A Light In The Darkness
Book Three of the Lumiere & Babette Fanfiction Trilogy
Written by Faith Kelter
Beauty and the Beast Characters © Walt Disney Company
Original Characters © Faith
Five years, five long years, since the household had seen their master. The last anyone had heard of him was the day his mother, the lady of the house, had passed on. Why he had suddenly disappeared when he had inherited everything had remained a mystery to the servants of the de Crochet manor, for the new mistress would never disclose any news she may have heard.
Until that day, the first of December.
It began snowing rather heavily that morning, and while everyone expected a storm, it had slowed later in the afternoon. Nonetheless, Jean-Claude answered the door as the knock resounded like thunder throughout the front hall; no one deserved to be out in such weather. The man on the opposite side shoved his way past him roughly, literally throwing a densely snow covered cloak at him without so much as a thank you. Typical of even the upper servant class, as the man's manner of dress exposed him to be; it was not just the royals who treated his low rank this way.
After seeing to the cloak, he followed the man to the mistress' sitting room and listened silently. Damn these doors for being almost sound proof.
"…revolt…free…he will be home soon enough."
They must have been nearing the door as the words grew louder and more understandable.
"…but they would not save a royal! He would still be killed," came the mistress' voice.
"I have taken care of that; he will be the first one saved. You know you can trust me, Adele."
"Of course I know, Arnaud…I just want him brought home…promise?"
"I swear it, when the time is right, he will be. And when he is…we will all have our revenge for what that monstrosity did to him."
There was a moment's pause, and Jean-Claude prided himself in his speed to escape being seen as the man left, the mistress at his side until he reached the door. He tried to understand what he had heard, his expression turning to disgust as he watched them embrace. Whatever their plan, he was certain the master would be returning home sooner than Babette would have wanted, and it did not sound as if it would be a happy reunion for her and the household she served.
With a bound to his room, he grabbed his own cloak and bolted for the door. She would be on her way to the grave by then, and he had to tell her. This was not something to be ignored.
"Lina! Stop that!" Babette reached for her daughter and as usual, missed her by a long shot. Her energy was unmatched by any child she had known before, and therefore, Chandellina was fast enough to escape her parents whenever childish necessity called her to do so.
Of course, that never did stop her mother's fear. "Chandellina! Come back here!"
Lumière pulled the horses to a halt at hearing the full name used this time, and turned to find his daughter climbing to the driver's seat of the open carriage the master had allowed them to use. When the couple had gone to visit the grave before, they had taken their horses alone. With Chandellina still being too young to ride, or so Babette insisted, the carriage was much easier.
Or so they had thought, he mused with a smile as he leaned to gather the little girl into his arms and seat her in his lap.
"See, Maman?" she asked, making certain Babette could see her, safe and unharmed. "I got here all by myself!"
"You are going to get hurt if you are not more careful!"
"Leave her be," Lumière laughed. "She simply wanted to be with the only man in her life for hopefully a long time."
Babette scowled. "You are willing to let her break her neck?"
He smirked, defiantly yet adorably at his wife, but spoke to his daughter. "I think we just have to work harder at showing Maman that you are becoming a big girl. Deal?" A very enthusiastic nod was the only reply he needed, and with that, he turned his eyes to the road, handed the girl the reins (his own hands guiding hers of course!), and snapped the horses into their walk once more.
Babette sighed, sulking a bit as she leaned back against the seat, not knowing who would be the death of her first. Up until Chandellina's fifth birthday last spring, Lumière had been on her side when it came to worrying about her. The slightest cough, the pain of a first tooth, both of them fretted over their baby, but as time went on, that had all changed.
Perhaps, she was worrying too much, but she was, after all, a first time mother. It was her right and duty to do so. When she looked at her child, it seemed as if time was slipping hastily through her fingers. Chandellina, or Lina as they had come to call her for short, was her everything in her world aside from her husband. Since the day she was told of her condition, despite her fears, Babette had loved that girl to death. When she was born, bearing her father's eyes and smile, she never thought she had seen anything more beautiful.
But she was growing up now; no one had exactly warned her about how difficult that part was going to be. Every day, Babette found herself feeling more sympathetic to Cogsworth for everything they had put him through all those years. She now understood how he must have felt about not having complete control over her and her fellow servants of the castle, and was becoming a believer that Lina was the lesson she had to learn in result.
Eventually she would learn to live and let live…just not today.
A child's curiosity, one of the great mysteries of life, Lumière was convinced as he watched Lina keep her eyes glued to the sight of her mother knelt at one of the headstones.
"Papa…Maman's talking to the rock," she muttered, completely confused.
How he kept seriousness about his expression, he could not explain to this day. "Indeed she is."
Lina tilted her head in thought before she looked up at him, tugging on his hand in demand of an answer. "Why? It can't talk back; even I know that!"
Lumière smiled. "That is where her maman is sleeping right now, cherie; the only way to talk to her is through the rock." He offered her a questioning look. "Besides, how do you know they can not talk?"
"Because they can't. They do not breathe and stuff like we do."
"Really?" Lumière asked, raising an eyebrow. "Ah, I thought it was because we do not listen close enough."
"Nope!" she answered decisively. "You can listen all you want; it won't answer."
Before he could respond, Lina's tiny ears caught a strange sound in the distance, and turning to see what it was, she saw two men riding towards them.
"Papa, look!" she pointed. "Someone else is coming here too!"
Lumière whirled around to follow her direction, relieved to only see Jean-Claude and a younger boy dismount their horses to join them.
"Lumière, quite a surprise to see you here, mon ami," he said with a laugh, offering his hand for a greeting.
He nodded with a smile, returning the gesture. The two had become fast friends with every visit. This man was like a brother to his wife when she had worked for the de Crochet household, and hence had his utmost respect and friendship. "Where else would we be today, Jean-Claude? Babette would have my hide if we did not come."
"Bien sur!" Jean-Claude then glanced at Lina, who grew the slightest bit shy, hiding her face in the sanctity of her father's knee. "And this small one! This cannot be Chandellina! She is much too grown up and pretty!" Those words had at least earned him a smile before he turned to the boy, no younger than twelve, beside him. "You remember my son, Etienne."
The boy nodded his greeting.
"Perhaps…he could show her the surrounding grounds if that would be all right?"
Lumière would normally give a negative response in trying to prevent any more angry looks from Babette, but Jean-Claude's urgent tone hidden behind the innocent request made him realize it had to be for the best.
"I do not see why not," he nodded to Lina, who looked at him puzzled, but shrugged nonetheless.
"All right, but if Maman sends you to heaven like she always says she will, do not get mad at me. Promise?"
Lumière raised his hand to give her his word. "I promise."
By the time the children were out of sight, Babette was returning to join them.
"Jean-Claude?" she smiled, embracing her friend as she asked. "What has you coming all the way out here?" She looked around quickly, her eyes beginning to scream murder at her husband as she added, "Where is my daughter?"
"That is my fault," Jean-Claude answered reassuringly. "Lina is with my son, étienne. He is showing her the grounds as I am positive you would not want her to hear what I have to say."
"What are you talking about?"
He glanced around quickly to make certain no one could hear or see them, only speaking when he felt they were safe. "Have you seen Jacques de Crochet any time recently?"
Lumière visibly tensed with anger at the very mention of that name. "Thankfully not since the day the master sent him off to face his uncle's judgment for what he did to Babette."
Jean-Claude nodded. Having kept in writing correspondence with his friend from the day she had left them, he knew of every thing that had occurred those few years ago. Jacques de Crochet, his former master, had feelings for the girl ever since she had grown into a beautiful young woman, but the love was unrequited. The day her mother had died, Madame de Crochet had dismissed Babette, sensing the girl was trouble and not wanting her son involved with a mere servant. Years later, under the guise of a mission, he had hunted her down, and in jealousy of her love for Lumière and carrying his child, he had nearly killed her. The crown prince, Vincent, having discovered what he had done, sent him away to his uncle, who had ordered the mission, to face his justice.
Babette pressed him for answers. "What has happened, Jean-Claude? The last we had heard, Jacques was sentenced to imprisonment for the remainder of his life."
Lumière growled, "As the master said, he was shown too much mercy."
Babette's eyes grew wide in fear. "He could not have escaped…"
Jean-Claude took her hand reassuringly, "No, he has not…not yet."
"Not yet?! What do you mean not yet?"
The man shook his head. "I do not know for certain, but earlier today, a man came to the household, bearing coincidently the crest of your master, the prince, on his clothes. I overheard him speaking to Adele about revenge, how 'he' will be home soon enough. I had to warn you."
Babette shook her head slowly. "No…no he can't…"
Lumière held her close, attempting to calm her down. It would not do any of them good if Lina returned to see her fear. "You said he wore the crest of the prince…?"
Jean-Claude nodded. "Yes, a beast of unimaginable dreadfulness holding the most beautiful rose."
Lumière sighed, "Even worse then, he is getting his assistance from one of our own. He could know everything that is happening at the castle, and decide when to strike using that knowledge…"
Babette swallowed a sob. "He will come for Lina…I know he will. He knows that any harm that comes to her will hurt us the most."
"No!" Lumière interrupted her sharply before quieting himself, attempting an optimistic tone. "No, he will not. Jean-Claude has done the right thing in telling us now. We inform the master, and everything will be all right."
Babette remained unconvinced. "Where is Lina? I want to get her home."
Sure enough, just as she asked, the girl herself bounded up to her excitedly.
"Maman!" she said, jumping around her and tugging at her skirts. "You used to live here when you were little?! You are so lucky; it's so big!! You must have had so much fun running around here!"
Babette gathered her in her arms, holding her protectively close. "Yes, cherie, I did, and I do hate to leave, but we have to. Now."
"What?" she whined, "Why?! I want to see more!"
If there was one tone she did not argue with, Lina knew it was that one. She rarely heard her full name unless it was serious. Thus she sighed, disappointed. "All right…but I get to help Papa drive!"
Jean-Claude gave her an apologetic gaze, and Babette smiled to conceal her fear. Leaning in to embrace him, she whispered, "It is all right, mon ami…you had to tell us."
Lumière nodded in agreement as he shook the man's hand. "Indeed, merci."
After the final farewells were said, the small family returned to the carriage. Lumière gave his wife a concerned glance. "Ride on the front with us, amourette; we need the company."
Babette nodded, climbing up onto the seat, holding Lina until he joined them. The moment she sat in his lap, however, the small girl fell asleep, exhaustion finally catching up to her.
"Everything will be all right," Lumière whispered, keeping his eyes on the road, but drawing Babette close with his free hand. "Nothing will happen to either you or Lina; I will not stand for it."
"I know," she answered, trying to sound convinced. "I just want to get home; the sooner that happens, the safer I will feel."
He smiled. "That old castle does have quite a home like feel, doesn't it?"
She laughed gently, unable to resist his optimism. "Yes, it does."
Lumière grinned, crooning gently, "Then close your eyes, get some rest. When you open them again, you will be there."
Babette obeyed, grateful that her fears would be eased for a short while. Everything would be all right…they had to be.