Cogsworth lives his life like clockwork.
He is the first person to wake each morning, usually before there's even a hint of light along the distant horizon out his chamber window, and it's there that he stands alone with a cup of tea in a battered tea cup that he carried with him from England.
He is the last person to fall into bed each night, long after the stars have spread across the sky- when he has time, he looks out at the stars and wonders.
Until the strike of twelve sends him underneath the covers, and then the cycle repeats. Star-gazing has its time, but Cogsworth has yet to find when that is.
And everywhere he goes, the majordomo is accompanied by his trusty pocket watch.
Every moment is scheduled, every waking hour of his day is planned to the second, from before sunrise to long after sunset.
Lavish parties don't tend to host themselves, and if anyone can keep hold of the madness (the castle overflows with madness), it's him.
Cogsworth lives his life like clockwork.
And it's simple.
Except for Lumiere.
The foolish young valet with the flamboyant attitude, who would sooner plan an eleven-course meal complete with entertainment and music on a whim than stick to any of Cogsworth's carefully laid plans.
His schemes never fit into Cogsworth’s schedule.
There’s no time in the day to watch Lumiere shirk his duties with pretty housemaids, or slide down the banister of the main staircase with the footmen, not when there’s a tempermental prince to attend to.
There’s no time for Cogsworth to examine how irritating it is to find Lumiere engaged in dalliances with housemaids, not enough hours in the day to fruitlessly examine every interaction he has with the man.
And there’s work to be done, and a ticking clock besides, and better just to forget it all.
God knows he tries.
When Lumiere is late one morning to dress the prince, he receives a tongue-lashing that make the very walls shake with rage, enough of a punishment that Cogsworth decides to leave off with his own dressing-down.
It does leave him with two free minutes, so he tugs Lumiere into the kitchen, sits him down in front of Mrs. Potts, and shoves a cup of tea into his hand, before leaving again.
There’s work to be done after all.
And he forgets all about it, until a few days later, when spring has breathed its first, and there’s a bundle of wildflowers with a golden ribbon tied around them, and there’s something there that wasn’t there before.
When he leaves his chamber that morning, the wildflowers are in a tea cup on his windowsill and the ribbon is in his pocket, to be returned to the owner with a lecture about sentimental hogwash.
But by the time he gets downstairs to the servant’s dining room, all the words are forgotten, and he simply shares a look with Lumiere over breakfast, and the ribbon never makes it back to Lumiere, but is wound into the chain of Cogsworth’s pocket watch.
(Cogsworth lives his life like clockwork, but goodness knows he doesn’t hear the clock ticking away, counting down to a stormy night…)
But the clock keeps turning, and if the prince’s temper tantrums grow, Cogsworth doesn’t notice.
His days are scheduled to the moment, and yet, there’s something there that wasn’t there before. Because now, despite everything, every spare moment he has is stolen by Lumiere.
He learns in short order that behind the flamboyance, Lumiere is quiet, and tender, and soft, and it would be so easy to fall.
(But the hourglass is running steadily out of time for them.)
It’s the stolen moments he’ll remember most.
“Mon ami, you are wound too tightly!” Lumiere often scolds, before his face flickers like a flame into a bright smile. “Without me, you would only have ticking gears where a heart would be.”
“But I do have you,” Cogsworth will tell him, and Lumiere will laugh and the next time they sneak away together, there will be wildflowers and sweets that Lumiere has stolen from an unsuspecting Mrs. Potts, far away from anything the Prince can do to them.
And the nights when they’re too tired to speak, huddled together on the roof under the stars, and in the dim, Cogsworth whispers all the constellations, Lumiere’s arm warm around his waist.
It takes months, but it is at half past twelve, under a bright autumn sky, when Lumiere plucks the pocket watch from Cogsworth’s shaky hand, and kisses him sweetly to the music floating through the open doors of the ball inside, and they are hidden here among the rose bushes.
And without meaning to, Cogsworth has fallen in love.
And there’s time enough for both of them, until the autumn turns to winter, and then their time runs out.
With the swirling storms and bitter cold, and the creep of magic across the castle, and a Prince who has no love in his heart, and the servants who must pay for it.
And Cogsworth’s hand is on Lumiere’s arm as the Enchantress turns to them, and when he shoves Lumiere behind him, the Enchantress merely raises her eyebrows at the challenge, and murmurs something malicious, and then-
It’s indescribable, the excruciating pain of transformation.
But when his eyes next open, all he can hear instead of a beating heart is a ticking clock, and it turns out that Lumiere was right, and instead of a heart, all that’s left of Cogsworth is a bunch of whirring gears.
And when he turns his head, he finds a golden, shining candelabra, who stares back at him in heartbreak.
“Lum…” His voice catches, and how can he feel such pain without a human heart?
“Mon coeur,” Lumiere says despairingly in return, and despite the warmth of his flames, Cogsworth has never felt so cold.
And the cries of their master shake the very castle, as darkness descends.
Time passes outside the castle walls, the seasons change, but they do not.
And Cogsworth lives his life as clockwork.