Dangerous Secrets: Chapter Eleven
Prince Adam and Gaston were engaged in a fierce battle between two strong men, and no one saw Marie sneak up quietly behind them, with Lumiere at her side. Holding the length of rope Hak had found in the boiler room, Marie thought to herself how the plan was never going to work. But it was too late for that now. She saw Cogsworth, perched on a table across the room, give her the thumbs-up sign. She glanced at Lumiere, who nodded.
Gaston shot up into the air in pain. It felt like his bottom was on fire… and sure enough, it was. The candelabra! He scowled and lunged at Lumiere, who simply jumped onto a chair and stuck out his tongue, taunting something in French. With a roar of fury, Gaston threw himself at Lumiere, but the candelabra had already dived to the ground…
Marie saw her chance and threw one end of the rope across him to Cogsworth, who caught it as the two of them tied Gaston to the chair. Sultan bounded across the room and sat down promptly on Gaston's feet, weighing them down to prevent him from standing up. Madame de la Grand Bouche opened up her drawers and the objects pushed Gaston into the largest compartment. She slammed the doors shut, and Marie grabbed the key and locked it.
Gaston hammered on the inside of the wardrobe to be let out, but Madame de la Grand Bouche merely smiled and rolled her eyes, giggling softly.
"Well," said Adam, gaping, "that was, er, convenient."
"You're welcome, master," Cogsworth said with a grin. "The plan was your wife's idea."
"Well, yes, but all I did was stand on the sidelines," said Belle humbly.
"You guys were amazing!" cried Chip.
"Where are the other villagers?" asked Marie, looking around nervously.
Lumiere laughed. "We sent them packing a long time ago, Marie."
"Lumiere was magnifique!" Babette said, swooning over the candelabra.
"I suppose he was all right," said Angelique. "It was mostly my genius, however, that got rid of those intruders. Amateurs at this sort of thing, all of them!"
"Your genius?" challenged Babette. "If it was anyone besides Lumiere, it was surely me…"
Marie ignored the bickering that followed and asked Lumiere, "Uh, did you happen to see a man named Rodrigue when you, uh, drove them out of the castle? He was down in the dungeon with us… about this tall, with reddish hair…"
Lumiere shrugged. "Most of them got away. I suppose he is fine."
There was a long pause.
"If I may butt in," said Webster, "how are we going to become human again?"
"Well. Yes. That." Cogsworth looked at the floor.
"The enchantress listened to you last time," said Marie. "Maybe if you ask her she'll turn us back." She didn't sound too sure.
"Well, perhaps, but—"
And just then the doorbell rang.
Prince Adam sighed. "What timing. I'll get it."
The objects peered into the hallway as their master opened the door. A shriveled old woman was standing in the doorway, a crooked smile on her wrinkled face. In her hand was a single rose. The objects stared.
"Please, sir," the woman croaked, "take this rose in exchange for shelter from the bitter cold."
The Prince took a deep breath before replying, "Of course. Make yourself at home."
She laughed. "You've learned from your mistakes, I see, Adam." The woman winked at him and flounced into the room with the agility of someone much younger. Her smile widened when she saw the fate of the servants. "Well now."
There was an awkward silence.
"No. I am not," the enchantress said quietly.
"Not the one responsible for the incident eleven years ago, dearie. It's what you had in mind, wasn't it?"
Cogsworth blinked. Suddenly he understood. The clock waddled out to greet the visitor, keeping eye contact and trying to remain calm.
"Hello," the old woman said, clearly amused.
"You." Cogsworth stared at her. "You're an enchantress."
"You didn't turn us into objects eleven years ago, but you know it happened."
"You know who did it. But you won't tell, will you?"
"You saved Gaston."
"You answered my prayer the other day. And messed with my words and made us objects again."
"Yes." There was a twinkle in her eye as she said it. "Of course, dear."
"So you admit it! You're an evil enchantress here to kill us all!" Fear showed in his eyes, but Cogsworth never wavered from the spot.
"No." She frowned. "Saving Gaston was for your own good, little clock. You don't want your master to become a killer, do you? Now Gaston can meet a more… appropriate fate. And if he was gone, Marie would have been mourning his death. She never would have come to the castle. Aren't you glad she came, Cogsworth?"
"Well, yes," he said, "I suppose." Cogsworth glanced over his shoulder at Marie. She smiled at him. He grinned and waved in reply.
"And now you'd all like to become human again? Again?" The enchantress laughed. "That song you sang to Belle was rather charming. I believe Lumiere was the genius who wrote it?"
"That would be me!" The candelabra slid across the floor to join Cogsworth. "I am enchanted to meet you, Madame."
Cogsworth groaned. Lumiere rolled his eyes and lazily reached over to burn his companion…
But the fire was gone, along with the candelabra that held it. In its place were two men, Lumiere's hand resting on top of Cogsworth's. With a cry of disgust they pulled apart.
Belle ran into her husband's arms, both embracing each other in celebration. Fife shrieked eagerly, his usual high-pitched, irritating squeak. Chip clung to his mother's leg, giddy with happiness, and Babette kissed Lumiere on the cheek.
"So we are together again?" he asked happily.
"Oui." Babette laughed. Eyeing the sulking Angelique in the corner, Lumiere winked, earning an himself indignant slap from the maid.
Marie ran to Cogsworth, beaming. "Well, Lumiere certainly can't call you coward NOW."
He laughed. "Marie."
He stared. "What happened to 'Cogsie'?"
Marie smiled mischievously. "I thought you hated when I took the worth out of your name."
"Well, yes, I did…"
"Cogsie." She gave him a quick peck on the cheek. "That's why I like you."
Cogsworth turned to thank the enchantress for all she'd done, but there was no one to be seen in the hall save happy servants. The old woman had vanished without a trace.
Upon hearing that Gaston had thought he was coming for a party, Prince Adam held an enormous gala that night in celebration of being human again… again. Taking Belle's hand, he led the dances, and was the life of the party next to his wife in her golden ballgown. Lumiere danced with Babette while Angelique sat moodily on the side, but when Babette went off to the restroom, several people noted that Lumiere had started slow-dancing with the castle decorator instead. Marie invited Rodrigue, threatening him first not to try any funny-business or he'd end up like Gaston, but he wasn't any trouble. Currently he was off listening, pained, to one of Madame de la Grand Bouche's stories, while Chip yawned to his mother that it was way past his bedtime.
Cogsworth stumbled through the crowd up to Marie, who was standing by herself near the side of the dance floor. "Hello, Marie," he said, too quickly, "would you… I mean only if you want to… perhaps you'd like… with the dancing and everyone… would you…?"
She rolled her eyes. "Come on, Mr. Suave. Let's dance."
Lumiere gaped as he saw the unlikely couple. "Well, mon ami, you certainly won this competition," he noted.
Cogsworth smirked proudly. "Of course! Don't I always?"
"Well next time you are going down! I simply let you win because it was my area of expertise, and Babette happened to forgive me…"
"Give it up, Lumiere; you're only jealous I proved the ladies like me more than you."
"You? You got lucky. You have no idea what it really takes…"
"Is that a challenge, Lumiere?"
"Yes, maybe it is!"
Marie sighed. Lumiere and Cogsworth were fighting. Again. Everything was back to normal.
After dinner and dancing, the Prince approached Marie. "I suppose you'll be going home soon?"
Marie stared at him. "But I can't possibly leave now! Everyone's so nice and… and… the villagers hate me now… and Cogsie…"
"Can't she stay, master?" Cogsworth begged.
"She is a pleasure to have around," Lumiere agreed.
"A most notable visitor in our castle's history," supplied Webster. "It would be wonderful should she stay."
"Well…" Adam looked at his servants' pleading faces.
"I could work here," Marie suggested. "I could, uh—"
"Webs can always use help in the library," said Crane.
Webster smiled. "I would be delighted to take you in as my assistant, helper, supporter, aide, associate…"
"Another librarian, huh?" Adam shrugged. "I suppose. You're hired."
Marie laughed. "Hear that, Cogsie? I'm staying!"
"I'll put you down in the list of servants," said LaPlume. "And your full name is?"
"Miriam Dominique Spencer."
"Miriam and Webster?" Cogsworth laughed.
"Of course, clock boy has another pun." Marie rolled her eyes.
Chef Bouche, who had once been a stove, peered out from inside the kitchen. "Marie, your—"
"SSHHHHHHH!" she hissed, glancing warily at Cogsworth.
"Your you-know-what is ready," the chef finished.
"Oh. Well then."
"Marie, are you hiding something?" Cogsworth asked curiously.
"No," she said quickly. "Er, come with me."
Following Marie, Cogsworth entered the kitchen. And on the counter was none other than a gigantic bowl of pudding. He whimpered.
"Of course, you're not different than Lumiere," he moaned. "You both get great pleasure in mocking me."
"No. It's for you." Marie shrugged. "There it is. Dig in."
Cogsworth stared, eyes wide. "But… how… you… I…"
"Just do it, Cogsie, before I change my mind and give it to Sultan."
He pulled her into a hug. "Thank you."
She rolled her eyes playfully and left the room.
"Marie, be sure to enter everything that happened tonight into the records of the castle," Webster advised her, handing her the heavy, hand-written book.
"Me?" Marie was taken aback. "But I'm new at this; you know that! I've never done anything like that before; what if I mess up or something?"
"You know what happened better than anyone," Belle said, smiling. "Go on, Marie. Breathe. Think. Write."
"Think of Gaston," said Lumiere. Acquiring several glares, he explained, "To make her relax."
Marie laughed. Her ex-boyfriend was the only one in the castle who hadn't been able to enjoy tonight's activities, as the enchantress had taken the liberty to turn him into an object as punishment for his shallowness before she left. She had picked a most appropriate object: a mirror, forced to stare at everyone but himself. It was odd looking at him as she'd once been, but Marie agreed the enchantress had made a wise choice. Nothing mattered now except that she was here, she was home…
Marie took a deep breath and put her pen to the paper. Webster had trusted her with this job, and while Cogsworth enjoyed his pudding she was going to do it well. Prince Adam's story was there in the book Beauty and the Beast from beginning to end.
Now it was time to add her own.