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Mortality Lullaby

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The first sign had been when she was taking Belle her lunch, a startling spasm of pain through her gut. She was momentarily stopped by it, having to lean against the wall of the corridor she'd been walking down, her fingers clenching a hold of the metal tray in her hands as she tried to breathe through it. It passed and she shook off the feeling, ah, the unwelcome parts of being human that she had easily forgotten as a feather duster.

Righting herself she carried on and pushed the library door open with her shoulder. “Good afternoon mademoiselle” she called.

Belle smiled up at her over her book, curled up in one plush armchair. “Good afternoon” Plumette walked over and placed the tray down on the table beside her, setting to work pouring out the tea. “I can't possibly eat all this by myself” Belle spoke, eyeing the plates heavy with sandwiches and fruit. She was unsure if it was a matter of not being used to the larger meals nobles seemed to indulge in or the staff were simply over feeding her trying to show their thanks for breaking the curse, either way she had kept receiving far too much “You should join me”

Plumette paused, uncertain “I do not think that would be appropriate Miss”

Belle pouted, after the curse had lifted two days ago it had become somewhat uncomfortable with some of the servants, she had met them when they were household items, knick-knacks, who hadn't been taking too much notice of what was appropriate or not, they were more open with who they were as people and now they were human again with jobs to properly return to and rules and expectations it was almost like meeting them again, only now they were a little more withdrawn. Apart from Lumière of course, who had that morning taken Belle by the hand and lead her in a mockery of a dance, but then he had never seemed to be much of a one for rules to begin with.

“Please, you haven't eat yet either” she implored, gesturing to the chair beside hers, the one that their Prince usually occupied. “Sit here, Adam won't mind”

Plumette glanced from her Lady to the chair and back again, cautiously moving to sit down and eyeing the door as if she expected the Prince to come in and yell at her at any given moment.

Belle beamed at her, passing her plate of sandwiches and letting her choose one. “I was wondering, if I may ask, how long have you worked here?”

“Since I was eleven” the Maid replied, gently nibbling at her sandwich.

“... Eleven” Belle repeated, her face tightening in discomfort.

“Oui, I was sent from Paris to live with my aunt in a nearby village, to get away from the plague you see” she explained, purposely leaving out the fact that her parents had died from the outbreak in the city, Belle nodding in sympathy. “But there was not enough money to keep me, it was here or the workhouse, my aunt knew Mrs Potts who had convinced Cogsworth to take me on as a Scullery Maid”

“And Lumière? How did he come here?” She asked, popping a grape into her mouth.

“Oh he arrived a few years later after training to be a Footman, he likes to claim he was trained in Versailles but do not listen to his stories, he was nineteen and I was seventeen at the time”

Belle smiled “Did you know he was for you straight away?”

“Au contraire, when we first properly spoke in the kitchen I threw a cooking pot at his head, he likes to play tricks and fancied he could sneak upon me and make me scream, I caught him with the pot, he'd probably tell you it was love at first hit. He brought flowers the next time he tried to surprise me” she spoke, smiling to herself, Belle sat with her hands cupping her chin, taking in each word of the story, but then she frowned. “Of course, it was all quite improper”

Belle's grin slipped from her face “But why?”

“Staff should not behave in such a manner”

“But you love each other”

“Oui, but it was still not allowed” Plumette sighed with a shrug, the subject was dropped, the girls moving onto another topic until they had finished the meal and the maid took the plates away back down to the kitchen.

The second instance was later that same afternoon, after feeling quite unwell since the morning, a fact she hadn't shared with anyone else, she currently was in the ball room, pushing around a mop without much enthusiasm for the task. She would have usually grumbled at being alone with the work, one of the other maids who was supposed to be helping had fluttered off to do something else but now she only welcomed it, not feeling up to both the chatter of the other girls nor anyone to see how slowly she was moving.

The spasms had continued on and off, making her pelvis and back ache something awful, perhaps a hot bath later would lessen the aches, she pondered the possibility of asking Lumière to prepare her the water this evening before bed.

She gasped as a harsher pain hit, the mop handle falling from her hands to clatter on the floor as she bent over in agony, her legs feeling like they had almost disappeared again but she locked her knees and held steady. Her eyes widened as something wet trickled down her inner thigh. Pressing her thighs together she stumbled, blood drops across the floor beneath her feet.

She lowered herself to sit on the floor, not much caring for how it was still damp, while she tried to breathe through the pain. The blood continuing to run down her skin and more than likely staining her skirts. Her monthly bleeds had never been this awful before, but then perhaps she should have expected the first one to be unpleasant after years, or perhaps her humors were simply unbalanced. She pressed her fingertips across her abdomen that felt strangely hard, perhaps she had too much blood. She hoped she would recover alone before the use of leeches were deemed necessary, she had been prescribed leeches in a time of sickness when she was a child and it was a not a thing she ever wanted to repeat.

The door creaked open, Chip's face peering around into the room. Plumette quickly snatched up a cloth from her water bucket and wiped at the blood, making herself look busy. “Hi, Plumette!” the boy called.

“Bonjour” she nodded back, satisfied she had cleared away the embarrassing evidence.

He took a step in further “Have you seen my mama anywhere?”

“Not recently I'm afraid”

“Oh” he pouted and turned around back to the door before he remembered something and his head popped in again. “Oh yeah, Lumière told me to tell you he loves you, bye now” with that he trotted off to find his mother, closing the door behind him.

By supper time the pain had grown almost unbearable, she sat rigid in her seat at the table down in the kitchen, one hand gripping her abdomen and the other idly stirring her spoon around her bowl of beef stew that she had absolutely no appetite for whatsoever. She had run up to her room after cleaning the ballroom to change her skirts and now sat with rags inside her underwear to stop the blood flow.

The majority of the household staff had taken their meals earlier and it was now the turn of who was considered the higher ranking servants, a group she had somehow slipped into years ago without much comment on it, besides it was well known Belle intended for her to become her handmaid anyway. Also Chip was included, but that was simply because he never left his mother's side and he really didn't even have a job role either, if one was to look up the household records, something only Cogsworth bothered to do, they would see the boy was technically listed as the house's chimney sweep, technically because he had never been up one in his entire life, over her dead body, Mrs Potts had sworn. It was merely a matter of he had to be put down as something to receive his small wage. Subsequently the chimneys tended to be neglected.

Lumière slipped into the empty seat at her side “Bonjour, ma cherie” he cooed, pressing a kiss to her cheek, she grunted in reply and pressed her face into his shoulder.

“She's not feelin' well” Mrs Potts explained, placing a steaming bowel down for the Footman. “She refused to go off to bed early” she shot an accusing look at the girl, her motherly instincts not appreciating it when someone didn't listen to her advice.

Lumière turned to Plumette, his eyes stricken. “Cherie, what's wrong?”

“Sick” she mumbled without any other explanation, wanting to curl up in his arms.

The rest of the meal past uneventfully, Lumière spending most of the time trying to bribe her to eat, not being above attempts at hand feeding her that she refused. Afterwards he insisted on carrying her up to her room, just as well as she wouldn't have been able to make the journey herself.

Chapter Text

Plumette lay curled up on her side as her fingers clenched at her sheets and she tried to breathe through the painful spasms that wrecked through her body. The dark moonless night outside her small bedroom window letting in no comforting light, the only glow illuminating her coming from the single candle that sat on the bedside table. This was ridiculous, she had never been one to really suffer from common illnesses and yet only three days after turning human again something foul had befallen her? The staff had joked between themselves who would first feel the bad effects of being human after years of nothing, most had their money put down on Cogsworth going down with something stress related, but really to not even get through a week was a bit embarrassing.

She grit her teeth, trying to not let out a pitiful whine out as Lumière peaked in through the door. After putting her to bed he had remained at her side fretfully keeping watch over her until she sent him away under the guise of fetching a cup of water to drink, while she had been a little thirsty she had mainly wanted him gone to change out of her clothes and into her heavy woollen night gown, it was a little unseasonally thick for this time of year but would hide the fabric still bunched between her thighs to stop any blood leaking, her stained skirts hidden away under her bed out of sight.

Lumière came over to kneel at her bedside, he brushed her hair away from her face lightly “I can't stand to see you like this, I wish I could take your pain instead”

At any other time she would have smiled, but now she only grimaced and took the cup from him and trying to sip from it without her shaking hands spilling it. She batted his hands away when he tried to hold it for her.

“Is there anything I can do for you? I can fetch a doctor?” he offered, as he had been offering since he had first heard of her pain during supper and had continued to do so through out the night, each time with a little more urgency.

“Don't be a fool, it's the middle of the night I won't have you riding all the way through the forest in the dark and waking the poor man up at some ungodly hour” she retorted stubbornly.

“For you I would ride to the end of the earth, blast the time I will wake every single person up in the village if it would ease you even a little”

“There's wolves in the forest” she tried, if she hadn't been currently trying to breathe through another sharp spasm she'd laugh at his insistence.

“I'll bring back their skins when I fetch the doctor”

She pushed the cup back to him, her throat at least less dry if nothing else “What is the time anyway?” she asked, genuinely wanting to know as much as it cut off his ideas of getting the doctor, it seemed a horrendously long time since she had come to bed, although her unwellness may have been distorting her perception so it was hard to say.

Lumière glanced at his pocket watch that sat where he had left it beside the candle “It is nearly three in the morning”

Plumette gave a distressed groan, knowing he was due to get up in only three hours to start work “Oh amour you should have been asleep hours ago, I'm sorry”

“Nonsense, how could I possibly sleep while you suffer so?” His fingers idly stroked her cheek.

She gave a weak smile, wanting to say something of more value, or to thank him for his dedication but only managing to whimper out “It hurts” her twitchy hands clenching and unclenching below her belly. “Stay with me?” she pleaded quietly, despite wanting for him to sleep and be rested she needed him, she was frightened and it hurt.

He nodded, face tight with worry “Of course cherie, whatever I can do”

“Please hold me” with that she dragged her arms and legs underneath herself, lifting to sit up and giving a startled cry as she did, more blood collecting between her legs as her body moved. She ignored his concern and with one hand locked on his shoulder guided him to sit against the headboard and pillows, leaning back into him, her back to his chest. One of his hands found itself in her hair and stroked at her forehead and scalp while the other very gently placed itself on her belly.

She pulled up her sheets to just under his hand and tried to get as comfortable as she could, the feel of his heart beating against her back soothing. “As soon as its daylight I'm fetching the doctor” he spoke, his thumb rubbing against her skin in the gentlest of motions.

“Go to sleep” she pouted, her words receiving a grumble in reply. She tried to settle down, closing her eyes and focusing on trying to breathe as her body felt like it was attempting to tear itself apart, after a while she noticed Lumière had drifted off with his breathing steady and the hand that had been petting her head had slipped down to loosely lay across her waist the other ceased its motions, she was at least thankful for that, her poor dear needed the rest. Plumette tried to lay as still as possible in the hope of also falling asleep but it cruelly remained out of her reach, the time ticked on relentlessly as she wished for the pain to ease.

She whimpered as another spasm tore through, her legs curling up to her body and her back arched, she became panicked when it lasted longer than the previous ones, her body refusing to relax and just as it ended another one quick on its heels, even stronger this time. “Ah.... ahh” she gritted her teeth and forced her body to sit up, her hands locking onto her stomach. A pained whine slipping out “Lumière... Lumière!” she lashed out, jolting him awake.

“... Cherie? What's the matter?” he quickly came around, all sleep being replaced by instant worry.

“Somethings wrong” was all she could manage as she had another spasm, even more brutal than the last.

He picked up the candle from the side and brought it closer as to see her better just as she shifted away from him, pushing the sheets off and crawling up onto her knees, one hand still clutched to her belly as she hunched down on herself. “You're bleeding!” he cried, seeing the dark stain on the bed where she had laid.

“I … I didn't want to worry you...” she panted before a cry erupted from her lips, her eyes snapping shut and her whole face contorting in agony.

Lumière leaped from the bed, buzzing with fear and his eyes wide. “What should I do? What's happening?”

“I don't know!” she wailed back, tears beginning to trickle down her face, her mind throwing up the only thought it could under stress “Fetch Mrs Potts! I want her!” she cried, the woman who had been almost a mother to her since she had first moved to the castle as a child would surely offer a solution or at least some welcome comfort.

Lumière nodded worriedly and turned around to run out the door, his footsteps echoing loudly through the dark corridor beyond her room. She tried not to panic more as she was left alone, knowing that it wouldn't be long but still just as terrifying all the same, her shoulders hunched in a little more and shook as she fought to hold onto any shred of rational thought as another pain hit.

She heard voices before she saw them, a hell of a commotion coming along out of the dark before Lumière reappeared with Mrs Potts quick behind him, the older woman dazed and still in her nightgown.

“What's wrong love?” she demanded, holding her own candle and quickly coming to sit before her on the bed.

“I don't know!... Ah!” Plumette cried, feeling a most peculiar popping sensation and then a flood of liquid rushing from her “I'm sorry” she whimpered in humiliation at the thought she had just soiled herself in front of her friend.

Mrs Potts took note of the clear liquid dripping down the younger girls thighs and seeping into her bedding before she took a good look at her, recognising what it was. “You're pregnant!?” she gasped.

“What? No of course not!” Plumette snarled back.

Mrs Potts placed a firm hand just above her groin, knowing exactly where the pain was to be found and felt a definite hardness under her fingertips. “Well dearie it looks like you're havin' a baby” she spoke and without waiting for any reply she called over her shoulder “Lumière, get Angelique!”

He was gone in an instant, back down the hall to the bedroom next door, banging on it and calling the other girl's name. After he had managed to rouse her and the door opened, there was a brief bickering and he returned clutching her by the arm and dragging her back into the room, the poor thing half asleep and scared out of her wits.

“Have you ever been present at a birth before?” Mrs Potts directed at the other maid, who was scrubbing a hand across her eyes in confusion.

“What? No” she glared around at the three of them, her blue eyes settling on Plumette accusingly.

“Never mind, I need you to fetch us towels, cloths, a sharp pair of scissors and hot water!” she requested, when the blonde girl hadn't moved immediately she hissed “Now Angelique!” With that she had scampered away for the needed items.

“But I'm not pregnant!” Plumette wailed.

“I'm sorry but you are”

“She's been a feather duster for ten years how can she be?” Lumière questioned, standing beside them, one hand rubbing at Plumette's back.

“Perhaps before the curse? Did you know?” Mrs Potts offered before questioning the girl, who merely sobbed out a negative reply and shook “When was your last monthly bleed? Do you remember if it had been a while before?”

“Mon dieu! That was a decade ago!” Plumette whimpered “How could I remember? Ahhh!” She cried, another contraction hitting hard, she rocked forward between them unsteady, her head hanging low.

“Easy now sweetheart, just lay back” the housekeeper soothed as she moved off the bed and directed Plumette to lay back against the pillows. “Now if you bend your knees, just like that and try to relax” she instructed, placing her hands on her calves and directing her, parting her legs with her feet flat against the bed. “I'm going to have a little look, alright?” She explained, reaching towards the hem of her damp nightgown.

“What? No” Plumette whimpered, her hands clenching her clothing down against her thighs, not wanting her maternal figure to go snooping around her bare genitals, the embarrassment alone would surely kill her.

“Dearie I really do need to check”

“I don't want you to”

Lumière had knelt himself down beside her, his hand gently curling around her cheek and tilting her face to look at him and blocking the view in from of her. “It is alright ma cherie, just look at me and all will be fine” he soothed, her tear filled eyes found his and she nodded, her own hands clutching desperately at his arms and wrists.

Mrs Potts carefully rolled up her nightgown and frowned when she discovered the blood soaked rags that had been packed in to hide the bleeding, she wanted to make inquires about it but wouldn't risk causing more stress to Plumette when Lumière had only just managed to calm her, his forehead pressed to hers as he whispered gentle encouragements and sweet nothings to hold her focus. She slowly removed the rags and at last had a clear view. “I'm just going to check now” she warned.

Plumette whined low in her throat when the housekeeper's fingers entered her and moved in searching. “I don't like this...” she sobbed to Lumière, tears rolling down her face and her breath hitching.

“I'm sorry darling, please try to bear it a little longer, I know you can do it you're so brave” he soothed, his thumb stroking along her cheekbone.

The door creaked open and Angelique struggled in carrying everything that had been requested, carefully placing a jug of hot water on the floor beside the bed before dumping the rest of the items too, her eyebrow raised as she made a sickened face watching the housekeeper. “If she is having a baby why is she not fat?” she questioned.

Mrs Potts sent a glare at her over her shoulder to silence her, not only for the possible interruption that could spook the labouring girl but also giving voice to the very thought that had been bothering her, Plumette was a petite girl, and she certainly didn't look pregnant which made her worry at the size of the baby.

Plumette looked away from her partner to also glare, despising the way Angelique was watching like it was something of great interest, another contraction hit making her arch her back and clamp down around Mrs Potts hand and her thighs crushing. “S-Sorry!” she panted when she could focus again.

“I've seen enough babies in my time dearie it's nothing to be ashamed of, Chip was a right little bugger, he decided he was comin' out backwards” she spoke conversationally with a shrug, her fingertips finally finding what they had been searching for and pressing through the dilating cervix, the baby's skull just within touch. She removed her fingers and took one of the towels from Angelique, wiping off her hand. “Alright the little one's head is right there where we want it, when you feel like you want to start pushing go for it”

“I don't want to push, I don't want to do this” Plumette shook her head as she trembled,

“Not much choice now dear” The housekeeper spoke gently “The best thing you can do is go for it, it'll be over soon”

“No I can't, I won't” Plumette moved to get up, to get away when another contraction tore at her making her cry out.

“Push love!”

At her command Plumette pushed into the contraction, bearing down as much as she could yet to her dismay it didn't make it feel any easier, it only felt worse, much worse. “It hurts” she sobbed as she gave up.

Lumière leant up to her, almost curling against her. “Plumette darling, it will be alright, you can do it” he spoke assuredly, but he also trembled, heart broken that she was hurting and scared for her.

“You... you believe I can mon amour?” her terror filled doe eyes turned to him

“I know you can, my darling love, you can do anything just think soon you'll have have a wonderful baby in your arms, ma cherie you're truly amazing” he pressed a kiss to her forehead, taking up her hand in both of his, kissing the back of her palm.

She nodded, her damp curls bouncing as she felt the beginnings of another contraction. She pushed hard, clenching at Lumière's hand while he continued to give her encouragements.

“Good girl! That's it!” Mrs Potts praised, still sitting between her legs and watching for any new development, Angelique coming to stand awkwardly behind her for if she should need assistance.

A scream slipped past her lips as she bore down, pushing and pushing until at last she began to feel something move and give way, stretching out her body until it felt it surely would tear, she screamed again letting out a string of profanities in a blend of English and French.

“... Mama?!” A small voice pitched up, all eyes in the room snapping to where Chip stood just inside the doorway, half asleep looking but quickly waking up as he listened to the girls screams.

“Chip! Bloomin' heck what are you doing here?!” Mrs Potts cried as Plumette let out another scream.

“What's wrong with her?!” the little boy shrilled, moving to come further into the room.

“Go back to bed!”

“But she's crying!” he wailed frightened and not understanding.

“Bed! Now!” Mrs Potts yelled at her son, in a moment of uncharacteristic anger under stress. Angelique jumped forward and grabbed him by the shoulder, turning him around and leading him out the door then shutting the door behind them.

She turned back to see Plumette sagging against Lumière, sweat and tears soaking her face. “I can't... I can't” she croaked.

The housekeeper's eyes went down to the worrying amount of blood that coated her inner thighs and stained the bed, pushing those thoughts aside as she spoke. “Nearly there! Just a little more!”

The next hard pushes finally slid the baby along her birthing canal, her screams getting louder as she at last managed to push it out, in the end coming out quickly. She slumped down against the pillows and into Lumière's arms, her eyes falling closed as she tried to remember how to breathe normally, feeling weak, hurt and rather wanting to throw up.

“You did it! C'est magnifique!” Lumière praised, kissing her face where ever he could reach, she offered what she could of a smile, pressing her face against his neck exhausted. While Mrs Potts cut the cord to separate the baby from her, bundling it up safely.

A few happy moments were spent between the couple, until the silence had become stagnant. Weren't babies supposed to cry? She remembered when she had been a small child, her aunt giving birth to her younger cousin, she had screamed as if it had been a massive insult to be born and wanted all of France to know of it, the little thing coming into the world loud and angry. But her baby was completely silent.

“... Why isn't it crying?” she inquired, shifting to look over and her blood running cold and the sorrowful look she was given.

“...I'm sorry love... it's not alive...” Mrs Potts whispered, tears wetting her lashes.

Lumière went stiff beside her “No...”

Plumette forced herself up a bit more, ignoring the pain it caused. “Show me” she demanded, her hands reaching out and Mrs Potts clutching the bundle wrapped in a towel closer to herself protectively.

“Please sweetheart it's best you don't see”

“Show me my baby!” she shrieked in a tearful voice, Lumière clutching at her arm, either to hold her back or merely just needing to touch her, neither knew.

Mrs Potts took in a deep breath, turning away from them and trying to quickly clean the baby up, dabbing at it with a cloth wetted from the water jug and shifting the tiny thing about to make it as presentable as she could before with the utmost care placing the bundle into the girl's waiting arms.

Plumette gave a low wail as she looked over the smallest baby she had ever seen, even in the low candle light she could see its skin was a distorted colour, purplish red with darker black patches, its tiny features flattened and its sealed eyes swollen. She screamed out, her hands uselessly clutching into the towel and Mrs Potts moving to gently rub at her back. Lumière reached out a shaking hand to gently touch their child, finding a tiny hand not much bigger than one of his fingernails and stroking it.

She screamed again.

Chapter Text

Lumière carried her through the empty servants corridor, curled up in his arms and her head resting on his shoulder, her eyes clenched shut as he followed the glowing light of the candle Angelique carried for them. None one spoke a single word as they wandered along in the dark, it only still being the small hours of the morning, the other staff members would rise soon but for now it was just them. Angelique paused when they arrived at their destination, the female bathroom, she lead them inside and began lighting extra candles than the ones already blazing, she had been good enough to prepare a bath before coming back to fetch them.

“... I am very sorry” she said at last when she was done, turning towards them with a solemn expression. Plumette and Angelique's relationship had been tense for years after a brief rivalry for Lumière's affections when they had been younger and resulted in some bitter feelings on the other maid's behalf, however she was not by any means a cruel person by nature and would not wish this suffering on anyone, nor was she about to rub salt in the wound by being unpleasant now. “I'll change the bedsheets so at least you can sleep a little... Mrs Potts probably could do with a hand” she added as she excused herself with a nod from Lumière, placing a spare clean nightgown beside the towels for Plumette.

They didn't want to think too much on what she had said, that she was going to help clean up the blood or deal with their child's corpse. After Plumette stopped sobbing so hard that she had sent herself into a panic attack the doting housekeeper had suggested a bath might be a good idea, to both clean and soothe the girl's battered body, they had quietly agreed, the dead child prised from their hands as she shooed them out. Leave it to her, she'd take care of it, she had said.

Lumière helped her to stand, her hands clamping down at the rim of the tub as he gently peeled away her stained and soggen night gown. With his assistance she sat down in the bath, breathing out a hiss as the hot water touched her battered womanhood, the water not taking long to turn red with blood and clotted chunks floating about her.

He dampened a wash cloth and picked up a fragrant bar of soap, lathering the cloth and setting to work gently scrubbing at her sweat slicked back. “Shall I wash your hair?” he spoke softly. She shook her head, despite her hair already damp with sweat she didn't want to go back to bed with wet hair, he hummed and continued. He lifted up her hair and gently wiped across from her nape down the side of her neck. “... Why didn't you tell me you were pregnant?” he found himself asking before he could stop the thought.

She shuddered forward in the small tub, curling in on herself and away from his gentle hands. Her mouth opened and closed a few times attempting words but only a hollow wail coming out before she sobbed “I didn't know...” her breath caught in her throat, hyperventilating as tears escaped over her lashes. “... I'm sorry...”

His heart broken at the wretched sight of his beloved cold, naked and crying in a blood stained tub before he pulled her to him, awkwardly holding her over the rim of the tub and his shirt sleeves becoming wet but not caring in the slightest. “Cherie, please don't cry, please”

She hiccuped through her tears, hiding her face with her hands as she tried to regain control. Oh, what must he think of her now? Would he despise her? Would he turn his back on her? She didn't know what she would do if he left. “I'm sorry”

“Mon cherie, mon amour, please do not be sorry you did nothing wrong” Lumière breathed harshly, his chin resting on top of her head as he cradled her the best he could.

“Our babies dead, it's my fault”

“Oui, our baby is dead” he spoke, shifting to cup her face in his hands so they could see each other, his voice gentle and pale eyes shining with tears “But you are still here, I was so afraid for you, mon amour if anything had happened to you... I wouldn't live without you”

Her eyes slipped closed, unable to look at him anymore as tears escaped beneath her lashes and trailed down her flushed face. “It hurts” she sobbed, not particularly certain what even she meant by it, everything seemed to ache, her body felt truly damaged, her head felt nauseously light and her heart caught in her throat, shredding itself apart.

“We'll just finish here and get you back into bed” he soothed, retrieving a handkerchief from his pocket and wiping at her face, she nodded still trying to hold back wails that threatened to wreck through her. He worked quickly, cooing and murmuring to her as he wiped the mess from her skin, mopping away blood and fluids at her thighs and she breathed out a hiss of air between her teeth when he pressed the cloth between her legs “Please forgive me”

He dropped the cloth into the water, instead laying out a towel across the floor and helping her out to sit there and wrapped another around her shoulders, patting her down dry as she continued to cry. As he reached for the clean nightgown she pulled a clean towel towards her, rolling it up and holding it between her thighs, spots of fresh blood already staining where she sat. He chewed his lip, concern settling deep and fearful in his chest, he had come from a big family and was the eldest of twelve children but he certainly didn't remember there ever being this much blood when his mother gave birth.

“Arms up s'il vous plait” he wouldn't mention his fears now, she was already scared enough so he pulled down the garment on her and lifted her up into his arms. Angelique was waiting for them outside the door, leading them back to the bedroom with a candle in hand so Lumière wouldn't trip in the dark. Peering around room he saw the sheets had been changed, the old ones in a pile beside the door ready to be taken out and neither Mrs Potts nor their baby anywhere in sight.

He placed her down on the bed and turned to leave “Non!” Plumette gasped, her hand locking into the fabric of his shirt.

Lumière caught her hand in his, his fingers rubbing gently “Cherie I must clean the bathroom” knowing soon the other girls would wake and that finding a bloodstained bathtub would give them a fright.

“I can do it” Angelique mumbled, snatching up the stained bedsheets and making to leave, half knowing it had to be done and half wanting an excuse to leave. “... Is there anything else?” she asked.

“No thank you” Lumière dismissed her, she shut the door behind her and he looked down at Plumette, huddled in on herself and still clutching at him. “Come now cherie into bed”

Mrs Potts peeped back in the door as he had gotten her under the covers, coming in with a tea tray in her hands and a robe thrown over her gown to hide blood stains.

“Where is it?” Plumette croaked, all three of them knowing exactly what she was referring to.

“... Don't worry about that now love, it's safe...” the housekeeper spoke gently and turning her attention to the tea as she set the tray down on the bedside table and poured out a cup “Now I want you to drink this, it'll help you sleep and should ease the aches” the cup smelt overly strong as Plumette took it and tasted just as questionable, but even so she sat silently taking small sips while Lumière sat on the bed at her side with one arm around her, idly drinking the honey and lemon hot drink he had been handed. “Have you gotten any sleep at all tonight?” when they shook their heads she continued. “Well I want you both to at least sleep for a few hours if you can, and dearie if you can drink some more tea, tell me the truth, how do you feel right now?” she asked, trying to make eye contact with the girl who had been staring into her cup vacantly.

Plumette shifted her shoulders in half a shrug and took in a harsh breath “Unwell”

“She said she was still pained” Lumière spoke up, both he and the housekeeper knowing that the girl had always had a knack for downplaying any sickness or discomfort she had, never wanting to be a trouble to anyone.

“Show me where” Lumière lifted the sheets while Plumette placed a hand on just above her groin. “How bad?” the girl only shrugged again and pulled the sheets back over herself, her eyes locked downward refusing to say. Mrs Potts eyed her for a moment before sighing “Alright, please try to get some rest sweetheart, if you need anything don't hesitate to call, I'll let them know neither of you are available and I'll bring you breakfast in a few hours” she patted the girl's knee under the sheets, placed both their empty cups on the tray and made for the door, softly closing it once she had gone.

With a hiss of pain Plumette curled up on her side, snagging the sheets up over her shoulder while Lumière had stood up to fiddle with the tea set. “More tea?” he tried to which only got a jerk of the head and a mumble “Cherie, she said you should have another cup”

“I do not want it”

“Alright amour, alright” he placed down the china cup and stepped beside the bed, unsure if he was welcome until with a grunt she threw out an arm behind her, blindly feeling for him. He caught her hand and let her pull him down, dragging his arm until it curled around her and he was pressed against her back laying beside her. “I love you so much...” he whispered, she clutched at his arm tighter, her delicate fingers squeezing his.

Neither of them slept, laying for hours clutching each other as daylight poured in through the window and sounds of the castle coming to life around them. The other girls laughing and chatting as they left their rooms and walked down the corridor to start another day, the tea long cold on the side. Plumette would either be quietly sobbing while Lumière stroked her hair and held her tight or be silent, her red rimmed eyes staring blankly and Lumière pressed his face into her back while he tried not to scream.

Eventually she stirred, her voice forced through a sore dry throat and all wrong. “... Amour, could you fetch some water?”

Lumière breathed against her neck, not wanting to leave but knowing he would do anything for her. “Of course, cherie” he dragged himself up, pressing a kiss to her temple as he got up and went.

She laid there for a few more moments until she was sure he was gone, a whine of pain passing her lips as she forced her body up, her muscles blazing with agony. The towel fell from her thighs as she stood up, soaked with blood, she gripped onto furniture as she went and her legs horribly unstable. She reached the door, all but throwing herself against it before she colasped and her fingers clutching at the key sitting in the lock that she turned with a click. She slid down the door to sit on the floor, blood drops on the floorboards and she covered her face with her hands and sobbed.

Chapter Text

“What's Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man. Oh, be some other name! What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet”

Adam rolled his eyes playfully, smiling into his glass of wine while Belle read to him over breakfast, the two of them sitting side by side. “I do not understand your fascination”

Belle peered at him over her page, an eyebrow raised defiantly “It is the greatest love story ever to be written”

“Right, a love story between two fools barely out of childhood that results in not only their own deaths but four other people, besides Shakespeare's other works are so much better” he grinned when she pouted, loving it when she was passionate about reading and it being so much fun to tease her.

“Perhaps I like a good love story, unlike you” she grinned, watching as he looked back up from the book open beside his plate.

“I think you have very much proven yourself that I enjoy a love story” he placed down his glass, taking a hold of her hand instead and pressing a kiss to it. “And one day I will take you to the theatre and you can see all of the great man's works preformed on the stage where you will see I am right”

“Is that a threat or a promise?” she beamed at him, already in love with the idea.

“Here we are dearies” Mrs Potts pushed in her tea trolley and began pouring out cups, a little flustered as if she had rushed.

“Thank you... are you alright?” Belle asked as she was handed a cup, seeing the older woman seemed more than a little uneasy and not like her usual cheerful self.

“Yes love I'm fine” she brushed off lightly, Belle sharing a look with Adam.

“Have you seen Lumière at all? I haven't seen hide nor hair of him all morning” Cogsworth spoke up from where he stood waiting patiently should his services be needed.

Mrs Potts faltered a bit, her hands unsteady as she placed the teapot back down on the trolley. “I'm afraid he and Plumette are unavailable today”

“.... Are they alright?” Belle asked cautiously, all three of them could tell from the housekeeper's stiffened behaviour that something was wrong and it was more than a case of the pair had scampered off for the day to be alone.

Mrs Potts' lips parted to speak before she paused and her eyes glanced up to Adam, who was sitting there looking equally concerned. Should she tell him? There had been once a time where she would have never let him know what had happened to the maid, knowing that he would dismiss her instantly and throw her out of the castle, with the fact that Plumette and Adam had been friends when the prince was little completely thrown out the window. She would have lied, say that it was an illness, secretly dispose of the dead child and move on as if it had never happened, as like so many young women in servitude did. But he had changed, she had seen the way Belle made him for the better, they had gotten back their kind little prince again who loved to read and laughed with them, hadn't they? She breathed out a harsh breath, if she was wrong about this Plumette would never forgive her, or anyone else. “... Plumette gave birth during the night”

“Lumière a father?” Cogsworth choked on nothing but air, as if he simply couldn't fathom the idea.

Equal looks of confusion crossed their faces, before unsure smiles broke out. “They have a baby? That's wonderful!” Adam spoke.

She shook her head, her throat tight “The child is dead, poor little thing was so small”

Adam's eyes widened in horror, a cold feeling coming over him while he could only stare. Belle's hands pressed over her mouth “How is Plumette?” she whispered.

Mrs Potts shrugged with a shake of her head, her hands clutching at her apron. “I fear she's unwell, she bled heavily and I think she is hiding how pained she is” Cogsworth came up to her, placing his hand on her shoulder.

“Then we must fetch a doctor! I'll take Philippe and ride out-” Belle spoke, already out of her seat.

“No point love, I know that girl she has never been one to let people near her when she's ill, I doubt she'd let a doctor examine her”

Cogsworth nodded in agreement, also having known the girl since she was young and how stubborn she was, his face awfully pale. “All we can hope is that Lumière can talk some sense into her...” he paused, his eyes lifting in confusion. “...Do you smell burning?”

Just as he spoke the words a scream rang out in the hallway “Mrs Potts!” it was Lumière.

“In here!” she called back, fresh worry taking over.

The door slammed open, Lumière running in in a blaze of sparks and smoke, being partially on fire was not the only surprise about his appearance. He wore only his stockings, breeches and untucked shirt apparently in such a rush to forget his shoes and his natural auburn hair sticking up wildly, his face pure terror. “Mrs Potts help I need you it's Plumette come quickly please we must go” he rambled too fast, reaching over to snag at the housekeeper's sleeve and paying no heed to the fact his hands were sparking with flames.

“He's on fire!” Cogsworth yelped, and Adam leaping up to pull Belle out the way.

“Lumière, stop! Calm down!” Mrs Potts barked at him while dodging his hands. Flames seemed to ripple through his hair and across his skin without any harm being done, his clothing was not so lucky, the delicate fabric of his shirt sleeves starting to burn.

“You must come now plea-” he was cut off when Adam emptied a water jar from the table over his head, cutting off both his voice and fire, smoke trailing up and his pale blue eyes wide with confusion.

“... Thank you” the housekeeper nodded to the Prince, who had wrapped an arm around Belle and was watching for any signs of the fire catching again. “... Alright, now breathe for a moment, what happened?” she questioned, despite her own fears she would not allow herself to show it, not when she was trying to deal with a man who was nervous as a anxiety prone startled rabbit with fire magic.

“Please you must come, she's locked the door I can't get in!” he groaned, his fingers clutching at her sleeve and pulling. She followed him out, having to run to keep up as he set off again as Cogsworth, Adam and Belle trailed after them. “She won't let me in, she's locked the door please I need to get in” he rambled as they travelled across the castle, through a secluded door into the servants passageways and up narrow staircases, towards the women's quarters.

She fought to swallow the bile that climbed up her throat from fear, if Plumette had locked them out and hurt herself... she'd never forgive herself for leaving her, Lumière would never forgive himself. Memories of a horrific discovery in the maids rooms playing out in her mind, years before the curse, before Lumière had arrived and Plumette was still but a small girl, a maid had locked herself in her room only to be found hanging from the ceiling beam by the rope around her neck when they had finally broken down the door. Cogsworth had been there that day, he'd been the one to lift the girl's body down, with a glance at him he could tell he was just as frightened now.

Finally they came upon Plumette's door where a pitcher of water sat abandoned beside it, Lumière ran up and proceeded to bang on the door. “Plumette?! Cherie, please open the door!”

“Go away Lumière!” the girl snapped back and Mrs Potts breathed a small sigh of relief, she was alive, not hanging from the ceiling or dead on the floor with slashed wrists, she was alive and talking.

“Please cherie, please! Do not shut me out, I need to be with you please” he whined, pressing his forehead to the door.

Mrs Potts stepped up beside him, a gentle hand on his shoulder “Dearie, why have you locked the door? Do you feel unwell?”

“... I am fine” Plumette replied, obviously an outright lie “I just want to be alone for awhile”

“I understand that, but we're worried about you and you shouldn't be alone right now, shutting yourself away won't help anythin' feel better”

“Please just leave... wait, who's there?” the girl asked, hearing Cogsworth and Adam talking quietly between themselves with worry.

“Cogsworth, Miss Belle and the Prince, it's alright poppet we're all here for you” Mrs Potts replied gently, concerned that the mention of Adam would spook her because he was still their master and had always held their fate in his hands, the curse he had caused was over but he could still ruin lives by dismissing and sending away staff.

Her thoughts seemed to be confirmed when Plumette didn't reply and there was an uneasy near silence, only broken by Lumière's mumbled pleas until Belle stepped up. “Hello? Plumette? It's me, Belle” she began, awkward and unsure.

“... Bonjour Mistress”

“Please open the door, we just want to see that you are safe”

“Is that an order, mistress? ”

“What? No, I'm not here as your mistress I'm here as your friend, I want you to come out but I won't force you against your will”

“... In that case, I mean no insult to you but I would rather stay here”

“She won't come out” Mrs Potts sighed, full on knowing how Plumette could be, Lumière called it having a spirit free as a bird, she called it bloody stubbornness. “Darlin', we'll go if you want but please come out soon, are you hungry? I'll bring you up something if you'd like”

“... No thank you”

“But we can't leave her in there! Cherie I'll burn down the down door if you will not open it!” Lumière cried, his palms flat against the door and smoke rising from them.

“I told you to leave me alone!” Plumette howled back with a thud, presumably she had thrown something at the door.

“Plumette please!” he whined, scrabbling at the wood that blocked him out.

“Lumière, Lumière!” Mrs Potts called as she pulled at his arm. “Love, I know you're upset but she needs her space, she loves you, she knows where you are and she'll come out when she's ready. You haven't slept all night and you need rest” she nodded to Adam, who stepped forward and wrapped an arm Lumière's shoulders and lead him away to take him to his own bed.

“Come along old friend, it'll be alright” the Prince spoke, his words a little hollow as Lumière wept.

Mrs Potts, Cogsworth and Belle shared uneasy glances between them before also departing.

Hours past and Plumette hadn't moved from her place by the door, she now lay on the bare floorboards at its base with no intention of moving because of the pain it caused when she tried to stand, resigning herself to stay here. People had checked up on her with clockwork regularity, she would not open the door, only mumbled in response to their questions and then they would leave again until the next time. When Chapeau had come he had remained as silent as ever but had brought up his violin, he stood outside and played her favourite song that he would play for her every year on her birthday. The others each had tried to talk to her, offer her support and condolences for her loss which she found peculiar because she hadn't lost anything. How could she have lost what she hadn't been aware of? It seemed to her to be ridiculous at how much sorrow she felt inside, she hadn't known about the baby, she hadn't eagerly awaited its arrival or picked out a name.

So why did she feel so hollow and numb inside?

She heard footsteps approaching her door and a gentle knock. “Cherie?” and a few moments later when she hadn't replied “Amour I know you're in there... how are you? Have you slept at all? The tea Mrs Potts gave me was laced with something and I'm afraid I slept longer than I meant to...” he rambled, trying to coax out a reply from her. More moments passed and he sighed, the door creaking with his weight against it and his clothing rustling as he slid down, she could imagine him there just on the other side of the wood with his back leaning and hunched on the floor.

She could let him in, only a piece of wood filling the inches between them. She dragged herself off the floor to curl up at the door, listening to what he said, the key sitting still in the lock inviting her to open it. “... I saw our child again... cherie we had a little girl, she was beautiful”

“She wasn't beautiful” Plumette bit out before she had even realised she had opened her mouth, because it was true she hadn't been, the tiny little unformed thing with sealed swollen eyes and covered in blood.

“She was still ours”

“We were not supposed to have her!” she hissed out, tears pricking at her eyes, there really wasn't supposed to be a baby, she shouldn't have been pregnant. They were not married and by the castle's rules they shouldn't have been allowed to be together, a rule Adam's father had put in place to stop any time wasting with situations such as these or servants disappearing off together, the staff should not fraternise in such a manner and quick dismissal was guaranteed if it happened. In society's eyes she was a unwed whore who fooled around with the more respectful staff and hadn't a penny to her name if she was thrown out of the castle. “We had a child out of wedlock! People talk, they'll think I killed her, I'll hang for this”

“Plumette, calm down” he growled, “You did nothing wrong, nothing is going to happen to you”

“It looks too convenient! A maid who would loose her job and home with a child, a bastard child, suddenly the baby dies! The wrong word in the wrong ear and I'm going to the gallows for infanticide!” her voice wobbled, she could only just imagine those gossiping lips down in the village who would love to talk of scandal, the maid pregnant with the footman's child? How dreadful, they say she drowned the little one in the night....

“Even if the people talk, you are under the protection of a prince, nobody outside of this castle will know, cherie everyone here loves you, there will be no such accusations here, even so I will going to the gallows for slaying one hundred souls before I'd let them take you, I will not let anything happen to you mon amour”

She angrily scrapped her hands across her face, smearing her tears over flushed cheeks. “... She wasn't baptised... we can't give her a decent funeral...” she whined, sadder than she had realised at the thought, their baby had never even been able to open its eyes or take in a mouthful of air and it wasn't even allowed a proper Christian burial.

“I'm afraid not darling, the master has already said we can choose a place on the estate for her” She sobbed a little and curled up tighter against the door, her forehead to her knees. “Cherie I'm right out here for you, please just let me in...”

“I'm sorry … I just can't” she croaked, her chest hurting at the very idea of seeing him right now as she was.

“Please, there must be something I can do for you, tell me what can I do to make this better?” he asked, trying to do his best to fix things as he always did.

“I want my baby” she mourned, she still didn't understand what she was feeling but knowing what could had been she wanted it.

“... Oh my darling, if there was some way I could bring her back for you I would … “ Lumière sighed, sounding truly sorry that he couldn't do the impossible for her.

Plumette wrapped her arms around her head and cried while Lumière remained on the other side of the door, sometimes crying with her, sometimes talking softly or singing to her. Nothing made any difference, her baby was still dead and she wouldn't open the door.

After a long while someone else had returned, talking quietly to Lumière before he tapped at the door to make sure he had her attention. “Amour, I will be back soon, I love you” and with that he was gone.

“Dearie? How are you holdin' up?” Mrs Potts called gently. “It's near tea time and you haven't eaten anything”

“I'm not hungry” she replied automatically, though her stomach had been growling all day.

“...Please sweetheart, you're scaring me” the housekeeper admitted “If you open the door, we'll get you something to eat and we can have a talk”

“We have nothing to talk about”

“...I know it's hard... I know what you're goin' through”

Her head whipped up, the words spitting with anger “How do you know what I'm going through?” she seethed, suddenly furious that people were trying to say that they understood how she felt, it wasn't anyone else's business and they shouldn't try to trivialise her grief.

“I know what it's like to hold your own lifeless child in your arms, to have waited years for a baby and only have a cold little thing to show for it” Mrs Potts replied calmly.

The fury was gone near as soon as it had arrived, Plumette sat numbly, her lashes heavy with unshed tears and listened. “... You do?”

“Chip is my fourth, he's the only one I still have” The door clicked as it was unlocked and pulled open a little to reveal Plumette's tear stained face staring at her with her large doe eyes, frightened and unsure. “Oh Poppet, look at you” she hurried in with the door pushed closed behind her, she took it all in, the girl's slumped position on the floor, her eyes swollen and sore from too many tears and her ashen skin, she didn't look well at all. She reached out to help her up but stopped when she flinched away.

“... what happened to your babies?” she asked quietly, her eyes shifting between the housekeeper and the floorboards.

With a sigh Mrs Potts came to sit by her, side by side without touching each other. “First one came out not breathing like yours, second one bless his soul died as he was just learning to tot about on his feet, poor love got sick, the third wasn't much more than a month old, she went to sleep fine but just stopped breathing... Mr Potts and me were starting to think maybe we just weren't meant to have children... but then little Chip came along, it does get better love, I promise you that”

“...Do you still miss them?”

“I do, I think about who they could have been by now but that's the thing with life, its full of what ifs and saying goodbye to those you love, we just have to keep on goin' the best we can. I know you, you'll be alright in time, that's what you do you survive, you're the little girl who survived the plague, you survived the curse and one day you'll be alright again”

“... it still hurts”

Mrs Potts nodded with a sigh and then a questioned popped into her mind. “... Did the lil'un' have a name?”

“It's dead what does it matter”

“Trust me dearie, givin' them a name makes it easier, it's something nicer to remember them by, if you'd prefer Lumière to decide that's alright”

She blinked, thinking “He said it was a girl”

“That's right”

“... Marietta” she spoke, it slipping out before the idea had settled and not particularly knowing why she had chosen that name, Marietta had been a childhood friend she had left behind in Paris during the plague with no idea if she had survived or not.

“That's a lovely name” Mrs Potts smiled gently and she gave her a watery smile in return. “Now Poppet I think it's time to be back in bed” she carefully helped the girl to stand.

Plumette wobbled on her feet with a hand clutched to her stomach “I do not feel very well” she admitted quietly.

“Well it's no wonder, you haven't eaten a thing since midday yesterday and you've been through a hell of a lot” Mrs Potts replied, her arm solidly wrapped around the girl's shoulders as she led her over to the bed. “You're still bleedin?” she breathed in worry as she spotted large patches of blood on her nightgown as Plumette sat on the bed and lifted her legs up.

“... Is that not normal?” Fear seeped into her large eyes as she stared back.

“No, no, it's alright, just we may have to keep an eye on it” Mrs Potts was quick to reassure her nothing was wrong, though she had been around long enough to see quite a number of births and sometimes women would bleed and they wouldn't stop until then they were dead.

Plumette hummed, soothed by her words “... May I have something to eat, please?” she asked, almost as if she was unsure she could.

“Of course you can and you should, I'll go find something and you better stay right there in that bed young lady” Mrs Potts spoke fondly before she nodded towards the door. “Shall I leave that open?” she asked when really she was asking if she should let Lumière in who she had sent away while they talked.

Plumette glanced at the door for a long moment, knowing that it was truly impossible to stay shut in her room forever and her grief heavy heart desperately missing him despite what she had done. “I am unsure...”

“Are you angry with him?” Mrs Potts asked, somewhat bluntly “Are you angry because he made you pregnant?” she guessed.

The girl shrugged uncomfortably “... I do not know …. I just do not want him to see me as I am right now ...” the housekeeper nodded gently, ready to keep the door shut and keep Lumière away if that was what Plumette wanted “... Leave it open ...” she was surprised to hear but also greatly relieved.

“Alright Poppet, I'll get you something hot to eat so it'll take a while, if you want to have a little sleep I'll wake you up later” after tucking her in and a kiss to her forehead the housekeeper was off and out of the room.

Plumette sighed and curled up under the bedsheets, sniffling to herself as her belly still ached and her head felt light. She closed her eyes to the evening light pouring in through the window, trying to get some rest and it wasn't long before the clicking of heeled shoes came down the corridor then an audible gasp at what she suspected was her open door.

Lumière was at her bedside in seconds and she could hear how his breath shuddered as he gently stroked his fingers to her cheek so gently in fear of waking her should she be asleep. She opened her eyes but wouldn't meet his gaze “... I'm sorry” she whispered. “... I shut you out and I don't know why...”she did know why, she was ashamed of herself but she couldn't admit that out loud.

“I will do whatever makes you happy mon cherie if you wish me away I will go” he breathed, his other hand finding its way to cup her face.

She ignored what he said, fearful if she replied directly she would only send him away again “I named her Marietta” she admitted, a little uncomfortable, what if he had already wanted to name their baby something else? Or not name her at all?

“I love it, I love her and I love you most of all” he pressed his forehead to hers, not feeling right to kiss her just yet for fear of overstepping boundaries.

Her arms came out from under the sheets to curl around his neck. “Amour I love you, stay with me”

He kissed her cheek “Always, cherie”

Later Mrs Potts came in to find Lumière curled protectively around her on the bed while she lightly dozed against his shoulder. They managed to rouse her and get some of the hot broth the housekeeper had deemed would be easy enough on the stomach even so she only ate half, it sitting heavy and uncomfortable in her aching belly. She was near already asleep when the bowl was taken away and Lumière holding her as she drifted off, blood still seeping into her nightgown.

Chapter Text

When her eyes fluttered in the morning she woke to warm mid morning light and bird song coming in through the open window. She yawned and stretched out her legs under the sheets, knees popping in a satisfying way as she curled a little further into her pillows. Lumière's hand found itself on her back, gently rubbing between her shoulder blades. “Good morning cherie”

She hummed in response not quite ready to awaken yet, rather enjoying how sleep heavy she felt and her head a little muffled. Rolling her shoulders in pleasure at the hand on her back she gave a contented sigh, shifting onto her front to allow him a better reach when she whined in pain. Her face tightened in a grimace and she turned again onto her back, her chest blazingly painful while just under her belly throbbed with the same ache she had come to know very well over the last day. “Ah.... ouch” she hissed, her eyes sliding open as she pulled herself up half slumped into her pillows and Lumière at her side with worry. She peered down at herself, trying to work out what hurt so much when she realised the front of her chemise was damp. “What? … Mon dieu...” two wet patches right over each breast, with a touch of her hand her fingers came away covered in a thin white fluid, milk.

“...Cherie?” Lumière quietly called beside her, coming to the same realisation.

She sniffed, a swell of emotions inside but she refused to start crying already this morning, anger much easier to deal with. “The idiotic things do not realise there is no baby” she half growled, half fake laughed. She would have to speak to Mrs Potts about this to see if it was normal and how long she should expect to be troubled by it, hopefully this was only some sort of bodily mistake and would stop shortly. She threw off her covering of bedsheets in aid of getting up and changing out of her sodden clothes when she caught sight of the heavy blood stains on her gown, shifting over on the bed revealed it had soaked into her mattress, the blood thick and congealed.

At her side Lumière held back a whimper of fear, she had been bleeding for two nights and a day now, surely this was too much?

“I feel disgusting” Plumette groaned with her hands cupped over her face.

Lumière nodded, moving into action and only too happy to be useful, he stepped up and promptly carried over her wash basin and cloth along with a pitcher of fresh water he had fetched a little earlier while she slept, placing the basin down on the floor beside the bed and pouring out the water. “Come here, cherie” he beckoned her to sit with her legs over the side of the bed and she stripped off her filthy chemise.

He dunked the cloth into the basin and rang out the excess water, moving to part her legs, his hand warm on her knee. “I can do it, I am not an invalid” Plumette insisted, bending down to try to snatch the cloth away from him, the movement made her cry out and a hand clutched at her belly.

Lumière raised an eyebrow at her, he tilted his head, his light blue eyes seeking out hers and his hand carefully taking a hold of hers, thumb rubbing at her skin. “Let me”

He prised the cloth away and went about his task as she shifted her legs open with a mutter “I am an invalid...”

He watched how her face would tighten in pain as he pressed the cloth between her legs, trying to wipe away the blood with barely there touches. “Darling you are unwell, there is no shame in needing help”

She breathed out a hiss as the cloth stung against her skin “I am fine” when he merely gave he an unconvinced look she said “I want to be better, I hate this, I hate how weak and pathetic I feel”

“Would you allow me to bring a doctor to you?” he asked, wiping the cloth down along her thigh. He knew she hated doctors, that she had something of a fear or them and knew the reason why. The horrors she had seen in Paris as a child were burnt into her memory, the plague doctors too stressed and overworked to be kind had terrified her and now she had a profound dislike for any medical professional, as much as he understood it caused him no end of stress.

“I do not want a doctor” she pouted, almost child like in her stubbornness.

He merely sighed knowing it was no use to argue with her, instead focusing on rinsing out the cloth in the basin, the water now red and with a fresh splash from the near empty pitcher he brought the cloth up to her chest. He wiped the leaked milk away with the most tender touches he could manage and still she whined and grabbed at his wrist to stop him, her nipples burning sore. She scrunched up her nose and held his hand still against her breast, for all the pain the cold water did also soothe a little, after a few moments she released her grip and nodded for him to continue. When it was done and Lumière was moving away the basin she pulled on a clean chemise that had been left on the end of the bed for her, it had to be borrowed from Angelique as both of her own had been dirtied and the other was still drying after being washed.

Her stomach groaned and despite the somewhat nauseous ache lower down she was hungry, which she had to admit to herself was to be expected, having only eaten one small meal in the entire course of yesterday. She forced herself to stand, a little wobbly but she managed it and hobbled over to her dressing table.

“Amour, what are you doing?” Lumière questioned uneasily.

“I am going down to take some breakfast” she said, picking up a hairbrush and setting to work on her curls, the bristles ripping and pulling at her tangled hair but with a few harsh tugs she was through it and left it hanging down at its natural length of her shoulders.

“I can fetch you breakfast, you should rest” he stepped up behind her, she ignored him.

“Yes but I am tired of being in here” she replied tartly, her eyes roaming across her bottles of perfume oils before she picked up one, violets and lavender and applied it heavily in the hopes of it hiding any sent of stale blood or milk. Her last memories of Paris during the plague were full of the overpowering sent of heady perfumes and flowers, every house hanging up fresh blooms and herbs to hide the stench of death and decay, people slathering on fragrant oils to keep the illness sickened air from their skin. She hadn't understood then but she did now.

“Come now amour, back to bed, please” Lumière had taken hold of her elbow, trying to draw her back towards her bed.

“Lumière!” she spoke so harshly it momentarily stunned both of them, before her voice softened and her eyes lowered from his. “I need this, I cannot bear it anymore when I try to rest in silence I cannot stop thinking, I just keep seeing her in my mind, I want things to be normal again I need to try”

He frowned and his forehead creased with worry “Of course, I'm sorry cherie, we'll do whatever you need” he finally agreed, going to her wardrobe and fetching out her nightgown. He helped ease it onto her, the long dainty fabric being enough to feel like she was covered without the chore of forcing herself into full clothing. He paused when he was done instead of withdrawing himself from her, his hand coming to cup her cheek.

She gave him a weak smile, feeling far more agreeable to be near him today, although she still tried to bury down the shame she still felt when he looked at her and going down to the kitchen, to the others would not make it feel any easier but she needed something to distract her otherwise she would simply stay in bed again and cry. “Oh amour, I love you” she breathed as her fingers curled around his neck to pull him down into a kiss. His moustache tickled against her skin as he deepened the kiss, his hand sliding down around her waist and holding her there. She felt a blaze of lust for a second and her belly spasmed lightly in painful protest, she pulled away with a grunt and pressed her face against his neck instead, breathing in his familiar and comforting scent.

She took a hold of his hand and made her way out of the room, across the servant passageways and narrow staircases. It was incredibly hard going and she had to pause many times to lean against the walls, against Lumière to get her breath back and wait for her head to stop spinning and the urge to vomit to pass, he had offered and pleaded to carry her the whole duration of the journey only to be met with growls and sharp looks. Eventually they made it all the way down to the kitchen where she forced the door open with a grunt and staggered inside, Lumière right behind her.

“Plumette!” Mrs Potts cried in surprise where she stood clearing up from the servant's early lunch, Cogsworth and Chip at her side assisting her and Cusinier working away at his stove preparing Adam and Belle's meal, Chapeau standing by to aid him. “Bloomin' heck, what are you doin' out of bed!?” she came over and took the girl by the arm, leading her to sit down at the table and the others all crowding around her.

“I was bored so we've come for a visit” she forced herself to smile, Lumière at her side and rubbing at her back soothingly.

“Plumette!” Chip whined, sliding right up to her side and wrapping his arms around her. “Are you okay? You were sick and crying and nobody tells me anything, mama said its grown up stuff but I really missed you!”

She grimaced and held back a hiss of pain as he managed to press against her sore breasts, almost certain they had leaked a little. She pressed a kiss to his brown locks affectionately “I am alright” she was quick to reassure, a glance thrown about at all of them to emphasise herself to which she received cautious smiles in return.

“If I had known you were awake I would have brought up your breakfast” Mrs Potts fussed going to the stove where the meal they had prepared for the girl sat kept warm, the same thin broth she had been presented with the night before which the housekeeper must have had her suspicious she wasn't as well as she pretended to be to be constantly feeding her this, Mrs Potts ladled out a bowl then put it down on the table in front of her.

“She woke only an hour ago” Lumière supplied, seating himself down beside her and taking an apple out of the fruit bowl on the table and nibbling it as he watched her gingerly taking spoonfuls of broth, Plumette felt her cheeks warming almost embarrassed that she had slept for such a long time.

Mrs Potts nodded approvingly “That's good, at least you've gotten a good nights sleep”

“How are you feeling today?” Cogsworth asked cautiously.

“Mmhh, better merci beaucoup” Plumette replied without taking her eyes from her bowl.

“... Have you spoken to her yet?” the butler asked worriedly, his eyes widened as he realised from the glare Lumière shot him that he had put his foot in it.

“... Spoken to me?” now she did look up, her spoon clenched between her fingers while she stared around at them.

“... Why no Cogsworth I haven't yet thank you for mentioning it” Lumière growled out.

Mrs Potts bit her lip in discomfort “Chip love, why don't you go ask Miss Belle and the Prince if they would like some tea” she shooed her son out of the kitchen but not before he gave Plumette one more hug in parting. Cusinier and Chapeau both leaving with murmurs that the meal they had been preparing was ready and they should take it up as they followed the boy out, despite the fact that the cook barely ever left the kitchen and certainly never delivered the meals he made.

Only the four of them left Mrs Potts and Cogsworth sat down at the table with the couple, both looking equally anxious as each other. “We were talking last night and we thought that the bab- Marietta's funeral could be today” Cogsworth spoke up, correcting himself to use the baby's name when Mrs Potts nudged him with a glare.

Plumette went stiff in her seat, Mrs Potts quickly continuing on “Of course if you don't feel well enough we can wait but poppet it is best to do it sooner than later” she was quick to reassure but they all knew if they waited too long the tiny body would … spoil.

“What do you think, ma cherie?” Lumière prompted beside her, his arm coming to curl around her shoulders gently.

Plumette sucked in a harsh breath, blinking rapidly to stop any tears “Oui, that is fine”

“Alright, we will organise it for you... we wanted to know if there was any requests from the pair of you?” Cogsworth spoke up, trying to go at it like it was any other job that needed to be done although his voice was tight. “Would you like only a certain number of people to attend?” he prompted when Lumière merely looked at him confused and Plumette was staring deep into her bowl.

“Anyone who wishes to attend may” Lumière replied, carefully watching his beloved to see if she wanted something different but she merely nodded along.

“... No roses” she spoke up quietly “I do not want roses anywhere near my daughter's grave” she spoke with an underlying anger that they could all understand. Her brows creased when she realised they hadn't mentioned where the grave was to be, when she would have thought that would have been the first item of discussion. “... Where will her grave be?” she asked, assuming they may already have somewhere in mind.

“... I thought it would be nice if she was buried beneath our tree, what do you think amour?” Lumière spoke so gently to her as if he was afraid she would fall apart if he said the wrong thing and she was just as fearful of the same. She instantly knew where he meant, the tree at the end of the meadow beyond the castles gardens, it was where they would meet each other on their Sunday afternoons off and go for walks together away from the prying eyes of the castle, where Lumière had first kissed her when she was eighteen and now their child was to be buried there.

She merely nodded her agreement, not trusting her voice to be strong enough at the moment. She sat and occasionally nodded as they made further plans, Lumière's hand a steadying anchor on her back. “... Can I see her? Before she is to be buried?” she spoke after a while and almost surprising herself that she had voiced what she wanted.

The three of them paused and all looked to her “... Dearie, are you sure that's what you want?”

“Oui” she nodded, speaking as firmly as she could manage at the moment, fearful if they thought there was any hint of doubt they wouldn't allow her.

“Alright Poppet” Mrs Potts sighed, stood up from the table and walked across the kitchen. Plumette watched her with full focus as she turned into a little door to the side and went down into the cellar, she had hidden their baby down there? In the dark and gloom? She rationally knew it made sense, the cellar was chilled enough to keep a corpse but still the idea of it felt wrong, she didn't want her baby in the dark, she wanted her out in the sunshine even though she would never be able to experience it.

Lumière had taken a hold of her hand, his thumb rubbing across her knuckles when Mrs Potts returned carrying a little wooden box that she placed in front of the couple and then sat back down in her own seat, silently wringing her hands. She didn't open it straight away, instead only staring at it while Lumière pressed himself tighter to her side. It was a cheap little coffin, was her first thought, the box being made of plain wooden boards, scraps really, and a few old nails holding it together. They probably couldn't find a box small enough,she lamented, not even Froufrou would fit in this tiny excuse of a casket. After a few more moments she wouldn't allow herself to put it off any longer and reached up with shaking fingers to prise the lid off.

“Oh... she really is so very small ...” she thought out loud, no one answering with anything but a few nods and hums of agreement. She had a much better view of her now, the first and only other time had been by weak candlelight, at last free of blood and in daylight Plumette took in her near purple skin, how it seemed a little transparent with darker blood vessels beneath the surface. She hadn't any hair, she'd been too young for that but she couldn't help but wonder what it could have been like if she was a little older, if she was alive. Would it be straight and auburn like Lumière's? Or dark curls like hers? Would she have her father's eyes? What would her laugh sound like? Someone, most likely Mrs Potts, had wrapped her in a blanket knitted from white yarn, Plumette glanced up at her maternal figure as she traced her fingertip over her daughter's flattened nose. “Can I hold her?”

“Of course you can, sweetheart” Mrs Potts replied gently “Should I?...” she trailed off, gesturing towards the box and with a nod from Plumette she was pressing her fingers around the tiny child and lifting her out into her mother's waiting arms.

Her skull felt far too fragile against her fingers, threatening to cave in at any moment and she was so stiff and cold. Plumette held her baby to her chest and tucked her blanket tighter, trying in vain to give some warmth to the dead little body. She pressed her lips carefully to her head and paused there, cradling the baby against her cheek, she smelt of the wood of the box and nothing else, which was probably a blessing.

“I always knew you would be a good mother, god only knows it seemed you practised enough, always leaving your dolls around for me to trip over” Cogsworth spoke softly.

Plumette gave a laugh at the memory of when she was still a small girl who would bring her dolls, all lovingly made for her by Mrs Potts, down with her to this very kitchen. “You will make me cry!” she smiled, her lashes wet. Lumière shuffled in closer at her side, his arm curling around her waist and his chin resting on her shoulder, breathing a deep sigh against her neck. “Would you like to take her?”

With a nod he withdrew himself enough to allow her to pass the precious bundle, she seemed even smaller in his hands “My darling Marietta” he breathed lightly just enough for Plumette to catch. Since the birth he had been so quiet and shy, it was so wrong for him and she hated it, she hated seeing him suffering. It was her turn to curl against him while he cradled and looked over their daughter with glistening eyes, they talked for a while longer but Plumette couldn't pay much attention to what was said as she began to doze on his shoulder. He noticed “Cherie?”

“Suddenly I should like to lay down” she whined, tired and a fresh wave of nausea leaving her breathing deeply in efforts to keep her meal down.

“Certainly” he gestured for Mrs Potts to take the baby, the housekeeper took over the little bundle and placed her safely back in the box with the lid on top and that was Marietta gone from their sight for the last time. He cradled her just as carefully as their child as he picked her up, leaving the kitchen behind them.

“... Oh, I do not feel very well” she breathed, her face pressed to his neck as he journeyed up the stairs and passageways.

“Hold on a little longer, nearly there”

She somehow did manage it, a few number of times swallowing back vomit as it burned up her throat and soon he was laying her down on her own bed again. She grunted, she coughed then she began to retch “Lu-Lumière!” she gasped “Bowl!”

With a quick action he snatched a hold of the empty water pitcher that still sat on the bedside table, he brought it to her mouth as she curled upwards to meet him just in time as she heaved up her stew. Lumière made sure to hold her hair out of the way while she continued to retch, painful muscle spasms forcing the food out and when it was over he replaced the pitcher back down and rubbed at her back as she trembled in his hands.

“We must cancel this afternoon, you are not well” Lumière spoke as she curled up against him, her head in his lap and his fingers combing through her hair.

“N-Non! Our baby deserves her funeral, I will be fine I just need a minute s'il vous plait” she breathed harshly, wiping at her mouth with the back of her hand, her chin damp.

A minute turned into an hour and a half later when Mrs Potts pushed the door open with her hip and carried in a tea tray. Lumière reclined against the headboard and Plumette still resting in his lap, she had thrown up a few more times and successfully lost her entire breakfast. “Hello sweetheart, haven't seen you for a bit so I reckoned you could do with some tea”

She stirred when Lumière rubbed his knuckles down her cheek to rouse her “She is getting worse”

“Hush” Plumette sulked, as if he was tattling on her.

“She could not keep down her food, she is not well enough to go outside” he near hissed back, half directed at her as he explained.

With a sigh Mrs Potts placed the tray down on the bedside table, grimacing at the vomit filled jug still there. “Poppet, if you're unwell then there's nothing to be done for it, things can wait your health should come first” she spoke kindly, although with only thirty minutes from the planned time now it would be a little troublesome as the entire household had been informed but that didn't really matter, Plumette was more important.

“I want to go”

Mrs Potts huffed, this girl would surely land her in an early grave with all the stress her stubbornness caused. “How about a compromise? You can go but straight after its back to bed and you will drink all the tea I give you”

“Pardon?” Lumière looked ready to argue.

“Oui!” Plumette dragged herself out of his lap to sit up, fingers clutched to her stomach as with a sigh Lumière steadied her with a hand on her back. She took the cup the housekeeper had poured out and offered to her, wrinkling her nose as she sipped the same bitter herbal mix that had been forced upon her a lot recently.

“Dear if you want to get ready I'll stay with her” Mrs Potts spoke to Lumière over her head, he bit his lip and nodded, then after pressing a kiss to his beloveds temple he was up and walking out of the room, leaving the maid and housekeeper together.

Plumette sipped at her tea and watched as Mrs Potts went over to her wardrobe and proceeding to look through it to find the girl something to keep her warm enough outside. “Would you like to dress or just take a coat?”

“Dress”

“Hmm, alright” she continued, pushing through various white and pastel coloured garments before finding what she was looking for far in the back. She came over to the bed holding a pile of clothing and laying them out flat beside the girl. She only owned one black dress, the very same that she had worn after Adam's mother had died, the servants hadn't been allowed to show their mourning for as long as they had liked, the boy's father demanding them to stop acting like whimpering idiots and get back to work.

On finishing her tea Plumette placed her cup down and turned back, idly picking at a loose thread on the skirt. “... While it is just to two of us, there was something I hoped to get your advice on”

“Yes dearie?”

“My breasts have been leaking, I do not know what to do to help it and they ache quite bothersome” she shrugged offhandedly.

Mrs Potts nodded in understanding “I'm afraid that will happen sweetheart, best thing for it is to hand massage them so the milk will come out. If you find it unbearable I'm sure Lumière could attend to you?”

“... I do not follow?”

Mrs Potts flushed “I assume he's no stranger to using his mouth on you? Mr Potts did it for me when I had no babe to give milk to and it relieves the pressure immensely”

Plumette's cheeks tinted pink, embarrassed at both the thought and the fact she had to speak about this to the woman who was the closest thing to a mother she'd had for most of her life. Mrs Potts helped her to dress, aiding in rolling her garters up her legs when she found it still hurt to much to bend enough for the task and then had raised her eyebrows in unhappiness when Plumette reached for her stays.

“Darlin, don't go pushin' yourself too far” she near scolded but was only met with indifference, she relented to put the restricting clothing on her over her chemise but would only lace it as loosely as possible, luckily Plumette didn't complain. Shortly with her shoes, petticoats and bodice she was fully clothed, up and sitting down at her dressing table, picking up a tapered make-up brush and looking over pots of coloured pigments and powders. She applied deep hues, brushing warm burgundy and amber over her lids and around her eyes to hide the purple bruising like shadows and how they seemed sunken in, as well as heavy rouge and sparkling golden highlights across her cheeks to cover her ashen and bloodless skin tone.

Mrs Potts stood behind her with a hairbrush in her hand as she gently smoothed her curls “I haven't done this in such a long time” she thought aloud, remembering how she used to take care of the girl when she had been small.

“I am most sorry for being such a bother....”

“Don't be silly dear, no bother at all”

“...Thank you for everything you have done for me”

Mrs Potts smiled gently, her hands gently stroking her hair “I always told myself if I ever knew anyone who suffered what I did that I would help them, so they needn't suffer alone as I had”

“You had no one?” Plumette whispered, the thought of her dear maternal figure suffering the death of a child all by herself nearly too much to bear, she herself couldn't fathom how she would cope without the housekeeper, without Lumière at her side.

“I had Mr Potts and he did what he could but I had no other women who knew what it was really like”

“I'm sorry that happened to you, you deserved better”

The housekeeper shrugged, her fingers looping back a rogue curl into place “I always choose to look for the silver lining in these things, the good that comes of it, I had no baby but a surplus of milk, the Prince's mother wasn't able to feed her new baby, it worked out well, I had a new job and was able to save someone else's child”

“... You were the master's wet nurse?” the maid questioned, never knowing this version of events before on how she had first come to be in the castle.

“That I was dearie, the Princess and I got on so well she insisted I was kept on afterwards an' I've been here ever since”

“Is that why you love him so much? Why you've always treated him like your own?” Plumette asked quietly, Mrs Potts raised an eyebrow as she twisted the hair in her hand into a bun and began to pin it in place. The girl's hands tightened around the make-up brush she still held onto “You know it's his fault” she hissed accusingly. The housekeeper held back a sigh of sadness, she had been hoping that it wouldn't come to this, to them blaming their Prince for the lost child. Yet it was the natural assumption, Plumette's pregnancy, although unknown seemed to have been healthy enough right up to the moment she was turned into a feather duster, whether or not the baby had in some form or another been alive during those long cursed years they would never know, they didn't want to know and once again human she was left with nothing but a tiny dead body that hadn't grown past that night of the ball a decade ago. They had all been cursed for Adam's actions that night, if he hadn't done what he did Marietta would be alive and well, it was only too easy to blame him.

“I know it hurts love but nothing good ever came from choosing bitterness, holdin' onto things like that ruins people” she finished pining the bun and let her hands drift down to squeeze at her shoulders comfortingly. She had made a choice years ago that if the curse was ever broken she wasn't going to let the rest of her life be ruined by being angry at the world for what had happened to her and her family, she wouldn't let them destroy themselves that way. Despite the way she felt when her darling baby Chip screamed when he realised he wasn't growing up but still wanting to play outside and not being allowed to in fear of him smashing, when Garderobe and Cadenza cried for each other, when Cogsworth quietly had breakdowns when he began chiming the hour, it near broke her watching them falling apart but she still held onto hope.

Plumette merely grumbled, taking up her wig from its stand on the vanity and pining it in place over her hair, afterwards she slumped in her chair, hands covering her painted face as she breathed deeply, trying to gather herself together. Ms Potts let her hand rub at her shoulder “Poppet if you don't feel well...” she began to worry but her voice died as Lumière returned back to the room, standing in all his finery although he now wore black instead of his usual gold and it was so horrendously out of place on him.

He stepped further into the room “It's time, Mon amour” he spoke very softly, near apologetic.

She nodded and stood, wobbling a little as she did with Mrs Potts holding her arm to steady her and Lumière crowding near. She gave them both a smile to reassure them she was fine before straightening out her skirt and leading the way to the door. It was a long way down from the servants quarters high up in the castle down to the ground floor, she couldn't help but lament as she found herself having to pause occasionally once more, at one stop as she found herself curled up on the stone step of a secluded staircase while she tried to stop her legs from shaking so badly, Lumière perched himself next to her and held his head in his hands, wanting to scream in frustration. When she was ready he hauled her up, one hand holding onto her elbow the other curled around her waist, Mrs Potts pressed to her other side as they continued.

Once they were making their way through the front door it was no easier, the place the burial was to take place was a good walk away from the castle purely because it was their place to meet away from the judgement of the others, of Cogsworth whose job it would have been to dismiss them if their relationship had been discovered. She stumbled over the ground and pebbled pathways leading onto lush green grass that showed no sign of the winter that had encased the land for the last decade, past the gardens and across a meadow that backed onto the forest where pathways lead away towards the village, she knew the pathways very well, years of afternoons spent hiding from Cogsworth.

They eventually reached the place, a large old oak that stood beside the pathways, Lumière had found her one day picking daffodils beneath it and in an foolish attempt to impress her had tried to climb its branches all the way to the top only to fall and break his wrist.

Plumette's eyes widened at what she saw, a large crowd had gathered together by the tree all waiting.

“Why are they all here?” she whispered as Lumière pulled her tighter to his side.

“They wanted to come” Mrs Potts could only shrug.

They were all there, every single person who lived in the castle, all coming together to grieve, it was no longer about servants and their inappropriate trysts, or pointing shame at unwed mothers, the curse had officially cost a life, a mother was mourning her child because that damned enchantress had decided to interfere with their lives. She had never before noticed what a truly daunting number of people it was and she was ashamed to look at any of them as the three of them made their way into the gathering, she had taken so long to get here they were the last ones to their own daughter's funeral. Conversations stopped and eyes turned towards them, a few whispers here and there, her fingers clutched at Lumière's and she tried to focus on remaining vertical.

“I can not do this” she breathed against his shoulder as she trembled against him.

He paused and looked down at her with such love and not a care of the people around them watching. “Mon amour, I will not ever force you to do anything you do not wish and if you want we can take you back home but cherie do not be ashamed, they are here because they love you and they want to be here for you”

She took a few deep breaths to steady herself and nodded, he was right and she knew this was something she had to do, she hadn't forced herself out of bed and all this way only to give up now.

Pushing on until they reached the front a warm pair of hands came to cradle her cheeks “Darling” Garderobe sobbed, her lips already pressing against her forehead before Plumette had time to realise she was there, Cadenza close behind her. She clutched awkwardly at the songstress' arms, trying to keep herself from falling as her eyes flicked about, all her friends stood together in a huddle around her and Mrs Potts taking a step back to wrap her arm around Chip's shoulders, the little boy's face damp with tears.

The freshly dug out grave was right there at the base of the tree, so open, so small and so real. It was only adorned by a simple wooden cross, they had been assured that Adam had paid for a good quality stone to be commissioned but it would take a few days to arrive. Lumière pulled her to his chest as he sniffled, she was little confused for a moment before she saw Cogsworth and Chapeau holding the tiny coffin between them, not that it certainly didn't require two people to hold such a small thing and they gently lowered it into the ground. When she had been a child her pet cat had been butchered, dirty animals carried the plague they were told, best to get rid of them before they bring in the sickness and she had screamed and cried until her parents had relented and buried the creature in their garden, it felt somehow like then, a pretend service for such a tiny creature, although the cats grave had been bigger.

As the child was unbaptized and funeral rights from a priest was not an option Adam had taken upon himself as their Prince and leader to speak a few comforting words instead, Belle at his side and nodding encouragingly at him. Plumette tried to focus on what was being said, it surely was important and emotional but she simply couldn't, the sound of his words washing over her and blurring together.

She was going to throw up.

Please, not here, not now. She was grateful for how tightly Lumière was holding her because she would never have been able to keep herself up, she supposed he also knew that. She tucked her face into his chest as she began dry heaving, hoping that it would be mistaken for crying if anyone was to look and when vomit did fill her mouth she had no choice but to force it back down to avoid shaming herself further. Her weak fingers clenched uselessly at his lapels while his arms tightened around her back to hold her and she breathed haggardly, Lumière's hand coming to curl protectively around the back of her head, her cheek pressed to his soft cravat and she gave a whimper as she felt what she suspected to be blood trickle down her inner thigh.

Soon enough they were filling in the grave and it was done, their huddle turned towards the two of them inquiringly, Adam and Belle joining them. Plumette longed for her bed, or to simply lay down anywhere, tears of pain and sorrow trailing down her painted cheeks.

“Plumette?” Adam addressed her in concern, all of them with matching expressions of worry on their faces. She shied away with only a muttering to her beloved that she needed space to breathe and while unhappy at this Lumière let her go from his arms, turning to instead talk with their friends while she stumbled her way through the crowd, trying to find a place to maybe sit alone, or at least give herself a moment alone to stop the ringing in her ears.

A man approached her, his hat clutched in his hands and she could honestly not remember his face, a complete stranger to her. “I just wanted to say Miss” he began and she instantly recognised his voice, he'd been a chair, usually found in the dining room and she wondered if she would spend the rest of her life like this, remembering people by the objects they'd been. “That I'm deeply sorry for your loss”

She nodded silently to him and pushed past, avoiding people best she could and for the most part they let her, nodding or bowing to her and she went with a few other words of condolences until she heard another familiar voice speak up “She doesn't look well at all”

“No I suppose not” a different voice agreed

“She looks like she won't be long out of the grave herself” Angelique continued, completely unaware of Plumette approaching her and a fellow maid from behind.

“Angelique! You cannot say such a thing!” the other girl hissed back.

“Well it is true! You did not see how much blood there was! The very same thing happened to my sister, she too bled out after birth I recognise what it looks like”

The other maid hummed “Well you still shouldn't say it”

Angelique huffed in frustration “I suppose it is just one of the many things we should not speak of, non? And what of the Master? Do we not speak of that too?”

“The master?”

“Oui, it is his fault, his curse that killed the baby, or are we just to forget that? If it were not for his actions there would have been a girl near ten years of age by now, he is responsible for her death”

“We most certainly should not speak of that... Plumette!” the maid cried on hearing footsteps behind them and turning her head.

The pair of them fumbled for a moment before Angelique flounced off in a huff and Plumette turned to the other girl, who she at last recognised to be Elise, another of the past feather dusters. “She must be loving this”

Elise's eyes turned downwards towards her own shoes in shame, her hands fiddling with her sleeves. “She is truly upset for you, she does not mean anything bad by it” Plumette hummed while she considered the odd idea that Angelique may care for her, wobbling on her feet. “...Umm? Are you alright? … Perhaps you should sit down a while?” Elise suggested.

Plumette merely nodded and wobbled off, leaving the maid with a confused expression until she shrugged and went to follow her friend. She stepped out further into the open meadow away from the cluster of people, many of which she was aware to be watching her.

Oh dear, she really didn't feel well.

She glanced up at the sky, the warm sun beating down on her was an interesting change from the years of winter and she wobbled again as her knees shook and then gave way. She landed on her back, bruising her spine and head as she hit the ground, only just aware that someone was screaming before other voices piped up in alarm. At least this was much better than standing was her last thought before her eyes slipped closed and she finally lost conciousness.

Chapter Text

The first thing she knew was that she hurt, a lot. The second was that despite the pain she was warm and somewhere strangely so very soft, as if she were sleeping on a pile of feathers and fluffy clouds. She struggled to wake up, her eyes not wanting to open and when they did she grumbled at the light piercing her gaze.

“Plumette?!” she heard Lumière's voice call from somewhere close by, she could feel his presence around her as he came nearer. “Mon amour? Are you awake?” he begged, his hands ever so warm cupping her cheeks but she could only moan in return and struggle under the weight of her own sleep heavy body. “Please wake up” She may have had no idea of what was happening but the fear and urgency in his voice already was enough to break her heart and so once again she would try, for him, anything for him. She grimaced as her eyes dragged themselves open to the harsh twinkling lights another time, the world a blur of sickening colours, of light and shadows around her.

This was not her bed. Her bed never had so much leg room she mused as she stretched herself under him, Lumière beside her and leaning over as she squinted up at him, his bright blue eyes the first thing she could tell apart from the rest of the blur, his face came into focus next and it was awfully frightened looking.

“... Amour?” she managed to croak out, her throat dry and her voice warped. Her gazed slid past him up to where the usual sight of the plain wooden ceiling of her room wasn't there to greet her, instead a bed canopy. This wasn't her room. Lumière was taking her attention again, pressing numerous kisses along her cheek bone up to her forehead where he paused, his lips above her brow “Please never do that again”

She was confused “Do what?” she croaked, her hand coming out from under the heavy covers to push him away, he gently backed off, and she tried to follow him by sitting up a little. Oh dear, what a bad idea that was, she thought as the pain blazed through her belly and she gave a weak cry, slumping down into the mountain of soft pillows behind her. “What is …. why am I here?” she questioned after a moment when she felt she could breathe easy without jolts of agony stabbing up through her abdomen. She knew this room, of course she did, she knew every corner of the entire castle from decades of cleaning it, this was one of the previously unused guest rooms in the East wing, only a short walk from Belle's and just as luxurious. She panicked, she was not supposed to be here and certainly not tucked up in this expensive bed as if it were her own “I cannot be here! If the master-” she tried to fling the covers off herself, but getting only so far as to dig out her other arm and give something of a pathetic wriggle before Adam's voice cut in.

“If the master what?” he spoke, from the corner of the room he had been sitting quietly in, he stood up and approached the bed.

Lumière had taken a hold of her shoulder to steady her against the pillows, not allowing her anymore attempts to flee, not that she would have been able to get far he if let her try with how awful the pain was. “Master!” she squeaked in fear “I am so sorry I have no idea why I am here I will leave right now!”

“You are in this room because it is yours for as long as you like” Adam spoke gently, as if he was trying to soothe a cornered animal.

Plumette looked between him and her beloved anxiously, confusion still evident “You kept saying you were cold so we brought you to a room with a fire and it will be easier for us to look after you here than upstairs” Lumière explained, rubbing at her arm comfortingly as he perched on the edge of the bed at her side.

She frowned, she had said she was cold? When? “I do not remember that? … I cannot remember anything we were at the funeral and now...” she rambled, her breathing growing heavier as she became upset, frightened at the missing memories.

“Cherie” Lumière soothed her, his hand coming up to cradle her jaw lovingly, his thumb brushing against her cheek. “Do not be afraid you are just a little confused, you fell faint while we were out at the meadow, you have been not quite here nor there sometimes, not yourself, but you are awake now it will be alright”

She calmed under his gentle words and caresses and gave him a weak smile before peering about, the fire burned pleasantly so and there was a dozen candles scattered across the room casting a warming glow. Outside the large windows the world of the dark of night, what time was it? It had been mid afternoon at the funeral. “How long has it been?”

“Seven hours” Lumière answered truthfully “How are you feeling? Can I get you anything?”

She nodded “Thirsty”

He turned to where a pitcher of water and a cup waited at his side on a table by the bed, pouring the water out and bringing it to her lips, she didn't even try to argue as she cautiously took small sips, her arms far to heavy and clumsy at the moment to attempt to do it herself. When she was done he placed the cup down, thumbing any stray drops down her chin away.

“I'll let them know you have woken” Adam spoke up while Lumière cooed over her without much notice for their prince, feeling slightly uncomfortable and out of place, he left the room and quietly shut the door behind himself.

Plumette gave a light shiver as she yawned “Are you cold my darling?” Lumière worried, pulling the thick bed covers further up her shoulders and the back of his palm pressing against her forehead to feel for any sign of fever, when he was satisfied that her flushed cheeks was just from the warmth he kissed her there instead.

“I am sorry for worrying you”she whispered, her hands reaching out from the covers in a bid for freedom to caress his face, her dainty fingers cradling his cheek.

He smiled gently at her, his pale eyes searching hers for a moment before saying apologetically “You know you must see a doctor”

She stiffened under his hands, the reply near automatic “I do not want-”

He stopped her with a finger pressed to her lips as he frowned “You must, he's already here waiting for you”

She was shaking her head, her eyes widening “Please, you know why I cannot please” she begged, her fingers clutching at his sleeves.

He frowned in distress and worry, his hands trying to soothe her while she clutched at him “Mon amour, Mon cherie, it has been two days and you only grow weaker, please for me let him look at you, just a quick visit and we will know how to make you feel better”

“But I'm afraid...” she whimpered.

“I will be here with you for every second, nothing can harm you as long as I am here” he nuzzled her forehead. “However ...” he sighed and she stiffened anxiously “We had a slight issue, you see the doctor in the village has disappeared on holiday with his newly re-found wife, she was cursed here with us, so we had to send to the next nearest village and he does not know of our last ten years and it is perhaps best it stays this way”

She gave a small nod in understanding, they had spoken of this subject the day after Belle had saved them, deciding the less people who knew about the curse the better. Unless one had seen it with their own eyes it was a truth hard to swallow and nobody wanted to be carted off to the madhouse for talking about how they had spent a decade as a household item. She also knew realistically she had to see a doctor and waiting longer would only leave her feeling worse, even so she was still terrified and fought to control her breathing, Lumière soothing her until Adam returned, opening the door for himself, Belle, Mrs Potts, Cogsworth and a man she had never seen before.

“Bonjour, I am Lumière” her beloved spoke as he stood up, striding a few steps to greet their guest and his hand out ready to shade.

“You must be the husband” the doctor smiled.

“... Ah, no.... we are not married”

“Oh” the man hesitated, frowning to himself.

“And this is Plumette” Lumière introduced, keen to move on and and gesturing to the girl who sat quietly in the bed and warily observed them.

The doctor's brows lifted up, his eyes going between her and Lumière a few times while he seemed to try and puzzle something out in his mind. “Will you remind me of the symptoms?” he addressed behind him, ignoring Lumière standing beside him and not talking to his patient as he eyed her curiously.

“Oh, yes well she's been weak and sickly since the birth, that was two days ago, an' she's been bleedin' rather heavily since then, she's havin' nasty pains and not holdin' down her food” Mrs Potts explained.

The doctor nodded thoughtfully, leaning over the bed and reaching his hands out for Plumette's face, she flinched away and looked to Lumière for help. He merely smiled at her with a nod to let the man continue, taking a hold of her hand while the doctor roughly used his fingers to pull her top lip up. “Open” he commanded when he had observed the paleness of her gums, she did as she was told and wrinkled her nose when he pulled more at her mouth to see inside, his fingers tasting of pipe ash and dirt as his digits brushed against her tongue. His fingers left her mouth to cup the sides of her face, thumbs dragging down both lower eyelids “Look up” and again she did as asked and rolled her eyes upwards.

He hummed in thought and removed his hands “Pale gums and inside eyes, most likely from the bleeding, it does seem the blood is under balanced, I advise to eat red things for that, both red meats and vegetables. Now, you mentioned pain?” he once again asked not to Plumette but the gathered group.

“Yes” Lumière stepped closer “Cherie, could you please show him?” he asked politely, because he had a feeling the doctor wasn't going to at all, their eyes met over the man's shoulder and he gave her his best reassuring smile.

With a nod she rolled back the bed covers down to her lap and placed a hand just above her groin. “This is where it hurts the most” she explained for herself. The doctor nodded, his hands reaching over to the area as both she and Lumière stiffened at his actions. Plumette glanced away in embarrassment and discomfort at a man she didn't even know the name of touching her in such a casual and private manner, especially since she was only still wearing her thin chemise. His hands nudged hers out of the way, fingers probing lightly and then sinking down into her flesh, hard. She screamed, long and loud as his digits mercilessly pushed against the area that had been greatly paining her.

“Stop it you imbecile!” Lumière howled, reaching to snatch at the man's shoulders in an attempt to drag him away from his beloved, however Adam was faster, moving much too quick for a normal human, more like his cursed form and had forcefully gripping Lumière by his arms and restraining him from battering the doctor.

“Lumière! Let him work!” the Prince hissed.

“But he's hurting her!” he cried, near hysterical and smoke beginning to rise from him although the doctor was too busy to notice the perculiarity.

“Lumière!” Plumette wailed for help, her arms and legs flailing in attempts to push the doctor away but she had no where near the strength required to do so, she could only press her head back against the pillows as her back arched taut and tears streamed across her cheeks.

The gathering in the room shifted uneasily amongst themselves at seeing her suffer, her cries turning to mere whimpers when he removed his hands “Well I can feel no odd signs of anything wrong, no lumps and not much swelling beyond what is to be expected from a pregnancy” Adam let go of Lumière who flew straight to Plumette's side, trying to hush her and wiping away her tears with trembling hands. “I should like to perform an internal examination just to be sure there is nothing wrong”

“Internal?!” Lumière growled, his head snapping up to glare at the man.

“Beggin' your pardon but I don't think that's necessary, I've checked her myself an' I couldn't see anythin' wrong” Mrs Potts spoke out worriedly.

“But my dear lady you are not a professional, there are a great many things you may have missed” the doctor replied snobbishly. “It is for the best the examination is carried out, now if all the men could leave for a moment, also your highness if you please” he gestured towards the door.

“I am not leaving her” Lumière snarled, his eyes shining dangerously.

“You are not her husband, it would be completely inappropriate to allow you to remain during the examination”

Lumière had begun to smoke again, although luckily it went unnoticed but if he was to set something ablaze as he looked like he wanted to then the doctor was certainty going to see.

“Lumière go!” Plumette demanded, knowing it was the only way for their secret to be kept.

His pale blue eyes flashed to her, the anger immediately replaced with love and worry “But cherie -!”

“Go!” she demanded again, cutting off whatever it was he intended to protest with. He went dreadfully quiet and allowed Adam to lead him out, the others all trailing behind and shutting the door after them. Only Mrs Potts remained and came to take Lumière's place at her side and roll the covers down further to her feet then took a hold of her hand.

“Right sweetheart, just focus up here on me an' we're gonna get through this together” Mrs Potts tried her best to reassure her, Plumette nodded, her eyes already watering.

The doctor took a hold of her ankle and tugged to spread her legs further apart, rucking up the hem of her chemise. Mrs Potts fought the urge to snap at him to be more gentle, only managing to stop herself in fear of upsetting Plumette even more than she had to be.

“Darlin', darin' look at me” she called as the doctor's hands moved between her open legs and the girl's head had snapped up to look. Plumette did as she was told, but couldn't help the sobs that escaped her lips when his fingers roughly pushed into her.

“It hurts!” she whimpered, tears wet on her cheeks. The doctor huffed under his breath and continued moving his fingers about to feel for any noticeable damage inside. “Please stop!”

Mrs Potts caught at her wrist, her other hand holding firmly at her knee to stop her from closing her legs. “The quicker you let him look the quicker it'll be over” she reminded, although she felt near sick to her stomach at having to restrain the girl while a stranger touched her in ways she didn't want. Plumette let out a heart breaking sob as she nodded, her eyes shut tight.

“Hmm, I can feel no tears nor any particular reason for the bleeding” the man finally announced, removing his hands and stepping away. Mrs Potts was quick to straighten out the girl's chemise and pull the bed covers back up and tuck them around her trembling form. He cleaned his hands free of blood in a wash bowl sitting on the chest at the foot of the grand bed. “The best thing will be to focus on balancing the blood levels, now you said it was you who prepares medicines, yes?” he turned to the housekeeper.

“Yes” she nodded, not taking her eyes away from Plumette as she carefully wiped at her damp face.

“Excellent, now if you come with me I should like to show you a good recipe that I think will work” he beckoned with a wave of his hand. Mrs Potts held back a growl of profanities, instead kissing the girl's forehead and following the doctor out of the room, as soon as the door was open Lumière had dodged in and already at his beloveds side. Voices beyond the door speaking before disappearing, the group evidently deciding it was best to leave the two of them together after the ordeal.

Plumette opened her arms as he approached and was promptly swept up in a hug, Lumière's arms tight around her back as she clung around his neck. “That man put his filthy hands inside me” she whimpered, her lower lip trembling dangerously.

“I am so sorry” he breathed into her shoulder “I will not allow him near you again”

“It was awful I hated it” she sobbed against his neck. “He couldn't even find anything wrong”

“Well hopefully that is a good thing, you just need to rest and get better” he untangled himself from her “Here cherie, lie down” he urged, guiding her to rest down fully into the soft pillows. She cured up on her side, her watering eyes shining in the candle light. “Is there anything you need? Anything I can bring you? Are you hungry or thirsty?” he fussed over her, stroking her hair away from her face so gently.

“Non” she sulked, the bed covers clutched between her fingers.

The two of them stayed like that quietly, Lumière stroking her face until Mrs Potts peeped in. “Hello loves... how are you doin?” she asked very cautiously, bringing in yet another tray of tea in with her, neither of them replied. “Come on darlin' time to take your tea, I've mixed some different things in there what should help you feel better” she rambled on, pouring out a cup while Lumière aided the girl to sit up against her pillows. Plumette hummed to herself as she was handed a cup, the concoction an interesting red colour and smelt even stronger than ever and taking a sip it tasted worse.

She coughed “That's foul”

Mrs Potts could only give her a sympathetic smile and pet on her arm “Next time I'll add more sugar, the doctor gave us dried poppies to use an' we'll be getting' some more in, that was a bloody nightmare in itself to get him to agree” she grumbled.

“Why?”

The housekeeper paused, her face worried as she caught up with her mouth and realised talking about this wasn't going to make the girl feel any better. “... oh you know... he's one of those idiotic types, has wrongful prejudices”

Plumette grimaced, having met doctors who refused to as what they though of as waste fine medicine on her. “He didn't wish to give me poppies because of my skin colour, did he?” she asked, there was a nasty opinion floating amongst some doctors that she couldn't feel pain because of her darker skin tone, honestly what was the point of calling yourself a medical professional if one believed such idiotic ideas such as that?

“We'll find you another doctor” Mrs Potts replied apologetically.

“I want him gone as soon as possible” Lumière muttered, rubbing at Plumette's shoulder soothingly.

“He'll be gone first thing in the mornin', you can be sure of that” the housekeeper took the empty cup away when the girl had managed to swallow it back and Lumière making sure she was thoroughly tucked in comfortably. “Would you like a little somethin' to eat?” she asked.

“Non, merci”

Mrs Potts glanced at Lumière, who had a similar look of unhappiness as she did. “You sure, love? I can bring you anythin?”

“I just would like to rest” Plumette sighed, rubbing at her eyes with a fist.

“Alright Poppet, get some sleep an' remember if you need even the smallest thing don't hesitate to call, sweet dreams” she pressed a gently kiss to her forehead then turned to Lumière and wrapped an arm around his shoulder in a quick embrace before leaving the room, closing the door softly behind her.

The fire crackled, giving the room the perfect temperature and she decided she was most comfortable, the tea she had been given working well to dampen her pains and make her feel a little woozy, as if she had drunken just a little too much wine. Lumière toed off his shoes and settled down at her side, joining her on the bed, she pressed her cheek to his shoulder. “I love you, I feel I do not tell you enough”

“You tell me plenty enough, but I must say I am quite addicted to hearing you say it” his hand curled up to caress her face.

“I adore you” she leaned up just enough to kiss at his neck.

“I adore you more” he grinned, leading her into their usual game of who loved who the most, which would usually end when they were both too out of breath from kisses to continue.

“Impossible” she yawned, her eyes trailing across the room to the window and the night outside. “She's out there, alone in the dark” her mood grew sombre and her eyebrows drawn in. Lumière merely nodded, not having a good enough response that could give any comfort. “Tell me, what would she be like, our Marietta?” she asked softly, thinking back to when she had been asleep and she had dreamt of little girls, sometimes with brown eyes, sometimes with blue but all carrying their daughter's name.

“Cherie... don't hurt yourself with ideas of what could have been” he spoke softly, hesitant to say it.

“Just for tonight, let's say we have her s'il vous plait” she begged, her hands clutched at one of his.

Lumière looked at her and sighed, then was quiet for a moment in thought “She would be perfect because she is yours” he nuzzled her hair “She would be brave and free spirited like you, she would have your kindness and your good heart”

“She would have your eyes” Plumette thought of the phantom daughters in her dreams, the little ones who had Lumière's eyes in their cherub faces her favourite.

“I would hope she had yours, so that I may see their loveliness twice as often, what a gift that would be!”

“She would be a show off like you” she smiled.

He let out a laugh “Ah but of course! I would most certainly teach her the ways of great showmanship!”

“She would be funny like you and just as loyal and loving”

“The two of us in one little person, what a mischievous trickster she would be” he chuckled conspiringly.

“I hope she would be intelligent, we would teach her everything we know and she would go to school, she would read as Belle does” she would have wanted any child of theirs to have a better life than they, something more than servitude or hard labour, their child would be well educated.

“Smart and witty, she would grow into a most beautiful lady like her mother” Lumière smiled gently before yawning into his sleeve.

Plumette grew quieter, her smile falling away “I want her” she breathed, biting at her lower lip “I want our smart and silly girl” to her surprise Lumière began to gently sob, his mouth pressed to her temple as he tried to stop himself. “Oh amour! No” she reached up to cup his face between her palms, her thumbs wiping away his tears.

“Ah pardon, it is nothing cherie I am just a little tired, you know how I grow emotional when I do not sleep” he tried to laugh at himself and pass it off as a joke.

She frowned, yet despite his tears more than likely not caused from sleepiness she knew it was getting late and he was wearing himself thin trying to constantly look after her, if he continued he'd only succeed in working himself sick. “Amour you must be very tired, why don't you take some rest?”

He pouted, his face once again free of tears “Non, I must take care of you”

“Watching me lay here will be dreadfully dull for you, besides I seem to have spent much of the day asleep and I do not think I can manage any more right now but it is time for you to sleep, I will be right here beside you” she tried to persuade him, her fingers stroking along his cheek.

He looked like wanted to protest but instead he yawned loudly, his eyes weary “Promise you will wake me if you need anything” he sighed as he curled up into the pillows, close enough to nuzzle at her arm.

“I promise” she smiled.

“... Wake me in one hour” he yawned.

“Of course” she petted his head, she had absolutely no intention of doing that.

Plumette settled down herself and closed her eyes while Lumière's breathing evened out and he was fast asleep, unfortunately it seemed she was right and wasn't ready to sleep after her long unplanned nap, the prospect of a long dull night a head of her unpleasant. When she had grown bored of trying to dream she found watching her beloved rest far more interesting, her fingers gently running through his auburn hair.

After some time the door creaked open and she was surprised to see Belle peeking around its frame at her. “Miss?” she beckoned her in with a wave of her hand, a small smile appearing on the girl's' face as she scuttled in and carefully shut the door. “Please do not wake him, he needs the rest” she nodded towards Lumière curled into her side, a finger upon her lips. Belle tiptoed over and sat herself on the wooden stool that sat at Plumette's side of the bed, books clutched in her arms. “Is something troubling you Miss? It is very late”

Belle shrugged “I found myself awake so I thought I would check on you, how are you?”

“I am alright, the medicine works well enough, although I am certainty not ready to give my thanks to that doctor” she pouted.

“I'm sorry, that man was an arse, Mrs Potts certainly gave him a piece of her mind down in the kitchen, I never thought she could be so vicious”

“First rule of the castle mademoiselle, never anger Mrs Potts”

Belle giggled before looking down at her books “I thought perhaps I could read to you? Or if you prefer I can leave these here for you? Of course if you are not interested never mind” she rambled a little, self concious.

Plumette smiled at her, she knew Belle was only trying to comfort her in the way she knew best, she wasn't very confident talking to people unless it was about books or she was reading out loud to them. “I would like that very much, Miss”

Belle beamed at her “I brought a few different things, I asked Cogsworth earlier what you liked and he said stories with magic … but, um well” she paused.

"I am afraid I've quite lost my appetite for fairy tales” Plumette frowned, and what a shame it was there had been nothing she liked more when she was younger but being trapped in an enchanted castle for a decade was a sure way of making even the most passionate magic lovers loose that enjoyment.

“Anything here you would like?” Belle questioned, lifting up each individual book for inspection.

Of course Romeo and Juliet would be there, the maid smiled to herself until an aged copy of Gulliver's Travels met her gaze “That one, s'il vous plait” she suddenly recalled memories of being a young girl and sitting in the library with an Adam who had just learnt to walk perched on her knees while the late Princess read to the pair of them from this very book, that wonderful time feeling so far away.

“Oh, I haven't been here yet” Belle wondered aloud.

“It is a jouney across the sea, quite the adventure for you” Plumette had by now become familiar with the personal way Belle talked about books and she honestly found it very endearing.

The girl nodded eagerly, opening the book and turning to the first page while Plumette settled back further into the bed. “My father had a small estate in Nottinhamshire; I was the third of five sons...”

She let her voice wash over her soothingly, while the fire crackled and Lumière slept beside her until she eventually too was asleep.

Chapter Text

Plumette found herself to be walking out in the gardens, lost in a maze of roses so high she couldn't even see the castle towers over their vines and blooms. There was a truly eerie quietness that fell over everything, with only the gentle breeze through the leaves to be heard and no other signs of life at all. Where was everyone? Where was Lumière? She didn't know what was happening and she was frightened.

This wasn't right, something here was so very strange.

She turned a corner to only find a dead end, she turned again to go back but the path was different, hadn't she just come this way? But it too was blocked and now facing to her side was a way that hadn't been there a moment ago, she carefully journeyed along.

A sound passed by her ear, something familiar, something she knew or should have known, what was it? She glanced about confused and there it was again the sound of a child laughing. “Chip?” she called out, although it didn't sound like him “...Adam?” she tried, she remembered Adam's laugh when he was little and again it wasn't right. Something sparkly in the rose vines caught her attention, something shiny and gold.

She was just about to reach out and touch it when a little voice spoke up “Maman?” she turned and there was a little girl standing there and watching her. She wore a white dress with gold trim and feathers in her hair, the same hair as Plumette's and her skin, Lumière's pale blue eyes looking back at her from the child's face, her child.

“...Marietta?” she breathed, the little girl turned and ran, her laughter echoing behind her. “Wait!” she called chasing but she was gone and now she was at the same wall of roses she had just left somehow, the gold still glinting out at her. She stepped closer, her eyes widening as she actually saw what it was. Lumière's beloved coat, torn and shredded held in a tangle of thorns. She plunged her hands in to grasp at it, the thorns slicing into her soft skin painfully and the vines shifted and hissed, not wanting to let go as she struggled and tore her bleeding hands free. A dull clunk echoed in the silence as a candelabra had fallen from the rose's hold, not just any candelabra but Lumière.

He was still and lifeless when she picked him up, his frozen face sadly staring out with unseeing eyes. “Lumière!” she called, trying to wake him. “Amour wake up!” but it was no use he was gone, perhaps had never been there at all. The rose woke up to her calling though, vines reaching out and grabbing at her fiercely, blood running down her arms and legs at it pulled her.

Marietta was there again, watching her struggle for her life and all the while smiling at her until the vines closed around her forever.

Her eyes snapped awake and startled, her heart pounding against her ribs. It had been a dream, of course only a dream, she groaned as her head throbbed, a painful ache pressing behind her forehead. Lumière slept on peacefully at her side, his face relaxed and calm while she shuddered in a cold sweat and retrieved the bed covers she had thrown off of herself in her sleep, tugging them up to her neck. On peering about she noticed a few things, firstly that Belle was gone and the fire had burnt itself out so she must have been asleep for a while yet it was still dark, the candles still giving their dim glow. With a sigh she settled further back against her pillows miserably, everything throbbing and aching from her head to her gut, trying not to let herself whimper. There was something awfully unsettling at sleeping in a large dark room like this, her whole life spent in snug little bedrooms that left her feeling safe and secure, her eyes roaming across the unlit corners of the room with the echoes of ghost children's cries in her ears. It was a dream, only a dream. She repeated the thought, more forcefully this time yet she wiggled further into the bed covers for safety in fear of see those baby blue eyes peering back at her from the shadows.

She would have loved to tell herself that ghosts weren't real, but there had also once been a time where she could proudly say that witches also were not real, that monsters and magic were merely the things of make believe and stories to frighten children, she knew a little better now not to be so sure of the world. She snuggled closer to Lumière, his a presence comforting and familiar in this strange room and she tried to tell herself that if she went back to sleep this night time uneasiness would be gone with the morning, however the aching was doing its best to prevent her the rest despite how tired and weak the pain made her.

Her fingers drifted along under the covers to press against her belly, swollen and sore, what she'd give for some of the poppy tea again and how it made her feel wonderfully numb to all of this. Chances were Mrs Potts was the only person who knew the recipe, unless she had thought to write it down but with a glance over her shoulder at the edge of the bed and the floor and the door beyond she really didn't think she would be able to make it to the housekeeper's room to ask her for the tea, all the way up the high narrow stairs and along the servants quarters. She wiggled a little and tried to sit up in preparation for the task at hand, only to let out a squeak of pain and then a low hiss, clutching at her belly as the pain stilled her and made her head spin. She couldn't do it, she realised trying not to let the blind panic take over and glanced to her side at Lumière, who slept so peacefully. He desperately needed a good nights sleep, he had been up with her half the night since the birth, always at her side ready for anything she may need, it wasn't fair on him and so she resigned herself to settle back into her pillows, she would wait, she would just have to put up with the pain and at least it distracted her mind enough away from her upsetting dream.

Closing her eyes she tried to focus on the good things, how soft and warm the bed and pillows were, the sound of Lumière's gentle breathing at her side, she stretched her legs and turned her cheek into the smooth soft pillow, willing sleep to come. The throbbing and aches didn't leave at all and if anything only became worse as the clock on the mantel above the cold fireplace ticked on the minutes, the hours, for a unknown while she laid there trying her best to suffer in silence so her beloved could rest, determined that at least one of them should be asleep. Her toes curled and her jaw clenched as the pain in her gut developed into a full nausea and then finally her stomach began to spasm. Rolling onto her side just enough to tilt her head over the side of the bed she retched, her body contracting into the heaves and her airway closing up, she wretched until tears streaked down her cheeks and her lungs demanded breath and nothing but a little acid that burnt at her throat coming up, spitting on the floor over the side. She dropped herself back into the pillows, shivering and yet the pain hadn't loosened its grip on her at all, with a miserable sniffle and croak through a sore throat she poked at Lumière's shoulder. “Lumi...” she spluttered with another empty heave.

“... Mmmh?” he breathed, twitching barely awake and his eyelashes fluttering.

“I need you”

“...Darling? … What's the matter?” he managed to open his eyes, just barely staring at her as he began to move.

“I feel awful” she whimpered and he was quickly sitting up, pressing the heels of his palms to his eyes and yawning. He leaned over her, taking in her face drenched in a cold sweat, her shivering body and her fingers clenching and unclenching at the blanket in her grip.

His pale eyes flickered over her in fearful concern “What should I do?”

“I need more tea, we need Mrs Potts” she hissed out through clenched teeth “S'il vous plait” Not a moment had passed before he was tumbling himself out of bed, near tripping over as he pulled on his shoes still half asleep in his hurry.

“I will be but a moment” he yawned, snatching up one of the many candles that lit the room, the corner it came from darkening in its absence, and then he was gone out the door leaving her alone in the dark and quiet.

She watched him go with fearful eyes, peering around the room as she trembled, it was going to be alright, she just had to wait a little while and then she would be fine, nothing bad would happen. Even so she pressed her face into the pillow frightened, the room so much more unsettling now she was alone. She sucked in a harsh breath, it would be alright, Lumière would return and there was nothing hiding in the darkness.

It took far too long for Lumière to return, though she knew realistically it was as quick as it could have possibly been but she was near hysterics from pain and fear when he pushed the door open, Mrs Potts trailing in behind him carrying the tea tray. He rushed back to her side, placing the candle down as he did so, fussing over her and brushing her hair away from her face as she peered one eye at him, still pressed into the pillows

“Here you are darlin'” Mrs Potts yawned, the poor woman still wearing her nightgown and trying to blink herself more awake, she placed down the tray on the beside table as the pair of them turned to her, Lumière assisting her to roll onto her back and then to sit up causing her to convulse, her head juddering forward as she retched again, Lumière managing to snatch out his handkerchief and hold his covered hand open under her mouth, catching the small amount of bile she brought up. “Oh sweetheart” the housekeeper sighed, hurrying to pour out a cup and passed it to Lumière in exchange for the soiled handkerchief, which she discarded on the tray for now. “Wash it down with this”

Plumette grumbled in acknowledgement, her trembling fingers trying to clutch at the cup and failing, Lumière holding it to her lips as she took sips, it was still disgusting even with sweetness from extra sugar. They managed to get the entire cupful down her throat successfully, the cup put down when she began to cry, tears rolling down her cheeks and her breath caught in her chest.

“Cherie” Lumière soothed, sitting on the edge of the bed and wrapping a warm arm around her. “What is it?”

“I just feel so unwell” she hiccuped, her face hidden against his chest and her fingers clenched into his shirt.

“The tea will help, you'll feel better soon” Mrs Potts rubbed at her back “Now come on, lay back down love” the pair of them guided her back to the pillows, she whined with an outstretched hand as Lumière stood up before he moved around back to his side of the bed and returned to her side, so she wouldn't have to move herself, her arms sliding around him as he held her and her cheek pressed over his heart.

Mrs Potts reached over and brushed her stray curls behind her ear and out of her eyes, her fingers so gentle, then pulled the wooden stool that Lumière had occupied for most of the day beside the bed and sat down with a sigh.

“You do not have to stay if you do not wish” Lumière was quick to protest.

Mrs Potts shrugged “It's alright dearie, I'll stay for a bit” she yawned, her eyes tired.

“Sorry for waking you” Plumette mumbled out, tears still wet on her cheeks, Lumière shifted the bed covers and blankets over her more, bundling her up in his arms.

“Don't be silly sweetheart, not havin' you sufferin' all night alone” the housekeeper huffed.

Plumette grumbled, dragging her balled fist across her damp eyes and wanting to protest. “Try to sleep amour” Lumière nudged a kiss to the top of her head, his hands rubbing soothingly between her shoulders. She huffed out a sigh, nuzzling her face into his chest and closed her eyes, his heartbeat against her cheek ever so soothing, a reminder he was real and alive. Time passed, the pair of them quietly speaking occasionally between themselves, short and clipped conversation as the poppy tea worked, taking the edge off the pain like was draining out of her and her breathing calming as she snuggled her beloved. She found herself able to relax, it would be alright.

When she next opened her eyes the morning light had brightened the room, she stretched with a yawn and curled further into her pillows, but where was Lumière? Her head lifted up and she peered about groggily. “Lu-Lumi...?” she mumbled out and with that his hand was stroking at her hair again, right there when she needed him as always.

“Good morning amour” he was sitting beside the bed where Mrs Potts had last been, he was wearing a fresh set of clothes she noted as she rolled over to face him, a simple ensemble and his natural hair roughened, as if he had been frantically running his fingers through it. She squinted at him through sleepy eyes but gave him a small smile in return, she was feeling better, well better was definitely not the correct word at all, but at least she was able to concentrate without sobbing from the pain she was in, so that was at least better.

She gave a yawn, her voice not ready yet to work instead her hand fumbled out from under the covers for his, Lumière's fingers slipping into hers and she tugged his hand to her to press a kiss to. He smiled gently at her, leaning forward to kiss her forehead, his thumb stroking at her palm. She stretched lightly under the covers, shifting her pelvis and realised what had actually woken her, she needed to relieve herself. With one last squeeze she released his hand and dragged herself up, only getting so far to find her elbow to prop her body up a little, her head spinning wildly. “Oh” she breathed in despair, clasping her palm to her forehead.

“Darling? What is the matter?” Lumière worried.

She forced herself up a little more, dragging her knees up to sit. “I need the toilet” she spoke quietly, very much ashamed at the admission. “I don't think I can stand”

Lumière blinked before nodding “Not to worry cherie, I can help” he assured, both of them really knowing that he didn't need to speak the words, she knew he would anyway, but for the sake of her feelings he made it known it was his choice to help, that she didn't need to be ashamed of asking him for help when she clearly needed it. He stood and reached for her, Plumette's arms coming to wrap around his neck as he lifted her down onto the floor, doing his best to be gentle and even so she squeaked in discomfort, where he dug out the chamber pot he knew was hidden underneath the bed. Nudging the chamber pot between her legs she held onto his shoulder to steady herself, clutching the hem of her chemise out of the way.

She huffed out a puff of air, her cheeks warm with embarrassment as she forced her body to relax and urinate into the pot while her lover crouched beside her holding her up. When she was finished she wiped at herself with a cloth that was kept with the pot for the very purpose, the plain fabric coming away red and drops of blood in the pot.

Lumière scooped her back up and as carefully as he could got her back onto the mattress, tucking the covers around her as she gave sigh laying her head down on the soft pillows. “How are you feeling, ma cherie?” he asked quietly, perching himself again on the stool.

She frowned at him, considering what she should say, naturally wanting to tell him that she was fine, as she had been insisting the last few days but she knew there was no point in lying anymore, she clearly wasn't well and hadn't been long enough for it to completely exhaust her, she didn't have the energy to keep up pretending. “Unwell” she didn't like how his shoulders sagged at the admission, his forehead creased “The pain is not unbearable, but I am tired by it all and feel rather rotten” she continued, trying to at least make a point that she wasn't as bad as she had been.

Lumière sighed, his hands loosely clasped in front of him, thumbs fiddling “I should fetch you breakfast”

She made a face at that “I'm not hungry”

“But you couldn't keep down any meal down yesterday, you haven't eaten in over an entire day” she blinked, not realising it had been so long but it didn't make her want food anymore than before “Please cherie you need to eat, please for me”he begged.

Her pout still in place she mumbled “I really don't want breakfast”

He fidgeted, his hands clutching at themselves “I will bring you anything at all, whatever you choose” he tried still, trying to persuade her with a meal of her choosing instead of forcing more broth on her, if it would get her to eat he would bring her the most expensive delicacies he could find, whatever would make her happy.

“... Perhaps some porridge?” she finally relented.

“With sugar and cinnamon? Just as you like it?” he smiled, pleased and picking himself up off his seat.

Plumette nodded, then “And amour might you fetch some water to wash with please” she called as he was on his way out the room, receiving a nod in reply. She gave a sigh after the door closed behind him, her fingers trailing under the covers to touch at her sore belly that still felt hard and swollen, she imagined it must be full of blood to be so sore, too much blood, perhaps once she had bled enough the swelling would go down and she would be well but for now she just felt swollen and pained, like a full water skin with seams ready to come apart from the pressure. Her hand moved up to cup at one of her breasts and she spent a few moments trying to massage and ease the feeling of being overly full but quickly gave up from the effort.

She remained slumped on the pillows idly until Lumière returned carrying a water pitcher and basin, Mrs Potts along at his side with the breakfast tray and Chip trailing behind them. “Plumette!” he chirped, dashing round the two adults to come to her and his little hand grabbing at hers where her fingers were knitted into the blankets. His smile faded “...You don't look well”

“I am merely tired...” she lied if only for his benefit, the sadness didn't leave his expression when he didn't believe her.

“Mind out the way love” Mrs Potts told him, taking his place and laying the tray down across her lap , Lumière already having put the pitcher and basin down on the table, plumping up the pillows behind her and aiding her to sit up a little.

The sickly sweet smell of the porridge hit her nose and made her stomach churn uneasily, she just really wasn't interested in the idea of eating at all and was already concerned enough with the urge to vomit as it was without trying to digest anything. Still the worry on their faces was plainly visible
as they hovered nervously around her so she dipped the spoon into the bowl and brought it to her mouth with a mere coating of porridge. Her beloved had prepared it exactly how she usually loved it but now she simply didn't want it and struggled to take another tiny spoonful.

“I have a present for you” Chip stepped forward and only then did she notice he was hiding one hand behind his back, lifting up a flash of flowers and for one heart stopping moment she thought it was the rose before a sweet little bouquet of violets and lily of the valley was being held out to her.

“Oh you darling, they're beautiful” she gave a real smile and loosely pulled one arm around him in a hug, the flowers clutched in her hand.

“Please get better soon, so we can plant strawberries in the garden like you said” his smile was fragile, like glass and his eyes worried. She had been promising to plant strawberries with him for years, one of the many 'when we're human again' promises that had kept them going through the curse, plans of a future to look forward to in hope.

“Of course mon chouchou, we will grow the very best strawberries that have ever been” she kissed his forehead “Look amour” she showed off the flowers to Lumière happily as she released the boy, he smiled, his hand ruffling Chip's hair fondly.

“Come on love, let's leave 'em to it” Mrs Potts spoke softly with one last smile at the two of them then she was herding her son out the door.

Plumette placed the flowers down beside her on top of the covers and turned her attention back to her food.

“You're not eating” Lumière spoke after a good few minutes of watching her merely play with it, dunking and stirring the spoon without ever a full amount reaching her lips. She shrugged and picked up the glass of water on the tray, gulping it down. “You need to eat” he repeated.

With a huff she scooped up a spoonful and shoved it in her mouth, her face twisted as it slid down the back of her throat to settle heavily in her stomach. “Its making me feel ill”

“Really?” Lumière groaned in frustration, his hands pressed to his eyes as he breathed out a hiss, his shoulders tense and annoyed.

“... Are you angry with me?”

His hands slid from his face, his blue eyes lit with fear staring back at her. “No not with you but darling you need to eat to get better it's been four days and you are...” he trailed off not wanting to say the words, that it she wasn't getting better if anything only worse, he was watching her become frailer and weaker before his eyes and nothing he did seemed to stop it and it terrified him. “... You need to eat, please just two more spoonfuls”

She managed one and a bit spoons more before pushing the tray away and shaking her head, the porridge swirling with the water she had so feverishly swallowed down and now wishing she hadn't.

With a sigh Lumière took the tray and placed it aside. “Lay down”

“... I need to wash, will you help me?” her large doe eyes looked up at him in shame.

His gaze softened, his shoulders slumped “Of course I will my darling Plumette” he leaned across the bed so he could cuddle her, knowing that his mood had upset her “I'm sorry I just hate that you are suffering so” his fingers had found their way to her small and cold hand, holding her in their warm grasp. With one last squeeze he released her and moved so he could tug the bed covers aside, moving her flowers out of harms way. Her arms slid around his neck as he lifted her to sit up against him and only then did she realise she had been sleeping on large towels spread across the mattress and they were stained with patches of blood, as was her chemise around her behind.

He helped her to do everything from pulling her clothing off over her head and wiping her down with a damp cloth so she could feel cleaner, as he had done when she had fainted after the funeral and washed her face because he knew she hated sleeping with make-up on. He lifted her more up onto her knees as he wiped blood and discharge away from between her legs and trailing down her inner thighs, then moving her across the bed just enough to strip the stained towels and replace them with fresh without a word spoken. That fool of a doctor had said there wasn't anything wrong as far as he could tell, so why was she still bleeding days after the birth, he knew this wasn't right, he could see the fear in Mrs Potts eyes that told him this shouldn't be happening, yet it was and he had nothing that could help. He could only watch while his beloved continued to bleed out and as she looked sicker each day.

Plumette's hands rubbed lightly at her breasts, her face twisted with pain and he noticed. “Um... amour” she paused with embarrassment, her eyes flickering away from him “My breasts are aching awfully, could you perhaps massage them... I need the milk out”

Lumière nodded, Mrs Potts had already mentioned this to him “Come here, cherie” He pulled her with him as he sat down against the pillows, she placed near enough on his lap and her back flush to his chest as his arms curled around her waist “Comfortable?” he checked and she nodded as she clutched a hold of a spare towel just in case, she really didn't know how much to expect. His hands ever so warm slipped under hers to cup each engorged breast, his fingers underneath holding the weight and his thumbs giving long strokes across to her sore nipples, making her whine in discomfort “Relax” he breathed against her ear, kissing there. “There we are” he spoke when he began to feel wetness across his fingers, the towel covering his hands to soak it up.

She whimpered a little, his motions making her aching flesh hurt but there was an easing to it, the pressure not so tight already, she hid her face pressed to his neck embarrassed and emotional. They shouldn't be having to do this her traitorous mind whispered, she should be holding her baby in her arms instead, she still longed for her baby so much. “I saw Marietta in my dreams last night” she spoke quietly, disrupting the silence around them. Lumière hummed in question with his hands never failing his massage. “She hates me”

“She would never hate you” he soothed.

“I killed her” Plumette whined sorrowful.

His arms tightened around her “You did no such thing, you are never to be blamed for anything that has happened-”

She interrupted “But if I had done something different, I could have protected her, I should have kept her safe...”

“Could haves and should haves are very dangerous things cherie, they leave us always doubting our actions, there is nothing you could have done to change things, you are a wonderful mother and Marietta would adore you, now darling please try to rest and maybe don't think of her too much” that was an easier thing said than done while he eased the milk out meant for their daughter. “Let me know when you feel its enough”

She closed her eyes, her lashes damp with tears and she tried to settle in his arms, the towel soaking through. Lumière's mouth pressed into her hair, humming soothing melodies to her. After a while the pressure had eased to a near comfortable level and she stirred in his arms “Merci” she nodded, nudging away his hands and he helped her up, talking the milk soaked towel and dumping it on the floor with the others to be taken away and cleaned later. He got her into a fresh chemise and laid her down into the pillows, carefully tucking her back into bed. She yawned “I'm impossibly tired, I've only just awoken”

“Then sleep, ma cherie, it will do you good” he was there again at her side, always at her side, stroking her curls away from her face and leaning down to kiss her lips. She smiled, her eyes slipping closed.

This time she didn't dream at all and awoke when the pain irritated her back into conciousness. She blinked a little woozy, all this constant sleeping left her feeling very muddled and out of sorts. It was still daylight, which was soothing to know that she hadn't slept away an entire day and there was something heavy and warm laying over her arm. Frou-Frou slept curled up at her side, the soft little white ball of fluff snoring until she moved and then he was yawning and up, coming to crowd round her and lick at her face.

“Careful now you silly boy” Lumière chuckled, reaching over and holding the dog back from trampling all over her.

Plumette rubbed a fist against her eyes, blinking against the light. “Mhmm, why is he here?”

“Maestro Cadenza and Madame Garderobe came to visit and he couldn't be persuaded to leave you” he explained, offering her a glass of water and when she nodded he slipped one arm beneath her shoulders and raised her head, lifting the glass to her lips and his fingers soothing at the back of her neck while she drank.

When he let her back down she reached out a hand from the covers and rubbed the dog's head. “They came? Why didn't you wake me?”

“You needed the rest, they understood and they have left you gifts” he nodded towards the bedside table where a large bouquet brightly coloured flowers sat in a vase, Chip's flowers in a smaller one as well as small bottles of perfume oils and a pot of something she suspected to be some sort of nice lotion for her skin.

“I must give them my thanks” she smiled as Frou-Frou shoved his nose into her cheek, demanding more ear scratches. “How long did I sleep?” she yawned again.

“About two hours, do you feel any better?” he asked, a hopeful lilt to his voice.

She paused, considering herself as she woke up a little more “Non, I think the pain is getting worse again”

Lumière nodded sadly, looking disappointed “Mrs Potts said you could have more poppy tea soon, we have to be careful with how much you can have”

Plumette settled down into her pillows, Frou-Frou snuggling up to her side. “Have you eaten?” she questioned suspiciously, he nodded with an absent minded hum, that was good at least he was somewhat remembering to look after himself, she knew how distracted he could be with his own needs when he was taking care of others, especially when it was her. “You must be so bored, I'm sorry”

He looked near offended “But of course not cherie! I would never tire of seeing your beautiful face!”

“Mon amour you've been by my side for days now, you have never been so still in all your entire life even when you were a candelabra” she huffed, her fingers rubbing the dog's ear again while he made happy grunting sounds. “I will be alright here if you wanted to attend other matters, or even just take some rest” she tried.

“Darling I am more than happy here with you” he sat himself down on the stool beside the bed, taking her hand in his. “And I have had more than enough coffee to last me”

She sighed, knowing that she was never going to change his mind. “I do not deserve you”

“Ah but you are wrong ma chere, it is I who does not deserve you” she couldn't help herself from grinning “There is that beautiful smile I adore!”

Glancing away she noticed his chess set sitting out on top of the table across the room, perhaps that was how he was been entertaining himself when she was asleep, in any case it was a good idea now “Mon amour might we play?” she asked, gesturing towards it, the least she could do was be interesting for him while she was awake and besides laying in bed all day was dreadfully boring for herself too. He beamed at her and sprang up to fetch it over, laying the board out across her lap and straightening up the pieces, she had the white set as she always did when they played. “You better not cheat”

“Mademoiselle you wound me! For you to think that I should do such a thing breaks my heart!”

“Amour you are a cheating cheater who cheats a lot of the time” she giggled.

He smirked “Only when playing Cogsworth” tucking himself to sit on the bed beside her and Frou-Frou went stomping over her legs to see him, licking at his hands. She moved forward a pawn, an easy first move that he returned without trouble. “Settle down mon ami” Frou-Frou had decided he wanted to lick and nibble at Lumière's face before he was removed and placed in between the pair of them while she made her next move.

After a while she was near winning, though she fully suspected he was letting her do better when she paused with a groan, the white queen clenched in her fingers mid move. “Oh...”

“Cherie?” Lumière glanced up from the board, his eyes filling with concern.

“I am not feeling well” she gasped, the queen falling to the bed and with that she was retching, Lumière dashing the snatch a bucket that had been left on the floor for this very purpose and holding it in front of her.

“Dearie?” Mrs Potts peeked in, the tea tray back with her and when she saw her she promptly shoved the tray at Cogsworth who trailed in behind her “Chip stay outside! Chapeau watch him!” she snapped out quickly and came running over, the butler stumbling to place the tray down without breaking anything.

Plumette had brought up the water she had drunk and still continued to retch, her cheeks turning pink when she couldn't pull any air in. “She can't breathe!” Lumière cried, trying to rub at her back to ease it, Frou-Frou was yapping in distress and he pushed him away.

“Love calm down, you need to stop panicking” Mrs Potts spoke to her at her other side but she simply couldn't stop not when her airways had closed and her lungs screamed for air, her head throbbing from it all, she was going to faint. “Come on now, calm down!” Mrs Potts and Cogsworth were pulling at her and when he realised what they were doing Lumière helped, pushing her down and dragging her onto her side while her beloved still patted at her back. Laying down eased it and after a moment she gave one final splutter and could breathe again, harshly sucking in mouthfuls of air. “There you go, good girl” Mrs Potts stroked at her hair as she trembled, her skin flushed and clammy. Lumière tidying clear the bucket and chess set. “Oh lovey, that's one way to give everyone a heart attack” the housekeeper breathed, a hand resting over her chest.

When she had calmed Cogsworth poured out a cup of tea “Now this will make you feel much better” he soothed while Lumière got her to sit more into the pillows and between them they got her to drink her tea and soon had her tucked down into bed.

“Have you had anythin' else to eat, poppet?” Mrs Potts asked, eyeing the bucket that only held bile and water, Plumette shook her head.

“It's been two days...” Cogsworth worried aloud, receiving a glare from Lumière to be quiet about it, that they shouldn't let her know of their fears.

“Never mind that, she'll eat when she's ready” Mrs Potts soothed, but just as worried “Just let her rest, now dearie don't worry a thing, all you need to focus on is gettin better” she nodded towards the door to Cogsworth and he followed her out with one concerned look towards Plumette. “Oh right, Chapeau wanted to play for you, he can come back another time you'd prefer?” she paused at the door with a mutter of ”Chip you can see her later...” as she opened it.

“Mhhm, he can come” she shrugged, half decided on the idea when the tall man was walking towards her, violin and bow in his grasp. “Chapeau” she greeted as he appeared by her side and leaned over her, his long arms coming to sweep her into a hug and she squeezed him back as best she could. He was the big brother she never had, only a few years older and already at the castle when she arrived as a small girl, they had grown up together and always been close. He let her go to perch himself on the stool at her side, his hand still holding her smaller one and smiling gently at her and tilted his head in question, silently asking how she was. His face was always so expressive that she never had any trouble understanding him, when they were children she would drag him around with her all over the castle, the gardens or the meadows chattering away enough for the both of them, he would smile and nod and in his own way contribute just as much to the conversation.

She merely shrugged with a frown to his unspoken question and he understood, she wasn't feeling well. He pressed a kiss to her hand before letting go and taking up his violin as she settled further into the pillows, Frou-Frou coming to curl up by her once more and Lumière sitting on the edge of the bed. He lifted the bow to the strings and went straight into her favourite song, one that he had written himself for her nineteenth birthday and she had loved ever since.

The poppy tea was quickly working, the pain becoming muffled and easing, leaving her heavy and tired with her vision hazy. “Play the Princess's song” she mumbled, barely awake, wanting the soothing melody of the song he had written for Adam's mother years ago, she didn't see the flicker of worried eyes from both men, memories of Chapeau playing the song at the dying Princess's bedside all too similar. The violinist straightened his shoulders and set into it, this wasn't the same, it couldn't be, Plumette would be alright she was going to get better.

Soon she was asleep.

When she opened her eyes again both Chapeau and Frou-Frou were gone and she saw Lumière over by the fire place, adding a log to the flames. She peered about a little dazed, there was still some light coming in through the window, but it was fading and it felt colder in the room, was it nearly night? He noticed she was awake when he stood up, wiping off his sooty hands with a handkerchief from his pocket. “Darling” he smiled, coming over to be at her side and his warm hands stroking her cheek softly. She gave him what she could of a smile in return, she had slept longer this time she could tell from how stiff and heavy she felt.

Neither of them spoke, and he busied himself cooing over her, always touching her face or her hands, always needing the contact until there was a light rumble outside the window. She turned her head limply to look and saw dark clouds outside and could hear the water against the glass pane. “Darling it's raining”

Lumière's eyes peered over her “So it is” he breathed in wonder. They hadn't seen rain in all the time during the curse, it had always, always been snowing and now it was here again it was like welcoming an old friend home.

“We must go out in it!” she struggled to sit up, barely doing more than pushing up on her elbows.

Lumière's attention snapped back to her, full of worry “Cherie you are too unwell, you have to stay in bed”

“Just quickly? S'il vous plait?” she begged.

“Non, once you are better you can dance in all the rain you like, we can go swimming in the lake or whatever you choose but not now”

The was a pause between them, the rain tapping at the glass until she spoke very quietly, her eyes shining with sadness “It's been ten years, I need to feel it again”

He sighed, looking down at her “Why can I never refuse you?” he mumbled, and picked up one of the thick blankets that sat across the bed covers. “Come here then” he helped her sit up and pulled the covers away, bundling her up in the warm blanket before slipping his arms under her and lifting her up, her arm wrapped around his neck for balance. He carried her all the way through the long corridors of the castle and down the stairs to the front door and found a gathering of people already there when they arrived.

A group of younger maids splashing and dancing about in the puddles and kicking up their soaked skirts, Chip running about with his mouth open to catch the drops and his mother watching from under the shelter of the grand entrance with what looked suspiciously like tears running down her cheeks. Chapeau sitting down on the edge of the steps and watching rain running off the tips of his shoes, Cogsworth standing beside Adam and Belle who were arm in arm.

Plumette was all too aware of each one of them watching her as Lumière carried her down the steps and stopped just at the edge of the cover, a wall of rain falling before them, she didn't care. “Put me down, put me down!” she was excited, he gently set her down, his hands supporting her elbows and letting her lean her weight on him. The cold stone step underneath her bare feet was nothing but refreshing then she was taking one hard earned step, then another, like a child learning to walk for the first time and she stepped out into the rain. She laughed, it soaking into her hair and blanket and chemise, running down her cheeks, it felt like magic and the smell! She had missed the smell of rain so much. “Come with me” she tugged at his sleeve and Lumière stepped out with her, his clothes turning darker with the water.

Belle watched them curiously before turning to Adam “How long has it been since it last rained?”

Adam never took his gaze off Plumette, his eyes full of emotion “A while”

“Ten years, three months, twenty-four days and-” Cogsworth glanced at his pocket watch “Eighteen hours”

“You can remember that?” Belle was mystified.

“Not much else to do but keep watch when you're a clock” he spoke quietly, his thumb brushing over the glass of his pocket watch. “It rained the night of the ball, we just saw it as another frustration to organising the perfect event, never thought we would miss it so much”

“Plumette you're up!” Chip cheered running up to the couple, Plumette had turned around in Lumière's arms, her head on his shoulder as he held her, humming and gently swaying. “Do you want to play in the puddles?”

“Mhmm, not right now mon chouchou” she yawned, he frowned until she caught the back of his neck and pulled him into a cuddle with the pair of them, going happily back to leaping in puddles afterwards. “This is nice” she breathed, her cheek against the wet fabric of his waistcoat.

“It certainly is a welcome change from the snow” he nodded, making sure the blanket was wrapped tightly around her shoulders, he quickly glanced around at his friends, relieved that they were giving them some space to be alone. “How are you feeling, ma cherie?”

She shrugged in his arms “Never mind that, I am enjoying the rain” she sighed, although she wasn't sure how much longer her knees could last before they gave in, she didn't have the energy to stand anymore.

“I enjoy being with you” Lumière kissed the top of her head, his hand rubbing along her back. Her knees finally did give up and she stumbled into him with a light yelp. “Definitely time for bed” he scooped her back up and set off back into the castle. He nudged the door closed when they eventually reached their room again and carried her over to the fire, placing her down on the soft fur rug. “Darling you are soaked” he whined, going over to the bed to fetch another blanket and swapping it for the her wet one, its warm fabric ever so nice on her chilled damp skin.

“It was worth it” she yawned again, her eyelashes brushing against her cheeks with tiredness. He came to sit beside her and she curled up, placing her head in his lap. “Merci, that was wonderful and I am happy”

He brushed her wet curls away from her face “As long as you are happy I will do anything for you”

“I love you” she sighed, closing her eyes and beginning to dream again.

Chapter Text

Plumette woke up shivering, mumbled words already falling from her lips with confusion. The light burned at her eyes when she tried to open them and her stomach felt like it was twisting itself to pieces. She began retching, painful heaves tearing at her throat and tears already beginning to run down her face.

“Easy lovey! Easy” she distantly heard who she suspected to be Mrs Potts soothing and a hand was brushing back her hair away from her face.

She was cold, more than cold freezing like she had decided to go swimming in the frozen lake in only her undergarments. She hacked out one last wet cough before she could get her breath back, sniffling as she managed to prise her eyes open and squint out. “'Mmissis 'otts?”

“It's alright sweetheart, it's alright, we're here” she could see the housekeepers flustered face looking down at her.

“Hurts” she managed to croak out with a dry mouth.

A hand pressed at her forehead. “She's boiling hot”

“I know Lumière” Mrs Potts growled back in frustration.

Lumière.

Plumette turned her head and found him at her side leaning over the bed, he looked upset. “...Lumi?... what's happening?” she asked, swallowing against the taste of acid in her mouth and nudging her hand towards him.

He laced his fingers with hers, his eyes full of worry “Cherie you have a fever” he explained gently.

She whined out as Mrs Potts dabbed a damp cloth across her forehead and down along her neck, the chill of the water unpleasant against her already frozen skin. “Cold”

“We need to cool you down, poppet” Mrs Potts soothed, pressing the cloth to the hollow of her throat.

She attempted to shake her head and nudged away the cloth with the hand that wasn't trembling in her beloveds hold. “No, too cold” her teeth rattled as she shivered hard.

“Darling you're not cold, you are sweltering with heat” Lumière worried, once again pressing his hand to her face and feeling the warmth radiating from her flushed cheek as sweat dripped along her temple. Plumette frowned, wanting to argue with him because she felt absolutely frozen down to the bone but she glanced hazily away from him when the door opened.

Belle came in out of breath as if she had run all the way here from the ground floor with Adam, Chapeau and Cogsworth at her heels. “The doctor is here” she gasped.

Plumette grumbled, turning back to Lumière wanting to glare at him for inviting another doctor in but couldn't really find it in herself when she saw again how distressed he looked. “Don't want doctors...” she whined out to anyone who would listen.

Belle came to her side to stand with Lumière, a soft smile on her face “Plumette? Monsieur Robert is the father of a dear friend of mine, he has travelled a long way to come see you”

Plumette puffed out a sigh as two new men came in, she was sure she had seen the younger gentleman in the village before but was too tired to remember where exactly, the elder stepped forward nodding to Lumière and patting him on the shoulder before he turned to her.

He had a kind face with soft eyes and smiled at her in a way that made her long for her own father, even though he had died years ago during the plague “Bonjour Miss, I am told you are not feeling very well”

She nodded “Hurts”

“Would you allow me to try to help?”

She nodded again after a moments consideration, peering at Lumière for support who did his best to smile back at her, his hand tightening around hers. She looked from him to the doctor and back again “Thirsty” Lumière nodded stiffly as he poured out a cup from the pitcher that sat beside him on the table, with a practised ease he slid his arm beneath her shoulders and lifted her enough so she could take a few sips.

“Has she been asking for water often?” Monsieur Robert asked Mrs Potts as he watched.

“She's been drinkin' a few times tonight but she ain't holdin' much of it down” the housekeeper sighed in reply.

“I see, when was the last time she ate anything?”

“Must of been about two days ago now, we keep tryin' but she just keeps bringin' it back up, only been gettin' water and tea in her now”

Lumière held her for a moment longer once she had emptied the cup and pressed a kiss to her forehead before he set her back down into the soft pillows. He made sure to bundle her up with the thick bedsheets and blankets as she continued to shiver. “She says she's cold but she feels warm” he mentioned, gazing at the doctor.

The man nodded “Quite often a fever can play tricks on a person and tell them they are cold when they are not” he folded his arms. “And you spoke of bleeding?”

“Oui, she's been bleeding out since she had our baby... cherie may I show him?” Lumière broke off to ask for her consent, but she had merely closed her eyes and it wasn't very clear if she was awake until she jerked her head in a nod, knowing the more they answered questions the sooner he would either help or leave her alone. Even so she whined when Lumière took the bed covers away, leaving her shivering against the mattress “Cold!” she yelped.

Monsieur Robert frowned at the sight of blood staining her chemise and thick patches across the bed where she had laid. “And it has been this heavy for the past few days?” he asked, taking a moment to observe the swelling of her abdomen he had already been told about and then assisting Lumière in tucking her back into bed, his hand idly pressing to her forehead to feel her fever for himself.

“Yes but we can't seem to find out where its comin' from, the other doctor was rather insistent she wasn't hurt anywhere, though he was a fool if you ask me” Mrs Potts sighed wearily.

“Quite, one does not bleed this much for no reason but I fear it does seem to be an internal problem that we do not know of” Monsieur Robert spoke softly, his fingers having gone from feeling Plumette's hot and clammy skin to idly stroking through her fringe while his other hand had taken a hold of her wrist and frowning at a pulse that was too fast and weak. “Best thing we can do is try to break this fever” he was quiet for a moment while he considered things and looked up at Lumière with something that looked an awful lot like pity. “Lumière, my good sir, may I have a word in private?”

“Ah, of course” he nodded and turned back towards Plumette “I will be back in a moment, mon amour” he kissed her forehead then was out following the doctor and with that the room was cleared all but for her and Mrs Potts who took the stool beside the bed, fidgeting anxiously.

Plumette peered at her over her pillows before she reached out a trembling hand and caught hold of the housekeepers, trying to give her a reassuring squeeze but failing. “Are you alright?”

Mrs Potts gave her a fragile smile “Bless your heart, here you are sweatin' out a river an' you're askin' if I'm alright” she took up the damp cloth again from where it had been abandoned on the side and wiped at her dripping brow. “My poor baby”

“Mmh, baby?” the girl peered up at her with a weak interest, flinching as the cloth wiped along her cheekbone.

“You've always been my baby, from the first time you stepped foot in this castle”

She hummed in thought and then her face tightened in pain, her fingers locked stiff in her blanket “Feel sick”

“Need the bucket?” Mrs Potts asked, already snatching it up without a reply and dragging the girl to sit up with her arms around her, supporting her as she brought up the little precious water she had drunk with a few hiccuped chokes. Disposing of the bucket to the side she sat cradling the girl as she shivered and whimpered.

“Thirsty” she gasped out through an acid burnt throat, her stomach clenched painfully.

Mrs Potts took in a sharp breath, her voice wobbling “In a bit sweetheart, you can't keep it down at the moment”

Plumette began to cry at her words, thick tears dripped down her sweat slicked face while Mrs Potts held her to her chest, trying to wipe her tears with a dry handkerchief. The door opened with Lumière alone returning, walking stiffly back to the bed where he sat himself beside the pair of them.

“She's been sick again” Mrs Potts offered as way of explanation while he merely nodded, his throat trying to work around a lump and his eyes shining wetly. Plumette sniffled when he reached out to rub at her shoulder and her fever glazed eyes locked onto him, whining for him until they passed her between their arms and her head fell to rest against his shoulder.

“Darling...” he sighed as held her, his fingers brushing through her drenched curls.

“Thirsty” she mumbled, her fingers trying to find a grip on his shirt. He nodded for Mrs Potts to pour out another cup and pass it to him, she sat with her hands locked into her skirts and her eyes downturned, not wanting to see the relief on the girl's face when she knew she would only be sick again. Lumière helped her drink in small sips until she began to retch without the cup even leaving her lips and she coughed out a mouthful down her chest.

“Did she keep any of that down?” Mrs Potts mourned, taking the cup while he dabbed his handkerchief to the wet spot of her chemise and she sniffled miserably.

“I believe so, perhaps a sip” he spoke gently, his hand soothing up and down her back. She shifted to peer up at him, eyes bright with fever trying to focus to look at him, to really look. She had seen that expression on his face before, only last time it had been in bronze and not flesh when Adam had told them he had let Belle go.

When he had realised they were going to die.

The thought slipped from her mind as she shivered harder and a whimper escaped past her lips, she leaned back in to tuck her head under his chin, breathing in his familiar scent while he pulled a blanket around her. Her eyes slipped closed in exhaustion but sleep was completely impossible, she felt too nauseous, too cold and everything seemed to hurt from a pounding migraine to her aching joints.

There was movement in the room with people coming in and out and shifting things, the sound of an large item placed down on the floor and something else being smashed with a hammer. She whimpered and curled more into Lumière, wishing the noises would go away.

“It's all ready” Monsieur Robert announced from where he watched Chapeau pouring in the last bucket of water into the bathtub they had dragged into the room and Cogsworth adding another handful of smashed ice from the block they had taken from the cellar, the chunks sinking down to the bottom. “Ideally I wouldn't suggest a bath this cold but we need her temperature down now... this will not be pleasant”

Plumette whined when Lumière started to move her “Chapeau take her legs” he called and she tried to pull away as Chapeau was standing in front of her and his hands had firmly gripped around the back of her bare knees while Lumière's arms wrapped under hers and around her chest, the pair of them working together to carry her. She had a brief flicker of a memory from when they had been teenagers, the boys holding her like this only to throw her in the lake. She tried to wiggle out of their hands but she barely had the energy to lift her chin from where it dropped against her chest, moaning uselessly as they brought her over to the tub. Her eyes snapped open when Chapeau gently eased her legs then frantically trying to escape when Lumière lowered her down into the water.

She screamed shrilly, fighting them with a strength she didn't know she had until multiple hands pinned her down, pressing her back into the water forcefully and Lumière had wrapped his arms around her shoulders, hunched over her against the side of the tub. When she found she had no way of escaping against them she gave up and wailed while they tried to calm her.

“Lumi... too cold” she panted through her tears with her fingers clutching weakly at his wrist.

“I know my darling, I'm sorry” Lumière whispered back, tilting her to use his arm to rest her head on.

“Please, it hurts” she peered up and caught his eyes.

“I'm afraid it has to be done your fever is too high” he spoke quietly close to her ear so only she could hear “You are very sick but my dear Plumette you are stronger than this, I am right here with you and I have faith you can beat this”

It didn't take long for her to fall quiet with all the fight gone from her body, slumped against Lumière and her head rolling back against his arm holding her neck just out of the water. Giving gentle sighs and an occasional hiccuped sob. The others had removed their hands and backed away when she stopped struggling and she laid in the chilled water shivering, barely awake.

A hand checked her forehead “That'll have to be enough, we can't let her freeze” with that she was being hauled out, waterfalls streaming from her soaked chemise and she gave out a few groans when she was handled too roughly across the room. Someone was tugging her clothing off her but she didn't have the energy to care and could only trust that they would take care of her and whoever it was would try to preserve whatever dignity she had left. Soon she was in a dry fresh chemise and being tucked into the warm bed that felt so wonderful against her chilled skin.

She had odd dreams when she was asleep, not particularly bad ones merely odd, she dreamed of being a feather duster again but it was so familiar that it wasn't frightening, she had senses of Marietta amongst the light and shadows and she paid it no mind, busily dusting away.

Plumette sighed as her eyelashes fluttered opened to the early dawn light, clarity returning with the absence of the fevered haze. Rolling her head she found Lumière still at her side, sitting stiffly watching her with sad eyes and she blinked as she focused on him, he didn't merely look upset his face was flushed and his eyes red rimmed and glistening, he had been crying.

“Mon amour” she breathed nudging her hand towards him, reaching for him. She tried to sit up to cross the distance more but quickly realised that was a mistake when she gave a hiss of pain and fell back into the pillows.

“Cherie” he fussed leaning over her, his hand naturally slipping into hers and his other stroking at her cheek. She drank water when he offered, holding the cup to her mouth while she took in a few desperate sips. “Are you hungry at all?” he asked, she shook her head. “Is there anything you need? We will fetch more tea for you” with that he reached away to where a rope hung beside the beds post along the way that she knew was connected to one of the service bells down in the kitchen and pulled at it. He returned to caressing her face. “You look a little brighter today” he smiled softly yet he still looked upset.

She narrowed her eyes at him, studying him before the question she wanted to ask slipped from her lips “What did the doctor tell you last night?”

His eyes widened, looking frightened “Cherie?”

Memories slid to the front of her mind, the growing concern in their eyes as they had tended to her the past few days, the fear when he or Mrs Potts had seen more blood on her clothes or bedding, the frustration when she couldn't keep anything she swallowed down long enough for it to do any good, all pieces of the bigger puzzle.

And Angelique's own hissed out words 'She looks like she won't be long out of the grave herself'

Was it really at that stage?

“How bad is it? Do not lie to me Lumière I saw your face, your eyes looked the same the night the last petal fell” she growled out, her fingers clenching against his as best she could.

Instead of a spoken reply Lumière's face merely crumbled in anguish and he choked out a sob as tears began to roll down his cheeks.

She could have sworn she felt her heart cave in on itself as she watched until she couldn't anymore and turned her head away. She knew it, she had been right. He had said she looked brighter instead of actually asking how she was feeling because that wasn't something one asked of someone who wasn't going to get better.

The door opened gently and Monsieur Robert carried in a tea tray “Good morning”

It finally clicked in her mind who he was and why she recognised him, he was the father of the village priest, his son had been here last night with him but she had been too confused at the time to realise. She gave him a hard glare without a care if he was a friend of Belle's or not. “What did you tell him?” she demanded with a sideward glance at Lumière who was frantically wiping at his face, trying to halt his tears.

The doctor paused with a sigh as he placed the tray down, his hand giving a gentle pat on Lumière's shoulder who merely shrugged him off. He stood before her at the side of the bed, with sad eyes and his hands clasped tight. “Miss...”

“Tell me exactly what you told him, why is he so distressed?” she cut him off, still glaring, if she could she would be up in his face because Lumière never cried over nothing, and it hurt her to see him so ruined.

“I fear when you were in labour something ruptured, you have been bleeding out for the past few days and now whatever the original cause was is infected as you have a fever... I am very sorry but there is nothing more I can do for you”

“How long?” she demanded after quietly processing his words for a moment.

“... Truthfully I did not expect you to live through the night, perhaps a few more days at most” his voice was so gentle it was hard to be as furious as she wanted to with him, out of the corner of her eye she saw Lumière shudder and heard his sharp intake of breath.

“... Well at least you are honest, merci” she sighed, closing her eyes to rest them from the bright light pouring in through the room.

“I would like you to drink this tea” Monsieur Robert was speaking again to which she merely gave a groan of annoyance “Please, it will help, you must be in pain” she was, in an awful lot in fact but she didn't feel like being particularly cooperative for him.

“Plumette?” Lumière pleaded quietly.

Her eyes cracked open to look at him before she gave in with a nod and the smallest of smiles, nothing more than a forced upward pull of the corner of her mouth and let Lumière lean over her and scoop her into his arms. She went dizzy from a sharp blaze of pain and whimpered, her fingers clutched in his shirt collar as she allowed the doctor to feed her more foul tasting tea.

Monsieur Robert made himself scarce with promises to return if they should need anything while Lumière fussed over making sure the bed covers were comfortable enough around her.

When he had spent long enough fussing he spoke, his voice so fragile “Darling... please say something...”

Her eyes flicked up to his in consideration, what was there to say? That is was unfair? Of course it was but when had life ever been fair? Should she be angry? Sad? Scream and wail like a child having a tantrum as if that would change anything? She had already died once this week, they had been here before and he had merely given her a sad smile, wrapped his candles around her tenderly and lead her into a dance, she wished she could dance with him again. She had been human once more for a grand total of six days and found she didn't have the energy to be scared this time, it was as if she had used up all her fear the last night of the curse the only difference was it hurt more now in a living body.

“Come here” she eventually murmured, her hand slipped around the back of his neck when he drew in close enough to pull him down to her lips. She pouted at the pained effort but he kissed her back so sweetly it was worth it, she pulled more at him and rolled on to her side, the movement already easier to manage with the poppy tea helping to ease her. He lay beside her pressed against her back, holding her gently. “Tell me a story” she smiled softly, bringing their laced hands to her mouth and pressing kisses to his finger tips.

“Of course, what would you like?” he asked, trailing kisses up her neck.

“Tell me about Versailles, when you worked for the Queen”

“... Mon amour you know those stories were nothing but lies” he sounded very apologetic, as if he was guilty that he had ever made up the stories when he had been trying to show off.

She let out a laugh “I should hope so! Otherwise I have been wrongfully telling people to ignore your tales all these years!” she squeezed his hand in hers. “Very well, then tell me of a good day, the happiest you can remember”

“That's easy, the happiest was the day I met you” she scoffed a little at his words “It is true!”

“I threw a cooking pot at your head!” she couldn't help but giggle and she felt his lips grinning against her ear.

“That may be true but it was still wonderful, I can clearly remember walking into the kitchen the first time and there you were! A beautiful young lady standing there in the corner”

“You are still the charmer, I would have said I was a scrappy little scullery maid who threw pots in tempers” she smiled, her lashes brushing against her cheeks as her eyes slipped closed with exhaustion. She yawned and pulled his arm tighter around her waist, oddly content despite the circumstances.

She woke up again curled in his arms and her head on his chest while his hands stroked up and down her back. The world wasn't as clear as it had been before and she felt sickly warm, everything seemed to ache. He offered her water that she refused, the very idea of trying to swallow something right now sending her nauseous stomach into a spasm. So they laid there, Lumière humming some tune or other that she couldn't quite place, even though she was sure she knew it, had sung to it once.

A horrible anxiety caught in her chest, there was something she knew they desperately needed to talk about and it had to be done before she was too sick to remember, before she was too far gone. “Darling...” she breathed, nudging her forehead against his chin.

“Oui, amour?” his arms tightened a little around her, not too much, but enough to make her feel safe.

“I need you to promise something”

“Anything” he murmured back, she would have smiled if she wasn't trying to trap him in his words, luring him to agree without knowing the terms.

“When I am dead...” she frowned, the words strange on her tongue, in all the time during the curse they had never said that particular word even when they knew what their fates would be, becoming knick-knacks, lightly used house ware, rubbish but never dead. “... you must promise me you will live your life”

'I wouldn't live without you' the words he had spoken the night she gave birth rattled around inside her head, words of love and devotion now a threat.

A hand cradled against the back of her head and he began trembling. “... Cherie … please do not ask that of me... I can't...”

Her heart sank in despair, he had always made such bold claims that he would die without her love, silly words of an overly passionate man but she knew he had been telling the truth, he had no plans of out living her. The idea of Lumière ending his own life on purpose was just unbearably painful.

“Mon amour... we waited so long for the curse to be broken, at least one of us should be free”

“Not without you” his voice shook.

“Lumière... I wanted so much more for you than this and you still have the rest of your life to live”

“Non! If you are not there what is the point of being free? Being human? All of it is worthless if it is alone” she could feel his shuddering sobs in his chest as much as she could hear them “Not without you” he snarled again.

She wanted to argue, to yell at him until he agreed with her but she was tired and simply didn't have the energy, choosing instead to close her eyes and relax against his chest as much as she could. He held her and sobbed, his fingers clenched into her chemise fabric, she didn't know how long he cried as she drifted in and out. A whimper slipped past her lips when her stomach growled and she curled in on herself a little, one arm holding around her middle.

“...Darling? Are you hungry?” Lumière stirred, the smallest hope creeping into his voice.

Plumette pressed her face into his shoulder “I wouldn't keep it down” she mumbled as her stomach demanded food, hunger pains mixing with nausea and she knew anything solid she tried wouldn't last long in her body, still it hurt.

“I cannot just let you starve”

She held her tongue from wanting to snap at him, she had a feeling she wouldn't be around long enough to truly starve and even if she did what did it matter? “Can I have more tea?” she asked after a moment, knowing the poppy tea would dull her hunger, dull everything.

“It's not time yet I'm afraid” he kissed at the top of her head and she grumbled, wanting the sensation numbing tea more than she wanted food. She tucked her face back down, her eyelids feeling awfully heavy. “When I die bury me under the tree... I'll watch over Marietta” she breathed and he began to cry again.

There wasn't much she could do but lay as still as possible as if she could hide from the pain and wait, so they waited. At one point Lumière tucked her back into bed and got up to pace the floor, unable to bear doing nothing, when she had let out a small distressed whine he was back at her side holding her hand and fussing over her.

As the morning passed through into afternoon the others had begun quietly coming in and out to visit her, it didn't take long to realise what they were doing, they were here to spend whatever time they had left with her before they had to say goodbye. She was dying and they all knew it. It was in the little things they did, no longer insisting she'd swallow down bland stews and disgusting medicine concoctions they knew wouldn't do anything, yet still firmly denying her more poppy tea until they had deemed it had been long enough since the last dose. Plumette idly wondered if an overdose of opium was the better option to suffering through till her last breath. Offers of whatever food she wanted to attempt were given instead, anything they could fetch that would make her happy.

They asked if she was in pain rather than if she was feeling better, they could do their best to manage the pain but she would not get better. There often was uncomfortable silences, the sort that surrounded all dying people, she knew it from the plague and she saw the same faces on them they had worn when the Prince's mother was dying. Nobody was giving her false promises of her health returning soon.

Garderobe was surprisingly tame when she came to sit beside her beside and so uncharacteristically quiet for the diva that it unnerved Plumette more than anything. She sat and held her hand, Cadenza with her and Frou-Frou demanding until he was placed up on the bed where he could settle in against the girl. It had taken her a long time to understand Garderobe because when she arrived the night of the ball after being commissioned for the events entertainment she hadn't be able to speak a word of French or English, Plumette had spent hours by her side the first few days of the curse trying to sooth her without a common language between them until they had learnt enough Italian from Cadenza to talk to her. They sat there with her and held her hands, stroking and soothing her while Garderobe sang gently.

Lumière stayed to the side, watching everyone who came quietly until a few occasions he would leave for a few minutes when he couldn't control himself with no desire to disturb anyone else with his tears. No one ever commented when he would turn for the door holding back pained whimpers and smoke rising from his shoulders.

Chapeau had brought his violin again, bowed the first few notes until he choked and let the instrument fall to clatter on the floor as he sat with his head in his hands and cried, loud ugly sobs that was the most sound he had made in years. He frantically rubbed at his face and his gaze caught hers, staring with red rimmed eyes and his shuddering throat trying to work, his lips trying to form words.

She patted his hand “Mon ami you do not have to speak” she told him, Chapeau physically could talk, she knew this being one of the very few people who had heard him do so but it always distressed his anxiety and she wouldn't have him sending himself into a panic just because he thought it was right that he had to speak to her now. She always had been able to understand him just fine anyway. He sat with her for a long time, having to help her when she once again was vomiting into the bucket.

Cogsworth had come in, sat very stoically at her side and rambled on with meaningless talk, just as he had always done when he was stressed or upset until she had watched Lumière step outside another time then she took a hold of the butler's hand, her eyes a little hazed but staring at him steadfast. “I need you to do something for me, monsieur”

“Anything” Cogsworth nodded, so desperate to please.

“You are Lumière's closest friend, not that he would ever admit it and so I would like you to watch over him” her thumb stroked across his knuckles when she looked away from his face, the hands aged but still so strong and capable, the very ones that had calmed her times when she was crying as a child or just picking up her dolls left at the kitchen table fussing at the mess. “I know he has plans to harm himself so will you please take care of him for me?”

“It would be an honour” he gave her a watery smile.

Mrs Potts had been the worst out of all the visits because she had brought Chip up with her, the little boy trudged up to her and stared with a trembling lip and tears flooding his face.

“Mon Chouchou...” she strained out a hand to weakly grip him by the shoulder and Chip let himself be dragged towards her.

“You said you were getting better” he accused through his sniffles as she clung around his back and rested her chin on his shoulder.

“I know, I'm sorry, ah!” she gasped, a sharp pain stabbing through her gut that left her struggling in the child's arms.

“Plumette!?” Chip wailed.

“Dearie?” Mrs Potts came forward, Lumière turned around from where he had been looking away out the window with an expression of horror on his face. “Easy lovey” the housekeeper soothed, prying Plumette's hands off Chip to lay her steady down in her pillows and her hand brushing her curls away to feel at her forehead.

She began retching, pained heaves tearing at her already acid sore throat and her hands weakly pawing at Mrs Potts as she held her up with the bucket beneath her mouth “Chip... Out” she gasped between the muscle spasms, she tilted her head down when she brought out a frothy mix of blood and bile, red trailing down her chin “Don't let him see!”

Lumière had come over and snatched a hold of Chip, dragging him from the room while the little boy shrieked and whined, the door rattled when it was pulled shut behind them. Plumette groaned, spitting out one last time into the bucket and trying to wipe at her chin with the back of her hand, blood thick across her tongue. Mrs Potts helped her take a few sips of water to wash it away and had placed the bucket down back on the floor. She took her handkerchief from her pocket and wetted it with water from the pitcher to wipe at the girl's face, trailing up to her forehead to cool her growing sweat.

“You're getting too warm again” The housekeeper sighed tiredly.

“Mmm, I don't want another bath” Plumette's head rolled against the pillows to stare at her, she hadn't noticed how glazed the girl's eyes had looked before.

“I know sweetheart, the doctor wouldn't recommend it cause you'll just heat up again anyway... but it might give you more time”

“Hurts” she disagreed with shake of her head and Mrs Potts didn't press the matter anymore, only continued to dab at her face with the handkerchief. “... When it's bad keep Chip away, I do not want him to remember this” she mumbled pressing her cheek into her friend's hand. Chip was only a child and she didn't want his last memories of her to be of horrible things, like how whenever she thought of her father the main thing she recalled was the sight of his corpse being loaded on the back of a plague cart to be taken away. If she could she wanted to spare them all the pain of watching her die, especially Lumière, she wanted to have him locked in the tower until she was gone but she knew what that would do to him, besides she needed him just as much.

Mrs Potts nodded “He would like to see you now though, would that be alright?” she asked. Plumette agreed and the housekeeper went to fetch back both her son and Lumière, when he was allowed in the little boy flew straight to her side, clutching her hands in his.

It hadn't taken long for Chip to climb the bed and curl up with her, his head resting on her chest while she idly stroked his hair and hummed soothing melodies, sometimes the matching words slipping out through her sore and weak throat “... Dapples and greys, pintos and bays all the pretty little horses...”

Chip had to be taken away when the pain became a little too much and the effort of holding it back in an attempt not to scare the boy only made it worse, Mrs Potts pressed a kiss to her damp forehead and left with an arm wrapped around her son while he rubbed at his eyes and snivelled.

Lumière curled himself up against the pillows with her, taking over the duty of trying to cool her down with the cloth and water and murmuring soothing words to calm her. It was then Belle had quietly come in and approached them, shuffling her feet and glancing up at them through heavy lashes while she chewed her lip. She didn't have to be here, she didn't really know them and nobody would have thought any less of her if she had chosen to stay away but the girl was kind and she was brave. When Lumière nodded at her to join them she placed herself neatly on the stool beside the bed taking up the aged copy of Gulliver's Travels from where it had still sat from when she had last left it. It seemed to help, Plumette entranced by the words she read out, calm and distracted until she had managed to fall asleep.

Something was disturbing her rest, something rustling nearby. Her eyes cracked open to blearily gaze around her and she let out a squeak of fear. Vines of roses had filled the room, trailing in through the open window to crawl up the walls, along the ceiling and floor, wrapping themselves around everything they could. They reached up across the bed, snagging into the blankets and stretching out towards her.

It was then she realised she could hear someone singing, the tune ever so familiar, it was the melody she had been singing to Chip. “... Way down yonder, in the meadow, poor little baby crying maman...” Marietta sat at the window, the vines slithering on past her, while she stared solemnly at her mother. Her white feathers stained a blood red. “... Birds and the butterflies peck out her eyes, poor little baby crying maman...”

The vines grabbed out at her and with a shriek Plumette tumbled herself out of bed to land hard on the floor, her trembling hands desperately trying to grip around a bed post to drag herself back up, her breath coming out in shuddering pants. Marietta turned towards her with a glare and the vines thrashed under her anger, lashing out like snakes around Plumette's ankles as she tried to clamber across the room, snatching a hold of furniture to keep herself upright.

Adam slipped his hand into Belle's, grateful to have her at his side while their small group stood outside in the hallway. Listening to Monsieur Robert as he outlined a few ideas on how to keep Plumette comfortable, because they were at the stage where comfort was all they could give, it wasn't going to get any better. Lumière was standing there not saying a word, merely staring blankly down at the floor while his hands clenched at his hair.

All of them looked up in alarm when the door slammed open, Plumette clutching a hold of the handle to stand and her eyes wild with fear, rivets of blood trailing down the inside of her legs to her feet and a glance behind her would show smears across the wooden floorboards in the room.

“Plumette!” Lumière cried running forward to take her into his hold, one arm securely around her back to support her and the other trying to take a hold of her chin to see her face while she thrashed in his grasp. “Why are you out of bed?!”

“She's here!” the girl gasped out, sweat running down her face

“Who's here?” Mrs Potts spoke beside them, trying to place a comforting hand on Plumette's back to calm her only to be shook off.

“Mariettas here, she's going to kill me” she sobbed, pulling in air as if she couldn't breathe.

Lumière curled his hand on her nape, trying to encourage her to rest against his shoulder “Darling Marietta is dead and nothing here will harm you!”

“Non, non!” Plumette struggled more, her fevered eyes sweeping up and locking onto the Prince as he and Belle approached. “You! What are you doing here?!”

“...Plumette?” Adam shrunk back a little.

“It's your fault! You ruined our lives, you ruined everything!” she wobbled dangerously but she was still furious, her eyes glazed. “You killed my baby!”

He let out a harsh gasp and snatched out his hand towards her, wanting to take her in his arms and tell her how sorry he was, to beg for forgiveness.

A horrible fear flashed in Lumière's eyes and he quickly twisted them around to place himself between his love and the Prince, clutching her to his chest. “No master! She doesn't know what she's saying!” he cried, bracing himself with a wince

Adam froze, a deep sickened feeling settling in his stomach, he'd thought... he thought.

Oh god.

He turned and bolted, his footsteps clattering loudly up the hallway with the echoes of them trying to wrangle Plumette back into bed behind him, she was still crying out. He turned a corner and his hand blindly grabbed at the door to Belle's room, working the latch open and throwing himself inside, just needing to get away and his chambers was too far on the other side of the castle for him to hide in now. He pressed his palms to his eyes as sobs wrecked through his frame, his throat hitching and catching wetly.

“Adam?” Belle called, peering in the doorway and following him in. “Talk to me, please” she came up to him and reached out a hand to tug his away from his face. “She didn't meant it, she's confused and frightened”

“He thought I meant to hit her!” he howled, trying to pull away from her.

“Lumière?”

He nodded with a sad warble “He still fears me”

“Darling he's terrified for her and he hasn't slept in days, he has every right to be short on nerves. Here come sit with me” she tugged at his wrists, leading him to her bed where they sat side by side and her arm pulled around his shoulders to tug his face into her neck. “Everyone is upset, it's alright” her hand stroked his hair away from his face gently.

“But I would have!” he whimpered, curling in towards her “You weren't there, before the curse I would have hit her” Belle said nothing only continued to stroke his hair and let him talk. “If I knew she was pregnant before the curse I would have thrown her out instantly, Plumette has been here my entire life, she helped raised me and I would have thrown her out to the streets, she would have died in some gutter alone”

“But you have changed, you are better now and she is not alone” Belle soothed, pressing a kiss to his crown. She couldn't help but think of her mother, alone and frightened dying in that old windmill with no loved ones by her side, at least Plumette was surrounded by her friends. “Now, wipe your eyes and come with me” she lent him a handkerchief from her skirts pocket, gave him a few moments to make himself more presentable and took his hand in hers, leading him from the room.

“Where are we going?” he quietly asked.

“We are going to see Plumette and you are going to tell her all these things you have told me” Belle held up her chin in determination, ready for the argument that never really came. She tugged in through the open doorway to the room he had given to his friends, finding Monsieur Robert watching over his patient with a grim frown and Garderobe sat upon the stool using a fan to try to cool the girl down who looked to be asleep, so fragile looking amongst the pillows and her breathing coming too shallow.

“How is she?” she asked, her hand giving Adam's a gentle squeeze.

Garderobe shook her head sadly “She is burning with fever”

“We've given her more poppy tea and that calmed her down, she's resting now” Monsieur Robert sighed. “We had to insist for Lumière to be taken to the kitchen and eat something before he falls faint, his devotion to her is admirable”

Adam just nodded sadly, his eyes locked on the girl in the bed and Belle looked to both of them “Would it be alright to have a few minutes alone with her?”

The doctor, observed them for a moment before agreeing “Of course, I will be just outside if you should need my assistance” he made for the door, Garderobe gently kissing Plumette's forehead then following him out.

“Belle... I don't think I can do this...” Adam breathed, not making any attempt to approach the bed.

“You will regret it forever if you don't” Belle replied simply and folded her arms, giving him a hard stare “You've told me you wished you could go back and say things to your mother that you couldn't, don't let this be the same”

Adam quietly let her guide him to sit on the stool in defeat.

“... I think I should go find Agathe” Belle murmured, almost to herself as if she was still considering the plan.

Adam's eyes snapped up to her “What?”

“The Enchantress, she's the only hope we have left, she saved you … maybe she can save Plumette, it's worth the chance”

“You'll never find her in time! Besides why would she even help?” He growled.

“I have to try! … Look just stay here with her and talk to her!” with that Belle was already heading out the door, her skirts flying behind her.

“She's not even awake what am I supposed to do?” he snapped after her.

“Talk to her!” the reply came snapped from down the hall.

Adam hissed out a sigh, his fingers digging into his thighs in frustration. However his eyes softened when he turned to look up at Plumette. She looked so sick, he hadn't gotten close enough to appreciate just how bad it had gotten until now. As a general rule in life he never liked sick people, ever since his mother died he just refused to acknowledge it, going so far to take a trip out to Paris when his father was dying, which also had a lot to do with the fact his father was a horrible man but still he hadn't been there to see him pass, choosing instead to let the staff take care of him.

“... Plumette...” he began, trying to think of what he could say, what in some possible way could make this at all better. “... I...” he floundered then gave up with a sad huff, it was no use and she couldn't hear him anyway. A curl of her dark hair had fallen over her eyes so he gently reached over to brush it away, his hand pausing to stroke her warm cheek. “I'm sorry...”

“Mmm?...” she shifted, her eyes sliding open a crack “...Lumière?”

“It's Adam” he soothed her, taking his hands away and folding them neatly in his lap.

“... Master?” She croaked as she tilted her head to see him more clearly. “... Master you're here? What.... “ she struggled to roll a little onto her side to face him “... Oh no... I think... Did I shout at you?”

“You did, it was quite impressive” he tried to smile.

Her eyes widened “Master please forgive me I am so sorry I would-” she blinked at him when he reached out and took her hand in his own.

“Hush now it's alright, besides every word you spoke was true” He pulled his hand back when her eyes lowered from his, doing nothing to protest his words, to say that she didn't still think him at fault. “It's alright to blame me, you can hate me if you wish, I would in your place”

“... I do not hate you” Plumette muttered, it was bitter but it was still true, though she sounded partly exasperated for herself saying it. Adam flinched, that had always been the problem, no matter what he had done to them, no matter how selfish and cruel he could be they had always been there for him, then the curse had happened and all through those long years they had looked at him with the same devotion, perhaps it would have been easier if they had always hated him.

He shifted uncomfortably, twiddling his thumbs trying to think of what to say while she just quietly laid there, looking so frail and hurt. “What's this?” he hardly meant to speak the words but he had noticed the book sitting on the table at his side, lifting the old thing into his hands.

“Miss Belle has been reading to me” Plumette sighed, watching him curiously.

Adam nodded, turning the book to look at its title and paused. “My mother used to read this to us, in the library when father was away!” he grinned at her “This was her favourite book I had no idea we still had it” he opened it and stroked his fingers along a the print. “Mother loved you...”

“Your mother loved everyone she knew, that was her way and we loved her in return for it” she spoke gently, her voice exhausted.

The Prince's eyes lifted from the book to her with a frown in place. “She loved you so much and I've spent all these years being nothing but an arse”

Plumette gave him a knowing smile “That would be one word for it”

“I am so sorry, I truly am” he breathed harshly, tears glistening in his eyes.

She let out a huff “Come here and read to me” she gasped in pain as she dug her elbows beneath her and shifted across the mattress just enough to make space for him, the effort leaving her breathless.

“Plumette!” Adam worried, his hand on her shoulder trying to soothe her somehow.

She glared up at him with a mumble “You better sit now I've moved” her hand locked into his shirt and tugged him down with no strength. Adam let her position how she wanted so that he sat against the headboard and if he was bothered by how sweat damp the pillows and sheets were he said nothing of it while she curled up into his side, nuzzling into his shoulder. “We used to do this all the time, but you are a little too big to sit in my lap now”

He couldn't help but smile taking up the book again when she nudged him and finding where Belle had left a scrap of paper between the pages to mark her place, clearing his throat he began to read. “This academy is not an entire single building, but a continuation of several houses on both sides of a street...” Her hands curled around his arm and held loosely as she relaxed against him, breathing softly.

She dozed as he read to her for a while until the door creaked open, Lumière coming in looking worn threadbare. “...Master?” his head tilted to the side in question.

“Oh Lumière!” the Prince flushed, placing the book down on the bed.

“Amour?” Plumette roused herself, eyes blinking up hazily with a small smile set in place. “...Adam's reading, it's nice” she yawned, rubbing a fist against her eyes.

Lumière smiled coming to stand beside them “That sounds lovely but you look tired, would you like to sleep?” he asked gently and after a moments consideration she gave a nod. He let Adam wrangle his arms under her and got her back comfortable down in the bed and moved in when the Prince stepped aside. He took the stool and leaned in close, stroking at her cheek. “Cherie how are you feeling?”

She nudged a little closer, pressing her forehead to his and hummed “Not good” her hazed eyes watched him, pained but still full of affection “Love you”

“I love you too darling, so much” he kissed her softly, holding her hand and watching her until her eyes closed and she drifted off. Behind him Adam fidgeted then made for the door “... You can stay if you wish, master”

The Prince turned towards his friend, who hadn't so much as turned in his direction but held his focus on his beloved. “Lumière I am so sorry” he breathed out in a rush, stepping back forward, the other man looked over his shoulder at him, confusion written on his features. “This is all my fault, I ruined everything”

Lumière stared at him, seeming to struggle for something to say before shaking his head, as if the Prince's words had near offended him. “Do not worry yourself master, I already know I am the one to blame”

“You?” It was now Adam's turn to look confused, coming to stand at his friend's shoulder.

“Oui... If I had only listened to her... she wanted to leave you know” he murmured, as if he was telling some great secret. “About a week or so before the night of the ball she was distraught, you had screamed at her for some reason or another and decided she had enough of it, she came to me and begged me to leave with her... but I convinced her to stay because I knew you needed us...” there was no accusations in his voice, just stating what he understood to be true, “... I put your need before hers and it was the wrong choice... I should have listened and left with her, if I had we would have been free these past ten years, our daughter would be alive... Plumette... wouldn't be...” he broke down into sobs and curled in on himself, his shoulders shaking with grief.

Adam made to rest his hand on his shoulder when Lumière ducked out of reach, pacing the room as smoke and sparks danced from his fingertips, his chest hitching “Ten years!” he howled furiously, snatching a hold of anything within his reach to take out his anger on, it happened to be a candle stick from the dresser that he glared at then threw across the room, it clattered loudly against the wall “Ten years we were trapped, ten years we suffered and hoped and prayed! We did nothing wrong! Doesn't she deserve her happy ending! … I promised her it would be alright in the end if we waited long enough... I promised”

A pained gasp caught their attention, Plumette lightly thrashing in her sleep and Lumière was quick to return to her side, dragging his palms down his face to wipe away his tears. “Darling? … Shh darling it's alright, I'm here” he tried to soothe her, his fingers stroking at her face and he could feel how hot she was, her chemise clinging stuck to her skin with sweat.

When she seemed to become more distressed and she had begun shivering again as she had the night before Adam darted out the door to fetch help and promptly returned with Monsieur Robert, Mrs Potts and Cogsworth at his heels.

“She needs help, something is wrong!” Lumière worried, watching over her as she gave shallow and rasping breaths.

Monsieur Robert stood beside him, his solemn eyes looking over her while he held her wrist and felt a pulse that was too fast and weak. “... I am sorry but... I believe she's at the end” his voice was still soft and calm, his eyes begging for understanding.

Lumière shook his head frantically “No, no! There has to be something that can be done! Perhaps another ice bath? If we cool her down again-” he rambled, his gaze darting about as if he could possibly find some secret that would help, that would protect his beloved.

Mrs Potts came to his side and gently spoke “Love, you'd just be makin' her sufferin' last longer”

“But it cannot be the end yet! I beg you there must be something! We need more time!” Lumière was frantic, turning to look at each one of them with terrified eyes, waiting for someone to help. “Please!”

“... Lumière we knew this was going to happen...” Cogsworth spoke, his eyes glistening.

He grabbed a hold of Monsieur Robert's sleeve “Please, we've been together for twenty-five years, she's been my life since I was a boy I need her”

The doctor took a hold of his hand, his fingers squeezing gently “I am sorry there is nothing we can do” he let go and stepped back to look over his patient. “She most likely will not wake again, the best we can do is try to keep her comfortable” he glanced around the room, the others nodding quietly along. “ Monsieur, I believe she may still be able to hear us, why don't you sit with her?”

Lumière nodded weakly, his throat tight and refusing to work as he let himself be guided to sit back beside the bed by the doctor. He found he could not speak, he had so many things he wanted to tell her, to beg her not to leave but he couldn't say goodbye, it would mean it was real.

“Do you want to be left alone?” Mrs Potts asked softly, her voice hitching as she tried to hold back tears of her own, Lumière merely shook his head. He took a hold of Plumette's hand, stroking his thumb across her knuckles as he watched her. She and Cogsworth came to stand behind him, if he wanted them there they would stay, the four of them had been together for years, through the curse and they were not about to leave now.

Plumette calmed a bit though she still seemed a little breathless while she laid there far too quiet apart from the rasping, her brows drawn in over sunken in eyes. Lumière had taken to wiping at her face with the damp cloth still left aside on the table, hoping if it wouldn't cool her down at least it might feel nicer not to be so sticky with sweat, he knew how much she hated sweating when it would ruin her make up. The tremors returned, growing from mere shivering to move violent thrashes as her body began to convulse.

“Quickly! Hold her head!” Monsieur Robert commanded, Lumière scrambling to cup his hands around her face to steady her. “Don't let her hurt herself” Mrs Potts held her hands, her fingers gently massaging while her fingers twitched in her grasp.

Adam stood back, silently watching with horror on his features.

“Darling?” Lumière called softly when she stopped after what felt like an eternity later, his palms loosening to cradle her face carefully, his thumbs brushing against her cheekbones. “Darling please don't leave”

She seemed to be struggling more to breathe as the minutes ticked by, rattling in her chest.

His pale blue eyes flickered over her face, watching her through his tears for some response, a sign that she could hear him. “Please I am not strong enough without you, I cannot do this alone... please stay... because I need you... and because I love you... and that should be enough... please let it be enough” he gasped pressing his forehead to hers. If love could break spells and turn people back from cursed forms surely it could do this, but there wasn't any magic here and even love couldn't prevent death itself in the end. She gasped once, twice then went awfully still beneath his hands. “Plumette?...” he leaned back a little, just enough to look at her face. “Plumette!” he shook at her shoulder, determined to get a response his mind locked up in hysteria. “Plumette... you can't... please... please Plumette”

Monsieur Robert stepped forward and carefully felt at her wrist for a pulse “... I am sorry” he said gently with a shake of his head.

Lumière gave a pained wail, clutching her up in arms and crying into her hair. Mrs Potts palmed at her face as she trembled with her own tears, Cogsworth stared stiffly, his eyes damp and he placed his hand on the housekeeper's shoulder. The doctor quietly slipped out of the room to allow them to grieve.

No one had the heart to pull Lumière away, instead they just stood there watching as he broke.

The door flung open to reveal a panting Belle, leaning heavily on the handle for a moment before she staggered in exhausted with a familiar women behind her. “I found her! I found Agathe!” she gasped, pushing a handful of her wild hair out of her face.

“... It's too late sweetheart...” Mrs Potts mourned, turning to look at her.

“....What? … No...” Belle's face crumpled into sadness.

Lumière opened his eyes and glanced over his shoulder, his back going stiff when he saw who had arrived. “You!” he snarled, his hands carefully withdrawing from his beloveds body and he swung around towards the door. “How dare you come here! Was killing her not enough?” Adam snatched Belle out of the way as he stormed forward, smoke rising from his form. “Your witchcraft murdered my Plumette and Marietta! You took my family from me!”

Agathe merely blinked owlishly at him, without saying a word. Fire sparked from the man's hand that he was quickly reaching out to aim at the Enchantress. He was going to kill her, the panicked thought blazed around the room. “Lumière, no!” Adam yelled, leaping at the Footman and grabbing at his arms.

“Get off of me!” Lumière howled, slamming his fist across the Prince's jaw without a care that he could receive a death sentence at the gallows for it.

Belle and Cogsworth both stood together watching in fear, while Mrs Potts leaned over Plumette, gently murmuring words through her tears, as if she could protect the dead girl from the anger.

“No! Lumière calm down!” Adam snarled back, pining his arms behind his back and slamming his friend forcefully into the wall. Agathe silently side stepped their brawl and walked to Mrs Potts, placing her chilled hand on the housekeeper's shoulder and guiding her out the way when her tear filled eyes met hers.

“Leave her alone! Don't touch her!” Lumière thrashed against the wall, glaring over his shoulder at her.

Adam dragged him along the wall heading for the door, scorch marks trailing as they went and with a furious shove he forced Lumière out of the room, slamming the door shut and locking it before he had a chance to right himself. The footman banged at the door screaming.

Agathe had sat herself down on the edge of the bed, stroking idly at Plumette's sweat slicked hair in thought. “Is there something you can do?” Belle asked nervously, stepping up. Agathe stared at her until she was uncomfortable before her emotionless eyes flicked back down.

The air felt warmer, energy crackling in the air as her magic woke up and Mrs Potts, Cogsworth and Adam all shrunk back as they remembered the same feeling the night of the ball. Agathe placed her hand on the girl's forehead, a soft glow around the point of contact while the Enchantress seemed to be concentrating. Golden light lazily grew larger and brighter around them, without rush or panic, just gently gathering and building while she sat and stared, her fingers gently massaging Plumette's still warm skin.

She leaned down and kissed her.

When she pulled away Plumette's eyes snapped open, her back arching and her mouth gasping open as she desperately tried to breathe again.

“Plumette!” Mrs Potts cried, quickly coming to be perched at her side and snatch her up in her arms when the girl sat up hunched over herself, holding her in a fierce hug. Agathe slipped out of the way without a word.

Plumette was still greedily pulling in air “W-water” she choked, frantically pawing at her friend. Cogsworth was quick at her side, pouring out a glass from the pitcher and handing it to the housekeeper who had barely any time to bring it to the girl's mouth before she was grabbing at it, gulping it down. “More” she hacked wetly, trying to snatch out at the pitcher and when it was passed over she had it out Mrs Potts's hands, drinking straight from it. Handing it back she messily wiped at her mouth, still coughing and for the first time her watering eyes peered about, blinking in the harsh daylight. “... Where's Lumière?”

The noise from outside the door had stopped and Cogsworth went very pale, remembering his promise to her. “... I'll just go check...”

“He's on the roof” Agathe spoke up softly, her eyes focused on a spot of the ceiling as if she could see him through the castle. Cogsworth's eyes widened with a nod and he promptly unlocked the door and scurried out.

Belle threw herself into Adam's arms in relief, grinning wildly. “Oh dearie! You're back this is wonderful!” Mrs Potts sobbed, kissing all over Plumette's face, who smiled even though she was dazed and confused.

She giggled under the sudden affection “I'm back? Where did I go?”

Mrs Potts placed one last kiss on her forehead before she pulled back enough to look at her “Oh darling, you were sick and … and you died... but you're here with us again it's a miracle”

Plumette's eyes widened as she remembered what had happened, her conversation with her beloved from that morning coming back to her. He wouldn't...

But she knew he would. “Where is Lumière!?” she demanded, struggling out of Mrs Potts's arms and staggering to her feet only to give a cry and fall to her knees. The three of them rushed to help her and hold her steady “Where is he!?” she snarled, shaking off their hands.

“Cogsworth has gone to fetch him” Belle tried to calm her, not understanding.

“On the roof” Agathe repeated, standing by the window where she had been blankly staring out.

“No, no no!” Plumette cried, dodging away from them and out the door “He's going to kill himself!” She ran as fast as she could despite the way her body screamed at her to stop and breathe, Mrs Potts, Adam and Belle quick at her heels.

Nobody saw Agathe shrug to herself before calmly wandering out alone.

He wouldn't dare, not from here, Plumette's mind screamed at her, not from their hiding place. Over the years of the curse when she felt particularly hopeless and trapped she would make her way to the roof to flit and flutter about the towers, she couldn't leave the castle grounds but up here it was almost like she didn't have to come down. Lumière would sit and watch her, for hours sometimes, while she pretended she was free.

Climbing the many stairs, too many stairs, she feared she had headed for the wrong tower until she heard Cogsworth's voice, broken and desperate. “Please just step back over here, it's alright” she could hear Lumière saying something, too gentle and far to hear then rounding the last turn of the steps she saw him, standing on the very edge of the walkway between the towers with his back to her.

Her lips parted, she sucked in a breathe to shout.

He fell.

She kept running out along the walkway, up to the edge narrowly side stepping Cogsworth and she jumped.

He was not going anywhere without her.

Flying as a feather duster was nothing like falling as a human, the wind whipping past her eyes hurt and her stomach in knots. She could see him just out of her reach below, falling and falling, the unforgiving stone ground closer with each second. She needed to be with him she needed to go faster. There was an odd feeling of warmth and a bright golden light, then a distant sense of the back of her chemise splitting open as her wings returned to her. She didn't have time to question it or even think instead she just flapped, each stroke sending her down faster.

She snarled in frustration when her fingers just nearly brushed against his shirt, just a little more, the ground was terrifyingly close now.

She's already died twice this week, third times the charm, the thought flashed though her mind bitterly.

Her fist snagged into the back of his shirt and she was able to quickly pull him against her and lock her arms around his waist. The moment she had him her wings spread out, catching the wind and trying to halt their fall and she let out a shrill cry as it pulled harshly at her wings. They were still going far too fast, she gave a groan and dipped one wing to allow for a turn narrowly missing the spiked peak of one of the lower towers, Lumière for his part just hanging in her grip with his hands clutching at her arms in shock. Their fall more controlled into a glide now as she swooped over the castle's grand entrance, luckily missing the rose garden and they landed hard on the gravelled path.

Plumette tucked her head into his neck and her wings curled to protectively around him as they went tumbling across the ground. Coming to a stop with Lumière pinned on his back beneath her laying in the dirt, her wings stretching out and quivering behind her as she felt his chest heaving against hers. Her fingers grabbed at his face, barely registering his shocked wide eyes on her before she slammed her lips into his. “You idiot!” she gasped against his mouth “You stupid, stupid idiot!” she couldn't stop kissing him, her wonderful stupid love. “Never do that again! I'll kill you myself next time” she nipped at his lips, her fingers slipping to sink into his hair.

“Plumette! My Plumette, mon ange!” he sobbed, nuzzling into her cheek and his arms clamped around her, neither of them having the attention to notice when Plumette's wings crumbled away into feathers on the ground.

He was alive, she grinned wildly, they were alive.

 

------

Five Years Later -

Plumette smiled gently, touching her fingertips to Marietta's name carved on her gravestone and placed the bouquet of flowers down at its base. It seemed quite a few of the others had already come with gifts for their daughter's birthday, a collection of flowers and trinkets left, still no roses, never roses. She recognised what was a wooden carved feather and candle that seemed to be Maurice's work.

Lumière stood beside her, holding their three year old son steady on his hip who had his mother's curls and eyes. With a huff she struggled to her feet and a hand pressed to her swollen belly, their third child closer with every passing day.

She leaned back with a wince, trying to find a comfortable way to bear the extra weight “Garderobe and Cadenza have demanded to be this one's godparents” she sighed.

Lumière's eyes dazzled mischievously, catching the warm afternoons sun “I fear the Madame will murder our Prince and Princess if they receive the honour again, then they will be sadly beheaded for treason all for the sake of the right to be godparents to our child”

“Darling! Do not even jest of such a thing!” she giggled even so, he was always so dramatic. The musicians hadn't ever been upset over their choosing for Adam and Belle to be their son's godparents, but as soon as she had announced she was pregnant again Garderobe had demanded to be Godmother before anyone else could get a word in. Smiling her hand curled around the back of Lumière's neck and dragged him into a gentle kiss, breaking away when their son between them grabbed a tiny fistful of her blouse and tugged. “Would you like a kiss as well? mon chouchou” she cooed, attacking his dimpled cheeks until he was squealing with laughter.