Annette

“Madame Annette, what is England like?” asks one of the young girls.

I begin telling them of my homeland, a comfortable subject, describing the neat English gardens, elegant and orderly, very unlike those quaint, pretty ones of France when days were good. Of London and it’s shops, of balls and dinner parties filled with laughter and dancing, much of the days of my girlhood. With the taste of bitter sweetness on my tongue, I weave them stories of my memories at parties and sorts, at which they smile and giggle, though Clara watches solemnly, her melancholy features listening to my words.

I found some enjoyment from our conversation, making traveling a much nicer thing. Time past as swiftly as it could, nightfall approaching once more as we neared an Inn. I felt slightly peculiar at sharing a room with Emmanuel, expressing my slight disapproval of it mildly, though I was too exhausted to press the issue any further. The room was paid with monies that Guillame allotted, and soon we collapsed where we may, still in our traveling clothes. Darkness enveloped me as I drifted to sleep, my limbs aching from riding so far consecutively in the hard saddle.

His tall, slender form paced about the room, his footfall heavy on the wooden floors. I woke from my slumber, my eyes heavy as I opened them. Dim golden candlelight danced in the bedchamber from the corner table, Louis’ shadow dark on the walls as it followed him. “Why are you up at this hour?” I murmured, my words slurred together with sleep. Blinking, I realized he is dressed for the day in his traveling cloak. “Where are you going?”

Louis stops, coming to my bedside. His face his pale and drained of color, like an ancient specter. “Guillame calls. I must journey to Versailles.”

“Why?” I hoisted myself up so that I was sitting.

He sighs, his long face drawn with exhaustion. “Much is happening,” Louis murmurs in the softest of undertones, so soft that I can barely hear is voice. “And I am needed. The specifics of the mission have not been…laid out yet.”

“Is it such an emergency that you must leave now?”

“Yes,” he says hurriedly. Bending over, he presses his lips against my own. He pulls away, whispering, “If anything should happen to me…”

“Don’t say that.” I shook my head, gently placing my hand over his.

Louis shook his own head feverishly, grasping my hand tightly, “No, no. If anything should happen to me, I trust Guillame more than any other man in Europe. He shall help you if anything should befall me.”

I swallowed, seeing the seriousness in his eyes. “I must depart.” he whispered. “I love you.” Once more he kissed me, disappearing out the door.

That night he was killed…

I awoke, sweat soaking my hair and tears streaking my face, hushed whimpers escaping my lips as terrible pains in my abdomen tortured me. I held back further sounds, tossing the covers off of me and pushing myself to a sitting position. Everyone slept soundly, their mounds in the darkness rising and falling as they breathed. My pains subsided slightly, and I drifted back into an uneasy sleep.

~~~~

The morning arrived bright and new, Marie shaking me by the shoulder to wake me. As Emmanuel left the room to have breakfast prepared for us, we readied ourselves and when he returned, we made our way downstairs for the meal.

I felt nauseous, only downing a few bites of what was on my plate. “Are you well?” Marie asked at one point. “You are incredibly pale.”

Murmuring something about not getting adequate rest of late, I continued to pick at my breakfast silently, my appetite not returning. Most of our party had finished their meal, and it was time to be on the road to Versailles yet again.

The End

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