The asylum was silent apart from the soothing scratching of a quill over paper. The night outside was still, the occasional breeze awakening some leaves and waltzing with them. Shafts of moonlight pierced the Marquis' quarters, falling upon the tacky ornaments and his treasured quills. His bedsheets were in array, swirled and peaked like the froths of the ocean, the result of late night inspiration. Occasional drops of scarlet ink led to his precious paper, profanities and sins of the flesh written in the most elegant handwriting. The Marquis tugged at his impressive garnet ring, yanking it over his knuckle and throwing it aside. Despite its beauty, it did occasionally intervene with the flow of his writing.

*She was a virginal laundry lass, darling of the lower wards, with the insatiable appetite of a wild animal...*

The quill continued to animate the Marquis' lewd thoughts and raucous imagination, bringing lusty harlots and hungry men to life, all knowing no boundaries or limits. He hummed under his breath; eyes never leaving the page as he dipped the quill into the inkpot, revitalising his flow of ideas.

The Marquis stopped, mid-word, and leant back in his ornate chair. A slow, contented smile spread across his prison-wearied face as the inspiration for his central character entered his head.

*Oh Maddie...*

Madeline was the Marquis' saviour, a true angel in a suitably beautiful disguise. She was his one connection with the outside world, selflessly smuggling out his scribblings to the thirsty French public. Every time her melodic voice chirruped through the small gap in his door, he heart would leap and he would get that familiar stirring in his loins as he anticipated another visit from her. He was full aware that she was attracted to him, to his sexual power. He could have her at any time he wanted, how he wanted, but he still had enough respect for her as of not to ravage her at any opportunity. Nevertheless, her angelic curls, wickedly cheeky face and, most importantly to the Marquis, generous cleavage never failed to arouse him.

*I have a rival to Maddie's love.*

Abbé Coulmier- caring, gentle, kind...and foolish over Maddie. He was also a friend to the Marquis; he had laughed politely at his crude jokes, shared cheap cellar wine, grimaced at his outrageous antics. He occasionally maddened the Marquis, denying his human desires, repressing them until the strain showed on his handsome face.

*Why doesn't he just have her and then we'd all be happy...*

The Marquis knew that that last thought wasn't true. If Abbé were to have his Maddie in the way that he wanted her, the jealousy he would feel would burn away at his insides. He had seen the way Abbé looked at Maddie, his pale green eyes lingering too long upon her form.

*I'll write him into my novel, that should embarrass him enough to leave Maddie to me.*

'Marquis! You shouldn't be up so late.'

Marquis turned around in his chair and smiled inanely at his late-night visitor. It was Abbé, still dressed in his waking-hour clothes, clearly unable to sleep.

'My darling Abbé, you don't seem to be inciting sleep yourself.' Marquis raised an eyebrow and poised his quill over the paper, listening to the Abbé's footsteps approach him. Abbé deftly plucked the quill from Marquis' hand and put it back in the pot.

'Enough for one night. You need your sleep.' Marquis placed his legs up on his table and leered at Abbé. He enjoyed seeing the Abbé's eyes awkwardly travel along the floor, look at the quills, the bed, anything but the Marquis himself. Abbé was relieved to see Marquis' ring glimmering, solitary, on the floor. He scooped it into his hand and placed it upon Marquis' desk. Marquis thrived in the discomfort that the young man was clearly in.

'That garnet is the hardest rock known to man.'

Abbé smiled pleasantly, although he did not truly understand what was going on. He just wanted to rid himself of the Marquis for one night.

'Come, Marquis, sleep. We have an early start tomorrow, with the play and all.' The Marquis smirked with the knowing leer of a whoremaster.

'If inspiration has kept me awake Abbé, what has been depriving you of sleep? Is it lusty thoughts?'

Abbé rolled his eyes and sighed. Despite his long friendship with the Marquis, his suggestive comments still caught him by surprise. Some of the things that the man came out with were quite disgusting; yet Abbé was ashamed to admit that he often felt a laugh rise within him, having to wrestle with his self-control to keep it at bay. Normally, the beginnings of a shy smile would play at the corner of his lips, but tonight he had neither the energy nor the tolerance to sustain such sordid remarks.

The Marquis shook his head and with a contained laugh arranged the quills neatly in the pot. He shuffled his papers and placed them gingerly down on his table, distant eyes travelling lovingly over them as if they were his children. He rose slowly, teasingly slowly to his feet, stretched like a cat and made his way to his bed. Abbé carefully monitored every move he made.

*The man certainly is scheming.*

Abbé nodded in satisfaction when the Marquis settled down in bed, however reluctantly. He smiled satisfactorily and went to turn.


The voice, more of a purr, was dripping in sadistic enjoyment. Abbé clenched his jaw and faced the Marquis.

'What is it?'

Marquis grinned, his eyes glimmering with suggestion.

'Don't fancy joining me, do you?'

Abbé tutted and shut the door behind him. Behind the door, the Marquis smirked.

Madeline's sleep was light and ephemeral. Although her body was exhausted by her laborious laundrying, her mind refused to stop cease its wasp-like buzzing. Her mother slept peacefully alongside her, blissfully unaware of her daughter's sleeplessness and also the fact that she had pulled the freshly washed sheet fully over to her side of the bed. Madeline woke from her doze to the sound of hasty footsteps, which were unusual for this time of night. She gingerly swung her legs out of the bed, drawing in a sharp breath over her lips as her feet made contact with the cold floor. She padded quietly to the door of her quarters, peeping furtively out of the tiny gap. She captured a haze of black rushing past her, but he or she were too fast for her to draw any recognition.

*Maybe it was Abbé...*

Madeline frowned to herself in the form of a silent self-scorning. Despite Abbé's -


-promises as a priest, Madeline still felt her stomach plunge a little whenever he spoke to her. Once he had kissed her cheek as a polite thank-you, and she could have sworn that her skin tingled.

*Like being kissed by the lips of God...well, not the winking eye of God anyway.*

Madeline grinned to herself and repressed a giggle. The Marquis never failed to humour her. She always tried to act nonchalantly when he read her a sample of his prose, but in truth if was like a fire in her belly.

*Must have been a fireball when he kissed me then...*

The Marquis' somewhat forced kiss on Madeline was her first real kiss. Stolen
pecks with local boys in her younger years didn't really count. But the Marquis had really kissed her, like a man. Madeline had pretended that she didn't like it, but in truth she adored it. He was like a sexual predator, and she was his prey. But he would never hurt her. He admired her too much for that.

All of these lewd thoughts enflamed Madeline with a mixture of adrenaline and arousal, and in the heat of the moment she opened the door to her quarters. The corridor was cold and lifeless, and the silence seemed uneasy. Usually the occasional wail or shriek came from one of the inmate's cells, but tonight they slept as soundly as they did as children.

Madeline's room was only a short distance away from the Abbé's, but she still felt like she was creeping for miles. The heavy door was practically impossible to shut quietly, and despite her efforts it closed with a loud bang. Madeline grimaced and made her way up to the Abbé.

Abbé slowly unbuttoned his cassock and sighed loudly. Unlike Maddie, his mind was debilitated, but his body was wide awake.

*I'm not prepared to risk a brisk walk around this place in the dead of night for the sake of earlier sleep.*

He neatly folded his clothes and placed them on a chair in the corner of his room. Abbé's room was very simple, a large bed, a shelf populated with books and his chair in the corner. Shivering with cold, he shrugged on his night-shirt and pulled back his bedsheets. Just as he was about to slide under the sheets, he heard a knock at the door.

*Who on...*

Abbé hurried to his feet, walking over to the door as calmly as he could, considering the fact that he was in an asylum with a late-night visitor. As he gingerly pulled the door back, his heart leapt as he saw Maddie's beautiful face lurking behind it.

'Maddie! What on earth are you doing up at this hour?'

He opened the door further, beckoning Maddie to come in. She smiled girlishly and shrugged her shoulders. She looked far younger in her night-gown, curves not quite as prominent as in her everyday clothes. Abbé couldn't help but notice this, but nonetheless a stab of guilt penetrated his heart. Madeline stood in the centre of the room, looking quite lost. Abbé made his way to the bed and patted a spot next to him. Madeline beamed and sat there.

'Well, I couldn't sleep and I heard someone go past...I thought it was you.'

Abbé nodded and laughed quietly.

'Probably was me. I'm having trouble with the Marquis again.'

Madeline raised an eyebrow. She again tried to remain distant on the subject of the Marquis, but in all truth it didn't work.

'Again? What's he up to this time?'

Abbé glanced at the floor and caught sight of Madeline absent-mindedly rubbing her forearms to generate some heat. Goosebumps had broken out all over her body, starting at her neck...trailing down to the hem of her scoop neckline to...

*Stop it.*

He rose to his feet and lifted a robe from his chair.

'Oh, just being a little disruptive- writing when he should be you go.'

He gently placed the robe around Madeline and sat back down. Madeline smiled gratefully and snuggled into the robe. She mustered a look of disapproval onto her face.

'Oh him and his nasty stories. The man knows no limits.'

The Abbé, this time with genuine disapproval, sat with his head in his hands. Although the ever-increasing fatigue was the cause of such a stature, he looked like the picture of misery. Madeline frowned and placed a maternal hand on his arm.

'Are you alright Abbé?'

Despite the lack of sexuality in Madeline's touch, a chill ran through Abbé's body that froze his blood and formed icicles on his veins. His eyes snapped open and he tried to regain control of himself.

'Of course Maddie, just tired. I should really get some sleep.'

Madeline was disappointed. She could have quite happily talked with the Abbé until the sun made its presence known, maybe even held his hand. She stood up and straightened out her night-gown. Abbé stifled a yawn and lay back on the bed, pulling the sheets up over him. He was too familiar with Maddie to see her out, many a time he had left her quarters with her folding linens or writing a practice letter that he had assigned her. As she reached the door, Madeline placed her hands on her hips and strode over to the bed.

'Goodness Abbé, you really are quite untidy at times.'

Madeline deftly tucked in the sheets with the flourish and speed of a connoisseur. She was scheming away in her head, using something as trifling as an untucked sheet to get closer to the Abbé. Abbé, despite his polite smile, was flaming inside. His eyes travelled all over Maddie, almost adopting a mind of their own. His pulse quickened and he felt the same old arousal cascade through his body. It was different this time- he wasn't fantasising that Maddie was this close to him- she actually was. He had to stop himself from pulling to her to him and kissing her, years of coercion making his groin ache and lips burn.

*Please God let me have the control...*

Before the Abbé felt that he would explode, Maddie straightened up and grinned.

'There you go. Much better.'

The Abbé smiled and nodded, practically devoid of his voice. Maddie brushed a wayward lock of dark brown hair from her face and made her way to the door, peeking around it just before she closed it.


Madeline shut the door behind her and bit her lip. She knew how he had felt when she leant over him like that. Just as she turned to tiptoe back to her room, a voice pierced the air.

'Late night visit to the resident priest, hmm?'

Madeline spun around in horror. There, lurking in the shadows, was the Marquis, a sickening leer smeared over his face. He shook his head.

'Oh dear, virginal Maddie...what were you doing?'

A deep flush crept over Madeline's face like ivy. She grasped at her skirts.

'It's not what it seems Marquis. Give your sordid little mind a rest.'

Madeline turned to walk away, heart thumping with her footsteps. The Marquis caught up with her, speeding up so that he could obstruct her path. He placed a casual arm on her doorframe and leant on it.

'I can see it in you Maddie. You touched him.'

In one swift movement, the Marquis snaked his hand around Madeline's neck and pulled her up against him, his lips planted on hers. Madeline writhed under his grasp, but he was too strong. Her lips ground against her teeth and she squeezed her eyes shut. Finally, the Marquis pulled away. He made a show of licking his lips.

'Hmm, didn't kiss him....I can tell. But who needs to kiss to fuck?'

Madeline gasped in fury.

'How dare you accuse me of such a thing! My relationship with Abbé is strictly platonic.'

Madeline struggled to keep her voice less than a loud whisper. If Abbé were to overhear, she would die. The Marquis finally turned his back to her and sneered over his shoulder.

'And what is platonic? Latin for a laundry lass servicing a man of God?'

Before Madeline could retort, the Marquis was back in his quarters. Madeline shut her eyes and groaned. She made her way back into bed and contemplated her actions.

Back in his quarters, the Marquis seethed in anger. He whipped a quill from his pot and began to hastily scrawl out words on his paper. He knew how Maddie felt about Abbé, and this was his sole inspiration for his new story. He stopped suddenly, and looked straight ahead. His eyes sparkled with vitality and knowledge.

*I could ruin lives...but I always think a tragedy is so much better.*

He was prepared to mould and shape those around him to his approval, and outrage the people of France with his most biographical novel yet...