I didn't recognize the house that we pulled up to in the countryside. It
was a large manor house, and well kept. But it reminded me of Chauvelin;
nobody knew what was inside.
Armand and I looked at each other, talking with our eyes because our mouths were gagged. I could see he was forming a plan behind the green of his eyes. All of a sudden, I knew what he wanted me to do. I raised my eyebrows at him, and he nodded.
Chauvelin stepped out first. He signaled to the guards to get Armand out next. When they had dragged out Armand, Chauvelin got back in the carriage to help me out, because anyone who can keep their balance while on a seven-inch wide step is a ballet genius. I caught Armand's eye over Chauvelin's shoulder, and I knew I would have to
I slowly got to my feet, then faked a swoon. "Ohhhhh," I groaned, as if I had a terrible headache. Chauvelin's face immediately went from blank to concern.
"Nichole?" He tried to steady me, but I moved onto the next step. I pretended to faint.
I felt myself being
carried into the house, most likely by Chauvelin, whom when I 'fainted',
had panicked. I recognized Armand's footsteps as we climbed the steps leading
into the house. I heard a familiar voice ask, "What happened?" Chauvelin
replied, "She fainted. Now, help me get her to a room or get out of my
WAY!" I heard the rustle of silk as someone, a woman, quickly followed
us up to a bedroom. I was laid down on an actually, rather comfortable
that wasn't what was on my mind. I had just recognized the woman's voice that was prattling on to Chauvelin about how I shouldn't have been gagged so tightly (my gag had been removed upon my 'fainting') and many other things. This voice I had talked to almost everyday since we had moved to Paris when I was five. Madame Fabrece was helping Chauvelin! I decided I had been 'unconscious' for long enough and slowly made my way in opening my eyes, groaning and clutching my head.
"W... What happened?" I honestly wouldn't have known I was faking it if I was just looking on. Chauvelin and Madame Fabrece turned to look at me. I decided it was best to be surprised that Madame Fabrece was there. But I never got to fake it. She spoke first.
"So, ma cherie, I see you escaped the guillotine the first time?" That witch. "I really thought that telling Chauvelin to guard you even more than the other prisoners was a good idea, seeing you are friends with some of the Pimpernel's best men," she continued, motioning to Armand, who stood in the corner with guards on either side, "But it seems dear 'Shovelin," Chauvelin narrowed his eyes, which, I noticed for the first time, were blue, as Madame Fabrece continued, "Can't even keep watch on a 17 year old girl, let alone a whole group of men."
"And women," I interrupted, out of habit. Now it was her turn to narrow her eyes.
"Yes, it seems that the Scarlet Pimpernel does like to use
women. But it is oh so better for you, Nichole..."
"Mademoiselle Bouchard. We are no longer friends, so I demand you speak to me with less familiarity."
"Pardon, Mademoiselle. As I was saying, it is much better for you that you are friends with one of the Pimpernel's men. That way, you are rescued so much easier." My jaw dropped. The kind, sweet old lady had transformed into a witch of the revolution. My voice came out sounding very cold, and I didn't try to change it into a more friendly tone.
"So, do you take it upon yourself to get people who are better off than you, no matter how much kindness they show you, you still take it upon yourself to get them carted off the guillotine. Witch. How could you? When did my family ever show any disrespect to you? You were like my grandmother. Now, you brought death upon my family. Witch. You horrid witch."
She started to look kind of uncertain over what she had gotten herself into once I had finished my speech. Chauvelin stood, looking at me in awe for a few moments, then turned and ordered the guards to take Armand to the neighboring room, and for Madame Fabrece and the rest of the guards to leave us in peace. They left the room, Armand struggling against his bonds, while I tried desperately to get to him. Chauvelin locked the door behind him, then turned back to me.
Chapter 6: Where's the Girl?
He took a step towards me. "Mademoiselle Bouchard, I..."
"Monsieur, pardon, Citizen Chauvelin, please, before you speak, I would like to apologize for what I called you back in the theater. It was entirely un-asked for, and I apologized. I still strongly dislike you, especially after what you did to my family, I don't care if you are going to guillotine me too, but please, accept my apology first." He smiled.
"You do seem to be able to make quite powerful speeches, Nichole," he said, sitting down on the bed.
"Mademoiselle Bouchard," He smiled. "I'm sorry, I was being familiar. I know you and Monsieur Armand..." he trailed off. I smiled.
"Chauvelin, I appreciate the compliment, but yes, you are right, I do care greatly for Armand." He looked a little bit better, but not much. I was beginning to feel very uncomfortable. "Armand and I just have... I don't know, a...something in common. We love each other." He turned and looked at me.
"Please, Nichole, may I... er..."
"What?" I was starting to grow uncomfortable.
"May I please ask you something? I would have done this when we were better friends, but I felt you were too young then."
"What?" He looked at me, and I realized where I had seen the look in his eyes before. I had seen it in all the suitors that Chloe, my older sister, had had before she was guillotined. Chauvelin was in love... with me!
"Wait, Chauvelin, were you talking about certain feelings?" He looked embarrassed. "You misunderstood me. I see
nothing wrong with your, um, thoughts, but I must tell you, I couldn't do that to Armand. You are very... err..." I thought of the way he treated Marguerite when he loved her, "demanding when you are feeling this way, but please, do not do this again, the way you did with Marguerite. I will not be blackmailed; I will not be won over by threats and bribes. Guillotine Armand, guillotine Percy, guillotine ME, for all I care, but I beg of you, please don't do this to yourself again." He stood up quickly.
"I will send Monsieur Armand in for a few minutes, but I must say, Nichole, Mademoiselle Bouchard, I am sorry you could not feel the same way. Your head is too lovely to lay under the blade of our lady, Madame Guillotine." I shuddered, thinking of the picture I so clearly remembered; Maman, Chloe and Cecile, Pierre, and Papa... I buried my face in my arms and sobbed. I heard Chauvelin start towards the bed, think better, then leave the room. A few moments later, footsteps, Armand, walked through the door, the solid click of the latch sounding so loud over my now quieted sobbing. Armand saw me, crumpled in a heap, and ran over, taking me in his strong arms.
"Shh, Nichole, I'm here," he whispered. I looked up.
"He...he tried to blackmail me, Armand. He was threatening me! Oh, I don't want to go back to the guillotine, but every time someone mentions that..." I searched for a word, "thing, I think of Maman and Papa, and I was rescued..." I couldn't speak anymore. Armand held me until my crying stopped.
"Nichole, I know you made the right choice. That... Chauvelin, he tried to blackmail my sister one time, using me as
bait. I knew that Percy would be able to get me out, but Marguerite felt so bad for what happened, she came after me herself, and both of us were almost beheaded. Of course, with Percy around, we never would have gotten close to the blade... but my point being, that when you are in trouble, you always have someone to comfort you, to be your home."
I looked up.
"Armand..." I hugged him even tighter, not caring that we were to be beheaded in a few hours, because we were together. We were there for each other. "You are my home, Armand."
Chapter 7: You Are My Home
"Percy, where are you?" Armand murmured as we waited in prison. After my
refusal of Chauvelin, he had us taken to the prison where the others were
being held. Much to our disappointment, we were put in a different cell
than the several others that the League was being held in. Which meant
we couldn’t form a back up plan in case Percy, for some reason, didn’t
show up to rescue us.
Armand was getting worried. As I said before, we knew Percy had a plan, but Armand, like the rest of us, was wondering why he didn’t put it into action. We had no idea of the time, and for all we
knew, the guards could have shown up at any moment. Armand hugged me closer. He whispered to himself, his breath tickling my neck. I caught something that sounded like “As yet, as I walk into the valley of Death…” but I was tired and I doubted Armand really thought that we were going to be guillotined. Percy was coming. I took a deep breath. I hoped.
A loud sound broke through the night. It was the far away bells of the church tolling the hour. One, and then it was silent again. The guards would come at sunrise, which was about six thirty. I felt Armand relax, exhaling the breath he had been holding, as I rested my back on his chest. Percy would come; he still had five hours to come. Armand took another deep breath. I giggled inwardly and ran my hand down his arm.
“Armand, it will be all right. You know Percy. He will come.”
Armand smiled. He knew as well as I did that Percy would not let us go to the guillotine. He tugged on my hair.
“Why are you always right, Nichole?”
“Because I am the woman, and the woman is always right.” He laughed,
quietly. I snuggled closer. Armand toyed with one of my curls as he took another deep breath.
“So now we wait for five hours. Any id…” He stopped abruptly
as two guards arrived outside the cell.
“And what prisoners are being held in here?” one of the guards smirked at us. I stood up.
“Come to mock us before you take us to meet your precious guillotine? You lowly, filthy…”
“Nichole? Armand?” the guard whispered urgently, cutting me off. Armand jumped up.
“PERCY? Thank God!”
My jaw dropped several inches.
“Sink me, Nichole, I didn’t know your jaw could scrape the ground like that!”
“Percy, you have been doing this rescuing business an awful lot for me.”
“Well, we can’t have you being sent off to the guillotine, now can we? And Armand would be rather distressed if you were kissed by the…”
“Percy…” Armand warned.
“Oh, Armand, do try to laugh sometimes. Being serious all the time hardly suits you.” This female voice was new to us, but we both recognized it in an instant as the other guard removed ‘his’ cap to reveal long, fiery red hair. Percy slipped his arm around the woman’s waist as Armand’s jaw joined mine on the ground. I was the first to regain my voice.
“Marguerite!” I scrambled towards the front of the cell. As soon as Percy unlocked the door, Marguerite pulled me into her arms. I hugged her back.
“Nichole, how are you? Still the same as when we were in school? Yes? Well, Armand,” she turned to her brother, who was talking quietly with Percy, no doubt telling him where the rest of the League was, “I see you finally found love!”
“Margot, must you always teas me?” He laughed quietly, for although we had no doubt that the ‘guards’ at the doors were Bounders, Chauvelin could have paid us a visit at any moment. Armand and Percy walked down the hallway, releasing the other members of the League. Wearily, Armand and I told of our adventure to Percy and Marguerite in the carriage as we drove to the coast. They both didn’t seem surprised that Chauvelin was still up to his old tricks. After discussing the next day’s journey home to England, they turned away so Armand and I could talk. He slipped his hand into mine as I
snuggled closer to him. The gaze from his clear green eyes told me the same thing my lips whispered: “You are my home.”
‘I won’t let go,
You are my home.”
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