“I do not understand, Maman,” I said, pushing my lip out petulantly, “Why must I stay here with Papa? He….” my eyes stung with the reality that my mother was leaving to journey for several months to her homeland and she was not taking me.”
With an exasperated sigh, she laid aside the garment she had just removed from her closet and placed it on the bed. Before the maid could pick it up and fold it for her, my mother gave a gesture indicating that the young woman leave us alone. With a stiff curtsy, the pinch-faced girl, whom I only knew as Isabel, wordlessly left the room, closing the door behind her.
As soon as she was certain we were alone, my mother sat down on the edge of the bed and patted the space beside her. I dragged my feet and slowly sat next to her, my eyes stung no less and my lip had not retreated in the slightest in spite of this impromptu concession. “Françoise,” she began, “I have already promised you, I will send for you soon.,” she began, “but for now, I need you to understand. There is too much at stake in my homeland. Your father will be absorbed in the business, and you have Elise, oui?” Maman raised my chin with gentle fingertips.”
“My heart hurts, Maman,” I said, “I feel as if something terrible is going to happen and I have no idea what it is. Please say you will stay.”
“I’m sorry your heart hurts. Perhaps it is because you have not yet eaten breakfast,” she offered.
I sighed and crossed my arms over me, still pouting, but said nothing.
Seeing my expression, but certainly not wanting to indulge my mood, she continued, this time taking my hand. “You know that I cannot do that, my darling.” Her hands were warm, even though mine now felt quite cold and was not comforting. “I will send for you,” she repeated. “Until then, you have to do all that I have asked of you. Remember?”
I nodded and swallowed a hard lump in my throat. My eyes still burned with unshed tears. How could I make her understand? “Oui, Maman.” I said.
A look cross my mother’s face as if she suddenly had remembered something. Rising, she went to her jewelry case and pulled out a necklace. I had seen it before, but had never seen her wear it. “I was saving this until you were old enough,” she said sitting back down next to me. Clouds of lavender from her perfume surrounded her. The looped cross of gold on a chain twinkled softly in the dim light of my mother’s boudoir. She unhooked the clasp and placed it around my neck. The gold felt cool, yet almost electric against my skin. Involuntarily, my fingers reached up to it, feeling it’s shape and stroking the outline. When she finished, she pulled me up from where I was sitting to look at my reflection in the mirror.
“When it is time and I send for you,” Maman said softly,” and when I do, I want you to wear this.”
I looked at my awkward body, the scant sign of breasts beginning to show themselves against my blouse, My hips were no longer and straight as they once were. Everything was uncomfortable and this new upset had only added to my frustrations. “What does this symbol mean?” I asked.
“It means many things, Françoise,” she said smiling. She was arranging the chain now and helping the looped cross to fall just beneath my clavicle. “You will learn them all in time, but it is called an ankh. It means life, and spirit, breath and blood. It has been handed down, all the way from where it came from, in the place in Egypt, called called An. It was passed to your Anjou ancestors, and now it is yours. Blood has called to blood.”
I cocked my head slightly, “What do you mean?” I asked.
“It means, Françoise, that you cannot run from who and what you are,” she said embracing my shoulders from behind. “It means that no matter what anyone tries to do, no one can silence the singing that is there within your own veins.”
My mother spent the next few minutes distracting me until I had become a little less petulant. I had no idea of what she spoke then. I took her quite literally and asked her how blood could possibly sing. Maman explained that the blood that sung was something I could hear if I grew very quiet and listened in that place deep underneath my own breathing. She then reassured me that Elise would keep her appraised of everything, soon, perhaps within a month or two she would send for me.
Maman was correct. I did learn more about the sign of the ankh necklace and all that it meant. How strange it is that all of it ties back to where I am with the alchemists now. My mother could not have known, for indeed she does not approve of them overmuch.
My heart hurts again now.
In spite of all that I had learned at the hands of my mother. and the trials and tribulations of my father and within Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and the pursuit of Great Work, there is always a sense of foreboding. I was debating whether or not to mention it to either my mother or to Chaubert. Strange, more than anyone else, there is an extricable bond between he and I. In spite of all we had been doing, we had made little progress.
“So close and yet so far,” Chaubert grumbled in frustration.
Obviously it was going to be far better to leave him to the work and return the next day, I thought. Augustin barely spoke another word to me as I put on my hat and gloves and I wished him a pleasant rest of the evening. I did not doubt, however, that I would find him at sunrise, collapsed in some part of the lab, sleeping against his forearm. Or he would be propped up against some piece of equipment and snoring softly until I woke him. We had to find the answer to this question and we were running out of time.
Shrugging off the memory of the days’ cares, I walked through the door of my home. The scent of fresh scones could not be masked even from that part of the house. Marie had been busy and what I needed more than anything to clear my mind. After having to deal with first Charles Allen earlier in the day and then later Chaubert’s mercurial moods, I was ready to do precisely that.
I pulled off my hat and coat and did not bother to put them away.Marie would cluck at me softly, her large eyes looking at me with expectation that a lady should know better. Nevermind that I was exhausted. With a shrug I sat down in a chair and lay my head on my arms on the inlaid table. I had no idea how long I had been there, awakening to a cheery voice, telling me that tea was served.
Muse: Fanny Fae / Faelyn
Fandom: Original Character / Original Fiction / Pan Historia
Word Count: 1210