Disclaimer: I don't own Beauty and the Beast. It all belongs to Disney. All I own is my OCs and the plot, not to mention the laptop it's being typed on. I apologize for any errors-I'm working without a beta by choice. My life is crazy enough right now even with the pandemic. You'd think I'd have more time to work, but nope! My muse for this story went for a walk and then I tried doing NaNo last year for an original piece. Bad idea, as I've been helping my mom care for my grandma the past 3 years and she's a dementia patient. My mom was out of town on a work trip (which is part of why I'm helping out so my mom can travel-her job is a tour director for a student travel organization. Obviously, no trips right now with COVID-19) and trying to write, care for my grandma, and be involved in a couple of groups that I belong to just yea….something had to go. I am going to try to get more chapters out. I still need a name for the Prince. I can't switch between 'him' and 'the Prince' every time I do a scene focused on him. 'Master' is only reserved for servant usage. I know Adam is the 'official' name, but outside of a trivia game and I *think* the Broadway musical, I don't remember a name. I know in the original animated film, he has no name outside of Beast and I've only seen the live action once in the theater. I've also seen the Broadway production once, but it was a touring production and I have misplaced the playbill.
Two days after Cogsworth and Pierre had their evening talk, the Prince had finally decided what to do with his two prisoners. Jean would effectively be under house arrest for at least the next year. His wedding to the daughter of the Thenards would still go ahead, but sooner rather than later. Privately, he asked Pierre and Eponine to send updates the best they could. Either way, even if the official house arrest got lifted, he didn't think Jean would be going anywhere soon. De Rochefort senior was firm on that. Jean, by his father's request, had stayed in the dungeons along with Andre. The general impression is that the Duc wanted to teach his son a lesson or two. The Prince had no issue with that, given the actions of the young man.
Andre, the servant, on the other hand, was a different matter. De Rochefort was also firm on that, as was his butler. Andre was effectively fired and, unlike his sister, would not be getting a place here. Not with the way he acted. From what he had been told from a variety of sources, Andre had been the mastermind behind the scenes that had ended with the maid Collette nearly being raped. Jean was an unknowing pawn, not that it had helped his case any.
The only thing reason it had taken several days for the Prince to decide what to do was the fact that he wasn't sure what to do with Andre. First off, he could just keep him in the dungeons. That had been quickly ruled out, as Cogsworth and others of the senior staff had not been happy about the situation in the first place and-though it couldn't be proved-the fact that the food sent to the two prisoners was only just edible put proof to the feelings of the kitchen staff.
The second option was to send him away. Given that it was warmer out then it had been when Collette had joined his staff made things easier in that regard. That option came with its own deliberations. He could have the lad walk, but no proof that he'd leave.
The other way was to see if one of the male servants would be willing to 'escort' Andre to Paris or some other major city in France and come back. Again, no guarantee that young Andre wouldn't just hire a stagecoach or several and come back. The Prince also didn't want to arrange for Andre to have a position in another household-most of the families that had come to the party heard of what had happened and enough of the 'official' circumstances that they wouldn't hire the valet for any price, at least not in any position where he could influence either their heirs or any of their daughters.
The Thenards weren't going to hire him either, given that they had two more daughters and they were hoping to make advantages matches for both of them. It was a given that they weren't going to transport him anywhere either. They also didn't seem to want to travel to Paris, which is one of the cities that the Prince wanted him to travel to.
Thankfully, Cogsworth had the idea of summoning the closest bailiff and, after hearing the so-called official version of the situation, he became perfectly willing to transport Andre, accompanied by some guards. He had actually been of some help to figure out where to send the disgraced ex-servant. The bailiff knew Andre wouldn't be welcome in the towns surrounding the Prince's palace-the Prince and Princess were well loved. He agreed and knew several people in Paris who would be more than willing to keep an eye on Andre. He hadn't said who and the Prince hadn't asked.
The only reason that Andre couldn't be kept imprisoned ahead of a trial was the fact that any trial would become a farce. Even if the de Rochefort family, all nobles, said that Andre had been the mastermind behind their son's attack on a helpless maid, it would be thought that they were covering up actions of either their son or Collette. The safest course of action would be to send him far away.
Now the Prince was just waiting for the Duc de Rochefort, the Baron Thenard, his wife, and eldest daughter. The only reason the last three were included was by the Duc's request. If he hadn't, the Baron-if he really was a Baron-would have demanded to be included and generally been a headache.
Hearing the throne room door open-he'd elected to have the meeting in here to *hopefully* keep the Baron Thenard quieter than he had been-he turned. He'd been standing at a window near the throne while he had been contemplating what he was going to say. Indicating that he wanted Cogsworth to stay, the Prince moved to face the four nobles in front of him.
"You may be wondering why I've asked you in here." Seeing them nod, he continued, "I have been asked to keep the four of you in the loop regarding both Jean and Andre. Duc de Rochefort, as we have agreed, your son Jean will go home with you and hopefully his wedding to Eponine will happen soon. From what little interactions I've had with her, she appears to be a very capable lady and will hopefully help you get him turned around into a proper young man. All I ask is that he is to be kept at home for a minimum of a year. The rest, I leave in your capable hands and those of your future daughter-in-law.
"In regards to Andre, the town bailiff has agreed to 'escort' him, with help from a few guards, to Paris. I have not asked beyond that what will happen to him, but the bailiff has assured me that he knows a few people who will keep an eye on him. I do not expect to see Andre here for some time, if again."
The Duc seemed satisfied with the situation, though the Thenards appeared not to at first.
"Baron Thenard, is there something you wish to say?" the Prince asked, eyebrow raised. The Baron replied in the negative, saying that it had been a long week. After that, they had fallen into some quiet conversation before dismissing them. Cogsworth was released to go back to his duties, though the Prince suspected that he was going to head to the kitchens to inform Collette of the situation first. The Prince and Duc did go to the dungeons to meet with the town bailiff. The Duc, after gathering his son, would be heading back to their estate with what staff-minus Andre-that they'd brought with them. He wasn't sure where the Thenards were going off to, but wouldn't be surprised if they headed with the Rochefort's back to their estate. The Prince still didn't know where the Thenards' estate was or if they'd had one.
Thankfully, when Cogsworth got down to the kitchen, Mrs. Potts could spare Collette for a few minutes. With the Duc and the rest of the guests, plus their staff, leaving, the chances of someone overhearing was next to null. The castle staff that had duties that required them to be in or near his office knew better to try and eavesdrop when the office door was closed. Most of the staff that had been there longer usually warned younger or newer staff away from eavesdropping at closed staff doors. Most of the gossip that was to be had was found in either the common staff areas or up in the castle proper.
"You wanted to see me, sir?" It was obvious Collette hadn't been sleeping well by her voice and the term she used. Normally, at least in the common areas and in their conversations, she called him by his surname, like everyone else had. It was usually when she was tired that she became more formal.
"You're not in trouble, Collette. I just wanted to update you on what was going on with your brother and your former master's son, if you wish." Cogsworth knew that she might not want to hear about any of it, but he felt that giving her the option would make it easier on her in the long run. At the very least, some of the worries would hopefully drain away.
"Just the generalities for the time being, please, Cogsworth. I may ask for the full story later, if that's alright." Collette didn't want to deal with any of it, but without realizing it, she had proved Cogsworth right. She'd rather know at least some of it so she wouldn't have to worry about it for the time being.
Cogsworth told her some of what he'd heard up in the throne room before she had to get back to work. He did promise to give her the rest of the details whenever she was ready for them, which she appreciated. That caring from the senior staff and from her Master and Mistress showed Collette why the castle had very little turnover. What positions needed filled where usually because a staff member retired, died, or were promoted. Some left because they found the life of a servant to not be to their liking or found a better position elsewhere.
Both she and Cogsworth knew that some staff members viewed Cogsworth as a harsh taskmaster, but she'd heard enough tales from some of the other staff to know Cogsworth wasn't as harsh as he could be. He was usually harshest on the male staff that caused the most trouble. The same could be said for Mrs. Potts, Chef Bouche, as well as their head housekeeper, who Collette STILL couldn't remember the name of. She'd assumed Babette was such, until the older maid corrected her. The only times Collette really interacted with the head housekeeper was when she and some of the other kitchen maids went up in the morning to light the fireplaces and at mealtimes in the servant's hall. Collette was usually too busy with her tasks to take notice of when the older lady came or went. Not to mention the fact that it was usually Mrs. Potts and Chef that dealt with her when she came into the kitchen for whatever reason.
Given permission to return to her duties, Collette left Cogsworth's office, leaving the door open. She was thankful for his policy. Even though most of the staff 'knew' the official version of what had happened several nights prior or had heard the details from either her nightmares or palace gossip, nobody dared eavesdrop on Cogsworth. The servants that tried usually ended up with a tongue-lashing from not just Cogsworth, but whatever servant was in charge of their department. Said servant usually ended up with the worst duties for a while until it was thought that they'd learned their lesson. One servant who hadn't eventually ended up under the direction of an outdoor servant, or so it was rumored, and no longer came into the house.
Trying to distract herself from her memories and the information that Cogsworth had given her, she started cutting the potatoes she had peeled earlier. Marie tried to tease her about how hard she was cutting the potatoes to receive a dirty look in return. Catching the hint, she quit the teasing. She could tell her friend wasn't in the mood to deal with the teasing at the moment. Though how anyone could be after what had happened, neither Collette nor Marie could guess.
The rest of the day through dinner went by in a blur for Collette. The kitchen staff understood that she needed to be kept busy-the week had been too long for her, given what had happened. Collette appreciated being kept busy, even if the tasks she'd been given weren't needed right away. One of the tablecloths that was used for a fall fete needing mending right now was one of those. Such tasks were usually done by one of the tweenies or housemaids and usually not done until late summer or early fall. With the guests gone, they thankfully didn't need to have the same amount of food prepared as they did during the party and so, she had slightly more time to do such work. She and some of the other newer and lower maids had done such tasks to keep busy if the day was a rather slow one.
After dinner was over and the remainder of her tasks done, Collette went up to the room where she and Cogsworth often talked in the evenings. She'd dithered about it, but her friends pushed her to go. They said that they'd catch up later, meaning one of them would come into her and Aimee's room later and they'd gossip until she got tired. She suspected they were trying to help in their own way, which she appreciated. She had been having nightmares and was grateful for her two closest friends helping her calm down after them.
Entering the room and grateful that she had her project bag on her-she'd finished her blanket and was working on a new project-she almost cried in relief that Cogsworth was there. She just needed a comforting voice that wasn't Mrs. Potts or her friends. Chef Bouche wasn't the comforting type, at least not that she'd seen. She didn't interact with the head housekeeper much. Babette and Marie were both off with their fiancées and Aimee, well, she wasn't sure what Aimee was up to and didn't want to ask either. She knew Aimee was seeing someone, but it was more of a loose relationship and Marie wasn't sure she wanted to know either.
A/N: This was a long chapter-just over 3 pages not counting the disclaimer and author's notes. I kind of need an idea for who the head housekeeper is. If it's officially Mrs. Potts or Babette, let me know please. I've always gotten the impression that she and Chef Bouche deal with the meals for both the staff and the family. Something I'd read before I started this fanfic stated that in larger households, like a royal one, usually had multiple chefs and cooks. Some dealt with the food that would be served 'upstairs' and the others made the meals for 'downstairs'-i.e., the family they served and the staff. If I'm wrong on that, please let me know. Any help on French titles would be appreciated, spelling or otherwise. The only ones I'm reasonably familiar with is Comte and Vicomte due, in part, to the original Phantom novel.