fannyfae: (18th Century)
[personal profile] fannyfae
Challenge #430
Option 1 - Paid Silence
Author Notes: This is part of a much larger historical piece set in the 17th Century, during the reign of Louis XIII.


Unus est, Trinus est; in Omni Angulo est.
Omnia comprehendit, Fuit est; et vobis erit.
Finis et origo.*


I am far more nocturnal than I am a creature of the daylight. Perhaps I can attribute such to my Unseelie blood, or perhaps that has always been in my nature. It is, they say, the nature of women, especially of creatures of the Night and of Magic, to use the hours of darkness to make mischief. I do readily confess, my most productive hours are during the hours of the night when I may go relatively unobserved. But on this night, I was not to be afforded such a privilege.

The clock had struck three times as a gentle reminder that my evening had spilled into the wee hours of morn. I was placing the finishing touches of an elaborate sigil within my book, when I was interrupted from my writing by a frantic pounding upon my door. I placed the quill within it's holder and gathered my shawl around me. Taking a candle from the sconce, I rose and made my way to the door. By now all the servants were asleep in their beds, and I did not wish them to trouble themselves. Sebastien was away on evening's business. Surely, such a frenetic beating could only have been caused by an emergency.

I opened the door to see a very nervous Viscomte de La Guette, a young and ambitious composer at the Court of Louis, but one who was decidedly often distracted by women of absolutely every station. La Guette looked secretly relieved when it was I who answered the door and not a servant or my husband, who would have been, I am certain, rather put out that anyone would have the gall to come to the door at this unseemly hour.

"Madame, your Grace," he removed his hat quickly and round the edge of it in a fidget, "I do apologise for the lateness of the hour, but I know not to whom else I can turn. Mme. de Gilles told me that I could count upon your discretion and I have no one whom to turn. Might I come in?"

"Madame," the Vicomte de La Guette implored, "I am beset by this woman who means to do me harm! Is there nothing that you can do?"

"Of course," I said, opening the door a bit wider to allow him entry. He came in quickly but not without a glance over his shoulder as if to insure that no one had followed him nor seen him come inside. I closed the door as softly as possible, "Please come into the library with me, Monsieur, "I do not wish to awaken the household." I led him by candlelight through the great entryway to the library where the dying embers of the fire glowed. With my candle I lit a taper and lit several more candles in a candelabra on a side table near my desk where I had been writing. I closed my book so that its contents might not be espied by my late night visitor. "What is the matter, Monsieur La Guette? Surely it must be very important for you to visit me at so late an late hour."

He nodded and nervously took a place on the settee where I had invited him to sit, "Oui, Madame," he said as I poured a glass of wine for each of us. "My wife is a very jealous woman. Since I have been in the company of Mme. Clouet, she has been shrewish and inhospitable. Tonight, this very night, I was driven from my bed by her standing over me with a hot poker, threatening to brand me with her initials if I did not swear to her to put aside Mme. Clouet!"

"Indeed?" I said giving him one of the goblets in my hand, keeping the other for myself. "And if you had not been so indiscreet with your affections about the Court, Monsieur, you would not be in this predicament. But tell me, why are you here, tonight?" I confess my curiosity had the better of me. Surely such lover's spats were easily enough handled at home.

He appeared even more nervous now. He looked over his shoulder, as if there were someone who might overhear. When he was satisfied, he continued. "There is talk at Court that you know the dark arts, Madame. They say that you know the language of the angels and demons as well. It is also said that you know the wortcunner's art and the poisoner's craft."

The Vicomte was nothing if not direct in his request. I considered my next words carefully.

"Why is it," I wondered aloud, "that when a woman is educated, or if she deomstrates intelligence, she somehow always is rumoured to be a witch or that she knows the dark arts, hmm?" I sat down opposite him and took a sip of wine, keeping my spine a decent distance from the back of the chair. "Even if those things were true, I would be a fool to admit them aloud to you - or to anyone. Do you ask me this because I am the Comtesse de Rochefort and married to the inquisitor to the Cardinal? Or is it because I am a foreign-born woman who keeps mostly to herself that these assumptions now arise?"

"I meant no insult, Madame....I was only - "

"The fact that your wife has announced at Court to anyone who will listen that she means to ruin you, and Mme. Clouet if you do not constrain your passions for your paramour is why you came. I would guess that you mean to dispose of her before she makes good upon her threat, Monsieur." I was being completely insensitive to his nervousness which had become more pronounced, though my voice was kept quiet and discreet, " You have made a grave mistake, Monsieur. You have embarrassed her as well as yourself when discretion might have prevented everything that has transpired before this evening."

"I have been a dutiful husband..."

"Oh, yes. You can be dutifully counted upon to put yourself in a place that offers a vantage point where you might stare at women even in church! You are quite fortunate, that my husband was not in attendance during the King's Mass when you did the same to me. You are even more fortunate that his Grace, the Cardinal chose not to mention it to him, either."

The mere mention of my husband and the Cardinal cowed him further. He took a large gulp of wine and looked at me nervously, "I was told I could rely on your discretion, Madame," the Vicomte said, "Surely the Comte de Rochefort does not need to know that I was here - "

I glared at him, "He does not need to know that you risked his wife's reputation by visiting her at an altogether indecent hour? On what business do you come? Certainly not for his benefit, nor the Cardinal's. No, you risk my reputation and the name of Comte de Rochefort for what reason? Because you wish what? A heathen charm in order to silence your wife, perhaps?" I then raised my voice slightly, "Or was it for something a bit more....certain?"

"Poison."

'Ah, there it is,' I scoffed at the thought. "For that you could have gone to any philtre maker in Paris." I rose from my seat. "Non, Monsieur." I said holding out my hand to take his glass, "I assure you, that if anyone would have been poisoned this night, it would be you, rather than your wife. "

The man froze and stared at me, his fingers gripped the foot of the glass as I took it away, his eyes searched mine to see whether or not I truly had. Almost involuntarily, his hand went to his throat. "You would not..." he began. The words were more to convince himself rather than disbelief that I would actually do such a thing. My reputation and that of my husband did keep me safe for that very reason.

"You will not know with any surety until you arrive home," I said unsmiling, "And even then I can only offer you some small bit of advice."

"What?" his voice did not come and he merely croaked out the beginning of the word, rising numbly, scooping up his hat from the divan upon which he had been sitting.

"Go home," I said. "Pour all of the devotion that you have given to anyone else upon your wife for what few hours are left until sunrise. Even if Mme. protests. However, I do believe she is the kind of woman who takes greater pleasure in congress with you when she is angry than when she is not."

I never saw anyone leave the chateau quicker than M. La Guette did that night. He nearly tripped over himself and headed back toward the city. When his departure was just a settling cloud of dust upon the approach road, I went back to the library. Reaching inside the desk drawer, I pulled out a small coin purse filed with gold pieces and the crest of the Viscomtess de La Guette upon it. With a slow, knowing smile I placed it back in the drawer. He would have, I mused just a few hours left until the dawn. Time enough, I mused, to redeem himself to his wife.



Muse: Fanny Fae / Faelyn
Fandom: Original Character / Folklore / Mythology
Word Count: 1497

(*"He is one, he is three, he is in each corner,
Everything will be understood. He was, is and will be to you.
The end and the beginning.")
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