AN: I will now torment everyone here with my lackluster literary fanfic! I bet you never knew you were so lucky! Happy birthday to me!
Armand St. Just and the other fugitives were eagerly awaiting the advent of their brave rescuer; he would not stay to hear the expressions of their gratitude, but found the way to his private cabin as quickly as he could, leaving Marguerite quite happy in the arms of her brother.
— Chapter 31: The Escape
"Marguerite!" Armand exclaimed, catching his sister up in his arms as soon as she gained the yacht's deck. "Whatever are you doing here?"
Marguerite felt all the anxiety and embarrassment of the situation flood onto her cheeks and she hugged her brother closer. "Oh, Armand. It's such a story, and I feel so very foolish now, but Citoyen Chauvelin knew you were in league with the Scarlet Pimpernel and I feared for you. He would send you to the guillotine if I hadn't helped him at Lord Grenville's ball. And then I realized Percy — oh, it's all my fault."
Her rambling explanation did nothing to clear Armand's alarmed confusion, but he pressed a kiss to his sister's brow and didn't enquire further. Detailed explanations could come later when all were rested.
"All is well now," he assured her. "We are all safe and sound aboard the Day Dream and will soon be back in England." He stepped back, holding her out at arm's length and casting a critical look over her dusty hair and dirty dress. "But you look exhausted. You are terribly dusty, my dear sister, and are likely to collapse. Come now, I will take you to Sir Percy."
He tucked her hand around his arm and lead her to the cabins. She leaned heavily on his arm and limped beside him, smiling when he looked at her in concern. "It's nothing, Armand. I just need to sit down. I fear I have not slept in far too many days. I will be well again in no time."
She hugged her brother's arm, clasping it to her with both hands. "I am so glad you are safe."
He covered her hands with his free one, smiling down at her. "I was in very little danger. Ah, here we are."
Armand paused outside a door, rapping sharply three times. Her hands tightened on his arm and she didn't realize she was holding her breath until she heard her husband call for them to enter. Armand opened the door, guiding her into the room but not passing the threshold. Percy stood from his chair when she entered, dressed only in his breeches and shirtsleeves, his sharp blue eyes searching her face for signs of distress. Armand grinned, lifting a shoulder. "I thought Marguerite could rest here, Sir Percy."
Armand dismissed himself with a short bow and closed the door as he left. Percy lifted a hand toward her, his usual lazy smile warmer than she could remember since their courtship. "Come, milady, your poor feet must pain you."
The cuff of his sleeve fell back revealing reddened and chafed skin and she gasped, reaching for his hand to gain a closer look. "Oh, Percy! Your poor wrists!"
She pressed a gentle kiss to the marred flesh and his fingers twitched in hers. Percy laughed lightly, drawing her near and brushing his lips against her hair. "Those Frenchies may not be able to tie their demmed cravats, but they certainly can bind a man hand and foot with the most monstrous knots."
"Percy," Marguerite said with a soft laugh and drew him with her to the bed, sinking down on the edge. He stood before her so she had to look up into his face. She searched his face for further injury, finding none readily visible, and allowed her eyes to drift down his bared neck to the gaping opening of his shirt. "How injured are you? They kicked you quite thoroughly."
"Tosh, m'dear!" Percy exclaimed. "It was nothing. Even if it were something, I shall never admit it to my wife!"
She lifted her hands to rest lightly on his shoulders, dragging them up to cup his jaw and pull his lips to hers. His wince, barely perceivably, made her pause and draw back with a frown. "You are injured, Percy! Let me see."
He gazed down at her, looking all the world shocked by her demand. "Odd's fish, milady, do you expect me to remove my shirt and stand before you unclothed? Like some common farmhand?"
"You are my husband, Sir Percy," she pointed out. She plucked at his shirt, lowering her eyes demurely. "My dress is terribly dusty and I haven't slept in days. I should like to remove it and have it brushed before we reach England."
"Of course," he murmured, his hooded eyes dark and unfathomable.
Silence fell between them and Marguerite began to believe she'd once more misjudged her husband. Married for nearly a year and she still felt like a virginal bride. Never mind that she practically was. After all, their estrangement happened not long after their wedding and while Percy was unfailingly a gentleman and her husband, he never once visited her after their wedding night.
She was just forming the words to excuse herself from his cabin and perhaps seek out the sympathy of her brother, when he moved. His right hand lifted and he delicately traced his fingers down her cheek. Hooking a finger below her chin, he raised her face and leaned down. He hesitated, breathing out her name. "Margot?"
"Yes," she sighed, her breath trembling and her eyes falling closed.
The first touch of his lips to hers was light; a mere whisper of a kiss. Her arms wound around his torso and his hands cupped her face and he returned for a firmer kiss, drawing her closer. She gasped against his mouth, fingers clinging to his shirt. He tugged at the hidden ties of her dress and she whispered her agreement.
His touch his gentle, hands ghosting over her fleshing and tugging delicately at ties and cloth and lips pressing along her jaw and the line of her neck. He mouthed words of love against her skin and she answered in sighs, her own hands searching for the warm skin of his back and drawing his shirt up as her fingers traced the planes of his back until he pulled away long enough to discard the shirt completely. He silences her giggle with his lips, pressing her back against the pillows and blankets of his bed.
Her dress had been discarded earlier and her corset joining it on the floor moments later. He's kneeling over her between her knees and a hand sliding up her bare thigh startles her more than it probably should. Percy immediately freezes, pulling back a short distance to look down at her. His color is high and his brow furrows with concern. "Marguerite?"
She twines her fingers in his hair. "Don't stop."
Marguerite gently traced one of the many rising bruises on Percy's ribs, mourning that typically flawless flesh could be so marred. She was grateful nothing greater befell her husband during his charade. Breathing a quiet sigh of contentment, she pressed her lips to his shoulder and felt him shift. Percy stilled her hand, pressing it flat against his chest before lifting it to his lips. Lips curving in a smile, she tilted her chin up to look at him. He released her hand, curling a strand of her hair around his finger.
He hummed, turning his head to press a kiss to her brow.
She hugged him carefully, mindful of his injuries. "I still need a pair of shoes."
The hand toying with her hair stilled and his blue eyes glinted down at her in merriment. "Zounds, my love, so you do."
Everything onboard the Day Dream was fitted with that exquisite luxury so dear to Sir Percy Blakeney's heart and, by the time they all landed at Dover, he had found time to get into some of the sumptuous clothes which he loved and of which he always kept a supply onboard his yacht.
The difficulty was to provide Marguerite with a pair of shoes, and great was the little middy's joy when my lady found that she could put foot on English shore in his best pair.
The rest is silence! — Silence and joy for those who had endured so much suffering, yet found at last a great and lasting happiness.
—Chapter 31: The Escape