A/N: Originally I had started another story for this month's Fete, but it's growing into a bit of a longer story than the Fete rules allow for...but I loved this prompt and still wanted to take part somehow. Thankfully a snow day afforded me the time to jot this down. Please enjoy!
He was hers. Bound to her by so much more than just the vows exchanged before the priest, or the freshly minted title next to her name.
Well, the name he knew her as anyway.
It was long ago that her real name was taken from her, replaced by whatever moniker best suited her needs.
She had moved up from streetrat to miss to mademoiselle and now she was Comtesse.
She had taken what she had needed to in order to survive. She had stolen from others, held reputations as hostage and even taken lives when necessary. She traded in secrets, for that's what she knew best – secrets and lies…
…but a part of her wondered if that was still true. Was it possible to believe a lie bad enough that it could become true? Could she not be the woman he thought she was? Could she not be Anne?
Could she not breathe freely and fully embrace this life – this perfect life – that he had given her without having to constantly be looking over her shoulder to see whether a ghost from her past was lurking, ready to pull her back into the darkness once again?
Would she ever escape those nights on the streets where she learned how to be strong and cold, where she learned what it took to survive?
Oh yes, she was a survivor; There was no doubt in her mind about that.
But for once, just once, could she not just live? Live, and god willing, be loved?
It was possible to be loved without loving. She had played that game so many times before – donning more masks to achieve her needs.
She'd smile prettily as men threw themselves at her feet, divulging their innermost secrets and affairs of state. They'd lavish her with treasures for a caress from her hand and the taste of her lips. She'd had lovers, yes, but to be loved, to feel love, and to offer it to someone in return? That wasn't something she thought herself capable of. Not then…
Now she was less certain.
It was in the way he looked at her. It was how those fierce blue eyes swallowed her whole and stripped her bare. It was the way he trusted her, unquestioningly. It was the openness with which he bore his soul to her. It was the way he whispered her name…
No, not her name…it wasn't her name...but oh, couldn't it be?
She had set the perfect trap for him. She was a huntress and he was prey – a young Comte without a wife! A prize to be treasured! She had forced their meeting and captured him with her wit, her laugh and her green eyes.
He was safety. He was a life of ease - one she had stolen, and murdered for in order to accomplish. He was her way out and with the exchanging of "I dos", he was her prisoner.
But with each day that passed, as she learned more and more about him, she felt a bond tightening. She felt her lies constricting, slowly growing tighter, nearly strangling her like a noose around her throat, though she still clung to them desperately.
He had a pull on her now. In some cruel twist of fate, his wit and his laugh and his eyes had captivated her. Her lies, her snare that had been woven so carefully to bind him as her hostage had somehow entrapped her too.
Was it love?
She couldn't for certain say yes. Those nights long ago…Those many, many nights had driven those feelings and any thoughts of tenderness from her…but she couldn't say it wasn't either.
He saw her, not as she was, but how she could be and it frightened her. He saw a goodness in her that she had long thought dead.
No, perhaps not dead. Maybe just dormant, like some beast in hibernation, and his eyes, his smile, his kiss, like the sun, had pulled her out of the darkness and back into the light…
...and her lies were the only thing that would keep her there. They were a fine tether that should it be broken, would unleash the monstrosity that was the truth which would destroy everything.
And she couldn't risk that.
She was a survivor.
She would bind him to her more securely.
He was her hostage, and even if she wouldn't admit it to herself, her heart knew she was his.
Even now, as she sat reclined amongst the finery of the life that they shared, she could feel his presence; her heart quickened its beat.
The sunlight filtering in through the window was warm and bright. Turning to look into those clear bright eyes and smiling handsome face, she felt her breath be taken from her by the love she saw reflected back at her.
"It is the most perfect room. And look. They're like a carpet on the grass outside. Forget-me-nots. I'll press one for you. As a memento of a perfect day." The small blue flowers became twisted in her fingers.
"Athos," she said drawing close to him, "Swear that nothing will ever come between us..."