a grin.

"All right," he agreed, "but you're making me nervous."

It was a long walk to the living room.  I couldn't help but compare it to some of our other rambles together.  Several times, we had to stop and let Robby rest his leg.  Even with all of the breaks, he still had to lean on me for the last half of the trek across the living room.

At last, we made it to the tree.   It was such a beautiful sight.  I loved seeing the shining Christmas lights in the darkness of the room.  I led Robby over to the spot I'd prepared.  I'd snagged one of Beast'sbelle's pillowcases and made it into a makeshift bed of sorts, so that Robby could rest after his long walk.

I helped him sit since we'd been walking for so long (he didn't seem to object) and backed away.  "You made it!" I told him proudly.

Robby was breathing heavily, but there was a smile on his face.  "I did," he agreed.  "I may regret it tomorrow, but I did it."

"You can lay down for a bit, if you want.  I know Ben said that's a better way for you to rest your joint than a sitting position."

Robby wrinkled his nose.  "I hate having to lay down all the makes me feel old."  Despite his joking, his face looked unnaturally pale and I could see he was favoring his bad leg.  Without any further complaints, he lowered himself onto his back and let out a sigh.

I sat down near his head and looked up at the tree.  "Isn't it beautiful?" I said happily.

"Yes," he said with unusual warmth.  I looked down to find him staring at me instead of the tree.  He quickly averted his gaze as soon as I noticed.  I hid a smile.

We sat in comfortable silence for a while.  The lights twinkled merrily.  In the stillness of the quiet house, we could hear the 18" dolls singing Christmas carols around their little tree.  That was a switch!  Normally it was all of the Belle dolls doing the singing (and Maggie was usually complaining about it).  I could just make out the faint strains of "What Child is This?"

I glanced over at Robby again.  He was lying very still, listening to the singing himself.  "There's something so magical about Christmas," he said slowly.  "I don't know what it is, but I always feel the most alive at Christmas time."

I nodded in agreement.  "So do I."  I realized I needed to say what I'd planned on saying.  I cleared my throat nervously.  "I know I already apologized a while back, but...I just wanted to make sure you knew how sorry I was about our argument.  I know you were just trying to look out for me.  I shouldn't have said what I said."

Robby let out a deep sigh.  "I'm sorry for interfering, Belle."  He looked up at me.  "I honestly hope things work out with you and Ben.  I'm afraid I was being a bit selfish with some of my advice.  I was thinking more of my own feelings than yours.  Ben's a good guy, and I'm sure he'll come around soon and see what a find you are."  He tried to smile, but it ended up looking more like a grimace.

I wanted to tell him right there.  I love you!  But my mouth wouldn't form the words.  I looked down at my hands.  "Ben is a great guy," I agreed, "but I've recently come to realize that he's not someone I want to spend the rest of my life with."

You could have heard a pin drop in the room.  It was as if neither one of us knew what to say next.

Finally, Robby broke the silence.  "The truth is..." he paused and fingered the end of his cravat.  "The truth is that I've loved you almost since the moment I first laid eyes on you."

I blinked in surprise at this confession.

He didn't look at me, but kept going.  "It was so hard to see you doing everything you could to make Ben notice you, when he seemed so clueless.  And here I was, ready to love you just as you were, but you didn't see it."

I covered my mouth with my hand to keep from crying in happiness.

"Now, though," Robby continued, "I'm so thankful you have someone like Ben, someone you could have a real future with.  What do I have to offer you now?  I wasn't much to begin with, and now I'm even less than I was."  He slowly pushed himself up into a sitting position in his restlessness.

I couldn't take it anymore.  "Robby," I said in a voice choked with tears.

He reluctantly turned to face me.

"I'm not interested in Ben.  I..." I took a moment to compose myself and collect my thoughts.  "When Beast'belle brought you home that day, I was terrified.  I thought you might not make it, and...I started thinking about what life would be like without you."  My tears spilled onto my cheeks.  "I couldn't bear the thought."

Robby took a deep, shuddering breath.  "Belle, I have nothing.  I'll most likely need some form of help for the rest of my life.  I have no way to provide for you."  He stopped and hesitantly took my hand in his own.  "But...if you think you could grow to love me, I'd do everything I could to try to take care of you and cherish you for the rest of our lives."

I started crying in earnest, tears of relief and happiness that I'd been holding in for I don't know how long.  "I do love you, Robby," I managed to get out.

I'll never forget the look of joy that crossed his features.  He tenderly stroked my face with his hand.  His eyes were warm and loving.  "You just gave me the best Christmas gift I could ever have," he whispered.

I laughed and sniffled and turned red.  Robby gently wiped away my tears.  Then, we sat next to one another, staring up at the tree and spinning future dreams together.

All too soon, it was time to return to the room.  I knew that I would never forget this night for as long as I lived, though.  And I sang at the top of my lungs that night.  I didn't care who heard me! ;)

Now it's Christmas morning, and it feels like it was just a dream.  I know it all happened, though, because when I look down at Beast'sbelle's bed, I can see Robby gazing up at me with an undisguised look of adoration.  I've never been so happy!

I really should go...we have so much to discuss and plan!  I'll be sure to keep all of you posted.  In the meantime, Merry Christmas!  I hope you all have a holiday filled with just as much joy as mine! :D

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Recovery Part 2

December was a very long month.  It took two weeks before Robby was strong enough to get out of bed.  Even then, he could only manage a few steps at a time.  He couldn't get down from the dresser by himself.  There was no way he'd be able to get down from the curio or the shelf that we stayed on now.  Anytime he needed to be transferred somewhere, he had to wait for Beast'sbelle to come and carry him (none of us were strong enough to move him by ourselves).  

It was heartbreaking to see him in this state.  He'd always been so strong and adventurous.  Now he was almost completely dependent on others to get from place to place.  It was a very difficult transition for him.  He tried to have a good attitude through it all, but I knew him well enough to see the frustration and depression that threatened to take over.  And he was in so much pain.  I think everything would have been more tolerable if it didn't hurt so much to move.

Ben and Beast'sbelle worked out a strict recovery regime, which included scheduled intervals of rest and walking.  Their hope was that careful exercise would keep Robby's damaged joint limber and usable.  If he remained immobile, he might lose the use of his joint completely.

So every day, Eugene, Ben and I took turns taking him on his walks.  I have to admit, it was a little hard for me to take my turn (Robby was a lot heavier than I was), but I was determined to help.

Eventually, as Robby slowly improved, we started walking on Beast'sbelle's bed.  Some days we'd go part of the way down the hallway (only when Beast'sbelle's bigger girls were in school and her youngest was at quiet time, though...Robby wasn't fast enough to dart out of sight anymore).  

One day in mid-December, we finished our scheduled walking and decided to take a rest next to the big floral pillow.  Robby was so tired of resting in Tess's bed all of the time.  It wouldn't be much longer before Tess would need her bed back and Beast'sbelle would have to come up with another plan for him anyway, but Robby was already sick of it.

We stopped next to the pillow, and I turned to Robby.  "Do you need help sitting down?" I asked.

Robby set his jaw.  "Let me try it myself first," he decided.

I nodded and stepped away.  With a look of determination, he carefully lowered himself to a sitting position, grimacing all the way.  

I wanted to step in and help him.  All I wanted was to make things as easy as possible for him.  I'd learned in the past few weeks, however, that Robby didn't want to have things easy.  The best gift I could give him was the ability to try things on his own, even if it hurt him.  It was the only way he felt like he had even a shred of dignity. 

So even though it was difficult, I let him do things by himself as much as I could.  I didn't want him to feel like I was babying him.

When he'd situated himself, I sat down next to him.  "Well, that was an improvement from the last time," I said encouragingly.

Robby looked away.  "Who am I kidding, Belle?  I never thought I'd see the day when people would be cheering me on about how well I sat down by myself."

I didn't know what to say.

He wouldn't look at me.  "I can't live like this, Belle...I can't!  This is no life.  I can't even get down from a simple shelf anymore.  How can I do this?  How can I cope with it all?"  His voice broke, and his shoulders shook with suppressed sobs.  

I couldn't move or speak.  I had never seen Robby cry before.  He'd always been so perfectly calm and in control of his emotions.  His breakdown was understandable, but horrible to see all the same.

"I'm so afraid, Belle," he whispered.  "I don't know what I'm going to do."

Feeling tears in my own eyes, I took his hand in mine.  "You're going to just take one day at a time," I said softly.  "You're going to focus on that day by itself, and not think of all of the other days to come.  Just get through that day, Robby."  I swallowed hard.  "You have so many friends who want to help you.  We're all here for you!  Don't give up...I know it's hard, but keep going." I love you, I wanted to add, but I was too shy to actually say it.  That, and I wanted to save those words for just the right time.

Robby wiped his eyes and looked over at me.  He chuckled through his tears.  "Now I've got you going, too."

I laughed nervously and wiped my own eyes.  "It doesn't take much."  I looked up at him seriously.  "I meant what I said, Robby.  We really do care about you.  Please don't give up."

He nodded.  "I won''s just been really hard.  I'm not making the progress I was hoping to."

"I'm just glad you're alive and with us," I admitted.  "You might have been dragged off someplace where we'd never find you."  I shuddered at the thought.  "I'm glad you got loose when you did."

Robby nodded soberly.  "I'm glad Beast'sbelle found me, too.  I don't think I could have made it back on my own."

[I just realized that I never explained how Robby got injured in the first place.  He'd do a much better job of explaining it, but I'll do my best.  

Apparently he was helping a neighborhood cat whose collar had gotten caught in one of the pomegranate branches in our back yard.  The cat was really spooked, and as soon as Robby freed it, it bolted.  Unfortunately, Robby's leg had gotten caught in the cat's collar during the scuffle (he'd been on the cat's back to get the collar loose).  The cat had dragged him halfway down our street before he was able to get himself loose!  

He managed to crawl almost all the way back to Beast'sbelle's yard before he gave out.  Thankfully, Beast'sbelle chose that time to take out the garbage and saw him.  So yeah, totally crazy.  I doubt he'll be helping any neighborhood cats again anytime soon!]

I took a deep breath and wiped away the last of my tears.  "I think we've been sitting long enough.  I don't want you straining anything.  Why don't we get you back to bed?"

Robby made a face.  "Oh joy," he said sarcastically.

"Doctor's orders," I reminded him.  

"Yes, ever attentive Dr. Ben who makes my life no fun," Robby said drolly.  

I laughed.  "Yep, you're feeling better.  Time to get you back."

As we slowly made our way to the edge of the human bed and waited for Beast'sbelle, I noticed that Robby looked like he was doing a little better emotionally than he had in a while.  Maybe just getting his fear out in the open had helped.  I hoped I could help him more along the way.  It was going to be a long journey for him, and there would be more difficulty ahead.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Recovery Part 1

The very next morning, I hurried off to see how Robby was.  I found out that Tess had graciously offered her bed for Robby's use until he recovered.

I climbed down to the dresser where Tess and her sister Hailey lived and found Robby there, cleaned off and resting in Tess's bed, with Ben looking on at his bedside.

Ben saw me as I reached the dresser and gave me a little nod.  I took a seat at the edge of Robby's bed and looked at him.  His eyes appeared to be open, but he was very still and breathing heavily, so I assumed he must be asleep.

Before long, Ben came to join me at the foot of the bed.  "You most likely won't be able to get a response from him for these first few days.  I'm keeping him heavily medicated to allow his body some time to relax and recuperate."

"Should I not talk to him, then?" I asked.

Ben shook his head.  "It shouldn't be a problem to talk to him, as long as you're not expecting anything back.  Perhaps your voice will help soothe him."

I nodded.  

Ben shifted his feet.  "Belle," he began hesitantly, "I'm afraid I owe you an apology."

"For what?" I asked, wondering what on earth this could be about.

He looked embarrassed.  " behavior several weeks ago.  I should have been more polite, or at least explained myself."

I was completely lost.  "I'm sorry, I don't..."

He adjusted his cravat.  "I had just found out that day about Marguerite and Raoul being transferred to the curio, and it was rather distressing to me.  That, and the fact that Marguerite looked as happy as ever, even in captivity."  He looked miserable.  "It made me realize how hopeless my own situation was."

Slowly, the strains of our conversation came back to me.  Of course!  He was apologizing for his rudeness on the day Robby and I had quarreled.  With everything else that had happened, I'd completely forgotten about it.

"It's all right," I responded.  "All is forgiven."

"Thank you," he said with relief.  "You are much kinder than I've ever been."

I turned back to Robby, wishing that he would wake up and talk to me, but of course he didn't.  I looked out over the rest of the room, wishing I could somehow reverse time.  If only I'd been able to catch him before his outing yesterday!  Maybe he wouldn't have gone out.  We still didn't know what had happened to him out there in the first place.

I was unaware that Ben had been watching me through all of this, but I suddenly felt his hand take hold of mine.  

"You really are so lovely, Belle.  I don't know how I didn't see it before."

I turned and looked at him in complete shock.  What on earth?  Part of me actually wanted to laugh.  I hadn't touched my hair since the day before, and I knew it was wild.  So was he delusional, or what?

Then I saw the way he was looking at me.  There was an expression of sudden recognition in his face, as if he was really seeing me for the first time.

I wanted to laugh...or perhaps the irony of it.  This was what I had been waiting for and dreaming about for the past several months:  the moment when Ben would finally realize that perhaps I could be someone who could complete his life.  Now it had happened, but all I could think about was the doll lying feverishly in the bed beside us.  The one who had always been there for me, no matter what, who had most likely pined over me all of those times I was pining over Ben.  The one who knew me better than anyone else, who saw my faults and loved me anyway.

I think there are times in life when you can have what I call a "thunderclap moment'.  You know, one of those times when a thought hits you and you think, "How could I have missed this before?"

My thunderclap moment was the day that Ben took my hand next to Robby's sickbed.  Yes, Ben was handsome and exciting and mysterious...but he wasn't my friend.  He didn't climb trees or explore the outdoors.  He didn't sing like a Rogers and Hammerstein star...he didn't even know my favorite color!  But I knew someone who did, and I knew right then and there that I didn't want to spend my life without him, not for all of the handsome, brooding princes in the world.

"Ben," I said carefully, "I think you should know that I...I love...Robby."

He lowered my hand and nodded soberly.

"I'm sorry, Ben," I continued.  "I didn't really realize it until now.  I thought he was just a good friend, but...he's more.  A lot more."

Ben gave me a brave smile.  "He's a lucky doll," he said generously.  He cleared his throat.  "I think I Beast'sbelle an update on his status.  Why don't you keep an eye on him for me?"

I nodded in agreement, and Ben made his escape.  

Slowly, I walked up to the head of the bed where my friend was lying.  "Hey Robby," I began quietly.  "Ben said it would be okay to talk to you.  I know you can't hear me right now, but...please just get better, okay?  I have something really important to tell you when you do."   

I watched him sleep for a moment longer and memorized the details of his face.  I truly couldn't imagine life without his companionship.  I realized that now.  All that remained was figuring out the best way to confess my discovery.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


The next morning, I was up bright and early.  I decided to wear my dress that came with the furry cape attached, just in case I had to go outside. I really hoped my apology could take place inside, though.  Before our argument, Robby had taken me outside on a chilly November morning.  That was the day I officially decided I was NOT a fan of the outdoors in the wintertime!  It was freezing!!  I must confess, it was also a bit depressing to see the roses covered in ice.

Robby, on the other hand, loved the chill in the air and the frost on the ground.  It didn't matter how cold it was...he was just glad to be out there, enjoying the back yard.  No matter how I tried to convince him that it was too cold for anyone, he just laughed and said that the weather was perfect for him.  

He would come back inside, his vinyl as cold as ice, grinning from ear to ear and telling me all about the amazing patterns of the frost on the clover, or how beautiful the sunrise was.  I thought he was crazy!

So I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised when I was too late to catch him that morning.  Beast'sbelle saw me waiting by the side door and explained that Robby had left an hour ago.  I was tempted to go after him (sort was REALLY cold out there), but then Beast'sbelle mentioned that her girls would be up any time now.  It would be best for me to go back to the shelf, since she couldn't guarantee when I could get back in.  She promised that if she saw Robby, she'd tell him I wanted to talk to him.

Reluctantly, I made my way back to the shelf and waited.

I had an urgent longing to get this over with and make things right.  I paced fretfully back and forth on the top of my shelf, longing to hear from him...hoping that he would come back early today.

But the hours dragged on by, and Robby still didn't appear.  A few times I thought of trying to peek out of the windows to see if I could catch a glimpse of him.  Then I remembered that Belle'sbeast had put heavy shades over all of the outside windows to keep the sun from shining in too much at the back of the house.  Even if I could get to the windows, I wouldn't be able to see out of them.

More hours passed. I was beginning to lose all hope of talking to Robby today.  I was starting to lose my nerve, too.  Maybe tomorrow would be better!  But then it came again, that pressing sense of urgency.  I was desperate to talk to my friend, to hear his laughter and see his smile.  I really missed my buddy.

Then, late in the afternoon, the bedroom door suddenly opened.  I ran my fingers through my hair and stood with my best posture, hoping to see Robby's face peeking around the door at the floor below.  But instead of Robby, it was Beast'sbelle who came in.  The minute I saw her face, I knew something was wrong.  She was holding something in her hands, but I couldn't see it clearly.  

She looked right at me with a somber expression.  "Belle," she said seriously, "you need to brace yourself."

Instantly, a sinking feeling hit my stomach.  I knew right then that something had happened to Robby.  

Beast'sbelle walked over to her bed and gingerly set down what she'd been holding.  I gasped and covered my mouth with my hands.  It was Robby, but as I'd never seen him before.

He was covered with dirt, grass, and other debris.  His left knee seemed to be bent at an odd angle.  Worst of all, he wasn't moving. 

Beast'sbelle turned back to me and held out her hand.  Shaking all over, I carefully stepped into it and allowed her to lower me to the bed where Robby lay.  "Is he alive?" I asked in a voice that didn't sound like my own.

"Yes," came Beast'sbelle's reply, "but he's unconscious."  Her voice was strained.  "I'm going to go find Ben.  He should be able to help."  With that, she was gone.

I stared down at my friend.  Tears stung my eyes.   "What happened to you?" I whispered.

"Belle, we came as soon as we could!"  Rapunzel's voice came from my right.  I felt as though I was in a thick fog, but I managed to look up at in her direction.  

Rapunzel and Eugene were both there, staring down at Robby in shock.

"Where are the girls?" I asked for no reason that I could fathom.  Normal conversation felt ridiculous at a time like this.

"We left them with Tess and Hailey," Rapunzel said breathlessly.

I nodded and turned back to Robby.

I could hear Rapunzel softly crying.  I looked up and saw her clinging to Eugene.  Rapunzel had buried her face in Eugene's shoulder.  Eugene was staring down at his friend with a sober look of disbelief.

At that moment, Ben appeared with Beast'sbelle.  I'd never been happier to see him in my life, but there were no warm romantic feelings at the sight of him this time.  Now I was depending on him to save my friend's life.

He instantly went to work, examining Robby from head to toe.  

"Is he going to be all right?" I whispered.

Ben gave me a grave look.  "His condition appears to be very serious, but I'll do everything I can to help."  His expression softened a bit.  "I think it would be best if you gave me some time to work alone.  I'll come get you as soon as I'm more aware of the extent of the damage."

Shortly after we'd moved to the big pillow at the head of the bed, I felt a light touch on my shoulder.  I turned and saw Rapunzel, looking at me with compassion.  The sight of her standing there with such love and forgiveness after the way I'd responded to her advice was too much for me.  I hugged her and burst into tears.  

Rapunzel just held me and stroked my hair, like a mother comforting a small child.  I decided right then and there that I would try my best to never treat her unkindly again, even if it was difficult.  She had always been there for me, and she deserved no less.

Meanwhile, Ben continued his careful examination of Robby, who appeared to be stirring.

After what seemed like hours, Ben made his way over to where we stood.  I wiped my eyes and waited in tense anticipation.  Rapunzel clutched my hand tightly.

Ben wore his usual stern expression as he spoke.  "Well, your friend is conscious, which is more than he was when I first came.  He's in a great deal of pain, and recovery will take an extensive period of time."

"What exactly is wrong with him, Ben?" Eugene asked, his voice full of concern.

"He appears to have damaged the joint in his left hip, and strained the plastic and inside armature of his left knee."

I felt sick...I was never great with hearing about injuries, especially when it involved someone I cared about.  Rapunzel squeezed my hand reassuringly. 

"Will his hip and knee recover?" Eugene asked again.  I was so thankful he was there to voice all of the things I couldn't.

Ben shook his head.  "It's difficult to say.  There is a possibility that the knee will right itself over time.  The hip joint is a lost cause, however.  I'm afraid the only way to fix it would be to replace his entire leg and joint, and that would require expertise beyond my experience."

I found my voice.  "So...what does that mean exactly?  If his hip stays the way it is, how will that affect him?"

Ben gave me a sympathetic look.  "He will have a very noticeable limp, and will most likely be in serious pain whenever he walks.  I'm afraid his mobility will be very limited."

I felt as if someone had punched me in the stomach.  Poor Robby!  To be deprived of his mobility and freedom, two of the things he valued most, would be a devastating blow.  Rapunzel and Eugene seemed to be trying to wrap their heads around this bit of information as well.

Ben sighed.  "I'm sorry to be the bearer of such bad news, but I assumed you'd want to know exactly what the prognosis was."  He straightened his vest.  "I need to report my findings to Beast'sbelle and see if she has any children's Tylenol to spare.  It should help with the pain.  Meanwhile, he is awake, so if you go individually and don't take too long, you can go see him."  Ben gave us a curt little nod and turned to go.

Rapunzel and Eugene let me go first, for which I was very grateful.  Robby's eyes were open when I got to his side, and he gave me a weak smile.

"Hey," he said in a hoarse voice.

"Hey yourself," I said lightly, hoping I could keep from crying.

"Sorry for all the fuss," he said, forcing a little grin onto his pale face.

I took his hand.  "I'm just glad you're okay," I replied, blinking back tears.  I couldn't pretend to be flippant any longer.

He smiled up at me, but his smile disappeared as he inadvertently shifted his left leg.  A grimace of pain crossed his features, and he clutched my hand so tightly that it hurt.  

It terrified me to see him like this.  I felt so helpless and useless.  "Ben is getting you some children's Tylenol for the pain," I told him, feeling like I had to say something.

His eyes were scrunched closed, but he nodded at my words.

I stroked his hand gently.  "You had me worried," I said softly, hoping to distract him.  "I've been waiting to talk to you all day."

He looked at me again, obviously curious.  "What about?" he asked, his voice still hoarse.

"Oh, just about how I feel like a complete idiot for reacting the way I did when you were just trying to help," I let out in one breath.

He smiled slightly at my long-winded sentence.  

I looked down at him seriously.  "I'm really sorry...and..." I couldn't help letting my tears fall.  "I'm so glad I get to tell you that.  I was worried you might never know how sorry I was."

Robby blinked slowly, as if his eyelids were feeling heavy.  "It's okay, Belle," he whispered.  "I forgive you."

I nodded and wiped my eyes.  "Now get some sleep," I commanded him gently.  "You can barely keep your eyes open."

He smiled again and gave me a little nod.  Within moments he was fast asleep.  

I sat and watched him as he slept.  Every once in a while, his brow would furrow and he would give a little moan.  I had to look away when he did.  It was so odd to see Robby, usually the strong, tough one, in so much pain.  

At that moment, Ben returned.  "Beast'sbelle is on her way with the Tylenol," he informed me.  "You should probably go get some rest now and let Robby sleep."

"I didn't give Eugene and Rapunzel their turns!" I suddenly realized.

"They'll understand," Ben assured me gently.

I looked up at Ben.  "Is he going to be all right?  I mean, really?"

Ben allowed a small smile to form on his lips.  "I'll do everything I can to make sure of that, Belle.  The best thing you can do for yourself and him now is to go get some rest."

I nodded bravely, hoping that I could get away before my tears erupted again.  I gave Robby one last look and then started off for my shelf.  

But as I left, I realized that I didn't want to be alone this evening.  Wiping my eyes, I changed direction and headed for the curio, where I knew Eugene and Rapunzel would welcome me with open arms.  I needed that comfort tonight.  Tonight, I might even have to sing...even if it was a whispered song.  I'd never felt the need as strongly as I did tonight.