A little evening rendezvous was nothing new to Lumière and Babette! After escaping Cogsworth's bantering of orders, the two lovers – upon the candelabra's suggestion – slipped out quietly beyond the courtyard for a… "stroll", as they liked to call it. The castle's landscape was quite lovely, really. Then again, France always was quite lovely – especially in the wintertime. The two rambled along the veranda in a light snowfall for what seemed like hours before returning inside. Though Babette – shielded by her bounty of warm feathers – seemed un-phased by the chill of the winter evening air, Lumière, on the other hand, couldn't help but shudder as a chill went up his brass spine. Noticing her lover shiver, Babette drew herself nearer to his side.
"Mmmm, Lumière," the feather duster hummed, "Perhaps zis will warm you up a bit, no!"
"Ah, o-oui, Babette," the candelabra replied, still shivering lightly as he raised his arms high in the air.
"You always manage to find some way to…" And with that, a light flame flickered from his candlesticks…
"...Warm me up."
"Oh, no, no, no!"
"Oh, yez, yez, yez! Hon ho!"
Chuckling deeply, Lumière caressed his dear Babette as she cooed. Surely, they knew that Cogsworth had sent them off to do chores around the castle hours ago. However, the two saw it pretty clear that there were more… important things to attend to.
"Oh, Lumière," Babette sighed, twirling her slender body playfully in all directions, "What eef Cogsworth finds us 'ere?"
"I can assure you, ma chérie," Lumière insisted in a low voice, his waxed lips slipping into a coy smile, "Ze last thing on our minds should be Cogsworth. Besides – we have our own… business to take care of."
His hand of wax ready, the candelabra took the feathery hand of his sweet mistress with affirmation. Gradually, he worked his way up – from the nape of her neck, to the center of her arm, to her feathery hands. Her hands were so soft and down that it tickled Lumière's nose into a-
"Oh, Lumière!" Babette wailed, yanking her hand away to wipe her tears, "You have been sneezing all night! Eet'z my hands! Zay are awful, no?"
"Babette, ma cher! You know I – huh, hehh, Huhh'Scchhuuh!"
"Mon Dieu!" the woman cried again, "You must not love me anymore!"
'Drat!' the candelabra thought as he sniffled, regretting his sneeze, 'Lumière – you know you offend Babette when you do zat!'
If only he could help it. Sometimes, whenever Lumière and Babette got…well, carried away, he'd slip into his old habits that the two had formed when once entirely human. The romance, the rendezvous – there was no problem with that. However, the kissing of the hand (a true specialty of Lumière's) had become a challenge ever since the spell had fallen over the castle.
There had, however, been some time to get used to this; and the candelabra cared for his Babette. Most of the time he'd continue to kiss her without so much as a sniffle, but tonight was strangely a different story. And if he'd sneeze, it'd usually only be one.
But tonight, he'd been sneezing on and off throughout the evening. Though he was not in the form of a man, he knew that this 'sneezing' was most unbefitting of a charming gentleman like himself! Though finding that second surprise sneeze peculiar, Lumière knew that the happiness of his mistress was the thing he had to focus on.
"Oh, mah leetle alouette, " the charming candelabra cooed, drying the tears from the eyes of his feather dustress, "I could never let somezing like zat come between us! Besides, now you really… tickle mah fancy."
Giggling lightly, Babette smiled. He always knew how to make her feel better. With that, the feather duster shimmied around her partner in a tease.
"Now… where were we?"
Grabbing her tightly, Lumière chortled seductively, sniffling once more "I believe-"
"-You were supposed to be attending to your duties!"
"Ah, oui! Merci, Cogsworth. We were supposed to…Sacre bleu, Cogsworth! I-"but Lumière stopped short, realizing who had just found them.
With his mustache ticking back and forth in a doubled pace, Cogsworth stood angrily glaring at the two lovers.
"And here I thought the two of you were actually off doing chores for a change! How utterly silly of me."
"Tut tut! Not a word, Babette! I'm most certain there are plenty of things in this castle that require dusting."
"…Besides Lumière, that is," Cogsworth added, watching concernedly as the candelabra gently rub the underside of his nose, "Goodness, Lumière, does everything I say go through one ear and straight out the other with you?! Y'know I don't give chores just so they can be ignored by the-"
"Eh, hiihh-h'H'lll-schooo! Ugh, *sniff* Pardone moi, Cogsworth. I do not know what came over me. Now… what were you saying?"
Ignoring the fact that the two had been avoiding their work for hours, the tightly wound clock further investigated the candelabra's surprising sternutation.
"Well, that was quite a sneeze, Lumière…"
"Eet was nothing. A, er, a mere teeckle, eez all."
"It was anything but nothing! You don't suppose that sneeze came from nothing, do you?"
"W-well, no, but—"
"Well, then what? What caused it then?"
"I… I do not know." As he replied, the candelabra noticed just how peculiar that sounded. He knew what a 'dust' and 'feather' sneeze felt like, and neither of those two fit how it felt. Speaking of which, Lumière felt awful all of a sudden: his nose felt stuffed, his throat was scratchy, his head hurt. What in the world was this feeling?
Cogsworth stamped his foot affirmatively, "Well, then perhaps we – oh, good evening, Belle!"
"'Allo," Babette gestured curtly, as she was quite impartial to the girl herself. Lumière, however, couldn't be more opposite.
"Bondsoir, Mbademboiselle," the candelabra greeted, feeling his nose grow slightly more congested. Ignoring this, however, Lumière knew he had to give a proper greeting – thus taking Belle's hand, just as he did Babette's, and begin to kiss his graciously.
"Mwah! Mwah! Mw—ah, hahh…"
'Zut alors! Not again,' Lumière thought, backing away from the girl.
"Uh, Lumière," Belle giggled slightly, as Mrs. Potts turned the corner, "Are you okay?"
"Oui, m-mbadamb," Lumière struggled to reply, the urge to sneeze growing stronger, "I – eh – I amb – huuh – fi-hiiii… huhh – huuuhH'Ssscchooouuuh!"
Clearly surprised, Cogsworth, Babette, Belle and Mrs. Potts all stared at the candelabra as he began to enter a fit of sneezes.
"I – huuh'Schoo! Hehh'rrschhuh!Mon dieu, a—ah, huh'H'utchuh! Huh'sschooo! Eh… e-excusez, eh, huh'H'llssscchuuu! Huh'Schhuuu! HUH'Schhhhuuuooo! … Oh, sacre bleu."
Noticing his friends staring at him in astonishment, Lumière cleared his throat and giggled lightly.
"Hehe. E-excusez mboi, mes amis," he ensured, rubbing the underside of his nose. As Belle handed him a handkerchief, Mrs. Potts bopped her way next to the sneezy Frenchman.
"Lumière… you're not feelin' well a'tall, are ya love?"
Giving his nose one trumpeted blow to the hanky, Lumière lowered his eyes and shook his head.
"Ha! I knew it!" Cogsworth cried, dancing in excitement, "I knew there was something up! I just-"
With blanks stares silencing him, Cogsworth ceased his cheering and chuckled sheepishly.
"Hehe, yes…Well, er… Sorry to hear that, dear friend."
With all the energy he had, Lumière allowed the flame of his wick to flow from his hands straight under Cogsworth's—
"Youch! Lumière! That hurt!"
"Sorry to hear zat, dear friend," Lumière jested, only to be cut off by an abrupt urge to cough.
"Oh, mon cher," Babette cooed, staring worriedly at her pitiful love affair, "Zee wax from your forehead… eet eez burning up."
The candelabra sniffed, but this time it was not due to a sneeze. His eyes growing glossy and wet, "What is wrong weeth me?" he asked in a soft voice.
"Now, now, 's alright, my dears," Mrs. Potts hushed gently, "It seems Lumière's caught himself a bit of a chill."
The candelabra sniffled again, "A 'chill'? Ah, uht'Schuu!"
"Oh, Lumière," Babette cried, "You must have caught zis cold from our… 'stroll' along zee veranda earlier tonight."
"You were outside in this pitiful weather?!" Cogsworth scolded, "Well, it's no doubt why you've nearly caught your death of cold! Serves you right, if you ask me: skipping chores, poor judgement-"
"It's alright, Lumière," Belle consoled as she interrupted Cogsworth, wrapping a small blanket around the candle's brass shoulders, "With a little rest and a lot of care, you'll be back to your old self in no time."
"Oh yes," Cogsworth scoffed, rolling his eyes, "And won't that be a joy, eh? Skipping daily chores once again, courting Miss Babette again. And, of course, once again being a devil-may-care, waxy eared, slack-jawed—"
"Ahem!" Mrs. Potts cleared her throat disgruntledly, nodding her head in Lumière's direction.
And, boy, did he look awful. His wax was lightly melting with fever, his brass body was shaking with chills, and his poor face was paler than the moon that rested over France. Clearly, the usually-spry, spunky, sarcastic candelabra was not feeling up to a witty rebuttal... and Cogsworth felt guilty for giving him one.
"Yes… Well," the old clock hummed, taking his friend by the shoulder, "Come now – can't get any rest this way, now can we! It's off to bed with you. We'll just-"
"Now, no 'buts' about it, Lumière! As you know, I'm in charge, and what I say-"
"There's a good sport! Right then, here we are now."
Making their way over to a nearby couch in the library, the group followed the two chums over to a comfortable spot. Setting a feverish Lumière down on a nice pillow cushion by the fireplace, Cogsworth turned to Mrs. Potts, who was setting Chip by the candelabra's makeshift bedside.
"Bonsoi, mon amie," Lumière cheered weakly, trying his best to sound cheerful in front of the young teacup.
"Hi, Lumière!" Chip exclaimed, "Momma told me you were sick, so she filled me with hot tea for ya!"
"Ah, merci beaucoup," the candelabra nodded politely, "But I will be fine, if you'd return to your mozer, mon petit." This, of course, was due to the fear Lumière had that Chip catching anything of his.
Chip took it affirmatively, however, and bounced back to Mrs. Potts. With Cogsworth off in an embarrassing spree of alerting the staff of Lumière's condition, the candlestick could hear his wound-up companion from the next room over.
"Oh, yes – quite ill, indeed. Certainly won't be doing much of anything tomorrow, I'm sure. The candlelit suppers will have to be put on hold for a bit-"
Though he felt exhausted, Lumière chuckled lightly at his friend. This, however, faded, when he saw the distraught face of Babette.
"Babette - why zees tears, mon amour?"
"Our… our rendezvous made you seeck."
"Oh, ma cherie-"
"You were out in zee cold - sneezing and freezing while I was warm and, and-"
"My sweet, do you remember whose idea eet was to take an evening stroll along zee freezing cold veranda?"
"Oui! Exactement, mon cher," Lumière croaked happily, taking Babette's hand, "And when I am well, we shall do zee same thing again."
"Oh, no!" Babette exclaimed.
"Oh, yes…" Lumière hummed playfully
"Oh, no, no, no!"
"Oh, yes, yes, yes!"
Rushing back to his friend's bedside, Cogsworth checked his inner pendulum, indicating that the hour of eleven was upon them.
"Now, then," the clock insisted, gently pushing Babette to the side, "Look at the time. The patient surely needs his rest. You can chat and coo and do all of those nauseating things once Lumière's feeling better."
"I don't know, mon amie," the candelabra winked playfully to his feather dustress, "I'm most certain a kees will 'ave me feeling much better."
Sneering in disgust, Cogsworth let out a groan. Only a few seconds later did Belle set herself down next to the ill candelabra.
"Would you like to hear a story as you fall asleep, Lumière?" the girl asked kindly.
"Se magnifique, ma cherie. I am honored."
And as Belle slowly read her book, Lumière felt his tired eyes grow heavier with each word she said. He no longer felt like sneezing, or uneasy. Except, of course, for one thing…
"Cogsworth?" Lumière exhaled with a yawn.
"Yes, what is it?"
"I apologize for neglecting my chores, mon amie. Can you forgive me?"
"Do my ears deceive me? Lumière apologizing for neglecting his duties… You must be sicker than I thought."
"You are hilarious, my friend Truly heh, H'huhh'schoo!"
"That'll do, Lumière," Mrs. Potts intergected gently, "Y'need t'rest now. G'night, love."
"Bonne Nuit, Meesiz Potts," the candelabra smiled. And with a smile on his waxy face did
Lumière drift off to sleep.