He changed from beast to man and back again twice in the days after she left. He was dying, and he knew it. A couple of days after she left Louis came to him in his bedroom, and finding his master lying in bed, was distressed by his state..
"What is the matter?" Louis asked, licking William's face. "What's happening to you?"
"I'm dying Louis." He told the cat. "I was stupid enough to fall in love, and now she's gone. The curse is ending."
The hens soon stopped speaking in English, and the dogs started to run wild. All of the servants who were forest animals began to disappear back to their forest homes, and the forest began to grow over the castle once again with gusto. All of Rose's hard work was undone within three days.
On the fourth day William decided that if he was going to die, he would like to die with his roses, and he pulled himself out of bed and down to the garden. The hens fled from him, squawking in terror. As much as he had found their constant chatter annoying, he missed the hens gossip now that it was gone.
His rose garden was still intact at least; it was in bloom already, and the intoxicating smell of roses filled his nostrils. He sank to the ground with a moan, unable to go any further. Louis ran up and pushed his head against William's paw, but William didn't move. The cat sat back and meowed at William, no longer able to speak, but William made no reply. He was too tired. He just wanted to sleep...
Rose was appalled at the state of things when she got back to the castle. How was it possible that it could have sunk into such a state so quickly? She stepped over broken stones in the orchard and called out. No one answered, and she kept going, and she caught a glimpse of a little orange tabby running past ahead of her. "Louis!" She called. He turned and stared at her for a moment, and then turned and kept running. She gave chase.
He led her around the castle to William's rose garden, where she lost him. She was surprised to see the roses all in bloom, but shrugged it off. Stranger things had happened to her in her lifetime. "Hello?" She called. "Anyone home?"
When she turned the next corner she saw William lying on the ground ahead of her. She was afraid for a moment that he was dead, but she saw his chest move and ran to his side and fell down beside him. "William! What happened?"
He blinked slowly and looked at her. "You came back." He said softly, and bared his teeth in a smile, which turned into a grimace of pain and he let his head fall to the ground again.
"Of course I came back." Rose told him, leaning over to hold his head and force him to look at her. "Why are you like this?"
"I'm dying Rose. When I was cursed she told me, if I never fall in love, then I will never die, but if I fall in love with someone who doesn't love me in return, then I will die."
Rose frowned, started to cry. "You can't die now." She told him. "I just got back. I'll be bored if you die." She tried to laugh, tried to smile to make him feel better, but she didn't feel she was very successful.
William managed a weak snort. "I'm sorry... to disappoint." His eyes started to close, and Rose cried out.
"No don't!" She lay across his shoulders and hugged him, and kissed his cheeks. "Please don't die. I love you, if that counts for anything. Please. I know it probably doesn't but-"
William opened his eyes. "You love me?"
Rose nodded and sniffed loudly. "I just said so didn't I?"
Feeling stronger already, William lifted his head. "Then I... Why am I still a beast?" He wondered, but as he spoke he felt that familiar ache in his bones, and pushed Rose off of him. "Oh. You might not want to look."
Rose didn't look away as he asked. She watched as his body contorted and stretched and shrank, and all of his fur disappeared until he was a man again, lying naked on the ground. He blushed furiously and she laughed and jumped on him again.
"Ow." He said, his voice sounding different now that it came out of a human body. Rose pushed herself up so she could take a better look at him. She ran her fingertips along his eyelashes, his nose, his lips... he really was a beautiful man.
"I guess this means that you love me." She said, grinning at him.
He couldn't help himself; he grinned right back at her. "I guess so."
"Even though I'm just a commoner?" Rose asked, able to joke properly now that he was better.
He made a face and sighed. "Yes, that is troublesome. I guess I'll just have to find myself a proper noble woman to marry and you can be my mistress." He said. "Or better yet, I can make you a chamber maid and I'll just take advantage of you whenever I feel like it."
Rose laughed. "If you get me pregnant, I swear I will make you marry me."
"You know, I think I might be okay with that." He said, and kissed her. He couldn't believe how good it felt, to be holding Rose in his arms, in his own arms again, and he would have held onto her for longer if it weren't for Louis, who meowed loudly beside them.
They both turned to look at Louis, who sat staring at them. Henriette sat beside Louis, looking as though she disapproved of the humans' behaviour. "What? Why don't you speak in plain English?" Rose asked Louis.
The smile left William's face as he remembered the other part of the curse. "He can't." He told Rose. "He's just a cat now."
Rose looked at William quizzically, and he explained.
"They were never human, any of them, to begin with. I think it was the magic from my curse, that somehow affected the animals around here, and they began to speak English and believe they were once humans, my servants. Now that the magic is gone they'll all return to being regular animals again. I'm sorry; I should have told you."
Rose turned to look at Louis again, who was now licking Henriette's ears, and then back to William. "So, everyone is... gone?"
William nodded. "Mostly."
Rose pushed herself off of William's chest and stood up. William, intensely aware of his nakedness now that he had no fur to cover himself, pulled his knees to his chest in an attempt to cover himself. "What are you thinking?" He asked Rose.
Rose rubbed her cheeks, which were still wet from before. "I'm thinking that I'm really going to miss them all." She told William, and then looked down at him. "I'm thinking you'll be wanting some clothing." She said, and gave him her cloak. He wrapped it around himself and stood next to her. He wasn't much taller than she was, she noticed. If he had been in love with Belle, then he would have been shorter than her when he became human again. She smiled at the thought, and took his hand. "I'm thinking we have a lot of work to do again if we're going to stay here."
William nodded and together they walked back into the castle, followed by an old gray cat and a small orange tabby.