A.N.: I have read, and enjoyed the book, but I'm basing this fic off of the musical, which I also enjoy. I'm toying with the ages a bit as compared with the book. Chauvelin and Marguerite are a bit too distant in ages to have believably been lovers, so Chauvelin's a bit younger in this fic....
Andre did not dare tell Citizen Chauvelin that he might want to stop drinking. His superior was fierce enough in the day time, so much so that Andre barely had the courage to say two words to the man. But then, Andre wouldn't say "boo," to a goose. Of course, geese are rather nasty things.
Not that Chauvelin was turning out to be a mean drunk. He's was simply a very broody drunk. Scarcely two hours ago, had you told Andre Madeline that he would be sitting in a tavern watching his superior get drunk, Andre would have looked at you as though you were mad.
"Have you ever seen her act?" Citizen Chauvelin asked rather suddenly, awaking the nineteen year old boy from his private thoughts. The sandy haired youth sat up – he had a habit of sitting up whenever Chauvelin was in the room, as though he would render himself an easy target slouching – and stared at the depressing figure before him.
Chauvelin was staring intently into his glass of alcohol, before suddenly and swiftly downing it, asking a waitress for another. Andre was certain that was at least his fifth. And that was fortified wine.
"St. Just. Have you ever seen her act?" he asked again. The pale eyes did not look up at the freckled youth, just continued to stare into another glass.
"Once," he stammered. "I saw her once."
"It's been a long time since she's acted," he commented, swirling the purple-red liquid in the glass. Andre said nothing, not knowing what to say.
Chauvelin had scarce been back in Paris for an hour after returning from England before snapping at his young assistant to pick up his feet and come with him to get something to eat, for he could not think. Andre was the only one eating anything, and that had merely been some bread, for he was not terribly hungry. Chauvelin was simply drinking.
And so, for a few moments, silence remained between the two. Andre found it fascinating, for it was as if this brick wall was being taken down around the superior man. Asking him if he'd ever seen the former Marguerite St. Just act was the most personable thing Chauvelin had ever asked Andre, other than "Do you happen to have any ink at your desk?" Frankly, it made the young man's day. It might even make his week.
"She was the greatest performer in all of France. Probably even all of Europe," he said mournfully, leaning back against the back of his chair.
"Y-yes," Andre hesitantly agreed. "She was very good."
Chauvelin actually looked at the young boy for the first time in what was at least an hour. "She's as lovely as an angel."
"She is that," the boy agreed nervously again, finding himself even more petrified now that Chauvelin was looking at him.
Andre was dying to ask Chauvelin something as long as he thought the drunken man might answer. Even so, Chauvelin seemed to still have quite a bit of control over his functions, even drunk. He might merely snap at the young protégé. So, Andre decided to play it safe and not breathe a word.
But after five minutes of fidgeting, Andre could not contain himself, and blurted out "Is it true that you and she were lovers?" So much for playing it safe. Andre felt like smacking his head against the solid table.
Chauvelin said nothing, merely called "Madame, another, sil vous plais?" When another glass had been delivered, Chauvelin drank that more slowly then the other two, before saying emotionlessly "Yes."
Andre's jaw nearly dropped. Somehow, he could not picture it; the most beautiful actress in all the world and the drunken man he was sitting with.
Not that Chauvelin lacked in charm. His dark hair and pale eyes contrasted in a very dark, mysterious way. Having been born a marquis, he was a bit of a gentlemen. He was really terribly charming if he wanted something. Of course, Andre knew little about women, and did not know how all these things could pull at a girl's heart strings until they were desperate to find out who was behind those strange, pale eyes.
Chauvelin had ceased to look at him, and had his chin resting on his hand, his head turned away as he stared at absolutely nothing.
Timidly, Andre, dying to know, asked "How did you do it? Seduce her, I mean."
Still Chauvelin did not answer, did not even look in the boy's direction, just continued to stare off at nothing in particular. Finally, swirling his drink some more, and ordering another, the citizen leaned back, swirling another glass of alcohol, staring intently at it. Andre had given up hope of receiving an answer when one finally came.
"White roses," he said simply. It had been so long, that Andre did not realize what he was responding to.
"Pardon?" the nineteen year old boy asked.
"After the day we met at the Bastille," continued Chauvelin, ten years the boy's senior. "I found out where she performed, and always had white roses delivered to her. Eventually, I left a card telling her where to find me if she wanted to talk."
"And where was that?"
Chauvelin blinked, and said "Just a restaurant, where we could talk. I don't remember where."
"And that worked?" Andre asked.
It was a dumb question, and Chauvelin seemed to display his distaste at such a foolish query by turning his pale eyes upon the boy, glaring. "Of course it worked. We would not have been lovers if it had not worked."
Andre bowed his head and remained silent. He had erred, and was used to absolutely hateful glares that made poor Andre cower. Fortunately, Chauvelin was too drunk to give such a falcon like stare at the moment.
Chauvelin swirled the dark liquid in the glass, finally drinking a little of it. "The ungrateful woman," he murmured coldly, a tense glare shadowing his face.
Andre had barely heard the words, and so he asked "Pardon moi, citizen?"
"The ungrateful wretch!" Chauvelin repeated, now shouting, clenching one fist and holding the glass in the other. "After all of what we went through and could have been! After all of what we were to each other! She goes off and marries that idiot!" he shouted, tossing away the glass, which clinked against the floor, the ruby liquid spilling on the floor.
Chauvelin ran a hand over his face, and leaned back, momentarily closing his eyes.
"Mon Dieu," Andre thought, utterly shocked at the sudden show. "He still loves her."
And it was true. Chauvelin could not drive the images of Marguerite from his mind, try as he might. They stuck to him like some horrible nightmare. No one had enchanted Chauvelin like Marguerite. No one had incited such envy. And even still, after how many months of this exile from her? After all this time, he still had this aching, gnawing feeling. Partly it was a feeling of trying to wonder when she realized the truth and came home. Home to him. He'd tried to bring her back, but it was unsuccessful. The other part was this terrible loneliness that ate at his heart night and day, and gave him no rest. His bed was lonely without her, and his heart empty for she was gone.
He'd never exactly told her that he loved her. He took it for granted that some things go without saying. But women still want to hear it. They want that concrete evidence, that no amount of physical devotion and utter worshiping can bring.
If she knew how much she'd hurt him when she said that they'd never loved each other! He knew – for he knew her so well – that she did not mean it; that she knew she was lying to herself. Half of him was gone across a channel, and he could not seduce it to bring it home. He could only manipulate it as he'd always; connive and blackmail, do what you must, but make her come to you!
Yes, Chauvelin still loved Marguerite, and in a way, she still loved him. That would never cease. She had simply found a bigger, more open, worshiping, devoting love in Sir Percy Blakeney, and that had drawn her in as a fly to honey. Chauvelin had only just begun to try and cement this strange and wonderful bond he had found with Marguerite. He could worship her with his body, as he always had, but he had to move beyond that and entrust his heart and soul to her. This had seemed impossible, for he had pledged those things to the Republic. And yet, for her he would have done it. She was the only thing that would have made him see beyond the Republic, and seen the blood thirsty, mad turn it had taken. Only she could have done it, for Chauvelin could not see it on his own. Sink or swim, he was a devotee of the Republic.
Or maybe it might not have turned out that way. Maybe he would have only drawn her more deeply in to a burning passion for the Republic. Maybe. It seemed unlikely now that he would ever know.
Love cannot die. It is as solid as steel. It is impossible to kill. However, love may be changed and mangled until it has become a monster in unkind hands. It may weaken, it may wane; it may become a possessive beast, or a blind worshiper. It's word's are old, but always true. But try as you might, you can never kill love.
Chauvelin had two very fine aces up his sleeve, a sweet nectar to entice his queen bee. One was a beloved brother, being tortured in a prison. The other he had left for her in her garden; a reminder of where her home truly was.
It was a white rose.