Unus est, Trinus est; in Omni Angulo est.
Omnia comprehendit, Fuit est; et vobis erit.
Finis et origo.*
am by nature more nocturnal than I am a creature of the daylight. Perhaps I can attribute such to my Unseelie blood, or perhaps that was always 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 for them to trouble themselves. Sebastien was away on evening’s business. Surely, such a frenetic beating could only be 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 servants.” 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 this 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, Monsieur, you would not be in this predicament. But 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, “There is talk at Court that you know the Dark Arts, Madame. They say that you know the language of the Angels, and that you also 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 that,” I wondered aloud, “that when a woman is educated, or if she knows a thing or two, she somehow always is rumoured to know the Dark Arts, hmm?” I sat down opposite him and took a sip of wine, keeping my back a decent distance from the back of the chair. Women were always judged, especially by other courtiers about how they carried themselves, no matter the hour of the night. “Even if those things were true, I would be a fool to admit them aloud to you, or to anyone. Or is it because I am the Comtesse de Rochefort and married to the inquisitor to the Cardinal, l and that this foreign-born woman keeps mostly to herself that these assumptions now arise?”
“I meant no insult, Madame….I was only – ”
“You were only being pre-emptive with 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,” I was being completely insensitive to his nervousness which had become more pronounced, though my voice was kept quiet and discreet, ” You made a fatal mistake, Monsieur. You have embarrassed her as well as yourself when discretion would have prevented everything that has transpired 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 fortunate, Monsieur, that my husband was not in attendance when you did the same to me. You are even more fortunate that the Cardinal chose not to mention it to him, either.”
The mere mention of my husband cowed him further. He took a large gulp of wine and looked at me nervously, “I was told I could rely on your discretion, your Grace, ” 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 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?”
“Ah, there it is,” I scoffed, “for that you could go 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 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 of it until sunrise. Even if Mme. protests, 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 de Rochefort quicker than he did that night. When he had gone and I had gone back to the library, I reached inside the desk drawer and 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.
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.”)