“And miles to go before I sleep.” — Robert Frost
either of them had done anything that I could condemn them for.
And yet the glances exchanged over dinner, and chess and now on the dance floor of the ballroom left very little to the imagination. From the moment the two had met, the SS Colonel and my youngest daughter, Jocelyn…Joie-Lynn had established a bond. Long glances, deep conversations and shared laughter punctuated their association from the start.
I bid the last guests goodnight. Jean-Pierre Moreau, the Chateau foreman, had left after he had received word his young daughter was running a fever. Begging my forgiveness, he left the gathering, but I suspected it was more than that. I agreed he should be with his daughter and promised that I would send Amarante to see to her or look to the child myself to make sure that it was nothing too serious. Like all good fathers, and certainly since the death of his wife, he was so very much more attentive to the little dark haired cherub with bright blue eyes. In spite of his obvious affection also for Jocelyn, the love of a father was stronger. In those eyes I saw how Sebastien had been with both of our daughters. Nothing could keep him away from either of them if they were sick or hurt.
The servants were busily turning down the lights, cleaning up the Château, which would keep many busy into the wee hours of the next morning and they would do it so quietly and efficiently that none of the guests staying at the Château de Rochefort would even notice. I was tired myself, but there were things that I had to tend to before I could settle to sleep as well.
I changed into a black gown and belted it with cords that I knotted at the waist. Meditatively I made my way through the house by way of the back stairs and passageways through the wine caves and cellars to the family crypts. The stones beneath my feet were smooth, causing the heels of my slippers slide a little against them now and again. I was certain their flagstones must have been worn away by my feet alone. ‘How many nights have I made this trek and how many more before I met my own end?’, I wondered.
At last I came before the great stone sarcophagus that held the remains of my husband. In this place he lay among his ancestors that stretched all the way back to Marovingian times. The etched basalt panels rested comfortably on the bodies of Fae steeds and the wings of Faery maidens. It was a masterpiece of artwork that was lovingly crafted by my own People on the Island of my birth.
Upon the floor both on the paving stones and upon the walls were inscribed countless sigils and seals surrounding that great testimony of love cast in stone. All of these contained within the magical Circle that I had long ago painted around Sebastien’s sarcophagus. I had brought a basket containing a bottle of Sebastien’s favourite cognac, two crystal goblets, bread and fruit, cheese and other offerings. I lit the thurbile and waited until the coals glowed a steady red before throwing a handful of the incense I had made that morning onto it. In archaic French and Gaelic I spoke the invocation and retraced the lines of the circle once more with the ritual knife that had been sheathed at my waist. Satisfied, I spread out my shawl upon the floor, knelt and kissed the base of the sarcophagus. and sat back and spoke to my departed husband. It was the way of my people and his. The dead to us are not gone, just removed from our sight temporarily.
“She is growing so fast now, Sebastien,” I said, matter-of-factly, “If you have seen her on the back of a horse with Coeur Noir at her fist, you would see how so much like you she is.” I then took a sip of the cognac to compose myself. “I am doing all I can, mon amour, to insure that your family’s legacy is insured. I have not committed to this war – my chiefest concerns being our daughters and the people of the village. But I fear, Sebastien….I see the looks between the Nazi Colonel and Jocelyn and I am afraid, yet I know that you and I…..we looked at each other that way, and rebelled against everyone else’s judgement. ”
I went on and told him of all the affairs at the Château and in the village. In closing I did as I always had and asked him to stand beside me in spirit and lend me his strength and wisdom to know what to do. The difference of this night is that I shed no tears and the fear that I had so often felt on previous nights was strangely absent. I noted it but shoved it away.
As I made my way back to my room, I realised that in the late morning, Colonel Landa and his staff would take leave of us. When that happened, I knew that I would breathe a sigh of relief. Surely as soon as the SS Colonel’s car was out of sight Jocelyn would forget and life would return to normal in Rochefort du Gard once again.
The chill of intuition’s insight and the tightening of my stomach, however, reminded me that perhaps this time, that might not be the case.
Muse: Francoise de Rochefort / Fanny Fae
Fandom: Original Character / Inglorious Basterds’ (meta)
Word Count: 940
(originally posted to Pan Historia writing community)